An Introduction To UI Elements For Website Design

Within modern web design, the use of UI elements has become an essential part of most websites. UI stands for ‘User Interface’ and a UI element is something on a website that creates interaction with users and visitors.

We thought it would be useful if we explained some of the more common UI elements and to provide you with some guidance as to how and when they might be used within the design of any new website. UI elements can be broken down into 4 different types, and within each of these are the specific UI elements.

Input Controls

These are the most basic and most common. They are used so that visitors can input information which may then cause your website to react in a certain way.

  • Buttons: Used to upload, send, download, confirm, select, ‘Buy Now’ and so on.
  • Text Fields: Quite simply these are spaces where the users type in requested information such as their name, email address, etc.
  • Icons and Images: These are used to give further clarity as to what a specific function is for. They can hyperlink to another page or section.
  • Checkboxes: Another easy one where the website’s visitors click in a box to select or confirm a choice they have made. Often used with lists of options.
  • Radio Buttons: These have a similar function to checkboxes, but instead of a tick appearing, a small circle goes from empty to filled with a solid colour.
  • Lists / Download Lists: Used to provide visitors with multiple options, but they tend only to allow one option to be chosen at a time.
  • Toggles: The online equivalent of a light switch in that they have two positions. Visitors move a toggle to the ‘On’ position to select an option.

What Is FTP?

When it comes to the internet, websites, and website security, you may have already realised that there is no shortage of terminology. Much of this terminology seems to have been created by someone who was on a mission to use as many long words and letters as possible. This has led to many of them being abbreviated, and one of those abbreviations is FTP.

FTP stands for File Transfer Protocol, and here we are going to explain what it is and why it is used. Trying to explain FTP is made more difficult because it can be defined in three different ways. First, it is a ‘method’ of transferring files, next it is the ‘software’ or ‘client’ which does the sending and receiving, and to add even more to the mix, FTP is also used as an ‘action’ in the sense that someone may be asked to FTP files to a server.

How FTP Works

For FTP to take place, there have to be two parties to it, in the same sense that a verbal conversation cannot take place unless two people are involved. With FTP, the two parties are the sender and the receiver. The sender, using FTP software, will send files to the receiver. The receiver can either be another person simply working on a PC, or it could be a server, with an example being a hosting server receiving the files required to publish a website online.

7 Features You Want Your Web Hosting Company To Provide

Whether you are seeking a web hosting provider for a new website or are unhappy with your existing web hosting company and are looking for a new one, it pays to ensure that whoever you choose is able to provide some specific features. These are features that can enhance the operation of your website, improve the experience of visitors to that website, and make it easier for you to manage your website.

These features are what you might call the absolute minimum that any web hosting worthy of the name should provide. In some cases, you will find that some of these features are only available on certain hosting plans that a web hosting company offers, so make sure you check all the plans of any web hosting service you are considering.

Ability To Host Unlimited Domains/Websites

The importance of this to you will depend on your business model but it is better to have and not need it than need it and not have it available to you. Unlimited domains allow you to host multiple websites with different domains for businesses that you control. They may all be satellite businesses under one corporate structure, or it could be you run a variety of websites that all operate independently of each other. Either way, having them all hosted on one service is preferable.

Multiple Email Accounts

Even if you only have one website hosted with your service provider, having the means to set up and use multiple emails will make running your business much easier. You can have one with your name, and then others which are used with respect to what the person is emailing about. This could include email address set up for customer support, general enquiries, or sales.

Apple’s iCloud – nothing but blue sky?

fad –noun: a temporary fashion, notion, manner of conduct, etc, especially one followed enthusiastically by a group.
trend –noun: the general course or prevailing tendency; style; vogue.
game changer –colloquialism: an innovation that changes or redefines business.

It’s difficult to browse the media today and not read about a new technology, product or application in this ever-advancing online world. Whether it’s a new “i” this or a new “smart” that, it can be a bit daunting to try to make sense of each new development and how it might impact our business (or not).

The goal of this blog is to highlight new technologies, products and applications and discuss their potential impact on the way we do business, always asking the question: Is this just a passing fad, a new trend or will it change the game as we know it? Hopefully as a result, we can spark some great conversations.

So let’s begin with Apple’s recently announced iCloud. First of all, what’s a cloud or, as it’s more commonly referred to, cloud computing? Simply put, it’s a secure, online environment where you can access your applications and data from any network-connected device, such as a computer, smart phone or tablet. In other words, rather than storing files on your devices, you store them in the cloud for better accessibility and security.

What You Must Consider When Changing Your Web Hosting Provider

There are many reasons why you might one day wish to consider switching your web hosting provider. It could be that you have found their customer service to be poor, that the performance of your website is being compromised, or that they are increasing their hosting fees to a level that you find too high.

Regardless of the reason you wish to leave your current hosting company, before switching to another, there are several key considerations you must make. Failure to do so could mean that you end up with a hosting company that is no better than the previous one, or worse, one whose performance and service are even more lacking than what you were experiencing before.

