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The Festive Toolbox: decorate your blog for Christmas!

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As Christmas approaches, many bloggers choose to decorate not only their homes but their websites in anticipation of the festive season.

From decorative blog templates to simple icons and snow effects, there are many ways our blogs can generate some festive spirit. In this post, I’ll share some of the best resources and methods I have found which you can use to enhance your blog design to celebrate Christmas with your readers.

Christmas Blog Templates

The most dramatic way you could update your blog for the Christmas season is to adopt (at least temporarily) a festive blog theme.

Here are some of the best free Christmas blog themes (organized by platform) for you to download:

WordPress themes

Merry Christmas (Blog oh Blog)

A simple, wide theme with colored sections in the footer

Read more and download Merry Christmas WordPress Theme

Christmas Days by Design Disease

A two column theme with integrated Flickr feed (perfect for sharing your visual memories of the season!)

Read more and download

Christmas Gifts Theme by Amazing Christmas Ideas

A simple yet elegant two column theme which is widget ready.

Read more and download

Vermillion Theme for WordPress

This elegant theme uses unusual festive colors yet appears stylish and well organized.

Read more and download

TMZ Winter by Acosmin.com

A bright three column theme with widgetized sidebars

Learn more and download

Blogger Templates

Snowman Blogger Template by SkinCorner

A two column theme with feative header and sidebar headings

Learn more and download

Birdie’s Enchanted Christmas by Gisele Jaquenod

A beautiful theme from Gisele’s “Birdie” template series

Read more and download

Merry Christmas Night by Pyzam

A simple festive template for Blogger blogs

Read more and download

Joomla Templates

Merry Christmas by Design for Joomla.com

Learn more and download

FNB Christmas by Free Net Builders

A candy-cane theme in festive colors for Joomla

Details and download

Traditional Christmas Joomla Theme by Invision Graphics

Here is a traditiona, Santa Claus inspired theme to decorate your Joomla CMS for the festive season. Note: registration is required to download this theme.

Learn more and download

More free Christmas templates for you to download

For those of you using a different CMS, here are some festive CSS based templates which you could convert for your own platform:

Santa Claus CSS Template by CSS Creme

Seasons Greetings by Karen Blundell

Christmas Template by Karen Blundell

Merry Christmas by Greystatic

Christmas 02 by Wfielder

Christmas 01 by Wfielder

Festive icon sets

If changing your whole template for the holidays is a bit too drastic, why not decorate with some free festive icons and images instead?

Here is a selection of free icon sets for you to download and use to decorate your blog:

Christmas icons from CleverIcons

This icon set is free to use, even for commercial projects!

Christmas Holiday Icons from N-Design Studio

These cute icons are delivered in PNG, GIF, EPS and ICO format for free use in your personal and commercial projects.

Christmas Surprise by DryIcons

This is free for personal use only (license fee required for commercial license)

Christmas Set by FreeIconsWeb

19 icons, each measuring 128px square for free personal use

VistaICO Christmas Icons from Vista Icons

Contains 25 high quality icons

Christmas RSS Icons by Sudilkovsky Denis

Christmas Social Bookmark icons by Dirceu Viega

Includes 17 social bookmark icons with a festive theme.

Santa Claus Hat Icons by Dirceu Veiga

Festive JavaScripts and Effects

Here are a selection of JavaScripts and effects which you can add to your blog for festive decoration. All of these scripts are free to use, though you may be required to credit the author (particularly if you write about the scripts you are using) so please be sure to check the usage notices for each site.

Simple falling snow effect by Dynamic Drive

This simple script creates a falling snow effect using the image of a snowflake. The flakes fall down the page and then disappear (as though they fall off the screen).

You can configure the speed and number of snowflakes directly within the script, and could even use a different image instead of the snowflake offered. [View/Download this script]

Snow effect without images by Kurt Grigg

This JavaScript based snow effect uses no images for the “snowflakes” and is a much more subtle way of adding a snowy effect to your blog pages.

It is best used against a dark background so the tiny snowflakes can be easily seen.

[Learn more and download this script]

DHTML Snowstorm (with wind effect) by Scott Schiller

This interesting script allows you to change the direction and speed of the wind to affect the snowstorm effect on your web pages.

It works in almost all browsers, and requires only one line of code in your blog pages to generate the snowstorm effect.

