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Functional Simplicity: The Various Ways Minimalism Can Enhance Customer Experience

web design tips

Simplify, then add lightness. This one core philosophy is the foundation of Colin Chapman’s approach in building cars in the 50s all the way until his death in the early 80s. Even now, you can still see this philosophy mirrored in Lotus Cars, the British automotive company that Chapman founded that you might’ve recognized from classic James Bond films. Even before minimalism become fashionable, Chapman has always adhered to this philosophy, even when it sometimes jeopardized the safety of drivers driving his cars.

For Chapman, minimalism isn’t just an aesthetic choice. Another one of his famous quotes exemplify his line of thinking; “Adding power makes you faster on the straights; subtracting weight makes you faster everywhere”. As is the case with the automotive world, minimalism also carries actual functions aside from just being nice to look at when it comes to the world of Melbourne web designer. The word basic tends to have pejorative undertones in our current discourse but simplicity does have its values when it comes to designing a user interface.

Minimalism as a design language

There is no universal agreement on what would constitute minimalist design but the oft-cited consensus is that it represents a school of thought where every element in an interface is there for a specific purpose. In minimalism, there’s a deliberate reason behind the existence and placement of every element in a single web page and in the eyes of the users, everything works exactly the way they think it would. Ideally, there are no superfluous elements in minimalism and the experience is pared down to only focus on what’s essential.

This is not to say that there can be no intricate, complex or any kind of visual touch in a minimalist design; it’s more about how these elements shouldn’t be made more intricate, complex or distracting than they already are. Functionally and aesthetically, the goal in minimalism is to prioritize efficiency, how a designer can do and convey more with less. This less is more approach doesn’t just infuse your website with a tidy look, it would also enhance your customer experience in several tangible and noticeable ways.

Minimalism helps add clarity to your website and/or contents

It doesn’t matter if your website serves an educational or a marketing purpose; you would still want your message to be success fully delivered to your audience and one easy way of achieving that is by adopting minimalism as a design language. Minimalism means having less things to focus on for the users, enabling them to navigate their way around your website and digesting your contents easier. The challenge here lies in your ability to distill your message to its essentials while still being unambiguous.

Far too often, designers commit the sin of pulling too hard and too much to the other direction. They not only succeed on stripping down their elements of any superfluous elements, they also succeed in making them almost unrecognizable. Having to manage this delicate balance can be hard as there’s a very fine line between a minimalist design and a muddled, ambiguous design. If you’re just starting out, you might not be able to achieve this balance in your first try but dig your heels in and I can assure you that the result would be more than worth the trouble.

Minimalism helps with the performance of your website

Just at look at how much success Colin Chapman has had in Formula 1, the Holy Grail when it comes to motorsport. Under his leadership, Team Lotus won a total of seven Constructor’s Championship titles. That’s enough to place Lotus in fourth place in the all-time list, which is quite impressive given it’s been two decades since the last time Lotus entered a Formula 1 race. Obviously, motorsport and web design is far from an apple-to-apple comparison but lightness does carry several inherent performance advantages in the world of web design.

On the users’ part, adopting minimalism as a design language helps make your website load faster and perform better simply because there are fewer elements that have to be loaded. Having less complicated elements means that your website wouldn’t be such a resource hog either, making it easy for users that are using modest hardware in both desktop and mobile. On the designers’ part, minimalism would make maintenance and upkeep easier as again; there would simple be fewer elements you have to take care of.

Minimalism helps make organization and housekeeping easier

For business that runs an online service and have to resort to using highly sophisticated and complex web applications that have to either process or host a lot of data, adopting minimalism as a design language can help make all of that sophistication and complexity more digestible. Even if your target audience skews younger, it’s wrong to assume that all millenials and Generation Zs are all equally tech-savvy; some would still be just as clueless as your grandparents when faced with a highly technical application.

As has been mentioned before, minimalism helps add clarity to your user interface. White space, another essential element in minimalism, could also help make the complex nature of web application more manageable by injecting a visual breathing space on your interface. Given the sheer popularity of web applications, ranging from office productivity apps, music streaming apps and e-commerce platforms, web designers have to come up with a way so that they can be easily used by everyone and minimalist design is one way of achieving this.

