Website Design Tips for Conference and Events

There are some hard and fast rules that web designers can follow to ensure that their sites will look as attractive as possible and to ensure they are easy to navigate and interact with.

While this is true though, the specifics of web design can also vary somewhat depending on your precise requirements. A great B2B web design for instance is going to have some distinct differences when compared with a great B2C website design.

And likewise, websites about conferences and events will also tend to have some unique traits that set them apart from the rest.

So if you’re going to be hosting some kind of event to promote your brand, how would you design your website differently? What unique design elements will ensure your site is optimized for its intended purpose?

Design and Layout

Let’s start with the basic layout and structure. Here, it’s particularly popular for ‘event’ websites to feature a linear design and even an ‘infinite scrolling’ layout. This basically means that you are going to put everything onto a single page and place all your content vertically. At the top you’ll have your ‘welcome’ section, below that you might have some key details about the event, speakers, links and whatever else you want to place.

This type of layout doesn’t even need a menu as such, though if you choose to add one it will use ‘a name’ tags. This means it will link to content on the same page so that scrolling takes the user straight down to that page. What’s interesting about this technique is that users may not even realize that they’re everything is all on one page.

Why is this type of design popular for an event? Mainly because it’s just simple and because it encourages continued reading. Events are generally one offs or annual in nature and that means that there’s not a ton of content to add. People only really need to know when the event is, how much it costs and why it’s worth their time – there’s simply not enough content in many cases to fill an entire website with separate pages.

This is also a very good layout for responsive website design, it’s easy for you to manage and update and it’s fun for the user. It’s popular at the moment owing to its minimal appeal and it lets you add some interesting effects and features too – one of the most popular being the ‘parallax’ effect which means the background scrolls at a different speed creating a sense of depth.

Here are some websites, we designed for a conference or event.

http://dbajakartalive.com/, http://dbasurabayalive.com/

Lets see some interesting examples of conference websites, present in the web.

1) Himssconference

The site has a perfect blend of colors and content which makes the audience get easily connect with the website. The banner area has a very engaging video and a strong banner content.

2) BIO Internation Convention

This site is a good blend of old and new design. The banner is straight forward which says that it has a early bird offer too. The navigation is made easy by clear highlights through out the website

3) EDUCAUSE

This is a brilliant example of a simple website, which is to the point. The menu items are boldly highlighted for easy navigation.

These are some examples we found a good match for this topic. Do let us know in the comments section if you find any interesting Conference or Events websites.

Features to Include

While most events will use a relatively simple design, you nevertheless want to ensure that you include certain features so that your audience get all the details they need.

Most events for instance will want a blog which will normally mean external pages. You should also include some kind of slider or featured content on the main page in order to ensure that readers see the blog posts quickly.

Blogs are useful because they allow you to add news and updates which builds buzz and excitement and offers a large amount of SEO benefit.

It’s also a good idea for similar reasons to add a social media feed. Having a Twitter feed in one column is great for keeping the site alive and for updating regular visitors. A countdown timer can also help to build anticipation while a mailing list will be very useful for collecting email addresses to turn leads into customers/attendees.

All these features will likely go at the top of the site ensuring they’re immediately visible. Likewise, you should be sure to add the most important details at the top too – those being the location, date and time of the event.

All of this is very easy to build using WordPress and a WordPress website development company.

More Tips and Advice

While this basic structure won’t see you wrong, it’s of course fine to branch out and you may opt to get more creative with your layout. It’s up to you if you want to include more pages, or if you want to go with an entirely different structure.

Either way, you’ll also need to think about the color and the look of the design too. This will likely be up to your website development company who will follow your advice and suggestions. Make sure that you think carefully about how you want your event to be seen – B2B events should use a more formal web design for example as compared with B2C events. Your branding will also likely need to be incorporated into the scheme.

If you need more ideas, consider checking out events for other websites and seeing what you like or don’t like about those. Or of course you can give ColorWhistle a call! We’re a WordPress website development company and would be more than happy to offer you a free consultation.

News From the Biggest 2015 Internet Marketing Survey on the Web

All the Important News From the Biggest 2015 Internet Marketing Survey on the Web

MOZ releases data of 2015 internet marketing survey. As one of the biggest search engine optimization blogs on the net and one of the most respected, this extensive write-up is one of the very best places to find up-to-date information on the subject and to keep your finger on the SEO pulse.

