CMS : What’s in it for me?

A CMS (Content Management System) is an application that supports the management (creation and modification) of digital content using a simple user interface. It supports multiple users working in a collaborative environment.

Most CMSs include Web-based publishing, format management, history editing and version control, indexing, search and retrieval. Such CMS typically has two major components:

  • A content management application (CMA) is the front-end user interface that allows a user, even with limited expertise, to add, modify and remove content from a website
  • A content delivery application (CDA) compiles that information and updates the website

Common features

Content management systems will often contain the following features:

  • SEO-friendly URLs
  • Integrated and online help
  • Modularity and extensibility User and group functionality
  • Templating support for changing designs
  • Install and Upgrade wizards
  • Integrated audit logs
  • Compliancy with various accessibility frameworks and standards

Advantages

  • Reduced need to code from scratch
  • The ability to create a website quickly

Here are the 3 most popular CMSs to use in your next project:

1. WordPress

Wordpress The PHP blogging platform is probably the most popular CMS overall. It’s a good platform for beginners, thanks to their good documentation and super-quick installation wizard. Five minutes to a running CMS is pretty good. The newest versions also auto-update the core and plugins from within the backend, without having to download a single file.

For those not familiar with HTML or other markup languages, a WYSIWYG editor is provided straight out of the box and a new user should be able to easily find their way around the administration section. WordPress also comes with built-in image and multimedia uploading support.

For developers the theming language is fairly simple, as well as the Plugin API. However WordPress is the best choice for beginners because of it’s ease-of-use, it works especially well for small to medium sized websites, blogs and smaller e-commerce stores.

For bigger sized websites WordPress won’t be the best choice. Its ability to handle really large amounts of content is affected and can create a slower experience. On the other hand the CMS system Drupal can support mostly anything from a one-page static site to something that has thousands of pages and simultaneous readers.

2. Drupal

Drupal Drupal is a CMS that has a very large community. Drupal is more of a pure CMS. A plain installation comes with many optional modules that can add lots of interesting features like user blogs, OpenID, forums, profiles…

One of Drupal’s most popular features is the Taxonomy module, a feature that allows for multiple levels and types of categories for content types. You can find plenty of Drupal Themes, which are ready to be customized and worked with. You can also grab Drupal Plugins.

Anyone considering Drupal should have at least a basic knowledge of HTML, PHP and other common web programming languages. You don’t need to be an expert, but being able to troubleshoot error messages and identify code problems would be a benefit.

Otherwise you’ll need hire someone with advanced knowledge of Drupal’s steep learning curve and this is typically a little harder (and more expensive). Whereas it should be much easier and less expensive to find someone relatively tech-savvy to help you make basic WordPress updates.

Also, unlike WordPress.com, there is no option to have a website hosted by Drupal itself. That means purchasing your own domain and hosting is required before getting started.

3. Joomla!

Joomla Joomla is a very advanced CMS in terms of functionality. That said, getting started with Joomla is fairly easy, thanks to Joomla’s installer which is meant to work on common shared hosting packages.

Joomla is very similar to Drupal in that it’s a complete CMS, and might be a bit much for a simple portfolio site. It comes with an attractive administration interface, complete with drop-down menus and other features.

The Joomla site hosts more than 3,200 extensions, so you know the developer community behind is alive and kicking. Like WordPress, you can add just about any needed functionality with an extension. However, the Joomla theme and extension community relies more on paid resources, so if you’re looking for customizations, be ready to pull out your wallet.

Make Your Choice

Everyone will say their content management system is the best. But your own unique scenario will require different capabilities, which probably makes one of these three CMS options the perfect fit.

Looking to get started quickly with a simple business website or blog? Look no further than WordPress.

If you have high hopes from day one that your site will grow significantly, requiring extensive features and unlimited customizations, take the plunge with Drupal.

If you need something unique like a social network or eCommerce site, Joomla might be the best bet. All three platforms are free.

7 Tips for improving Website Usability

Website usability should be an important component when you design, update or maintain a website. The three most important stages of improving the website’s usability process are planning, testing, and maintenance. With good planning you can make sure that all the components that users need will be put into the right place, the testing process will help you make sure that the website you are creating works perfectly on all devices and browsers and with maintenance you will make sure it stays this way.

