Record Your Command Line Sessions with Asciinema

If you’ve ever looked up how-to videos on YouTube then you’re familiar with the poor quality of those videos out there. Sometimes you’ll find videos recording the whole screen with tiny CLI windows, other times the CLI is just too blurry to read.

With asciinema you can automatically record all your terminal sessions with 100% zoom and save the videos locally.

Need to teach someone how to perform a certain task? No problem. Wanna release your own how-to vids on YouTube? Piece of cake. Thanks to asciinema’s recorder.

asciinema cli recordingasciinema cli recording

The project works like an installable applet where you can download the files or install them dynamically using Homebrew. Note this only works on OS X, Linux, and BSD so it’s not compliant with the Windows CLI.

The recording feature runs on a series of keyboard shortcuts to stop and save a recording. While you’re inside the terminal just enter asciinema rec and you’ll call the recording function immediately.

Do your thing, record what you need, then CMD + D to stop recording. It’s super easy to use and if you’re already comfortable with the command line you should have no trouble with this recorder.

Videos are actually hosted on the asciinema website so you can browse through a library of previously-recorded videos to see what’s out there. It’s also a great way to share your clips with others and embed them into your site.

But you can also download your videos and re-upload them to popular video sharing sites like YouTube, Vimeo, and DailyMotion.

example video page asciinemaexample video page asciinema

To get this running check out their documentation page and follow the instructions.

You can also dig into the docs to find common commands, everyday usage for recording, and properties for your own asciinema config file.

Terminal lovers around the world rejoice! This is one of the best CLI recording tools on the web and you can install it for free with one command.

The post Record Your Command Line Sessions with Asciinema appeared first on Hongkiat.

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Will Twitter Succeed in Defeating Trolls? The Stakes for Marketers

“I’m addicted to you, don’t you know that you’re toxic?”

I can guarantee this will be the first and last time I ever open a blog post with lyrics from Britney Spears, but the pop star’s 2003 tribute to perilous romance seems to perfectly encapsulate my relationship with Twitter — and I know I’m not alone.

via GIPHY

I love Twitter. It’s easily my favorite social network. I’ve been active on it for almost a decade, and during that time I’ve had countless enlightening conversations (mostly about baseball and marketing), become friends with people I never would’ve encountered otherwise, and wasted more time than I’d like to admit scrolling mindlessly through my feed.

Twitter has some great perks — bite-sized content, real-time updates, tailored experiences — and these serve to strengthen its appeal as a marketing channel. But even as an avid fan, I can’t deny that it has also been fraught with negatives. At times, the platform can feel like a cesspool for abusive behavior, fake accounts, and bots deployed with the sole mission of harassing real users.

Recently, the company announced new measures in its continuing effort to improve the civility of discourse on Twitter while cutting down on fraud and abuse. Let’s take a closer look at these ongoing changes, and what they mean for social media marketers.

[bctt tweet=”I love @Twitter. It’s easily my favorite #socialnetwork. But even as an avid fan, I can’t deny that it has also been frought with negatives. – @NickNelsonMN” username=”toprank”]
Teeming with Trolls
In May, Twitter released a statement acknowledging the existence of “troll-like behaviors that distort and detract from the public conversation on Twitter, particularly in communal areas like conversations and search.”

“Fewer than 1% of accounts make up the majority of accounts reported for abuse,” wrote Del Harvey and David Gasca. “While still a small overall number, these accounts have a disproportionately large – and negative – impact on people’s experience.”

The veil of anonymity that Twitter allows can be a good thing: it enables folks with sensitive public images to maintain a discrete social presence, and also facilitates hilarious fictional accounts like @KimKierkegaard, a mashup of reality star Kim Kardashian and 19th-century philosopher Søren Kierkegaard, and @dog_feelings, which lives up to its name.

But of course, there are obvious downsides to this low barrier of entry. It’s all too easy to create a faceless and essentially untraceable account for whatever purpose one desires. Too often those purposes are nefarious. This rose to a head during the 2016 election and has become an increasingly prevalent sore spot for the platform.

As bots and empty handles became more pervasive, certain individuals began developing methods to game the system and inflate follower counts, creating a “fake influencer” epidemic and shaking marketers’ faith in the authenticity of their audiences.

“We aren’t proud of how people have taken advantage of our service,” Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey lamented earlier this year, “or our inability to address it fast enough.”

While the company’s response has not been as rapid or forceful as some would like, Twitter is taking action.
Purging and Learning
Most conspicuous among these initiatives has been “The Great Twitter Purge,” a systematic effort to sweep out fake and suspicious accounts. Data obtained by the Washington Post showed that more than 70 million accounts were suspended in May and June alone, at the expense of the company’s stock.

(Incidentally, the aforementioned Britney Spears was among the hardest-hit by the purge in terms of lost followers, and plenty of high-profile marketers saw their numbers drop as well, though the industry has generally approved of these actions.)

More recently, Twitter announced partnerships on academic projects addressing two primary areas of concern:

Echo chambers, and the ramifications of algorithms that filter content representing like-minded perspectives. A group led by Leiden University’s Dr. Rebekah Tromble “will analyze the echo chamber effect, and provide options on how to limit such impacts,” per Social Media Today.
The effects of exposure to a diverse array of viewpoints and backgrounds. This can be the natural sacrifice in the “echo chamber” dynamic referenced above — how costly is it?  “Evidence from social psychology has shown how communication between people from different backgrounds is one of the best ways to decrease prejudice and discrimination,” says Oxford’s Miles Hewstone, who will be among those spearheading the study.

It’s interesting to see Twitter taking forthright accountability for its broader implications in society. But what about the marketing implications?
What Twitter’s Moves Mean for Marketers
Twitter has always been a somewhat tough nut to crack for marketers, and the network’s diminishing reputation in the face of these controversial issues appears to be causing some businesses to further back off.

The 2018 Social Media Marketing Industry Report from Social Media Examiner showed Twitter losing ground, with 62% of marketers using it in their strategies compared to 68% in 2017. Meanwhile, the latest Sprout Social Index finds Twitter fourth on the list of most-used channels for ads at just 13%.

