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Benefits of Smart Devices for People Living with Disabilities

smart devices

Thanks to technology, life has become incredibly convenient. We can buy stuff online, talk to family and friends across the country and the globe, and control numerous smart devices through our tablet or smartphone. Those taking advantage of the Internet of things include the world’s largest minority, namely, individuals with disabilities.

In addition to the many other technologies of our digital world, disabled individuals benefit from the use of smart devices. It’s a lot like how the general public gets to enjoy the benefits of website accessibility. When websites are made accessible, it improves the user experience for all. If you’re not sure about getting on this technological trend, let us give you the reasons why you should.

What are smart home devices?

google miniA smart home is a residence that features devices interconnected with each other via the Internet that will enable the owner to remotely monitor and control them. Smart home devices include appliances, lights, thermostats, doorbells, door locks, cameras, speakers, etc.

How does a device qualify as a smart home device? Technically, any product inside your home that can be plugged into your home network and commanded by voice, remote control, tablet, or smartphone is considered a smart device.

How does smart home technology help people with disabilities?

Having your devices “talk” to each other has obviously transformed the lives of many people, but what has it done for those who are living with disabilities? How do these smart home devices help improve their daily lives?

A smart home system gives control to people with disabilities. These devices can help them enjoy independent living while easing the worries of their loved ones. They’re giving power to this community while providing them with cost savings. Smart devices are considerably less expensive than single-purpose assistive devices.

disabilityHow do smart home systems do all of that? One good example is a smart door sensor that is connected to smart speakers. Blind people can use this smart home technology to let them know if someone has entered or left the house. Another good example is the Amazon Echo program.

This personal assistant device can listen to your voice commands and control Bluetooth-enabled devices and appliances. People with limited physical mobility no longer need to get up to change the thermostat or to get in touch with a loved one. Opening curtains or blinds can be difficult for some people with restricted mobility. Having a smart device enables them to perform this task with ease.

Robotic vacuum cleaners, smoke alarms, ovens, and even coffee makers are just some of the other things that can be controlled using smartphones or even just spoken commands. As such, people living with disabilities are given the “ability” to perform tasks that they used to ask others to perform for them. It increases accessibility without requiring them to make changes to how their home is designed or built. Simply put, this type of technology provides them with “home control,â€� which can make a huge difference in how they can live their everyday life.

Best devices to make your home smarter

Door sensors

If you’re investing in a smart device, security should be your top priority. What better way to make your house secure than to get a door sensor? A door sensor sends you an alert whenever someone tries to enter your home. You’ll never have to worry about leaving your home unattended again because you’ll know immediately if your door opens.

For people living with disabilities such as dementia, loved ones can feel much safer with a door sensor installed. It eases their mind because they’ll be able to know right away if their family member leaves home without them.

Electronic door locks

A smart lock enables you to open and lock your doors remotely. It ensures you’re never locked out of your home—something that can easily happen if you forget your key or the code into your house.

It also allows you to provide people temporary access to your homes whenever you want it. In fact, you can even dictate the number of times and days someone can go in and out of your home. With a smart lock, you’re not just able to provide access. You’re also able to monitor access.

Motion sensors

motion sensorMotion sensors, as we all know, can detect movement in an area where there shouldn’t be any. These play an integral role in any security system. It can alert you when your children are entering an area in the home (like the basement) when they shouldn’t be; It will let you know if your teen is breaking curfew or going out while you’re asleep. Also, It will alert you when intruders are going into your home.

With a smart home system, you can set up your motion sensor to trigger other connected devices such as lights or alarms. These devices can even be used to help you save money. For example, you can set the device to turn off lights whenever there is no motion detected in a room for a certain period.

Smart lights

Smart lighting is more than just being able to turn your lights on and off remotely. It enables you to control lighting levels allowing you to change a bulb’s brightness to suit your needs and/or the time of day. It also allows you to save energy. As we’ve already mentioned, you can connect motion sensors with your smart lighting allowing you to turn off the lights in unoccupied rooms. In short, you’re able to conserve electricity as well as your personal energy.

Voice assistants

Voice assistant technology has transformed the lives of everyone. Commanded through voice, it is a software that performs as a digital assistant providing users with a service through an application. A good example of voice assistants includes Amazon’s Alexa and Google Assistant.

With a voice assistant, you can control various devices through one specific app or device, such as the Amazon Alexa app, Amazon Echo, or Google Nest. Among other things, you can use it to call loved ones, search Google, watch a movie, create a shopping list, set reminders, and alarms, play music, lock the door, and change the thermostat. No hands required.

Video doorbells

A video doorbell is just as the name suggests. Your doorbell has a camera that records video. Why should you install it? Well, this smart device is a great criminal deterrent. Seeing a camera recording their actions just outside your door can make them think twice about breaking into your home. You can record everyone that goes to your door, which provides you with valuable video footage that can serve as evidence of a crime or blackmail material for a loved one.

Another benefit to this device is that it allows you to watch over your Amazon deliveries while you’re out of the home. It will also enable you to screen your visitors during those days when you’d rather be left alone.

Leak sensors

As you’ve probably already guessed by its name, this smart device alerts you whenever it detects a leak. Traditional devices will sound an alarm, which only works when you’re at home and can hear it. With a leak sensor such as a smart water leak detector, you get the alert on your smartphone.

Why would you need this? Prevention is better than a cure. Water damage is hard to detect until it has become a visible problem. That could cost you hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars. Some people with disabilities might not have the ability to search for a leak. With a smart leak sensor installed in areas where leaks are likely to occur, they’ll get notified if and where it happens.

Thermostats

ThermostatsSome people like to keep their homes warm; others prefer it cooler. A smart thermostat allows you to set the temperature inside your home just the way you want it. Why is this important?

Well, with a smart thermostat, you can lower the heat while you’re out of the house to save on costs and then warm it up when you’re on your way home. For people living with disabilities, being able to remotely control the temperature of their home is a convenience that makes life easier.

Smart home devices are easy to install and setup.

Smart home devices can be intimidating to some of us. It sounds too much like science fiction, but the future is now. People don’t have to be afraid of this technology because it’s easy to install and set up. Most smart devices are designed to be user-friendly. Moreover, for most of them, you only need to install an app and plug the device into your home network.

Advantages of using smart home technologies

The advantages of a smart home are too numerous to cover in just a short article. For this reason, we’ll only cover five, but these are the big ones.

Home assistant

House chores certainly have never been this easy to accomplish. You can use your smart home devices to preheat your oven, get your coffee going, or have the carpet vacuumed while you’re miles away. Some smart home devices can even let you know when your food has cooked to perfection on the grill and is ready to serve. All of that is done without lifting more than a finger.

Smart heating/cooling

With a smart thermostat, you can make sure your home is warm and ready to welcome you in its arms as soon as you get home. Adjust your water temperature so that you’re ready for a hot shower as soon as you step through the door. The cooling and heating of your home is easily achieved through your smartphone.

Save energy and money.

Smart home devices enable you to regulate how much energy is spent in your home. You can lower the heat while you’re out of the house by only turning it up when you’re about to get home. You can turn off lights in unoccupied rooms or dim them down to keep energy costs low. Some applications can even help you monitor how much energy your household is using and notifies you of ways you can save energy, and when you save energy, you save money.

Health tracking

Health trackingIf you want to keep an eye on your health or the health of someone you love, smart health trackers can do that for you. It can check your stress level, calories, heart rate, pulse, and even your sleep patterns.

Safety

The world is a dangerous place. There’s no doubt about that. Fortunately, that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t enjoy a worry-free life. With smart home technology, you can keep an eye on your home whether you’re inside it or far away. If there’s an intruder when you’re at the office or a water leak while you’re on vacation, you can get notified immediately instead of when you get back home hours, if not days/weeks, later.

Smart home technology can even let you allow people access to your home if necessary while you’re not in town. Moreover, it’ll give you peace of mind knowing that you’re able to lock the door even when you’re already at the airport waiting for your flight.

Conclusion:

There’s no question that smart home devices have made life easier for many consumers. For people living with disabilities, they’ve made life more normal. These devices have given them more control over how they will live their lives, enabling them to accomplish more on their own. Disabled people no longer need to rely on assistive technologies that usually only serve one purpose and cost a lot of money.

With smart home devices, their lives are better and their pockets fuller.

The post Benefits of Smart Devices for People Living with Disabilities appeared first on ReadWrite.

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information overload Productivity Web

Does Modern Tech Demand an “Information Diet?”

The miracle of modern technology is that it provides us with all the information we ever wanted—and then some. In the span of a few seconds, you can easily learn facts about science, history, and other subjects. You can send a message to people all over the world. And you can gather the latest details on a developing news story. 

All this information is seen as a universal positive, but there may be some negative consequences to the abundance of information. Author Clay Johnson wrote a book that focuses on this topic to a degree, The Information Diet: A Case for Conscious Consumption. Since then, the term “information diet� has grown in popularity, serving as a potential remedy to the negative consequences of too much information. 

But what is an information diet, exactly, and can it truly help you be happier, healthier, and more productive in the modern world? 

The Abundance of Information 

Let’s start by addressing the true nature of the abundance of information. We all have access to dozens of internet-connected devices, all of which have the capacity to link us to many different types of information. 