1. Plan ahead

Wireframe is a must in the process of creating or enhancing a website. By creating a wireframe, you put your ideas into one place in advance, so you can see what makes sense and what doesn’t and it can also be a useful guide to other developers working with you.

2. Less content, more story

Put a great thought into what content you should and shouldn’t put on your website. You should only include content that will help the users understand the story you are telling. There is nothing wrong with getting a little emotional here, but don’t be pathetic.
To keep your website content fresh you might consider adding a blog or news and events page and regularly update the site with pictures and videos of your activities

3. Be aware of broken links

Having broken or dead links on a website can be an indication that the website is no longer appropriately managed. Make sure to get rid of all such links, they can be quite frustrating for users if they lead them nowhere.
Use the right elements of formatting
Keep in mind that some elements of formatting are expected by your users, but try not to use the wrong ones. Don’t underline text if it is not a hyperlink. Users have gotten used to the fact that underlined text means hyperlink..

4. Simple navigation

Usability

It is important for your users to find the specific information they need on your website. Navigation options should always stand out from the rest of your website design, so they can be found quickly. Likewise, putting a search and sitemap on your website will offer your users an easier way to find exactly what they need.

5. Clear Instructions

Give your users a clear instruction on how they should use a specific feature on your website. For example, if you have an eCommerce website always make sure to provide users with instructions on how to use it.

6. Feedback

It can be very frustrating for your users if they don’t get a response back for making some action on your website, like for example sending a message. Give your users a clear feedback that their message, or any other action, has been sent or done.

7. Testing

Like mentioned before, testing is a crucial part of the website development process. Test your website on different browsers and devices so you make sure that it will work and look properly for every user.

8. Keep it up to date

Don’t you have an update every week for almost every app that you have on your phone? The same goes for your webpage – follow the trends, keep it modern, responsive, user friendly and ensure it works perfectly at all times. That’s called maintenance.

Logos vs. icons

When thinking about logos and icons not everybody would consider much difference between them. But there is. It’s true that both are used to represent something, but logos represent the mission of the brand while icons are focused on directing, informing and calling to action.

Logos

A logo represents an organisation or a business. It should express everything that the organisation stands for and at the same time give an association to the company which it represents and finally it must emotionally connect the customers to the organisation. Logos should be simple, timeless, memorable, versatile and of course appropriate. They can be scaled to different dimensions without losing their quality as logos are used in various platforms; from websites, pens and key hangers to billboards.

Icons

As said above, icons focus is directing and usually they request some form of action. Icons are graphical representations that are designed to simplify the user experience. They are traditionally known as symbols. They play a major role in user experience and are used in applications as well as in responsive web design. For example – they help you to navigate through the website, show what are company’s main selling points, beliefs.. and when used in applications they simply show what the app does. They are used in user’s software to summarise an operation and in this manner navigate the user to the desired program.

Differences between icon and logo

  • Logo represents a brand’s message, icon is focused on directing and informing
  • Logos are scalable while icons are not
  • Icons simplify user experience

Today’s trends

Most companies are aware of the importance what logo design delivers to their brand identity. But it is important to stay up to date with the trends. Over the years, trends have changed a lot and nowadays simplicity is the key to success. Simple designed logos are considered more sophisticated. The same applies for the colours – no more rainbow coloured logos, a flat colour is a new trend. Also 3D effect is a history. Now there is an era of unique minimalistic logo designs without complicating them with unnecessary effects, shades and colours. The same goes for icons. So dear designers, next time a client wants a shiny complex logo, do not give in… you do not want to be responsible for the message it will spread to the customers. And you surely do not wanna be named the author of it, right?

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How it works?

Have you ever surfed the internet and saw a website or an app that you liked and asked yourself – “How did they do it”? In this post we will try to make the process of creating a website as easy as possible to understand even if you do not know anything about programming. As you can see, the process consist of 9 phases. That is how we work. But it starts with you and your idea.

Phases infographic

Idea

Do you have an idea for a web solution, but no clue how to realise it? We are the ones to talk to. The more you tell us about your idea the better we can understand it and bring it to life. We will ask you many questions to ensure that we are all on the same page.

Brainstorming

Brainstorming means to stick our heads together to come up with the best way to realise your idea. We will also think about other useful features your website could have and come up with additional suggestions.

