Toronto Web Design in 2018 – A Review

As 2018 comes to a close it is timely to look back at the year and contemplate the trends and technologies that dominated the Toronto web design landscape.  It is this reflection that may give us a glimpse into what 2019 has in store, and what new trends may be worth investing for your Toronto web development project in the new year.

Website security was continually at the top of the news cycle with major data breaches reported by almost every industry sector. From Facebook to FedEx, it appeared that no one’s data was safe as countless companies admitted to lapses in cybersecurity. It is for this reason that Rebel Trail doubled its investments in securing our client’s data at both the local and Toronto datacenter levels and is committed to being on the forefront of Toronto website development security.

Speaking of security, is your website SSL compliant? When you visit it in a browser, is there a little lock icon beside the URL? If not, this is the year that Google started to penalize sites that won’t offer this extra layer of protection. It’s actually quite easy to get this certification for your Toronto web design project, and usually just a matter of requesting it from your hosting provider. If you’re unsure about the process, just give us a call and we’ll walk you through it.

The mobile market continued to gain ground and in 2018 has surpassed the desktop computer as the largest website viewing market. This means that more people will be viewing your website on their phone, than on a desktop computer. So, if your website isn’t mobile compliant, you’re likely going to be penalized with your search engine rankings. Luckily, every website produced from our studios is fully responsive – meaning that the website design will reformat itself for the small and large screen alike. Google is known to give websites with a responsive design a bit of a boost in their rankings.  If you are contemplating a redesign of your Toronto website in the next year, be sure to plan for a responsive website counterpart.

Social media stats climbed even higher this year, even with the controversy surrounding Facebook and your personal data. Every solid Toronto website development project includes a social media plan that outlines the need to keep content current and pushed to multiple platforms. A good website content management system will allow you to easily push new content to all of your social media sites with the click of a button. If you’re still manually updating Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn you should look at an upgrade to your content management system. In 2018 you should input once and output to multiple platforms.

 

LMS and E-Learning – What You Should Know

One of the fastest growth sectors in the Toronto web design market is in the area of LMS and e-learning systems. LMS is an acronym for ‘Learning Management System” and e-learning and e-testing systems are basically referring to the same sort of application. While there are a number of out-of-the-box solutions that will provide these functions for your Toronto website development project, more users find that these systems are restrictive and cannot perform critical custom functionality that is normally required of a full LMS solution.

Customization is key when implementing an e-learning solution into your Toronto web design project. You must consider may factors such as: How will my users login to the website. In what formats are lessons presented? What are my options for test-taking? Do I need to provide custom certificates when a user passes a test? What about report card systems where a user can review their overall progress and compare it to class averages? These are just some of the questions you should be asking when implementing a solid LMS solution into your Toronto web design project.

Many times, an out-of-the box (or third-party) e-learning solution will only achieve about 60 – 80% of your goals, but that critical 20-40% of important functionality will not be available. The only alternative is to try to force your Toronto web design goals to work within the parameters of the product, and many times this is simply not possible, or the final solution is so compromised that it fails to be an effective solution.

It is for this reason that we generally recommend exploring a custom LMS solution for your Toronto web design project. A custom LMS solution has none of the restrictions of its third party counterparts and will achieve your precise goals no matter how unique they are. Consider a simple reporting function – many of our clients have come to us with an pre designed Toronto website in which they need to add an LMS solution. Most of these times, there is already an established login system that needs to work with the LMS solution so that the LMS can properly identify the user that is taking the lesson and test. In most cases the third-party LMS would be unable to work with a pre-existing login system, however a custom LMS solution for your Toronto web design project could easily accommodate this scenario.

This is just one simple example of how a custom LMS solution can benefit your Toronto web design project. For more examples or to discuss your unique goals, please contact Rebel Trail today.

What is the Difference Between UI and UX?

In the Toronto web design creative and technical environment, the terms “UI” (User Interface) and “UX” (User Experience) are being used more than ever. While they seem new, these terms  are referring to specialties and ideas that have been around for years prior to the introduction of the acronyms in the Toronto website development market.

But the issue with these acronyms is more than just letters. Unfortunately, these terms are quickly becoming dangerously interchangeable when in fact they are quite different. Using these terms inaccurately is a constant problem for a growing number of professionals involved in Toronto web design, including: web designers in Toronto, application developers in Toronto, and website development specialists in Toronto. Understanding the difference is vital to a successful website project.

The most common misconception that you will hear in the Toronto web development project workplace is the mistaken interchangeability of the two terms. Many times, the incorrect expectation is that a Toronto interface web designer naturally understands user experience because their past work with users. The truth is that user interface is not user experience. It is often confused because both acronyms begin with the letter “U”.  While they are related concepts, many Toronto web designers can be experts in both.

