The Seven Deadly Sins Of Web Design

The Seven Deadly Sins Of Web Design

Designing a well-built website is more than just pretty colors & fonts. There are do’s and don’ts that you need to be aware of. If you spot these don’ts on your own website I’m hoping you will recognize and fix immediately. It will benefit you, your readers, your pageviews and your followers.

#1 FONTS

Fonts that are too small or too light are a pain. I wear glasses and there are times that I can’t even read a piece of content because I literally can not see the font. Compose great headlines, write interesting content and use headline fonts that can grab attention. Also, line-height is an important factor. Give your text room! Big sections on content can overwhelm. Keep sentences & paragraphs short,

Think about it as an elevator. What do you do when the elevator door opens and it’s packed

#2 MOVING SLIDERS

A year or two moving sliders were all the rage, but as with everything else we began to see the drawbacks immediately. Slower sites, annoying movement or site bloat. Today moving sliders are so 2018 and if you’re still using them stop it!

#3 TOO MANY ADS

Listen, you’re never going to get rich running ads on your website BUT they can cost you big time. Site speed is so important these days and ads slow your site WAY DOWN! Not only that they’re annoying when there are so many you can hardly find the content. I assure you, your readers won’t. They will click off faster than you can say WAIT What?

#4 CONTENT OVERLOAD

I know it’s hard to create compelling content consistently (that’s a lot of c’s), but when you use long sentences and even longer paragraphs I can guarantee nobody is going to be reading it. People skim, they no longer read.

The best way to get more eyes on your content and lower that bounce rate is to write short complete sentences. Small paragraphs (no more than five sentences but even better three). Use your headlines correctly and space out your content so that it is easy to read quickly.

#5 BAD IMAGERY

As a designer, I think that imagery is so underrated. In my opinion, it’s the most important part of your content. Finding the right images isn’t easy but with loads of free stock photo sites, it’s a lot easier than before.

Think about your piece of content and find images that say what you mean. By that I mean if you write a post about blogging don’t use an image of a national park or if you’re a food blogger don’t use images that are money-related. I wrote the Essential Stock Image Guide that will show you what to use and where to find them.

#6 CONFUSING CONTENT

This is a little harder to explain, but what I mean is stay within your niche. If you’re a food blogger don’t suddenly throw in a travel piece. Or if you’re a travel blogger don’t suddenly start writing about crafting. It confuses your readers and a confused reader won’t be engaged.

I get it writing about the same things day after day gets boring and there are ways to incorporate different aspects. Maybe as a food blogger, you could write about the food in a city you just visited. Recreate the recipes or even build on it. If you’re a travel blogger write about the culture and display items of local color.

#7 COLOR & FONT HOARDING

This one is a constant fight. I get bored easily and changing things up keeps your site fresh and interesting BUT you can overdo it. Believe me, I can be the Queen of overdoing it. Using the wrong fonts in the wrong places or using too many different font types. Never use cursive in your main content. I seldom use serifs either just because it’s harder to read. A good crisp sans-serif is a great idea for your main font.

Limit yourself to no more than two different ones. You can always use different weights to help your content stand out. The more fonts the slower your site and the more confusing it can be to your reader. #thestruggleisreal

The same thing with color. Limits people! I never use more than three colors and seldom use that many. A good accent color and another to stand out against the rest. Any more can be confusing and choosing your color combinations is important.

It should be based on research for your niche and of course something that you AND your readers will relate to. Color psychology is real and it’s a very important step in the design process. For more information check out this post.

 

BONUS TIP

You should treat your website like the piece of prime real estate that it is. What I mean about is this;

When Google reads a website it goes from left to right just as you would read a book. So it stands to reason that the top left part of your website will be the most important space on the whole site. I’ve made a little illustration to show you exactly what I mean.

48Shares
Lois Alter Mark Women In Biz #9

Lois Alter Mark Women In Biz #9

Welcome to the ninth in our “Women In Biz All Around WordPress” feature that will run the 1st Sunday of every month. It’s a new series where we spotlight amazing women and the ways in which they have used WordPress to spread their message, sell their products, or provide valuable services.

