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Welcome to part 5, the final chapter in our series Scaling Your Divi Web Design Business where we’re exploring proven tactics and actionable strategies that will help you grow your Divi based web design business.

In the final post of our series, we’re going to focus on the client-facing side of your business to be sure the external systems are in place so you can effectively scale. Let’s recap the major topics we’ve covered so far in this series before we dive into the final chapter.

  1. The first step is to prepare your mindset to scale.
  2. The second is to solidify your systems and processes before you start bringing team members into the mix.
  3. The third is to start finding and hiring your web design dream team.
  4. The fourth is how to effectively grow and manage 7our team.

These are all, for the most part, internal tactics. Once these are all in place, it’s time to realign focus on the other most important factor of your business – your clients. In this post, we’ll explore some proven tactics on how to manage your clientele, manage support inquiries and how you can make sure your business is fully ready to scale. Again, this information is taken from the 9 Divi professionals I interviewed in preparing this series.

Organizing the “Client Side” of Your Divi Web Design Business

1) Solidly Your Pricing

One of the most important pieces in your business when you begin to scale is to solidify for your pricing. I won’t go into much detail on that here because it’s covered previously in our Divi Web Design Pricing Series but in short, we talked about 4 main areas of web design business pricing, those were:

  1. Effective Price Ranges for your Services
  2. Deciding How Much to Charge
  3. Solidifying your Pricing Model
  4. How and When to Talk About Pricing

I’d recommend revisiting those posts if you don’t have your pricing solidified. If not, it will lead to a lot of stresses when trying to scale. Particularly if you include others in the sales and proposal process. Be sure, whether you go with a fixed or hourly pricing model, to make sure those numbers are in place an understood before starting to scale.

2) Handling Support

In my experience, support comes with external and internal needs.

External Support – This will include incoming request from clients typically after websites are live. These may include but are not limited to:

  • Bug fixes
  • Site additions or updates
  • Graphic changes
  • Hosting questions
  • Email questions
  • Client training questions
  • Renewals for plugins, tools, domains, etc

You need a place/system for incoming support questions from your clients. My experience and that of those I interviewed are that clients are going to most likely email or call you for updates, fixes, etc. This isn’t a big deal when you’re starting out but when you get to the point where you have 50-100 sites in the wild, clients needing the help of their Jedi webmaster can become very tricky. So to that end, you need to be prepared.

I should mention that in this case I’m referencing situations after a client’s site has been live, not necessarily during the project development period as most clients will hopefully abide by your directions and communicate via your preferred project management platform.

Practically, here are a couple systems that may help you out:

  1. Setting up a support email or channel – You might consider setting up a support email or direct your support email inquiries to a certain folder. I still typically get update and feature requests through email but I’ve tried my darndest to get off the phone and personally, it’s been a HUGE part of my success to this point. Phone calls or meetings going over revisions seem to waste much more time opposed to an organized list of changes through email. You can set up a support@yoursite email and have all request come through there as a practical way to do this. It’s a perfect opportunity to clear up your inbox and if you have support people or an Divi web designer Jedi in training, they can hopefully help potentially without even involving you in every update.
  2. Setting up a ticketing system – This is most common for product based businesses but who says it can’t work for a scaling web design business?!? I’m not doing this yet, but I’ve long consider using Help Scout or another popular ticketing system for clients requesting changes. The benefits of this, other than clearing your email and keeping your sanity, is that each request will be catalogued and on record. You as the head honcho of the business can check in to see what updates have been made and many can be saved for FAQ pages or as training for on boarding support team members.

Internal Support – Internal support will include many of the items listed about but are referencing things within your business. Your renewals, hosting questions, SSL certificates, email issues, etc. With internal support, ideally you’ll have someone trusted in the business who can assist with these types of things. I don’t know about you but email issues, renewals, SSL issues among others are the bane of my existence as a web designer. While it’s necessary work, it’s draining for my personality type. Again, freeing yourself from handing these type of issues will be crucial to your success.

You can apply either one of the systems mentioned above for internal uses as well but unless you have a massive organization or team, I can’t imagine needing a ticketed system. But a dedicated place for internal support (either an email, project management thread or slack channel) might be extremely useful for you.

3) Managing your Clientele

Finally, it’s time to get our focus back on the people who are making this all a reality for us – our clients. Once everything in your business is read for scale, there are some recommendations I learned from all the interviews I did that apply to the client-facing side of things.

Identifying the right clients – When many business start to scale, there’s an emphasis on identifying your “key demographics” or “ideal clients.” But unless we cater our web design business to a certain niche, there’s really no reason to limit our clientele to one industry. What we can do is identify the ideal size or scope of project.

For example, instead of focusing on clients in the restaurant industry, you might focus on “project styles” like small to medium sized businesses who need basic 5-10 portfolio style websites with integrations like calendars, events and perhaps other social media and marketing help. If you find your bread and butter and can start knocking it out of the park with certain types of projects, you’ll be able to scale quickly and efficiently. Again, assuming that the systems provided in this series are all in place.

Maintenance/Security – In a previous post, we talked briefly about creating a maintenance/support plan for your clients. I’m currently in the process of expanding on this subject, but if you’re not currently offering a maintenance plan to your clients, I highly recommend you do. It’s a win-win.

  • It’s a win for you – Mainly because it’s monthly recurring income. I’ve found that less than 25% of the clients on my plan actually engage me to ask questions or make changes month to month. So for the most part, it’s steady income that is highly profitable on my end and has contributed greatly to the growth of my business.
  • It’s win for your client – Hopefully during your sales/design/development/post-launch process, the client has learned about the danger of hacks and the importance of regular site updates/maintenance. For a client, having you maintain their site month to month should not only help them sleep better, but they’ll have you in their corner moving forward which is more than most can say when working with freelance web designers who are known to disappear after a site is launched.

    Let’s face it, most web design freelancers and agencies are one and one, churn and burn services. Well, except for the wonderful Divi community of course But seriously, I’ve received so many disgruntled clients looking for a web designer who they can trust, rely on and keep in contact with. Setting up a secret and maintenance plan can help you achieve that.

Practically, if you use an affordable platform like ManageWP or InfiniteWP, you can keep the plugins, tools and sites maintained and backed up, then send your client a report each month on what you’ve done along with some other features if you choose too. This is by far the best way to keep your clients engaged and understanding of your services.

Keep in touch – Finally, on the subject of keeping clients engaged is to get personal. I highly recommend reaching out to them regularly in creative ways or if possible getting some face to face time. You can do this practically with a newsletter, personalized email or social media but for the past few years, I’ve gone back to the stone-age way of doing things by sending an actual, mailed letter.

In that letter, I may have some templatized verbiage thanking them for certain areas of our services (particularly if they’re on my monthly plan) but I always, always get personal and bring up how long we’ve worked together, talk about good news in my personal/family life, etc. I should also mention that I’ve recently segregated my clients into 3 groups which could help you as you scale as well.

  1. A Client’s – These are your best clients. Clients who invested a lot in your services, who you loved working with and ideally who are on your maintenance plan. Always make these clients a priority and always remind yourself to reach out to them frequently.
  2. B Client’s – These are clients that may be on your monthly plan and you probably had a good experience with but might not be your ideal demographic. As several interviewees mentioned, the work you put out is the work you get. So these are clients that it’s probably good to stay in touch with from a referral standpoint but aren’t “A” status
  3. C Client’s – These are the clients that if you lost, it wouldn’t be a big deal. Maybe they are difficult clients personality wise or maybe some from when you got started who again, you wouldn’t lose sleep over if they went their separate way.

I make it a point to figure out where my clients end up in my A, B, C lists and always make it a point to keep in good contact with the A’s and usually some B’s. This is all very critical when it comes to scaling because your clients are your lifeblood. And as everyone in business knows, it’s generally 10 times more expensive to get new clients as opposed to selling services to current ones.

Final Series Thoughts

Well I hope the interviews I did while researching for this series and the information gathered and articulated has helped you out whether you’re already an established web design agency looking to grow more or if you’re just a one man shop thinking about taking that next step!

I’d like to end with parting thoughts from each of my interviewees which can be heard at the end of each interview.

Interview #1 with Tim Strifler

Scaling Your Divi Web Design Business with Tim Strifler - Interview 1/9 - YouTube

At the end of our interview, Tim wrapped up with an optimistic message by saying,

Go for it. It’s ok to take a risk when you’re scaling and you can definitely do it sooner than you think. Once you finally do, you’ll more than likely wonder why you didn’t do it sooner!”

Interview #2 with Kathy Kroll Romana

Scaling Your Divi Web Design Business with Kathy Kroll Romana - Interview 2/9 - YouTube

With a wise and more conservative final thought, Kathy reminded all freelancers who are taking the next step to,

Stay within your means. It’s a fickle business and you don’t always know when the next job is coming. So be prepared and don’t stretch yourself too thin.”

Interview #3 with Andrew Tuzson

Scaling Your Divi Web Design Business with Andrew Tuzson - Interview 3/9 - YouTube

Andrew’s interview was jammed packed with thoughts that could act as a series of final thoughts, but his parting words were to,

View every situation as an opportunity to get better at your craft. Every scenario you’re in can be an opportunity for growth.”

Interview #4 with Tammy Grant

Tammy ended our strategy-filled chat by recommending that you,

“Make sure you’re prepared in advance. Make sure everything that’s in your head is on paper or on file. Try to make note of all the little processes and methods if you need to teach what you do or add team members to avoid wasting time and money.”

