Uncategorized

Simplifying Form Styles With `accent-color`

I don’t know about you, but I love it when new CSS properties arrive that make our daily lives as developers simpler and enable us to remove a whole lot of redundant code. aspect-ratio is one such property (recently eliminating the need for the padding hack). accent-color just might be the next.

Styling Form Inputs

Let’s take checkboxes. In every browser, these are styled differently by the user agent stylesheet (responsible for the browser’s default styles).

Historically there hasn’t been any real way to style these inputs. Instead, many web developers resort to a well-known hack, which involves visually (but accessibly) hiding the input itself, then styling a pseudo-element on the label. (All this applies to radio buttons too.)

Accessibility

A pretty cool feature is that the browser will automatically determine the best color for the checkmark to ensure sufficient color contrast, using its own internal algorithms. That means no extra code styling is required to ensure our checkboxes are as accessible as they can be.

In the following demo, we’re applying two different accent colors. If you view this in Chrome, you should see that the checkmark of the one on the left is white, while the one on the right is black. Browsers use different algorithms for this, so you may experience different results in Chrome versus Firefox.

We can use color-scheme to ensure that our checkboxes take on a light or dark style according to preference. Setting it on the root element in our CSS ensures that it applies to the whole page:

:root {
  color-scheme: light dark;
}

This expresses the color schemes in order of preference. Alternatively we could implement it using a meta tag in our HTML:

<meta name="color-scheme" content="light dark">

This is actually preferable, as it will be read by the browser immediately before the CSS file is parsed and executed — therefore could help us avoid a flash of unstyled content (FOUC).

In our rainbow checkbox demo, you might notice that the browser also adjusts the color of some of the checkmarks when we switch the color scheme, while still maintaining sufficient contrast. Pretty cool!

color-scheme affects the user agent styles. If we use it without providing other background color or text color styles for the page, the default colors of the page will be inverted if the user selects a dark color scheme — so the default background color will be black, and the text color will be white. In practice, it’s quite likely we’ll want to override these with CSS. We can use color-scheme alongside the prefers-color-scheme media query. In this demo, I’m using prefers-color-scheme to set the text color only when a dark scheme is preferred.

See the Pen accent-color with color-scheme by Michelle Barker.

color-scheme can also be set on individual elements, which is useful if there are some areas in our design that we want to retain a specified color scheme, regardless of whether light or dark mode is toggled. In this demo, we have a form with a dark background even when the overall color scheme is light. We can specify a dark color scheme, to ensure our checkboxes are styled with a dark color at all times:

.dark-form {
  color-scheme: dark;
}

See the Pen accent-color – showing two different colours by Michelle Barker.

Limitations

As mentioned, there are several elements that are not currently affected by accent-color, for which this functionality would be useful. Another consideration is that we’re currently limited to only styling the checked state of the checkbox or radio button — aside from using color-scheme, which has some effect on the checkbox border, but doesn’t allow for full customization. It would be great to be able to style the border color and thickness for the input in its unchecked state or implement even more custom styling, such as changing the overall shape, but we’re not quite there yet. At the very least, allowing the checkbox border to inherit the body text color would be preferable.

It would also be useful to be able to extend the use of accent-color to other elements beyond forms, such as video controls. Currently for a developer to create custom controls entails a significant amount of work in order to re-create the accessibility of native ones. This excellent article by Stephanie Stimac details the work being done by Open UI to standardize UI elements in order to make it easier for developers to style them.

Alternatives

An alternative way to style a checkbox or radio button is to hide default styling with -webkit-appearance: none and replace it with a background image. (See this demo.) Modern browsers support this pretty well, but it has its limitations when compared to the first method of using a pseudo-element (described at the start of this article), as we can’t directly manipulate the background image with CSS (e.g. changing its color or opacity), or transition the image.

The CSS Paint API — part of the Houdini set of CSS APIs — opens up more options for customization, allowing us to pass in custom properties to manipulate a background image. Check out this lovely demo (and accompanying worklet) by Matteo. Support is currently limited to Chromium browsers.

Accessibility

We should take care to provide accessible focus styles when using hiding the default appearance of form controls. An advantage of accent-color is that it doesn’t hide the browser defaults, preserving accessibility.

Browser Support

accent-color is currently supported in the latest versions of Chrome and Edge. It can be enabled in Firefox with the layout.css.accent-color.enabled flag, and is due to be supported in the next release. Unfortunately, there is no Safari support at present. That’s not to say you can’t start using it right away — browsers that don’t support accent-color will simply get the browser defaults, so it works great as progressive enhancement.

Conclusion

We’ve mostly talked about checkboxes and radio buttons here, as they’re among the most common form elements requiring customization. But accent-color has the potential to provide quick and easy styling for many of our form elements, especially where extensive customization isn’t needed, as well as allowing the browser to pick the best options for accessibility.

Further Reading

Some resources on accent-color, color-scheme, and styling form inputs:

How To Optimize Your Landing Page For Better PPC

As you may have heard, Pay-Per-Click (PPC) is a competitive game.

PPC is a method of digital advertising in which you aim to get your ads to rank as the highest result displayed for user searches, and you, as the advertiser, pay a fee each time it’s clicked. This means that when a user types in words related to your business, your customized ad will be the first result they see—sometimes.  

Thousands of businesses are willing to spend unbelievable amounts of money to rank at the top of search engine results pages (SERP) and in the most relevant places for their users around the web.

In 2019, small businesses spent between $9,000 and $10,000 per month on PPC, with Google making an average of $116.5 billion in revenue from Google Ads alone the year before.

So, yeah—businesses bid high numbers to play. But that doesn’t mean you can’t play too.

The key to maximizing your return on ad spend (ROAS) is to be highly strategic in your audience targeting, keyword usage, and landing page design.

We’re here to show you how to get the best bang for your buck by cleaning up your Pay-Per-Click (PPC) strategy. 

(Pssssst … Do you have a specific PPC-related question? Hop straight to it here ⬇🙂

  1. How Do Paid Ads Work, Anyway?
  2. The Role of PPC in Marketing Strategies
  3. Why Your PPC Ad Needs a Dedicated Landing Page
  4. A Step-by-Step Guide to Optimizing Your Post-Click Strategy

1. How Do Paid Ads Work, Anyway?

Think of your paid ad as an internet detective. Each platform varies in how you can create your ad sets, but one thing remains the same:

Your ad (internet detective) finds the most relevant spots to be seen by your ideal customers and fights for optimal placements. 

There are two ad formats to choose from once you and your team set your campaign goals: display and search.

Display

Display ads rely on graphic formats to catch user attention, build brand awareness, and guide users to your site. They’re shown based on specific audience targeting criteria such as demographics, interests, or retargeting events and show up in images and video.

