Plugins We Like: WP Job Manager

In the past we have made a post on reasons why your company should consider posting job opportunities on your website. We have mentioned benefits like saving money, easy sharing, grabbing web surfers’ attention, and more (visit the blog here). Well, today we are highlighting our favorite job listing plugin, WP Job Manager. Not only does this allow you to post job opportunities directly onto your site, but it also allows you to manage those job listings. This job manager has many features that make the plugin one of our favorites.  

An important thing to point out about the WP Job Manager plugin is that it is very simple to set up and works well with many themes. One of the plugin’s best features is that it allows fully managing, categorizing, and adding as many job listing as available. When submitting the listing, it allows you to preview it first. You are also able to link each listing to either an email or website address to allow job seekers to easily apply. Job seekers can also be alerted whenever a new job matching is available through RSS links.

We asked two of our designers, Phil and Jose, for some insight on the WP Job Manager plugin and how they felt about it. Even though this is a great job management plugin, they both agreed on one flaw: it is difficult to customize. According to Phil and Jose, once the plugin has been added, it easily grasps the theme of most templates but it can be difficult to adjust it to customized websites. However, they both agree that once it is implemented, it handles data well and does a great job at managing an unlimited amount of job listing and applications.  

Plugins We Like: Events Calendar by Modern Tribe

The latest version of the Events Calendar by Modern Tribe is Sperling Interactive’s go-to calendar plugin for our clients’ website. When researching the features of this calendar you may find a lot of great aspects including: its saved venues and organizers, its inclusion of Google map, the list of upcoming events, the option to export events into Google Calendar and iCal, its responsiveness from mobile devices to desktop, and its availability to internationalize and translate the descriptions.

Of course, when researching anything you may come across many positive and negative reviews, so I decided to ask one of our developers, Andrew, what he thought about the plugin to get more information.

When I asked Andrew how he felt about it, he said it was the best calendar plugin out of the other free options. He also said that aside from reviews claiming that it is a highly customizable option, it isn’t as customizable as one would think. “It works well as a template and it’s customizable in the way you view the events and the different templates options,” he said, “but making small changes to the templates can be a difficult.” According to Andrew, in order to make changes to those templates many other plugins need to be incorporated.

When I asked Andrew what were some things he liked about the events calendar he mentioned how once the plugin is installed it immediately incorporates the existing theme or color of the website. He also likes how the pieces to customize the calendar are all there, even though “getting them to where you need them takes more work.”

Overall, Andrew said he would recommend this calendar plugin to others because “for a free plugin it’s extensive” but to “be weary that needing super extensive things might be a little more challenging.”

A/B Testing

 

A/B Testing, also known as Split Testing and Bucket Testing, is a way of comparing two different versions of anything from websites to an app. According to Mike Sperling, the way it works is by showing versions A and B to a percentage of your consumers and test the outcome or response rate of each one. With that, the one that has the best response rate would be the one you send out to the rest of your consumers.

 

To get into more details on how to perform an A/B testing is by taking it as a scientific experiment:

  1. Start with a question, or the purpose for doing the experiment.
  2. Research consumers’ behaviors through analytics or past experiments.
  3. Make a hypothesis, or statement on the outcome of the experiment.
  4. Figure out the percentage of people you would like to perform the testing on and the length of the experiment.
  5. Perform the A/B Test where A would be the controlled substance and B is the variation.
  6. Analyze the study and conclude which form would be best to go with.

A/B testing is a perfect experiment to perform especially when making changes that could significantly increase leads, sales and revenue. These experiments are great overall because they help construct hypothesis and help get a better understanding of what experiences impact your consumers. If done consistently, it can even help gradually improve your site or marketing items.

 

This kind of testing can be done on anything, really:

-Headlines

-Sub headlines

-Paragraph Text

-Social Proof

-Testimonials

-Call to action

-Links

-Media Mentions

-Images

– Awards and badges

-Content near a fold

Color Combinations We Like

When it comes to web, print or, really, any design, color combinations play a crucial role in the designs appearance. Because of this, it is important to keep the basic rules of color combining in mind when creating a new design.

When deciding on a combination, you want to incorporate a variety of colors so that the design comes to life. At the same time, you don’t want to have too large of a variety since it could make it difficult for the audience to follow the design. In general, you want to have at least 3 main colors in your design:

  1. The Primary Color, which makes up about 60 percent of the design.
  2. The Secondary Color used to back up the primary color should make up about 30 percent of the design.
  3. The Highlight Color used to emphasize parts of the design should make up about 10 percent of the design.