Interview #5 with David Blackmon

Scaling Your Divi Web Design Business with David Blackmon - Interview 5/9 - YouTube

My chat with David was filled with inspiration for aspiring web designers looking to scale and he ended our talk with a message to folks who are new in the community by saying that,

Divi and WordPress are growing, it’s not too late to jump in and it’s never too late to get involved in the Divi and WordPress community.”

Interview #6 with John Wooten

Scaling Your Divi Web Design Business with John Wooten - Interview 6/9 - YouTube

John dished out a lot of great “Wooten Wisdom” as I call it during our interview and mic-dropped the chat by offering 3 very important ending thoughts:

  1. It’s easy to compare yourself to other freelancers and businesses so stay grateful, optimistic on your work.
  2. Know yourself, your role, your strengths and your desires.
  3. Put your self in your clients shoes. Be reminded of how much your clients are spending on their website investment. How often do you spend that much money at once? That may help keep things in perspective.

Interview #7 with Geno Quiroz

Scaling Your Divi Web Design Business with Geno Quiroz - Interview 7/9 - YouTube

As someone who needs no introduction to the Divi community, Geno still offers humble and experienced advice to folks new to the community by saying,

Just know success in scaling is going to take time. You need to pace yourself. And always be looking for that relationship or person who’s going to help you out. Might be in Divi community, local community, WordPress meetups or elsewhere. Start small and always be looking for the right fit to compliment you personally.

Interview #8 with Daniel Dye

Scaling Your Divi Web Design Business with Daniel Dye - Interview 8/9 - YouTube

The ever business-savvy Daniel Dye had a very optimistic final thought by saying,

Keep investing in yourself, keep tabs on the web design world, the market and stay up to date on new trends. Know that scaling is a risk, try to save up some money and go for it. Worst case is that you go back to designing sites on your own if it doesn’t work out initially. What’s the real risk if you’re prepared?

Interview #9 with Sarah Oates

Scaling Your Divi Web Design Business with Sarah Oates - Interview 9/9 - YouTube

And finally, in my chat with one of the Divi Gals down under, Sarah offered a brilliant final thought by saying,

If you’re thinking about bringing somebody on, be cautious, take it slow and be conscious of your brand. It’s important (especially from a design standpoint) that you get someone who represents your brand well. Give it a go and try it out on a per job basis.

In Closing (For Real This Time)

My final thought is,

“To be excited about what scaling your business will make of YOU. Watch how you’ll grow, mature and become someone who you never thought you could be by stepping into the role you were born to fill.”

Again I hope this series has made an impact on you! If it has, please offer some feedback below and I’ll see you in the comments!

The post Organizing the “Client Side” of our Divi Web Design Business appeared first on Elegant Themes Blog.

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Love it or hate it, Instagram is a major force in marketing these days. It’s no longer a social network for just the cool kids. Instagram has hit the mainstream, and that’s excellent news for you. Like anything else going mainstream, coming in late can feel impossible. Playing catch-up is not fun or easy, but Instagram is one of those networks where you can get up-to-speed relatively quickly.

Knowing how to get followers on Instagram has never been easier since the network has so many tools and cliques and fun little corners to explore.

Use Hashtags

You’re sitting there thinking, “Seriously? That’s your advice?” But hear me out. Hashtags are still a major tool for Instagram users. Yes, Instagram has a reputation for vapid and self-indulgent hashtags like #nofilter#iwokeuplikethis, or #selfielove. But outside of the commonly mocked ones, there are tons that get used by people who are directly in your targeted demographic. In fact, some hashtags even have full communities built around them and almost function like little forums.

Finding the right ones isn’t nearly as hard it once was. Instagram has finally put in an autocomplete feature that offers suggestions whenever you type in #. The useful aspect of this is seeing the number of posts for each hashtag. You can finally see where users are spending their time.

#UseThemWell

But just throwing any even remotely relevant hashtags into your posts may not necessarily be the best way to get exposure. You have to use hashtags that are truly pertinent to your brand or your specific audience.

Let’s say that you’re looking for followers to promote your new client’s handmade guitar website, you can absolutely use #music. But that’s too generic. It has a wide reach, and it has 181 million public posts as of this writing, but that’s a lot of competition. Too much noise to get noticed. You could use #guitar, but it~22 million posts, which is still a lot of noise. #guitars, on the other hand, has a slightly more manageable 1.9 million.

However, like SEO, the further you drill down, you will find the good stuff that really converts. Just using the autosuggest, the tags #guitarshop, #customguitar, #customguitars, #handmadeguitar, and #handmadeguitars showed up anywhere between 80k to 200k posts. This is where your target users are, so the more you make yourself a presence there, they more people who will follow you. It’s likely you can get some of the top posts in a niche area.

Let me mention again the communities that spring up around hashtags. You want to find where people hang out, like maybe #guitarplayers or #indierockalabama. These are the areas where tons of potential followers congregate and become friends.

And because these aren’t as jam-packed as #music, your posts will stay on top longer for more people to see you, follow you, and start to love you.

Adding Hashtags

The last two things you need to consider when using hashtags to fish for followers is how many to use and where you should include them. Instagram allows up to 30 hashtags per post, but you shouldn’t always use that many (it seems like spamming). Some case studies have shown that interaction often plateaus after 10 tags.

Adding that many hashtags to your post can seem spammy, too. You can get around that by putting 5 single dots on 5 single lines so that the post collapses in people’s feeds. Even better than that, you can add a comment to your own photo that’s nothing but hashtags, and IG will still index your photo with them. But it has to be the first comment and because of how the IG algorithms work, and you need to post that comment immediately upon publication. If not, you may lose some juice and miss out on some potential followers.

Oh, and you can add hashtags to Stories, too. So when you’re documenting your day or doing something silly or fun, put some hashtags in the text box. They’re searchable! They might not look great in your story’s composition, so you can shrink the hashtag box down and hide it behind a supersized emoji. Instant expanded audience (or is that Insta expanded audience?) who will see the real you and follow you — because your story proves that you’re too awesome not to follow.

Be Social

Instagram is a social network. So you really need to be social. It can be really easy to shout into the night, but if you really want to learn how to get followers on Instagram, you have to be someone they want to follow.

  • Like other people’s photos and comments. That activity shows up to your followers, and it creates a circular network. You like their post, they click on yours and like it, someone else sees their activity and likes you enough to follow. This is a major way to get followers these days, but it means you have to be active on IG, not just scheduling posts and leaving. You can’t expect a zillion shares and retweets on IG like you can on other platforms. It takes work here. Sorry!
  • Comment and talk to people. When you get a comment on a post, reply to it! Start a conversation with people. Jump into a conversation on someone else’s photo. People really do read conversations in comments, and having followers doesn’t mean a lot if they’re not engaged. So engage them.
  • Tag people in posts and comments. Again, the circular nature of IG appears when you begin tagging people in either your posts or your comments. Doing so shows that you’re engaged with the community, and as you make friends and start getting to know them, you will either see or post things that you want them to see. Look at this awesome design I did with @elegantthemes’ Divi!, for instance. Whether it’s a brand or an individual, sometimes they will see that kind of thing and share it on their page (which can net a ton of followers and engagement for you).

Embed Your Photos, Don’t Link to Them

People love sliders. You may love sliders. And image galleries. I’d bet $5 that you’ve Googled WordPress Instagram feed plugin or something similar, right? It’s a photo-centric network, so of course you want to show off your pretty, pretty pictures.

Those don’t tend to get you followers, though. They can, but they don’t necessarily link back to the original post in a very intuitive way. You can, however, embed your IG posts directly into your site’s posts and pages. If done correctly and placed within some of your highest-traffic posts in lieu of traditionally hosted images, you can passively grow your Instagram followers easily.

This needs to be done in a full desktop browser, not on mobile. So go to your Instagram page (though it works from anyone’s, technically), pick the photo you want to embed, and expand it. Then click the ellipsis in the lower-right of the modal, hit embed, and it will bring up another modal where you can copy the embed code.

After that, it’s just a quick trip to the WordPress dashboard and the post/page editor. Make sure you’re in the Text tab, not Visual. Paste in the embed code wherever you want to place it. (You can also use the Divi Code Module for this, too. Plus, you can embed a post into a sidebar or footer through any widget that accepts HTML.)

When that’s done, you have given your readers the perfect opportunity to follow and engage with you. They can click the Follow button right there on the post, and they can even like and comment on it — or just read through the conversation that’s already there.

Embedding your posts is an amazing tactic to get followers on Instagram. But it shouldn’t be used for every image on your site. Each embed loads its own external scripts and extra CSS styling, which when used too much, can slow load times. You also won’t get the boost to SEO from images, alt text, and all that lovely stuff.

But when used correctly, you’ll really see a real boost to your Instagram followers.

Now You Know How to Get Followers on Instagram! Yay!

Unfortunately, the days of just tossing a few hashtags in and going about our business are behind us. With stories and a surge in users, getting followers on Instagram ain’t what it used to be. You can’t just shout into the night and expect people to find you, much less follow you. You have to have a strategy. And you basically already have to know how to get followers on Instagram, or you’re not going to get any. Or at least enough to make the platform work for you.

And now you know. You’ve got the strategies that are working for folks, and it’s time to go out there, hashtag your heart out, and make as many new internet friends as you can.

