WP plug-ins: 6 of the latest for engaging design

If you want to give your website that extra design edge, here are six of the best WordPress plug-ins to make you stand out from the crowd.

WP plug-ins

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The card pattern offers a clean, simple way to break content into bitesize pieces. Furthermore, it’s a design that works well on both mobile and desktop. The Cards plug-in creates a Pinterest-style layout for your page, which works especially well with blogs, e-commerce sites or online magazines.

Duotone Graphics

Duotone is a hot design trend (think Spotify and Adidas campaigns). The intense hues can create a striking visual for your website. TwotoneFX converts your images into duotone via an intuitive interface, allowing you to easily choose colours and apply filters to thumbnails, images in blog posts or all of your multimedia all at once.

The Parallax Effect

When used with multiple backgrounds, this effect can help create a dynamic feel for your layouts and forge a smooth user journey. Parallax Scroll is a neat way to add this effect to your WordPress site and there are numerous ways to achieve this within the plug-in, so you can choose a way that best suits you. Web design companies, such as Cardiff web design agency http://ambercouch.co.uk/, can help you make the most of the parallax effect on your site.

Material Design

Material Design was created with the aim of becoming an international visual language, and is being adopted by an increasing number of companies. It fosters and encourages best practices within user experience design and produces aesthetically pleasing interface styles. The Materializer plug-in incorporates a huge library of material design components, including elements such as loading icons, cards and buttons.

Hamburger Menu Buttons

This trend, comprising three lines that hide a navigation menu, is fairly divisive. While opinions vary on its appeal, however, there’s no denying it’s a design element that’s very in demand. With over seventy design options to choose from, the Responsive Menu plug-in equips your page with a navigation panel that’s fully responsive and customisable.


Lazy animations, subtle page motion, smooth transition and more traditional animations help bring web pages to life. Animate It is a plug-in that animates any element of your blog post, page or widget, imbuing it with subtle dynamic behaviour. It includes more than fifty effect elements.

Let’s Understand The Main Advantages Of Open Source Software

Open source software is really useful for businesses and for various different industries. We are basically talking about software that has a special license. This license allows the user to use the source code and then use it however they want to since the software is basically developed by a community instead of just one company. With the closed source software only application creator is allowed to make modifications.Continue reading →

Three Tips for Testing Your App Like a Pro

Developing apps, from web apps to PC and mobile apps, is now easier than ever before, with great platforms and environments like this Xamarin development software to help you create your own custom apps even without years of programming expertise. Because of this, more and more individuals and small businesses are looking to create apps either to support their marketing or sales objectives, as products in their own right, or just for fun.

Three Tips for Testing Your App Like a Pro

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This is great, however what many small development teams or lone app developers starting out in creating these kinds of apps are missing is the professional level of testing established software development houses have. Learning all of the methodologies, practices and techniques involved in professional software QA is a career path in itself and not something most hands on developers want to get too involved with, however even if you are developing your apps on your own as a true amateur, it can pay to learn about testing.

Here are three things professional testers can teach you about doing better QA on your own apps:

Testing Begins at the Conception Stage

One important concept to learn is that testing is not just something you do on a finished app or module of code in order to verify it works and is ready to be released. In a commercial software dev environment, QA is carried out on everything, including designs and specifications, and even the idea of the software in its conception stage. This is because the earlier a problem is found, the cheaper and faster it is to fix. Spot a logical problem in your design and you can change your design – spot it in your half finished app and you have to rework a lot of stuff.

Create a Traceability Matrix

A traceability matrix shows which tests cover which requirements. In a professional test team, this might be generated using something like Quality Center, but you can create your own for your app in Excel. Just have your requirements listed along the top, your tests or test scripts listed down the side, and mark where a test covers a requirement. You’ll easily see where there are requirements you don’t have tests for, so you can design new tests to get better coverage. You can then use a copy of this spreadsheet each time you do your tests and mark them as passed or failed, giving you an easy record of your test cycle.

User Testing

Software companies give their products to people from the user community for a phase called ‘user acceptance testing’. You may also have seen software in ‘beta‘, meaning it is basically ready for use but still in a final testing phase using lots of users. You may not be able to organize proper UAT or beta testing, but you can get some people you know to test your software for you. Developers themselves have too much inherent knowledge of the underlying code to test in the same way users unfamiliar with the code do, so you really need that input.

These are three things professional testers will recommend to anyone developing apps without a tester or test team – try using them on your next project for better quality!