This year, the site surveyed over 3,600 experts, 49% of which were in-house marketers. That’s a lot of data from a lot of people who know what they’re talking about but with a huge number of questions it’s also a lot to read through.

Here then we’ve collected all the most important highlights for you to look through to quickly bring you up to speed on the last year’s developments.

The Most Popular Services

We can learn a lot simply by looking at who answered and what they did to earn a living. Which jobs in internet marketing are currently the biggest and the most in-demand?

According to this data set, the most common services provided by agencies are:

  • SEO (94%)
  • Search engine marketing (83%)
  • Social media marketing (79%)
  • Content creation and curation (75%)
  • Web development (70%)

So in other words, SEO still is far from being ‘dead’ despite many claims to the contrary.

At the same time though, content marketing is still growing fast and two thirds of those questioned said that ‘content for SEO purposes’ was what they spent most of their time working on.

The Most Popular Tools

While we’re at it, let’s take a look at the tools most commonly used by respondents. Where are they spending most of their time?

Here are the ten most commonly used marketing tools, in order:

  • Google Webmaster Tools
  • Google Keyword Planner (still!)
  • Open Site Explorer
  • MOZ Pro
  • Screaming Frog
  • Yoast
  • SEMrush
  • Bing Webmaster Tools
  • Majestic SEO
  • Ahrefs

For content, marketers found themselves using Google Alerts, Google Trends, Reddit, BuzzSumo, Followerwonk, Fresh Web Explorer and Feedly. For analytics, Google Analytics leads the way still, followed by Crazy Egg, WordPress Stats, Hubspot, Kissmetrics and Adobe Analytics. Social tools in order were Facebook Insights, Hootsuite, Twitter Analytics, Bitly, Moz Pro, Followerwonk, LinkedIn Insights and Buffer. A shame not to see the incredibly powerful

SMO

SMO, or Social Media Optimization, is still a big component of digital marketing. But where are marketers spending most of their time?

Here are the social networks that marketers are using:

  • Facebook (90%)
  • Twitter (84%)
  • Google+ (62%)
  • LinkedIn (58%)
  • YouTube (40%)
  • Pinterest (30%)
  • Instagram (22%)
  • Reddit (7%)
  • Tumblr (4%)
  • Quora (4%)

What’s interesting is that this list doesn’t necessarily match the number of users on each social network. There are more Instagram users than Twitter users for instance, yet it remains less popular among marketers as compared with others.

Note as well that just because these are the most commonly used social networks, that doesn’t mean they’re the ones youshould invest all your time in. Choose the network that best suits your brand and think as well about going where there’s less competition sometimes!

Activities

So what are the marketers doing with all their time? Which of these tools/platforms do they use most commonly?

Apparently, the five things they do most often are: analytics, keyword research, site audits, content creation and then social media marketing.  Interesting that ‘site audits’ should be so high, especially when the top five services requested do not include that anywhere…

Assessing All the Data

So what does all this mean?

It’s interesting comparing this data to last year’s, as a lot less has been shared. The 2014 internet marketing survey gave us more information on things like spending, salaries, demographics and ranking factors. This information is a little less in-depth but it still yields a lot of insightful revelations to mull over. What can we take from all this?

What does it tell us about the direction of Outsourcing SEO Services, content marketing and social media?

Mainly, this paints a picture of an industry that is getting increasingly more complex and varied. These days SEO doesn’t mean building links and marketing doesn’t mean SEO. These days, it’s about brand management, content creation, advertising and public relations. What this seems to demonstrate is a general move towards a more traditional type of marketing – more similar to ‘real world’ marketing in many ways.

At the same time though, social media shows remarkably little change over the last couple of years. The ‘top players’ remain steady and activity here hasn’t varied all that much (though tools are increasingly common). The barriers to entry for new social media channels are getting increasingly higher – but we still shouldn’t write off a paradigm shift sometime down the line.

Finally, the good news is that demand for these services continues to grow and there’s more awareness of digital marketing as a whole. The world of digital marketing continues to get bigger then, so if you can keep up, there’s more than ever to be gained.

10 Pages That Every Website Design Can Benefit From

When it comes to designing a website, coming up with the look and layout is just one piece of the puzzle. What’s also highly important is that you think about the actual set-up of your site. In other words, how many pages are you going to have? How will your visitors navigate around said pages? How can you ensure that your visitors can easily find all the information they’re looking for?