How do you get Instagram followers these days? Let’s share strategies in the comments!

Article featured image by Vas_artists

The post How to Get More Followers on Instagram in 2018 appeared first on Elegant Themes Blog.

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Welcome to part 4 of 5 in our series Scaling Your Divi Web Design Business where we’re exploring proven tactics and actionable strategies geared towards helping you grow your Divi based web design business.

Once you’ve taken the plunge to start finding talent, hiring and building your team, it’s now important to focus on how to actively grow, maintain and nature those relationships in order to effectively scale. And to echo what I mentioned in part 1 of this series, these ideas aren’t taken from a dated text book or unrelevant corporate environment, these are real world tactics, strategies and ideas again taken straight from the 9 Divi web design professionals I interviewed while researching and preparing this series.

Let’s dive in!

Effectively Growing and Managing Your Divi Web Design Team

The areas we’ll focus on in this post are how to effectively grow and manage your team. The reason that these are separated into 2 different categories is because both are vastly different and will require unique methods of getting better at each. Since we need to start with having a team before you can manage it, let’s first start with growth.

1) Growing Your Divi Web Design Team

When it comes to effectively growing a web design team, a common theme across all of the interviews in this series was empowerment. In order for someone to come into a web design role and be effective, they need to be empowered. You can do this in a few practical ways.

Teaching/Training – This is why it’s so important to have your systems and processes in place, as mentioned in post 2. If you want to save yourself from having to have the same conversations with new team members over and over and over again, be sure to have as many materials, resources and methods put on your website, in tutorial videos or documentation to assist you in training.

While researching for this series, it became very clear to me how I’ve failed in this area in years past. My subcontracting experiences have largely been good and successful but there were plenty that did not go well. While I could easily pass blame onto others, there were many things I could’ve done better to ensure a more positive experience while delegating work. Most notably, teaching and training better. I can’t expect someone who’s new to web design and Divi to work as fast as I do. And unless they have the tutorials and resources at their disposal, it will be a very slow process of trial and error growth.

As Tim Strifler puts it in interview #1, “You need to set your new hires up for success.”

Practically, creating internal pages in your site for new hires is a great approach if you have any certain ways of doing things. For example, if you just tell someone to build a site for you, you’d better be fine with their style, their coding and their methods. You can’t expect them to do it your way if you don’t guide them.

Google docs, internal website pages, videos, email templates and checklists in your project manager are also practical ways to go about organizing your training material and processes for new hires.

I’d also highly recommend including your companies vision, mission, core values and other components that show “who and what your brand is about” in the initial hiring process. By doing this, a new hire will understand not only what your company is all about below the surface but is likely to be in that state of mind every time they do work for your company. This doesn’t need to be a massive 100 page manual, it could be a practical handbook of sorts that guides them through that information which would be a great start!

And you can have different handbooks for different roles. For example, you may have a basic guide for your company vision, mission, etc, then separate guides for web design processes, SEO processes, client communication processes, etc.

Mentoring – Along with teaching and training comes the opportunity to be a mentor. Are they the same? Maybe in some ways. But when I reference mentoring, I’m talking about more than just being a boss, a project manager or a delegator. I’m talking about being someone who is intentionally empowering those under him or her.

Practically, mentoring might include more one on one time together and a sincere, earnest effort to find out how your new hires are doing, where they’re at and an openness to hear their wins and struggles alike. Mentoring might go deeper into your experience with your business as opposed to just processes, systems and the training documents you’ve set up for them to go through.

The thought I’d like to pass on to you when it comes to mentoring is what I’ve told myself recently, “Be who you needed a few years ago.”

Empowering – When it comes to web design, subcontracting work as needed or hiring part time is risky. Those collaborators are much more likely to bail or disappear if the value of the opportunity is not in it for them. Understandably so. But when you begin to empower your team members, it can be beneficial for both parties.

In several of my interviews, the idea that you can hire somebody to do work, then empower them to start their own freelance business on the site was brought up numerous times. This shows trust between two people in a working relationship and we all know that there are slow periods, so if a subcontractor is counting on you to provide steady work, this may lead to them needing to find work elsewhere. However, if you’d mentored and empowered them to be able to create more work for themselves, they may have other streams of income instead of having to leave you for another opportunity because they need to pay the bills.

2) Managing Your Web Design Team

When your team members are prepared, trained, mentored and empowered, the real fun begins. And by fun, I mean the tedious, day-to-day tasks of managing and working with people:)

Centralizing Communication – As mentioned in the 2nd post, centralizing communication between your team members will be key. As your team grows, getting dinged, pinged and hit up from numerous sources will wear you down. Most project manager platforms will be great options for centralizing team communication but that also usually entails client communication as well. It’s best to have a place for you and your team members to be able to converse under one “company” roof if you will. And the most popular option for that is to use Slack.


Slack, if you’re new to the game, is an incredible platform set up by channels that enables you to centralize communication, post files, documents and tasks with the main goal of eliminating extra emails. There are many methods of doing this like utilizing closed FB groups or messengers and I was going to post other tools but honestly, I don’t feel there’s much need to look past slack

Project Management – Once you have your team communication centralized it’s time to start adding clients into the mix. This is critical when it comes to managing your team because if your business is to be efficient in hitting deadlines, maintaining project continuity and keeping systems organized, a project management tool is the best way to go.

As mentioned in post 2, Basecamp and Asana are a couple options that myself and the other interviewees are utilizing. While there is a slight difference between project managers and task managers like Trello for checklists and processes, most of these programs are a mix of the 2.

If there was any common thought between all the interviews I did while preparing this series, it was (as the owner) to not micromanage. This is why empowering and teaching are so important before you get to this point, but the message was clear, assign the tasks, delegate the work, solidly the deadline and get of the way. Again, teams that see the most unity and fulfilled workers are those who offer room to grow and have some ownership in the game.

Open Communication – Checking in with your team members to see how they’re feeling, how they’re doing, if they’re happy and content with how things are going are also some of the easiest areas to neglect as the leader. But it’s important to make these things part of your regular routine. Even if you have to schedule it or put it in your calendar, make sure you remind yourself of how you felt when you once worked a job where the boss was MIA and showed no care towards how you were feeling. I guess the moral of the story here is to put yourself in their shoes and remember how would you want to be treated if you were in their position.

Andrew Tuzson in interview #3 points out that his door is always open to their team members. Transparency, honesty and a listening ear have helped his business sore in the past couple of years and will undoubtedly help you as well.

Closing Thoughts

Well I hope this post has helped articulate some good guidelines to follow when growing and managing your team! Again, I feel that so much information and emphasis out there is on hiring and building a team when the real work is KEEPING them.

Do you have any thoughts or experience you’d like to share about growing or managing a web design team? Please share in the comments below!

Part 5 – Organizing the “Client Side” of your Divi Web Design Business

Join us for part 5, the final installment in our series Scaling Your Divi Web Design Business as we dive into the “client side” of your business which will solidify the things you need to do in order to effectively scale. Till then!

The post Effectively Growing and Managing Your Divi Web Design Team appeared first on Elegant Themes Blog.

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Podcasts are so popular these days. Everyone and their uncle has something to say about things they love the most. It’s easy and cheap to get started, and the internet is full of some really high quality podcast software that not only will make your podcast sound better, but can also take the whole production to a more professional level.

Pretty much everyone gets recommended the same set of “best podcast software” when they’re starting out: Audacity for recording (or Adobe Audition /Avid Pro Tools if you’re fancy), Skype for interviews/guests/cohosts, and probably either Libsyn or Blubrry for hosting. And you know what? They’re all fantastic and amazing, and there’s a reason they are staples in the industry.

But there is a lot of podcast software out there that you might not know about yet, too. It would be a real shame for you to miss out on any of that awesomeness.

1. Auphonic

The thing about podcasts is that if yours doesn’t sound good, many people won’t listen to it. Even if your content and guests are amazing. Unfortunately, most of us aren’t audio engineers. And while having a good microphone is the most important element here, good mixing is up there, too. Auphonic gives us non-engineers the sound quality that we want at the push of a button (literally).

From automatic leveling and noise/hum reduction to encoding your finished episode (and pretty much everything in between), Auphonic is definitely a hidden gem in the podcasting world. It can’t do the editing and snipping and splicing that Audition or Audacity can, but in terms of filtering and post-processing, its pretty much magic.

Plus, it’s totally free for 2 hours of audio processing a month, and you can pay for more as you need it.

2. Zencastr

If you ever have guests on your show, you can’t afford not to know about Zencastr. Like Hangouts or Skype, Zencastr is a remote VOIP service. But this one stands out because it records local audio through the browser for each guest and uploads them for the host to download. More than that, you get the option to download the audio as isolated tracks for each speaker, or you can get a single file of the combined local recordings.

Zencastr also offers an automatic post-processing feature, too, but if you’re on the free plan, it’s an upcharge. Additionally, recording in lossless .WAV is a premium feature. Free users get high-quality MP3, which actually does sound okay if you’re not a full-on audiophile.

Regardless, having to deal neither with VOIP-quality audio or teaching guests how to record and upload their own local files should be enough to put Zencastr on your radar.

3 – 5. Ecamm

Technically, Ecamm is a company, and there are three products they offer you should look into: Call Recorder for Skype, Call Recorder for FaceTime, and Ecamm Live for Facebook. First off, these apps aren’t freemium like Auphonic or Zencastr, but you can totally use their free trials to see if you want to add any of them to the folder on your desktop labeled My Awesome Podcast. They’re also Mac-only. So there’s that, too.

