Website Development

ECommerce Store

Choosing a Niche For Your ECommerce Store

If you have decided to open an eCommerce store, is it going to be a general store or a niche store? If you are unsure what the difference is, it’s simply that a general store will sell to any market, and a niche store will focus on selling products which relate a specific subject.

An example of a general eCommerce business could be one that sells t-shirts, caps and other printed goods across all sorts of subjects such as pets, sports, types of employment and hobbies. A niche eCommerce store which also sells t-shirts etc will only sell them if they are within the niche the business targets, such as dog lovers, golfers, teachers or camping enthusiasts, for example.

The main benefit of starting an eCommerce business which targets a specific niche, rather than across general markets, is you can very easily identify those who have an interest in your niche. You will also find that people within a niche can be very passionate about it, and often buy everything they can which relates to it. This will not be the case if your products are more generally targeted.

Web Design

Web Design Tips to Help Your Business Succeed

In many cases the web design of yesterday are now thought to be inefficient because they clutter up the website and give visitors so many options that they see leaving the website as an easier option. In 2016, the emphasis is on de-cluttering the look and feel of the website and only offering one or two options.

At the same time, websites must be responsive so that users of touch-screen iPhones and tablets can still access them and do all they want to on the website with their device. According to Slinky Web Design, to achieve this some of the features we have become used to in website design are gradually disappearing or changing to improve the user experience. Here are some tips to help your business succeed with a modern, responsive web design.

Leave out the navigation bar

While many users are used to seeing the navigation bar down the left side of the page, the modern web page omits this. Tests have shown that visitors rarely click on it. They read what is on the first page and if they don’t find what they want, they leave.

A navigation bar is an unwanted distraction when all you need can be placed on that front page.  And you can have a full page spread without the navigation bar taking up room. In addition, that extra space often makes the website design pop. It’s like seeing a full page ad in a magazine compared with a three-quarter page ad.

Throw out free stock images

Stock images are the images that everyone uses because they are free. Rather than using those, images that are unique to your website are better. Visuals play an important part in attracting people to a website. If yours are top quality and unique, then you’ll be ahead of the pack. And if you commission them especially then you will be at the top.

start-an-ecommerce-store

What You Need to Do to Start an Ecommerce Store

Many businesses both large and small are consulting digital agencies such as Slinky in order to make use of the Internet to enlarge their business and increase their bottom line. Even sole traders can start up an ecommerce store from which to sell their product or advertise their services. In fact, a great many people have found success in doing this. If you are thinking about starting up such a project, here are some tips on what you need to do.

  • Create a plan. This will include several components such as deciding what to sell, finding out where to access it, working out how you will differ from the competition, locating your target market and getting the legalities and store policies into place.
  • Setting it up. There are many things to decide in this step. Will your store have phone support? What domain and plan will you use? What will be the name of your store? Will you use drop-shipping or have stored inventory and if the latter, where will you store it? Selling digital goods saves a lot of problems with storing and packaging. You need to create a special bank account and decide on your merchant account so that people can pay you. PayPal makes it easy, but they do take a percentage of each transaction.
  • Decide on your website details. It is essential to make your website easy to navigate, with all the important details highly visible. Make sure it is responsive so that people using iPhones and iPads can use it easily. A content management system (CMS) like WordPress will make it easy for you to add and edit content instead of relying on – and paying for – a website designer to do it each time. You will need to write the product descriptions, including all the relevant information to help customers make their choice. You also need to write your privacy policy and get an SSL certificate to protect customer’s credit card details. Get a marketing plan and to learn how to measure results with analytics.

Components of Your eCommerce Store

6 Necessary Components of Your eCommerce Store

Once you have made a decision to start up an eCommerce store, there are several components that you will find essential whether you are going to choose a full service web design agency or a cheap web design company. In fact, it is wise to find out all about what you need even before the final decision is made.

For a start, some things – e.g. the shopping cart – will cost you, so you need to know whether or not you can afford them. That said, there are many ways of reducing costs; one of them is to use free services or a free trial period for when you first start up. That will allow you to have extra to spend on advertising.