The hope is to inspire other midlife women to build their online businesses and find what we’re all looking for; financial freedom, a lifestyle they love, and excitement they may have been missing! All of these women are current or former clients of mine who have inspired me over the years and I think they will inspire you as well.

Lois Alter Mark is a travel guru and a fantastic adventurer. Her site Midlife At The Oasis is a buffet of locations and events from around the world. You can also find her on USA Today’s Travel Section. She’s a lovely woman with a great sense of humor and I just know you’re going to love her!

Tell us a little bit about you

I’m a New Yorker who has been living in San Diego for more than 20 years. I’ve been married for 38 years and have two kids — a son who recently got married and a daughter who’s getting married next year. I have a master’s degree in public relations and I worked for Liz Claiborne, MGM and WBZ-TV in Boston but journalism was always my first love and I became a freelance writer when we got our first dog — a chow chow named Sophie — and I wanted to stay home with her. I was a contributing writer for Entertainment Weekly for more than a decade and wrote for many women’s magazines. I started my first blog in 2009 and, because of it, was chosen by Oprah Winfrey as one of her Ultimate Viewers. I accompanied her to Australia on the trip of a lifetime, and that whole experience still feels surreal to me.

What made you first decide to build a blog or website? How long have you had your site? 

I started Midlife at the Oasis in 2013 because I wanted to show women that turning 50 could be a new, exciting chapter in their life. I won 3 BlogHer Voices of the Year People’s Choice Awards and was named Humor Writer of the Month by Erma Bombeck Writers Workshop, all after 50 and of which I am so proud. I didn’t start travel writing until my kids were grown and out of the house, and I wanted women to see that age was not a barrier to fulfilling your dreams.

What is your niche?

Somehow, I’ve become a travel writer although you wouldn’t really know that from my blog — which is another reason I’m gearing up to have Rena help redesign my site. I write 7 travel articles a month for Forbes and a few more for USA Today 10Best, so my blog has become more of a place for me to lead readers to my travel writing and also write my book and movie reviews (I’m a member of San Diego Film Critics Society), some personal essays (I love writing those but don’t really have the time anymore) and sponsored lifestyle posts.

Of all of your blog posts or pages on your site which is your favorite?

IHmmm. I guess https://midlifeattheoasis.com/life-as-i-see-it/self/forget-aging-gracefully-im-planning-to-age-gratefully/ and https://midlifeattheoasis.com/travel/meaning-of-family-travel/. One of my all-time favorites, though, is called “Amster-damn.” It helped me win Blogger Idol but it seems to have mysteriously disappeared from my site so you can read it here instead: https://www.huffpost.com/entry/amsterdamn-family-travel_b_5112088

What is your favorite social media platform and why?
I’ve made so many real-life friends on Facebook who I’m lucky to be able to spend time with because of all my traveling. I do wish I could get off Facebook, though, because I am disgusted by Mark Zuckerberg and what he’s doing to this country and the elections, but I really enjoy the interaction and getting to keep up with my friends around the world. If someone makes a new Facebook-like platform, I will change. I use Twitter for news and I enjoy scrolling through Instagram every now and then but, honestly, social media has become exhausting and my personal Facebook page is the place that feels most authentic and, well, social to me.

Do you find WordPress easy to maneuver or do you avoid the back end like the plague?

AVOID! And, thanks to Rena, I can!

Is your site a business that makes money or a passion that makes your heart sing?

It would be great to make money from my blog but that’s never been my priority for it and I refused to clutter up my site with ads. I really just want to write and share the things I love.

If you use your site for business what do you sell or what service do you provide?

I don’t sell anything!

 

What is one thing you’d like people to know about you?

I have stepped out of my comfort zone so many times since turning 50 (I’m now 60!) and done things I never dreamed of, like snorkeling in the Great Barrier Reef, riding through Joshua Tree National Park on the back of a motorcycle, caring for elephants in Thailand, talking intimately about marriage and divorce with the Samburu women in Kenya, navigating the trains on a solo trip to Germany. I am grateful for these amazing experiences and want other women to know that if I can do these things, they can , too! I would love for readers to join me at http://midlifeattheoasis.com, https://www.forbes.com/sites/loisaltermark/#5bbe639f72f3 and https://www.10best.com/local-experts/lois-alter-mark/

Would you like a little more of Lois? Find her here:

FACEBOOK | INSTAGRAM | PINTEREST | TWITTER | WEBSITE

3Shares
Should You Save Your Money Or Invest It?

