Instagram Stories: How 18 Brands And Influencers Are Using It (And You Can Too!)

10 billion.

That’s the number of videos people watch on Snapchat every day. The same potential consumption (maybe more) exists for Instagram Stories —  quick videos and photos that disappear after 24 hours, just like Snapchat, but with an audience of 500 million users.

Does that sound like a channel worth exploring?

We believe so! Storytelling has always been a key part of marketing, and features like Instagram Stories are empowering us marketers to tell better and deeper stories about our brands. We’d love to provide you with more resources about Instagram Stories so that you can master this platform and see your voice spread.

In this post, I’d love to share 18 Instagram marketers who have been doing rad things with Stories to give you some inspiration on what you could do for your Instagram Stories too.

Instagram Stories

18 Creative Uses of Instagram Stories (and how you can do it too)

From my research, I discovered several creative ways brands and individuals have been using Instagram Stories. And here’s the great news: most of these strategies do not require huge budget or resources to pull off!

Before we dive into each brand and individual, here’s the full list of rockstar Instagram storytellers with links to their Instagram profiles.

(Note: If you end up following some of these great accounts and wish to see their Instagram stories from a desktop browser, there’s a neat Chrome extension here which lets you do just that.)

  1. NASA
  2. LOFT
  3. Huffington Post
  4. Techcrunch
  5. Gary Vaynerchuk
  6. Chris Burkard
  7. New York University
  8. GoPro
  9. When I Work
  10. Shopify
  11. Remote Year
  12. Black Sheep Cycling
  13. Olympics
  14. Brian Fanzo
  15. Minaal
  16. 9gag
  17. Sean Wes
  18. Track Maven

Without further ado, let’s take a closer look at how each of the following brands and individuals uses Instagram Stories and see how you might take inspiration to adapt their strategies for our own brand!

1. NASA (@nasa)

Supplement your main Instagram content with bonus info via Stories

This is one of my favorite ways of using Instagram Stories: telling a deep story behind each and every Instagram post.

One of the key differences between Instagram and Snapchat is that Instagram provides a public, viewable profile for your main content. On no other social network can you get this type of supplemental information about the posts themselves.

This makes NASA’s use of Stories quite the native strategy. Here’s a great example: Recently, NASA posted about the annual Perseid meteor shower on their Instagram account and used Stories to share more about the meteor shower and the research on it, talking to the scientists involved in the research and showing the equipment used for the research.

NASA Story

How you could do this for your business: 

After you choose a final photo to share on Instagram, snap a couple of extra ones that go behind-the-scenes. This can be as easy as:

  • Flip your camera around to take a photo of the opposite view (example)
  • Share some of the failed drafts of photos (Instagram Stories are ephemeral, thank goodness!)
  • Snap a photo with the team that helped you create your Instagram photo
  • Zoom out and photograph the setup – works great for product shots to show all that goes into getting the photo just right!

2. LOFT (@loft)

Turn Stories into real-time events (and amplify engagement)

LOFT, a women’s clothing brand, invited two best buddies for a style challenge, which was shared as an Instagram Story. The challenge: Find something (in the LOFT store) the other didn’t think she could wear.

Not only did LOFT allow their followers to follow along the fun challenge, LOFT also gave them an opportunity to engage with a recent Instagram post and help spread their brand by asking them to tag their best friends in the post.

LOFT's Instagram Stories

(Hat tip to Amanda Tessier for this one!)

How you could do this for your business: 

Take a look at your event calendar and see if there are any upcoming events and activities that your online community can follow along. It could be:

  1. Challenges like LOFT’s
  2. Company retreats
  3. Meetups, conferences, or roadshows

Otherwise, consider if you could organize fun games around your product or service which your online community could participate in by leaving a comment on one of your recent Instagram posts or sharing a photo with a particular hashtag.

3. Huffington Post (@huffingtonpost)

Use photos with captions to tell your stories

With the help of the text and drawing functionality of Instagram Stories, Huffington Post has been creating interesting short photo summaries of recent news, allowing their followers to consume their content in a more visual and fun manner.

Huffington Post Story 1

Huffington Post Story 2

Huffington Post Story 3

How you could do this for your business: 

Go through all your recent blog posts and challenge yourself to turn one of them into a photo story. Adding captions will tend to make it easier while drawing with the three different Stories markers will bring more personality to your story.

4. TechCrunch (@techcrunch)

Give your followers a quick and easy way to consume your content

Quite similar to Huffington Post, TechCrunch has been using Instagram Stories to share headlines and short text summary of recent tech news.

Techcrunch Story

How you could do this for your business: 

If you publish lots of content regularly like a news or media agency, summarize your articles with a headline and a tagline or sentence. If the news is shareworthy, adding your brand logo, like how TechCrunch did, could help to spread the awareness of your brand.

5. Gary Vaynerchuk (@garyvee)

Mix high-quality edited content with raw authentic content (and keep in mind the vertical screen size)

Gary Vaynerchuk has been using Instagram Stories for several purposes — promoting his DailyVee videos through high-quality visuals, sharing very authentic glimpses into his daily life, and connecting genuinely with his followers.

Gary Vaynerchuk Story 1

In a recent Story, he mentioned that his followers asked for more wallpapers on his Instagram Stories and so he made more for them.

Gary Vaynerchuk Story 1

How you could do this for your business: 

Gary Vaynerchuk does quite a few things well on Instagram Stories, and here are some of the things you could try:

  • If you produce video content as part of your marketing strategy, consider creating an extra version for the vertical mobile screen or simply add borders at the top and bottom, which Gary Vaynerchuk does sometimes.
  • If you tend to use your Instagram posts to drive traffic to your content on your blog or Medium publication or YouTube channel, create promotional images and mention that the link is in your bio.
  • If you create images for your social media posts, make an additional image for the vertical screen or reuse the one you created for Pinterest.
  • Use Instagram Stories to do research and interact with your community. What types of content do they want from you via Instagram? How can you provide those content to them?

6. Chris Burkard (@chrisburkard)

Show your behind-the-scenes adventures

Chris Burkard is a very talented photographer with almost 2 million followers on Instagram.

He has been using Instagram Stories to take his followers through his adventures where he captures the jaw-dropping photos he shares on his Instagram accounts, including river crossings and camping outdoors with very windy conditions.

Chris Burkard Story

How you could do this for your business: 

While not every business might have such adventurous experiences on a regular basis, your followers might be interested in what your company does on a day-to-day basis. Think about some of the fun aspects you could show them, such as brainstorming sessions, team lunch, company games and more.

7. New York University (@nyuniversity)

Bring your followers on tours

New York University has a very engaged following on Instagram. Each of its posts has thousands of likes and 10–20 comments. Following the theme for its posts, New York University “takes” its followers on tours around the campus and city, enhancing the experience of following the account.

