How Social Media Can Boost your SEO: The Organic Factor

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It is a common misconception that your social media networking efforts won’t affect your search rankings. The misunderstanding occurred when Matt Cutts, the former head of the spam team at Google, stated that the Facebook likes and Twitter followers do not affect the search algorithm and search rankings.

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Why Experiential Marketing and Social Media Go Hand-in-Hand

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As technology progresses, new opportunities come with innovations in the field of digital marketing. Case in point: experiential marketing has become something that any business, large or small, can take advantage of in the age of social media. What is this type of marketing, and how do we combine it with social media to create one-of-a-kind experiences for our customers?

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5 Things NOT to Write in Your Outreach Email

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There are numerous Email Marketing Tips out there. But do you know what not to write in your outreach email? Lets start from the beginning.

Internet marketing is an extremely dynamic field, which is evident by the number of different tools, strategies, and trends which are experiencing constant changes. Today, however, there is one type of marketing that is making huge waves. That honor belongs to influencer marketing. Influencer marketing is one of the most organic, and at the same time, most efficient ways of spreading word about your brand, driving traffic to your blog or website, boosting your conversion rates, and increasing your income as a result of all that.

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Why Long Form Content is Important for your Brand

 

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The importance of creating new content for our blogs or webpages is consistently growing. As more and more business is done online and our companies rely more and more on SEO and getting discovered through search engines, knowing the right content to post is crucial for achieving digital marketing success. While some companies and marketing departments believe it only matters to consistently post short tidbits of information jam packed with keywords, there is actually a few benefits for creating long form content.

What is Long Form Content?

Long form content consists of guides or ebooks of at least 4,000 words in length. While it may seem like a lot of work to dedicate over 4,000 words to one project, the benefits that come with having long form content available to customers and clients can help in a number of ways. Furthermore, just one long form content piece can get you better results than dozens of short write ups.

Benefits of Long Form Content

When you create long form content, you’re going to need to get creative and put in a bit of effort, but the time spent on a long form project will pay off immensely. As you continue to give your customers more information, they will continue to return to your page and do business with you. From building trust to having a better chance of appearing on the top of a search engine list, long form content is one way to get your business to grow.

Here are some of the biggest benefits to developing and sharing long form content:

Establish Authority

If you’re not an expert on the topic, you can’t write a long form content piece. So just by outlining enough information to even complete a thorough long form piece of content can establish you as a leader and expert in your industry. While it will still need to be researched to provide intelligent information that is useful for your clients and customers, taking the time to lay out a detailed guide or ebook proves you care about sharing your expertise with the public.

Build Loyalty

Consider someone in desperate need of answers finding the information they were looking for in your guide, ebook, or other piece of long form content. Because you took the time to clearly lay out each component in great detail instead of cramming the basics into a blog or social media post, this person now trusts you. You helped them during their time of need, and now they are loyal to you and your brand. Now, consider this happening on a grand scale. When you can deliver a piece of content that answers questions people are searching for, you can build a loyal customer base in one task.

Better Search Rankings

While it can be great to get customers to trust you and understand you’re an expert of the industry, it doesn’t help if they can’t find you. Adding a piece of long form content to your website can also help get your page noticed by search engines. With a longer word base, you can naturally and effectively include multiple keywords with an in depth perspective of the topic. A website’s most popular page almost always has more than 2,000 words.

Promotional Tools

When you create a guide or ebook, you don’t treat it the same way you would treat a blog post. Rather, you can push it on social media, newsletters, and other digital marketing channels vigorously and continuously. It is also encouraged to purchase paid advertisements around the guide or ebook, giving you the opportunity to attract brand new eyes to your social media pages, website, and blog.

Increased Website Visitation

When you have a long form piece of content hosted on your website, those interested in reading your guide or ebook will need to visit your website to do so. This can help increase your analytics, keeping more readers on your website longer and ensuring they will continue to come back. When website visitors get in the habit of visiting your website every day or every so often, they will be more likely to continue visiting in the future.

More Backlinks

When you have more copy and your information is better researched and more insightful, you’re going to have more backlinks. Any marketing strategist understands the importance of backlinks when it comes to the SEO strategy and appearing at the top of a search results list. With more backlinks, Google will place your article and website higher in the ranks, and more potential visitors will see the link to your page.

