The mobile web keeps growing at a rapid pace. Smartphones continue to sell strongly, with Apple alone forecasting to bring in $180 billion from its smartphones by 2021. There are over 224 million smartphone users in the United States, making the mobile web an essential focus for any website owner.

The continued growth of mobile web users makes it important for designers and front-end developers to grasp proper design for accelerated mobile pages. That’s why companies like Melaleuca, which was founded by Frank VanderSloot long before the internet and mobile phones were invented, place a premium on having solid mobile pages and apps.
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It’s easy to get caught up in the everyday routine if you are a website designer. Whether you are managing sites for clients or taking care of a company website, it is important to step back from the daily grind to keep your design chops fresh.

Working on projects outside of that primary role is a great way to stay inspired, fresh and even bring new skills and ideas back to your primary work. But where do you start? We’ve got a list of 10 “side” projects that every web designer should try at least once. You’ll be surprised at how much you might learn and bring back to the websites you are working on.
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Once they’re out of design school and battling it out in the real world, designers can find themselves in a pretty crappy predicament. Maybe your teachers warned you to be as discerning as possible when taking on new clients (or maybe they told you the opposite, but you knew it was BS), but reality is often a rude awakening from what you expected when you first started working.
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How can I create content that’s current and relevant to my readers or customers? How can I take advantage of trending topics to drive traffic to my site?

These are common questions among bloggers and site owners, today especially those who work in specific “niche” fields. It can be hard to find great ideas for “ripped-from-the-headlines” content for every industry, but we’ll show you how. Once you know a few simple tricks, it’s easier than you might think. Let’s get started…

How-to-build-a-successful-website-1080x500Finding Trending Topics

The first step toward creating great, current content is finding the right topic (or keyword) for your post. Twitter and Google are both good tools for beginner (and even expert) bloggers to find the topics and keywords that are trending in their given industry. Perform a search for your industry to see what your potential readers (or customers) are currently interested in. Once you’ve found a few ideas, you’ll need the right title for your post (to attract readers, and to set yourself apart from similar content). If you have trouble thinking of a good title post, there are a few online blog title generators that can work with your desired keyword or topic.


Tying Topics to Your Business

You shouldn’t write “trending content” just for the sake of having current information on your site, you should figure out which news stories are important to your specific industry or field of interest. Unless your site regularly reports on news events, it might seem strange if you suddenly start writing articles about current trending topics. This is why you should make every effort to tie these topics to your specific field of interest.

For example, let’s say that you’re a plumber. You’ve done some research about trending topics in your local area and have found there’s a lot of concern about a severe weather pattern that’s coming through the area soon. You could, in this example, write an actionable post entitled “5 Bad Weather Plumbing Tips”. By talking a little bit about a trending issue, then tying it to your niche market, you can create unique content that’s tailored to your customers and readers.

As another example, let’s assume your site is dedicated to health and wellness products. You could write about trending wellness companies in the news like the Honest Company or Melaleuca. While you may not sell Melaleuca products or Honest Company products, they operate in the same industry as you, so you’ll have something interesting to talk about that your readers and customers can relate to.


A Word of Warning: Don’t Overload Your Keywords

A common mistake among bloggers beginning to write content based on trending topics is keyword over-stuffing. Back when search engines were more primitive, bloggers found that they could improve their ranking on sites like Google by producing content that was loaded with a specific keyword. That way, when someone searched for “best florist in Miami”, a Miami florist could load their website up with the words “best florist in Miami”.

This simply doesn’t work anymore! In fact, it can get your site flagged as spam, which will actually hurt your Google rank. As a rule of thumb, a 1000-word post should contain your desired keyword no more than 3-4 times. To avoid the “spam” label, use a variety of synonyms and variations on your keyword.


As a business just getting into online blogging, marketing, and trends, you have to be knowledgeable about what’s accepted. While you could write the posts yourself, it might not hurt to have a third party do some of this work for you in the beginning. Get a good program like Frontier Business services to help guide you through your web hosting and communication, then see what markets will be best to target in your industry. With these ideas, you should be able to make your business an expert online, and a master of current topics.

Flat design took designers by storm — evolving from a few simple projects to becoming a significant part of web, and especially application, design.Here are a few ways to predict web design trends (with a few trendy web design examples) … and maybe even start one yourself. Continue reading →

When it comes designing websites, small businesses are many times victim to the old saying that states “beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” Unlike large corporations with large in-house website design and Internet marketing departments, small businesses are left to their own ill-equipped devices or left in the hands of an outsourced website design firm.

It generally takes a third party to point out a website’s physical and esthetic flaws. Sometimes it takes a few hundred of your dearest friends and colleagues to convince you that your website is ugly. An ugly website can come in many shapes and sizes. It may have a horrendous color scheme, a nasty logo, outdated architecture, inappropriate images, spelling errors, or it just might be difficult to navigate and locate information. Regardless, these ugly ducklings exist and they seem to be growing and living well past their intended lifecycle.