You typically see them displayed on the newsfeed of your social media platforms. Although, your display ad isn’t just confined to social media. It can also appear on websites that have similar content and keywords to your business. That way, even when your prospects are considering alternatives—you can still be top of mind.

Image courtesy of Bloomberg Wealth.

Across social platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Youtube, standard placements for display ads are:

  • Stories
  • Timelines
  • Video feeds
  • Right column
  • (Facebook) Marketplace
  • (Instagram) Explore section
  • Messenger inbox and sponsored messages
Image courtesy of Kajabi.

Search

Search ads are a wordsmith’s dream. These ad formats rely on short, impactful copy that sends the right message and captures user intent. This is where knowing your audience well will pay off—literally. These ads appear at the top of the SERP.

Image courtesy of Google.

Aside from the above or below search results on Google search, through the Google Search Network, your ads can appear beside, above, or below search results on Google Play, the Shopping tab, Google Images, Google Maps, and the Maps app.

If your budget doesn’t allow for a high bid (or you don’t feel it’s the best use of your budget), then you’ll need to be extra clear on the keywords you use.

Coupling keywords with your offer determines what your winning combination will be. You need to secure space in your market with a relevant keyword while also finding a way to stand out. It might take a couple of tweaks to get the formula right, so make sure you keep track of your ad performance. This way, you can jump into your campaign to move things around while making the necessary changes to your post-click landing page.

Tip: Take a look at your competitors’ performance by typing in a keyword you might share. Take note of where their ads and other pages land on the first search results page and use that insight to determine how you can differentiate your copy/offering.

FYI: Search ads can increase brand awareness by as much as 80%. 👀

Give it time, and you’re sure to strike gold as you refine your ad set.

Retargeting

You can use retargeting ads in both display and search formats on the same platforms you launch your PPC campaigns from (i.e, Google, Facebook, Youtube, Bing, LinkedIn). Retargeting leverages past engagements with your brand to show consumers ads to re-engage them.

For example, when you’re shopping online and leave a website before purchasing the items in your cart, the brand receives an “abandoned cart” notice. If they have retargeting ads in place, you’ll notice reminders to revisit their website through:

📧 Email messages
📱 Social media display ads
🖥 Website banners (even if the website you’re browsing has nothing to do with that brand specifically)

Retargeting ads allow you to finish the job and turn prospects into leads.

You have lots of flexibility when it comes to paid advertising. However, knowing what role you want it to play in your marketing strategy can be the difference between dollars gained and dollars wasted.

2. The Role of PPC in Marketing Strategies

PPC advertising is an efficient way to find ideal customers that would otherwise be difficult to find. After all, you can’t be in all places at once.

But when your PPC ad finds the right audience, you need to make sure that you’ve created it to address the right intent. 

As the name implies, purchase intent is when a consumer shows signs of being ready to buy a product or service. 

A general ad about your business is unlikely to get the conversions you’re hoping for. PPC provides an opportunity to create a sense of urgency by addressing the specific problem your ideal customer is seeking to solve. 

To create an effective PPC campaign, you need to decide what your ultimate goal is.

Is it brand awareness?

If you’ve just launched a business, a new product, or you’re trying to attract new customers, your goal should likely be brand awareness.

Brand awareness can be like a social currency for startups.

Sales will always be a top priority. However, before you can start to grow your revenue, you need to build credibility in your industry, build trust with your ideal customers, and slice out a part of the market.

Think about what messaging resonates with your audience most. Your goal here is to have your ad illustrate your style and expertise in a compact package.

Image courtesy of Squarespace.

Is it increasing sales?

If you need to prove product-market fit, generate more sales, or justify upgrades for a product, this is the goal you want to focus on.

You’ll need to customize your copy and targeting strategy to ensure you’re communicating the transformation your offer provides while also never losing sight of your customer.

In a brand awareness campaign, you may not have been using retargeting ads. But when you’re focused on maximizing each site visit to its fullest potential (i.e., a purchase)—you’ll wanna make sure that potential customers don’t slip through the cracks.

Base your targeting on your buyer personas. Confirm what you know and don’t know about their purchase habits. Then, use those insights to craft a customer journey map that enables you to send them the ads relevant to their journey at the right time.

3. Why Your PPC Ad Needs a Dedicated Landing Page

Look, you can create the most quintessential display ad, craft the most impeccable search ad, and kick your feet up expecting the traffic to roll in like a runaway train—but you’ll only see tumbleweeds if you don’t optimize the post-click. 

Post-click marketing is the practice of engaging with potential customers after they click on your business’s PPC ad. Think of it as your typical marketing funnel. The first click achieves awareness and proves user interest. The next stage is where decisions get made.

Users can either leave your site entirely or travel further down the funnel, depending on how your post-click marketing impacts their consideration of your product. This is your opportunity to personalize the redirect path as much as possible.

Imagine seeing an ad like this:

And being sent here:

Image courtesy of Facet.

It’s a beautiful homepage, but as a user—you’re lost. 

You clicked that ad for one thing only: home extensions. But that homepage requires you to navigate the site to find what you’re looking for. While it wouldn’t be that hard to find, it’s more clicks and content for your brain to consider while browsing. 

When optimizing your post-click strategy, your goal is to limit distractions and bring the user to the exact destination implied by your ad. This is called message matching and, for PPC marketers, conversions are made and lost on the accuracy of this strategy.

That’s why Facet’s ad brings users to the page below instead of their home page.

Well done, Facet

On average, 52% of B2B PPC ads point to their homepage instead of a landing page. Using our landing page analyzer, Unbounce found that dedicated landing pages converted 65% higher than website pages.

Personalized, targeted, and relevant landing pages play a huge part in determining whether your PPC ads convert as intended. 

With each campaign you create, you should also consider how to customize the landing page it leads to. Your PPC ad and landing page need to work together like Batman and Robin to achieve your goals.

But there are a host of variables you need to consider to make that happen.

4. A Step-By-Step Guide to Optimizing Your Post-Click Strategy

Copy

Instead of starting from a blank slate when creating copy for a new ad, why not remix the content from your landing page?

It’s a tall order to jam all the relevant information from your landing page into a headline and a 90-character description that’ll get users past the first click. 

But when you prioritize message match and focus on being clear rather than clever, you’ll find that your headline almost writes itself!

If it doesn’t, here are a few headline formulas you can rely on to help you frame your offer:

The how-to headline: Highlight your expertise by linking it to a common goal your target audience is trying to achieve. You’ll need to make it specific and show some social proof to back up your claim for this one to work.

Image courtesy of Shopify.

The agitator: The goal here is to highlight a pain point for your target audience and provide an alternative solution that they’re unlikely to have considered (i.e., your differentiator). You’ll want to use this strategy as a play on your key search term.