[Learn more and download script]

Annual Occasions Countdown by JavaScript Kit

This simple script allows you to countdown to any date (eg: Christmas, New Year) and is easily configured for your needs. [Learn more and download script]

Countdown to Christmas Clock from EmailSanta.com

This script will add a festive Christmas countdown clock to your web pages which can be seen in action on the Email Santa website. You should be able to configure the images and styling of the clock to better suit the needs of your own blog design.

[Read more and download this script]

JavaScript Advent Calendar

Here is a cute advent calendar which you could offer to your blog readers. Each number on the calendar opens a pop-up window to which you can add an image, message or even a festive download!

This script would take some time to configure for your own requirements, but as a daily reward for yoru readers it could prove a worthwhile addition to your blog 😉

[Read more and download this script]

Last clicks…

If you still cannot find the festive resources you need to decorate your blog this Christmas, why not check out some of the design and Christmas resources below:

I hope this article has provided you with some useful

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Amanda is a freelance blogger and web/blog designer. She writes about Blogger at www.BloggerBuster.com and maintains several other blogs on various subjects.

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Defining the Best Colors, Style and Design for Your Brand Logo

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Have you ever thought about why some companies and brands are more successful and well-known than others? In many cases, it comes down to the products or services they offer, but the actual look and feel of the company brand can play a huge part in this as well.

A great example of this would be every brand that currently has a well-known logo design or identity, even though it doesn’t have the actual name of the company within the logo. Names like Nike, Target, Apple, Microsoft, and Starbucks come to mind. Billions of people from around the world can recognize these brands simply by seeing their logo… and they don’t even need to see a name associated with it. You can see some of the most popular brand logo designs and changes they’ve made over the years in this famous logos reference guide.

With all of that in mind, it’s important to create a logo design for your business that not only represents what you do but also one that resonates with your audience as well. To give another example of the many different ways an industry can influence the way logo are created to relate and brand with an audience, let’s take a look at some of the top online survey sites from a site like SurveyClarity.

What do you notice about each of the popular survey logo designs below? Not only are they mostly text-based, they are all different variations of GREEN! WebPageFX.com says the following about the color green in logo design:

Green is Youthful and Earth-Friendly: Health – Tranquility – Freshness. Green represents growth, and evokes a feeling of relaxation and healing. It is the color of healthy vegetation, so it reminds viewers of nature and health. It is also associated with money and wealth.

This is something you will see in many different markets. Another great example is the banking or make money space. Many of the banks will have a green or blue feeling to them — which both represent calm, financial, and fresh feelings and emotions. However, many other brands like Twitter and Dell are using BLUE to represent their compani\y logo and brand as well.

Now that you likely have a better understanding of what different colors are being used in logo designs today, you might be thinking about the different styles, variations, and colors you can use within your own company or site design and branding.

Thanks to the “What Type of Logo is Right for You?” infographic below (provided by Designhill), we are going to break down the many components and choices of logo design, and how to best represent your brand.

To get started with the process, you should first decide on if you want a font-based logo or a graphic design. No matter which option you choose, you can tweak both design types to work with whatever style you’d like to go with.

A “Word Mark” logo design is one that is made up of a stylized type font, yet is also original in design. A few good examples of this would be the HBO, NASA and CNN logo. At their core, they are text fonts — but also with a unique and custom design in the process.

After you’ve given some thought to the different colors, design types, and styles of logos you can create, we recommend you take a look at the new AI-powered logo maker from Designhill. Not only is the tool free to use, it can create an unlimited number of logo designs for you to choose from. Keep scrolling through the designs until you find one that you like, then complete the process by purchasing the fulicensednced version of your logo design, which also comes in a wide range of file types.

How to Find the Right Logo Design for Your Band

As shown in the infographic below, we can answer a few simple questions to see what type of logo you might want to focus your efforts on for your brand. Depending on how you answer each of these questions, you will find a different result for your brand identity.

  • Is your business well established?
  • Is your business internationally known?
  • Do you plan to remain a small business?
  • Does your company have a long name?
  • Do your company contain a unique word?
Of the many different types of logos you can choose from, the most popular are emblems. However, you will also see a popular occurrence of word marks, pictorial marks, abstract marks and letter marks.
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11 Homepage Design Features That Will Boost Traffic

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It’s never been easier to create a website — and it’s never been harder to get people to stay there. With mere seconds to capture a visitor’s attention, your homepage needs to clearly and concisely state your value, and convince the visitor that your business is worth their time.

