Inspired Magazine https://inspiredm.com creativity & inspiration daily Mon, 20 Aug 2018 08:35:41 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.8 112699074 Security Essentials for Site Developers and Admins https://inspiredm.com/security-essentials-for-site-developers-and-admins/ https://inspiredm.com/security-essentials-for-site-developers-and-admins/#respond Mon, 20 Aug 2018 08:28:14 +0000 https://inspiredm.com/?p=42777 Of all tech topics, security is possibly the most complex, and certainly the most important. This is because security is always evolving. It is a forced evolution, as we must adapt to constantly emerging threats. There are various levels of security that we’ll have responsibility for. The first level is ourselves or the organization we...Continue Reading "Security Essentials for Site Developers and Admins"

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Of all tech topics, security is possibly the most complex, and certainly the most important. This is because security is always evolving. It is a forced evolution, as we must adapt to constantly emerging threats.

There are various levels of security that we’ll have responsibility for. The first level is ourselves or the organization we work for. The second level is our clients. And the third level is the users of the websites or applications we develop for our clients.

Despite our best efforts, clients will always find ways to undermine the protections we provide for them. They rely on us as IT professionals to help them stay safe, but paradoxically also rarely follow the safety advice we provide them with. Most users really are their own worst enemies.

What we need to do, then, is make it as difficult as possible for clients to compromise their own security, while also making it as easy as we can for them to do the tasks they need to do. Achieving both goals to perfection may be impossible, but in this article we’ll cover some things you can do to cut down the risks of a security breach occurring.

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Protecting your own devices and data

You are the first line of defense for yourself and your clients. If your systems are compromised, then everyone you work for could be at risk. Here are some recommendations for the minimums you can do to avoid operating in an increased risk environment:

  1. Use a secure desktop operating system. This is the single most basic upgrade you could make, if you’re not already using a secure operating system. The most secure operating systems are Linux, Unix, and BSD. You should be using one of these operating systems as your primary desktop operating system.
    The bonus for both developers and administrators is you get access to a much larger library of free development and security tools, and most of them work better than their Windows or OSX equivalents. To really operate in paranoid mode, choose the more secure Linux distros such as Parrot, Qubes, and Tails.
  2. Maintain separation between the operating system and your data. If you’re running Linux or Unix, this is easy. You simply make sure that you have created a partition or separate hard disk to host your home partition on. Then all user files will survive any number of operating system installations, and as a bonus can be accessed from multiple operating systems on multi-boot systems.
  3. Use a journaling file system to help prevent data loss if your system crashes or is halted unexpectedly.
  4. Mirror your home partition. Regularly back up important files and use file versioning to avoid unintentional overwrites.
  5. Consider using cloud backup (not to be confused with cloud sync, which is nowhere near as safe and secure as a genuine backup). Sensitive data should be encrypted before being uploaded.
  6. Keep your system up to date, never ignoring security patches. Systems that use rolling updates have the advantage that you’ll always know when patches are available, what needs patching, and why.
  7. Train people within your organization to be alert to social engineering methods that may be used against them to gain access to your systems.
  8. Avoid running software from unverified sources. When downloading software from trusted sources, verify file signatures to be certain you have an authentic copy.
  9. Maintain the physical security of your computers, especially when traveling. Carrying your laptop everywhere may not be practical, but it’s better than letting some evil maid corrupt your BIOS. If it’s really not an option to carry your computer, lock it up in a lockable case and secure that case in a safe or otherwise as best you can.
  10. Always remember it’s better to be paranoid than to be an idiot who got hacked.

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Protecting clients

Keeping clients safe from IT threats is difficult, because they don’t all understand the scale of the threat they face. Many will also have the view that if their site is compromised, then it’s your problem to sort out, not theirs.

Many sites have been exploited for years without the site owners being aware of it, because most malicious attacks against sites are not supposed to let their presence be known. You therefore can’t rely on the clients to inform you of problems. You’ll need to take a proactive approach.

  1. Try to educate your clients about the risks. Most of the problem is due to ignorance that there is any risk to be on guard against.
  2. Inform corporate clients that the greatest threat they will face is insider threats created by their own employees and contractors (often inadvertant, but not always so). Also make sure they’re aware of problems like social engineering, shoulder surfing, and dumpster diving.
  3. Keep servers patched. Perform regular backups.
  4. Scan for evidence of back door exploits or other malicious activity. Designing the file and folder structure for the site to be as simple as possible will help make detection easier. Know which files should be in each folder. If you see new files that are not familiar or seem to have computer generated names, that’s a serious red flag.
  5. Know what files should be in the cgi-bin folder (for most sites, that will be no files), because this is a favorite location for stashing malicious programs.
  6. Periodically check the htaccess file to make sure it hasn’t been tampered with.
  7. Code that you write is unlikely to make extensive use of encoding and decoding strings, or to contain heavily encrypted content. If PHP files contain unusual code, it’s not very likely that those are legitimate files. Unusual character encoding instructions are also a giveaway. It’s not likely that your legitimate files will be encoded in Windows-1251 encoding, for example.
  8. After confirming a breach, change your passwords. Check file permissions are set correctly for all files and folders. Monitor signs the intruder has returned. Even after changing your password, the attackers may have a way in. You’ll need to be sure they don’t. Set your server to inform you by email when any changes are made to the server.
  9. Help your users choose passwords appropriately by explaining the rules to them in a way they can understand. This is how most people like to set their passwords: 

    jenny23This is how system administrators usually advise them to set their passwords:

     

    n@^2z`jGAnd the problem is the first password can be cracked in seconds, while the second password can be cracked in a few hours. Also there is no hope whatsoever that the user will remember the more complex password. Here’s an example of a password that would take several lifetimes to crack and could never be forgotten:

     

    Ialwaysfly@40,000feetCharacteristics of the above password include: Over 20 characters in length, mix of upper and lowercase characters, includes both numbers and letters, includes non-alphanumeric characters, easily memorable. A similar example might be:

     

    fishingeverySunday@10amOr:

     

    asImove^inlife,Iwillnever4getwhereIstartedThere’s really no limit to how creative you can get with passwords, and there is so much more advantage with

    asImove^inlife,Iwillnever4getwhereIstarted compared to n@^2z`jG. The first example (41 mixed characters) would take until the end of time to crack and is easy to remember, while the second example (8 mixed characters) can be cracked in under six hours and is almost impossible to remember.Don’t think you can just string words together and everything will be fine, because the hackers are onto that. You still need to mix cases and use non-alphanumeric characters, but certainly length is more important than complexity as things stand now. Combining both gives you an edge over those who use only one or the other.

    Most dictionary based attacks focus on English because it’s the most widely used language and most of the best sites to target (in terms of the value of what they can yield) are sites managed by people who speak English. If you know another language, use it when creating your passwords.

