1stWebDesigner https://1stwebdesigner.com Helping You Build a Better Web Mon, 21 Jan 2019 14:38:33 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.0.3 Enhance Your Look with These Free Hand-Lettered Brush Fonts https://1stwebdesigner.com/enhance-your-look-with-these-free-hand-lettered-brush-fonts/ https://1stwebdesigner.com/enhance-your-look-with-these-free-hand-lettered-brush-fonts/#respond Mon, 21 Jan 2019 14:38:33 +0000 https://1stwebdesigner.com/?p=143005 Want to add a spark of originality to your website or graphics? Hand-lettered fonts are just the thing. Fonts that look hand-made are a great way to make your site feel more comfortable and personal. And, they go well on almost any type of website.

If you’re ready to amp up the personality of a webpage, logo or banner, take a look at these gorgeous hand-lettered brush fonts, sure to dazzle and inspire!

Knewave

Knewave

Knewave is a beautiful font sporting bold strokes and a neat, painted aesthetic. This is the sort of font that looks amazing in graphics like logos or banners. Make sure to also try out the outline version!

Cylburn

Cylburn

This script font is perfect if you’re looking for that elegant aesthetic. Big loops and careful brush strokes make this ideal for only the most sophisticated websites. You can pay what you want (including nothing) for a personal license, or purchase one for commercial use.

Odachi

Odachi

Named after a type of samurai sword, Odachi is cutting edge font that’s perfect if you need something a little rougher. Odachi looks like a grungy calligraphy, carefully designed but with little scrapes and scratches that make it unique.

Merienda

Merienda

Looking for something a little cleaner? Merienda keeps the brush-stroke look but is significantly more polished than many handwritten fonts. It comes with a regular and bold style which you can download for free, or use on your site via Google Fonts.

Sophia

Sophia

Beautiful imperfections are what handwritten fonts are all about. Sophia is full of these: Letters slant and tilt randomly just like actual handwriting. This font isn’t perfect, but that’s what makes it beautiful! It also comes with two cute decorative symbols.

Restless

Restless

Here’s a font suitable only for the most elegant websites. The cursive-like typography is so elegant and stylish that people will think you painted it yourself. To get it for free, you just need to subscribe with your email address.

Boomville

Boomville

Boomville is all about personality. The connected cursive font has a light-hearted feel, which is great if you want your graphics to look more animated and fun. You’ll need to buy a license to use it in commercial projects.

Europa Brush

Europa Brush

This textured font was manually painted and underwent very little editing to give it that authentic hand-made feel. The strokes are wide and bold, making this great for those branding projects you want to make sure people remember.

Caveat Brush

Caveat Brush

A handwritten font you’re sure to fall in love with, Caveat Brush is simple but beautiful. Many of the letters come with design variations, which will make it look like actual handwriting on your site. Download it or serve it right from the Google Fonts API.

Calafia

Calafia

An informal font, Calafia was inspired by left-handed lettering. This is a font that looks perfect in product advertising, with its friendly and relaxed, but carefully drawn, appearance. Make sure to buy a commercial license if you need it.

Mission Script

Mission Script

If you love cursive fonts, Mission Script is perfect for you. This font is perfectly well-rounded – it fits a variety of tones, from business-like and sophisticated to free and casual. Try it and fall in love with its universal appeal. Pay what you want for a personal license.

Kust

Kust

You’ll never forget this beautiful rugged typeface, painted with a thick brush before being converted to a font. Each letter is wonderfully detailed, with every little stroke and drop of paint visible. Kust is a bold font that will look best in large to gigantic font sizes, so go crazy!

A Sprinkle of Personality

Using hand-drawn fonts can instantly make a website seem familiar to visitors. This makes them perfect for blogs, small businesses or any website that wants to feel a bit more casual and easy-going. Even professional websites could benefit from using hand-lettered fonts in its graphics or scattered briefly throughout the site.

So, give these free brush fonts a try in your next design project! You’ll love the sense of style and friendliness they can bring.

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11 Inspirational Designer Portfolios For 2019 https://1stwebdesigner.com/11-inspirational-designer-portfolios-for-2019/ https://1stwebdesigner.com/11-inspirational-designer-portfolios-for-2019/#respond Thu, 17 Jan 2019 13:24:52 +0000 https://1stwebdesigner.com/?p=142804 For web and graphic designers, it’s important to nail that portfolio, instantly convincing anyone who visits that you’re the one for the job. With the new year rolling around, it might just be time for a fresh redesign.

There are so many amazing portfolios out there to draw inspiration from. If you’d like to explore and learn from the work of your fellow designers, you’re going to love this list. These are the portfolios that get it right!

We Ain’t Plastic

We Ain't Plastic

We Ain’t Plastic definitely leaves its mark. Its subtle effects, animations and images all come together to create a website that was obviously crafted with love. It also gets right to the point, careful not to overload you with too much information.

Melanie Daveid

Melanie Daveid

This beautiful one-page portfolio proves that simple-but-strong design is often the best way to go. The perfectly elegant animations are the most memorable part of this website, alongside the dynamic layout.

Steve Mengin

Steve Mengin

Stylish and well put together, navigating this portfolio is no less than delightful. Every animation looks great, and though many navigation elements are fairly unique, getting around is very intuitive thanks to fantastic UI design.

