Pay Monthly Website Solutions

We have just made a ‘soft-launch’ of our pay monthly ‘sister’ website which goes by the name; Code Twenty Four, it’s quite far from the completion stage but it’s off to a great start. Let us know what you think!

So why did we start rolling out a new pay monthly website package? Well, quite often we do get requests for pay monthly solutions. This is also extremely beneficial for smaller businesses who quite simply can’t afford to pay the large upfront costs before a project commences.

How does it work?

Well, the process goes like so:

1. Choose your Package

Choose a website package that suits your requirements, if you’re not quite sure then talk to one of the members in our team and they will get a customised package tailored exactly to your requirement.

2. Design Concepts

The designers will start working on a fresh bespoke design that meets your requirements. Should they not get it right the first time, don’t worry, the designers will provide up to 3 revisions for any particular page to ensure your vision comes to life.

3. Website Build

Once the design is signed off, the development beings. They will start building your site and provide a development link where you can view the latest work carried out.

4. Go Live!

Once your new website is fully tested, secured and given the go-ahead, your website will become live to the whole world, Ohh yeahhh!

What’s even better, you can get a website up and running without paying anything as there are no up-front costs. The way we like to think about things is that a website should be like a phone contract. You get the phone, pay monthly and if you want all the bells and whistles then you can add ‘bolt-ons’ or ‘add-ons’ whenever you like.


What services do you get?

Everything! Well, exactly the same as what we offer with the only difference being that the payment scheme is different. As always, we offer the following services:

  • Brand design
  • Responsive design
  • CMS systems
  • E-commerce
  • Speed Optimisation
  • Social Media Marketing
  • Email campaigns
  • SEO (Search Engine Optimisation)
  • App development
  • Hosting
  • Website Security
  • Copywriting

Why did we do it?

Well, as we said before, we want to cater to everybody’s needs, if you are a start-up company looking to start selling online, then we have your back! Maybe you can’t afford the up-front costs and this is the perfect solution for you, and that’s why we created Code Twenty Four.

Conclusion

We created Code Twenty Four because we already had a lot of interest in this method of paying for a website. We fully understand why some businesses would prefer to do this and so we created this solution and provide our new service where you can benefit from:

  • Having a modern/clean Website Design by an experienced team of web designers.
  • Providing no hidden charges or increases.
  • No Upfront Costs
  • Free, unlimited updates.
  • 7 Days a week customer support.
  • A fully Secure website. (SSL / https)
  • A Mobile Friendly, Responsive Website. (Which will look pixel-perfect on on desktop, tablet and mobile)
  • Super-fast Website Hosting.
  • A Content Management System to edit your website content and images.

Let us know what you think to pay monthly solutions and the new website we have created!

Nathan da Silva - Profile

Posted by: Nathan da Silva

Nathan is the Founder of Silva Web Designs. He is passionate about web development, website design and basically anything digital related. His main expertise is with WordPress, Magento, Shopify as well of many other frameworks. Whether you need responsive design, SEO, speed optimisation or anything else in the world of digital then get in touch. If you would like to work with Nathan, simply drop him an email at [email protected]

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What do I need to know about buying backlinks in 2020?

Have you ever had someone say to you that they’ve had a sudden decrease in rankings on their website? Everyone wants to rank on the first page for certain keywords on the search engine results page (SERP), and if you’ve been there before, you’ll realize how impactful this is on traffic and revenue coming through to your website.

There are various reasons why this could happen, more commonly because of the use of low-quality or bad backlinks which can be considered as spam. These low-quality links are usually caused by website owners purchasing backlinks for their website. If you consider the amount of time, effort and money people have to make to build website traffic, a sudden negative impact due to poor backlinks is known to disrupt the operation of their business, both mentally and financially for that matter.

Before we get started, we’re going to mention a great tool we like to use to monitor the performance of our website called Moz. You can also download their browser extension here which makes it easier to analyse your domain. What this will do is provide a score for your domain, and you will receive a score for DA, PA and it will give you a spam score as well.

PA & DA stand for Page Authority and Domain Authority, respectively. These are numeric metrics which are both scored out of 100. Quite often, they are used to see how search engines see the strength of backlinks by a particular URL. However, Google does not use PA or DA as ranking methods. From this information though, you can think of Moz as a third-party metrics to get an idea of what your PageRank might look like.

There are similar link-graph metrics from other third-party tools as well such as:

  • Ahrefs DR & UR
  • Domain Rating & URL Rating
  • Majestics TF & CF
  • TrustFlow & CitationFlow

Which ones should you use? Well, it all comes down to personal preference. Some SEO’s use these metrics, some don’t trust link-graph metrics at all or think they’re useless.

Personally, we prefer Ahrefs & Majestic metrics as we’ve worked at a web-host previously and got a taste for the scale of different bots in practice. Moz doesn’t actually crawl that much. Ahrefs & Majestic have a much larger crawl infrastructure, so I would trust them more… But again, the choice is down to you!

You can read more about Link Building on one of our previous posts here.

So, what are backlinks anyway?

Backlinks are links from one website to another website. Google and other search engines consider backlinks as a vote of authenticity. Basically, if another website links to you, it means that website is giving you a ‘vote of trust’. If you have thousands of backlinks linking to your website, this ‘could’ increase the worth of the page in the eyes of any search engine. One thing you have to understand though is that a few backlinks from reputable websites are going to be worth a lot more than several links from unreputable sites. How can we determine if a site is reputable? Well as we mentioned before, we can use certain tools to get an idea of how ‘worthy’ a backlink is.

Let’s look at Facebook for example:

Facebook, at the time of writing, has a PA of 100 (perfecto!), DA of 96, 1,601,867,432 backlinks, and only a spam score of 1%. Pretty incredible right?

Since the advent of the search engines and the rise of Google, backlinks have remained instrumental in ranking the website. Despite regular changes in the search engine algorithms, experts still regard the number of quality backlinks as one of the most important factors of any website.

That being said, how did backlinks become of such great importance for a website? It wasn’t always like this but here is a bit of history of backlinks.

History of Backlinks

Once upon a time ago, search engines such as AskJeeves, Yahoo, AOL, Excite amongst a few others dominated the search landscape. For this reason, developers of search engines were always trying to find a way in which they could rank websites based on the quality of information that appeared on that website. In the beginning, search engines started by ranking websites based on the number of keywords for the particular website.

In these golden days, whenever somebody searched for something, the top-ranking web page on search engines would be pages that had the most relevant keywords to that particular keyword search. Let’s say you were to search for ‘Website Design’, this would normally rank a web page based on the number of keywords for Web Design and similar terms for a particular page. What was the issue? Well, this method of ranking led developers to do things such as ‘keyword stuffing’. What this means is that a lot of people would then stuff their website with hundreds of keywords on every page of their website just to gain priority (or even a top-ranking) on search engines for a particular search term. What this meant was that a lot of low-quality websites would start appearing quite highly ranked up even if the website wasn’t even about that given topic, crazy right?

Not only that, but to keep the look and feel of a web site, people were actually hiding these keywords, placing them off then screen (let’s say like 9999px to the left) just to get a higher ranking and increased web traffic.

