29 Nov 2017

The Importance of UX Design

Many people make the mistake of not paying enough attention to UX (or user experience). They spend weeks and months curating what they perceive to be excellent content, create pages and pages of information without ever really thinking about the experience of the website user.

There are many different aspects that determine whether a user’s experience is a good one, but there are a few generic principles that anybody setting up a website should be aware of:

#1 Page loading
Users hate slow loading pages and if your website is taking longer than 3 seconds to load up then you are probably losing huge sections of your visitors at the very first hurdle. You can test your page loading speed through various tools like Pingdom.com and they will even highlight some improvements that you can make.

Sometimes it can be as simple as your choice of image and not having optimised it for web use. Or it might be that your web host isn’t providing a high enough level of performance and you need to review some other hosting options.

#2 Keep it simple
Sometimes people go that far with trying to impress users that they over complicate the website. Over-cluttering pages with content is not helpful and can be confusing for users. Having clear titles and navigation menus are important aspects of the UX and also bears a lot of influence on the search engine results.

#3 Call to Action
Having a strong, well-placed Call to Action not only helps boost your conversion rates, it also makes it really easy for your visitors to contact you in the best way available. It gives them the quick option of getting straight to your contact methods rather than needing to search around your website to find them.

#4 Responsive
People are accessing websites from a wide range of devices and screen sizes. What a desktop user sees does not always reflect the same experience as mobile users. Having a responsive website will ensure that mobile users will not be faced with an unfriendly looking version that is impossible to navigate around. Most new websites are built to be responsive and the fact that 55% of internet traffic is through mobile users makes this even more important.

 
#5 Readability
Large blocks of text are a user’s worst nightmare. It is no fun scrolling through unformatted text and your users will soon get bored of reading in this format. Try to reduce the amount of pages that are predominantly text – could a video be used instead to covey information?
Also, having short sentences will help to make the text easier to read and using formatting such as bullets and headings will also make the content more readable. Good use of paragraphs also makes it easier for the reader to take in the information.
 
#6 Carefully plan your ‘above the fold’ area
What sits within the above the fold section is really important for the UX. This is the first content that users will see and it will generally determine their opinions of the quality of your website straight away. They say first impressions count and with website design, this is definitely the case. So think about what you are putting into this area to ensure that it is going to impress the user.
You should use the space to give users a good idea of what your website is all about and what your key products and services are. The navigation menu should be clearly displayed in this area so that the user can easily move from page to page. Most developers would also recommend that your CTA goes into this area, as well as your business logo and any strapline that you have.

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26 Oct 2017

Vim – The Charity Crusader

Vim as you may already know is one of the most popular text editors around but what really stands it apart from the rest is that it is charityware. By that we mean that it is a type of software that supports charity whilst doing its standard job. As it is free open source software, the developers ask users to make a donation to charity instead of other types of payment.

So if you are a programmer looking for a great text editor, wouldn’t you like to know that you are helping a charity? It is certainly a good selling point for many. Aside from that, it is regarded as high quality text editing software and has even won a number of awards. Vim stands for Vi Improved (although originally Vi Imitation) to outline the improved features over Vi. It works across a range of operating systems, which many text editors struggle to do.

Vim was first released to the public back in 1991 and has been helping developers ever since. Bram Moolenaar first brought Vim into the programming world and wanted it to be used for good, as charityware.

Besides being for a very good cause, Vim is popular with programmers (some of our team at UK Web Host Review use it)

– It is free and offers lots of supporting resources from the community of users

– It can be used through a remote connection

– It is lightweight and portable

– You can use Vim plugins

– It can be used with many different languages e.g. HTML, CSS, Javascript and around 200 more!

So what is Vim doing for charity?

Moolenaar decided that he wanted to make a difference for children in Uganda and specifically children living with or affected by HIV/AIDS. Users of Vim are asked to

Donate to the International Child Care Fund, which passes the money onto Kibaale Children’s Centre in southern Uganda. The AIDS epidemic in Uganda is of great concern, with up to an estimated 30% of the population being infected by the virus. One of the terrible consequences of this means that there is a very large number of orphans who may not have access to everyday necessities like water and food.