Gal Shir

Gal Shir

Fun animations and colorful images quickly bring this site to life. You won’t be able to stop scrolling, stopping to see each animated image. And a pretty parallax effect brings the site to a satisfying end.

Portfolio of Nathan Riley

Portfolio of Nathan Riley

This dark, modern website is filled with all sorts of fun little details, animations and browser interactions. Discovering them all is a joy. You know this is a designer who loves his job. Click to see the projects and you’ll get some interesting behind-the-scenes info on design choices, too!

Jack Jeznach

Jack Jeznach

Everything about this website indicates excellency at both style and skill. There’s so much attention to detail that it’s astounding. As you navigate the well laid-out portfolio you’ll be constantly driven to keep exploring and learning more about the developer.

Weightshift

Weightshift

What’s better than a collection of case studies so nicely presented? Scroll through the clean, brightly colored website and check out the examples to see a short demonstration of the company’s past work!

Timothy Achumba

Timothy Achumba

This portfolio uses a pleasant block-based layout that’s easy to navigate on any device. Images are the focal point, taking up a majority of the screen. What text there is tells you exactly what you need to know.

Friends

Friends

Here’s one reminiscent of a business card: Sophisticated, beautiful and simply but carefully designed. There are plenty of case studies to learn more about the company and its methods. Nothing is better than understanding your designer’s goals and processes.

Baptiste Ringot

Baptiste Ringot

This is a portfolio made with readability and ease of navigation in mind. There’s a lot of content and past work, but text is frequently broken up by interesting images of past design projects. It’s simple to navigate the sections. And the slight change of background color as you scroll is a nice touch.

Youandigraphics

Youandigraphics

A beautiful palette, unique layout, and cute art and animations certainly make this a standout website. Looking at this portfolio, you know the designer truly has an artist’s eye.

Amazing Portfolios by Designers

There’s nothing more inspiring than a skilled web designer’s portfolio. Experts and innovators are always pushing the limits of what a website should be capable of, with portfolios that skillfully display their mastery in design.

Which portfolio was your favorite? There’re just too many awesome ones to choose from!

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Simple Ways to Keep Your WordPress Site Secure https://1stwebdesigner.com/simple-ways-to-keep-your-wordpress-site-secure/ https://1stwebdesigner.com/simple-ways-to-keep-your-wordpress-site-secure/#respond Mon, 14 Jan 2019 15:54:11 +0000 https://1stwebdesigner.com/?p=142734 When we think of web security, we often envision a giant server farm teeming with IT professionals along with developers who pore over every bit of code. Then too, we think of high-profile breaches that leak private data and negatively impact the economy.

Yet, web security should be of concern to everyone who works on or owns a site. That’s especially so when you’re using a popular platform such as WordPress. Why? Because we are all sitting targets.

Whether your site boasts millions of visitors or only a handful, bots and other malicious actors are hammering away. They’re attempting brute force attacks on logins, adding poisonous code to legitimate files and other assorted mayhem.

And, while we can’t necessarily account for every possibility, there are things we can do to mitigate the risk. Even better is that it’s not hard to do!

With that, here are some simple steps you can take to make your WordPress website more secure.

Understand WordPress User Roles and Capabilities

If you build sites for clients, it’s important to realize that not everyone needs the same level of access to the back end. Administrator accounts are great in that they provide total control over settings and plugins. But in the wrong hands they can be dangerous.

The developers behind WordPress understand this, and that’s why they’ve created various user roles. Each role (Administrator, Editor, Author, Contributor and Subscriber are the defaults) comes with their own set of capabilities. The lower the user role, the fewer capabilities that user will have.

So, for clients who won’t necessarily need to install plugins or touch other sensitive settings, an Editor account is perfect for them. They have all the power they need to manage content, while still being walled-off from potentially harmful items. Even if they do need occasional access to other things, they can use an administrator account when appropriate.

Just to be clear, we’re not necessarily worried about our clients doing harmful things (although, an adventurous one could do some unintended damage). Rather, it’s the possibility of that user’s account being compromised. If that were to happen, a lower user role won’t have the same impact as an administrator.

If the default roles don’t quite match up with your needs, you also have the option to create your own. This could be used to, for example, allow users access to only a specific post type. It allows for more fine-grain control of who can access what.

As an aside, it’s also a good idea to create separate user accounts for each person who needs to access the back end. This simplifies account maintenance, as you can just remove individual accounts as people come and go from the organization. Plus, the less you share your passwords, the better!

A key going into a lock.

Install a Security Plugin

Sure, you may spend a ton of time online. But you can’t be there to watch over your website 24/7. Therefore, it makes sense to employ tools that will keep a look out on your behalf.

There are a number of security plugins that can handle the job. The free versions of Wordfence, iThemes Security or All In One WP Security & Firewall can offer huge benefits. They can do things like lock out IP addresses, stop brute force login attempts and scan your site for existing malware or security holes. Some will even email you when a problem is found or your install is outdated.

If you manage several websites, a security plugin offers a great way to stay on top of these issues. However, they’re also useful for those times when you hand off a site to your clients as well. Clients who aren’t very security-conscious will have that extra set of eyes that will keep them well-informed.

It’s worth mentioning that there are more plugins available than mentioned above. And each one has its own strengths. The one you choose should fit your basic security needs and refrain from slowing down your site too much. Performance is especially an issue on lower end hosting platforms and should be a consideration.