While it’s pretty simple to incorporate as a social media marketing tactic — schedule those short-and-sweet messages and fire ‘em out — the visible impact isn’t always there. It’s not uncommon to see brands with tens of thousands of followers getting only a handful of likes and responses to most of their updates, and clicks can be hard to come by.

When you’re pumping out tons of content and garnering minimal engagement, while also converting a relatively tiny fraction of users into buyers, it’s easy to see why many marketers haven’t found the juice to be worth the squeeze.

But these latest maneuvers from Twitter seemingly will only help.

If you saw your company’s following on the platform take a hit over the past few months during the purge, you’re not alone. But ultimately, it’s nice to have a little more confidence that you’re actually broadcasting to real people. As we’ve long been saying around here: quality trumps quantity.

Initial data backs up this hypothesis: Twitter reported an 81% increase in ad engagement during Q2 2018 compared to Q1 as it implemented its cleansing procedure.

TopRank Marketing Social Media Strategist Meg McDougall suggests that we’ll likely see a resulting rise in Twitter’s notoriously low CPMs, but advertisers will essentially be paying for the same number of eyeballs because fake accounts and their false impressions are being eliminated.

While it’s not clear what fallout we’ll see as a result of these new exploratory research initiatives, the shift is bound to be positive for marketers. Any reduction in the “echo chamber” algorithm could potentially grow your exposure to wider and more diverse audiences.

[bctt tweet=”While it’s not clear what fallout we’ll see as a result of @Twitter’s new exploratory research initiatives, the shift is bound to be positive for #marketers. – @NickNelson #SocialMediaMarketing” username=”toprank”]

If the net outcome of these efforts is that Twitter users (even if there are less of them) become more engaged and active on the platform, that’s obviously going to help with content traction, both organic and paid.

“Any change that is made on social media in the interest of end users is ultimately valuable for marketers,” says McDougall.

[bctt tweet=”Any change that is made on #socialmedia in the interest of end users is ultimately valuable for marketers. – @megnificent_” username=”toprank”]

For a Twitter fanatic and marketer like myself, these developments are roundly encouraging. What’s your take? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Want to learn more about the present state of Twitter and social media marketing at large? Check out these posts from the TopRank Marketing blog:

7 Examples of Brands Mastering Twitter for Social Customer Care
From Messenger Bots to the Growth of ‘Gram, Social Media Examiner’s Annual Report Reveals Trends to Watch
Will More Tweet Space Equal More Value for Your Twitter Audience?
Best Practices for Choosing Effective and Captivating Social Media Visuals
What All Marketers Can Learn from Fast Food Giants Crushing Twitter

The post Will Twitter Succeed in Defeating Trolls? The Stakes for Marketers appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

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8 Contract Clauses You Should Never Freelance Without

Do you have a contract when you begin a freelance project? If not, then you should. Working without a contract is an invitation to be taken advantage of.

A contract helps streamline your work around a schedule as well as all those clarified details of what was agreed between you and the client. More importantly, it prevents you from double work and headaches down the line.

If you started freelancing without a contract, I bet it wasn’t long before you felt that you needed one. Maybe a client reneged on their payment or asked you to revise your work so many times that you wished you had a contract with a clause that charged for revisions. All it takes is that one client.

The fear of contracts

We know the importance of contracts but we’re just so intimidated by them! Unless you’re a legal writer, it’s natural to fear drawing up the document we know as the contract. But here’s the thing: Using simple language is the best way to avoid confusion. You don’t need a lawyer to draft a contract. You just need to know what works for you.

So grab a paper and pencil (or open up a Word document) and begin drafting your first contract. Don’t miss out on any of these clauses because you really, really shouldn’t freelance without them.

1. Pricing/Rates

The most important thing to ensure sustainability in your services is to make your rates clear. Put them down in writing during the initial stages of the project. Do you charge by the hour, or by a complete project? Make sure your client is agreeable to the way you charge them, so they wouldn’t dispute and withhold payment thereafter.

pricing-ratespricing-rates

If you’re charging by the hour, include a minimum and maximum work-hour clause. “Project Red won’t take less than X hours and no more than Y.” The X is for your security – you’ll get paid for these hours even if you finish early. The Y is for your client’s security. He won’t have to pay for more than Y no matter how long it takes for you to finish the job.

2. Single Point of Contact

Oh boy! This clause is a lifesaver. If you’ve ever worked with a client where you had two or more people giving you feedback and requesting changes, you will know that this is necessary.

By including the ‘single point of contact’ clause, you’re limiting your communication to one person. All the feedback and revision requests need to go through that one person – whether your client is a solo-prenuer or a manager in a big firm.

The larger the team that deals with you, the more internal conflicts they have to iron out. Having a single point of contact saves you from confusion and double work. You don’t have to waste time and energy trying to satisfy three points of contact (a.k.a. people with authority to make changes) with different ideas of what they need.

3. Payment/Invoicing

Spell out a payment schedule in your contract. Do you want it to be half now, half after payment schedule, or with 3 installments of 40-40-20? Some freelancers prefer 50-25-25. Everyone has a reason for their preferences. Personally, I prefer to be paid in 3 installments on bigger projects. Usually 40% upfront, 40% when I send the first draft and the final 20% when I send over the finished copy.

freelance-invoicing-paymentfreelance-invoicing-payment

How you get paid also needs to be included in the contract. Do you accept payment via direct deposits, checks or PayPal? How long a grace period do you give when receiving payment? Some organizations issue payments a period of time after they receive the invoice. Make sure you have ironed out all these kinks before you start work.

Related: 10 Tips To Invoice Your Freelance Clients Professionally

4. Revisions and rewrites

We’ve all had a client or project where we just can’t seem to get what they want right due to various reasons. It could be that the client is confused or fickle-minded, or a perfectionist – one who can never be satisfied no matter how many revisions you do.

The worst kind is the one who changes the entire focus or direction of the project, halfway through the timeline. All prior work poured into the project could become useless, and you will be starting from scratch but without a revised deadline.