This is when Google first came into the spotlight back in 1998. Their objective was to change how the information is presented to the user in search listings. Over time, Google started putting more emphasis on backlinks instead of keywords. Why? Well, there were obviously some flaws before and it’s not quite as easy to ask other website owners to link to a particular page on your website; because of this, the number of backlinks was a preferred method over keywords and other factors.

It was a very wise thing to do: if you look at big companies such as Apple, Amazon, CNN, and so on, they all had one major thing in common. They had thousands of backlinks. For Google, this was an awesome start as people were then shown information from authority websites that had more relevant information based on their search terms.

Over time, people were also finding ‘hacks’ to gain a higher ranking. This resulted in business owners purchasing backlinks from companies that could sell them in bulk and given more emphasis on keywords (with a link to their website) that people wanted to rank for. As a result of this, it once again became possible to climb up the search engine ladder and reaching the top page once again quite easily.

This obviously challenged Google to address another problem. What they did to tackle this was that they started blacklisting websites, decreasing their rank, or in more severe situations, just outright blocking the website. This meant a lot of websites suddenly noticed a massive decrease in their rankings.

For some websites, it meant losing thousands of pounds of revenue for just a single day’s operation. For others, it meant restarting their journey from the ground up again. Even today, Google and other prominent search engines are proactively changing their search algorithms to stop website owners from dodging the system.

To get a better idea of how you can rank for SEO these days, you should check out this blog post: The 4 best SEO practices for 2020 and beyond.

So, should I buy Backlinks?

Well, since Google and many other search engines now put a huge emphasis on backlinks, it’s quite obvious that many website owners will feel pressured into buying them.

They continue to buy them because it saves a lot of time and helps them get results faster. But there is a problem here…

Google and other search engines will eventually catch on to this, which can lead to their website becoming penalised which can even lead to established websites becoming bankrupt because of this.

Google does have some clear guidelines regarding link-building schemes. These guidelines are regularly published by SEO companies and experts who try to steer people away from buying backlinks. Unfortunately, some website owners don’t take any notice of this, assuming it’s just a quick and easy (lazy) way of attracting customers to their website.

What you should look into prior to this is having a look at what Google says about buying backlinks (aka; link schemes):

Buying or selling links that pass PageRank. This includes exchanging money for links, or posts that contain links; exchanging goods or services for links, or sending someone a “free” product in exchange for them writing about it and including a link.

Funnily enough, one of the first things Google mentions in its guidelines is related to link schemes and how it prohibits the buying and selling of backlinks. Exchanging money for links and generating excessive link exchanges where other sites link to others in an excessive manner is banned by Google. Should they discover that you have bought links, it WILL severely penalise your website without any given reason. Google is very clever, don’t underestimate their power.

If this does happen to you, you’ll be stuck in a pretty sticky predicament: you will be left without anywhere to go. The only thing you can do is to contact Google using their webmaster tool and hope that there will be a reply. While Google is not known for replying to such queries, consider yourself lucky if your website is restored at a later stage… very lucky indeed!

Don’t just take our word for it though, a quick Google search will tell you that most people lose their minds trying to recover from such a situation. The most practical way of recovering from this is to remove the ‘bad links’, which will ultimately restore the website a lot quicker. If you don’t have access to websites to remove such links, you should consider using Google’s Disavow Links Tool. What this does is allow publishers to tell Google that they don’t want certain links from external sites to be considered as part of Google’s system of counting links to rank web sites. It can take some time to recover, but this tool can be very useful. We spoke about Moz earlier and how they provide a spam score by a percentage. With this tool, you can actually see which links are considered spam. From this, we can include such links into our Disavow tool to regain the desired 0% spam score.

To get a general idea of how impactful search engines like Google take automated backlinks into account, they actually initiate nearly 400,000 manual actions every month. Besides the manual actions, thousands of websites are often hit by Google algorithm updates, which are specifically designed to stop low-quality websites from popping up in the search radar.

What can we take from this? Well, for any website owner, it is clear that search engines are actively monitoring low-quality backlinks and spam issues, so you always need to be very careful! Buying backlinks is an easy strategy, but is it worth the risk? Definitely not.

Here are some truths about Backlinks…

Google and other search engines DO NOT promote link building. If you’re quite new to the wonderful world of SEO, this surely might sound confusing or contradictive as backlinking is widely used to promote the SEO of your website.

Despite what Google suggests, SEO experts have proven that backlinks are a huge factor in terms of higher page rank. Over time, this fact has been proven on a variety of occasions. For this reason, if someone tells you that link building is not important, they probably don’t have a clue what they are talking about.

Nothing against Google, and if the truth were told, if I were one of Google’s executives or the owner of an emerging search engine, I would probably do the same. After all, there are reasons to continue focusing on all aspects of your website, which DO include high-quality backlinks.

What should we focus on then?

High Quality Backlinks

Backlinks are not always ‘equal’. What we mean here is that there are high-quality backlinks and low-quality. A high-quality backlink is most likely a link from an authoritative and legitimate website. However, a low-quality backlink is generally one from a low ranked website, a spam website, or a link exchange.

What we mean here is that you should not simply focus on the total number of backlinks you have, but instead, focus on the overall quality of backlinks you have. For example, we would rather have 10 quality backlinks (where the PA and DA are very high), than 200 low-quality backlinks from unreputable or spammy websites. In fact, these low-quality backlinks can actually lower your overall ranking on SERP’s.

Let’s cover: Do Follow vs. No Follow Links

What is a do follow link?

A do follow Link is a hyperlink that is able to tell all search engines to pass along its page rank influence to an outbound link.

What is a no follow link?

A no follow link is exactly the opposite of a do follow link. It is a hyperlink that removes the ability to pass on its page rank status to other sites.

Before we begin setting up a link building campaign, it’s very important to understand the difference between a follow and a no follow link.

A history of backlinks suggests that a “do follow” link is the most important type of link because it will count towards the authority of your website. On the other side, search engines will only give link juice to a “do follow” link. For this reason, if you have let’s say; 100 links that have a “do follow” attribute, search engines will count all of those 100 links towards the ranking of that particular page. However, if you have backlinks with a “no follow” attribute, it will simply ignore or give very little juice to an external website. You can read more about this from Neil Patel on his blog post: Should You Waste Time and Money on Nofollow Links? Here’s a Final Answer. When it comes to SEO, he’s the guru, we 100% recommend subscribing to his mail list, you will gather so much knowledge on SEO it’s unreal.

Anyway, the “no follow” attribute was originally introduced to reduce spam. How? Well, before lots of people were deliberately leaving links on Wiki pages, and high valued forums that quite often pointed to low-quality websites. These links did not help the web site owners because you could literally go to a lot of websites and add a backlink to your own website.

The solution to this was creating the ‘no follow’ attribute. You can read more about this here. These days, most websites such as Wikipedia, forums, and any commenting system will only allow “no follow” links that do not count as votes. As a result, it helps fight spam.

If these “no follow” links don’t count towards the ranking of a website, then what’s the point in building such links right?

While “no follow” links may not count as a vote, it can definitely get you a lot of traffic if placed on an authoritative website. With the passage of time, hundreds of these no follow links can build a regular stream of referral traffic that will continue non-stop. It means that you will not need to put any effort after placing the link because the link will bring automatic traffic to your website.