    As excellent as 

    asImove^inlife,Iwillnever4getwhereIstarted is, it’s still not as perfect as aMedidaQue^enLaVida,nuncaolivdarededondecomence because this adds yet another layer of complexity, forcing the cracker to resort to brute force.Learning another language just to create better passwords may be a bit much, so the other thing you could do is just become (or stay) really bad at English when you design a passphrase. For example:

     

    asImoov^inlyfIwillnevar4getwhereIstarted 

    For the ultimate, you could use badly spelled foreign language words and replace all the vowels with Leet vowels: 

    4M3d1d4Qu3^3nL4V1d3,nunc40l1vd4r3d3dond3c0m3nc3 

    I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t have the patience to type that. Still, it is a very secure password, and forces the cracker to do an insane amount of work (to hopefully then discover that all they’ve accessed is a collection of cat pictures).

  10. Make sure clients understand the dangers inherent in sending sensitive information by email, Skype, etc.

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A special note for developers

A quick and easy cultural shift for developers to adopt that would prevent countless security breaches each year is simply to minimize the external dependency chain of their sites. We are needlessly connecting to third party hosted scripts. Many of these scripts may have their own external dependencies. All for the sake of saving a few bytes.

Whenever possible, we should try to host all our scripts ourselves. A popular third party hosted script is a tempting target for an attacker, because by gaining control over the script, it is possible to run exploits on thousands of computers.

Concluding remarks

Computer security is a never ending challenge, and there is big money to be made on both sides of the challenge. The stakes are very high, and no one is completely safe, even those who believe they have nothing to hide. Winning is mostly a matter of using common sense and staying alert, never allowing yourself to become complacent.

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YOOtheme Pro Review: Strong Theme and Page Builder for WordPress and Joomla https://inspiredm.com/yootheme-pro-review-powerful-theme-and-page-builder-for-wordpress-and-joomla/ https://inspiredm.com/yootheme-pro-review-powerful-theme-and-page-builder-for-wordpress-and-joomla/#respond Mon, 30 Jul 2018 08:20:21 +0000 https://inspiredm.com/?p=42732 Meta: This YOOtheme review focuses on YOOtheme Pro features, functionalities and the corresponding pricing, plus overall efficacy. For now, forget about all the fancy sales language you know. Or your products’ amazing and exceptional features. There’s only one thing that will make your traffic stay immediately they land on your site. Yes, you’re dead right....Continue Reading "YOOtheme Pro Review: Strong Theme and Page Builder for WordPress and Joomla"

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Meta: This YOOtheme review focuses on YOOtheme Pro features, functionalities and the corresponding pricing, plus overall efficacy.

For now, forget about all the fancy sales language you know. Or your products’ amazing and exceptional features. There’s only one thing that will make your traffic stay immediately they land on your site.

Yes, you’re dead right. It all comes down to your web design.

And the numbers are astonishing. Basically, 94% of your traffic would not trust a site with poor design. Chances are, they’ll just leave to engage other businesses with better-designed sites.

That’s why I’ve always been extremely keen about the themes and templates I adopt for my sites, especially if they come from third-party providers.

Speaking of which, WordPress users have always been lucky when it comes to this. We have a wide range of options to choose from, including dedicated theme providers, and page-builders that also come with their own set of professionally-designed themes.

And you know what? The providers are not having it easy. Each additional tool means increased competition. So, of course, they have to keep reinventing themselves to provide better, well-optimized themes, layouts, and templates to survive.

Now, I’ve followed a couple of promising services through this journey, and I have to admit that YOOtheme has outstandingly improved its themes quite substantially over the years.

While I knew that the solution was in for the long haul, I never, not even once, predicted that they would ultimately go for the long ball.

Let’s face it. YOOtheme Pro caught many of us by surprise. Because although they are closely tied, themes and page building are two utterly different ballgames.

But guess what? That’s exactly what makes this move exceptionally intriguing. According to their team, YOOtheme Pro is the most powerful theme and page builder for WordPress and Joomla. They are not playing around here. They mean business.

So, let’s see how much of that they can actually deliver. This YOOtheme review focuses on YOOtheme Pro features, functionalities and the corresponding pricing, plus overall efficacy.

How good is it, really?

But first, let’s see what YOOtheme is all about.

YOOtheme Reviews: Overview

YOOtheme Pro might be new. But the company has been around for quite some time. For longer than a decade, to be precise.

Joomla and WordPress themes plus plugins might have been their principal focus all along. But you’d be mistaken to assume that that’s pretty much all they’ve been doing.

That said, have you ever heard of Ulkit?  It’s basically an open source front-end framework for web interface development.

If not, what about Pagekit? That’s another open source solution, which is essentially a modern intuitive CMS.

Well, YOOtheme is also the brains behind these two projects. Both of them created from their Hamburg, Germany headquarters. Quite a number of remarkable solutions to their name, to say the least.

In retrospect, the first move was made back in 2007 by Steffan and Sascha, in one of their basements. YOOtheme has since grown exponentially, to host more than 150,000 customers. Ulkit has also managed to attract an admirably extensive fan-base, going by the half a million sites it has helped build.

The experts and creatives at YOOtheme continue striving to develop what they call “most cutting-edge web software”. Hence the introduction of YOOtheme Pro to further empower users on WordPress and Joomla.

So, how about assessing just how powerful it actually is?

Well, let’s dive in.

YOOtheme Pro Reviews: Features

Page Builder

Let’s start off at the top. With what is considered the core offering on YOOtheme Pro.

To keep everything simple and intuitive, the page builder is built around the well-known drag-and-drop functionality. This makes the whole design interface clean and pleasantly ideal for both developers and inexperienced builders.

The subsequent editing process is equally straightforward. You can systematically structure your pages into grids, rows, and columns to create an attractive layout that visitors can easily follow through.

I’m particularly fond of the masonry effect option, which allows users to establish neat layouts with multiple columns. The resultant gap-free system even looks great on pages with varying grid cell lengths.

If you find this a bit too monotonous, you can throw in the parallax effect to come up with an extensively dynamic page outlook.

When you’re done with the general structure, you can shift to edit the finer details that ultimately determine a page’s functions and features. For this, thankfully, YOOtheme Pro provides not just the basic element options like “Image” and “Heading”, but also advanced ones like “Slideshow”.

YOOTheme Pro elements

The slideshow element, for instance, offers five different systems of animations, optimized for both PC and mobile. Plus, you can embed both videos and images to achieve a distinctively refreshing and modern website.

And guess what? Using all these tools doesn’t require any coding experience. You can have a website in just minutes without hiring a developer.

But, don’t get me wrong. While it’s possible to create a page in a couple of minutes, you should be extremely careful with the whole process. A perfect, well-optimized page is best created when you put your mind to it, thinking through all the possible options.

