Categories
Uncategorised

More Free Stock Photos Of Perth City

In this post I have attached some photos of the Perth city skyline at night, including long exposure photographs and a panorama shot. These images are released for free under the CC0 Creative Commons license so you may do whatever you like with these photographs.

For more photos of Perth city, check out my other post here: Free Stock Photos Of Perth City

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Uncategorised

Free Bokeh Textures & Bokeh Tutorial

What is Bokeh?

Bokeh is the aesthetic quality of the out of focus, blurred parts of a photograph. The exact shape and characteristics of this effect is determined by the lens used when taking the photo, but you can artificially achieve a similar effect using photoshop and a texture layer to give your photos some extra character.

If you're looking for an easy way to add some bokeh textures to your next project, then here are some completely free textures for you to use, along with a simple tutorial on how you can use them in your image editing.

Free Bokeh Textures

How To Use Bokeh Textures

So how do you actually use these when you're editing an image? Well, first of all we're going to need a photograph and a texture to work with. For this example, I'm using this stock photo I found on Pexels and one of my own textures that you can find above.

You'll need to import these images in to photoshop. Then you'll simply need to set the layer blending mode of the texture layer to 'Screen'

The result should look something like this.

This looks okay as it is, but you wouldn't normally have the bokeh effect on the subject of your photograph since that should be in focus!

So next we're going to trace around the parts of the photograph that are in focus using the polygonal lasso tool (or the magic wand tool if you're feeling lazy) and remove that section from the texture layer. This keeps the main subject of your image clear and you should end up with something like this.

And we're done. Easy!

Categories
Free Stuff

Free Stock Photos Of The Perth City Skyline

These images are released for free under the CC0 Creative Commons license so feel free to use them however you wish.

For even more free stock photos of Perth City, you can check out my other post here: Stock Photos Of Perth City At Night

Categories
Web & SEO

Image Carousels: Should You Use Them?

I'm sure you've seen a million image sliders over the years. The big banner of images and text cycling through the homepage. These are seen on many websites and is one of the most universally requested features by my clients, usually because it's a 'standard' feature they expect to see on a website, or because there are various people in the business all clamoring to get their content on the front page.

But do they actually work? Lets find out!

No One Interacts With Your Image Slider

The first, and main reason I usually advise against using image carousels is simple. No one looks at them!

Often a client will request something be added to their image carousel because they want it to be one of the most prominent elements on their homepage to get the attention of their users. And of course, this makes logical sense - the image carousel is the biggest and boldest part of your homepage, and it's located right at the top of the page to boot. But users do not always behave the way you might predict.

In fact, only about 1% of users will actually interact with an image carousel, and even then, the vast majority of that interaction is with the very first slide. What this means is that not only is your prominent, front-and-center content not actually being used by your users, it also means that prime real-estate on your homepage is being taken up by something that almost no one is even looking at!

Image Sliders Are Annoying

A common mistake with these image sliders is automatically cycling through banners every 5 seconds or so without any user input. Not only that, but more often than not the banners cycle through too fast, so even if a user would like to look at your banner, chances are that the banner they're interested in has disappeared before they can fully absorb the content.

You’re Needlessly Slowing Down Your Website

One thing I often stress to clients is the value of a fast website. Not only do your users appreciate it, but Google loves a fast website too. Often the images in these carousels are quite large, usually taking up the full width of the page, so they're usually relatively large files. There also tends to be 3+ images in these carousels, so this really begins to add up. Inevitably, this begins to take it's toll on your loading times!

Is There ANY Reason To Use An Image Carousel?

Well, when it comes to your users, probably not. But of course, your users are never truly the only group of people you have to consider when developing a website.

Management, business owners, heads of departments, etc. often feel that a certain bit of content needs to be displayed in a prominent location on the front page. And when you have multiple department heads all clamoring to get their bit of content in that prime bit of real-estate, you can end up with a bit of a mess.

This is where image carousels come in to play. Not to increase conversions, or to improve user experience, but to keep department heads happy. And that is an important consideration.

So What Should I Do Instead?

Good question! I suggest a single banner image with a simple message that the user can easily and quickly understand at a glance.

Or, if you want to get crazy, you could skip the banner entirely and just have the content the people are actually there to see.