The Call Recorder family is probably the easiest way for you to have guests on your show. While they don’t record local audio from both sides, you get a video and audio recording of the call from your end on either Skype or FaceTime. The tradeoff versus Zencastr is that there is absolutely no setup required for your guest or co-host. You call them and hit record. Heck, the recorder even launches simultaneously with the app it connects to.

In much the same way that the Call Recorders are simple and intuitive, Ecamm Live is the same for live streaming. You sign in with Facebook, and you can go live pretty much immediately. This is incredibly powerful for podcasters for a number of reasons. It’s one of a small number of no-fuss streaming programs, plus you can record every broadcast so you can extract the audio and push it to your main feed. And if you want, you can also push each stream automatically to YouTube when you’re finished.

6. Open Broadcaster Software (OBS)

“Wait,” you say. “Two video apps in a row? I thought this was about podcasting.”

And to you, I say, “It is! Podcasts can come in video, too!”

Apple even has two tabs in the iPhone Podcasts app for either Audio or Video. Audio just happens to be the one most people opt into making. It takes less hosting space and equipment, but with the right tools, a video podcast can really be something special.

OBS has come a long way over the past few years, and it is finally stable and user-friendly enough to recommend to y’all. You should know, though, it’s not as simple and straightforward as Ecamm’s products are, but OBS is totally free (hooray for open-source software) and available for Mac, Windows, and Linux all. So if you liked the sound of what Ecamm Live could do for you, but didn’t want to shell out for either it or a Mac, check out OBS.

You will, however, need to use a service like restream.io if you want to push to multiple platforms automatically, otherwise, you will need to set OBS to record broadcasts and upload them manually to your feeds and other platforms.

7. Hindenburg Journalist

Hindenburg Journalist should be a household name to podcasters, but somehow it has flown under most people’s radar. That’s sad, so let me tell you about your new best friend: Divi Nation podcasters, meet Hindenburg. Your new best friend.

The folks over at Hindenburg take pretty much every feature that you’d want from all the other podcast software we’ve discussed, and they put wrapped it up nicely in this pretty little box. The only thing you can’t do that we’ve talked about is record/stream video (though you can record Skype audio tracks right into the editor).

What’s really cool is that this one isn’t made for podcasters specifically, but radio broadcasters. So it is made to enhance your efficiency at creating your content and raising the quality of it. It even has automatic settings based on the standards that NPR follows, so your show can have that cool, calm, collected sound you’ve always wanted.

Hindenburg Journalist is not free and has version-based licensing (you pay $95 for updates and support up to v1.99, for example), but there is a trial. I think it’s worth checking out, if you want an all-in-one solution. It has a bit of a learning curve at first — it’s more complicated to jump into than Audacity, but nowhere near as intimidating as Audition or Pro Tools.

The Best Podcast Software, or The Best Podcast Software?

The best part about the recent surge in popularity for podcasts is that software developers have a whole industry’s worth of new problems to solve. Podcasting is easily accessible, but it can also be intimidating. New and amazing tools are being released all the time to make it more accessible. It takes a while for some of them to make the rounds.

But now you know about them, and with these podcasting tools, you will be taking over the airwaves in no time.

What is your favorite podcast software that other people should know about?

Featured image by Evgeniy Belyaev / shutterstock.com

The post The Best Podcast Software You Should Be Using (But Probably Aren’t) appeared first on Elegant Themes Blog.

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Every website should have a Terms and Conditions Agreement in place. Although it isn’t required by law (like a Privacy Policy), it can be extremely vital to the health of your online business. The Terms and Conditions (T&C) agreement can also be referred to as Terms of Service or Terms of Use. It is a legal contract between you and your visitors that sets the rules, terms, and/or guidelines for your using the website. It can be useful for protecting your website content and design, terminating user accounts that are in violation, and even limiting your own liability.

A great place to require users to agree with your T&C is on a contact form. You have seen this many times I am sure. You may be prompted to check a box with the label “I agree with the terms and conditions” when registering for a membership, purchasing a product, or filling out a simple contact form. This is a great way to require an agreement to these terms early on.

For this use case tutorial, I’m going to be walking you through how to build a contact form with Caldera Forms and Divi’s Business Consultant Layout Pack that requires users to agree with your terms and conditions before submitting the form. More specifically, this custom form will contain the following:

  1. A required checkbox field asking visitors to agree with the T&C.
  2. A link to the corresponding T&C page so visitors can conveniently find and read the T&C before agreeing to it.
  3. Conditional logic that forces users to agree with the T&C in order submit the form.

Let’s get started.

What you will Need for This Use Case Tutorial Preview

Here is a quick preview of the contact form and Terms and Conditions page we will be creating.

Creating Your Form

With you Caldera Forms plugin installed, navigate to Caldera Forms > Forms and click the New Form button at the top of the page.

Select the Contact Form Template to get a head start on setting up the fields.

Give the form a name and then click the Create Form button.

Under the layout tab for your new form, you can edit the layout using the layout builder.

Delete the first row with the HTML content.

Then take away the row splits in the three-column row containing the first name, last name, and email by clicking the minus symbols when hovering over the row.

Now add a new row by clicking the gray box with the dotted border and the plus sign in the middle. Then drag the new row above the row containing the “send message” button.

In the new row you created, add a new field to the row by clicking the small plus symbol at the very bottom of the row. In the Fields popup box, click the select tab and then add a Checkbox field by clicking the Set Field button next to “Checkbox”.

Then fill in the following in the field settings at the right of the page.

Name: accept terms (this can be anything you want since we are going to be hiding the label anyway)
Hide Label: yes (check this box)
Slug: accept_terms (this should be auto-generated for you)
Required: Yes (check this box)

At the bottom of the section select Add Option and enter the following into the label input box:

I Accept the <a href="enter url to page here" target="_blank">Terms and Conditions</a>

Notice that this html has a custom link that is supposed to link to your terms and conditions page. You will need to replace the text “enter url to page here” with the url of your actual page. Including “target=”_blank”” will open the url in a new tab.

Save your form

Adding Conditional Logic

Within the Caldera Form Layout Builder, select the conditions tab at the top of the page and click Add Conditional Group. Name the group, select the type “Show”, and click the Add Conditional Line button. In the conditional line that appears add the following condition:

if [accept terms] is "I Accept the <a href="enter url to page here">Terms and Conditions</a>"

Then under the Applied Fields section to the right, select “Send Message [submit]”.

This condition will show the Send Message button only when the user selects that they agree with the terms and conditions by clicking the checkbox.

Here is what this looks like…

Form Redirects and Autoresponders

By default Caldera Forms includes an autoresponder that sends a notification email to users upon completing the form. You can edit this autoresponder or create new ones. And, you can also create other form processors to your form including redirects after form submission. These autoresponders are under the processors tab within your form settings.

Add Form Shortcode to Your Contact Page

You can find the shortcode to display your form in your WordPress Dashboard under Caldera Forms > Forms and clicking Get Shortcode on your form from the list.

Go to your contact page and make sure you are using the Business Consultant Contact Page layout. Then deploy the Visual Builder. Delete the contact form module that is inside the row of your specialty section. Then add a text module where the contact form module was and enter the shortcode in the content box to display the form.

Now, copy the style of the text module in the footer section holding the dummy “lorem ipsum” text.

And paste the style to the text module containing your form shortcode.

Now your form text matches the layout.

Styling your Contact Form Button

Here is a little trick to style your form button without having to add custom CSS. Since Divi already uses CSS Classes to style the default buttons through the theme, you can add the classes Divi already uses to your Caldera Form button field. Then once these classes have been added, you can set your default button styles in the theme customizer to style the form button.

Click to edit the Send Message button field within the layout builder. For the custom class input box, add the class et_contact_bottom_container. In the class input box, delete the classes currently in there and add the class et_pb_button.

Save your form and then go over to the Theme Customizer and navigate to Buttons > Buttons Style and style your button to match your layout.

Now let’s check out the final result…

Using the Auto Terms of Service and Privacy Policy Options Plugin to Create Your T&C Content

With the Auto Terms of Service and Privacy Policy Options Plugin installed, navigate to Settings > Auto TOS & PP. Enter all of the info into the input boxes to be automatically added to the T&C content. Then turn on the shortcode by selecting “On/Displaying” from the dropdown next to the On/Off option. Finally, grab the terms of service shortcode to be used in the next section when we build the terms and conditions page.

Create Your Terms and Conditions Page

Creating a Terms and Conditions page is quite simple with the Business Consultant Layout Pack. First add a new page and add the Case Study layout to the page using the Visual Builder.

Then update the header section with a new title called Terms and Conditions and center the alignment of the text.

In the section below the header section, update the top row to a single column structure and delete every module in the row except the text module containing the dummy “lorem ipsum” text. Update the text module design settings to have a custom width of 70% and a centered alignment. And finally, replace the content in the text module with your Terms and Conditions shortcode [my_terms_of_service].

Then delete all the other sections below to clean up the layout.

Simple as that.

Tip: Don’t forget that you can style the text of the shortcode even further by targeting elements within the text styling dropdowns under the design tab of the text module that holds your shortcode.

Also, don’t forget to update the checkbox form field with the url for the page you just created!

Here is the final Terms and Conditions page.

