A Guide to Technology Stacks

A Guide to Technology Stacks

Technologies, Software, and Tools

A technology stack or tech stack for short refers to a set of technologies, software, and tools that are used in the development and deployment of sites, apps, and other digital products.

For example, a classic technology stack is the LAMP stack. The LAMP stack is traditionally used for creating an environment for running PHP applications. The stack is made up of the following technologies: Linux (the environments OS), Apache (the HTTP server), MySQL (the database), and PHP (the server-side programming language).

The infographic below provides you with an exceptional introduction to technology stacks. It covers:

  • Web development stacks

  • Software stacks

  • A glimpse of the large-scale technology stacks of major tech companies like Airbnb and Stack Overflow

Technology Stack Infographic

Technology Stack Infographic
Answer These Questions

Answer These Questions

Get the Most Out of Your New Website

Prepare for a successful website!

When you’re working with a web design company on your new website, you want to get the most out of your investment. A good website will help you attract more and better leads that are more likely to engage with your business.

Part of maximizing the success of your website is being prepared with relevant information. This will help us build the most effective marketing platform for you.

Let’s take a look!


1. What does your business do?

To create the best website for your business, a web design company needs to fully understand your business. They can’t produce a website that works for you if they don’t know much about your company. It is important that your web design company has the opportunity to get to know your business.

This includes the history of your business, the products or services you offer, your employees, competitors, and more. All these questions should help us get a better understanding of your business, how you operate, and your company values.

When a web design company knows your business, they can start to shape a site that reflects your business best.

2. Do you have a website?

It may seem like a silly question, but we need to know if you already have a website built. This is an important part of the process for two reasons.

The first reason is that your web design company needs to know how much work they need to put into your site. If you don’t have a website, they’ll need to put in more effort to build one for you. For businesses with established sites, they know that they have an existing structure they can modify.

It is also important to know if your business has a website because if you do, your web design company can ask you about your site. They can ask you what you like and dislike about your site, what you wish was on your site, and how your website drives (or fails to drive) results for your campaign.

This is an opportunity for us to learn what you like and dislike about websites. It will help us create a site that drives results for your business.

3. What is your site’s goal?

Before beginning the project, you should know what you want to achieve with your website. You shouldn’t just build a site “just because.”

There are numerous goals you can focus on with your website. You can aim to earn more leads and revenue, increase brand awareness, capture emails or social followers, or get more phone calls to your business. It is important that you establish a goal for your website to help your web design company create a better site for your business.

Your goal impacts the design of your site. If you want to increase more brand awareness, your web design company will focus on building your brand and helping people become familiar with it. On the other hand, if you wanted to earn more leads, your web design company will focus on incorporating elements that encourage people to learn more and ultimately purchase.

4. Who is your target audience?

Your target audience plays an important role in how you shape all aspects of your campaign. You want to appeal to them and get them interested in your business. Your website’s design is no different.

To design a website that drives results, you need to know who is in your target audience. We will ask you about your target audience so they can build a site that works better for your audience. Your audience’s behavior will impact how you structure your site.

5. How is your company unique?

Each company across the globe has something unique to offer their customers. There is something that sets them aside from the competition. It may be something small, but there are things that make your business unique compared to your competition.

This is an important selling factor that we’ll want to incorporate into or emphasize in the design.

You want to stand out from the competition. Your unique features of your business will help you do that.

6. Who are your competitors?

You want to create a website that will help you stand out from the competition. It is important that your web design company knows about your competitors so they can create a website that makes you unique from your competitors.

You’ll need to think of a short list of competitors that directly impact your business. You can give this list to your web design company so they can check out their sites. This will give them an idea of how your competitors sites look and how they can produce a site that is better.

7. What features do you want on your site?

It is important that you incorporate features that will help you achieve your campaign goals.

You’ll need to think about how you want your site to look. There are numerous features you can add to engage your audience and keep them interested in your site. You need to think about which features you want on your site.

Some popular features include email sign-up bars, social media icons, incorporation of videos, or color choices. These are all features that have an impact on your audience. It is important that you think about which features are important to your campaign.

