19 Free Web site design Tools

If you’ve a small business website, likelihood is you should use all of the free design let you can get.

Here is a listing of tools and resources that will help you with web design. There are font, icon and image tools, in addition to audio and video applications. Also there are resources to provide you ideas and generate your design inspiration. All of those tools are free.

Free Web design Tools

Niice. Niice is an inspiration search engine, letting you search across multiple sources, comparable to Behance, Dribbble, Designspiration, and Fubiz.

Niice website

Niice.

Website design Library. Web Design Library is a platform for the dissemination of website design thinking and research. It covers all theoretical and practice-oriented design, advancing a comprehensive view of what’s hot, what’s not, and what all of it means.

The Design Inspiration. The Design Inspiration is created by a gaggle of designers, seeking daily design inspiration. It features logos, illustrations, websites, photos, and patterns from designers all over the world.

Font Squirrel. Font Squirrel is a resource free of charge, handpicked, high-quality, commercial-use fonts. It features newly discovered fonts, most popular fonts, a forum, and more. Each font has a row of symbols indicating free uses allowed.

Font Squirrel website

Font Squirrel.

Typetester. Typetester is an online application for comparison of the fonts for the screen. As the new fonts are bundled into operating systems, the list of common fonts is updated.

Iconizer. This is a tool to find and modify icons. Change the background or foreground color, saturation, image angle, and more.

Icon Finder. Icon Finder is an icon search engine for web designers and developers. Search through nearly 300,000 icons and 1,300 icon sets.

Freepik. Freepik is a search engine that helps graphic and web designers to locate quality photos, vectors, illustrations, and PSD files for their creative projects. Freepik’s goal is to become one of the most important sources of graphics related free content.

Freepik website

Freepik.

Gimpshop. Gimpshop is a free, downloadable photo and image editing software program built to rival Adobe Photoshop. It incorporates an intuitive user-interface, a wide array of filters, and high-end advanced tools.

Paint.net. Paint.net is free image and photo editing software. It features an intuitive user interface with layers, unlimited undo, special effects, and a wide variety tools. An active community provides friendly help, tutorials, and plugins.

Inkscape. Inkscape is an open source vector graphics editor, with capabilities similar to Illustrator, CorelDraw, or Xara X, using the W3C standard Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) file format.

Kuler. Kuler is a free color theme application, available for iPhone or through a browser, that’s part of the Adobe Creative Cloud. With your smartphone capture colors from a mural, garden, or wherever you happen to be. Create and share color combinations, browse thousands of themes from the Kuler community, and start using them in your design.

Kuler website

Kuler.

Color.hailpixel.com. Color.hailpixel.com is an intuitive color picker. Move your mouse back and forth for hue, up and down for lightness, and scroll for saturation. Click to save the color and start another color.

ColorZilla. ColorZilla has a number of useful advanced color tools for designers. It contains an Advanced Eyedropper, ColorPicker, Color Analyzer, a CSS gradient editor, image to CSS converter, and more.

Handbrake. HandBrake is a device for converting video from nearly any format to a selection of modern, widely supported codecs. Handbrake can process most common multimedia files and any unencrypted DVD or BluRay sources.

Audacity. Audacity is a free downloadable audio editor and recorder for Windows, Mac OS X, GNU/Linux, and other operating systems. Record live audio, convert audio into digital recordings, and edit and mix sound files.

Audacity website

Audacity.

Firebug. Firebug integrates with Firefox to put a wealth of web development tools at your fingertips while you browse. You can edit, debug, and monitor CSS, HTML, and JavaScript live in any web page

Wix. Wix is a free do-it-yourself website builder with a large selection of templates for businesses and services that are easily customized. Upload your own content, or use Wix’s free website design elements, such as images, animation, clip art and icons. Use the simple drag and drop editor to create your own website, mobile website or Facebook page.

Moonfruit. Moonfruit is another free website builder. It has a large range of templates, background, images and fonts. Easily build and customize your site with the drag and drop editor. Showcase images, layer them, crop or cause them to transparent. Moonfruit’s free plan also offers basic ecommerce functionality so as to add products and push them on social networking streams.

Moonfruit website

Moonfruit.