Cloudy with Little Chance of Downtime: 4 Key Benefits of Using Cloud Hosting

web hosting tips

Back when the cloud was still a relatively new concept in technology, I used to roll my eyes a little whenever some random company talks about harnessing the power of the cloud to power their products and/or services. I am very happy to say however than in 2019, the cloud has long transformed from a buzzword into a dominant force in technology, with products like Google’s upcoming cloud video game streaming service Stadia representing another important step in cloud architecture.

Of all the forms of cloud technology available to the public, we’re most intimately familiar with the concept of cloud storage provided by services such as Google Drive and Dropbox but there are a lot of other ways the cloud can be utilized. One of them is through the practice of cloud hosting which has proven to be quite a useful alternative to the typical practice of shared and dedicated hosting. If you’re still on the lookout for web hosting services to use, this might be a good time to read on why cloud hosting is deserving of at least some consideration.

The revolutionary capabilities of cloud technology

The simplest thing we can say about the cloud is that it’s not tethered to any physical object. There is actually a definitive technical explanation of the cloud but that would require a time and space we don’t have at the moment. In cloud storage for example, your data isn’t actually stored in a single physical server but a collection of servers working in tandem operated by the service provider which in the case of Google Drive is Google. As your data is stored on this ‘cloud’, you can access them through a variety of different devices and/or through anywhere in the world as long as you have a working internet connection.

As someone who writes a lot, cloud storage is incredibly useful as it allows to me to continue writing wherever I am at the moment and to jot down whatever inspirations I found while out and about into the same document. Cloud storage saves me from having to keep multiples copies of my work as that can be incredibly impractical. Cloud hosting doesn’t necessarily confer you with the same benefits but they are still incredibly useful in all sorts of different ways and the following 4 example should help convince you.

Cloud hosting has inherent redundancy

When it comes to plastics waste, redundancy may be the last thing we’re looking for but when it comes to your website, redundancy is an absolute must. When your website is hosted on a physical server, the minute said server is hit by a problem; your website will be out for as long as it takes for to get the server up and running again. You can of course, keep a backup of your website on another server but that would cost you money and this requires you to maintain two separate versions of your website and that requires more work.

On the other hand, as cloud hosting relies on a cluster of servers, a failure in one of the servers would be far from enough to take your website down. Cloud hosting saves you from having to keep a backup of your website as they’re is designed with built-in redundancy. While it is possible for all servers inside a cloud platform got knocked out at the same time, that is incredibly unlikely and right off the bat, cloud hosting gives your website a level of reliability that the typical web hosting aren’t capable of.

Cloud hosting has better security by default

Because problems affecting a single server will have a minimal impact on the cloud platform as a whole, cloud hosting is inherently more secure than shared or dedicated hosting. Data is a very important commodity in the modern world and cloud hosting ensures the security of your data by ensuring that even if a physical malfunction were to occur in one of the servers, your data will be safe. Even if one of the servers were breached, the cloud platform could simply isolates the server in question while ensuring no downtime to the platform as a whole which provides your website with better security and reliability.

Cloud hosting is highly scalable

When choosing a web hosting plan, you’re always given a choice. Do you want to play it safe by going for the highest possible bandwidth? Or do you go for the economical choice by going with a plan that has limited bandwidth? Both options have their own shortcomings as in the former, you’re going to be wasting a lot of resource (and money) when it turns out that your website is only operating at 25% capacity. In the latter, you run the risk of losing business if it turns out that the traffic you’re getting is bigger than your initial estimates.

Cloud hosting solves this by giving you a level of flexibility unseen with typical web hosting. As cloud hosting operates using a cluster of servers grouped together, the total amount of resource available is far larger than even dedicated hosting. If you’re seeing that you’re running out of resources or you’re about to run a promotion that’s likely to bring in more traffic than usual, you could simply pull in more resources from the cloud at a cost. Most cloud hosting platforms allow you to adjust this in real-time without having to wait for approval from the hosting provider which can be incredibly useful in a pinch.

Cloud hosting has a flexible pricing scheme

This is still related to the point above, cloud hosting can also be financially efficient as you’re only going to be billed based on your usage. Typically, you’ll be given a choice of several plans with an increasing level of threshold but you won’t be charged a flat price. Instead, you’ll be charged based on how much resource you’re using with the rate varying from one plan to another. It’s like being given a choice of a diner or a Michelin star restaurant (the different plans) where you’ll be charged only on foods you’ve ordered (your usage). By contrast, the typical hosting plan is like a buffet where you’ll be charged the same no matter how much you eat.