There is no denying that long form content takes time to create, and if you want to create content that will deliver a great return, you’ll need to spend even more time researching, drafting, and proofreading. But if you carve out the motivation and time to create a long form content piece to display on your website, you can find a new level of success for your business.

As SEO continues to change, what worked before isn’t going to work today and if you and your business don’t continue to adapt to the necessary changes, appearing at the top of a search results list will only get further and further away. While it used to be enough to stuff a website with the right keywords and hope for the best, search engines are becoming pickier and pickier about the content they pull from. Producing long form content can give you a template for delivering a number of things that search engines look for, such as backlinks, a natural use of keywords, and detailed information, putting you higher in the rankings. Furthermore, taking the time to fully outline useful information can help develop trust between your customers and create a base of loyal customers who will continue to return to read your blog, social media posts, and purchase your services.

This article was originally written by Jessica Kane and posted on the Heyo Blog.

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How to Write Email Subject Lines that Convert

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There’s nothing worse than creating an email campaign only to find that your recipients never even opened them. In order to convert, you need them to open the emails, then be engaged by the content, and follow through with completing your call to action. Here are the rules to follow, with your headlines, if you want to see more conversions from your email marketing.

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10 Tools and Resources for Competitor Analysis

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When you are a business owner, one of your biggest concern is how other businesses are doing. There is a fine line to walk here. In one sense, you want them to do well, because it helps the community and you want to support other local businesses. But, at the same time, you want to know that your business is doing even better. If it isn’t, you need to find ways to make it better.

So, you have to start at the beginning, and look for ways to analyze your competition. Here are 10 tools and resources that will help you to do just that.

1. Shopify Business Encyclopedia

Before you can start analyzing the competition, you need to know how to do it, what to look for, etc. The Business Encyclopedia is one of the best resources you will ever use. It is loaded with information about every aspect of running a business, including competitor analysis.

2. SpyFu

This tool allows you to search for any domain, and find every place that they have shown up on Google. You will learn every keyword they have used in the last nine years, and then you can use them too to get the same kind of results that they are seeing.

3. Majestic SEO

Often, a site ranks high because of what is known as link popularity. When a site has a lot of links, it has a higher domain authority, and it is going to outrank you in searches. Enter any site here to see how many links they have.

4. Compete

Here is a tool that lets you measure the digital performance of your competitors. You can use it to find new business opportunities, keep an eye on your competition, benchmark performance, and more. The more you can learn about your competition, the better able you will be to set your bar even higher.

5. SimilarWeb

If you want to see what kind of traffic your competition is getting, this is a great tool to use. All you need to do is enter the website in question to get traffic estimates, page visits, how long people spend on the site, and more. Then, you can look at the site to see what they are doing that you are not, and change your own site to get similar results.

6. Searchmetrics Essentials

You are also going to need tools to measure the search engine performance of your competitors. This tool lets you enter a site, and see the rankings for top search phrases. This is going to help you to create better pages, because you will be focusing on the things that people are searching for.

7. Hubspot’s Marketing Grader

You can enter the name of a business for competitor analysis, including search optimization, Facebook shares, information about their mobile site, and more. There is also a “marketing grade” which allows you to compare a site or business to your own.

8. Simply Measured

This is another comparison tool that can come in pretty handy. You can enter the Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and YouTube accounts of competitors to find out what keywords followers are using.

9. Alexa

Another traffic and visitor activity analysis tool you should check out is Alexa.com. You can compare other sites to your own, and if they are doing better than yours is, then you can start looking at what they do and emulate their success.

10. Open Site Explorer

Here is another tool that will let you check out links and domain authority. This is going to help you to create better phrases that will bring that traffic to you instead of the competition.

Let us know what you think!

What concerns you most about your competitors? Are there any research tools you can’t live without? If you have any questions or comments, we’d love to hear from you below!

This article was originally written by Jane Hurst on the Heyo Blog.

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3 Levers You Can Pull to Improve Your Online Sales Funnel

FACT: Marketing your product or service online is a numbers game.