In the layout library, for example, it’s advisable to analyze all the premium layouts to select the most suitable one. Well, of course, this is easier said than done since YOOtheme has engaged a team of professional to churn out attractive and trendy templates. You’ll possibly be spoilt for choice here since most of them look like they can fit perfectly on any website.

YOOTheme Pro layouts

To help you sort through the entire heap, YOOtheme Pro allows you to filter by topic. Consequently, you’ll be able to conveniently select a layout that suits your preferences and business needs. And changing the general outlook of your WordPress site is as simple as a single click.

Now, even with a wide array of professionally designed layouts and templates, it’s impossible to address all possible user preferences. So, to work around this, YOOtheme pro also supports extensive customization. You can adjust pretty much anything- from colors, typography, element sizes, fonts, spacing, and position, to global settings for PC and mobile.

Local Google Fonts

And speaking of font customization, YOOtheme handles Google fonts locally. If you choose to proceed with any of the Google font styles, the corresponding files are automatically downloaded to your site’s server and embedded into the CSS.

YOOTheme Pro styles

But, why is this even a big deal?

Normally, introducing an extra font, admittedly, would be a good thing. And although this would be welcome, admit it.  It wouldn’t be exciting enough for a bottle of champagne.

But Google Fonts are different in every sense of the word. Storing them locally, for starters, drastically improves your Google page loading speed. The browser doesn’t have to make a roundtrip to the Google servers because everything is available locally.

Secondly, it sorts out the whole issue of GDPR-compliance. Your traffic’s privacy is adequately assured as a result.

Integrated Unsplash Library

It might seem like a small and negligible problem at first. But, when you come to think of it, finding ideal stock images has got to be one of the biggest challenges for website owners.

We’d all probably be walking around with digital cameras, looking for picturesque shots for our sites. Or maybe steal a couple of copyrighted ones, which would, of course, invite Google’s penalty whips. But then sites like Unsplash came to the rescue with an extensive array of stock images.

Now, sourcing for images from Unsplash, for most site owners, requires you to first download to your PC before uploading to the site. Not much of a problem for small sites. But it comes quite a hassle when you’re dealing with multiple pages.

Thankfully, YOOtheme Pro has made things much easier by bringing the library to you. Unsplash is now seamlessly integrated into the service’s media manager, allowing you to search and lift images directly. You can also filter the images and scan through the various collections.

YOOTheme Pro unsplash

Finally, instead of downloading the images to your PC, they are simply added to your site’s media folder when you save your layout. It really is that simple.

Developer Support

YOOtheme is simple, with a solid list of elements, and is universally customizable. Plus, of course, the drag-and-drop functionality is intuitive, and should go well with the range of layouts available.

Now, that pretty much covers everything standard users need to comfortably build a site without any coding experience. User-friendliness and flexibility.

But that’s not all that YOOtheme provides. One interesting fact about it is that it doesn’t lock out experienced coders.

Well, you could use the standard page building functionalities like regular users. Or alternatively, capitalize YOOtheme Pro’s expandable and modular framework to code your way to a well-customized site.

This provision essentially allows you to override all elements, and introduce your own custom themes and layouts.

And since it’s not always a smooth process, YOOtheme Pro provides comprehensive documentation with precise details on all the customization options. It should come in handy before you finally learn the ropes.

Overall Features

YOOtheme Pro also provides:

  • One-click updates
  • WooCommerce integration for ecommerce
  • Numerous blog options
  • Customized footers
  • Three mobile header layouts
  • 16 header layout options
  • User-friendly color picker
  • More than 125 icons
  • Global user interface components
  • WebP image format
  • Automatically generated scrsets
  • Lazy-loading images
  • Max width breakpoint
  • Mobile optimization
  • Extensive style customizer
  • Modernized layouts
  • Thumbnail navigation

YOOtheme Pro Reviews: Pricing

Sadly, there is no free option here. You have to pay to use YOOtheme Pro.

And that brings us to another downside. For a service that doesn’t come with a free package, we expect at least a limited free-trial period. But YOOtheme is having none of that either.

The only thing you get is a 30 day money-back guarantee period. If you don’t like its offerings, you can request for a full refund.

That said, there are three standard packages:

Basic- € 49

  • Risk-free guarantee
  • Technical support
  • Regular updates
  • Access to all themes
  • Subscription for 3 months
  • Updates for 1 site

Standard- € 99

  • All Basic features
  • Subscription for 12 months
  • Updates for 3 sites

Developer- € 299

  • All Standard features
  • Unsplash integration
  • For WordPress and Joomla
  • Subscription for 12 months
  • Updates for unlimited sites

YOOTheme Pro pricing

Who Should Consider Using YOOtheme Pro

To recap, let’s first review the key takeaways:

  • Basically, 94% of your traffic would not trust a site with poor design.
  • YOOtheme has outstandingly improved its themes quite substantially over the years.
  • According to their team, YOOtheme Pro is the most powerful theme and page builder for WordPress and Joomla.
  • To keep everything simple and intuitive, the page builder is built around the well-known drag-and-drop functionality. This makes the whole design interface clean and pleasantly ideal for both developers and inexperienced builders.
  • YOOtheme Pro provides not just the basic element options like “Image” and “Heading”, but also advanced ones like “Slideshow”.
  • If you choose to proceed with any of the Google font styles, the corresponding files are automatically downloaded to your site’s server and embedded into the CSS.
  • Unsplash is now seamlessly integrated into YOOtheme Pro media manager, allowing you to search and lift images directly.
  • You could also capitalize YOOtheme Pro’s expandable and modular framework to code your way to a well-customized site. This provision essentially allows you to override all elements, and introduce your own custom themes and layouts.
  • YOOtheme Pro comes with a 30 day money-back guarantee period. If you don’t like its offerings, you can request for a full refund.

Evidently, YOOtheme Pro attempts to cater to both standard users and developers. It combines simplicity for non-coders with modular flexibility for experienced coders. Quite a tricky balance there, but so far so good for this solution.

At the moment, YOOtheme Pro is ideal for standard websites and blogs. Ecommerce blogs, on the other hand, are better off with services that come with specialized tools for building and managing stores.

All in all, I have to admit that YOOtheme is doing very well for a relatively new page builder, although it still has a couple of features to catch up on. But going by the frequency of new feature rollouts, I predict that YOOtheme could possibly be the next big thing in the WordPress page building space. For now, let’s wait and see.

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Brizy Review: Visual Page Building Reinforced https://inspiredm.com/brizy-review-visual-page-building-reinforced/ https://inspiredm.com/brizy-review-visual-page-building-reinforced/#respond Mon, 23 Jul 2018 08:27:08 +0000 https://inspiredm.com/?p=42724 Meta: This Brizy Page Builder review covers everything you need to know about the WordPress plugin, with focus on how it would potentially impact your business. Well, of course, we love WordPress for its usability, and most importantly, its wide array of third-party plugins optimized for pretty much everything to do with websites. Come to...Continue Reading "Brizy Review: Visual Page Building Reinforced"

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Meta: This Brizy Page Builder review covers everything you need to know about the WordPress plugin, with focus on how it would potentially impact your business.

