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Preview: Web Design from Scratch

Web Design from Scratch



Your complete web design guide



Updated: 2017-08-07T13:30:30Z

 



Diet CMS

2017-07-21T11:45:38Z

Here’s a short 7-minute preview video of my new super-lightweight content management system: Diet CMS. Diet CMS is similar in functionality to my old “CMS from Scratch”, but it has a fraction of the code, using JQuery for UI stuff and AJAX. It is designed to be a very simple and fast way to allow […]

The post Diet CMS appeared first on Web Design from Scratch.

Here’s a short 7-minute preview video of my new super-lightweight content management system: Diet CMS.

Diet CMS is similar in functionality to my old “CMS from Scratch”, but it has a fraction of the code, using JQuery for UI stuff and AJAX. It is designed to be a very simple and fast way to allow an experienced developer to create and manage web pages with ease.

I’ve included a link to the zip file of the source code below so you can have a play, and happy to answer any questions in the comments. This will eventually become an open-source project.

Download the source code: ZIP, only 23KB

id='player2' src='//www.youtube.com/embed/ueKve_E9o6U?not_used=1&rel=0&modestbranding=1&showinfo=0' height='400' width='100%' frameborder='0' allowfullscreen >

The post Diet CMS appeared first on Web Design from Scratch.




World’s Best Designed Websites 2017

2017-07-13T11:25:39Z

Phase 1: Invitation for Nominations We are putting together a brand new list of the TEN best-designed websites for 2017, and we want YOUR suggestions! This is a great opportunity to get exposure for any site you think deserves to serve as an example of the most effective design. The final list of winners will […]

The post World’s Best Designed Websites 2017 appeared first on Web Design from Scratch.

Phase 1: Invitation for Nominations

We are putting together a brand new list of the TEN best-designed websites for 2017, and we want YOUR suggestions!

This is a great opportunity to get exposure for any site you think deserves to serve as an example of the most effective design. The final list of winners will get great exposure, so make sure your favourite site is in there!

Here are the rules…

  1. Nomination window closes on 31st July 2017.
  2. The single factor we’re using for judging “best-designed” is that the site solves the selling problem in an elegant way. So we’re looking for effective communication that engage people and ultimately inspire some kind of shift or action.
  3. You can nominate any website, including your own site or a site you’ve designed.
  4. This year, the process for nominations is to create a very short video or screencast (less than 3 minutes preferred), where you walk us through the website and highlight the features you think make it outstanding. This needs to be posted online (e.g. YouTube) and include a link back to this page to tell visitors where to see the results.
  5. The Web Design from Scratch editorial team will review all submissions and post our own video with the results.

When you have posted your nomination video online, use this form to enter.

If your nomination is one of the winners, even if it is not one of your own, you can get recognition for your nomination.

We’re looking forward to seeing your sites!
Ben & team

Notes & Guidance

  • Design is the process of coming up with a solution to a problem. So a well-designed site does not need to be radically original or unique – it must simply demonstrate a communication solution that is elegantly fit-for-purpose.
  • So the winning sites will not necessarily be highly graphical or artistic.
  • We’re open to nominations for all kinds of sites, from sales and marketing to web-based applications.

The post World’s Best Designed Websites 2017 appeared first on Web Design from Scratch.




