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August 02 2017

09:08

2017’s Top tools and Resources That You Should Use

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Have you been putting off a website project for some time right now? Do you feel like you don’t have the necessary tools or resources to do it well? Now it is high time to get that site designed and up and running,

It doesn’t matter what it is you may have been lacking. The options on the following list of tools and resources will satisfy your needs. At least one of the offerings should be just what you need. More than likely, several will prove to be helpful.

The same applies if you have the tools you need, but you’re simply looking for new ways to build better websites. Here you’ll find tools and resources that can be fast, efficient, and user-friendly. All can be used by beginners and experts alike – so, no more procrastinating!

 

Proto.io

1

If you need to create a low-fidelity prototype to share yourthoughts as to the direction you’re headingwith teammates or clients,Proto.io is just the prototyping tool for you.

If what you needto create is a high-to-ultra-high prototype that features the look and feel of the real thing on any PC or mobile device, the solution is the same – Proto.io.

Designers, entrepreneurs, developers, and project managers can all benefit by having this excellent prototyping tool. The latest version, Proto.io 6, has been redesigned to make it more intuitive and easier to use.

This latest version features such niceties as single-click sharing, new state transitions, interactive design patterns, and a new app for iOS and Android that offers enhanced experiences of previewing your prototypes on mobile apps.

Gestures supported include tap and double tap, tap hold and tap hold release, touch, swipe (left or right, up or down), pan, right click, and mouse over. Proto.io also gives you the options of uploading information from Sketch, Photoshop, or Dropbox.

SITE123

2

SITE123 has all the web-building features you’d expect to see in a premier WordPress theme, such a rich choice of responsive designs, a WYSIWYG editor that displays changes as you make them, and an intuitive interface that enables you to arrange and customize design modules in the dashboard.

There’s a pair of useful features that you won’t find in many of the popular website building tools that might prompt you to give SITE123 a closer look.

One is a built-in app market that allows your customers to integrate external applications in to their websites, thus boosting their usability. These external applications could consist of analytics tools, live support chat, booking, and more.

The second feature is a multilingual tool that allows you to create a website in the language, or languages, or your choice – a great idea for a client who serves a global market.

Xfive

3

Designers who turn to Xfive.co for web development services eventually conclude that this company not only provides quality service and support, but must be a fun place to work as well. Xfive.co, formerly XHTML, has been up and running for just over 10 years. They are an Australian-based company, with offices in Melbourne, San Francisco, and Krakow.

The Xfive brand is typified by high fives all around for a job well done, which is all the time. That’s the company culture. They care about you as a customer, and they prefer to work with you as a partner. Microsoft, Twitter, and eBay are among the many thousands of clients, which also include startups and small business, and individual and freelance web designers.

Their services include PSD, Sketch, and AI to HTML conversion, custom PHP and Ruby on Rails applications, Email, JavaScript applications, and more. 

wpDataTables

4

Tired of spending too much time creating useful and informative tables and charts? Lacking the tools to make these charts 1) easily editable, 2) responsive, 3) interactive, or 4) all the above?

wpDataTables will remove that burden from your shoulders. There’s zero learning involved, the tool is incredibly easy to use, and it can manage huge amounts of data with ease.

Webflow

5

With Webflow, you can take your prototyping to a whole new level. You can build HTML/CSS/JS prototypes, production-ready websites, or ultra-high-fidelity prototypes that work just like real websites, because they are! And you can do it all without having to write any code.

That’s how Webflow makes it possible to significantly accelerate the design process, cut down on the number of feedback cycles, and get designers and developers on the same page.

Pro

6

While you can build any type or style of website using Pro, where this “app” for WordPress really shines is that ofbuilding creative websites. There is, in fact, a community of creative professionals who are devoted Pro users.

Pro’s features include a header builder, a footer builder, and a content builder, plus 30 additional tools including Themeco-developed and 3rd party plugins.

Pressmate

7

Pressmate is a WordPress support service company that helps small businesses and agencies maintain their online presence. Pressmate provides real-time updates, backups, and security measures for their WordPress websites.

This service is particularly important to businesses whose websites rely heavily on plugins for correct operation. With respect to security, automated cloud backups ensure 100% website security, including files and images.

Ultra

8

Ultra offers a novel approach to website building; one that is both fast and efficient. Instead of building a WordPress site by starting from scratch, or editing pre-selected layouts, Ultra provides a selection of pre-made row designs.

It’s simply a matter of customizing a row, and placing that row on any page you wish via drag and drop. This approach also lends itself to rapid prototyping.

WhatFontIs

9

If, at one time or another, you’ve come across a font that you’d really like to use for your own purposes, but you have no means of identifying it, and finding a close match could involve hours of searching – WhatFontis provides a solution.

It’s simply a matter of submitting a sample. WhatFontis will either identify the font or provide several close matches. Best of all, the service is free!

FFonts

10

FFonts offers an amazing collection of thousands of free fonts. If searching for one you could use sounds like searching for a needle in a haystack, don’t worry. The categories range in size, but you can quickly narrow down your search by picking one or two categories that look promising.

FFonts is a handy resource to have at your fingertips.

Aurora

11

Aurora HDR is an excellent HDR photo editor that can give any photo a polished, professional look, or create dramatic, or sometimes subtle, special effects. Aurora HDR was initially designed and developed for Mac users. A PC-compatible version is expected to be announced in September 2017.

This software has dozens of presets that can be customized, and you can create and save your own presets.

Aurora HDR was designed to be simple to get started with, but at the same time some of its more technical features are quite deep.

SnapPages

12

SnapPages 3.0 literally makes building websites and website pages a snap. This website builder’s professionally-designed templates and sections are fully responsive.

Since your website is fully hosted on the cloud, you can access it anytime, from anywhere, for maintenance work or editing. Bloggers will love using this fast and easy website building platform.

BBT Drag and Drop Email Builder

13

Email marketers special! Big Bang Drag and Drop Email Builder’s modular approach is just what’s needed to quickly create a highly customised email template. Nearly 10,000 users have already discovered how fast and efficient this template-building tool is, and can attest to its quality and performance.