Well, of course, we love WordPress for its usability, and most importantly, its wide array of third-party plugins optimized for pretty much everything to do with websites.

Come to think of it, we could spend a fortnight comparing different plugin categories, debating about the most essential one. However, if you’re honest, you’d acknowledge that nothing comes close to web design plugins especially when it comes to ecommerce sites.

Consider this. The first impression visitors have of your website is 94% related to its overall design. That’s according to a study conducted by Northumbria and Sheffield Universities. The University of Surrey, on the other hand, released a separate report revealing that users’ assessment of your business’ credibility is 75% based on the website design.

And that explains why a well-designed web interface is capable of boosting your standard conversion rate by 200 to 400%.Design comes first before other supplementary site elements pick up from there to optimize the conversion process.

That’s why I’ve always been crazy about web building plugins. Leveraging good ones is one way to lay a solid foundation for a seamless experience with other plugins and site elements.

That said, I’ll admit that I’ve used quite a couple of extremely effective plugins in this space. But, as expected, I’ve also seen my fair share of poor ones.

Above everything, I’ve always found it exciting to try out the newest entrants. Mostly because some of them come out with all guns blazing. They are seemingly never shy to challenge even established competitors with trendy, exciting features at comparatively cheap rates.

And that’s how I was quick to notice Brizy Page Builder. A new kid on the block, but certainly one of the most notable entrants.

So, what exactly does it come with? And is it any different from its predecessors?

Well, let’s find out. This Brizy Page Builder review covers everything you need to know about the WordPress plugin, with focus on how it would potentially impact your business.

Brizy Page Builder Overview

Barely two months ago, in May, was Brizy launched as a page builder for WordPress-based sites. It was essentially developed to eliminate all the coding mumbo-jumbo, and consequently help users design and set up web pages without hiring developers.

Now, let me take a wild guess here. I assume you’ve heard that same description numerous times by now. So many that it has almost grown into a cliché.

Of course, it’s understandable that you might be thinking “another page builder?” What does Brizy gain from a space that’s already seeing a steady influx of tools on a regular basis?

Well, according to the team behind Brizy, it turns out that it’s not just a standard page builder. They acknowledge that indeed there are tons of page builders out there, but claim that Brizy will change your entire perception of visual page editors.

Top on the list of things its creators boast is a new revolutionary approach, which simplifies the whole editing process by availing only the tools that matter. Through Brizy, they also attempted to do away with what they call restrictive design elements.  Instead, the tool now supports extensive customization to empower site owners to do exactly what they want.

Now that only scratches the surface. There are loads of other features its developers say you’ll not see in other page builders.

Sounds impressive, right? Well, to be fair, this could possibly be marketing fluff to set the ball rolling. But then again, get this. Over the past couple of weeks, Brizy has grown to well over 100,000 downloads with a corresponding active user base of more than 20,000.

To top it off, the company is right on the verge of launching a whole new version of the tool- Brizy Pro.

Now that’s not a bad run. Quite remarkable as a matter of fact.

But are its features worth the hype?

Let’s take a closer look…

Brizy Page Builder Reviews: Features

Premium Themes

A bland outlook is one way to approach your page design, especially if you believe that graphics could be distracting.

But, let’s look at facts here. Going by research conducted by Adobe, 38% of your traffic will bounce off immediately your store’s website loads without appealing imagery or layout.

To help you entice your users, Brizy has outsourced theme designing to the real experts- Themefuse. This renowned group of professionals has designed a wide range of attractive and elegant premium themes, which are principally available on Brizy Pro.

Brizy themes

And to avoid distracting users, the templates come with simple, clutter-free layouts. They are sleek, with minimalistic arrangements to help site visitors navigate around without any problems.

Clean Interface

While it might be exciting to see a wide range of editing tools when you’re working on a web page, let’s face it. Even for extremely complex pages with dynamic elements, you’ll only be able to use a limited number of tools at a time. Consequently making the rest redundant and bothersome.

Brizy addresses this problem by eliminating the crowd of editing tools we’ve seen with the bulk of other page builders.

However, make no mistake about it. The tools are not abolished completely.  Instead, Brizy avails only what you need for the specific task at hand, and hides the redundant options.

Brizy interface

The result? Well, apart from a well-streamlined editing process, you get to enjoy a smart, clean interface.

Extensive Design Elements

Availing only the necessary editing options is quite commendable. But, admittedly, the subsequent clean editing interface could get you worried that Brizy might have very limited design elements.

Well, could that be the case with this WordPress plugin?

To comprehensively assess Brizy’s capabilities, I went beyond the standard options. I tried creating a web page with multiple elements, all dynamically linked within a single interface.

Thankfully, Brizy systematically provided a wide range of elements to design just the right page. In addition to maps, Brizy supports videos, icons, images, buttons, text, and many more.

Brizy design elements

Among its provisions is over 4,000 different icons, available in both Glyph and Outline versions. It also offers more than 150 pre-made page design blocks, which can be conveniently added to your web page to set its structure.

Recently, its creators further introduced entrance animations to the whole editing package.  You can now take advantage of more than 40 animation types to create an intuitive scrolling experience.

That said, here’s the kicker. While Brizy has covered all the fundamental design elements, it’s fairly limited when it comes to advanced elements. But the silver lining is the fact that the team behind it continues to improve the editing environment with additional web page design elements.

Global Customization

Embedding all those elements with their default parameters would ideally shorten the page building procedure. But, it would also result in a boring, unappealing web page. Different pages would possibly share more or less the same outlook.

Since every site is unique in its own way, Brizy found it critical to expand its editing options to facilitate extensive customization. That way, you can comfortably adopt your entire website to the specific business branding strategy.

But, how does this work exactly?

Brizy essentially allows you to adjust multiple aspects and parameters of the individual page elements. When you need to set positions within the page, for instance, you could capitalize on the intuitive drag and drop feature. It helps you conveniently move the elements to their desired position by simply choosing, clicking, dragging and dropping them anywhere within the page.

If the columns seem to be disproportionate, you could resize them by moving a mid-handle. You might especially find the corresponding percentage values displayed up top quite handy in ensuring accuracy.

And guess what? Customizing the columns doesn’t affect the content. Everything simply readjusts to adapt to the new dimensions.

And speaking of content, Brizy also comes with a smart text editor, which is optimized for changing text alignments, fonts, and colors. You can also extend the color scheme to the rest of the page layout with a single click to edit template properties.

Brizy customization

And you know what? You’re free to be creative and experiment with multiple design options. You can always click to undo or redo any edit.

Mobile Optimization

A typical internet user today is pretty versatile. A report by Adobe revealed that 83% of customers worldwide, on average, surf on multiple screens using 2.23 devices at the same time.

