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How to Perfect Your Online Social Media Presence in 2021

How to Perfect Your Online Social Media Presence in 2021

One of the most important ways to market your business to the world is through your online social media presence. It honestly doesn’t matter whether you have a strictly online business or a bricks and mortar business, using social media is a great way to get the word out about your business and to establish your identity online.

Ensure that Your Brand Matches Throughout

Your brand is always your brand on social media networks. You should keep your brand the same, but adjust it slightly to fit in with the personality of the platform. But don’t change it too much because you want your audience to recognize you and interact with you.

Keep Your Profile Updated and Complete

Social media networks are always changing so a complete profile today will be incomplete tomorrow. Keep it up-to-date by checking it often, updating the things you have changed, and adding in information as the platform creates new ways for you to share.

Be Consistent with Your Posts

Regular posts and updates are one of the keys to making social media work for you. For example, if you have a blog post you want to share, set it up to share twice in the day instead of only once.

Become an Expert on One or Two Platforms

You can’t be everyplace and do it well, so choose one or two platforms where your audience likes to hang out, and become an expert at those systems. You’ll do yourself a huge favor. Take it easy and become an expert of one or two.

Develop Content Specific for Each Platform

You don’t want to rehash the exact same content in the exact same words on each social media network. For example, when you share a blog post you wrote promoting your widget, you want to share it with a special blurb for each different network.

Engage with Others

Don’t forget to talk to people on each network. Answer questions, share your knowledge, and interact and engage with them. Social media is supposed to be social. Automation is fine, but you do need to answer people and talk to people in real time, too.

Share Other People’s Updates

When someone shares something important that your audience will find interesting, share it. The people you share and congratulate and interact with will do the same for you. Plus, it’s another form of content that can help establish expertise.

Join Groups

Most social media networks right now have some forms of groups that you can join. Even Pinterest has group pin boards that you can join. Joining these, then interacting with the people, is a great way to network and get known better.

What is an A Record and How is it Different from CNAME and MX?

What is an A Record and How is it Different from CNAME and MX?

The Domain Name System, or DNS, is what enables us to navigate the web using easy-to-remember domain names. It ties the various parts of the internet together and helps facilitate communication between them. However, the DNS and its components can be confusing, especially when it comes to DNS records.

In this article, we’ll explain DNS A Records. We’ll discuss what they are, what they do, and how they’re different from CNAME and MX records. Then we’ll show you how to find them for your website.

Let’s get started!

A Brief Introduction to DNS Records

Every device that’s connected to the internet has its own unique IP address. This component functions similarly to a mailing address in that it tells other computers where to send requests and responses. In the case of websites, that transfer of information results in content loading in visitors’ browsers.

However, IP addresses are made up of long strings of numbers, so typing one into your browser to visit a site isn’t exactly user-friendly. That’s where the DNS comes in. It’s a system that assigns websites more legible domain names, such as www.elegantthemes.com, and ties them to corresponding IP addresses so that users can access them.

DNS records are the elements that tell the DNS which URLs are associated with a given IP address. They’re the threads that tie the whole database together so your browser knows where to send requests when you type in a web address.

What Is an A Record and How Is It Different from CNAME and MX?

There are several different types of DNS records, but the most common and important ones are referred to as “A”, “CNAME”, and “MX”. Let’s break down what each one does and how they differ.

A Records are the most basic type. The “A” stands for “Address,” as their function is to tie a domain name or URL directly to an IP address. Here’s an example:

Examples of A records.

Basically, when you type a web address into your browser, the DNS looks up that domain name and then routes your browser to the associated IP address.

CNAME is short for “Canonical Name.” CNAME records are essentially aliases that tie one domain name to another. For example, if you type “elegantthemes.com” into your browser, the DNS directs you to www.elegantthemes.com because there is an alias that points the former to the latter.

CNAME records always point to either an A Record or another CNAME. Here’s what they look like:

Examples of CNAME records.

The advantage of this is that if you need to edit them, you can simply change the A Record, and all the associated CNAMEs that point to it will update automatically.

Finally, MX or “Mail Exchange” records deal with sending email. They tell the DNS where a particular email address is located. Here’s an example:

Examples of MX records.