Of course, these plugins aren’t cure-alls for security. You still need to employ other best practices. But they are great at catching the low-hanging fruit that make up the majority of threats to your site.

Security menu item within WordPress.

Use Common Sense

By now, everyone should know that they should be using unique, hard-to-guess passwords. But still, so many of us take shortcuts because it’s easier.

So much of security is actually using your own common sense and encouraging others to do the same. Sometimes, that requires a tiny bit of extra work – but it’s well worth the effort. Here are a few examples:

Install an SSL Certificate

Having SSL enabled will encrypt user communications with your site (on the front and back ends). With web browsers now calling out sites that don’t use SSL, having a certificate is also darn-near mandatory to defend your reputation. And with many hosts offering either free or cheap options, you have zero excuse for not adding one.

Be Cautious with Plugins

Not all plugins are created equally. Before you install and activate one, be sure to do some research. Look at its release history, support forums and user reviews. You’ll get a better sense of how well-maintained it is and whether it’s worth using. And, look for installed plugins that haven’t been updated in a while. They could be a weak point in your security.

Stay Current

Not only should your entire WordPress install (including plugins and themes) be kept up-to-date, but your hosting environment should do the same. Ensure that you’re running a supported version of PHP and other required software. If you’re unsure, ask your host for more information.

Maintain Current Backups

We all cross our fingers and hope something bad doesn’t happen. But if it does, it’s much easier to restore a safe backup! You’ll especially want to have multiple current copies of your site’s database and the /wp-content/ folder.

Lightbulb on a desk.

Stay Alert

If it seems like security threats are only getting more numerous and complex, it’s because they are! While WordPress itself is well-written and secure, it does have the biggest target on its back of any CMS. That means we need to remain alert and develop good habits.

It doesn’t need to be so difficult. The steps outlined above won’t take much time, but can literally make the difference between your website being hacked or not. That in itself is reason enough to put in the extra effort.

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Web Design Trend: Big and Bold Typography https://1stwebdesigner.com/web-design-trend-big-and-bold-typography/ https://1stwebdesigner.com/web-design-trend-big-and-bold-typography/#respond Thu, 10 Jan 2019 14:07:09 +0000 https://1stwebdesigner.com/?p=142693 Have you been paying attention to the latest web design trends? Typography is getting bigger and bolder! Good typography is essential to a great website. And, what makes a more prominent statement than huge text that gets right in your face and tells you what you need to know?

If you’re considering a redesign for 2019, you’ll want to keep track of the latest trends in web design so that you can see what’s speaking to internet users (and what’s out). These websites have got the right idea – take a look and see how this trend is affecting web design!

Frana FX

Frana FX

When we say big text, we mean it! The homepage is made up of nothing but a directory of large text. It gets straight to the point with just a one-sentence blurb about what the company does, before immediately directing you where you want to go.

Dragon Rouge

Dragon Rouge

Dragon Rouge gets super creative with its typography. It opens with a list of countries it operates in, scrolling by as the gigantic title fades in. Various screen and hover effects involving the distinctive typography present themselves as you explore the site. Make sure you look around to find all the cool text effects!

Huge Inc

Huge Inc

When you open this site, you’re instantly greeted with a big “hello”! The rest of the site’s headers uses the same eye-grabbing font, establishing consistency and always drawing you in to the important info. The more readable serif body font pairs well with it, too.

The Black Sheep Agency

The Black Sheep Agency

Black Sheep combines big, blocky text with interesting visuals to create a really cool effect. This type of typography suits the dark, grungy aesthetic well.

Nurture Digital

Nurture Digital

A lot of bold typography tends to look similar: Sans-serif, flat and clearly defined. Nurture Digital uses a more stylized font, and it works really well with the creative, cartoon-like animations. You’ll also find videos with a large letter overlay as you scroll through recent projects, creating a distinct effect.

Florent Biffi

Florent Biffi

Besides the awesome animated typography banner, the site uses large, sans-serif headers to draw your eyes towards the most important areas. For a designer, that would be their past work, awards and contact links. This is how you design a modern portfolio!

M&C Saatchi Worldwide

M&C Saatchi Worldwide

Your homepage doesn’t need to follow the same tired formula. Sometimes all you need is a little typography. The only place to go is the menu, and here you’ll find more big text directing you to learn more about the company. Inside, you’ll find even more unique text-based page design.

Basic Culture

Basic Culture

This full-screen website is primarily designed with text and effects, using only occasional images to draw you in. The little effects and additions like the subtle static animation and occasional scribbles tie this presentation together.

Built By Built

Built By Built

A flat, colorful text banner greets you here. As you scroll, the site transitions from carefully crafted paragraphs to elegant images. This site makes expert use of colors and content to create an experience that draws your eye exactly where they want you to look.

Color Lisa

Color Lisa

This is a neat trick. Overlaying a thin font and a thick one of different colors keeps both words readable. It’s a pretty cool reminder to experiment with your web design. The simple, sans serif header fonts work well with the flat, clean design of the website as well.

Peter Van Alphen

Peter Van Alphen

Besides the simple text-based homepage navigation, one cool feature of this website is the background. As you browse, the name of the category you’re on will appear there. It’s a cool way to decorate your background using just text.