For example: 

  • Email. Most of us receive dozens, if not hundreds of emails every day. We get emails from coworkers, clients, friends, family, and of course, marketers interested in selling us new products. 
  • Project/task management platforms. Online management platforms have streamlined work for millions of people, but they also have the downside of overloading people with communications. 
  • Social media. Similarly, social media grants us the power to connect with an audience of billions (literally). We can choose to engage with groups and organizations that share our interests and views, or just connect with friends and family members. Either way, these feeds are typically presented to us in an infinite scrolling manner, making it all too easy to keep consuming more. 
  • Notifications. Email, management platforms, and social media platforms are all complicated by the universal presence of notifications. Most modern apps are designed to give us alerts to grab our attention as often as possible, usually whenever some new information becomes available—such as a new message or a new post. 
  • Online content. Content marketing is one of the most popular and powerful online marketing strategies available, in part because of the demand for online content. People are eager to consume more articles, videos, and images on a daily basis, and there’s no shortage of people willing to create them. There are vast content networks in play, with millions of blogs and millions of distribution channels. It’s almost impossible to spend time online without running into them. 

Our lives are saturated with these and other forms of content, bombarding us with a never-ending stream of information. 

Three Problems With Information Overabundance 

So what’s the big deal? More information has historically been a good thing, allowing people to become better educated and better informed on current events—not to mention, better entertained in their personal lives. 

But there are three big problems with the information overabundance: 

  1. Low quality information. First, the constant demand for content leads to an increase in the production and consumption of low-quality information. This effect is easiest to see in the context of journalism; news companies are motivated to produce new stories as quickly as possible and in high volume, leading to premature reporting and shoddy work. This is partially responsible for the fake news problem. 
  2. False conclusions. Even if the information being presented to you is true, the constant bombardment of information can make you draw false conclusions. For example, let’s say you see 3 new stories each day about people who were killed in shark attacks, over the course of a week. In reality, there are (at most, considering potential overlap) 21 shark attacks out of literally billions of people swimming in ocean waters. But to you, it seems like shark attacks are happening constantly—and to everyone who goes in the water. This is also a problem with echo chambers, leading people to believe that the majority of the population agrees with whatever view they happen to hold. 
  3. Fatigue. Perhaps most importantly, too much information leaves us with fatigue. Reading too many news stories can leave us feeling helpless, tired, and depressed. Too many notifications can exhaust our attention and render us apathetic and anxious. Too much time scrolling on social media can make us feel empty at the end of a long day. 

How an Information Diet Can Help

An information diet works much like a food diet. With a food diet, the problem to be solved is similar; you’re eating too much food and/or food that’s too low-quality. The solution is threefold: 

  • Awareness. First, you need to be aware of what you’re consuming. In a food diet, the goal is to recognize your biggest indulgences, and the foods that are responsible for your overeating. In an information diet, the idea is to recognize your biggest distractors and sources of low-quality content. 
  • Curation. Second, you need to prioritize high-quality sources over low-quality sources. In a food diet, that means prioritizing things like fruits and vegetables over fast food and sugary desserts. In an information diet, that means getting your information from reputable publishers, rather than echo chambers and reactionary outlets. 
  • Limitation. Third, you need to limit your intake. In a food diet, that means restricting your caloric intake. In an information diet, that means reducing the number of platforms you use (and the number of notifications you receive). 

Key Tips for Success

If you want to be successful with an information diet, these are some of your best tips for success: 

  • Turn off notifications. Notifications have been a problem for a long time. They distract us from our responsibilities, demand our attention, and leave us feeling fatigued. If possible, it’s best to eliminate them altogether. You can check your email, social media accounts, and other platforms manually whenever you want to see if there’s something new available for you. This should reduce the amount of your attention that’s seized unnecessarily. 
  • Set time limits for content and social apps. Most modern devices have built-in functionality to control the amount of time you spend on apps (even if you have to enable child control settings). If there are specific apps that make you waste time (like social media apps), set a strict time limit to prevent yourself from overusing them. 
  • Reduce your number of apps. It might be better to reduce the number of apps you use overall. If you have half a dozen social media platforms to wade through, try narrowing that list down to one or two. Consider following only a handful of blogs and content creators, rather than a litany of them. 
  • Set proactive expectations with others. Some content you consume is comprised of messages from others, so set proactive expectations with them. Let them know you may not respond to messages right away, and you might be using social platforms less frequently. 
  • Review your sources. Think critically about the content sources providing content for your consumption. Are they a reputable source or simply the latest influencer whose incentive is only the next promotion? Are the creators doing a good job of providing all the relevant details? Are they fact-checking their work? Is this content making a positive impact on your life? Does it have any measurable value? 
  • Take inventory of your own emotions. Finally, take inventory of your own emotions. When you read a story, does it fill you with anger? When you get a notification, do you find yourself annoyed? Pay attention to the types of content that seem to have a negative impact on you and avoid those pieces of content however you can. 

Is an information diet going to instantly relieve you of all the problems associated with modern technology? Certainly not. But there’s almost no disadvantage to practicing basic habits like reviewing sources of information and limiting the time you spend on information-dense apps—and the upside could be tremendous. Consider going on an information diet of your own design whether you’re interested in higher productivity, less fatigue, or just an overall better sense of wellbeing. 

The post Does Modern Tech Demand an “Information Diet?” appeared first on ReadWrite.

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Exploring the Top Digital Marketing Trends for 2021

Exploring the Top Digital Marketing Trends for 2021

If there’s one niche of the business world that never stops evolving, it’s marketing. Digital marketing is highly dependent on the maturation of online technologies and is continuously pivoting and responding to new developments. Having said that, are you prepared for 2021?

The Digital Marketing Trends Set to Define 2021

Now is the time to begin planning ahead to account for the digital marketing trends of 2021. By staying current, you can develop a digital marketing strategy that takes the latest tips, trends, and frameworks into account.

“A good digital marketing strategy gives your company a cohesive plan that is consistent through your many online and offline channels,� Marcel Digital explains. “After all, you want your branding and message to be the same on your point-of-purchase advertising in your stores as it is on your social media pages and website. A cohesive message saves time and effort by not having employees recreate a marketing message for every channel.�

But our focus is not to discuss how to create a cohesive message. While important, we want to dig into the how. In other words, how do you execute once you’ve zeroed in on your message?

Though classic marketing principles and approaches will always prove effective, sometimes it’s helpful to study the latest trends to get a feel for innovative opportunities that can take marketing to the next level. And in this article, we want to focus on a few of the top trends for 2021. Take a look:

1. Live Video

Live video streaming has exploded over the past three years (and will continue to do so over the next decade). Powered by social media platforms, live streaming is available to the masses and provides an avenue for the continued democratization of content. Just consider the following data points as curated by HubSpot:

  • Internet users watched approximately 1.1 billion hours of live video in 2019.
  • By 2027, the live video streaming market is expected to hit $184.3 billion.
  • By 2020, live streaming is expected to account for 82% of all internet traffic.

Those are significant numbers – too significant to ignore. And there are plenty of reasons why businesses are making the jump to live video, including:

  • There’s almost no learning curve to record live video. There’s no need for a script, props, or post production. You hit the record button and push out live content. It’s casual, relaxed, and relatable.
  • There’s no requirement for advanced technology. While you can certainly enhance quality with some tech upgrades, a smartphone is all that’s needed to get started.
  • Live video feels exclusive and commands longer average view times when compared to pre-recorded videos. (There’s a sense of urgency from the viewer that they might not be able to see the content later.)

Live streaming video is used in a variety of capacities and is highly dependent on your brand, goals, and content strategy. However, it’s ideal for things like Q&As with an audience, customer support, special announcements, interviews with influencers, live events, and backstage events.

If you’re new to live video but want to get started, the best piece of advice is to jump in and do it. Try a couple of videos and see what happens. Were you comfortable? Did you enjoy it? Did the audience engage? What can you learn?

Your first shot at live streaming won’t be perfect, but you can always optimize over time.

2. Programmatic Advertising

Another sweeping trend is the growth of programmatic advertising. If paid traffic is part of your strategy for 2021, you need to gain some understanding and proficiency in this area.

As MarTech Advisor explains, “Programmatic advertising is the process of automating the buying and selling of ad inventory in real-time through an automated bidding system. Programmatic advertising enables brands or agencies to purchase ad impressions on publisher sites or apps within milliseconds through a sophisticated ecosystem.�

Over the past couple of years, programmatic advertising has become the preferred method of running ad campaigns. It offers real-time insights, enhanced targeting capabilities, increased transparency, better budget utilization, and provides a way to combat ad fraud effectively.

Programmatic advertising can be deployed in a variety of channels and formats, including display ads, video ads, social ads, audio ads, native ads, and digital out-of-home (DOOH) ads.

Contrary to how traditional media buying works, programmatic advertising doesn’t usually involve publishers and advertising working together in a one-to-one fashion. The type of programmatic deal – such as real-time bidding, private marketplaces, preferred deals, or programmatic guaranteed – determines how they’re delivered.