In the end, it always helps to build a mix of no follow and do follow links. Even when you’re using an SEO professional to rank your website, ask them if they know about the proportion of do follow vs. no follow links.

To conclude…

We have discovered now how search engines have evolved over time. In the olden days, we could rank for websites using a variety of keywords to gain traffic, stuff pages with thousands of keywords, and gain a load of traffic. Well, we can’t do that anymore, search engines have evolved and we now know that we can get severely penalised for using such techniques. This can go the same way with buying backlinks… If you get caught, you will get penalised, it’s as simple as that. There are cases where people have been fortunate to get away with it and even try and find loopholes around this to make it safer, we won’t mention these techniques but you have to ask yourself the question: Is it worth it?

For us, we’re pretty happy gaining backlinks from websites we build (i.e. by adding Developed by Silva Web Designs in the footer) and if anyone mentions one of our articles in their blog posts, then awesome! We tend to concentrate on several other SEO techniques as well. We won’t list them all but this includes SEO best practices, like only having one h1 tag per page, optimising all images and improving the page speed which can be checked using tools such as Google’s PageSpeed Insights or another one we like to use; GTMetrix.

There are other ways to gain traffic depending on your budget as well such as Google Ads. How this works is like an auction system: Google Ads, aka Google AdWords, is Google’s advertising system in which advertisers bid on certain keywords in order for their clickable ads to appear in Google’s search results. Since advertisers have to pay for these clicks, this is how Google makes money from search. Not only Google of course, but generating traffic to your website may also gain revenue, so if the ROI (return of investment) is worth it, it’s definitely a great tool to use.

If you have any questions in regards to this article, feel free to get in touch or leave a comment below.

Nathan da Silva - Profile

Posted by: Nathan da Silva

Nathan is the Founder of Silva Web Designs. He is passionate about web development, website design and basically anything digital related. His main expertise is with WordPress, Magento, Shopify as well of many other frameworks. Whether you need responsive design, SEO, speed optimisation or anything else in the world of digital then get in touch. If you would like to work with Nathan, simply drop him an email at [email protected]

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How to Configure VirtualHosts in XAMPP on a Mac

We used to be a massive fan of AMPPS but since upgrading to macOS Catalina, it wasn’t possible to use this application anymore. I’m sure they will update it again in future but the issue is that it’s a 32 bit application, it’s no longer compatible on the latest OS. So that’s when we made the switch to XAMPP. It’s not as straight forward to use as AMPPS, but it’s probably one of the better applications for localhost development.

Installing was a breeze, but things became a bit more complicated when setting up Apache VirtualHosts. So here are a few steps we took to get everything running as we wanted it. So firsts things first…

What is VirtualHosts?

Okay, so we’re going to explain what we wanted to change in order to get out localhost set up exactly how we wanted it…

VirtualHosts allow Apache to map a hostname to a directory on the filesystem. You can set up as many VirtualHosts as you need so that each website operates under its own hostname. For example, you might want to map yoursite.silva to /Users/myusername/yoursite. To test your development site all you would need to do is visit “http://yoursite.silva” into your browser’s address bar. By default, it would be set up as http://localhost/yoursite.

So how do we make this change?

How to Enable VirtualHosts

Firstly, you’ll need to open the following file; /Applications/XAMPP/xamppfiles/etc/httpd.conf in your preferred text editor. An easy way to get here is by going to ‘Finder’ –> ‘Go’ –> ‘Go to Folder’ and then simply pasting in the location.

Now that you have the file open, you will need to look for these lines;


# Virtual hosts
#Include /Applications/XAMPP/etc/extra/httpd-vhosts.conf

Now, uncomment the second line by removing the hash (#) so that Apache will load your customised VirtualHosts files as follows:


# Virtual hosts
Include /Applications/XAMPP/etc/extra/httpd-vhosts.conf

Let’s create your VirtualHosts

Lets now open the following file; /Applications/XAMPP/xamppfiles/etc/extra/httpd-vhosts.conf. Towards the bottom of the file you will see some example VirtualHosts, which you should comment out or delete.

At the bottom of the file, add ‘localhost’ as the default named VirtualHost like so:


# localhost
<VirtualHost *:80>
    ServerName localhost
    DocumentRoot "/Applications/XAMPP/xamppfiles/htdocs"
    <Directory "/Applications/XAMPP/xamppfiles/htdocs">
        Options Indexes FollowSymLinks Includes execCGI
        AllowOverride All
        Require all granted
    </Directory>
</VirtualHost>

What this does is allows http://localhost to point at XAMMP’s htdocs directory once we have created our VirtualHosts.

With this done, we can now create our own VirtualHosts. So, after the default localhost, we can now add:


# My Custom Host for 'yoursite.silva'
<VirtualHost *:80>
    ServerName yoursite.silva
    DocumentRoot "/applications/XAMPP/xamppfiles/htdocs/yoursite.silva"
    <Directory "/applications/XAMPP/xamppfiles/htdocs/yoursite.silva">
        Options Indexes FollowSymLinks Includes execCGI
        AllowOverride All
        Require all granted
    </Directory>
</VirtualHost>

With the example above, you should replace yoursite.silva with your own hostname, this can be pretty much anything you like. The exception is using a hostname that will not conflict with a real domain name, like yoursite.dev. We used to use yoursite.dev but since it became owned by Google we can no longer use this along with quite a few others.

Now we have another step to do to get this working fully…

Edit your hosts file

Now we need to go to the following location; /etc/hosts, we will be editing the hosts file so it knows how to handle the new server name. The hosts file is used by OS C to map hostnames to IP addresses. In our case, since we are going to be using localhosts, we want to map the server name to the IP address 127.0.0.1 (this is your localhost IP).

Pro Tip: You can actually map any website to any IP address. We tend to do this for website migrations, let’s say we moved silvawebdesigns.com to a new IP address, we could simply add 192.123.123.124 silvawebdesigns.com (add www. if your website contact this in the web address). The advantage of this is that we can test the website on the new server before updating the Nameservers or DNS, this way we can be 100% the site will work perfectly before the migration.

So now that we’ve mapped the server name to your localhost, the next step is…

Restart Apache

When updating any of these files, for the changes to take effect, we need to restart Apache. This can be done through the XAMPP Control found here: /Applications/XAMPP/XAMPP Control.app

Now, let’s point your browser to http://yoursite.silva (or whichever server name you chose) and you should see your website.

If it’s all working now, then happy days! But should you have a problem like a 403 error, then see below:

Oh no, I have a 403 error!

Since Apache runs as a ‘nobody’ user by default, it may not have the permissions required to browse your OS X user directory or it’s sub-directories. In this case scenario, you’ll receive a 403 ‘access forbidden’ error when attempting to view your site within your localhost. In other cases, you may see that you can view the site but you get a few PHP errors when attempting to write files or create directories within your filesystem.

So, in order to fix this, you can configure Apache to run as your OS X user. To do this, open the following file; /Applications/XAMPP/xamppfiles/etc/httpd.conf and look for the following lines:


# User/Group: The name (or #number) of the user/group to run httpd as.
# It is usually good practice to create a dedicated user and group for
# running httpd, as with most system services.
#
User daemon
Group daemon

Now, change User to your OS X username, and save the file:


User yourusername

Restart Apache again and you should now be able to navigate your site without any issues, including manipulating files and folders using PHP.