Sources:
Image Slider Stats - Erik Runyon
Carousels Annoy Users - Nielsen Norman Group

Categories
Stuff

Christmas Gift Guide For Designers

Cool Christmas Gifts For Designers

It’s that time of year again. Yup! The holiday season is fast approaching. Buying gifts can be a tough task, but finding the perfect present for a graphic or web designer can be extra tricky – we’re a special breed. If you’re struggling to find the perfect gift or stocking stuffer or just want to treat yourself, check out this list for some awesome ideas.

Books

Books are, in my opinion, a great gift for anyone involved in design. These are some design books that I believe are a must have for anyone trying to kick start a career in design.

Know Your Onions

This book is top notch and one of my personal favourites. It’s got a no-nonsense style and is loaded with all sorts of useful and practical information. Although it’s geared towards recent design graduates and students, designers of almost any calibre can almost certainly find something useful within its chapters.

If I had to recommend a single book on graphic design, this is my personal choice.

Also, if you’re in to web design then Know Your Onions Web Design is definitely worth checking out too.


Make Your Own Luck

Make Your Own Luck is an informative memoir and guide book offering some great insider advice on breaking in to the graphic design industry. It covers all sorts of topics from art school to finding an agent, and is packed with loads of useful advice.

As a freelancer, it’s books like these that I find to be the most insightful and I’d definitely recommend Make Your Own Luck to anyone beginning their career.


The Freelance Design Handbook

The Freelance Design Handbook offers some really great advice for any designer looking to begin or improve upon their freelancing career. It covers a wide variety of subjects and design disciplines from the viewpoint of a freelancer.

This book is indispensable for anyone looking to develop a long term career as a freelance designer.

Cool Stuff

3Doodler 3D Printing Pen

The 3Doodler lets you draw in 3D using heated plastic that cools solid instantly. Just draw in the air and you can make anything you want. Although not strictly a designers tool, it looks like this thing is capable of making some really cool stuff.


Sharpener Jar

The Sharpener Jar was originally designed to measure your creative output via the pencil shavings. But I think it makes for a pretty cool desk accessory for any designer creatively procrastinating by sharpening every pencil they own.


Shirts By Kerning Wear

Kerning Wear is a t-shirt brand created by designers, for designers. If you’re looking for a cool design-related t-shirt then you definitely want to check out Kerning Wear.


Carve-A-Stamp Kit

The Carve-A-Stamp Kit by Yellow Owl lets you carve your own stamp blocks. It comes with everything you’ll need - a stamp block, carving chisel with multiple detachable blades, an ink pad, and a set of templates. A great weekend project, you can expect to find custom stamps on everything come Monday.


Equipment & Supplies

Sometimes it’s hard to justify spending money on supplies that, although nice to have, may not be useful for your commercial projects. This is why they make great Christmas presents - you don’t have to justify the cost with practical reasons.

Wacom Intuos Manga - Design Pen And Pad

If you’re like me and were initially reluctant to use a drawing tablet - preferring the familiarity of a mouse - then getting one of these can be a great way to get into using a drawing tablet.
Wacom’s Intuos Manga drawing pad and pen has the features of a high end design tablet, but at a cheaper price, making it great for students, enthusiasts, or anyone interested in giving a design tablet a go.


Winsor And Newton Oil Painting Set

On a day to day basis, most graphic designers won’t be painting. In fact, many graphic designers can’t paint or haven’t even tried. That said, painting can be a fun and creative hobby for a lot of designers and it’s definitely worth giving it a go.
Other Winsor & Newton Paint Sets

Winsor & Newton Water Colour Box Set
Winsor & Newton Acrylic Paint Box Set

Useful Stuff

For the more practical minded designer, these useful items can help keep you organized and focused.

Field Notes

Just like the name would suggest, Field Notes are pocket sized notebooks intended to be carried around and used in a variety of environments. These pocket sized notebooks come in graph, ruled or plain paper and are perfect for taking notes when you’re out and about. I recommend picking up the mixed set to get one of each paper types.


Get Shit Done To Do List

I like to keep to-do lists to keep myself organized and motivated. Designed and manufactured right here in Australia, this pocket sized notebook helps keep your tasks organized and helps you to get shit done.


Tile

Tile is a small tracker that you can attach to your keys, phone, wallet, or anything else that you always seem to be misplacing. All you have to do is open the app and it will point you in the right direction. If you’re like me, you probably lose your keys all the damn time so this can be amazingly useful.