3. Voice Search

Would it surprise you to learn that approximately 27 percent of the online global population uses voice search on mobile? Or that more than 1 in 3 US internet users use a voice assistant monthly (up from just 9.5 percent in 2018).

Consider that by the end of 2020, roughly 30 percent of all internet browsing sessions will include voice search. And that more than half of adults use voice search on a semi-regular basis.

The writing is on the wall. Voice search will soon become the preferred method of browsing the internet. It’s faster, hands-free, and ultimately more convenient.

So what does that mean for digital marketing? Well, it changes everything, particularly on the content strategy side of things. People speak differently than they write. Consider, for example, someone searching for a pizza restaurant. Their queries might look like this:

Typed: pizza restaurant Bronx

Spoken: What’s the best pizza restaurant in the Bronx?

Voice search is ushering in a new age of SEO and content creation where long-tail keywords are the focus. Natural, conversational language wins the day. Brands that adapt to this style will see their SEO rankings improve and search traffic scale.

In terms of blogging strategy, brands should focus on developing content that answers questions. People go to Google when they have a question and the search engine knows this. So in an effort to satisfy their users, they’re elevating content that answers very specific questions.

4. Interactive Content

Online users are growing bored with basic blog posts and static content. They want to be stimulated. They also want control over their experiences. And these desires are currently culminating in the rise of interactive content.

Research shows that interactive content gains 2X more engagement than static content. This has led 34 percent of marketers to include interactive content in at least 10 percent of their strategies.

The most popular types of interactive content include quizzes, polls, interactive infographics, AR, VR, and online calculators.

Interactive content is typically just a subsegment of the larger content strategy. But in 2021 and beyond, it’s going to become an even bigger portion. While many brands are currently developing one piece of interactive content for every nine pieces of static content, that number will likely increase to 20 percent.

5. Shifts in Influencer Marketing

In 2016, the influencer marketing industry was worth an estimated $1.7 billion. By the end of this year, it’s projected to be worth somewhere north of $9.7 billion.

People like to hate on influencers, but they’re effective. The earned media value for money spent on influencer marketing was roughly $18 for every dollar spent in 2019. And over the last three years, there’s been a 1500% increase in brands searching for “influencer marketing� on Google. In other words, it’s effective and here to stay. But as we enter into 2021, this industry will undergo significant shifts that will ultimately change the way businesses approach marketing and advertising.

One of the biggest shifts will be the rise in micro influencers. These are influencers who have small yet loyal followings (anything less than 10,000 followers). And what they lack in reach (compared to large influencers), they make up for with high engagement and affordability.

It’s also possible that we’ll see an increase in performance-based influencer marketing. In the past, it’s always been sort of a flat fee deal. Businesses pay per post and the influencer gets the same amount of money no matter what happens on the engagement front. But as the influencer arena gets more competitive, brands will gain more leverage. Soon, we could see payment based on the number of clicks, comments, or even sales.

Ultimately, the changes in this space will be dictated by consumers. Followers make it clear what they do and don’t respond to by the type of engagement they offer. As brands and influencers gather more data and analytics from these types of posts, they’ll iterate and zero in on what works best.

Hit the Refresh Button on Your Digital Marketing

No digital marketing strategy is set in stone. As you approach 2021, take the time to understand the new trends so that you can shift your strategy into a direction that aligns with the trajectory of the larger consumer marketplace. Whether it’s live video, programmatic advertising, voice search, interactive content, or shifts in influencer marketing, there’s ample opportunity for growth and expansion.

The post Exploring the Top Digital Marketing Trends for 2021 appeared first on ReadWrite.

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6 Simple WordPress Page Loading Speed Hacks that Work

wordpress page hacks

WordPress is the most widely used Content Management System (CMS) in the world. The open-source CMS written in PHP was introduced in 2003. It is a powerful and highly customizable platform that can help you build beautiful websites and blogs with ease.

Here are some WordPress facts you should know.

  • According to W3Tech, WordPress is used by 63.5% of all the websites whose content management system they know. This is 38.3% of all websites. To put things in perspective, WordPress powers a staggering one-third of the internet.
  • 81% of the WordPress websites worldwide use Version 5, which is the latest version released by WordPress.
  • Contrary to popular belief, WordPress isn’t used only for blogs and static websites—WooCommerce, which is a versatile WordPress e-commerce tool, powers over 28.19% of all online stores. Nearly 22% of the top one million ecommerce sites use WooCommerce.
  • Many leading brands use WordPress, ranging from The Walt Disney Company and Rolling Stone to Flickr and Georgia State University.

Though WordPress is extremely popular and comes with dozens of benefits, it can sometimes be slow. As a result, most WordPress users have a sluggish website, which can be a significant drawback in a world that wants instant gratification.

Why Your WordPress Site Needs to Speed Up?

Your WordPress site needs to load faster and perform better for various reasons, some of which may impact your business directly. The increasing use of smartphones, mobile data, and growing customer expectations are also demanding better website loading speed on phones.

  • In the digital world, where websites visitors are highly impatient, a slow-loading website often creates a negative brand impression. A quick-loading website, on the other hand, often makes a positive brand impression. In other words, people are more likely to revisit the latter.
  • Research shows that the average Time to Interactive (TTI), the time required for the content on your page to become ready for a user to interact with it, is 2.6 seconds in 2020. In other words, if your website takes longer to load, its incoming Web traffic and conversions are more likely to suffer.
  • According to Unbounce, nearly 70% of consumers admit that page speed impacts their willingness to buy from an online retailer. The same report also states that 81% of marketers know speed influences their conversions, but they’re not making it a priority.
  • According to the Milliseconds, make Millions study by Deloitte Digital, for every 0.1s site speed improvement, average order value increased by 9.2%, and conversions increased by 8.4% for retail consumers. Bounce rates on product listing pages in retail and travel improved by 5.7% and 5.4%, respectively.

Considering how your WordPress site’s speed is likely to affect your conversions and lead generation, it is necessary to make performance speed your top priority.

Here are six of the most effective WordPress page loading speed hacks.

1. Choose the Right Host

One of the first things you should do is choose the right hosting provider. For many people, sharing hosting often seems like the best and the most affordable option. In shared hosting, multiple websites reside on a server connected to the Web.

As there are multiple websites, the overall cost of server maintenance is shared by the users, bringing it down considerably. However, it comes at the cost of a sluggish website and, in some cases, even frequent downtime.

Furthermore, it isn’t easy to know how well these servers are optimized. As a result, things can get worse during peak traffic hours. In short, to save a few hundred dollars every year, you may be saying goodbye to potential leads worth a lot more.

Some of the best WordPress hosting providers are:

  • SiteGround
  • Bluehost
  • WPEngine
  • Kinsta
  • Flywheel
  • LiquidWeb

2. Use a Caching Plugin

Whether it is an online store or a company website, your website will also grow in size as your business grows. While e-commerce sites add new product pages over time, most company websites add new blog posts, service pages, and campaign-specific landing pages. You may also need to add new plugins.

As your website grows, it may start to slow down, especially during a Web traffic spike. If you use a caching plugin, you can easily overcome this issue.

Whenever you access any webpage on the internet, it leads to a flurry of activity in the backend. It often includes multiple database queries, code executions, and running applications. As your website grows, the amount of this activity also increases, resulting in slower loading speed.

However, a caching plugin helps you create a static version of your content. As it eliminates most of the backend activities, your website loads faster, providing your customers with a better user experience.

From WP Fastest Cache to W3 Total Cache, you can find plenty of caching plugins for WordPress. Most plugins offer both free and paid versions. For the best results, it’s better to go with a paid version. All you have to do is install and activate the plugin. You can find the installation instructions on the plugin page.

Steps to Installing WP Fastest Cache

3. Optimize Images

The next obvious step is to reduce the size of images on your WordPress site. As they say, “A picture is worth a thousand words.� That’s why you need to add images, sometimes several of them, to make your content attractive and easy-to-understand.

However, larger images often took longer to load. Also, photos will be the bulk of your webpage size in most cases. As a result, optimizing them can make your WordPress site significantly faster.

Of course, you can optimize the images without a WordPress plugin. Several online tools, like TinyPNG, Kraken, and Compressor, can help you reduce the size of images without compromising the quality.

However, optimizing each image is painfully time-consuming. Fortunately, like everything else, you can find several plugins for image optimization too. Each plugin comes with varying degrees of optimization and other features.

Imagify, Smush, and Short Pixel are some of the top-rated and popular image optimization plugins you can use. Make sure to check out all the features and pricing before downloading a plugin. Some of these plugins also allow you to convert JPG or PNG to next-generation file formats like WebP, JPEG 2000, or JPEG XR.

Smush Plugin

4. Use a Content Delivery Network (CDN)

Most leading brands with large WordPress sites almost always use a Content Delivery Network (CDN) to boost performance. To understand how this works, you need to know what a CDN is.

In simple words, a CDN is a geographically distributed group of servers that work together to provide your users with faster access to your website’s content. It allows the server closest to the user’s location to serve your website’s static files, including HTML pages, JavaScript files, images, video streams, and CSS stylesheets quickly.

Another significant advantage of a good-quality CDN is that it can protect your website against Distributed Denial of Service (DDOS) attacks. It can also help you reduce bandwidth costs.

