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Productivity Hacks For Remote Teams

24 septembre, 2020 - 17:16

Web workers and site owners are no strangers to remote work. Thanks to high-speed internet connections and ultra-portable devices, anyone can choose their ideal workspace.

Home offices, coworking spaces, the local park, or even a tropical beach can all become a great location to tackle their list of daily tasks.

However, as a large percentage of global workers shifted to a remote working model in 2020, the research data studying the productivity of these people started to become more and more conflicting.

On the one hand, some findings suggested drops in productivity that were anywhere between 1% and 14%. On the other hand, empirical data showed that, across some industries, workers actually managed to increase their productivity by 4%.

Keeping in mind that there are two sides to each coin, remote workers, as well as managers, need to understand that productivity doesn’t just depend on location. It’s equally conditioned by work habits, tools, and personal wellbeing. Thus, it becomes clear that, to some extent, efficiency can be intentionally boosted. The following are the top productivity hacks for remote teams.

Setting Boundaries

Distractions make for productivity’s greatest foe. Whether you’re dealing with the usual hustle and bustle of an office or a busy home, it’s important to remember that eliminating distractions (or at least keeping them down to a minimum) is possible. All it takes is setting some boundaries.

First and foremost, to increase the efficiency with which you tackle your daily tasks, try to choose a place to work from. It can be any place that’s available to you – your dining room table or the spare room above the garage. What’s important is that you train your mind to associate your chosen setting with productive work.

Of course, once you’ve decided on the space, you can implement a few advanced hacks as well:

  • Set the room temperature to a comfortable 70 degrees. The hotter your office, the lower your productivity will be. So try not to lull yourself to sleep by keeping the heating on a high setting (and save on your monthly bills as well).
  • Turn on the lights. Opt for brighter, cooler shades of white as these stimulate the wake cycle of your circadian rhythm.
  • Choose the right background noise. If there are other people around you while you get work done, you might want to invest in a pair of noise-canceling headphones. Otherwise, you can choose a playlist on your favorite music app that’ll get you in the zone.
  • Make use of Do Not Disturb mode. Remote teams usually use several communication apps, which are great for keeping in touch. However, constantly dealing with notifications can be distracting. If you’re working on something that requires your full attention, make sure your phone and computer notifications are off. This way, you can focus on the task at hand.
  • Add greenery to your space. Plants don’t just improve the air quality in your office, but they can also boost creativity by as much as 45%!

Another way to define and enforce boundaries regarding your work habits is to have a clearly determined routine. Sticking to a schedule can be difficult (especially if you’re in charge of your own time). But do your best to instill some sense of predictability into your workday.

  • Start work at the same time every day. It doesn’t matter if it’s 6 AM or 2 PM. What matters is that you choose a time when you feel most energized and ready to tackle your tasks.
  • Forget about your snooze button. If you’re one of those people who set 5 alarms in the morning, it might be time to reconsider this habit. According to research, allowing yourself to drift back to sleep after having woken up may cause sleep inertia, which has been linked to poor performance, reduced vigilance, and a feeling of drowsiness that lasts for hours.
  • Stop working on time. It may seem counterintuitive to not work as much as you can, but in the long-run, pacing yourself is going to help you avoid burnout. Set a hard-stop time for your workday, and you’ll reap the benefits.
  • Respect your coworkers’ schedules. Many remote teams are scattered across the globe, which means different time zones. In these cases, try to make sure you’re mindful of other people’s time. Do your best to stick to an agreed schedule when asking for information and delivering assignments.
Be Clear About Your Priorities

Here’s the deal: putting together a to-do list isn’t about fitting as much as you can into your day. Instead, it’s all about prioritizing.

The thing is, we all have a long list of tasks that we need to do. However, if you take the time to think about the outcomes you get from these actions, you quickly realize that some contribute to your output in a big way, while others have almost negligible results. This idea is better known as the Pareto principle.

So, it turns out that boosting productivity doesn’t necessarily mean doing more. Instead, it means working more smartly, focusing on high-priority tasks, and minimizing time spent on less impactful to-dos and time-wasters.

If you’re new to prioritizing your to-do list, you can start by doing your most demanding tasks first thing in the morning. Getting over that big obstacle at the beginning of the workday (also called Eating the Frog) helps you achieve two things. 

  • Firstly, you get a sense of accomplishment that’s crucial to motivating you to work further. 
  • Secondly, you get the most challenging task off your list, and you can concentrate on the rest of your assignments that you either enjoy or that take up less effort.

Another technique you could try is categorizing your work assignments. According to Dwight Eisenhower, urgent and important tasks rarely coincide. So, you can hack your schedule by classifying your tasks based on how immediately they require your attention. This technique is a great way to identify anything that you should be dropping from your schedule, as well as to point out the tasks you should dedicate the most time to.

Task prioritization is a particularly important skill for remote team managers. They need to have insight into how each of their team members is doing at any time. Some project management software solutions allow you to assign tasks to different members of your team, giving you visual feedback regarding each employee’s current workload.

These tools can be a great way to keep track of all ongoing processes. Furthermore, they can help you make sure that not a single employee has to deal with more than they can objectively handle.

Impose Deadlines

Although most people feel like deadlines cause needless stress (and consequently impair productivity), research shows that this isn’t necessarily true.

When set correctly, deadlines can help you focus, as well as become a source of motivation. The only prerequisite is that the goals you’ve set out are achievable. And you can easily get a productivity boost by creating micro-deadlines throughout your day.

You can experiment with some form of the Pomodoro technique. It combines short periods of work and rest, helping you keep your focus at its highest level throughout the day. Most people choose the 20 minutes on, 5 minutes off variation. But, you can experiment with longer intervals as well to see what works best for you personally.

Alternatively, you can use a journal or calendar app to time block your tasks. This practice involves selecting times during your day when you will address specific assignments, so it can help you limit the number of hours you spend on time-wasters such as email.

It’s also not a bad idea to track and analyze your work hours. By using calendar analytics and insights, you can get invaluable information on the tasks that are taking up most of your resources.

Additionally, tracking software allows remote team managers to see how their coworkers are utilizing their work hours, allowing them to assign tasks in smarter, more realistic ways.

Take Care of Physical Wellbeing

Finally, don’t forget that physical health impacts productivity just as much as tech or productivity hacks do. Nutrition, exercise, sleep, and mental wellbeing can all contribute to getting things done more quickly and efficiently.

So, make sure that you and your team members practice healthy habits in your work routines. Make time in the day for some movement, such as an after-lunch walk. Or, engage in some healthy competition to see who can do the most push-ups, sit-ups, or track the most steps during the week.

And, of course, if you are a business owner whose team is working remotely, make sure that there are protocols in place so that everyone gets the right benefits. Investing in your remote team’s health may seem like an unnecessary cost, but know that keeping them healthy and satisfied with their job automatically boosts performance.

Find What Works for You

Every team is different, and within that team, every person has their own personal preferences. Naturally, boosting efficiency will require personalized solutions.

There are numerous productivity hacks out there. So, if your goal is to enhance your performance or help your remote team do the same, make sure to do your research. Experiment until you find the ideal solution.

Remember, as a digital nomad, you’re already at a huge advantage – you can choose when and where you work. So, consider how you can upgrade your habits with proven-to-work hacks, and enjoy the benefits of a routine that lets you do more in less time.

Photo by Charles Deluvio on Unsplash

Catégories: News dév web

Graphic Design Books Every Designer Should Read in 2020

23 septembre, 2020 - 15:54

Graphic design is an incredibly important field in our world. According to the US Labor of Statistics data, there are 281.500 graphic design jobs just in the USA. 

It’s a field in which just having talents is not enough. You have to constantly improve your skills, whether they are directly about graphic design or the business side of it. You need to keep up with the competition. 

The Internet is a great resource for improving your skillset, and showcasing your work. But, there are some things that you can’t just find in blog articles and forums. That’s where the graphic design books come into play. There are so many great books written by experienced designers, and we’ll try to go through a few of them in this article.

Without further ado, here are the graphic design books you should read if you are looking for a career in graphic design.

Graphic Design Books How to be a Graphic Designer, Without Losing Your Soul by Adrian Shaughnessy Image Source

If you are looking to have a career in this field, you definitely should read this amazing work that was published in 2005, but re-issued in 2012 by Adrian Shaughnessy. 

The book is not particularly focused on the technical or artistic aspect of graphic design, it’s more about the business side of it. Adrian Shaughnessy is a freelance graphic designer himself, and he shows the not so glamorous side of the field and shares his tips. 

If you are doing any kind of freelance creative work, this is a must-read. There are great insights from running your business to the creative process.

Thoughts on Design by Paul Rand Image Source

Thoughts on Design is the grandfather of the design books. Originally an essay that was published in 1947, it became the book we know today in 1970. 

If you want to learn more about the cultural and historical context of the graphic design industry, this one is a great and light read. 

Make sure you check other books by Paul Rand as well, such as A Designer’s Art and Design, Form and Chaos.

Logo Modernism by Jens Müller Image Source

Published by TASCHEN, Logo Modernism by Jens Müller is an amazing resource for graphic designers. The book focuses on the most stylish and important logos created between 1940-1980. 

There are around 6,000 trademarks in the book, and the modernist attitude toward creating a corporate identity is closely examined. 

The book is divided into 3 chapters which are Geometric, Effect, and Typographic. And each chapter has subsections that go deeper into the form and style such as the alphabet, overlay, dots, and squares.

Interaction of Color by Josef Albers Image Source

Josef Albert’s Interaction of Color is thoroughly used in art education. Albers explains the complex color theory principles, and it’s regarded to be the ‘last word’ on color theory.

Since it’s conceived as a handbook and teaching aid for artists, instructors, and students this highly influential book is easy to read and understand with great examples.

If you want to learn more about color and improve how you interact with it, this is a must-read.

Grid Systems in Graphic Design by Josef Müller-Brockmann Image Source

Grid systems are essential for graphic designers as a tool for organizing layout and content. It’s the definitive word on using grid systems in graphic design. 

It’s a visual communication manual for graphic designers, 3D designers and typographers. The book is full of great conceptual examples, and also shows you why a certain grid choice would work better in a given situation. 

If you are looking to improve yourself in this field, grid systems are something you can’t just pass.

Thinking With Type by Ellen Lupton Image Source

Thinking With Type is a great book for anyone who works with type. It’s especially useful for designers, covering all the angles from print to screen. 

The book starts off by explaining the theory in 3 categories, letter, text, and grid. After the theoretical introduction, the practical exercises you can put to use immediately follow up. There is also a section in which what you shouldn’t be doing is explained as well.

Designing Brand Identity by Alina Wheeler Image Source

This best selling book by Alina Wheeler is everything you are looking for about designing in today’s day and age. Originally published in 2009, the book has been updated for the fifth time in 2017 to cover all of the new emerging technologies and practices.

The book covers expanded coverage of social media cross channel synergy, crowdsourcing, SEO, experience branding, mobile devices, wayfinding, and placemaking. The book consists of three sections on brand fundamentals, process basics, and case studies. These case studies include top brands from various industries around the world.

If you want to learn more about identity design and the process of branding, you definitely need to read this.

As a graphic designer, you constantly need to improve yourself. There are so many things you can learn from the iconic and famous illustrators to CG artists. And working towards mastering your craft is not enough, don’t forget to learn more about the business side of it.

Catégories: News dév web

7 Additional Revenue Streams to Help Designers and Developers Bring in Extra Cash

23 septembre, 2020 - 12:37

We are living in uncertain times. With working hours down 14% during the second quarter of 2020 because of COVID-19, employees, business owners, and freelancers alike are stressed out about the future. Sadly, 62% of small businesses have reported a general decrease in revenue:

Source: SHRM

As a designer or developer, you may have already noticed a dip in your income, or simply want to plan for the future. Therefore, it is sensible to consider different revenue streams. Read on and I’ll teach you several strategies you can use to bring in some much needed extra cash. 

1. Get More Clients 

If you’re a freelancer or small business owner, perhaps the simplest way to grow your income is to add more clients to your roster. As the owner of a web design agency, I spend a huge amount of my time on growing my company and trying to bring in new customers.

Blogging regularly, maintaining a visible presence on LinkedIn, attending conferences and events, and writing guest posts for relevant sites are just some of the ways I grow my client base. Here are a few ways you might want to consider to start getting more clients:

If you haven’t already, you might want to consider joining freelance marketplace sites such as Freelancer.com, Guru, or Upwork. You can join as many platforms as you want, but I suggest focusing on one or two. Build a great profile with a professional photograph, an impressive portfolio, and your contact information. 

You’ll also want to step up your networking efforts if you are looking to land more clients. Spend time on LinkedIn, creating engaging content and interacting with others’ posts. When you encounter someone you’d like to work with, reach out and start a conversation. 

You might also wish to join a networking group. Many are meeting online at the current time due to COVID-19, so don’t be limited by geography. Since you work digitally, you can work for clients anywhere in the world. 

Events are still enormously beneficial in client acquisition. For example, our team visited the MD&M Trade Show in California, where several thousand companies we’d love to work with gathered for the world’s largest MedTech event. 

Source: LForm 

It’s harder to attend events right now due to the pandemic, but many have moved online. If there is a virtual conference in your niche, make the time to attend. You’ll build contacts, make connections, and you might just meet your next ideal client. Remember to make a plan and figure out who you most want to meet – you can’t do everything, and having a plan will allow you to achieve your goals. 

You could even host your own virtual event, such as a class, panel discussion, or webinar, or team up with someone else in your industry to run one. If it’s on an interesting and relevant topic, this can be a great way to get new prospects into your sales funnel. Here’s one I took part in earlier this year: 

Finally, ask current and past clients for referrals. If they loved your services, they’ll be only too happy to tell their friends how amazing you are. Ideally, asking for referrals should be part of an organized and streamlined offboarding process. A robust offboarding process allows you to seamlessly transition at the end of a project, ensure the client is happy, and hand ownership of the project to them. Once all that is done, you can ask for testimonials and referrals. 

2. Collaborate with Other Agencies or Providers

One way you can bring in extra cash is to offer additional services to clients. Design or web development might be your core skill, but what else are you good at? For example, you might wish to offer services such as hosting, SEO, or blogging. If you think about it, you might have other monetizable skills that you’re not using to their fullest potential. 

Another, and perhaps even better, way to offer additional services is to collaborate with another agency or provider. You can send referrals their way in exchange for a commission, or white label their services. White labeling refers to a product or service provider removing their branding and instead of using the buyer’s branding. In other words, you sell on another company or provider’s services under your brand and take a cut of the money paid by the end client. 

You don’t need to have the skillset to deliver extra services in order to profit from them. A commission rate of around 20% is standard in the agency space. Ensure you partner with an agency or provider that offers complementary, but not competing, services. So if you’re a web designer, you wouldn’t partner with a design agency, but you might partner with an SEO agency or web hosting provider.  

This strategy has two key benefits: you’ll bring in commissions from each referral you make, and it will also help you acquire new customers through referrals. 

3. Create a Blog

Blogging can be a fantastic way to generate additional revenue. Design and web development are highly technical areas, which means you probably have niche expertise. If you can write well, share your knowledge through a blog. 

But be prepared: blogging isn’t a ticket to overnight income and it can take some work to get started. You’ll need to write regularly and optimize each post for relevant keywords if you want to drive significant traffic to your blog. If you want to earn a lot, you’ll probably also need to do some paid marketing in the form of pay-per-click (PPC) ads or paid social media ads.

Brain Dean, who founded Backlinko SEO blog, is an amazing resource for anyone looking to grow their business through blogging. His guide to writing a blog post will guide you through creating your content and his Grow Your Blog Fast course is available for those who are serious about blogging success. 

Here’s a concrete example of how blogging can help your business. Two years ago, I wrote a blog post on the Lform blog about the 10 best web design agencies in NJ, where we’re based:

Thanks to this blog post and the links we’ve built to it, we now rank at the top of the organic Google search results for “NJ web design”. We’ve even secured a place in the coveted Google “3-pack”, a list of 3 top location-based search results:

Since 76% of people who conduct a local search contact a business within 24 hours, and 28% go on to buy, I cannot overstate the benefit this has had for us. In other words, that blog post has been absolutely critical in our client acquisition efforts. Imagine what just one or two high ranking posts could do for your business. 

4. Sell a Course

If you have niche knowledge to share, you can make good money by building and selling online courses. For example, if you’re a web developer you could offer a course on web development trends for the upcoming year. If you’re a designer, why not offer a course on web design for a specific niche? And so on. 

Here’s an example: copywriter Len Smith turned his book into the course “Copywriting Secrets: How to Write Copy That Sells” on Udemy. According to Neil Patel, this course earned over $3000 in two days when it first launched. Based on the course cost and the number of students who have taken it, it has likely brought in more than $3 million to date. Udemy takes a 50% cut of course fees, leaving around $1.5 million in profit. 

One of the biggest benefits of online courses? You only need to create the course once, and then promote it and sell it again and again. It’s also a good idea to update the content once in a while to ensure it is still relevant. Please don’t misunderstand me, though, and think that selling a course is easy. It isn’t. But there are a few ways you can maximize your sales and  

Make sure you’re offering truly useful information in a subject area you know a lot about. Make your content interactive and suggest exercises for participants to try out their new knowledge. Include downloadable resources. Leverage testimonials and reviews to show that your course is worth it – you can gather these by offering a small number of people access to your course for free in exchange for a review.  

There are a lot of online courses out there, so you’ll want to stand out. If your course offers value for money, you’ll get great reviews and this will lead to more sign-ups in future. 

Let’s take a look at how Smith does it so successfully: 

Beneath the title and subheading, the first thing you see on the page is that the course has a great rating (4.4 stars out of 5) and has been taken by tens of thousands of students. This offers powerful social proof of its value. You don’t need thousands of reviews to get started, though – just a few will give you the credibility you need to start selling your course. 

In addition, there’s a detailed breakdown of what you’ll learn on the course. Further down, you can read about the course leader’s experience and credentials. Remember to spell out why you’re the right person to teach this course and what your students stand to gain by investing money to learn from you. 

You can use a platform like Udemy or Skillshare to create and host your e-learning material. If you prefer, you can also sell directly from your own website, but you’ll need to make sure you have a simple method of collecting payment and delivering the course materials. 

5. Develop Products that Sell – and Sell Them

Have you ever wanted to invent something? You can generate additional revenue by creating products and selling them. If you go down this route, you’ll need to undertake market research to ensure there is sufficient demand for what you’d like to create and sell. 

You don’t necessarily have to create a physical product, which can be expensive and present problems with storage and inventory. Digital products are highly saleable. Why not write an ebook, build an app, or create a new software solution? 

You can sell your products through your website using an eCommerce solution such as Shopify or an alternative

Another option is to create free extras, such as plugins or tools to support the CMS you specialize in. Creating valuable tools and giving them away for free is a great top-of-the-funnel business strategy to generate brand awareness and loyalty. If a customer loves your free product, they’re more likely to trust you enough to invest in your paid services. 

Here’s an example:

Source: Neil Patel

SEO expert Neil Patel created a free SEO analysis tool that will give any user a completely free report on their website. This allows for new prospective customers to access his knowledge and expertise in a no-risk way. Then, if they like it and find it useful, they can move on to his paid services. 

6. Create YouTube tutorials

If you have the knowledge to share and are confident in front of the camera, then YouTube could be the platform for you. You can create tutorials on all kinds of design and web development topics, and earn ad revenue from these videos. Creators can earn between $0.35 and $5 per thousand views. It doesn’t sound like a lot but, if you build up a strong following, you can bring in a few hundred dollars per month. In addition, you might be able to attract sponsorship deals with brands in your niche, where they pay you to showcase their products. 

To create content that generates high numbers of views, you’ll need to make sure each video offers real value. Focus on useful advice and actionable takeaways. You could even group your videos into a coherent series of learning resources, covering a related topic in each video: 

Source: KnowYourMac on YouTube

If you post videos regularly and start seeing high viewing figures, you can earn a nice side income from your Youtube channel. 

Be aware that monetizing a Youtube channel is a long term strategy. If I started creating Youtube videos and building my audience today, I’d expect to start seeing cash coming in 6-12 months from now. However, if you persevere, the rewards can be substantial.  

Additionally, a Youtube channel can be a great top-of-the-funnel strategy for bringing new prospective customers to your brand. If people find valuable content and actionable insights from your free Youtube content, they’ll likely think of you if they ever need the services you’re offering. 

Generating Additional Revenue as a Designer or Developer

Designers and developers have highly marketable skills that can be used to generate income in a number of different ways. 

A word of warning: don’t try to do everything on this list all at once! Choose one or two to focus on to begin with. The best option is the one that works for you and that you can do consistently. See which ideas appeal to you the most, and try those. Once things are going well, you can always scale your efforts or add more revenue streams later on. 

Whichever option you choose, be patient. You might not start making money overnight. You’ll need to put the work in consistently if you want to see real results. Invest the time and effort, and your hard work will start paying off. 

Photo by Per Lööv on Unsplash

Catégories: News dév web

Top 10+ NonProfit WordPress Themes For 2020

23 septembre, 2020 - 11:17

The success of a non-profit website depends to a large extent on its theme. A theme can make or break a website. It gives a website its look and a website acts as a bridge between an organization and its communities.

A non-profit organization needs to build communities, showcase their activities, organize events, and collect the donation. They need a theme that can help them serve all these purposes. If the theme doesn’t function properly, running the website becomes difficult. And, without a well-designed website, survival is almost impossible in the twenty-first century. To run a non-profit organization, a WordPress non-profit theme is a primary need.     

In this article, we have brought a collection of the 12 best non-profit themes for WordPress. All the themes are explained in detail with their key features and price. Go through the list, hope you will find at least one that will fit your needs.  

The most popular WordPress Nonprofit themes of the year  1. Church 

The church is a fast loading and feature-rich WordPress non-profit template that comes with the Responsive Pro theme. It is specially designed for religious organizations. It lets you raise funds for your church community using a free donation plugin. You can also showcase your events on the homepage with the help of a  free plugin for event management. The WooCommerce integration allows you to build an online shop to sell products from the church to collect funds for religious activities. This WordPress theme is responsive and retina ready. It is SEO friendly and well documented. It is available in both free and premium versions. 

Features 

  • Pre-designed pages 
  • One-click demo import
  • Deliver sermons to the church community 
  •  Add speakers’ bio on the speaker category page  
  • Cross-browser compatible 
  • WPML ready 

Price – $47

2. CharityWPHearty 

Charity is a responsive non-profit and charity WordPress theme. It offers you clean and pixel perfect pre-designed pages that help you to create your website in a short time without any difficulty. There are 700+ Google fonts, attractive icon packs, and 90+ easy shortcodes. The theme is Visual Composer and Slider Revolution integrated. It has stunning parallax effects. It is SEO optimized and most suitable for NGO, NPO, and religious organizations. Anybody, even non-technical persons can use it on their own without taking any help from anybody.   