Almanac

Almanac

It’s often best to stick to two or three fonts for a website, but rules are made to be broken. Almanac uses a variety of striking fonts and styling. This works perfectly with the colorful, animated design of the website.

Make a Big Statement

People are getting tired of overly simplistic designs, white websites and elegant subtlety. Right now, the trends are turning towards boldly designed sites that grab your attention. That means colorful design, eye-catching animations – and bold typography!

If you liked the aesthetics of the websites above, take a risk with your design and include some impactful typography in your next website.

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11 Podcasts Every Web Designer Should Listen To https://1stwebdesigner.com/11-podcasts-every-web-designer-should-listen-to/ https://1stwebdesigner.com/11-podcasts-every-web-designer-should-listen-to/#respond Mon, 07 Jan 2019 15:18:22 +0000 https://1stwebdesigner.com/?p=142188 Are you looking to get a glimpse into the world of web design? Podcasts, like an online talk show, are a wonderful way to examine a new perspective from the more experienced. Tips, insights and interviews are what they’re are all about, along with thoughtful discussion.

When you have a lot of downtime, such as when you’re driving or even working, fill the silence with one of these podcasts! You might learn something new, or at least be entertained by the stories and interesting hosts.

Boagworld

Boagworld

This fun podcast has been in business since 2005. It discusses all sorts of interesting web design topics, and is made with both beginners and veteran designers in mind. You can listen on the website or on a variety of other platforms including Spotify and Google Play.

Presentable

Presentable

A 40-minute podcast is perfect for those quick breaks, and you can listen to a designer who’s been in the business for 20+ years talk to all sorts of guests. Learn how to become a successful designer!

ShopTalk

ShopTalk

This two-person podcast is great for both aspiring and established web designers and developers. ShopTalk is usually an hour long and it’s just packed with helpful tips. On the website you can jump to certain points in the podcast, download the file, or even ask them a question!

The Web Ahead

The Web Ahead

Though it’s retired, plenty of valuable episodes remain in this podcast. The Web Ahead focused on bringing in experts in the internet from around the world. While some content may become outdated, this remains a timeless source of advice for those who work online.

The Changelog

The Changelog

Want to keep up with trends in web development? Coding languages, programs and everything open source is what this podcast is all about. Many episodes feature three people, so this is definitely a lively one.

Seanwes

Seanwes

Though not focused on design, this huge archive is a wonderful resource for freelancers of all stripes. Knowing how to run a small business is essential, and there’s hundreds of episodes to listen to here. Pick a topic you like and listen up!

Hacking UI

Hacking UI

The designer-developer duo is here to talk about those topics, as well as a mish-mash of other info that every freelancer wants to hear. Want to blog, start a business, or keep up with technology? Hacking UI is perfect!

The Big Web Show

The Big Web Show

This is a great one for designers in particular, offering advice on art, content and technology. Each episode usually features a skilled guest – often an experienced designer or developer in their field. Most run at just under or over an hour.

Syntax

Syntax

Made for developers, Syntax covers a variety of broad topics including programming languages, design standards and even life tips. There are also shorter “Hasty Treat” episodes for when you’re low on time.

Unfinished Business

Unfinished Business

Entertaining and funny, Unfinished Business goes over a variety of topics with a focus on design and the internet. Everything from dealing with unruly clients to mental health issues in the design industry is covered here.

Responsive Web Design

Responsive Web Design

Here’s a podcast with a strong niche: Interviewing people at the head of making the web more responsive. The internet is becoming more dynamic and mobile-friendly, and the hosts of RWD will teach you how to stay ahead.

Another Viewpoint

Everyone has a unique way of learning. Some do best with lots of reading and research, while others can only learn by experience. Many do best simply by listening and absorbing information.

If you’d love to listen to web designers talk about their experiences and offer advice, try out one of these podcasts! They can offer an enlightening extra perspective into the world of design and development.

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10 Free Barebones Starter Templates for Bootstrap https://1stwebdesigner.com/free-minimal-bootstrap-starter-templates/ https://1stwebdesigner.com/free-minimal-bootstrap-starter-templates/#respond Sun, 06 Jan 2019 19:24:42 +0000 https://1stwebdesigner.com/?p=130548 The Bootstrap framework is quite popular with web designers. It provides everything you need to get a design project off to a running start. Plus, it’s been created with mobile devices in mind.

On the downside, it seems like many sites using Bootstrap tend to have a similar look and layout. But that is more of a product of taking design shortcuts rather than an indictment on the framework itself. Going beyond the default styles is quite possible and much easier than you may think.

With that in mind, we went on a search for free Bootstrap templates that lean toward the barebones end of the spectrum. They offer a virtual clean slate and give you the power to customize both the look and layout as much as you’d like. So, instead of ripping apart an existing design, you can get straight to making your own mark.

All the Bootstrap Templates You Could Ask For


2M+ items from the worlds largest marketplace for Bootstrap Templates, Themes & Design Assets. All of it can be found at Envato Market.

Bare

Bare is designed to help you get started without any fuss. There are no fancy styles applied and it comes with predefined paths. The template works with Bootstrap 4 and sports a fixed top navigation.

Bare bootstrap template

Simplex

Touted as both “Mini and Minimalist”, Simplex contains some basic styles that will provide you with a great starting point. You’ll find minimal navigation, buttons, typography, forms, containers and more goodies within this lightweight package.