No matter who you are as a business (e-commerce site, retail store, app developer, etc.), if you’re going to be marketing your business online, and especially if you’re going to be investing in paid advertising, you need to understand this very basic but important principle. Some will say that this is an oversimplification and that it doesn’t pay enough respect to the human aspects of making a purchase online (desire, emotion, trust, etc.). They’re right. But to really understand and internalize a principle, I find it helps to simplify…even to a near insane degree.

Let’s break down the numbers game of digital marketing.

Understanding Your Online Sales Funnel

You may already be familiar with a sales funnel. If not, it’s really very simple. Any seasoned salesperson will tell you that if you make 100 cold calls, some percentage of those calls will actually result in a live person speaking with you. Some percentage of those folks will then be interested in learning more, and some percentage of those folks will actually purchase. If you stack these stages top to bottom, you have a percentage of each group then moving down the funnel and getting closer to an actual sale.

sales funnel, digital marketing

An online sales funnel is very similar, the labels are just a bit different. It generally looks something like this.

sales funnel, online marketing, digital marketing

For example, lets pretend we’re running an e-commerce store. Your funnel would start with unique website visitors, some of whom will click on a product, some of whom will click to check out, some of whom will actually purchase.

Obviously, the goal is to get as many unique website visitors as possible through your sales funnel and purchasing your products. While you can’t sit there and personally coach a website visitor through each of these stages, you can heavily influence this funnel through your growth activities. In my experience, there are three levers you can control to influence the success of your online marketing funnel.

Lever 1: The relevancy of new leads entering your funnel

This is a huge deal, and is so often overlooked. Many marketers or entrepreneurs will jump right to number two and focus on getting as many leads as they can. But it’s so much more important to be well-targeted, getting the right people to check out your website and products. DO NOT underestimate the importance of this. Anyone can drive a lot of traffic, but it takes a very smart person to drive the right kind of traffic, and a magician to drive a lot of the right kind of traffic.

I saw the fruits of this firsthand while I was running operations at Heyo. Someone on my team came up with a growth hack that he felt would drive a sharp increase in free trials. Since smart marketers test and learn, we decided to go for it. It worked…sort of.

Our free trial numbers shot way up. But the euphoria wore off about a week later when it became clear that none of those free trials were actually converting. The reason was that our product was really not at all relevant to these new “leads.” We instead opted for other ways to drive more relevant traffic into our online sales funnel.

Now, right now you might be thinking, “What’s the big deal, Chris? If that growth hack brought you 1,000 new leads per day, some of them would want your product, right?” That’s true, but you also have to weigh the cost of the flood of irrelevant leads clogging your pipeline, wasting resources, and taxing your customer support team. You also need to realize that having a lot of nonsense leads enter your funnel will also hurt the your down-funnel metrics (e.g. engagement, conversion). In general, it’s way more efficient and successful to just focus on a smaller volume of more relevant leads. Thats why I always recommend pulling this lever first.

NOTE: Keeping your lead relevancy high is much easier if you’ve already been recruiting by hand. If that’s the case then you already know your market very well. You know what makes them tick and have a persona in mind. (Some call this your avatar.) It then becomes a natural next step to only seek out prospective customers that are well within your target market.

Lever 2: The volume of new leads entering your funnel

This is intuitive to most marketers. The more awareness you can build, the more website visitors you’ll get, and the more revenue you’re likely to drive. Again, it’s tempting to jump here first, but I’d highly recommend that you have a very clear picture of your target market and ensure you are thinking about lead relevancy (see above) before you even think about touching lever 2. Having that knowledge firmly in place allows you to make smarter decisions about where to go in order to drive more traffic into your sales funnel.

For instance, let’s say that you run an online business selling shoes. If you aren’t focused on relevancy of new leads, then you might be tempted to invest in Google AdWords and bid on the search term “shoes” or “children’s shoes.” But if you know that your target market is busy moms who want fun, stylish shoes for their children but don’t have a lot of money, then you you’d bid on a term like “children’s shoe bargains” instead. Or, even better, you might ignore AdWords altogether and choose to sponsor a mom blog focused on frugality like $5 Dinners. NOW you’re thinking like a smart marketer. :)

If you have product/market fit, have a product that is organically growing, and know exactly what type of consumer your product or service is most relevant to, then it’s time to go out and find more leads.