Align Stapler with Detachable Base by Quirky

A regular old stapler is limited by its length. However, this is not a regular stapler. This stapler by Quirky has a detachable base that allows you to staple paper of any size, making it perfect for large sheets of paper, posters or zines.


Did this list help you? Do you have anything to add? Post your suggestions in the comments below!

Categories
Uncategorised

WordPress Hacking Prevention

Lately I've been dealing with a lot of hacked WordPress websites.

It's the same story every time. The site was developed years ago and no one's bothered to update it since. The ancient version of WordPress and outdated plugins, all of which are full of security flaws, opened the site up to hacking attempts.

When you're dealing with any kind of Content Management System, this kind of situation would leave you open to hacking attempts. But with WordPress being the most popular CMS in the world by a staggering percentage, you can see why WordPress sites are the most vulnerable.

Don't despair. It's fairly easy to keep your WordPress site secure.

1. Keep it updated.

The biggest security issue in most WordPress sites is having an old version of WordPress and outdated plugins.

However, despite being the most common cause of a hacked WordPress site, it's actually quite easy to prevent. Simply regularly check on your site and ensure that everything is updated. It will only take you a couple of minutes, and could save you some headaches down the line.

Note: Be sure to make a backup of your site before any major updates, as that can sometimes cause it's own headaches.

2. Security Plugins.

When it comes to WordPress, there's a plugin for just about everything.

There's quite a few options out there for security plugins for WordPress. Personally, I use Sucuri and PLUGIN NAME GOES HERE. They have some great features and are both very straightforward to use.

3. Use good passwords.

If you're password is "password" then you've got a problem.

It's not too complicated. All you have to do is use passwords that are complicated enough to be hard to guess, and include some numbers. Oh, and try not to use the same password multiple times.

4. Keep regular backups

Having a backup of the site can be incredibly useful if you actually do get hacked. In some cases the easiest solution is to delete everything and restore a complete backup of the site and a fresh WordPress install of the latest version. That's why you should always keep backups of your sites when possible. Preferably after the site is built, and then again after any significant content or design updates.


These are just the basics, really. There are other things you can do to further protect your WordPress site, which we'll get to in the next post.

Categories
Uncategorised

Web Design Tools Infographic

The website is the main component of almost any online marketing venture. And if a website fails to perform, a business's online marketing efforts will suffer as a consequence.

This infographic by Nirmal Web Design outlines 13 web design professionals along with their 3 favourite web design tools.

Categories
Free Stuff

4 Free Stock Photo Mailing Lists Worth Signing Up For

Building up a library of stock photos can take quite a long time, and if you're using paid stock photo sites for all of your photos, then the costs of adding more photos to your collection can get quite high. Although paid stock photo sites often have the benefit of massive selections and excellent quality, there are many free alternatives for padding out your stock photo libraries.

If you’re looking to build up your library of stock photos without breaking the bank, then these sites are for you.

1. Death To The Stock Photo

Licence: Plain English | Full

Death To The Stock Photo was started to provide high quality images to brands, businesses, freelancers and artists to help them develop and improve their visual aesthetic without having to pay through the nose. Since then, the site has grown quite considerably, and they consistently provide high quality images for anyone to use.

Unfortunately, these images are not released under the CC0 licence as many other free stock photo websites are. This means that there are some restrictions in the use and distribution of these images. However, with that said, despite imposing a few limitations on the usage of their photos, it’s still quite open and, for the most part, won’t be much of a limitation.

Take a look at their plain English licence to get an idea of the kinds of restrictions in place and decide for yourself whether this will affect you.

2. Snapwire Snaps

Licence: CC0

Snapwire is a website that connects photographers and photo buyers, allowing their buyers to commission custom photographs. However, they also run Snapwire Snaps on the side – a free stock photo subscription service that will send you 7 new photos every month.

Snapwire releases these photos under the CC0 licence, meaning the creator has waived all copyright and they’re completely free for any kind of use. You can read more about the CC0 licence here.

3. Pic Jumbo


Licence: CC0

Picjumbo was started in 2013 by Czech photographer Viktor Hanacek. Wanting to get his photos out there for people to use, he submitted them to all the popular paid stock photo sites and was rejected by all of them.