 

Deciding on the right combination requires keeping in mind the basic rule of complimentary colors. These are colors opposite to from one another in the color wheel. In other words, cool colors with warm colors. Using a variety of shades of a specific color can also be helpful when deciding on a combination.

In general, the combinations are usually decided on depending on what kind of business the design is being created for. In this case, you would have to take into consideration what pictures you would need to incorporate, what colors are associated with the brand of the business, and what kind of influence is the business to make in the audience.

We decided to ask our Sperling Interactive team of designers what their favorite color combinations are. The following are their answers:

Andrew: A combination of light grays, blue, and white is Andrew’s favorite because it gives a clean and sleek appearance to the design, and simply looks good all together.

Jose: A simple red, blue and green is Jose’s favorite combination. These colors are highly influenced by the Dominican Republic’s flag and, also, by the fact that these colors can create a variety of other colors.

Julia: Recently, Julia has been enjoying white or subtle colors with a brighter accent color, like cream, white and a bright mint green. She feels it creates a modern and clean feel.

Holmes: One of Holmes’ favorite color combinations is light blue, gray and white with yellow highlights because enjoys the clean color the cool tones create. Another favorite is orange and yellow because these demand attention and are challenging colors to work with.

Rose: A combination of purple and green tones with some grays and white is Rose’s favorite because it brings color balance while still being lively.

Stacey: Bright floral color combination is what she enjoys the most along with shades of blue and gold. She says that, even though those are Michigan colors, the combination is a reliable contrasting one.

Current Web Design Trends

As time goes on and changes are being made in the world, so are there changes being made in web designing trends. There are many trends that have been developed in the past years, and today we are going to tell you about those trends you should consider when redesigning or creating a new website.

New UI patterns:

Obvious trends among websites are the new user interface (UI) patterns that include:

Hamburger Menu

This menu is recognizable to the majority of users, which makes navigating through the site much more simple and easier.
Example: National Geographic Channel National Geographic

 

 

 

Long Scrolls

The days of carrying all your content on the top of the page are no longer here. Thanks to smart phones, people have been accustomed to the long scrolls in websites. This trend usually includes clear breaks through the sections to create a “multipage” feel.
Example: Our Home Page

Card Sections

This trend has been developed from the Pinterest website where there are many “cards” with different content information. This helps users get the company’s information in small chunks while also giving them the possibility of clicking on them to get more information if needed.
Example: Topsfieldfair.org

Hero Images

There is no question about it; humans are easily attracted to visuals. By having a hero image as the home setting for your website can help grab users’ attention.
Example: Prada Website

 

Interactive Animation:

Another noticeable trend are small animations being incorporated throughout websites along with a large focus on interactive content.

Animation

Large and small scale animations are incorporated to create a more personal touch to the sites as well as making them more interactive thought hover tools, loading bars, pop-up notifications and more.
Example: AGildedNest.com

Interactions

Other ways websites can be more interactive is when slides are incorporated into the site. This creates a more physical interaction especially when it is full screen slide.
Example: ChelseaJewish.org

 

Responsive Design:

This design allows websites to be accessed from various devices without having to zoom in/out because the site is being shown just as it is.
Example:

responsive design

 

 

 

 

 

 

Flat Design:

Although this is an old trend that’s existed for many years, when new trends are incorporated into this design, it can create a fresh and engaging look.

Shadows

Adding long shadows onto certain materials can create movement and depth onto flat designs.

Bold & Bright Colors

A great color scheme can keep this design more interesting and pleasing to the human eye.

Typography

Using bold typefaces can make a flat design more even more pleasing to the eye, especially with a great color scheme.

Importance of Wireframing

Wireframing is essentially a blue print that represents the framework of a website in black and white. It shows the layout of what a website will look like and how the web user will navigate through the site. As time goes on, many believe that wireframing is not of importance in the web designing steps anymore but today we’re here to tell you all the reasons why wireframing should still be practiced.

Focus on the important:
By wireframing a website before jumping into creating/redesigning one can help keep the focus on the important elements of the website first, like determining how users would navigate though the site and how to simplify the navigation process for them.

Allows changes before designing:
Wireframing allows you to explore different options for your site ahead of time before jumping into creating the site and having to go through major changes later. You would be able to determine the features you would like to add to the site and where.