Personally, I’m a big fan of a targeted lead generation strategy. Since you know exactly who your target customer (your “avatar”) is, then start with a very simple question: Where do your target customers tend to congregate? Your goal should be to have a meaningful presence in those places that allows you to interact with your target market as much as possible.

I love a good case study, so let’s try one on for size. I saw a product on Shark Tank one time that appealed to me as a parent of young children, the “Zipadee-Zip.” It’s basically a specialized set of pajamas that helps your baby to fall asleep at night. You can check out a cute one here.

zipadee zip online sales funnel case study

(Did I just put a picture of cute babies in my article about the online sales funnel? Oh yes I did!)

Let’s pretend for a moment that we are the head of marketing and growth for this product. We don’t have to stretch our imaginations too far to grasp the target customer: Parents of young children, mostly moms (It’s a fact that women control 85% of all purchasing decisions.). So where do young moms like to congregate, both online and offline? Here’s my educated guess along with some examples for each channel:

Online

Offline

That took me about 15-20 minutes (including sourcing examples through Google). It’s not perfect, but it’s a good start. My next step would be to strategize how I approach each of these channels. It will be different with each of them. For instance, I might come up with an innovative sponsorship for the expos. But with the parenting blogs, I might simply send some free samples to the bloggers with hand written thank you cards. Regardless, I think it’s best to select one channel and really work on it until you’ve turned it into a revenue generating machine. I have a saying: “Dominate don’t dabble.” Words to live by.

Lever 3: The overall user experience of your funnel

Let’s assume that you’ve nailed 1 and 2 above. You have a great product that solves a problem or fills a niche for a particular market, and you’ve studied and know that market very well, especially where to find them. You’ve also found solid channels to be able to create meaningful conversations with that  market and have a nice flow of new prospective customers coming into your funnel. Life is good. Now what?

While you can always spend more time trying to source a higher volume of relevant leads, you also need to be vigilant about the overall health of your funnel. It’s probably time to examine the user experience of your funnel. Let’s again use the example of an online shoe retailer to illustrate this point. As you’ll recall, the steps in your online sales funnel likely include the following.

  • Visitors come to your website.
  • Some of those visitors browse your shoe selection.
  • Some of those browsers add a pair of shoes into their cart.
  • Some of those shoppers click to checkout.
  • Some of those who started checkout will actually complete their purchase.

I’d recommend considering the following questions:

  • Is my site navigation clean and logical? Is it easy for a browser to find what they’re looking for?
  • Is my site well-designed? Does it feel professional and reputable?
  • Is it obvious that my checkout process is secure?
  • Do my pages load quickly?
  • Are my calls-to-action clear? Do they stand out?

There are so many more questions we could ask to assess the overall health of our online sales funnel. But this is a good start. And if the answer to any of these questions is “no”, then there is definitely some user experience work that needs to be done.

Remember, having a good user experience is a critically important part of having a healthy funnel. All the relevant traffic in the world won’t do much good if your shopping experience is sub par. And let’s not forget the offline components of user experience. You might also ask yourself these questions.

  • Do your products ship quickly?
  • When your customer opens their package to get their new pair of shoes, are they delighted by what they see and how they feel?
  • If their shoes come in the wrong size, is it easy and painless for them to make a return?
  • If they have to call in to get customer support, are they treated like a human being?

The answers to all of these  questions also impact the overall product and user experience. If you can answer “yes” to these questions, then you will likely have a very high conversion rate of website visitors to actual buyers. Additionally, since those buyers will have a good experience both online and offline, they’ll be very likely to buy from you again as well as tell their friends about their experience.

Boromir, user experience, usability testing, online sales funnels

NOTE: In many cases, you might not be sure if your user experience is good enough. For instance, you might like your website design, but many business owners do not have a knack for design, much less formal training. So you may well be flat out unsure. If that’s the case, then it’s best to leverage usability testing to see what likely buyers think about your design and, more importantly, how they interact with it.

Words to live by

I know this can feel a bit overwhelming (Funnels and visitors and testing – oh my!). But the main point here is to help you identify what levers are driving the health of your online sales funnel and feel empowered to get those levers working for (and not against) you. If you are still feeling overwhelmed, then just ignore everything you read above and focus on these three principles that you can apply over and over again.

