UPDATED 2023: CMS vs Hard Coded Website: Which one is right for you?

Categories: Web Design

So, you need a website, and you’re not even sure what the title of this post means! That’s okay, let us break it down for you.

When it comes to websites there are so many options that it can seem overwhelming. For simplicity sake, we’ve broken them down into two options: Content Management System (CMS) + Hard Coded.

What’s the Difference?

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UPDATED 2023: Your Guide to FREE Stock Images – Part 1/3

Categories: Web Design

You’ve seen websites, magazines and ads, and there was a part of you that connected to it. There was a big beautiful crisp image that caught your attention, followed by the text that got you thinking about what the business wanted you to focus on. Simply put, the correct image can be a captivating and powerful tool in your marketing arsenal.

If you’re anything like our clients (or any business owner for that matter), you’ve wanted to emote the same response in your marketing. To Google you go, but where to start? It can be easy to get lost in the online ocean. Don’t worry, we’re going to let you in on a few of our secrets.

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5 Easy Steps to Gutenberg

Categories: Web Design

What is Gutenberg?

Unless you are a WordPress developer you may not have heard of Gutenberg or possibly you have seen the download Gutenberg message on your WordPress Dashboard. Unless you’re a nerd or enjoy dry reading, you probably have no idea what it is.

WordPress is completely overhauling their content editor and the new editor is called Gutenberg. The editing experience has been rebuilt for rich media pages and posts with the flexibility of blocks. If none of this makes sense that is okay. In simple terms, the way you created pages and posts in WordPress in the past is changing to be more flexible but there is a learning curve.

When and will my site break?

As of the time of this writing Gutenberg is not a core part of WordPress but available to try through a downloadable plugin and will be released as a core element in WordPress 5.0 (current WordPress version is 4.9.8). The date is still not set but we are expecting this to be late 2018.

Upon the release of WordPress 5.0 and Gutenberg, you may have to install and activate the optional “Classic Editor” plugin to disable the new Gutenberg interface so your website can remain the same and will not need any adjustments to continue working correctly.

Ideally, this will be a worst-case scenario but it will be a tool we have in our back-pocket to address issues that are found after the major change occurs.

How can I Prepare?

With the release of WordPress 5.0 and Gutenberg, your best option is caution. Although most sites will migrate to the new interface with little to no problems there is a concern when thinking about plugin compatibility. If your website has a lot of plugins there is a larger chance that you could have issues with your website.

  1. Test Out the Gutenberg Editor Plugin BEFORE WordPress 5.0.

    Once you update to WordPress 5.0, your post editor automatically updates to Gutenberg.

    Talk to your hosting provider about setting up a staging development or staging site (Costs may apply here) and install the Gutenberg plugin. This will not only allow you to see any issues that could be caused by the update to Gutenberg but will also give you time to get familiar with the new content editor and WordPress interface. Test and play as much as you can.

  2. Backup Your Website

    Creating backups of your website on a regular basis is always a good idea. It allows you to protect your website if anything goes wrong. You are able to restore to a backup and only lose content created between the time of the error and the backup. Before updating to WordPress 5 we recommend having a complete backup of your site and database.

  3. Keep your WordPress Plugins and core up to date

    By updating your plugins regularly you decrease the likelihood that a plugin will be incompatible with WordPress 5.0.
    Best Practice:
    Always update plugins before updating the WordPress Core.

  4. Make sure your server is running at least PHP 5.6+, MySQL 5.6+. If you are not using the latest version this could be the reason why your plugins are not working correctly. If you are hosted on our servers you are likely already running PHP 7+.

  5. Audit your site. A regular audit of your website is always a good idea but in preparation for WordPress Gutenberg, it is a great idea. Review plugins and remove any that are not being used or offer similar functionality to other plugins being used. Popular plugins tend to be updated more regularly and are more likely to be Gutenberg compatible. Once you have removed all of the plugins you do not need look at the plugins that are left. Check the plugin to see when it was last updated, what version of WordPress it was last tested with. If the plugin isn’t updated regularly look for an alternative plugin that can accomplish the same functionality that is more current.