Simplex bootstrap template

Understrap

Understrap is a clever mix of Automattic’s Underscores barebones WordPress theme and Bootstrap. Thus, your next WordPress project can utilize Bootstrap without the excess bloat of a prebuilt theme. Understrap features Bootstrap 4, is compatible with the WordPress Customizer and supports WooCommerce.

Understrap bootstrap template

Initializr

Initializr will generate a simple HTML template based on your requirements. Bootstrap 3.3.1 can be bundled right in with your template.

Initializr bootstrap template

Bootply

Use Bootply to build your own custom Boostrap starter template. Using their online builder, you can make things as simple (or complex) as you’d like. There are options for different layouts, various sidebars (including off-canvas) and more.

Bootply bootstrap template

WP Bootstrap Starter

WP Bootstrap Starter is aimed at developers who want to build upon basic features to make their own custom theme. Like Understrap above, it’s based on Underscores. That means it’s lightweight and ready for full-on customization.

WP Bootstrap Starter bootstrap template

LayoutIt!

LayoutIt! is a tool featuring a drag-and-drop interface for quickly building Bootstrap-based templates. There are three base templates to choose from (Starter, Basic Marketing Site and Article). Once you’ve selected a template, you’ll be able to add elements such as grids, components and even JavaScript. You can have a basic, yet functional template set up within minutes.

LayoutIt! bootstrap template

Sage

A competitor to Undesrcores, Sage is a WordPress starter theme that comes with Bootstrap baked right in. The theme features task automation via gulp, and the ability to easily add front-end packages via Bower. Template markup is based on HTML5 Boilerplate.

Sage bootstrap template

Bootstrap 4 Starter Template

If you’re looking for dead simple way to start off a new site, WebNots has put together their own Bootstrap 4 Starter Template. Not only can you grab a copy of their template, there is also a handy guide for building your own.

Bootstrap 4 Starter Template bootstrap template

BS Starter

BS Starter provides the basics you’ll need to get up and running with your design project. The template features a full-width slider and is minimally styled. It gives you just enough to help you create your own look and layout.

BS Starter bootstrap template

Give Complex Templates the Boot

When embarking on a new project, you’re better off using a starter Bootstrap template that lets you make all of the important design decisions. That’s where these minimal and barebones options really shine. Instead of having a Bootstrap-based theme that simply looks like everyone else, you’ll have the flexibility to use the framework to create something unique.

You might also like these Free Bootstrap Dashboard Admin Templates.

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The Struggle for Freelance Growth https://1stwebdesigner.com/struggle-freelance-growth/ https://1stwebdesigner.com/struggle-freelance-growth/#respond Sun, 06 Jan 2019 07:47:00 +0000 https://1stwebdesigner.com/?p=135224 Being a freelance web designer offers plenty of advantages. You get to work the way you want and for the type of clients you prefer. Whether you’re specializing in a niche or open to anything – it’s all for you to decide.

And, if you manage to hang around long enough, you’ll have found a certain level of success. That’s often a result of hard work coupled with outstanding skill. But at a certain point even the most talented and dedicated designers can find themselves in a period of stagnation.

Attaining growth can be difficult for any business. But it’s especially tough for someone who works solo. After all, there’s only so much work one person can do. So it seems somewhat natural that things eventually reach a plateau.

So, how do you grow when you’re faced with the limitations that come with a freelance design business? As they say, you find ways to work smarter – not harder.

The Freelance Designer Toolbox
Unlimited Downloads: 500,000+ Web Templates, Icon Sets, Themes & Design Assets


Your Experience Has Value

Experience is something that can’t be taught – it’s rightly earned. Every one of your successes, failures and mixed bags has brought you valuable knowledge to take along to the next stop on your journey.

While experience alone doesn’t make you immune from mistakes, it does provide you with a much better picture of what works and what doesn’t. Theoretically, it means a smoother site building process for you and your clients. At worst, it means knowing how to handle bumps in the road. That’s worth something.

Your fees should reflect the experience you bring to the table. So if you’re charging the same rates you were five years ago – you’re missing out.

In my own journey, I can tell you that my hourly rates have gone up substantially over the nearly two decades I’ve been in business. And, surprisingly, the overwhelming majority of clients have stuck with me despite rising rates.

This can be tricky, however. In general, it’s best to raise fees in reasonable amounts. In other words, you don’t want to double your prices overnight. More incremental increases are much easier for clients to swallow.

The other part of the equation is to communicate the reasoning behind the rate hike. People tend to be more understanding if you’re upfront with them. Simply sending an invoice with an increased rate without prior warning is more likely to be upsetting.

Your Experience Has Value

Bundling Up

Part of the reason a freelance design business can stagnate is the difficulty in extracting more revenue out of existing clients. While raising prices can do some good regarding the work you’re already doing for them, it doesn’t do much to entice them to start new projects. It takes a little bit of creativity on your part to get them on board.

One way to boost business is to offer various package deals. For example, if you normally charge a specific hourly rate for maintenance, give clients who are willing to prepay for services a price break. Maybe that amounts to a free hour of labor or some other goodies.

