Image Creation Tools to build Awesome Content

April 22nd, 2014

Content is the true king. If you don’t agree then look around, you will find millions of websites loaded with information. Content well written will not really need any sidekick to find its way to the top. But the icing on the cake would be adding good relevant images. Everyone loves images and we tend to look differently (mostly positive) at an article which includes images. So we thought why not share an awesome list of some amazing image creation tools that you could use.

1] Canva: There is very little that you cannot like about Canva. This Graphic Design tool has a drag and drop interface and is very easy to use. You don’t need any prior design experience and once you spend a little time with it, you will find sweet results. Play around with a plethora of design elements to make your perfect image. You can make social media posts, Infographics, Pinterest ready images, Facebook cover photos and much more. Check out one of the recent post we made on our SpeedHost Facebook Page. Oh by the way the tool is free to use and you only need to pay if you choose to use any of their stock images.

2] BeFunky: This is a good graphics program that comes with a complete suite of image editing tools like scaling, filters, text and much more. One worthy feature that deserves a mention here is the ability to crop an image into a Facebook cover photo. You can also save the image to your computer or upload it directly into any of the popular social networking platforms.

3] LiceCap: The closest thing to a video explaining an action has got to be a .GIF. LiceCap is a program that will enable you to easily make GIFs for your website. All you need to do is download the .exe file and install the program, set the dimensions of the screen that you want to record and you can create a .GIF image. Though you can make a .GIF image for a long duration, it is best to keep it down to 6 seconds for a good frame rate.

4] Pixlr: If you ever search for best online image editing tool you will probably find this tool in almost every list. Pixlr combines image design and paint tools with photo editing and adjustment features more convincingly than any other online image editing program. Even though it is feature rich it still maintains its usability and makes it very easy for anyone to use.

Honestly, out of all the tools above, we just love Canva and are a little biased towards it, simply because we have so much fun while making new images. The possibilities are endless and the results are always satisfying.

So what are you waiting for, give your content creation a new life by using these awesome tools. Do leave a comment below about your experience with these tools.

Improve your Website’s User Experience with these Tips

April 17th, 2014

Your website is the face of your business online. Anything you display on it will create the impression that you want your visitors to have about you. So important is a good website for your business that it can make or break the online reputation if you don’t get it right. More importantly, you will need to focus on creating a great user experience on your website and keep building on it to get your visitors to keep coming back. However, if you are stuck and in need of ideas to improve your website experience, then here are some to get you moving.

1] Improve Website Speed: Everyone loves a cool looking website with fancy widgets and loads of images, but this would mean compromising on your website load speed. With the rate of information consumption growing steadily these days, a slow loading website could spell disaster for your website. It only takes a few extra seconds of page load time for a user to click on the back or exit button of the browser. Put your website on a diet, compress your images with many awesome tools online like Smush it or Tinypng . Minimalism is the new Design trend and helps a lot to cut down your website fat and give you a clean fast loading website; in fact some of the most popular websites online today have taken this route and are enjoying a much better visitor count.

2] Improve Navigation or Get a Search Bar: We must all agree that we are now a search friendly society. We are constantly in search of great content online and what makes it easier is the search bar on Google or the one on your website. If your website has a lot of content or if you are an ecommerce giant like Amazon or Flipkart then you totally need a search bar. You might have loads of epic content but what’s the use if your visitor can’t search for what he/she wants. We highly recommend that you get a search bar applied to your website. Alternatively, if you do not have a ton of products or articles then you may want to focus on a great navigation bar. Provide all that you have to offer right to the visitor in an easy to read bar with all the information. After, you do want the visitor to be on your website for a long time but the question is, is the visitor staying for the right reasons or is just lost in the maze of content you have created.

3] Make your Home Button VISIBLE: If your content is good the visitor would definitely like to explore your website even more but where would one start? Ideally the tendency is to get to the main/home page and then branch out.  A golden thumb rule of good designers is that you need to make the website logo clickable which will always get you to the starting point if you get lost or at least make your home button stand out from the rest of the menu. Remember the world is in need of quick information and if you give your visitors even the slightest of the stress to find it then you might as well say goodbye to them.