We are here to help. If you have questions or concerns please contact our team at [email protected].

CSS Flexbox and Grid: The Future of Website Layouts

Categories: Web Design

Gone are the restrictive days! The days when websites were bound to the shackles of a limiting CSS framework. Enter CSS Flexbox and Grid!!! (we’re a little excited)

First things first though… what IS a CSS Flexbox and Grid?

We Believe the easiest way to think of Flexbox is to imagine all of your elements are floating inside of a container, using the Flexbox code you are able to position, scale and order the elements of your website. Making it very fluid and customizable.

The Grid CSS is similar to the Flexbox, but more structured. You are still able to position and order the elements of your website, but within a grid system.  Think of how sections appear in a newspaper, this is the same with a Grid CSS, we are able to position elements position elements within customizable rows and columns.

Rethinking Website Layouts

With the CSS Flexbox and Grid now in play, we’re no longer constricted to the old symmetrical layout of websites. This allows a new generation of websites to push the envelope through innovative designs beyond what has ever been possible before.  Look for brand personalities being expressed with abstract, a-symmetrical or even chaotic layouts.

You Guide to FREE Stock Images – Part 3/3

Categories: Web Design

What would a FREE Stock Image Guide be without giving you a list of our favorite websites?! No guide at all, that’s why we’ve done the legwork and have listed out Top 10 FREE Stock Image Websites.

But before you read on, if you haven’t seen the first two parts of this guide make sure you check them out too:

  1. Licensing Rights: what you need to know to make sure your images are used within their legal allowances
  2. Sizing: What are you going to use this image for, and what size should you buy?


Oracast’s Top 10 FREE Stock Image Websites

1. Pixabay – pixabay.com 

a.  Pixabay is a vibrant community of creatives, sharing copyright free images and videos. All contents are released under Creative Commons CC0, which makes them safe to use without asking for permission or giving credit to the artist – even for commercial purposes.

b.  Over 4100 high quality vector graphics & images

2. Pexels – www.pexels.com

a. Pexels provides high quality and completely free stock photos licensed under the Creative Commons Zero (CC0) license. All photos are conveniently tagged, searchable and also easy to discover through their discover pages.

b. Over 30,000 free stock photos

c. 3,000+ new images added every month

3. StockSnap – stocksnap.io

a. All photos uploaded on StockSnap are released for free under CC0 and do not require attribution.

4. Unsplash – unsplash.com

b. Over 200,000 free (do whatever you want) high-resolution photos brought to you by the world’s most generous community of photographers.

5. Kaboompics – kaboompics.com

a. Photos from Kaboompics appear on sites like BBC, CNN, Forbes, Cosmopolitan, Yahoo, iSpot, BuzzFeed, Hubspot, The Huffington Post, Lifehacker (Polish: Onet, WP, Eska, Polskie Radio, Antyweb) and even PornHub (thankfully that was an April Fools’ joke).

Kaboompics is one of the most popular source of free images for lifestyle, interior design and specialized bloggers in World.

b. Not allowed to sell images without consent.

6. Gratisography – Gratisography.com

a. Images created by experimental visual artist Ryan.

i. Model Releases

ii. Commercial and personal use

iii. Ability to adapt and modify.

iv. Cannot sell the images.

v. Cannot redistribute, claim ownership or imply endorsement.

7. ISO Republic – isorepublic.com

a. ISO Republic provides free stock photos for creative professionals. This website was founded in 2014 by Tom Eversley, a designer and photographer from England. Since their launch, ISO Republic has published over 3,000 free images, with more being added on a daily basis.