New York University Story

How you could do this for your business: 

This is great if you are a tourist attraction or school or even a retail store with a great physical space and environment!

When you are taking your afternoon break and going out for a walk, snap a few photos of interesting sights or locations and share them with your followers. These raw authentic snaps will give your followers a better sense of the area and might make them want to visit you more.

8. GoPro (@gopro)

Bring your followers on an adventure

GoPro is one of the brands I think of when I think of adventures. When Instagram Stories was launched, GoPro jumped onto the opportunity to share more footage taken with, yep, GoPro.

Recently, while making its GoPro family member’s dream come true of seeing the aurora australis, GoPro shared the adventure with its Instagram followers through incredible video footages of the trip.

GoPro Stories

How you could do this for your business: 

If you are an outdoor activities company, share all the thrilling and breathtaking videos of the outdoors with your followers.

For those who might not have such opportunities on a daily basis, here’s something else you could try. While GoPro’s Instagram Stories alone looks amazing enough, it is part of their #DreamReal marketing campaign of fulfilling their social media advocates’ dreams. You could perhaps:

  1. Use Instagram Stories to promote your company’s hashtag and encourage more people to use it.
  2. Show how happy the winners of your giveaways are or how awesome your giveaway prizes are to attract more people to participate in them in the future.

9. When I Work (@wheniwork)

Feature your customers and share behind the scenes

When I Work is employee scheduling software with over 15,000 happy customers worldwide. Recently, they visited a few of their customers in Canada and featured them in their Instagram Stories.

When I Work Story 1 When I Work Story 2

How you could do this for your business: 

If it is possible, visit your amazing customers and give them a shoutout on your Instagram Stories. This will let your followers know what types of businesses and individuals use your product and might give them the social proof they need in order to convert. Furthermore, this will help you build a stronger relationship with your customers.

10. Shopify (@shopify)

Promote your blog posts creatively

You might not always be able to visit our customers like When I Work so Shopify worked around that by letting merchants, who use Shopify for their business, take over the Shopify Instagram account and share about their business.

Apart from merchant takeovers, Shopify also promotes their blog posts through Instagram Stories.

Shopify Story

How you could do this for your business: 

This is just one of the many ways you could promote your blog posts through Instagram Stories:

  1. With the blog post you want to promote, find 3-5 key points that will grab your followers’ attention. (An easy way could be to look at your H2 headings.)
  2. Turn them into fun Instagram Stories using relevant photos, captions, and drawings.
  3. Create a simple bit.ly link to be used for the last photo.
  4. Post them!
  5. Bonus: It will be great to download each Instagram Stories photo onto your phone as you create them and post them all at once when you are ready. This will help to ensure that your followers see the full set of photos at a go.

11. Remote Year (@remoteyear)

Bring your offline and online communities together

Remote Year is a year-long program where 75 digital nomads travel across the world to work and explore 12 cities together.

Through their Instagram Stories, they share what they do on, I believe, a daily basis, allowing their followers who might not be able to join the trip to still be part of the fun.

Remote Year Story

How you could do this for your business: 

It can be a bit of a bummer for your community when they are unable to attend some of your events. It could be meetups or conferences with a limited number of tickets or an exclusive event for certain customers only or a program for a selected few such as the Remote Year. However, that does not mean they have to miss out on all the fun. Here are some of the things you could do:

  • Interview key personnel briefly about the topic of the event
  • Invite attendees to share their experiences at the event
  • Film interesting and fun moments of the event
  • Appoint a host or two for your Instagram Stories while the event is taking place to talk about what is going to happen during the event, narrate as the activities are happening and interview attendees, like what the Remote Year did for some of their events (as seen in the first photo)

12. Black Sheep Cycling (@blacksheepcycling)

Give sneak previews of your upcoming products or launch them through Instagram Stories

Black Sheep Cycling is a cycling brand that provides innovative and unique cycling apparel.

A few days ago, they launched their ambassador kit for their community. Besides announcing the upcoming launch with an Instagram post, the team also used Instagram Stories to showcase the kit from various angles.

Black Sheep Cycling Story

How you could do this for your business: 

While preparing the marketing materials for your upcoming launch or announcement, create a few more vertical designs for your Instagram Stories. Consider more than one image or design since the ephemeral nature of Instagram Stories allow you to share more photos and videos without cluttering up your Instagram profile. Here are some variations you could think about:

  • Different angles of the product
  • Specific features of the product
  • Different people using your product
  • Various ways of using your product

13. Olympics (@olympics)

Report timely news and wrap-up

When the Rio 2016 Olympics was taking place, the social media team behind the Instagram account took the opportunity to share more about and celebrate the incredible Olympians. Harrison Barnes also took over the account to give a wrap-up for a day and shared his thoughts on the day’s events.

Olympics Story

How you could do this for your business: 

While you might not always be part of huge events like the Olympics, there are likely to be many high-profile events in your respective industry. For example in the tech field, one such event is TechCrunch Disrupt. You could attend such events and provide timely updates to your followers. Here are some possible ways:

  • Create simple images to share cool announcements and important news from the event
  • Share your thoughts about the announcements and news of the event
  • Interview speakers and prominent figures in the industry briefly, if possible
  • Feature partners and customers who happen to be at the same event

14. Brian Fanzo (@isocialfanz)

Give previews of your talks and let others take over your Instagram Stories

Brian Fanzo, popularly known as isocialfanz, is a millennial speaker who is very knowledgeable about community building, social media, livestreaming, influencer marketing, tech and more. In 2016 alone, Brian will keynote at more than 40 events around the world.

He has been using Instagram Stories to give previews for his upcoming talks and events such as the #Cloudtalk. He did the same when he was taking over our Buffer Instagram Stories while Brian, our Social Media Manager, took over his.

Brian Fanzo Story

How you could do this for your business: 

Work with other brands and influencers to take over your Instagram account and ask to take over theirs too. Like Gary Vaynerchuk said, “It’s an easy way to reach new audiences and increase brand awareness.” And it’s great because both parties stand to benefit from the takeovers.

A cool feature of Instagram Stories is that it allows you upload any photos and videos that were added to your phone’s camera roll within the last 24 hours. Simply swipe down while you are in the Instagram Stories camera mode. This allows you to share photos and videos from the brands and influencers without having to share your Instagram account password.

  1. Get them to create Instagram Stories and save them onto their phones without posting them.
  2. Get them to send their draft Stories to you via email, Dropbox or Google Drive.
  3. Download them onto your phone before the time you wish to post them (you will have 24 hours to use them after downloading them onto your phone).
  4. Wait for the right time and voila!

15. Minaal (@minaalofficial)

Share user generated content and showcase your customers

Minaal makes durable, professional travel gear that gets you where you want to be – faster, happier and more productive. (It is a brand many Bufferoos love too!)