The KCC supports the children in many ways, including the provision of much needed vaccinations and also education to help prevent the spreading of AIDS. They also work hard to ensure that children have access to schools and are provided with the right level of education to enable them to support themselves in the future.

In 2016 Uganda experienced a drought that made life even harder for those living there, with food and water supplies at a real low. Without the intervention of ICCF and similar organisations, the results of the drought would have been much worse. They have funded the building of water tanks at schools so that all children have access to water whenever they need it.

What Moolenaar has done is tried to show the world that that his product, Vim has made life much easier for programmers who are able to live a comfortable life. He has highlighted that across the world the simple things we take for granted are not readily available. A small donation can make a huge difference to children who have suffered from tragic circumstances and can help to support them to get a good education and job.

Vim is well regarded for its simplistic nature and the huge impact it has in helping programmers and web developers. Moolenaar is applying a similarly simplistic approach to give children the basic tools to a better life. In an interview he did with Binpress he notes his motivation for helping charity as coming from his own experience whilst he developed Vim. He had no job and asked for sponsorship to help him out, which led him to think about the role of sponsorship and how big an impact it can have.

It is safe to say Bram Moolenaar has made a huge impact on the world, both to programmers and to the children of Uganda. What a great guy and what a fantastic text editor!

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11 Oct 2017

The 7 Best WordPress Plugins for Displaying a Video Gallery

When it comes time to showcase your skills or product/service on your WordPress site through video, you will need to use a plugin designed to support your video media or content. Lucky for you, there are quite a few options available to get your videos uploaded and display a glowing video gallery.

Let’s have look at some of the awesome plugins offered by the talented people at WordPress to help you do this:

First up – Envira Gallery

Envira is by far the best WordPress video gallery plugin and is super easy to install on your site. This plugin allows you to create and compile a video gallery at the touch of a button and comes equipped with easy to use drop and drag widgets that help get the job done. This plugin allows you to create galleries form Youtube, Vimeo, Wistia and self-hosted WordPress videos.

 

YouTube Simple Gallery

The name is a giveaway if you are wondering how difficult it is to use this plugin. This amazing plugin automatically uses custom post types to add, organize and even categorize your videos with the click of a button. The YouTube Simple Gallery short code is used to create a listed video gallery which can be edited and formatted to change the overall appearance of the video gallery list.

YouTube Showcase

This is another easy to use plugin which offers some of the same features as the Simple Gallery. The main difference of this plugin is the overall beauty of the gallery layout and there are also additional drop and drag widgets available to make the process easier. This WordPress Video Gallery Plug boasts all of the same functionality as the Simple Gallery but looks much better from a design point of view.

WordPress Video Gallery

If HD is your thing then this plugin is a must. WordPress Video Gallery offers High Definition video play and the skins are highly customisable. This plugin also offers you the option of seeing what your videos will look like and all of the features can be changed before going live with your gallery. This plugin is a must for large video files that must be seen in HD.

Workbox Video from Vimeo & YouTube

This plugin works on a much more basic level in comparison to other video gallery plugins and is compatible with Vimeo, YouTube, and Wista. This plugin uses a simple user interface to add URL’s of the videos that you want to use and will create your gallery based on these videos. This plugin also lets you create multiple galleries with different sets of videos so you can create different subject based video galleries.

WPG Cool Gallery

WPG Cool Gallery is a simple to use plugin that allows you to upload and display videos into an easily navigated frame and gives your viewers the option of seeing your gallery all on one page or individually through a pop-up window. This plugin works with YouTube and Vimeo to display a fully responsive galley.

Ultimate Video Gallery

This easy to use plugin benefits from the ability to create endless galleries to upload and uses short code to create and manage the video gallery. This plugin uses a very simple design interface to load the videos straight from the source and all of the features are customisable if you wish.

Any of these options would make an amazing addition to your WordPress site and these galleries are sure to showcase your skills or media in a mind-blowing way and can be done quickly and easily.

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01 Aug 2017

Show Category Descriptions in WordPress

If you wish to add category descriptions to your WordPress site, help is at hand. Before we look at ways to display category descriptions in WP, let’s have a quick look at some of the main reasons why WordPress has become such as popular content publishing profile over recent years.