Features 

  • 6 home pages 
  • 13 blog layouts 
  • 3 header possibilities 
  • Event management features 
  • social media integration
  • WooCommerce ready 

Price – $59 

3. Groppe 

Groppe is an advanced WordPress theme designed especially for non-profit organizations. It is ideal for community building and fundraising. It helps you create stunning pages with unlimited layout options. It has numerous color options, advanced typography, and lots of pre-designed templates. There are also two attractive blog layouts. The theme is responsive and cross-browser compatible. It is SEO friendly and ready for most of the latest WordPress plugins like WooCommerce, Visual Composer, and Contact Form 7. 

Features 

  • Pre-made demos 
  • Donation system & layout 
  • Multiple header styles 
  • Event calendar 
  • Lifetime updates 
  • Child theme compatible 

Price – $49

4. Green Nature 

Green Nature is a WordPress non-profit theme for the environment and nature. It is exclusively designed for ecological activities like energy conservation, wildlife protection, and many more. It offers you almost everything that you need to carry a venture to save nature.  There are many layout options and features for fundraising and donation. The theme comes with PayPal integration. It is SEO friendly, responsive and retina ready. Anybody can use it without any difficulty. It is well documented.  

Features 

  • One-click demo import 
  • Advanced page builder 
  • Powerful admin panel 
  • Master slider integrated 
  • WooCommerce ready 
  • WPML compatible

Price – $59 

5. Peak 

Peak is a feature-rich non-profit theme for WordPress. It lets you capture events via Tribe Event Calendar Plugin and display event campaigns on the campaign page. You can showcase your activities nicely in the galleries along with captions. There are many payment options. You can sell your goods creating a WooCommerce store on your website. The theme works well with all the latest WordPress plugins. It is beginner-friendly and translation ready.    

Features 

  • Campaigns with donation forms 
  • Ticket issuing feature for events 
  • Reporting functions 
  • Parallax / Video section 
  • Unlimited header styles 
  • 30+ page builder widgets 

Price – $49

6. Fundor 

Fundor is an elegant WordPress nonprofit multipurpose theme. It comes bundled with many free plugins that help you add extra features to your websites. You can build eye-catching pages with Elementor page builder and create forms with Contact form 7.  Kt has various sidebar variations and many premade widgets. There is an upcoming events area to showcase your events before your visitors. There is also a pre-designed donation wall for fundraising activities. The theme is SEO friendly and speed optimized. It is responsive and cross-browser compatible.    

Features 

  • One-click demo import 
  • 3+ homepage demos 
  • Ready to use donation forms 
  • Multiple functional pages 
  • List & grid campaign styles 
  • Volunteer registration system 

Price – $49

7. Charity Plus

Charity Plus is a non-profit and charity WordPress theme. It is multi-purpose and suitable for  NGOs, NPOs, social and religious organizations. It comes with 5+ home pages, 6 different post types ( standard, image, video, gallery, quote, and link), and a custom background for each page and post. There are many portfolios and grid columns. You can build your pages with advanced typography and unlimited color options. The theme is WooCommerce compatible and translation ready. It supports all modern browsers.   

Features 

  • One-click demo import 
  • Powerful theme options
  • Drag & drop page builder 
  • Multiple header options 
  • Many footer styles 
  • Translation ready 

Price – $59

8. Giving Walk 

Giving Walk is a flexible WordPress multipurpose theme for non-profit. It offers you 4+ homepage layouts, 3+ drag and drop menus, and 6 post types – text, image, video, quote, gallery and link. There are unlimited color options, responsive sliders, and movable sidebars. You can resize your images as per your needs. The theme is responsive and retina ready. It is SEO optimized and cross-browser compatible.   

Features 

  • One-click demo import 
  • Header and footer builder
  • Built-in donation functionality 
  • Event management plugin support 
  • WooCommece integration 
  • Translation ready 

Price – $59

9. Chariton 

Chariton is a simple yet modern WordPress theme for charity and non-profit. You can create an impressive non-profit website with just a few clicks using the layout design features. With drag and drop interface you may include all necessary sections like about, team, services contact, etc. The theme can be integrated with all modern WordPress plugins. You can easily organize events, conduct fundraising activities, and connect with community members using different plugins. Chariton is easy to install and customize.   

Features 

  • 3 different home pages 
  • 4 header variations 
  • Many header possibilities 
  • Multiple custom widgets 
  • Powerful theme options 
  • Cross-browser compatible 

Price – $39 

10. Oxpitan 

Oxpitan is a clean and flexible multipurpose nonprofit theme for WordPress. You can use it for any kind of social campaign for any non-profit or religious organizations. It comes with rich features to design fundraising campaigns. The powerful theme offers you lots of tools to design your website exactly the way you want. There are custom colors, portfolio carousels, and portfolio filters. It is Elementor Page Builder, Revolution Slider and WooCommerce integrated. The theme is responsive and fully documented. It is easy to use and customize. 

Features 

  • 2 different homepage layouts 
  • One-click demo import 
  • Give Donation plugin ready 
  • Contact Form 7 compatible  
  • Child Theme ready 
  • WPML compatible 

Price – $43

11. Charitix 

Charitix is a powerful WordPress theme for charity and non-profit. It is specially designed for donations and fundraising campaigns. It comes with a pixel-perfect design, mega menu, data portability, and WooCommerce support. There are 700+ Google cloud fonts and unlimited color schemes. There are options to insert logos on the pages. You can change the logos as per your needs. You can also change the color codes to match the theme with your brand style. The theme is bbPress and revolution slider integrated.  It is responsive and performance-optimized. There is 5-star customer support.   

Features 

  • One-click demo import 
  • Elementor page builder integrated
  • Events plugin integrated 
  • Powerful donation system
  • 6 home pages 
  • 5 color picker 

Price – $64  

12. Lifeline 2  

Lifeline 2 is a responsive and feature-rich WordPress nonprofit theme. It offers you 3 popup styles, 6 widget styles, and 3 donation template styles.  There are 500+ theme options and 54+ shortcodes. You can install the theme and customize the theme in minutes without taking help from anybody. It allows you to collect donations worldwide. There are 15 payment gateways to choose from. The theme is well documented and user friendly. It works well with all modern WordPress add-ons.  

Features 

  • 9+ pre-made demos 
  • Event management through custom post types 
  • Build a WooCommerce shop 
  • 5 banner layouts 
  • 7 donation button shortcodes 
  • Translation ready 

Price – $55

Conclusion

A WordPress non-profit theme does not just shape your website as per your wish but also helps you to run your organization smoothly with ease. You can conduct fundraising activities and create and run your campaigns with just a few clicks when you have a perfect theme at your hand. All the above-mentioned themes are user-friendly. You can grab any of them and move ahead. You will be able to build your non-profit website on your own.   

If you liked the article, don’t forget to share it on Facebook and Twitter. Leave your comments in the comment section. We would love to hear from you.

Photo by Anna Earl on Unsplash

Catégories: News dév web

99+ Amazing Internet Statistics and Facts – [Infographic]

23 septembre, 2020 - 10:32

The World Wide Web is very vast, to say the least. If you are an online marketer, then you need to be up-to-speed when it comes to internet statistics and the latest trends as these vital stats can help you create an actionable digital marketing strategy for your business website. 

The online world has become more competitive than ever before. If you don’t strive to be a step ahead of the competition, then it can negatively impact your site’s revenue. More importantly, keeping up with the trends is important as it helps you to create campaigns that not only drive traffic and conversion but also help boost customer experience. 

Here are some of the mind-blowing internet statistics;
  • With 50.3% of the total population having access to the internet, Asia is leading the race when it comes to the majority of internet users in the world.
  • Over 61% of all Google searches are made from a mobile device. Thus, having a responsive website for your business is imperative.
  • When it comes to web traffic, around 93% of all web traffic is from search engines. This is reason enough why businesses should invest in digital marketing strategies like SEO.
  • Approx 77% of internet users read blogs. So, if you have not started blogging as yet, you are losing out on more than just revenue.
  • On average, it is estimated that people spend around 2 hours and 24 minutes on social media and other messaging applications.

Like these, there are other statistical data that can help you to develop your marketing strategy. Thus, check out the below-compiled list of statistics and facts that comes in the form of an infographic.

Take a look!

Photo by NASA on Unsplash

Catégories: News dév web

Top WP Plugins Breached by Hackers

23 septembre, 2020 - 04:56

No content management system measures up to WordPress in terms of popularity. It is an indisputable champion in its niche, boasting an impressive 60% global market share. Furthermore, roughly 35% of all websites on the Internet run WordPress.

It does not take a rocket scientist to figure out why this CMS has been creating ripples in the web ecosystem area for years. It provides a flexible framework that fits virtually any context online, from small personal blogs and news outlets to sites operated by major brands.

What do cybercriminals think of this hype train? You guessed it – they do not mind jumping on it. Unlike webmasters, though, their motivation is far less benign. The silver lining is that WordPress Core is properly secured from different angles. The bad news is that third-party plugins can be easy prey for malicious actors to try and hunt down.

Unsurprisingly, plugins with many active installations are a bigger lure. By exploiting them, crooks can take a shortcut and significantly increase the potential attack surface. Here is a summary of security vulnerabilities recently found in WP plugins that have huge user audiences.

File Manager

In early September 2020, researchers came across a security loophole in File Manager, a WP plugin installed on at least 700,000 sites. Categorized as a zero-day remote code execution vulnerability, this critical bug allows an unauthenticated adversary to access the admin area, run malicious code, and upload dodgy scripts on any WordPress site running File Manager versions between 6.0 and 6.8.

To the plugin maker’s credit, a patched version (File Manager 6.9) was released mere hours after security analysts reported this vulnerability. However, hundreds of thousands of sites continue to be susceptible to compromise because their owners are slow to update the plugin to the latest patched build.

When white hats discovered this flaw, it was already being exploited in real-world onslaughts attempting to upload harmful PHP files to “wp-content/plugins/wp-file-manager/lib/files/” directory on unsecured websites. At the time of this writing, more than 2.6 million WordPress instances have been probed for outdated File Manager versions.

Moreover, different cybercriminal gangs appear to be waging war over websites that continue to be low-hanging fruit. One of the elements of this rivalry comes down to specifying a password for accessing the plugin’s file named “connector.minimal.php,” which is a primary launchpad for remote code execution in unpatched File Manager iterations.

In other words, once threat actors gain an initial foothold in a vulnerable WordPress installation, they block the exploitable component from being used by other criminals who may also have backdoor access to the same site. Speaking of which, analysts have observed attempts to hack websites via File Manager plugin bug coming from a whopping 370,000 different IP addresses.

Page Builder

The Page Builder WP plugin by SiteOrigin has more than a million installations. In early May 2020, security analysts made a disconcerting discovery: this hugely popular WordPress component is susceptible to a series of cross-site request forgery (CSRF) vulnerabilities that can be weaponized to gain elevated privileges in a site.

The plugin’s buggy features, “Live Editor” and “builder_content,” allow a malefactor to register a new administrator account or open a backdoor to access a vulnerable site at will. If a hacker is competent enough, they can take advantage of this vulnerability to execute a site takeover.

SiteOrigin rolled out a fix within a day after being alerted to these flaws. However, the issue will continue to make itself felt across the board until webmasters apply the patch – unfortunately, this could take months.

GDPR Cookie Consent

This plugin is one of the heavyweights in the WordPress ecosystem, being installed and actively used on more than 800,000 sites. It allows webmasters to comply with the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) through customizable cookie policy notifications.

Last January, security experts found that GDPR Cookie Consent version 1.8.2 and earlier were exposed to a severe vulnerability that allowed bad actors to pull off cross-site scripting (XSS) and privilege escalation attacks.

The bug paves a hacker’s way toward altering, posting, or deleting any content on an exploitable WordPress website even with subscriber permissions. Another adverse scenario boils down to injecting harmful JavaScript code that causes redirects or displays unwanted ads to visitors.

The developer, WebToffee, released a patched version in mid-February. However, websites are not on the safe side until the plugin is updated to a secure version.

Duplicator

With over 1 million active installations and a total of 20 million downloads, Duplicator is on the list of the top 100 WP plugins. Its primary feature is about migrating or cloning a WordPress site from one location to another. Plus, it allows site owners to back up their content easily and securely.

In February 2020, security services provider WordFence pinpointed a flaw that allowed a perpetrator to download arbitrary files from sites running Duplicator version 1.3.26 and older. For instance, an attacker could piggyback on this bug to download the contents of the “wp-config.php” file that contains, among other things, the site admin credentials.

The flaw was patched two days after the vulnerability was reported to the vendor, so webmasters should do their homework and install the latest secure version if they have not already.

Site Kit by Google

A severe flaw in Site Kit by Google, a plugin actively used on 300,000+ sites, allows an attacker to take over the associated Google Search Console and disrupt the site’s online presence. By obtaining unauthorized owner access through this weakness, a malicious actor can change sitemaps, de-list pages from Google Search results, inject harmful code, and orchestrate black hat SEO frauds.

One of the facets of this loophole is that the plugin has crude implantation of the user role checks. To top it off, it exposes the URL leveraged by Site Kit to communicate with Google Search Console. When combined, these imperfections can fuel attacks leading to privilege escalation and the post-exploitation scenarios mentioned above.

The vulnerability was spotted on April 21, 2020. Although the plugin author released an updated version (Site Kit 1.8.0) on May 7, numerous site owners have yet to apply it.

InfiniteWP Client

This plugin has more than 300,000 active installations for a reason: it allows site owners to manage multiple sites from their own server. A flip side of enjoying these perks is that an adversary may be able to circumvent authentication via a critical flaw unearthed in January 2020.

To set such an attack in motion, a hacker could exploit buggy InfiniteWP Client functions called “add_site” and “readd_site.” Because these entities did not have proper authentication controls in place, an attacker could leverage a specially crafted Base64 encoded payload to sign into a WordPress admin dashboard without having to enter a valid password. The administrator’s username would suffice to get access.

Although an update taking care of this vulnerability arrived soon after the discovery, webmasters need to give it a go so that their sites are tamper-proof.

Summary

Plugins extend the functionality of a WordPress site, but they can be a mixed blessing. Even the most popular WP plugins may have imperfections that enable various types of foul play, from CSRF and XSS to remote code execution and privilege escalation leading to site takeover and data theft.

The good news is plugin authors quickly respond to these weaknesses and roll out patches. Therefore, applying updates once available is the fundamental countermeasure for these hacks. Also, keep in mind that awareness is half the battle, so it’s a good idea to be a proactive webmaster and stay abreast of bug reports issued by WordFence and similar resources in the security arena.

Photo by Clint Patterson on Unsplash

Catégories: News dév web

Starting a Home Inspection Business

22 septembre, 2020 - 15:25

So you’ve decided to become a home inspector. Now it’s time to roll up your sleeves, find some clients, and start inspecting.

Not so fast, partner.

Before you can get started as a home inspector, you need to get certified. This is a process that varies from state to state, but in nearly every case it involves formal training and an exam. In this section, we’ll give you all the information you need to get certified. While there are different methods for getting certified, at the heart of the process is gaining knowledge.

Get ready — because, over the course of training and coursework, you’ll learn everything you need to inspect homes with confidence.

Background for home inspectors Steps to start a home inspection business

You can’t start a home inspection business overnight. In fact, between learning about the business, getting certified, and forming business relationships, aspiring home inspectors have quite a bit to do. Here are the basic steps you’ll need to take in order to get up and running:

  1. Figure out home inspector license requirements in your state. These requirements vary by state, but a quick Google search can give you the basic steps you’ll need to take to get certified. For reference, it takes 140 classroom hours in New York to become an approved home inspector there.
  2. Start training for the exam. Conducting a complete home inspection requires knowledge of construction, foundations, and the basics of engineering. In other words, you’ll need to take some courses, either online or in person. 
  3. In the meantime, start building relationships. You’ll only get business as a home inspector if you have a sizeable network of Realtors who know you and the skills you bring to the table. Going to networking events, such as an event organized by the National Association of Realtors (NAR), is a great way to meet people.
  4. Pass the home inspection licensing exam in your state. This one’s straightforward. After your coursework, you should be ready to ace this.
  5. Choose your career path and get started. Whether you’re starting your own firm or starting out at a more established firm, the options for a licensed home inspector are numerous.  
How to become a home inspector 

As we’ve mentioned, becoming a home inspector takes time and effort. In this blog post, we walk through how to become a home inspector in a bit more detail so that you can hit the ground running and begin inspecting homes.

There are several ways to receive formal training and get certified

When a client brings you into their home for an inspection, they’re trusting you to gauge the safety and functionality of the most important building in their lives. Naturally, you need to prove yourself before you can take on such an important responsibility. So you have to take part in formal training and certification in order to get started.

Here are a few of the ways to get certified as a home inspector:

  • Classroom training. Home inspections require you to grasp engineering and construction concepts that can be quite complex. Taking in-person classes with an established educator is a great chance to figure out the basics in a relaxed but engaging setting.
  • Field training. When it comes to home inspection training, you often learn by doing. So why not take the chance to head into the field and do some hands-on, real-life inspections of actual homes? When getting certified in New York, the American Home Inspector Training Institute (AHIT) offers this sort of in-the-field training.
  • Online home inspection classes. Many aspiring home inspectors come from the world of construction — which means they might already have a full-time or part-time job. In this case, online courses come in handy. They allow you to get the information you need from the comfort of your home. You can also register for online courses as a supplementary resource so that you can review key principles on your own time.
  • Continuing education. Home inspection is always changing. New building methods and emerging technologies require you to stay up to date on the latest developments in the industry. That’s why many states offer continuing education for home inspectors. For instance, in Illinois home inspectors are required to receive 12 hours of home inspection instruction every two years. This ensures you’re aware of the latest home inspection information. 

Different states look for different levels of training and experience when it comes to home inspection licensing. To learn what’s required in your state, check out this list on the AHIT website. Once you find your state, you can learn more about what AHIT offers in terms of home inspection training. For instance, here’s the training package for aspiring home inspectors in New York.

How does a home inspection differ from a structural engineer inspection?

Home inspection isn’t the only type of inspection out there. It’s important to understand how this type of inspection differs from other comparable inspections.

  • How do you define “home inspection”? A home inspection involves a certified home inspector coming to a home and evaluating it based on a certain set of established standards. It involves a visual survey of the home, during which the inspector will assess the condition of the home’s major components — such as the exterior, interior, roofing, electrical system, heating system, cooling system, insulation, and more. It takes two or three hours and is considered a “cursory” view of a home, meaning it isn’t incredibly detailed but is still thorough. 
  • What is a structural engineer inspection? An engineering inspection tends to be a bit more granular. This means an engineer will come to a home and evaluate the structural condition of the home — such as the foundation, floor structure, ceilings, walls, and roof. Is anything off? Is the home structured to withstand varied weather conditions? Is there physical damage such as cracked drywall? The engineer will then take this data and produce a scaled drawing that determines the structural integrity of the home. They will deliver a written report that includes any pertinent information. 
  • What sort of training goes into becoming a structural engineer inspector? Simply put, you need to be an engineer to conduct a structural engineer inspection. This requires years of schooling and plenty of hands-on experience. 
  • So what’s the main difference? Both types of inspection are good for homebuyers to do. In fact, a structural inspection is paramount if you’re buying a larger, older home. Oftentimes a home inspection will be conducted first. If the home inspector finds anything of concern, they will likely refer the homebuyer or homeowner to a structural engineer who can perform a deeper structural analysis. 

Overall, these two types of inspections have different but complementary goals. A home inspector can’t do everything a structural engineer inspector can do and vice versa. But together, they can help homeowners ensure their home is as safe and as functional as possible. 

What are some other types of inspections?

Home inspections and structural engineer inspections cover only certain criteria. Here are a few other inspections that you might want to familiarize yourself with:

  • Disaster inspection. Extreme weather is the norm for certain parts of the country. If you’re in a region that experiences hurricanes, blizzards, tornadoes, or earthquakes, you’ll want an inspection to see how well your home can withstand a natural disaster. 
  • Chimney inspection. You can have a major fire or smoke hazard on your hands if your chimney is damaged or dirty. For homes with wood-burning fireplaces, a chimney inspection can ensure the chimney’s flue is functional and its brickwork isn’t crumbling.
  • Pool inspection. Pools are the site of countless family memories. But before your family dives in, you want to be absolutely sure your pool is safe — from filtering to heating to dreaded leakage. 
  • Foundation inspection. People don’t live in the Leaning Tower of Pisa for a reason. So we don’t have to tell you what happens if you have a dysfunctional foundation. Before buying a home, many buyers make the wise decision to get a foundation inspection.
  • Wood-destroying pest inspection. Termites and other similar wood-destroying pests are a headache for countless homeowners. These pests make complex networks of destruction that can lead to catastrophic outcomes, so an inspection can make a huge difference.
  • Asbestos inspection. Thankfully, homes have been built without this dangerous mineral for nearly 50 years. But if you have an older home — built before 1973, specifically — you’ll need to get an asbestos inspection. The same goes for lead paint, which was banned in 1978.
  • Mold inspection. Every homeowner’s worst nightmare is mold in their walls. But this can be a common headache that’s best dealt with proactively after an inspection.
  • Electrical inspection. While a general inspection will check the electrical box for issues, having an electrician come in and look at the wiring can lead to a much deeper understanding of your home’s electrical setup — and uncover any problems that need to be addressed. 

There are many reasons to be familiar with these types of inspections. For one, you might end up referring people to these types of inspectors if concerns come up while you’re conducting a home inspection. In addition, you might want to get certified to take on some of these types of inspections. Or you might want to hire people who are skilled at conducting these inspections to work at your firm.

What should an inspector look for?

It’s hard to sum up what a home inspector does in just a few words. After all, they’re assessing many details of a home while developing a more holistic evaluation of the home’s condition.

In this section, we’ll go into more detail about what home inspectors look for and why this process is so vital for homeowners. We’ll also touch on the sort of professional experience that makes for good home inspectors. (As you can imagine, those with experience in construction and related industries tend to thrive in the home inspection field.) Finally, we’ll provide a checklist for home inspectors to have on hand as they conduct an inspection.

What does a home inspector do, and why is it important?

When we spoke about home inspection training, we outlined the things aspiring home inspectors covered in their preparatory coursework. Remember that list? It ranged from construction and foundations to heating, cooling, and just about everything in between. So here’s a bit about how home inspectors put that knowledge to work and conduct comprehensive home inspections:

  • Learning about the home. Before diving into the inspection, you should talk with the buyers about their potential home. Are there any red flags they’d like you to pay extra attention to? Has the seller disclosed any damage that needs to be addressed? Are there features of the home that are particularly important to them? Write these concerns down prior to the inspection so that you remember to keep a close eye on them. 
  • Starting the inspection. Now that you know more about the home, it’s time to start the inspection. An inspector will look at the condition of the home’s heating and cooling system, the electrical system and interior plumbing system, the walls, floors, ceiling, roof, windows, and doors, the attic, basement, insulation, and foundation. Check out our checklist for inspectors.
  • Filling out evaluations. Once the inspection has been conducted, it’s time for the inspector to draft a home inspection report. This report must be entirely objective and truthfully speak to the current condition of the home. This Code of Ethics addresses some of the rules for filling out reports after a home inspection, and these Standards of Practice outline all that should be addressed in a report. 
  • Speaking with the home buyers. As we’ve discussed, being a home inspector requires customer service know-how. After all, you’re directly interfacing with individuals seeking your services, and much of the process will involve working with the home buyers. 