Yes, you’re dead right. This includes smartphones and mobile tablets.

As a matter of fact, users love their mobile devices so much, that 74% of them say that they may never attempt to revisit a site if they found it to be poorly optimized for mobile surfing. I guess our addiction to surfing on-the-go might have everything to do with this widespread preference.

Now, one thing’s for sure. Such entitlement by internet users is not going anywhere. Quite simply adapt your site or go home.

Fortunately, Brizy provides a Mobile View mode with just the right tools to optimize your web page for mobile devices. Shifting to this window allows you to design all the elements for smaller screens.

Brizy mobile

Brizy Page Builder Reviews: Pricing

You’ll love this.

At the moment, all these features are available for free. You’re not going to pay even a dime to leverage them.

Developers are working now on an extended version (Brizy Pro) that will offer much more features aimed at web professionals and marketers.

What you are buying now is a pre sale for the Pro version, but the catch is that this is a one time payment only, lifetime deal. Once the Pro is out, the lifetime will be gone and you’ll pay yearly.

Brizy Pro

Brizy Pro is basically standard Brizy on steroids. According to the developing team, some of the additional features it will introduce include:

  • A/B Testing- You’ll be able to review and compare two distinct versions of the same web page with varying parameters.
  • Advance Forms-While the free version supports standard forms, Brizy Pro supports advanced forms with additional design options.
  • Role Manager-This allows you to set access and editing privileges for different parties you’ll be collaborating with.
  • Pop-up Builder- To boost your conversion rate, the pop-up builder facilitates the design and setup of call-to-action windows, pop-up banners, and more.
  • Third-Party Integration- Brizy Pro will support the following third-party services; Drip, SendGrid, AutoPilot, Mailer (Lite), HubSpot, Zapier, Unsplash, Salesforce, AWeber, MailChimp, Campaign Monitor, TypeKit, plus more.

Brizy Pro features

Who Should Consider Using Brizy Page Builder?

To recap, here are the crucial takeaways:

  • Top on the list of things Brizy’s creators boast is a new revolutionary approach, which simplifies the whole editing process by availing only the tools that matter.
  • Over the past couple of weeks, Brizy has grown to well over 100,000 downloads with a corresponding active user base of more than 20,000.
  • Developers are working on a parallel version, Brizy Pro, which will offer much more features at a price. If you’re interested, you could pay $247 for a lifetime package of Brizy Pro once it launches.

Going by the current provisions, Brizy is quite decent for personal projects and basic websites. It can also suffice for small businesses and startups, but only for non-sales web pages.

Heavier users with high business ambitions have no choice, but to hang on until Brizy Pro is ultimately launched. And from the few features that have been leaked, I have to say that we expect it to make a substantial impact in the WordPress page building space.

For now, paying for the lifetime package seems like a pretty safe bet. Especially considering the fact that Brizy’s developers have already proven what they are capable of over the long haul.

Otherwise, let’s wait and see how it pans out. And maybe, I might hit you with a comprehensive Brizy Pro review in the near future.

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Exclusive Freebie: 12 Instagram Story Templates https://inspiredm.com/exclusive-freebie-12-instagram-story-templates/ https://inspiredm.com/exclusive-freebie-12-instagram-story-templates/#respond Fri, 20 Jul 2018 08:19:01 +0000 https://inspiredm.com/?p=42712 Created by Nice, Very Nice! the Instagram story template pack “Napali” contains 12 high-quality templates. The bundle is a useful tool for influencers, bloggers, marketers, brands, and storytellers aims to help promote e-commerce products, share deals and announcements or attract the attention of the followers. These templates are fully customizable and compatible with Adobe Photoshop and Sketch App....Continue Reading "Exclusive Freebie: 12 Instagram Story Templates"

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Created by Nice, Very Nice! the Instagram story template pack “Napali” contains 12 high-quality templates. The bundle is a useful tool for influencers, bloggers, marketers, brands, and storytellers aims to help promote e-commerce products, share deals and announcements or attract the attention of the followers. These templates are fully customizable and compatible with Adobe Photoshop and Sketch App.

See the templates live on Instagram here.

Product features

  • 12 Templates for Photoshop and Sketch App.
  • Document size: 1600×2844px.
  • High resolution/retina proof.
  • Download links to the free fonts.
  • Well ordered layers.
  • All shapes are vector based.
  • Pixel perfect shapes.
  • Easy image placement via smart objects.

How to use the product

  1. Open a file with any template.
  2. Drag&drop new photos, replace the texts.
  3. Save the file.
  4. Upload to your Instagram story.

Download Napali for free from here.

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Breathing New Life into an Old Website https://inspiredm.com/breathing-new-life-into-an-old-website/ https://inspiredm.com/breathing-new-life-into-an-old-website/#respond Thu, 12 Jul 2018 06:22:19 +0000 https://inspiredm.com/?p=42706 Everyone working in development is bound at some time to discover they’ve been shelling out good money for hosting an old website that has been forgotten about. Rather than letting this investment go to waste, you could actually revive the old site by updating it. What you do with it after that is entirely up...Continue Reading "Breathing New Life into an Old Website"

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Everyone working in development is bound at some time to discover they’ve been shelling out good money for hosting an old website that has been forgotten about.

Rather than letting this investment go to waste, you could actually revive the old site by updating it. What you do with it after that is entirely up to you. You could sell it on to a new owner, monetize the content with advertising, use the site to promote a new product or service, or simply keep it as a portfolio example of your work.

The longer the site has been sitting around, the more work you will need to do to getting working well. What follows are the basic things you’ll need to check and basic steps you can take to correct any problems you encounter.

1. Make sure you actually own the rights to the site

This is not always as simple as it seems. Sometimes you may have developed the site on behalf of somebody else, in which case they may be the legal owner of the site under most circumstances.

It gets complicated if:

  • the business that contracted the original site ceases to exist
  • the client never pays for the work
  • the site was developed in partnership, and the other partner withdrew from the partnership

If the site was one you developed entirely on your own and entirely for yourself, you can do as you please. In all other cases, you should check your ownership.

2. Scan for any trademarked or copyrighted content

This is similar to the above. You don’t want to have a problem from somebody else claiming you have infringed their copyright or trademark. Also you’ll want to know if somebody else has stolen your content and is using it on another site.

illustration by 

3. Check for broken or outdated links

The web is a dynamic place and sites come and go all the time, and site owners sometimes move content around without redirecting properly. Broken links can be frustrating and detract for the user experience, so we should always attempt to fix broken links when we find them on our sites.

These are the steps to take when you discover a broken link:

  • Try to discover the new home of the content the link was supposed to point to
  • Try to find an alternative content source that would be sufficient
  • Search the Wayback Machine to discover if there is an archived version of the content you can link to.
  • If all else fails, remove the link.