SEO Tips for Local Contractors

It’s summertime and for plenty of people it is a time for remodeling projects. For contractors this also means it’s high season for business. For house painters, carpet and flooring installers, roofing companies, electricians, landscapers, swimming pool contractors, siding providers, and general building contractors, that is the time of year when ranking within the top of the hunt results can mean the adaptation between substantial revenues or mediocre profits. So, read on and get some how to rank best on your area and kind of commercial.

Local contractors have it difficult by way of internet marketing. They’re typically sole proprietorships or small, family-owned businesses, and value-conscious. Owners and executives of those contracting companies typically don’t have a number of time to devote to marketing activities, which they should do themselves while keeping their promotion budgets as little as possible. Local contractors are increasingly reliant upon a mixture of word-of-mouth client referrals and search engine referrals. Word-of-mouth can grow naturally, but search engine rankings won’t always happen without intentionally feeding and watering a company’s online presence.

SEO Tips for Local Contractors

It’s possible to do it yourself to realize good rankings. And it’s possible to do it without driving yourself crazy or spending more time than you’ve. You don’t ought to do everything right now — break off smaller pieces of the project and plan to do them consistently over the years, in the event you don’t have the time upfront. So long as you do this stuff you’ll increase your probabilities of ranking well.

However, in case your aim is to get your rankings up quickly to compete now for the summer time, put aside a number of weekend days upfront to bump up all your ranking signals once possible. SEO is usually a game of inches, especially if you’re in a business category or market where competition is more intense. If you’re in a competitive area you will have to take a look at to do greater than your competitors in order that your ranking signals may marginally outpace them, enabling your enterprise listing to rank above theirs.

Tips for Local Search Rankings for Contractors

  • Have an internet site. If you’re reading this you most likely have already got a domain or know so you might have one. It doesn’t need to be expensive to be effective, nevertheless it must have some basic features. Include your enterprise name, “Acme,” business category, “Drywall Contractors,” and town or location name, “Miami, Florida.” These must be reflected within the title of the site’s home page. As an instance: “Acme | Drywall Contractors in Miami, Florida.”
  • Include basic features for your website that customers would search for. Tell who you’re to your “About Us” page. Consider including a photograph of you and your employees, and mention any official certifications you’ve. On a “Services” page, include lists of the most things which you do and what payment options you accept. To your home page, list the names of cities and neighborhoods where you provide services; if those location names aren’t used in your website, you’re less more likely to manifest in search results when people seek your kind of contracting service for his or her area. To your contact page, include your address, in case you allow people to come back in your place of job, and include your phone number. Include a contact submission form once you consistently check your email — otherwise, don’t include it. Many contractors neglect checking their email. If you’re in that category don’t frustrate your potential clients by making them think you will be contacted that way. Include a page of testimonials and quote a number of your clients who’re willing to supply references for you.
  • Have a blog in your site. Seriously. You’ll not be a terrific writer, but people will appreciate your honesty and realness. You are able to not think you’ve got anything to assert, but when you’re expert at your work you likely know greater than you know. Plan to post very brief updates for your blog about each kind of service you do. Why do you do things in a undeniable way? What are special issues you face to your region on your form of work? What makes your work special in comparison to other providers? Also, mention within the blog posts about important events happening for your area. Is there a town festival bobbing up? a vacation? Blog regularly and it’ll induce augmenting your rankings.
  • Make sure your corporation is listed in major online business directories and telephone book sites. This gets you “citations” or “mentions” of your enterprise and unique contact information, that is influential for local search ranking purposes. You will get listed in directories by checking sites and adding your listing where it’s missing. Doing all of it by hand is time consuming, however. Try using GetListed.org to ascertain your listing presence at major directories. You’re able to add your listing there, or if it’s missing at several directories, I strongly recommend using Universal Business Listing’s Professional Package to create and distribute the listing information widely. Universal Business Listing’s service is definitely worth the money, because you’d spend way more with regards to some time while you tried to duplicate what they do by adding or updating your listing information by hand at all of the dozens of web sites they feed into. (Disclosure: I’m an advisor for Universal Business Listing, but I’m also a customer and that i recommend its service because i’ve found it to be effective for local SEO efforts.)
  • Take photos of your work regularly and post the suitable ones in your website or blog. This is an effective way to have ongoing content for blog posts. Just be certain to not include people to your photos unless you get written permission from them, first. But, just showing examples of your work — before and after — through the years can be beneficial.
  • Share the photos of your work on Pinterest and Flickr. And, link back to related pages in your site or blog with each picture.
  • Include a trust seal badge in your website home page. Trust seals are especially important for contractors, because people have a much better level of distrust or fear about whether a contractor is trustworthy or not. Reducing this by displaying your official certification badges or independent accreditation organization seals can increase your acceptance when people visit your site. The most recognizable and top of the line badges is the simpler Business Bureau badge. You pay a fee for accreditation and for BBB services. Nonetheless it lends your corporation an instant level of trust with consumers that’s worth it. It also provides a valuable local citation for ranking purposes.
Trust seals give your business an instant level of stature and credibility.