The BBT Drag and Drop Email Builder enables you to export HTML code compatible with any of the common Email sending services.

Goodie

14

Goodie provides a perfect solution to web designers who need to work with a developer to complete a project. Goodie promises to do the necessary coding quickly, and at a pre-determined fixed price.

This is a great service have handy for smaller projects like e-mail templates, simple WordPress sites, or single-page websites. Submit your project’s details and you’ll promptly receive a fixed price offer.

Stockfresh

15

Stockfresh is somewhat of a newcomer to the stock photo agency industry, but the owners have nevertheless managed to compile a selection of several million quality photos and vectors in a relatively short time. Its prices are competitive, and Stockfresh is looking to expand its selection of design goodies in the near future.

Stockfresh is a resource that’s well worth having at your fingertips.

Conclusion

It’s always good to have a comprehensive list of quality web-building tools and resources. The above is exactly what you need. If anything is missing from your tool kit, you’ll more than likely find it here.

We hope you’ve found one or two items that will make your web-building experiences easier. Please feel free to share your thoughts with us.

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July 27 2017

02:23

Need help choosing a WP Theme for a Startup or Small Business? Check these options

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Do you or your client have a well-established or a startup? If your answer is positive, then I bet you strive to acquire new customers and retain the existing ones.

In today’s business environment, a carefully constructed, optimally-planned website is essential. If you hope to make the search for clients a successful one, chances you need a high-quality website.

The following WordPress themes are designed to give you the necessary website-building tools. The themes listed were chosen not just by chance. They are perfect for the creation of the websites for startups or small businesses. More specifically, they aim to help increase sales and revenue.

As you browse through this list, you’ll more than likely find more than one theme that will serve you well. Deciding which one to use will be a breeze. Since these are all premium themes, it’s highly unlikely you’ll regret the choice you make.

Be Theme

1

How is this theme good for startups and small businesses?

With Be Theme, there’s more than one answer to that question. There are over 260 reasons why this theme is a great choice for building a startup or small business website.

Be Theme is responsive, WooCommerce ready, and loaded with page-building options and special effects. You can have a website up and running in a few, short hours, and you won’t have to write a line of code.

The core feature is the large selection (260+ and growing) of pre-built websites. Each is professionally designed, and most of them are multi-page. In addition to providing users with excellent layout concepts, these pre-built websites have the functionality you’ll need embedded in them.

It only takes a single click to install a pre-built website, after which you can put Be’s Muffin Builder and Options Panel to work. If you choose to start a page from scratch, the Layout Configurator and Shortcodes Generator provide the needed tools.

 

The Core

2

What makes this theme a good choice for startups and small businesses?

The Core gives you 20 carefully-crafted, completely-customizable website examples to work with (one of which is The Core). They offer great starting points for building a startup or small business website. Depending on the purchase plan you select, you can choose a single website example to base your work on, or get all 20, complete with free updates and lifetime support.

The Core’s drag and drop visual page builder is easy to use, plus you’ll have a variety of header and footer options, and a ton of other options to work with, including multiple sliders, color schemes, and shortcodes. The Core is responsive, WooCommerce ready, and provides the tools you need to build a stunning portfolio to showcase your creativity, your products, or your services.

 

Oshine

3

Why is Oshine a good choice for a startup or small business website?

With 27 stunning demos to choose from, you’ll have no problem finding one that best suits your business’s website needs. Each of these demos features a clean and modern design, and each can be installed with a single click.

Oshine’s fully visual front-end page builder, Tatsu, makes page building and editing a quick and easy process. This page builder, working in combination with Oshine’s powerful options panel, color scheme and typography selections, and header and menu style choices, gives you complete control of your layouts.

It takes but a minimal effort to build a stunning portfolio to showcase your products or services, and Oshine is WPML and WooCommerce compatible.

 

Ultra

4

What makes Ultra, by Themify, a must-have theme for startups?

This theme makes building layouts easy and lightning fast. Rather than building a page an element at a time, Themify’s approach is to select among 34 pre-designed rows, and drag and drop them one at a time, to accomplish the same thing.

This cool modular approach is what makes page building not only fast and easy, but fun as well.

 

Houzez

5

How is Houzez a good choice for startups and small businesses?

Houzez is one theme that would not necessarily be a good choice for some businesses. This specialty theme is however, an excellent choice for a business operating in the real estate sector. Everything you’ll need is included, ranging from property search, review, and rating systems to an online payment system, and the ability to coordinate or collaborate with other agencies.

Houzez can easily be customized to accommodate your workflow.

 

Uncode

6

What makes Uncode a great solution for startups and small businesses?

This smooth-as-silk, ultra-professional WordPress theme is pixel perfect in its design. Uncode is a multipurpose theme that you can use to create high-quality websites of virtually and type and for any niche.

The Visual Composer page builder gives you complete control over your layout and page-building activities. Uncode is the handiwork of a highly experienced design team, making it an easy, trouble-free website-building tool to work with.

 

Kallyas

7

Why Kallyas is a good choice for creating a startup or small business website.

The fact that Kallyas has been one of the top 15 best-selling WordPress themes for close to 5 years running speaks volumes about its capabilities. This multipurpose theme is loaded with features, including 50+ pre-built websites that can be installed with a single click, and Zion, a truly amazing page builder.

Kallyas is responsive and WooCommerce ready, and you can expect dedicated support.

 

Infinite

8

What makes Infinite a good choice for startups and small businesses?

Like many other premium WordPress themes, Infinite features a great selection of website demos. Unlike most other themes, these demos have been placed in four convenient categories: Creative, WooCommerce, Corporate, and Niche Retail and Services.

These demos design features can be mixed and matched to provide you with infinite design possibilities. Infinite offers a complete package of features and functionalities.

 

KLEO – Ready To Go Theme For Your Business

9

What makes KLEO good for startups and small businesses?