Sometimes these buyers will accompany you on your inspection, ensuring you’re taking a comprehensive look at the home. They can also outline red flags in real time this way, and you can tell them a bit about the home as you go along.

Alternatively, all of this can happen after the fact. For instance, if there’s an issue with the electrical system, you can write out the problem in your report, and then give the home buyers a hands-on demonstration of how the electrical system is malfunctioning. This is an extra service that gives the home buyer crucial information and peace of mind from an expert.

Why is this process so important? Because it empowers home buyers. It helps them intimately understand the shortcomings of the home they’re about to buy.

After an inspection, they have the power to renegotiate with a seller based on your report. They can also convince the seller to fix these problems prior to their move-in. And if the home buyer thinks the problems that come with this home might be too much of a headache, they can walk away from the deal.

Home buyers rely on a thorough home inspection. 

How important is it to have experience in construction or other related industries before becoming a home inspector?

What fields tend to attract home inspectors? As you can imagine, those from the construction industry are particularly ready to take on home inspection. After all, they know how homes are built — so they know what to look for when assessing a home’s plusses and minuses.

Transitioning from construction to home inspection. After working in a construction trade for a while, you build a great deal of experience related to the function of a home. A lot goes into building a house — and the average home buyer might not be aware of all the insulation and ventilation behind the walls or the intricacies of the electrical system. Construction workers do.

If you want to go from working on construction sites to working in finished homes, you might want to transition to a career in home inspection.

Can you do both? Yes, sometimes construction workers are also licensed home inspectors. Both are time-intensive jobs, so while it’s a difficult balance, it might be feasible to work full-time in construction then inspect homes on the side or vice versa.

What other fields produce home inspectors? Although it’s less common, someone may want to transition from real estate into home inspection (or vice versa). While they call for different skills, they are both customer-facing and deal with the condition of homes, so it’s not a massive stretch to transition between these careers.

Most home buyers want their home inspected by someone with experience in construction. No matter what their job might have been in the construction industry, a home inspector who has been in that field reassures a buyer that their home is being overseen by someone who intimately knows what a good (or not-so-good) house looks like.

Home inspection checklist for inspectors

There are no shortcuts when it comes to conducting a comprehensive home inspection. In this home inspection checklist, we outline every part of the home that an inspector should be sure to check. And in each part of the house, we mention some of the questions a home inspector should ask as they evaluate the condition of these features.

Common repairs needed after a home inspection

After a home inspection, you might find problems that need to be addressed right away. Either the buyer will tell the seller to fix these before move-in, or they’ll renegotiate the price, and the buyer will handle the fixes once the home is theirs.

Here are a few of the common repairs needed after a home inspection:

  • Installing new siding, repainting, or fixing brickwork. A home’s exterior takes a lot of wear and tear. Between extreme weather and the simple ravages of time, you might find that a home’s siding, paint, or brick has seen better days. While this serves a functional purpose, it can also be cosmetic. After all, the first part of a home someone sees is its exterior — so fixing it could help boost the property value as well as address structural issues. 
  • Replacing the air conditioning. An old air-conditioning system can be difficult to deal with. It can break down too often or leak water, which is a big headache. And considering how much better a newer system can be, oftentimes a buyer will opt to replace an air-conditioning system before moving in.
  • Fixing faulty wiring. After looking at the electrical system, you might find that some wires are defective. If this is the case, an electrician will have to come in and fix any ongoing issues so that the electrical system of the home will be at 100 percent. 
  • Installing new windows. Cracks in a window can cause drafts and lead to higher energy costs. A lot of home buyers see it as a worthwhile investment to get new windows that close and open properly and don’t let heat escape or cool air seep into the home.
  • Repairing the roof. Just like a house’s siding, paint, or brick, a roof takes on a lot of wear and tear. If shingles are missing or simply worn down, a home buyer might opt to fix any roof defects. Again, fixes to your roof also make your house look newer and fresher, which could raise the home’s property value.

Inspecting a home is only half the battle. Acting on any defects you find is a great way to improve the home and ensure the new residents of the home are satisfied with their purchase.

Must-have home inspection equipment Here are the tools every home inspector needs in their toolkit

There are some tools every home inspector needs — not just to conduct their inspection effectively but also to stay safe as they do so. After all, there are plenty of hazards when checking the condition of a home. This equipment has helped many inspectors do their job to the best of their ability and stay safe while doing it:

  1. Safety glasses. From dust to cement particles, there are lots of small elements you can come into contact with when doing an inspection. Safety glasses are an essential tool to make sure nothing gets in your eyes while you’re working. They’re also cheap and easy to find at any hardware store.
  2. Electrical tester. Checking the electrical system of a home is one of the more complex inspection tasks. There are a wide range of testers available. Keep in mind that the more expensive ones do a better job of finding subtle defects within an electrical system.
  3. Voltage indicator. When checking the wiring of a home, you’ll want to know if there’s voltage present. This simple device will help you figure that out — and they only cost about $10. 
  4. Flashlights. This is one of the first tools a home inspector gets, for obvious reasons. In fact, AHIT requires it. Because you’ll be using this tool a lot, invest in a good one so that you can see in every nook and cranny of a house. 
  5. Moisture meters. Wondering where certain leaks and plumbing defects are? This meter is able to gauge moisture levels behind walls. Although it’s on the more expensive side, this is a tool most home inspectors can’t do without. 
  6. Infrared thermometer. Want to know the temperature of certain heating and cooling equipment? This is important information to have if you’re seeking out defects, but sometimes these heating and cooling systems include tough-to-reach components — which is where this tool comes in handy.
  7. Electrical gloves. Most standards and practices for home inspectors advise the use of strong electrical gloves. 
  8. Ladders. Trying to get to a high-up, difficult-to-reach spot? A ladder is the obvious solution to this problem. Just about every home inspector has a ladder or two for a reason. 
  9. Full-face respirators. If you ever need to enter an area that’s unsafe to breathe in, you’ll want a respirator on hand. You won’t use it for every inspection, but it’s good to have in your toolkit. And if you want a respirator that’s a bit cooler and less sweaty, you can opt for a half-face respirator too. 

These tools don’t just help you run a perfect inspection. They can also save your life. It’s important to stay safe when conducting a home inspection, and these tools will help you do just that.

Home inspection and filling out forms

As you can imagine, there are quite a few forms to be filled out in the home inspection process. The backbone of the process involves collecting information — from the condition of the home’s features to more mundane data like the address of the home and the contact information of the clients. You need powerful home inspection forms to make sure the process is smooth for you and your clients.

Careful home inspection form management can make your job as a home inspector much easier. You’ll be able to stay organized and spend less time worrying about data collection and more time doing right by your clients. Don’t you want your job to be as easy as possible? With the right home inspection forms, it can be.

They function both as a report and as a checklist

Above, we mentioned the checklist you should go over when conducting a home inspection. There are a lot of things to remember. What home features do you have to check? What’s the most efficient order for looking at these features? What questions should you ask yourself as you run down your checklist? Having a checklist on hand is the best way to make absolutely sure you leave no stone unturned when conducting your home inspection.

With the right home inspection form, this checklist can quickly become the report you turn over to the client after completing the inspection. Gone are the days of laboriously consulting your checklist, conducting your inspection, then transferring the information you collect into another document. Now you have everything you need in one form — the checklist, the report, and the seamless ability to share this report with the client once it’s complete.

JotForm’s online home inspection forms are designed specifically to cover both sides of this process — so that you, the inspector, and your clients both have a care-free inspection experience. Below we’ll outline a few of the other types of forms available and discuss how you can go about customizing them to your specific needs. 

The types of forms you need

There are a lot of moving parts that go into a single home inspection — and lots of data that needs to be collected. After all, a home inspection runs on information — about your clients, their home, and the condition of the many parts that make up a home.

Here are a few of the forms you’ll need and some JotForm home inspection templates that can get you up and running:

Home inspection services contract. Before you begin an inspection, you need to lay out both your expectations and those of your client. What services will you be offering? What type of inspection will you be conducting? What are some of the terms that they should be aware of before the inspection begins? A good services contract outlines all of this information and gives clients the ability to easily sign the form and get started with the process. Here is another example of a contract available through JotForm.

These are just templates. You can also create your own and customize the template to fit your needs. Adjust the language of the contract to your heart’s content and include more room for additional signatures if necessary.

Property inspection report. Of course, at the heart of a home inspection is the inspection report. This gives the client everything they need to know about the condition of their home. It’s where you power through your checklist and ensure you hit on every element of an inspection. You can customize this home inspection template to include special services, like an inspection of the home’s pool and spa, or add larger text fields for thorough descriptions of specific conditions.

Foundation inspection form. A foundation inspection is one of the most useful ways to assess the structural integrity of a home. This simple foundation inspection form contains several fields that — when taken together — give you a detailed snapshot of a foundation’s condition, including the number of cracks in the foundation and the nature of such cracks.

Real estate forms. Oftentimes, home inspectors have relationships with Realtors. Maybe you’ll have a client who’s earlier along in the process and looking for a home. You could send them a real estate form to get them going. Or if your business is associated with a specific real estate firm, you can ensure your form and the Realtor’s form are complementary and collect the information you need for the entire buying and inspecting process.

Invoicing. You’ll likely need to send an invoice after completing your inspection. Luckily JotForm offers several powerful payment integrations that make it easy to build invoicing forms. You can collect payment in a flash using popular payment processors like Stripe or PayPal — which are also highly secure and keep your client’s payment information safe.

Online forms are replacing paper forms

Years ago, everything was done by hand. Can you imagine? You’d hand over a paper contract to your client in person, and then they’d sign it and have to send it back to you. You’d file this form in some sort of unwieldy cabinet, which someone would need to laboriously organize and alphabetize. You’d also have to make sure this original contract got filed away with the client’s other related forms — like payment information and the home inspection report form itself.

There’s a reason we did away with this system. Here are a few of the top reasons online forms are replacing paper forms:

  • They allow you to work faster. There were a lot of bottlenecks when you had to deal with paper forms. You no longer have to rely on the post office and wait to share information with clients in person. You can now send and receive forms electronically, in a matter of minutes. If you use a form builder with robust integrations, this information will be automatically stored in a spreadsheet.
  • They’re easily shareable. No more mailing contracts back and forth or waiting days to deliver a completed form to a client. No more waiting for a client to come in and sign a paper contract. Now you can quickly collect signatures and payment information with an online form and send back the necessary information in a seamless, efficient way.
  • They let you keep all of your information in one place. Gone are the days of file cabinets. Online forms like JotForm easily collect all of your completed forms in an easy-to-navigate spreadsheet. You can also get email notifications whenever a form is sent to you so that you can keep track of what’s being filled out and when.
  • They’re customizable. Once a paper form is printed, it’s what you have to work with, unless you want to waste lots of paper. With online forms, you can customize your forms to your specifications. If you realize you need to collect new information, you can easily update them to suit your evolving needs.
  • They’re good for the planet. We all know paper isn’t the best for the environment. With online forms, you can ditch the paper and keep it all digital — meaning you’ll create less waste.

Not all online forms are created the same. You’ll want to make sure you choose a form creator that’s versatile and offers customizable features, plentiful templates, payment processing, and loads of integrations. JotForm can help with all of this — and it’s designed to make data collection simple so that you can spend more time doing great work for your clients.

JotForm is the online form solution that can help optimize your business

There are a lot of online forms out there. But what makes JotForm the right online form builder for optimizing your home inspection business? We’ll walk you through a few of the benefits of JotForm:

  • There are tons of templates already available. A look through JotForm’s library of inspection forms will tell you one thing right off the bat: You have choices. Because countless users have found success with JotForm, there’s already a large collection of templates out there so you don’t have to worry about building something from scratch.
  • But don’t worry; you can customize. You aren’t locked into the home inspection template you choose. You can even add CSS codes that give your form a little extra panache. At JotForm, we understand that your business is unique — so you need the ability to create unique forms too.
  • You can also integrate to your heart’s content. Is there an app you or your team is using already that you’d like to work into your online form workflow? For instance, maybe your team uses Slack, and you’d like form responses to be sent to a Slack channel. There’s an integration for that. And there are plenty more you can choose from on the JotForm site. Integrations give your online forms even more unique functionality and help you get more work done on your terms.
  • That means payment is ready to go. Some of JotForm’s most popular integrations are with payment processors like PayPal, which connect with your forms to help you collect one-time payments or subscription payments in an easy-to-use interface.

Home inspectors have already gotten a lot out of JotForm. The wealth of inspection-related templates in the form library is a clear indication that plenty of home inspectors already use JotForm for their business needs. How will you use JotForm to optimize your home inspection business?

Why do you need home inspection software? What are the advantages and uses of home inspection software?

There are plenty of home inspection software options on the market. They’ve helped countless home inspectors conduct their business in an organized, efficient fashion. Here are a few of the basic advantages of investing in home inspection software:

  • Versatility. More and more home inspection software programs realize that home inspectors are working on the go. That’s why plenty of software options offer mobile capabilities, enabling you to use your software on iPhone or Android in addition to your desktop. 
  • Advanced features. From advanced report presentation to video and 360-degree imagery on your reports, many home inspection software programs are dedicated to helping you deliver stunning home inspection reports to your clients.
  • Online customer support. The best home inspection software programs come with 24-7 online support so you can get questions cleared up in no time.
  • Cloud services. Lots of home inspection software comes with cloud capabilities that enable ample storage and seamless syncing between your devices. Keep in mind that you often have to pay extra for these features.
  • Flexible pricing. Maybe you aren’t ready to shell out a lot of money for home inspection software. In that case, you can dip your toes in the water with a free trial. Or you can spring for a more affordable pricing tier that may not provide the full range of features but will still give you much of the basic functionality. 

You’ll probably find you get quite a bit of use out of your home inspection software. For instance, as you do an inspection, you can refer to your home inspection software on your phone. As you go through the home, you can take photos. You can then annotate these photos to point out concerning areas. You can add these photos to your reports and send then to your clients.

In this blog post, we go through some of the popular home inspection software on the market, outlining special features, pricing, and X-factors to help you decide which home inspection software is right for you and your business.

JotForm gives home inspectors just what they need

Home inspection is an on-the-go job. You’re visiting properties and meeting clients face to face. So you can’t be stuck behind a computer all day.

That’s where JotForm Mobile Forms comes in. JotForm Mobile Forms offers the full capabilities of JotForm right on your phone.

Now you can work from wherever, with the ability to create and populate forms on the go. You can also collect any sort of data you need — from pictures and video to voice memos and electronic signatures. The options are endless — and now your ability to enter data isn’t limited by the far-flung places your job takes you.

In this section, we’ll take a deep dive into the wide world of JotForm Mobile Forms, touching on stand-out features that can help you optimize your business.

JotForm Mobile Forms features that stand out

JotForm Mobile Forms is transforming the way people use online forms. Most digital communication used to happen from behind a desktop, but things have changed. The rise of mobile has shifted the way people get work done and given rise to software that syncs across devices.

JotForm Mobile Forms is here to help you take advantage of this new normal. Here are a few features of JotForm Mobile Forms that can help you conduct business seamlessly:

  • Offline data collection. Say you’re inspecting a new home. It probably isn’t outfitted with Wi-Fi yet. What if you don’t have a good cell phone signal? Well, you’re in luck, because JotForm Mobile Forms works offline, meaning you don’t need an internet connection or cell signal to collect responses. These offline form responses will sync with your JotForm account once you’re back online.
  • Advanced data collection. You do more than just text on your phone. You take pictures, record videos and voice memos, send your location, and scan barcodes. All of this data can now be included in your forms — you can go beyond text and build forms capable of collecting rich data in a variety of formats. For instance, if you’re trying to explain to a client why their wiring is faulty, you can now record a video where you explicitly outline the defect — and then you can add this video directly to your report.
  • Kiosk mode. Are you at a conference for home inspectors? Do you want to collect other inspectors’ contact information so that you can expand your network? Now you can collect this information easily with kiosk mode, which helps you securely gather form responses from a single device. Your form will refresh automatically as new information is added.
  • Assign forms. Home inspectors don’t always work alone. Oftentimes you’ll have a partner with you. You can assign a form to another team member so that together you can send, view, and manage responses. As you do this, you can send feedback and track activity. 
  • Mobile Form Builder. Say you want to go in-depth on a home’s foundation — and maybe you want to build an entirely separate report for this foundation. Then why not build a quick form on the go that outlines the different elements of this foundation? It’s a convenient way to quickly build forms wherever your job takes you.
  • Notifications. With customizable notifications, you’ll always know when new responses to your form are coming in. So if you’ve been waiting for a client to sign a contract, you can set your notification settings to alert you right away. 
  • Multiple sharing options. Want to send a client their report right away? Now you can with a simple tap. You can also share your forms to other mobile apps like Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, and Instagram. 

JotForm Mobile Forms captures the power of JotForm and puts it on your phone or tablet. We understand that your job takes you places — and some of these places don’t have an internet connection. With offline mobile data collection, you have a whole new world of online form capabilities.

JotForm as home inspection software 

With mobile capabilities, JotForm is poised to help you optimize your home inspection business. In this blog post, we’ll walk you through a day in the life of a typical home inspector — and show you how JotForm makes a home inspector’s life that much easier.

Catégories: News dév web

58 Top UX Designer Portfolios in 2020

21 septembre, 2020 - 16:27

We’ve previously prepared a list of the best Web Designer Portfolios. While web designers are extremely important for any digital product, UX Designers are also equally important if not even more important. As a result, we wanted to prepare this article+showcase of the top UX Designer Portfolios on the web to be an example for any striving or experienced UX Designers who want to improve their portfolios.

What Does a UX Designer Do?

Usually, UX Design is used interchangeably with UI and Usability. It’s true that a UX Designer works on Usability and UI Design, but those are subsets of UX Design in general. A UX Designer is responsible for almost all aspects of the product. As a result, UX Designers have to be extremely versatile and systematic. 

What Makes Up a Good UX Designer Portfolio?

A portfolio website is essentially a publicly accessible business card. The greatest thing about it is that you can tell a lot more about your story and your work on your portfolio. A good UX Designer portfolio includes information about yourself, your work, and how to reach you. Let’s go over each point in detail.

An About Me Page

Having a short bio on the landing page of your portfolio website is good but make sure to include an about me page. On your about me page, include as much information about yourself as possible. But don’t forget to make it simple and easy-to-understand. You should cover anything from your own short biography, your work experience and you can even include a bit more about yourself such as your hobbies, etc.

Work Experiences

Your portfolio should reflect the quality of your work and as a result, you should clearly showcase your best pieces of work on your portfolio. A good practice is to showcase the work you’re most proud of on your main page but have a link to the rest of your portfolio. A popular practice is to add it as “My Work” on your primary navigation menu. For freelancers, it’s always good to strike a balance between “serious” projects and more quirky ones. 

Social Proof

Social proof is good, social proof is necessary, social proof can lead to success. In other words, you need social proof to back up your work. Some might think that their work speaks for itself, but the reality is that people need to see your work praised by others. So, if possible, adding a few instances of social proof will go a long way. Things that pass as social proof include quotes from satisfied clients, employers, and previous work experiences (especially true if you’ve worked for a well-known company).

Contact Information & Availability

This one is simple. Your portfolio website should include your contact information or ways to contact you. The easier to contact you, the better. On top of that, some freelancers include information about their availability regarding new projects/jobs on their portfolio websites. 

58 Best UX Designer Portfolios

We’ve searched far and wide to prepare our list of the best UX Designer portfolios we could find. So, let’s get right into it.

#1 Abdus Salam

Product Design – UX Design

#2 Bethany Heck

Design – UX Design

#3 Pratibha Joshi

Product Design – UX Design

#4 Anton Sten

Product Design – UX Design

#5 Andrew Couldwell

Product Design – Web Design – Experience

#6 Kosas Karolis

Product Design – UX Design

#7 Liz Wells

Product Design – UX Design

#8 Tom Parkes

UI Design – Brand Design

#9 Ivo Mynttinen

UI Design – Product Design – UX Design

#10 Aleksi Tappura

UX Design – UI Design

#11 Ed Chao

UI Design

#12 Luke James Taylor

UX Design – UI Design

#13 Kyson Dana

UI Design – Brand Design

#14 Vandana Pai

Product Design – UX Design

#15 Jonathan Patterson

Product Design

#16 Austin Knight

Product Design – UX Design

#17 Simon Pan

Product Design – UX Design

#18 Kurt Winter

UX Design – UI Design

#19 Isa Pinheiro

Brand Design – UX Design

#20 Husam Elfaki

UX Design

#21 Kali & Karina

UX Designer

#22 Elliot Owen

UX Design

#23 Vedad Siljak

UX Design – UI Design

#24 Nuno Coelho Santos

UX Design – Product Design

#25 Johnny Czar

UX Design – Product Design

#26 Johny Vino

UX Designer – Product Designer

#27 Hera Saqib

UX Design – Product Design

#28 Kevin Joseph Keen

UX Design – Product Design

#29 Aleksei Zhurankou

UI Design – UX Design

#30 Jeff Bae

Product Design

#31 Sarah Jutras

UX Design

#32 Jihoon Suh

Product Design – UX Design

#33 Daniel Rakh

Product Design – UX Design

#34 Shawn Park

Product Design – UX Design

#35 Jeff Kell

UX Design – UI Design

#36 Ryan Connaughton UX Design #37 Sagar Salvi

Product Design – UX Design

#38 Tien Dao

Product Design – UX Design

#39 Leandro Varanda

Product Design – UX Design – UI Design

#40 Srinivasan Chakkarapani

Product Desing

#41 Omar Alamrani

UX Desing – UI Design

#42 Fiona Yeung

UX Design

#43 Frances Tung

UX Design

#44 Charity Zhan Shi

UX Design – Product Design

#45 Rebecca Li

Product Design – UX Design

#46 Jake Doering

Product Design – UX Design

#47 Stephen Barros

UX Design – UI Design

#48 Garret MacGilivray

UX Design – UI Design

#49 Jeremy Omeara

UX Design – UX Development

#50 Julio Castellano

UX Design – Product Design

#51 Ryan Nicholas Clark

UX Design – UI Design

#52 Jason Yuan

UI Design

#53 Gabriel Valdivia

Product Design – UX Design

#54 Omar Jalalzada

Product Design

#55 Michael Evensen

UX Design

#56 Peter Chang

Product Design

#57 Jacob Ottesen

UX Design

#58 Vlad Balashoff

Product Design

To Wrap Up…

If you’re reading this paragraph that means that you’ve read through all of the UX Designer Portfolios we’ve gathered for you. First of all, thanks! Secondly, if you think that we’ve missed any or if you’re a UX Designer yourself and want your UX Designer portfolio featured in this article, drop us a line and we’ll make sure to add it!