So, to summarize, A Records point directly to IP addresses, while CNAMEs point to A Records. MX records point to mail servers and help route emails to their proper destinations.

Why You Might Need to Access Your A Records

For the most part, you shouldn’t need to do much with your A Records. Once a site is up and running, they tend to stay the same, and you’ll rarely be asked to provide them.

However, there are a handful of situations where you may have to access and edit your site’s A Records. Most notably, you may need them to change web servers, such as if you’ve decided to switch hosting providers or plans, or to migrate your site to your own private server.

You may also need to update your A Records if you change your site’ domain name but want to keep its content intact. In that case, you can simply change the A Record and the new domain will point to the same location on your web host’s servers.

Finally, if you create subdomains for your site, you may need to generate A Records for them in order to point them to your server.

How to Access Your A Records (In 3 Steps)

You should be able to access your site’s A Records through your web hosting account dashboard. For this example, we’ll use Bluehost. However, bear in mind that your provider’s settings may look different. We recommend consulting the relevant documentation or contacting your host’s support team if you need help.

Step 1: Access Your Web Host’s Domain Settings

First, you’ll need to log into your hosting account. Then look for the domain settings. Typically this is simply called Domains:

The domain settings on the Bluehost admin page

Clicking into this screen should pull up a list of the domains registered to your account.

Step 2: Locate the DNS Settings

Once you’re on the Domains page, locate the one you want to edit the records of. You’re looking for a DNS option. Bluehost users can access this setting by clicking on the dropdown box next to the domain entry and selecting DNS from the list:

Select DNS from the list to edit your A records.

This will take you to a page that lists all the DNS records for that domain.

Step 3: Add, Delete, or Change Your Records

Finally, to add, delete, or change your DNS records, simply select the appropriate option for the one you want to modify. Keep in mind that any changes you make will take some time to propagate across the DNS and take effect (up to 48 hours in some cases).

If you ever need to change CNAME, MX, or any other DNS records, you’d follow the same procedure. Most hosts place all of them on the same page.

Conclusion

The DNS is the secret sauce that makes the internet intuitive to navigate. However, sometimes you’ll have to work directly with the ingredients – DNS records. Knowing which one does what will help you efficiently navigate this process should the need arise.

A Records are the basic building blocks of the DNS. They’re what tie a website’s domain name back to the computer it’s hosted on. Without it, we’d be stuck memorizing IP addresses. Meanwhile, CNAME records deal with website aliases, and MX records handle email routing.

Best Photoshop Alternatives to Ease Your Work

Photoshop has been out on the market for a long time and there isn’t a designer who hasn’t heard about it. That’s a fact. Professionals use it to edit everything, from photos, movies, to anything graphic design related. Undoubtedly, Photoshop is a leader among the editing tools, and rightly so. The multitude of features and options it comes with make it a software for the advanced. Unfortunately, its complexity can be an impossible labyrinth for some, an unpenetrable mystery. For this very reason, we decided to make all your lives easier by putting together a handy list of the best Photoshop alternatives. 

We know the hassle that Photoshop comes with, and we know the price. Not only does it need hundreds of hours of practice until you get familiarized with it, but it can also be quite costly for designers at the beginning of their career. Our goal on Webdesignledger is to make designers’ work as enjoyable as possible through accessible resources. Today’s blog post is for those who have been looking for Photoshop alternatives that are easier to use and more affordable. Check these out and choose your favorite:

Krita

The reasons we love this tool are quite numerous. We’ll start with our favorite: it’s free. Don’t we all like free quality products? Krita is Photoshop’s younger sister, they look and feel very similar. It’s feature-rich and highly recommended by the people online. We recommend you all to use Krita as a Photoshop alternative because:

it has a ton of cool effects

it offers a multitude of templates on different subjects

you can use it on tablets

Unfortunately, Krita doesn’t keep the history of your edits, nor does it have a camera RAW filter. But these little negatives don’t matter so much when all the other features complement each other so well.