Prevents future conflicts:
When working with clients, creating a wireframe can help you and the client stay on the same page when it comes to the website’s design. By doing this, you could save a lot of time and conflicting issues in the long run.

Plan out best way to deliver service:
Going back to the navigation part of the website’s design, by planning out an effective navigation strategy ahead of time, users would be able to fully utilize the website the way you wish them to. You could share with them everything you think is important and relevant.

Wireframing may seem like a long and tedious process, but if done correctly, it could save you a lot of time in the long run when creating the website you, or your clients desire.

Web Marketer Inside Tips: Rosemarie Calder

The internet has become an integral part of everyone’s lives including staying organized, being social and, of course, online consumerism.  With 3 billion people globally using the internet as of November 2015, it would be a mistake not to have your company’s name and brand out there in the cyber world.  That is where Web Marketers come in to play. Web marketing takes many forms and has seen a major shift from the traditional print and television marketing of the not-so-distant-past.  Social Media, Re-targeting, SEO, and online advertising are just a few of the outlets that these professionals can use to raise brand awareness and target the best audience for the product or service your business provides.  At Sperling Interactive, one of our talented Web Marketers is Rosemarie Calder.  Let’s take a few minutes to get to know one of our talented marketers and find out some of her insider tips and advice.

Meet Rosemarie Calder

While Rosemarie would describe herself as quiet and mindful, she is a force when it comes to finding ways to get a website on the map in the cyber world.  She specializes in SEO such as link building, re-targeting and AdWord campaigns.  In practicing these skills each day she has many quick tips to give your marketing campaigns a boost. Here are some of her tips and insider ideas to make the most of your company’s marketing dollars.

  • Google AdWords Google AdWords has a keyword planner to provide fresh ideas and help suggest new keywords based on your website and services. Try to be specific as possible when choosing those words. It is best to review your campaign at least once a week and make adjustments accordingly. When reviewing consider: CTR, average position, conversion rate, quality scores, and your budget accordingly. 
  • Re-targetingRe-targeting is focusing special advertisements towards people who have already visited your site. Visitors can get distracted very easily on the web and may leave your site for various reasons. By running re-targeting ads, you can try to entice your visitors to come back to your page. Facebook Ads, Bing Ads, and Google AdWords are just a few companies that offer re-targeting advertising options. When writing re-targeting ads, it is good to thank them for visiting your page and to try to offer a deal or sale to try to encourage them to come back. Try to keep it simple. 
  • SEO TipsThere are many ways to optimize a search for your business/service or product.  Here are three of my best pieces of advice. First, it is important to have quality dynamic content on your site. Posting relevant blog entries weekly will help boost your ranking. Also, the higher quality the information, the more recognition and visits to your page. Secondly, when optimizing each page of your site, try to focus your page titles, headers, and meta descriptions around one relevant focused keyword for each page. Finally, building links to quality sites still helps your organic search rank. Whether it is built into your business process or you hire an agency to do it for you, having quality links to your site are essential to improve your search rank.

 

Check back here and on our Facebook and Twitter pages for more web marketing insider tips!

Web Designer Insider Tips – Sarah Anne Hudson

Web designers have their work cut out for them in today’s ever evolving technology market. Without the right know-how and training, it might be hard for some businesses to keep their website design current.  What’s more the  numbers show that more than 60% of internet users are accessing websites via their mobile devices.  That means that designers need to be able to craft sites that look great on all types of devices including: smartphones, tablets, laptops and home desktops.That is where companies like ours come into play.  Sperling Interactive designs web sites that are easy-to-navigate on any device.  Our Designer and Front-end Web Developer, Sarah Anne Hudson, specializes in the field of Responsive Design.  Let’s meet her and find out more of her tips on Responsive Designs and as well as her tips on Embracing Footers.

Sarah-1Meet Sarah Hudson

While Sarah, a designer with an eye for detail, is proficient in html, css, php, javascript, MySQL and the Adobe Design Suite, she specializes in designing responsive websites.  This type of design means Sarah can create a site that can easily adapt to the wide range of device sizes. Responsive web design ultimately means crafting sites that look great on all types of implements. Sarah asserts that, “A website not designed to be responsive could come out looking wrong to upwards of 50% of your audience!”  Thus she faces the primary challenge of simplifying the design and minimizing the content as elegantly as possible so the site’s purpose is maintained. As technology continues to change and new devices are churned out yearly, responsive design will help keep websites easy-to-navigate regardless of what instrument it is being viewed through.