So here are 7 necessary elements that your eCommerce store will need to get started: –

  • Since so many shoppers these days use their iPhones to shop, your website needs a responsive website interface by an expert such as Slinky. This means that button and other icons that they need to click on must have lots of space around them – enough for their finger to do the clicking rather than a tiny arrow from the cursor. You also need to choose the shopping cart with mobile functionality in mind. More about responsive here

Logo Design

Basic Principles of Logo Design

If your company needs a logo it is a sure bet that you want it to be unique, distinct, easily recognisable, practical, appropriate – and to have that wow factor that is difficult to explain, but you know when you see it. This is not so easy to do as it may sound, even for a logo designer with a great deal of experience. It takes discussion with the client and research of the company and of the general history of the business it represents, not to mention finding out what ideas, if any, have already been thought of.

However, there are certain basic principles of logo design that must not be forgotten in the general scramble to offer something that is different, but effective.

  • Simplicity – logo design that is overdrawn will not translate well to all media and when it must be really small will become blurry and indistinct. Look at some of the most well-known logo designs and you will see that the shapes and colours are really simple – think Nike and Apple for example.
  • Memorable – following closely behind simplicity, the design must be memorable. In fact a simple design is usually a memorable one because a single shape is easier to remember than something more complicated that has several elements. Being appropriate is part of it memorability.

Ecommerce Website

How to Create Your Own Ecommerce Website

If you have a desire to sell goods online then you’ve most likely considered how you will build your e-commerce website. There is no doubt that shopping cart websites are complex. They require not only a high quality, functional and usable layout and design, but also a secure and well thought out back end as well, in order to facilitate the financial transactions that will take place on the site.

An e-commerce website should be well planned, with every aspect of the site having a purpose and contribution to the overall goal of converting your website visitors into buyers of your products. There are now many options when it comes to building a shopping website. You can use an open source piece of software, you can pay a web developer to build your entire site from scratch, or, in the case of very small e-commerce sites, you can even simply use Paypal to build a simple shopping cart. The size of your website and your budget will determine which path you take.

Other important factors to keep in mind as you plan the design and functionality of your website include the following:

Your domain name: this will be your branding opportunity so make sure you decide on a domain name that you are happy with and feel represents your products well.

web typography

Serious Thinking About Web Typography

For those of you who have never had the occasion to learn how all this “font” or web typography stuff got started in the first place, 37Signals has a great post up about The Art of Computer Typography. It’s a great little history lesson on how hacker guru Donald Knuth basically brought typography to the computer age the way Moses brought the commandments down from the mountain.

It’s good to appreciate how you website’s font setup can make the difference between visitors staying and leaving. There is something wonderful in the way a page full of well-laid-out, well-kerned type makes the reading experience easier for everyone. And of course, it wards you away from those dreadful yellow-on-red pages with Comic Sans text.

careless employees

Who Is The Least Secure Employee In Your Web Company?

Dark Reading has a thought-provoking post up about the popular buzzphrase “insider threat”, and, to the point, how it really doesn’t make sense as a term. The post advocates for a more fine-grained approach:

  • rogue employees – This is actually the darkest prospect, and yet entrepreneurs fear it the most while it actually happens the least.
  • security loss through incompetence – now we’re talking!
  • just plain leaks – through, for instance, trusting a third party and then their incompetence exposed you to risk.
  • outside attacker penetrating inside – really, every outside threat aims to become an inside threat.

Experience has proved out time and again, that under-trained or careless employees are the greatest threat vector. For every “Hollywood hacker” trying to get into your site, there’s a hundred receptionists setting their password to “1234”, a hundred associates using a malware-infected Windows PC to send mail, a hundred security guards who aren’t watching what they should, and a hundred coders who left a gaping exposure to XSS in your web page. It’s ridiculous to treat malicious attackers and mistakes all the same way.

Windows 8

Kiss Flash and Silverlight Goodbye on Windows 8

Did you ever think you’d live to see the day when you’d read this headline? Here, wait, let’s hear it in OSNews’ own words first:

“The world’s most popular operating system will not be receptive to Flash, and Microsoft openly stating Flash is history pretty much means that as a platform for the web, it’s done. Flash may still serve a purpose in other ways, but the Flash most of us know and hate – that’s gone.”

Wha… ? Done? Gone? Flash? DOA? Belly-up? Bereft of life, resting in peace?

Yes, the MSDN developer website seems pretty sure about this. HTML5 is where it’s at now. Throw away those O’Reilly Actionscript manuals and beef up on your HTML5. Meanwhile, Apple Insider can barely keep the gloating out of its coverage of the story.

