In the market for a new website? With so many free tools for building a website out there, you might be tempted to make a go of it yourself. Even if you’re the creative sort, however, there are a number of advantages that come from using a professional designer. When it comes to distinguishing your website from those of your competitors, consulting the pros will often prove invaluable. Here are 5 reasons why professional web design is worth the investment:
Your website is probably the first impression you present to many of your customers, so keeping it professional is essential. A good web designer stays on top of the latest design trends and can create a website perfectly suited for your company and its audience. Have some design ideas? Your designers should be willing to work with you on this – it’s your site, after all.
The overarching goal of a good website is to create a great user experience. Even the best looking website will be quickly abandoned if users find themselves in a frustrating maze. Web designers are obsessed with improving user experience, so let your designer apply his or her training to make sure yoursite is a breeze to navigate.
Search Engine Optimization
What is the point of a professional website if no one can find it? How can it benefit your business? That is why another role of a web designer is to build your website with the search engine (Google, Yahoo, Bing) in mind. They will design your website to encompass essential keywords (whether in the title tag or in your content) that help your ranking so your potential customers can find you.
In the business world, time is money. Do you have the spare time to be researching, planning and designing your own website? Probably not! Designing a website is not as easy as it looks. Apart from having the creative talent and programming skills, you must spend a vast amount of time researching the industry, your competitors and your customers in order to create a design that is both functional and eye-catching. Web designers can spare you from these daunting tasks so you can spend your time more productively.
Even while building your own website using tools like WordPress, large enterprises will need the help and support of experts to run and manage their sites. However, this can be costly, with some self-hosting packages costing up to $250,000 a year or more. You can save money by working with a professional web design company that will deliver a full package service, from designing your website to managing it, for a fraction of the cost.
Here we are again, back on the topic of the secret NSA program called PRISM. Which apparently, is not so secret anymore. Since Edward Snowden’s information leak, news about PRISM has gathered momentum, making international headlines. Why has the news about this program escalated so quickly? The obvious answer is because PRISM is designed to target the one thing that Internet users are most concerned about: their privacy. Allegedly, the program allows the U.S government to access user data from nine major sites: Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, PalTalk, YouTube, Skype, AOL and Apple.
Sound shocking? It certainly is, but this should not come as a complete surprise to anyone. Internet users’ privacy has been a constant discussion topic for decades. The Internet is an open source of knowledge for all of its users; a quick search on Google can provide your personal address, as well as pinpoint the exact location on Google Maps – useful, perhaps, but not very safe. Worrying about who is looking at your data, or why, is easy to do, but it’s not going to solve the problem. Instead, users need to be more careful about the type of personal information they are providing online. Internet users can look to any number of shamed public figures for a simple lesson in Internet safety: “If you don’t want anyone to find it, just don’t do it.” Bottom line: users should not be providing any sensitive or personal information on the Internet.
On the other hand, of course, those unconcerned about privacy could look at PRISM from a different perspective. For all its faults, after all, PRISM is a great way to automatically back up all your data and sources, free of charge . . .
Concerns have been raised by legitimate users of Liberty Reserve following the digital cash exchange’s shutdown by US authorities. With some $25 million seized by authorities, users not involved in criminal activity are worried they will not see their funds returned.
The Costa Rican-based payment processor, which allowed users to open accounts and transfer funds anonymously, is accused by the U.S. Department of Justice of helping “criminals conduct illegal transactions and launder the proceeds of their crimes.” The anonymity of the service, combined with lax regulation demonstrated by user account names like “Russia Hackers” and “tostealyourmoney,” made Liberty Reserve popular among fraudsters, identity thieves, hackers, and other criminals.
The company had about a million users and operated for seven years, handling six billion dollars, making this “the largest international money-laundering prosecution in history.”
The takedown is not the first time the company comes under suspicion. Liberty Reserve was denied a license by Costa Rica’s financial regulator in 2011 and subsequently closed, but continued to operate through several other companies.