Trust seals give your enterprise an instant level of stature and credibility.

  • Add the writer tag in your website and blog. Integrating the writer tag and establishing your Google+ page to compliment it is going to allow your photo icon to indicate up next in your pages inside the search results, attracting so much more attention. All indications are that enabling your listing to stick out from the pack within the local listings will induce more clicks, which, in turn, may translate into better rankings over the years.
The authorship tag draws attention to your result in search engine results pages.

The authorship tag draws attention for your lead to search engine results pages.

  • Get more reviews and ratings. Your rating value won’t affect your rankings, however the total numbers of reviews you will have on various sites like Yelp, CitySearch, Yellowpages.com, Google+, and Superpages can affect your ranking value. Ratings and reviews are still going to strongly influence whether people favor to become clients or not, identical to how trust seals should help increase consumer confidence in your business. You may positively influence your ratings by asking your satisfied clients to check you online — suggest a particular site for them to take action. Also, closely monitor your reviews and reply to negative reviews by attempting to calmly explain, apologize, or make up for instances where people posted disappointment along with your service. You can’t always provide perfect service, so accept it when someone has reasonably complained and notice in the event you could make it as much as them by some means. several different services — GetListed.org, Review Push, and Trackur — might be useful monitor your reviews and prevent the difficulty of visiting your entire profiles across many sites. Having a couple of negative reviews isn’t the top of the arena — it actually makes your corporation look real. Also, responding well can turn lemons into lemonade. I even have seen polite, apologetic responses transform negative reviews right into a positive outcome — and the entire story makes your small business look even better than in case you only had uniformly positive reviews.
  • Get active in social media. Established an account in Twitter and a business page in Facebook, and post on them consistently. Ideally, post something each day and respond when people ask something of you. If you’re blogging and posting photos, these activities delivers material to post or promote via status updates in Facebook and Twitter. You can too touch upon content mentioned by others to your industry, or share or retweet their updates, and mention and link to objects that seem inside the news on your industry.
  • Get professional help. It is usually worthwhile to have interaction a qualified search marketer to take a look at your online health with a native SEO audit. There are a selection of technical issues that may limit a site’s effectiveness in se’s. It’d be worthwhile to have it looked at by a professional, upfront, and resolve anything that would hold you back. At minimum, subscribe to Google Webmaster Tools and Bing Webmaster Tools accounts and spot in the event that they have suggestions for bettering your site or if their bots are having trouble spidering your site’s pages.

Most of your contractor competitors don’t do all of this stuff. When you get moving, you’ll likely overtake them inside the search results to your area, and while you gain the advantage you will be ready to stay ahead over the long run.

Web Design in the 21st Century

The world is becoming a lot more Internet oriented. The vast majority of things that required individuals to be physically for a certain location have finally been moved for the Internet platform. This has led to an increase for web layout professionals. Web design authorities and companies are trained in in all the most recent web technologies and they also can get a website built from scratch while using the latest technologies and standards. Web design will involve various stages like work-flow design, designing the specific wire frames and mock-ups of the site and the specific building of the internet site. There are furthermore other aspects regarding web design such as search engine optimisation and arranging the content on the website for the best user experience. To sum it all up, web design could be the heartbeat of the net and one should always choose the best in the field in order to stay relevant within the internet age.

