Author Archives: Asmae Fahmy

Grow Your Online Presence Web Design

Why You Should Never Use a Subdomain For Your Website

So you’ve finally gotten around to creating your first website. You’ve thought about the name, carefully selected your photos, written and rewritten and gotten just about everyone you know to proofread your content.

You’ve saved money by using a subdomain. Selected keyword-rich headlines that should attract a stream of visitors. You’re live. This is big. You link your website to all your social media accounts, send out an email to your entire contact list, wait a little bit, and then eagerly hit refresh on your analytics page.

Nothing.

You pause. Wait some more. Still, no clicks. You change your pictures, modify your content, tweak your layout, only to find that your site is still trapped in search engine purgatory.

What you may not realize is that the problem isn’t your website itself, but the domain name housing it. In this case, you’ve committed the cardinal sin of website building: you’ve selected a subdomain.

If you’re lost on the distinction between a subdomain and a domain, here’s what they look like.

A subdomain lets you add content before your domain name:

Blog.mywebsite.com

While a traditional domain has only your selected name:

Yoursitename.com

You’ll notice that all established companies opt for the latter. There’s a reason for that. Even though they might cost more, domains layer on professionalism in ways that subdomains are simply incapable of doing.

CNN, for example, runs their website on WordPress, one of the most popular content management systems in the market. Can you imagine what would happen if CNN showed up as cnn.wordpress.com as opposed to cnn.com? It doesn’t matter that the same recognizable acronym is evident in both. All that matters is that a domain without WordPress in it is instantly more professional.

To put it simply, subdomains look cheap. There’s no sugarcoating that. You may as well stick a sign on top of your site that says it came from a template, and a free one at that. You want to build a relationship with your site’s users, and the core tenant of that relationship is trust. They need to be able to trust that you know what you’re doing, and that you can offer them the very best of it. To do that, they have to believe you’re the best of the best. If your competitors are sporting catchy domain names and you’re not, odds are that users are more likely to choose them over you (even if you are much better at what you do).

That’s the other thing with subdomains – they are simply too long to remember. They become desaturated by those extra letters. While you’re developing your brand, you want your name to become stitched into people’s neurons. You may just be starting out, but so were Apple, Nike and Amazon at some point. Through the right marketing, they were able to build their brands into something that everyone goes to without a flicker of hesitation. Domain names help with that.

To further complicate matters, subdomains usually prohibit you from full formatting freedom. Your site will have limits in its functionality and customization, as well as the amount of bandwidth it can boast.

That means your website might end up being glitchy and error-ridden if you try to fill it with too many videos and photos. And the only thing people dislike more than subdomains is slow-loading websites.

Now, don’t get us wrong, subdomains can be beneficial in certain situations. If you already have an established domain name and want to add a supplemental, differently designed section to your website, then a subdomain will be more than fitting. Many websites use subdomains when they create blogs, multinational companies do it when target their websites to different countries, and even Google does it with their AdWords page.

However, if you’re starting from scratch and need to build your site into one with clout and esteem, then subdomains will only serve as a barrier between the people of the internet and you.

Shakespeare once posed the question of “What’s in a name,” and in this case, we would say that the answer is a lot more than you might think.

Takeaway:

  • Subdomains make your site look unprofessional and take away its credibility
  • If your competitors have a domain and you don’t, people are more likely to go to them
  • Subdomains are too long to remember
  • Subdomains limit website formatting

 

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Marketing

8 Email Marketing Mistakes to Avoid in 2019

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It’s easy to assume you’ve grasped the general etiquette of email marketing. You know not to be too corny, too critical, too bossy or too bland. Heaven forbid you send a subject line in all caps, or accidentally forward an email meant for 10 people to your entire contact list. However, there’s an underbelly to email marketing that may seem foreign to some, and innocuous to others. But the fallback of these common email faux pas is toxic; they can leave your message unopened, your email unsubscribed, and your website untouched.

Here are the blunders to always stay clear of.

Sending from a no reply email

Most subscribers know the personalized email they’re receiving is actually automatized, but that doesn’t mean you should remind them.

Emails sent from admin and no reply addresses plaster impersonality on your brand and only serve as a roadblock to communication. After all, what you really want is engagement from your subscribers – not for them to feel like you don’t want to talk to them. Your email should be stamped with a bright “hello, my name is” sticker and welcome clients in with punch and party favors.