Should You Save Your Money Or Invest It?

Both investing and saving involve setting aside money today to prepare for the future. So it’s understandable that some people mix them up, or think of them as alternatives to one another. But they aren’t the same, and how you combine them can have a big effect on your money.

The real difference between saving and investing is where you’re putting your money — which, in turn, influences how much risk you’re taking, and how much your money could grow while it’s saved / invested.

How saving and investing work

Saving

Piggy banks and mattress hoards technically count, but when we talk about saving, we really mean putting your money in a savings account at a bank — one that’s insured by the FDIC. FDIC insurance guarantees that if something happens to the bank you’re using, you won’t lose any of your money (up to $250,000). That means when you save (up to that much), you’re taking zero risks.

When you put your money in a savings account, you earn a small amount of interest. The national average is 0.09%, and even “high yield” savings accounts only pay around 2%. That’s because technically, the bank is paying to borrow that money from you — they use cash flow from customer deposits to loan money to other people (and charge their own interest).

Still, you can withdraw your money any time you want. There’s a fee, though, if you make more than six withdrawals a month, which is meant to entice you to keep your savings in the bank. (There’s no penalty for taking money out of a checking account, like when you pay bills — but checking accounts don’t generally pay interest.)

Bottom line: Savings accounts are really safe, pay a small amount of interest, and allow you to get your money out quickly.

Investing

When you invest your money, you’re using your cash to buy investments. That might mean you own individual stocks, bonds, or alternative investments; or it might mean you own shares of a fund (aka a basket of individual investments), like you’ll have if you’re an online client of Ellevest.

As the values of your individual investments go up (or down), the value of your investment account will go up (or down). You might also earn payments called dividends from stocks, and interest from bonds. All that’s what makes it possible to earn (or lose) money by investing. The exact amount of risk involved depends on what kinds of investments you own.

So think of investing not as “spending” your money, but simply changing how it works. True, it’s not exactly the same as having cash (for one thing, you can’t pay rent with it). And as we mentioned, your investments might become worth substantially more or less than the cash you originally paid for them. But you can sell your investments to turn them back into cash any time you want — just give it a couple days to process. (You might also owe taxes if you sell investments that have gone up in value since you bought them.)

Bottom line: Like saving, investing is a way to put aside money for the future, while still giving you pretty quick access to that money if you need it. But unlike with a savings account, investing involves risk.

So if investing involves risk, why not just save all your money instead?

We’ll tell you why: Historically, over the long term, investing has been a lot more powerful than saving. This is true because investing involves risk — people demand to be compensated for taking on the extra risk of investing their money.

Does taking a risk feel uncomfortable? We get it. But when you’re talking about your biggest money goals, like retiring, you can’t really afford not to invest. That’s because — even though some individual years were up and some years were down — over the past 91 years, the stock market has returned an annual average of 9.5%. (Timely reminder: Savings accounts = 0.09% interest. For context, inflation has historically hovered around 2%.)

To put that into context, here’s what we project could happen if someone were to save / invest $25 a month for 40 years.*

InvestingvsSavingComparison

Here’s why this matters: Research shows that women keep 71% of their assets in cash, compared with 60% for men — so they could be missing out on potential investing returns. Add in things like the gender pay gap, and it’s no wonder that generally, women retire with two-thirds as much money (and worse for women of color), even though they live an average of six to eight years longer. In fact, this gender investing gap could cost women hundreds of thousands — for some women, millions — of dollars over the course of their lives.

When you should save and when you should invest

So yes, we believe you should invest. But that doesn’t mean saving isn’t sometimes the right choice. There’s a time and place for both.

Whether you save or invest has to do with two things: time and risk. If you’re planning to need your money in the next year or two, then it might make sense to save. That’s because if the investing markets took a tumble, you wouldn’t have much time to give it a chance to recover. You should also use a savings account for the money in your emergency fund — if (when) you need that money for financial emergencies, it has to be there, 100% safe and sound.