Speed is one of the answers. If you’ve ever envisioned being able to get a website up and running in hours, and possibly in minutes, KLEO can turn that vision into reality. KLEO’s features include a single-click demo import, compatibility with most plugins you’re ever likely to use, and a drag and drop page builder.

You can give KLEO a test run at no charge.

 

TheGem

10

What makes TheGem a good choice for startups and small businesses?

TheGem is a creative multipurpose WordPress theme that integrates amazing design with useful features for business, startups and corporate projects. Thanks to 50+ pre-built design templates that have been created with the intent to strengthen your online brand awareness through their unique styles, you have a large variety of business concepts to choose for your website.

Moreover, with drag’n’drop, you can easily combine and mix any of the elements and sections to make your own layouts and pages in minutes. Due to its large number of features, elements and styles, this theme gives you a powerful toolbox for creating small business websites, startup online presences, landing pages for products like software, apps & gadgets and more.

 

Conclusion

Have you reached a decision yet? Sometimes, it’s difficult to make a decision when you face an abundance of excellent choices. At least, you’re in no danger of making a poor one.

If you like what you see here, we’d like to know. If you think we’ve left something out, we’d like to know that as well.

Enjoy your startup/small business website building adventure!

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July 18 2017

07:36

Don’t Let Content Delay Website Launches

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Whether content is delivered late, structured differently to the design or lost in email threads – content always gets the blame for website project delays. As a designer or developer involved in a website project, you’re probably familiar with having to adjust or even re-do your work when content finally arrives. Why does this happen time and time again?

Even if you’re lucky to have a brilliant project manager on your side, who has properly briefed the clients or content contributors on what to provide, if the people providing your content are doing it in Word docs, spreadsheets or even worse, in presentation files (yikes!) – then the chances of them sending content that will easily migrate to your site design or CMS is unlikely. These tools simply weren’t built to gather content for web projects.

Familar_-_Retina

If this sounds familiar to you, it’s time to meet GatherContent. GatherContent is a platform built for teams to easily organise and produce lots of content for website projects. In GatherContent you will:

  • Have all web content in one place – No more scrambling through email threads, word docs and other files looking for the most up to date version!
  • Receive structured content – GatherContent is based on templates that you can set up to match your design or CMS. Field guidelines can be added to help contributors know how content needs to be structured in terms of copy tone and length or provided to meet asset specifications. Hallelujah!
  • Get assets alongside copy – GatherContent templates can be used to provide assets including text and any file type attachment (up to 50MB) making it easier to understand where assets belong in your website design.
  • Always know the content status – On top of templates, what makes GatherContent different to working in word documents is the ability to apply a workflow status to each item of content in your project (think “Draft, Review, Awaiting Images, Approved…”). Workflow will make it clear when you’re working with the final content.
  • Get content on time – Deadlines can be applied to your GatherContent project and the notification system keeps contributors on track to provide content in line with your project schedule.
  • Save time with migration integrations – GatherContent offers out-of-the-box integrations for many popular CMS’ including WordPress, Drupal, Sitecore and more, as well as an API to take your content anywhere. Automating your migration process with GatherContent will save you crucial hours on copying & pasting and reduce human error in the process.

Meet the features that help you receive quality content on schedule.

1000s of teams worldwide use GatherContent to implement a structured process for content production that helps launch websites on time. Try it for your next project with a free 30 day trial!

This content is sponsored via Syndicate Ads.

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July 13 2017

08:31

Create Interactive and Responsive Tables and Charts with WpDataTables

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The need to manage huge amounts of website data can become a formidable task. One you generally don’t look forward to. It’s just not numbers either. Statistics, labels, categories, and other important data types often come into play.

An obvious solution is to invest in a data management tool or plugin.  Unless what you buy is intuitive to use, you may have to put everything else on hold while you figure out how it works.

wpDataTables is so easy to use, that you might be fooled into thinking that this plugin can read your mind to see what you want done. That’s not really the case of course.  Still, with wpDataTables you can organize any amount of data into interactive, responsive, and easily editable tables and charts.  And you can do this without any need for coding whatsoever.

1. Exciting New wpDataTables 2.0 Features

wpDataTables 2.0 brings more than 20 new features to the table, along with major improvements in many of the more popular 1.0 features – in response to what customers have asked for.

The wpDataTables team improved the plugin, not only by the addition of new features, but by fixing several small bugs, and doing what was needed to make this easy-to-use tool, even easier to use.

Having said all that, here’s what you can expect:

You’ll save a TON of time.

wpDataTables is so incredibly intuitive that, for all practical purposes, the learning process will take zero time. Roughly 8 out of 10 of those surveyed mentioned ease of use as one of the major benefits.

There are even greater time savings to be realized when you want to create complex tables, and you’ve millions of rows of data to manage. Here, we’re talking minutes instead of hours.

No waiting – you can expect instant results

Then, there are times that, when you make a request or a change, a little wheel starts spinning on your screen. It’s telling you to wait, or take a coffee break. When you make a change using this plugin, you’ll see the results instantly.

This is a cool tool to have when you have tasks that need to be done yesterday.

It’s OK to not be a techie

1

You don’t need to know code. There’s no use for it. You don’t require experience using data management tools. wpDataTables takes care of that for you. Since wpDataTables operates using simplified paths, about the only skill required is how to copy-paste.

No more worries, no more cares

You can rely on every one of this plugin’s new or improved functionalities to perform as advertised, and not to backfire on you in the middle of a table or chart building or editing task.

Functions that may have exhibited an occasional glitch before, now run as smoothly as can be.

2. wpDataTables 1.0’s Most Popular “Evergreen” Features

While in the process of adding new features, and improving some existing ones, the wpDataTables team was careful not to delete or degrade any of the features that enjoy great user popularity – the so-called “evergreen features.”

wpDataTables is not overly picky with respect to data types or formats

2

One of the more popular 1.0 features is the ability to work with information coming in a variety of formats, including XML, JSON, serial PHP arrays, and CSV and Excel files.

With both the new and old versions, you can generate tables directly from MySQL, if you choose.

Tables and charts you create are always responsive

3

Whether it’s a chart, or a table consisting of a humongous number of rows, it will be responsive – without any exceptions.