Catégories: News dév web

A/B Testing for Beginners: A Practical Guide

21 septembre, 2020 - 15:49

As a website owner, it’s vital to find effective ways to improve the conversion rates of your website and landing pages. 

Although there are tons of articles online written to help you optimize your conversions, the fact is, when it comes to digital marketing, it’s only through direct testing that you will be able to find the unique combination of page elements that produce the highest conversion rates. 

And that’s where A/B testing comes in.

In this article, we take a look at a few basic considerations for A/B testing your webpages, although a lot of the principles we will discuss apply to test various other areas of your digital marketing, including emails, ads, and apps.

So read on to discover a simple yet effective way to get the best returns from your marketing efforts.

What is A/B Testing?

AB testing is a method of comparing two different versions of a webpage in order to determine the one that performs better. 

Also called bucket testing or split testing, this type of conversion optimization takes the guesswork out of optimizing your website and allows you to make data-informed decisions to help you achieve your ultimate objectives.

Source

In addition to using it on your website or landing pages, you can also use AB testing to optimize emails, online ads, and apps.

How A/B Testing Works

A/B testing works in a very simple way. First, you take a web page and modify either a single element on it, or completely redesign the page to create a different version of the original page. 

Next, you divide your traffic in half and send 50% to the original page version (also known as the control), and the other 50% to the variation. 

You then measure the engagement of each segment of visitors to determine what type of effect the change you made had on visitor behavior. 

If the effect is positive, you can proceed with the new version as the original and test a different element to optimize even further.

Benefits of A/B Testing

One of the main benefits of A/B testing is that it lets you make changes to user experiences while collecting valuable data on the results. 

It allows you to construct a hypothesis, as well as to discover why certain elements of your website experience impact visitor behavior. 

With this type of test, you can continually improve on all the different experiences that you provide on your website, which helps you to boost your conversion rates over time.

Source

Other benefits of A/B testing include:

  • Improved user engagement
  • Reduced bounce rates
  • Longer dwell times
  • Increased conversion rates
  • Quick results and ease of analysis
  • Higher conversion values

By testing to find out which versions of your pages perform better, it gives you the ability to provide your visitors with the best and most relevant content that they will find useful and engaging. This, in turn, will boost all your important engagement metrics.

How to Conduct Effective A/B Tests

To run a successful A/B test, you must be deliberate and focused with regard to each step of the testing process. 

Here, we take a look at 7 steps to help you create an A/B testing framework so you can start running tests on your pages.

1. Collect Data

Your first step is to collect data, so you know where your beginning point is. Turn to your analytics to get insight into where you might begin your optimization efforts. 

Ask yourself: 

  • What fears, uncertainties, and doubts do visitors feel on this page? 
  • What is it that stands in the way of your conversion? 
  • How can you improve your customer experience? 
  • Are there any elements, including images, copy, design layout, etc. that might raise questions or concerns in your customers’ minds, thereby preventing or delaying a conversion?

It’s a good idea to start with your site’s high-traffic areas, as this will allow you to gather data a lot faster. 

Find pages that have high drop-off rates or low conversion rates that need to be improved.

Some of the most commonly tested page elements include:

  • Headline
  • Subject Line
  • Call to Action (CTA)
  • Layout
  • Copy/content
  • Images
  • Promotions
2. Identify Your Goals

Next, identify what your goals are for your A/B tests. These are the metrics that you will use to determine whether or not the page variation is more successful than the original. 

These can be anything from product purchases, email sign-ups, clicking a link or call to action button, and so on. 

3. Start With a Hypothesis

Your third step is to generate a hypothesis. Using the data you collected in step one, make a list of the different A/B testing ideas for why you believe the variation will perform better than the original version. 

Prioritize the list according to the expected impact, and by the difficulty of implementation.

Keep in mind that testing a website has a lot more variables than testing a landing page

But, if you’re just getting started with A/B testing, you can begin by testing your conversion pages or those with the highest bounce rates.

4. Create the Page Variation

Now that you have everything set up, it’s time to run the actual experiment. 

Using your chosen A/B testing software, make the predetermined changes to one of the elements of your page. 

For instance, you might try changing the following:

  • The color of the CTA button
  • Reordering the page elements
  • Changing the page heading
  • Hiding navigation elements
  • … and so on.

You can change any of these elements or create something entirely custom. 

In such a case, although you may change multiple elements in a single page, it’s still a simple A/B test because you will be comparing the performance of the entire page (version A) against the other (version B).

The good news is that many of the top A/B testing tools offer a visual editor to make it easy even for beginners to make these changes. 

One such tool is VWO.

5. Run the Experiment

Now comes the fun part – letting the experiment run. 

Once the experiment is live, visitors to your site will be randomly assigned to either the original page or the variation. 

Their interaction with each page will be measured, counted, and compared in order to determine the performance of the two pages.

6. Analyze Results

After the experiment is complete, you must analyze the results. 

Your testing software will present you with the data from the experiment showing you the difference between the performance of your two pages. 

You will be able to easily see whether or not changing a particular element had a statistically significant impact.

7. Implement Solutions

The final part is simple. If your variation turns out to be the winner, then that’s the page you proceed with. 

It becomes your new original, and you can then generate a different hypothesis to test for further optimization.

Conclusion

Even after the success of your first test, you have to carry on testing and optimizing. 

This is not a once-and-done process, but one that you have to continue doing so you can make more and more improvements and maximize conversions on your website.

Which pages on your website will you test first? Let us know in the comments section below!

Photo by Jonathan Francisca on Unsplash

Catégories: News dév web

9 UX Tips Every Blog Manager Needs

21 septembre, 2020 - 15:45

A blog is a great way to connect with customers and build loyalty. But the truth is, most company blogs could use some help with their user experience.  

Maintaining a blog is more than just uploading a bunch of content and calling it a day. There are certain features every blog needs in order to be navigable and deliver information efficiently. The better your user experience, the better and more effective your blog will be. 

Want to upgrade your blog’s UX? All it takes are a few steps. Here are nine ways you can get started:

1. Get Your Look Right

As great as your blog content might be, it’s the design that dictates whether visitors click away. People tend to judge a book by its cover, or in this case a blog by its homepage.

Appearance is everything with blogs, but there’s no need to reinvent the wheel. Website builders like WordPress offer templates you can use to create a beautiful blog. 

Templates are great starting points, but they shouldn’t be the end of your design. Look for ways to make your blog stand out. Everything from photos of team images to short GIFs of your users can personalize and beautify your blog.

When in doubt, look at what other companies do in your space. If you’re a tech startup, what do you see on Microsoft or Apple’s blog? Don’t be a copycat, but don’t be afraid to take inspiration from the leaders in your space. 

2. Organize Your Posts

The homepage of your company’s blog will likely show the most recent posts first. This helps recurring visitors stay up-to-date with your company and ensures new ones meet the latest “you.” 

However, not all visitors will be looking for the newest content. Use tags to help readers dive into specific topics without a lot of scrolling. For example, a calendar startup might use categories like “scheduling tips,” “efficiency hacks,” and “time management.”

3. Make it a Team Effort

Readers don’t want to see the same person drone on and on. While corporate wikis are internal-only content databases, they prove the point that blogs must be multi-author affairs. 

No one member of your team knows everything. Make sure that the author byline reflects the content beneath it. 

A software developer shouldn’t be bylined on a post about user interface suggestions. A designer doesn’t make sense as the author on a post about common JavaScript errors. 

4. Connect Content to Elsewhere on Your Site

One of the key goals of your company blog is to boost traffic to your site, particularly its conversion-oriented pages. Use your blog to point readers to shopping areas and product pages they might find valuable. 

Use a navigation bar on top of your blog that follows visitors about the page. When these pages are just a click away, readers are more likely to visit them. Making users re-enter URLs or backtrack out of the blog will turn many customers away.

5. Enable Searches

When a visitor hits your site’s blog, they’re looking for something specific. Whether it’s a tutorial on how to use your product or general tips about the industry you work in, the content they seek should be easy to locate. If it’s not, visitors may become frustrated and leave the site to look someplace else.

Adding a search bar to your blog makes it easy for readers to find exactly what they’re looking for. It quickly takes them to the articles most relevant to their interests based on the keywords they use. 

6. Use External Links Judiciously

It’s true: External links cause readers to leave your site. With that said, they also benefit your blog by giving it a sense of authority. 

When external content really is the best resource on a topic, point your readers to it. Use keywords that closely describe the content you’re pointing to.

How do you bring those readers back to your blog? By ensuring the rest of the post is so solid that users want to finish the post. 

External links are also important for SEO. Google’s algorithms look for an organic profile of high-authority backlinks when deciding how to rank blogs. Avoid linking out to spammy sites, or too frequently to any one site. 

7. Strategize Ad Placements

Ads on your blog are a win-win: You can collect some extra revenue, while your customers get product suggestions relevant to their interests. The keyword, of course, is relevance.

Even too many relevant ads, however, can drive users away. Avoid more than two ads per page, and make sure they’re placed in ways that are obvious but don’t obscure the content. Feel free to charge more for ads immediately on top of or beside your content, where they’re likely to get the most clicks. 

8. Include Rich Media

Most people associate blogs with text articles. While most blogs do include text content, they shouldn’t be only text. Adding images and videos to your blog content makes it more engaging while helping readers visualize the concepts you’re talking about. 

The more types of media you can include, the better. You can embed audio clips from podcasts, screenshots from your website, or videos made by your content team. Experiment to find out what resonates with your audience. 

9. Sweat the Details

Certain content features add a lot to your UX without much effort on your end. Many platforms, like WordPress, allow you to include these simply by installing a plugin. 

A good example is an estimated reading time. Someone looking for a more in-depth read might prefer a higher reading time. Those who want a quick answer to their question will prefer blog articles that take only a few minutes to read. 

Another detail you can add is when the blog post was last updated. Readers want to know if the information is up to date. Noting each post’s last update can also benefit your content team by identifying posts that could use a fresh perspective. 

The better your blog’s user experience, the more value it’ll provide your reader and, by extension, your company. Engaged readers tend to be engaged customers. When in doubt, build it out.

Photo by UX Indonesia on Unsplash

Catégories: News dév web

4 Ways Marketing and Customer Service Can Work Together

18 septembre, 2020 - 16:01

In 2020, cross-departmental collaboration is not optional anymore. It is a necessity for any small business wanting to provide consistent and user-oriented customer experiences. 

One such example is the collaboration between your marketing and customer support teams. 

In this article, you will learn how they can work together to improve user experiences, boost sales, and deliver better results.

1. Better Content Marketing Ideas

Content creation is one of the most significant fields of your digital marketing strategy. It lets you build trust with your target audience, drive quality traffic to your site, engage readers, and position yourself as an industry leader. 

To drive results, your marketing team needs to create data-driven content that helps readers solve real-life problems. Unfortunately, even the most experienced and creative content developers can sometimes struggle to think of revolutionary content ideas.

That is where they should consider collaborating with the customer support team.

Namely, your customer service database is the untapped treasure trove of customer information. It provides clear insights into your customers’ problems, needs, and interests. 

Knowing who their customers are and what problems they face, content marketers can create more relevant and helpful content. For example, if there is a certain product feature that confuses your customers, your content team could create a video guide to explain how it works. They could create comprehensive guides, update FAQ pages, build a knowledge base, as well as enrich articles with real-life examples from your customers.

2. Personalizing User Experiences

Statistics say that customer satisfaction has already surpassed product and price. As a business owner, you need to understand that delivering one-size-fits-all customer experiences does not cut it anymore. Your customers expect you to understand their individual needs and address them accordingly. 

That is where the collaboration between marketing and customer support teams is inevitable. The idea is to provide omnichannel customer experiences across all digital channels they use. To meet customer needs, invest in powerful customer relationship management (CRM) software that will help you eliminate the boundaries between your marketing and customer support teams.

Let’s take the example of your call center. When a customer calls you, they expect your agent to know who they are, whether they called before, which products they purchased, and what problems they faced. That is where integrating a VoIP solution for small businesses with your CRM software can help. 

That way, you will be able to map the entire customer journey and create accurate buyer personas. Your customer support agent will see a customer’s touchpoints with your brand across different communication channels. Nextiva, for example, pulls the customer data from your CRM and shows it in an on-screen popup every time a customer calls you. Knowing who they are talking to, your agents will be able to answer the phone call with confidence and adapt their tone.

This data can help your marketing team, as well. For example, many advanced business phone systems let you calculate the customer experience score and customer sentiment. That way, your marketing team will be able to identify at-risk customers and create special offers and content to win them back and inspire their loyalty. On the other hand, they will also recognize your most loyal customers and ensure they are rewarded with exclusive content, special deals, limited offers, etc.

3. Providing Customer Support on Social

When hiring a social media marketing team, you expect them to plan, manage, implement, and track your company’s social media accounts. However, many employers also expect social media managers to provide customer service on their social channels.

If you are one of them, it is time to ask yourself whether your social media manager can recognize customers’ specific needs and handle them. Probably not. Unlike your marketing team, your customer support team has read multiple resources and enrolled in many comprehensive training programs needed to address customer service inquiries. 

That is where you should consider eliminating the gaps between marketing and customer service. With the help of social media management tools, that is simpler than ever. They allow your marketing and customer service teams to communicate continuously. All customer service-related inquiries are handled directly from the social media management platforms, meaning it will be easier for your marketing team to route complicated questions to your sales team, without forcing customers to wait.

4. Centralized Brand Messaging

Say your marketing team is running a lead gen campaign. They created a killer webinar and are promoting it across all digital channels out there. When a customer wants to learn more about the webinar before signing up, who are they going to call? Your customer service agents, of course. 

The question is whether your customer service reps are familiar with your marketing team’s initiatives. If a customer support team does not know anything about the webinar your marketing team has scheduled, that may harm people’s perceptions of your brand. 

Precisely because of that, your customer service agents should know everything about your marketing promotions. That way, they will be able to answer any question prospects ask. 

For starters, hold regular meetings, where marketers and customer reps will sit down and talk about the new campaigns they are deploying. 

Most importantly, your marketing team should equip your customer support team with the resources they need to provide consistent and on-brand feedback. For example, they could create a comprehensive spreadsheet, where customer support agents can easily access the links and details for every campaign they are running. 

For your customer reps, greater transparency is a time-saver. They will not need to waste time contacting your marketing team to ask them about their latest promotions, while a dissatisfied customer is waiting on hold. For your brand, on the other hand, this is an opportunity to keep customer experiences consistent and earn prospects’ trust.

Over to You

In a hypercompetitive small business landscape, companies need to focus on building a consistent, authoritative, and on-brand image. Customers are turning to different customer support channels and, no matter if they interact with you via social media, call centers, or email, they expect your agents to know everything about your marketing initiatives and sales promotions. Above all, they want your marketing team to understand their needs and address them.

That is why you need to focus on building an agile, symbiotic CX strategy that focuses on removing the boundaries between your marketing and customer support teams. I hope these tips will help you.

How do you encourage marketing and customer support teams to work together?

Photo by Georgie Cobbs on Unsplash

Catégories: News dév web

Field Service Management Guide

17 septembre, 2020 - 13:51

Widespread access to connected devices and digital technologies is changing the landscape of the field service management sector. Telematics systems provide complete visibility into vehicle locations in real time. Mobile apps enable easy communication between field service workers and the office. Robust digital mapping solutions built around real-time traffic data allow for route optimization. There are more options than ever to optimize field service operations.

But these new opportunities come with challenges, and they’re pushing businesses to explore new tactics. Digital technologies give you a great chance to reconsider how you use data. They enable your field service team members to gather more data in remote locations, interact with customers in more intuitive ways, and avoid tedious paperwork and duplicate data entry.

These benefits can add up quickly, driving cost savings and giving you a chance to create value through stronger customer interactions. To take advantage of these opportunities, consider how digital technologies fit into your processes and carefully choose solutions that not only align with your immediate needs but are manageable for your teams.

You can transform your field service management capabilities with digital technologies. The process can have a trickle-down effect on your business, fueling profitability. Transformation is never easy, but taking a strategic approach to integrate these digital technologies into field service management can give your business an edge.

In this guide, we’ll explore the way emerging digital capabilities are driving innovation in specific industries, fostering change management and communication, improving worker management, and helping you assess operations in the most efficient way possible.

The guide contains six chapters:

  • Chapter 1: Introduction
  • Chapter 2: The field service industry footprint. Modern field service management capabilities are becoming critical in more and more industries. It’s not just the giants anymore. It’s small mom-and-pop shops and nonprofits too.
  • Chapter 3: The shifting management and communication framework in field services. Explore the challenges and key opportunities offered by digital technologies. You’ll start to rethink field service management. 
  • Chapter 4: The essential component of field service: fieldworkers. At the end of the day, we all want to make sure our employees are set up for success. It makes them happy and makes you money.
  • Chapter 5: The role of field service assessment and how to do it. Generating field service reports and completing assessments is a critical part of managing your business effectively. Let’s learn how to do it.
  • Chapter 6: Conclusion
The field service industry footprint

Digital transformation is having a widespread impact on operations in many sectors that depend on field service teams. Field service management software is changing long-standing practices.

Many industries have long relied on their field service teams to perform customer service, create new sales opportunities, and maintain equipment. But more sectors are identifying opportunities for fieldwork and expanding how they use field service management strategies. Modern field service management capabilities are becoming critical in the following industries.

Utilities, cable, and internet

Utility organizations, cable companies, and internet service providers are prime examples of large businesses that rely heavily on their field services teams to create value opportunities.

Utilities

For utility companies, this often comes in the form of maintenance and repairs and is less a matter of direct interactions with customers, though field service work in the sector does have a major impact on customer experiences.

In most cases, field workers in utility settings are technicians or engineers, and they maintain equipment, gather data, and perform emergency repairs. Traditionally, organizations have relied on a great deal of manual work and forecasting tactics that depended largely on historic data. Common field service tasks include

  • Manually performing meter reads to ensure billing accuracy and track energy/water consumption for households.
  • Patrolling utility networks — from driving around inspecting power and phone lines to exploring sewers to ensure pipes are functioning properly — and performing maintenance. This was usually done on a schedule based on anticipated breakdowns informed by historic data/standardized processes, such as checking on a sewer drainage area once every six months.
  • Responding to maintenance calls. Customer service often comes into play here, as technicians need to interact with customers to gather data about the outage or service disruption, identify the root cause of the problem, and take action to not only remedy the situation but build customer confidence.

These have largely been manual processes that are time-consuming and inefficient. Paying skilled technicians to log data on a paper form, bring that form to your office, and manually enter it into your billing system (or hand it off to an office employee who enters it) is onerous and wasteful. Field service management software streamlines these processes.

Connected sensors can automatically log meter data and alert technicians via the software if a malfunction occurs. Monitoring devices on power lines, sewer pipes, and similar equipment provide insight into environmental conditions that may indicate damage. They also deliver that data to team managers so they can schedule field service work more efficiently. Since all of this information is fed to the software, field technicians get alerts and notifications about what needs their attention, helping them get where they need to go as efficiently as possible.

Cable and ISPs

Cable companies and ISPs face many similar challenges as utilities. Tracking phone and internet cabling systems is essential to maintaining high-quality systems, and relying on digital data delivered via field management software can empower teams to operate more efficiently.

However, this isn’t the only area where technology can pay off. In particular, organizations in this sector face more demand for creating positive customer experiences. A lot of fieldwork involves configuring new services for customers, troubleshooting problems with the technology used in their homes, and providing direct customer support. As such, timeliness, integration with sales and accounting systems, and visibility into customer data are vital.

Field service management software makes those capabilities available in a few key ways:

  • Creating prebuilt invoicing, sales, and billing forms so field service workers can easily capture customer data and finalize sales in the field. For example, if a customer complains of slow internet, and the technician sells them on a faster service plan, the technician can log the request, capture the customer’s signature, and file the work order to switch to faster internet in the backend. This provides almost instant results for customers.
  • Using telematics data to provide customers with real-time updates about where technicians are so customers can plan to be available during a tighter service window instead of having to wait around for hours.
  • Giving technicians resources — like equipment handbooks, details about past customer interactions, inventory lists detailing what the customer’s using and what’s available in the truck, etc. — that allow them to serve customers more effectively.

These types of field service management software tools give businesses the capabilities they need to improve customer interactions by putting robust digital capabilities at technicians’ fingertips.

Driving field service innovation for large businesses

Regardless of the specific industry you operate in, if you run a large organization, you need visibility, automation, and seamless interactions across various lines of business. In many organizations, field services have been a blind spot. Digital technologies create the transparency companies need to optimize their operations and create stronger connections between these different areas.

HVAC, plumbing, electricity, etc.

Many small service businesses, from plumbers and HVAC installation contractors to kitchen remodeling businesses and electricians, depend on work done away from the office. In many cases, the business owner splits time between the office and the field and has just one or two other employees to provide support. A small plumbing company, for example, may be made up of the plumber who owns the business, an apprentice who assists in the field, and an administrator who handles bookkeeping and similar office tasks.

In situations like this, field service software provides advanced technologies that can help large businesses run more efficiently. For example, monitoring devices on equipment in customer homes can send alerts if repairs are needed or send alerts when there’s a service disruption. This can enable faster responses.

Similarly, small service businesses can use digital capabilities backed by field service management software to

  • Provide accurate forecast estimates
  • Streamline inventory management and ordering
  • Log customer data more efficiently
  • Simplify communications with the office

These capabilities dramatically improve operations and customer experiences. Where large businesses benefit from these tools because they need transparency across divisions, small organizations need the software because it helps them run their business on the go.

Think about a typical day for plumbers. They go to customer sites to perform repairs, but they’re constantly interrupted by phone calls from customers and the office to get updates on projects, check on equipment availability, and schedule emergency appointments.

With field service software, all of that can be handled with a mobile app. It’s all managed within a single interface, and the plumber doesn’t need to drop by the office at the end of the day to manually enter data and file forms.

When you’re running a small service business, you need tools that give you more time to focus on your core skills, and field service management software makes that possible.