Obviously also you should make sure the link is still relevant to whatever purpose you originally included it for, which brings us neatly to our next tip.

4. Make sure content and links are contemporary

If your original content was all about getting ready for the 2014 Singapore Film Festival or an article extolling the virtues of XHTML as the perfect development language, or recommending Flash as the perfect online animation tool, you’ll want to update that content and the links that go with it.

The site for the 2014 Singapore Film Festival may still be online, so the link might not be broken, but it would normally be of more value to include a link to the upcoming or most recently completed Singapore Film Festival.

Likewise there may still be a few dinosaurs making sites in XHTML instead of HTML 5, and there’s nothing wrong with that, but if you are extolling the virtues of technologies that most coders consider to be virtually obsolete, it runs the risk of you appearing to be obsolete.

Keeping your content contemporary and fresh is important, and an often overlooked requirement. It’s most noticeable if you’re talking about technologies, scientific theories, health issues, and so on.  New discoveries can make your site content stop being factual, and as a publisher you have a responsibility to not present wrong information.

5. Don’t forget about social media

There are two ways you can have problems about social media in relation to your websites. The first, and most common, is that your site doesn’t link to your social media (and your social media doesn’t link to your site). This is simple enough to correct.

The second problem you could face is that your site might point to the wrong social media. For example, you may have had a Facebook page back in 2012 and your site pointed to that, but since then you no longer have control of that Facebook page even though it still exists.

illustration by 

That’s a problem because the traffic flow isn’t working for you, it’s working for someone else or it’s working for Facebook. You should fix these kinds of problems.

You should also consider creating a new social media presence specifically for this site, as that can give you the most value from traffic flow.

6. Fix security and privacy flaws

There are things we used to do, like putting our plain-text email address on a page, that we really shouldn’t be doing now. You may also have published content in a more innocent age that today would be considered a serious privacy risk to yourself.

You should check for this kind of stuff and remove or censor it. There are definitely better ways of allowing users to contact you than publishing your email address in plain text, and that image of your car showing the license plate number really should be doctored to obscure the number and any other features in the image that might put you at risk.

There’s no need to be paranoid, but sensible precautions certainly won’t do any harm. Failing to take precautions, on the other hand, has been known to create problems for some people.

illustration by 

Giving your old site a new lease of life can be a good thing

The decision about whether to delete a site or revive it depends on a lot of factors, and it’s not always best to keep that old site up and running.

On the other hand, if you’ve been paying to host it, it has some half way decent rank on Google, and gets a reasonable amount of incoming traffic, it would feel wasteful to squander the opportunity reviving that old website represents.

You can benefit from that positive traffic and relatively good Google rank, and possibly your old site can bring new traffic to other sites you want to generate interest in. It may be prudent to hesitate before hitting the delete button, and think about the potential value your old site still holds.

header image courtesy of 

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Exclusive Freebie: Communication  Icon Pack https://inspiredm.com/exclusive-freebie-communication-icon-pack/ https://inspiredm.com/exclusive-freebie-communication-icon-pack/#respond Thu, 28 Jun 2018 14:49:31 +0000 https://inspiredm.com/?p=42699 The power of communication cannot be underestimated, especially not with the Freepik Communication Icon Pack. It has everything that you could think of in relation communication in the modern world.  From smart slick cameras, tablets, and folders you have everything you can think of. Communication is all around us and is changing as the world...Continue Reading "Exclusive Freebie: Communication  Icon Pack"

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The power of communication cannot be underestimated, especially not with the Freepik Communication Icon Pack. It has everything that you could think of in relation communication in the modern world. 

From smart slick cameras, tablets, and folders you have everything you can think of. Communication is all around us and is changing as the world evolves and modernizes. This icon pack is a constant reminder of that. There are three versions of each icon available and they are 100 percent editable which means you can customize them to suit your needs.

Each icon is free to download and even better you can find more styles on the Freepik and Flaticon websites. You can use the icons from anything to postcards to stationary. Free for personal and commercial use!

Download this awesome resources from here.

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How to rescue a logo that has been saved as a bitmap https://inspiredm.com/how-to-rescue-a-logo-that-has-been-saved-as-a-bitmap/ https://inspiredm.com/how-to-rescue-a-logo-that-has-been-saved-as-a-bitmap/#respond Mon, 18 Jun 2018 07:17:28 +0000 https://inspiredm.com/?p=42676 Every designer at some point will encounter the client who brings in a blurry, pixelated JPEG copy of their logo (the only copy they have) and requests for changes to the logo. Redesigning the logo entirely from scratch is one option, but it can be hard work, as you’ll have to figure out exactly how...Continue Reading "How to rescue a logo that has been saved as a bitmap"

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Every designer at some point will encounter the client who brings in a blurry, pixelated JPEG copy of their logo (the only copy they have) and requests for changes to the logo.

Redesigning the logo entirely from scratch is one option, but it can be hard work, as you’ll have to figure out exactly how the original designer achieved the result. This isn’t always so difficult with simple logos, but it’s definitely an issue with logos that have non-standard fonts or very complex artifacts.

As a designer, you know that clients should always have a vector copy of their logo with transparency in the background, but clients don’t know that. They also don’t always know how terrible it looks when a logo is recycled for different purposes using anything other than the vector copy.

Clients also may not understand about the necessity of their logo to contrast with whatever background it is placed on. You can help them with this kind of thing, but first you’ll need to rescue that logo from Bitmap Hell, and bring it in to the glorious paradise of Vector Heaven.

The following is a method that will help you do this.

Start a new vector project.

Many vector graphics applications let you import a file directly from the file manager, but this is not the best way to do this job. If the imported image is the background layer, it can be difficult to delete it in some vector applications.

To save difficulty, it is better to start a brand new project, and discard unwanted layers later.

Create a transparent layer called “background”.

Most of the time you’ll just need to rename the background layer, but if the background layer is not automatically set to transparent, then you should create a new fully transparent background layer and delete the original one. This is to be completely certain your image does not have a background color behind it.

Lock the background layer.

Having gone to all the trouble of creating a proper transparent background, you don’t want to accidentally mess it up. Locking the layer prevents you from changing or moving the layer.

Create a layer above background called “import”.

This is where we’ll import our original logo to. This step might not be needed if your software automatically creates a new layer for imported images. Renaming the layer to “import” will help you to identify it more easily than if the full path name of the imported file is used for the layer name.

Import your logo file to the import layer.

This is the most obvious step. As stated above, your software might put this on it’s own layer. If that happens, just delete the “import” layer and then rename the layer your software just created.

If you are asked if you want to embed or link to the image, choose the embed option (this is fine, because you’re going to delete this layer later anyway).

Resize the image to fit the import layer.

This step is necessary to make sure parts of the logo won’t be cropped out of the image when you save it. What you see is not always what you get when it comes to vector illustrations.