Other Options for Creating your Terms and Conditions

If you are interested in a more customizable (and less free) solution to generating a Terms and Conditions for your business, there are some good solutions out there including iubenda, and TermsFeed. For more info you can read one of our posts on “How to Create a Privacy Policy for your Website“.

Final Thoughts

Depending on your website and/or business, your terms and conditions may need a more prominent placement. A contact form is a perfect place for it. You can easily add a checkbox field to your form that both requires users to agree with your terms and conditions and also links them to your terms and conditions page. This is a convenient way to make sure your visitors see important info and are held accountable. The Caldera Forms plugin provides a free solution to add this functionality in a way that works well with Divi. And, creating your own terms and conditions content is really not that difficult if you utilize any one of the auto generating solutions out there.

So, if you need to prompt users to agree with your terms and conditions, I hope this post will point you in the right direction.

Looking forward to hearing from you in the comments.

The post How to Require a Terms and Conditions Agreement On Your Contact Form appeared first on Elegant Themes Blog.

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Paint.NET is a free image and photo editing app for Windows. It was designed to have the look and feel of Microsoft Paint, an app that’s simple and intuitive, while providing advanced features of high-end graphics software such as layers and effects. It can be expanded through plugins.

Paint.NET started as a college design project that was mentored by Microsoft and is now maintained by Rick Brewster. It has a large online following with lots of support. If you’re looking for a free app with all the power of Photoshop, this app isn’t for you. But if you want a powerful and free app that’s simple to use and can do the majority of image editing tasks, then read on.

Paint.NET Features

This is the workspace after the app loads. Each of the tools can be moved around or closed. The menu looks like a standard Windows app from before the Microsoft Ribbon design. File and Edit include the tools you’d expect. Edit adds a feature to paste into a new layer or new image.

View

The View menu includes zoom, grid, rulers, and options. Here I’ve opened the image pack for the Interior Design layout pack.

Image

Image includes size and rotation options. The resize menu lets you resample the image for best quality, bicubic, bilinear, and nearest neighbor. Resize by percentage or enter a pixel size. Unfortunately, it doesn’t do batch resizing. You can copy the resize value to paste into the field, but batch resizing would be a better choice.

Layers

The Layers menu includes tools to add a new layer, duplicate a layer, merge, import, flip, rotate, zoom, etc. You can see the individual layers, move them, disable them, copy them, etc., in the layers tool to the right of the screen. You can add as many layers as you want.

I use this tool to create a gray overlay with 125 opacity as part of beautifying images for tutorials. I fill the layer with the color, select the portion of the screen I want to peek through, and delete the selected area of the layer (as seen in the image above).

Rather than deleting what I’ve selected, other options are available in the toolbar to replace, add, subtract, intersect, or invert. Layers can also be used to create masks.

Adjustments

The Adjustments menu includes tools to adjust the images including auto-level, black and white, brightness, contrast, curves, hue, saturation, invert colors, levels, posterize, and sepia.

Here I’ve adjusted the saturation and lightness. If I click OK and then open this tool again it retains the settings. This is helpful when adjusting multiple images that need the same or similar adjustments. The same goes for most of the tools.

Effects

The Effects menu includes artistic, blurs, distortions, noise, photo, render, and stylize. Each has lots of options and features and are fully adjustable. They work on any portion of an image that you select. Each of the adjustments has multiple settings.

Artistic

Artistic includes ink sketch, oil painting, and pencil sketch. Here’s the cute pillow made into an artistic ink sketch.

Here’s an artistic oil painting.

How about an artistic pencil sketch?

Blur

Blurs include fragment, Gaussian, motion, radial, surface, unfocus, and zoom. Here’s a motion blur.

Distort

Distort includes bulge, crystalize, dents, frosted glass, pixelate, polar inversion, tile reflection, and twist. This one’s a crystalized distortion.

How about a pixelate distortion?

Or a polar inversion?

Noise

Noise includes add noise, median, and reduce noise. This one adds noise.

Photo

Photo options include glow, red-eye removal, sharpen, soft portrait, and vignette. This example is vignette.

Render

Render includes clouds, Julia fractal, and Mandelbrot fractal. This one is clouds.

This one’s Julia fractal.

And here’s Mandelbrot fractal.

Stylize

Stylize includes edge detect, emboss, outline, and relief. This one is emboss.

Here’s outline. This would be useful for creating a sketched look.

Tools

Tools include the typical selecting tools such as rectangle, lasso, ellipse, and magic wand. It also includes a paint bucket, gradient, paint brush, eraser, pencil, color picker, recolor, text, shapes, pan, gradient, line/curve, etc. You can choose your tools from a dropdown or from the floating toolbox.

Select Tools

In this example I’m using the rectangle selection tool. I’ve copied a portion of the image and pasted it into a different location. Select anything to make a copy using the select tools. Paste it anywhere, move it around. Stretch, resize, recolor, etc. You can also move selected pixels.

Here’s an example of selecting using the magic wand. I selected portions of the candles and added some red with enough opacity to make it look like it blends with the wax. I also selected the bottom of the vase and added a darker shade of red to make it look like a little bit of its content is still in the bottom.

Brushes

Brush widths go from 1-2000 and you can set the hardness to any percentage you want. It has dozens of fill effects (brushes). It’s limited with its brushes, but you can install lots more brushes with plugins. It has 15 blend modes which includes dodge, burn, multiply, overlay, and more. It also has 2 selection clipping modes.

Pencils and Text

Pencil only has one tip but you can choose colors and gradients to help you mimic the various types of pencils. You can also add text, which includes lots of fonts and modes.

Shapes

Create 27 different shapes, choose the style, colors, sizes, etc. Stretch them, drag them in any direction, etc.

Clone Tool

The clone tool lets you choose a portion of the image to clone and then you can paint the image with the cloned area. In this image I’ve cloned the floor and I’m using this to move the wall back a few feet on the right side.

History

It has unlimited history, so you can go back through every step and undo or redo to every point.

File Types and Quality Settings

Save as paint.net, BMP, JPEG, PNG, TIFF, TGA, or DirectDraw Surface. When you save, you have quality adjustments, which will vary depending on the file-type you choose. This example is a JPEG. It provides a preview so you’ll know if you like the quality. It provides you the file size too, which is great for making decisions about your image quality.

Here are the settings for saving as a PNG. I can choose the bit depth. If I choose 8-bit I can set the dithering level and transparency threshold.

Here are the adjustments for a GIF. I’ve found GIF’s difficult to deal with because it doesn’t show the animation. It will open and save them though.

Plugins

Paint.NET can be expanded with plugins. There are almost 1000 free plugins (over 800 active) available in the plugin index in the forum. You can add masking, liquify, brushes, more blend modes, more selection tools, transforming tools, pens, and lots more. Plugins are installed manually. The plugin index includes step-by-step instructions. It isn’t difficult, but it isn’t robust like WordPress.

Documentation and Download

Documentation is provided at the website and is accessible through the help button in the upper right of the screen in the Paint.NET app. The website also includes a forum and lots of tutorials. Here you can access the plugins. You can keep up with news at the Paint.NET blog.

DOWNLOAD – You can download it for free from the publisher’s website: GetPaint.NET

Pinta – A Paint.NET Alternative

An alternative, which was inspired by Paint.NET, is an app called Pinta. It’s available for Windows, Mac, and Linux, and is also free. It doesn’t have the community that Paint.NET has, but it includes a lot of the same features (its code adjustment and effect filters actually came from Paint.NET) and is also worth considering – especially if you’re a Mac or Linux user and want something like Paint.NET.

Ending Thoughts

I don’t consider Paint.NET to be a Photoshop replacement for high-end graphics designers, but for those Windows users who just need some good photo editing tools that goes beyond brightness, cropping, and resizing, while adding tools such as brushes, layers, blending modes, and cloning, this might be all you need.

Paint.NET is lightweight and fast. I’ve used it for basic image editing for several years now and I’m pleased with its performance. In fact, the majority of the images you’ve seen in my articles have been edited with Paint.NET. I use it on a laptop (an Asus i7 with GeForce 940M) and often have 30 or more images open with no problems.

My favorite aspects of Paint.NET is how easy it is to use and the amount of features it has. It has a small learning curve, making it a great choice for drawing and for editing images without feeling like you need to take a class. The essentials for most needs are here and you can add more features with close to 1000 free plugins. Not bad for free.

We want to hear from you. Have you tried Paint.NET? Let us know about your experience in the comments.

Featured Image via MatiasDelCarmine / shutterstock.com

The post Paint.NET: A Free and Simple Photoshop Alternative for Windows appeared first on Elegant Themes Blog.

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Hey Divi Nation! Thanks for joining us for the next installment of our weekly Divi Design Initiative; where each week, we give away a brand new, free Divi Layout Pack from our design team to you.

This week Kenny and his team have created an exceptional Business Consultant Layout Pack. This pack has eight different pages including a unique services and a smart case study page. And, as always, there are beautiful images used throughout that you are going to love. Getting your business consultant site off the ground will take minutes with this layout pack.

Check Out The Divi Business Consultant
Layout Pack Below

Get it for free today!