Don’t opt for anonymity. Instead, it’s best to put in the name of a familiar face, such as the director of marketing, or use a contact@ or info@ email. You should also encourage subscribers to reach out at any time, because that flow of communication can lead to more customers.

Purchasing email lists

We’ve all been there. After crafting a perfectly witty email, we realize we have a grand total of four people to send it to. The quick fix? Purchase an email list and send it out to hundreds of digitalized strangers.

Unfortunately, you’re better off channeling your marketing budget elsewhere. The people in this list may have never heard of you, and may have no relevance to the type of service you provide. If the first time they’re seeing your name is when it slips through the cracks of their inbox, odds are they either won’t read it, or they’ll complain about how it got there.

Continuous cases of this will eventually garner a poor reputation for your business, causing you to be ignored, blocked, or even blacklisted. This is also risky because purchased lists can be swamped with fake or extinct emails, which increases your bounce rate and sends your emails straight to the spam folder.

Exaggerating subject lines

We get it, you’re excited about your sale on slip-on loafers, and you have every right to be. But that doesn’t mean you should embellish this offer as the greatest thing to happen to the internet, or worse: lie about it in the subject line. Creating crafty click-bait one-liners may lead to an opened email, but it might be the last one opened.

You need to make potential customers trust you. When your email’s body has no substance and doesn’t fulfill what the headline promises, you end up shattering your relationship with the people you’re interacting with. You may have good intentions, but that doesn’t mean you should be misleading – you’ll only end up soiling your brand’s integrity. Don’t be the brand that cries wolf.

Adding too many Call to Actions (CTAs)

We know that the ultimate purpose of your email is to convert views into clicks and readers into customers. You want to make a sale. While it can be tempting to swarm your emails with dozens of CTAs that reflect all your awesome services, you can’t be too obvious about your intentions.

Too many CTAs will confuse people on what to do and where to go, leaving them not doing anything at all. This method simply demands too much. The fact that someone already opened your email over the 500+ ignored emails crowding their inbox is an accomplishment. Don’t push it by leading them to three different landing pages for three completely different products. Having one clear and powerful CTA will get you the clients you need, without overwhelming readers.

Sending image-only emails

This might seem to contradict the general advice crowding the internet that says not to make emails too word-heavy, but the same concept applies to an overload of images.

Completely replacing text with images might work if you’re selling specific items, but either way, only 33% of email subscribers actually have their images turned on. Your email may leave your inbox looking like a beautiful stream of photos, but it can enter subscribers’ inboxes as a succession of empty boxes.

Ignoring mobile devices

Gone are the days when email opening was solely reserved for a desktop computer.

A study by Qualtrics and Accel found that millennials check their phones 150 times a day. That’s a lot of chances for you to grab their attention with your poignant subject lines and alluring deals. If you forgo optimizing your emails for mobile devices, you’re missing out on substantial opportunities, because people will automatically delete a message if they can’t properly see it.

Try to opt for single column templates when laying out your emails, and always test them before you send them. Also make sure you reduce image sizes and resize them in proportion to the smaller screens.

Using a one-size-fits-all method

It’s no secret that the needs of internet users vary. Just because they’re all subscribed to your home goods service doesn’t mean they’re all seeking the same thing.

Sending out a generalized mass email is one of the deadliest sins you can commit in the email marketing field. You should make friends with your subscribers. Get to know them. Dig into demographics such as their age, location and income, but also look into what problems they want solves. What keeps them up at night. What they really need. Know what stage they’re at in the consumer cycle and tailor your emails to that.

Using segmentation or personalization in your emails allows you to market yourself in the best possible light. You show people that you care about serving them.

Not testing emails

We can’t emphasize this one enough.

Don’t give your copy a rough edit and assume your email is ready to be sent. Make sure you test every aspect of your email, including the links, images, content and CTAs.

Besides the basics, take this opportunity to learn more about what your consumers like through A/B split testing. Send out two versions of the same email, study what people respond to the most, then test that again. You want your marketing skills to grow alongside your brand, and testing is how you can do that.

 Takeaway: 

  • Make sure you send emails from recognizable or engaging addresses
  • Never purchase email lists, exaggerate subject lines or add to many CTAs
  • Make sure your emails have a balance between images and text
  • Implement segmented emails
  • Test your emails before you send them

 

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Web Design

Why You Shouldn’t Use a Drag And Drop Website Builder

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If you remember the days of Myspace, then you probably remember the side effect of having too much freedom when designing a webpage.