In this case, however, using a plugin may not be the best option. While there are a few CDN plugins like BunnyCDN, they aren’t as popular as most CDN service providers.

MaxCDN, which is now StackPath, is one of the best and most recommended CDN service providers for WordPress. Other options include Cloudflare, KeyCDN, and Sucuri. Sucuri offers both CDN and WordPress firewall as well, providing your site with excellent security against cyberattacks. Depending on your budget and business requirements, make sure to choose an easy-to-configure, cost-competitive, secure, and agile CDN service provider.

5. Minifying JS and CSS Files Can Help

Minifying your WordPress CSS and JavaScript (JS) files is also an excellent way to boost WordPress performance and speed. By minifying JS and CSS files, you can get a higher score on Google Page Speed tool. While you can minify JS and CSS files manually, it is better to use a plugin for quicker and more reliable configuration.

With more than one million active installations, Autoptimize is one of the best and longest-running plugins for minifying JS and CSS files. Once you have downloaded and installed the plugin, go to the Settings menu to configure it. Select all three JavaScript, CSS, and HTML options to minify all these files.

Autoptimize Plugin - Minify JS & CSS files

  • JavaScript Options

When you check the “Optimize JavaScript Code� option, Autoptimize will minify your JavaScript files. You can enable all other options for JS minifying. However, turning on the “Force JavaScript in <head>� option is usually not recommended.

It can lead to render blocking elements that can slow down your site. You should exclude the scripts of files that you need to load in the <head> element of your site’s HTML. You should also uncheck the “minify excluded CSS and JS files� box in the “Misc Options� to prevent the excluded scripts from minifying.

  • CSS Options

In this section, you should keep the “Also Aggregate Inline CSS� box unchecked. When enabled, it will move inline CSS to a browser-cacheable CSS file, which may reduce the page size.

You should also see if enabling the “Generate Data: URIs for Images� option increases your loading speed. If the impact is substantial, you can check this box. Otherwise, you can leave it disabled.

  • HTML Options

Checking the “Optimize HTML Code� box will reduce the whitespace in your HTML code. However, make sure to optimize your HTML code thoroughly before turning this option on as it may cause glitches in some cases. If you want to keep HTML comments for your optimized pages, enable the “Keep HTML Comments� option.

  • CDN Options

In this option, you will need to add the CDN URL provided by your CDN provider such as StackPath. Kinsta, and KeyCDN. However, Cloudflare doesn’t provide an URL. If you are using it, you needn’t configure this section.

  • Misc Options

It comes with a few miscellaneous options that you may have to enable. It is often recommended to check all the boxes in this section to optimize the site’s performance.

Misc Options - WordPress Hacks

However,

  • If your server can’t handle file compression and expiry, disable “Save Aggregated Scripts/CSS as Static Filesâ€�
  • If there are minification-related issues, disable “Minify Excluded CSS and JS Filesâ€�

 

  • Extra Auto-Optimizations

This section lists additional settings for speed optimization. You can test the last three options in this section to see which one results in a higher speed. You can use Google Page Speed tool to check the results.

You can enable “Remove Emojis� as it can reduce your page size by removing CSS and JS related to WordPress core emojis. You should also enable “Remove Query Strings from Static Resources� to improve the performance of WordPress core.

In the third option, you can add external domains you want your browser to connect to. These often include https://www.googletagmanager.com, https://www.google-analytics.com, and https://fonts.gstatic.com, among others.

Enabling “Preload Specific Requests� allows your browser to download an asset quickly, while with the “async JavaScript files� option, you can specify certain external JavaScript files to load using the <async> HTML flag asynchronously.

  • Images Optimization

With these settings, you can make images load faster. Autoptimize can also generate and serve WEBP versions the images. While enabling lazy loading is a good idea for image-heavy pages, some users may find the constant image loading annoying. Google, however, recommends it.

  • Critical CSS

This option is available with the premium version. When you enter your Critical CSS API Key into the “Critical CSS� option, the plugin will automatically create critical CSS rules. These rules make sure pages render before the full CSS is loaded, which in turn, boosts loading speed.

6. Optimize Your Database

Optimizing your WordPress database can also help you speed up and boost performance. You can delete spam comments, fake users, orphaned images, and old versions of your content using a plugin. WP-Optimize is one of the best plugins for this job.

Although both free and paid versions are available, it is better to go for the paid version if you want to use advanced features. These include setting up automatic optimization, deleting unused and unwanted images, and greater flexibility and control than the free version.

Once you have installed and activated the plugin, go to the Database tab. Select the Optimizations menu, where you will see different optimization options. Under each option, you will also see the details of what WP-Optimize has found.

For example, in this screenshot, you can see “46 post revisions in your database� under the “Clean all post revisions� option. You can select appropriate options and run the optimization process.

However, when performing more intensive data cleanup operations, you have to be more careful. If the database server crashes or shuts down during the optimization, your data will get corrupted. That’s why you need to back up your database before each optimization.

Fortunately, WP-Optimize allows you to back up the database with UpdraftPlus. You need to select the checkbox next to “take a backup with UpdraftPlus before doing this.� Once your database is backed up successfully, a pop-up message like the following will appear. Click “Close� and proceed further.

Click the “Run all selected optimizations� button to optimize. You can also optimize your WordPress database tables regularly using this plugin. Click on the Tables menu to see if you need to optimize the table or not. Click the Optimize button next to the desired table to optimize.

 

Parting Words

As you can see, loading speed and performance play a critical role in your WordPress site’s success. The lack of either one can cost you leads and conversions worth a lot of money, making it necessary to improve WordPress performance. Hopefully, these six tried-and-tested tips will help you boost your WordPress site’s performance quickly and easily. Good luck with optimizing your website.

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12 High ROI Options for Promoting an Event Online

promote event online

Putting on an event is expensive. Whether it’s a traditional in-person conference, a virtual summit, a product launch event, or a fundraiser, it costs a lot to get an event up and running. And without butts in seats, an event can quickly become a massive financial loss. Here are 12 ROI options for promoting an event online.

The only way to ensure your event is successful is to generate buzz and get people to register.

But with so many different options, products, systems, and funnels, where do you start? And what do you do?

You will only be successful with your online event when you develop a strategic online promotional strategy.

We have a few proven ideas and concepts that you can leverage to promote your next event online and generate a high return rate. Let’s take a look together:

  • Create a Centralized Promotional Folder

Before we dig into some of the specific promotional tactics, let’s make sure we’re laying a strong foundation for what comes next. Whether it’s landing pages, social media, email, or something else, you need consistency in your branding, phraseology, and event details. And the easiest way to do this is to create a centralized promotional folder in the cloud.

A centralized promotional folder will contain several subfolders for things like:

  • Graphics and visuals (including .png event logos, partner logos, and any other graphic design elements you’re likely to need).
  • A spreadsheet with all of the event details – including dates, times, locations, links, etc. (Anytime someone on the team has a question about logistics, direct them to this sheet.)
  • An event one-pager with all of the details and highlights – including things like speakers and schedules.
  • A list of promotional dos and don’ts. (For example, if there are words you don’t want to use when promoting the event, create a resource for this.)

The more information you’re able to compile in one centralized folder, the less time you’ll waste tracking down information and details when you need it. This keeps your workflow as efficient as it can possibly be.

  • Develop an Event Landing Page

The next step is to develop an event landing page. If the centralized cloud folder is your resource for all information, the landing page is for your attendees (and anyone interested in attending).

Designing a landing page is an exercise in human psychology and data analytics. Put your best foot forward with the initial version, but don’t stress about getting it perfect. You’ll end up iterating over time as you gather data on what does and doesn’t work.

Key event landing page design principles to get you started.

  • Simplicity. Visual simplicity that is. You’re not writing a dissertation or pulling out a centerspread ad in The New York Times. The goal is to deliver the necessary information and not a pixel more. Use plenty of negative space and emphasize the elements that you want visitors to focus on.
  • Clarity. Don’t forsake clarity in the pursuit of simplicity. Clarity is equally as important. People should immediately know what your event is about and why they should attend. If this isn’t evident within three to five seconds of landing on your page, something is off. (And you’ll see massive bounce rate numbers.)
  • Inverted pyramid style. We’re not encouraging you to use journalistic copywriting, per se, but the method old school newspaper writers use when crafting news stories is a good one for landing pages. They use what’s called an inverted pyramid style of writing. This means you lead with the most important information about the event (Who? What? Where? When? Why? How?). Then you cover some of the supporting information and background details. Finally, all of the extra information and interesting (but non-essential) bits and crumbs are thrown in.
  • Social proof. When asking someone to sign up for an event online, encourage them by leveraging social proof. Things like trust badges, “as featured inâ€� logos, headshots of speakers, video testimonials, and quotes from past attendees, are all effective.
  • Exit-intent popup. Never let someone leave your landing page without putting up a (gentle) fight. Exit-intent popups might be annoying, but they work. As soon as someone hovers their mouse outside of the main area of the landing page, a tile overlay emerges and asks the visitor if they’re sure they want to leave before registering (or something to that effect). Even if you only pick up 5 to 10 percent of people who try to leave, it’s worth the investment.

