Over this past weekend, I decided to play around with Google’s new app called Auto Draw. It’s a vector based app that responds to your tablet or phone sketch and then creates an icon based on recognition of shapes. For instance, let’s say you need a flower icon for a button on your site or an app you’re developing. Simply draw a flower on your tablet/phone and voila, you got a clean vector icon of a flower that can be easily manipulated and edited with a few clicks on the interface. At least, that’s what the video presented and which was what got me very interested.
The Google Auto Draw app is currently in a beta testing mode where it’s been integrated into the site itself. I found it not as easy to use as the video suggested and tried it on both my iPhone and my iPad. There didn’t seem to be, that I recognized, any ease of use from either device.
My 5-year-old son is a whiz on his iPad so I let him try it out and see if maybe I was a bit too hasty in my critique. He played with it for about 2 minutes and was not in the least bit interested. The shape recognition seems to be lacking in a few areas, but for the most part, it’s very cognitive of what it is you might be trying to draw. The stroke of the lines, curves, and angles are spotless and reminiscent of the Bell System logo from the 80’s. I like that, and it’s a clean and simple rendering that just about anyone can do. In my professional opinion, I think it’s perfect for a less experienced marketing executive looking for fast and inexpensive vector art for a PowerPoint presentation.
I also see Auto Draw being of use to seasoned designers that need instant vector art on the fly. A lot of times I spend valuable minutes looking thru files and folders trying to locate something from a year ago. After testing the Auto Draw app on tablet surfaces, I decided to try it out on my MacMini with a 24” monitor, and it worked so much better. I attest that to the speed if of the processor, video card, and Mighty Mouse. The shape recognition is faster and intuitively accurate, to say the least. It was here where I found the link to download the app itself, and I’ve been using it all week.
It’s a powerful tool in the ever-expanding world of vector based graphics which can be used in print, web building, and multimedia. You can create flow charts to keep your projects organized or for creating visual presentations for clients. However, with the interface being so easy to use, I can’t help but wonder if Google will introduce more apps in the near future putting designers out of work. Honestly, I don’t see that happening but this is definitely a powerful and free vector based app that may sway software developers to follow suit.
The financial marketplace is a vast and diverse entity, and one that recognises a considerable amount of money transacted during each, 24-hour period. In fact, the forex market alone boasts an average daily trading volume in excess of $5 trillion, and while this may have declined from the 2014 peak of $6 trillion it remains a huge number that is hard to ignore.
While trading volumes are prone to peaks and troughs (particularly in volatile markets such as forex), the general spike in activity has occurred thanks to the emergence of online trading platforms. These resource, which include market leader such as Blackwell Global, have removed many of the barriers to entry that once surrounded the financial market, enabling traders to operate in real-time and implement a wider range of viable strategies.
How Online Trading Helps Your Investments to Flourish
While online trading has clearly made the financial market more accessible to aspiring investors, however, it is also important to understand the precise benefits that this delivers to traders across the globe. One of the most striking advantages is the fact that most online trading portals offer clients access to multiple markets simultaneously, with popular derivatives including currency, indices and precious metals often accessible with the single click of a button. This means that online traders find it easier to diversify their portfolio, which is central to their chances of success in a challenging and volatile economic climate.
In short, trading online enables investors to build a thriving portfolio that can succeed in real-time. They can also gain access to in-depth knowledge of specific marketplaces, in the form of both live newsrooms and comprehensive analytical tools. These resources provide a constant stream of real-time and historical data, enabling traders to make informed decisions while identifying seminal trends. Over time, this has negated the biggest historical obstacle to financial market trading, as the gaps in knowledge between experienced investors and novices were often too large to bridge.
In many ways, however, the single biggest benefit of financial market trading is the fact that investors can now execute real-time orders regardless of their physical location. This represents a huge boon, particularly when dealing in volatile derivatives such as currency (which is prone to sudden and seismic price shifts). With online and affiliated mobile portals offering instant access to various markets, however, traders can react immediately to economic trends while assuming profitable, short-term trading positions.
The Bottom Line: Why Online Trading is Now More Important Than Ever
Make no mistake; online trading platforms have become the key drivers of modern investment and offer numerous advantages to anyone who is looking to build wealth. This is just the beginning of an ongoing and increasingly prominent trend, however, with the flexibility and insight delivered by virtual trading, this is helping investors to thrive during uncertain economic times. So, even as Brexit becomes a reality and the political landscape continues to shift across the market, the future for investors using online trading, can continue implementing these shifts to their advantage.
Many small business owners set up a website, fill it with content, and then forget about it. Unfortunately, you can’t afford to adopt such a passive approach if you want a successful website that actually generates useful traffic. Luckily, website analytics are an excellent way to drill down into your website for clues on how to make it perform better.
Back in the day, you may have hired a Magento agency to create a fantastic website. It probably still looks amazing now, but you still need to monitor your website traffic. Analytics make this job so much easier. There is a wealth of detailed information available, and you don’t even need to be an SEO expert to access this information.
Anyone can open a Google Analytics account. It won’t take long to get your account up and running, and once it is, you can add a tracking ID to any website you own. This allows you to analyse website traffic, and a whole host of other metrics.
Top Performing Pages
Look at which pages attract the most visitors. Analyse these pages in depth to find out where your visitors are coming from, what keywords they use to find the page, and how long they spend on the page. This information will help you create more of the same. You can also leverage your high-performing pages by adding a strong call-to-action or more prominent ads on these pages.
Google Analytics offers a geographic breakdown of visitors, so you can see where your traffic comes from, right down to the town or city. This is more useful than you might think; especially if you are looking to expand your business into new areas. You might discover that you already have traffic from a specific country, which indicates your products or services are of interest.
What’s Your Bounce Rate?