This is crucial to consider because not only will it impact on the amount of work you need to do (and thus the amount your web design team will charge) but also on the way you arrange your menus and plan the rest of the site.

What Pages Do You Need?

So what do we mean when we say web ‘pages’? Of course a web page is any static element on your site filled with content. The homepage is the most obvious example of this but there are many more which can benefit many businesses.

Here we will look at the most commonly used pages and at how you can ensure you are getting the most from each of them.

The Homepage

The homepage is the first page that visitors to your site will see. This should welcome and introduce those visitors, while at the same time explaining what the site is about and showing off the basic layout and structure.

What’s so important here is that your website quickly and easily communicates what it is you do as a business and why people should stick around on your site. When someone lands on a new website, they normally will be busy, in a hurry or just generally disinterested in sticking around and diving into your content. If you don’t immediately show them why they should bother with you, then you risk losing their attention. If you have a blog, then the homepage will likely also show your recently added content.

The ‘About Page’

Next up is the ‘about page’. This is a page on your website where you’ll tell everyone about your business, you as a person and what’s on your site in more depth.

But wait: isn’t this what we just did with the homepage? Well sure: but the difference here is that you’re going to be going more in-depth and not worrying about holding the attention of your audience. While the homepage should hit hard and fast, this is where someone already interested comes to learn more.

The Contact Page

A contact page serves as a very useful way for visitors to get in touch with you and to ask questions. This should be very clear and obvious as any contact page is ultimately going to also serve as a way to collect leads and offer consultation. Just make sure you protect yourself against spam bots – maybe by using a form for instance (this also makes life easy for your visitors).

The Services/Products Page

Here is where you’ll showcase your services and your products. If you are a B2B company offering services then this may just mean telling people about what you offer. If you’re a company that sells products though, it may just mean talking a bit about each item you have in stock.

Store

Of course showcasing products is one thing, letting people actually buy them is another. With an ecommerce store you can do exactly that, making it very easy for your visitors to become customers and get their hands on your inventory.

The Blog

A blog is an incredibly useful tool for any business. The idea here is that you add frequent updates in the form of posts that provide value to your readers. This in turn gives them good reason to come back. A blog isn’t really just one page as such but rather a selection of different posts – the main blog though will often be set-up like a page.

The ‘Start Here’ Page

Having a ‘Start Here’ page can be very useful if you want to introduce your visitors to all your content. If you have a big blog with thousands of posts, this is a good place to highlight the best few and to help get your visitors started.

The Portfolio Page

A portfolio is a place to show off work you’ve done for previous clients. This is a useful tool if you are a photographer, a web designer or any other professional who has a very ‘visual’ business.

The FAQ Page

An FAQ page is a ‘frequently asked questions’ page. This is an excellent way to keep your inbox from getting clogged up with unnecessary content and can save visitors time too.

The Site Map

Finally, a site map simply shows every single link on your page. This is highly useful because it lets your visitors find things without using your interface and because it helps Google to index all your content as well.

The Advantages of Choosing a WordPress-Based Ecommerce Platform

Adding eCommerce to a website is one of the best things that any commercial business can do to increase sales, turnover and profit. With an ecommerce store you make it infinitely simpler for prospective customers to find products they like and then to place an order from the comfort of their home.

What’s more though, you’ll also be cutting your overheads this way. Instead of having a high street store or taking orders over the phone, you’ll now be allowing your customers to make purchases entirely on their own with no need for you to help them. This makes a huge difference because it means that you can take orders without needing a member of staff present and without even needing a physical location. That immediately means you aren’t paying half as many overheads: no salary, no rent, no bills. The only overheads are shipping and the cost of hosting your website.

All this and you’ll be expanding your potential customer base to people right across the world!

But while an ecommerce store is always a great idea, not all ecommerce stores are made equal. Here we will take a look at what a WordPress ecommerce store is and at why this is such a useful and powerful tool.

What is a WordPress Based eCommerce Store?

Basically, WordPress is a CMS – or Content Management System. This means that you can use it to build your website, to add a design and to manage your content. Uploading a post is as simple as clicking ‘new post’ and then entering the content into a box and editing existing content is similarly a straightforward process.

At the same time, WordPress also has the distinct advantage of allowing you to easily and seamlessly make updates and additions to the site itself. This is helped in part by the ability to add themes (which change the entire design at the click of a button) or to install plugins (which are basically small ‘apps’ which add extra functionality to your website).