Manufacturing

Manufacturers rely less on field service teams to support customer interactions and perform technical tasks. There are equipment and device manufacturers that provide support in the field, but that isn’t a core part of the business model like it is for the types of companies we’ve been talking about up to this point. Instead, it’s a key secondary function. In manufacturing settings, field services teams may take on tasks like

  • Monitoring assets being shipped to various locations
  • Performing repairs, providing technical support, or training end users
  • Giving maintenance teams key data in large manufacturing facilities spread over a campus where finding assets can be difficult

Field service management software is helpful in supporting these tasks largely because of two key capabilities:

  1. The increased ability to gather data from customer locations and use that information to improve decision-making
  2. The visibility into assets both in transit and at user locations, which allows for better repair scheduling and regulatory compliance

While this isn’t a particularly large list of capabilities, the business impact is huge. Manufacturers that track usage data in the field and use it to improve repair scheduling get more out of that information and provide better customer service. They also get insights into how customers use their products; this can inform product planning, engineering choices, and production scheduling.

At the same time, manufacturers face some of the complexity of large service businesses, so transparency into fieldwork is helpful. This transparency is also great for regulatory purposes. Many raw materials, chemicals, and specialty assets need to be stored in highly specific ways, and regulatory standards often mandate that companies maintain certain environmental conditions for some items while they’re being shipped.

Without field service management software, a field service team would have to manually track those conditions. With digital tools in place, sensors can track the environmental conditions and log that they are in compliance with all standards. The software can also alert users when conditions reach certain thresholds, allowing them to take action before a breach occurs. If your field service team is carrying specialized goods to user locations, those asset tracking capabilities pay off.

Ultimately, the complexity of manufacturing operations makes the transparency created by field service management software particularly valuable, especially as digital technologies gain momentum.

Nonprofits

From government-backed healthcare organizations to local government public works departments, many nonprofits spend a great deal of time working outside the office. We’ve already unpacked a lot of the field service management capabilities that drive value across all of these settings — asset and location tracking, monitoring and notifications, communications and scheduling tools, etc. — and they all apply here.

Nonprofits face a heavy burden to operate as efficiently as possible and eliminate waste. When workers in the field are documenting data on a clipboard and entering it into software later, that creates extra work for employees, more opportunities for errors, and more complexity. If your data gathering in the field doesn’t comply with the regulations for the databases you work with, that’s another area where you’re doing excess work.

Field management software eliminates these kinds of problems because the technology integrates with backend systems, giving your teams the resources they need to operate in the field as if they were in the office.

The shifting management and communication framework in field services Digital tech transforms communication and management

Imagine the life of a field service technician prior to the smartphone. They stop by the office in the morning, get a clipboard with work orders scheduled for the day, look at a map to figure out the best way to get to their first destination, check the van’s inventory for necessary supplies, and hit the road.

Over the course of the day, that technician would

  • Travel between customer locations while working to stay within broad service windows (because providing clearer estimates and updates to consumers isn’t realistic)
  • Get on the radio to connect with the office to provide updates on delays, traffic, customer-related problems, and inventory issues
  • Drive back to the warehouse in the event that a customer has a problem requiring equipment that isn’t in the van
  • Carry manuals and technical guides to troubleshoot particularly sensitive equipment
  • Log invoices, bills, inventory sheets, and similar paperwork so it can be filed later
  • Return to the office to file paperwork, manually enter data into computerized systems, and update management on any important issues

In this kind of workflow, there are many opportunities for things to go wrong, and it isn’t easy to address such issues. Without digital tools to manage operations and fuel better communication, you’re setting your technicians up for harder work and creating an environment in which your business can’t run efficiently.

You start out by giving customers service windows of three hours or more. When a customer waits around for three hours, and a technician doesn’t show up, that person is going to call the office. At that point, the office has to take the complaint, radio the driver, and communicate back to the customer. This can take multiple phone calls and, even then, the driver may be stuck in a traffic jam, need to go to the office to replenish inventory, or still be a work order behind schedule.

Digital technologies change all of this. Field service apps tap into telematics technologies and modern communications tools to completely change how businesses manage and communicate with workers in the field. This changes just about every part of a company’s operations, and with more businesses using remote work to drive productivity and expand their talent pools, improving management and communication is key.

There are major challenges that must be overcome, but there are also opportunities that make working through any difficulties well worth the effort.

The challenges

Improving field service management through digital technologies is about more than just rolling out some new technology. There’s a lot you need to think about as you rework your processes and find the right tools to align with the digital technologies and operational workflows you use. With this in mind, here are a few of the key challenges you’ll need to overcome as you take on large-scale digital field service management projects:

Managing remote tasks

How do you gain visibility into the actual work being completed by remote employees to ensure full transparency into operations? This requires near real-time visibility into data across systems, which allows you to identify when work has been performed and allows workers to document their tasks in the most efficient way possible. These capabilities are key for both coordinating tasks across lines of business and eliminating manual data entry and similar work.

Coordinating tasks between teams

Communication gaps between teams in the field, not to mention those in the office, can become problematic as companies work to roll out digital capabilities.

On the surface, communication should get easier. People can connect via the app. They can message one another and enter data from anywhere, making it easier to coordinate work. If one technician solves an emergency, he or she can easily tell other technicians by marking the work order complete in a system that everybody can access.

Field service apps unlock all of these capabilities, but communication gaps remain when business processes don’t align with how the technology works. What’s more, digital divides can emerge within a business, adding further complexity and limiting communication.

When it comes to communication between workers in the field, alerts and notifications on the dashboards of field service apps are critical. They can provide automatic updates on work orders, inventory issues, and similar matters to help employees connect with one another and avoid duplicate work or other common problems.

The key is to optimize the system so users only get the alerts they need. Otherwise, the constant information from the digital field service app can cause workers to tune out the alerts.

Overcoming the divide between field workers and employees back at the office is an entirely different challenge. Many office workers already have dedicated technologies for their work. Finance teams usually have accounting software. Sales teams typically have customer relationship management systems. This list goes on. Your field service apps must feed data organically into those solutions, or you risk running into major operational bottlenecks — in which you either ask your field service workers to enter data into multiple software platforms or you ask your accounting, sales, and dispatch teams to run multiple apps simultaneously to get the data they need.

Both of these options create the kind of complexity that will annoy your workers and create collaboration gaps. Advanced field management apps overcome this issue by functioning as a fully integrated hub, with modules that allow employees to get direct access to other apps within the field service management platform. Here are some examples of how this works:

  • When a field technician completes a sale, they can access the company’s CRM through an app component built into the field service platform.
  • When an invoice is filed from a remote location, the app gathers data in a format that allows for direct communication with accounting systems.
  • When dispatch is trying to manage remote employees, they can get a map-based view that provides data on
    • Driver/vehicle locations
    • Work orders in progress
    • Customer data for active work orders
    • Technician schedules
    • Traffic data

The data delivered through deep integration between field service apps and other systems can transform management and communication between teams. However, these digital capabilities must be accessible across all areas of operations, or major gaps will emerge between teams.

Solutions like the Assign Form feature in JotForm’s mobile app can be particularly helpful in eliminating communication pain points. This feature lets you assign the custom forms you create with JotForm to various team members. From there, the JotForm app automatically gives that individual access to the form, letting them send, view, and manage submissions.

This allows an entire team to collaborate using the same form, which makes it easier to update one another and provide insights into a particular issue or area of operations in one place. You can easily track activity and feedback across teams and eliminate any data gaps within your existing digital solutions.

Providing tools for remote workers

As we just mentioned, finding the right tools for your teams is a major challenge for businesses. It’s not just about apps either. Taking advantage of digital capabilities in the field requires a blend of hardware and software that aligns specifically with how people work. Some challenges to think about are

  • Ensuring technicians can safely access the technology they need even though they’re often on the road and only able to interact with the tech in a limited way. Apps that have voice-to-chat capabilities, interfaces designed for drivers, and artificial intelligence tools that automatically make simple decisions are key to overcoming safety challenges.
  • Creating visibility into your technology spending. Most field services apps are hosted in the cloud, where expenses are dictated by the resources you consume. As you add more users, you tend to pay more. But you also face additional costs if usage rises above preset parameters. When this happens across a full suite of apps and services supporting your field service teams — and the office-based workers who manage them — you can end up with unexpected and escalating costs. Visibility into billing and an understanding of how to measure app usage is critical in controlling costs.
  • Preventing theft and loss. When you give employees specialized tools to work in the field, such as a rugged laptop or smartphone, you face a significant risk of loss or theft. These devices are valuable, contain critical data, and are easily forgotten and prone to damage. Even special ruggedized devices can break, and the costs can add up quickly if devices go missing. Mobile device management solutions and similar tools let you track devices and manage them remotely. These kinds of solutions are vital in limiting the risk of loss or theft as hardware can more easily be recovered or, in a worst-case scenario, be wiped of all data to ensure sensitive information isn’t compromised.

These types of challenges showcase the complexity of deploying advanced technology in field service settings. The technology has the potential to transform business, but it comes with a cost.

Field workers face fairly unique challenges that can be difficult to evaluate and properly understand from behind a desk. As such, it’s important to carefully consider the full scope of remote fieldwork in your organization, assess the risk created by increased technology use in such settings, and employ specific solutions that ease the inherent challenges of fieldwork.

Planning for harsh conditions

Remote field service workers will occasionally have to do their jobs in harsh conditions. This presents a wide range of challenges that digital technologies can help you address.

Whether you’re simply planning to track telematics data to ensure drivers don’t leave their vans idling, thus wasting gas on heat because of cold weather, or you need to invest in highly specialized devices for extreme weather conditions, the problems are real.

Giving users a rugged smartphone or laptop can help. Such devices can protect against extreme cold, exposure to dirt and dust, and breakage due to drops or other impacts. The specific device you choose is ultimately a matter of understanding the conditions your teams will face and adjusting accordingly.

If your workers are often in the desert — like park rangers, technicians for solar arrays, or even ISP technicians in desert cities — they can run into temperatures that are so high the devices overheat. Conversely, field workers in extremely cold areas need to wear gloves, and you’ll need to ensure that any gloves you provide allow for the use of a touchscreen.

These kinds of challenges abound with fieldwork, but specialized devices are often designed for different settings, making it easier to find the tools you need to keep your employees connected. You can now solve something as challenging as finding a way for employees to work in areas where there isn’t an internet connection. Leading apps allow users to log data and access already downloaded information offline, then automatically update the data and resync when a connection is available.

These are surmountable challenges, but you have to be intentional about evaluating the issues your teams will face and choosing solutions accordingly.

Key opportunities 

Many of the advantages offered by digital technologies have already been mentioned: You can improve collaboration when you’ve eliminated digital gaps between teams, for example. However, there are a few issues that deserve some more specific discussion.

Improving routing and work order optimization

You can’t optimize how field workers get where they need to go if you don’t know where they are. While AI solutions can improve routing in real time, you may still need your dispatch teams to notice issues in advance and adjust their schedules to improve efficiency.

Field service management software can provide updates on customer emergencies and automatically identify field technicians with the right blend of availability and proximity to respond. Digital solutions give management the location and operational tools they need to streamline everyday work.

Bolstering teamwork

We won’t elaborate much on this here since we’ve already discussed it extensively in regards to overcoming the communication challenges created by digital technologies. But the reality is that the baseline for collaboration in a digitally enabled field service team is much higher than the alternative. Overcoming digital barriers takes these gains to another level. Team members can communicate in real time in whatever way is most convenient for them, eliminating the kind of isolation that naturally emerges for remote workers.

Distributing data across operational barriers

This is another issue we’ve discussed in some detail, so we’re only going to flag it here. Getting data to the right people at the right time is increasingly vital for businesses today. Most organizations have silos of some sort, which leads to frequent miscommunication, manual data re-entry, and similar problems. Broadening your digital field services footprint drives communication between team members across different parts of your business, providing seamless connectivity within your organization.

Rethinking field service management

To be blunt, businesses that depend heavily on field services have long known that they could improve management and communication if they had better tools. The problem was that the technology didn’t exist or wasn’t robust enough.

Modern digital capabilities and field service apps eliminate the barriers to innovation that often hold businesses back. They unlock new management and communications capabilities that business leaders have long wanted. Now, technology breaks down operational and data barriers between teams, fueling efficiency and customer service gains. And this creates value that far exceeds the potential challenges and costs of transforming an organization’s digital capabilities.

The essential component of field service: Fieldworkers Managing field workers across all roles

Field service work can, technically speaking, take just about any form. Many organizations regard anybody who works from a location that isn’t in the office as being in the field.

This isn’t always the case, though. There’s a big difference between a researcher traveling to a remote oil field and an editor getting the job done from a home office. However, the primary challenges associated with fieldwork — collaboration, access to data, and transparency into work — all remain issues regardless of the location or type of work being completed.

As you think about the challenges of remote work for your organization, you should consider the following big-picture matters:

  • How to create a company culture and communicate expectations for behavior in response to that culture across your remote workforce. Providing intuitive communications tools that allow for casual interactions between workers can be helpful here. It’s also beneficial to train your managers to properly oversee remote workers, because management must model a culture if it’s going to trickle down to the rest of the workforce.
  • How to establish a sense of community and connectedness between workers who aren’t consistently in the office. Being able to put a face to a name is a big deal for remote workers. Focus on how you introduce employees to one another at the time of hire. Incorporate in-person training and meetups when possible, and be intentional about video communications if in-person meetings aren’t possible. From there, workers can easily switch to text, email, or other communications that work for them, as the initial in-person or video meetings can open relationships on a solid footing.
  • How to ensure your managers understand what workers are doing and can adequately track compliance in the field. Dealing with this issue is much easier if you give field workers intuitive tools to track their work. If employees have to log hours or work orders on paper forms and file them later, things may slip through the cracks. But if they can just click a few buttons or tap a touchscreen, they’re more likely to provide updates in a timely fashion so management stays informed.

Dealing with these big-picture issues is key to equipping workers to function effectively in the field. But as field service jobs are highly varied, it’s vital to take a careful approach to meet the specific needs of your field workers. Employees in different roles will face unique challenges when operating remotely, so even though some challenges associated with field service management are universal, think about the different roles you ask employees to perform and identify tools and strategies that will help them work at their best.

Let’s explore some common field service jobs and the unique challenges workers in those roles typically face.

Major field service jobs Field technicians

Much of the work field service technicians do take the form of repairs, maintenance, equipment installation, or similar tasks that require specialized knowledge and equipment. Common examples of this role include

  • Maintenance workers. These employees may work in factories where they repair equipment in various parts of the facility or travel to customer locations to repair or maintain equipment. Other field technicians who focus on maintenance may work in the public sector on utilities-related equipment for gas or electric companies, in mobility and transportation, or even in sectors like agriculture.
  • Plumbers, contractors, electricians, and similar specialists who work primarily at customer locations.
  • Surveyors, researchers, scientists, field service engineers, and professionals in similar roles who complete highly nuanced, technical work in field locations.

While technicians face a wide range of challenges working in the field, one of the issues most unique to them is ensuring they have the equipment and tools they need to get the job done. From highly specialized operations technologies to parts and components for repairs, there are many essential elements to an efficient workday for a field service technician.

It’s critical that digital inventory management solutions not only provide accurate insights into inventories in service vehicles, but also available supply at the warehouse. When parts are used, it’s also essential that inventory is updated automatically so supplies can be ordered or workers notified when stock is low.

Field service management software that can support data integration between work orders and inventory management systems is key. The software can gather data pertaining to equipment related to a specific work order, check inventory data for appropriate tools and parts, and alert technicians of what they need.

These kinds of tools empower workers to function at their best. While technicians need a full suite of digital tools to work effectively, inventory management systems are particularly noteworthy.

Field sales workers

Sales workers are another classic example of employees who do a great deal of work away from the office. While the days of door-to-door sales have largely given way to e-commerce and more consumer-like sales models in the B2B space, B2B sales personnel still spend their fair share of time visiting customers and working on deals.

The ability to access customer data and key contract details is critical for sales workers in the field. The days of memorizing a customer’s details from a Rolodex before heading out to visit them are gone.

Customers, whether in B2B or B2C settings, expect highly customized, personalized experiences. If a prospective client tells a sales worker they’re interested in a certain feature, and another sales worker asks about that feature without knowing about the customer’s interest in it during an in-person meeting, that customer isn’t going to have a good experience.

Field sales workers need access to data about past calls, customer needs, and any other relevant details — such as promises to meet certain service levels — before any customer visit. Field service software that integrates with customer relationship management solutions can provide this data.

Delivery drivers

Whether delivery drivers are delivering packages to customer locations or involved in shipping freight, their vehicle becomes their office. These professionals take a loaded vehicle from a warehouse and spend anywhere from the rest of the day to multiple days away from the office. The work is highly specialized in terms of managing the challenges of spending so many hours behind the wheel, determining the optimal route to various locations, and driving in a way that’s both safe and efficient.

Delivery drivers require support that’s similar to what many other field workers need. They need access to key data that may impact their work, such as updates on traffic or the disposition of goods they’re shipping.

For example, a delivery driver transporting pharmaceutical materials can receive environmental data from storage compartments to ensure proper temperatures are maintained at all times. Field service management systems can provide this kind of data when used in conjunction with connected sensors and monitoring devices.

However, this issue pales in comparison to the importance of maintaining open lines of communication between dispatch and delivery drivers. If a package needs rush delivery, that driver has to not only know where to go, but how to adapt the rest of their schedule, what route to take, and where to find the relevant package. This typically needs to happen all without the driver stopping. If they have field service software, dispatch teams can do all of the management work in the backend, giving drivers the updates they need to adapt quickly in the field and adjust in real time.

Clear communication with drivers in the field has long been possible via radio, but smartphones, field service apps, and similar technologies increase drivers’ communication capabilities, giving them access to not only more data but better information.

Dispatchers

Dispatchers don’t actually work in the field, but they serve as the hub that most field workers depend on. While this isn’t always the case — most sales workers don’t rely on a dispatcher, for example — dispatch is a key division for everybody from first responders to technicians who work outside of the office.

The dispatch team organizes operations, ensures everybody knows where they’re going, troubleshoots problems that arise, communicates with stakeholders when situations change, and provides a hub between management in the office and field workers in remote locations.

Field service software is absolutely essential for anybody working in dispatch. From tools that provide visibility into the location of each vehicle in a fleet at any given time to AI-based routing solutions that advise on route adjustments in light of service changes, field service management software can help dispatchers work at peak efficiency.

Field service managers

Where dispatchers are functioning in real time, getting data from the field service management app and using that information to help workers get to the right place at the right time, managers take big-picture ownership of operations and focus more on solving major problems or making strategic decisions.

Tasks for managers range from identifying ways to reduce fuel consumption and cut costs to resolving workplace conflicts and onboarding new hires. In many ways, the role consists of looking for ways to improve efficiency with all of the typical relational management tasks that one would expect in an office — just with many remote workers in the field. This requires communication skills and, in some cases, creativity to stay in touch with field workers.

Field service management software provides managers with the following:

  • Visibility into big-picture metrics like miles traveled, fuel consumed, vehicle maintenance costs, and similar data points
  • Reporting tools to more easily create monthly, quarterly, annual, and custom reports on different data types that inform decision-making
  • Scheduling and other human resources solutions that make it easier to stay on top of staffing demands and otherwise manage everyday operations
  • Dashboard data visualizations, alerts, and notifications that provide immediate visibility into any disruptions or situations that must be addressed

Field service managers perform the complex task of keeping tabs on workers across a variety of locations. Lack of visibility into operations can be crippling in this situation. Field service management solutions provide the visibility and management tools managers need to work more effectively and improve decision-making.

Management tips to better support field service workers

Each field service job has its own unique challenges, but they mostly fall under a single theme — a lack of transparency. Limited access to data, challenges maintaining open lines of communication, and similar issues make it difficult to understand what field workers are doing and when they’re doing it. This creates many problems when it comes to managing employees effectively, but modern software provides new opportunities for efficiency through greater operational transparency.

Field service software can solve a wide range of problems, but here are a few that stand out.

Scheduling

Availability for field workers is directly tied to the locations, employees have to travel to and, in cases where specialized skills are necessary, the training those workers have gone through. Managing schedules across teams while ensuring the right workers get to customers in a timely fashion isn’t easy.

Field service software can provide the data needed to help managers assess who is available, how long it will take them to get where they need to go, and how to schedule accordingly.

Duty assignments

This is very similar to scheduling. Figuring out how to assign field workers to different tasks requires a blend of understanding their skills and the scheduling issues that impact their availability.

Field service management software provides instant insight into worker skills, availability, and work orders in a single unified setup. This lets you effectively drag and drop workers into duty assignments, while the system ensures that the schedule works.

Data collection

All of the capabilities we’ve discussed won’t be possible if the field service management tool can’t collect and organize data from diverse sources in a business. Making it easier to collect data is, therefore, a critical element of field service management software. The technology can

  • Automatically gather information from all Internet of Things devices
  • Simplify data entry by allowing users to take photos and log data on their mobile devices, eliminating duplicate data logging
  • Integrate with a wide range of apps and services to pull data from different lines of business

Field service management software transforms data collection and communication for organizations that rely heavily on fieldwork. It’s one of the biggest opportunities to create value because the transparency from robust data collection underpins a range of other capabilities.

Feedback collection

Whether you use custom forms, like those you can create with JotForm, or build standardized surveys into your customer service systems, field service management software makes it easier to get feedback from customers and workers in order to evaluate operations.

We’ll talk about this more in a section dedicated to field service assessment, but it’s worth noting here because transparency also affects the ability to obtain and understand customer feedback through better data-collection tools incorporated into field service management solutions.

Communication

Streamlined communication, both with workers and customers, is increasingly critical in today’s business world. Field service management solutions can allow customers to sign up for services, provide feedback, and otherwise engage with a brand online. If your technicians have these tools, they can provide direct support to clients, as the technician’s phone can function as a service kiosk for customers.

Dashboards are also critical in promoting stronger communication in field services. Custom, personalized dashboards ensure that employees get data and notifications that align with their roles. This eliminates the need for unnecessary communications because all the data workers need is at their fingertips. At the same time, data triggers notifications and alerts, automating key communications and eliminating the need for human input.

All of these capabilities come together to ensure that the actual communication happening between employees is more powerful because workers don’t have to get on the phone or use the radio for basic updates. Those happen in the software. Instead, the actual conversations are for problems that need to be solved.

Field service workers: Unlocking their potential

Many businesses claim that their employees are their biggest asset. Field service management solutions can give your teams the tools they need to operate at their best, eliminating tedious work and letting them focus on valuable tasks. Digital technologies are changing how people work, and the data visibility provided by field service management software pays off by helping businesses unlock the full potential of their workers.

The role of field service assessment and how to do it

Improving the underlying systems that make your field service management operations run smoothly will only get you so far if you can’t evaluate how your strategies are working. If you can’t get feedback, analyze results, and make smarter decisions, the technologies you’re putting so much effort into will provide limited benefit.

The good news is, just as digital technologies are transforming how companies manage field services, those same technologies are also empowering businesses to gather data from users in the field and collect customer feedback.

The importance of field service assessment

Transparency has been a constant theme of this guide. The idea is simple — the more you know about your business, the better you’ll understand operations and make intelligent decisions.