According to Troels Oerting, who heads Europol’s European Cybercrime Center, the shutdown of the company is “a stiff blow” to cybercriminals, but “the criminals will adapt and there will be other services like this.”
Unfortunately, the shutdown has also been a stiff blow to legitimate users. Mitchell Rossetti, whose law-abiding EPay Tarjeta service used Liberty Reserve, complains that users not involved in criminal activities are being treated as “collateral damage,” becoming “victims through the closure and seizure of LR.”
Whether and when funds will be returned to legitimate users is not clear.
The takedown of Liberty Reserve does not mean that all online payment processors are unsafe. There are numerous legitimate (though more expensive) companies offering digital cash exchange, including www.moneybookers.com, www.allcharge.com, www.nextpay.com, www.instabill.com, www.ok4pay.com, www.globalpayltd.com, and www.instabill.com.
Adobe has presented Adobe Photoshop CC during Adobe Max, the Creativity Conference, as part of Adobe Creative Cloud’s big update. The new Photoshop offers better options for imaging and increased creative freedom thanks to new tools and workflows. Photoshop CC will be exclusively available from June for Creative-Cloud members.
Adobe’s desktop apps, including Photoshop and Illustrator, were better known under the name Creative Suite (CS) but have been moved to CC to emphasize the integration with Creative Cloud.
Photoshop CC consists of a large series of innovative improvements such as new image-deblurring and sharpening features to improve design workflows and new Camera Raw options. This update combines features of Photoshop Standard and Photoshop Extended to offer better access to 3D-tools and image analysis. The Creative Cloud integrations also offer flexible collaborations and sharing possibilities.
“Our ability to deliver new innovations quickly allows photographers and creative professionals to go beyond their limitations for digital imaging and design,” said Winston Hendrickson, VP of products for Creative Media Solutions at Adobe. “Our clients will no longer have to wait 18 to 24 months for Photoshop-innovations. When a new Photoshop feature is ready to launch – whether it is a Healing Brush or something incredible such as Content Aware Fill – we will deliver this directly via Creative Cloud.”
YouTube is set to launch a paid subscription model for some specific video channels. It has reached out to a small group of channel producers and asked them to create paid-access channels. The move, which could be announced as early as this week, will apply to 50 YouTube channels. Subscription fees will begin around $1.99 per month per channel.
“We’re looking into creating a subscription platform that could bring even more great content to YouTube for our users to enjoy and provide our partners with another vehicle to generate revenue from their content, beyond the rental and ad-supported models we offer,” a spokesman for YouTube said.
But video-based content is not all YouTube is focused on right now. The Google-owned company has plans for a separate subscription music service, expected to launch later this year. It would allow subscribers to listen to music for free, though there will be paid premium options for ad-free listening available.
According to information technology research and advisory firm Gartner, last year the market for CRM software grew by 12.5%, or 3 times more than the average growth of enterprise software. In 2012 CRM software generated a total revenue of 18 billion dollars, up 2 billion from the previous year. 80% of this revenue is generated in the US and Europe, but due to the crisis and the strong dollar the growth in Western Europe could not reach above 1%.
2012 also saw the five biggest CRM software producers competing with each other. Salesforce.com, SAP, Oracle, Microsoft and IBM were responsible for at least half of global revenues. Salesforce.com (14% market share) has beaten SAP (12.9% market share) to become first among CRM software producers. However, SAP did manage to remain market leader in Western and Eastern Europe.
In order to become the biggest player in the industry, the top players have made a record of more than 50 acquisitions.
The Boston Consulting Group has conducted research on online media among nearly 7,000 European consumers. The European consumers value online media at €1,077 per year over and above what they pay for it, or approximately half the €2,078 online and offline total for each connected consumer. The online net value, or “consumer surplus,” ranged from €792 to €1,557. European consumers derive the biggest online surplus from user-generated content and social networks, but traditional media categories are catching up fast.