The hilarious irony in all of this? Linux, the platform the Adobe despised the most, is now the only platform that will give the time of day to Adobe. So, ah, Adobe, do you suppose Firefox Ubuntu users can expect their Flash plugin update on time for a change?

Instaview: Instagram to the Macs

InstaviewIconIt’s time to reveal what we’ve been working on these last few months, but first a little background. Instagram, an app available for iPhone is in the words of its creators at Burbn, “a fast, beautiful and fun way to share your life with friends.” The number of people who have adopted this service as their favorite way to share photos has been nothing short of amazing. A recent article puts its userbase at 5 million.

We too have enjoyed using the app over the last several months and have decided to provide a way for Instagram users to view these photos with a native Mac application.

Instaview allows you to easily set up one or more windows which will each show an Instagram photo stream. You can choose from several picture frames styles to showcase each photo stream. An overlay appears when you mouse over each stream window, allowing you to see more information about the photo being displayed. At that point you’re a click away from viewing who has liked or commented on the photo, further information about the Instagrammer, the ability to like the photo, follow the contributor or add your own comment. Our badging feature lets you know when new photos are available for viewing. Finally, each window can also become its own slideshow which will cycle through its stream’s photos.

online business

Running your online business like a rock star?

An interesting pocket of web design is found on Naldz Graphics, with a gallery of 40 websites of rock bands. Now, the point of this post is “look at designs, be inspired in your own designs” and in fact some of these might work better for businesses other than a band.

We asked our own resident rock ‘n’ roll expert (he has a Frank Zappa poster in his cubicle) to rate how these designs work for a band as a business case.

Here’s some of the verdicts:

hiring an online freelance web designer

Hmmmm, Good Advice For Being A Good Client

We jumped when we saw the title of the post: How to be a good client, but then when we read the content, it wasn’t what we had in mind. Don’t get us wrong, it’s all good advice, but we’d really like to take this time to advise readers on how to get the most out of hiring an online freelance web designer:

1. Link to an example of what you want. As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words. You can talk to a designer all day, “I want an arty header and a side link bank, but it should move with the scrollwheel and have green and blue colors…” That can still be interpreted 100 different ways. Find a picture to start with, then detail how you want it different.

2. Take the designer’s / developer’s word for it. We don’t know how many clients out there have made their own lives miserable by saying “I want the whole site in Flash.” or “Can I get it with animated GIFs and use this big image as the background?” You hire an expert; if they say that something isn’t a good idea, listen to them. That’s what you’re paying them for is to know their stuff!

Mashups and APIs

The Irresistible Draw of Mashups and APIs

It’s worth checking in over at Programmable Web once in awhile just to see what they’re up to, with their API discoveries. Google, Twitter, Flickr, and all, the defining mark of a popular Web 2.0 service is whether people do things with your API.

Notable developments from just one recent week:

  • Comedy on Spotify – A directory of comedians and their albums, with video clips for sampling, mashed up out of Freebase and Last.fm. Just dive right in and look for the wit who tickles you the right way.
  • Today’s Special – A Google Wave bot serving up quotes, words, horoscopes, sports scores, and whatnot.
  • Tickets Suck – A Twitter and Twilio mashup that reminds you to move your car so you don’t get a ticket.
  • Quote Relish – A real-time news ticker using the Freebase and Moreover APIs.

Mashups and APIs are an exciting tech trend that’s worth keeping track of, because new gizmos are getting invented every day. This is something we couldn’t do only a decade ago. But even more fascinating is the potential that mashups have; they represent evolution at a lightning pace. Ideas build on ideas, just the way innovation is supposed to work!

iPhone Animation Sequence

When writing Postage and WORD SPIN we encountered the same problem again and again: the need to chain a sequence of animations together. For example, when the user navigates to the next page we first animate away the controls for the current view, switch views, then animate the controls in for the new view. Initially, we set the UIView delegate and then in our specified selector implementation kicked off the next animation which itself would eventually call back into a completion selector, and so on. But it’s largely the same code over and over, and you either need a bunch of similar looking animationDidStop implementations, or a single implementation that branches based on the animation identifier. For example:

Warning : Love hurts…

Sometimes the ones you love reject you. If you are an iPhone developer this is probably a concept with which you are already intimately familiar. We love developing for the iPhone, but sometimes the App Store and its app review process leaves us feeling a little dejected.

One of our applications was just rejected about halfway through the review process and it seemed like a unique enough situation that it was worth sharing as a warning to our comrades in the trenches.