Assessing your field operations is a key part of this transparency. Generating an effective field service report provides a top-down view of remote operations that allows you to tackle pain points in the most strategic way possible.

There are several areas where field service assessments can really pay off:

  • Getting perspective on your field service strategies from the customers you’re serving
  • Evaluating employee performance based on real-world data, not just anecdotal evidence gathered during direct interactions between workers and management
  • Identifying areas with particularly high expenses and pinning down the root causes of those costs
  • Performing deep research and analysis into the day-to-day workings of your operations to identify issues that can be solved through training, process changes, or strategic technology investments

Generating field service reports and completing assessments is a critical part of managing your business effectively. Without proper assessments, you’re undermining the benefits of digital field service management technologies. Here are two methods to consider as you gather reports and complete assessments.

1. Gathering feedback

Your customers and employees can be excellent sources of informative, useful data about your field services operations.

Your customers can provide insight into

  • The timeliness of service visits. Workers can use field service management software to check in at customer locations, but getting customer input on the timeliness of arrivals can be helpful if
    • Employees are checking in but then taking a break before working with the customer to create an illusion of punctuality
    • Customer perceptions of service delivery timeliness are leading to issues with dissatisfaction even though your employees are consistently on time
    • Your systems for tracking operations are working, but communication gaps are creating false expectations either for workers or customers
  • How field service representatives engage them in conversations:
    • Do field workers take an active approach to understanding and solving problems, or are they primarily focused on ticket-taking and not really listening?
    • Do technicians ensure all problems have been resolved before closing the support ticket?
    • Are support reps forthright in discussing potential solutions to problems, new service options, and products that may be helpful to customers?
  • The demeanor and expertise of workers:
    • Are they friendly and responsive?
    • Are they considerate of being in someone else’s home?
    • Are they communicative and clear about what they’re doing?
  • The quality of service from initial customer service representatives:
    • Was the customer’s problem properly communicated to the technician before they arrived at the customer location?
    • Was the initial support call handled well?

This kind of information provides a vital perspective on how customers perceive your services. You can use a rating system to get data in a consistent format that allows you to more easily study trends in the information. From there, customer reviews, comments, and social media posts can all be invaluable in assessing your field service operations.

But what’s the best way to collect this information? Custom forms, such as those available through JotForm Mobile Forms, can help.

Imagine a field service worker just had a great experience with a customer and would like to ask that individual to complete a survey. The customer is interested, but since the survey is accessible only via email, the customer just doesn’t get to it. If that worker can produce a digital form via a mobile app and get instant feedback, the customer is more likely to respond.

JotForm Mobile Forms lets you create custom forms, distribute them through a variety of channels, and use mobile devices as kiosks where customers can submit data.

While customers are a great source of feedback, your field workers can be just as insightful. When getting information from your employees, consider asking these questions:

  • Which solutions do you use most often?
  • Which field service app is most useful?
  • Which features do you find cumbersome or difficult to use?
  • Are there any gaps in how technology supports your needs?
  • What devices do you use, and how does the technology perform on those devices?
  • How would you change the way you use the field service management software?

While this kind of feedback can be somewhat arbitrary — you’ll need to evaluate what feedback is worth taking action on and what’s the result of employees who are still adjusting to the technology — insights from workers can be invaluable. Employees can give you a firsthand account of how the technology actually works for them. You can use this information to solve key pain points and position your business for better results.

It’s especially beneficial to gather feedback in this way if you have a younger workforce. Millennials, in particular, want to have a greater connection to how they impact the business and a stronger sense of purpose in their work. Taking time to get feedback shows employees you value their ideas, and it can help keep them engaged in their work.

Gathering feedback is easier with digital management tools that let users enter data as part of the work they’re already doing. But feedback will only get you so far. It’s also helpful to gather empirical data.

2. Using digital tools to gather empirical data

A field service report can be much more than a basic customer or employee feedback. It can also give you perspective on parts of operations that you otherwise wouldn’t see. Field service software can create reports on issues like

  • Fuel consumption at different times of the year relative to miles traveled. Such data can help you identify if certain issues, like drivers leaving engines idling to run heat or air conditioning, are leading to unnecessarily high costs.
  • Repair costs relative to risky driving habits. Telematics systems can track driving habits, identify risky activities, and flag frequent offenders or negative consequences associated with such activities.
  • Maintenance expenses relative to vehicle age/mileage. This data can alert you of the optimal time to replace service vehicles in order to maximize their lifetime value.
  • Response times to emergency support requests.
  • Frequency of support visits that are considered on time vs early or late based on telematics data.

These are just a few examples of the kinds of reports you can create. Internet of Things devices can track vehicle data in real time. With field service software, workers can log key information with ease. Reporting solutions can take this data and make it actionable through reports and dashboard visualizations that help you manage your business.

The opportunity to drive efficiency with JotForm

JotForm Mobile Forms provides businesses with a holistic form management solution. The app can

  • Capture e-signatures so workers and customers can officially sign documents 
  • Incorporate photos, barcodes, and recorded voice messages into form responses to gather data in a wide range of formats and create a more intuitive user experience
  • Leverage geolocation data to verify the validity of data collected and create a more accurate record of the information
  • Use push notifications to ensure workers don’t miss critical updates

These capabilities have a sweeping impact on data collection. They make it easier for employees and customers alike to provide critical information to your business. JotForm’s mobile app doesn’t just make data collection easy, but it also ensures users have forms that are relevant to their specific needs.

A building inspector needs to gather different information than a clinical worker running a remote clinic out of a medical services vehicle. By turning mobile devices into field service kiosks, you can equip your team members with the specific forms they need to complete key tasks and engage customers. These forms can take a few different shapes:

  • Specialized inspection forms with prewritten conditions that a field technician can add to the form. For example, a maintenance employee may need fields to log components in need of replacement, signs of excess wear and tear, or similar details. A utility worker analyzing water systems, on the other hand, may need fields that log details about bacteria, acidity, and similar issues.
  • Customer-facing forms that provide easier registration, service signup, or feedback.
  • Invoicing, billing, or sales signup sheets that can be delivered from the field directly to relevant stakeholders back at the office.

While this isn’t, by any means, an exhaustive list of the types of forms you can create with JotForm Mobile Forms, it highlights just how varied the system can be. Workers today increasingly expect and depend on well-designed, intuitive tools to help them get their jobs done. When data-collection methods align with the way your teams work, your employees can function at their peak.

JotForm is perfect for any situation where you need to gather data in a somewhat standardized format. You can create a form with options for each category and a few open-ended sections as needed, allowing you to get the information you need without putting an excessive burden on your workers.

To make things easier, JotForm offers templates for many common forms. You can either work with these templates to get a quick start in collecting data, or you can use them as a starting point to create forms that specifically align with your business. In either case, these data-collection capabilities can have a trickle-down effect, improving your field service management operations.

Digitization underpins field service management innovation

Digital technologies are changing the way businesses handle operations in the field. What was once a job that demanded workers remain efficient and productive despite isolation now involves frequent communication with coworkers. Digital tools are driving this change because they allow for intuitive collaboration across lines of business.

Field workers don’t have to get the job done in isolation. Businesses have more tools that can support them when problems arise, put them in the best position for success when interacting with customers, and identify pain points that hold them back.

JotForm’s mobile forms make data collection and management easy for field workers trying to engage with customers and log data on the go. These tools are part of a digital transformation taking place in the field services sector, and transparency is at the center of the change.

Whether you’re using field service management software to employ AI-driven routing and dispatch capabilities, give your customers better estimates of when technicians will arrive, or equip your sales teams with key client data, modern technologies can help.

Catégories: News dév web

Top 10 Tools That Every React Native Developer Should Use in 2020!

17 septembre, 2020 - 10:40

There are numerous libraries as well as frameworks available to build cross-platform mobile applications.

However, React Native has always been given special preference because of its speed and efficiency. If you have a look at the Google Trend, you will be surprised to know that React Native has itself become a trendsetter for developing powerful mobile applications.

React Native is greatly growing in popularity among developers due to the number of tools that are available.  Whether you are developing a new React Native application or optimizing the performance of your existing React Native application, using these tools will help you develop a robust as well as scalable React Native application.

Let’s take a look at some of the tools that will help you optimize your React Native app performance.

1. Nuclide

Nuclide is a package that is integrated with the Atom editor. It is one of the most customized IDE’s that helps developers to improve their code. It also provides various other features like context view, working sets, quick open, health statistics, a debugger, a task runner, remote development, and many others to make an application highly robust and scalable.

2. Expo

It is an open-source toolchain that developers can use to create an application f0or Android and iOS on React Native framework. It offers a range of services like slack community, development tools, adequate documentation, and community forums. It works on Serve, share, build, and publish principle. It can be used to access cross-platform APIs. A single codebase runs across multiple platforms, and there’s an accelerometer to respond to changes.

3. Bit for React Native

If you are planning to build a next-generation React Native component library for a team, Bit for React Native is highly suggested. It eliminates the problem of sharing and collaborating on User Interface components across multiple repositories. It is a great way to compose UI’s with shared components. The bit.dev platform can be used to host and organize components. Using this tool, your team can conveniently render, and update components from any project in Bit.dev. Several features like a rendered sandbox, auto component docs, etc. are also available. It is indeed a great tool that every React Native developer should know about in 2020.

4. Reactotron

Reactotron is a tool developed by Infinite Red and is available for free downloads. This cross-platform desktop application works with all leading operating systems, namely Windows, iOS, and Linux. The tool provides a real tracking feature that helps the developers to keep a watch on dispatch actions, application states, and a lot more

5. Atom

Atom is a cross-platform editing tool developed by GitHub, and its text editor works efficiently on various platforms like Android, iOS, Linux, and Windows. It is also enabled with other useful features like a built-in package manager, different themes and designs, smart autocompletion, and a lot more. Atom also provides multiple panes to split the interface, which makes working easier for developers. It is also very easy to browse and open single, multiple, and whole project files.

6. Vasern

Vasern is a comparatively new tool, yet it is the most powerful data storage for React Native. Vasern enhances React Native’s storage capacity greatly. It is currently in the alpha version and supports the React Native framework on the iOS platform. Vasern is lightweight, and it is an open-source data storage that can set up a local database in just a few minutes. It is still being worked on, and developments are being made constantly, but still, it is serving as one of the top tools for Native React developers, especially working on iOS, in 2020.

7. Detox

Detox is one of the best testing tools for Native React applications. Detox provides end to end testing mobile apps. It is developed by Wix and is creating waves amongst developers. The framework works not only cross-platform but also supports Native React projects and native projects like Android and iOS. Detox supports unit tests for smaller modular pieces of code. It also provides an integration test and regression test to retest the code, which has already been tested, yet they perform the same as before the changes were made to it. Detox is one of the leading tools to use for Native React developers in 2020.

8. Xcode 

Xcode is the development environment tool for Apple and is used for iOS, macOS, etc. It is probably one of the best tools to bulletproof the Native React apps developed for iSO. Xcode can be used for building apps as well as for debugging and installing various iOS packages. It also enables a custom build configuration and is great for developers working on iOS platforms. 

9. React-native CLI

React-native CLI is the official CLI for React Native. The tool is great for automating various tasks like linking, starting the packager, and building apps. React-native CLI also supports custom configurations and can be used for a lot of things.

10. Sublime Text

It is a text editor equipped with plenty of plug-ins that have been developed by the community. Sublime text supports various programming languages and is famous for code, markup, and prose. The sublime text offers various functionalities that help the developers create mindblowing mobile applications for cross-platform. It is a source code editor with a python API. It also supports simultaneous editing besides various programming languages. It is one of the top tools to use for Native React developers in 2020.

Final Words

I hope your purpose of landing on this blogpost has been served. These are some of the best React Native tools that all Native React developers should be aware of in 2020 to accelerate mobile app development. The use of tools depends entirely on the developer’s preference, but these tools are sure to make an impact upon them due to the functionalities they offer.

If you are not sure about how to use these tools, then I would like to suggest you hire React Native developers from a prominent React Native development company that has a team of well-versed React Native developers with profound knowledge of React Native tools.

Photo by Clément H on Unsplash

Catégories: News dév web

School Reopening: How Educational Institutions Can Reopen Safely

15 septembre, 2020 - 15:39

A century from now, historians will study how the “Great Lockdown” of 2020 changed the lives of billions across the globe — and there’s one aspect in particular that will stand out: education.

In the big picture of human history, mass public schooling is a recent phenomenon. It arrived with the era of industrialization. Hundreds, even thousands, of students packed into classrooms, lecture halls, and school cafeterias.

Then COVID-19 hit, and schools worldwide were shut down. Administrators and educators scrambled to find solutions when physical interaction was all but impossible.

Putting the “distance” in distance learning

In the Australian outback, the Alice Springs School of the Air has been operating since 1951. Today, it provides remote education to 125 students within a 521,000-square-mile radius. Classes were once held over two-way radio; now they use a satellite link for video. When the nearest school is thousands of miles away, distance learning is the only option.

As the COVID-19 pandemic hit, educational institutions worldwide had to face some of the same challenges that the Alice Springs School of the Air has dealt with for nearly 70 years. They had to suspend physical operations and move to distance learning. Suddenly, millions of students around the world became “distance learners.”

In the first months of the pandemic, U.S. schools patched together temporary solutions, trying live video classes, emailed assignments, and virtual study groups. Worried parents gathered to create their own solutions, like learning pods.

As the months passed, it became clear that distance learning was here to stay — at least for the upcoming school year in the U.S. Short-term patch jobs weren’t enough. Schools had to find a way to deliver education with limited or no physical contact. This resulted in many challenges:

  • How to stick to the curriculum with students and teachers at home
  • How to successfully blend live and virtual learning environments
  • Questions about which tools are necessary to meet strict COVID regulations, such as obtaining health declarations from students attending in-person classes
  • How to complete standard processes, such as school registration, when parents can’t even visit the school secretary’s office

This guide tackles all of the tricky questions associated with school reopening, including planning and managing hybrid classes, as well as how parents can help and what tools can assist with the process.

Using these tips and recommendations, educators will be able to identify the best ways to reopen successfully and continue their educational mission with fewer disruptions.

Planning the Reopening Process: Proceed with Care

Hair salons, restaurants, medical clinics. They are all different businesses with different needs. As these and other businesses slowly reopen, the various challenges they face will require new and innovative solutions. Different states and countries have devised their own schedules for reopening businesses, depending on their unique, local situations. Many businesses have already reopened, while others have partially reopened or are in the process of reopening now.

Schools, however, are another story. Educational institutions have to reopen. Millions of students need to start learning again. What’s more, 27 million Americans must have childcare so that they can go to work. Until schools reopen, many parents can’t work, which only makes their economic situation worse.

There’s no room for delay, and that’s why schools are turning to the next best solution: hybrid learning.

What is hybrid learning?

Just as a hybrid car runs on a mix of fuel and electricity, hybrid learning runs on a combination of in-person and virtual interactions.

Right now, it’s not feasible for schools to throw open their doors and let in all of their students. Instead, many schools are dividing the student body into groups and staggering attendance, so the number of students physically in the school at the same time doesn’t exceed the allowed limits.

When groups aren’t attending school, they’re taking online classes and completing assignments from home. This is a complex undertaking that requires several online tools and solutions to support remote interactions.

Digital is here, ready or not

Even schools that aren’t yet embracing hybrid learning will need to think more seriously about implementing online solutions as soon as possible. Why? Here are two reasons:

1. Some processes will inevitably move online

A whole lot more goes on at school besides teaching. Things like collecting student data, registering new students, gathering student feedback, disciplining students, and managing permission and parental consent are examples of administrative processes that can easily go digital, thereby becoming more efficient, streamlined, and contactless. Even before the pandemic, many schools were already digitizing their back to school tasks with JotForm. In a socially distanced world, digitization is now a must.

2. You may not have a choice

The pandemic is proving to be unpredictable, and authorities are changing their directives as circumstances on the ground shift. Schools must be prepared for government-mandated closures, and when those happen, there will be no choice but to provide remote education.

Besides, there will always be vulnerable students and teachers who can’t attend school in person. For instance, people who are medically high risk will have to engage in distance learning until the pandemic is fully behind us — and that could take years.

Hybrid class: What it looks like

A hybrid class is a blend of offline and online learning, but there is no hard and fast rule about the structure. Some teachers prefer to give a traditional lecture-style lesson followed by an online assignment completed individually. Others use more interactive methods to engage remote students.

A hybrid class uses several tools and technologies, including virtual meeting rooms through tools like Zoom or Webex, course management software, video content, digital quizzes and surveys, group chats via WhatsApp and other chat apps, and more.

Here are a few broad suggestions about how to design a hybrid class:

  • Break down the syllabus into parts. Not every module or course will be suitable for online learning. Separate the syllabus into small portions so you can see what must be covered in the live classroom versus what can be adapted to online sessions.
  • Mix it up. Don’t spend all of your in-person teaching time giving lectures. When students are physically together, this is the time to encourage interaction and connection, which is sorely lacking in remote learning situations. At the same time, don’t make the online component boring with hour-long, one-sided lectures. Keep it exciting and engaging by mixing up the styles and experiences, both online and offline.
  • Make virtual classes interactive. Keeping students engaged online can be more difficult than in a face-to-face setting. Incorporate games, collaborative projects, quizzes, and other interactive content in virtual classes to maintain students’ interest and attention.
  • Use online tools to share and connect. A hybrid class is much more than a few Zoom meetings. It requires a central portal where students and staff can access all course content, assignments, and interactions in real time. Learning management tools such as Google Classroom, Edmodo LMS, and Schoology offer course authoring, content management, and social networking features to make hybrid learning smooth and efficient.
Don’t forget everything else

There are many aspects of an educational institution in addition to classes and teaching. Finances; food and catering; delivery of protective equipment, such as masks, hand sanitizer, sneeze guards, and even disposable cups instead of mugs for the teachers’ lounge need to be coordinated through digital, contactless processes.

Here are some tips on how to plan ahead to make your school safe and efficient:

  • Create an online self-screening form for parents or guardians to fill out every morning, verifying that their child is symptom free and hasn’t been knowingly exposed to the virus. This saves the hassle and expense of collecting and filing papers from every student every day.
  • Engage students with age-appropriate activities to reinforce the importance of adhering to health and safety guidelines. Make it fun! Students can design face masks in art class, or you can involve senior students in crafting posters and messages to pin up around the school.
  • Develop a cleaning schedule to ensure classrooms and shared spaces are disinfected according to health and safety guidelines. An online planner shared among the janitorial supervisors can be a great way to streamline a complex, time-consuming process.
  • Check out the CDC’s recommendations for operating a school during COVID-19.
EdTech: The key to school reopening

Is there any part of daily life that isn’t impacted by technology?

Washing machines are now smart washers, which allow you to tackle the laundry even if you’re not at home. Watches have become smartwatches, which keep track of your emails, heart rate, and time.

In education, there’s education technology, known as “EdTech” for short. It’s changing the way schools operate and students learn, especially in the shadow of COVID-19. 

What EdTech is and why it matters

EdTech covers the various digital tools and online platforms that facilitate learning. Used by schools and colleges worldwide, EdTech isn’t exclusive to educational settings. It’s popular in business for staff training, among other applications. 

One example of EdTech is virtual learning software. For instance, Zoom is a popular way to host virtual lessons, so it falls in the category of EdTech.

Other examples of EdTech include

  • Virtual class enrichment tools, such as Starfall and Education.com
  • Learning management software, such as Google Classroom and Schoology
  • Specialized tools for different subjects, such as Yousician for music lessons

EdTech is becoming so widespread, it’s forecast to grow by 17 percent a year, reaching an estimated $252 billion in value by 2020. And that was before COVID-19 turned school classrooms into virtual hotspots.

The reopening challenge: From real to virtual

Although EdTech is advancing rapidly, it took a global pandemic to make many educators understand its importance.

As people across the world deal with the realities of the pandemic in their daily lives, schools must make the transition from in-person learning to virtual instruction. Many schools and school districts are aiming for the hybrid classroom as the new educational model, and EdTech is the bridge to that model.

To be successful, the move from an in-person to a digital classroom requires careful planning. You must adapt curricula for remote learning in order to properly engage students. And teachers must be equipped with and trained to use EdTech tools. 

There are also many administrative challenges involved in remote education. Tasks such as student registration, student and parent feedback, monitoring of assignments, grading, and attendance all still need to be completed. Fortunately, technology can make these tasks easier and more efficient.

EdTech involves much more than installing tools and software — it’s a complete shift in mindset, and all teachers and students must be on board to succeed.

Learning goes mobile, and so should you

Mobile learning, also known as M-learning, is an offshoot of the EdTech industry, and by all measures, it’s going to be big.

Mobile use is rising worldwide — in 2019, people in the U.S. spent an average of three hours and 10 minutes on their mobile phones every day. And that’s before social distancing rules came into play.

People are comfortable with and accustomed to using their mobile phones for daily tasks, such as sending emails, watching videos, and chatting with friends. As more students move to remote education, they will naturally spend time learning and completing school tasks on their phones. 

For many families, this is a necessity. Mobile phones and tablets are cheaper than laptops. That means more students can participate in virtual classrooms if the platforms can be accessed from a phone. 

Another aspect to consider is flexibility. Students can complete their studies from any location via their mobile phones. They can move around the house to get away from family noise, or sit outdoors to get fresh air while they listen to a lesson. 

Adapting remote learning for mobile with the help of EdTech is a vital consideration for school reopening.

Accessibility is not optional

A big advantage of virtual learning is accessibility. The only thing a student needs is an internet connection, right?

Not so fast: Students who are physically impaired can’t participate in virtual learning unless it’s accessible. What’s more, online courses are required by law to be accessible, so schools must take steps to make their remote learning programs accessible.

EdTech tools are every educator’s friend when it comes to online accessibility. For example, EdTech enables the easy creation of both audio and text-based classes, giving students a choice that should meet their needs. Accessible design elements, such as large fonts and contrasting colors, are essential for people with visual impairments, while keyboard shortcuts are necessary for students who are unable to use a mouse due to a physical impairment.

There is no compromising on accessibility, even when learning moves completely online. Rather, educators must focus on making their virtual courses fully accessible. 

The digital frontier in education is fast approaching, and schools need EdTech to get there. Educational institutions that have already implemented EdTech are discovering these distinct advantages as they adapt to a new reality.

Next steps for teachers and administrators

A global pandemic is likely the toughest situation in which to reopen an educational institution.

Minimizing human contact is paramount — but schools are high-intensity, densely crowded environments. With complex safety regulations that change frequently, plus serious health concerns and high educational standards to maintain, it’s no wonder school administrators are feeling intense pressure.

The safety of staff and students is the number-one priority of every school. That’s why you should thoroughly investigate the potential risks of reopening in advance. The most effective way to do that is with a school reopening risk assessment.

School reopening: Know the risk and manage it

In ordinary circumstances, running a school comes with massive responsibilities. Hundreds, if not thousands, of students, teachers, and parents entrust the school’s staff with maintaining order and safety.