Not being deterred in the slightest by this, he created Picjumbo to release his paid and free stock photos to the public.
With a background in design, he understood the sort of photos that designers often need, and so Picjumbo has become a fantastic resource for graphic and web designers looking for high quality, high resolution photos.

All of these photos are released under the CC0 licence, so you are free to use them in any way you like.

4. Negative Space


Licence: CC0

Negative Space has a decent collection of free stock photos available on their site, but certainly not the biggest library of images compared to other sites. However, it’s the exclusive free stock photo newsletter they provide that really makes them worth checking out.

Like Snapwire Snaps and Picjumbo, these photos are all released under the CC0 licence.

These are just my personal favourites, but there are quite a few free stock photo subscription sites out there. If there’s one you think should be added to this list, feel free to post a link in the comments.

Categories
Tutorials

Coffee Stain Photoshop Effect Tutorial

A simple coffee stain effect.

As someone who drinks a dozen cups of tea and coffee every day, adding a coffee stain effect to a project would be as easy as printing it out and using it as a coaster for five minutes. However, for those of you out there who have slightly less ridiculous caffeine consumption habits habits, this tutorial might be for you. In this post I'm going to go over one of my favorite methods of getting an easy coffee stain effect in photoshop.

Free Coffee Stain Vectors

1. Setting Up Your Document

First off, open up Photoshop and create a new document. Then you want to set your background colour. For this, you'll want to start with a light brown colour as a background.

2. Create Or Import Your Shape

Once your document and background is set up, you'll want to import or create a shape (or text) in a new layer, and then rename the layer to "Coffee Stain."

In this example, I'm using one of my coffee stain vectors from a previous post.

3. Layer Settings

Next, set the blend mode of this layer to Colour Burn. You will also want to lower this layers 'fill' to somewhere between 20% and 40%

4. Layer Styles

Next, double click on the Coffee Stain layer to open the Layer Style window.
Here, we're going to add an 'Inner Glow' effect. Set the blend mode to 'Colour Burn', make the glow colour the same, or similar, to the background colour, and adjust the size and opacity to taste.

After that, we're going to add an 'Outer Glow' effect, using similar settings to the inner glow. Again, set the blend mode to 'Colour Burn' and make the glow colour similar to the background colour. Adjust size and opacity to taste.

5. Opacity And Fill Adjustments

At this point I'd like to briefly go over what the fill and opacity settings are doing here. Lowering the fill will reduce the transparency of your original shape without effecting the layer styles we've just set up. For instance, setting the fill to zero will make your original shape disappear completely, but the glow we set up in the previous steps remains intact. Opacity, however, will effect both the original shape and the layer styles. Keep this in mind when making adjustments to these settings.

 

In this example, I've increased the fill slightly and lowered the opacity to 60%.

6. Text

This effect can be applied to a text layer as well.

Background Texture

As a finishing touch, you can add a textured background to add to the stained paper effect. In this example, I'm using a couple of stained paper textures I found on Lost And Taken.

Categories
Web & SEO

What Your Small Business Website Needs In 2016

I often see small business websites lagging behind when it comes to their websites. For some, it's an issue of money, and for others it's an issue of time. And some just don't have any interest in their online presence at all.

Another really common problem I see is small business owners focusing on the look of their site above all else, thinking that a better looking or more trendy website will solve all of their problems. In practice, many of these businesses would benefit from having their existing site optimized and improved upon, rather than redesigning from scratch every couple of years.

Well, this post is going to cover some of the absolute essentials for any small business website. Hopefully this will give you an idea of where your site might need some improvement.

1. Responsive Mobile Friendly Design


It's no longer an option. At this point, your website needs to be mobile friendly. Not only for any mobile users your site may be getting - and make no mistake, a good portion of your websites traffic will almost certainly be coming from mobile users - but also for Google.

As of April of 2015, Google's new mobile friendly algorithm update means that sites that perform better on mobile will rank higher in mobile search results.

What all of this means is that if your site isn't mobile friendly, your site will get less traffic from Google, and the mobile users that do use your site will have a bad time, leaving your site to go and visit one of your competitors that offers a better mobile experience. Updating your site to a responsive design is one of the best investments you can make on your site in 2016.

