Friday, 29 April 2016

E-Commerce Platforms: Details on Your Top Options

E-Commerce Platforms: Details on Your Top Options

When it comes to choosing a platform for an e-commerce website there are plenty of options. Having options can be a good thing, but in some cases having too many options can make it difficult to know which one to choose. In this post we'll take a look at the leading options and we'll provide some details about each. They are actually broken down into 3 categories: hosted, open source, and hosted shopping cart.

Hosted e-commerce platforms will charge a monthly or yearly fee, which will include web hosting, use of the e-commerce system, and support. You'll have to host your site with them in order to use the system. The downside to this is that you won't be able to choose your own host, but the upside is that you'll get support for hosting and the e-commerce system from the same place, and they will know their own system very well. Also, since it is hosted they can take care of most security details.

Open source e-commerce platforms can be downloaded and hosted anywhere. You're not committed to a particular host, which can be a good thing. The downside is that support is likely limited to a forum or wiki. For designers and developers, open source solutions can be a good choice. End users who are looking to set up their own site will likely face more obstacles with an open source, self-hosted system as compared to a hosted platform.

Hosted shopping carts will allow you to use the CMS and host of your choice, and they will just host the shopping cart and checkout process for you. So they'll still handle the security details since the payment will be processed through their site, but you won't host your entire site with them...

The post E-Commerce Platforms: Details on Your Top Options appeared first on Vandelay Design.

from Vandelay Design

FAQ Pages: The Benefits Of Crafting a Help Page

The FAQ page is a web page of primary importance to any website, no matter its type or purpose. It’s a compilation of questions and answers which are believed to be commonly asked withing the community that uses that particular website.

Although it’s frequently tagged as “noindex” on most sites ( this prevents web crawlers from archiving it for Web search results), the FAQ page gives tremendous value to any website. This article will guide you through the most important factors of creating a quality help page and will show you examples of the world’s most compelling FAQ page designs.

FAQ Pages

FAQ Pages: Going Back To The Roots

Back in 1647, the famous English witch-hunter Matthew Hopkins wrote a book called “The Discovery of Witches”. While the topic of the book certainly doesn’t relate to our discussion, it’s structure and composition makes us wonder when exactly has the Q&A trend been introduced as a writing format? Hopkins’ writing is believed to be the first archived book which is composed of questions and answers and in a certain way, it has created the outset of this writing style.

In the digital world, FAQ pages appeared for the first time at NASA. The Q&A format has been used in early mailing lists of the National Aeronauts and Space Administration due to technical limitations. Since then, both print and digital publications start developing FAQ sections. Nowadays, the commonly asked questions are often gathered by companies and displayed on websites as a way to facilitate customer support or provide a pre-made set of easily-digestible information that can get customers started with a new service or product. In print, FAQs are often placed in the intro or after the conclusion of books to provide readers additional information and solutions on commonly occurring questions and issues.

Inspiration: FAQ Pages to Drool Over



McDonalds FAQ page






Wix FAQ page

Benefits: What Makes a FAQ Page Worth The Efforts?

Crafting a web page that attempts to answer commonly asked questions could be a real pain, especially when you’re dealing with a completely new product or service. There are many excuses not to have a FAQ page on your website but truth is, the benefits are twice as much. Despite being a time-consuming chore, the creation of a comprehensive FAQ page can be a great plus to your website. Here’s why.

#1: FAQ pages can save you time and resources.

Even though it may be hard to gather the information at first, building a FAQ page is a wonderful investment any web developer should consider. Having a list of frequently asked questions on your website will spare you the time and resources on hiring an extra workforce to deal with clients that are just exploring the market rather than investing in converting queries into sells.

#2: Help pages will make your customers happy.

FAQ pages help visitors to get to know your service or product without leaving their comfort zone. Making your prospect clients make that extra step to call you or write you an e-mail just to ask a single and otherwise meaningless question will just drive them away from your site. The FAQ page will give your customers the answers before they even think of answering, making their purchase decision rather impulsive than premeditative.

#3: The FAQ page will boost the SEO of your website.

Having a FAQ page is just as important as having any other general page on your website. Along with “Terms and Conditions”, “About  us” and “Contact us”, the FAQ page is just as important to your website as any other page. It indicated search engines that your website is well-developed enough to consider the questions and issues of your target market and provide a helpful information when possible.