Most websites these days are creating in WordPress (at least for new, small businesses) and if you’re unsure as to what your web design was created with, there’s a good chance it’s probably WordPress. This then means you can easily use those plugins to update and improve your site and this gives you a very quick and easy way to build an ecommerce store.

Ecommerce Stores as WordPress Plugins

That’s because an ecommerce store can be added to WordPress as simply as adding a new plugin. One of the best known examples of this is WooCommerce, which is one of the most popular ecommerce platforms while also being entirely based on WordPress.

Advantages of going this route for your online store

For starters, creating an ecommerce store through WordPress is the simplest and easiest way to get up and running with your own shop. You now don’t have to build your own store from scratch (which would be known as a custom ecommerce store) but nor are you going to be limited by having an externally hosted store (meaning that your shop is part of another website that you simply link to).

With a WordPress store, you have full control over the platform but it’s incredibly simple and easy to make changes.

What’s more, as with the rest of WordPress, there is a huge amount of support and additional features available for platforms like WooCommerce. If you are looking for ecommerce website developers for instance to upgrade your site, you’ll find that almost all of them are familiar with WooCommerce. On top of all this, ecommerce website developers will often charge less when working with WooCommerce owing to its simplicity.

Likewise, if you should have any problems with your store, you’ll only have to check a forum quickly to be provided with all the answers you could possibly need. And that support extends to even more plugins and even more themes which you can use to quickly and easily switch up your design or add entirely new features. Better yet, all of these plugins and themes will be perfectly integrated with WordPress itself meaning that you can add elements across the whole site to make your store work even better with the help of Custom WordPress web development!

Why Choose Other Options?

As you can see then, choosing a platform like WooCommerce has a ton of advantages and will simply make your ecommerce development simpler, easier and more reliable – all things you should aim for as a business.

So why isn’t everyone using WooCommerce? There are a number of reasons but usually it comes down to the (slight) limitations presented by going this route. For instance, if you choose WooCommerce your site will only really be suitable for featuring about 50 items at once. And while the store will be very customizable, there will still be some limitations on what you can do to the layout/checkout process.

So if you’re Amazon, then you need a custom built solution. For everyone else? Certainly consider going the Custom WordPress plugin route!

3 Powerful Tools to Upgrade Your Social Media Efforts

Brandwatch, BuzzSumo and Link Humans – Three Powerful Tools to Upgrade Your Social Media Efforts

If you’re struggling to gather momentum in your social media efforts, then it may be time to consider getting some outside help… from software.

There are tons of social media tools out there on the web, each of which provides a vast number of powerful features and functions that can automate and speed up your progress on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

You’ve probably heard of the ‘big ones’ like HootSuite, Buffer and TweetDeck.

But that’s just scratching the surface!

While these tools are useful, they really do little more than organize your content and save you a bit of time.

The truly powerful tools are those ‘force multipliers’ that can take your efforts and scale them up to infinity.

Three great examples you can use for doing this are: Brandwatch, BuzzSumo and Link Humans.

Read on and we’ll look at each of these and at how you can use them to your advantage.

BuzzSumo

BuzzSumo is a web app the basic purpose of which is to help you find the trending content in any given niche or subject matter.

For instance then, you can type in ‘web design’ and see all the articles on web design that have recently be shared on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ etc.

You then get to see how many Facebook shares, LinkedIn shared etc. said content has and a total at the end.

Why does this matter?

Simple: it lets you see which kind of content is really thriving in your network. And this is something that shouldn’t be underrated.

From right within BuzzSumo, you can then hit ‘share’ in order to share that content to your own channel and because you know that this content is successful, you can almost guarantee it will bring lots of eyes to your brand.

That’s a streamlined way to fill your social media account with consistently relevant and high performing content!

What’s more, you can also click to ‘view sharers’ to see who else is sharing that content.

This is useful for finding key influencers and is very handy for influencer marketing.

What’s more, you can also use all this information to guide your own content creation.

Look for trends, breaking news and other things that you can build your own content around and again you’ll have an almost guaranteed hit on your hands.

 

Brandwatch

Brandwatch is a completely different tool but no less useful.

This one is all about reputation management and allows you to get notifications for every time someone mentions you on social media.

This is incredibly powerful as it allows you to respond quickly to comments about your products or services, to deal with complaints and to tailor the way that your brand is being seen.

For instance, if someone should mention that they found your product lacking on Twitter, you can ask them for feedback on what they didn’t like and then offer them a refund or some other form of compensation.