Specification

We will write down on what we agreed on and create a detailed specification. This will help us with development as we will know exactly what we need to do. It will also ensure that we can plan our development correctly, select the right platforms and deliver the website on time.

Wireframe

Creating a wireframe is like creating a blueprint when building a house. Wireframes help understand the idea of where the elements will be positioned on the website. This also makes it easier for you to influence the final outcome.

Wireframe

Design

When you agree with the wireframe we need to make it look alive. We add images, fonts and colours to the wireframe to create the final look of the website. Of course we follow the latest design trends and make sure it reflects your corporate identity. Or not. As you like it.

Design

Development

It is now time for coding. Our developers will use the most suitable platform and add functionalities to your website such as contact forms, image galleries, animations and more.

Testing

To ensure that the website runs well on all devices and different screen sizes, we will test your website on as many possible variations. We will also test all the functionalities to ensure a great user experience.

Launch

Time to launch the website and make it public. You can provide us with the details of your current hosting service or we can help you arrange a hosting plan that would fit best for you.

Maintenance

If you want your site to work continuously and smoothly you should not forget that this does not just happen automatically. Especially with more complex websites, maintenance is necessary. We will sign a maintenance agreement to provide the updates and fixes needed.

Next time you see a website you like, you will know what the process for creating one looks like and maybe you will get some additional ideas for your own. If so, you know where to find us 😉

Habits that helps you design faster

Why is designing fast so important today? Simply: time is money. Your employer or client needs your quality design as fast as possible. When you can finish quickly, it saves them money. By learning how to speed up in the right way, you will be more valued and wanted.

Speed & Quality, Quality & Speed

Learning how to design quickly is understanding that the quality of the design is still top priority. There’s a big difference between a fast and a rushed output. A fast design is a product of working quickly without sacrificing the quality and integrity of the design.

How to become a fast designer

1. Understand the distinction between an “artist” & a “commercial designer”

Most artist – designers included – like to take some time to create something amazing. And that’s fine, even expected. But more often than not, your true “artist’s soul” is expressed only in your personal work. If you’re mostly a designer, your final product is more of an output rather than art. You need to acknowledge that you are a professional with the skills to match a specific rate per hour and doing your job in a manner that turns you productive, and doing your job in a manner that satisfies your art are usually two different things.

2. Have a clear vision of the design

Before doing the actual work, take the chance to speak with your client about the goal of the design. Take time to think about the brief and ask yourself, how you want the end product to look like and how you can execute the plan. Ask additional questions if needed, because when you have a clear vision of the design, you’ll certainly design faster.

3. Set a time budget

schedule

The time you have for a new project, it will greatly impact the way you approach your work. Be smart when making design choices. If you can save time using a pre-set font instead of creating a new one (provided the client approves), than go for it. If you don’t have a specific time budget, set one. You may even challenge yourself. If it usually takes two days to design a poster, test yourself and try to do it in one day. When you push yourself, you capitalize best on your design skills and instincts.

How to exercise speedy designing skills

1. “Steal” Ideas

Excellent ideas are the results of the past. If you don’t consider, analyze, or see what designers had accomplished before you, it’ll be hard for you to create something better now. The best way is … Google, of course! With the right keywords or key phrases, you’ll find the inspiration you need to design your project. If your task is to create a rustic restaurant opening invitation, use Google to look for a combination of these keywords “rustic,” “bohemian,” “nature”, “restaurant,” “inspiration”. From the result you’ll get an idea on what to do next.

2. Get out of your comfort zone

People pick things based on what they like and know. You watch the same shows, read the same newspaper, or stick to this Chinese restaurant around the corner that you know since a couple of years. And there’s nothing wrong with this. However, if you like to design innovative projects or create groundbreaking ideas, you have to jump out of your comfort zone. Do something you ordinarily stay away from or at least go somewhere you have never been before.

3. Sketch first, design later

sketch

Many young designers forget that a pencil is much faster than a mouse. This is regardless of how good or bad your drawing skills are. If you sketch first, you’d be surprised how fast you can finish your project. If you skip it and start on working in Photoshop right away, you’ve already wasted hours of work that you think you’ve saved. And remember – it’s all about a great layout. Regardless of how much time you spend on color selection, photography or typography, you can’t move forward if your layout is inferior.