One of the biggest website-related challenges for businesses is increasing traffic, whether that comes from organic search, a referral or a marketing campaign. Sometimes encouraging more people to visit your site is as simple as incorporating appealing design elements.

To boost traffic, 11 members of Young Entrepreneur Council share key design features to include on your homepage.

1. Information on the Solution to a User’s Problems

Visitors come to your site in search of solutions to a problem. Information about where they’ll find that solution should be the first thing they see. Too many businesses fill their homepage with irrelevant information that doesn’t help the visitor solve their immediate problem. Evernote’s homepage is a great example of this done well: clear copy, clean design and a signup form above the fold.

Vik Patel, Future Hosting

2. A Mailing List Sign-Up Form

It’s no secret that a mailing list is one of the best ways to attract regular visitors and customers online. Having a clear link to a contact form on your front page can be the most effective means of increasing traffic. It’s even more effective if you find a way to incentivize visitors to sign up through exclusive offers or opportunities.

Bryce Welker, CPA Exam Guy

3. Your Target Keyword in the Page Title Tag

Whenever I see a website with the word “Home” or “Welcome” in its page title tag, I see a missed opportunity to drive more website traffic. Why? Because the page title tag is an important (and easy) thing to address to optimize a website for SEO. Avoid making this mistake by identifying your most valuable, descriptive keyword, and include that in your homepage title tag.

Brett Farmiloe, Markitors Website Development

4. Easy Navigation

If someone is visiting your website, they don’t want to have to search for the content they came there for. Make it easy on them, and you’ll find them coming back for more.

Ben Landis, Fanbase

5. Blog Content

People share relevant, interesting content, not homepages. Your homepage is rarely going to be the main traffic source for your website. What brings in traffic is quality content, so you should be funneling people into that. Content will get shared and drive traffic to your website, which will inevitably spill over to your homepage as people seek to learn more about your company.

Justin Faerman, Conscious Lifestyle Magazine

6. Google Tag Manager

You can’t increase traffic if you don’t know what traffic sources are best. Google Tag Manager is going to give you a much more simplified tagging and management process for your analytics.

Nicole Munoz, Start Ranking Now

7. A ‘Contact Us’ Form

If you’re not getting any leads from your website, then what is the purpose of having one? Implementing a call-to-action form is critical for turning a prospect into a hot lead. If they’re visiting your website, that means they’re interested. Make it easy for them to contact you with a “contact us” form so that you can add them to your mailing list.

Codie Sanchez, Www.CodieSanchez.com

8. Client Testimonials

Studies have shown that consumers trust online reviews and testimonials, so showing your social proof is a powerful way to get new customers to trust and believe in you. Rotate new client testimonials often and, if possible, get reviews from known influencers in your niche. These testimonials can improve user engagement signals, which in turn improves traffic and rankings

Marcela De Vivo, Mulligan Funding

9. Calls to Action on Every Important Page

Your homepage should be all about funneling people to the rest of your site. Think of your homepage like the lobby of a hotel — a series of well-lit and clearly labeled paths to the things that matter. As a result, your homepage should feature calls to action to every important page or subpage on your site to help people find what matters to them.

Matthew Manos, verynice

10. ‘As Seen In’ Media Logos and Copy

If you’ve been featured in the business section of your local paper or had a profile done on your company in an industry trade journal, consider including an “As Seen In…” section on your homepage that includes a brief excerpt from the story and the logo of the media outlet. By including these proof points, you’re establishing credibility with current and prospective customers.

David Ciccarelli, Voices.com

11. Social Media Buttons

Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other social media sites are fantastic channels for traffic. Make it super easy for your existing traffic to share articles or your homepage. Simply add a text widget and format social media buttons on a sidebar or footer as well as various content articles on the homepage.

Eddie Lou, Shiftgig

How to Create the Best Content and Site Design Possible

When creating any type of content on the internet these days, it needs to be about user engagement and providing your audience with the value they are looking for. The same can be said about your site design and how users can navigate it. With more than a billion active websites on the internet today, there is no longer a need to push content out there just to simply to ‘put something out there’. At the same time, you also need to consider the different ways users might be visiting your site, such as through mobile, tablets, and desktops. Follow this advice and all of the actionable tips above to find more ROI with your content creation and marketing efforts.

If you enjoyed this expert round up, be sure to read our previous ones on top SEO methods for 2018 and also 7 low-cost site builders to consider when creating your next site.