How do you know if your landing page is effective? Besides studying the basic metrics like conversion rate, bounce rate, and average time on page, you can also install heat maps and trackers, analyzing how far people scroll down the page before dropping off.

Based on the data, you can reorganize, truncate, or expand your landing page to respond to how visitors engage with the page in real-time.

  • Craft Branded Content

Your event cannot and should not exist in a vacuum.

What does this mean?

Put simply: Your larger brand content marketing strategy should overlap with your event promotion strategy. Whether you have a weekly blog post, daily social media blasts, an email newsletter, or a podcast, all of your content efforts should be plugging your event.

Start with soft promos in the weeks leading up to the event, but you can be much more overt in the 72 hours leading up. This is the sweet spot when it comes to online events when you’ll see a huge uptick in registrations. (Start earlier for in-person events, as people need time to plan logistics.)

  • Leverage Guest Blogging

I’ve discussed some of the benefits and opportunities for guest blogging previously. And while we typically encourage it to build backlinks, guest blogging can also be highly effective when implemented as part of an event promotion blitz.

Here’s what you do:

  • Make a list of 15 to 20 websites that accept guest blog post contributions and have an audience that overlaps with your target attendees.
  • Develop a list of content ideas that make your event relevant and interesting (from a third party publisher’s perspective).
  • Reach out to the people in charge of each of these guest contributor programs and pitch them the content idea that best aligns with their niche.
  • Include a backlink to your event landing page and (if permissible) an in-text call-to-action encouraging readers to sign up for the event.

Not only will guest blogging give you exposure and referral traffic, but it could also provide some SEO juice to your landing page. (If it’s a long-term landing page – meaning it will be active for several months – this could help you eventually attract organic search traffic.)

  • Update Your Email Signature

Think about how many emails you send per day. Is it 25, 100, or even 200-plus? Now think about all of the people who are on the receiving end of your emails. It could be thousands per month. So put this real estate to good use.

As part of your email signature, include a simple square tile graphic or hyperlinked CTA to encourage people to visit the event landing page. You won’t get a ton of clicks, but the ones that do click are going to be way more qualified than the average landing page visitor who stumbles on your page via another method. And if it nabs you even one more registration, it’s worth the five minutes it takes to change your signature.

This is sort of a low hanging fruit tactic, but it’s useful nonetheless. (Why waste any opportunity to give your event exposure?) It’s simple and subtle yet highly effective.

  • Use Your Email List (The Right Way)

Speaking of email, you must use your brand’s email list appropriately. This does not mean spamming your subscribers with daily demands to register. However, it does mean implementing a strategic campaign that slowly drips on people in the weeks and days leading up to the event.

When you start your drip campaign depends on your larger goals. If it’s an in-person event – especially one that people have to travel to and get accommodations for – you’ll want to start at least a couple of months out. The drip is slow at first – going as long as a week between communications – and gets faster as the event gets closer. (For online events, such as virtual summits, you only need to start a couple of weeks out.)

The key to a good campaign is to keep it simple, personalized, and valuable. In other words, cut out the small talk and fluff and get very focused. Here are some tips:

  • Keep paragraphs to just one or two sentences.
  • Call people by their name (either in the subject line and/or the body copy).
  • Use bullet points to share quick hits and important information.
  • Always direct people back to the landing page (using tracking codes so that you can study the effectiveness of your campaign).

Not sure what to say? There are plenty of drip email campaign templates available online. Use them as inspiration – tailoring the details to your event and audience.

  • Use Partner Email Lists

Are you running the event with other partners, organizations, or groups? As part of your partnership agreement, you should require each organization or individual to email their list a certain number of times. This amplifies your reach beyond your own email list. (And depending on the size of the organization, this could give you access to thousands of people you otherwise wouldn’t have been able to engage.)

  • Run Paid Ad Traffic

If you’ve never used Facebook ads, you might be intimidated. However, once you learn a few basics, you’ll realize that there’s nothing to be scared of. In fact, you’ll discover that Facebook ads are one of your most powerful weapons in the pursuit of generating traffic and registrations.

Here are some tips to keep in mind when using paid ads for an event:

  • Always use the landing page URL – not a home page or general website page. This reduces friction and removes any additional steps that could allow someone to bounce before registering.
  • Be very specific with your targeting. Narrow in on your audience and include anything you know about them, such as geographic location, interests, hobbies, marital status, job title, etc.
  • The image and headline are the two most important elements of a Facebook ad. Yours need to be clear, succinct, and visually pleasing.
  • Choose the appropriate call to action button.

As with your landing page, you don’t have to get this perfect right from the start. Facebook has an advanced analytics engine built-in, and you’ll be able to optimize based on the results. As the data comes in, you can make changes to bolster your conversion rate.

  • Write Press Releases

Press releases aren’t what they used to be, but they still have value. If you’re holding an event, you need to create at least one press release and distribute it via all major outlets and publications.

While it’s probably not going drive a ton of direct traffic or registrations, here’s what a press release does for you:

  • A good press release makes media members aware of your event. They can run searches for different keywords and topics. If you have a relevant press release, they might see it and decide to do more research – ultimately writing a story or making a mention of your event in a larger story.
  • Press releases have some SEO value, assuming you use the correct keywords. If you’re planning to leave your event page up for a while, or you’ll eventually use it to sell recordings and other products, this can give you some increased organic reach.

Don’t spend a ton of time developing press releases, but certainly do what you need to do. Like email signatures, this is low hanging fruit. You might as well grab it.

  • Partner With Influencers

Love them or hate them, influencers have, well…influence. And if you can secure a partnership with the right influencer – someone who has an audience that intersects and overlaps your own – you could see a huge spike in registrations and attendees.

According to Social Media Today, influencer marketing generates 11x higher ROI than traditional forms of marketing. Plus, 94 percent of marketers who have used influencer marketing in the past found it to be a “very effective tactic.�

If you go this route, make sure you draft a detailed agreement that includes specific information regarding expectations and requirements. The worst thing you can do is hire an influencer, pay them a bunch of money, and then have them miss the mark.

  • Use LinkedIn Events

LinkedIn has a feature that actually allows you to publish your event on the platform. This acts as an additional traffic source. The process is pretty simple:

  • Create an event.
  • Choose a header image. (Or create a new one using an app like Canva.)
  • Choose an event image (could be your headshot, company logo, or event logo).
  • Enter the event name (keeping keywords near the front to sidestep truncation).
  • Choose your company
  • Include a link to your landing page.
  • Select the date and time.
  • Develop a keyword-rich description.
  • Tick the box to make it a “public event.â€�

Once you create an event, you can publish it to your newsfeed and invite all of your connections. Your event will also show up on LinkedIn when people search for keywords related to your event.

  • Create a Referral Program

One final suggestion is to create a referral program where you give registered attendees the opportunity to invite other people using customized referral codes.

Incentives are the key to making this work. Consider creating some sort of reward structure where you give discounts, prizes, or recognition to the people who refer the most attendees.

The post 12 High ROI Options for Promoting an Event Online appeared first on ReadWrite.

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4 Great Reasons Why a Website is Significant to Your Business Success

website significant to success

Did you know that one essential way to communicate your business and make a better profit around the digital world today is by having a website? Do you still run a business without a website? With a website for your business, you can successfully accomplish different marketing strategies to help grow your business. Besides that, modern websites now provide enormous flexibility and opportunity to reach your service or product to your target audience. Here are four great reasons why a website is significant to your business success.

Have the “Right Stuff” on Your Website

With the right layout, theme, and content, your business website will quickly become your most valued marketing tool. Enabling you to connect with any buyer across the world, searching for a product or service like yours, a website opens up exciting opportunities for soaring revenues and fast growth.

Do you know that 95 percent of customers will go online to find your business to meet their needs? If you don’t have a business website, the question is, “How many consumers are you missing out on?� Google averages 40,000 searches every second, which equates to 1.2 trillion searches worldwide per year. So therefore, how many customers are you selling to your competitors?

In fact, 80 percent of the customers to your business engagement is happening online these days. At the end of the day, the importance of a website for your business really comes down to one thing: your business growth.

Here are four reasons why a website is critical to your business success.

1. Powerful Communications and Marketing tool

The gap between what’s expected and what you deliver is where the magic happens; business and operating returns.

As a business owner aspiring for success, you need to engage your customers. Marketing is an essential tool to keep the conversation going. On the site of that, engaging customers are different from pushing your offers. Engaging involves furnishing your customers with relevant information about your products and your business as well.

However, a website is one powerful messaging tool that you can use to shape your business’s perception of growth in a way different that calls to any other kind of marketing strategy. Through a website, you will be putting all the important details about your business on “World-Wide-Web,â€� making the information visible and understandable for any new audience with a hold interest content design as such, expressing the clear idea of what your brand is about and what types of products or services you offer.

According to a report, effective communication is the most crucial success factor in any project management life cycle. However, having a website serves as another level to communicate purposes, designs, and implementations that indicate your focus and priority.

Effective communication is essential: the value of your organization will be attached to your website and reflect your operations and content on the website.

Recently, researchers have responded to calls for additional research on using the website as a marketing communication tool by investigating conditions that may facilitate effective use of the website as a marketing tool. Despite these recent research efforts on the subject matter, however, the fundamental gap in having a website remains.