One of the most celebrated things about WordPress is the fact that that you can change the design of your site extremely quickly without compromising the quality of its appearance. There are thousands of themes to choose from and an active global community of WP experts willing to help you out if you do ever find yourself stuck and require advice on making its many features work for you. Plugs in enable you to boost the functionality of your site massively, even if you only have the most basic knowledge of programming. More than 10,000 plugins are on offer, and new ones are being developed and launched all the time. Whether you need a plug in for social media integration, photos, SEO or many other purposes, help is available.

Updating a WP site is easy. Anyone who can create a Word document can publish an article on WP. What’s more is that the search engines treat WP sites extremely favourably, and Google has recommended WordPress for business sites.

If you do wish to display category descriptions on your site, read on. Categories are incredibly useful and can boost the WP experience not only for you but your visitors too. They enable you to organise content with ease and make it much easier for users to find it. Furthermore, they are great for SEO.

WordPress has two built-in taxonomies known as categories and tags. The taxonomies make it easy to sort content into topics. In WordPress, you can add descriptions to categories, which is something many WP users remain unaware of because they can create categories when writing posts which don’t let them add descriptions.

To get around this, go to the Posts » Categories page. If you are creating a new category, you can enter the name and description and click on the ‘Add new category’ button.

You can also add descriptions to categories that already exist by clicking on the ‘edit’ button beneath said category. Do this and you’ll be taken to the category edit screen which lets you add a description. Click the ‘update’ button so your changes are not lost.

You can go through this process again as many times as you need to until all your categories have descriptions. The same method enables you to add descriptions for your tags.

Do you need to show category descriptions on the Category Archive Page?

Whilst many WP themes automatically show the category description on the category archive pages, this is not always the case. If your theme is not showing category descriptions on archive pages, you can put things right by editing your theme files. Use an FTP client to connect to your WP site and go to /wp-content/themes/your-current-theme/ folder. Find and edit your category.php file. If your theme doesn’t have one, you can edit the archive.php file. Copy and paste the following code in the place you want your category description to be shown.

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<?php

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the_archive_description( ‘<div class=”taxonomy-description”>’, ‘</div>’ );

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?>

Save the changes and upload the file to your website. Once you have done this, you can head to the category archive page on the site to view the description.

Show Category Description in WordPress Theme

You can use the category_description template tag below to show the category description in other areas of your website.

<?php echo category_description(3); ?>

Replace 3 with your own category ID.

Use the code below to display category descriptions inside a single post.

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$catID = get_the_category();

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echo category_description( $catID[0] );

This code will get all the categories for the current post and output the category description of the first category.

You can list each of your WordPress categories with a description in list format by adding the code below to your theme’s functions.php file:

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function wpb_catlist_desc() {

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$string = ‘<ul>’;

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$catlist = get_terms( ‘category’ );

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if ( ! empty( $catlist ) ) {

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foreach ( $catlist as $key => $item ) {

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$string .= ‘<li>’. $item->name . ‘<br />’;

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$string .= ‘<em>’. $item->description . ‘</em> </li>’;

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}

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}

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$string .= ‘</ul>’;

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return $string;

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}

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add_shortcode(‘wpb_categories’, ‘wpb_catlist_desc’);

The above code will create a shortcode. This will display all categories and the descriptions that go with them in a plain list. You will then be able to use [wpb_categories] in your posts and pages. Enable shortcodes for widgets if you need to use the shortcode in a text widget.

More about Category Descriptions

The Category Description function is overlooked by many but can be incredibly useful. You may have seen the category description on many occasions without noticing it. Many people glance over this box when they are setting up and editing descriptions. Though not all WordPress site owners require or even want a category description, descriptions can provide your users with valuable information, make your site more exciting and efficient and boost the SEO of your site.

Do I need to use Category Descriptions?

Category Descriptions may prove invaluable if you regularly post about various topics and feel it would be beneficial to divide the content on your site into sections. If you don’t specify a category, your post will be filed in the default one, which is often ‘Uncategorized’. You can change your default category in the Settings » Writing screen. Posts don’t have to come under a single category – they can be filed under various different fields, which is very handy if you are posting content that suits a number of different fields. Your WP Posts can also have tags as well as categories. More and more WP users are experiencing the benefits of Category Descriptions.

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