Instead of spending much of your time revising, rewriting, redesigning, recoding etc for hours, a clause in your contract can make this a painless procedure. Offer a number or free revisions/rewrites and then charge for any more the client wants to be done. This would at least reduce the client’s inclination to make changes as he likes, and start doing revisions that are only necessary. Most freelancers offer 2 free revisions, 3 at most depending on the nature of the work they offer.

5. Kill Fee

Sometimes, for reasons beyond our control, a project gets canceled after you’ve started working on it. For freelancers without a contract, it might mean that they won’t get paid for the work they have already done until the notice of cancellation.

A kill fee clause saves you from being the disadvantaged party in case a project gets axed. It makes sure you’re paid for how much of the work already done since you have spent your time and effort on it, both of which could be spent on other projects that you may have on the side.

kill-feekill-fee

Different freelancers charge different kill fee. Some have an elaborate stage-by-stage kill fee schedule. Others charge a flat 50% and some charge as low as 25%. It depends on what seems fair to you – the point is to deliver some form of compensation on the work that has been done but won’t be put to use.

6. Copyrights

Depending on the kind of freelancing you do, there are different copyright options available. Freelance writers have the most copyright options such as first serial rights, print rights, electronic rights, etc. For most freelancers though it boils down to owning the rights until the final payment is made.

Copyrighting your work is a must if you want to avoid having a client run away without paying for your work or use it without permission. On the other hand, It’s also a form of protection for your client. If they have made full payment, they have already bought the copyrights from you, hence they know, and should expect to not find the work done anywhere elsewhere.

7. ‘Scope Creep’

A ‘Scope Creep’ is exactly what you think it sounds like. It refers to that nasty little bugger who seems innocent at first but grows into a monster fast. Imagine a client who pays on time and appreciates your work. It’s the perfect client, right?

However, after some time the Scope Creep will start saying things like “Hey, we were going through the work and realized that this will be even more awesome if xyz was added to it. Can you include that too?” You say, “Sure, it won’t take long, I’ll just quickly add that in.” And that’s how it begins.

During the course of the project, this will keep repeating, and over time it will accumulate to a point where you’re doing more work than you signed up for and you’re not getting paid for it!

scope-creepscope-creep

A scope creep clause is your protection against it. Reserve your right to adjust the rates of the project should the scope of the job, or amount of work you have to do is increased significantly. This way the client knows that they are liable to pay extra for any additional requirements they want to throw in.

8. Deadline

No freelancer signs on a project without a deadline. A deadline is necessary. A lot of times, freelancers can set their own deadlines; other times the work is time sensitive so the client sets their own deadline. Either way, getting it down in writing is a security measure for both you and your client.

For the client, this prevents the freelancer from delaying the completion of project. For the freelancer, it allows for a change in the deadline in case the client does not get back with the required feedback/information/approval in time.

Having deadline will also allow you to schedule your future work even before you start working on them. This ensures that you don’t take in two projects that need to run simultaneously and yet still be able to keep your working schedule filled, giving your income a bit more stability.

freelance-deadlinefreelance-deadlineConclusion

Now that you know which clauses to include, it shouldn’t take you long to draft out a simple contract. Contrary to what you might think, this contract doesn’t have to look like a legal document. In fact, you can collect all the emails you’ve exchanged with the client, transfer the results of your discussions into the document, hammer out all the details, and compile them.

Both you and your client should acknowledge that you have both read and agreed to the contents of the contract, sign it and each keeps a copy for future reference.

Have I missed anything? Is there another clause that you think one should not freelance without?

The post 8 Contract Clauses You Should Never Freelance Without appeared first on Hongkiat.

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Kindness as Currency: How Good Deeds Can Benefit Your Local Business

Posted by MiriamEllis

“To receive everything, one must open one’s hands and give.” – Taisen Deshimaru, Buddhist philosopher

A woman stands in a busy supermarket checkout line. The shopper in front of her realizes that they don’t have enough money with them to cover their purchase, so she steps in and makes up the balance. Then, when she reaches the checkout, her own receipt totals up higher than she was expecting. She doesn’t have enough left in her purse.

“No problem,” says the young clerk and swipes his own debit card to pay for her groceries.

A bystander snaps a photo and posts the story to Facebook. The story ends up on local radio and TV news. Unstructured citations for the grocery store start crackling like popcorn. National news takes notice. A scholarship foundation presents a check to the clerk. When asked how he felt about it, the clerk said:

“Personally, I think it’s undeserved attention. Because she did something so good … I felt like it was my responsibility to return the favor.”

In the process, if only for a moment in time, an everyday supermarket is transformed into a rescue operation for hope in humanity. Through the lens of local SEO, it’s also a lesson in how good deeds can be rewarded by good mentions.

Studying business kindness can be a rewarding task for any motivated digital marketing agency or local brand owner. I hope this post will be both a pick-me-up for the day, and a rallying cry to begin having deeper conversations about the positive culture businesses can create in the communities they serve.

10+ evocative examples of business kindness
“We should love people and use things, but sadly, we love things and use people,” Roger Johnson, Artisan

As a youngster in the American workforce, I ran into some very peculiar styles of leadership.

For instance, one boss gruffly told me not to waste too much time chatting with the elderly customers who especially loved buying from me…as if customer support doesn’t make or break business reputations.

And then there was the cranky school secretary who reprimanded me for giving ice packs to children because she believed they were only “trying to get attention” … as if schools don’t exist to lavish focus on the kids in their care.

In other words, both individuals would have preferred me to be less kind, less human, than more so.