Buy Better Real Estate Properties With This Advice

Real estate property buying is something that is much more complicated than you may think at first glance. Much research is needed and you have to be determined in order to make a very good choice. Mistakes do tend to appear because of the lack of experience or understanding about the process. Since you are here, you surely want to put your hands on the very best possible properties so do be sure that you follow the advice we will mention in the following paragraphs.Continue reading →

3 Simple Steps To Stay Safe On The Cloud

As an entrepreneur, you may be trying to decide whether or not to build your business on the cloud.

There are 5 primary reasons why it’s a great idea:

First, you’ll reduce your costs. It’s less expensive to deploy applications on the cloud than through on-site hosting. Your hardware costs are lower and your applications can make better use of system resources.

Second, you bypass constraints of time and space. If you are outsourcing many aspects of your business, people in other countries can access the applications they need to work with through the Internet. Neither location nor time zones slow your business down.

Third, IT experts take care of your technological needs. You will always be using the most up-to-date applications. The cloud provider takes care of all software updates, often improving performance over previous versions based on user feedback. You also don’t have to worry about problems in your hardware. The cloud providers take care of the manpower and costs of hardware replacement.

Fourth, you can select from a wider choice of applications. Software that you have decided to use may not have all the functionality that you had hoped to find. With legacy technology, you would be stuck with your purchase. With the cloud, you have the flexibility to try something else that might work better for you. What’s more, you don’t have to buy the software; you can just pay for what you use. Even better, implementation is faster.

Fifth, you are helping out the environment. Onsite deployment requires much higher energy usage than action on the cloud. Shared resources cut down on energy utilization. You’re not only growing your business, but contributing to the green movement.

Still, despite all these reasons for using the cloud, you may be hesitant, wondering how you can acquire cloud security. You can get security for a public cloud or for a data center with physical, virtual, and private clouds. Security software offers a wide range of security capabilities, including anti-malware, intrusion prevention, host firewall, integrity monitoring, and log inspection.

Although the cloud provider will secure all hardware and software for you, you are still at risk due to careless user behavior.

Phishing for Dollars

One of the biggest threats today is phishing. This is a highly profitable online racket.

Phishing is the criminal practice of tricking users into disclosing personal information. This information is then used to steal from your financial accounts.

Hackers may use the following tactics:

  • ·  Using fake login pages.
  • ·  Sending spammy email links.
  • ·  Providing deceitful online surveys.
  • ·  Making phone calls to users (often pretending to be from a service provider).

Cyber criminals may not always want to steal the money in your financial accounts.

They can also profit by stealing your identity and pretending to be you when hacking into banks and corporate financial accounts.

When trying to steal your identity, they may look for details like

  • ·  Your full name
  • ·  Your nicknames
  • ·  Your favorite colors, pets, cars, movies etc. (These are what you are most likely to use when choosing your security questions.)
  • ·  The last four digits of your credit card
  • ·  Your email addresses.
  • ·  Your phone numbers.

Armed with this information, they may either try to make some educated guesses about your login credentials or try to use it to get access from a service provider by pretending to be you.

Here is what the Federal Trade Commission says about Phishing: “When internet fraudsters impersonate a business to trick you into giving out your personal information, it’s called phishing. Don’t reply to email, text, or pop-up messages that ask for your personal or financial information. Don’t click on links within them either – even if the message seems to be from an organization you trust. It isn’t. Legitimate businesses don’t ask you to send sensitive information through insecure channels.”

3 Simple Steps to Stay Safe

Here are 3 steps you can take to stay safe on the cloud:

  1. Refresh your credentials periodically.Refresh your username, passwords and security questions and answers every few months.
  2. Use two-step authentication.Many cloud providers give users the option of using two-step authentication. This will prevent hackers from breaking into your account even after they have figured out your username and password. Users have to use a second pin code to log in and get permission to use the account with a new device. Without this piece of information, someone cannot get into your account. People either don’t know about two step authentication or they do know about it but, like wearing a car seat belt, they find it inconvenient to bother. As a result, their information is less secure. When you are setting up your security settings, be sure to enable the two step verification process.
  3. Store sensitive information in a safeDon’t store everything on the cloud. Personal information rarely takes up much space. This means that you can put it on a flash drive and store it in a safe deposit box.

Take Personal Responsibility

Data breaches on the cloud are rare. Often, when they do happen, cloud providers get the blame. But data breaches are frequently the result of employee carelessness rather than loopholes in the technology. Using the three simple steps, your business can enjoy a long, safe and happy life on the cloud.

Why Ecommerce CRM Is The Next Big Step for Software

ECommerce Development

It’s safe to say that living in the ecommerce world of the present day is akin to trying to survive in the Amazon jungle. At least in the sense that juggernauts like this marketplace continue to set standards that are copycatted by nearly every other ecommerce store that desires surefire success.