In the example below, Noom leverages the high-yielding keyword “diet” to capture the attention of its target audience and present a bold alternative. In this case, their differentiator is using behavioral science to help people take control of their health.

The listings lab: Show your target audience you know exactly who they are by both highlighting a pain point and naming their demographic. Example: “Stuck at Six Figures in Your Real Estate Business?” The headline speaks directly to the ideal customer. In this case: real estate professionals looking to grow their business.

Remember that, whichever headline you choose, you want to make sure that it mirrors what the user will find on the landing page that comes post-click. 

Marketers need to master a suite of different skills to be effective, but they all boil down to understanding how to manage user expectations. 

It doesn’t mean that your PPC ad needs to be a carbon copy of the copy on your landing page (though, when in doubt, that wouldn’t be the worst option). You can diversify your copy while still keeping it clear, creative, and connected. 

You can use a hierarchy system to leverage the use of your keywords. For example, if you’re advertising a “contactless payment system,” you can leverage keywords associated with that same theme, such as:

  • Accept online payments
  • Online payments
  • Payment processing
  • Remote payments
  • Pre-built payment options
  • Take card payments
  • Secure payment solutions

By adding terms like “best” or “buy,” your keywords are now directly tied to active buyers in comparing and contrasting solutions in the purchase stage of their search.  Just a tip here: 65% of traffic to this type of keyword comes from paid clicks compared to 35% of organic results. 👀

If you don’t feel 100% confident with your first draft of ad copy, don’t hesitate to experiment with different combinations—as long as your copy mirrors what’s on your post-click landing page.

Finding the right keywords to string together will require a bit of tweaking before you discover the right fit for your audience.

You’ll know you’ve found the right fit for your PPC ad when the copy includes three components vital to your campaign’s success:

A compelling tagline: We already touched on headlines, which hold the highest importance for your ad, but your headline and tagline shouldn’t always be the same. Your tagline is a short, memorable phrase that demonstrates the vision behind your offer.

With your headline, it’s better to be clear instead of cute. With your tagline, it’s better to be distinctive than it is to be dry.

Crafting a compelling tagline leverages memory recall, which can be to your advantage since you want to stay top of mind when it’s time for your ideal customer to make a purchase.

Here are a few common taglines that the world has adopted over time:

Nike: Just Do It
Apple: Think Different.
Subway: Eat Fresh.

A clear and strong CTA: Your main goal with your landing page is to get your users to take a specific action. Sometimes, marketers fall into the trap of “selling mode” and neglect the need for a refined call to action focused on the product or service’s value to the end user.

Think of the CTAs you commonly see across different websites and platforms:

“Get started.”
“Sign up now.”
“Subscribe now.”

Yes, technically, they’re telling the user to take a specific action. But that’s just it—they’re telling as opposed to guiding.

Those CTAs don’t communicate value from a user perspective. By changing your language, your CTAs can become more targeted and personalized, converting 42% more visitors into leads than non-targeted CTAs like the ones above.

Here’s how you give those CTAs a personal touch. Notice the word “your” in each line:

“Take charge of your finances.”
“Grow your following.”
“Launch your site.”

Urgency: Listen, there are billions of search entries per day, which means that you need to compete for your audience’s attention.

After you’ve crafted your headline and tagline, it’s time to bring it home with a sense of urgency that signals the value of your commodity.

Set a deadline, offer a bonus incentive, use phrases like “last chance,” “before it’s gone,” and “one time only.”

In part due to advertisers using this strategy, online shopping for Black Friday hit a record $9 billion in 2020. The products are similar to what you’d typically see year-round. But, who wants to miss out on a good deal?

Tip: Writing conversion-focused copy can take more time than you think. You need to research your customers and their past purchase behaviors, test different copy combinations, and create high-quality content quickly to remain competitive.

That’s why we’ve acquired Snazzy AI, an AI content generator that takes the pain out of copywriting to help you create those optimized marketing campaigns way faster. AI-powered copywriting gives you better results with less work. See how you can start optimizing your landing page copy with Snazzy—for free.

Imagery

Your post-click landing page is the user’s first impression of your brand—so you have to be looking your best. 

There are endless theories out there regarding what colors and images you should use on your landing page to bring you closer to converting visitors. Before relying on those “best practices” to provide the results you’re looking for, you should always, always, always let your copy inform your use of imagery. 

One way to get started is to make sure the header on your post-click landing page matches the keywords and/or CTAs used in your PPC ad. 

Let’s use the Deel payroll search ad as an example.

Take a look at their post-click landing page:

Image courtesy of Deel.

The landing page doesn’t imply Deel will do the payroll for you (as they state in their headline). However, the keywords “world,” “work,” and “international” all work in tandem with the image of the young employee dressed in casual clothing, wearing a backpack, and smiling.

Even without reading the descriptive text, you can tell that you’ve landed in alignment with where you expected the ad to take you.

(Excitement and interest sustained ✔.)

As a B2B company, Deel is less likely to be targeting the persona shown in this image. However, research has shown that visitors respond best to landing pages with realistic, human imagery instead of stock images. 

Instead of using the header of this post-click landing page to feature a picture of a hiring manager, Deel creatively uses the image of a satisfied employee (the woman looks ecstatic) able to work remotely from anywhere in the world. 

So, here are some questions to consider when choosing imagery based on the keywords used in your PPC copy:

  1. What does your headline say?
  2. What is it communicating (ease, quality, simplicity, speed)?
  3. Who’s your target persona for this ad?
  4. How can they be reflected in your header image?
  5. What emotions from your ad copy will you mirror in the imagery you choose?

Also, keep in mind that social proof and testimonials can be your best friend.

Word of mouth recommendations from industry friends carries a lot of weight in the B2B world. About 97% of B2B customers stated that testimonials and peer recommendations are the type of content they rely on most.

Business is changing these days, and people are much more skilled at judging the authenticity of a brand from their landing page imagery, clientele, and presence online. 

You can also optimize your landing page to feature images of the product your customers enjoyed the most or had questions about.

Segmentation

Creating personalized experiences for different segments of your audience is no easy feat.

More companies started using an account-based marketing (ABM) approach for this very reason—but even ABM marketers admit that personalizing their strategy is their biggest challenge due to the complexity of scaling campaigns without losing that effect.

Demographic data alone won’t cut it.

You’ll need to know more about your audience segments than just their age, where they live, and how much money they make. 

Your PPC ad will perform better when you use segmentation to target different keyword variations, locations, personas, and events.

Making audience research a continuous process will help inform the details you’ll need for your PPC ads.

If you’re:

  • Conducting customer interviews or distributing micro surveys.
  • Monitoring social media platforms.
  • Comparing competitive data.
  • Monitoring site performance.

Then you have all the data you need to personalize your PPC ads. 