This can provide you with some upfront revenue and encourages your clients to spend. Not everyone will fully utilize their benefits – so you’ll come out ahead in some situations. But even if they do exhaust every last drop, you may well have convinced them to spend more than they would have otherwise.

Another opportunity lies with clients who have older websites. Perhaps their site isn’t mobile-friendly or it’s using some outdated technology. Take a look at where they all stand and reach out to those who could benefit from x, y or z. Offer them an upfront quote for making the improvements.

All it takes is a couple of positive responses to bring in some fresh funds. And with the way web technologies go out of favor, you’re sure to have plenty of improvements to suggest.

Bundling Up

Look for the Right Opportunities

When it comes to bringing in new clients, you should be picky. This is incredibly important if you have a mature business. If you already have a lot of clients, there’s no sense in just chasing the fast cash. Instead, look for those who will be a good fit for now and in the long term.

Ideally, you’ll want to choose to work with clients who will mesh well with the way you do business. If you’re looking for someone who will be with you for years, don’t settle for a client that has a tiny upfront budget with little need for changes down the road. This often ends up being more trouble than it’s worth.

When you’re just starting out, you often end up settling just because you need the business. But over time you may regret having done so. You can get stuck in situations that no longer fit with what you do.

Now that you’re older and (hopefully) wiser, you can look for opportunities that encourage growth.

Get Some Help

Flying solo is tough. There will be times when there simply isn’t enough of you to go around. To take that next step, it might make sense to look at bringing another freelancer aboard to help out.

This doesn’t necessarily mean hiring on an employee in the classic sense. It’s more like a trusted colleague who can pitch in occasionally. Perhaps they take care of some smaller tasks while you handle the bigger items on your agenda. Since it’s your business, you get to decide when and how to utilize the extra hand.

The challenge here is finding someone that is both trustworthy and affordable. On the first front, you want a person who does what you ask of them and isn’t afraid to ask questions. Second, you still want to make money on the tasks you assign to someone else. What you don’t need is a situation where you miss deadlines and run over budget.

Finding the right person can take some time – you may have to go through a few freelancers before you find “the one”. One way to minimize risk is to work with a candidate on a few small projects and see how things go. If all goes well, you’ll have a trusted source of help when you need it.

Get Some Help

Growing for Good

Keeping your design business moving full-steam ahead requires a lot of creative thinking. It’s about finding effective ways to bring in revenue from both new and existing clients. Beyond that, you need to think about how your business has evolved over time and make decisions that help keep things pointed in that direction.

Ultimately, you get to decide your own path to growth. It’s not always easy, but it is one of the unique aspects of being a freelance designer.

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Six Conversion-Boosting Web Design Tricks https://1stwebdesigner.com/conversion-boosting-web-design-tricks/ https://1stwebdesigner.com/conversion-boosting-web-design-tricks/#respond Sat, 05 Jan 2019 08:36:32 +0000 https://1stwebdesigner.com/?p=129642 Even if your website manages to consider all these aspects, it can only deliver so much value if it fails to encourage visitors to take action.

Your website’s conversion rate directly impacts your return on investment, so it’s worth researching and discovering how much your current website encourages its users to take the next step in your business relationship.

If you find that your conversion rates are lower than you want, make some simple tweaks to assure that it’s doing its intended job – bringing in new customers and converting customers to your brand.

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Conversion Rate Optimization: A Primer

We can’t talk about converting visitors without addressing conversion rate optimization (CRO), which is the practice of making improvements to your website in hopes of getting more visitors to take a desired action.

Examples of these conversion actions include filling out a contact form, making a purchase, or downloading an ebook. CRO can involve something as simple as changing the wording or a message on a landing page or changing the color of a button, to something as complex as redesigning the entire hierarchy of your site. At its core, CRO has two goals:

  1. To optimize your site’s data to match the way your user approaches information gathering, and;
  2. To leverage the psychological principles of web design to maximize the chances of continued user interaction.

How Should Businesses Approach CRO?

Now that we have an operational definition of CRO, the next logical question most have is, “How do we make it work for us?”

Conversion rate optimization, like its cousin, search engine optimization (SEO), is an always-evolving multifaceted discipline. What works for one company might not work for another. What makes CRO markedly different from SEO is that it will depend heavily on your market research and desired buyer personas. Your CRO approach will vary from other methods, but generally, it operates on a few principles:

1. Creating a Clear Value Proposition

Often, when a business is facing lackluster conversion rates, it’s because there is no clear value proposition on the homepage. If you optimize your site for search, a new user will come across it looking for a solution to a problem.

Your goal is to convince them, quickly and effectively, that your company is the solution. Businesses often fall prey to the “peacock” trope – they try to fill their homepages with what makes them different and effective, which makes the user (and thus your message) lost.

A better approach is to write a clear, concise value proposition for your homepage. Add this to a clean, simple homepage and an alluring photo, and your user will be encouraged to move on to the next step.

2. Demographic Responsive Design

By now, most are familiar with the concept of responsive design and its importance to conversion rates. In case you need a refresher, here is a statistic to whet your appetite: According to the firm eMarketer, more than half the respondents to a recent survey reported they wouldn’t purchase from a brand that offers a poorly designed mobile experience.

In today’s era of data and personalization, our obligation extends far beyond mobile responsiveness. This is where the concept of demographic-responsive design comes into play. We know that each generation has unique qualities – we know millennials as idealists and see Gen Z’ers as being more cynical. With the power of demographic-responsive design, we can accommodate these two dichotomous traits with only a little extra effort.