2. Search Engines and Purchase Decision

A purchase decision is the thought process that leads consumers to choose a specific product and brand. The way successful marketing operates has changed. Instead of companies suggesting a product to potential buyers, customers now use the internet to search about your business or for the products and services they want; another reason you need a website for your business.

Do you know that 93 percent of business purchase decisions start with a “search engine� search of websites? In fact, 80 percent of shoppers conduct online research before buying.

Meaning that most customers in the modern world base their purchase on the results presented to them when searching for something on the internet.

According to a study, people read reviews and decide what to buy based on them. 88 percent say they trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations, 39 percent read reviews regularly. In fact, only 12 percent of those surveyed don’t read reviews at all.

With so many advantages of online searches, so many companies have started Search Engine Optimization: the process of growing the quality and quantity of website traffic by increasing the visibility of a website or a web page to users of a web search engine.

Although SEO can take time to implement, so don’t expect changes to happen overnight. But by optimizing your search on “Search Engines,� you can successfully:

  • Appear at the top of the search list
  • Attract the visitor with a well-designed website
  • Inform the visitor about the company and its products and services through compelling Content
  • Convert the visitor into a customer
  • Delight the customer after a deal has been closed

3. Immensely Add to Business Credibility

The internet is used to research businesses, check out products, and review how believable a business is.

Credibility is significant to every business. No customer will ever purchase or ask for your business, not until they have a positive physical feeling about your offer. This happens even if you don’t have a website; without prospects having trust in your product, they won’t go for it; rather, they’ll find a better product or service that meets up to as-good-as-one’ s-word result.

The importance of a website for building credibility is something that every business needs to consider. In today’s digital marketplace, businesses without a website are seen as less credible as 88 percent of customers trust a business with a website than those who don’t.

Through this process, you are working to establish trust, which is a step in building long-lasting customer relationships. Not only does your website allow you to build credibility and authority, but it also helps you set yourself apart from the competition.

4. Validate Your Existence In The Market

Beyond getting found on the internet, having a website for your business tends to legitimize your existence in the market. Prospects are taking the time to browse on the internet to find products and services that’ll meet their needs.

However, as a business owner, through your website, you can make prospects understand that you’re a real player and that you’re smart enough to know that your customers are weighing up doing business with you based on how you decide to present yourself online.

A website acts as a platform for your messaging and shapes your business’s online perception in a way that other media channels cannot provide.

The platform allows you to position yourself in the market to get the exact type of customers you’re looking for.

Many business owners have been reviewed online, sometimes unknowingly and negatively. How does this affect you? 79% of users who read online reviews believe them. Combat that negativity by posting your own positive testimonials.

Conclusion

Using a website to build your fan base is one of the best options for business credibility. The website allows consumers to see what your brand is all about; you can add in a designed video to market more about your business, showcasing your products and services, about your company and its mission.

Image Credit: junior teixeira; pexels

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On-Page Optimization Lets You Take Control of Your Business Success

on-page optimization

Long-term business success on and off the internet results from constant improvement. Your website presents a primary example of this principle. Fifteen or twenty years ago, having a website was optional. Today, it is the foundation of your brand identity. Continuously improving your site – a process known as website optimization – is required for long-term growth and prolonged market relevance. As such, an intelligent approach to integrating digital marketing and website maintenance will improve your bottom line.

Unfortunately, many business owners ignore or are unaware of the importance of website optimization. It’s commonly overlooked because even a beautifully designed website can have substandard backend programming. The technical details behind what visitors see represent the critical factors for achieving optimal SEO results. As a result, website optimization may not take place, and the owner or key decision-makers at a company are unaware that it needs attention.

Many business conditions lay outside your control, including customer attitudes, the changing technological landscape, and the overall economy. But that doesn’t mean you can’t take charge of your own success.

In terms of value from your online presence, this concept is known as on-page optimization. Basically, the phrase means you should get the most out of the choices you make for your own site.

Take command of these technical on-page factors, which underpin how you improve search results and user experience. These on-page factors stand in opposition to off-page factors, which take place off your website and are usually out of your control.

On-Page Optimization: Taking Control

When updated constantly, the small details lead to a big improvement in your SEO results, conversation rates, and overall user experience. Ensuring that optimal H Tags, Image Alt Tags, and Meta Descriptions can compound your measurable results.

Improve your results and leverage your website for increased profits, by taking the proper steps to test and fine-tune your website.

Identifying the small upgrades makes all the difference in your results. We’ll guide you through the process of website optimization and how to correct those often-overlooked details that will enhance your online presence.

Understand Your Vision

Getting the most out of your website starts at its inception. To maximize your website’s effectiveness, you should conceive a clear vision of what you want to accomplish.

Think about what you are trying to communicate. Is your main objective to provide information to potential customers, drive direct sales, or both? The answer will shape the structure of your site. In other words, begin with the end in mind.

Develop an Action Plan

Time to turn your vision into a reality by crafting a dynamic action plan that bridges your conception with the results your website will eventually generate.

Start with a carefully-designed skeleton for your website. This serves as a well-structured schematic that will make sure you hit all the high points while minimizing any waste.

Create a Blueprint

When an architect designs a skyscraper, they start with a blueprint. Without this initial design, the resulting building wouldn’t stand very long.

A website works the same way. You need to start with a plan. As part of this, you should involve other key stakeholders and team members at your organization early, so that they can sign off on the website concept and blueprint before you move to development.

Once you’ve created a structure, it’s time to outline an action plan for building your website. This process starts with a site map, which is a visual representation of your website’s structure.

From the site map, you can fill out a design wireframe layout, the rough draft of your site. The wireframe acts as the starting point to leverage your on-page SEO techniques, letting you fine-tune your approach and maximize your results.

Direct User Flow

A website operates like a story. You want to lead your audience toward a particular outcome. The goal usually involves a call to action or the sale of a product/service.

In other words, don’t let your users click around your site randomly and then leave. Instead, direct them to a particular place – a process known as user flow. It allows you to increase conversion rates by directing users to key parts of the website.

Back-End Development/Coding

A user’s experience is about more than content. It also relates to factors such as loading speeds and responsiveness. To get the best results for these, you have to wade into the nitty-gritty technical realm.

Websites ultimately rely on programmatic elements and a strong technical foundation. Achieve this by optimizing your back-end development. Coding choices impact SEO and other aspects of website optimization. Updating factors like Image Alt Tags and Meta Descriptions allow you to get the most out of your page.

Optimize for Multiple Screens

Web surfing is a very personal activity. As such, you need to optimize the user experience for different platforms, from PC to tablet to mobile phones.

This can be challenging. Luckily, SEO Companies can help you optimize for mobile phones and tablets while keeping the quality of your larger-screen experience.

On-Page SEO Techniques

Great content doesn’t mean much if no one sees it. That’s the purpose of search engine optimization or SEO. It puts your website in front of the right audience.

However, SEO is a moving target, with search engines constantly updating their algorithms. By applying an on-page SEO checklist, you keep up with changing times, improving your site rankings, and drawing in the volume of customers you need.

Ongoing Content

A website’s launch isn’t the end of the optimization process. It’s just the beginning.

Upgrading your website should represent an ongoing project. This helps you maximize SEO and provide a richer user experience. The fresh and optimized content ensures that customers return to your site often.

Content Management

Commit to real-time content updates to stay nimble and responsive as your website evolves. A content management system, or CMS, gives you significant content flexibility. Products like WordPress or Wix allow you to change your sites with ease, giving you maximum control.

Testing

Implement testing protocols in order to continually tweak your site. This ongoing improvement will lead to better SEO and a more optimized website. The testing gives you direction for your backend structure and coding, allowing you to fix bugs, make updates, and ultimately provide the best possible user experience.

Use Data to Fine Tune

Collect information about your audience to monitor the performance. With targeted changes to the site, you can improve user engagement and conversion rates. This will increase sales and provide a better customer experience.

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It’s Time to Shift Digital with Visual AI

visual ai

A seamless digital experience has long been the focus of product teams and technologists. From disruptive startups to the leading brands in technology and media, an emerging question is now top of mind. How can visual AI-based inspection technology help to eliminate the mundane tasks associated with quality assurance? It’s time to shift digital with visual AI.

The visual quality of digital experiences results in positive customer experience and offers a compelling competitive advantage for those who have put a focus on quality. After all, it only takes 50 milliseconds or less (that’s 0.05 seconds) for users to form an opinion about your website that determines whether they’ll stay or leave.

digital customer experience
The visual quality of digital experiences results in positive customer experience.             Image Credit: Pexels

Don’t Jeopardize your Future by Using Outdated Methods.

In coming to grips with the new normal, users now expect quality digital experiences across all aspects of their lives. The quality has to be in how they stream media to how they order groceries, delivery, take-out, and even contactless dine-in.

McKinsey notes that even before COVID-19, 92 percent of companies thought their business models would need to change given digitalization. The new reality is to shift-digital or risk becoming irrelevant overnight.

Businesses that deprioritized digitalization now rush to shift-digital, are realizing the effort is daunting, and they need help. Businesses are making this transition with fewer resources and newly distributed teams, making the challenge much more difficult.