On top of targeting demographic data like age, location, and gender, it also helps to consider the psychographic data of each of your audience segments. Understanding the habits of your ideal customers allows you to take advantage of time targeting

Let’s not beat around the bush: PPC campaigns can get expensive quickly. 

By monitoring the conversion and performance data day by day and comparing it to previous weeks, you’ll be able to spot times of peak engagement that occur on specific days within a defined time frame. It’s a technique called dayparting

You can use the technique to optimize your PPC campaigns and control your ad spend by serving ads at those specific peak times.

Psychographic data can help you with your ad scheduling and assist you in creating variant post-click landing pages that convert visitors. 

You want to be that overeager friend in the group that asks all the questions:

→ What are their working hours?
→ When do they like to shop online?
→ What devices do they use to shop online?
→ What payment options do they prefer for online purchases?
→ What are their hobbies?

This way, you can segment your PPC targeting by topics, interests, and life events.

With Google’s broad match keyword targeting, the keywords in your PPC campaign can show up beside related topics that don’t contain your keyword.

For example, if your keyword were “low-carb diet plan,” it would show up as a result in the associated searches below:

Image courtesy of Google Support.

Broad match keyword targeting can help you find audiences you may not have considered and give you insight into how you can optimize your search terms if you’d like to make them more refined. 

But that ad spend will pile up quickly if you have a broad target with no way of narrowing down your audience. 

The key to saving your ad spend is to use negative keywords in conjunction with your primary keyword terms and phrases. You can continue with your long-tail keyword “low-carb diet plan” while excluding the common search term “diet” so you won’t serve your ad to general audiences. 

Once you find the proper targeting parameters for your various audience segments, you need to make sure that to maintain your personalized message on your post-click landing page.

You can create various post-click landing pages by simply adding a few thoughtful edits to your original creation.

Let’s continue with the low-carb diet plan idea:

  •  If one audience segment is women, 25-30, living in Los Angeles, searching for low-carb diet plans, tired of going to the gym, and making $70K annually, modify the imagery and CTAs on your post-click landing page to appeal to that persona.
  • If another audience segment is men, 35-40, living in Manhattan, searching for low-carb diet plans, tired of eating fast food, with no time for the gym, and making $50K annually, modify the imagery and CTAs on your post-click landing page to appeal to that persona.

Creating variants may take more time, but your audience will be far more likely to respond to an offer that shows an intimate understanding of their situation.

If you need help expediting this process, check out Unbounce’s Smart Traffic tool. 

Page structure, design & hierarchy

Once a user lands on your post-click landing page, the heat is on. 

This is the consideration stage at which that visitor either becomes a customer or chooses to leave your site.

Tip: Keep in mind that site bounces aren’t always a bad thing. Of course, we always want visitors to convert, but that’s not realistic for most first-time visitors. Learn how to leverage remarketing here, so you never lose touch with a potential customer.

You have two main goals with your post-click landing page:

1. Ensure that PPC ad messaging is maintained
2. Reduce friction along the path to purchase 

Advertisements above the fold have about 73% more viewability than CTAs below the fold. If your site visitor needs more convincing, then they’ll scroll down for supporting info. But make sure your main message is prominent on your page. 

It also helps to have data on the device your target audience uses most frequently to browse online. For example, heat mapping shows how users navigate your page, including where they click and how far they scroll.

You can leverage this data to make changes to where you place information and structure your page with a user interface (UI) design delivering a great customer experience for both mobile and desktop devices. 

In July 2021, a study found that 49.71 percent of total web visits come via mobile, compared to 50.29 percent from desktops. Even if the ratio favors desktop over mobile, optimizing the mobile user experience (UX) is still good practice.

There’s one way you can ensure your design transfers well between devices: visual hierarchy.

If you follow the law of visual hierarchy, you increase your chances of getting your visitor to convert. Users will spend an average of 6 seconds above the fold on your post-click landing page. You’ll want to make sure you’re as clear as possible, that you sustain the excitement from the PPC ad, and that there are no interruptions.

Learn more about visual hierarchy.

Speaking of interruptions, don’t do this:

Even if your newsletter has thousands of subscribers and you feel that any interested page visitor could benefit from it, now is not the time.

Remember: Reduce friction along the path to purchase.

This brings us to the length of the forms you might be hosting on your post-click landing page.

First, you’ll need to confirm what type of information is critical for this step of the signup process and whether you need new leads or higher-quality leads

If you need new leads, short and straightforward forms make the best first impression. You just need to make sure you have enough information to contact these new leads.

Ask for their:

  • First name
  • Last name
  • Email

If you deem it necessary, you can also ask for their job function and the company they work for. But for locking in new leads, this form shouldn’t exceed five questions. 

In the B2B world, you’ll often need to sift through hundreds of forms to segment higher-quality leads. You’ll want to make sure the people filling your forms can pay for your offer and are confident in your solution. 

For longer forms, it’s common to ask questions like:

  • First name
  • Last name
  • Email
  • Job function
  • Company
  • Industry
  • CRM system(or alternative tech inquiries)

Again, knowing your audience segments will help you create the right forms for the right clientele.

Tip: B2B doesn’t have to be boring. The colors, images, and graphics on your forms have a big influence on that last click. We’re not saying, “Grab a CSS expert and go wild!”

Use the styling of your landing page forms to stay aligned with the personality of your audience segments. Oh, and don’t be afraid of white space. Having a bit of white space around your forms increases its readability.

Using a tool like Hotjar across different pages you’ve published can help you understand how your audience navigates content. This practice of heat mapping shows you how visitors interact with individual website pages, where they get stuck, and what elements they spend the most time on to optimize your landing pages based on real-time interaction data. 

That’s one step closer to working smarter instead of harder if you ask us. 

Streamlining your strategy 

Once you make sure your landing page and PPC ad copy are in complete alignment, it’s time to set some goals and get into campaign mode. 

Throughout this guide, we’ve been talking as if you’re selling a product or service. In truth, we don’t know what your goal is.

That’s because whether it’s brand awareness, lead generation, or sales, the same principle still applies: Optimize the post-click experience through message matching.