In their Stories, they share photos from their community who are traveling all around the world with the amazing travel bags and gear.

Minaal Story

How you could do this for your business: 

Many a time, we love to showcase our users’ photos of them using our products, only to realize that the photo quality might not be on par with those we post on our profile or it might not match the theme of photos we chose for our gallery. Instagram Stories provides a great option to feature your users (and your product) without changing the theme of your Instagram branding or adding too many photos to your gallery.

Invite your users to share photos of themselves using your product and let them know that you will be featuring them on your Instagram Stories. Alternatively,

  1. Look out for photos of your product by your users (if there’s a hashtag that your community uses, that will be very handy)
  2. Reach out to those users and ask if you could feature their photos and them on your Instagram Stories.
  3. Once you have the photos, add their Instagram handle and perhaps add some drawings to the photos to make them more interesting.

16. 9gag (@9gag)

Funny user generated content and stories

I think most of us are quite familiar with 9gag and their hilarious content. With Instagram Stories, they brought their funny storytelling to another level!

9gag Story

How you could do this for your business: 

I believe most businesses aren’t like 9gag in terms of the amount of user generated content they have (thought it’s great if you do!). However, this does not mean we cannot learn anything from 9gag. I think 9gag is a great example of telling the same stories through different formats (on their website, Instagram posts, Instagram Stories and more).

Instagram Stories allow us to quickly click through a series of photos and videos, and that’s a great way to tell stories! It feels a bit like flipping through a photo book. So an idea could be:

  1. When you have a story or message to share with your audience, come up with a storyboard of the photos and videos you need.
  2. Download the materials onto your phone and add captions and drawings to make them more engaging and visually appealing.
  3. When the time is right, publish all of them together according to your storyboard.
  4. Bonus: You could use an Instagram post to briefly talk about the story and direct your audience to check out your Instagram Stories for more information.

17. Sean McCabe (@seanwes)

Give previews of your live events or courses

Sean McCabe used to be a hand lettering artist who charged five-figure rates until he launched a course teaching people how to do what he did and made six figures in the first three days. Since then, he has been teaching a variety of courses on building and growing a sustainable business.

He has been using Instagram Stories to share sneak peeks of his live training and why his followers should sign up for his courses.

Sean McCabe Story

How you could do this for your business: 

Personally, I like to find out as much as I can before I pay for a course, a product, or a service. Quite similar to a trial for a product or service, Instagram Stories could be an interesting way to share just enough to entice your followers into signing up for your paid courses or exclusive content.

Also, sharing a short memorable link makes it easier for your followers to act immediately.

18. Track Maven (@trackmaven)

Share top news in your industry

Track Maven is a marketing analytics software tool that helps marketers make smart decisions through understandable and actionable data. In line with their area of expertise, they share top marketing news every week in their Instagram Stories.

Track Maven Story

How you could do this for your business: 

I imagine most of us are already reading up a lot about our own industry so this just takes a tiny bit more effort:

  1. When reading through all the news, bookmark the top 3 to 5 pieces which are most shareworthy or most useful to the people in the industry or your customers.
  2. On Friday each week (or even every morning), share the news.
  3. Adding your thoughts about the news could help to make you a thought leader in your industry too.

Small plug

I would also love to give a shout out to Brian, our amazing social media manager, who has been rocking our Instagram Stories game too. Our Stories range from social media tips to influencer, brand and team member takeovers. If you are interested in learning more about social media, marketing and behind the scenes of a remote team, we are @buffer on Instagram!

Buffer Story

Over to you

There are definitely many more creative brands and folks out there that I did not come across during my research. I’d love to hear from you in the comments below if you know of any or if you feel that you are creating awesome Instagram Stories, feel free to share your handle below! Thank you!

from Social https://blog.bufferapp.com/instagram-stories-who-to-follow

11 Simple Design Tips to Enhance Your Social Media Images

Humans are, by nature, very visual beings.

In the brain itself, there are hundreds of millions of neurons devoted to visual processing, nearly 30 percent of the entire cortex, as compared with 8 percent for touch and just 3 percent for hearing.

Each of the two optic nerves, which carry signals from the retina to the brain, consists of a million fibers, compared to the auditory nerve carrying a mere 30,000.

That’s all to say that social media images are a vital part of your content reaching the maximum amount of people, people who are very visual beings!

Marketers that have dabbled in creating engaging images for social media know just how tough and time-consuming it can be. I’m no expert, but I’ve learned a thing or two about creating social media images after lots of practice (and mistakes!), and I’m excited to share with you my favorite social media design tips and principles to help enhance your social media images.

Let’s dive in! 


Enhancing Social Media Images


Social Media Design Tips: 11 Principles & Tactics to Enhance Your Images

At Buffer, we create all of the images for our blog posts and social media without much outside help — and there are a ton of images! On average, every Buffer blog post has five custom images, and some have way more.

To create these, we rely on 11 simple design principles to help make the image creation process easy. We’re excited to share those with you in this post and how you may be able to apply it to your own workflow.

Got any favorite social media design tips or principles that we’re missing? I’d love to hear about them in the comments!


11 Design Principles and Social Media Design Tips


1. Color

90% of snap judgments made about products are based on color alone

Color is one of the most important and complex aspects of any social media design. It helps to set the mood, create an atmosphere, convey emotions, and even evoke strong individual experiences from someone’s past.

In a study on the impact of color on marketing, researchers found that up to 90% of snap judgments made about products can be based on color alone, depending on the product. Other academic studies on colors in marketing have pointed to the fact that it’s more important for colors to support the personality you want to portray instead of trying to align with typical color associations.

For example, this Help Scout graphic highlights the power of color in conveying personality in a piece of content that reflects positively back on the brand. On the Help Scout Blog you’ll see consistent, eye-catching colors that come off as fun, yet insightful.

HelpScout Color Marketing Examples

The second example from the brand Loulou & Tummie highlights the use of color to market to a specific audience. Loulou and Tummie are known for their eye-catching vector work and the use of color to tell a story and evoke emotion.


Loulou and Tummie Design Inspiration


Use colors in your social media images that guide your audience through a story. Do so by considering which colors help to tell a specific portion of that story. The principles of color theory are a great place to start and can be used to create a sense of harmony within your images.

Here’s a quick rundown of how different colors affect our brain and how they’re often used in storytelling and marketing:

red Red = Energy and urgency

orange Orange = Aggressive

yellow Yellow = Optimistic and youthful

green Green = Wealth and relaxation

blue Blue = Trust and security

pink Pink = Romantic and feminine

black Black = Powerful and sleek

purple Purple = Soothing and calm

2. Balance

The 4 different types of balance (including the one you’re probably thinking of)

The art of balance in the world of social media image design is a tricky one to get the hang of, but well worth the effort. A great way to think of balance is to imagine that each element of your design has a “weight behind it.”