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10 Premium PSD Website Templates With Stunning Design Layouts

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A unique web page must have a set of unique templates that are tailor made to suit it. Luckily, Photoshop offers a range of pre-made PSD website templates that are easy to use, and give your site a striking and memorable appearance. You can choose from a wide range of free and premium templates with varying features and functionalities.

In this article, we are listing out 10 of the prettiest and premium website templates in Photoshop PSD. These offer additional perks in comparison to their free counterparts, allowing you to get a lot more done in one package.

Here are the 10 Striking PSD Website Templates for Business, Blog Portfolio, and other awesome websites

1. 140+ PSD Website Template Bundle

This web page template bundle from WrapPixel consists of 140+ PSD templates across 15 different categories like admin dashboard, landing pages, magazines, marketing agencies, medical, eCommerce, real estate, personal blogs, WooCommerce, Prestashop, creative businesses, and other multipurpose psd templates . So no matter what kind of web page you’re making, this one has got you covered! Every template is made with a pixel perfect design and developed carefully to deliver the best user experience. The highlights of this template bundle are the Google Fonts integration, Bootstrap grid, a lifetime of updates and 1 year of free customer support.

2. Car Repair PSD Template

This is a great theme for repair shops or automobile websites. It has a completely responsive design with many unique features and layouts. It comes with pre-built demo content that can be replaced with your own content quite easily. This is an HTML 5 based template with a flexible layout. It has a dark layout that contrasts great with the white spaces on the web page, where your content goes.

3. Easy – Responsive PSD Template

This is one PSD template that’s light on the pocket but big on the features! It has a load of responsive template options to choose from, with some seriously flexible and editable coding, HTML 5-CSS3, and many many personalization options. You can customize colours, menus, categories, column numbers, fonts, etc. If you aren’t sure of the kind of site that you want to create or are looking for something very flexible, then this is a great template for you.

4. Cordova PSD Template

Cordova is a great template for those who wish to go the minimal and classy way, and want to create sauve web pages. You have the option of choosing from various column layouts, and the dark/light colour schemes with contrasting fonts puts the attention on your content while giving your website a classy appearance. This template is HTML 5 coded, and works great for corporate sites or businesses.

5. IT Company

This template makes for a great landing page, especially if your website is aiming to be extremely professional and/or minimal. The highlight of this PSD website template is the focus awarded to making a clean, classy layout and design. You will find elements such as long shadows, lesser use of colours, subdued hues, large icons, blocks with inclined borders, progress bars, and a lot more. This template is suitable for coming soon pages, landing pages, and professional-layout-inclined sites.

6. Joffrey – A PSD Theme For Dog Lovers

Not just dogs, but this theme is great if you an animal lover with a pet store, pet hostel, or even a shelter. It will appeal to the dog person in you with its quirky layout, cute features, and 3 different colour schemes. This is a responsive template with HTML 5 coding and is perfect for a pet e-Commerce store, blog, or even adoption agency. Editing is very easy with this template as it supports free fonts.

7. Design

Design is another beautiful premium PSD template that’s perfect for the more artistic websites and web pages. If you own a creative agency or generally like using visuals to captivate your audiences, then this is a great template for you. Design is a layered template that uses a combination of visuals, colours, minimalism, and class to give you the ability for creating stunning sites.

8. Diskos – Creative PSD Website Template

If you are the creative type with the desire to make unique, memorable web pages, then Diskos is a great template of choice. This responsive template works well for all kinds of websites, irrespective of the industry, if you want to add a flair of creativity to it. This template has many colour and font options, giving you a lot of freedom to go wild! Diskos is a layered template with a lot of room for editing.

9. ProIndustry

The highlight about ProIndustry is the modern and contemporary design and layout, and the high quality and top end solutions that it uses to create these stunning layouts. The catchy design makes use of page wide images and icons to take up the entire screen, and the pages offer hexagonal icon layouts for an added effect. The semi-transparent menus add a dash of the unique to this PSD template. ProIndustry is great for professional sites.

10. Travel

Travel is perfect for travel blogs, photography websites or travel agencies, as the name suggests. This is a layered PSD website template that uses minimal elements to give your web pages a sophisticated and classy look. For instance, it uses a lot of transparent elements to accentuate your content and drive users towards it whilst not cluttering the web page. It gives the site a light and modern appearance.

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