Perhaps it was these experiences of my superiors taking a miserly approach to workplace human kindness that inspired me to keep a little file of outbreaks of goodwill that earned online renown. These examples beg self-reflective questions of any local business owner:

If you launched your brand in the winter, would you have opened your doors while under construction to shelter and feed housing-insecure neighbors? If a neighboring business was struggling, would you offer them floor space in your shop to help them survive? Would your brand’s culture inspire an employee to cut up an elder’s ham for him if he needed help? How awesome would it be if a staffer of yours had a day named after her for her kindness? Would your employees comp a meal for a hungry neighbor or pay a customer’s $200 tab because they saw them hold open a door for a differently-abled guest?What good things might happen in a community you serve if you started mailing out postcards promoting positivity? What if you gave flowers to strangers, including moms, on Mother’s Day? How deeply are you delving into the season of giving at the holidays? What if, like one business owner, you opened shop on Thanksgiving just to help a family find a gift for a foster child? You might wake up to international fame on Monday morning. What if visitors to your community had their bikes stolen on a road trip and your shop gifted them new bikes and ended up on the news?One business owner was so grateful for his community’s help in overcoming addiction, he’s been washing their signage for free. What has your community done for you and how have you thanked them?What if all you had to do was something really small, like replacing negative “towed at your own expense” signs by welcoming quick stop parking? What if you, just for a day, you asked customers to pay for their purchases with kind acts?

I only know about these stories because of the unstructured citations (online references to a local business) they generated. They earned online publicity, radio, and television press. The fame for some was small and local, for others, internationally viral. Some activities were planned, but many others took place on the spur of the moment. Kindness, empathy, and gratitude, flow through them all like a river of hope, inviting every business owner to catch the current in their own way. One easy way for local business owners to keep better track of any positive mentions is by managing and monitoring reviews online with the New Moz Local.

See your online presence

Can kindness be taught in the workplace?

In Demark, schoolchildren learn empathy as a class subject. The country is routinely rated as one of the happiest in the world. At Moz, we have the TAGFEE code, which includes both generosity and empathy, and our company offers internal workshops on things like “How to be TAGFEE when you disagree.” We are noted for the kindness of our customer support, as in the above review.

According to Stanford psychologist Jamil Zaki, people “catch” cooperation and generosity from others. In his study, the monetary amount donors gave to charity went up or down based on whether they were told their peers gave much or little. They matched the generosity or stinginess they witnessed. In part two of the study, the groups who had seen others donating generously went on to offer greater empathy in writing letters to penpals suffering hard times. In other words, kindness isn’t just contagious — its impact can spread across multiple activities.

Mercedes-Benz CEO, Stephen Cannon, wanted employees to catch the kindness bug because of its profound impact on sales. He invited his workforce to join a “grassroots movement” that resulted in surprising shoppers with birthday cakes, staff rushing to remote locations with spare tires, and other memorable consumer experiences. Cannon noted:

“There is no scientific process, no algorithm, to inspire a salesperson or a service person to do something extraordinary. The only way you get there is to educate people, excite them, incite them. Give them permission to rise to the occasion when the occasion to do something arises. This is not about following instructions. It’s about taking a leap of faith.”

In a 2018 article, I highlighted the reviews of a pharmacy that made it apparent that staff wasn’t empowered to do the simplest self-determined acts, like providing a chair for a sick man who was about to fall down in a long prescription counter line. By contrast, an Inc. book review of Jill Lublin’s The Profits of Kindness states:

“Organizations that trade in kindness allow their employees to give that currency away. If you’re a waitress, can you give someone a free piece of pie because the kid at the next table spilled milk on their foot? If you’re a clerk in a hotel, do you have the authority to give someone a discounted rate because you can tell they’ve had a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day?”

There may be no formula for teaching kindness, but if Zaki is right, then leadership can be the starting point of demonstrative empathy that can emanate through the staff and to its customers. How do you build for that?

A cared-for workforce for customer service excellence

You can find examples of individual employees behaving with radical kindness despite working for brands that routinely disregard workers’ basic needs. But, this hardly seems ideal. How much better to build a business on empathy and generosity so that cared-for staff can care for customers.

I ran a very quick Twitter poll to ask employees what their very most basic need is:

Unsurprisingly, the majority of respondents cited a living wage as their top requirement. Owners developing a kind workforce must ensure that staff are housing-and-food-secure, and can afford the basic dignities of life. Any brand that can’t pay its staff a living wage isn’t really operational — it’s exploitation.

Beyond the bare minimums, Mercer’s Global Talent Trends 2019 Survey of 7,300 executives, HR experts, and employees highlighted trending worker emphasis on:

Flexibility in both hours and location to create a healthy work/life balanceEthics in company technology, practices, and transparencyEquity in pay ratios, regardless of genderEmpathy in the workplace, both internally and in having a positive societal impact with customers

It’s just not very hard to connect the dots between a workforce that has its basic and aspirational needs met, and one possessing the physical, mental and emotional health to extend those values to consumers. As I found in a recent study of my own, 70 percent of negative review resolution was driven by brands having to overcome bad/rude service with subsequent caring service.

Even at the smallest local business level, caring policies and initiatives that generate kindness are within reach, with Gallup reporting that SMBs have America’s happiest and most engaged workers. Check out Forbes list of the best small companies of 2019 and note the repeated emphasis on employee satisfaction.

Kindness as currency, with limitless growth potential
“I wanted a tangible item that could track acts of kindness. From that, the Butterfly Coin emerged.” Bruce Pedersen, Butterfly Coins

Maybe someday, you’ll be the lucky recipient of a Butterfly Coin, equipped with a unique tracking code, and gifted to you by someone doing a kind act. Then, you’ll do something nice for somebody and pass it on, recording your story amongst thousands of others around the world. People, it seems, are so eager for tokens of kindness that the first mint sold out almost immediately.

The butterfly effect (the inspiration for the name of these coins) in chaos theory holds that a small action can trigger multiple subsequent actions at a remove. In a local business setting, an owner could publicly reward an employee’s contributions, which could cause the employee to spread their extra happiness to twenty customers that day, which could cause those customers to be in a mood to tip waitstaff extra, which could cause the waitstaff to comp meals for hungry neighbors sitting on their doorsteps, and on and on it goes.

There’s an artisan in Gig Harbor, WA who rewards kindnesses via turtle figurines. There are local newspapers that solicit stories of kindness. There are towns that have inaugurated acts-of-kindness weeks. There is even a suburb in Phoenix, AZ that re-dubbed itself Kindness, USA. (I mentioned, I’ve been keeping a file).