Keeping Your Enemies Closer: Using Social Media for Competitive Analysis

social media tips

If there’s any trend worth observing in this 21st century is how these contemporary times has made activities that would typically be described as frivolous into something considerably more substantial. You can for example turn your hobby of playing video games into an actual, bountiful living or you can simply upload photos and videos of you in social media into an actual career. That last part there is particularly important as the use of social media is still stigmatized as something silly even though they can be particularly useful as long as you know what to look for from social media platforms.

For one, as social media is where the majority of the younger generation spends a part of their time, platforms such as Twitter or Instagram make for an incredibly fertile ground for the purpose of marketing. Social media platforms allow you to do research on your target market and connect with them directly. However, what’s less known is that those very same platforms could be used for the purpose of competitive analysis where your company can scout your competition and see if there’s anything they’re doing that might be worth considering.

The importance of competitive analysis

No matter how specifically niche your business is, you’re bound to have some competition and your competition typically range from bigger, more established businesses to younger, more agile startups. The common sense is that as a business, you’re going to have to find an edge over these competitions to be successful as a business but when you’re going toe-to-toe with businesses with more brand recognition and resources, there might not be a lot you can do. Whatever the case, competitive analysis can be useful in helping you figure out the landscape for your industry.

In layman’s terms, competitive analysis is the practice of data gathering and analysis of other players in your industry and how they handle their businesses and how they deal with customers. Competitive analysis doesn’t fall under the umbrella of corporate espionage because you’re only dealing with data that are publicly available and this practice has long been a mainstay in responsible business practice. In today’s business world, competitive analysis can be incredibly useful because they might help your business survive even when you’re operating with a disadvantage by helping you finding your niche.

If you can’t be better than your competition, try being different instead. The goal of trying to find your niche is to try a segment of the market that’s still relatively untapped and figure out how to enter that market. Using competitive analysis, you can find out what segment your competitors are focusing on and the kind of audience they’re trying to attract and use that information to carve your own slice of the market. Social media platforms can be incredibly useful here as they provide you with all of this information in a single spot.

Establish who your competitors are

The first thing to do is to try and not to limit your scope simply on other businesses of similar sizes and price range. While you might not be directly competing with businesses that are operating in a different segment, market overlaps here and there is to be expected and checking these brands out will help you in finding other segments to fill. If you’re just starting out, it’s incredibly important for you to try and establish yourself outside your competitor’s shadow and that can be achieved by being unique.

Find out how they’re using social media

Some brands use social media simply as a marketing tool while others use them as sales channel and a customer service channel on top of their purpose as a marketing tool. You can also see which of your competitors are getting more engagement in a platform and how they interact with their customers. Follower and like counts aren’t the only metric you should pay attention to and you might want to try posing as customers and try to interact with your competitors on social media just to see how they handle things. For now, focus on gathering and categorizing these data first before trying to make sense of them.

Check out what influencer they’re keeping an eye on

I’m not talking about the Kardashians or the Hadids of the world; I’m talking about industry-specific influencer whose contents are of a specific niche. For example, I know of several accounts that are knee-deep in the world of denim that are fairly influential even when their follower count is negligible compared to some of the more popular influencers. If you’re trying to establish credibility within the experts of your industry, getting to know these industry-specific influencers are a must and this is just one of the many ways social media competitive analysis could help you.

Use all of the collected information to help your business

By now, you already have an idea on who your competitors are and if you’ve been doing your homework, you should already have an idea on the strengths and weaknesses of each account and how they position themselves within the market. With this information, you should be able to make a decision on whether you’re capable of directly competing with your competitors or if it would be too time-consuming and expensive to try intruding in their domain. If it’s the latter, you should try exploiting existing gaps in the market where none of your competitors excel in.

From all the data you’ve gathered on their social media accounts, you should also have an idea on which account is receiving more engagement from customers. It’s important to underline the social part in social media as ideally, you want there to be more activity in your social media feed. What kind of content they’re using, how they respond to queries on social media and the frequency of updates all have an effect on customer’s engagement and you want to use these information to figure out your own social media strategies.