Despite the apparent similarities, both concepts are inherently different in both their overall goals and usage. Toronto web design user interface is pertaining to the website elements that interact with the user – this normally refers to the methodology of input and output. Think of it as how information is delivered to the user, or from the user. UI is about mechanics and delivery of chunks of data be it in online input form, mapping system, or LMS test.

In Toronto web design, user experience (UX), when it pertains to website development, is more about the web design and branding. In its most basic form, it is how the data and information from the UI is presented to the user. However the user experience extends past the design of the website to the overall brand of the principal. In web development in Toronto UI takes into account the design flow from the brand to the website in a seamless experience.

Toronto Web Design – 4 Signs It’s Time For A Website Redesign

With the current landscape of Toronto Web Design it’s difficult to tell when its time to give your website a fresh new design. There are also many factors to consider such as your current Toronto web design versus that of your competitors as well as the overall functionality your website utilizes. Upgrading the functionality of your website is just as important as keeping the website design current. Further, there are always new technologies that can vastly improve your website’s performance, and if left ignored, these can benefit your competitors rather than you. At Rebel Trail Web Design, we have complied the top 4 signs your Toronto Web Design is in need of a refresh.

It’s Not Responsive

Responsive websites are commonplace today, and if your website is not responsive, you’re missing out on a great deal of potential business. Responsive websites change their format depending on the device that’s viewing them. This means a standard computer screen will display your website in one format, but a smartphone or tablet will display your website reformed to perfectly fit the smaller screens. By Toronto Web Design standards, responsive websites are an absolute must. Not only do search engines like Google gives your site a boost if its responsive, but half of your audience will be viewing your Toronto website through a mobile device – why not cater the website experience to them?

You’re losing search engine placement

If you notice that your search engine results are starting to slide, its time to consider a redesign. With a professional Toronto website development company, they will build your new website to all of the latest Search Engine standards. If your website was built several years ago, then it is missing out on all of the updates the search engines normally apply several times a year. This usually results in a gradual slide down the index until your website coding is made fully compliant again.

Objective Comparison With Your Competitors

You should be checking your competitor’s websites at least 2 – 3 times per year – but do so objectively. Sometimes this is difficult as you are so entwined with your own business. Think of getting an informal group of objective individuals to look at your site as well as your competitors – and ask them to provide honest feedback as to which site they would go to, and why. It is easy to lose objectivity with your own Toronto website design, so a fresh perspective will identify shortcomings and help your prepare for a website redesign.

Performance Issues

A website design that is slow to load, or worse yet, contains errors is a big sign that a redesign is required. Customers will naturally assume that a buggy website reflects on the service they can expect from your business and this closes doors pretty fast. You need to ensure that your Toronto website design loads quickly and is completely error free. A good Toronto website designer will fully test the website before it launches and will guarantee to fix any post-launch errors as well.

 

WordPress and Toronto Web Design – 3 Things You Should Know

Hardly a day goes by without web design Toronto companies receiving a call from a prospective client that is looking for a ‘WordPress Website’. Every web design Toronto firm should know this platform very well and should also have a number of web development projects that have been exclusively designed for this system. WordPress provides the environment for simple content management as well as a host of other display and functional tools for the Toronto website designer. However it does have it’s limitations – and that’s something your website designer Toronto should let you know.

Web development Toronto has evolved a great deal over the past 20 years and there are a number of options that are available to you. When selecting web development companies you should find a firm that has experience in all areas of webdesign, not just WordPress. Solid web design companies Toronto will thoroughly analyze your web development project and should provide you with an honest assessment if WordPress is right for you.

If your Toronto web design project contains very simple content management requirements, such as editing the text and graphics of a webpage, then WordPress may be an ideal solution. However if you require any kind of custom functionality or application development, then your website designer Toronto should let you know about the limitations of WordPress.

Like any ‘out of the box’ software, it cant do everything – and if your web development Toronto project requires a unique database, function, or application you will likely hit the limits of WordPress rather quickly. With WordPress and its associated plug-ins, you generally need to work within their parameters, and rarely do those parameters precisely match your web design project.

An experienced Toronto website designer may use a hybrid solution. This is where the website development content is controlled by WordPress, while any other functionality is custom developed. This is a perfectly acceptable solution for most web development companies and can give you the best of both worlds with no limitations for the unique functionality you require.

It should be noted that content controlled by WordPress is also very easily indexed by Google and the other major search engines. If having high search engine placement is a priority then WordPress may be a good match for your web design project. Web design companies Toronto should take the time to review these requirements with you and make recommendations on the best platform to use based on your online goals.

Toronto Web Design Trends For 2018 so far

We’re over halfway into 2018 and it’s once again time to see what trends are at the forefront for the Toronto website designer. 2017 ushered in a number of new tools for Toronto web development, and this year we have seen the evolution of those tools, plus some exciting new technology as well.