The most priceless aspect of kindness is that it’s virtually limitless. But that doesn’t mean it can’t be quantified. The Butterfly Coin idea is attempting to track kindness, and as a local business owner, you have a practical means of parsing it, too. It will turn up in unstructured citations, reviews, and social media, if you originate it at the leadership level, and share it out from employee to customer with an open hand.

Sign up for The Moz Top 10, a semimonthly mailer updating you on the top ten hottest pieces of SEO news, tips, and rad links uncovered by the Moz team. Think of it as your exclusive digest of stuff you don’t have time to hunt down but want to read!

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Building Creative Websites Can Be Easy. Here’s How

Web designers, ready for some good news? We have some for you, and it involves designing creative websites.

The ever-expanding global market is creating an equally expanding number of opportunities. And with it increasing competition among businesses. Increased competition is having the effect of website designer clients insisting on more creativity to drive more sales.

That’s good news for Be Theme and its users because of its emphasis on creative designs and the vast number of options available.

The creative designs are just a start. Websites have to be both flexible and conversion-optimized. That’s where a web designer’s creativity comes into play, and that’s where customizable designs allow it to happen. Below, you’ll find five simple steps you can follow to create a website that’s not only awesomely attractive but fully equipped to convert visitors into users.

5 Steps to Building Creative Websites
Step 1: Choose a mesmerizing color palette

A typical color palette is a collection of colors. A creative color palette is one that’s on-brand, attracts instant attention, and does an excellent job of supporting the message.

Examples:

Artist is an excellent example of how BOLD color touches instantly attracts attention.

artist websiteartist website

You’ll see the same in this Be Theme pre-built website. Notice how your eyes are instantly drawn to the center, and the headline.

becreativebecreative

Carbon8 cleverly aligns the color palette with its brand. Notice how effective using various shades of a primary color, in this case, green can be.

carbon 8carbon 8

BeInsurance uses a color palette that is subtle yet crisp and does an excellent job of reinforcing their message.

beinsurancebeinsurance

If you need to appeal to a larger, perhaps more diverse audience, BeFestival offers a perfect example of how to proceed.

befestivalbefestivalStep 2: Display crystal-clear images

This one’s obvious. If an image of your product or service is just a teeny-bit fuzzy on the edges, that’s the impression visitors are likely to get of your business. In any event, they’ll hope the images on the next page will be sharper.

When your clients can present their products and services with flair and clarity, it gives them an extra edge over the competition.

Examples:

BeStylist shows why this is so important. The image itself is a call to action.

bestylistbestylist

You can do a similar website with RansomLTD. While different from the previous example, the importance of using sharp, high-density images is evident.

ramsonltdramsonltd

Zajno is in some respect, a mix of the two previous examples. It makes the web designer and the client both look good.

zajnozajno

The Design Shop is another example of how to display your products with creativity and flair.

thedesignshopthedesignshopStep 3: Show visitors how your creativity benefits them

The objective in this step is not to show how creative you are, but to use your creativity to help visitors see themselves as customers.

Examples:

BeMarketing has a homepage video that does a great job of this. You can almost feel how practical and comfortable the shoe is.

bemarketingbemarketing

Lane guides the visitor through flexible and functional workplace design.

lanelane

BeSimple takes a minimalist approach using just the right graphics to convey the message.

besimplebesimple

BeTravelBlogger doesn’t rely on text to describe a travel blogger’s dream.

bebloggerbebloggerStep 4: Take advantage of white space to design creative websites

White space is the most important visual element you need to play around within your website design. You’re unlikely ever to use too much of it.

Examples:

Makespace has a clean design that carries a small but complete message.

makesimplemakesimple

BeSketch and The Drive New York are a pair of creative websites that make the most of white space to enhance their critical elements and their message.

besketchbesketchthedrive new yorkthedrive new york

BeIcecream is perhaps THE most extreme use of white space to focus on the vital element. White space is an effective and compelling part of the brand.

beicecreambeicecreamStep 5: Make your CTAs impossible to ignore

To do that, they need to be big, bold, and bright. If your CTA doesn’t get immediate attention, it’s less likely to be clicked. If it grabs attention, however, the result is usually quite the opposite.

Examples:

BeDrawing has a CTA button that stands out with its a bold color, plus it’s big enough to draw attention immediately after the headline is read. It’s also positioned to serve as a “gate” that invites visitors to enter.

bedrawingbedrawing

Stuart’s CTA buttons are clearly designed. The page itself could be described as creative or smart. It’s a pleasing mix of both.

stuartstuart

A great example is BeKids, where the CTA buttons color matches other design elements; a technique that helps them to stand out.

bekidsbekidsWrapping it up on designing creative websites

You should find the above steps and ideas helpful as they give you a surefire way to build creative websites that feature eye-catching designs and are made with conversion in mind.

Bright, crisp, and stunning visuals and the clever use of white space is your secret to success. You also want to present product or services in a way that allows visitors to imagine themselves as users.

Unless you’re blessed with an extra dose of artistic brilliance, however, is at your creative best can and usually does take time. If you find yourself juggling multiple projects and tight deadlines, you might try using a pre-built website.

Once you do, you probably won’t go back to the “old way”.

You’ll find the most comprehensive and useful gallery of creative websites imaginable on Be Theme. There are more than 450 pre-built websites to choose from and customize to your liking, and more are being added every month.

The post Building Creative Websites Can Be Easy. Here’s How appeared first on Hongkiat.

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17 WPForms Power Hacks To Grow Your Business Online


Looking to grow your business online and convert more visitors? WPForms is the best WordPress form plugin for beginners to create forms on their WordPress sites and digital marketers know that forms are more than just a simple way for users to contact you. In this video, we’ll cover powerful tools inside WPForms to help you grow your business online.

This video brought to you by WPForms, take a look at their site here:
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https://wpforms.com/
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For the discount, use our code: WPBVIP

To begin this tutorial we will be using WPForms premium and we will install the templates addon to give us powerful templates to start out with rather than a blank form where each field needs to be manually added.