Put another way: If you were to place the image on a balance scale, would it tip to one side?

It’s also important to remember that different elements carry different weight; balance does not have to be split right down the middle. There are 4 varying types of balance:

  1. symmetrical
  2. asymmetrical
  3. radial (picture a spiral staircase)
  4. crystallographic (picture a tray of donuts with different toppings)

All of these can make for a beautiful social media design.

Take for example, this stunning graphic from artist and illustrator George Bokhua:


Pink Lotus - George Bokhua


This image demonstrates the beautiful use of symmetrical balance and the feeling of harmony. Symmetrical balance is great for illustrations, drawings, blog graphics, photographs, and much more.

On the other hand, there’s asymmetrical balance like shown in this image example:


Asymmetrical Balance Example


Asymmetrical balance creates tension through contrast and can be visually interesting when done correctly. Because it’s abstract, there is no symmetry; there are no perfect mirror images.

One place we find balance to be important is in choosing stock images. The collection of photos at Unsplash is a great example of a photo collection that excels by taking balance into account, like with this image:



canyon



If you’re creating an image of your own, in order to balance the weight in your image, play around with different things such as size of items, lightness and darkness of items, warm and cool colors, texture, quantity of objects, isolation of objects, and orientation (vertical/horizontal/diagonal) of objects.

3. Lines

Straight lines imply order. Curved lines hint at movement.

Lines are the visual elements of your image that help to guide the eye to where you want it to go. Straight lines work to give the image a sense of order and tidiness while crooked or curved lines may give the image a sense of organized tension and movement.

Paying close attention to the use of lines throughout your image can help guide your audience along a visual journey, stopping at the most important and intentional elements along the way.

Let’s take a peek at this incredible example of the power of lines from Muti:


Illustration of Lines in Graphic Design from Muti


The use of clean diagonal lines throughout the illustration takes your eyes to different areas in a quick and efficient manner. Almost creating “sections” in the image with different cities as multiple focal points.

Now compare that to the curved lines of this illustration from the same artist, Muti, and how it creates a sense of motion. That motion leading you around the graphic until you land back at the center focal point:


American Express Graphic by Muti Studio


When adding lines to your image, pay close attention to where they draw the reader’s eyes. Aim to create a logical path that the reader can follow along with until they come to the point that you intended them to.

4. Typography

Traditionally, serif fonts are best for print and sans-serif for web

Typography is an art. Selecting the perfect font or set of fonts that work seamlessly together can bring your social media image to life. It also has a big impact on how your design is received by people and, ultimately, the message your brand intentionally (or unintentionally) sends across.

When selecting which font or fonts to use in your design one of the most important aspects to keep in mind is readability. 

Graphic designer Paul Rand may have put it best when he said, “Don’t try to be original, just try to be good.”

Whether you choose a sans-serif font or a serif font or any variation in-between, make sure that your audience can read your message. Here are a few pro-tips for using fonts:

  • Limit your design to a maximum of 3 typefaces
  • Use font sizing that fits well within the medium that you are publishing to
  • Traditionally, serif fonts are best for print and sans-serif for web
  • Kerning is a great technique to use in your titles

And for those that are curious about other typography terminology, this nifty infographic will help!


Typography Principles Inforgraphic


5. Contrast

Add contrast with colors, shapes, and sizes

Have you ever heard someone say that an illustration or design “really popped“?

What they may be referring to is the contrast in an image. Contrast provides differentiation between elements, making one stand out or “pop” more than the other elements.

The use of effective contrast is a great way to enhance your social media images. Without contrast, your design runs the risk of being “flat.” But with too much contrast, your design can become cluttered and nothing will stand out.

Here are my 3 favorite ways to add contrast to an image without under or overdoing it.

Add Contrast with Colors

One of the easiest ways to implement contrast into your image designs is through the use of colors. For example, playing light colors off of dark colors, or vice-versa. In this image, I used a white font in contrast to the dark background making the wording both readable and visually appealing.


Color contrast example


Add Contrast with Shapes

Another way to easily add contrast to your image is through the use of shapes. This beautiful graphic from Canva helps to highlight just how well the conformity of symmetrical shapes can play alongside the asymmetrical nature of organic shapes.


Contrast Shapes and Design


Add Contrast with Sizes

In its simplest form, contrast can easily be added to enhance your social media images by making certain aspects of the design bigger or smaller than others. It can also mean adding more weight (like bolding a word) to elements.

This restaurant advertisement draws the audience to the name, “1913,” first and then to other areas of the image such as the word “restaurant” and eventually to the picture of the food in the background.

Size Contrast in Social Media Image Design

6. Scale

Zoom out on a concept, or zoom in with your font choices

Scale, by definition, refers to the deliberate sizing of various elements within your design. “Scaling” helps to bring certain elements into focus and allows your readers to make sense of a concept.

Think for a second and try to imagine your life in number of months or even days. Can you imagine it?

This wonderful illustration by Tim Urban illustrates the powerful effects of scaling.


Human Life in Months - Wait But Why


Scaling also works well for more concrete social media designs. Take a look at the image below:

 


Social media design tips from Buffer



In this visual, I’m aiming to draw you towards the quote first with a scaled-up font size. Once I’ve gained your curiosity from the quote, I’m hoping your eyes naturally move right to the balloon. And finally, you’re drawn to the message of the graphic, “Happy Teachers Month.”

Did it work?

7. Proximity

Group similar items together to declutter and organize

Proximity is paramount when creating a sense of organization within your design. Similar or related elements are best grouped together to create a relationship between them. The goal is to group items together to declutter your design and “tidy things up a bit.”

You can put the principle of proximity into action by connecting similar elements together. One easy way is by physical placement of the objects near each other. The other way is to connect them in other visual ways with the use of similar colors, fonts, size, etc.

This simple example shows how proximity can be used to help us perceive objects as being related. The circles are spread out, each being perceived as its own object.

Example of Proximity 1 - Social Media Design

Then, once we bring all of the circles in close to each other, they appear to lose the feeling that they are separate objects. It is perceived to be more of a whole, singular shape.

Example of Proximity 2 - Social Media Design

When put into something like a social media design, proximity can help to bring elements of a product or concept together through spacial relationships.

8. Hierarchy

Place the most important elements in the biggest fonts

It’s quite likely that you’ll be working with multiple elements in your social media design. And chances are each of those elements will be important to your overall message. Hierarchy is a great social media design tip to make sure that you’re getting your most important message across first.

Taking full advantage of the hierarchy design principle starts with an understanding of your goals. Establish the most crucial message as the focal point and then use the other design principles in this article to make it stand out.

Once that’s in place, you can start to build your second or third pieces of information in without taking away from the overall goal.

A great example is here in this travel advertisement. The image draws the reader into “travel” and then leads them to the secondary messages.