I really can't stress this point enough. There's a reason this point is number one on this list: It's not negotiable - and hasn't been since April of 2015. Mobile traffic has been steadily rising over the years, and will only continue to grow. Combine that with the points above, and you can see how important this is for a small business website trying to compete.

Site not mobile-friendly? Contact me today and ensure your site is ready for 2016!

2. No Call To Action

Think about what you want your users to do once they're actually on your website. If you're an eCommerce website, you probably want them to buy something on your online store. If you offer a service, you probably want them to call or email you to enquire about this service. Maybe you want them to sign up to your newsletter.

A Call To Action is how you tell your users how and why they should do this. It could be as simple as a button saying "Shop Online!" but if it's not clear, then your users may not know exactly how to proceed.

Take a look at your own website. Does it clearly tell your users what it is they should do next? Does any of the content on your home page (or other landing pages) effectively tell your users why they should do this?

3. Fast Loading Web Pages


Much like responsive design, ensuring your website is as fast as possible is another great investment for your site.
It's something all small businesses owners should be concerned about, especially for eCommerce sites where a difference of even half a second can be the difference between making or losing a sale.

Most business owners won’t get particularly excited about saving their users a couple of seconds of loading time, but research consistently shows that almost any improvement on a websites loading time can increase conversions dramatically.

Testing exactly how long it takes for your site to load is a fairly simple task. There are loads of free tools on the internet to help you do exactly that, but one of my favourites is gtmetrix. It tells you how long it takes to load your site, and compares it with the average load time so you can see how you're doing. You can also use it to test the load times of your biggest online competitors to see how your load times stack up against theirs.

4. Make Your Contact Details Prominent

This serves multiple purposes. For one, it's a sign of trust. If your users can easily find your phone number and address, then that's a sign that your business is legitimate. For eCommerce sites, or anything that requires a user to input their credit card or PayPal details, this sign of trust can help to set aside some suspicions or concerns they may have about paying. Even today with more and more people buying online, there are many that don't trust online shopping, and this can go a long way to making these users more comfortable.

Secondly, when it comes to small business websites, many of your users will simply be looking for your contact information and may not be interested in anything else on your website. For example, when looking at restaurants or fast food delivery, the vast majority of users want to see two things - the menu, and the phone number. Making it difficult for your customers to contact you is one of the biggest issues a small business website can have.

Categories
Web & SEO

Page Speed Optimization: A Brief Guide

Simple Advice For Faster Load Times

It doesn't matter how patient you are, no one likes to wait in line. So why make your sites users wait? That's essentially what you're doing when you allow your site to have long load times and it could be having a disastrous effect on your customer experience.

So Why Worry About Page Speed?

Slow loading times can cause high bounce rates, high levels of cart abandonment, and a general sense of frustration among your users - all of which are things any site owner will want to avoid. For an eCommerce site in particular, this can be the difference between a successful site and an unsuccessful one.

SEO And Page Speed

Interestingly, Page Speed seems to have been considered a ranking factor by Google as early as 2010. However, despite this, page speed optimization hasn't really ended up in the arsenal of many web designers and SEO's and is often given a much lower priority. Although page speed is only one of hundreds of other ranking factors, and a relatively minor ranking factor at that, that doesn't mean it's worth skipping over. When it comes to SEO, every little bit adds up and page speed is no exception.

However, regardless of this, SEO shouldn't be your only concern when it comes to optimizing your sites load times because...

User Experience And Page Speed

Not only do search engines like fast loading sites, your users like it too. And for all websites, regardless of your goals as a website owner, a better user experience is always a good thing.

For eCommerce sites, page speed is a massively important factor when it comes to increasing sales and decreasing cart abandonment.

One great example to show the tremendous impact page loads times can have is Walmart. When they decided to do something about their long load times, they found that for every 1 second of improvement they experienced a 2% increase in conversions. That's a good improvement by any standard.

And Walmart isn't the only example. Amazon.com increased their revenue by an average of 1% for every 100ms of improvement on their page load times. These examples show you the benefit of a fast site, but it can also show you the negative effects of a slow sight. Consider that Amazon can suffer a revenue loss of one and a half billion dollars from a page speed slowdown of a single second.

From eCommerce sales, to lead generation, to ad click-through rates - faster load times means better user experience and better use experience means more conversions.

How You Can Do It

So how do you actually improve your sites loading times?