To avoid either of those two undesirable scenarios and more importantly, to ensure that any new hosting company you move to can provide you with what you require for your website to function properly and be able to be managed effectively,  here are some of the more crucial points you should consider.

What Specific Features Do They Offer?

This can cover a wide range of possibilities but in most cases, you need only focus on the more important ones. These include the following:

  • Disc Space – How Much?
  • Bandwidth – Limited Or Unlimited?
  • Email Accounts – Offered And Are They Unlimited?
  • Subdomains / Add On Domains – Unlimited?
  • Which Platforms Can Be Used? WordPress? Joomla? Others?

If the answers to these questions are either positive or in most cases ‘unlimited’, then this is a good sign that this hosting service can provide the level of website functionality and management you need.

Improving The Mobile User Experience

More and more web users are browsing online from the mobile devices, hence the need for responsive web design. More than ever before, websites are being viewed from devices with screens as small as eight centimetres in width, resulting in frustrating experiences for many users when a website will simply not display as a functional document.

Smartphones in particular have gained in popularity in the past few years, and these small screened but highly capable devices are now the central internet browsing choice for millions of users. In fact, many people no longer use a computer to go online, but complete all of their business and pleasure activities solely on their smartphones.

The challenge then for web designers and website developers is to create a website that caters to both traditional computer users as well as those who are browsing from mobile devices like smartphones and iPads. When mobile devices first started attracting the attention of developers, many selected to simply create two versions of a website: one for computer users, another for mobile users. However, this resulted in duplicate content, of which more than ever before is now frowned upon excessively by the search engines. Additionally, running what is essentially two separate websites is simply not feasible or logical, particularly for larger sites, which is why responsive web design makes sense.

Digital Agency v In-House Google Ads Management

There are many business owners who have a sound knowledge of online marketing or have marketing staff that do, and often that includes Google Ads. For this reason, they will embark on a Google Ads campaign, and despite their best efforts, it does not bring the expected results. We won’t go into all the reasons why that might be, but instead, make some comparisons between using an in-house team to manage Google ads, and a digital agency, which is likely to shed more light on the failures.

The first benefit of a digital agency that manages Google Ads campaigns every day, is that they will be fully aware of the changes that are happening within Google. Trying to keep up with Google is almost a full-time job itself, and unless you can keep tabs on new developments in relation to Google Ads you will be left behind.

Not only do Google change some of the rules from time to time, but they periodically add and remove elements of Google Ads. Some of these are short-term trials, and others are more comprehensive. Examples include local search ads on maps, demographics for search and right-hand ads being removed, to name but three. With Google Ads continually evolving, a PPC management company will keep you ahead of your competition who are relying on their in-house team.

Mobile Web Design Tips

Including mobile access in your web design and development plan is not just an option these days: it is a necessity, and hence the need for mobile web design tips. Millions of people are browsing the web, shopping and spending money, via their mobile devices so not carefully considering this as you design or redevelop your site means that money is being left on the table.

1. Know What Devices Are Being Used

Unless you know how your users are browsing your site, it is difficult to target them. Are they mostly using larger mobile devices like iPads, or are they predominately smartphone users (which involve much smaller screens and a more thoughtful design solution to cater to it). Using analytics and research you can build quite a detailed profile of the operating systems and potential devices that your website visitors are using.

2. Maintain The Same Message In Your Content

A mobile version of a website should not provide a completely different feel and experience just because someone is not browsing on their computer. The overall feel and purpose of the site should remain the same, along with the core content which people should feel is not wildly different based on how they are accessing your website. In many cases, you may have to eliminate some content or features on the mobile design to cater to the capability or aesthetics of the device. However, your core content, branding and website purpose should absolutely remain the same throughout.

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Categorized as Web Design

How to create a social media strategy

Social Media is a hot topic in marketing, almost every conversation I have about digital turns into a social media discussion these days. I also find that while a large number of companies have started social media marketing, many companies don’t know where to start. I’ve had many discussions in the last few months where senior executives admit they know they need to do something but they don’t know what.

I firmly believe that social media is what the web will become and in most ways what the web was designed to be. The web is still in it’s infancy and the how we connect online with the real world will continue to develop. Companies need an integrated digital strategy that includes social media as a central component to ensure they meet the developing needs and behaviours of the modern customer.

The various discussions about social media have led me to outline the key items every company should consider when defining their social media strategy.

1. Set your objectives
The biggest mistake organisations make is not knowing what they are trying to achieve with social media. They do it because they see other companies doing it or because they want to be the first in their sector or niche to use social media. Social Media can be used for a multitude of reasons including positioning, lead generation, sales, customer service and marketing (in the fullest sense), amongst others. But if you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll never get there. Make sure your social media objectives align with your business objectives before you set off on your exciting new journey.

2. Define what success looks like
I can’t overstate the importance of defining success, it’s the only way to understand whether you are achieving your desired objectives. You must set targets for each of your business objectives and then set the metrics that you will use to measure these targets. A customer service cost reduction objective may have metrics such as the volume of queries resolved through social media, the reduction in queries offline and net cost reduction. All of which will show whether you are moving towards your overall target.