You want to be sure that you are incorporating elements that help you achieve your site’s goal. If your goal is to capture more leads, you’ll want to incorporate an email sign-up bar and social media icons. The features you incorporate on your site should help you build a site that gets your audience to complete the intended action.


Start building a better website today

If you want to build the best website for your business, you need to make sure you know the answers to questions that help you construct your ideal website. These questions should help you construct a better site that is more effective for your audience.

Want to get started today? Contact PixelForge today to begin building a better website!

How to Make Your Nonprofit Site Effective

How to Make Your Nonprofit Site Effective

Creating a Strong Presentation

Your nonprofit’s website is a tool that should be used to engage, interact with, and mobilize your audience – a tool that should ultimately inspire action.

1: Know Your Audience

If you don’t know who your website is serving, you’re at a serious disadvantage. No matter how hard you try, it will be nearly impossible to create an effective nonprofit website – one that meets the needs of your constituents and helps you achieve your mission.

  • Focus on their needs – Who are your key groups and what do they care about? How do they interact with your site?

  • Use the right language – Know that writing is an art and a science. Every bit of content should showcase your mission. Avoid industry jargon and acronyms. Keep it simple, but include descriptors for clarity and improvement of search engine optimization.

  • Keep mobile in mind – Mobile browsing is the #1 method users use to access the internet. Is your content completely accessible?

2: Focus on Your Home Page

Your home page is your first opportunity to make a strong impression. Within the first few seconds of arriving, your users will form an opinion.

  • Prioritize content – Create visual hierarchy. What content elements are most important and deserve the best location? Remember your goals as well as your audience’s during this exercise – not everything everyone wants fits, or even belongs, on the home page.

  • Make sure people can scan through easily – Use of headers, content blocks, and visual design will allow users’ eyes to follow the right path of content.

  • Provide choices – Not everyone accesses your site in the same way; make sure you provide different ways to access information to accommodate this.

  • Test – Show your home page to audience members, and then ask them a series of questions about your organization and its mission. If they can’t answer them, consider refocusing and prioritizing your home page.

3: Share Your Mission

Sixty percent of all donors check out your nonprofit’s website before donating, and therefore you should tell them why they should give and what impact it will make. And, you should do it quickly, before they change their mind. Share your mission clearly and succinctly and make it actionable!

“Feeding Children, Growing Community”. This isn’t just a catchphrase, and it’s not just a mission statement. Seeing this tagline immediately informs the user that they will find compelling information on what your organization is about, how they can help and who is being served.

4: Use Compelling Imagery

Design controls what users see and how they process your content. Compelling imagery can mean many different things based on your audience but it’s critical for driving users to important content.

  • Infographics are fantastic. They allow you to visually show all types of content – from stewardship to impact to mission fulfillment to campaign progress – unmistakably and concisely. They are attractive and engaging, which are two key elements to successful imagery on any website.

  • Engage with eye contact. Photography that uses eye contact will allow you to make a personal connection with your user. Personal connections, trust, and emotional engagement are keys to fulfilling your mission! Which would better share the amazing impact Habitat for Humanity has on the community – an image of five volunteers building a Habitat Home with their backs to the camera? Or the eyes of the man for whom the house was built?

  • Share real stories of impact. Sharing stories of how others are affected by your work, your outreach, and your mission will build credibility and encourage empathy.

5: Ensure Ease in Navigation

If your users can’t figure out how to find the information they’re after, it might as well not exist.

  • Provide multiple interaction paths – not everyone accesses information in the same way, so make sure key content is accessible multiple ways – navigation, search, calls to action, etc.

  • Test yourself – Access your own site in different ways, see how easy it is to find key content, and adjust accordingly.

  • Two clicks or less for key tasks – (Hint: Effective nonprofit websites follow the two-or-less rule.) If not, revise your structure. You can’t have two clicks to everything, but you can prioritize and make sure key tasks and content are the easiest to reach.

6: Include Clear, Bold Calls to Action

Without a strong call to action, it doesn’t matter how brilliant your content is.