WPForms’ conditional logic allows you to change what is shown and where the form is sent based on the user’s choice. This means, as an example, you can send the filled-in forms to different department emails based on the type of question or selection that the user inserts in your form or modify the confirmation message.

With the pro addons, you have the power to connect WPForms to tools such as Google Sheets, Slack, or Salesforce to let your team know about high importance messages through those different tools.

For dropdown options, WPForms has presets for filling in information such as countries, postal codes, states, months, days, or even your own custom lists. If you’re wanting to prevent everyone from only selecting the same option you can even select the option to randomize the choices per user.

There are tools for Geolocation, hidden fields, GDPR, and terms of service to give you all of the tools you’ll need to get for your site’s forms. For one time purchases, you can add PayPal and Stripe integrations for fundraising or other small purchase needs.

To prevent spam, WPForms has honeypot on by default as well as reCAPTCHA should you want to protect the form further. If you have multiple sites you can import or export the forms to each site among may other powerful tools available.

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Feel free to take a look at the written version of this tutorial here:
https://www.wpbeginner.com/wp-tutorials/how-to-use-fomo-on-your-wordpress-site-to-increase-conversions/

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How to Create Your Own Custom Grid System in Photoshop

Grid is a popular approach to building websites. It is more consistent and makes sections proportionally right. A couple of examples of CSS Grid frameworks are 960.gs or Skeleton. However, one of the constraints of using a grid framework is that we will have less flexibility.

We are bound to the framework’s specification, and its author’s methodology, which in many cases might not be suitable for our website requirements.

In this post, we are going to show you how to create a custom grid both for CSS and Photoshop. To make the process easy, we are going to use several tools. Let’s check it out.

Install GuideGuide

First, We need to install GuideGuide, a Photoshop extension to create guide lines, specifically designated to create a Grid with ease. To be able to install GuideGuide, your Photoshop need to be at least CS4.

guideguideguideguide

The Photoshop extension can be installed through the Adobe Extension Manager, as follows.

adobe extension manageradobe extension managerCalculate Your Grid

Before we setup the guide lines in Photoshop, we need to calculate the grid, which includes the total width, the column width, the column number, and the column gutter. These can be done easily using grid calculator by Heroku.com.

In this example, I would like specify the total width for 1000px, 30px for the gutter width, and 10 for the number of columns. This tool will then automatically generate the actual content width as well as the appropriate column width.

calculate columncalculate column

You can also download the generated CSS grid.

Create the Grid

Time to get back to Photoshop. Go to this menu: Window > Extensions to show the GuideGuide panel in the Photoshop sidebar. Then, create a new Photoshop canvas, and set the canvas width in accordance with the Fulll Width – in my case, it is 1000px.

new canvasnew canvas

Fill in the fields in the GuideGuide panel – Column Gutter, Column Width, and Column Numbers – in accordance to the ones in the grid calculator.

guide fieldsguide fields

Then, in the GuideGuide panel, go to the Sets tab. In this tab you’ll find some preset guide lines. Select the Outline preset to create guide lines at the edge of the canvas.

canvas outlinecanvas outline

We are done, and here is our custom grid ready-for-use for designing a website.

custom gridcustom grid

Additionally, you can add more room to breath at the left and right sides of the canvas by extending the canvas width, and then add rectangle in new layers for creating a visual helper for the columns of the grid.

Download the PSD of our example below.

Download PSD

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Lead Volume vs. Lead Quality By RuthBurrReedy

Posted by RuthBurrReedy

Ruth Burr Reedy is an SEO and online marketing consultant and speaker and the Vice President of Strategy at UpBuild, a technical marketing agency specializing in SEO, web analytics, and conversion rate optimization. This is the first post in a recurring monthly series and we’re excited! 

When you’re onboarding a new SEO client who works with a lead generation model, what do you do?

Among the many discovery questions you ask as you try to better understand your client’s business, you probably ask them, “What makes a lead a good lead?” That is, what are the qualities that make a potential customer more likely to convert to sale?

A business that’s given some thought to their ideal customer might send over some audience personas; they might talk about their target audience in more general terms. A product or service offering might be a better fit for companies of a certain size or budget, or be at a price point that requires someone at a senior level (such as a Director, VP, or C-level employee) to sign off, and your client will likely pass that information on to you if they know it. However, it’s not uncommon for these sorts of onboarding conversations to end with the client assuring you: “Just get us the leads. We’ll make the sales.”

Since SEO agencies often don’t have access to our clients’ CRM systems, we’re often using conversion to lead as a core KPI when measuring the success of our campaigns. We know enough to know that it’s not enough to drive traffic to a site; that traffic has to convert to become valuable. Armed with our clients’ assurances that what they really need is more leads, we dive into understanding the types of problems that our client’s product is designed to solve, the types of people who might have those problems, and the types of resources they might search for as they tend to solve those problems. Pretty soon, we’ve fixed the technical problems on our client’s site, helped them create and promote robust resources around their customers’ problems, and are watching the traffic and conversions pour in. Feels pretty good, right?

Unfortunately, this is often the point in a B2B engagement where the wheels start to come off the bus. Looking at the client’s analytics, everything seems great — traffic is up, conversions are also up, the site is rocking and rolling. Talk to the client, though, and you’ll often find that they’re not happy.

“Leads are up, but sales aren’t,” they might say, or “yes, we’re getting more leads, but they’re the wrong leads.” You might even hear that the sales team hates getting leads from SEO, because they don’t convert to sale, or if they do, only for small-dollar deals.

What happened?

At this point, nobody could blame you for becoming frustrated with your client. After all, they specifically said that all they cared about was getting more leads — so why aren’t they happy? Especially when you’re making the phone ring off the hook?

A key to client retention at this stage is to understand things from your client’s perspective — and particularly, from their sales team’s perspective. The important thing to remember is that when your client told you they wanted to focus on lead volume, they weren’t lying to you; it’s just that their needs have changed since having that conversation.