After resizing, you won’t have all that empty page space around the image any more (this is important for when you export the file, because the whole page is exported, not just the image you create).

Lock the import layer.

Now we need to lock the import layer so that we don’t make any accidental changes to the original image. You also won’t want to accidentally move the layer, and locking it prevents that.

Create a transparent layer above import called “trace”.

This is the layer we’ll be working in. You can create additional trace layers (trace1, trace2, etc) for a very complex logo with a lot of different parts.

Carefully trace over the logo.

This is the part of the job you’re going to hate, but it’s obviously the most important one. It’s where the magic happens. If you’re working in multiple trace layers, remember to lock each layer as you leave it.

Sounds like way too much work? A possible way to save time and effort is to use an “edge detect” filter or color matching filter to detect the parts of the logo that need tracing, and copy these to a new layer. The problem with this quicker way of doing things is that it’s not always reliable or accurate.

While tracing, you’ll need to zoom in very tight. The image will be difficult to look at due to pixelation. Try to work out which pixels are “true” and which are “false”. Avoid tracing false pixels.

Lock the trace layer(s).

When you have finished the trace completely, make sure all trace layers are locked, so there is no danger of the work you’ve just done being wasted.

Delete the import layer.

We don’t need the import layer any more because it has done its job. Deleting it makes your image less cluttered.

Flatten the image.

This is an optional step, but again the idea is to make the image less cluttered by reducing everything to a single layer. That may not always be what you want, so think carefully before committing to this action.

For logos with multiple trace layers, you may find it useful to preserve each layer so you can modify individual logo parts more easily in the future.

Save the file.

You wouldn’t want all that work to go to waste, so save the file. Actually it’s best practice to make incremental saves as you work, but it’s not always easy to remember to do it.

Export to other formats if requested.

Now you have the saved new copy of the logo, you can export it to whatever other formats the client needed. If they’re requesting a jpeg, bitmap, or other file type that doesn’t support background transparency, make sure you know the color of the background the logo is going to be placed on.

You also should ensure the client knows the importance of contrast. If the logo is being placed on a background that does not contrast with it appropriately, you should make a copy of your vector modified for better contrast with the desired background color, and you can again export it to other formats as requested by the client.

header image courtesy of 

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Exclusive Freebie: World Cup football templates by BrandPacks https://inspiredm.com/exclusive-freebie-world-cup-football-templates/ https://inspiredm.com/exclusive-freebie-world-cup-football-templates/#respond Fri, 01 Jun 2018 05:11:19 +0000 https://inspiredm.com/?p=42656 Score a hat trick with this trio of free World Cup football/soccer templates designed by BrandPacks. This collection features a free soccer flyer template, a rack card template (in two styles) and a poster template (in two styles). Each template boasts a sporty theme with vibrant colors and exciting photography, perfect for promoting football and...Continue Reading "Exclusive Freebie: World Cup football templates by BrandPacks"

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Score a hat trick with this trio of free World Cup football/soccer templates designed by BrandPacks. This collection features a free soccer flyer template, a rack card template (in two styles) and a poster template (in two styles). Each template boasts a sporty theme with vibrant colors and exciting photography, perfect for promoting football and soccer tournaments and related events!

The World Cup Football Brand Pack templates come in both Photoshop (PSD) and Illustrator (AI) formats, and all stock photos are included and free to use with the templates! More free templates like these can be found on the BrandPacks website. Free for personal and commercial use!

Download this awesome collection of football templates in PSD and AI here!

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Ucraft Review: Building Creative Websites With Strong eCommerce Support https://inspiredm.com/ucraft-review-building-creative-websites-with-strong-ecommerce-support/ https://inspiredm.com/ucraft-review-building-creative-websites-with-strong-ecommerce-support/#respond Wed, 23 May 2018 06:28:11 +0000 https://inspiredm.com/?p=42625 Creatives need to look creative online.  Unfortunately, this often means a trade-off in the eCommerce department. You may be able to make a beautiful, visual website, but that awesome portfolio is nothing without the ability to sell your merchandise, prints, and other products. That’s where Ucraft comes into play. This Ucraft review will outline the stunning website...Continue Reading "Ucraft Review: Building Creative Websites With Strong eCommerce Support"

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Creatives need to look creative online.  Unfortunately, this often means a trade-off in the eCommerce department. You may be able to make a beautiful, visual website, but that awesome portfolio is nothing without the ability to sell your merchandise, prints, and other products. That’s where Ucraft comes into play. This Ucraft review will outline the stunning website templates provided by the page builder and walk you through some of the excellent selling tools you need in order to make money as a creative.

Overall, Ucraft is dedicated to building better websites in a faster manner. Therefore, it delivers a true drag and drop builder so that you don’t have to learn about coding or much website development. You’re able to craft stunning, professional websites for photography, web design, writing, and art. Sure, others can take advantage of the Ucraft tools, but the company has focused quite a bit on helping out creatives with its strong media support.

Ucraft Review: The Best Features

An Awesome Free Landing Page Creator

The landing page creator is free, and you’re able to make your one landing page within minutes. You start the design process by choosing from a template. After that, all the changes are automatically saved and published in Ucraft.

Designer Tools with Drag and Drop Functionality

The designer tools make sure that you can add a designer touch to your website even if you’re not that into design. From a full UIKit for advanced modifications, to simple tools for adjusting headings, colors, and sizes, the Ucraft design end is as simple as they come.

Strong eCommerce Support for Regular Businesses and Creatives

The eCommerce plan (outlined below,) is pretty much what most smaller and mid-sized businesses will need. However, you can also upgrade to get extremely advanced tools for selling your products.

In short, Ucraft has social eCommerce options for selling on places like Facebook and Amazon. You also receive product SEO features, over 70 payment and shipping solutions, and secure transactions. What’s more is that Ucraft takes nothing in terms of transaction fees.

I like the fact that you can integrate with dozens of apps and eCommerce platforms. For instance, you may want to sell on a place like eBay or connect your store to Zendesk. Both are possible, along with several other integrations.

As mentioned, the eCommerce plan is pretty powerful, with support for 50 products, unlimited storage, payment and order management, and multi-currency support.

However, you can upgrade to higher plans to get things like more products available,  invoices, favorite lists, VAT support, tax exemptions, eBay selling, real-time tracking, and more.

A Free Logo Maker

The free logo maker from Ucraft is a huge advantage for small businesses and creatives. Logos of svg and png formats can be created.  Not only does it have some interesting designs for you to start off with, but you can get creative yourself and brand your website the way you want. What’s great is that after you design your logo it goes on your website and you also receive a file to use it elsewhere for your business.

Insert the logo into all marketing materials, include it in your email newsletter, and print it on your business cards. This is a truly free logo maker, which is not always the case when you sign up for something like this. Sometimes you get forced to pay or you don’t get to remove the logo maker’s branding. That’s not the case with Ucraft.