Of course, small business is the heartbeat of the internet, even in lieu of big corporate contenders. And just because there may be monsters like Amazon and eBay lurking in the thickness doesn’t mean that smaller online entities are deprived their true chance at success.

What it does mean, however, is that in order to compete, online stores need to assure that they sustain an omni-channel presence that attacks every possible angle for measurable success.

The drawback, up until recently, with harnessing this advantageous approach is that it’s very difficult to compare analytics, mine customer data, expand customer relationships and, ultimately, know customer behaviors and patterns across broad sales channels and demographics.

Therein enters the possible solution. It’s being procured by leading services providers, and it has many bells and whistles. This newfangled SaaS is a cloud hosted ecommerce CRM software that connects all the dots. But just how does it help you succeed with your online store?

Secure Cloud Hosting

For starters, no more software install requirements. This drawback has previously hindered many providers and end users. With cloud hosting, not only is the level of privacy and security greatly enhanced, but usability is also rewarded with simple onboarding.

Client servers host the data and the software while user nodes merely connect and look at it while the host manages the bandwidth and functions. This equates to effortless onboarding and across-the-board compatibility and usability.

Integrated, Seasonal Analytics

Perhaps the greatest benefit of ecommerce CRM is that it has the ability to instantly integrate with all of the sales channels a retailer is using. This integration – typically via API – enables the seamless gathering and repopulation of all the analytics, metrics and trends.

Retailers can then instantly organize this data into meaningful breakdowns and charts. Shoppers’ patterns and tendencies can be quickly identified and harnessed to procure more substantial relationships, outreaches, sales events, etc.; resulting in healthier conversions.

Shipping & Returns

For far too long have smaller retailers been forced to work amongst numerous software sets just to accomplish their daily tasks. But with built-in integrations like shipping and returns software, this worrisome headache becomes a thing of the past.

Instead, newer CRM for ecommerce merges all of this into one robust, central hub. This means that as orders come into any sales channels, they are instantly imported into the CRM. They can be sorted, edited and managed, with the ability to compare rates and generate shipping labels as well as update customers.

On the returns side, the software enables an automated system that lets customers process a return and generate a return shipping label from the retailer’s website; just like Amazon allows. Serial returners can be identified and avoided in future sales events while loyal customers can be remarketed to and rewarded.

Social CRM

Of course, social CRM is a backbone, too. The ability to import your analytics, tailor campaigns and directly connect with customers to expand the relationship is essential to success.

But ecommerce CRM takes it a step further by allowing users to cater messages, track trending hashtags and products, and even find comments that relate to their demographic, amongst many other useful social features and functions.

Newsletters & Emails

Naturally, CRM that’s designed for ecommerce will include the standard fit and fare of traditional marketing tools. Things like an email and newsletter designer can be expected.

But the main difference here is that you can take the analytics from your sales channels and market your products to customers who are the most likely to convert and the least likely to make a return, with aftermath analytics that you can use to improve your sales events even more in the future.

Live-Action Networking

Since it’s cloud based, newer CRM allows you to connect your entire team in real-time. You’ll likely have to purchase additional licenses once you reach a specific user threshold. But the connectivity is there and is powerful.

Imagine sharing a task list that’s complete with live chat with tagging and a team calendar that connects your entire back office. Now accountability is no longer in question. Being able to know that your entire team can access your operational data, and communicate in real-time with file sharing is a priceless addition to any ecommerce business.

These are but a few of the very many features that newer, groundbreaking ecommerce CMR solutions have to offer. Such usability can enable store operators to improve revenue, reduce returns and increase productivity exponentially. It’s truly must-have in today’s Amazon jungle.

Optimize Your WordPress Hosting with These 5 Tips

It is safe to say that WordPress is one of the most flexible CMS platforms out there. You can create any site with WordPress at its core. You can also host a WordPress site on anything from shared hosting to a dedicated server. Regardless of the type of web hosting service to use, there are simple ways to optimize WordPress to run faster and smoother. We are going to discuss 5 of those ways in this article.Continue reading →

How to maximize your email marketing efforts

Sustaining a successful email marketing campaign is a challenge, but unlike website visitors who simply arrive at your website and then leave, email subscribers are here to stay — because they believe in your products and ideas.

Without prior experience, email marketing can sound like something that only takes up your time and isn’t worth the effort. Take content marketing for example, it’s the most trending digital marketing topic you will find right now, but did you know that email marketing also involves the practice of marketing content, and making it convert? It’s not like all your product sales happen inside of the email inbox.