b. Free for commercial and personal use

c. No attribution required but appreciated

d. Model release not provided

8. Pic Jumbo – picjumbo.com

a. In 2013 Viktor Hanacek created this stock photo site called Pic Jumbo with free pictures that are today used by millions of bloggers, designers and marketers all around the world

i. Free for personal and commercial use

ii. Redistribution not allowed

9.  Burst – burst.shopify.com

a. Burst is a free stock photo site that is powered by Shopify. They have 1000s of high quality and royalty-free images available and free to download. This includes a wide variety of images ready for you to choose from and create with. They built this site to empower designers, developers, bloggers and entrepreneurs to create stunning websites and marketing campaigns. You can use these pictures for just about anything — hero images on your blog or online store, backgrounds for school projects, shots for social media campaigns, client work, and beyond.

i. Free for personal and commercial use

ii. Attribution not required but encouraged

10. Negative Space – negativespace.co

a. Each of the high-quality photographs you find here has been taken by a photographer from the Negative Space community. They have something for everybody, so be sure to check out our categories: Abstract, Animals, Architecture, Business, Black & White, Food, Landscapes, Nature, People, Sport, Street, Technology, Transport, and Work.

b. CC0 License

Other honorable mentions:







<Read Part 1>
<Read Part 2>

You Guide to FREE Stock Images – Part 2/3

Categories: Web Design

Welcome back to the second section of our 3-part FREE Stock Image Guide. In our previous article, click here, we discussed understanding licensing requirements. Did you miss it? Make sure you have all your bases covered before you choose an image.

Now that you have chosen your image and you’ve double checked the licensing rights, you’re probably wondering “what size am I supposed to download?”

The short answer: the LARGEST file

But there’s more to it than that. Read on…
<Read part 3 now>

Why Information Architecture and User Experience Is Important

Categories: Web Design

Information Architecture (IA)

What is information architecture (IA)? As per Wikipedia, it’s “the art and science of organizing and labeling data including: websites, intranets, online communities, software, books and other mediums of information, to support usability”.

IA is an important part of website development. It will impact the user experience, the conversion rates and search engine optimization. Understanding keywords and how people search for information online will help when organizing website content. The goal is to create a website people will want to revisit.

User Experience (UX)

UX is how a person feels when visiting a site. How easy the site is to use, the value the site offers visitors, visual appeal and interactive elements all play a role. Search engines take user-friendliness into consideration when ranking a website.

Website Development Phases

The first phase of website development is the planning phase. During this stage we collaborate in gathering information about your ideal clients, create SMART goals, develop a marketing strategy and establish calls to action. This information will be the foundation upon which we build the website.

It’s important we have a clear understanding of who your user’s are and what needs they have when visiting your website so we can meet their needs and develop a great user experience for them.

Once this information is gathered we create the website structure. This may include the keywords, sitemap, and a wireframe which is a simplified sketch of the website navigation and layout. All the content and photos will also be collected in this phase so that it can be organized into the appropriate spaces.

The next phase of the website development is the design phase. The designs are submitted for review to our team and the clients, and all necessary changes and updates are made.

Once the designs are approved the programming phase is complete, more testing and reviews are conducted to ensure each element of the site is working to plan and that it meets the goals and objectives set out in the planning phase. End users are kept top of mind through-out each phase of development to ensure an amazing user experience for all.

Responsive Website vs. Mobile App?

Categories: Web Design

Businesses are realizing they need to be where their customers are, and these days that’s on mobile!

Having a mobile presence can take several forms. It’s important to remember a mobile app is different from a mobile friendly website or a web app. Building a mobile friendly (or responsive) website is only one part of a well developed mobile strategy.

So what is a responsive website vs. a mobile app? Both very important tools with different purposes. Websites are aimed at engaging new visitors searching for information online and mobile apps take user experience to the next level.
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Content: The Minimum Your Business Website Needs

Categories: Web Design

With all the hype surrounding content marketing, it can feel like an uphill battle for many small business owners. Content marketing is an online strategy to attract new customers through producing quality content on a continual basis and publishing that content online. This strategy is an effective approach to search engine optimization and utilizing platforms such as social media.

Many business websites however, are lacking even basic website content. A website is the primary face of your business online and content is a preeminent part of your online presence.

It’s crucial for business websites to have at least the bare minimum in website content to build a foundation. What basic content does your website need? We’ve put together a list:
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