We learned the hard way that neon backgrounds and bright yellow text simply do not go together, despite how easy (and fun) it was to strew together that stream of code and watch it go live. It gave us Tony Stark vibes, an effortless technological proficiency that is usually only secured by a higher education, a basement overflowing with gadgets, or some combination of the two. However, it usually wasn’t until we pressed “Save Changes” that we realized we should leave the designing to the pros and stick to editing our Top 10.

Drag and drop website builders have that same effect.

When you start making your website on any popular DIY service – Wix, Squarespace, Weebly – you have the option of picking the type of site you want (portfolio, business, music, store, etc.) and then choosing a template based off of that distinction.

Sounds simple enough, right?

Until you start editing.

Click anywhere on your new site and about 10 different boxes will bombard you and ask for attention. Dividers, spacers, videos, photos, maps, galleries, slideshows and sections. It’s like standing on a stage with 10 different spotlights and an audience that still expects a show.

The process can be paralyzing, especially if your only experience in web design is editing that Myspace page. With too many buttons too press, too many colors to change and too many designs to choose from, you realize rather quickly that you’ve now subscribed to too many ways to mess up your website.

It’s the difference between ordering off a menu and making a dish yourself. Except instead of being able to consult a recipe and purchase your ingredients beforehand, you’re sent into the kitchen with a blindfold, given about 40 different cooking tools that you’ve never seen before, and told to make a baked Alaska. Oh, and just about everyone you know will get to witness the outcome.

See, the misleading aspect of DIY builders is that you can do pretty much whatever you want with them. You have freedom! All you have to do is drag that picture, drop that header, and just like that, your mental vision materializes.

In reality, that’s not exactly the case. Sometimes simply adding a text box sends everything into a spiral. You’ll have your headline in the gutter, your main image on the left, and where did the caption just go? Everything is moving but not where you need it to and then you have to start all over because you can’t even find the undo button.

Ultimately, you can end up with one of two different outcomes. A garish, overly bright disaster dotted with seven different fonts (comic sans might make an appearance), or the opposite end of the spectrum, which usually says “I gave up. This is the best I could do,” and will feature the most simplified, drab and heartless design you could muster using your mouse and keyboard. This is the stock photo of websites; the TV dinner that you threw in the microwave because it was too overwhelming to concoct something more appetizing.

Of course, that’s not to say it’s impossible to create something worth clicking on. But that requires a fine mix of time, training, practice and – most importantly – patience. And maybe some alcohol.

In the end, you want your website to be a reflection of you, but in the best possible light. If you have zero design experience, trust us – it’ll show. Even if you’re willing to dedicate yourself completely, you might still end up with something burnt and flavorless. Simply because you didn’t have the proper experience to make it.

Like the baked Alaska from your favorite French restaurant, some things are best when they’re already made for you.

Takeaway:

  • Drag and drops are only beneficial if you have the necessary design experience
  • The overwhelming options give you too many ways to mess up your website
  • It can be difficult to navigate the service itself
  • In the end, you might end up with a poorly designed website because you had to do it yourself

 

 

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Web Design

The Psychology of Color in Web Design

Psychology of Color

It’s everywhere.

In places, people, products and paintings.

In daylight and moonlight and white light and yellow light.

Everything we look at, feel, touch, create, design, are moved, appalled and perplexed by has at its essence some fragment of this illusion called color.

Though inherently technical and explicitly conscious, color has the power to go beyond the surface of the retina to alter moods and inspire decisions.

Underpinning the soft yellows and tepid blues that make up our surroundings is an unspoken power. A power that, when used in marketing and website design, can tell a story about your brand without needing to use words at all.

When a user visits your website, they’re immediately bombarded with visual stimuli. Photos and videos and headlines and ads that are all processed consciously by our working memory, a place where opinions are made openly and decisions delicately.

However, with color theory, you target the subconscious part of people’s minds to foster more subliminal guiding forces.

Hormones are released throughout the body, triggering emotions and, in turn, decisions. If executed right, you can smoothly use this phenomenon to increase your conversions.