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In the following guide you will learn about three critical points in email marketing, which are: learning how to build authentic relationships with your subscribers, how to attract and capture your subscribers attention, and why listening to your subscriber feedback can be good for your business. Let’s get right to it.

Build personal relationships

Email is the one place where you can get real with your subscribers. At the beginning stages of email marketing, it was assumed that all emails should be addressed towards everyone on the list, and it was used more like a standalone marketing platform, rather than a way to cultivate personal relationships.

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Email marketers who take time to segment and personalize their emails can enjoy a huge increase in engagement, revenue, and overall email opens percentages. Campaign Monitor ran a huge study to understand modern email marketing, and the future of where this field is heading.

The question is, how do we create more personal relationships with our readers?

One way to do this, would be to talk about your business and the challenges you are facing openly. This creates an atmosphere of transparency where you are freely sharing business growth data with your subscribers, and encourage them to become part of something bigger. Buffer is one such company that excels at transparency, their transparent values have inspired countless startups and businesses to get real about their relationships with users.

Allow your customers to have a say in how your business grows, make them feel like they are part of the growth strategy, and the effect of such personalized relationships is going to pulsate in all areas of your business.

Keep their attention captivated

Scientific research will happily tell you that on average, a visitor of any kind will spend approximately 8 seconds on a digital page with their full attention, before deciding to either stay, or leave.

So, you have 8 seconds to make a lasting impression from the moment a subscriber lays his/her eyes on your email. That’s a short amount of time, so what can be done to keep their attention captivated?

  • Scannable content — Lengthy emails just don’t happen to perform nearly as good as content that’s organized right from the start. Copywriting emails is an art, one that needs to be practices to be understood fully. Email content needs to be on point, it needs to have easy to scan points, with the most essential information outlined at the top of the email; the place where your subscriber eyes are going to land first. It may sound crazy, but this is how busy people are with their lives.
  • Mobile optimized — Depending on the email marketing platform you are using, you should ensure that your email copies are being sent out with full mobile compatibility. It’s going to be a disaster for your campaign performance if subscribers are getting emails that are unfriendly to mobile/tablet devices. Check and double re-check all of your outgoing emails for mobile responsiveness.
  • Visual content — The human brain has mucher higher capacity to process visual content on the fly, than it does text content. With the capacity to process visual content 60,000 times faster than text, it pays to include visual imagery in your email campaigns. Any visual content marketing strategy will be applicable to email marketing, with only slight modifications.

Make a checklist of these points for your next campaign, and continue to test your email performance even after you have sent the initial campaign, a good dataset for understanding the performance of each of the points will consist of at least 5 individual campaigns. Keep in mind that email templates can also be highly beneficial when it comes to personalization and engagement, find templates that resonate with your message and use them.

The last thing for maximizing our email marketing efforts, is user feedback.

Listen to the feedback you are receiving

Feedback is something that is being given back to you, based on what you are first providing. If the service you are providing is bad, then feedback is likely going to reflect that. If the service you are providing is good, but could use specific alternations based on customer interest, then customer feedback is also likely to reflect that need. The wonderful thing about email marketing, you don’t need to wait for customers to give their feedback to you, you can just ask for it yourself.

Here is a sample email you might be sending out in this regard:

Hey Mark!

My name is Alex Hope, and I am one of the Marketing Director’s here at Hopeful Inc. We are always looking for more ways to make our products better, and this has largely been possible thanks to the amazing feedback that our customers like you are giving back to us. I was hoping that it would not trouble you too much if I asked you to fill out a quick survey to help us understand your current relationship with one of our products.

If this sounds good to you, please follow this link to proceed with the short 5-minute survey. Your feedback will help us in making Hopeful Inc. the best company out there!

Thanks for being of so much help!

Alex Hope,
CEO, Hopeful Inc.

With a few modifications, you can make your own personalized email that would encourage your customers to leave their feedback on your survey. This feedback could be the crucial point for adding a new feature, or utilizing your newly learned customer pressure points to create a more personalized experience, in turn really helping your email campaign to grow and flourish.

Closing words

Creating personalized experiences with each of your email subscribers allows you to listen to them independently, which creates an atmosphere of trust and sharing. This way, you can more clearly understand what are the needs of your customers, and act accordingly based on your business capabilities.


alex (1)Alex Ivanovs continues to work with WordPress clients all over the world to deliver better performance and visibility, amongst many of the methods he uses — digital marketing is one of them. You can find more of what Alex is doing on daily basis at Colorlib, where he helps to manage the editorial calendar.