4. Work with good equipment

It’s frustrating to wait for Photoshop to do your bidding because you either have a slow internet connection or a low-quality computer. For design work – especially for professionals – a fast unit with a large screen and substantial storage space results in a better and faster output. The ideas in your head will fade if you don’t have the tools to turn them into actual designs. You do not have to spend a fortune on the equipment, but make sure it facilitates your work; after all, your skills and these tools pay for your bills.

Becoming a fast designer doesn’t happen overnight. It takes practice and discipline to learn this skill. But if you put your energy and time on mastering how to be fast, it will certainly pay off.

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Starting your career in Web Development & Design

Doing things right, especially at the beginning of your career, saves you a lot of time and trouble. Web development and design are one of the most desired professions at the moment, and most wanted are individuals with a wide-range of education and technical experience. As expectations are getting higher, you have to make sure your knowledge does not stay behind. These are the skills that will help you build and improve your career:

1. Basic programming skills: JavaScript, CSS, HTML

js-css-htm

These are some webpage service providers where you are able to create a new website without having any programming skills. But be aware that these are just the tools that help you create a website. When you’ll face a problem, programming knowledge would be much appreciated.

2. User experience knowledge

You only have one chance to attract a potential customer. Since nowadays most of the businesses have their own website, user experience is what differentiates you from the rest. You have only a few seconds to attract people’s attention. They decide very quickly whether to stay on your website or click the back button. That is why web designers are focusing more on the user experience and a bit less on the design. In the customer’s decision-making process it is more important to find the right data easier and faster, than what your website looks like.

3. Copy-writing skills

Copy-writing-skill

Fact is that every extra knowledge that you have is of great advantage. Customers are looking for holistic services. Writing is probably not one of your preferences, but improving it would give you extra value as a Web designer or developer. Learning about content writing would boost your ideas which you could use while designing or developing a new website.

4. Customer service skills

Take good care of your customers. As a company or a freelancer you have to build trust. It is not about a great web solution but about an unforgettable experience which improves your credibility and consequently customer’s loyalty. With end-to-end focused customer experience you will differentiate your brand from the others and stand out of the competitors. Empathy is the key!

5. Stay up to date

It is pretty obvious that it’s always good to be up to date, especially if you are a web designer where trends change rapidly. To stay informed on events, updated on work-related tools, and gain an great source of inspiration, follow the right people. These are the niche experts who constantly create and change the design landscape. When you study the greats, you acquire their skills.

Sounds pretty obvious? Believe it or not, many focus only on one or two of these points and that is far from being enough…

3 + 1 Web-Design Tips for a great UX

Since living without technology is literally not possible anymore, all that is left is to try to keep up with its pace as fast as we can. Web designers are no exception.

Web design has been called “dead”, but is it really? Or maybe it is just evolving into a new stage. Nowadays web designing is focusing more on the experience, in this case user experience, and less on the design. This is one of the main reasons why website redesigning is needed, we have reached a point where easily finding data on a website is more important than just the mere looks of it.

useful-tips-for-a-better-ux-design

1. Make a design that is acceptable for the user

The greatest and most valued attribute of most web designers is their creativity, which unfortunately can backfire sometimes. Designers can sometimes see things from a different perspective and can’t understand why an average user would like something else. But the needs of the user should always stand in the foreground. This doesn’t mean that there is something wrong with your opinion, it just means that you and the user are perceiving the same thing in a different way. Here are some tips to overcome this issue:

Do some research, try to find out what users like; Stay focused on user needs; Figure out how different groups of users use the website and what their experience is like;

2. The difference between UX & UI

Every web designer should know the difference between UX and UI, which, because of their similar abbreviations, are commonly mistaken for one another. UX (user experience) is a collection of tasks focusing on website optimization for effective and enjoyable use, where on the other hand UI (user interface) is about how the user can interact with a website’s interface. It can be easily said that the UI is a part of the UX. So, before starting with the wireframe it’s always good to have a solid structure in a proper order, and that is:

  • Content structuring
  • Interaction design
  • Visual design.

3. Don’t overdo it

Users nowadays don’t have the time to browse through a significant amount of data and answer time-consuming question or even make two extra clicks. Make sure to remove every unnecessary field from your website, because a clean, time-saving and easy-to-use website is what users want these days.