One thing to consider when cultivating your brand’s digital image: how do I want people to feel? What personality should my page possess? Will it be fun, airy, light and free? Will it be strong, rugged, powerful and coarse? Colors are like the fingerprints of different human emotions, so handpick these emotions carefully.

Consider your audience, particularly their gender. If women, then you should focus on softer colors. Muted colors, no matter the scheme, tend to speak to women more than stronger ones. Women also tend to dislike greys and browns, and prefer purples and greens.

Meanwhile, men prefer brighter, more prominent colors that reach out of the screen. They also tend to hold an aversion to browns, oranges and purples. If you want a solid, gender-neutral color, your safest bet is blue.

Colors’ organizational components are also important. When you’re making a Call to Action (CTA), make sure that the words don’t blend in with the background button. For example, light blue text set on a dark blue background might dissuade a customer from clicking. However, a color combination with more contrast – say dark blue and white ­– is more likely to draw the eye and then the mouse. Make sure to also focus on symmetry and accents in all your navigation tools, so that they’re clear and easy to find.

According to a peer-reviewed article on the impact of color on marketing, a customer forms an opinion about a product after only 90 seconds, and 60-90% of that decision is rooted in color.

That means you have a minute and a half to make your case, and a majority of that case revolves around color.

If you’re a kid’s brand, focus on vibrant yellows, reds and greens. Be playful with your palette.

Beauty brands tend to splatter their home pages with pink and purple, which emphasize femininity and sophistication.

Health companies can use greens to talk about authenticity and freshness. Of course, these things can be said through other methods, but color is one effective way to communicate them.

These are some specific color associations to focus on:

Red:  Imagine a world where the bright red of a stop sign was replaced with the dull sheen of indigo. Hard to picture, right? That’s because red usually represents alertness and attention. It can signal danger. It can signal strength. Campaigns emphasizing love and passion use red to narrate their stories. Red prompts action, making it perfectly suited for a CTA. Red can also increase breathing and pulse rates, so use it sparingly.

Orange: If red is the bold exclamation point, then orange is the softer period. It is warm and inviting without being overpowering. Perfect for designs that thrive off of energy and creativity, orange can present an amiable greeting and create a cozy layout. It’s playful and positive. Confident in a soft-spoken way. Orange also represents cheapness, so you can use it to communicate affordability.

Yellow: There are two sides to yellow. On the one hand, it’s cheerful and bright and brimming with energy. On the other, less desirable hand, yellow is sometimes slightly sickly, especially when seen by men. Generally, yellow evokes a healthy mind and positive attitude. Restaurants use it to trigger appetites, toy stores use it to portray joy. However, yellow can be too in-your-face, so be cautious when using it.

Green: Green blossoms best in brands focused on freshness. It recalls nature, wildlife and the great outdoors. Use it to promote rejuvenation and calmness. Use a darker shade when talking about money and wealth. Green also means growth, and works wonderfully for any form of health-focused or ethical cause.

Blue: There’s a reason Facebook and PayPal choose blue. Blue asks for trust, demands dependence. If that’s what you need from users, then blue accents are certainly useful. Blue is also links to coolness and serenity, so use it if you want to promote peace. However, since most blue foods in the wild are poisonous (think berries) blue can suppress appetites, meaning you shouldn’t use it for any food ads. 

Purple: Purple is synonymous with royalty and aristocracy. In classical paintings, it fills the lines of kings’ robes, and it holds that same prestige today. A brand focusing on luxury products can build their base with it, especially by using darker shades of purple. Lighter shades ooze elegance, so you’ll find feminine brands painting their pages with purple.

Pink: If you’re reaching out to a largely female audience, apply pink to your website While pink is the most feminine color, be wary that not all women are fans. Use it to foster romantic moods or youthful vibes.

Black: Black is the classic shine of a retro car, the sleekness of a leather jacket. It’s timeless. Find it bracing the pages of fashion editorials, or setting up the foundation of a corporate website. Black cooperates well with other colors to provide contrast, or on its own to capture conventionalism and sophistication.

Takeaway:  

  • When selecting the colors that make up your website, select schemes that represent the emotions you want your brand to trigger
  • Colors can either entice users or push them away; make sure you know the message your color choices are sending
  • Every color correlates with specific feelings and traits
  • Using mismatched colors on your navigation tools or drab ones your CTAs can prevent people from engaging with your website and can harm your tremendously

 

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