Example of Hierarchy - Social Media Design Tips


It even works for simple social media designs such as quotes. The main focal point being the quote itself followed by any secondary information such as author or source.


Social Media Design Tips - Hierarchy Example



 9. Repetition

Always use the same set of fonts, colors, and logos

One of the easier design elements to enhance your social media images is the principle of repetition. Repetition is an important part of the process because it helps to establish and strengthen different elements.

It’s also what people often refer to as “consistent branding.”

Three things to always try and be consistent with in your designs are fonts, colors, and logos. Over time, repetition of these 3 elements will give you or your brand a unique and instantly recognizable look. Let’s check out a few examples to illustrate the simple use of repetition in design.

Remember this Apple advertisement? Catchy for its colorful and playful nature, the use of repetition in this image helps to create consistent association. It also does just what it set out to do and that’s give a sense of movement or dancing in the image.


Apple Ad, Repetition, social media design tips


Repetition is also important when building a personal brand. Take these beautiful business cards from Alan Murphy, for example. Whether you’re a big brand or a one-person shop, repetition helps you become recognizable over time.

Personal Branding Business Cards - Social Media Design Tips

10. Direction

People read in an “F” pattern, an “E” pattern, and a “Z” pattern

The way the human eye moves across designs, images, websites, and other visual elements is unique, but often consistent. That’s why it’s important to guide your audience along the “path” that you’d like them to follow in your image. In other words, create a deliberate “flow.”

Website design research has given us an inside look at how people tend to view websites when arriving for the first time. What they found was that we read in an “F” pattern, an “E” pattern, and sometimes a “Z” pattern. So placing important and eye-catching elements on the upper left and left side of your design is key.

Crazy Egg created a great infographic on data found from their eye-tracking experiments along with ways in which you can improve your design. Enjoy!


Crazy Egg Eye Tracking Social Media Design Tips


11. Space

Look for outlines in your images. Advanced tip: Try knolling!

I saved one of my favorite social media design tips for last and that is the use of space. Put simply, negative space or white space is the area surrounds other objects in the image. More often than not, what you choose to leave out from your image is just as important as what you add.

Try not to underestimate the power of simplicity in your design. Space can help bring a certain aesthetic quality to your image while also highlighting the most important elements.

I’d love to show you two examples of the wonderful effects of using space in your designs. The first is from artist, illustrator, and graphic designer Tang Yau Hoong who has seemingly mastered the art of space in design. Tang Yau Hoong intentionally and cleverly carves out shapes in negative space to create a mesmerizing feel.


Negative and White Space in Design - Social Media Design Tips 2


When adding shapes, fonts, or colors to your design, consider what shapes or outlines are forming around them and use them to your advantage. You may quickly realize that your design is taking shape in ways you hadn’t originally planned.

The second example is from the world of photography. Knolling is a technique that has really come on strong in the last few years. The white space surrounding each element really helps to bring out each piece individually.


Knolling Example 1 - Social Media Design Tips 2


Keep your images simple and use the space around objects to bring attention to important elements. I love this graphic from Cinch that really highlights the power of simple design.


Cinch, Graphic Design Example, social media design


“Designers and marketers know they have ‘achieved perfection’ not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.”

– Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Over to You

I hope you enjoyed learning a bit about social media design! It is truly amazing how small tweaks to images can have such a huge effect on quality and outcome.

Did I miss any of your favorite social media design tips above? I would love to learn from you! 

Please feel free to drop a comment below to keep the conversation going.

More Awesome Design Resources

Design Elements and Principles – Canva

8 Basic Design Principles to Help You Create Better Graphics – Adobe

Why Every Marketer in 2016 Needs to Be a (Part-Time) Designer – Buffer

from Social https://blog.bufferapp.com/social-media-design-tips

Create Dots on Spiral Path in Illustrator

Dansky_How to Create Progressively Larger Dots Along a Spiral Path in Adobe Illustrator

In this tutorial, we’re going to learn how to create progressively larger dots along a spiral path in Adobe Illustrator.

The Steps (1-9)

1. Create a new document 800×800 pixels.

2. Left-click and Hold on the Line Segment Tool to reveal the dropdown menu and select the Spiral Tool.

progressively-larger-dots-spiral-path-1

3. Left-click anywhere on the artboard to draw a spiral shape, using Alt and Cmd/Ctrl to adjust the line spacing and complexity of the spiral.

progressively-larger-dots-spiral-path-2

4. Next, select the Ellipse Tool and hold Shift to draw a small circle with a Black Fill. Centrally position this circle on the inner-most tip of the spiral.

5. Repeat Step 4 instead with a larger circle, and place this larger circle on the outer-most tip of the spiral.

progressively-larger-dots-spiral-path-3

6. Hold Shift to select the two circles and go to Object > Blend > Blend Options. Enter 30 as the number of Specified Steps, and select Align to Path as the Orientation. Go to Object > Blend > Make, to see the additional circles added, connecting the two circles.

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7. Select everything on the artboard and go to Object > Blend > Replace Spine to position all 30 circles along the ‘spine’ of the spiral.

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8. Double-click on either the smallest or largest circle (created in Steps 4-5) to go inside the Blend Group, whereby editing either of these original shapes, will affect all of the other 30 Specified Steps in between.

9. The number of Specified Steps can also be edited further, by going to Object > Blend > Blend Options, and adjusting the settings as necessary.

progressively-larger-dots-spiral-path-6

Download Adobe Illustrator.

Read More at Create Dots on Spiral Path in Illustrator

from Web Design Ledger http://webdesignledger.com/create-dots-spiral-path-illustrator/

eCommerce Themes That Are Perfect For Building a Shop

1xstore

You can choose a multipurpose theme that has all the features you need to build an online store, or you can select a theme that is specifically oriented toward the eCommerce genre. You’ll find both types here, and all are premium themes. No matter which theme you may choose, you can’t just sit back and let it do all of the work. There are a few things you should take into account, if you want your eCommerce venture to be a rousing success.

  • There’s nothing wrong with innovation; but you don’t want to be overly clever when designing an online store. Don’t make your customers have to think. They know what they want, and it’s your job to help them find it.
  • Keep your homepage banner relatively simple. You don’t have to devote a huge amount of resources toward building it. Let your home page speak for itself.
  • Keep your product displays consistent. It’s OK to copycat what other stores do. Customers always feel more comfortable when they find themselves in familiar surroundings.
  • Always use a responsive theme. Half or more of your store’s visitors are probably shopping from mobile devices. Don’t let them slip through the crack.
  • Select a fast, lightweight theme if you want to sell a product. That will not be a problem, if you choose one of the following seven.

XStore-Responsive WooCommerce Theme

 1xstore

XStore’s authors took the first law of usability – “Don’t make people think.” – to heart when they designed and developed this premium eCommerce theme. XStore literally guides you by the hand as you are building your online store, making it easy for you to extend the first law of usability into the workings of your website.