This has then gone from a branding disaster to an opportunity to appear thoughtful and considerate and to improve the calibre of your offering.

Link Humans

Unlike the other two items on this list, Link Humans is not a web app but rather an online service that you can use to increase your social media efforts.

This is an agency that specializes not only in brand management but also in helping brands to get noticed in the first place – and they’ve got some great success stories behind them.

Basically this means outsourcing your social media marketing to help increase your brand visibility.

Not only does this save you a lot of time but it means putting your marketing in the hands of a company that does this as a living and that has a ton of experience: which is just a smart move for any business.

Bringing it All Together

So what is it about these tools that we recommend?

Basically, it’s the fact that they offer to help improve your branding by orders of magnitude and to really jump start your social media efforts.

Unlike simply scheduling content or managing Tweets, these tools let you share bigger and better content, let you respond instantly to comments and allow you to leverage the experience of highly experienced marketing professionals.

Put it all together and you now have a system that you can use to greatly expand your business without investing lots of extra time or money.

This just shows the power of social media tools and when you combine them like this, you can cover every aspect and save yourself a huge amount of time.

Throw in HootSuite, TweetDeck and IFTTT to save yourself time in the short term and you can do wonderful things for your brand that would never be possible on your own without that little bit of help!

The Powerful Advantages of Local SEO for Small Businesses

SEO or ‘Search Engine Optimization’ is the act of trying to ‘optimize’ a website for Google and other search engines.

This in turn should mean – if all goes to plan – that the website shows near the top of the page when someone searches for related terms.

While it’s rather complicated, the process effectively involves adding content to a website with important ‘keywords’ throw in for good measure and it means building as many ‘in bound’ links as possible (links on other sites that send visitors to your content).

What is SEO?

In theory, SEO is immensely powerful. With a very low cost of set-up, SEO promises to greatly increase the number of people visiting your page which can translate to lots more sales, clicks and subscribers. Unlike advertising, you are only paying for the labor costs – and once you stop the benefits will still remain ensuring that traffic keeps flooding in for months or years afterwards. That’s the good stuff. That’s why so many companies invest so much money in SEO. But there are problems as well…

Why It is Problematic for International Business to Optimize for Local Search?

For international companies selling products or services, SEO has become increasingly challenging.

The main issue has always been the sheer amount of competition. You want to get to the top of page one on Google for the term ‘IT support’? Sure… but then so do millions of other companies. And some of those companies include the likes of the ‘Geek Squad’ – with infinitely larger budgets and more clout. How can you possibly compete with the links of these businesses?

The unfortunate reality is that you probably can’t.

And it has only become much more complicated in recent times too. That’s because Google is constantly updating the ‘algorithm’ (formula) that its search works on. Their objective has been to try and ensure they are partnering users with only the very best content and only the most relevant content to their query. This is important of course because it means that people will keep using Google for their search.

What this also means is that getting Google to index your site and put it at the top has become increasingly complex. Inserting keywords – which has long been the hallmark of SEO – now must be done very subtly and using ‘LSI’ phrases (latent semantic indexing) to ensure there are lots of natural synonyms.

What’s more, it only takes for Google to change their algorithms and all your hard work can end up down the drain. What was once a legitimate way to get to the top of Google can suddenly get your site penalized.

And this is why more and more big businesses are moving to other forms of internet marketing like social media marketing, content marketing and video marketing.

How Local SEO helps businesses?

But the great news for small, local business is that many of these concerns simply don’t apply to local SEO.

With local SEO, you are targeting keywords that include a local element. For instance, this might mean that instead of IT support, you are now offering ‘IT support Santa Monica’. What this in turn means is that you are now no longer competing with millions of other companies and instead are just competing with a few. The more you narrow down your area, the less competition there will be.

At the same time, you can very quickly index for these terms by using Google Maps and Local Business in order to make it clear that you are based in X area. Finding inbound links is also much easier as you’ll be able to contact local magazines and other local businesses in order to gain some immediate traction.

How Local SEO helps businesses?

Google’s algorithm changes also tend to be less brutal for local business.

While Google Penguin and Panda devastated the SEO efforts of many larger companies, only the much smaller ‘Pigeon’ update had much impact on local SEO and this was far less painful.

What’s more, as local SEO is so much easier, you’ll find it’s much quicker to get back to your starting point even if you do encounter a setback.