Should you have any further problems, then try setting your user read and write privileges on the following file; /Applications/XAMPP/xamppfiles/htdocs/xampp/lang.tmp

To conclude

Hopefully, now you should have your custom domain setup via localhosts on OS X. Like we have already mentioned, it’s not simple to add custom domains as it was with AMPPS, but once you’ve completed the initial setup, all you have to do is update your /Applications/XAMPP/xamppfiles/etc/extra/httpd-vhosts.conf file with your new domain by copying and amending one you added previous, then add 127.0.0.1 yournewdomain.silva to your /etc/hosts files and you’re are all set!

If you need any assistance or fall into any issues in setting this up, drop us a comment below and we’d love to help you with this!

Nathan da Silva - Profile

Posted by: Nathan da Silva

Nathan is the Founder of Silva Web Designs. He is passionate about web development, website design and basically anything digital related. His main expertise is with WordPress, Magento, Shopify as well of many other frameworks. Whether you need responsive design, SEO, speed optimisation or anything else in the world of digital then get in touch. If you would like to work with Nathan, simply drop him an email at [email protected]

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Would I ever go back to an Agency job after experiencing the awesomeness of Freelancing?

Hey all, Nathan here, Founder of Silva Web Designs.

I just thought it would be a good time to share my experience since becoming a full-time freelance developer with the hope that other people will take the same route of action when they feel ready.

How did it all begin…

I actually started coding when I was 13 years old. I always had a massive interest in web design/web development and basically anything computer related. When I was really young, my main interests were Skateboarding and playing Counter-Strike.

But how does web development relate to this? Well, back in my early days, I used to build clan websites for the Counter-Strike teams I was a part of. At a young age, I learnt HTML, CSS, PHP, ASP, JavaScript and MySQL. I also built a skateboarding website called ukskating.co.uk. Back then, it was super easy to rank in search engines and gain a lot of traffic.

So, I decided to add Google Adsense to my website. This was actually my first ‘job’ since I was earning decent money just from ad placements on my website.

Moving forward, I completed a BTEC, HND and BSc in Computer Systems Engineering to get the qualifications I thought were required to land my first job. Looking back I wish I just did an apprenticeship as the hardest job to land is your first job. That being said, even though I have a degree in computing, I actually learnt virtually nothing in my degree in terms of coding, other than the basics like echo 'Hello World!';.

Everything I’ve learnt to this day has been through online research, following tutorials and practising everything in my own free time. The way to learn code, for me, is actually writing code.

Anyway, I finally landed my first actual job at the age of 21 as a Web Developer / Technical Support Assistant. I mean, if you know web development, you might be inclined to anything tech-related.

The job was great, it was a company that provided data terminals and software for taxi offices that managed their entire business operation. Just like Uber, but on a super small scale. I would never forget this job though, it taught me so much.

I learned how to build apps using PhoneGap, I massively improved my HTML/PHP/JavaScript/MySQL/MSSQL skills and got to travel around the UK setting up systems for clients, which was always good fun. I stayed at this job for four years, and the reason I went searching for a new job was that I wanted a job doing web design specifically. I didn’t mind technical support, but, for me, coding is my passion.

Whilst at this company, I started working freelance (self-employed) in my spare time, with the ultimate goal of working solely by myself one day. My logic was; build up clients, earn some extra dollar on the side and get yourself to a point where you can make it a full time living. At this point, I didn’t feel quite ready, so I switched jobs and started working at a Digital Agency with the main role as a Web Developer.

This was an awesome transition, I got to do what I love all day with the added bonus that I had great designs provided by the graphic designers, so all I had to do was code. I still continued freelancing whilst I was there as I still wanted to reach my ultimate goal: working for myself.

Freelancing Began…

After two years at my previous company, I decided to leave the job and move abroad to Portugal. It was something I always wanted to do and I thought if I didn’t start the freelance life then, I never would… and what better way to do it than by moving to a sunny country with great food, right?

At this point, I already had a few clients that would provide me with work. But it wasn’t enough and so I joined a few freelance platforms such as PeoplePerHour, UpWork, TopTal and Fiverr. I mean, I was on a few platforms like these before but, with a full-time job, you can’t commit the time needed when clients have some strict deadlines. As I became active on these platforms, getting constant work every day, I thought “woah, why the hell did I not do this before?”

I was always busy, in fact, so busy at first that I didn’t have time for myself to do other things I enjoy. Moving forward again, I learnt a lot about business/project management and everything else in-between to gain the work balance and everything else I needed to become successful in being full-time self-employed.

Two years on…

It’s crazy how much more you can learn when you dedicate yourself to working freelance as a full-time job. I went from applying for 20 jobs on freelance jobs a day to never having to apply for a job again. If you do an awesome job for someone, they remember you and keep coming back for more!

You get to a point where you have to either refuse work or say you can do the job but you can commence the work on ‘x’ day, and if you did a great job previously, they’re quite happy to wait.

Honestly, I wish I had started freelancing earlier, but it’s one of those things… Unless you take the leap of faith, you’ll never know! If you have the dedication to be successful, you’ll never go wrong. Freelancing can be very stressful, but at the same time, it can be the most satisfying thing you will ever do.

That brings me to the main point of this article; would I go back to an Agency job after living the freelance dream?

Conclusion

To answer the above question, I can confidently say NO. I’m not going to lie, freelance life can be tough and you need some real motivation to succeed. But I remember looking back, I worked at an agency that charged around £20,000 to £40,000 for a website when only an account manager, designer and developer were involved. I thought this was crazy!

Basically, I was making my manager rich and that’s when I first thought… I could do the same job for a very small fraction of the cost with no overheads. A no brainer, right?

Anyway, we don’t charge crazy agency prices but we deliver a job either up to the same quality or better than most digital agencies would provide. Have a read through this post and you’ll understand where I’m coming from.

In a nutshell, though, freelancers have very little overheads, no ‘big’ bills to pay so we can offer the same services at a very reduced price. Unfortunately, not everybody knows this.

I’ve learned a lot over the years. I’ve also realised that I can’t do all the work myself, which is why we now have a team of remote workers to cover everything for our clients so that we always deliver the best job possible. We have two pro web developers, two genius web designers, a multi-lingual copywriter and we make awesome stuff together! You can check the Silva team here.

To sum up, I don’t think freelancing is for everyone, but if you have the dedication and passion, you will make it happen! It might be hard to begin with, but trust me, it gets so much better in the long run! I’m 99.9% sure I’ll never work for another company again. Make your dreams come true, take the leap, DO IT! You know you can.

That pretty much wraps up everything here anyway, if you want any advice on how you can become a freelancer, either drop me a comment below or send an email to [email protected].

Ciao for now.

Nathan da Silva - Profile

Posted by: Nathan da Silva

Nathan is the Founder of Silva Web Designs. He is passionate about web development, website design and basically anything digital related. His main expertise is with WordPress, Magento, Shopify as well of many other frameworks. Whether you need responsive design, SEO, speed optimisation or anything else in the world of digital then get in touch. If you would like to work with Nathan, simply drop him an email at [email protected]

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The Impact Of Web Design On Conversion Rate In Your Company

Do you know that a good website design can positively influence your website’s conversion rate? Research conducted at Stanford shows that 75% of website visitors will judge a company’s credibility based on their website design. Also, an unattractive website will turn about 38% of new website visitors off from ever revisiting your site.