Sumopaint

One of the downsides of Photoshop is that you need room for it. You may have to delete stuff on your computer in order to install it. This is where Sumpaint comes into action. This amazing alternative is an online tool which means you can keep everything on your laptop in place. Sumopaint is on our list today because:

it’s super easy to use

it has plenty of features

it offers support for layers and blending modes

Multi-Layer (Android)

Edit on the go with your tablet or smartphone with this amazing Photoshop alternative. Multi Layer beats all the other phone tools with its richness of features. Believe it or not, the app offers grit support and even support for blending and layers. Being a free tool, they have to financially support the app through ads which will pop up at times. But even so, we love it for:

its simple utilization

its curve editing feature

its multitude of options

GIMP

Unlike Krita which doesn’t feature a history toolbar, GIMP does! It is also free and that always makes us happy. Plus, what if I told you that it’s able to do almost everything that Photoshop can, sometimes even better? No wonder people recommend it so much online as a Photoshop alternative. It’s easy to work with and we wouldn’t trade it for Photoshop as:

it offers layers support and blending modes

it features a history toolbar

it supports image slicing and Rulers and Guides

Affinity Photo

We dare to say that Affinity Photo is better than Photoshop. First, let’s start with the price. Compared to Photoshop, Affinity Photo is so much cheaper! With a one-off payment, you are good to go. Its creators openly affirmed that the aspects Photoshop lacks in, they’ve got it covered. Affinity Photo is among the best on the market, and this is why:

it’s much faster than Photoshop

crashes less than Photoshop

features unlimited undos

Sketch

This list could not exist without Sketch. The tool is as feature rich as flexible. Although it is a paid software, you get a ton for the price. And that’s due to the numerous community-created plugins you can access anytime to extend its functionality. The only downside to Sketch is its limited platform availability. Unless you are a Mac user you can’t enjoy this amazing tool. But even so, we applaud it for:

its infinite zooming

the ability to build a new graphic with the vector and pencil tool

including color picker, layers, gradients, and style presets

Pixlr

This app is for free. You’ll want to know this little detail when I tell you that it comes with more than 600 effects. Pixlr is that app that you must have on downloaded on your phone for quick edits that actually look good. Crop, resize, whiten teeth if needed, it’s all possible with Pixlr. We added the app to our list due to:

its simplicity

its availability on iOS and Android

the 600 effects, overlays, and borders

Aviary

Aviary specializes in basic editing and it does it in style. It’s a super tool for editing images into memes and not only. It’s easy to use, yet full of features. You can edit small details such as blemishes, add stickers, and change the depth of focus. Aviary can be accessed both online and on phones. We mostly like that:

it’s free and the online editor is add free

it comes with a wide range of tools

it’s easy to use

Which Photoshop alternative do you use? We would love to know your recommended tools and what makes them special in the comment section below. Also, stay up to date with the latest news and trends in design by visiting us daily. We strive to bring the best and most useful content and would appreciate if you liked, shared, and subscribe to our blog.

Where to Get Logo Design Inspiration When You Need Help

Where to Get Logo Design Inspiration When You Need Help

You probably know this feeling…you sit down, ready to start designing a logo for your client and…nothing. Zero. Zilch. Nada. The logo design inspiration fountain runneth dry.If that sounds like you (sometimes), you’re definitely not alone. It’s something all creatives struggle with, which is why we have terms like writer’s block and designer’s block.And if you are hit with designer’s block, sitting there stewing about it is rarely the best way to approach the situation. So to that end, let’s go through some tips for where to get logo design inspiration when you need help. I’ll split the list into two parts:

  • A list of websites where you can get design inspiration
  • Some non-website tips to help get the creative juices flowing

What’s The Line Between Inspiration and Plagiarism?

I want to lead with this because it’s a hot debate whenever the topic of inspiration comes up. My take is this:

If you have to ask the question, you’re probably leaning towards plagiarism.

Inspiration should be about using an existing idea to inspire a new idea. It’s not rote copying.

While not all of my tips involve looking at other people’s work, I think it’s important to consider because you always want to stay respectful of the work and creativity of others, even if you draw on it for inspiration.

The Big Tip: Logo Design Inspiration Websites

The Internet has left us spoiled for choice when it comes to logo design inspiration. Beyond the ability to instantly pull up any brand’s logo from pretty much any point in history, there are whole websites dedicated to providing you with an easily filterable gallery of logo inspiration.