  • Remove all obstacles to action. If someone clicks “donate now,” they should not be taken to another landing page with all of the ways they can give. Effective nonprofit websites take people directly to the donation form where they can give that gift!

  • Provide both tangible and intangible options: Please give 10 meals to your community today; please give $10 today.

  • Calls to action should be clear and compelling.

  • Never say “click here.”

7: Showcase Your Stewardship

At least 60% of donors will visit a nonprofit’s website before donating. Create a strong presentation to show what impact they will have if they participate.

  • Show the impact of the support visually through infographics.

  • Be transparent – share your annual report and show how much of the support goes to the cause.

  • Say “thank you.” This seems simple, but it’s often forgotten. Your website is a great place to say it publicly.

8: Keep Content Fresh

People in general have incredibly short attention spans. This is even more relevant on the internet where information is constantly available.

If you don’t consistently update your content, people will assume that either you don’t have anything new and important to present or that you can’t be bothered to put in the time or energy. Neither of these are good scenarios, both of which could cause them to forget about you and never come back.

Fresh content is crtically important to driving traffic to your nonprofit website.

  • Utilize automatic feeds.

  • Add dates to content posted to the home page.

  • Gather user-generated content via blogs, forums, or posts and let your audience help keep content fresh!

9: Be Social

More and more, people are looking to engage with organizations through the various social media platforms. Utilize this direct communication to help promote, engage and provide a constant source of dynamic content

The world of social media is changing. It’s not enough to have a Facebook page or a Twitter account. The real power of social media is in harnessing its viral capabilities as an integrated channel with reach beyond the limits of your database and lists.

  • Incorporate social sharing on your site. It will contribute to website traffic and brand exposure.

  • Tweet, blog and post. Often. Make it a priority.

  • Use the Facebook and twitter widgets to pull social posts to your website for fresh content and relevant, engaging activity.

10: Provide a Personal Touch with Multimedia

Your users’ preference for consuming content varies, just as their browsing and navigation styles do.

  • Allow users to consume information in multiple ways – video, imagery, text, interactivity, and audio.

  • Invest in interactive design elements like virtual tours or maps – it helps bring a personal touch to your users, even through the web.

5 Ways Web Design Impacts Customer Experience

Impact Your Customer Experience

5 Important Aspects of Design

Web design is one of the most important parts of any Internet marketing strategy.

It has a huge impact on the digital customer experience in several different ways. Your site’s aesthetics, usability, and other crucial factors are essential to your company’s long-term online success.

But how dramatically does it actually impact your bottom line?

In this post, we’ll take a look at five major aspect of web design and how you can improve all of them.


1. Appearance

Web design most obviously impacts your site’s appearance. You choose how your site looks, which plays a huge role in your company’s first impression on new online visitors.

Often, you’ll hear marketing experts (including us) talk about web design in two extremes:

  • Older websites that look like they were made in 1996

  • Newer, sleeker websites that adhere to modern web design standards

Many websites fall between those two options, but they represent opposite ends of a spectrum.

It’s possible to have a site somewhere in the middle — one that looks attractive, but maybe it was last updated in 2007.

Regardless of how your site looks, the goal is to have it as current and up-to-date with modern design trends as you can.

Modern web design trends include:

  • Responsive design

  • Parallax scrolling

  • Big, bold fonts

  • Eye-catching “hero” images

  • Multimedia

Responsive design means using code on your website that makes it look and function the same, regardless of the device someone uses to access it.

So whether someone comes to your site from a smartphone or a desktop computer, they’ll get a great experience and find the information they want.

Parallax scrolling means overlaying two visual elements on a page and moving them at different speeds as someone scrolls.

Then, when someone looks through a page on your site, they’ll get a cutting-edge visual experience that keeps them engaged and reading.

Big, bold fonts have been in vogue for a few years now. Essentially, the concept refers to using sans-serif typefaces that are easy to read on screens.

That makes your customer experience smoother, and it lets your readers get the most value out of every sentence on your site.

Eye-catching “hero” images are giant, full-width graphics at the top of articles that give you a summarizing visual representation of the text below.