Your website design shouldn’t be just about functionality; you should also consider search engine optimisation, branding, user experience and the user interface, traffic that will be coming into the website, your sales funnel, etc.

So, if you are creating a website for your business or updating your website, we will share a few tips that can increase your conversion rate through your website design.

Your website aesthetics matter

You might not think so, but a beautifully designed website will keep every two out of three people on your site for longer. Your website aesthetic is the first contact visitors have with your website, and it will form their first impression of the kind of company you have.

This impression will then either lead them to stick with your website or close the window. So, you want to make an excellent first impression.

Figure out what you want your visitors to know about your company, and then find ways to integrate it into your website design. For example, a clean and ultra-modern website aesthetic will convey to your visitors that your business is modern.

A mobile-friendly website can boost conversion rate

Another way your website can increase your conversion is through mobile responsiveness. In 2018 alone, about 52% of all website traffic came from mobile devices. That is more than half of the internet population was viewing websites using their phones. Let that sink in.

Mobile internet is here to stay, and you need to structure your website to keep on top of this trend if you want to increase conversion. Here are a few ways you can embrace a mobile-friendly design for your website:

  • Keep your website menu simple. This will help your mobile visitors swiftly access the most useful content on your site.
  • Ensure your navigation helps mobile users quickly move from one topic to another. You can incorporate sticky navigations, ‘back to the top’ links, anchor links, etc. into your website design.
  • Reduce the amount of CTA on your mobile site. Put the most important action you want your mobile visitors to take upfront, and ensure you aren’t bombarding them with unnecessary pop-ups.

Embrace white space in your website design

Next, white space is invaluable in building a conversion web design. You need your website visitors to be able to scan your site when they first open it easily.

So, by using whitespace in your design, you can:

  • Highlight your CTA to your site visitors.
  • Bring your most valuable website features front and centre
  • Promote high conversion images on your site.
  • Highlight your cornerstone content, etc.

White space is a high conversion optimisation design technique. Whereas, a clustered website will both turn your website visitors off and prevent essential features on your website from reaching your visitors.

Call-to-action placement on your website

Also, know that there is no such thing as a high-converting website without a solid CTA. A well-designed call-to-action is essential in your conversion web design, and by ‘well-designed’ we mean that the CTA on your website must:

  • Be clear and straight to the point.
  • Contain unambiguous action-oriented language (your visitors should immediately understand the action you want them to take).
  • Be more than one. Some visitors might want to ‘buy’ some visitors might want to ‘sign up.’ Create various actions you want your visitors to take and place them evenly around your site.

pickthewriter.com/

Drafting the right CTA might take some time, but once you get it right, you will notice a growth in your conversion. However, not everyone is an expert in drafting action-driving content, so writing review websites like Pick The Writer and Writing Judge where you can hire writers can come in handy.

Readability and typography in your site design

One of the changes in web design to improve conversion rate we advise is clear and high-contrast typography. The font type, font size, font colour, etc. you use on your website can help your readers actually read your content. Which, in turn, can affect your conversion.

For example, a visitor that comes on your website looking for something, in particular, will appreciate fonts that help them skim through your site. If they can quickly identify what your offering is, they can take desired actions.

So,

  • Make sure your visitors can clearly differentiate your headlines and subheads. You can do this by using different font sizes or types in your headlines, subheadings, and paragraphs. You can also play with font colours, and textures.
  • Be consistent in your font type, size, colour, etc. all through your site.
  • Use no more than three fonts in your website design. This will help increase website usability and readability.

Content placement on your site & SEO ranking

Finally, in making changes on a web design to improve conversion rate, your site SEO and content placement go hand-in-hand. For example, in Google search ranking, websites with written content have a higher ranking than others.

Next, placing valuable content at the top of your site page can help your SEO ranking as well as help your visitors understand what your site is all about, which in turn can increase your conversion.

Although Google has improved in matching SEO synonyms to help website ranking, using literal keywords in your opening headings and paragraphs is still beneficial for your web ranking.

Also, adding useful content to your website will ensure that visitors stay longer on your site, which will benefit your website ranking.

Wrapping-up

Conversion web design is a practice that you shouldn’t neglect if you want to see a rise in your conversion rate. These few tips we have given you can help in the changes in web design to improve the conversion rate. So, don’t forget that your website can be a sales tool that actually sells, simply by following our tips.

Posted by: John Edwards

John Edwards is a writing specialist who is looking for ways of self-development in the field of writing and blogging. New horizons in his beloved business always attract with their varieties of opportunities. Therefore, it is so important for him to do the writing.

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Link Building: What, Why & How

Link building is one of the SEO strategies that have stood the test of time.

Ever since 1998, Google used backlinks (getting hyperlinks from someone’s website back to your own) to assess website quality. So if your site has a lot of links from relevant sources, Google will deem it an authority site, boosting your ranking in the SERPs…

…giving you a major increase in traffic and pageviews!

But before we move ahead, you should know that there are two types of links.

  • Internal links are links that are placed on a domain and point to the same domain.
  • External links are links that are placed on a domain and point to a different domain.

There are many link building techniques, but below we’re going to focus on:

  • Competitor Backlink Analysis
  • Resource Pages
  • Web Directories

We’ll also go through the best backlink checker tools so you know which tool is worth investing in.

Let’s go!

See What Works For Your Competitors

Your competitors spend large sums of money and time developing a backlinking strategy.

So instead of starting from scratch, you should spy on them and reverse engineer their backlinking approach. This way, they’re the ones working hard to get the links. All you need to do is follow them to get the same backlinks!

To begin:

1. Identify Competitors:
List 5 competitors that are ranking for a keyword you’d like to rank for.

2. Backlink Analysis:
Analyse their backlink profiles with Ahrefs’ Site Explorer by adding the link from your competitors. Click on the orange loop button.

Then, click on backlinks.

Here, you can view your competitor’s backlinks. You can also sort the backlinks by selecting the Link Type button.

3. Export and Reverse Engineer:
Finally, export the list and think about what your competitor did to receive that backlink. Is it the quality of their content? Do they offer something valuable and unique?

You might find it a bit difficult at first. But the more you do this, the more you’ll get a good feel for the process.

Get Listed On Resource Pages

Bloggers and influencers often have a resource page that includes:

  • Tools
  • Products
  • Services
  • Website

…they use to run their business.

Getting listed on resource pages is one of the easiest ways to get strong and powerful backlinks.

For example:

I found Loud Digital’s resource page and sent them an email requesting to get listed on their resource page. They included my SEO Guide 2 days later.

…And that is how simple it was to build a backlink from a site with a respectable DR of 37!

To get listed:

1. Undergo Google Footprint Search:
Use an advanced search like [Your niche] + “resources” to find more targeted and specific Google results.

Alternatively, you can also try Inurl:[your niche] + resources to narrow down your results.

2. Scrape the links
Right-click on a search result and click ‘scrape similar.’ Now you will have all the relevant links on the page.