Chances are, your new B2B client didn’t seek out your services because everything was going great for them. When a lead gen company seeks out a new marketing partner, it’s typically because they don’t have enough leads in their pipeline. “Hungry for leads” isn’t a situation any sales team wants to be in: every minute they spend sitting around, waiting for leads to come in is a minute they’re not spending meeting their sales and revenue targets. It’s really stressful, and could even mean their jobs are at stake. So, when they brought you on, is it any wonder their first order of business was “just get us the leads?” Any lead is better than no lead at all.

Now, however, you’ve got a nice little flywheel running, bringing new leads to the sales team’s inbox all the livelong day, and the team has a whole new problem: talking to leads that they perceive as a waste of their time. 

A different kind of lead

Lead-gen SEO is often a top-of-funnel play. Up to the point when the client brought you on, the leads coming in were likely mostly from branded and direct traffic — they’re people who already know something about the business, and are closer to being ready to buy. They’re already toward the middle of the sales funnel before they even talk to a salesperson.

SEO, especially for a business with any kind of established brand, is often about driving awareness and discovery. The people who already know about the business know how to get in touch when they’re ready to buy; SEO is designed to get the business in front of people who may not already know that this solution to their problems exists, and hopefully sell it to them.

A fledgling SEO campaign should generate more leads, but it also often means a lower percentage of good leads. It’s common to see conversion rates, both from session to lead and from lead to sale, go down during awareness-building marketing. The bet you’re making here is that you’re driving enough qualified traffic that even as conversion rates go down, your total number of conversions (again, both to lead and to sale) is still going up, as is your total revenue.

So, now you’ve brought in the lead volume that was your initial mandate, but the leads are at a different point in their customer journey, and some of them may not be in a position to buy at all. This can lead to the perception that the sales team is wasting all of their time talking to people who will never buy. Since it takes longer to close a sale than it does to disqualify a lead, the increase in less-qualified leads will become apparent long before a corresponding uptick in sales — and since these leads are earlier in their customer journey, they may take longer to convert to sale than the sales team is used to.

At this stage, you might ask for reports from the client’s CRM, or direct access, so you can better understand what their sales team is seeing. To complicate matters further, though, attribution in most CRMs is kind of terrible. It’s often very rigid; the CRM’s definitions of channels may not match those of Google Analytics, leading to discrepancies in channel numbers; it may not have been set up correctly in the first place; it’s opaque, often relying on “secret sauce” to attribute sales per channel; and it still tends to encourage salespeople to focus on the first or last touch. So, if SEO is driving a lot of traffic that later converts to lead as Direct, the client may not even be aware that SEO is driving those leads.

None of this matters, of course, if the client fires you before you have a chance to show the revenue that SEO is really driving. You need to show that you can drive lead quality from the get-go, so that by the time the client realizes that lead volume alone isn’t what they want, you’re prepared to have that conversation.

Resist the temptation to qualify at the keyword level

When a client is first distressed about lead quality, It’s tempting to do a second round of keyword research and targeting to try to dial in their ideal decision-maker; in fact, they may specifically ask you to do so. Unfortunately, there’s not a great way to do that at the query level. Sure, enterprise-level leads might be searching “enterprise blue widget software,” but it’s difficult to target that term without also targeting “blue widget software,” and there’s no guarantee that your target customers are going to add the “enterprise” qualifier. Instead, use your ideal users’ behaviors on the site to determine which topics, messages, and calls to action resonate with them best — then update site content to better appeal to that target user

Change the onboarding conversation

We’ve already talked about asking clients, “what makes a lead a good lead?” I would argue, though, that a better question is “how do you qualify leads?” 

Sit down with as many members of the sales team as you can (since you’re doing this at the beginning of the engagement — before you’re crushing it driving leads, they should have a bit more time to talk to you) and ask how they decide which leads to focus on. If you can, ask to listen in on a sales call or watch over their shoulder as they go through their new leads. 

At first, they may talk about how lead qualification depends on a complicated combination of factors. Often, though, the sales team is really making decisions about who’s worth their time based on just one or two factors (usually budget or title, although it might also be something like company size). Try to nail them down on their most important one.

Implement a lead scoring model

There are a bunch of different ways to do this in Google Analytics or Google Tag Manager (Alex from UpBuild has a writeup of our method, here). Essentially, when a prospect submits a lead conversion form, you’ll want to:

Look for the value of your “most important” lead qualification factor in the form,And then fire an Event “scoring” the conversion in Google Analytics as e.g. Hot, Warm, or Cold.

This might look like detecting the value put into an “Annual Revenue” field or drop-down and assigning a score accordingly; or using RegEx to detect when the “Title” field contains Director, Vice President, or CMO and scoring higher. I like to use the same Event Category for all conversions from the same form, so they can all roll up into one Goal in Google Analytics, then using the Action or Label field to track the scoring data. For example, I might have an Event Category of “Lead Form Submit” for all lead form submission Events, then break out the Actions into “Hot Lead — $5000+,” “Warm Lead — $1000–$5000,” etc.

Note: Don’t use this methodology to pass individual lead information back into Google Analytics. Even something like Job Title could be construed as Personally Identifiable Information, a big no-no where Google Analytics is concerned. We’re not trying to track individual leads’ behaviors, here; we’re trying to group conversions into ranges.

How to use scored leads

Drive the conversation around sales lifecycle. The bigger the company and the higher the budget, the more time and touches it will take before they’re ready to even talk to you. This means that with a new campaign, you’ll typically see Cold leads coming in first, then Hot and Warm trickling in overtime. Capturing this data allows you to set an agreed-upon time in the future when you and the client can discuss whether this is working, instead of cutting off campaigns/strategies before they have a chance to perform (it will also allow you to correctly set Campaign time-out in GA to reflect the full customer journey).

Allocate spend. How do your sales team’s favorite leads tend to get to the site? Does a well-timed PPC or display ad after their initial visit drive them back to make a purchase? Understanding the channels your best leads use to find and return to the site will help your client spend smarter.