They got the name “hero” because these images champion the article with which they’re associated. They’re great for generating clicks for social media, and they’re ideal introductions to concepts on your site.

Last, multimedia refers to images, videos, interactives, and other visual elements that help break up text and educate your visitors.

Multimedia is fair game for just about any page on your site from a blog post to a 100-page downloadable guide.

When you include it, you make your content much more scannable, engaging, and enjoyable for readers.

But this all has to do with your site’s appearance. Web design impacts a lot more than just how a website looks.


2. Professionalism

Professionalism refers to the impression you make on your site’s visitors before they ever start reading your site.

When someone arrives on your site, you want them to understand that you’re a modern, respectable business. This impression is largely based on how your web design represents you.

Several web design elements contribute to professionalism, including:

  • A culture page

  • Photos of staff

  • Customer results

A culture page is part of your site that’s exclusively dedicated to talking about your company’s approach to daily operations.

Do you have certain values at your company? Do you maintain certain traditions? Do you celebrate anything unique?

These are all great additions to a culture page since they show what your company does besides work. Even your customers will be interested to see that your employees are happy.

Speaking of employee happiness, photos of staff can also go a long way in reinforcing professionalism.

Whether you choose to show them together at a happy hour or hard at work is up to you. Either way, you’re adding faces to your business that shows visitors you’re more than a brand name — you’re a thriving company.

Last, you can showcase customer results. If you can quantify your work in any way — even if it’s how many air conditioners you repaired last year — you can highlight that information on your site.

This demonstrates professionalism because it shows that you have your customers in mind, even those who haven’t converted yet.

Visitors who see that will understand that you’re a customer-focused business that values itself in terms of what you can deliver.

Still, professionalism needs another element that web design can offer — and it’s essential no matter what kind of business you own.


3. Clarity

Clarity means designing your website so visitors can find what they want as quickly as possible. This is often an overlooked way to vastly improve the visitor’s experience.

Most often, this means improving your navigation. Intuitive and familiar navigation styles allow your visitors to quickly find the information they want.

Today, navigation comes in a few well-known styles:

  • Breadcrumb

  • Drop-down menu

Breadcrumb navigation is inspired by the story of Hansel & Gretel.

Whenever someone clicks to a new page, your site automatically adds their previous page to a navigation bar. Then, a user can click back to that page in an instant if they want.

A drop-down menu lets someone hover their cursor over a menu title and see the pages that category contains.

Then, they can click on the page that interests them to get the information they want.

These navigation strategies can work together, too. Your homepage can use drop-down menus, and once someone clicks to a new page, you can use breadcrumb navigation on that page to let users go back to where they were.

Naturally, you have lots of other options for navigation. But these are the two most popular and useful in the web design world.


4. Load time

Load time refers to how long someone has to wait for a page on your site to display on their device(s).

Load time is a major Google ranking factor, and it’s become crucial to online success as more consumers move toward using the Internet on mobile devices.

The modern Internet user is concerned with websites that load in the blink of an eye and — more importantly — use minimal data.

So how can you reduce your site’s loading time?

  • Optimize image sizes

  • Remove auto-play multimedia

  • Use white space

First, you can optimize image sizes on your website to make sure your site loads as quickly as possible.

To do that, use .jpg files for your images. This is the best way to show high-resolution photos or graphics while minimizing the size of the file.

Next, you should remove auto-play multimedia like video and audio.

That means your users won’t use big chunks of their mobile data when they go to your site on their smartphones.

Plus, auto-play multimedia is an irritating way to promote content anyway. Most users will leave your page if they get there and there’s automatically a video in their face.

Instead, make your multimedia require manual activation on every page.

Last, you can use white space more frequently to reduce data demand.

White space is any unused space on your pages. No text, no images, no videos — nothing.

White space spreads out your text and elements to make them easier to see, especially for mobile users.

This makes it easier for visitors to understand everything on a page so they don’t have to re-read content.

In a nutshell, that makes white space work on two levels. It helps your pages load in a flash and it makes them more readable.