The typical digitally transformed brand has on average 28 applications, each with roughly 98 unique screens. These apps are required to be visible on an average of 5 screen sizes and 6 languages.

The varying sizes and languages amount to roughly 90,000 pages and screen variations that need to be visually perfect. 90,000 ways a company delivers the customer’s digital experience.

Traditional automated testing methods are slow and prone to false positives. Additionally, the design of these frameworks does not detect visual defects. Undetected visual defects detract from the seamless experience and can cost R&D teams between $1.75m and $6.9m annually to fix.

Visual AI to the Rescue.

Artificial intelligence and its use cases realize a growth trajectory that no one could have predicted. Visual AI is an example of how technology helps create an advanced approach to visual quality testing.

By replicating the human eye and brain, Visual AI is able to detect differences in a screenshot against a baseline image. This process is completed with incredible speed and accuracy and also creates a system that is becoming increasingly sophisticated as more businesses adopt it.

This technology is now so widespread that one Visual AI platform recently crossed over 1 billion images analyzed. With so many images analyzed for global companies, it’s hard to imagine someone who has not benefited from it.

The sheer amount of images analyzed also means  AI algorithms grow increasingly intelligent in identifying defects and eliminating false positives.

visual AI

How you have Benefitted from Visual AI (and didn’t even know it).

Visual AI positively impacts digital experiences for customers in many ways. It is a bit of an unsung hero, in that when it does its job – you don’t know it, you just enjoy the experience.

From popular day to day business apps to binge-watching your favorite show on a rainy weekend, AI is behind the scenes, improving quality.

E-COMMERCE

Many people spend a good amount of time putting together a curated grocery list for the week. When ordering online, you select your items, choose your delivery time, and proceed to check-out.

But at checkout, you cannot find the “Submit Order” button. There’s no way to buy what you want so you end up seeing if another grocery store has delivery available. Or worse, have to drive to the store’s physical location. This is a very real issue, one I have personally experienced. It’s incredibly frustrating, not only does it damage the grocers brand, but naturally impacts its revenue.

When ordering a new pair of noise-canceling headphones, a new phone, fresh new kicks, a Friday evening pizza delivery, or your weekly groceries, you are likely interacting with an application tested by Visual AI.

Forbes recently reported that the US and Canadian e-commerce orders are experiencing 129 percent YoY growth. Based on current trends, there is no slowing this train down.

eCommerce provides us a faster, safer, and oftentimes, lower-cost alternative to access the things we want. More importantly, the things we need. Visual AI ensures eCommerce platforms deliver on these promises.

ONLINE BANKING

It’s time to log-in to your banking portal to reconcile your account. You enter your username and password, but your password expired and needs to be changed. In going to change your password, you see the change password button isn’t working. You’re stuck mid-change as fear and anxiety are mount by the minute – sound familiar?

ConsumerAffairs notes that 8 in 10 Americans prefer banking digitally vs visiting a physical branch. The primary emotional connection is to make it easy for customers to use their products and services.

From cashing checks to auto bill pay and everything in between, Visual AI assists many global financial firms to test their mobile apps and web portals.

By testing with Visual AI, leading financial institutions can achieve primary emotional connection and ensure their customers have instant and easy access to their services.

STREAMING ENTERTAINMENT

You’re binge-watching your favorite show and the next episode auto-plays. Psych! It skipped ahead two episodes unveiling a spoiler in the recap. Thankfully, this is one of the reasons why popular streaming entertainment services use Visual AI.

When subscribers log in, they expect a fully immersive experience. Escaping bugs not only impacts that exact moment but can negatively alter the full streaming experience and harm the brand.

Streaming apps run on a large variety of devices including mobile phones, tablets and dedicated streaming devices. Streaming apps are also built into a countless number of televisions with different operating systems and software versions.

Visual AI technology captures screenshots from each of the platforms and divides the screenshots into visual elements. It then compares the extracted visual elements to compare against a baseline image. This process is all done in parallel and with incredible accuracy.

HEALTHCARE

You register for your healthcare provider app and schedule a doctor’s appointment. Ahead of the appointment, you get a notification and think, “nice touch.” Upon arriving at your doctor’s office you learn your doctor works from the other side of the city on Tuesdays. The app sent you to the wrong address.

As a result, this is now a missed appointment charge and seven phone calls to reverse that charge created. What a frustrating experience.

Healthcare services continue to evolve, especially since the recent pandemic. More providers offer in-home, virtual doctor consultations powered by web and mobile apps. These web portals and mobile apps create your health hub.

Patients get secure doctor communications, prescription refills, appointment scheduling, and find helpful wellness resources.

Leading care providers rely on Visual AI to ensure their member’s experiences work. Their customers now have quick and easy access to care and health information.

IoT and CONNECTED DEVICES

Your new smart car completes a software update and the music widget appears to have gone missing. It turns out it is hiding underneath another icon.

While not a critical issue, it makes you question the quality of the brand. Alexa – does Visual AI play some role in testing at least one of my household IoT devices? Odds are good that the answer is yes. IoT is everywhere.

In connected washing machines and dryers to home security equipment, blood pressure straps, smart cars, smart scales, smart rings, and smartwatches.

The list goes on and on. If an IoT device has a screen or an associated app, then Visual AI can test it.

Next time your smartwatch harasses you because you skipped a workout, you may have to thank Visual AI for reminding you.

AR/MR/VR

Augmented, Mixed, and Virtual Reality offers immersive experiences. These experiences can alter the real-world environment, bring real-world environments into an augmented space, or allow a user to leave the real-world environment behind all-together.

When creating apps for this technology, engineers innovate in the manner in which they are developing. This requires a level of innovation on how such apps are tested. Some leaders in this tech space are looking towards Visual AI to help.

Therefore, testing this next generation of apps requires expertise across multiple scenarios including 2D, 3D, and 360 Video. AR/MR/VR apps of the future will enable fully immersive movies and concerts, corporate meetings, and even civil engagements.

These apps offer new experiences that demand the highest quality to ensure the user remains fully immersed. Visual AI is paving the way to tomorrow’s experiences, today.

GAMING CONSOLES

You spend countless hours on that “game ++â€� dual-sword build and accidentally hit the wrong button. Now it’s deleted forever. The confirmation dialog did not appear as expected and getting pissed off is the understatement of the year.

With billions of gamers worldwide, every home is likely to have a gaming console. Gaming consoles provide instant access to games, smart apps, and of course, streaming content services.

Today’s consoles have multiple apps within their user interface, each of which requires testing. For example, the online store might be one app, the settings interface might be another, and then you may have things like communities, messages, play parties, and the list goes on.

On top of that, think about language support. Most modern consoles need to support at least 30 different languages.

Testing this variety of apps across multiple languages is no small feat. It requires top-notch test architects and the help of Visual AI. So the next time you’re playing your favorite gaming console, remember that Visual AI played a part in your experience.

Conclusion

In all of the use cases listed above, there has been explosive growth with no sign of things slowing down. We’re living in a digital world and its advantages are so much more relevant in 2020 than before.

Digitalization is no longer a matter of convenience. It helps us reduce risk and ensure safety, especially with our most vulnerable populations.

Artificial intelligence ensures quality web and mobile customer experiences and the benefits are obvious and proven. Organizations are transforming their business to shift-digital and remain relevant so that we as customers are delighted.

While you may have never heard of Visual AI before today, the next time you sit down and stream your favorite show, play a game, order groceries online, or set up an online bill-pay — remember there is some amazing technology that helped some really smart people build those experiences for you.

The post It’s Time to Shift Digital with Visual AI appeared first on ReadWrite.

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Connect Connected Devices free internet internet in pandemic Web

How to Get Access to Free Internet, TV, and Phone Services

free internet access

Quite often, people get disappointed when they receive huge internet bills by the end of each month. The growing prices of this service have made it extremely difficult for some households to gain access to our World Wide Web. Here is how to get access to free internet, TV, and phone services.

A majority of the people living in the US are unaware of the fact that they can get internet access for free without breaking the law. Here are some interesting options for you to sign up.

EveryoneOn.org

Everyone On is a government initiative that partners with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to bring internet access in every household.

The government service is mainly for those people who cannot afford to pay for such luxuries. For instance, the internet is not a priority for disadvantaged families, homeless individuals, and low-income households.

Therefore, the US government is responsible for providing connectivity to such users.

An interesting fact about Everyone On is that it emphasizes the reality that students today need the internet to learn and compete against other peers who are more affluent and well-groomed.

It goes without saying that the internet provides an endless supply of knowledge and skills that students need to acquire to survive in this competitive world.

Certain parameters decide whether you qualify for the program or not. In case of disqualification, you can always opt for their economical plans, which start from $10 per month.

Freedom Pop

Freedom Pop has been in business for quite some time now. It is a great platform that offers free internet access for your computer as well as your smartphone. Freedom Pop is exceptional for users who cannot justify their internet expenses because their usage is too low.

To get internet access, you will have to set up an account and pay an initial deposit, which is only a few dollars. Freedom Pop will then send you the equipment that you need to activate your connection.

You will get 2GB of free internet for the first month; not a ton of data but still a decent amount. From the second month, you will get 500 MB of free data. This data limit works well for users who just have to send and receive emails.