Then click ‘export to Google Docs.’

3. Analyse a Resource Page:
To see whether the site will be a good fit, you’ll need to assess:

  • Relevancy: Does your product fit well for their site and yours?
  • Types of Links: What other links do they have on their resource page?
  • Page Type: Is there a better fit?
  • Special Offers: Can you give users a discount or free trial so you get features?

4. Pitching your site:
First, begin thanking the site owner for their resource page and how it’s helped you learn more about a topic. You can then offer something in return, like an evergreen detailed guide within the same niche that would be helpful to their audience.

Take Advantage of Web Directories

Web directory link building is the process of adding your website into an online database.

The directories should be:

  • Active
  • Relevant to your industry
  • Well moderated

…so you can stay on-topic with Google!

If your site is new and recently indexed, getting links from a directory is a great way to start. It shouldn’t form the backbone of your backlinking strategy. However, it can help give your website that much needed link juice boost!

To start:

1. Identify a high-quality directory:
See if the site’s internal page is indexed to Google’s database. You can check this by doing a Google search for the directory’s homepage URL, to see whether the page comes up.

Low-quality directories don’t tend to show up and are not generally indexed by Google.

You can also run the site through Ahrefs to see how authoritative the domain is.

2. Create a Good Directory Submission:

Ideally, each submission is:

  • Unique
  • Descriptive
  • Brand name or URL focused

For example, here’s how I would phrase my submission if I submitted my site to two different directories:

  • Matthew Woodward provides SEO and Affiliate marketing advice to beginner and intermediate internet marketers.
  • Matthew Woodward is a seven-figure blogger who provides actionable marketing and SEO advice for new and experienced bloggers who are keen to increase their traffic

Here, I’ve conveyed the same message. But I wrote it in different ways so I can avoid issues like over-optimization, duplicate content, and manipulative link building.

Tried and Tested Directories

Here are 10 directories with high domain authority and thousands of indexed pages:

Best Backlink Checkers

A backlink checker can be extremely helpful when it comes to carrying out the backlinking strategies above.

1. Ahrefs: Ahrefs has the biggest and most usable database and starts at $99 per month.

2. SEMRush: SEMRush also has an intuitive dashboard. The subscription starts at $99.95/month.

3. SEO SpyGlass: SEO Spyglass had a major update recently, making it significantly more user-friendly. It’s customizable, rapid fast, and a more budget-friendly option. SEO Spyglass costs $124.75 for the first year and then you only pay $4.17/month afterward.

Rounding Up

In the eyes of a search engine, your content is:

  • High quality
  • Worth ranking

..if you have many high quality, spam-free backlinks.

The more quality backlinks, the better.

Backlinking doesn’t have to be difficult and challenging. But the process of gaining backlinks does take time. Remember to be consistent with your SEO efforts and persistent with your outreach.

Get started today!

Posted by: Matthew Woodward

Matthew Woodward became fascinated with all things internet at a young age. He started building his own websites as a young teenager, then moved to the corporate world of marketing and finally broke free in 2012 to begin his own blogging journey. Since that time he has used his blog to share his expertise in SEO and online marketing and in the process has helped thousands of people build and grow their businesses.

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Why Marketing Automation Software Is the Rule… Not the Exception

Think about all the emails that you get from various companies throughout the day, week, month, and year. It’s a lot. Companies are responding to seasonal events and to campaigns. They’re trying to alert you to new products and services. And they’re trying to engage you to enhance your loyalty.

And so if you’re on the other end of that email marketing dynamic and you’re creating those campaigns and sending them out, then you know the difficulty of tracking those emails. You have to develop a plan for emails and then measure success against all different kinds of metrics. How many of your emails are actually read, and then how many of your emails are actually clicked on? Every metric means something different, and you can use those metrics to further enhance email campaigns in the future. How do you do that? This graphic below offers some useful ideas to get started.

From “Send,” Here’s How You Track Your Emails

Nathan da Silva - Profile

Posted by: Nathan da Silva

Nathan is the Founder of Silva Web Designs. He is passionate about web development, website design and basically anything digital related. His main expertise is with WordPress, Magento, Shopify as well of many other frameworks. Whether you need responsive design, SEO, speed optimisation or anything else in the world of digital then get in touch. If you would like to work with Nathan, simply drop him an email at [email protected]

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The Best CRM Software for 2020

Staying on top running a successful business means keeping tabs on a very wide range of tasks, and this includes CRM (Customer Relationship Management. The best way to handle this part of your business is to find the best CRM software, but which one do you choose? There are lots of options out there but worry not: we have selected a few of the best for you to choose from.

CRM software solutions come in all different kinds of shapes and sizes and tackle the issue in different ways. Some, for example, is geared toward product management and sales while others are focused on helping you build leads.

Here, we will be focusing on the best CRM software for 2020. We will be highlighting the more popular options to help you narrow down your options. Let’s get to it then, shall we?

The Best CRM Software for 2020

What should you be looking for when choosing the best CRM software? There is a lot of variety when it comes to functionality in CRM software, which is only logical when you consider that every business is unique. You may well have different priorities than other business owners, for instance.

All things considered, below are the best CRM software solutions and what aspect of them they are best at.

The Overall Best CRM Software for 2020: Agile

Agile CRM boasts a very robust feature set and extensive automation abilities. These make Agile CRM the best CRM software package for small businesses of all types. Agile’s starter plan is a rather competitive $8.99 per month, per user. This package offers a range of tools for marketing and sales teams.

Users can store the details of around 10k companies and there is also email tracking support included. In addition to this, you can also create custom milestones.

Agile CRM software offers marketing teams the ability to create forms, landing pages for websites and email templates. Users can also set up automated marketing tasks and easily monitor social media channels.

The varied services that are offered are rather useful, such as canned responses and these services can be enhanced further with the use of plugins.

Best Cloud-Based CRM System: Zoho

Zoho needs little introduction, is one of the best CRM software packages there is. The software stable of Zoho includes accounting and collaborative applications. Zoho could be the ideal option for you if you don’t fancy hosting your CRM software yourself as the product itself is entirely cloud-based.

The software can pull customer data from multiple sources, including social channels, live chat, phone calls and email. The sales signals feature provides Zoho users with a real-time look at customer actions and also provides notifications. Sales targets can be assigned to individual team members, and the owner can use the dashboard to monitor progress.

This CRM software package has features that enable to automate sales processes and it also allows for the creation of individual and distinct portals for customers.

In addition to all of the above, there are also hundreds of extensions that can be added to the central dashboard to increase functionality.

Best for Scalability abilities: HubSpot

Lots of businesses start small, but this doesn’t mean they will stay that way. You need an ability to scale up aspects of your business when you need to. The best CRM software for scalability is, without doubt, HubSpot. Growth is the goal of any business, obviously, so you are going to need a CRM system that is going to manage increased customer intake. HubSpot is the solution you need.

Thanks to the timeline view, HubSpot makes following up on lead interactions a rather simple affair. Personalised emails can be sent through the ether to a schedule and users can gain insights on them. HubSpot’s marketing hub has several optimisation tools that allow you to manage landing pages, email templates watch over SEO ROI.