Responsive Design

Responsive design was not new to 2018 for web design Toronto, but we certainly saw a huge increase in its use and that should continue throughout 2017 as well. Responsive design is the ability for a website to adapt to the device that is viewing it. Your Toronto website design, should be able to have a unique format and maximize the available screen space on several different type of devices whether is a PC, Tablet (in portrait or landscape mode), or mobile device. If your website is not yet responsive, you need to have a talk with web design companies Toronto as it has an impact on your Google search rankings.

Wearables

2017 may be the first year that wearable tech becomes mainstream with the advent of the AppleWatch. This will pose a new and exciting challenge for the Toronto website designer to develop a website interface for the super small screen and we’re looking forward to seeing great innovations here. We may also see a number of headset display interfaces start to evolve as manufactured start to bring their products to market, including Google Glass, Microsoft HoloLens, and Oculus Rift. This may finally be the year where Virtual Reality is fully available.

Things Are Getting Bigger

We are starting to see design elements get bigger with web designer Toronto, much bigger. Surf the web for a while and you will notice web design trends such as very large, high-impact, background images as well as very large and engaging typography. The limits are being pushed with web design companies Toronto and the results are a highly engaging, interactive user experience. If you are still using boring fonts and imagery with your website, then again, you should have a talk with your Toronto website designer to shake things up.

Goodbye Click, Welcome Scroll

One of the latest Toronto web development trends is to reduce the number of clicks a user makes in favor of scrolling. You’ve probably seen a host of new Toronto website designs that contain this new feature in which a user will scroll down to obtain more information, rather than clicking on various links. This new interface style is in recognition of all of the touch screen devices available in today’s market and is likely to set a new standard in 2015.

Does your Toronto website development project need a blog?

One of the most frequent questions we are asked by our clients is “How important is it to have a blog on my website for web design in Toronto?” A blog is considered to be a section on your website that is updated frequently with informal news or information on your company, products, or services. The answer differs from client to client, but generally if search engine placement is a high priority, then a blog is a must have for your Toronto web design project.

They key to an effective website design in Toronto, and subsequent high search engine placement, is content that is updated on a frequent basis. Once your Toronto website design is launched and indexed with the search engines, it will be monitored on a daily basis for changes by every search engine that ranks it. While the algorithm of each search engine differs, it is widely accepted that frequently updated content is a major factor in how the search engine determines the placement of your Toronto website design. The more frequently content is updated on your site, the better the chances your site will rank higher within the index.

Your company or organization may not have new products, services, or information to post on a weekly basis which can result in stagnant content on your Toronto website design project. However the informality of a blog can circumvent these issues as there can always be content to post that does not directly relate to products or services. Many business blogs will focus on the lifestyle or culture within the organization, or simply provide friendly advice that pertains to the industry sector of the company.

The content of the blog should always consider two audiences: your customers, and the search engines. Content should be written to provide valuable information to your customers – this can include insights, trends, and other relevant industry information. However when writing your blog, you also need to think like a search engine. Consider the main keywords that you are using to index your website and make sure to add those words to your blog article. Caution should be taken here; if you use the keywords in your article too many times, you can actually be penalized by the search engines and your results will suffer. A good formula is to take the top 2 – 3 keywords in your website and use them organically a few times within the blog article. This should help to reinforce your keyword placement within the search engines, while providing comprehensive information to your target audience.

If you would like more information on the best practices for today’s website blogs, just contact Rebel Trail today.

Should you use WordPress for your Toronto website design project?

One of the most vital components of your Toronto website design project is a system that you can use to update content. This is typically referred to as a Content Management System or CMS. The CMS allows you to keep the content of your website design current, which is mandatory for high search engine placement.

A common question we are asked for Toronto web development is which CMS solution to use. The options generally come down to either a custom solution, or out-of-the-box software. Custom CMS solutions for Toronto web design are developed from scratch and cater to your unique requirements. Out-of-the-box solutions are generally less expensive but can have limitations for website design Toronto.

Your web development services company should be able to determine the best fit for you. If your web design Toronto project requires simple updates to text, then a 3rd party system may be all you need. There are many platforms to choose from including WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal – WordPress being the most popular. These systems offer a host of functionality for your web development Toronto project. They also tend to be less expensive than a custom website development solution.

However, the 3rd party solutions also can be quite limited in their functionality. While they do provide basic content management system services, their functionality generally ends there. Most of the time, a client will require some sort of unique functionality that the 3rd party software is not capable of delivering. This can include functionality like dynamic or interactive content, database requirements, compatibility with existing systems, or even simple tasks like searching and sorting. 3rd party solutions are best left to small business or personal websites where the functional requirements are at a minimum.