In addition, you’ll have no problem at all creating neat visualization charts using Highcharts or Google Charts.

Easily organize huge amounts of data

4

wpDataTables’ impressive computational power, coupled with its conditional formatting capabilities enables it to calculate tabular sums and totals on the fly.

You can also highlight numbers based on categories or conditions you establish and set; yielding cool-looking results.

Working with MySQL

No matter the type of data you feed it, wpDataTables’ intuitive dashboard gobbles it right up. The Table Constructor function allows you to auto-generate SQL queries to existing tables, create new MySQL tables, or import existing spreadsheet files.

Once done, you can edit any of these table within WordPress.

Instant data processing – less work, and time saved

5

Yet another popular wpDataTables “evergreen” feature is the ability to wade through, arrange, and list huge amounts of data in seconds. The data manager takes full advantage of the MySQL engine to accomplish this. Ajax requests provide some assistance as well.

The data processing task is handled by the MySQL engine, and a background Ajax request fetches data from the server. This plugin therefore spares you from having to do a significant, and potentially time-consuming amount of hard work. It does it all in the blink of an eye.

Summary

wpDataTables offers a perfect solution when your problem is one of having to struggle with website data management tasks that stretch your technical capabilities to the breaking point.

You can use this plugin for:

  • Financial statistics
  • Operational statistics
  • Large catalogs the feature products or services, and
  • Complex analysis and comparisons.

wpDataTables lets you say goodbye to spending hours plowing through technical tasks such as these, and experiencing the attendant stress and headaches that sometimes results. With this tool in hand you can simply sit back and wait for it to do the job – and you won’t have to wait long at all.

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June 27 2017

14:26

Time Tracking And Invoicing Apps To Boost Your Productivity

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As a web designer, you should also devote yourself to managing the accounting affairs of your business.  You may feel that you’re in a strange territory.

You may or may not be a “numbers person”. But, there are various tasks that you need to do. For example, submitting quotations and invoices. You might also have to provide information on discounts, and even track the time spent on various tasks. This seems far from what you do best – design.

Time tracking and invoicing go hand in hand; and having a good method for tracking your time, will save you time. By investing in a high-quality, easy to work with time tracking app, you find you have more time to do what you do best. You will also have more leisure time as well.

There’s plenty of time tracking, invoicing, and other project and business management software products on the market. Here are 10 of the best; guaranteed to give your productivity a definite boost.

FreshBooks

1

FreshBooks is a cloud-based, intuitive invoicing app designed for use by small business owners. It is an effective tool for freelancers as well. FreshBooks does more than collect the details you need to include in your invoices. You can add your brand’s color scheme and logo; thereby giving each invoice a unique, professional look. When you submit an invoice (via email), this app informs you whether your client has seen it; obviating the need for a follow-up query.

FreshBooks even goes a few steps further. In fact, it has numerous features that will help you streamline the business side of your work. You can set it up to receive online payments, you can check the dashboard for an overview on how your business is doing, and late payment notifications can be automatically sent out. You can even use the FreshBooks mobile app to take pictures of receipts on your phone to better keep track of your expenses.

One more thing; FreshBooks also manages your invoice time tracking needs.

Memory by Timely

2

It’s human nature to forget when you did some of your past activities. This is especially bothersome when trying to track time. In such cases, no wonder why Timely has become one of the best-loved time tracking apps on the market. Its new feature, Memory, automatically tracks every file you work on, the start and end times of your tasks, the websites you visit or apps you use. All this information is organized and presented in an intelligent timeline.

Memory by Timely can tell you what you work on and for exactly how long. It also captures all you do in Trello, Gmail, Office365/Outlook Calendar, Github, etc. Best of all, no one, including your boss, a colleague, or anyone else but you can see your timeline.

Clients love what Memory by Timely does, because the information you do choose to share shows them exactly what they’ve paid for.

Futuramo Time Tracker

3

Futuramo Time Tracker is a cloud-based app designed to help individuals and teams alike better manage their time and work. Its powerful advanced statistics give project managers and other users’ valuable insight into particular work habits that need to be modified to improve future time and cost estimates, as well as team performance.

Powerful filtering, searching and sorting features allow you to find information by date range, client, assignee, and project or project status to help you keep in touch with your team’s activities on one or multiple projects. You can also use these filters to view past projects to help you plan your next ones; something that is generally time-consuming and difficult to do. Futuramo Time Tracker changes all that.

There’s nothing to install, so you can get up and running in a matter of seconds. Futuramo Time Tracker is free for up to 3 users.

Elorus

4

Elorus is a new online invoicing and billing app. It is especially useful for freelancers and smaller businesses to manage their sales and expenses; but with a twist that will definitely mark you, the user, as a professional. It has a dedicated client area that features a private portal where business owners can invite their clients to download invoices and pay them online, and review past transactions.

This is an especially nice touch when dealing with recurring customers. As the app owner, you have complete control over who will be invited to log into the portal.

Avaza

5

Online time tracking, timesheet generation, invoicing, and project budgeting and management are all made easier with Avaza. This multipurpose app is an ideal choice for creative agencies and small businesses. Avaza is currently in use by more than 15,000 businesses throughout the world.

Avaza Timesheets is a particularly useful feature for online time tracking, while Avaza Expenses helps you to effectively staff expenses by allowing your team to snap images of receipts from their mobile devices and enter them via email or apps. It costs you nothing to sign up for Avaza.

Timing

6

What makes Timing unique? A number of things, actually. For starters, automatic time tracking, so you don’t have to manually start and stop the tracking feature.  Also, an interactive timeline that shows you exactly what you’ve been up to. Besides these two, the option to create your own rules to further automate your categorization of tracked activities.  Something really important these days is your privacy. Your data is not uploaded to the cloud.

Perhaps it’s time to switch from manual to automatic time tracking. You’ll find it’s not only more convenient; but much more fun! Download and start a free 14-day trial from the website.

