Articles by ‘Tara Hornor’

8 Small but Powerful Tips for a Standout Website Design

Every one of your clients wants to (or at least should want to) stand out from their competition. To be distinguished is to be memorable. Your client’s job is to provide a solid business. Your job as a web designer is to make sure that they get both noticed in the first place and remembered so that they have an audience to whom they can demonstrate their excellence.

Creating a standout website design is not exactly the easiest task. It is much easier to pick a common layout and fill in the blanks or to pick a design trend and build a website around it. Neither of these methods will help you create a website that breaks the mold, though.

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Google Should Penalize Multi-Page Articles: Here’s Why

When writing most articles, I usually end up on some news blog at some point or another searching for facts, statistics, or a reference to back up my opinion. As a health nut, I often find myself browsing through nutrition or fitness blogs for updated findings on health.

The problem is that many of these informational or news websites make it extremely difficult to do what I do best when I need to digest a bunch of information in a short amount of time: skim the content quickly to pick up the main points. Why is so hard to skim these articles? Because the blogs break up the information into several pages. These multi-page articles (also called slideshow or pagination posts) require me to click somewhere on the page to get to the next section in the article, thereby forcing me to spend way more time than necessary reading an article.

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How to Create a Strong Brand as a Web Professional

Knowing how to create a strong brand is incredibly important whether you are a freelancer, own an agency, or have just graduated from school. In fact, for many web professionals, their business brand IS their personal brand since they are usually the sole provider of services to clients.

Web designers, developers, SEO experts, online marketers, and other Internet careerists have to make sure that their brand stands out in a unique way. After all, they are competing with thousands of others advertising their web services online. Another part of building a strong brand is the ability to connect emotionally with prospective clients. This way, clients feel more of a connection and even an investment in you, and therefore are more likely to turn to you when they need your services.

Photo Credit: Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com via Compfight cc

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How to Help Your Client Decide if a Native App is Necessary

More and more people across the world are using their mobile devices to access digital content. According to eMarketer, mobile phone use will grow from 61.1% to 69.4% worldwide. The same article also claims that nearly one-fourth of the global population use a smartphone monthly, but by 2017, this number will increase to 50%.

American cell phone use has already surpassed the global numbers. The Pew Internet Research discovered that as of 2014, 90% of American adults own a cell phone, and 58% of those cell phone owners have a smartphone. Interestly enough, though, America only ranked number 13 in the 2013 list of countries with highest smartphone penetration. The top 5 in the list were United Arab Emirates, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, and Norway, respectively:

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Best Twitter Practices for Improving Visibility

One of the best ways for freelance graphic designers and web developers to gain exposure online is with social media. Twitter is an especially successful avenue simply because it is such a common platform. Freelancers, big and small businesses, non-profit organizations, retailers, individuals – Twitter is full of world-wide activity, across every industry.

Photo Credit: mkhmarketing via Compfight cc

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Website Designs that are People-friendly are Google-friendly

Google has always had the goal of making sure that their search engine provides the most relevant results to searchers. Through the use of algorithms, Google determines how related a site is when an Internet user completes a search for a certain keyword or keyword phrase. Recently, though, Google has made some very drastic changes to its algorithms. These updates have left many unaware website owners wondering how to make their sites appear on Google searches.

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Why the Flat Design Trend is Hurting Usability

The flat design trend has taken over the graphic design world in a very short amount of time. One of the first big interfaces to go flat was Windows 8. However, it wasn’t until the release of Apple’s iOS 7 last summer, June 10, 2013 that we really saw a huge increase in the many interfaces, websites, apps, and more that adopted a flat design. Before then, most designs were skeuomorphic with lots of 3D effects, gradients, and texture.

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Programming Skills Most Desired by Employers in 2014

It’s no myth that programmers are a highly sought after group in companies all over the globe. In her Forbes article on the Top Jobs for 2014, Jacquelin Smith analyzes an EMSI job study, which found that software developer (applications and systems software) is "the higher-paying occupation that has produced the most jobs post-recession". She also points out that the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 30% increase in software developers between 2010 and 2020.

Joseph Mapua also points out in his article in SkilledUp that, according to the BLS, businesses are looking to hire IT and computer workers due to the high demand for implementing new technologies. Developing software, enhancing security, upgrading outdated systems are all areas for which organizations have a need for computer professionals.

US News Today came out with their list of top 100 jobs of 2014 recently as well. Software developer and computer systems analyst were the top two in the entire list! Within the list of tech jobs, the top 5 careers include these two plus web developer, information security analyst, and database administrator.

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Using Parallax Scrolling without Overdoing It

Parallax scrolling has been around since the 80s when video games used the effect to make foreground images move at different speeds than background images. It wasn’t until about 2011, though, that parallax scrolling became popular on the web after Nike released its Better World microsite in January of 2011. At that time, parallax was new and exciting. It made a huge impression on first time visitors because of the stunning effects. Now, it has become an overdone effect that is (hopefully) slowly dying down.

Just because an effect has been abused, however, does not necessarily mean it should be thrown to the wind. Some websites use parallax scrolling in just the right amount and the right way – to pique the interest of viewers but point them to the right places. Even ecommerce sites can create some pretty excellent parallax that lends, rather takes away, from conversions. For other websites, parallax scrolling ruins the entire experience of the visitor, turning their site into something very un-usable and confusing. So how do web designers know how to correctly implement this effect?

The first bit of advice to remember is that there are plenty of other ways to make a site stand out and draw visitors in to an experience without parallax scrolling. But if you must use it, then make sure to keep the following points in mind.

Use It for the Right Website

Not every website will benefit from parallax scrolling. In fact, parallax is not beneficial for any website on which users want fast information. Parallax requires scrolling patience, especially if in between helpful information are a bunch of added graphics and cutesy animation. These distractions will usually end up annoying visitors who are in a hurry.

Storytelling websites, however, can benefit greatly from parallax scrolling. Again, you don’t want to create so many extras that getting to the right information is almost impossible. But a parallax effect can really add to the experience and emotional response of a story.

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Is Responsive Design Still King in Today’s Mobile Age?

Asking the question, “Is responsive design still king in today’s mobile age?” requires some explanation. The first bit of information necessary for this question to make sense is the fact that mobile device use has increased exponentially in the last few years. According to an infographic from DigitalBuzzBlog, in May 2011 only 35% used a smartphone and 17% still had no cell phone, but by May 2013, these numbers had increased to 56% smartphone users and only 9% without a cell phone. In fact, mobile web use is growing 8 times faster than use in the 90’s and 2000’s. And half of average global mobile users access Internet primarily or exclusively on a mobile device. So a website that works for a mobile device, which include tablets, is necessary for any company to remain accessible and competitive today.

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