The tools, settings, and pages you need are all there. Each of 27 demos has a modern, somewhat minimalist look. Innovative features abound; but the emphasis is definitely on presenting a familiar look to your store’s visitors.

XStore is responsive, retina ready, and RTL and WPML ready as well; so there’s really no limit to the size of the customer base you can reach out to. Visual Composer and Slider Revolution plugins are included, and XStore is of course 100% WooCommerce compatible.

The level of user support is what is to be expected with a premium theme – great. A video tutorial is included to give you any help you may need with install or settings. More video tutorials are being added as we speak.

Merchandiser

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Merchandiser has all the features you need to build the perfect online store, and none of the features that you have no use for. In other words, this premium eCommerce theme is a minimalist theme, both in design, and in terms of fast and efficient performance.

Its guiding philosophy – simplicity is the ultimate in sophistication –  is a philosophy well worth adapting to your web-building ventures. Merchandiser makes it easy for you to do just that.

The Theme Customizer provides you with all of the flexibility you need, while the popular Visual Composer drag and drop page builder enables you to turn out high-quality work at a rapid clip. Merchandiser also offers several online shopping features your store’s visitors will appreciate. You can sell anything online, including setting up an affiliate store, when using this eCommerce theme.

 

Woutique

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Woutique is not a WooCommerce compatible theme; it’s a WooCommerce theme. As such, every one of WooCommerce’s widgets have been put into play. So has each of the WooCommerce plugin’s key components, including product categories and descriptions, cart, checkout, and user account sections.

Everything you need is here, plus Woutique is a free download. Whether you are a long- time web designer, or relatively new to the game, this WooCommerce product is worth a try.

 

KLEO – Pro Community Focused, Multipurpose Theme

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Although KLEO can definitely be called a multipurpose theme, it has a number features than makes it an excellent choice for eCommerce website builders. Among the key features of KLEO, in addition to its excellent selection of demos, are the 24 plugins that come with the package. Some of the usual WP plugins are included, but you’ll also find a number of plugins, including WooCommerce, that are specifically directed at helping a web designer build an online shop.

 

Uncode – Creative Multiuse WordPress Theme

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Massive options, special pages, interactive features, and its collection of 30  homepage concepts all combine to make Uncode one of the most exciting eCommerce themes on the market. The Advance Grid system pushes layout design to the cutting edge, while the Adaptive Images feature makes Uncode super-responsive. An enhanced version of the popular Visual Composer builder is included in the package.

If a WP theme capable of building anything you can think of is on your shopping list, Uncode is a solid choice, and a good investment.

 

Divi

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Divi has a number of things going for it that has made it a top-selling theme, including the impressive Divi Builder. Another feature users particularly like is this themes 46 customizable content blocks, which make it oh-so-easy to put a page together. Or, an entire online store for that matter; since several of these content blocks directly address eCommerce needs, Divi is another superb multipurpose WP theme that would be an ideal choice for building your online store, quickly, and down to the most minute details.

 

Merchant WordPress Theme

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Merchant is super-responsive, it’s translation ready, and it’s super flexible. It’s also modern, and hip. Its Easy Layout Creator is more than just a name. Ease of use is this eCommerce theme’s trademark. Build your online shop, or display your products or services in an awesome portfolio. Merchant also has the features you need to publish an online product catalog.

Merchant features an excellent support forum that’s loaded with information on everything from optimizing your use of WordPress, to tying in to social media.

 

***

Picking an eCommerce theme from seven of the very best isn’t necessarily an easy task, but at least you can’t make a poor choice. It may be that a multipurpose theme will suit you best, or it may be the other way around, where selecting a theme more heavily oriented toward building eCommerce sites would make better sense.

Either way, any one of these themes will be a good investment. Just make sure to keep in mind the eCommerce web-building tips offered up front. These eCommerce themes are capable of producing awesome, super-responsive, pixel-perfect online stores, but it’s up to you to ensure your users don’t have to think.

Read More at eCommerce Themes That Are Perfect For Building a Shop

from Web Design Ledger http://webdesignledger.com/ecommerce-themes-perfect-building-shop/

There’s No Perfect Headline: Why We Need to Write a Multiple Headline for Every Article

Most people don’t read content online. In fact, eight out of ten people will only read the headline.

For content writers, that fact is alarming. But it also places extra importance on the headlines we choose for our content, as headlines have the power to influence readers even if they don’t read any more of the article.

I don’t believe the perfect headline exists, though. Not anymore, anyway.

The evolution of social media and search has also complicated the playing field. When we write a headline, we no longer think only about driving clicks from a single channel like our homepage; we now need to think about search and social, too.

In this post, I’d love to share with you what I’ve discovered about headlines, how they’ve evolved and what makes a headline stand out on Facebook, Twitter, and search.

Let’s dive in.

What makes an irresistible headline

One of my favorite headlines of all time is:

“How to Win Friends and Influence People”

win-friends

This headline helped to sell millions of copies of Dale Carniegie’s book of the same name. It’s brilliant. Short, simple and intriguing and makes me want to know more. However, if it were to be written again in 2016, it may sound a little different.

The evolution of headlines

It’s pretty safe to say that a headline determines how many people will read a piece. But, the evolution of social media has led content publishers to rethink their approach to headlines completely. As a result, the perfect headline no longer exists and we now must craft an eye-catching, clickable headline for almost every channel where our content can be discovered.

We now have to craft an eye-catching, clickable headline for almost every channel where our content can be discovered

It’s important to think about all the various places people may discover your content: search engines, Facebook, Twitter, your homepage, etc. And it’s very rare that one size fits all when it comes to headlines. What stands out on Facebook might not get any clicks from a Google search results page.

For example, in 2016, the famous “How to Win Friends and Influence People” headline may look something like this:

On Facebook:

12 Life Lessons to Help You Win Friends and Influence People 

On Google: 

Life Lessons: How to Win Friends and Influence People

On a homepage:

How to Win Friends and Influence People: 12 Lessons to Live By

Headlines change the way we think and set our expectations

First impressions matter. Even with the articles we read online. And just as we choose to make a good impression offline through the way we dress and our body language, the headline of an article can also go a long way to shaping the reader’s perception of what is to follow, as Maria Konnikova explains in The New Yorker:

By drawing attention to certain details or facts, a headline can affect what existing knowledge is activated in your head. By its choice of phrasing, a headline can influence your mindset as you read so that you later recall details that coincide with what you were expecting.

For instance, the headline of this article I wrote—”A Gene That Makes You Need Less Sleep?”—is not inaccurate in any way. But it does likely prompt a focus on one specific part of the piece. If I had instead called it “Why We Need Eight Hours of Sleep,” people would remember it differently.

Headlines affect our memory

Ullrich Ecker, a psychologist at the University of Western Australia has completed a couple of studies on how headlines that are even slightly misleading can affect how we read content.