Along with supporting responsive design, Sarah also suggests embracing Footers in the design of web pages. Using larger footers packed with highlighted content for the users is one of Sarah’s favorite design feature currently.  In the web designing world, it is a popular design trend (for good reason!) Footers could include navigation, social media icons, contact info, Facebook feeds, etc.. Larger footers are a great secondary reference for users as they navigate through a site. For example, instead of a page that scrolls on forever, an elaborate footer would simplify navigation/contact info to another page without the hassle of scrolling back to the top of the page. So save your end users some time and needless swiping with a handily designed footer!

Check back for more tips and trends in web designing with Sarah Anne Hudson and on our Facebook and Twitter pages.

Is your Business Mobile Ready?

How are you reading this blog?  Are you reading it on your desktop, laptop, tablet or quite possibly on your smartphone?  As of the start of 2015, Americans have passed the tipping point between desktop and mobile device usage.  According to Smart Insights, mobile use overtook desktop usage with 1.8 million people using their smartphones for a multitude of tasks including reading/updating social media, checking email, online searches, business reviews and of course viewing the millions of ads that are out there in the digital world.  What exactly does this mean for your business?

It means that the traditional notion of “going online”  has changed drastically.  With nearly 2/3 of all Americans owning a smartphone and accessing it daily, your company needs to be mobile ready . . . and now!  Here are some questions to consider when deciding if you really are mobile ready.

  1. How does your website look on a broad range of devices?  Consumers use many different mobile devices including iphones, Androids, Tablets, Kindles, and on and on.  (In the near future there will probably be even more devices to consider.) It is imperative then, hat your website be compatible with all these.  Responsive Design, therefore is the solution in order to be certain the mobile version of your website is readable and easy-to-use.  Responsive design means basically that your website is crafted to provide optimal viewing and interaction experience with a minimum of re-sizing, panning, and scrolling.
  2. Be Local – Research from Entrepreneur indicates that the majority of shopping/choosing services occurs within a 10-mile radius of home.  Due to this it is critical to be sure that contact info on your mobile website includes a map and phone number that makes it easy to find you locally.  Local mobile use also means that you can use real time special offers for people who are in your area. Geo-location services are also an essential part of your mobile strategy.
  3. Be Social – With Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and all the other social media platforms at consumers fingertips it is easy to understand that being social it important for your company and brand.  Many consumers check online reviews or their social media channels for company information prior to purchasing.  Marketers who have integrated their mobile program with customer reviews and social media sharing buttons are reaping major rewards.
  4. Be Analytical – Monitor and keep up-to-date on the statistics about how consumers are using your mobile site.  This makes it easy to see how and where your best consumers have found you via their mobile device.  This information can be used then to plan how to spend the marketing budget in future campaigns.

Benefits of Custom Photography

We have all heard the old adage that “a picture is worth a thousand words,” but did you know that when it comes to your website, custom pictures can be worth a whole lot more than just words? Custom photography for websites, print material, and your social media can be advantageous for your company in many ways.  Yes, stock photography is easy and cheap but custom photography is a much better solution for your image needs and is often less expensive than one might think.  Let’s look at the many benefits of choosing custom photography.

  1. Branding – Custom photography really embraces your brand.  Custom means any pictures can include your people, your location, your product, your logo and ultimately reflect your brand’s culture instead of trying to find something that is “kinda” close on stock sites.  Your company’s uniqueness and the brand that you represent can be captured in custom photos exceptionally well.
  2. A Glimpse Inside your Company – When a consumer is researching your product or service wouldn’t it be better if they found photos on the website of people that actually work at your office or better yet a staff photo that shows off the company’s personality? Maybe even a location that they recognize might be a plus as well. Custom Photography allows you to feature genuine faces, spaces and products. This allows your company to be one-of-a-kind and original.  What you really don’t want is a stock photo that ends up on some competitors website or print design.
  3. Consistency – By having custom photography, you are ensuring that the images best represent who you are as a company.  Feelings, personality and trustworthiness does show through even in photos. Consistently showing off who you are a company will show through.  Businesses which present themselves in a professional, polished manner immediately appear more reputable in the eyes of customers.
  4. An Investment – Once photos are taken they are yours and can be used for a wide number of purposes from print media, email newsletters, websites, blog posts, brochures, ads, webinars, presentations, social media and during trade shows or networking.  Custom photography should be able to be used over and over again thus making the most of the investment you have made in this powerful marketing tool. Custom photography is a well worthwhile investment in the marketing needs and brand awareness of your company.