Well, page speed optimization can be a fairly time consuming process and requires a certain degree of technical skill. For developers, web designers, web masters, or more technically inclined SEOs, this should be no trouble at all.

Tools & Tests

Below you'll find links to a couple of the tools you can use to analyze and improve your site to measure your exact loading time, and to find any issues that might be slowing down your website.

First, you'll want to find out exactly how fast or slow your website is and you can use a variety of free speed testing tools to do this. There are many different sites out there offering this service, but there's a few things to keep in mind when picking the best one for you and your site.

If you're not using a content delivery network (CDN), then it's in your interest to use a speed test site that offers servers based in the same country as your target audience.
For example, if your website is hosted in Brisbane, and a user in London is viewing your website, then each individual request will have to make a long trip from London to Brisbane and then back to London again. This causes latency and leads to longer load times. For local businesses and location-specific niche sites this is especially important to keep in mind.

Google Page Speed Insights

Google themselves offer a really useful tool for analyzing your site which offers some actionable advice on increasing your sites speed. I suggest you start with this - especially if your interest in page speed optimization is SEO related - as this tool can provide you with loads of information to get your site loading quicker and keeping search engines like Google happy.

GTMetrix

Another tool to use is one of my personal favourites - GTMetrix. This site tests your sites load time and then offers improvements based off of both Google and Yahoo's Page Speed preferences. This is definitely worth checking out.

CDN

A Content Delivery Network caches the static resources of your site and distributes them to servers across the world. Essentially, what this means is that the elements that make up your site are physically closer to your users. This lowers latency between your users and your sites server and increase website performance.

If you're looking for a simple CDN that's not too expensive and offers a lot of extra features, such as security and analytics, then you might want to take a look at Cloudflare. This is the CDN that I've used in the past with success, and the one I usually recommend for most small businesses. It also comes with a free version, which stands up on its own as a decent addition to your arsenal.

A CDN makes sense for many sites, but it's certainly not a requirement for all sites. It's up to you to decide whether a CDN works for your particular website.

So that about covers the basics of page speed optimization. If you think I missed anything, or if you have any questions or comments, feel free to contact me or leave a comment bellow.

Categories
Uncategorised

7 Reasons People Leave Your Site

Driving traffic to your website is time consuming and can often be expensive. If you’re going to put time and effort into getting people’s attention, the net logical step is working hard to keep it.

There are a lot of reasons a user might leave your website without hanging around, and in this post we’re going to go over the biggest causes of ‘high bounce rates’. Applying this information to your own website will keep your users interested for as long as possible and ensure you’re not missing out on any leads, customers or enquiries.

1. Your Mobile Website Sucks

Mobile friendly design is often neglected when small businesses develop their websites. This is often the case when business owners and managers don’t do a lot of browsing on their mobile phone or tablet themselves.

The number of people using their smart phone or tablet for the majority of their browsing is rising and rising; this means that that a large chunk of your web traffic will consist of mobile users. If your site doesn’t have responsive design or a separate mobile version, then you’re going to find yourself with a large amount of unhappy mobile users and potential customers.. Keeping these users happy is an important investment for your website.

If you’re concerned about people leaving your site, then ensuring a great mobile experience is a good starting point. Read about more about mobile and responsive design here (Link to Mobile Friendly Blog Post).

2. Slow Load Times

The fact is that no one really likes to wait. Page speed can be a major factor when it comes to high bounce rates and is one of the first things I would suggest to anyone concerned about keeping users on their site and lowering their bounce rate.
The positive effects of faster page speed is well documented, and potentially even includes some SEO benefits.

3. Outdated Design

We’ll get this out of the way first – an outdated design generally looks very unattractive.
Aside from this, a website that hasn’t been updated in a long time can indicate to users that perhaps the information presented on the site is also not up to date. People might even wonder if you’re still in business if your website is particularly outdated. This is especially important for sites that require a high level of trust, such as eCommerce websites or professional services.
This often ties in with the first point, as older sites are often not mobile friendly.

4. Unclear Navigation

When designing your websites layout, you should imagine navigating through it from the perspective of one of your users. If they don’t know how to get to the page they want, then they will get frustrated at the labyrinthine menu structure and leave your site, potentially going to one of your competitors instead.
Your menu layout needs to be perfectly clear to your users and as efficient as possible. Efficiency means allowing your users to get to the information that they’re looking for in as few clicks as possible.