The AdWords Agency Problem

2016-09-30T06:43:36Z

It’s easy to forget how much AdWords has changed in the last two or three years. The interface looks similar to the interface we have today, but the machinery under the hood is completely different. In 2011 we had the search network, and the display network. And we had a brand new display network feature called […] The post The AdWords Agency Problem appeared first on Web Design from Scratch. It’s easy to forget how much AdWords has changed in the last two or three years. AdWords interface in 2011 The interface looks similar to the interface we have today, but the machinery under the hood is completely different. In 2011 we had the search network, and the display network. And we had a brand new display network feature called remarketing. And that was about it. Today, from the same interface, you can create: Shopping campaigns Youtube campaigns Mobile app campaigns Gmail ads And of course remarketing campaigns, which are now more sophisticated because you can upload lists of customer email addresses, and build remarketing lists from Youtube channel interactions. And those aren’t the only changes. We’ve also had the great ‘right side wipeout’, where all the right hand ads were axed from the search results page. We now have audience targeting within a regular search campaign, meaning you can combine keywords and interests. Sitelink click through rate has become a component of quality score. Mobile traffic has overtaken desktop traffic in available search volume. We now have the ability to set separate bids for tablet traffic. (Hurrah!) Oh, and don’t forget about the API changes. If you want to automatically customise your ads with your latest prices and inventory information, you can do that. If you want to raise or lower bids based on the weather forecast, you can do that. Are you keeping up? No? Here’s the secret. Nobody is keeping up. AdWords is really six mediums rolled into a single interface. No one human can reasonably be expected to know all of it, and certainly not be a true expert in all of it. The Rise of the Specialists What we’re seeing now is a fragmentation of expertise. Savvy AdWords consultants have realised that specialising in a particular aspect of the AdWords machine is the most profitable way to run an AdWords consulting service. As a few examples, David Rothwell has become one of the world’s leading experts on Google Shopping campaigns. Talor Zamir does local PPC. Ryan Masters and Tom Breeze do Youtube ads. Working with a specialist brings deeper experience and knowledge, but at the same time you run the risk of losing sight of the bigger picture. The Agency Alternative One alternative to working with a specialist is to work with a ‘full service’ agency. An agency will typically charge more than a freelance specialist. Normally they’ll have plush city-centre offices and slick sales teams. An agency will try to convince you that they do indeed know the entire AdWords system. The big problem in the agency model is the people selling the projects are rarely the people delivering the work. And while an agency may have in-house specialists in the different areas of AdWords, often these specialists will be relatively junior members of staff. Usually they will have no direct experience spending their own money on AdWords. These people may know the technicalities of AdWords quite well, but often these are salaried employees with no real investment in the success of your project. They have no real skin in the game, and often it shows. The DIY Alternative If you manage your AdWords campaigns in-house, you’re broadly left with the same problems only from a training perspective. Whoever is managing your AdWords campaigns cannot be a true expert in all aspects of the AdWords system, and will almost certainly need guidance on how to direct their attentions. Whoever is managing your AdWords campaigns not only needs a solid understanding of AdWords mechanics, but also a deep understanding of your business goals. In practice s[...]



Customer Avatar Process

2016-09-03T07:45:30Z

I think most designers would agree they spend too much time designing, and not enough time thinking about who they are designing for. The trouble is, how do you think about end users? What do they really want? One answer is to do a customer avatar exercise. If you think an avatar exercise is a […]

The post Customer Avatar Process appeared first on Web Design from Scratch.

I think most designers would agree they spend too much time designing, and not enough time thinking about who they are designing for.

The trouble is, how do you think about end users? What do they really want?

One answer is to do a customer avatar exercise. If you think an avatar exercise is a licence for creative daydreaming, listen to the following interview.

id='player677' src='//www.youtube.com/embed/owsd_-8Iycs?not_used=1&rel=0' height='400' width='100%' frameborder='0' allowfullscreen >

Download Kenda’s avatar workbook

Get help from Kenda

You can also read Ben’s article on personas here.

The post Customer Avatar Process appeared first on Web Design from Scratch.




Are you Over-Exposing Your Clients to Risk?