Learn even more about FAQ page design here:

30 FAQ Webpage Layouts with Effective User Experience


The post FAQ Pages: The Benefits Of Crafting a Help Page appeared first on SpyreStudios.

from SpyreStudios

10 of the Leading Mailing List Managers

10 of the Leading Mailing List Managers

Email marketing is a major part of doing business online and staying in touch with your customers. When compared to other types of marketing and advertising, the return on investment is often higher with email marketing than any other method of advertising. Whether you are looking to gain new customers, get more repeat purchases from existing customers, or just to stay in touch through newsletters, email marketing offers plenty of potential.

One of the challenges of getting started with email marketing is to find the right service. There are plenty or options, and in this post we'll look at 10 of the leading options. The options listed here will meet the needs of most small businesses and online marketers...

The post 10 of the Leading Mailing List Managers appeared first on Vandelay Design.

from Vandelay Design

Thursday, 28 April 2016

What Is Ajax & How Is It Used In Modern Web Development?

what is ajax ide editor

When I first started web development in 2006 the term Ajax was mentioned in whispers by professional circles of developers. These were the beginnings of a revolutionary concept that have shaped the way websites call HTTP data and load it onto the page.

In this post I'd like to answer the question of what is ajax and how can it be applied to modern web development. A lot has changed in the past decade and Ajax is now the most common way to build dynamic web applications.

But it helps to understand the history of Ajax and the problems it solves before applying it to your live web projects...

The post What Is Ajax & How Is It Used In Modern Web Development? appeared first on Vandelay Design.

from Vandelay Design

Do Video Backgrounds Hurt or Help Your Website’s UX?


Many top-ranked websites and brands unrolled video backgrounds in 2015, and as a modern website design trend, it might be one of the more popular options during that year. But while video backgrounds might look cool, there might be some very significant UX reasons to keep them off websites. So before you follow the herd and add background videos to some of your website’s pages, consider the following pros and cons.


Con: Video Slows Down a Website

Visitors are incredibly likely to click away from slow pages, and even just a few milliseconds of added load time can increase your website’s bounce rate. Sure, there are a few tricks which can help you mitigate how slow adding background videos make your website, but at the end of the day, it will likely still be slower.

Con: Video Can Be Distracting

If there’s a lot of text to read on a website to explain what it’s about, having a large video can be distracting, and take up so much space above the fold that readers need to scroll to see what your website is about, or what it’s offering. As more and more website visitors are coming from mobile devices, this can be another hassle which causes them to click away. To help a video be less distracting, ensure that it’s just a short loop, 30 seconds or less, and remove the appearance of the video controls!

Con: Poor Contrast With Callout Text

Especially if you’re using rich video, callout or headline text can become more difficult to read when it’s placed over video content. If you do decide to use a video, ensure that it’s one on which your callout text contrasts well and really “pops”. An easy way to accomplish this is to put a color overlay atop the video.

Con: Irritating Audio

Especially if someone comes to your website on a mobile device, surprise auto-starting audio can be embarrassing! Always make certain that a video’s audio function is muted when you embed it. And if a video absolutely needs sound, make certain that audio must be engaged by the visitor.


Pro: Communicates Complex Topics

Videos can be used to communicate complex topics well, or to demonstrate a great experience. A great use of using video to accomplish this is to use a short video to show how one might use the service your website is advertising, or to show panning shots of what your website is about. This is particularly great for experiential marketing. Most website visitors far prefer watching an informative video to reading informative text.

Pro: SEO Value

Especially if the video is produced in-house and cross-posted on different video sharing sites, videos can have a significant SEO value. That value is magnified the more views that video has, so promoting your video on a page that many visitors can see can have an impressive positive effect. You can compound that by posting the video transcript using services like Speechpad and Verbalink.

Pro: Cutting Edge Design

Many visitors believe that video backgrounds are cutting-edge (no matter how easy they are to technically implement) so it can translate to a positive brand experience. Trust in a website and brand is one of the number one reasons which visitors do (or don’t) engage, and videos are a powerful way to establish your brand as forward-thinking and tech-savvy.


Always Test Your Implementation

Whether you’re thinking of adding new opt-in functions, background video, or a new style of landing page, at the end of the day you should always split-test the change before fully implementing it across your website. If you think that using background videos might do well by your website, design specific alternate pages to test and promote, and see how your own visitors respond.





Read More at Do Video Backgrounds Hurt or Help Your Website’s UX?

from Web Design Ledger

Adobe Illustrator Tips for Beginners Based on a Newbie Experience


Learning a new tool or software could be quite an overwhelming experience for a beginner. It is not like old days were there were few known softwares with limited functionalities, and a newbie could easily get a step-by-step tutorial to master them.