Landing Page Design

View The Live Layout Demo

Home Page Design

View The Live Layout Demo

About Page Design

View The Live Layout Demo

Blog Page Design

View The Live Layout Demo

Contact Page Design

View The Live Layout Demo

Case Study Page Design

View The Live Layout Demo

Services Page Design

View The Live Layout Demo

Pricing Page Design

View The Live Layout Demo

Key Features

This Business Consultant layout pack is just what a consultant needs to market your services online. The landing page is beautiful. The services page has unique design features that stand out. And the Case Study page layout has been thoughtfully designed to give the user just what they need. I love the overlapping technique used throughout the layouts because it makes those CTA’s really pop. Enjoy.

Live Demos

Click the links below to see a live demo for each of the layouts included in the pack.

  1. Business Consultant About Page (live demo)
  2. Business Consultant Blog Page (live demo)
  3. Business Consultant Case Study Page (live demo)
  4. Business Consultant Contact Page (live demo)
  5. Business Consultant Homepage (live demo)
  6. Business Consultant Landing Page (live demo)
  7. Business Consultant Pricing Page (live demo)
  8. Business Consultant Services Page (live demo)
Access This Layout Right Now
Directly from Your Divi Builder

Get an Exceptional Business Consultant Layout Pack for Divi - YouTube

Subscribe To Our Youtube Channel

Since Version 3.0.99 of Divi, you can find and import any of the layouts included in this pack (along with ALL of Divi’s Premade Layout packs) directly from the Divi Builder. They are already waiting for you.

To access your new layout, simply activate the Visual Builder when editing a page and look for the “Load From Library” icon in the page settings bar (it looks like a plus symbol). Click this icon to launch the Load From Library popup. Under the Premade Layouts tab, you can easily find the new layout by scrolling through the list of layout packs. Once you find the Layout Pack, click on it. You will see all the individual layouts included in the pack. Select the layout you want for to use and then click the “Use This Layout” button.

Authentication Required

Before you can download Premade Layouts from the Divi Library you must authenticate your Elegant Themes Subscription. If you have already activated updates for Divi under Divi > Theme Options > Updates, you have already authenticated your subscription and will have access to the layouts without a problem. If not, when you click to import a layout to your page, you will be prompted to enter your Elegant Themes Membership Username and API Key.

After you enter the Username and API Key, you will gain immediate access to the layouts. You can find your API Key under your members area on the Elegant Themes site.

No Licensing Restrictions

The photos included with these layouts have no licensing restrictions. This means you can use them in all of your commercial projects without having to worry about paying licensing fees or attributing the photographer. Use them in your commercial websites, sell them within your Divi child themes, include them in your own Divi layout packs or just use them on your blog. We know how challenging it can be to find good photos and how confusing and scary the licensing that governs those photos can be. We want to fix that problem for our users.

Download the Full Res Image Assets

But Wait…There’s More!

We hope you enjoy this restaurant layout pack. And to help ensure that you do, we’ll be doing a live stream on our Facebook page this Tuesday at 3pm EST to walk through how to use conditional logic to force clients to agree with your terms of service when using your contact form and also how to add a terms of service page using the layout.

See you there!

The post Get an Exceptional Business Consultant Layout Pack for Divi appeared first on Elegant Themes Blog.

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The Pantone name is synonymous with color. Each year, they pick a color that exemplifies current trends in design, and this year, the honor fell to Ultra Violet. We’re talking about an intense color with a provocative name that isn’t commonly used on the web, due to the difficulty you’ll face when incorporating it into modern designs.

Ultra Violet may be intimidating, but it’s also ripe with creative opportunities when it comes to web design. In this article, we’ll introduce you to the color, talk about its parent (purple), and how it fits in web design. Then we’ll teach you a few tricks to incorporate Ultra Violet into your repertoire.

Let’s get to work!

An Introduction to Ultra Violet (And What Makes It Pantone’s Color of the Year)

Ultra violet is a bold color choice that stands out wherever you use it.

The Pantone Color Institute is a company that advises businesses on which colors to use for their brand identities and product development. They also engage in what’s known as ‘color forecasting’, essentially predicting which colors will be in vogue in the immediate future. Each year, they choose a color of the year – in part, a prediction of future design trends.

For a few years now, the Pantone Color Institute has gone with relatively safe bets for its color of the year. Some recent selections include Greenery, Rose Quartz, Serenity, and Marsala:

Most of those have a decidedly pastel quality to them, so the choice of Ultra Violet for 2018’s color of the year came as a surprise. It’s a rich shade of purple, with very ‘regal’ qualities. The color itself has been associated with all things ‘mystical’, and even space exploration. Pantone was also quick to point out Ultra Violet has been a staple of plenty of famous wardrobes, including Prince and David Bowie. In other words, you’re in good company if you decide to use the color in your designs. Given this, here are Ultra Violet’s color swatches:

  • Pantone: 18-3838 or 2096 C
  • RGB: 101 R, 78 G, 163 B
  • CMYK: 76 C, 75 M, 0 Y, 0 K
  • HEX: 654EA3

Before you start experimenting, you should keep reading to discover more about the traditional uses of purple in design. Plus, we’ll also provide you with a few tips on how to use Ultra Violet effectively later on.

The Role of the Color Purple in Web Design

Purple is a rare color in the ‘wild’. That same rarity is perhaps what’s made it so prevalent when it comes to symbols of power. Some examples include Roman magistrates (who wore purple vestments), as did Byzantine and Roman emperors. Violet and purple are not the same, but when it comes to design, they share many similarities in the way we use them. Take the BDDI 2018 website, which is dedicated to 3D music experiments built by designers and developers:

The site uses a predominantly violet background, which is a bold choice that gives it a bohemian feel. To keep content readable, they use contrasting colors such as white (always a safe bet) and neon green. Whether you’re using Ultra Violet or a more classic shade or purple, contrast is your friend. This brings us to our next example, Kinsta, which uses purple gradients mixed with white for its background:

In this case, the use of purple is more subtle, and the gradient design gives the entire page a modern style. Also, note the way the website switches from purple to white, which tells your eyes you’re looking at different sections. Moving on to one last example, Divi itself uses violet for a lot of its User Interface (UI). Here’s the theme’s options menu, for example:

Violet also features predominantly within the Divi Builder:

Overall, the contrast between white and violet makes for a pleasant combination. Moreover, it should enable you to find the buttons and elements you need quicker since your eye should be drawn to the color. That’s not to say, of course, you should eschew all other colors in favor of violet and purple. Rather, we recommend keeping Ultra Violet in your back pocket for those situations where you want to really call attention towards a page or element.

3 Tips to Use Ultra Violet in Your Website’s Designs

There are, of course, nearly endless ways to use any color in projects. However, these three tips will enable you to make the most out of your bold color choice.

1. Use It Alongside Contrasting Colors

One of the best ways to make any color stand out is through contrast. For example, Ultra Violet and purple clash with orange, green, blue, and white. Here’s an example of a purple element on a blue background, which draws the eyes towards it:

To the right, you can see there’s another purple element – a button, in this case. This makes the button stand out from the white background, and it increases the readability of the white SUBMIT text on top. As we mentioned earlier, we’re big fans of shades of purple when it comes to Divi. Here’s an example from one of our layout packs that uses multiple shades of purple, which clashes with the blue elements to help each other stand out:

The key to using contrast properly is to pick the right colors and make sure there’s a balance in how much you use each of them. To help you with the former, you can use a color wheel to see what tones you find opposite of Ultra Violet.

2. Implement Gradients as Part of Your Design

Gradients are a fun way to add a lot of colors to your web designs. They stand out visually and make for excellent headers, such as the Kinsta example we showed you earlier in this article. Here’s another showcase of a Divi layout that uses a gradient background featuring the color purple:

From a functionality standpoint, there’s not much happening in the screenshot above – the page just displays a simple contact form. However, using a simple gradient background alongside a bold color choice is enough to make the section pop visually.

Implementing gradients in WordPress can be tricky though, unless you’re using the right tool for the job. Divi, for example, enables you to create gradient background overlays for any modules you use and the elements within.

3. Use Ultra Violet as an Accent Color

Earlier on, we talked about how useful contrast can be in web design. Accents are a way of using contrast to your advantage, to highlight specific elements with colors that are otherwise hidden. Take a look at this Divi pricing table, for example:

Here, we use Ultra Violet as an accent color to highlight the plan we want to lead user towards. We don’t use this color anywhere else on the other tables, and it stands out because the other tables use more muted swatches. Another good example would be this Contact Us section built with Divi:

Here, we have two distinct sets of elements – contact information, and social media icons. The first stands out thanks to the contrast between the white text and dark background. However, we decided to use an accent color – Ultra Violet, of course – to make the social icons pop even more. The obvious choice would’ve been to use white for those as well, but then the four icons would’ve blended in with the text, which is a boring design choice.

The main takeaway is that accent colors should be bold and leverage the benefits of contrast. However, you should limit their use to a handful of elements per page at most, so they don’t blend in with the rest of your design.

Conclusion

There are a lot of ‘safe’ colors when it comes to web design, such as white, black, blue, and red. People are used to seeing them, so you need to use them creatively if you’re aiming for the ‘wow’ factor. With Ultra Violet, though, the color alone makes a statement, and it helps shake up your designs.

If you’re not sure how to incorporate Ultra Violet into your web designs, here are a few tips to help you get started:

  1. Use it alongside contrasting colors, such as orange or green.
  2. Implement it as part of a gradient for a stylish effect.
  3. Use it as an accent color on white backgrounds.

Do you have any questions about how to use Ultra Violet in your next web project? Let’s talk about it in the comments section below!