There will always be visitors who click on a page and then click away almost immediately, but if your bounce rate is higher than expected, it indicates you have a problem. Look at page loading speed. If a page takes more than a few seconds to load, this could be the reason why your bounce rate is high. If so, ask yourself what’s causing the problem. Is it your server, or do you have too many graphics and videos on the page? Whatever the underlying cause is, fix it, as it is hurting your website.
Where is your traffic coming from – paid ads or organic traffic? This information tells you what is working, and also what isn’t. Check whether traffic is coming from mobile or desktop devices. Again, this is very important for future optimisation.
If you pay close attention to how visitors interact with your website, your traffic will grow a lot faster.
Millennials are consistently seen as reluctant investors. Some are a decade into their career, but they’re still relatively risk-averse, which many analysts believe is largely the result of the fact they grew up or came into adulthood in the midst of the Great Recession. Millennials have seen one of the worst financial environments in history, which has understandably made them gun-shy when it comes to investing, particularly in the stock market.
To combat that sense of hesitation, fintech companies have been creating platforms and technology that speak specifically to Millennials, and many of these companies have been quite successful in the process.
One of the biggest fintech trends leading the way not just for Millennials but investors in a range of age brackets is robo-investing. The premise behind robo-investing is one that Millennials tend to embrace because it’s seen as easy, inexpensive, and it gives the ability to create a set-it-and-forget strategy that requires minimal effort.
Robo-investing is also a viable alternative to the old way of doing things, which was to work with a financial advisor. Financial advisors, however, have been lumped in with many others in the financial services industry, such as bankers and lenders, and they’re not necessarily viewed in the most positive light by Millennials. Robo-investing platforms like Betterment give them the opportunity to skip the financial advisor, while still getting similar advantages, such as diversification and tax efficiency.
In the past, most investors would use services such as YAHOO! Finance to do their research and to track stocks, but there has been a new wave of trading software popping up that’s more comprehensive than ever before. Options such as Stocks to Trade, which was introduced by Millennial investment professional Timothy Sykes, is designed not just for the Wall Street elite, but is instead for real people.
These trading software platforms include some of the most varied data points available, and they give users the opportunity to see everything they could need or want to know about all of the big markets in one location.
Budgeting and Spending
When looking for strategies to invest, it’s just important to decide how you’ll allocate your assets. It’s also important to look at your investment capabilities versus your income and spending needs. That’s why budgeting apps and banking services are also an essential component of many Millennials financial and investment strategies.
Just one of the many examples is called Simple, which is essentially branchless banking where everything can be done on a mobile phone.
This helps investors and would-be investors because it has features to create specific, personalized goals, such as putting aside a certain amount of money each week to invest. It also includes a feature called “Safe-to-Spend” which lets users see how much they can spontaneously spend without sabotaging their budget and existing goals.
Finally, another big way fintech is changing the investing landscape not just for Millennials but for everyone? Peer-to-peer lending.
Peer-to-peer lending offers the opportunity for people to bypass the traditional bank environment for personal and business loans, and it gives investors the chance to look outside the stock market for investing opportunities. There is a high level of risk, particularly when it comes to investing in certain borrowers, but Millennials seem to like the concept because the potential returns are much higher than they would be with something like a high-yield savings account, and as long as funds are spread out over many loans, the level risk isn’t incredibly high.
Fintech is changing the way Millennials invest and shifting how they view the concept itself, creating not just new opportunities for investors, but new possibilities in technology as well.
One of the biggest questions many people have when it comes to their money and their life is whether a robo-advisor or an in-person financial advisor is right for them.
Each has advantages, but also disadvantages.
There’s no one right answer that’s going to work for everyone in this situation, as with most circumstances involving money, but the following are some criteria and guidelines that can help you determine what’s right for you and your financial needs.
One of the primary reasons many people opt to work with a robo-advisor as opposed to a traditional financial advisor is because of the costs. A conventional investment advisor or wealth manager may charge fees ranging anywhere from 1% to 3% of the value of the portfolio, while a robo-advisor platform generally charges much less.
In fact, according to Investor Junkie, robo-advisor fees may be as low as 0.15% per year. This can have a significant impact on the overall performance of your portfolio.
Objective, Unbiased Advice
Another benefit of opting for a robo-advisor as opposed to a financial advisor? There is often the fear in the financial services industry that advisors aren’t necessarily operating in the best interest of their clients, but are instead working to make themselves money. Some financial advisors work on a fee-based schedule, and what this means is that they often have ties to certain investment vehicles or products, which they’ll recommend above others to make a commission.
Robo-advisors are going to be able to offer a sense of objectivity, although also important to note is the fact that many financial advisors are independent and fee-only, meaning they are objective and offer unbiased advice.
While there are advantages to working with a robo-advisor, there are perks of a conventional financial advisor as well. Financial professionals must usually undergo rigorous training and interview processes when they begin working, meaning they’re good at what they do, highly knowledgeable and able to provide guidance for complex situations that a robo-advisor wouldn’t be able to.
If you are a high-net-worth advisor, are facing a transition in your life, or a business owner, for example, a robo-advisor might not be the best option for your needs.
Investors tend to vary pretty significantly in how they like to approach the management of their assets. There are plenty of investors that enjoy a set-it-and-forget strategy, meaning they can easily turn their money over to a robo-investor and take a hands-off approach.
If you’re on the other side of the spectrum, however, and you enjoy having some level of control over your investments, a robo-advisor probably won’t work well for you.
There’s also a personal element of investing to consider. Do you like the human interaction of working with a financial advisor, or is this something you view as an inconvenience or unnecessary?
The above are just a few of the many considerations to keep in mind as you decide between a technology-driven robo-investing platform or working with a financial professional.