With hundreds of apps and a wide range of client requirements, it is sometimes quite perplexing for a beginner to figure out where to start, what to learn and what they are allowed to skip.

In the case of Adobe Illustrator, there are so many things to learn and master, but I have some tips and tricks rolled up my sleeves that could take you through a quick road (a short-cut course) to understanding Adobe Illustrator.


The Pen Tool could be a little bit daunting if you are a newbie. But as they say, a pen is mightier than the sword, Adobe Illustrator proves it right! It will take you a little while to master it, but once you have, you can do anything in the Illustrator. You can come up with some pretty neat vector graphics without using this tool, but I would recommend pushing yourself and learning it. It would be worth it, I promise!

Go for Clipping Masks

Clipping masks have multiple uses, and in many instances they are a life saver. They save time and limit a group of shapes, paths, patterns, or whatever you need to limit, to a specific area.

Learn Pathfinder Panel00_Panel

If you are required to create shapes that are made out of other shapes, this panel has a lot of options that enable you to create the shape you need. It is highly useful in flat designs and basic shapes.

Once you become a pro at it, you could take one step more and try learning the Shape Builder Tool.

Make Customized Brushes

Adobe Illustrator helps you make your own brushes and use them like you want to.

Go for Layers Panel ZenLayers

Being organized is a big plus when it comes to managing work, and Layers Panel Zen lets you have a fuss-free design. You can name your layers and remove the colors and resources that are no longer used in the file. It may not directly benefit the user (unless you are delivering the vector file as an end-result), it is highly recommended to organize your vector files and have a cleaner look at layers.

Explore Swatch Libraries

Download Material Design Swatches For Photoshop and Illustrator

The Swatch Libraries come with all versions of Adobe Illustrator. It makes you fall in love with colors – you can select skin tone palettes to cool textures. Just go to the Swatches Panel, into the drill-down menu. From there select Open Swatch Library and voila!

Learn Pattern Options:add_pattern_options

Pattern options are fun, even if you don’t use them too often, it is good to know about them. There are a lot of cool things you can do with a pattern option. How about creating your own textures? There is a high probability that once you get the hang of it, you won’t feel like leaving it. Learning them will surely bump up your Adobe Illustrator skills.

Save your Vector:

As obvious as this may sound, saving your vector for the web is something that is often lightly taken. It is a simple two-step procedure that many of newbies often mess up with.

  1. The artboard needs to expose all the artwork you want to save. Use the Artboard Tool (Shift – O) to achieve this.
  2. Go to File and then Save for Web. Select the type of file (jpg, png, gif, etc) and done!


Don’t lose hope

This may sound like a generic tip (and it really is), but for the newbies who want to learn Adobe Illustrator, this is something that needs to be constantly kept in mind. Getting into vector art is something that’s pretty cool and creative, but it requires determination and patience to learn any new skill.

There will be times when you would question your decision to get into Adobe Illustrator, and then there would be moments when you feel like banging your head on the keyboard. But then, there will also be those moments of glory when you finally achieve learning a panel or saving a basic vector, and it would give you nothing but motivation to move on.

Welcome help

This last tip is something that makes you learn and evolve. It is okay to ask for help when things don’t go your way. Check out online communities, blogs and social media to learn more about Adobe Illustrator. Vector art has grown in the past many years and is still growing.

With these above mentioned 10 tips for beginners using Adobe Illustrator, you can definitely learn a new tool without getting frustrated with the amount of random information you see online. A new skill is always good, and this one will definitely help you in the long run.


Olympia Powell is the freelance writer, artist and web promoter.  Started working as a freelance writer cause of huge  love for the  art of writing and literature. Works as a website promoter and a writer at  Having some free time paints paintings, works with ceramics and just tries to make some art.  Twitter ID: @olympia_powell

Read More at Adobe Illustrator Tips for Beginners Based on a Newbie Experience

from Web Design Ledger

How to Find the Best Online Portfolio Site for You

Marketing yourself online is a tough business. Sure you can push yourself with social media marketing or SEO. But the fact is, depending on who you’re trying to talk to, this is only part of the picture.

For maximum exposure, choose an online portfolio to push your work out to the right people.

But if you have little coding knowledge and just as little available, time what do you do?

Enter sites like Behance, DeviantArt, or Dribble – all great portfolio sites that will help you get your work out on a global stage.