When it comes to where you should place important features on a website, like a logo and call to action button, keep in mind that users are creatures of habit, so you may want to reconsider before making any bold move. Studies have shown that having a left-aligned logo on your website can bring you greater brand recognition. Regarding the call to action buttons, which are exactly that, buttons that call upon the user to do something, it’s always important to be placed in plain sight, to be large enough to stand out, but without overwhelming the design; also to choose a color that doesn’t clash with the site’s overall design.

And last but not least: Aim for a positive vibe

Always try to trigger positive emotions and work on gaining trust, because users, or people overall, are more likely to return to a place, in this case a website, if they felt a good vibe last time they were there 🙂

Wait, what!? You still don’t have a responsive website?

Could you live without a mobile phone?

We admit that if we forget the phone at home (that happens very rarely) or if the battery goes low we become a little anxious.

We use it to read and respond to emails, manage projects, search the web and get a little help from some apps. Of course we are not the only ones. The use of mobile devices to surf the web is growing at an astronomical pace, but unfortunately much of the web still isn’t optimized for those mobile devices. Mobile devices are often constrained by display size and require a different approach to how content is laid out on screen.

There is a multitude of different screen sizes across phones, tablets, desktops, game consoles, TVs, even wearables. Screen sizes will always be changing, so it’s important that your site can adapt to any screen size, today or in the future.

interesting-mobile-trends

  • 60% of all website traffic is from mobile devices
  • 80% of internet users now own a smartphone
  • 4 out of 5 smartphone users use their phone to shop online
  • More than 2 hours a day is the average time spent by smartphone users on their devices
  • 74% of users would probably visit your site again if it’s mobile friendly and 67% of users said that they are more likely to purchase from a site that works well on their phone
  • 70% of mobile searches lead to action within one hour
  • Conversions percentage on mobile phones and tablets is almost three times higher than the same search done on a desktop or laptop

A mobile friendly website is a must

What was once considered an expensive additive is now a part of the standard design. You no longer need two separated websites but just one which simply adapts the layout to the viewing environment. Responsive web design means that the page works fine whether you access the site URL with a desktop browser or whether you access IT with a mobile browser.

It is becoming a standard best practice and also Google prioritizes mobile friendly websites. While we are using mobile devices everywhere it is a must that you can connect with your future customers fast and simple and offer them a great experience. With responsive design your website would function on every device and will have a modern and applicable presence.

benefits-of-responsive-website

  • Responsive Websites adapt to multiple devices sizes and you can open them from anywhere
  • Responsive websites load faster
  • Get higher rankings on Google (improves SEO ranking)
  • Provide a better user experience
  • Help you to stay ahead of the competition
  • Help you to convert visitors into customers
  • Reduce maintenance risks

7 Signs you need a new website

Internet is definitely the first place your customers and potential customers are gonna check you out and learn about your business. You don’t want to scare the off by and out-of-date image of your business or by complicating the access to the content they are looking for. Simply because you aren’t actively hearing complaints about your website that doesn’t mean it is good. And if it is not good it means that most of the people would simply leave your web page if they can’t access valuable data.

Check out the following list and find out if you need a new website.

1. Your web site looks like it had been created in 1995?

Small fonts, a lot of colour, hundreds of subsites? It’s a no go.

2. Your Site Isn’t Responsive?

Having a mobile-friendly website is no longer a nice to have. It’s a must to succeed in this multi-device world we live in.

3. Your website takes more than 3 seconds to load?

You’re losing a third of your visitors in that time. The longer your page takes to load, the more customers you’ll lose.

4. Your website Bounce Rate is high?

The Bounce Rate is the number of visitors who leave your website after visiting a single page. The higher your bounce rate, the lower your percentage of engaged users. Your bounce rate can be affected by a better user interface, but also by the quality of the traffic coming to your site.

5. Your site is small?

It looked nice back in 2000 once the quality resolution size was 800×600. Today, well, not that much anymore.

6. A good menu structure for easy navigation is missing?

You and your potential clients (visitors) have issue finding relevant information.

7. You have duplicate content?

You have duplicate content within or across domains and you didn’t even notice? However Google did and you’ve been hit by Google’s Panda update. Google’s Panda Update is a search filter meant to stop sites with poor quality content from working their way into Google’s top search results. Make sure your content is unique.

Do you need help? We are here for you!