Free Invoice Generator

7

As its name implies, Free Invoice Generator is a free service that enables you to rapidly create an invoice and have it delivered to your email address in PDF format. You can include important information such as links, notes, and other details to your invoice. Hiveage, Free Invoice Generator’s creator, also has a tool for you with added, more powerful features; if you sign up for an account.

Trigger

8

Trigger is a great option if you’re looking for a time tracking solution that keeps everyone accountable. Trigger makes team members log time against actual tasks (either in real time or after the event), so there’s no more dummy time recorded and no more excuses for not logging all time spent.

Trigger also offers project management, team collaboration, invoicing (direct to Xero), task lists, Kanban options, milestones, project templates and more.

ClickTime – Easy Online Timesheets 

9

ClickTime has the tools you need to help you manage project costs and stay on budget. These include the Easy Online Timesheets feature, a selection of pre-built reports that will help you to surface performance issues and metrics, time tracking, expense tracking, and a resource planning dashboard.

You’ll have no problem customizing Clicktime to fit your business needs. Free companion mobile apps are available.

Paymo

10

Paymo will be a rewarding choice if you’re on the lookout for a project management app that will help you manage your projects from planning to delivery. Paymo’s many features address planning, scheduling, task assignment, time tracking, and performance reports generation.

It also makes it easier to stay in sync with your team and, once your projects are complete, you can use Paymo to issue invoices to your clients.

Adding It All Up

There’s something here for about every freelancer, web designer, or business owner. This list of top time tracking and invoicing apps includes several examples of each type or tool and several products that do both.

Several of the products listed here cover a range of project management needs. This is true especially in the accounting area where some users have limited experience.

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June 14 2017

13:31

Hybrid Apps And React Native: A Time To Transition?


   

Accomplished musicians often talk about how, at certain moments in their careers, they had to unlearn old habits in order to progress. This process often causes them to regress in performance while they adjust to an ultimately better method.

Hybrid Apps And React Native: A Time To Transition?

Once the new approach is integrated, they are able to reach new heights that would not have been possible with their previous techniques.

The post Hybrid Apps And React Native: A Time To Transition? appeared first on Smashing Magazine.

June 13 2017

13:41

Convincing Clients: How To Get Sign Off When It Matters


   

We have all been there. That dreaded moment when after weeks of work we have to present our progress to key stakeholders, and they mercilessly tear it apart. It feels inevitable, but usually, we can avoid these situations.

Wouldn’t life be so much easier if we didn’t need to get other people to buy-in to our work? Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way, especially in digital. What we do involves so many different disciplines working together. We have to get the support of colleagues, stakeholders and management. But, achieving that can be painful, to say the least.

The post Convincing Clients: How To Get Sign Off When It Matters appeared first on Smashing Magazine.

07:03

5 Great Web Hosting Options You Should Choose From

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Your website’s performance depends largely on the hosting service you’ve selected. If the service turns out to be inadequate, you may have to put up with slow page loading or capacity issues. Even downtime more than what you’re able to tolerate.

More and more business owners are becoming aware about the need of creating quality content.

Few of these owners understand the impact a hosting service can have on their website’s performance and uptime.

It’s natural to take pricing into account when selecting a hosting service. Still, pricing should always take a back seat to performance.  It should never be the primary driver behind making a selection.

There are plenty of options hosting companies that would like to offer their services to you. This week, we’re going to take a close look and 5 of the very best.

SiteGround

1

SiteGround has grown from a 3-person startup in 2004 to a hosting company that currently employs over 400 people in five data centers located on three continents. They are pioneers in the art of developing own advanced web hosting security solutions. The result is extreme data and website protection that guarantees 99.99% uptime. SiteGround have also developed their own backup system that creates backups with minimal resource usage which allows rapid restore in times of need.

Their always run the latest software on their servers (Apache, PHP, MySQL etc.) and provide the latest speed and performance technology: SSD drives, NGINX, hhtp2, PHP7. On top of their in-house WordPress caching solution – the SuperCacher manages to improve a website’s performance. Their platform is built on top of the cutting edge LXC (Linux containers) technology. The overall effect from a customer’s standpoint is exceptional performance and stability.

SiteGround’s customer support team is available 24/7 with literally no hold times, and it helps resolve questions that go beyond web hosting. There is no coincidence that their overall service is officially recommended by WordPress.org.

A2Hosting

2

Most web users have been frustrated at one time or another with slow page-loading times. In today’s souped-up world, even moderate page-loading times have become unacceptable. A2 Hosting lets you put all that behind you. This premier hosting service, that features 3 data centers on 3 continents, gives you multiple hosting options to choose from.

Depending on your needs, you can select managed or Cloud VPS hosting, a private server option, or a managed or unmanaged dedicated server option. As far as the page loading issue is concerned, “screaming fast” should be good enough for most users. You can however, sign up for A2 Hosting’s Turbo Server or SwiftServer capabilities; if page loading 20X faster than what you’re apt to find elsewhere appeals to you.

With A2 Hosting 99.9+% uptime is the norm, as is around-the-clock support; every day of the year.

WordPress VIP

3

Some web hosting services provide excellent service, but their fee structures can be complicated, or lead to unanticipated surprises. While a significant spurt in website traffic, accompanied by an increase in sales, is always welcome; extra fees imposed by your hosting service due to increased traffic or capacity requirements can dampen your enthusiasm. WordPress VIP’s flat fee structure can be the right solution to fit your needs; and they also offer other helpful services.

Glowhost

4

If you’re web activities have outgrown, or are close to outgrowing, your current shared hosting plan, you may be advised by your hosting service to upgrade to a managed VPS service. Glowhost’s Elastic Sites Plan can save you the time, trouble, and expense of having to make that transition. This plan gives you everything you would expect in terms of performance from a reliable, dedicated, and easy-to-manage resource.

Pagely – Premium WordPress Hosting Solutions

5

Are you the owner or maintainer of a very large WordPress website? Look no further than Pagely for the best hosting solution with stellar tech-centric customer service and an impressive technology stack. This 100% bootstrapped service specializes in a managed hosting concept designed exclusively for large WordPress sites and big brands. You’ll get dedicated hosting, excellent security, and Pagely’s very own CDN and caching features meticulously built by their in house team.