The trouble is some of them are paid, or have paid options that are available for free on other sites.

Also how much money do you have available for marketing? And what media do you tend to work in?

Not only that but you need to pick a portfolio site that matches your goals.

28 Personal Portfolio Websites using Portraits and Background Photos

If you need clients, you need a portfolio site that gives you maximum exposure. Depending on your budget, you might opt for sites like Dunked or Carbonmade.

Want a new job? Then go for a portfolio site with a job board. Perhaps choose a site that actively puts your work in front of likely employers like Krop or Coroflot.

If you’re into networking with like-minded creatives you may select DeviantArt or Behance, depending on the type of work you produce.

That sounds very complicated, but the good news is that we have an infographic that will help you out.

Designed by Harry Bugg, the “Design Portfolios! 11 Best Online Portfolio Sites” infographic will help you make an informed choice.

best online portfolio site


This post was written by Justin March, Marketing Manager for Harry Bugg Ltd, a plastic card printing company. Harry Bugg specializes in all sorts of card types, from membership and loyalty to contactless RFID cards.

The post How to Find the Best Online Portfolio Site for You appeared first on SpyreStudios.

from SpyreStudios

10 Helpful Resources for Testing Responsive Web Design

10 Helpful Resources for Testing Responsive Web Design

Testing is a critical part of the responsive web design process. The purpose of using a responsive layout is to make the website useful on any type of device, but without extensive testing it's not possible to know for sure how the site is behaving in different situations. Fortunately, there are a number of different tools and resources available that can help you to test your responsive designs. In this article we'll take a look at 10 helpful tools that you may want to try for yourself...

The post 10 Helpful Resources for Testing Responsive Web Design appeared first on Vandelay Design.

from Vandelay Design

10 Great UX/UI Apps and Tools to Work With

10 Great UX/UI Apps and Tools to Work With

You might be asking yourself if you even need a prototyping tool. Testing with a low-fi or paper version can often provide useful results. Nevertheless, being able to show a client a working, high-fidelity prototype that’s difficult to distinguish from the real thing, and use it to test for last-minute design glitches, has huge advantages.

You want to make any choice you the right one, and for a UX/UI tool, making the right choice can depend on a number of factors...

The post 10 Great UX/UI Apps and Tools to Work With appeared first on Vandelay Design.

from Vandelay Design

Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Excellent UX/UI Apps And Tools for Designers


As you go down this list, you’ll find multipurpose tools that can handle your most important tasks; tools with useful but somewhat unique features; and tools dedicated to specific activities. Whatever you need, you should find it here.

Once you’ve made your selection, you’ll be the owner of one of the best UX/UI tools on the market. Seeking the best is always a wise investment, since it tends to lead to greater productivity and higher quality products. Several of these tools feature capabilities in an oft-neglected area, an area where some web designers fear to tread – usability testing.

Take a quick look at this checklist first; to make certain you get what you need.

  • Get the right tool for the job; whether that job is website or app design, information storage, or flowcharting.
  • Look for a tool with strong collaboration and feedback capabilities.
  • Don’t forget usability testing. Select a tool that makes this crucial activity easy to perform.
  • Look for a tool that is just right for the size of your team or project.




If the best product design and collaboration platform available is at the top of your wish list, your search ends here.

InVision features all of the design, collaboration, and testing capabilities a web designer or small team needs. Large teams and complex projects haven’t been neglected, though. InVision Enterprise has everything large, interdepartmental teams need to create, iterate, and gather feedback on clickable, high-fidelity prototypes—including unlimited projects and unlimited team members.
InVision’s usability testing features go far beyond enabling you to display your prototype on a real device in the hopes users will provide you with some feedback. If you select this tool, you will inherit some truly powerful qualitative usability testing capabilities. You’ll see and hear what users are saying, which is what truly valuable usability testing is all about. With feedback like this, you will be in a far better position to make smart changes.
As a bonus, the first prototype you create is free. As an added, long term bonus, all of your design and testing efforts can be accomplished without a single line of code.


UI/UX design can be a rewarding career, but things can become a bit frustrating when you or your team is being called upon to turn out high-fidelity mobile prototypes in rapid-fire succession, while keeping interested stakeholders in the loop at all times. is a great investment for those who seem to be juggling too many priorities at once.

This UX/UI tool makes it easy to quickly create feature-rich, interactive, animated prototypes, and bridge any potential communication gaps while doing so. You don’t need to go to programming school either. does what you want done without any requirement for coding.