Create better-targeted content. Many businesses with successful blogs will have a post or two that drives a great deal of traffic, but almost no qualified leads. Understanding where your traffic goals don’t align with your conversion goals will keep you from wasting time creating content that ranks, but won’t make money.

Build better links. The best links don’t just drive “link equity,” whatever that even means anymore — they drive referral traffic. What kinds of websites drive lots of high-scoring leads, and where else can you get those high-quality referrals?

Optimize for on-page conversion. How do your best-scoring leads use the site? Where are the points in the customer journey where they drop off, and how can you best remove friction and add nurturing? Looking at how your Cold leads use the site will also be valuable — where are the points on-site where you can give them information to let them know they’re not a fit before they convert?

The earlier in the engagement you start collecting this information, the better equipped you’ll be to have the conversation about lead quality when it rears its ugly head.

Sign up for The Moz Top 10, a semimonthly mailer updating you on the top ten hottest pieces of SEO news, tips, and rad links uncovered by the Moz team. Think of it as your exclusive digest of stuff you don’t have time to hunt down but want to read!

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Free Fall Pictures to Use for Your Next Web Design Project

Autumn has its own special magic, markedly different from the freshness of spring, the heat of summer, and the bitter cold of winter. The burst of colors that weave around the trees is both poignant and upbeat, a goodbye to languorous summer days and hopeful anticipation for a festive season. 

For a website design project, images of autumn used appropriately draw the viewer’s eyes to a web page or post. This season brings numerous opportunities for photography of nature, landscapes, objects and symbolic things.

The colors and its combinations can be eye-catching or delicate, subtle or in your face, and complementary or contrasting. The season’s leaves come in spectacular shapes, colors and conditions – in red, orange, yellow, gold, and amber; ovate or elliptical, or the distinctive multi-leaflet maple leaf; perfect or torn, mottled or unspotted. 

Related: 35 Autumn and Fall Design Elements For Your Next Project

Creating a website or blog is easy. The hard part is drawing traffic to it. Aside from brilliant, well-written content, images are critical for forming connections, the more personal the better. Photos about autumn can evoke varying emotions in the viewers looking at them. They can feel nostalgic and sentimental, like some music, or melancholic, optimistic and excited, when you think about Thanksgiving Day and lavish dinners with families.

Don’t limit yourself to real pictures. Illustrations and vectors work fine, too, and can get across messages that sometimes, pictures don’t. They also come free, as with images. As a reminder, always think SEO with images, as with your content. A mistake of many bloggers is to dismiss the importance of pictures in SEO. A lot of times, it’s simply the caption of your image that pushes the user to click and visit your site. Learn about image SEO tips and apply them to your post. 

Talk about budget, a vital consideration when putting up a website. If you can have anything for free, why not? As long as it’s good and legal. As if free pictures aren’t enough, you can also get free templates that are customizable and easy to use. Choose one with a concept and layout to match your business or theme and try out its features to make your site unique. 

Here are fall pictures we’ve gathered for your website. They’re downloadable in different sizes and free to use. Most of them show trees and leaves. Some are images related to autumn activities, like Halloween and pumpkins. And just to show your appreciation, make the proper attribution or buy them a cup of coffee. 

Autumn free images for your next web design project: 

Photo by Fernanda Publio from Burst

Autumn leaf cookies in an assortment of muted oranges, reds, and yellows make a nice contrast with the graphite gray tray in this photo 

Free photos from Burst are available in high or low resolution 

Source

Spooky-carved or in their natural state, the bright orange pumpkins add to the season’s festival of colors

Source

A road cuts through forest trees cloaked in various shades of autumn colors 

Source

A park ablaze with fall’s colors in the heart of a bustling city offers a respite for tired eyes. 

Source

A bright blue sky and tree-lined pavement covered with fallen leaves is autumn’s last hurrah 

These images are from Unsplash.com, a great site for getting stock photos. You can resize Unsplash free hi-res photos according to your usage. It also provides an option for transforming portrait images to landscape. 

Photo by Alfred Schrock on Unsplash

The vibrant color of the lone acorn stands out against the muted fallen autumn leaves on a pavement. 

Photo by Nathan Anderson on Unsplash

Nature’s glory shows the blaze of these red orange trees in autumn against a backdrop of the dark and forbidding mountains and thunderstorm-signaling clouds. 

Photo by Jeremy Thomas on Unsplash

A cluster of autumn leaves in hues of purple, magenta, peridot and citrine with specks of colors make for a colorful image 

Photo by Dmitry Tulupov on Unsplash

Fallen leaves of yellow and sepia are strewn on the green grass that is yet out of autumn’s reach 

Photo by Timo Volz on Unsplash

Beyond the archway where a deer stands are the amazingly beautiful fall foliage in Japan 

Pixabay has long been many bloggers’ favorite site for free images. It has high-quality pictures that are contributed by various photographers and they are downloadable in many sizes.

Image by Manfred Richter from Pixabay

Sunlight shines on russet-red oak leaves ushering in autumn with their stunning close-up view 

Image by congerdesign from Pixabay

Turning yellow in autumn, two maple leaves float and land into a dainty teacup with leaf design. 

Image by Jill Wellington from Pixabay

A picturesque scenery of colorful trees in autumn is reflected on the pond and an empty bench invites the viewer to take a seat 

Image by wagrati_photo from Pixabay

A squirrel finds its meal among the fallen leaves of the autumn season 

Image by Louise Dav from Pixabay

Glorious autumn is depicted in this countryside illustration 

free fall picturesImage by Valentin Sabau from Pixabay

Benches in a city park as autumn nears, as seen in a few trees that have gone ahead of the others 

free fall picturesImage by Ambir Tolang from Pixabay

Yellow autumn leaves on ebony black trunks add color to the drab gray of a city’s streets 

The post Free Fall Pictures to Use for Your Next Web Design Project appeared first on SpyreStudios.

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Google Street View ready cameras


Get Moving with Street View: find out what it means to use the new Street View ready tools.

Visit http://g.co/StreetViewPublishing to find out more.

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