Custom solutions are usually more expensive, however they offer no limits when it comes to functionality. A good Toronto website development firm will gauge your needs and be able to propose a custom system that will accommodate all of your needs. Should your needs change, or if you need to upgrade your custom solution, there are never any issues or limitations. The system expands with your requirements no matter how unique they are. Custom solutions can also be designed to work with your internal systems, and be fully compatible with your existing digital infrastructure.

If you are unsure if which solution if best for your Toronto website design project, talk to a professional website consultant. They can assist you in determining your online goals and requirements and then help you select the best solutions for your website.

Should You Meet With Your Toronto Website Developer Often?

Before you sign a contract or agreement with a Toronto website developer, it is always a good idea to inquire about their onsite meeting policy. Many Toronto web design firms have a minimum and maximum number of meetings per client that they find appropriate and knowing this information can be critical to the success of your website development project. The length of these meetings, location, and content require a time commitment from both parties and will have impacts on deadlines and deliverables.

If a Toronto website development firm is unwilling to have any onsite meetings, then this could signal a ‘red flag’ on their business practices and you should proceed with caution. If a web design company is going to build your online presence, then they should visit your business to gain a greater understanding of your products, services, and the overall business environment. After all, a good Toronto website design firm will become your internet partner for years to come – shouldn’t they at least visit you from time to time?

There can also be the other extreme – where there are too many onsite meetings. This can put unnecessary time demands on you and your staff as well as inefficiencies in regards to project management. Professional website design companies in Toronto will know how to effectively manage a project while respecting your valuable time. They can provide superior communication in the most time efficient manner possible.

Toronto web design companies that are experienced in client relationships will leverage today’s online collaborative technology when it comes to meetings. These firms will often hold online meetings, where you can audio or video conference with the client, while a demonstration of the project status is displayed on your PC. Toronto web design firms often prefer this type of meeting as it provides a number of benefits to both the client and developer.

With online meetings, you can schedule them at a moment’s notice, and not have to wait for days or weeks for an acceptable time for all parties. There’s also no travel time involved, or booking of boardrooms or other resources, which is far more time efficient. Problems or issues can be resolved instantly, rather than being postponed until the next physical meeting.

In addition, online meetings will allow your Toronto web development firm to have all of its resources available to you throughout the meeting – something that may not be possible with an onsite meeting. This allows the meeting to be far more productive with all of the tools readily available.

In the end, the frequency of meeting with your Toronto web developer all comes down to your own comfort level. A solid web site project plan will identify the milestones within the development of your website, these milestones could be focused on design, databases, development work, project deliverables, etc. Meeting, whether onsite or online, at the start or completion of these milestones is a good guideline to follow and will ensure that your project is both on time and on budget.

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Things they don’t teach you in Toronto web design school

Being in the Toronto web design industry, apart from being afforded the misconception that “anyone with Photoshop can do this”, is that you inevitably get asked the following: “How do you get started?  Where do you even start to learn to do this?” and most often “My son/daughter/nephew/cousin/(whoever) wants be a website designer in Toronto, what can you tell them to help them get a job?”

I have worked website development in Toronto for Rebel Trail as a designer for the better part of 15 years.  Looking a back, it’s hard to compare what I learned in school to what I use on the job, on a daily basis.  Apart from the software (that no longer resembles what we use today) and basic design or business training – not a lot.

They don’t teach OCD, a compulsive attention to detail, or the ability to tune out distractions. You just have to love what you do and Toronto web design schools can’t teach you passion.  BUT I will list the some of the things you SHOULD know or try to learn while trying to make it the Toronto website development industry:

Learn to ask the right questions.

If you ask 20 people to describe the colours of autumn, you will get an infinite amount of variations of what those people think autumn looks like.  Asking someone to describe what they envision for their Toronto website design project, without guiding them with the right questions won’t get you the end result the client seeks.  Most website design clients have a good idea of what they want in the design, while some don’t.  Using a standard questionnaire for projects in the beginning is a great way to focus the discussion and keep on the project moving forward.

Hone your listening skills

Learning to pick up on keywords during Toronto website design meetings or phone calls will help you enormously during the web design stage.  Things like, ‘clean’, ‘edgy’ or ‘soft’ can carry a design in different directions.  Sharing ideas and encouraging open dialogue between client and website designer can accomplish more than a design but also a solid business relationship.

Lorem Ipsum is my best friend.

Oh ‘Lorem Ipsum’, where would my website designs be without you!   Using lorem ipsum text in the design stage is essential.  It gives you and your client an idea of what the design will look like with text without burdening your client to come up give up new content right away and impeding design.  Not everyone knows what lorem ipsum is though.   The definition is :

Lorem Ipsum is dummy text which has no meaning however looks very similar to real text. Common names for Lorem ipsum text include: – blind text – dummy text – greeked text – placeholder text – mock content – filler text.

It’s still the biggest tool I use almost every day.  Make lorem your friend too.

More to come!  Stay tuned…