Article image thumbnail by AmzhyIttay / shutterstock.com.

The post Ultra Violet: Pantone’s 2018 Color of the Year appeared first on Elegant Themes Blog.

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Welcome to part 3 of 5 in our series Scaling Your Divi Web Design Business where we’re exploring proven tactics and actionable strategies geared towards helping you grow your Divi based web design business.

Once you’ve mentality prepared to scale your business and you’ve solidyfied your systems and processes (as best as possible), you’re ready to start growing your team. At this point, business owners often rush into hiring, growing a team and building a big agency but without the proper mindset to handle that growth, it will often lead to a series of hardships that could’ve been avoided.

The next 2 posts will intentionally focus on proven strategies and tactics from the experienced Divi web design business owners I interviewed which are geared towards helping you find and hire the right talent for your business/situation. Let’s dive in!

Finding and Hiring Your Divi Web Design Dream Team

This could easily be a series in itself, so we’re going to keep this concise and directed to scaling. With everything stated in the previous posts, it’s probably very obvious why you’d want to build a team. One of the main reasons being that you can’t scale your business by doing everything on your own. I’ve self admittedly tried to do far too many things on my own and have struggled with delegating work. Having a “do it yourself” mentality is great in many ways when you’re starting out as a one man shop, but it has costly, negative impacts when attempting to grow a business.

And when we talk about growing a team, this doesn’t mean that you need to hire employees, build an agency with 20-30 people and have an office location. We’re talking about delegating what work you NEED to delegate in order to free you up to do what you do best. Sub contractors, online freelance sites and fellow colleagues you can partner up with are great ways to add to your team. Maybe you hire them out periodically or maybe you refer work to them directly, whatever works and helps you remain more profitable is the goal here.

1) Identifying the Roles You Need to Fill

As mentioned in part 1 of the series, it’s recommended that you solidify all the major positions in your business and create an org chart with titles of the roles. Once you know where your strengths lie and what positions you want or need to fill in your business, it’s time to start taking the steps to building your team.

One practical way to prepare to do this financially (as a one man shop) is to keep track of your hours in all these roles, then budget out for them as you move forward.

Here’s a simple example; if you charge $3,000 for a website that totals 40 hours of your time, your total hourly rate will break down to $75/hr (3,000/40). The hours split between 5 major roles might be as follows:

  • Web design/development = 20hrs ($1,500)
  • On-site SEO and content work = 7hrs or ($525)
  • Project management (client communication, revisions, etc) = 5hrs ($375)
  • Administrative/internal work= 5hrs ($375)
  • Sales/marketing = 3hrs ($225)

So, if you plan to hire out Web design/dev and SEO for a similar project, you can add those up:

Web design/development ($1,500) + On-site SEO/content ($525)

Then you can safely estimate to pay out around $2,025 leaving you $975 for YOUR time in the other roles.

Now we haven’t accounted for taxes, expenses or non-billable hours working ON the business so you many consider bumping your cost up higher to compensate for those areas to make sure you create a profitable project. And you’ll also likely want to consider more time if you’re working with less experience team members or if they’re in training in those roles but hopefully this is a good representation of how you might plan to prepare to fill in those roles and not lose money doing so!

2) Finding Your Dream Team

If you’ve been in the Divi community for a while you most likely already know this but if you’re new, I have good news for you – the Divi community is perhaps the most empowered, engaged, helpful, support and eager community online. This makes for an ideal spot for connecting with potential candidates to collaborate with when it comes to growing your team from a sub contract, part time or full time status.

Many of the folks I interviewed said they began their search for talent first by checking with peers and trusted colleagues in the Divi community then engaging in the Divi Facebook groups. Now, if you post an opportunity in a Divi group, you’re likely to get a ton of responses so I’d be cautious of doing that unless you have the time to sift through resumes and portfolios. But one common way these established business owners grew their team via FB groups was to keep an eye on people who were commenting, offering solutions, help and support then reaching out when they had an opportunity that they felt they might be a good fit for.

I’d like to submit this approach to you if you’re in the Divi Facebook groups and are looking to hire. And vise versa, if you’re a designer or developer looking for an opportunity, just know that how you interact with fellow Divi web designers is being noticed and will go a long way when it comes to potential opportunities for you!

A word to the wise – offering support, help and encouragement in the groups will go much farther than posting “Hire me.”

This is one of the most complicated parts of growing any business so it must not be taken lightly. Once you have your systems and processes in place, hiring will be the next step in order to grow your team. Across all of the people I interviewed, there were 3 main ways to find talent for your team:

  1. Locally – One of the most practical places to start is either WordPress or business meetups, networking events, local colleges or other organizations like churches, non-profits and even social circles are great places to keep an eye out for someone who could potentially fill one of those spots.

    Hiring locally comes with a series of benefits you might not find with hiring remotely. For one, face to face relationships often lead to trust, loyalty and understanding much faster than communicating through tech. In working with a local team, you’re also in the same time zone and will more likely share common interests as well. There won’t be the challenges of cultural communication barriers or time zones with local based collaboration.

    If I can offer any advice for this method, it’s to always have an eye out for potential. In interview #6, John Wooten points out that his prodijee came from jamming with him in a band and noticing how his tinkering with sound would translate seemlesley to web design. Geno Quiroz in interview #7 points out that his right hand man came in the form of a pastor looking for some side work that has now turned into a great part-time working relationship. Keeping an eye out for talent in unsuspecting areas will be key to this method!

  2. Nationally – There are many reasons you may want to keep your team within your county. Whether it be from a pricing standpoint, tax, language, time zones, etc. There are of course sites like Monster, Indeed, etc that are very practical to start with but perhaps the most notable are Divi Facebook groups. Many of the same methods mentioned above can be applied here when it comes to scouting talent.

    The great thing about our industry is that unless someone needs to meet face to face with a client, most of our work can be done from anywhere. Remote work is common for most all web teams and new technology for screen sharing and video calls are making this working lifestyle the new norm. Just be aware that remote working also has the obvious downfalls and limitations that come with time zones and technology. As Andrew Tuzson points out in interview #3, they’ve had to actually relocated workers to their area from across the U.S. which is another thing to consider when working nationally.

  3. Globally – Hiring globally is a remarkable thing for human civilization and is only just recently possible with our informational and technological age. Barriers of language, information and cultural understanding are now broken down. The Divi community and WordPress community at large being global makes hiring work out to talented people in other countries a reality.

    If you’re interested in hiring abroad, there are many reasons you may want to do so. David Blackmon in interview #5 shares their company’s experience in hiring abroad with lessons learned that I definitely recommend watching if you’re thinking of hiring globally.

    Hiring work out to talented people in other countries can really help a startup business with their bottom line by being able to offer work at a much lower rate as opposed to hiring locally. But as David wisely points out in that interview, it’s important to know global money exchange rates to make sure that you’re not devaluing or opposite, drastically overpaying what’s expected in another county. Sites like UpWork and others have gained a lot of popularity in the web design world recently but again, I highly recommend starting with the Divi community.

If you’re new to the Divi community, here are a list of great Facebook groups to get started in:

3) Hiring Your Dream Team

Once you’ve determined what roles you need to fill and once you’ve found some potential team members either on an as needed, part time or full time basis, so begins the daunting task of hiring.

A very interesting idea to note between all the interviews I did was that when most hired initially from a one man shop, they didn’t set an hourly rate and find the cheapest people to complete the tasks. The majority let their talent say what they felt their worth was then went from there. This mindset differs greatly from the majority of most businesses trying to hire the cheapest help.

Typically, businesses divide out the amount of work they need done and plan the budget accordingly to hire it out (seen above). And that makes sense from a financial standpoint, but what the established Divi web designers taught me in these interviews was that in web design, if you’re going to build a team successfully, you want to keep an eye out for people who aren’t just interested in collecting a quick pay check. You’re looking for someone to take ownership in your brand, your business and more importantly, you’re looking to empower them to grow in their web design journey as well. We’ll dive more into these next steps in the next post but let’s look at some practical examples of this.

  • In John Wooten’s interview, he pointed out that when initially found someone (who is now his right-hand man), he offered a retainer ($xxx/month) and gave a certain amount of tasks to get completed by a certain date whenever and wherever they wanted. Instead of offering to do those tasks at an hourly rate and just collect a check, his prodijee was inspired and incentivized to learn quickly and increase his output in order for the potential to make more per hour. This method then translated into a very fruitful business relationship that is now the team behind Artillery Media.
  • In Geno’s interview, he points out a similar story when finding and bringing on his protegee; giving him a bulk of hours and room to grow that would then empower him to take on more roles and eventually free Geno up to do much of the work that he WANTS to do. This would not have been the case if he had just hired someone to do a few tasks for a cheap hourly rate.
  • And lastly Sarah Oates, who’s just starting her scaling journey, in her interview points out that she used a virtually identical method in hiring her graphic designer. Instead of nickel and dining her for a cheap hourly rate, she had her potential collaborator name what she felt she was worth and did a percentage based commission on incoming projects. Again, further incentivising her new team member to work more efficiently and quickly to make a better hourly wage herself.

Notice some similarities between these stories? Empowerment, growth and opportunity are all at the core of these hiring methods that have so far led to a win for the business owner, a win for the new hire and a win for the client who has a project done on time, on budget and with a happy team.

Closing Thoughts

I’ll leave this posts with a powerful thought taken from Sarah’s interview and that is “To find people who fit and represent your brand.”