5. Pay Walls, Social Walls & Newsletter Walls

Here’s what you need to know: Everyone hates these.
No one really wants to have to sign up to your newsletter or like your Facebook page before they can even view your content. If you’re forcing your users to do something like this before they can continue, then you’ll find your bounce rate skyrocketing and that a large percentage of the users you worked so hard to get will be leaving frustrated and annoyed.
If the content is good, or if the user thinks it might be worth reading, then the payoff might be worth the sharp increase in drop off rate. However, unless your content really is amazing and your sales pitch is fantastic, then you might find that the few benefits that an unavoidable content wall provides might not be worth what it costs you in the increased bounce rate.

6. Too Many Ads

This one varies depending on the sort of website your run and what topic, niche or industry it might be about, but ultimately the real core issue is trustworthiness. Ads are associated with dodgy websites and the more ads you have, the more credibility you lose.
However, this isn’t a problem for all websites. For example, a blog about technology may include one or two small banner ads related to tech industry websites and not lose any significant amount of trustworthiness. However, a website for your local dentist would look incredibly suspicious if it featured any sort of on-page advertising at all.
Ultimately, you need to think about your brand and how this kind of advertising would be perceived by your users.

7. Auto-Play Videos And Audio.

Although this has become a lot rarer in recent years, some people still insist on having a video or audio file play automatically as soon as the page loads. Most of the time you’ll find peoples first reaction is to immediately exit, especially if it startles them.
Having video or audio on your website is fine, but only if your users initiate it themselves.

Is your site suffering from any of these issues? Or is there another item to add to this list? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Categories
Stuff

Coffee Facts Infographic

This infographic covers information regarding the production and consumption of coffee all over the world and was created for Direct Coffee Supplies

Categories
Free Stuff

Completely Free Stock Photos

Completely Free For Commercial Use Stock Images

Stock photos can be a great way to visually get your message across to the viewer. However, buying these images can get quite expensive - especially on larger projects requiring a lot of images. If your projects budget can’t quite stretch far enough to cover all of your stock image requirements, you might find that you can pad out your collection by checking out some of these completely free stock image sites.

This post is going to go over the free stock photography websites that I personally use on a regular basis. I am in no way affiliated with these sites in any way – I just use their resources a lot and thought others might get some value out of them too.

1. Unsplash


Unsplash moves away from the standard generic corporate stock imagery and instead focuses on providing completely free artistic stock photos. While obviously not suitable for every application, this website is a great source of free images when you’re looking for something a little more interesting or quirky.

This website is usually my first stop when looking for free stock photos and has a great selection of fantastic images. Not only for the great quality and good selection, but also because it offers all of its images under Creative Commons Zero (CC0). This means you can copy, modify, distribute and use the photos for free, including commercial purposes, without asking permission from or providing attribution.

2. MorgueFile

This website has been around for quite a while and hosts a massive collection of free images available.

The quality of the images can vary, however. MorgueFile includes older, lower-resolution images, professional, high quality photo shoots and everything in between. But don’t despair, the sheer quantity of images on offer means that it almost certainly has something to fit your needs.

3. Pixabay

Pixabay is another site offering free stock photos. Like MorgueFile, this website has a large collection of images, and has fairly strict quality guidelines, so the images are of a high standard and of course 100% free. Pixabay offers its images under CC0.

4. Startup Stock Photos

Startup Stock Photos was started to share some images being created for tech startups, and has since grown in to a nice collection of Startup and Tech related stock photos for you to use. If you're looking for images for any creative or tech-related business, this site has a selection worth checking out.

5. StockSnap

StockSnap curates a large collection of completely free stock photos. As this is a curated collection, the quality of these images is quite high. Not only that, but StockSnap exclusively collects images under CC0. This means no attribution is required, so you may use any of these images without worry.

6. Jay Mantri

Jay Mantri regularly updates his website with new stock photos. Similar in style to Unsplash.com, these images are great for someone looking for interesting or artistically shot photos, perfect for backgrounds or banner slides.

Jay Mantri also provides all of his images under CC0.

7. New Old Stock

New Old Stock is quite interesting. It site provides a collection of vintage photos and all images are Public Domain. If you're ever looking for retro or vintage photos, New Old Stock is the site you'll want to check out.