Follow These Tips for Choosing a Web Hosting Service

Since at least one of these five hosting services should provide exactly the solution you’re seeking, it’s almost impossible to make a poor choice. It would still serve you well however, to read through the following tips for choosing a hosting service; if only to be certain that you fully understand your needs, and that those needs will be met.

  • What is the purpose of your website? What are your expectations for it? It’s important to be able to answer these two questions to ensure that a hosting service’s offerings will adequately address your needs. Whatever those needs may be, one of more of the hosting services listed should more than satisfy them.
  • What do you expect your website to look like down the road in terms of growth, and capacity and performance requirements? Answering this question is especially important if you own or manage a business-oriented or e-commerce website. If possible, you want to choose a hosting service that enables you to scale up your hosting needs without the necessity of changing hosts or hosting options.
  • What does a given hosting service offer in terms of customer support? Depending upon the size and nature of your website, your support needs can vary from important to critical. Assume you expect reliable, lightning-fast support, and take it from there.
  • A hosting service may promise a lot, but will it live up to its promises? The services listed here most certainly will, but it always pays to check or customer and professional reviews. You’ll want to know the pros and cons associated with any host before you sign up, along with any issues customers have encountered that may be of concern to you.
  • Never base a decision to sign up on pricing alone; especially if you find the lowest price particularly appealing. You can usually expect the performance and support you receive, especially the latter, to corollate with what you’re willing to pay.
  • Read the Terms of Service! You may dread doing so if the Terms are lengthy, as some tend to be. Be on the lookout for anything that addresses a hosting service’s refund policies. You will also want to be aware of any discussion of automatic service upgrades that could result in a price increase.
  • Another key element is a backup plan. You don’t want to put your website, customer data, and/or transaction data at any risk of being lost. If a hosting service’s backup plan is explained in some detail, don’t hesitate to look elsewhere.
  • If you follow the news regularly, security breaches appear to be popping up all over. Web hosting services aren’t immune to these breaches, but most do an excellent job of protecting your data. You can rest assured that those listed here do an exceptional job of data and information protection.

Summing Up

The hosting services listed here are the best that money can buy. It’s simply a matter of choosing one that will provide the service and support you need. Most likely, you’ve come across more than one that will fill the bill. We still suggest that you check out the reviews before putting money on the table.

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June 12 2017

11:38

A Complete Guide To Switching From HTTP To HTTPS


   

HTTPS is a must for every website nowadays: Users are looking for the padlock when providing their details; Chrome and Firefox explicitly mark websites that provide forms on pages without HTTPS as being non-secure; it is an SEO ranking factor; and it has a serious impact on privacy in general.

A Complete Guide To Switching From HTTP To HTTPS

Additionally, there is now more than one option to get an HTTPS certificate for free, so switching to HTTPS is only a matter of will.

The post A Complete Guide To Switching From HTTP To HTTPS appeared first on Smashing Magazine.

June 09 2017

09:23

Web Development Reading List #185: Safari 11, New Edge Build, Chrome 59, And CSS Optimization Insights


   

This week was full of great browser vendor news: Safari 11 was announced with long-awaited features such as WebRTC and tracking protection, and a new Edge build with new CSS features is now available, too.

Web Development Reading List 185

But the past few days also had some valuable articles up their sleeves: about implementing HTTP/2 push, using datetime-local, and slimming down your CSS, for example. I collected everything in this reading list for you, so you don’t miss out on anything. Enjoy!

The post Web Development Reading List #185: Safari 11, New Edge Build, Chrome 59, And CSS Optimization Insights appeared first on Smashing Magazine.

June 08 2017

09:22

When Large Isn’t Large Enough: Designing With Hero Images


   

When users come to your page, they’ll feel some kind of reaction. Whether it’s positive or negative, that reaction is determined in large part by what they see. Because vision is perhaps the strongest human sense, a hero image is one of the fastest ways to grab the user’s attention. Bold, graphic and intentional imagery engages the user. It draws the user in immediately and makes a perfect centerpiece for a minimalist app or website.

When Large Isn't Large Enough: Designing With Hero Images

A hero image is more than just a pretty picture. It’s a powerful communication tool. In this article, I’ll give you a few tips on using hero images. Also, if you’d like to get started and take a go at prototyping and wireframing your own designs a bit more differently, you can download and test Adobe XD for free.

The post When Large Isn’t Large Enough: Designing With Hero Images appeared first on Smashing Magazine.

June 07 2017

09:13

Creating Better, Faster And More Optimized WordPress Websites


   

Consumers typically have their own experiences when it comes to web hosting and their own opinions. If you search Google for reviews for any web hosting provider you'll find dozens of results.

Creating Better, Faster And More Optimized WordPress Websites

Usually, there are a lot more negative reviews than there are positive ones. I thought I would flip that around and share some WordPress hosting challenges from the perspective of the WordPress host and how I frequently solve them.

The post Creating Better, Faster And More Optimized WordPress Websites appeared first on Smashing Magazine.

June 06 2017

10:30

As Far As The Eye Can See: Colorful Sceneries, Posters And Covers


   

With the lovely weather we've been having here in Belgium, all of my senses actively engage when I'm riding my bike. I find myself picking up colorful sceneries while the smell of fragrant flowers and the birds' singing somehow doesn't manage to escape me. Oh yes, it's Summer alright!

As Far As The Eye Can See: Colorful Sceneries, Posters And Covers

Not sure about you, but this is the period when I usually feel most inspired, probably, because I'm spending way more time outside. After all, nature is where I find most of my inspiration as it sets my mind free and I feel at ease. Hopefully, you're enjoying some sunny days, too. Give yourself a moment of repose. Sit back, relax, have a refreshing drink and let the stream of inspiration come in.

The post As Far As The Eye Can See: Colorful Sceneries, Posters And Covers appeared first on Smashing Magazine.