Over the past couple of weeks, there have been several reports of iPhone Apps being rejected for use of private APIs. Many of the rejections are from developers that have used the extremely popular Three20 library from ex-iPhone developer Joe Hewitt. The developing consensus is that recently Apple has started using a static code analyzer to flag applications that have used private API calls.

Illustrator

Mock-Up Solutions That Are Not Photoshop

This may come as an astonishing shock to some people, but Adobe Photoshop is not the only application in the world!

Perhaps we could bring some fresh viewpoints to our design process, if we tried another tool just once…

  • Illustrator – Scalable Vector Graphics, for instance. That’s actually closer to what the final product looks like anyway, and SVG editors are ever so much more graceful handling text than Photoshop. You might also try the free (and excellent) Inkscape.
  • Fireworks – Superior for some functions, such as object handling, vectors, and the slicing/exporting of images.
  • Xara Xtreme – Never heard of it, did you? Check it out, it’s a vector editor on steroids. It can even handle Flash and build web prototypes right in the app!
  • Balsamiq Mockups – Another new player in the field, this one was designed by an ex-Adobe employee. It’s specialized to just do web design mock-ups.
  • Pen and Paper! – Too many people knock this. Drawing on paper lets you stop thinking about the interface and tap your artistic thinking. People forget that creating a web document is an art. It’s also much more satisfying to tear up a design you don’t like than it is to delete it!
Code injection

Code injection into a user-accessible text field

This is the biggest risk for the modern social web, because nearly every website has a comment or feedback form where visitors can enter content and post it to your page for other visitors to see. Now, what happens when you type some Javascript into a comment form on your blog and post it? How about an SQL database query, or some rogue PHP code? How about accessing your site with the malicious code in the address bar?

Attackers will look for any vector that can be used to sneak a line of executable code onto your web server. Remember, all they need is to get one line through, and they’ve got a foothold. For example, an HTML tag called ‘iframe‘ can be used to embed another web page into the host web page. Setting the iframe’s attributes to ‘width=0’ and ‘height=0’ can keep it hidden. But the target of the iframe might be a web server on the other side of the world with a Javascript attack that will steal your user’s data or install malware on your user’s computer. This is just one of the many tricks out there.

InDesign CS4 : Developer View

The recently released InDesign CS4 comes packed with a long bullet-list of new features. Here are a few that stand out from a Creative Suite developer’s perspective :

GREP pattern matching for styles

You can now set a style to apply to a range of text that matches a grep-style pattern. For instance you could use a pattern like :

'@/:[:space:]]+>@[a-zA-Z_.]+?.[a-zA-Z]{2,3}'

to automatically apply a specific style to anything that looked like an email address. I’m not sure what the intersection is between page layout designers and grep pattern wizards, but the nerd in me loves the idea.

Magma AI Page

Overview:
Apply Core Image effects to Illustrator artwork

Magma Effects™ allows you to apply a variety of new raster effects to text, paths and images in your Adobe® Illustrator® documents. Apply special effects such as star-shines, lenticular halos or zoom blurs. Make your artwork stand out with style by applying spotlight, bloom or shaded material effects. Over 100 raster effects are at your fingertips instantly.

Easy to use and lightning fast  

Simply select the artwork to enhance in your document and apply the Magma Effects filter or live effect to gain access to all of the Core Image filters available in OS X Tiger. Change parameters with real time previews while you add effects to the chain as needed. When you are done editing, the effects are applied directly to your artwork just like the live effects you already use.

Features:

Graphics And Website Design

Graphics And Website Design

Of course, the fact that these graphics makes your website pleasing to view is also extra helpful. Graphics in your website can also make your website easy to view and also easy to understand. Many people will have trouble reading long texts and deriving information from them.

By embedding all relevant information in your graphics, you are guaranteed to convey the needed information to your visitors.

However, there are some tips that you need to follow whenever you are using graphics in your website. Although flashy graphics can be helpful in impressing your visitors, they can also be a detriment to you.

The main reason for this is because of the fact that flashy graphics and animations can have long loading times. Hence, when your visitor clicks your website, then he or she may not have enough patience to wait for your graphics to load in to your website. In fact, graphics that take too long to load can cause you to lose visitors instead of gaining them. Thus, you should make sure to use graphics that load relatively fast and you should try to refrain from complex animations in your graphical design.