8. Pexels

Pexels has a large collection images and is worth checking out when looking for completely free stock photos.

There are a lot of other sites offering quality free stock photos, but these are just the ones I use. If you have another site you like to use, or if you yourself provide free stock images, let me know in the comments.

Categories
Free Stuff

Free Coffee Stain Vectors

Completely Free Coffee Stain Graphics

Today I'm going to be giving away these completely free coffee stain vectors. These are available in vector format and you can use for both personal and commercial use.

I had created this set of coffee stained vector graphics for a coffee-themed infographic, but as it turns out I didn't need quite as many as I had made. So if you find these useful, then by all means click the link below and get your free download. These are free to use, no attribution is required. Just remember not to sell or claim them as your own.

Next week I'll be showing you how to use these graphics to create a photoshop coffee stain effect. Stay tuned!

Download Here

Free Coffee Stain Vectors

Categories
Web & SEO

Something To Consider When Choosing Your Domain Name

There are two schools of thought on selecting a domain name. You can either choose a domain name that contains the keywords you'd like to rank for, or you can choose a brandable domain name that doesn't necessarily contain the keywords, but is perhaps more memorable.

Keyword Domain Names

This type of domain name contains words directly relevant to your business. For example, a website that sells used cars in Perth might want a domain name like used-cars-perth.com or buy-used-cars.com.au. This sort of domain name simultaneously tells your users exactly what your website is about, while also having the benefit of containing the keywords you want your site to rank for. At a glance, this can seem like it's obviously the better choice.

The downside of this is that these domain names are typically quite generic and difficult to remember, especially in more competitive niches. Users may have trouble remembering whether your website was buy-shoes-online.net.au or whether it was online-shoe-store.com. These sorts of domain names are often not very branded and are more difficult to promote because of this.

It's a fairly common practice to use keyword-heavy domain names, however both Google and Bing have publicly stated that this is no longer a major ranking factor for websites. That said, there are many sites that still have some success using this method.

Branded Domain Names

You'll probably notice that the most popular websites do not use these sorts of keyword-heavy domain names. Google, Facebook, Youtube, Twitter; none of these sites contain keywords in their domain name or even imply what the site is about. These sites still do very well despite this. These sorts of sites use their unique and memorable domain name as part of the branding strategy, rather than as part of their SEO campaign.

Thank about it - would Youtube have been anywhere near as popular if it was called video-share-now.com? When considering the plethora of other ranking factors on your site, the overall value of an easy to remember, branded domain name can often be higher than the SEO value of a keyword-rich domain name.

While there are some benefits of choosing a keyword heavy domain name, more so in some niches than others, ultimately it's only a small factor when it comes to ranking. You're usually much better off having an easy to remember, branded domain name and to focus your SEO efforts elsewhere. Ultimately, Google will look at the content of your website to determined your ranking and this is where your efforts should be focused.

Categories
Web & SEO

Australian Mobile Usage Statistics

The Importance Of Having A Responsive Website

Smartphone and tablet usage has been growing steadily each year. Making sure that your website is mobile and tablet compatible has never been more important than it is now, and it will only continue to become more important every year. These mobile usage statistics below show how Australians use their smartphones and tablets to browse the internet.

What Is Responsive Web Design?

Responsive Web Design is a recent way of approaching web design. What it aims to do is to make your website respond to the size of the screen it is being displayed on, changing the layout of the site to suit the device.

Put simply, responsive web design makes sure that your website looks great no matter what.

Why Choose Responsive Design?

Put simply, having a responsive website design ensures that you don't miss out on the large amount of mobile users who may wish to visit your site. A website that is not mobile compatible will be losing a lot of views (or customers in the case of eCommerce sites) that you would otherwise be getting.

What About m. Or mobile. Subdomains?

Although have a mobile version of your website in an m. subdomain (example m.facebook.com) can certainly fill the need for a mobile website, these separate mobile websites come with their share of problems.

Essentially, these sorts of mobile websites are basically a separate website. As a result, they're more costly to create than simply making your existing website responsive. They also double the time to maintain than a responsive website, due to being a separate site.

There is also the possibility of being penalized for duplicate content if it's not set up correctly, which can drastically hurt your SEO efforts.