Pay-per-click Ads: Crucial to Bid for your Brand

Over the years, I’ve been asked loads of questions on pay-per-click advertising. One of the vital common from new advertisers is, “Why should I bid on my brand name? I already happen first in Google for my brand, so I don’t think I must have to pay for traffic.”

On the skin, this can be a reasonable question. Nobody likes deciding to buy something they could get totally free. But PPC isn’t that easy. Bidding in your brand name in PPC is imperative for quite a lot of reasons.

Dominate the quest Engine Results Page

The top of the hunt engine results page is key real estate. Many of the clicks happen on this space. By having a presence in both PPC and organic results, what you are promoting can push other listings down the page, increasing the probabilities that the clicks will visit your site and never elsewhere.

Take a glance at this SERP for Amazon.

Search engine result page for Amazon.

Search engine results page for “amazon.”

Of the whole listings above the fold, all but one is for Amazon. Amazon is a hugely sophisticated marketing organization. If bidding by itself brand wasn’t working, it wouldn’t do it.

Lock Out the Competition

If you don’t bid by yourself brand, i will nearly make sure that your competitors will. “Conquesting” is a standard tactic in PPC. Savvy advertisers use techniques like rock-bottom pricing and large discounts of their PPC ad copy to lure potential customers clear of their competition.

Don’t let this happen to you. Whilst you can’t prevent competitors from bidding in your brand, you are able to combat their efforts by ensuring you’re present at the page.

Cost Is Nominal

The cost per click your brand terms is way less than on non-brand terms. It is because companies nearly always get a prime quality score — see this explanation from Google — all alone brands. In spite of everything, not anyone is more relevant for those searches than you.

The clients I manage see CPCs for brand terms which are 80 percent under CPCs for non-branded terms. Why not make the most of this low-cost, highly-qualified traffic?

Traffic Converts at a High Rate

When someone searches for your brand, they know they’re looking for you. Chances are they’re past the early research stage and are not only ready to buy, they’re ready to buy from you. Make it easy for them by bidding on your brand terms.

Branded PPC keywords convert at a much higher rate than non-branded terms. When you combine high conversion rates with lower CPCs, you get a high volume of conversions at a very affordable. There is no reason not to capture these inexpensive conversions by bidding on your brand terms.

Brand Bidding Boosts your Quality Score

Quality score is the search engines’ measure of relevance. I addressed it here previously, in “PPC Basics, Part 7. Quality Score.” The higher the quality score, the more relevant are your keywords and ad copy. If you’ve earned a high quality score, you’ll pay less per click than competitors with a lower quality score, even if you rank higher than they do.

Branded terms almost always earn a very high quality score, usually 10 out of 10. Not only does this result in low CPCs, it helps to boost your average account quality score. In fact, some PPC advertisers I know launch a brand-only campaign for new products, for the sole purpose of earning a high account quality score. After a few weeks, they begin launching non-branded keywords.

While I’m not advocating that approach, earning a high quality score early on is important and bidding on your brand is a good way to accomplish this goal.

Control your Message with PPC

In PPC, you have total control over ad copy. You decide what you want to say in your ads. Not only that, but you can test different messages to determine what converts the best.

Organic listings, on the other hand, offer little control. You can optimize your title tag and meta description, but you’re still at the mercy of the search engines. The search engines, not you, decide what snippets to show.

In PPC, not only do you control your ad copy, but also your sitelink copy. Smart advertisers use sitelinks to extend their ad copy and link to deep pages of their website. Organic listings may also include sitelinks — see the Amazon example above — but again, the search engines decide what goes in the organic sitelinks.

There is no guarantee that sitelinks will display for either organic or paid listings, but why let Google or Bing choose your copy? Use PPC and choose it on yourself.

Boost your Traffic by 89 Percent

Eighty-nine percent sounds like a lofty claim. Yet, it’s backed up by data.

In 2011, Google conducted a study on how the number of organic clicks changes when PPC ads are present. The study found that 89 percent of clicks on paid ads were incremental. In other words, traffic from PPC was not replaced by organic traffic when search ads were paused.

In 2011, 89 percent of clicks on paid ads were incremental.

In 2011, 89 percent of clicks on paid ads were incremental, according to a study by Google.