In the first study, Ecker and his team discovered that misleading headlines affect readers’ memory, their inferential reasoning, and behavioral intentions. Essentially, if a biased headline influences you, that tends to be what you’ll remember no matter what you’re subsequently told in the rest of the article. 

In the second study, Ecker had people read four articles (two factual, two opinion). What’s interesting in this study is the difference Ecker discovered between headlines in factual and opinion-led pieces. Misleading headlines in factual pieces were easier to ignore, and readers were able to correct the impressions left by the headline. However, in the case of opinion articles, a misleading headline impaired the reader’s ability to make accurate conclusions.

In summary, the headline of your article can greatly affect what your reader takes away from it.

For example, if I had titled this article “The evolution of headlines” it’s likely that you may remember more about how headlines have changed as the internet has evolved. And the headline “How to write headlines for Facebook, Twitter and Search”  would likely put the reader’s focus on the section below, hopefully putting more emphasis on the actionable takeaways you can use from this piece.

As writers and content creators, we have a great duty to ensure our headlines best reflect the content of our articles. And give readers the best possible chance to remember the key points of our piece.

8 strategies to help you write great headlines for social and search

Writing great headlines is hard. And in this section, I’d love to share 8 headline strategies to help you craft headlines for Facebook, Twitter and search.

How to write great headlines for Facebook

Facebook is a huge traffic driver for many websites. (It’s been our number one or two social referrer for the past three years.)

And after recent algorithm updates, we’re now likely to see a lot less clickbait stories sticking around in our news feeds and seeing sustained engagement. This feels like a good move, but also raises the question: What kinds of headlines perform best on Facebook?

In order to dig a little further into what works on Facebook, Newswhip studied the various types of headlines that resonate with users on Facebook and that consistently receive high levels of engagement.

Here’s a quick summary of what they found to work:

  1. Conversational and descriptive headlines
  2. Headlines focused on personal experience
  3. Headlines that aren’t misleading

1. Conversational and descriptive headlines

Newswhip found that many of the most successful stories they analyzed had extremely descriptive headlines, or used language that reads in a conversational tone. For example:

business insider

These types of headlines tend to perform well because you are letting the reader know what they will gain from reading your content.

At Buffer, we also like to accompany our content with a descriptive status:

http://www.facebook.com/plugins/post.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fbufferapp%2Fposts%2F1164501596955619&width=500

One trick I like to use for writing descriptive, conversational headlines is to think about how you would describe this story to a friend in a coffee shop and use the same, warm, friendly tone in your headline.

When it comes to writing in a conversational style, it often means forgetting a lot of what your English teacher may have taught you, too. If you’ve ever looked at a transcript of a conversation, you’ll notice it’s full of grammatical mistakes, half-finished sentences, and similar faux-pas. Writing in a conversational tone doesn’t necessarily mean writing as you talk. But instead, writing so that it doesn’t sound like writing.

2. Headlines focused on personal experience

Facebook has traditionally been a place for  personal stories and blogs, opinion articles, and other personal angled stories to flourish. And Newswhip found that first person posts and unique viewpoints tend to get people sharing heavily, especially if it’s a topic that they can relate to personally.

Here’s an example of a recent headline from our Open Blog that focused on personal experience:

family-leave

3. Headlines that aren’t misleading 

In the blog post accompanying their latest algorithm update, Facebook explained that there are two specific criteria they use to determine whether a headline is misleading:

  1. If the headline withholds information required to understand what the content of the article is
  2. If the headline exaggerates the article to create misleading expectations for the reader

For example, the headline “You’ll Never Believe Who Tripped and Fell on the Red Carpet…” withholds information required to understand the article (What happened? Who Tripped?). The headline “Apples Are Actually Bad For You?!” misleads the reader (apples are only bad for you if you eat too many every day).

This means the “You’ll never guess what happened next” headline formula will no longer be as successful on Facebook. And instead, we should switch to more detailed headlines that inform the reader what they’ll be reading about once they click.

How to write great headlines for Twitter

Tweets are just like headlines.

They need to attract attention and get the reader to read to click on the link. And while there’s no guaranteed formula for success on Twitter, we’ve found the best headlines and Tweets are the ones that state a benefit and generate curiosity.

Twitter is also a great place to share content multiple times and test out various headlines to see which ones resonate most with your audience. This approach helped Tami Brehse to increase her traffic by nearly 50% in just 30 days.

To give you an example of what’s working for us, here are a couple of our most-clicked tweets:

//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

Both of these examples have clear images to convey the message within the tweet, making it more eye-catching for people as they scroll through their feed. The images also give the reader a great idea of what the content within the article will be.

Both tweets also create curiousity and a knowledge gap for readers. This entices readers to click on the link and feed their curiousity.

Further reading: Check out our research into our most successful tweets and why they worked

How to write great headlines for search

Standing out in search is a completely different game to standing out on social platforms like Facebook and Twitter. With social platforms, you’re trying to grab the reader’s attention and stand out in their timeline. Whereas in search, the user is specifically looking for content focused on their search phrase.

Here are a few tips that have worked for us:

1. Front-load your title 

Google puts more weight on the words at the beginning of your title tag. And if you’re trying to rank for specific keywords, a good strategy is to place those keywords at the beginning of your headline.

If you wanted to rank for “social media tips”, then chances are that this headline:

Social Media Tips: 10 Ways to Grow Your Social Media Audience

… would be seen as more relevant to the topic “social media tips” than this headline:

Grow Your Social Media Audience with These 10  Awesome Social Media Tips

Of course, there’s much more that comes into play when it comes to Google rankings, but keeping your keywords as near to the beginning of your title as possible can help.

Here’s a real-world example. If you search Google for “Instagram stories” you’ll notice many of the results will have those keywords right at the front of the headline:

seo-headlines

Keep it short (between 50-60 characters)

SEO experts Moz explain:

Google typically displays the first 50-60 characters of a title tag, or as many characters as will fit into a 512-pixel display. If you keep your titles under 55 characters, you can expect at least 95% of your titles to display properly. Keep in mind that search engines may choose to display a different title than what you provide in your HTML. Titles in search results may be rewritten to match your brand, the user query, or other considerations.

Use your brand name

If your brand is well-known within your target market then attaching it to the end of your headline can lead to more trust and clicks. A study from Engaging New Project found that people react not only to the type of headline but also to the source of the headline.

If you’re a trusted source, it can be beneficial to share your brand name in search results.

How to create multiple headlines for your content

At Buffer, we use a really handy tool called Yoast SEO which allows us to set various headlines for different channels. This means every post we write can have up to four separate headlines at any one time:

  • Headline on our homepage
  • Headline for search
  • Headline for Twitter
  • Headline for Facebook

Here’s an example of Yoast in action:

yoast-seo

To write a custom headline for search, Facebook, and Twitter, you can toggle between the different Yoast SEO tabs by clicking on the icons at the left.