4] Simplify the Design: Content is king and you need your visitors to focus on your content. No one likes a cluttered website and your visitors will drop out even if your content is worth a read. Keep it simple and take off any element on the website that does not give value to the visitor. For example pop up windows are a BIG No No, keep banner ads to a minimum and offer a small subscribe button for those who wish receive your content.

5] Test your website: Functionality of your website will be key to the success of your website. We always have the tendency to add more stuff to the website but avoid testing it. Even if you do test, it is generally for large updates. You should always test the flow of the website after every update to avoid any embarrassing moments. Also if your website is built to support cross platforms then you must make your testing efforts even more aggressive.

These points are just a few in the long list of items you need to create and maintain a great and profitable website. We hope these tips will help you to get started in improving the user experience of your website. Do drop in a comment if you need any questions to be answered. We will be happy to help.

Also don’t forget to share any of your ideas that you personally use to improve the user experience of your website.

Top 5 Website Marketing Tools that every Blogger should Use

March 26th, 2014

So you have written some great content for your blog, but how are you planning to get eyeballs to see and appreciate your content. In this already crowded internet space you will need more than just writing good content and waiting for people to come to you naturally. Well, if you don’t have a strategy yet then we would suggest that you give the following tools a try. These amazing tools will make the Marketing of your blog way more organized and fun.

Buffer: This app does not really need introduction. From the time of its inception this has been the most used social media sharing tool till date. You can simply add all the content that you wish to share at one point in the day and the app will automatically post for you at different popular social media channels. You can also use the custom scheduling, detailed analytics and team member access which make it the most sought after media management tool to go for.

HootSuite: This is another awesome Social media management tool that should consider using. You can control all your tasks like monitor social channels, post updates, upload images, reply to comments/tweets etc. You can also get a custom analytics report via this tool. There is an app available to be used over mobile devices and it also has feature that allows different members of the team to access social easily. The free version is limited in features, however if you are serious about your blog then using the PRO version will be worth every penny you spend.

Google Analytics: This tool is from the search engine giant Google. Google Analytics can generate detailed reports about a website’s traffic and sources. Google Analytics can track visitors from all referrers, including search engines and social networks, direct visits and referring sites. This will be great to understand where you need to focus your marketing towards.

Blog Engage: This website takes advantage of the vast blogging community on the internet. You can sort blogs and blog articles by category and also narrow down your search using the tag cloud. This website is a great place for blog commenting, receive quality back links, meeting new bloggers and promoting your own content. You will love this website if you are need of good traffic.

Viral Content Buzz: This is a great way to share your content to a much wider audience. What this tool does is that it gets you more likes and tweets from different channels that are outside your group. These are not paid like or tweets but are genuine people who have read your blog and would like to share it. This keeps the shares organic and engagement levels reach new peaks. This type of organic sharing gives your content its best chance to go viral!

Though some of the tools mentioned above are paid, they are worth every penny you spend. It is time for you to change from a good blogger to a complete blogger with the help of these tools. If you still have not used any of these tools its time you get your hands dirty with them.

5 WordPress Plugins to Enhance your Website

March 11th, 2014

A lot of times when you look at your website or your blog, you will feel that the content looks a tad bit boring and you need to add a little flair to it. You might feel encouraged to tweak the theme a bit but the lack of CSS knowledge might let you down. That’s when you look out for plugins that can help you achieve that.

It is really difficult to find good plugins out of the thousands available. But fear not because we have done all the searching and have brought it down to the 5 best WordPress plugins that will help you enhance your website.

1] Simple Pull Quote: This plugin will become your favorite if you like sharing a lot of quotes within your blog post. It allows you to easily insert pull quotes into your posts and in a stylish way. The end result makes the quotes stand out and really gives it a great look.