Below, I’ll take you through some of the best options when it comes to inspiration sites.

Behance and Dribbble

I lumped these two together because I’m guessing you’re already familiar with them if you’re a graphic designer.

On the off chance that you’re not, both Behance and Dribbble are design portfolio sites. Or, as Dribbble puts it, “show and tell for designers”.

While it’s not all logos, you can find plenty of logo inspiration by simply searching for something like “logo”.

Logospire

Rather than opting for any type of filter, Logospire is one long infinite scroll of logo design inspiration. You just keep scrolling. And scrolling. And scrolling. Until you find one that catches your eye.

The sheer volume of logos flashing by is a good way to break free of a design funk.

Logopond

Logopond is the opposite of Logospire. Instead of one long feed, you can search for logos by both title and tag. Then, you can further refine your queries by categories like:

  • Client Work
  • WIP (work in progress)
  • Unused
  • Student Work
  • For Fun

If you want inspiration on a specific topic, it’s a good option for niching down your inspiration sources.

LogoLounge

LogoLounge is another inspiration site that focuses on making designs searchable. Currently, LogoLounge offers up more than 260,000 designs, which should give you ample opportunity to strike inspiration.

To browse all those logos, you can search for keywords and then sort by chronological order.

The only downside? LogoLounge is not free. If you want access to those 260,000 searchable logos, you’ll need to shell out $100 per year.

Reddit

If you’re not familiar with Reddit, it’s basically a collection of different topic boards called “Subreddits”. These subreddits cover pretty much every topic in existence. Including…

Design inspiration.

You can find subreddits for both pure design inspiration, as well as for design critiques that might spark something creative in you. It pays to search around, but some good starter subreddits are:

Non-website Ideas for Logo Design Inspiration

If the websites alone aren’t lighting a creative fire for you, here are some other ideas to help get the creative juices running.

Brainstorm With a Mind Map

Sometimes it pays to go at things conceptually. Brainstorm ideas, concepts, and aesthetics that apply to the logo. Then use mind mapping to connect associations and find patterns.

If you’re not familiar with the concept of mind mapping as it applies to design, The Graphic Design School put together a great post with some examples of how mind mapping can help spur creativity when it comes to graphic design.

To actually get your thoughts down, you can either use pen and paper or go high tech with a tool like MindMeister.

Doodle it Out

It’s easy to become too focused on creating something “productive”. Sometimes, it pays to take a step back and just let your mind take your design wherever it wants to.

Imagine you’re back in your middle school days just doodling away on your notebook. Even if you don’t find sudden inspiration in the doodles, you’ll still succeed at clearing your mind, which is a win all by itself.

Go For a Walk

I’ve met plenty of designers who swear their best source of inspiration is stepping away from the screen and going for a walk outside, whether that means nature or the city streets. Not only is it another way to take your mind off the issue, but it also opens you up to all sorts of inspiring sights and sounds.

Additionally, a Stanford study found that a “person’s creative output increased by an average of 60 percent when walking.” So walking is actually scientifically proven to make you more creative!

Look to the Past

If your client is an established entity, they may have a back catalog of logos that you can pull inspiration from.

Can you take one of their original concepts and pull it into the modern world? Or maybe an element in their old designs kicks you into gear.

Live to Fight Another Day

If none of the above is working for you – you may just need to completely take a step back and return another day.

Sometimes it’s just not the right time for creative work – and when that happens, there’s no use banging your head against the wall (unless you have an unavoidable deadline, of course).

Wrapping Up

The array of logo design inspiration websites that have popped up make it easy to quickly draw upon hundreds of thousands of logo examples. But they’re not always an instant source of creative eureka.

Sometimes, it pays to step back and let your mind wander by mind mapping, doodling, going for a walk, or anything else that helps jog your creativity loose.

But as we as know – this is a fairly personal thing. So I’d love to hear from you all. Where do you look for logo design inspiration?

6 Little Ways to Delight Your Customers This Holiday Season

6 Little Ways to Delight Your Customers This Holiday Season

It is much more cost effective to keep a customer than it is to find a new one. In fact, according to a report by Adobe, returning customers account for up to 40% of a company’s revenue.