Copy, segmentation, and page design are the tools you’ll need to make that happen. And once it does, there are a few metrics that will matter more than others. These include:

  • Landing page views: Page views are the first indication your PPC ad struck a chord with someone (hooray!). The number of page views your PPC ad generates shows you two things: Whether your ad copy reaches your audience (or not) and attracts the right audience (or not).
  • Sessions by Source: When you’re able to see where traffic to your post-click landing page is coming from, it saves you from guessing how to optimize your campaigns. Whether people are reaching your post-click landing page from a blog post, a referral website, a display ad, or a search ad, these insights reveal where your target audience spends their time online and your best way of reaching them. Once that’s discovered, you can refine your targeting to base your ad spend on demographics, timing, and trigger events that have already shown positive results.
  • Bounce rate: As we mentioned above, as much as we dislike it, bounce happens. Bounce rates represent the percentage of visitors that come to your page and leave without viewing other pages or converting. Your bounce rate doesn’t mean you failed. It’s an opportunity to figure out what isn’t resonating with visitors. 
  • Goal completions: Here’s a metric that shows you when you’re winning! Whether it’s a purchase, a subscription, or a resource download, conversions are what make your efforts worthwhile. Just make sure that you’re tracking the goal completions that justify your investment in the PPC campaign compared to company revenue. 
  • Cost per acquisition (CPA): This is the metric that shows how much money you’re spending. CPA is the average amount you pay for a customer to take action like:
    • 🖱 Clicking
    • 📝 Filling out a form
    • ⬇ Downloading a resource
    • 💵Purchasing a product
    • 👓 Signing up for a newsletter

Here’s a simple formula to calculate CPA: ad spend ÷ number of actions taken. 

You don’t want to wait for this number to get high and out of control before optimizing your campaign, so improving your CPA and making the most of your marketing budget is essential.

Put It All Together and What Do You Get? 

A dedicated landing page for your PPC ads (rather than just a generic homepage) enables you to streamline content and reduce friction along the path to purchase.

Cha-ching.

With this guide, you can rest assured that, regardless of the format you choose for your PPC campaign, your post-click landing pages will be ready to go. 

Remember why your PPC ads need a dedicated landing page:

1. To align to the user.
2. To increase personalization for your audience segments.
3. To increase conversions, of course!

To achieve those goals, you’ll need to focus on a combination of copy, imagery, page design/structure, and audience targeting. It may sound like a lot, but it’s all about connecting the dots. Make sure you keep your messaging consistent, and you’ll be well on your way to optimizing a post-click landing page that delivers better results in your PPC campaign.

If you need help testing out variants of your landing page, try Smart Traffic and let machine learning speed up your results to get the best conversion rates possible.

The best 15 Tools & Resources for Designers? They’re in this article

There can be various reasons for failing to deliver a
product on time. Take for example a situation in which progress grinds to a
halt because of a requirement or specification cannot be met because the
designer doesn’t have the means to satisfy it.

While your toolbox may be well stocked, there may be design
tools or design resources you frequently go to that are simply no longer up to
the task, even if they are long-time favorites.     

The 15 tools and resources for designers and agencies
described in this article are tops in their respective categories. They will
help you or your team be more productive, and in some cases, they could be
life-savers.

1. Be Theme

This multipurpose WordPress theme is hard to beat in terms
of its powerful array of core features, design options, flexibility, and ease
of use. Given that the sales of this long-time favorite web designer’s tool has
exceeded the 200,000 mark, you have every reason to believe that you’ll get a
huge return on your investment.

  • Be’s
    40+ core features give you the tools and flexibility you need to meet the most
    stringent of deadlines
  • Be’s
    Muffin Builder- Admin Panel-Shortcode Generator trio lets you drag and drop
    your way through a project without ever having to write a line of code.
  • If
    there was a single secret to Be’s success it would likely be the selection of
    600+ customizable (and responsive) pre-built websites that cover the major
    industry sectors, business niches, and website types and styles.
  • Be’s
    Layout Generator facilitates starting a page from scratch, plus you have ready
    access to a wealth of layout options to see your project through.

Click on the banner to find out what BeTheme can do for
you.

2. Trafft Booking Software

Trafft is brand-new booking software, it features a modern design you can’t find elsewhere, and it’s a game-changer for booking operations management. Trafft simplifies workflows from beginning to end and can speed up your booking operation by more than 75%.

With Trafft at your fingertips you can:

  • Accept and manage bookings
  • Automatically send SMS and email notifications to clients
  • Fully integrate with Google Calendar, Outlook Calendar, and Zoom
  • Customize the Trafft Booking Form to match your brand
  • Manage employee’s schedules, vacation days and days offs
  • Manage pricing and online payments

The above features are in place or on the way.  Since this application is still in an early
phase of operation you have an opportunity to help shape and improve this
product by signing up for the Early Bird Plan for $5.

Click on the banner for detailed information or to sign up.

3. wpDataTables

There are plenty of good table and chart-building app and
plugin options on the market, but the number of reliable ones diminishes
significantly if you require one or more of the following:

  • The
    ability to create tables and charts that are both responsive and interactive
  • Frontend
    editing that allows charts to be modified and easily maintainable
  • The
    ability to process vast amounts of data that can come from various sources and
    in various formats, and do so in a short amount of time
  • The
    ability to process real-time data, e.g., MySQL
  • The
    ability to highlight or color code key table or chart information

wpDataTables can do all the above and a great deal more.
Additional features include advanced filters, and a useful collection of
add-ons. The documentation is detailed and informative.

Click on the banner to learn more about this
best-in-its-class design tool. 

4. Amelia Booking Plugin

With the Amelia WordPress booking plugin you can manage
your client’s appointments, events, and employees’ schedules at multiple
locations from a single platform.

  • There
    is no limit to the number of clients, employees, appointments and events
  • Clients
    can book appointments 24/7 with ability to pay online, this waz zou ca reduce
    no shows and avoid dealing with payments yourself
  • Amelia
    easily integrates with Google Calendar, Outlook Calendar, Zoom, and Elementor
  • Clients
    and employees have their own dashboards to manage appointments and events form
    the front-end page of any WordPress website.

5. Uncode – Creative
Multiuse & WooCommerce WordPress Theme

This pixel-perfect creative multi-use theme is particularly
suitable for bloggers, freelancing creative types, agencies, and small
businesses. Its more than 80.000 sales have made it a ThemeForest best-seller.

With Uncode, you get:

  • An
    advanced Frontend Editor;
  • Comprehensive
    selections of over 400 section templates and 70 design concepts;
  • The
    WooCommerce Custom Builder that features Single Product Builder, the custom
    Cart, Checkout, and more.

When visiting the site, be sure to check out Uncode’s
impressive library of user-created websites.

6. LayerSlider

LayerSlider, a longtime favorite of web designers, isn’t
just for creating stunning sliders anymore. It has evolved into a multi-use
animation and content-creating application that is currently enjoyed by
millions of active users.

  • It’s
    the perfect tool for giving an old website a new life
  • Its
    animation features give designers unique ways to interact with visitors

LayerSlider is mobile device and SEO friendly, and since it
is drag and drop, there is no need for coding.

7. Dr. Link Check

Broken links can not only be frustrating to all parties
concerned but can have a negative impact on a site’s search engine rankings as
well. Dr. Link Check saves you the time and trouble of having to periodically
perform manual checks on your site.