  • It’s most important to know your target audience. If you know your target audience well, then you can create products and solutions that meet their needs, build relationships with them where they like to congregate, and tailor messaging and customer support to best resonate with them. It makes everything else better.
  • Dominate. Don’t dabble. Your time is your most precious resource. When you have several marketing channels that could bring you relevant leads, it’s best to pick one channel to tackle at a time. You’ll be more successful really owning one channel rather than piddling around trying 4 different channels at the same time.
  • Smart marketers test.  User experience is a hugely important part of your business, and it’s vital to make sure that new site visitors and (especially) buyers are having a remarkable experience doing business with you. Run usability testing to assess this from the customer’s point of view.

I’d love to hear your about your experiences tackling your online sales funnel. What successes have you had? And what challenges? Let me know in the comments below. :)

This article was originally written by Chris Riegger for Growth Fruit.

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12 Templates for Small Business to Save Time and Money

As a small-business owner, you know all about the “time = money” equation. You’ve spent hundreds of hours doing work to avoid paying someone else for it (and often gathering less than minimum wage yourself!)

From first-day launch to daily operations, there are a ton of resources out there to help you save both time and money! Here are 12 templates and tools that will streamline operations and give you the time to invest in more important areas of your business.

1. Business Plan Maker

If you’re just starting out, you need a business plan. Check out this tool, offered by the U.S. Small Business Administration. It goes step by step through the components of a business plan and offers guidance along the way, saving you time from writing one from scratch. If you plan to apply for a loan, you’ll need a business plan to show how you plan to be successful.

2. Slogan maker

Here’s a fun one! If you’re trying to think of a catchy slogan for your business, spark some ideas with this tool. It’s all automated, so the ideas it spits out may seem corny – but they’re useful because they can snap you out of your brain block (especially if creativity doesn’t come to you naturally!)

3. Business Cards

It’s incredibly fast, easy, and cheap to design business cards online. You can do it all from scratch or use an existing template.

business-cards

4. Basic Bookkeeping Template

This template is useful for small businesses that don’t already have a professional bookkeeper. Easy to understand, it has one sheet for sources of income, one for expenses, and one to track cash flow. It’s quick to plug in the numbers and be done.

5. Professional Budget Template

This template is an in-depth budget spreadsheet for the business that’s beyond basic. All you have to do is plug in planned and actual expenses and get an automatically updated report that includes pie charts and graphs done for you!

6. Financial Projections Template

This in-depth form is helpful for any business venture. It can help you figure out startup costs, forecast sales and cash flow, and even calculate employee payroll, benefits, and withholdings. When you keep your financial records well-organized, you lower the risk of costly mistakes.

7. Loan Amortization Schedule

Amortization calculators are fun tools that show you what your loan looks like. Have a little extra cash this month? How would it affect your loan if you applied it to the principal? See immediately how much you would save in interest over the life of the loan. Calculate whether you can afford to pay the loan off early. Always be thinking in the back of your mind about how best to pay off your loan – and look forward to the day when your business will be debt-free!

8. Invoice Template

This is a simple, professional-looking invoice template (because you want to look professional when you’re telling people they owe you money.)

9. Inventory Management Form

If you run a business selling a tangible product, keeping track of inventory is essential! You need to know what you have in stock so you can fulfill future orders. You also need to track your inventory to report to the IRS when tax time comes.

lady-inventory

10. Project Management Template

This template allows you to use Excel to track the progress of your project. It’s essentially a tool to plan the objective, schedule, task list, employees involved, costs, risks, and other data.

11. Employee Schedule

To help you keep organized, use this standard employee schedule. At a glance, you can not only see which employees are scheduled, but how much they are making and how many total hours they are working.

12. Customer Satisfaction Survey Form

This is a basic customizable form to give you some ideas about what you might want to put on a customer satisfaction survey. Once you’ve edited it to best reflect your business, you can simply print it off, ready to be filled out by the customer.

Time = money. By using all the resources available to you, you’re essentially hiring the internet to work for you for free. These tools save you money, and they save you time – time to drive your business forward without slowing down for anything!