Best CRM software for ease of use: Streak

The vast majority of CRM software systems are not that easy to get a handle on, not at the beginning – there are just too many moving parts to make it easy. Streak is an exception though, which is why it is one of the best CRM software packages around.

What makes Streak so easy to use is that it is based on an application that 1.5 billion people already have access to… Gmail.

Streak can turn Gmail into a beast of a CRM platform. All you have to do is install the extension and you are off. The service enables easy collaboration and it allows sharing with a single mouse click. Support queues, deals and task reminders using Google Calendar can be managed.

Because Streak is built on Gmail, it works with other Google products too. There are multiple templates available for use also, for specific tasks such as sales and product development.

Best Value CRM: Insightly

For the smaller business, budget is always a concern. When costs are a restraining factor, but you want or need one of the best CRM software solutions, then you want something that isn’t going to cost a spinetingling amount. In this instance, your best bet is Insightly.

With a starting rate of $29 per user, per month, Insightly is the best value CRM software package that there is. An upper limit of 100k records is insanely high and you also have 10Gb storage space. For record collation, you can import 25k records per single session.

Unlimited custom reports, API access and task management are included too. There are also detailed reports offered and connection opportunity to Microsoft’s Power BI – a business analytics service.

In terms of marketing, the product allows for mass emailing – 2,5k emails a day. Insightly is also able to sync with Google Contacts and Calendar. Project automation is made incredibly easy with Insightly.

CRM software is a vital tool that every business owner should have access to, regardless of how large or small the business happens to be. The best CRM software doesn’t have to be ridiculously expensive or flashy, but it must be good at what it does, and the few we have highlighted here are exceptional.

Nathan da Silva - Profile

Posted by: Nathan da Silva

Nathan is the Founder of Silva Web Designs. He is passionate about web development, website design and basically anything digital related. His main expertise is with WordPress, Magento, Shopify as well of many other frameworks. Whether you need responsive design, SEO, speed optimisation or anything else in the world of digital then get in touch. If you would like to work with Nathan, simply drop him an email at [email protected]

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Trello vs. Asana: Project Management Software for 2020

Cloud based office software has been around for a good while now, with the two most popular suites being Microsoft Office and Google Drive with all of the document creation software that comes with both. Both make collaboration possible when working with a document, but neither is suited for project work meaning that you would need project management software.

Project management software allows teams of all sizes to work together in a much more organised way than scribbled notes, text messages and emails can ever provide. Even if you and your team are in the same room, project workflow becomes much easier if you are all able to see the same lists, notes and progress at the same time. This becomes especially useful when something is amended and everybody’s work board updates in real time.

Two of the best project moment software solutions on the market right now are Trello and Asana.

Trello vs. Asana: clash of the project management software giants

It can feel pretty overwhelming, trying to decide which project management software is going to be right for you, there is just so choice out there we are, well, spoilt for choice. Two of the most popular options are Asana and Trello, so we’ve limited this comparison to just these two guys in an effort to make things a little easier for you.

Nobody likes setting up multiple accounts on multiple platforms just to try and figure out which one is right for them, who does? Let’s break these two down then, shall we?

Trello basics

According to Trello, the platform is “easy, free, flexible…”. Based on a system of cards, boards and lists it really is a super simple way to organise your workflow in a very visual way.

Boards are at the top of your organisational tree, the home of your individual projects. To these boards, you can add lists (To Do, Doing, and Done for example). To the lists, you can add cards which can contain all kinds of information such as due dates, descriptions, checklists, images, labels etc.

Elements can be moved around using a very simple drag and drop so that you can organise everything as you need to, or as team members need to as tasks are picked up, completed or added.

How it all works

Even the free project management software account, Trello allows for the creation of as many project boards, lists and cards as you need – as the project progresses, so does your collection of board items. Individual tasks can be assigned to different members of your team, and you are also able to tag them in comments. This tagging feature allows you to provide live feedback and you are also able to tag clients too, provided they themselves use the Trello platform too.

This method of communication keeps everything together, on topic and helps to keep your inbox free of unnecessary clutter.

You are also able to fully customise your boards, perhaps with the main colour of your brand, logo enriched image (not for the free account)? A wide selection of stock background photo’s are provided free from Unsplash. Labels can be customised too.

Introducing Power-Ups

Beyond the basic necessities, Trello also offers something they call Power-Ups. These add functionality to project boards that you create.

Beyond its native functionalities, Trello also has Power-Ups available that add different functionalities to your boards. When it comes to project management software, these additions make Trello stand out when compared to most of the other project management software packages. There are lots to choose from too allowing the user to add custom fields, calendars, task automation and a lot more besides.

Trello is also compatible with services you may already be using, such as Google Drive, and it even integrates with Asana.

These additions are available on all account plans but you can only have one per project board if you are on the free plan.

Accessing Trello

No project management software package would be worthy of a second glance if it didn’t allow access from more than a browser. Trello for instance, I am happy to report, is accessible via:

  • Web browser
  • Desktop app – PC & Mac
  • Mobile app – Android & iOS

This means that whatever your preference, wherever you happen to be, you are able to access the platform whenever you need to. Total access like this means you can review changes, requests, progress and respond to client tags as well as update with your own ideas or tasks for yourself or your team.

Pricing

The free account is likely enough for smaller teams and you as many project boards as you like which includes unlimited cards and lists as well as the ability to add as many team members as you need. Your only real limitations, in terms of getting things done, is attachments are limited to 10mb and you can only have one Power-Up per board.

Gold is $5 a month and includes everything the free plan does plus 3 Power-Ups per project board and customisable backgrounds. Gold can also be gained for free if you share with others.

Business Class is $9.99 month and includes everything the Gold plan does plus 250mb attachments and unlimited Power-Ups.

Here is an example of how a typical Trello board may look (there are so many ways to use it; yours could be quite different):

Asana basics

Asana is a project management software tool that, according to Asana, “helps you coordinate all the work your team does together”. You are able to build up project boards using lists, tasks and calendars at every step of the project progression.

This package works in a very similar way to Trello, however, where it differs from Trello is that Asana has extra built-in sections for each of your project boards… including separate projects, calendars and file collation.

How it all works

Projects give you the ability to organise tasks that are related to a specific initiative, goal or work ideas into board or lists. Each project can be set up as either a board or a list and you can add specific tasks, subtasks and assign these to individual team members or groups. You are also able to assign descriptions, attachments and also due dates.

It is entirely your choice whether you opt for a task list or board, it’s a personal preference more than anything but it can also partly depend on the type of project you and your team are engaged with. For example, if there are different steps in different parts of a project then a board may work better for you than a task list.

Integration possibilities

No project management software package is an all in one solution by itself, and as Trello has Power-Ups and can integrate with other applications, so Asana provides users with over 100 separate integrations. These allow you to collate files, emails, tickets and much more in one place. This makes it much easier to track tasks, projects and everything associated with much easier.

Accessing Asana

Just Trello, and most other reputable project management software packages, Asana is accessible no matter where you are – which is obviously a huge plus. You can access it via:

  • Mobile – Android & iOS
  • Web browser – PC & Mac
  • Tablet – Android, iOS & Windows (via the browser on Windows tablets)

A native desktop app is not available yet though, but the web app is still very versatile.