Dr. Link Check:

  • Checks
    for broken links and improper URL formatting
  • Checks
    for malicious content and blacklisted sites
  • Checks
    for placeholder sites that lack meaningful content

8. Mobirise Website Builder

Mobirise is fast, easy to use, offline, and free. This
website-building tool has lots of other things going for it as well.

  • Because
    it’s offline, you have total control over your design efforts
  • 4,000+
    website-building templates come with the package
  • Mobirise
    is drag and drop, so there’s no need to write code
  • Mobirise’s
    Google AMP and Bootstrap 4 frameworks guarantee top performance

You can download Mobirise to Windows or Mac at no cost.

9. 8b Website Builder

8b is a brand-new, easy to use website builder that is
futuristic in its design and that you can use on any device whether you are at
home or on the go.

  • Google
    AMP guarantees your site will be lightning-fast and mobile-friendly
  • There
    are no bandwidth or page number limits
  • You
    can link to the domain of your choosing

Download your own copy of 8b for free.

10. Total WordPress Theme

You might expect that a website building application that
was designed with perfection in mind would require a high-tech skill set to
operate. Total, on the other hand, is fast and super user friendly.

  • Features
    you are not using can be disabled so as not to slow you down
  • The
    Dynamic Template Function and Theme Customizer account for this tool’s impressive
    flexibility
  • Total
    is both WooCommerce and WordPress plugin friendly

11. Litho – The Multipurpose HTML5 Template

Its ready-made template blocks and professionally designed inner pages make this responsive multipurpose HTML5 template an excellent starting point for startup, agency, and small business website design.

  • Litho’s
    Bootstrap 4 framework guarantees fast performance
  • The
    package features 36+ home pages and 230+ ready templates, plus page styles for
    blog, shop, and portfolio websites
  • Hero
    sliders, interactive banners, contact forms, and other creative elements are
    also included

Litho
provides detailed documentation and 5-star user support.

12. XStore – The Most
Customizable WooCommerce Theme Ever

A word to the wise for anyone looking for a trouble-free
way to build an eCommerce website: Don’t overlook xStore!

A sampling of what you get for $39:

  • 100+
    good-to-go shops you can customize to meet your needs
  • More
    than $500 worth of top-of-the-line plugins
  • Single-product
    page and header builders
  • Built-in
    Woocommerce Email Builder
  • Full AJAX
    Theme & Multi-Vendor Marketplace

XStore will convice you that creating an eCommerce website
doesn’t have to be difficult.

13. Goodiewebsite

GOODIE helps people and businesses connect with web developers to get their sites reliably coded and up and running.

GOODIE is ideal for –

  • Small
    businesses looking for or seeking to amplify an online presence
  • Web
    designers who want to connect with a reliable web developer
  • Startups
    looking to test their business ideas and concepts on the web

GOODIE
specialties include small websites, WordPress websites, and eCommerce websites.

14. Heroic Inbox

Heroic Inbox helps businesses, large and small, manage their email inboxes.

Heroic Inbox, with its exceptionally friendly UI:

  • helps
    staffs share email assignments and manage responses
  • makes
    it possible for those same staffs to quickly achieve Inbox Zero status
  • tracks
    key metrics to better understand team performance

15. WHATFONTIS

WhatFontIs can identify a font from an uploaded image in a matter of seconds. This application’s accuracy is built on top of AI algorithms and a huge database of over 700K fonts.

  • 60 or more related fonts can be shown for every uploaded image
  • WhatFontIs correctly identifies a submitted font 90% of the time
  • Cursive fonts can also be identified if the letters are separated

WhatFontIs
is the best font identifying tool for designers (professional or amateurs).

*****

Your web design toolbox is no doubt filled with a
collection of valuable industry tools, tips, and tricks. There might even be a
few old favorites in it that you would be reluctant to replace with something
else.

But while it’s important to keep current by seeking out the
latest and greatest tools for designers out there, it can be time consuming and
at times frustrating to do so.

We are happy to be able to assist you by sharing these top
15 tools and resources for designers and agencies. Choosing one or more will
help you stay on top of your design game and might even make your day.

The post The best 15 Tools & Resources for Designers? They’re in this article appeared first on WebAppers.

How To Build Your Own Mouseless Development Environment

Once upon a time, in the magical land of Software development, there was a young developer, your humble servant, discovering Linux for the first time. Suddenly, I had access to the Linux shell, a tool offering many ways to automate everything I didn’t want to do again and again.

But Ubuntu wasn’t without drawbacks. I was often the victim of display bugs and crashes, and it was getting slower and slower as time passed.

One day, something terrible happened: I had to update Ubuntu to its next major version. Everything crashed. I couldn’t start my system anymore. I had no idea how I could solve the problems I was facing because I had no idea how Linux was working under the hood. Ubuntu was abstracting all the nitty-gritty for me not to care about it.

I had to reinstall everything manually — Ubuntu and all my tools. The worst part was reconfiguring everything. All and all, it took me days to get back to the system I had before the crash. But I didn’t know any other alternative, so I kept using Ubuntu for years. During this time, I’ve never managed to update it to its next major version without the need to reinstall everything manually, again and again.

My life as a developer changed again when my company hired two great developers. They knew a lot about Linux and the different distributions I could use. They guided me, showed me the tools which solved all the problems I had with Ubuntu. These tools improved my workflow drastically; they showed me how practical it was for a developer to keep the hands on the keyboard as much as possible.

This happened six years ago. I still use the same development environment today. I use the keyboard 92.8% of the time to manage all my tools, using keystrokes that make sense and which are easy to remember. I can reinstall my whole system with a bunch of scripts I’ve written, including all the tools I use and their configurations.

Today, I’d like to share with you these tools so that you too can increase your efficiency and your comfort in your daily job. They work well together — shaping what I call my Mouseless Development Environment. More precisely, we’ll discuss:

  • Why using the Linux shell can be very powerful when working with plain text (including code);
  • Why using the dreaded Arch Linux;
  • The advantage of a tiling window manager;
  • How to have a great terminal experience with URxvt, tmux, and tmuxp;
  • Why Vim can become your best friend.

Note: The tools I advocate in this article work on Linux-based systems. You can also use them with macOS except for i3. For Windows, the easiest way is to use the Windows Linux Subsystem (WSL) to install and use them.

I would have never discovered this new way of working without trying these tools. That’s why I encourage you to install them, experiment with them, and see by yourself if you fall in love as I did.

Mouseless With The Shell

As a developer, it’s almost impossible to avoid using a shell. This is a powerful tool that can simplify your workflow by automating away all the boring tasks.

The Benefits Of The Shell

Before speaking about the benefits of using the shell and the terminal, let’s explain briefly what’s the difference between these two ideas.