2016-08-10T12:34:57Z

Three years ago my wife Linzi went off to Kyrgyzstan for a month. The day after she left I sat at home, cracked open a beer and fired up Ebay. Just to look at motorbikes. There is something mysterious about Ebay. Maybe it was the ticking countowns. Maybe it was the beer. But 90 minutes […] The post Are you Over-Exposing Your Clients to Risk? appeared first on Web Design from Scratch. Three years ago my wife Linzi went off to Kyrgyzstan for a month. The day after she left I sat at home, cracked open a beer and fired up Ebay. Just to look at motorbikes. There is something mysterious about Ebay. Maybe it was the ticking countowns. Maybe it was the beer. But 90 minutes later my fear of missing out was in overdrive. I bike had come up in Windsor, which was nearby. It was learner-legal, which was what I needed. And the owner was willing to ride it to my home in High Wycombe. What could possibly go wrong? I clicked ‘buy’, and saw the green ‘you’ve committed to buy this item’ message. Uh oh. What have I done… I thought. She’ll kill me… Two days later this arrived. I don’t know how the previous owner had managed to ride it to me. It didn’t have any fuel in it, and hardly any oil. “Oh, here’s the MOT certificate,” he told me. “There are warnings about cuts in the tires. But I can’t see them…” If I had known then what I know now, I would have spotted the hydraulic fluid on the front left turning fork. But I didn’t know that, so I didn’t spot it. I paid him a thousand pounds in cash and the bike was mine. While I thought I’d bagged myself a bargain, what I’d actually done is over-expose myself to risk. I knew I had taken a risk the second I clicked the ‘buy now’ button. I knew because I felt over-exposed. As soon as you spend decent money on anything you always introduce an element of risk. Even if you have plenty of money, seeing a chunk of it disappear from your bank account always makes you pause and think: ‘am I sure this will do what I need?’ This problem is especially bad in the marketing world, where you cannot kick the tyres, squeeze the brakes or supposedly inspect the turning forks. When you hire a copywriter for example, he or she is usually expected to provide a proposal. Proposals are essential because they define the scope of the work, but they are useless at predicting whether the work will do what you need. The big problem when you engage the services of a marketing firm is you don’t know up front whether the work will deliver the results you need. The agency will reassure you it will, but they don’t know for sure. You as the client accidentally take on all the risk, because you pay a hefty project deposit up front with no real assurances of results. If you hire a copywriter and the writing fails to generate sales, there is no downside for the copywriter. They might not get a testimonial from you, but they still get paid. You as the client suffer all the down-side if things don’t work out. The copywriter did what you asked. You just didn’t know what to ask for. If you’re the service provider then things aren’t too rosy for you either. The proposal you sent you was essentially a guess at the value of the work. If the work you do delivers results beyond expectations you as the marketing provider are not rewarded for those results. You only get the fee you guessed at in your original proposal. The answer, I believe, is to move to a situation where neither party ever feels over-exposed. This has to accommodate the risk / reward ratio you are comfortable with. My own take on this is to do a discovery project. A discovery project is essentially a down-payment on a full project. But rather than paying for the full project up front (which escalates the client’s risk), the discovery contract covers time for me to research [...]



Why You Should Be A T-Shaped Web Designer

2016-07-13T19:23:08Z

What is a Generalist Web Designer?At its root the T-shaped generalist is a metaphor describing a designer with a diverse skill set.Let's take a minute to explain what I mean by T-Shaped generalistA T-Shaped person is the one having deep practical knowledge (depth) and a variety of technical and soft skills in other areas.With that […] The post Why You Should Be A T-Shaped Web Designer appeared first on Web Design from Scratch. What is a Generalist Web Designer?At its root the T-shaped generalist is a metaphor describing a designer with a diverse skill set.Let's take a minute to explain what I mean by T-Shaped generalistA T-Shaped person is the one having deep practical knowledge (depth) and a variety of technical and soft skills in other areas.With that being said, let’s go through a typical day in the life of a specialist with a very narrow "I" Shaped knowledge base in visual design.The SpecialistImagine for a minute - the specialist web designer who has a deep understanding of visual design that is working in a agency environment and they’re laser focused on their one area of expertise.Each day they come into work and open their Asana tasks and start their visual designing day - oblivious of what is going on around them.What happens when you come in one morning and your tasks are empty. You go to your project manager and ask for more work and she says I don’t have anything available until later in the day.So the designer heads back to his desk and spends a few hours surfing dribble and looking for inspirational ideas filling in the gaps between tasks.Obviously, this would become an issue over time because most agencies work on billable hours.This visual designer should be working on improving his skills in other areas that could contribute to the web projects coming across his desk. These issues unchecked would start to effect projects in a number of ways;● Less productivity - The visual designer would be waiting around for their next tasks● Collaboration - Not being able to convey the technical vocabulary needed to the development team● Lack of skills in key areas - HTML5, CSS3, Javascript, Interactive prototyping, team managementThe Generalist  PerspectiveWhy do we need more generalists?We need more designers with a wider breadth of skills. Freelancers and in-house designers are being pressured to contribute in other areas such as research, customer journey mapping, user interviews, writing content, setting up social profiles and some basic coding.So what would life look like if you started to mentor others on your depth in visual design expertise to fill in their gaps of knowledge. A T-Shaped engineer could do the same in return by imparting his wisdom in coding languages with you to allow you to communicate your designs effectively as they move forward to the development phase of a project.Being a T-Shaped DesignerAs a well rounded T-shaped web designer you are better positioned to work with other T-Shaped people because you have taken the time and effort to add new skills and vocabulary that allow you to collaborate effectively with your co-workers or in other disciplines within your organization.As a freelancer you can offer yourself up as a multidisciplinary designer that can work equally well in a team environment for temporary projects as well as remotely as a specialist in one area because you have the knowledge and collaborative skills to contribute in many areas not just one narrow area.Being a generalist can also increase your salary or freelancing rate because you are able to deliver more value for every dollar your client spends.When you are a specialist web designer your services can become a commodity whereby you are trading time for dollars and this can become a slippery slope when you are having to lower your rates to get projects.In SummaryThink like a generalist - You need to strategize like a generalist, and deliver like a specialist to hav[...]