June 05 2017

11:17

The State Of Advanced Website Builders


   

Advanced website builders — the tools provided by Squarespace, Wix, Weebly, The Grid and more — produce websites that look and feel like they were designed and coded by humans. They’re also software as a service, which is a different business model than traditional, custom-developed websites.

The State Of Advanced Website Builders

So, should companies use them? At some point, will they replace custom development? In short, yes.

The post The State Of Advanced Website Builders appeared first on Smashing Magazine.

08:37

15 Fresh Pre-Built Websites for Web Designers & Their Small Business Clients

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Freelancing is not always a bed of roses. Freelancers enjoy more freedom in terms of their work habits, but that freedom can come with a price. They often face challenges that office-bound workers tend to avoid. More specifically, distractions and occasion lapses in discipline and self-control.

If these challenges are not faced head-on, a lessening in productivity can result. And this can lead to extended work hours, reduced income, or both.

Today, we are offering tips designed to help a web design freelancer meet and overcome these challenges, while enjoyiing a boost in productivity.

Tip #1) Get your projects off to a quick start with the latest Be Theme pre-built websites.

Don’t start from scratch like these guys who invented a new way of designing websites.

Be Themes’s pre-built websites make it possible for you to turn out work of the highest quality, and save a ton of time in the process. You can, for example, skip wireframing, prototyping, and best of all – coding.

Pre-built websites are quick and super easy to install, as you can see by watching this cool 40-second video.

One more advantage: you won’t end up looking like these guys!

15 new pre-built websites for small businesses

  Be Craftbeer

1

This Craftbeer pre-built website features large, attractive images on every page. A parallax effect ensures that the emphasis is always on the product. The Muffin Group team knows how to attract customers. It shows!

Be eLearning

2

eLearning has become super popular the last few years. If you have a business in this rapidly growing niche, depending on a so-so website would be a shame. This pre-built website design is fresh looking and easy to navigate.

Be Tiles

3

This pre-built website looks as if its designer had a degree in architecture. The product is front and center, and the unique value proposition stands out clearly against the semi-dark background.

Be Artist

4

Yet another example of the impact a dark background can have on a website’s look and feel. You can of course change this default background to any color you choose. Like all pre-built websites, Be Artist is completely customizable.

Be Burger

5

This hip design is destined for a burger delivery or catering service. You can almost smell and taste each of the images; which is what you want in a food-oriented business’s website.

Be Sports club

6

A sports or fitness club’s website doesn’t have to remind you of a smelly gym. This Sports Club pre-built website, with its cool fade-in and parallax effects, has a modern design that any gym facility would love to have.

Be Hotel2

7

A hotel’s website should feature images that practically demand that you get on the phone and reserve a room. In addition to the engaging images, the relevant sections (location, room choice, pricing, and booking) are included.

Be Restaurant

8

Like the previous pre-built website, this dashing restaurant design includes a nice slider effect; adding to its dynamism. Why not give your client a website that the competition simply cannot match?

Be Architect 2

9

As far as presenting an interesting and engaging user experience is concerned, this web design, built around a variety of perspectives, will be difficult to beat. The hero image is enough to draw visitors in.

Be Boutique

10

Have you ever wanted to use a background video in the hero section of your website, but weren’t certain how best to go about it? Be Boutique shows you how. This pre-built website’s structure will make you portfolio look amazing as well.

Be VPN

11

Cold, stodgy, dull, and overly formal, is an apt description of many corporate websites. Be VPN shows you how a corporate website can be well-structured and formal, but friendly as well; with a casual twist.

Be Oculist

12

Had your eyes checked lately? If you’re looking for an oculist, you’ve likely noticed how horrible some of their website designs are. If you have an eye specialist for a client; suggest this fresh and trustworthy pre-built website template.

Be Furniture

13  

Do you have a client that sells furniture? Impress that client by showing him this great looking design. Its large images and awesome slider effects used to showcase the products are bound to make a good impression.

Be Car

14

Combine an impressive hero image with plenty of white space and a thoughtful use of colors, and you have Be Car; an elegant pre-built website with a luxurious look and feel.

Be Tea

15

This pre-built website, with its vintage and minimalist vibe, is destined for a tea shop. Note how the dark menu, along with a careful choice of font styles, gives this design an exceptionally welcoming look.

Tip #2) Maintaining a regular schedule is all-important.

With no one to look over your shoulder (one of the joys of being a freelance designer), you are apt to slack off. You need a structure to rely on; and setting and sticking to a regular schedule for your work provides that structure. It also helps you stay motivated. Once you sit down to work, it’s important to avoid distractions. If you must check your e-mail, do it first thing. Avoid other social media activities until your workday is completed.

Make sure to schedule sufficient downtime. Doing so will help to keep you fresh and invigorated.

Tip #3) Set clear boundaries for your work and yourself.

It’s important that your work does not interfere with your home life, and vice versa. It’s all too easy to devote excessive time to your work, and it’s equally easy to allow your home life to interfere with your job. Establish a clear boundary between the two by setting aside a separate space where you can work without being distracted. While working, ignoring any outside interference will help you stay focused. Don’t be afraid to stop at quitting time if you’re in the middle of something. Doing so makes it just that much easier to get off to a quick start the next day.

Tip #4) Follow the Pomodoro technique.

The Pomodoro technique (often referred to as the “tomato theory”) involves taking regular short breaks during a lengthy work session. It has proved to be a genuine productivity enhancer, and it works like this:

After every 45 minutes devoted to work, take a 15-minute break. Some experts say 52 minutes and 17 minutes is optimum; but that sounds a lot like splitting hairs.

Once you get into the habit, you’ll find that the periodic breaks won’t slow you down one bit. Your brain consumes a lot of energy. Give it an occasional break.

Summing Up – Some Dos and Don’ts

Do These:

Design a work schedule. Stick to it.

Set aside a space that’s dedicated to work, and make yourself unavailable during your work hours.

Save time and effort. Take advantage of what Be Theme’s 250+ pre-built websites offer.

Review what you’ve accomplished each day. Doing so will help keep you motivated.