Pricing

Asana has a free plan available. With this option, you have access to unlimited tasks, conversations and projects. You only have basic search, dashboards and a maximum of 15 team members.

Asana’s Premium plan is more costly than Trello, costing $9.99 a month per team member. This gets you everything in the free plan, of course, plus task dependencies, custom fields, a timeline feature, as many dashboards as you need, private projects and teams, admin controls and start dates.

Below, you can see an example of how we use Asana to manage some of our workloads:

Which one should you choose?

When all is said and done, whichever project management software package you choose, much of it is just personal preference.

Trello is very much a visual system while Asana is geared more toward a text-based environment. In terms of actual functionality, Trello offers much more on the free plan that Asana, while Asana’s more useful features are only available on the premium plan.

However, Asana does provide more functionality for its boards while Trello’s project boards are more basic. Depending on your actual needs, these different approaches could either be too basic, just enough, too much or just right. As I say, much of it personal preference.

It could be said that if you prefer a more post-it note approach and you don’t need anything much beyond that type of layout, then Trello is for you. Should lists and slightly more complex project board are your things then Asana is for you.

Here at Silva Web Design, when it comes to project management software, we prefer Asana. Don’t let that cloud your judgement though, each option is an excellent one. Use this comparison as a guide however and you won’t go wrong.

Nathan da Silva - Profile

Posted by: Nathan da Silva

Nathan is the Founder of Silva Web Designs. He is passionate about web development, website design and basically anything digital related. His main expertise is with WordPress, Magento, Shopify as well of many other frameworks. Whether you need responsive design, SEO, speed optimisation or anything else in the world of digital then get in touch. If you would like to work with Nathan, simply drop him an email at [email protected]

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Should you choose a freelance team over a digital agency?

If you are a project manager, or you are responsible for finding talent for the company that you work for, you may be tempted to turn to large digital agencies for your project. Sometimes, though, it makes more sense to choose a freelance team over a digital agency.

Looking to a large agency is a perfectly natural response and it does make a certain amount of sense: established reputation, larger teams to work on your project, etc.

The trouble is that the two reliability signals mentioned above are largely perception based. Reviews can be faked, for example, leading to false signals in terms of reliability and professionalism. When choosing a freelance team over a digital agency, you are more likely to head for a freelance network such as PeoplePerHour.

Reputation signals here, such as reviews and ranking, are near impossible to spoof which makes them much more reliable and trustworthy. If the numbers say a freelance team is of very high quality, you can take that to the bank.

Of course, an established reputation is not the only consideration.

Cost versus quality when you choose a freelance team over a digital agency

Contrary to popular belief, the cost does not always reflect quality. For professional freelance teams, the quality is always going to be on a par with their much more expensive digital agency counterparts. In fact, very often, the quality coming out of a freelance studio is even better.

It may well seem like the opposite would be true, but let’s take a closer look at this. Agencies have lots of staff, in terms of the creatives and the behind-the-scenes staff that keep everything else ticking over.

All of this is very expensive, as you can imagine, and this isn’t taking other running costs into consideration either. Things like office space for all those people, equipment, IT departments, exorbitant advertising costs to stay ahead of other agencies… it’s a very expensive business.

This, of course, is reflected in the cost to the purchaser, the client, but in order to keep even those rates down, so they actually sell services, to begin with, they have to do something else too.

Digital agencies are under immense pressure to make sales, keep the revenue coming in and keep the business going. To this end, each creative department is under a massive workload weight. With strict output targets to meet, so they serve as many clients as possible, quality is obviously going to suffer.

In the instances where quality is maintained, there is going to be other areas that are lacking: delivery times, customer support, query responses, time taken for edits to be performed… everything is affected when companies put staff under undue pressure.

Why choose a freelance team over a digital agency? What’s the difference, surely freelance teams are under similar pressure to stay afloat? Not so. Let me explain.

Freelance teams are often the better option

A bold claim, right? Maybe, but it’s entirely justified. Depending on your actual needs, you may be much better off if you choose a freelance team over a digital agency. Here are just a few reasons why that statement is true.

Freelance teams are cost-effective

Because freelance teams have much lower overheads (they rarely have multi-user studios, with members of their team often working remotely) there is much less pressure on them to stack clients like an air traffic controller in order to pay their bills. In fact, a freelance team can take fewer clients at one time and still meet financial requirements.

What does all of this add up to? The quality of work that is produced remains the same, and very often it is actually increased as pressure is reduced, but the cost of the creative work is brought down and sometimes dramatically.

Cost does not equal quality, and freelance teams have been proving exactly that for years.

You know exactly who is working on your project

When deciding whether you should choose a freelance team over a digital agency, you need to decide how much you value accountability. Sure, the agency as a whole takes ultimate responsibility but are you entirely comfortable not knowing who did what, why and when?

Agencies are pretty well known for their inherent lack of transparency, which is not something many companies are comfortable with.

With a freelance team of creatives, you always know who is working on what, as teams are usually comprised of people with very specific skillsets and the teams are, by their very nature, quite small. Many freelance teams will also brief you on who will be working on which part of the project for you.

All of this helps to instil a level of trust that just isn’t possible with a digital agency.

Freelance teams are heavily invested in your success

A freelance team wants your business to succeed… Scratch that, they need your business to succeed. If their own business is to survive, they need to be sure that they do the very best possible job for you. A customer that is dissatisfied is very likely a customer that they will never see again. Worse, they could actively damage overall reputation.

Freelance teams are by nature heavily invested in the success of their customer’s business, particularly where the work they have done has a direct influence on their success or failure. It’s because of this, above all other reasons, that the question “should you choose a freelance team over a digital agency” stops being a question.

A digital agency, unless they are totally useless, will survive a customer’s failed project or business. A freelance team has much more to lose, so you can be sure they are going to put every effort into making sure your project is everything that it can be.

Digital agencies are not usually as responsive as freelance teams

Digital agencies typically only operate between the hours of 9 am and 5 pm, sometimes a little later but not usually. Outside of these hours, they are not normally contactable, so if you need to get in touch with them regarding your project you will almost always have to wait until the next business day.

Many freelance teams are comprised of creatives in several different countries. Silva Web Designs, for example, has freelancers in the United Kingdom, the United States, Australia and Portugal. What these varied time zones mean for our clients is that we are contactable 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Ask yourself “how quickly do I need an answer to something that is time-critical?”.

The answer is pretty obvious, but if you are responsible as to the answer is pretty obvious, but if you are responsible as to whether or not your company is to choose a freelance team over a digital agency then you should know that freelancers are much more responsive. Their business depends on it, and if yours does too then you already have the answer to the overall question… you choose the freelance team. whether or not your company is to choose a freelance team over a digital agency then you should know that freelancers are much more responsive. Their business depends on it, and if yours does too then you already have the answer to the overall question… you choose the freelance team.

Nathan da Silva - Profile

Posted by: Nathan da Silva

Nathan is the Founder of Silva Web Designs. He is passionate about web development, website design and basically anything digital related. His main expertise is with WordPress, Magento, Shopify as well of many other frameworks. Whether you need responsive design, SEO, speed optimisation or anything else in the world of digital then get in touch. If you would like to work with Nathan, simply drop him an email at [email protected]

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