NetZero

Back in the days of dial-up internet, NetZero used to be a huge platform. However, with emerging technologies like cable and fiber internet, NetZero lost its importance.

Although the company is still in business, they are only offering their services to selected areas. Nevertheless, with NetZero, you can access the World Wide Web for free. So, if you have a phone line at home, you can use it to connect your computer to the internet.

Bear in mind that the company only offers 10 hours of internet per month in their basic free package. If that is not enough for you, you can always sign up for other plans that offer standard internet service with greater data caps and speed.

Wi-Fi Map

Wi-Fi Map is an application that enables you to find all the free Wi-Fi hotspots near you so that you can easily connect your device to the internet. The application is available across various countries and it is great for people who are traveling.

One drawback of this application is that the free version only covers around 2.5 miles. This means that you will have to upgrade to its pro version to find hotspots that are far away from your location.

If you do not want to pay for the upgrade, another option is to watch ads to get access to different hotspots. This way, you can seamlessly connect your smartphone, tablet, or any other device and enjoy free connectivity.

Is Free Internet Worth it?

It is a known fact that free internet is an insecure internet. Therefore, instead of using free networks, go for a budget-friendly internet package that offers good internet speed at reasonable prices.

Plus, when you sign up for this service, you will get access to the service provider’s hotspots. The majority of the providers in the US have their hotspots around popular areas to facilitate the customers in the best possible way.

Here are some renowned service providers from LocalCableDeals that offer high-speed internet packages at highly competitive prices:

  1. Charter Spectrum
  2. Comcast Xfinity
  3. Optimum by Altice
  4. Cox Communications
  5. AT&T Internet

You do not necessarily have to spend hundreds of dollars on the internet every month.

For a mere $49.99 price tag, you can enjoy Spectrum Internet that offers speeds up to 940 Mbps in some areas.

Such incredible speeds are sufficient to support all your online activities including 4K streaming, online gaming, and heavy downloading. If you are one of those households that require multiple services at reasonable prices, make sure to check out Spectrum Select Package, which offers super-fast internet, more than 125 HD channels, and crystal-clear phone service.

Buy your services from a well-reputed provider so you get the best value for your money. Free services do not come with 24/7 customer support.

However, if you choose to go for one of the aforementioned providers, professional technicians are just a call away to resolve all your problems at any time.

The post How to Get Access to Free Internet, TV, and Phone Services appeared first on ReadWrite.

Categories
Startups Tech Web Web App Development Web App Idea

7 Ways to Generate Unique Web App Ideas for Your Startup to Consider

unique web app ideas

Execution of an idea is easier than generating the one. The idea will remain the same for web app idea creation and implementation. If you are a startup, then it is important for you to introduce web applications with a unique idea or less popular concepts. Companies are exploring all possible horizons to introduce new solutions almost every day.

It seems quite challenging to stay competitive by launching a unique idea when a high competition out there. Moreover, it is difficult to find the untouched one when the online platform has plenty of web app ideas.

Actually, it’s tough, but not impossible. All you need to do is to go the extra mile to analyze your different business aspects. It helps you to identify the gaps and fill them by launching the right web solution.

Here are a few practices that you can consider to generate unique web app ideas.

7 Ways to Generate Unique Web App Ideas

1 – Analyze Yourself

Your Company/Business

Whether you own a well-established company or startup, to stay competitive it is very important to find out and nurture the new web app ideas. For that, you need to closely analyze the challenges and needs of your business that create hurdles in the path of your success.

Nobody understands your company better than you. So, first of all, start exploring who your company has developed to be. You need to identify the strength and weaknesses of your company.

Moreover, define the unique capabilities of your company in terms of product, service, or technology that make you different from other companies like you. Analyze the other business aspects and identify which affect or disrupt your business development.

Your Employee

Another most important aspect of any organization is its employees. Spend time to understand your team members. Allow them to be part of the software development process. Collect the different perspectives and ideas shared by your team.

You will realize that everyone gives a different yet unique point of views if you allow your employees to be part of your business plan. They provide you many of the idea that you would never ever think of it and a large number of resources that you have missed while generating the idea.

Here are a few questions that you have to ask yourself to generate a potential web app idea.

  • What are the weaknesses and strengths of my company?
  • What field does my company operate in?
  • What does help my company to win over my rivals?
  • What values does my company attempt to uphold?
  • What is disrupting my company’s development?

2 – Listen to Your Customers

The key crux for identifying the excellent web app idea is to stay in connection with your target audience to whom you need to serve. You need to learn many things from your customers. All you need to do id just listen to them and observe their behavior. Here is how you can do it.

  • Focus on where your customers spend most of their time
  • Identify how customers interact with your products/services and brand
  • Analyze the journey of the customers while using your product

Moreover, you can learn about the great web app ideas by analyzing the pain points and issues your customers are facing and develop a web platform that resolves their challenges. Interaction with your customers helps you to generate more web app idea.

For example; if your customers are facing challenges related to customer services, then you can consider adding a chat section in your web application or website. It allows customers to have a quick chat with your executives and resolve their issues. Customers find this a more convenient way to contact your company.

To understand the needs and challenges of your customers, you can schedule calls or send a questionnaire to them in order to collect their suggestions. This will help you to know what you should do next.

3 – Analyze your Business Strategy

For either the startup or the established firm, a business roadmap is very essential. While defining your plans define your long term and short term goals, clarify your vision and mission, and create strategies for future development.

Utilize your experience and current knowledge base to evolve new solutions to attain your future business objectives and plans. The next step would be to find out the way to execute them through a robust web solution. Define the design, features, functionality, and support that your web application needs to achieve your business goals and drive success.

Before designing a business plan for your organization, you should ask the below questions to yourself.

  • What are the long term goals of my company?
  • What are the short term goals of my company?
  • How will I achieve the goals of my company?
  • Have I attained any goals since I have started my company?
  • Which operations of my organization the web application amplify?

4 – Analyze Your Marketing

Have a close look at your marketing processes and analyze if you can transform any manual activity at the web application.

Identify the marketing activities that require a huge investment. You should investigate how to reduce such expenses by transforming marketing activities to a web platform.

For example; you can consider the web application for your loyalty program that helps you to eliminate the expenses of the printed material for the product or service marketing. It is proven that digital material has a wider reach than the printed one. You can engage more target audience by transforming your marketing activities to the web platforms.

Here are a few questions you should ask yourself before shifting your marketing activities to a web platform.

  • Will the web app be supported to add a new revenue stream?
  • Will the web app help accomplish your business goals?
  • What operations of my business can shift to web applications?

5 – Analyze Your Industry

To generate new web app ideas, it is very essential to watch the changing industry trends closely. Get profound insights into the changing beliefs and expectations of your target audience.

Today, there are plenty of resources available that you can refer to understand the latest trends of your domain. You can keep referring the websites like Entrepreneurs, Springwise, and Trendwatching.

All these platforms cover the global trends so it will be difficult for you to evaluate and identify the trends that are relevant to the local target market of your business.

6 – Analyze Your Competitors

Competitors are technically rivals but many times they help in achieving business success. They apply different strategies to outshine you. To stay competitive, they continually check the latest trends, explore new and innovative methods, and copy any of your ideas to boost business growth.

You can go with the react approach if you find your competitors’ business grows due to the implementation of certain strategies, you should adopt it. You do copy but copy smartly. Don’t simply implement their strategies as it is. Twist the strategies as per your business needs and nature.

Here, I don’t nor want to encourage you to copy the ideas. All I mean is to consider the competitors’ strategy as a base platform. You need to break it down into different components and apply reverse engineering to create your own strategy for success.

The invention of new ideas or mechanics is not the only way to generate fresh web app ideas. You can identify the gaps that your competitors are not able to fill and build a solution that brings that gap.

Questions you need to ask yourself while analyzing your competitors.

  • What strategies has your competitor implemented?
  • What strategies help them to attain success?
  • What strategies have not delivered them potential results?
  • What faults and gaps do you identify in your competitors’ strategies?
  • How to create your own strategy based on the experience you have learned from your competitors?

7 – Analyze the Businesses Outside Your Industry

Just like you, the business of different domains focuses on their industries. They spend considerable time in defining the best practices for their sector. Eventually, they all end up by creating a similar type of experience in the long term.

Please understand, considering an identical idea and adding a new coating over it is not the only way to identify the new concept for our web applications. Sometimes, bridging the gaps between the two different concepts and industries also helps you in creating a unique web app idea.

Stay different from the crowd by merging more than one concept from irrelevant industries in a single web app. This will definitely spark a unique idea.

List of questions you should ask yourself while analyzing the irrelevant industries.

  • Can I consider different concepts from multiple industries to create a robust strategy for my business?
  • Can I break out of the industry I belong to and discovering outside influences?

Final Thoughts…

Generate potential web app ideas by following the above mentioned ways. You can discover, develop, and implement it to stand out from your industry crowd. Along with helping you stay competitive, it helps you deliver value to your domain and target audience by addressing unresolved issues and unfilled gaps.

Once you are done with the idea generation, you need to connect with reliable web development service providers that help you in bringing your idea to life by developing the exact web applications as you expected.

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