Overall, that makes web design crucial to the speed of your site. You can also use these strategies together to help your individual pages load as quickly as possible.


5. Conversions

Conversions are arguably the most important part of web design.

After all, your business won’t thrive online without them.

Web design can impact conversions in a thousand different ways, and they’re all important, but these three are some of the most impactful:

  • Color

  • KISS principle

  • Faces

Color sounds general, but in web design, it refers to a color scheme that intelligently uses contrast to highlight selling propositions.

So if your site uses a cool color scheme, use warm colors like red or yellow for your calls to action. That helps them stand out so people can find them more easily and convert.

The KISS principle is an acronym for “Keep It Simple, Stupid.”

The idea is that simpler designs are better designs. When you have an easy-to-follow, organized website, you make it that much easier for visitors to convert.

You don’t need loud backgrounds or showy graphics to sell your company online — it’s actually better to stay simple.

Last, faces may sound a little odd as a web design principle. But the idea is that human faces help visitors relate to your business.

You could use stock images, but this works best when you use your own staff.

Essentially, you show someone the human side of your company to make them feel more comfortable contacting you.

It may not sound like much, but that goes a long way in establishing trust, fostering a positive relationship, and eventually earning a new customer.

By using all three of these concepts at once, you make your site much more efficient at earning new customers.


How does your site’s design impact customer experience?

Do you know of any other ways to improve visitors’ experience on your site with web design?

Let us know!

Responsive Web Design
Responsive Web Design
Unify Your Experience

When thinking about getting a redesign for your website or having a brand new site created, have you thought about the way it will look across all devices?

Responsive web design tends to be overlooked by businesses when planning a new site. With new technology comes new screen sizes and greater probability that your website may not appear as you want it to across the board. Whether your viewer is using the newest high resolution retina display iPad or an old phone, you want your website to display clearly so your brand message can be perceived appropriately.

Unify Your Website’s Experience on All Platforms

Responsive web design is the idea of designing and developing a website with flexible layouts that adapt to each user’s device. Websites with responsive design will adapt and display on any device or screen size, making for an enjoyable experience for your viewers.

With responsive design, you pay for one build and get a custom website that not only looks great on desktops, but also netbooks, laptops, tablets, and smartphones. A responsive design is also prepared for the next big piece of technology that comes out, no matter what its screen resolution is.

Responsive designs for your website allow you to not have to create a custom site for each and every device out there. Devices may be in landscape while others are in portrait and some could even be just completely square. With most smartphones, you are also able to change your screen from being portrait to landscape at the flip of the device. One design is not able to handle all of that, unless it is a responsive design.

PixelForge is an Experienced Responsive Web Design Company

A responsive design site consists of a combination of flexible grids and layouts, along with images and strategically created CSS media queries. PixelForge has a team of experienced responsive web designers that know the best ways to create your website to display beautifully on screens of every size.

Our team stays current with all the responsive design best practices, and is constantly reading and learning about new ways to achieve the perfect kind of design for responsive and mobile sites. Our experience and knowledge helps keep our responsive web design cost low, since you won’t need to pay for any research, experimentation, or trial development. We can create amazing responsive sites right away, with no “trial and error” required.

An Example of Responsive Web Design by PixelForge

One example of the responsive design services that we have offered to clients can be seen for Manitoba Clinic. The Clinic needed a responsive design that could properly display its services, operating hours, and other relevant information to visitors on all devices.

The completed website makes it very easy for visitors to view the Clinic’s services or make contact from any device, no matter the size. The viewing experience is also very consistent, so if someone first accesses it from a laptop, then checks it again on their phone, they will have a very good idea of how to find the same information again. This seamless experience is one very big perk of responsive design for websites.

To see more responsive websites that we have designed for clients, refer to our portfolio.

Choose PixelForge for Your Web Design Project

PixelForge is a responsive web design agency with a specialized interactive team that will provide you with the complex design and development skills that are needed to make your website shine. As a full service Internet marketing company, we can help you create a website that renders properly on devices of every size, attracts more visitors, and results in higher conversions for your business. Contact us today to get a custom quote for our responsive web design service.