Think about that. Traffic from PPC isn’t replaced by organic traffic, so when you don’t bid on your brand, you’re sacrificing a large number of visitors. And as mentioned earlier, your competitors are probably stealing them instead.

You might be thinking, “That study was done by Google, so it’s probably biased.” That’s a fair thought. However, I’ve experienced this with clients time and again when they pause PPC for whatever reason. Traffic and conversions from organic traffic, and from all traffic sources for that matter, do not replace PPC. Instead, these clients universally saw sales decline when PPC was paused.

In short, bidding on your brand is not just a great idea, it’s an absolute must in my view. Brand bidding is an inexpensive thanks to generate conversions on your brand.

3 Simple Design Techniques

Sometimes a design needs something extra to make it stand out. The smallest details can transform a design from average to outstanding. Drop shadows, gradients, and textures are three simple techniques for bettering a design. I’ll explain each of them the following article.

Drop Shadows

Drop shadows are among the first effects new designers learn how to create. There are two types of drop shadows — inner and outer. Drop shadows add depth to graphic elements by giving the semblance that they’re raised or lowered into the page.

Outer and inner drop shadows.

Outer (left) and inner drop shadows.

Inner drop shadows are popularly used on typography to create an embossed or letterpress effect, where characters physically hit paper on a printing press.

Inner shadow letterpress effect.

Inner shadow letterpress effect.

When to exploit drop shadows. Add a drop shadow when a graphic is surrounded by a large number of negative — white — space, or while you desire a graphic to seem layered. Drop shadows also are useful for giving photographs a physical feel.

When to not use drop shadows. Many new designers are likely to use drop shadows for all designs. But drop shadows shouldn’t be applied to each element on a website. Instead, they need to be used sparingly to make sure graphics stand out. Mainly, you’ll want to keep drop shadows subtle. Watch out to not make shadow edges too hard. Keep the gap between your drop shadow effect and your shadowed image to a minimum.

Example of a distant, hard drop shadow.

Example of , hard drop shadow.

Gradients

Gradients are a staple for any designer trying to add depth to a design. A subtle gradient may give a flat button or boring background the additional detail it must make it stand out on a page. Linear and radial gradients are the 2 simplest gradient types. Both can be utilized to feature depth to a design.

The two most common gradients are linear and radial.

The two most typical gradients are linear (left) and radial.

When to exploit gradients. Linear gradients can be utilized to feature a subtle horizon line to product photos. When one end of the gradient is transparent, radial gradients can focus viewer’s attention to a particular area of a photograph. Gradients also are useful for creating raised buttons and sunken mouse-click states. Gradients may be extensively utilized to create highlight effects on photos or other elements.

Gradients can be used to create highlight effects.

Gradients can be utilized to create highlight effects, equivalent to the head of this horizontal bar, that’s lighter.

When to not use gradients. Clone of drop shadows, gradients shouldn’t be overused. Too many gradients will make a design look overly busy, confusing the viewer. Instead, use gradients with other solid colors with the intention to highlight specific areas of a design.

Textures

In “Using Texture to enhance Design,” a prior article, I addressed how textures can be utilized to both draw viewers’ attention and create a feeling of depth. Textures is also added to backgrounds, photographs, buttons, logos, and illustrations with varying results. That you would be able to generate textures in image editing programs like Photoshop, otherwise you can use photographs of textures from the physical world.

When to make use of textures. Like drop shadows and gradients, adding a texture to a design element is an effective strategy to make it stand out. Textures can be added to pictures for a dated effect. Adding textures to illustrations could make them more eye-catching. Grunge-themed sites use textures to create a gritty feel — though sites will not have a grunge theme to effectively use textures.

Textures can make illustrations stand out more.

Textures could make illustrations stand out more. The correct side of this image features a texture.

When to not use textures. Again, textures won’t improve every design and may be used with purpose. Avoid high contrast textures that distract from site content. Avoid texturing too many elements in a design. Instead, balance textured and non-textured elements or use textures consistently only on specific elements like backgrounds or photographs.

Final Thoughts

These three simple techniques are powerful additions to any design arsenal. It’s difficult to search out a domain today that doesn’t use no less than certainly one of them. However, a design may be compelling without using any. Experiment with drop shadows, gradients, and textures. In case you commit to use them, do it consistently across your design — whether it’s an internet site or a chain of banner ads. Note how other sites use these three techniques, and learn.