Then along comes a global pandemic, and the stakes get higher. Much higher.

With schools reopening, students and teachers in many regions are returning to campus at least part time. It’s vital that all necessary safety measures are in place in advance to reduce risk in this new hybrid learning model. But to know what risks a school faces, first you must conduct a risk assessment.

A school reopening risk assessment considers every type of risk that could arise in the daily operations of the school amid COVID-19. It looks at different aspects of the school day and pinpoints all possible health, safety, legal, and educational complications. Start at the beginning of the day, and run through a timetable to cover the various scenarios. Map out the risks that arise in each separate case.

For example, how many school buses arrive in the morning? How many students are on each bus? How do students enter the school campus? Is there one entrance or several?

How many students attend each class? How big are the classrooms? What common areas do the various classes share?

There will be hundreds of questions of this nature, and you must answer them all in order to quantify exactly what kinds of risks are involved with every activity at the school. Many of these questions will seem obvious and even superfluous; however it’s vital to note them all to create an accurate picture of the school in action. Only then can the true risk be defined.

Mitigating risk: More than common sense

As the COVID-19 pandemic progresses, the situation on the ground changes often, sometimes suddenly. Governments worldwide are continually updating their health and safety recommendations for homes and workplaces. In the U.S., the Centers for Disease Control and Protection (CDC) has published comprehensive guidelines to help steer leaders in the right direction. School administrators should become well versed in CDC recommendations and make sure to stay up to date as circumstances shift.

Many of the CDC guidelines are common sense — for example, disinfecting common areas and bathrooms regularly throughout the school day, providing hand disinfecting stations in strategic places on campus, requesting masks be worn when possible, and ensuring that students under quarantine don’t attend school in person. These are all sensible precautions for school reopening.

Another important part of school reopening is collecting official authorization that students and teachers who attend in-person classes aren’t at risk of spreading coronavirus. The best way to do that is through online forms.

How to use online forms for school reopening 

Regular coronavirus testing of students and teachers is ideal. However, in most cases, it’s not realistic. Many schools opt for self screening forms instead. 

Self screening forms Coronavirus Self-Assessment Form

Anyone attending school is required to self screen for the virus via an online questionnaire. The self screening form covers details that would indicate a higher risk of contracting the virus, such as recent travel, signs and symptoms of the virus, or those who have been in contact with a known carrier.  

Self declaration forms 

Imagine a school with 1,000 students and teachers. Every day, every person who attends school in person must complete a form declaring that they haven’t been exposed to the coronavirus. The school administration must collect all these consent forms and keep them on file for regulatory and safety purposes. 

Now, imagine going through this process with printed forms. It’s impossible. That’s why digital forms are the answer.

Coronavirus Self Declaration Form

Suppose a teacher or student doesn’t have any indications of being at risk. In that case, they can sign a self declaration form to assert that they consent to coronavirus regulations and can attend school. 

With digital consent forms, schools can adapt the template to a sensible and user-friendly format for various groups. For elementary students, a parent or guardian will be handling the daily consent form, so it should be tailored for that purpose. High school students will likely need a more thorough risk assessment of their social interactions. Make sure to adjust the clauses and requirements of consent forms so they are sensible and appropriate for anyone physically attending school, whether students, teachers, or other staff members.

Contact tracing forms

Unfortunately, keeping a school 100-percent coronavirus free is nearly impossible. Eventually, there will be some community exposure, and there may even be students or teachers who test positive.

After positive cases are noted in the school, it’s time for contact tracing. Contact tracing tracks the movement of the individual who has the virus and identifies people with whom they came in contact. Those people can then be notified that they must enter self quarantine to prevent further spreading the infection. 

Contact Tracing Form

Digital contact tracing forms are a highly effective way to manage the complicated process of contact tracing, especially when time is of the essence. Not only do they provide a fast and centralized way to collect data; they also make it much easier to consolidate and analyze the data and quickly inform the affected individuals. 

School reopening survey forms

Reopening a school during a pandemic is a complex business. Having parents and students on board is crucial to making it a success. That’s why getting feedback from the student body about what they need and expect for the return to school will make the process much more efficient and accurate.

The most effective way to gather feedback is to conduct a school reopening survey for students and their families. The survey should be as detailed as possible, so that administrators can collect the information they need to focus on the issues that matter most. Plus, when parents and students feel involved and heard, they’re much more likely to follow the new regulations and make the best of the situation.

Reopening School Survey

Here are some ideas for school reopening survey questions that cover all bases:

  • Health situation: Ask about the student’s health risk and that of their immediate family. Are they medically high-risk, or do any high-risk individuals live in their home? 
  • Technology and home setup: It’s important to understand whether the student is equipped for virtual learning. Do they have access to a reliable internet connection and a computer or tablet? 
  • Preferences: Does the student or their parent/guardian have a preference for in-person, hybrid, or remote education? Is there a responsible adult at home during the day to assist the child with virtual learning? 
  • Logistics: Does the student have a means of transport to attend school or do they need to take the school bus? Are there concerns about eating meals from the school cafeteria? 
  • Free text: Provide a section for the student or parent to express their opinions, ask questions, or voice any other concerns they may have. This encourages openness and candor that will help you create the most effective school reopening strategy for your student body.
Parents: The strongest link in school reopening success

Unlike students and teachers, there’s one group of people who don’t come to school every day — yet they are critical to successful education: parents and guardians.

During the pandemic, parents and guardians have been asked to participate in their children’s schooling in a more hands-on way than ever before. Especially now, parents are the key to making school reopening as smooth as possible.

For starters, parents must monitor their child’s health and contact with others, ensuring they aren’t at risk of spreading infection at school. It’s the parent’s responsibility to sign a consent form for their child and make sure the school receives it — every single day.

In addition, many schools have transitioned to a hybrid model, meaning parents must stay on top of the days their child is on campus or at home in virtual classes. For home-based learning, parents must support their kids by setting up their computers, signing into classes, downloading materials, and helping with schoolwork and assignments.

All of this is happening out of sight of school administrators and teachers. These professionals have to trust parents and hope they’re doing what’s necessary to make school reopening a success.

But it’s time for a reality check: No administrator can be 100-percent sure that parents are following all the rules all the time. That’s why staff must encourage parents to facilitate their child’s learning and keep them safe. And that means supporting parents with procedures and techniques to help them cope.

How schools can support parents

In the beginning stages of school reopening, when students and their parents are adjusting to a different way of learning, here are six ways schools can help parents create a positive learning experience.

Make collecting consent easy

In the case of minor children, parents must declare that their children haven’t been exposed to the virus and can attend in-person classes without putting others at the school at risk. Administrators can make this process much easier for parents by providing a digital self declaration form to complete every morning, quickly and easily. Via a simple web link, the parent can access the form on their computer or mobile device, provide their consent, and send it to the school in just a few seconds.

Promote hygiene awareness

One of the keys to preventing infection is maintaining good hygiene — at school and home. This is a two-way street. While schools provide hand sanitizer and disinfect common areas every few hours, it’s up to students to frequently wash their hands, avoid touching their faces, and reduce physical contact with friends. For energetic kids, this is a tough but essential ask.

Parents play a huge role in helping their kids understand the importance of personal hygiene, and schools can help parents by providing educational materials on the subject. For example, schools can create posters showing how to properly wash hands for parents to hang up in their bathroom at home.

A productive home learning environment

Remote learning is challenging for everyone — teachers, students, and parents. Parents need to find ways to support their kids with a productive learning environment at home. This might mean rearranging a room of the house and turning it into a classroom, moving TVs out of the area where the child will be attending virtual classes to eliminate distractions, or creating a timetable with set breaks for recess and lunch.

As educational experts, school staff are the perfect resources to provide parents with tips about creating positive learning habits. The school can even host virtual support groups for parents, where participants can share their experiences and solve issues together.

Parent-teacher communication

For many parents, the hybrid school model has added another job to their already-overflowing resume: tutor.

Particularly for younger children, learning at home comes with certain difficulties. Students need to keep up with virtual timetables, log into classes at the right time, and work on assignments and exercises without a teacher guiding them. Suddenly, parents have to act as a support tutor for their kids to help them get through the school day. This can be quite a shock for parents accustomed to waving as their children take off on the school bus every morning.

Teachers should maintain ongoing communication to keep parents in the loop about changes to schedules, special projects or tasks their child may need help with, and upcoming tests and deadlines.

Social distancing outside of school

School reopening depends not just on what happens at school, but also on how students behave in their free time. Parents must encourage their children to socially distance outside of school hours to minimize their risk of exposure to coronavirus and prevent infection rates skyrocketing on school campuses.

As the saying goes, education begins at home, so schools should remind parents about the importance of social distancing at all times. Advise parents on managing their kids’ schedules with social restrictions, such as encouraging virtual playdates or creating “pods” of friends who get together only with each other. You should also educate parents about their own social habits during this time. After all, kids naturally follow their parents’ example, so parents should limit contact with outsiders as much as possible.

Parental support website

Schools can support parents during school reopening in many ways, but the problem is how to connect with them efficiently in real time. A great way to do this is by creating a purpose-built website, especially for parents, that consolidates all the relevant information in one place.

Parents can access consent forms, class timetables, updates to rules and regulations, online information, and downloadable material about healthy hygiene, social distancing, and more. The site can even host webinars, chat groups, and private communication between parents, teachers, and admin staff.

Creating a parental support website is easier with the help of a website builder. As the pandemic continues and virtual learning looks like it’s here to stay, a parents-only school website is essential to supporting these behind-the-scenes heroes of hybrid education.

Online tools for school reopening: The fast track to efficiency

The COVID-19 pandemic has been a rough ride, but it has also brought glimmers of hope. One of those is an increased sense of community. People have rallied together to help one another in unprecedented ways. For instance, in the UK, when the government asked for 250,000 volunteers to support the National Health Service, it was flooded with 750,000 offers of help.

This sense of goodwill spread to the business world too. Hundreds of tech companies provided their tools and services to businesses and individuals for free, or at discounted rates, across all industries, from marketing to communications and health. Many offered a hand to educational institutions, to help them cope with campus closures and social distancing protocols that made teaching incredibly difficult.

For example, ClassTag is a free tool that facilitates communication between school districts and families via SMS, email, apps, and the internet. It also has a videoconferencing feature for virtual classes and content sharing capabilities. Companies like Scribd, Rosetta Stone, and Scholastic offered free access to their learning products during the lockdowns as well. Other EdTech providers, such as LinkedIn, Amazon, and Coursera, opened up their paid educational courses at no cost.

How JotForm responded to the crisis

Here at JotForm, supporting the community is our priority. Our Coronavirus Responder Program provides free access to a range of digital form templates designed to meet the needs of healthcare providers and others during the crisis. As circumstances change on the ground and health regulations shift, we add new form templates, covering all kinds of scenarios and requirements for healthcare workers on the front lines.

The effects of the pandemic echo beyond the walls of health providers, and that’s why we created 150+ free coronavirus response templates that can be used for all kinds of business operations related to COVID. From virus screening to volunteer signups, client consent for salons, patient liability waivers, teletherapy consent, and coronavirus case reporting, there’s a free digital form for just about every possible pandemic-related situation.

You can easily adapt and use these forms for school reopenings too, giving teachers and administrators a fast track to efficiency.

Digital form templates for school reopening: Endless possibilities

Digital forms are flexible and easy to use for a wide range of purposes and goals. You just need to do some quick customization, like adding the school logo and adjusting the field titles, and you’re set for an efficient, streamlined school reopening.

Here are a few digital form templates that can be tailored for schools and educational institutions:

  • Screening checklist. Monitor the temperatures and symptoms of school staff and visitors with this comprehensive health screening checklist.
  • Contact tracing form. Collect location information for students or staff who may have been exposed to the virus; a Google Maps integration helps to pinpoint their recent movements.
  • Self-quarantine time-off request form. Keep track of staff who are required to self-quarantine with digitally recorded requests for time off work.
  • Cleaning and disinfection log template. Monitor and track the cleaning schedule of school campuses to ensure compliance with COVID-19 health and safety measures.
  • Remote learning device request form. Find out which students need tools and equipment for virtual learning and gather the relevant data in one centralized place.
  • Virtual office hours form. Make it easy for parents to schedule virtual teacher meetings with this digital appointment scheduling form.
School reopening won’t wait

Teachers, students, parents, and entire communities rely on schools to maintain their daily routines. What’s more, the vital need for quality education will never go away, even in the face of a global pandemic.

For the coming school year, it seems that COVID-19 is here to stay. School administrators can’t control the virus or its effects on daily operations. You also can’t control when schools reopen, whether there will be a delay in reopening schedules, and what structure the school will employ when the reopening phase finally arrives. This is in the hands of your local authorities.

Yet, at the same time, it’s up to you to find a solution to provide high-quality education — even in confusing and uncertain times — and to be ready with the best tools in place when the school opens once again.

Conclusion

Education has come a long way since local schoolhouses and chalkboards.

The unique circumstances of COVID-19 have made virtual classrooms common. Schools are reopening to a new reality, creating unprecedented challenges for administrators, teachers, students, and parents. What will help each group cope with remote learning? EdTech.

For administrators, EdTech streamlines every aspect of school operations, including managing the demands of health and safety regulations. For teachers, EdTech provides learning platforms to keep them on track with curricula and educational goals.

Students can use EdTech tools at home or in class, via laptops or mobile phones, to manage their schoolwork and achieve academic success. And for parents, EdTech is the key to communicating with staff and teachers, guiding their kids to make the best of the hybrid classroom environment.

Today, EdTech is driving learning possibilities like never before. With digital tools and solutions, educational institutions can find ways to reopen and flourish, even in a global pandemic that has altered the daily routines of millions.

Catégories: News dév web

What are the Robust Security Plans to Stop Unwanted Form Entries?

15 septembre, 2020 - 15:28

After somebody spends long hours building a form for the respective people to fill, they feel a sigh of relief since the critical job is now done.

But, this relief is often short-lived because they soon witness some unknown and irrelevant entries coming in. Are these the people they sent the form to? No! Do they need these entries? No! This is generally termed as web form spam. Such annoying entries are often received by people who probe for vulnerability or wish to get links to their spam websites through the publisher’s web page. 

For somebody who’s recently published a new website, this can be a bit off-putting, and a lot annoying. Even though it’s quite like the regular spam, this can be a lot more annoying when done repeatedly with every form. This might seem like something that never really happens, but actually is one of the most significant issues with form publishers. Even if it’s just a simple college form that requires students to fill out some information, it’s prone to such susceptible entries unless some steps are taken in order to prevent them. To help anybody who would want to prevent himself from this web form spam, here are a few security plans to be put in action: 

Activate Powerful Field Validation 

If one must carefully go through the forms on the web out there, he/she will be surprised to see how most of them have zero to little field validation. Click submit, and the form submission will be successful. This is like presenting the form to the bots for all the spamming.

Instead, one must use a quality marketing automation software and decide the specific validations for every field carefully. As soon as the human makes a mistake in the field entry, a notification will be sent. Bots, on the other hand, will find it annoying since they can’t figure out what data must be filled in order to submit the form. But, this might not be enough since bots can sometimes be brilliant. 

Limit the form entry to only one per IP address

A spammer’s usual tactic to drive the form builder crazy would be to repeatedly fill the form from a single IP address since they might not have a lot of devices to do so. There’s a simple technique to restrain them from doing so. Block them by restricting the number of submittable entries from an IP address to one. 

Though, one might want to take their form’s purpose into consideration before they take this action since maybe the people they wish to fill this form might use the same devices to do it. For example, in a school or university, teachers will probably use the same computers to fill out a specific form. 

The strongest of all- CAPTCHA 

CAPTCHA is that powerful tool that can even annoy humans at times. Imagine what it would do to those evil ‘bots’ who are planning to spam the form entries. Though CAPTCHA is an easy step for a human, a ‘bot can’t clear it. Those odd-looking combinations of numbers and letters might be a second’s task for humans to figure out, but bots will take years to figure out something like that. Basically, an automated web crawler can’t get through CAPTCHA no matter what. Nowadays, it’s even easier for humans to pass the CAPTCHA test since all they need to do is click a checkbox that verifies them to be human. 

Yes, CAPTCHA is an extra job for the person who’s filling out that form, but it saves the form publisher hours from figuring out spammed entries. A second wasted there will count to hours saved here. Moreover, CAPTCHA will also add up to a person’s website’s professionalism. 

Password-protection- the oldest trick in the book 

Remember how kids used to put a password on their favorite games so that their siblings can’t mess up their scores and progress? The same needs to be done with these forms here. If this form is supposed to be filled by a specific group of people you know, circulate the password along with it that would be the key to open it in the first place. 

Bots can fight anything but the password. This is the ultimate solution to everybody’s spamming headache. Especially when a form is posted on social media, spammers can really mess up the entries as well as one’s inbox. With a password, it’ll be easier to prevent such unpredictable behavior from respondents who hurt the integrity of one’s data. Moreover, it’s completely controllable when the password protection works or doesn’t work on the form since sometimes the entries can be lower in number than expected, and one might need more of them. 

A data confirmation screen in the end! 

Most of the websites or form publishers generally opt for a data confirmation screen where they ask the user to click confirm in case they’ve entered all the data right. Doing this, they ensure that none of the bot’s spammed entries reaches their inbox. 

Imagine a bot having been through all the above steps and failing at this final step! Amusing for the form publisher, but brain-scrambling for that bot who tried to harm the integrity of the form’s purpose and data. If nothing else works, this step will surely knock all those bots away from one’s form. 

Conclusion 

Done! Form publishers, here is the ultimate guide to all your problems with form spamming. Use the right tools, use the proper techniques, but considering the purpose of form since preventing entries sometimes can work in the negative direction as well. A way too tricky form to fill will bore everybody out, and one might not receive the essential entries as well. So, it’s imperative to take such actions only when they’re genuinely required. For somebody who needs the maximum number of entries, some of the techniques above won’t work too well. But, these will always work when a form needs to be saved from the evil bots.

Photo by Markus Winkler on Unsplash
Creator, Andy Butcher is a digital marketing manager at SoftwareWorld; a leading software technology review and rating platform.

Catégories: News dév web

The Top 10 Important Principles of Logo Design

15 septembre, 2020 - 15:18

The concept behind having a logo is to communicate with customers and presenting something memorable. There aren’t any set of fixed rules that you should follow when it comes to designing logos. If anything, the only thing you need to keep in mind is sticking to what your customer wants. A good logo only makes sense when it’s natural, attractive, and easy to grasp.

A logo should tell a story and represent the business. Here are the ten principles you need to keep in mind when you design a logo.

Top Ten Principles of Logo Design 1. Keep it Simple

Try to keep your logo simple and easy to understand. If you add too much cluster, color, and elements, your customers might get confused. Simplicity has always been in the design game, and it’s still on the top. People would be attracted to something bold and straightforward more than a logo that has too much going on. Make wise choices with elements, font, and colors to create a visible logo that can be observed at a single glance.

2. Create an ‘Easy to Remember’ Logo

The second principle for you to remember is – your logo should be memorable. However, in today’s era, it’s hard to make a logo that stands out in the crowd and leaves a long-lasting impression. So, here are several things to remember (and ignore) to make an easy to recognize logo:

  • Stay away from generic elements like globes, ‘V’ shaped people, etc.
  • Draw something that tells a story about the brand’s origins.
  • Don’t use elements and colors that can be a turnoff for customers.
3. Design it for Your Target Audience

Invest in a logo design that is a reflection of your target audience to attract them to you. For example, the ‘Toys R Us’ logo is colorful and attractive that can quickly grasp the attention of children and even adults. However, before you start the logo design, define the features of your audience to the designer. The features will include demographics, age group, gender, and interests. A well-described audience will make it easy to design a logo.

4. Create an Evergreen Logo

Make a logo that is timeless and can last forever. Businesses often face a challenge when trying to create a logo that is timeless yet modern because logo design trends evolve too quickly to catch up. So, make it your aim to create a logo that stays fresh and forever. Tips for a great logo design:

  • Avoid incorporating too many latest trends.
  • Focus on designing a logo with unique typography instead of elements.
  • When you start designing your logo, make sure you don’t change too much. Try to stay close to the original logo.
5. Opt for A Flexible Design

Always design a logo that is adaptable and flexible because you’ll be using for online and offline marketing. You need a logo that can fit on your website, business cards, packaging material, fliers, billboards, etc. Is your logo adaptable enough to fit on everything? It should support every format, whether it’s horizontal or vertical. Try to avoid very bright colors, because those colors come out horrible when they’re printed.

6. Relevant to the Brand

Stick to brand heritage and origin when you’re designing a logo for a brand that’s been around for decades. Make sure you highlight the most popular features of the logo because that’s how the customer recognizes it. For example, Pepsi is known by the colors red and blue, and being a designer, if you change the colors to green and red, the customers might get confused. That would also be a lousy logo design trick. However, to make a successful logo, you’ll stick to the original color and play around with the elements. In Pepsi’s case, they’ve changed the round-shaped part quite a few times over the years.

7. Choose the Correct Font

There are some fonts that you just need to stay away from to make an attractive logo. Most brands tend to choose between classic serif, crisp sans serif, or flowing script because they’re the right blend of modern yet traditional.

Some brands, however, go all out and create their fonts. So, between the two, you can pick an option, but remember to stay focused on clean fonts that are easily readable. Adidas and Nike are great examples of brands that use beautiful fonts.

8. Stay Away from Using Too Many Colors

Ever heard the idiom too many cooks spoil the broth? Well, the same goes for logos; too many colors spoil the design. You might think that adding too many colors will make your logo attractive and colorful, but that’s a big mistake! Too many colors can confuse the customers, and they can get lost in the logo. Complicated logos are hard to understand and remember. So, either go three colors at max or monochrome!

9. Make Your Logo Unique

The number of businesses are increasing, which is making the competition even tougher. However, an amazing and unique logo can help you stand out from the crowd. Your first thought process should be to create a design that is different from your competitors and attracts attention. The key is to design a logo that’s unforgettable and easy for the customer to remember. Customers react well to fresh designs quicker than other logos. Some examples are Google, Apple, UPS, etc. People will look at the logos of these brands and quickly recognize them because of their originality. So, start with a unique concept and take it from there.

10. A Balanced Logo is A Good Option

Humans are naturally attracted to balanced logo and Unlimited graphic design. Once your logo design is complete, take a breather and analyze how well-proportioned the logo is. A balanced-out logo design can have elements, the right colors, and typography; however, it’s all about placement. Use the tips below to make sure your logo is balanced:

  • Make sure your logo is symmetrical.
  • Use the right proportions so that your logo makes sense.
  • Create a composition of the sizes of every element.
  • Don’t use too many colors.
The Best Examples of Great Logo Designs

A well-balanced and professionally created logo stays in the customer’s mind for a long time. A great logo can make a positive impression on the customers, whether it’s a new or existing brand. However, some brands take the cake for great logos that have been around for decades. Here are examples of the best and evergreen logos that have been around for a while.