“Based on the richness of the media content available across Europe, we expected to find a large consumer surplus,” said Paul Zwillenberg, coauthor of this report. “But what’s notable, given the relative youth of the Internet, is that the surplus from online media has surpassed, or nearly caught up with that of offline media in every country surveyed. Economic value is following media online. ”
The researchers stated that the majority of the Europeans studied believe that they have access to higher-quality online content than they did three years ago. Furthermore, most Europeans also expect continued improvements in online media. Also, Europeans tend to be more excited about the benefits of the Internet than concerned about the risks.
Based on this research, Zwillenberg believes that the key factors are in place to accelerate online consumption across Europe, as demonstrated by rising device ownership. Zwillenberg continued: “The ownership of mobile devices with online functions has played an important role; consumers who use more than three devices enjoy higher online media consumer surpluses than those with fewer devices. Three years ago, the average European owned 1.4 devices. Today he or she has 2.6 devices and it is expected that this will rise to 4 devices in three years.”
Another key factor for the increasing online consumption is fast mobile broadband. This facilitates the availability of more high-quality digital content.
Status updates, tweets, and page likes have all quickly become an established part of many people’s lives. But how do we actually behave on social networks? How much time do we spend on our online profiles? How likely are we to share our personal information?
In cooperation with SurveyMonkey, iAcquire agency has carried out research on the online behavior of American Internet users and how they use social media in their daily lives. Results show that Americans continue to worry about invasions of privacy on the Internet, but these fears are not consistent; for instance, three quarters of respondents are against sharing private search data, but only half of respondents are worried about the pictures that show up in search results.
The research also showed that we are spending increasingly more time using social media. In comparison with 2011, reported social media usage last year has increased by 37 percent, for a total of 30 billion more minutes. There has been a small decrease in Facebook usage (4 percent) and an enormous increase in time spent on social platforms Google Plus (80 percent) and Pinterest (1000 percent). A noticeable difference in information sharing through online channels was also revealed by the research, with young users preferring to share their content via Facebook, while users of 45 and over tended to prefer e-mail to share information with others.
While young adults would rather use Facebook to share their information, this social network is not the most popular platform among users under 30. Orkut, DeviantArt, Reddit, and Github are all primarily used by 18-29 year olds, who make up 85% of Orkut users, 70% of DeviantArt users, and 60% of Reddit and Github users. The 30+ age group represents 80% of LinkedIn users, 65% of Facebook and Pinterest users, and 55% of Twitter users.
Twitter has introduced Trends in more than 160 new locations. This list includes several countries in which Trends are available for the first time: Belgium, Greece, Kenya, Norway, Poland, Portugal and Ukraine. Furthermore, Twitter added Trends in more than 130 new cities in countries where Trends already were available.
Trends are a simple way to find out what people are discussing at a certain point of time – all over the whole world, or in your country or city. By checking Trends, you can easily find breaking news or hot topics that are relevant to you. To find all the new locations, you should click on Change in the Trends bar on twitter.com. Then select the country or city that most interests you.
Twitter will be adding more locations to trends in the future. For more information about Trends, Twitter has posted a support message online.
Back in school, a friend of mine and I had an argument over a song we heard on the radio. We couldn’t agree on who sang it. If I admit who that singer was, I’ll feel too old, but suffice to say, I knew I was right, she knew she was right, and the matter was left forgotten, and therefore, unsettled. When was the last time one of your friendly disagreements ended that way?
These days, someone’s always got a smart phone on hand, ready to set you straight on such matters. Even if not to settle an argument, most of us have probably been that person with their phone out, checking directions, a train schedule, or the price of an item at another store. And through doing this, we’ve all been exposed to responsive design.
You already know what that is, even if you don’t know the name – it’s what makes a website easy to read on your smart phone or tablet. Responsive design, also called mobile support, allows websites to maintain their appearance and usability, whether you access them on the desktop in your office or on the go.
With more and more people using their phones or tablets to access the web, mobile support is becoming a necessary feature of any company website. Try it – go on your site with a phone, and see how it looks. If your web design already features mobile support, good! If not, you’ll see why you should think about making the change. Sites that are good-looking and accessible only on a laptop or desktop screen are already becoming a thing of the past.