Use this tool’s native UI elements for iOS, Windows mobile, or Android, import your own design elements, or use some of both. Big boys like ESPN and Disney are fans, and you will become one as well once you’ve tried it.


Appsee Mobile App UX Analytics


Given a choice between quantitative and qualitative usability test results, knowledgeable web designers generally pick the latter.

Qualitative measurements are what Appsee Mobile App Analytics does best, and this UX/UI tool does them very well indeed.

While we humans can interpret tabulated information and usability test results presented in neat, color-coded graphs, we are primarily visually-oriented creatures. We rely heavily on what we see and hear. Quantitative usability data may have its place, but qualitative data is much easier to work with and provides more useful results.

Appsee data is based on visual user journeys, results of touch heatmap testing, and user session recordings; a rather personal kind of testing.

As you start using this tool, you will find it’s like having an experienced tour guide taking you around and showing you useful and important information you need to achieve a perfect UX.




If you are a big fan of PowerPoint, and you would like to improve on its prototyping capabilities, all you need to do is add PowerMockup to your design toolkit.

It’s a simple matter to select design elements from PowerMockup’s huge library, and drag and drop them onto PowerPoint slides.

You can then apply PowerPoint’s slideshow and animation features to showcase your interactive prototypes to others. You are always welcome to add your own shapes to PowerMockup’s ever-expanding library; for your own use and to share with others.




Pidoco is a web-based, drag and drop UX/UI tool that you’ll find to be incredibly useful for your web and mobile app design work.

The fact that professional web designers located throughout 50 different countries have made Picodo a UX/UI tool of choice, tells you its creators must be doing a lot of things right.

Pidoco’s features include a 400+ icon/design element library, live browser and mobile app preview capability, click and touch interactions, and a great deal more. It is by far one of the most advanced prototyping tools on the market.




With Lucidchart, you can create interactive mockups of websites in minutes if not sooner, but this cloud-based tool has much more to offer the UX/UI designer.

It is an excellent tool to have at your disposal if, in addition to wireframe and mockup design, you have a need for flowcharting and diagramming.

In addition, its clever keyboard shortcuts and master page features help you avoid reinventing the wheel time and again because of their reusable design-saving capabilities.




If usability testing has never been your strong suit, or if it is an area where you have tended to be a reluctant participant, Loop11 will change all of that.

Loop11 is dedicated to usability testing. This incredibly useful tool can manage a large number of test participants (up to 999 per test), and it will provide you with invaluable path analysis data and clickstream and heatmap test results.

Loop11 is an invaluable tool to have for use during prototyping or when refining a final design.


Form Analytics by UseItBetter


If you have ever been unsuccessful at filling out an online form because of a system glitch, you know how irritated it can be.

Forms Analytics by UseItBetter helps users avoid these situations with its ability to quickly drill down to the source of a form or form field problem. With Forms Analytics at your side, you won’t have to worry about users abandoning one of your forms, and perhaps abandoning the website as well. This is a handy tool to have if many of your designs include forms, and a real time saver as well.




You don’t build prototypes with Patternry. So why would you want to include it in your design toolkit?

The answer is simple. Patternry is used to build online toolkits, and as such, it is an incredible time saver.

What this tool will do for you is enable you to avoid doing time-consuming, repetitive tasks, and allow you to apply reusable design elements and blocks rather than attempting to reinvent the wheel. This is one of the more useful tools you are apt to come across. It is highly recommended that you give it a second look.


Notism Collaboration


Notism Collaboration combines the best in web and mobile prototyping with an effective, powerful, and reliable collaboration capability. The result is an ideal tool for use by large teams or organizations where effective sharing, reviewing, and discussing design and video work among project members is crucial.

On videos you can even leave feedback on the timeline.

Notism provides more than a communications channel. Notism’s prototyping features are not to be overlooked either. They are extremely efficient, effective, and easy to use.


Final thoughts

It will be difficult if not impossible, to make a poor choice, or a wrong choice, from this list of the 10 UX/UI tools. There is something here for everyone, whether it is a multipurpose tool with strong prototyping and collaboration features, a tool dedicated to qualitative usability testing, one specifically created for PowerPoint users, or one of the other specialty tools.

You may even find one or two you haven’t thought of, but will soon begin to wonder how you every got along without it.

Read More at Excellent UX/UI Apps And Tools for Designers

from Web Design Ledger