Creating the perfect Home Page

Driving traffic to your website is one thing. Engaging the visitors once they arrive and convert them into customers is the other. Here are some tips how to create the best home page for your website!

Think like your customers

First time visitors don’t know nothing about you. They don’t know if you offer what they are looking for. They don’t know if they can trust you. And they’re not ready to waste more than 10 seconds on your home page unless you immediately answer these questions for them. The ideal home page is the one that engages first-time visitors and convert them into customers.

Every new visitor proceeds through these steps:

First impression Proposition Trust Action It doesn’t matter how good your proposition is if your first impression is awful. It doesn’t matter how trustworthy you are if your proposition is unclear. And it doesn’t matter how clear your next steps are if you haven’t provided any reasons to be trusted. If your home page fails at steps 1, 2, or 3, then your visitor will never take the action (step 4) that you want them to.

first-impression

Studies show that website visitors will get an initial emotional reaction within 1/20th of a second! They can’t read anything during this time. The reaction is only visual.

The initial emotional experience is about meeting visitor expectations:

  • Attract the visitor’s attention
  • Grab the visitor’s attention and make sure they find what they are searching for
  • Make sure the visitors are having a pleasant time browsing your page
  • Create a relationship with the visitors and ensure they leave with a positive impression

It’s also about creating a better user experience

These are the question you have to answer with yes:
* Your web page loads within 2 seconds?
* Is your website responsive?
* Is your color scheme visually comfortable and consistent?
* Are your fonts readable and consistent?
* Your navigation bar ensures an easy navigation?
* Are your logo and call to action buttons in expected places?

With a little effort you can manage to create a great first impression. The most important thing is to prevent negative emotions. The best home page offers a positive experience free of negative surprises.

proposition

Now the visitor will give you 10 more seconds of their time. What will you do in this short time? In this stage you should give your proposition.

An ideal proposition answers these user questions:

  • What can I do here?
  • Why to choose them?
  • Is this what I’m looking for?
  • You can answer these questions using a combination of pictures and brief texts. Proper and well selected images convey ideas more quickly. Text must be kept very brief because of the short time limit.

If you fail to answer these 3 questions, your visitors will very likely leave your website. The World Wide Web provides a ton of choices. So if your home page doesn’t meet their needs, they can easily find another one that does. The best website convinces visitors to spend more time there.

trust

If your proposition fits with visitor’s needs, they will then look for reasons to trust you. And if they really like your proposition, they will want to find reasons to trust you. Make it easy for them!

Trust can be reached in many ways. You’ve already earned some of it by effectively navigating steps 1 and 2. Additional trust building generally comprises professional endorsements and even more important – social proof.

Professional endorsements include:

  • Professional degrees
  • Certifications
  • Industry awards
  • Press coverage
  • Social proof includes:
  • Testimonials
  • Case studies
  • Client logos
  • Social media share counts
  • Other numerical customer claims

Which of these are the most important for you depends on your business type. But in nearly all cases, testimonials and case studies are immensely valuable and should be proudly featured on your home page. When your visitor can see himself or herself reflected in another customer’s testimonial or results-oriented case study, which confers immense trust. Include pictures and names to make them more believable.

The best home page gives the visitor clear reasons to trust your promises in your proposition.

action

Now that your visitor’s needs are fulfilled they are ready and willing to engage further with your site. What do you want them to do?

  • Click through to start a fun or helpful personalized experience
  • Click through to read another page that answers further questions or provides more details
  • Submit their email address in exchange for access to helpful information or a newsletter
  • Visit social media pages
  • Submit a form to request further engagement
  • Make a purchase

The above actions can be beneficial for you and your visitors.

But you need to decide what action you want your ideal customers to take after landing on your home page. A single action is best. Next best is a single emphasized action with additional de-emphasized actions. And why is a single action important? Choices often lead to hesitation and confusion, which leads to clicking the “Back” button. Your visitors want to be led to their ideal experience. The ideal home page provides a single, clear and compelling call-to-action.

Conclusion

If you’re driving targeted customer traffic to your web site, and especially if you’re paying for it, you need your home-page to convert those new visitors into customers. To do this, you need to understand the sequential needs of your visitors and then design your best home page with that in mind. Web design is part art and part science, but it’s not magic 🙂 Follow these steps, and see for yourself how your visitors turn into customers.