Simple_Pull_Quote_SpeedHost

2] Wp Google Fonts: With an aim of making the web more beautiful, Google launched the Google fonts program making really cool fonts available for free to everyone. Though very easy to implement in your website a little coding knowledge can help. For the ones that do not have coding knowledge, the WP Google Fonts plugin will help you achieve the same results. Simply install and select the font that you need to use on your blog.

3] Text Hover: By using this plugin you can now add hover text to any regular text in your posts. This is a great tool especially when you need to provide quick explanations of names and terms mentioned in your posts.

Text_Hover_SpeedHost

4] Smart layers by ADDTHIS: This plugin will give your website users an easy to use social sharing buttons. These social buttons will not disturb your design as it overlays your website. You can also recommend additional content from your website which floats at the bottom of your website to promote engagement. A must have tool if you are serious about engaging with your users and promoting your content through social media.

5] WordPress Canvas – Shortcodes: You can call shortcodes a kind of a life saver. They allow you to implement complex functions with just a simple addition to your post. We dug deep into the WordPress Plugin directory and found a gem even we could not get our eyes of. We are talking about the WordPress Canvas which is a cool Shortcodes plugin with the following features [you can thank us later :-)]

  • Accordion
  • Tabs
  • Toggle
  • Columns & Sections
  • Testimonials
  • Borders
  • Buttons
  • Full Width
  • Notifications
  • Google Maps
  • Social Icons
  • Progress Bars
  • Pricing
  • Images with Flags
  • Highlights
  • Countdown
  • RSVP
  • Custom HTML
  • Code Snippets
  • Isotope / Masonry Posts

You can check each of these short codes in action here.

These plugins are guaranteed to make a positive difference to your website. So what are you waiting for? Head out to the WordPress Plugin Directory and start using them right away.

Do drop in a comment if you have any questions around these plugins.

Common mistakes you should avoid on your website

March 4th, 2014

People who are closely attached to their website often end up applying their preferences, forgetting about the target audience. Unfortunately most of them end up making mistakes which are common amongst a lot of websites out there and in turn suffer a lack of audience.

But we think you should know about these mistakes and avoid or correct them right away. So here they are:

Complex Navigation: Have you ever visited a website and were not able to get to a certain page. Well if you have, then that website has complex or non structured navigation. The only way to get this right is to plan your navigation well in advance, even before actually starting to build your website. You could also use Breadcrumbs to further simplify the navigation on your website. Breadcrumbs provide a trail for the user to follow back to the starting or entry point. You will typically find it placed horizontally on top of a web page.

Too much clutter on page: We all know how it feels to get into a crowded bus; well a heavily cluttered page on your website makes a user feel the same way. There are many websites out there who are trying to put too much on one page itself. This makes it very distracting and uncomfortable for the user to look beyond the clutter and appreciate your work. Spread out your content appropriately and link them to another page if they are interrelated. This will increase your viewership if done right.

Color mismatch: There must have been at least once that you might have reached a website where it is extremely difficult to read the content. This is because of the color of the text and the color of the background being very similar. Take a look at the below image. You will find that the darker font is more readable than the lighter font when used on a light background. Though this seems like a small issue but difficulty in reading can cause your website visitors to look somewhere else for their information.

SpeedHost_Background

Annoying pop ups: Pop ups on WebPages can be really frustrating for your users. Most of these pop ups are placed as a call to action but there are much better ways to get people to like your page or subscribe to your website. Bombarding them with pop ups is going to drive them away.

Lack of social buttons to share your content: The age of social networking has taken information sharing to an all new level. You can get more eyeballs to your content if people share your content on social networking platforms. If you have still not installed social buttons on your website for easy sharing of your work then you are losing out on a lot of potential audience. Check out AddThis to get easy sharing buttons on your website.

Music on Website: This feature is the thing of the past. Music on the website can get really annoying and distracts your users from the primary content. A must avoid at all costs.

So if you are just starting out to get a new website or already have one, then these are some mistakes you should keep a distance from. Do share your opinion about these points with a comment below.