3. Banish Your Homepage

Is the homepage dead? In today’s world of mobility and personalization, some web designers (and marketers, for that matter) are beginning to think so.

In today’s marketing landscape, the homepage has become less relevant, especially when combined with demographic-based responsive design. Instead of a central homepage, consider creating landing pages indexed by demographics, location, or other relevant metrics.

At its best, a landing page is a one-stop roadmap for your visitor. Provide everything your users need to convert on a tailored landing page, with little navigation required.

4. Make Your Forms Simple

Forms are tedious, and users dread filling them out. This holds especially true in the online sphere, where user attention is diminished even more than in the real world.

Online forms are little more than digital paperwork. Since users already see this as a chore, take steps to minimize the drudgery and create forms that convert:

  • Ask only for information that’s absolutely necessary – with no optional fields. There’s no need to lengthen the process with information you don’t need for a business transaction.
  • If possible and when it makes sense, use predictive text. For example, addresses and locations can often be auto-filled, which reduces some of the user burden.
  • Make your error fields clear. It’s a constant annoyance for users to figure out why their form won’t submit. Strong visual cues and clear instructions will help minimize submission failure and make navigation more intuitive.

5. Revamp Your CTA

If your website is failing to convert, it might simply be because your calls to action aren’t effective enough. A good CTA guides the user to the next step in the business process, telling them they’re on the right track. There might be several reasons your CTA is failing to impress:

  • It’s too confusing. Pack too much into a CTA, and your users might wonder if they’re doing the right thing. Worse, they may become convinced that you’re not what they need.
  • It’s too generic. Learn more. Contact us. Continue. While these CTAS are simple, they don’t offer as much to a user as a more descriptive CTA might. Enticing users to continue is an important aspect of your CTA.
  • They’re too hard to find. You have a well-worded, descriptive CTA, but it gets lost in your webpage. Dominant colors, animated buttons, typography that pops – these are all essential to making your CTA visible. Users shouldn’t have to search for it. Bring the conversion to them.

6. The Argument for Simplicity

In web design, we talk a lot about simplicity and how important it is a site’s success. The reason we harp on this so often is because we’re following a scientific precedent.

Those with a marketing background are no doubt familiar with Gestalt psychology, which aims to explain how our brains maintain order and perception in an otherwise chaotic world. One of the main principles of this discipline is the Law of Pragnanz, or literally translated from German, the law of pithiness. This principle says that we crave order, and thus organize our experiences in the simplest manner possible. Instinctively, we like simplicity because it leaves less room for the element of surprise.

If you want an example of this concept in real life, consider the anxiety associated with a large purchase such as a home or car, which requires reams of paperwork. Contrast that with a website like Amazon, where we can review order history, print return labels, and schedule UPS pickup, even for large purchases or those coordinated through third-party vendors.

We can apply the same scientific principles to boost conversion rates. Simplifying your site in terms of typography, images, and content is a start. Deepen your efforts by simplifying forms and heeding these other tips:

  • Use “engagement bots.” This artificial intelligence tool isn’t exactly new, but we’ve expanded their use. Chatbots can answer questions for customers 24/7, automate the return process, and keep users on track for conversion any time of day or night.
  • Make your shopping carts intuitive. Cart placement, icons, and coloring should all have one focus – to guide a user easily through checkout.
  • Scroll, don’t navigate. Especially on a mobile interface, separate landing pages can be cumbersome. Put all the information a user needs on one landing page and make it scrollable.

Final Thoughts

Increasingly, the internet focuses on user behavior, so understanding your users and the conversations they have is more important than ever. Websites must be more than functional, they must be attractive, with a user experience that focuses on conversion optimization.

Simplicity will always trump pages overloaded with information, as these will confuse your user. To boost your conversion rate, consider using these tips and tricks to tweak your website’s design.

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Simple Hero Web Design Examples in Landing Pages https://1stwebdesigner.com/clean-simple-hero-web-design-examples-landing-pages/ https://1stwebdesigner.com/clean-simple-hero-web-design-examples-landing-pages/#respond Fri, 04 Jan 2019 23:31:58 +0000 https://1stwebdesigner.com/?p=129821 The hero is the section of a landing page which has the utmost importance.

It is contained within the fold of a website and therefore is the first area that communicates with the visitor. This means the message needs to be put across simply and concisely to convey the product or service effectively. It is also the area where the company can create high visual impact and interest, and lead the visitor on into the key content sections.

In this article we are going to look at some excellent hero design examples in landing pages to discover what makes them so efficient.

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Headway

Headway maintains a beautifully clean hero section, while delivering a concise product description and clear call to action. The navigation options are simple and easy to understand and cast the primary focus on the hero message.

The colorful illustrations serve as a content break, and carry the brand through the design, while visually representing the product at the same time.

hero design web example landing page Headway

Rezi

Rezi’s hero section sparks a tangible sense of emotion. It tempts the visitor with the emotion attached to receiving the property keys and moving home.