Leading With Emotion

2016-07-08T10:45:52Z

It is rare that I ever watch or read the news. I maintain a policy that if something is genuinely important somebody will probably tell me about it. Something that did get my attention this morning was this. Free newspapers like the Metro have to work hard to get your attention. To get your attention […]

The post Leading With Emotion appeared first on Web Design from Scratch.

It is rare that I ever watch or read the news. I maintain a policy that if something is genuinely important somebody will probably tell me about it.

Something that did get my attention this morning was this.

(image)

Click image to enlarge

Free newspapers like the Metro have to work hard to get your attention. To get your attention they don’t waste any time on logic or reason. They go straight for the jugular: emotion.

Whatever you think of the image above I defy anyone to tell me the image above failed to incite an emotion.

I’ve been working this week on some of my Facebook ads. Looking back I’ve been guilty of appealing to logic instead of emotion.

This is an easy trap to fall in to. We know about features, and we know about benefits. We believe people want this information.

And people do want this information, once they are in the buying process. But before they are in the buying process, when they are on Facebook, LinkedIn or wherever, you must lead with emotion.

You don’t have to use anything as strong as the image above. But you do have to make people feel:

  • Guilty they haven’t yet addressed the problem you solve
  • Angry at an injustice you can help fix
  • Frustrated they have been unable to far to address the problem you solve

Notice these are negative emotions. Negative emotions carry more attention grabbing weight than positive emotions. Our newspapers are full of negative emotional stories because they grab our attention.

If you only ever run positive, happy-happy joy-joy ‘aren’t we great’ ads you are doing your audience a disservice.

If one of your children was about to step into the road in front of a truck would you attempt to get his attention with a positive message, or a ‘negative’ one?

You have potential clients everywhere in the process of making bad decisions. Your job is to look after them. Go and get their attention.

The post Leading With Emotion appeared first on Web Design from Scratch.




Email Copywriting Masterclass

2016-06-03T09:04:10Z

Email follow-up sequences are gold! Here’s why… 1. Permission Marketing First, you have your reader’s permission to send them a message. That means you can assume some level of existing relationship, so you don’t have to write to a “cold” audience. You can take it for granted that they already know about you, and they’re […] The post Email Copywriting Masterclass appeared first on Web Design from Scratch. Email follow-up sequences are gold! Here’s why… 1. Permission Marketing First, you have your reader’s permission to send them a message. That means you can assume some level of existing relationship, so you don’t have to write to a “cold” audience. You can take it for granted that they already know about you, and they’re open to what you’re offering. That gives you freedom to write more directly and more emotively. 2. More Reader Involvement Second, when your emails are read, they are read more intently than web copy. Sure, you can never be sure all your emails will be opened or read, but when they are you have your reader’s attention in a cleaner space. There are no ads, nothing blinking to distract them, and the typography is usually pretty good. So your message is more likely to get into your reader’s mind. According to MailChimp, my average open rate on my primary mailing list is 18.0% (MailChimp says the industry average for the Education and Training sector is 15.2%), and average click-through rate is 4.4% (industry average only 1.6%). 3. Control the Conversation Third, you get to control the conversation in a unique way. You get to sow the seeds of ideas, and then follow up with further messages at a later time of your choosing. You are not dependent on waiting for your prospect to come back to your site or YouTube channel. You have their permission to interrupt them (to a certain degree) by dropping messages into their inbox at intervals that you choose. 4. It’s Automated! Plus, of course, all this is automatic. You get the advantages of a more personal-feeling interaction, with its own rhythm, but all handled by your email delivery software. This way, you get maximum impact but only have to write each message once. Email Copywriting is an Art Form I’m sure you receive a lot of emails that you delete without opening. And I’m sure there are some that you nearly always look at. What makes the difference? Well, that’s where the art of email copywriting comes in! Below I’ll actually show you a whole campaign I wrote for a client, but first let’s get some of the basics out of the way. There are always numerous questions about how to write an email follow-up sequence. I’ll try to list the most common ones here, with concise answers. Q: What tone of voice should I use? Great question! The answer is: the appropriate one! Who is sending the emails? Who is receiving them? So what should the manner of address be? You will need to tread the line between too formal and too familiar. You don’t want to bore your reader to death, but at the same time don’t put them off by coming across unprofessional. You (and your client) will know the appropriate tone. In the sequence below, I’m writing from the business owner (a software developer) to a wide range of prospects, who I’m assuming are small-to-medium business owners in the United States. So I keep it pretty professional, but also try to follow good online copywriting practice: simple, direct, short sentences, and short paragraphs. Q: How long should each email be? My golden rule for copy is: It should be as long as it needs to be. Obviously, it depends what you’re doing. If you’re telling a story, use as many paragraphs as you need to tell the story completely. If it’s a short announcement, maybe one [...]