Increase Conversions by Limiting Choices

We all like choices. They provide opportunities to locate the simplest solution. However our brains want to keep things simple. When you offer your shoppers too many decisions, they usually can’t come to a decision and grow to be leaving.

For example, i lately went to an airport bookstore in finding some light reading for a plane. The shop contained hundreds of books. Although they were categorized — mystery, romance, horror, nonfiction — i used to be overwhelmed with choices and couldn’t make up my mind. All of them looked good, but in spite of everything I opted to shop nothing.

What happened? Choice paralysis. It occurs when individuals are presented with too many options. Choosing takes work and the more choices people must make, the fewer they would like to do it.

Websites Can help you People Choose

People are likely to organize information into groups of 3 or four — a process called “chunking.” Bring to mind your phone number or social security number. It’s grouped for simple remembering and processing.

Consumers who come in your website have a mental model of the way it’s going to work in response to their past experiences with similar sites or their familiarity with the subject material. Organization is fundamental. Matching that mental expectation reduces the quantity of thinking required, making it easier for visitors to make decisions.

Ecommerce Businesses

For example, a chum is renovating his bathroom and desires to reserve a clawfoot tub. After searching, he finds several websites.

The first, The bath Connection, has 15 rows of tubs. Inside the yellow highlighted section, below, you’ll find it offers 44 tub choices and that every page can display 54 choices. Moreover, this site assumes that he knows the tub’s brand.

The Tub Connections main category page where tubs are sorted by brand.

The Tub Connection’s main category page, where tubs are sorted by brand.

The menu at the left of that page lists “Soaking Tubs” after which offers the subcategory of “Clawfoot Tubs” with an extra breakdown of “Acrylic Clawfoot Tubs,” “Cast Iron Clawfoot Tubs,” “Clawfoot Slipper Tubs,” and “Dual Ended Clawfoot Tubs.”

The Tub Connections clawfoot tub menu listing types of soaking tubs

The Tub Connection’s clawfoot tub menu listing sorts of soaking tubs

Using these categories — not brand names — can be easier for average consumers who’ve not narrowed their purchase to a brand. Since individuals are visual, using the kind of tub category could increase customer engagement and conversions.

The second site, Elizabethan Classics, has fewer tubs. They seem very similar — see the blue highlighted area below — and it’s difficult to differentiate what makes one better than the opposite. Also, the white tubs are on a white background and the descriptive text appears as gray links.

Elizabethan Classics

Elizabethan Classics’ website showing many similar clawfoot tub pictures

The third site, Vintage Tub and Bath, simplifies the selections by categorizing as “Classic Tubs,” “Double Ended Tubs,” “Slipper Tubs,” “Double Slipper Tubs,” and “Pedestal & Freestanding Tubs.”

Vintage Tub and Baths website offering limited choices based on finely honed categories.

Vintage Tub and Bath’s website offering limited choices in keeping with finely-honed categories.

After creating a selection from these broad category choices, the positioning then offers another category page to drill all the way down to the final word tub choice.

Types of Classic Clawfoot Tubs are subcategorized in subsequent category page.

Types of Classic Clawfoot Tubs are subcategorized in subsequent category page.

Service Businesses

Service businesses often offer many solutions. But if prospects come to these websites, it’s frequently confusing.

For example, Outsource IT Solutions Group, in Illinois, offers 20 different services.

IT Solutions

IT Solutions’ website with dropdown menu offering their visitors 20 different services.

Depending on its targeted customers, this menu can be overwhelming. The options offered require that visitors understand them. On this instance, would it not be better to prepare in keeping with client size or selection of computers? If the organization of your menus doesn’t slot in with the mental model of your site’s visitors, they could leave your site and begin your competitors.

Conclusion

Limit choices to four if possible. When creating category pages, use a grid of not more than 12 choices. When shoppers want to make a sequence of selections, provide strong calls to action or pathways to lead them to the following logical step.

Keep it simple. Provide visual cues to aid your site’s visitors decide. These cues can include comparisons, checklists, or detailed pictures.