The message is short, large, and quickly gets across the use of the site as a tool to rent or let property. The imagery has a subtle purple hue to continuate the branding through the design. A clear call to action accompanies the hero section, allowing the site to capture the user’s initial interest and learn more about the service – in this case, getting an instant property offer.

hero design web example landing page Rezi

Bonsai

Bonsai has executed their hero section with precision and simplicity. They have not even opted to include a description, going simply with a large title which quickly explains the product at hand.

The title is accompanied by a clear call to action and a product screenshot which reinforces the concept of the product further.

This user interface also allows them to sell their product through its clean and simple design. The waves behind serve to create visual interest, carrying through both the brand as well as the graphs which are so integral to the product and its underlying concept.

hero design web example landing page Bonsai

Glyph

Glyph is one of the more simple approaches to hero design in landing pages. There is very little noise, distraction, or hard-selling. It’s as simple as a description of what Glyph does, and an accompanying call to action which stands out clearly against the minimal design.

The illustrative section is situated below the main hero section to keep the important information and call to action as high into the fold as possible. The section also serves as a break between written content, as not to overload the user with information.

hero design web example landing page Glyph

Framer

Framer is probably the most polished and structured of all the examples. It uses a clear grid system with plenty of differentiation through color and spacing. The main hero area uses an effective video to quickly convey what would otherwise be a difficult product to describe to the everyday visitor.

The design is focused less on producing a hard-sell, and more on educating the user about the product, hence the positioning of the primary call to actions in the top right of the navigation. The use of color is clear, sharp and effective, cleverly using the brand colors throughout. The three cards provide a useful visual separator from the main written content.

hero design web example landing page Framer

Which are your favorite hero design examples in landing pages? Share them below in the comments section!

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10 Free High-Quality Photoshop Brush Packs https://1stwebdesigner.com/free-photoshop-brush-packs/ https://1stwebdesigner.com/free-photoshop-brush-packs/#respond Fri, 04 Jan 2019 09:26:20 +0000 https://1stwebdesigner.com/?p=137107 Whether you’re a photographer, artist or designer, Photoshop brushes can be a huge help. Simulate watercolors, clouds, smoke, grain, explosions – the extent of what they can do is limitless. People seem to collect and hoard Photoshop brushes like they’re going out of style.

The huge demand has led to an abundance of free resources across the web. Even if you can’t afford huge, premium packs, you can still find quality brushes for use in your work. Here are ten invaluable and beautiful brush sets – available for anyone to download.

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Ultimate Brush Pack 5

Ultimate Brush Pack 5

Who could say no to 87 high-resolution brushes? These explosive patterns can add a paint-like, textured feel to your images. Great for clouds, abstract pieces and anything that requires a dynamic texture.

83 Light and Burst Brushes

83 Light and Burst Brushes

Lens flares, sunbeams and bursts of light; these brushes can give any image a sunny, bright effect. It also works great for general lighting, magical effects and even as background textures. Along with rays and waves of light, there are also halos and coronas to give the sun a more striking ring.

Bling Effects Pack

Bling Effects Pack

Sometimes a picture needs some extra bling. Maybe some sparkles, a lens flare, or a perfectly-placed light flash will do the trick. The Bling Effects Pack can help you add some pizzazz to a boring picture. Just remember that effects like this should be used sparingly as enhancements.

Watercolor 93

Watercolor 93

This pack of nearly a hundred brushes was created from actual dabs of watercolor that were scanned. There are varying shapes, intensities and luminosities to each brush – so there’s a ton of variety. If you’re creating something that requires a softer look, these watercolors will do the trick.

Hair Brush Set

Hair Brush Set

Whether you’re painting hair or just need a wispy, soft texture, the Hair Brush Set can get the job done. You’ll need a pressure sensitive tablet to get the full detailing effect. Perfect for creating fine, feathery textures.

lazy brush set

lazy brush set

Need a huge pack of essentials? The lazy brush set contains 174 brushes, varying from basics to textures to silhouettes and light flares. It’s great for artists, but many of these brushes can be used in design work too. If you can only download one brush set, choose this one; it’s huge and contains just about everything you’ll need.

Free Brush Stroke Photoshop Brushes

Free Brush Stroke Photoshop Brushes

These 15 high-resolution brush strokes look great in almost any project. Modelled after watercolors, they have a multitude of uses, from professional effects to sketches to grungy art pieces. Basic, but essential.

Free Hi-Res Photoshop Brushes: Acrylic Textures

Free Hi-Res Photoshop Brushes: Acrylic Textures

If you need a rough, realistic, watercolor-like look, these acrylic textures will be perfect. At 2500px, every stroke will be detailed and gorgeous. If your designs turn out looking false or cartoony, these brushes can help them to appear more organic.

Radiate Brush Set

Radiate Brush Set

Looking for something a little more abstract? Great for posters, backgrounds and tech projects, Radiate was created by modifying different shapes. The fringe style is just what you need if you’re trying to make your piece look extra cool.

Mad Fractal

Mad Fractal

Fractal brushes are great for backgrounds, wispy textures and abstract designs. Their randomness makes an image more interesting. And there’s 30 brushes, so your design options with this collection are limitless.

Beautiful Brushes

Finding the best brushes can take some experimenting, so feel free to download lots of them to test out! The sites listed here have plenty of free brush packs to try. Do some digging and testing until you have some that you feel comfortable using. Once you find one (or ten) that work for you, you’ll be effortlessly crafting beautiful art, photos and web design layouts.

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