Ucraft Review: The Pricing

You can pay for Ucraft on a monthly or yearly basis. The yearly plans save you extra money over the long run and you get a custom domain, but you still have the option to pay per month if you’re still not up for the commitment.

One of the best parts about Ucraft is that you can go with the free plan to gain access to some wonderful landing page tools and more. After that, you have to start paying, but the plans are less expensive than much of the competition, and you get that coveted eCommerce support.

Here are the pricing plans on a yearly subscription to see what you receive:

  • Landing Page – Free forever. You get one landing page, customizable content, the option to connect your own domain, an SEO app, the option to invite team members, customer support from Ucraft, and free hosting. The only downside is that you have to live with the Ucraft watermark on landing pages.
  • Website – $6 per month gets you a custom domain, one website (unlimited pages,) a drag and drop builder, the removal of the Ucraft watermark, 24/7 customer support, over 15 integrations, free hosting, an SEO app, unlimited articles, multilingual tools, and more.
  • eCommerce – This plan costs $13 per month and it provides everything from the previous plans, a custom domain, support for 50 products, no transaction fees, over 70 payment and shipping methods, multi-currency support, SEP for products, payment and order management, real-time tracking, unlimited storage.

As you can see, these pricing models are pretty impressive. Most website builders cost more than $6 per month, and you’ll be hardpressed to locate many eCommerce builders for less than $13 per month.

What’s cool is that several other plans are provided if you want to upgrade past that $13 per month eCommerce package. For instance, a Pro plan is sold for $31 per month and an Unlimited plan is set at $60 per month. In short, if you want to expand your eCommerce store and get the best tools possible, that’s when you would upgrade.

Finally, all Ucraft users get the following for free:

  • Templates
  • SEO tools
  • Designer tools
  • A logo maker
  • Articles

Who is Ucraft Best Suited For?

As I talked about a few times in this article, Ucraft makes the most sense for creatives and small businesses. It’s less expensive than so many other website and eCommerce builders on the market, and the company does a great job with its modern, beautiful templates.

The features are still robust enough for you to scale up in the future, and you get the bonuses of the free logo maker, SEO tools, and templates.

If you have any questions about this Ucraft review, let us know in the comments.

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Questions to Ask Clients Before Starting a Project https://inspiredm.com/questions-to-ask-clients-before-starting-a-project/ https://inspiredm.com/questions-to-ask-clients-before-starting-a-project/#respond Mon, 21 May 2018 09:09:16 +0000 https://inspiredm.com/?p=42641 Graphic design clients come in a wonderful variety, but every designer has their tales of horror to tell about the treatment they’ve received from some clients. Much of the time trouble originates from misunderstandings, so if the potential for this can be reduced from the start, it will help avoid the resultant problems. Knowing what...Continue Reading "Questions to Ask Clients Before Starting a Project"

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Graphic design clients come in a wonderful variety, but every designer has their tales of horror to tell about the treatment they’ve received from some clients. Much of the time trouble originates from misunderstandings, so if the potential for this can be reduced from the start, it will help avoid the resultant problems.

Knowing what to ask is important, and then actually asking the necessary questions is even more important. In this article we’ll share the first part of that task, and it will be up to you to implement it when the time comes.

1. What is your budget for the project?

This is the most important question of all. Many clients have unrealistic expectations, and they may expect a fixed cost to cover everything they request. Asking this question up front lets the client know your costs may be not quite so fixed, and that they’ll need to adjust their expectations to suit their budget.

You will also be able to provide your client with better advice this way. When you know what the client can spend, you can begin calculating what options to suggest. For example, on-location photography is more expensive than stock photography, but gives much better results. You’ll be able to give advice that helps the client make the right decisions.

gif illustration by 

2. When do you need the project completed by?

Clients also may have unrealistic expectations about the creative process, not realizing it can take time to produce quality work, and expecting you to work like you’re on a production line.

Creative work is a process that normally takes time. We may have moments of intense inspiration which drive us to produce a masterpiece in record time, but normally there are many steps to complete: conceptualizing, research, drafting, editing, rendering, and so on.

If the client gives a tight deadline, get them to justify it. Sometimes clients just want the job done within a certain time frame, and there are times that they won’t really have a reason. Clients with a reason should get priority because they know what they want and why they want it.

3. Who is the intended audience for this work?

It’s very important not to waste your time going down the wrong path. You can’t make assumptions about who the client is attempting to appeal to. Also, having this knowledge, you can make suggestions that the client hadn’t thought of. This makes the client feel secure that they have chosen a professional who can help them make the right decisions.

illustration by 

4. What features in this work do you want to have emphasis?

Clients need to identify the image they want to project to their audience. If they don’t have a strong sense of identity and purpose, you’ll be wandering aimlessly with no reference point to begin from.

What may happen then is you’ll spend time designing something that the client may not necessarily like, and that happens because you’re not sharing a common vision.

The best designs happen when you and your client are in harmony about what the finished work should look like and what goals it should achieve.

5. What similar items appeal to you?

You may need to clarify this question. For example, if it is a website design project, you should ask the client which websites they like best and why they like those sites. If it is a logo design project, ask which logos of other companies are their favorites and why. And so on and so forth.

Asking this kind of question helps establish what the client finds appealing. That may not necessarily be what’s best for them, and you can advise them if you have knowledge that can help them make a better decision, but it also helps you avoid a situation where the client is not satisfied with what you produce.

When you know what the client already likes, you job becomes far easier, because you can design appropriately. Just make sure you get a decent number of favorites so you can find what the examples have in common.

6. What designs in this category are your least favorite?

This question is probably just as important, because it helps you recognize what things you’ll need to avoid. Nothing kills a project faster than not knowing what your client does not like to see in a design.

Again, you’ll need a decent handful of examples to get some idea of the common features that the client isn’t interested in. You can ask them why, of course, but the answers may be too vague to be really helpful.

What you’re trying to gain is insight into the client’s mind, and very few clients know themselves well enough to provide that insight directly. Seeing their likes and dislikes visually in front of you is far more useful in most cases.

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7. Do you have an existing design or style?

One of the most surprising things is clients sometimes forget to mention they already have a design or style theme that they need you to comply with. The more you understand about the existing corporate culture of your client, the easier it is to design for them.

Sometimes clients just expect you to know about them. They’re sure you will have heard of their business before and that you’ll know all about it. So they don’t tell you the vital information you need to know in order to produce the best results for them.

Getting that information is your job. You can’t leave it up to the client to tell you, because they almost never will.

Wrapping up

Asking these essential questions before you get started on the project is going to help you avoid problems and will also help you do your job more efficiently and effectively.

Nobody likes wasting time on a project and then not getting paid for their efforts. As creatives, it can be especially rough on you when a client rejects your work, and that can affect your confidence as you go to start on the next project.

If you ask the right questions, you’ll know the right way to go about the task, and the result is better for everyone involved.

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