The terminal is a graphical interface that allows you to interact with the shell. On Linux, this shell is often Bash, but it can be another one too, e.h. Zsh. The shell is an interpreter. You can feed it with commands and it will execute them to perform some actions. It will also, sometimes, give you an output back. The terms “command-line” and “shell” are synonyms.

If we would compare the Mouseless Development Environment to the solar system, the shell would be the sun and everything else would turn around it. It’s because the shell is really powerful: it allows you to run many small programs which work very well together. They’re called CLIs (Command-Line Interfaces).

The big advantage of these tools: they are very simple and limited in isolation, but you can chain them for powerful results. For example, you can use altogether the CLIs “history”, “sort”, “uniq” and “head” to display the CLIs you use the most and the frequency of their use.

There are many CLIs available out there. First, because the Linux shell is around for a long time; developers had time to develop many tools and make them reliable. Second, because it’s easier to develop CLIs than GUIs (Graphical User Interfaces). Designing and implementing these graphical interfaces takes a lot more work. CLIs have only textual interfaces, which are easier to develop, to change, and to maintain.

It’s also why CLIs are fast: no need to mess up with the display and other graphical elements. It was one of my main problems with Ubuntu: its desktop environment, Unity, was quite heavy, slow, and buggy. At least in my experience. Using more GUIs on top made things worse.

Another big advantage of the command-line: you can write shell scripts to automate all the boring tasks you repeat day after day. For example, if you need to resize images to the same size very often, you can write a script for that. If you often search in some specific type of files, you can automate that too. The sky’s the limit.

CLIs have drawbacks, too. It’s a bit more daunting to use for beginners, but there are ways to get quickly what you need even if you don’t know how to use a specific CLI.

Finally, if you have some tasks to do on remote servers, you’ll often end up using the shell. They don’t have any graphical interface most of the time, so you won’t have any choice. In these cases, it’s necessary to know your way around the command-line.

A Mouseless Approach

Because the shell has a textual interface, your hands stay on your keyboard when you use it. This is something I never really considered during my first years as a developer, but it’s a big advantage.

In my experience, avoiding the hundreds of hand movements between the keyboard and the mouse saves a lot of cognitive energy. I was shocked to discover how comfortable it was when I really tried to stick to my keyboard. As a bonus, I feel like a hacker using solely my keyboard with my shell, even if I only write my shopping list! How great is that?

I have to admit, I was very skeptical about this “mouseless” idea before trying it. With the tools I describe below, I didn’t have to change all my habits from one day to another: you can use the mouse with them, too. But they really shine when they’re managed with the keyboard.

Even if it was never really proved, I also believe that staying on the keyboard makes us more efficient. As the book The Pragmatic Programmer pointed out:

“Using only keystrokes for common editing operations is more efficient than mouse or menu-driven commands because your hands never leave the keyboard.”

That being said, efficiency is not the main goal here. I love staying on my keyboard and using all these tools because I can entirely focus on the tasks at hand. It motivates me to start working and get my tasks done.

The Bedrock: Arch Linux

At the beginning of my mouseless journey, one of my new friends advised me to use Arch Linux instead of Ubuntu. Again, skepticism was creeping, doubts were invading my poor brain. Arch Linux? This horrible Linux distribution you need to install and configure entirely manually? This unstable system became a joke for many?

Sometimes, stereotypes have nothing to do with reality, and Arch Linux is the perfect example for this idea. I’ve used Windows (from 98 to 7), macOS, and I tried other Linux distributions too. My conclusion, without doubt: Arch Linux is the most stable of all.

That being said, Arch Linux it’s not a requirement for a Mouseless Development Environment. You can use all the other tools described in this article with other Linux distributions, too. You can also use them with macOS (except i3), or Windows if you have the Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL). But, before you do so, let me tell you why you should seriously consider Arch Linux.

A Rolling Release System

Arch Linux has a rolling release system. It means that you need to update your whole system often, weekly or bi-weekly. To come back to Ubuntu, it has a long-term support system: you only need to update it a couple of times a year, or even less if you want to.

Many developers think that a rolling release system makes your development environment unstable, which explain partly the reputation of Arch Linux. But I never had a problem in six years of daily use, and my friends using it either. On another side, the advantages of a rolling system are great:

  • All the applications I use are constantly up-to-date. No need to compile them manually to have the most recent version when needed.
  • Updating your system often means that less changes will be introduced at once. As a result, there are less chances for crashes, too.

I told you my experience with Ubuntu and the crashes I had when updating it. I never had any problem with Arch Linux.

Everything You Need

Additionally, the repositories of Arch Linux are huge. It’s very likely that you’ll find every tool you need in there. If you don’t, you can look at the AUR (Arch User Repositories), where there is everything else. The AUR is not an official repository, so there could be some security problems with the applications found there. Again, I never had any problem with them, but it’s possible. As long as you stick to the official repositories and you don’t install everything and anything from the AUR, you won’t have any problem.

A Learning Opportunity

Let’s also mention that Arch Linux is a very minimal distribution. It doesn’t impose many useless applications when you install it. Speaking of which, you need to install the whole distribution manually using the shell. The task can feel daunting but, on the other side, you’ll learn a lot from the experience.

As I mentioned at the beginning of this article, knowing a minimum of how Linux-based systems work under the hood can help you when your system is behaving weirdly, or when it crashes. It’s not as complex as it might seem and, if you’re a developer, I would argue that it’s mandatory. The Web, your phone, or your Raspberry Pie run on Linux nowadays.

Last but not least, the Arch Wiki is the best place you can find for anything Linux-related. It helped me a lot over the years, even when I was using Ubuntu. It’s a great place for troubleshooting your system and finding new tools.

Managing Your Windows With i3

Now that we reviewed why Arch Linux can be a solid bedrock for your Mouseless Development Environment, let’s see what we can add on top.

But first, a bit of theory. Operating systems have often three layers, more or less coupled with each other:

  1. The kernel, which directly dabbles with the hardware of your computer;
  2. The shell, an interface for you, or some applications, to interact with the kernel;
  3. A display layer on top, like a desktop manager or a tiling windows manager.

Gnome or Unity are both desktop managers for Linux-based systems. They manage your windows and many other things, like your status bar or your application launcher. Tiling windows managers are an alternative to desktop managers, and they’re often smaller and more focused on manipulating windows.

The tiling window manager i3 is indeed very light: I’m using it right now on a ten-year-old computer (Lenovo x220) and it doesn’t slow down. It’s also simple to use, the documentation is great, and most importantly, you can manage your windows with your keyboard only (if you want to).

The basics of i3 are simple: you can open windows in different workspaces representing an entire screen. It’s very similar to the virtual desktops many Linux desktop managers have. Then, when you open your favorite applications, the screen will be automatically shared depending on the number of windows on the screen.

For example, if you open Firefox, its window will take 100% of the screen. If you open three instances of Firefox, each of them will take 33% of the screen.