Social media can be integrated seamlessly with local SEO too. Why not ask your customers to tweet if they enjoyed your services or products?

Conclusion

For all these reasons then, local SEO remains just as powerful as ever. This is why SEO for small businesses makes a lot of sense still and especially for those with a slightly lower budget.

ColorWhistle offers SEO services for small business and non-profits at a heavily discounted rate. We want to help you to get your smaller brand noticed so that you can stand toe-to-toe with the big players in your industry. Get in touch today and we’ll provide a free quote and consultation!

An Introduction to Material Design

An Introduction to Material Design – Will This be the Next Big Thing in Software Design?

Material design is a term that Google uses to describe its design sensibilities and practices across software, websites and apps. If you’ve ever used one of Google’s 50+ apps on iOS, you’ll find that they look markedly different from the apps you’re used to using from Apple – which is all down to this ‘material design’.

So what is material design? What are the rules? And how is it different from other design schemes like Microsoft’s ‘Metro UI’?

The Basic Principles of Material Design

If you want an official primer in material design, then you can find out more from Google themselves here.

But for those interested in getting stuck straight in, let’s go over some of the basic principles discussed in that text.

According to Google, the objective of this design language was to:

Create a visual language for our users that synthesizes the classic principles of good design with the innovation and possibility of technology and science. This is material design.”

So what does this mean? Essentially it sounds like Google wanted to take the principles that apply in the real world and then translate them for a digital format.

Grounded in Reality

Thus ‘material’ here is a metaphor that is supposed to convey the notion of a tangible, tactile reality based on paper and ink.

One thing that Google views as key to this, is the use of contrast, edges and realistic lighting which all provide cues as to how something should be interacted with:

“Surfaces and edges of the material provide visual cues that are grounded in reality. The use of familiar tactile attributes helps users quickly understand affordances.

“The fundamentals of light, surface, and movement are key to conveying how objects move, interact, and exist in space and in relation to each other. Realistic lighting shows seams, divides space, and indicates moving parts.”

On the face of it then, this sounds a little like a ergodic design (design based on real world objects). The difference though is that ergodic design is all about mimicking real specific objects (for instance, having the dialler app use a phone icon). This is more about using the contrast, shadows and edges that apply to all objects and using them to implicitly guide interactions.

Bold, Colorful Graphics

If you look at any of Google apps then, you won’t necessarily see ergodic designs, just lots of contrasts, clear edges and shadowing. At the same time, you might notice that they also use bold, high contrast colors that are somewhat minimalistic.

“The foundational elements of print-based design—typography, grids, space, scale, color, and use of imagery—guide visual treatments. These elements do far more than please the eye. They create hierarchy, meaning, and focus. Deliberate color choices, edge-to-edge imagery, large-scale typography, and intentional white space create a bold and graphic interface that immerse the user in the experience.”

The result is lots of bold shapes with colourful shading and minimal detail. Large, crisp fonts are also common.

The Use of Motion

Google also emphasizes the importance of motion as it relates to meaning. Motion is directional and instructional and this can be used to show users where to click or how to interact with elements. User actions are described as ‘inflection points’ that transform the rest of the design.

Key to this is that everything takes place inside of a single environment. Instead of travelling from page to page, the content moves onto the page. In a web design capacity, we might consider an infinite scrolling design to be similar in principle.

Dimensions

“On the web, the z-axis is used for layering and not for perspective. The 3D world is emulated by manipulating the y-axis.”

What does this mean? It means that material design uses the third dimension mainly for organization. Take a look at Google’s design and you’ll often see things that appear to be ‘stacked’ from an isometric view. This is another way in which material design is taking cues from the ‘real world’.

What Can You Learn From Material Design?

Google is openly sharing its design principles for you to apply to your own responsive web development if you should wish. But is this really the best responsive web design practice? Is it worth applying these principles to your own site?

You are under no obligation to of course. That said though, as Google clearly favors this type of design it definitely can’t hurt your SEO in the long term. What’s more, it will provide a consistent experience for those coming from Google or using an Android device.

Then again though, Google has never exactly been known for its design standards and it may simply be that these principles are not to your tastes. In which case, why not create your own consistent design language?

A Curated List of Free Icon Sets

An icon set is a collection of images that you can use as icons in any website design or app interface. These images can quickly denote the function of a particular link without the need for text and make for a much more stylistic looking website that’s far easier to navigate.