Amazon

Amazon is an online shopping mall that offers a wide range of products across the world to more than 20 countries. The logo is simply the text ‘amazon’ with an orange arrow that stretches from ‘A’ to ‘Z’ that indicates the retailer offers every product from A to Z. The brand has managed to create a logo with texts and elements and only used two colors. It’s a great masterpiece.

KFC

What is the one thing that aids customers in recognizing the KFC logo anywhere? The character that has been around since 1930. KFC has made a lasting impression on their customers by sticking to their roots. Every time the fast-food chain rebrands, they make sure that the logo has the character, the same color palette, and typography. All they do is move around elements to make it look different.

Starbucks

The Starbucks logo is another example of an evergreen logo. The coffee shop was founded in 1971, and the logo designing was done with proper research. In 1971, the logo was a topless ‘Siren’ sign that was brown and white. Truth be told, the logo looked a little clustered; however, the brand redesigned the logo in 1987 to a mermaid with a crown and flowing hair in green and white. Since then, the logo has evolved and become simpler.

Google

Google – The #1 Search Engine! The Google logo is probably the most seen logo on the planet because people open browsers at least once a day. The website receives more than 100 billion visits per month. What makes the Google logo so recognizable? The four colors and the simple font. Anyone who looks at that color palette will recognize it’s Google in a heartbeat.

Coca Cola

The logo for Coca Cola is older than a century! A bookkeeper created the logo in 1886, where he wrote it down in formal handwriting in monochrome. Later down the line in 1947, the logo was added in white on a red disc. The Coca Cola logo is one of the widely recognized logos in the world because it has stayed close to its origin.

Time to Redesign A Logo!

Rebranding is a very common practice for businesses that have been present for decades. So, remember these ten principles of logo designing before you start. Your logo is the representative element of your business, and what you create says a lot about your brand. You can use the logo design principles to redesign or create a new logo that people can easily remember. Good Luck!

Photo by Aleks Dorohovich on Unsplash

Catégories: News dév web

6 Tools You Can Use For Marketing Outside Social Media

15 septembre, 2020 - 14:50

Social platforms help you engage with your customers directly, increase awareness about your brand, and boost sales. 

With more than 3.6 billion people using social media, it has become a key platform to promote businesses. Many companies gain customers using platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. 

However, social media is not the only way to generate leads for your business. There are several other channels of digital marketing that can drive traffic and leads to your site.

In this article, I will discuss the top six tools that can help you improve your marketing strategy using SEO, PR, email marketing, PPC, and native advertising. Let’s get started!

1- Ubersuggest 

Search engines drive 53% of the web traffic. This means, if you want to attract high-quality leads to your site, you cannot ignore SEO. 

Ubersuggest is a great tool that can help you get started with SEO. It enables you to find relevant and high-traffic keywords that you should be using on your website. It also shows the types of content you should be producing for acquiring higher organic rankings. 

For every keyword, Ubersuggest displays the monthly search volume, SEO difficulty, paid difficulty, and CPC. With the help of SEO difficulty score, you can easily find keywords that are easy to rank for. You should look for keywords having SEO difficulty in the range of 30-40. 

It also shows the number of backlinks needed to rank for that keyword and the average domain score of pages that are ranking on Google for that keyword. 

Apart from this, Ubersuggest displays related keywords. This is essential as it helps to determine what other search terms your target audience is using to find the products you sell. 

You can also add the free Ubersuggest Chrome extension. The biggest benefit of using the extension is that it provides keyword data as you search on Google. 

For instance, every time you enter a keyword or keyphrase on Google, Ubersuggest provides you with its monthly search volume, CPC, and related terms. This is great because you don’t even have to visit the tool to get the essential data.

2- HARO

HARO is an abbreviated form of “help a reporter out.” This tool is used to get in touch with reporters for regulating and maintaining public relations. With over 75000+ journalists and bloggers, HARO is a great tool for businesses to find the right reporters to run their PR campaigns. 

The biggest benefit of using HARO is that you will be able to spread your message to a wider pool of audience and boost your brand’s reputation. 

Using HARO is pretty simple. Register for their services. Add details about your business, like your name, email address, phone number, company name, and annual revenue. 

You will receive emails thrice a day (5:35 a.m., 12:35 p.m. and 5:35 p.m. ET), Monday through Friday. Check the reporters’ relevant requests, pitch your requirements, and answer the journalist’s questions. 

Interested journalists will then reach out to you, and you might just get published in one of the major editorials. Isn’t that great!

Here’s an example of the emails you will receive from journalists on HARO. It consists of the topic, journalist name, category, media outlet, query, requirements, and deadline. If you feel it is the right one for you, reply to the email explaining why you are the right choice for their conditions. 

Source 3- MediaScale

After you start optimizing your website for search engines, you will need a tool to manage your earned media and organic marketing campaigns. That’s where MediaScale can help. It is a great tool for PR and SEO campaign management and overview.

MediaScale integrates with all the major SEO tools, including SEMrush, Similar Web, Ahrefs, and Moz to give you a complete picture of how your website or clients (if you’re an agency) are doing organically. This enables you to generate outreach lists, comprehensive reports, dynamic website filtering directly from the tools you use for SEO. 

Mediascale is best suitable for marketers and agencies because it brings all the SEO and PR campaigns you run to one place, showing you campaign progress, updated website metrics, links generated and tracking of URLs after they go live. 

4- EmailAnalytics

EmailAnalytics provides real-time insights about your email campaigns. 

The platform shows:

  • Average email response rate.
  • Top senders & receivers.
  • Email activity by the hour of the day.
  • Email activity by day of the week. 

All these data points are vital as it allows you to understand if your email campaigns are as effective as you want them to be. 

Email activity helps you determine the right time to send emails to your customers to generate the best possible results. 

As shown in the image below, you can check the number of emails sent,  received, and the average response time. This is essential as it helps keep an eye on your email campaign activity. 

5- Optmyzr

Paid ads are yet another excellent way to drive traffic, attract high-quality leads, and increase sales instantly. You are likely to get the results from day one. However, it is essential to manage the paid ad campaigns effectively. If not, you will lose more than you gain. That’s where Optmyzr can help. 

Here are the key features of Optmyzr:

  • Manage bid and bid adjustments
  • Forecast and automate budgets
  • Find positive and negative keywords to include in your ad
  • Receive alerts and suggestions based on your ad goals
  • Identify root cause change analysis
  • Run A/B tests to find the best ad copy

The biggest benefit of using Optmyzr for ad management is that it allows you to automate tedious tasks. The list includes smart budget optimization, account audits, inventory-driven shopping, ad refresh, and white label reports. 

All you have to do is set bid management rules for the target position, target ROAS, and target CPA. 

6- Brax

Native advertising is rising in popularity. The primary reason for this is that native ads look more convincing as it matches the feel and looks of the media format it appears in. 

Brax allows you to manage all your native ad campaigns from a single dashboard. You can check the total spending and profit right on the platform. This helps to ensure that you are going in the right direction with native advertising. 

You can set rules, and Brax will optimize your ad performance accordingly. For example, you can set commands to pause ads with low engagement or exclude bad placements. This is essential as it improves your ROI based on the real-time performance of your native ads automatically. 

Conclusion

While social selling is effective, to convert maximum possible leads, you need to engage with them on different channels. The six tools mentioned above can help you attract and engage high-quality leads to various marketing platforms. Have you used any of them? Did you see positive results? Let me know in the comments!

Photo by NordWood Themes on Unsplash

Catégories: News dév web

5 Pro Tips on Making Whiteboard Animation Videos That Further Your Branding

15 septembre, 2020 - 09:23

Keeping an audience interested nowadays is no easy task. Especially when it comes to explaining how complex or highly technical products (or services) work. 

Luckily, marketers and business owners have a fantastic resource – whiteboard animation videos – to make that job a bit easier!

Now, this style provides an effective canvas that lets you unfold your ideas and synthesize important information in effective and engaging ways. But developing a compelling, well-executed whiteboard video can be tricky. Doubly so if it’s your first time doing it and you aren’t familiar with the ins-and-outs of the format. 

So, to help with that, we’ve compiled some critical production tips that can be the difference between an O.K. piece, and an amazing conversion tool that will enhance your video marketing strategy!

5 Pro Tips to Make Great Whiteboard Animation Videos

Producing educational content is one of the best ways brands have to make their product more appealing and expand their online reach. 

Of the many different options available, whiteboard animation videos stand as one of the most powerful tools to share knowledge. In a nutshell, the style recreates someone writing on a whiteboard, using seemingly drawn lines that come alive with dynamic animations. 

Read below our tips to learn how to make great whiteboard pieces that’ll engage your audience and further your branding efforts.  

1. Setting up your whiteboard’s script

The script is the backbone of any video. It gives you the structure you need to get your message across effectively. 

It’s important to highlight, though, that whiteboard videos aren’t designed just to make a sales pitch or talk up your product’s most essential features. Those are just organic outcomes of a good piece. Instead, they focus on connecting with your audience on a personal level – Something they achieve through great storytelling

So, to produce a solid whiteboard video, you’ll have to write a script with a compelling narrative. The question is: How do you achieve that?

To begin with, you’ll have to present a character – or characters – and their story. It’s paramount that these characters represent the buyer persona you are trying to connect with. (More on this in a minute.) Once you have that, the story should evolve up to the point where you introduce a problem that’s relevant to your audience, so you can then propose an ideal solution – yours!

To bring more clarity, here’s a simple step-by-step on how this structure of basic storytelling works: 

  1. Present your main characters and the problem they’re dealing with.
  2. Introduce a solution – AKA, your product, or service.
  3. Explain how your solution works, highlighting your value proposition.
  4. Add a clear CTA to prompt your audience to take action.

Pro Tip: When it comes to video content, it’s very important to write your script in a conversational tone. Using simple terms and jargon that resonate with your target audience. 

2. The basics of a great storyboard

The storyboard is the visual representation of your video’s main actions and visual cues, from start to finish. It looks like a comic strip, and it’s the tool that’s going to guide you and your teams during production. 

Through sketches and basic drawings, each frame shows who or what is in the scene with its corresponding part of the script or voice-over. It also includes a brief description that explains the scene and additional notes, such as camera angle, sound effects, graphic elements, etc. 

In this case, what sets the whiteboard style apart is it creates the illusion of a continuous and interconnected drawing. So, instead of swapping them out as it happens in other types of videos, the visual cues in your storyboard should occur in seamless succession. 

All in all, whether you make it yourself or a whiteboard animation company you work with, a well-crafted storyboard will also help you visualize your script and identify mistakes or inconsistencies in the narrative. Giving you time to adjust what’s needed to make sure your production is going in the right direction. So, the sooner you start working on it, the better. 

3. Effective branding techniques in whiteboard animation

To stand out, every marketing video you develop for your business should make a distinctive visual statement. One with a well-balanced color scheme and a unique design that reflects your brand’s identity

The fact that whiteboard videos have a black-lined drawing on a white background makes it the perfect setting for implementing effective branding techniques. 

To start, whenever color makes an appearance, it’s going to impact the audience. So, you should seize this great opportunity and use your brand’s colors to emphasize certain moments of your video. For example, when you want to introduce your solution. That way, you’ll imply an unconscious connection between solving a problem and your brand. 

The same goes for jingles, music, and sound effects – These can help you drive the viewer’s attention when you need it the most. So, try to use them to accentuate parts of the message you want to deliver. 

Last but not least, it’s very important to use your brand’s name and logo in critical parts of your piece – especially at the end alongside your CTA. Doing so is going to give your content permanence in your audience’s mind. Ensuring your brand’s message stays with them after they finished watching your video.

4. Setting up characters that mirror your target audience

To make your story – AKA, your video – engaging and relatable, it’s paramount to create a character that reflects the target audience you are trying to connect with. Done right, they’ll be instantly attracted to your content and, more importantly, stay to see what you have to say to them. 

To achieve that, you’ll have to develop your video’s characters using your buyer persona as a model. To define who that is, you’ll need to establish the common traits and main characteristics of your “ideal audience member”. Giving these personas a name, age, job, educational level, hobbies, interests, and needs. 

Let’s say you find out that the average person that you want to visit your website is “James”, a young man in his twenties that goes to college. He also loves to play soccer and reading Japanese graphic novels in his free time. 

So, to engage James – and people like him -, you’ll have to custom-make your video using this information, and, most importantly, you’ll have to create your characters after him. This is going to make your audience feel represented and connect more easily with your brand’s message.

5. The importance of video lengths in marketing

There’s a common saying in video marketing that goes like this: The shorter the video, the better. And it makes sense because people online aren’t that patience anymore – They expect gratification and value in the quickest way possible. 

Thing is, “short” is kind of a vague term. So, how long should your whiteboard video be? 

Well, it’s going to depend on the complexity of the subject you want to cover and your target audience. The golden rule, though, is to keep them around the 2-minute mark as much as you can. However, if your topic requires more time, you have up to 6 minutes to get solid engagement. After that, it drops significantly. 

The bottom line is that before you start developing your piece, you should always assume your viewers have short attention spans and a lot of distractions. Include only what’s really necessary to get your message across and remove anything that won’t add value. Be specific and concise – every second counts! 

Summing Things Up

If you want to boost your brand awareness and increase engagement, few things are more effective than whiteboard videos. By combining educational content with a super entertaining approach, they manage to deliver a lot of information while keeping the audience interested.

As we’ve just learned, there are many elements that you should mind, assess, and plan to make it work. Something that can overwhelm even to the most experienced marketer! 

However, remember that everything starts with a well-written script, a character that can accurately represent your audience, and applying the right branding techniques to reflect your business’ identity.

We hope this guide on how to make great whiteboard videos helped you understand the basics and inspired you to start working on yours. So, now it’s your turn!

Photo by Mark Rabe on Unsplash

Catégories: News dév web

How to pick the right type of content to turn visitors into customers

15 septembre, 2020 - 09:00

The number of people visiting your website keeps rising but the number of sales made stays the same? We can compare this situation to a store: a lot of people go in and out of a store, without buying a thing, which means that the products, prices or the marketing is just not engaging enough for the customers. 

A lot of visits on your website do not necessarily mean a lot of customers and income. The reason for that is that the content you are offering on your website is not engaging enough or the sign u forms are too demanding.

In today’s article, we will be talking about the things you are doing wrong, how to fix them, and what to add to bring in more customers.

Here are a few tips to do so: 1. Free offers

Now, this might seem weird, we are talking about increasing our income and yet the first tip to do so is by offering free stuff to your customers. But let us be honest, even you are tempted to buy something if it is on sale, buy one get one free, or even getting samples, promo codes, or participating in giveaways. So offering stuff like these to your customers will for sure make them want to spend money on your website and maybe even come back again. 

2. Proof of the quality of your product

You see a lot of celebrities and people marketing certain products on their social media platforms, and it is a well-known fact that people tend to buy what they see other people buying. Posting images and honest reviews of your products is always a big plus. People will gain a type of trust in you and your product when seeing it is useful to other people. 

3. Introducing your product

Now, when we compared an online store to a real-life one it is not that easy. When a customer goes to a store in real life, he can see the product, feel it, even try it. But, when it comes to an online store it is really difficult to present your product closest to an in a real-life one. A lot of people do tricks like demo videos, images of the product, or even videos of other customers using your product. It is said that a good quality video rise the possibility of selling a product with 85%!

4. Mobile version

We have replaced our PCs and laptops almost completely with our phones, and it is only logical to have an option to shop straight from our phones. Almost 90% of websites’ buyers shop using their phones, not their PCs.  So it makes sense, to gain more customers, that investing in a mobile interface will for sure make itself worth it. 

5. Design

People are visual beings, and as such, their decision making is heavily influenced by the visual appearance of your website. Combining colors, arranging the buttons, controlling the crownless, navigation…all of those pieces merged, complete the design puzzle that makes the difference between top or flop in your sites’ success. Play around with the possibilities, note the important factors, or even hire a specialist to guide you in your designing tasks, since it’s a factor that will help you boost your conversions drastically

6. Exit-intent pop-up

This is a really cool trick used by many websites out there. Its main purpose is to engage people into not leaving the site. For example, most of them are programmed in a way that as you swipe your cursor to close the tab or window, a big popup appears offering you some kind of a great deal that you would not like to miss out on. This makes a lot of the page visitors stay, but also a lot of them to buy a product that you are offering.

7. A live chat

This is another great trick for making people stay and keeping them entertained. Its basically telling them: ‘’Hey, we are here you can talk to us now’’. It is said it can increase the possibility of sales made by even 45%. You can even personalize the type of message you want to send to a certain customer based on many factors, so setting up a live chat can be extremely beneficial. 

8. Don’t be rude

Some pages are really rude when it comes to free trials. Once the customers decide to try out the free trial, they make it almost impossible to cancel, which is something that you definitely want to avoid. Every customer has to have an option to cancel their free trial whenever they want. Another thing to stop doing is asking card details for a free trial. Giving out card details is a personal thing. So when signing up for a free trial why is it necessary to give out card details? Giving a ‘’no card required’’ in the free trial option will give your possible future customers some type of trust and show them the confidence you have in your product. 

9. Feedback

Whether it is a paying customer or just a person that has used their free trial, giving them the option of leaving feedback is a plus. This will showcase all of your good reviews, but also show people that you are interested in improving and that you listen to all of your customers. 

10. Make buying easiest possible

Nobody wants to go through a big fuss when wanting to buy something. It should be as minimal possible making it easy to shop, for not only teens and adults who know how to use the internet, but also for the elders who do not have as much knowledge in the tech world. Try making buying possible without a complicated and often long sign up process, offer free shipping, and have as much description what to do in the next step so the people do not get lost. 

11. Focus on profit

The main purpose of the webpage is its profit, and you want every action of the website to be profit-related. Keeping your page as simple as possible, without any distractions, will make your customers focus on the product more than on the page itself. This for sure rises the chances of sales made.

Conclusion

Web-marketing is much more than just building a website and hoping for the best. There is a lot of competition out there and you want to make constant improvements to your website. We hope you find these tips and tricks helpful and that you will see an improvement when it comes to your number of sales.

Photo by Kaleidico on Unsplash

Catégories: News dév web

5 ways AI will Redefine Management

14 septembre, 2020 - 14:24

AI is breaking all borders. There is no field where AI doesn’t have a significant role to play. It arranges calls for the sales team, gathers necessary customer information, sends automatic replies to clients, places an order for raw materials with the vendor, monitors manufacturing operations, and controls door-step delivery.

The services mentioned above are easy-to-automate jobs and don’t require much intellectual caliber to perform. But with the gradual advancements in AI, it is now ready to take on administrative tasks that consume much of managers’ time. 

This article sheds light on 5 ways how business stakeholders — from front line executives to top management — can transform the way they work and get ready to make AI a crucial part of their professional lives.

1. Let AI handle administrative tasks

Consider a nurse working in a hospital who keeps a tab on the patients’ health. Who will maintain the records if she gets sick or decides to quit at short notice? AI can create, store, update, and share records instantly. Another such example is report writing. News agencies like the Associated Press are using AI software tools to write reports. In 2014, it expanded its quarterly earnings by publishing 4,400 stories, up from 300. The new-found AI capability allows journalists to spend more time investigating and interpreting reports rather than wasting time writing them. 

Similarly, our Sage 300cloud ERP software takes control of all your administrative tasks. It monitors the inventory levels and places orders with the vendor as soon as the raw materials’ quantity goes below the set threshold. It controls the entire manufacturing process, manages warehousing activities, and also checks that the finished products reach their destination in time. Thus, allowing you to perform tasks that require high-level mental processing. 

2. Improve your judgment skills

The only thing where humans supersede machines is judgment. AI can analyze and capture information from data. But managers have to use their intellect to extract business insights from that information. Empathy, intelligence, culture, and knowledge of organizational culture are the four things that distinguish managers from machines. Unlike machines, managers can visualize data from all corners and angles. They don’t only depend on data and numbers but existing financial and political conditions as well. Managers should understand that technology is there to support rather than replace them. 

Sage CRM allows managers to monitor the performance of their teams. For example, the sales manager can instantly download performance reports that depict the following attributes:

  • Average calls per day per salesperson
  • Average time per call
  • Prospect to customer ratio
  • Customer queries resolved
  • Face to face meeting sessions

With essential data at their beck and call, managers can focus on crucial business areas that require human ingenuity and decision making skills. 

3. See intelligent machines as your colleagues rather than your competitors

Machines can never substitute human intelligence. They can support their human counterparts in doing trivial tasks, but the final decision always rests in the manager’s hands. Thus, managers shouldn’t be scared that they will lose their jobs to AI in the coming future. 

A recent survey reveals that 78% of managers believe that they will trust intelligent machines’ advice while making business decisions. 

For example, Sage X3 ERP software is highly mobile and allows adding, updating, or deleting user data from any place and at any time. It provides managers the ability to enhance process quality and customer support. Moreover, it contains various functionalities that support international trade and allows managers to scale and expand to new geographies.

4. Build creative thinking skills

What is the most crucial quality of a top-performing manager?

They can bring creativity into their work. But even more crucial is to unlock the creative potential of their team members. When the manager listens to their teams’ ideas and thinks of ways to implement them, the company benefits as a whole. As AI is quickly taking control over administrative work, skills such as design thinking, creative thinking, and experimentation will be the pillars of differentiation. 

Companies no longer need managers who can execute an idea at a fast pace. Instead, they need managers who can layer fresh ideas on old ones and create something new. 

5. Build stronger and deeper bonds

The following are the 11 vital skills managers believe they will need to succeed in the next 5 years. The table is in decreasing order of importance.

SkillsPercentageDigital technology 42Creative thinking and experimentation 33Data analysis and interpretation 31Strategy development30Planning and administration 23Social networking21People development and coaching 21Collaboration20Quality management and standards20Sharper skills within my current domain of expertise20Performance management and reporting17

As you can see from the above data, managers highly regard technical and data analysis skills while looking down upon social skills like networking, coaching, and collaborating with others (points f,g, and h in the table above). As AI takes up more administrative and data analysis jobs, it is high time that managers start giving credence to networking skills. They can achieve much more when they factor in diverse perspectives, experiences, and insights.

While the conditions appear to be daunting, AI will not cause disruptions overnight. But managers need to look outside the box and understand the far-reaching implications of AI and Web App technologies. The corporate world’s face is soon going to change, for which managers need to take reformative steps today.

Photo by Maarten van den Heuvel on Unsplash

Catégories: News dév web

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Yves Bresson, ingénieur en informatique, consultant freelance, spécialisé dans le développement web (CMS, PHP, Laravel, Ajax, jQuery, Bootstrap, HTML5, CSS3) et d'applications mobiles (iPhone, Android). Voir le profil de Yves Bresson sur LinkedIn