You can also change the layout of the windows. Instead of having all the window visible on the screen, you can stack them on each other and go through them with a simple keystroke. If you need some “normal” floating windows, you can configure them too.

The goal of i3 is to simplify the management of all your windows. Instead of using your mouse to move them and resize them each time you open new ones, you can use keystrokes to do the same operation only when you need to.

Does it look too complicated? I was efficient with i3 two days after trying it. I’m no genius; if I could do it, you can do it, too.

The cherry on the cake: like every tool described in this article, you can customize i3 and its keystrokes as your heart’s content.

The only drawback of i3: it’s not available for macOS. But there are great alternatives, like the tiling windows manager Amethyst or Divvy.

Level Up Your Terminal With URxvt, tmux, And tmuxp

The terminal is the interface giving you access to the shell. Even if the shell is the real deal, we can make it easier to use with a couple of tools.

The Path of Simplicity With URxvt

I like simplicity, and that’s partly why I love the development environment I describe in this article. Speaking of which, URxvt is one of the simplest terminals you can find. It’s also fast and reliable. In six years, I never saw it crashing or even slowing down. It does what it’s supposed to do: allowing you to use the shell. No more, no less.

The Terminal Multiplexer With tmux

Even if I like the simplicity of URxvt, I also like having a good terminal multiplexer I can rely upon, like tmux.

What’s a terminal multiplexer? It lets you open sessions containing multiple shells. These sessions are persisted in the background: even if your terminal crashes or if you close it by accident, your shells won’t disappear. You can recover them in another terminal whenever you want (as if nothing happened).

This is useful on your local computer, but it’s even better on a remote server. You can, for example, connect to a server via SSH, run a script, close your SSH connection and your terminal on your local machine, and go home. Because your shell is still running on your server thanks to tmux, your script will still run, too.

That’s not all: tmux is a bit of a jack-of-all-trades, in a good sense. You can use it to open multiple windows containing multiple panes in one terminal. You can think of a window as the entire terminal, and a pane as a shell taking a percentage of the window.

Does it remind you of i3? It follows the same principles, but it can only create new shells. That’s why many users who are happy with i3 don’t see any point in using tmux. Personally, I like to use both.

As always, you can manipulate tmux’s windows and panes with your keyboard, and you can configure tmux itself following your craziest wishes.

tmuxp

Let’s imagine that you want to use tmux for the disrupting application you’re developing right now. You need first to open a terminal. Then, you need to create as many tmux’s windows as you need and divide these windows with the panes you want.

Remember: A pane represents a shell. In each of these shells, you can then run all the CLIs you need for a specific project: for example, running a docker container, or displaying some logs.

But you can also automate all of that, and it’s where the real power of tmux — in the context of a development environment — really shines. Using another CLI called tmuxp, you can write down in a YAML configuration file what windows, panes, and whatever command you want. Then, you can load this configuration and create automatically your customized tmux session.

I have one of these configuration files for each of my projects. It saves me a lot of time and energy. As I was saying above, this is one of the major benefits of using the shell.

Editor Plus Shell Equals IDE

Since the shell is so powerful, why not have an editor directly running in it? Why not use Vim?

Like Arch Linux, Vim has the reputation to be hard to learn. It’s more subtle: it’s pretty easy to be productive with it, but it takes a long time to master. If you run Linux and you have Vim installed, you can learn the basics in 20 minutes by running vimtutor in your shell.

Vim offers many functionalities which can be extended further with countless plugins. Additionally, you can directly interact with your shell using Vim, using whatever CLI you want directly in your editor. It will transform Vim into a full-blown IDE.

Vim has another big advantage: you can use it to develop in many programming languages. I don’t like to switch between different IDEs each time I need to program in PHP, Golang, or Clojure. The interface is different, I need to configure each of these editors separately, and I can’t really save the configurations somewhere to use it again when I reinstall these tools.

With Vim, I can code in any language I want while staying in the same editor. Like VS Code, you can use LSPs (Language Server Providers) to enable auto-completion, linting, and automatic refactoring for the most common programming languages (and even more esoteric ones).

Vim is also fast. It doesn’t require many resources to run. I often have 6 or 7 instances of the editor open at all times on my old computer — without any problems. In comparison, I used IntelliJ IDEs for years and, when I was opening two of them, my whole system was beginning to slow down. It’s really practical when I work on different projects at the same time, like a bunch of microservices, for example.

Should I add that Vim is highly configurable? Instead of having many functionalities directly in your IDE (including some you’ll never use), you can choose what you exactly need and discard what you don’t.

A Set Of Coherent Keystrokes

If Arch Linux is the bedrock of my Mouseless Development Environment, then i3, Zsh, tmux, and Vim are the workbenches for my creative needs. It gives me a level of comfort I’ve never experienced with any other tools.

But you might wonder why you should use all these new tools and their keystrokes when you can already use the shortcuts for the tools you already know?

Well, the shortcuts of most applications out there are often meaningless. It’s a soup of keys that have no relations with each other. As a result, they are hard to remember, and they can be quite different from one tool to another.

The tools I describe in this article are meant to fit nicely with each other. You can almost use the same keystroke for each of them. Only one key will differ, for the system to know what tool you want to act on. It makes the different keystrokes way easier to remember.

Additionally, Vim was designed to have keystrokes that make sense by creating a simple language that you can rely upon. For example, in order to delete a word, you can hit daw. To delete a paragraph, it’s dap. Since many CLIs are based on Vim’s keystrokes, learning Vim will open the door to many other CLIs.

Installing Automatically Your Mouseless Development Environment

Installing Arch Linux manually is good to learn a lot about Linux-based systems, but it gets old when you need to do it each time you want to install your system on a new computer. That’s why I’ve created my own scripts to install my whole Mouseless Development Environment. They install Arch Linux as well as all of the tools I use with their configurations. When I need to use a new computer, I can simply run these scripts, and voila!

Are You Ready To Be A Mouseless Developer?

Because of the flexibility, I have with my development environment, I can also switch tools easily. For example, if I don’t want to use tmux anymore, I can replace it with another terminal multiplexer. If I don’t like i3’s status bar or my application launcher, I can replace them, too.

As you might have guessed, configuring this kind of system needs some time, motivation and effort. That’s why I wrote a book called “Building Your Mouseless Development Environment”. It describes in detail how to configure all the tools, how to create scripts to install the whole system with one command, and how to customize everything for your personal needs. If you don’t know much about the Linux shell, it lets you build a custom project to get familiar with it.

If you’re interested, you’ll find a sample of the book here as well as its entire table of content.

I think the best way to find out if you’d like this kind of system is simply to try it. I can guarantee you one thing: you’ll learn a lot along the way!

Further Reading on Smashing Magazine