It’s easy to try and mold people to your style but if you find someone who shares the same values, mission and virtues, then you’ll save a lot of time., There’s a saying that goes “Don’t hire mean people then hope to make them friendly, just hire friendly people.”

Well I hope this post has inspired you to think about your tactics for finding and hiring your Divi web design dream team! Again, these ideas and concepts are taken directly from successful methods of business owners who are in the thick of it.

Do you have any thoughts, ideas or experience on finding and hiring that you’d like to share? Comment below!

Part 4 – Effectively Growing and Managing Your Divi Web Design Team

Join us for part 4 as we dive into how to effectively grow and manage your web design team. Once you’ve found and hired some new talent, nurturing those relationships and keep them inspired is key!

Till then!

The post Finding and Hiring Your Divi Web Design Dream Team appeared first on Elegant Themes Blog.

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The real beauty of WordPress is that it’s open-source. Because of that, you can contribute to it and make it even more awesome. Yes. You..

While there is a definite business side to open-source software, the philosophy behind it is simple: let’s make something together. If you’ve ever worked with a group of any kind, you know how hard it can be to make people check their egos at the door and play nice.

So the Powers That Be wrote up the WordPress Coding Standards, a collection of HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and PHP rules guidelines written specifically to keep the source code as clean and functional as possible.

Get it…functional? It’s a code joke.

Why Do We Need WordPress Coding Standards?

My writing style is casual, off-the-cuff, and full of puns. My wife’s is collected, professional, and concise. Yours is…something altogether different and unique, too. None of them are bad or wrong, just different.

That applies to code as well. My HTML will look different than yours, my JavaScript may make your eyes bleed, and your CSS might be life-changingly beautiful.

Despite code’s prescriptive syntax, what you and I write line-by-line will be a little different. The WordPress coding standards are there to make sure that everyone who comes after you and contributes to the code is able to not only read and understand your work, but can also seamlessly add their own to it.

What Do You Need to Know to Contribute?

The first time you look at the standards, they might seem pretty restrictive. And they kind of are. If they were more lenient, they wouldn’t do their job, and the core WP code would be a mess.

But the documentation is so comprehensive, you don’t have to remember every detail. Just look it all up as you need it, referencing each section as you parse and debug your code before your final pull request is accepted and merged.

If the term pull request is foreign to you, check out our beginner’s guide for git and Github newbies. You’ll definitely need to be familiar with git because the WordPress code lives on Github.

Examples of the WordPress Coding Standards

Each of the core languages that make up WordPress has its own standards: PHP, JavaScript, HTML, CSS. If you’re truly dedicated to the cause, you may eventually contribute something with all four of them.

If you aren’t at the point where you can feel as though you are able to contribute, that’s okay, too. Looking at and learning the gist of the coding standards now will make your life a lot easier when you are ready.

HTML Examples

Have you ever opened up a web page, checked out the source code, and then cringed at how anyone ever thought writing that code was a good idea?

Me, too.

That’s why the HTML standards are set up the way they are. Just behind the W3C standards themselves, these are the standards you should commit to your fingers’ muscle memory.

Indentation

Outside of braces, indents are one of the most contested elements of most code. The WordPress Codex says to use tabs and that you must indent your code so that open and closing flags line up. Note: This took me a long time to get used to, as I am strongly in the ‘you indent with two spaces’ camp. If you are, too, you have my sympathies.

Good:

<h1>Hello, World!</h1>
    <div>
        <p>Ahoy, Divi Nation!</p>
    </div>
<h2>Goodbye, World!</h2>

Bad:

<h1>Hello, World!</h1>
<div>
<p>Ahoy, Divi Nation!</p>
</div>
<h2>Goodbye, World!</h2>

The same logic applies when you’re mixing PHP and HTML flags.

Quotes

Use quotes. Don’t not use quotes. Double or single is your choice, but use them at all costs. You have been warned.

Good:

<form>
Your Email Address: <br />
<input type='text' name='email'><br />
<input type='submit' value='Submit'>
</form>

Or

<form>
Your Email Address: <br />
<input type='text' name='email'><br />
<input type='submit' value='Submit'>
</form>

Bad:

<form>
Your Email Address: <br />
<input type=text name=email><br />
<input type=submit value=Submit>
</form>

So…quotes = yes. No quotes = bad.

For the rest of the HTML Coding Standards, you can go here.

CSS Examples

When it comes to CSS, most of the standards are for readability. There are a lot of classes and ids in WP. If we’re not careful, these stylesheets can turn into a real nightmare.

Structure

The WordPress coding standards say that CSS needs to have every single element on its own line, from class and id selectors to the styling and braces themselves. Additionally, you must use specific names for your elements that others can follow.

Good:


#email-div-about,
#email-div-blog {
    text-align: center;
    display:block;
    margin: auto;
}

Bad:

.awesome-emails, .amazing-something { text-align: center; display:block; margin: auto; }

or even this:

.awesome-emails,#amazing-stuff {
    text-align: center;
    display:block;
    margin: auto;
}

You can see that it the WP way of writing CSS makes each element easier to identify and style.

Properties

Just like the structure and selectors, properties need to be as concise and specific as possible. This make other users’ lives a little easier, and it also brings the overall size of the code down — and when the repo is as expansive as the WP, every bit and byte counts.

Good:


#form-submit-btn {
    display: block;
    background: #000;
    color: #fff;
    margin: 20px;
}

Bad:


#bjs-awesome-button {
    background: WHITE;
    color: #FFFFFF;
    border: 35PX;
    Margin-right: 30;
}

The second one is just ugly. And not in the awww, that dog is so ugly it’s cute kind of way.

And there are a ton more CSS standards to check out, too.

JavaScript Examples

There are a lot of important JavaScript WordPress Coding Standards. They are not that hard to remember, or really that far away from typical JS best practices, but there are enough that you should familiarize yourself with them.

Variables

What would JavaScript be without variables, you know? You can’t do much of anything without good ole var, and that’s what I want to make sure you do right. By following the official guide, you’re going to avoid weird scope issues that affect different parts of the repo than you mean to.

Good:

var b, j, k, awesome,
    // You should indent with tabs here, too!
    value = ‘Something’;

Bad:


var b = true;
var j = false; // since it’s a bad example, here’s a comment done wrong!
var k = b + j;
var awesome = true;

Comments

Okay, so maybe comments aren’t specifically a part of the JavaScript code itself, but I am a comment junkie and think that well-documented code is an art. The Core team has put together some great guidelines for commenting that make me smile.

Single Line:

function bjk();
//Be concise and explain the next line of code
$( ‘beej’ ).beAwesome();

Multiple Lines:

/*
 * Make sure that you keep the asterisks
 * lined up when you put comments on
 * multiple lines. Like this!
 */

Inline:

These will only be used to annotate parameter lists.

Function bjk( param1, param2, param7 /* explain why I skipped params 3 to 6 */, param 8 ) {
    // fantastic code goes here
}

Now you can annotate with the best of them.

And while you’re at it, you should probably read through the entire slate of WordPress coding standards for JavaScript.

PHP Examples

WordPress is PHP software. Devs and contributors are adding bunches of JavaScript in there these days, but it’s still predominantly PHP.

PHP Tags

Opening and closing PHP tags should be on their own lines (again, for readability), and you should never, ever, ever shorthand them. Ever.

Good:

<div>
    <?php
        echo ‘Hello, world!’;
    ?>
</div>

Or

<div>
    <?php echo ‘Hello, world!’; ?>
</div>

Bad PHP:


<div>
    <?
       echo ‘Hello, world!’;
    ?>
</div>

Naming Conventions:

PHP can do so much. So much. But it’s also kind of a mess. It was because of PHP that I first discovered the term spaghetti code, and if you follow the WordPress coding standards, maybe you can help clean things up by naming things the right way.

  • functions are in snake case: function_name
  • Classes are in snake case, but with capital letters: Class_Name
  • Unless the class is an acronym, then it’s all-caps snake case: WP_JS
  • Constants are also in all-caps, snake case: CONSTANT_NAME
  • files are written in all lowercase with hyphens: wp-config.php
  • functions are in snake case: function_name

Those are the simplest standards you’ll need to learn to contribute to the WordPress PHP codebase. The others are, once again, found in the codex.

How Can You Contribute?

Once you’re familiar (enough) with the baseline standards, you may want to read up on how to actually get into the contributor community.

Probably the best is make.wordpress.org because that’s where they (wait for it…) make WordPress.

Everything from documentation, core, support, to design, to all the coding languages have regularly scheduled Slack meetings you can jump into freely and immediately.

Additionally, there are WordCamp contributor days and panels. At WordCamp US 2017, after the main part of the conference, folks gathered for sessions that were specifically put together for people to contribute. Other camps will have similar offerings. If you’re interested in getting involved, I strongly suggest talking to and meeting some of the people who are already contribute.

Between forums, Slack, contributor days, and the unbelievable amount of documentation available in the WP Codex, you should have no trouble making sure that your code can win the Prettiest WordPress Code Award.

So get out there, codejunkie! And remember, we say code is poetry for a reason.

PS: we need real award like that to give out — a trophy or sash and tiara or something to give away at the national WordCamps for prettiest code contribution that year. Let’s make this happen, people!

Article thumbnail by Maksim M / shutterstock.com

The post A Newbie’s Guide to WordPress Coding Standards appeared first on Elegant Themes Blog.

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