Trouble is, a 2016 small business survey revealed that while 72% of small businesses plan to allocate the majority of their marketing budget to customer acquisition, only 28% plan to allocate the majority to customer retention.

To help marketers refocus their retention plans — especially those in the ecommerce industry — I’ve put together six creative ways to keep your loyal customers coming back. Check them out below.

6 Little Ways to Reward Your Customers This Holiday Season

1) Offer a compelling discount.

By a compelling discount, I don’t simply mean “20% off your next order.” Instead, try a discount that will inspire your customer to continue shopping with you.

What does that look like? It depends. And there are a couple things to consider:

  • Focus on the value your product or service provides customers, not just the price you discount it by. In other words, position yourself in a way where buying your product is a complete no-brainer.
  • Choose your words carefully. According to research from Psychology Today, a “Get $ Off” promotion emphasizes achieving a gain, while the “Save $” wording emphasizes avoiding a loss — and customers recognize that difference.

For example, check out how T-Mobile positioned this holiday deal on the Samsung Gear S2:

t-mobile-holiday-discount.png

2) Get personal.

Great customer service is about more than just solving your customer’s issue. Try going above and beyond by creating something awesome to remind your customers why they love your business.

For example, you might send out a personalized holiday card or thank you note to their home address. Even though we’re in a digital word, it means a lot to receive something handwritten, and capitalizing on the holiday spirit in this way can build a positive brand association.

 

3) Tap into referrals that reward.

Referrals are a great way to get customers to sell your products for you. It’s a simple evolution of word-of-mouth marketing, as customers usually refer friends or colleagues.

For example, when shopping with The Clymb, you are gently reminded to refer a friend in the website header:

Invite a Friend.png

Notice how it provides a clear call-to-action along with an incentive — $10 for your loyal customer and $10 for a future one — encouraging visitors to take action even before they start shopping.

4) Use premium packaging.

Anyone that’s spent any amount of time wresting with a roll of wrapping paper and tape dispenser knows the value of a pretty package. In fact, according to a 2015 Dotcom Distribution packaging study, 49% of online shoppers said that branded packaging made them more excited about receiving or opening an item, while 44% admitted that packaging reinforces that a product is worth its cost.

The lesson? First impressions make a huge difference in our fast-paced lives, so by using premium packaging you allow your product to stand out against others. Take Pad & Quill, for example. This tech accessories company packages its iPhone and iPad cases in paper with friendly messages printed on it. It even uses an authentic-looking Roman seal to give a more hand-wrapped feel.

customer-loyalty-holidays-pad-and-quill.jpg

5) Turn the small print into a feature.

Refund and exchange policies are often part of the small print on your website. During the holiday season, you have an opportunity to make them a feature. After all, these policies are in place to increase trust and promote sales, right? Make them known.

When buying gifts, customers prefer a return policy that ensures that if the recipient doesn’t like it, they can easily return it. If you can offer this, you have a better shot at increasing sales, while keeping your customers happy.

Nordstrom does a great job of displaying all of its holiday shopping, shipping, and return perks right on the homepage, giving potential and existing customers peace of mind during one of the more stressful times of the year:

Nordstrom Return Policy.png

6) Create a holiday-inspired video.

Why does everyone love and anticipate the John Lewis holiday advertisements year after year? Because they tell a story that evokes emotion.

Fortunately, you don’t need a million-dollar TV advertising budget to do this, just an idea for a great story. As video is becoming more and more popular, it’s key that you apply it to all areas of your marketing strategy.

Back in 2014, the Lowell Police Department went viral due to its “Christmas Surprise Traffic Stop” video. In the video, police officers asked the folks they pulled over for traffic violations questions about what they wanted for the holidays. Meanwhile, their behind-the-scenes crew quickly purchased the items and drove them to the scene. Watch the magic unfold below — trust us, it’s worth the four minutes:

The holiday season is a time of giving, so be creative with how you can implement goodwill into your marketing campaign.

Wrapping Up

Offering compelling discounts with creative call-to-actions will inspire your customers to buy, but great customer service is why they return.