Not only are these images a must for any mobile friendly responsive website design, they’re also great for creating a consistent style unique to your site. The only problem of course is finding great looking icons to use in your own designs…

The good news though is that we’ve decided to do the work for you! Use the below list to find a broad range of free icon sets that you can use on your site or for any other online project. All these collections are free, look great, are well suited to specific niches and come with full commercial rights.

Enjoy!

1. Free Business and Finance Icon Set

Free Business and Finance Icon Set

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2. Free Social Media Icon Set

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3. Free Free Dashboard Web Icon Set

Free Toolbar Icon Set

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4. Free Technical Support Icon Set

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5. Free Drinks and Lifestyle Icon Set

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6. Free Lulu Icon Set

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7. Free Modern Weather Icon Set

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8. Free Multi-purpose Flat Icon Set

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9. Free Cards and Payment Gateways Icon Set

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10. Best Free Icon Sets, Spring 2015

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How to Boost Your Brand’s Reputation With Social Media

Creating and managing a brand is a fascinating process. A brand is not really a ‘thing’ in the conventional sense. This is an abstract concept that really is a collection of principles, values, images and products; but together this branding manages to completely define your business and the way you’re seen by the general public and your potential audience.

Boosting your brand is a very worthwhile and useful process then but the fluid nature of branding makes it difficult. Good job then that you have social media to act as a scalpel in crafting the perfect image for your business!

Let’s look at some of the ways you can use social media to create the image you want for your business and to improve your reputation.

Reputation Management

Reputation management is a form of digital marketing that focusses on the process of improving your brand’s image specifically. The idea here is to tightly control any and all information about your company so that you can ensure it is seen in the best light possible.

One way to do this is by looking at the way that others are already describing you on social media and on review sites. For instance, if you have a local business then you’ll probably have a presence on Yelp and TripAdvisor. These are examples of ‘social commerce’ sites which utilize reviews from customers and clients in informing customer behavior. Likewise, you can also accrue reviews on Facebook, Google+ and many other platforms around the web.

Reputation management then involves managing these reviews to ensure that they’re positive. That doesn’t mean playing dirty – it simply means encouraging satisfied customers to leave reviews, promoting the more positive reviews so they’re easier to find and responding to negative reviews to explain yourself. It also means promoting your own website and social media platforms where you will have the option to tailor your message.

Communication

This is what’s really so powerful about a digital marketing agency with help of social media when it comes to portraying your brand online: it gives you the ability to put forward the precise message that you want to and to show your company in a positive light.

This means that you can communicate directly with your customers and fans – you can ask them what they want to see and you can tell them that you’re working on particular projects. At the same time, if there’s a story in the news about your business, then you can respond to it and put forward your point of view.

Dealing With Bad Press

If you are getting bad press, then social media gives you a chance to respond. What’s key here is to make sure you respond correctly. If there has been a factual error or mistake, then you can correct this with the facts in an objective manner.

Otherwise, if the bad press is deserved, make sure that you are humble about it and communicate that you will make a concerted effort to ‘do better’. Own up to your mistakes, apologize and poke fun at yourself as a business where appropriate. Don’t make excuses or act aggressively – in the long run this only adds fuel to the fire.

Controlling Your Message

You also get to control your message in other ways through social media. For instance, your description should explain what it is that your company does, why you’re good at it and what your values are.

You also ‘communicate’ in other more subtle ways through your social media channels. The brand image that you put forward for instance will communicate a lot about your company. What does the company name suggest about your business? Does the logo look like the logo of a ‘fun’ company? Of a professional and trustworthy one?

Boosting Your Reputation

All this helps you to control your image online and gives you a direct line with your customers, clients and fans.

But sometimes you need more than that. Sometimes you need to do something to ‘boost’ your reputation and to fix the way you’re seen in the public eye.

One good way to do this is with some kind of event, statement or product. Doing things with charities often works well here for instance – why not launch a promotion and team up with a worthy cause? Giveaways can also help to improve your standing with followers, as can special offers and discounts.

The Personal Touch

If you want to go even further though, then consider using social media to really impress your followers and fans. How might you do this? Well for instance, how about occasionally wishing them happy birthday? Or maybe conducting AMAs (Ask Me Anything) on Reddit where you speak candidly about your plans and your business model?

In a world where large corporations and conglomerates seem completely untouchable, it’s a great asset as a small business to be able to communicate directly and personally with your audience. Don’t squander that opportunity!

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