 

Don’t Do These:

Don’t let yourself become isolated. Take the time to talk shop with peers and colleagues.

Don’t work for long periods without taking one or more breaks.

Don’t neglect your boss, team members, or clients while working on a project. Stay visible.

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June 02 2017

10:05

Web Development Reading List #184: New Library Updates, Page Load Performance, And Continuance


   

Our lives are in constant change, we never stop developing and evolving — our bodies, our minds, our views. And today’s technology supports us in doing that: We can access a lot more information as the generations before us, and with that, we have a variety of new possibilities to grow and develop our personalities.

Web Development Reading List 184

We can see how work environments change, for example, we see resistance towards change and new methods, but slowly and over time, humanity is changing their overall behavior. Seeing technology in this light gives us a new perspective on our work attitude and how we approach technology.

The post Web Development Reading List #184: New Library Updates, Page Load Performance, And Continuance appeared first on Smashing Magazine.

June 01 2017

09:13

Designing Efficient Web Forms: On Structure, Inputs, Labels And Actions


   

Someone who uses your app or website has a particular goal. Often, the one thing standing between the user and their goal is a form. Forms remain one of the most important types of interactions for users on the web and in apps.

Designing Efficient Web Forms: On Structure, Inputs, Labels And Actions

In fact, forms are often considered the final step in the journey of completing their goals. Forms are just a means to an end. Users should be able to complete them quickly and without confusion.

The post Designing Efficient Web Forms: On Structure, Inputs, Labels And Actions appeared first on Smashing Magazine.

May 31 2017

09:48

Good Vibes And Summer Dreams: Joyful Wallpapers For Your Desktop (June 2017 Edition)


   

Where do you seek inspiration? In the bright colors that nature is showing at this time of year? A conversation with a friend maybe? Or a journey you recently went on? Well, we also might have something for you: Our monthly desktop wallpapers post is an opportunity to refuel your creative battery and get a little in-between inspiration shot — since nine years already.

Desktop Wallpaper Calendars June 2017

Each month, artists and designers from across the globe challenge their creative skills to create inspiring, unique, and simply beautiful wallpapers for you to indulge in. Wallpapers that are a bit more distinctive as the usual crowd and that’ll, hopefully, cater for some fresh ideas.

The post Good Vibes And Summer Dreams: Joyful Wallpapers For Your Desktop (June 2017 Edition) appeared first on Smashing Magazine.

May 30 2017

15:03

Codester – A Marketplace for Code, Scripts, Themes and Plugins

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Today I would like to introduce Codester. Codester is an online platform for buying and selling web development assets like scripts, app templates, themes, plugins  and graphics. These assets make any developer or designers life a lot easier as they can help to reduce development time a lot.

codester-1

Codester is not the first platform that offers ready to use web development assets and is also not the biggest, but they have a great unique selection of items that are not available anywhere else.  They have by far the best payout rate for sellers, which results in a lot of professional developers  who normally ignore marketplace platforms  to turn to Codester to sell their work. Codester is gaining a lot of traction and is growing quickly.

Scripts & Code

Starting from the scripts and codes that are available on the website for the most programming languages such as PHP, JavaScript, CSS, Python, Java, Ruby, C and C++, C# and VB.NET. Each of these languages has subcategories and include scripts that can be used to add valuable features to any website. Each of which adds a value to your website.

App Templates

App templates are the next under the spotlight which help build powerful applications for IOS, Android, Unity and Ionic etc. These application templates can help you build applications with ease since these are all developed by extremely skilled developers using generic approach so that anyone who wishes to use it can reap its fruits with ease hence making these templates a must have.

codester-3

Themes

Then there are themes, as we all know, for any customer, the first impression they have about us is based on the user interface of our website, it’s design, color scheme and the flow sequence of the pages. This is a very delicate part and requires a team of skilled individuals to design and develop an effective UI for the customers. However, Codester has that covered for you with a large number of collection of themes developed specifically for different platforms for website development. There are themes available for HTML, WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, Magento, PrestaShop, OpenCart, Shopify, wooCommerce and more. These themes are professionally built for the easy integration for any of these CMS systems and make a great value for money.

codester-2

Plugins

Codester also offers hundreds of powerful plugins for all of these CMS systems each of which is developed keeping the commons needs of a developer in consideration.  There is a great collection of premium plugins that can add functionality to your website in just a few clicks.

Graphics

Last but not least, the website offers a large variety of graphics that include user interfaces, logos, icons, mockups and game assets. They save you the trouble of hiring a designer for the purpose and help you chose from the large variety of available products. A pixel perfect design is incomplete without properly designed logos and icons. Codester has got that covered for you.

Affiliate program

You can also affiliate yourself with the website. If you are not a developer but just looking earn some money, you can register and create an affiliate links. For all the customers who follow that link to purchase our products, you will receive a handsome amount of 10% on each product.

Become a seller

If you are a developer or a designer then you can sell your scripts, themes and source codes through Codester There are thousands of buyers on the website who will be willing to buy your valuable work.  Codester has by far the best payout rate, which is 70% without any exclusivity requirements. Other platforms only pay 30% under these circumstances!

You can sign up and start uploading your products. Codester will then review your items (usually within the day) and you are good to go.

Conclusion

Each and every item on Codester is written by a professional designer or a developer. If you are given the opportunity to get things that are best for your website or app without any waste of your own time, at the most reasonable rates then how can you not take it?  Start reducing your development, check out Codester.

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11:45

Developing A Chatbot Using Microsoft’s Bot Framework, LUIS And Node.js (Part 1)


   

This tutorial gives you hands-on access to my journey of creating a digital assistant capable of connecting with any system via a RESTful API to perform various tasks.

Developing A Chatbot Using Microsoft Bot Framework, LUIS And Node.js (Part 1)

Here, I’ll be demonstrating how to save a user’s basic information and create a new project on their behalf via natural language processing (NLP).

The post Developing A Chatbot Using Microsoft’s Bot Framework, LUIS And Node.js (Part 1) appeared first on Smashing Magazine.

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