On the other hand, if you have three-plus years until you’re going to need your money, then investing can make sense instead. And the longer your timeline, the more important it is to consider investing over saving. You also might choose to invest any money that you don’t need — aka money that you just want to grow as quickly as possible (and aren’t afraid to take risk with).

Moral of the story: Put both saving and investing on your money checklist. They aren’t the same, but they’re both useful. And they’re both part of a smart, future-focused financial plan. Get started today.

Are you ready to invest in yourself? Start here!

“I’m excited to work with Ellevest to start conversations about women and money. If you become a client, I will be compensated.”

3Shares
Two Google Analytics Filters Everyone Entrepreneur Should Know About

Two Google Analytics Filters Everyone Entrepreneur Should Know About

Every blogger knows just how difficult it is to build a successful blog. There are so many things that you have to learn about that most people don’t even consider. Things like:

  • Creating graphics
  • Understanding email marketing
  • Social media
  • Branding

and that list goes on and on and on. You know the old joke:

How many hats does an entrepreneur where? ANSWER: All of them!

One thing that isn’t often talked about but is definitely a necessity is analytics. If you do affiliate marketing, sponsored posts or make money off of your site in any way you need to know the stats behind it.

Things like pageviews, unique visitors, bounce rates. Terms like this usually invoke either 1. Your eyes glaze over and you skim the rest of the article or 2. Confusion about what it all means.

Today, I’m going to show you two Google Analytic filters that every blogger should be using as well.

Filters are a way of weeding out the events that you don’t want in your final counts. The first of which is the IP filter. What does this mean? You need to be filtering out your own IP address so that you are not counted along with your other stats. Why you ask? Because without this particular filter you won’t get an accurate picture of how your site is doing.

So, together we’re going to set up an IP filter. It’s really simple so don’t panic!

The next filter we’re going to set up is to keep your analytics from being hijacked. In the video below I show you exactly how to set up both filters.

How can someone hijack your analytics? Well, there’s a little known way of finding out anyone’s GA code. It’s very simple.

  1. Go to your website.
  2. Right-click your mouse.
  3. Choose “Page Source”.
  4. Hit CTRL + F for the find command and type in GA.
  5. Scroll down and you’ll see your own GA code.

There isn’t a way to hide them from this view so the only thing you can do is to add a filter that will keep your GA code safe from hijacking.

Go into your GA account, click on ADMIN>>Filters. Add a new filter and then choose “CREATE NEW FILTER” and give it a name that you will remember.

Scroll down and hit “CUSTOM” and then check the “Include” button. In the dropdown choose HOSTNAME and in the box below type in YOURDOMAINNAME.COM & click save! It’s that easy.

Need a little more help? Try this video I made to show you how to quickly filter out your IP address and including only your own hostname.

Have questions? Let me know in the comments below!

34Shares
The Finance Checklist You Need To Work Through This Fall

The Finance Checklist You Need To Work Through This Fall


If summer’s self-care mood is “treat yourself,” then fall’s self-care mood is “let’s do the damn thing.” Enter: financial self-care. Because a) summer was expensive (lookin’ at you, Charleston vacation), b) September is Self-Care Month anyway and it’s better late than never (it’s a thing, I promise) and c) getting your money stuff in order feels A-Maz-ing.

It’s good for present-day you: Sometimes the best way to beat stress is to look the stressful thing in the eye and conquer it. And it’s good for Future You, too — the sooner you get started, the more time you have to work toward your goals. And it’s good for stress: In one survey, 73% of people who had clear financial goals also said they had lower stress levels. Plus, like with any self-care practice, the more consistent you are with it, the better it gets.

So here’s your fall financial self-care checklist. Grab your calculator & not the one on your phone because it’s probably right next to the FB button. Nope, grab a real-life 1980’s style calculator! What? You don’t have one of those? #geeksneedlovetoo Grab a calendar, a notebook, and sharp pencil or whatever it is you use to “do the damn thing” and let’s get down to it!