Local Marketing Online Essentials

2016-04-27T12:19:07Z

In this short (7-minute) video, I walk you through how I found a local service I needed today, plus reveal… The one thing this local business did that helped them get my money today. And the one thing they’ve failed to do that could help them get more local business in the future! In brief, […]

The post Local Marketing Online Essentials appeared first on Web Design from Scratch.

In this short (7-minute) video, I walk you through how I found a local service I needed today, plus reveal…

  • The one thing this local business did that helped them get my money today.
  • And the one thing they’ve failed to do that could help them get more local business in the future!

In brief, if any potential customer could ever ask the question, “Where is my nearest…” and your business (or your client’s business) could fit the bill, you MUST be on Google Local!

id='player98' src='//player.vimeo.com/video/164399674' height='400' width='100%' frameborder='0' webkitallowfullscreen mozallowfullscreen allowfullscreen>

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Edge Marketing

2016-04-15T13:33:56Z

In the short video below I introduce a new term: “edge marketing”. Essentially, the principle is that growth happens on the edges. We are unlikely to find greatness, breakthroughs, or massive success by repeating the same stuff that has kinda worked before. On the contrary: Safe is now risky, and risky is the new safe. Edge marketing means expressing your brand (who […] The post Edge Marketing appeared first on Web Design from Scratch. In the short video below I introduce a new term: “edge marketing”. Essentially, the principle is that growth happens on the edges. We are unlikely to find greatness, breakthroughs, or massive success by repeating the same stuff that has kinda worked before. On the contrary: Safe is now risky, and risky is the new safe. Edge marketing means expressing your brand (who you ARE) in whatever way comes most completely naturally, without holding back. Like the Fool card in the tarot, it means stepping boldly from the safety of solid ground and over the edge into the as-yet-unknown. (Read more about what the Fool represents.) Good News and Bad News This knowledge gives us good news and bad news. The bad news is that nobody else can show you the way. Only you can find this path. The good news is that only you can find your path! You don’t need anything else. By definition, Edge Marketing tells you that your right path is NOT where everyone else is gathering! You have to do what everyone else is NOT doing. When you start thinking “Edge” you’ll see it everywhere. It will be obvious why “524 Profitable SEO Niches” is direct a path to failure. You will realise that no “guru” can deliver you success. (But, if they’re a good marketing strategist, they may be able to coach you to find the answers you’re looking for.) …that will disappear the moment you try to capitalise on them! Do you remember the scene in The Empire Strikes Back where Luke Skywalker has to walk into the dark cave to face his ultimate fear? That’s one of the core steps of the classic Hero’s Journey, and it also represents what we must all go through, if we’re going to fulfil our true potential. Face the fear… and do it anyway You’ll know when you’re on your Edge because you’ll experience exhilaration and anxiety in equal measure. Nothing is certain. Anything could happen. Wow! Anything can happen! Watch the Video (16 minutes) id='player207' src='//www.youtube.com/embed/GWcxeU5ajWk?not_used=1&rel=0&modestbranding=1&showinfo=0' height='400' width='100%' frameborder='0' allowfullscreen > Further Thoughts on Your Edge (15 April) I have been thinking constantly about The Edge for the past few days, and have gotten a little more clarity. As I see it, there are three distinct regions where we can dwell… Behind your edge, On your edge, and Ahead of your edge. Now, I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with not living on your Edge! Sometimes, life requires predictability and security. And sometimes craziness is called for! But I’ll offer some thoughts on how you might discern where you are dwelling. I’m reminded of this quote from Lao Tzu, the ancient Chinese philosopher who wrote the Tao De Ching. Living Behind Your Edge If the Edge represents the true Moment, being totally present, then to live behind your edge is to dwell in the past. The past is fixed, complete, certain, dead, and appears safe. You will not find anything new in the zone behind your edge, you will repeat what has been done before. How do you know you’re behind your edge? The emotion that best typifies living life behind your edge is probably boredom. That means there is no risk in your life, little change, and really little opportunity. In busin[...]