Curious about the cost of responsive design or how it can help you boost conversions? Contact us to get a custom quote for your own responsive web design project.

Why User Experience Matters to Marketing

Why User Experience Matters to Marketing

More Than Design

User experience, also known as UX, is made up of many moving parts that allow it to positively impact how users feel when they visit your website.

Without a positive user experience, your marketing tactics can be affected, so it’s important to understand what exactly makes for a great UX design.

In this post, we’ll look at the various elements that great UX includes and how UX impacts your marketing goals and strategies.

Successful UX Elements

UX is about more than the design and colors of your site.

Positive UX incorporates many factors, including value, usability, functionality, adaptability, navigation, and design. Each of these elements contributes to how functional your website is to users.

Value is determined based on whether or not potential buyers can easily see the benefit of your products or services. Your website design should clearly communicate the value of what you offer to visitors on your site.

Usability refers to the structure of your site and how responsive it is. Your site should be designed in a way that addresses your customer’s needs before they even realize they have them.

Functionality is a large part of UX because it ensures everything on your site makes sense. A potential customer should never have to ask themselves what the purpose of something on your site is.

Because we live in a world where people are constantly using their phones and tablets, adaptability of your site to any device is significantly important. The content on your site and its performance quality should be consistent whether the information is accessed from a desktop, iPad, or smartphone.

Navigation is about creating a layout that minimizes the number of clicks it takes for people to find things on your site. Users should not have to click more than two or three places to get to what they’re searching for.

The design of your site should draw visitors in without distracting them from your content. The goal is to grab their attention by creating an aesthetically pleasing design, without making them forget why they came to your site in the first place.

Return-on-investment (ROI)

Your ROI increases significantly when you invest in a strong, worthwhile UX strategy.

  • For every dollar invested in UX, there’s $100 in return – that’s an ROI of 9,900%.

  • In 10 years, a $10,000 investment in design-centric companies would yield returns 228% greater than the same investment in the S&P.

  • 86% of buyers will pay more for a better customer experience.

  • ESPN.com profits increased 35% after they listened to their fan base and incorporated suggestions into their homepage redesign.

So, if good UX increases your sales, what does UX mean for bounce rates?

Bounce Rate

Does UX affect the bounce rate on your site?

You bet it does.

UX done well can decrease bounce rates significantly for your website! The numbers speak for themselves:

  • 89% of consumers began doing business with a competitor because of a poor customer experience.

  • 39% of people will stop engaging with a website if images won’t load or take too long to load.

  • 47% of people expect a web page to load in two seconds or less.

  • Time.com’s bounce rate dropped 15 percentage points after they adopted continuous scroll.

Design

Throw a few colors you think are nice on your site and you’re good to go, right?

Not quite.

The design of your site should be well-thought out and researched to see what people respond positively to. Design goes along way; just let these statistics sink in:

  • First impressions are 94% design-related.

  • 88% of online consumers are less likely to return to a site after a bad experience.

  • Judgments of website credibility are 75% based on a website’s overall design.

  • 38% of people will stop engaging with a website if the layout is unattractive.

Mobile

People are constantly on their phones. Which means it’s a high possibility when they access your site, it will be from their phone.

Not having your site optimized for mobile may seem like no big deal, but the reality is it can make a huge difference. When a site isn’t mobile-friendly images become distorted or don’t appear, text is either too small to read or doesn’t fit on the screen, and information becomes difficult to find.

Optimizing your site for mobile matters because:

  • 74% of people are more likely to return to a site when it is optimized for mobile.

  • 67% of mobile users say they’re more likely to buy a site’s product or service when the site is mobile-friendly.

  • 61% of consumers have a higher opinion of companies with a positive mobile experience.

  • 52% of customers are less likely to engage with a company because of a bad mobile experience.

Are you doing UX successfully for your site?

In order to market your business successfully and accomplish your goals, user experience is a major part of the equation.

If you found this infographic helpful or have any UX tips of your own, let us know!

Don’t forget to share this infographic and remember to consider the various elements of UX when building your site!

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