Your Financial Self-Care Checklist

1. Track down your most recent pay stubs

Start by getting an understanding of how much money you have coming in each month. Grab your paycheck stubs from the past month and give them a look.

First, calculate how much you’re making after taxes — aka your take-home pay. This may or may not be equal to the final amount of your check: If you have money withheld for 401(k) contributions, insurance premiums, or other employee benefits like that, then those will come into play later. For now, just look at your gross pay minus taxes. How much take-home pay do you earn in one month?

If you get paid irregularly, like if you rely on freelance income, then this might be a bit trickier. We recommend calculating your take-home pay from the last few months and then taking an average.

2. Get to know your current spending habits

Next, pull up your debit and credit card statements and look through your past few months of purchases. Categorize them into three buckets: needs (groceries, rent, etc), fun (eating out, buying things you wanted, etc), and “Future You” (saving, investing, and debt payments beyond the minimums).

This is where those paycheck withholdings we mentioned above come in. Any 401(k) contributions you’re making go in the “Future You” bucket, and insurance premiums go in the needs bucket. You can categorize any other withholdings however makes sense — for example, a public transit benefit might go in needs, and a gym membership might go in fun.

Finally, add them all up. How much are you spending on each bucket per month? There are no wrong answers — this exercise isn’t meant to make you feel guilty, it’s just to see where you’re starting from today.

3. Set a goal for your future spending habits

Now it’s time to make a plan. We like the 50/30/20 rule, which is a high-level framework for organizing your spending. It uses the same buckets we mentioned above. Traditionally, following the 50/30/20 rule means 50% of your take-home pay will go to needs, 30% will go to fun, and 20% will to Future You.

But those percentages might not be realistic for you — which is why step two on this list was so important. Based on your spending habits today, set yourself a realistic goal for tomorrow. Maybe it’s 70/20/10, or 60/20/20, or 80/15/5. It’s flexible.

Even if you can only put 1% to Future You, start there. Over time, you can work on trimming expenses or boosting your income so that you can increase that percentage over time.

4. Take the next step with your 401(k)

Two things, specifically. First, if your employer offers a 401(k) employer match but you aren’t taking full advantage of it, then sign up and start contributing enough to get the full match. That’s free money, y’all.

Second, if you have an old 401(k) or two (or however many) from a previous employer just chillin’ out there, think about rolling it over. You could roll it over into your new employer’s plan if they let you, or an IRA. Either way, it can be super helpful to get everything in one place. (PS: This isn’t as much of a process as it might seem. When you start a rollover with Ellevest, we’ll guide you through the steps.)

5. Prioritize your debt payments

Being in debt — credit cardsstudent loans, personal loans, etc — doesn’t feel good. But paying your debt off does. The fastest way to do it is to pay more than the minimum required payments if you can. That will also save you money because the longer you take to pay debt off, the more interest you’ll owe.

So if you have debt and can make extra payments, the next step is to figure out which debt you want to focus on first. There are two popular strategies: To start with the balance that has the highest interest rate, or to start with the balance that has the smallest outstanding balance. Here’s some more info on those two methods and how to put them into practice.

6. Set an emergency fund target

Financial emergencies are a fact of life. Cars need repairs. People (and pets) get sick. Phones and computers break. This is why building an emergency fund is a big part of getting your financial life in a stable place.

We typically recommend saving between three and six months’ worth of your take-home pay. (Here’s how to decide exactly how much is right for you.) That might sound like a lot, but it’s totally OK to start small and work your way up over time. But today, your goal is just to figure out how much you want to aim for. Maybe, if you don’t have high-interest debt, you even open an account and make your first deposit.

7. Start investing toward your goals

If you’ve finished the first six steps of this checklist — first of all, you’re crushing it. Keep the momentum going by starting to prioritize and invest toward your long-term money goals. Goals like ramping up your retirement contributions, or like buying a home or starting a business.

Financial self-care checklist complete. Now light an apple-scented candle, put some chili on the stove, and enjoy the fall vibes.

Are you ready to start investing in yourself? Start here!

“I’m excited to work with Ellevest to start conversations about women and money. If you become a client, I will be compensated.”

34Shares

You have Successfully Subscribed!