This article was originally written by Nick Rojas for the Heyo Blog.

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10 Inspiring Website Designs That Would Dominate in 2016

Design trends are timeless – they span several years to a decade depending on how well they’re received by the audience. However, in recent years, with the rapid development in technology, design trends are quickly changing with users’ interest. Businesses give top priority to the look of their website in order to gain a competitive advantage and attract more users.

Thanks to the increasing number of online graphic tools, last year we saw at least a dozen designs dominate the web world. From card-style layouts to video headers to tiny animations, web designs grew in popularity. This year, we could see some of them continue their domination and a few new ones as well. Let’s take a look at 10 website designs that could steal the show in 2016.

1. Vertical Scrolling

vertical_scrolling

With most people accessing websites on the go, it is estimated that mobile traffic could equal (or even surpass) desktop traffic in the coming years. Taking this into consideration, a lot of website owners are betting on vertical scrolling patterns. The thing about this type of design is, it makes web surfing a lot easier and leads to better user experience.

2. Card-like Interfaces

Card-like

Card-inspired templates are finding their way in websites, apps, and printed forms. The thing with card-type layouts is, they are easy to browse through, more engaging, and they present content in an engaging manner for users. There is no limit to creativity here – you can come up with your own design, shapes, and colors and mesmerize your visitors with your interface.

3. Video Headers

Video Headers

High speed Internet connections and people’s fondness to media-rich content have lead to the rise of movie-style videos in website headers. What better way to explain your business than use a short 2-minute video enriched with sharp images, captivating graphics, and nice background music?

4. Small Animations

Small Animations

Animations are getting smaller, but their popularity is getting bigger by the year. From subtle motion to data animation to guiding animation, there are lots of concepts to choose from. Most websites use tiny animations to provide an element of surprise to visitors once the page has completed loading. Brilliant animations are all about creating special effects to entice users to explore your content. Apple, Fleet Fleet, and Pixate are some of the popular sites that have used tiny animations to a great effect. You could check their sites for an idea!

5. Better Typography

better_typography

Bigger, bolder fonts are being preferred by a lot of websites because they work well with the other visual elements in the homepage and ultimately increase the readability of the content. Websites that use typography believe that combining readable typefaces with stunning graphics is a better way to deliver their brand message to the audience.

6. Illustration and sketches

Illustration and sketches

There is something with the idea of pairing digital designs with hand-crafted arts that never seems to bore visitors. Even a lifeless website comes alive with the use of eye-catching sketchings and drawings. From icons to clickable buttons to the other interface elements, using illustrations and sketches lets you give your users an enjoyable browsing experience.

7. Bold and bright colors

bold and bright

Using bright colors and bolder fonts on your homepage is a smart way to make the key area of your content stand out and be read by your audience. Desert Chill, Apigee, and Rainbow Nursery are some notable sites that have used the ‘magic of colors’ to their advantage. Please do check them out.

8. Own photos, not stock photos

9jvuikx

Stock photos are outdated and boring. A few sites have already started using their own photography for the sake of uniqueness and credibility. Take a look at Netflix, which delivers its brand message with its own photography in the background. Original images are more natural and authentic and we could see a lot of websites use them in 2016.

9. Collaboration Tools

collaboration_tools

It’s quite common that not all designers work at the same office – some work from home, some work at the office and clients are usually from different countries. This is where using real-time collaboration tools can make a difference. They make the web design process a lot quicker and easier. Even feedback can be received and applied in a professional manner. From our research, we found that Trello, Yammer, Red Pen, Invision, and GoVisually are some top collaboration tools for web designers.

10. Full-screen Forms

full-screen

With a huge amount of web traffic coming from mobile users, using full-screen forms in the homepage has become a regular practice in the industry. We saw a lot of websites use this approach effectively in 2015 and the trend is most likely to continue into 2016.

From searching an item to subscribing to newsletters to signing up, full-screen forms can come in handy. When used correctly, they enable users to focus more on their tasks.

Conclusion

So, which of these designs do you think will dominate in 2016? Which design will you prefer for your site? Please let us know in the comments. Thanks!

This post was originally written by Joyce Mason for the Heyo blog.

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