As a small business owner or C-level executive, listen to those around you and seek outsiders’ opinions. If someone you know and trust or even a prospective customer tells you your website has “issues”, it probably does need a refresh or a complete overhaul. Seek outside help and seek it quickly, before you are labeled one of the ugly ones. This isn’t the playground and you won’t hear your girlfriends whispering behind your back. All you’ll know is you are receiving little traffic, few conversions, or virtually zero website leads or sales.

Up until this year mobile friendly websites were a luxury of large brands or companies with big IT budgets. Then a little thing called responsive design arrived and it changed the mobile landscape for the average business.

Responsive web design allows website developers to best utilize the available screen real estate on desktop and mobile devices.  The website adapts in layout without removing massive amounts of web content.

What was once considered a costly expenditure is now part of the standard website design project. Businesses no longer have to create two independent websites or pay to support two websites. They can develop one website that simply adapts to accommodate the smaller footprint of mobile devices.

Benefits of Using Responsive Design

• Captures more mobile traffic

• Captures higher ranking and more search traffic for local terms and phrases

• Improves overall bounce rates because it cuts down on mobile user frustration

• Avoids duplicate content that can result from managing two websites

• Increases online sales (yes people really do buy products off of mobile devices)

• Cheaper than developing separate websites for desktop and mobile usage

• Saves development time because you create only one website

• Provides a consistent user experience across devices (as opposed two multiple websites that look and act differently)

There are a lot of web sites that offer company reviews. We think is the best of the best when it comes to business reviews.

First, Glass Door allows full-time, part-time, and even past employees to post reviews. Because the reviews are anonymous, employees are extremely candid and open about the stuff they write. They really speak their mind.

Second, while some online review sites just cater to employees who are super pissed off, Glass Door uses a complete review template. This template has posters list the pros AND the cons of their workplace, and it also invites them to share some advice to management. This makes the Glass Door reviews seem a lot more thoughtful.

By having anonymous employee reviews, Glass Door is a perfect tool for people who may be considering employment at a particular organization. It’s also helpful for businesses who may be in the early stages of partnering with another organization. Customer reviews are insightful as well, but nobody knows a company inside and out like the people who make it go.

It’s easy to search for companies on Glass Door, and their are thousands with profiles. The larger the business, the more reviews you can expect to find. Below are three examples of companies that have Glass Door review pages, with a few sample comments.

1. Foot Locker Reviews (790 reviews)
• 61% of users recommend the company to a friend; 3.3 stars; 69% approval score for CEO Richard Johnson
• Some pros: “Great people to work with. great discounts, fun environment.” “Very relaxed work environment and good discounts. Very easy work.”
• Some cons: “The store managers really push you to sell customers what they don’t want, i.e. insoles.” “NO COMMISSION FOR SALES!! no reward for any of your work, minimum wage salary, physically tiring for long shifts walking back and forth getting customers shoes. Managers have high sales standards and expect you to go beyond the extra mile for horrible pay.”
• Some advice to management: “stop the favoritism and hire better managers!” “Chill bro. They are way too uptight and pressuring people into buying things. It creates an aggressive environment that people don’t enjoy.”

2. Trader Joe’s Reviews (1,536 reviews)
• 83% of users recommend the company to a friend; 4.0 stars; 74% approval score for CEO Dan Bane
• Some pros: “Great pay and benefits. Able to be passionate about great food and share that with customers. Makes the normal task of grocery shopping a memorable experience.” “Company culture is amazing. There is very little hierarchy within the store, and the company usually promotes internally, which means that the managers understand the job you’re doing and often are right there doing it with you.”
• Some cons: “No place to go if you have an issue, managers support each other not staff, there is a ton favoratism, discount could be better, customers are ALWAYS right”
• Some advice to management: “Don’t micromanage. Trust your employees.””Get your act together and actually deal with problems because I currently don’t feel comfortable going to anyone here with any sort of problem or issues that I have. I feel like I’m just supposed to shut up and get through the day on anything actually important.”

3. Melaleuca Reviews (156 reviews)
• of users recommend the company to a friend; 4.0 star; 82% approval score for CEO Frank VanderSloot
• Some pros: “The people on the teams really work well together. People genuinely want to help one another and the company in general. The benefits for the area are fairly competitive.” “Free products every month. Generally a good work life/balance.”
• Some cons: “It’s difficult in any job to sit and answer calls all day.” “Frequent late-nights and a lot of employees are overloaded with work projects, which often results in sacrificing quality for just getting on to the next project.”
• Some advice to management: “Hire more help in key areas that promote front-facing and touch points with customers to ensure the solid brand loyalty and consistent communication without costly errors.”