Over to you

Headlines are fascinating and probably the most important part of any piece of content. Right now, it feels like we’re in the midst of another evolution and moving away from some sensationalistic headlines that become popular with the rise of social media and towards more descriptive and detailed headlines.

Do you create multiple headlines for your content? What have you found works for each channel?

I’d love to continue the conversation in the comments below.

from Social https://blog.bufferapp.com/how-to-write-a-headline

Data-Driven Web Design

data-driven-web-design

The vast majority of websites are designed in the hopes that visitors will complete an action. Buying, subscribing, commenting… from massive social media juggernauts like Facebook, to small artisan websites selling local, hand-made crafts, this is true. Marketing has always been about understanding the subtle ways which presentation, repetition, and other visual or sensory artifacts can influence the decision-making patterns of consumers. Marketing, almost since it’s inception, has relied on data – in the form of research of all kinds – to achieve its end goal. So, data-driven web design is, all-told, simply any kind of website design which utilized visitor data to modify design for optimal results.

The ability of websites to respond to data has dramatically improved in recent years. The advent of easily-parseable analytics platforms, self-modifying websites, and other fantastic tech tools have allowed website designers to modify their product to more optimally meet the goals of the owner in real-time. We’re going to talk today about using data to draw the line between visitor data and design improvements which maximize benefit both to the owner and the end user.

Because it is also true that web design should always serve the visitor, a design which is overcomplicated or tedious for users will almost always fail, in some respect, in the goal of its use.

data-driven-web-design

Data-Driven Design:
Sure, marketing or user data has almost always been used to influence and guide web design to some degree, but what does data-driven design mean for us today? The answer to that question requires taking a good look at what data is. Most data is either quantitative (numerical) or qualitative (non-numerical). And the vast majority of easily-accessible data is quantitative. For example, Google Analytics informing you that 10 visitors viewed one blog page, while 1 visitor stopped by another.

Qualitative data is important. Following the numbers can help you find what visitors value and what they do. But it doesn’t tell you why they like it. And understanding that requires qualitative data. The best web design companies are pushing the field by getting qualitative data and modifying their designs based on this data. They’re using beta-testing systems and getting powerful, direct feedback.

A good data-driven design program will always use both kinds of data. Testing, analysis, and feedback systems are continuous, rather than one-off, and therefore provide deeper insights on what visitors prefer and want the websites they visit to do for them. It is this kind of deep-digging which pushes the horizon of design forward in ways which are meaningful for users.

Getting Specific, Actionable Data:
Whether the data used in data-driven design is numerical or no, it must always be empirical, and address specific questions. Whether you’re a UX designer or a data analyst, a little bit of scientific inquiry comes into play at some point, because you’re not just wanting to look at aggregate data… but to answer specific questions.

Hypothetically, this could look like a situation in which a blog or online magazine, which has hired a designer to update their website. The goal of the website is to keep visitors engaged and to provide useful information, but also to increase subscriptions. As a designer, those are several goals to meet, and ideally you should begin studying the existing website to identify key areas of improvement.

Key quantitative data metrics you might study include the bounce and exit rates, and find out which pages have the highest in each category. This provides information on a ‘what’ which you should try to address! From there, you might use UX testing to get qualitative data from visitors on their experiences from these pages to find out the why. User-reported information might reveal that page-specific CSS makes exit links larger or more obvious on these pages, therefore funneling users away. Lots of moving elements might bog down the pages, providing a negative user experience.

But in this hypothetical situation, you have used empirical information addressing specific issues to yield information which should influence design decisions. And when you start employing this one-two punch to achieve great design, you’ll realize some amazing trends.

data-driven-web-design-2

The Big Takeaways of Data-Driven Design:
Applying data-driven design has helped push design elements which were once novel and boutique into the realm of commonality. Responsiveness, high-contrast CTAs, flat design elements were all once thoroughly tested and checked by data-driven design teams. But that’s just the beginning! Increasingly, data-driven design is finding that design decisions should be tailored to specific audiences. Right now, this is most commonly seen as different landing pages or page elements for different geolocated areas. But designers are even experimenting with segmenting design by audiences even more: by age, for example.

Testing for data and then using that data to modify design can be resource-intensive, that’s true; but even small, focused efforts can result in big improvements for clients, and the increasing ability to meet the goals of the websites we’re building.

Read More at Data-Driven Web Design

from Web Design Ledger http://webdesignledger.com/data-driven-web-design/

Bateaux – The Only Theme You Ever Need

webdesignledger-4

Universally, everything that sticks around for a while undergoes a process of specialization, and WordPress is not an exception to this rule. WP has been with us for a long time, boasts a widespread amount of installs, and it’s periodically worked on, and updated. On the front-end side of things, any developer will have not failed to notice that themes, with time, have shifted more and more out of static design forms. They have evolved into design tools in themselves, in the sense that their aim is to become “The Only Theme You Ever Need”. What they mean is that, instead of being locked up into a static design as it used to be the norm, you get a set of building blocks to design your own themes ad infinitum.

01_preview.__large_preview“When you do, you’ll be treated to a very different experience in the way of edition: a really fast, interactive, and well thought interface”

 

I find this “multi-purpose” idea brilliant, both from a design and a practical perspective. In terms of design, learning a particular tool well leads to more confidence, speed, and recycling. From a practical perspective, there’s no need to spend any more time or money hunting for themes for your next project: make up your own with the tools you know, and recycle your best blocks and components.

In the search for the theme to end all themes, I’ve run into Bateaux, by developer TwistTheme, so let’s see how well it fills this niche.

webdesignledger-4

OPENING

The download is about 30 mb, and the first pleasant surprise is the inclusion of a child theme to work on without fear of losing your tweaks with the next update. After installing the theme and the core plugins, the next move is either to configure everything from zero, or to perform an import of the included sample data and take it from there. The sample designs are pretty cool and will get you on your way very quickly if you don’t have the time to re-invent the wheel. Control over typography is handled through Google Fonts, Typekit and Custom Fonts. The theme is multi-language through WPML integration, and not only does it support WooCommerce, it comes preloaded with modules for it, and offers tailored options when you’re editing a product page. This is great.

The theme’s looks and behavior are controlled via the Customizer, and it’s refreshing to have buttons that show what everything looks like in tablets and mobiles, with instant visualization. After all the setting-up is done, your next stop will be to become familiar with the strongest feature of this theme, which is the signature “Blueprint” page-builder.

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The Blueprint page-builder is an original invention of the authors, and you can tell they have poured a lot of effort into it. Essentially it’s a separate app, available whenever you edit a post or a page. You can opt to edit in the classic way, or to fire Blueprint. When you do, you’ll be treated to a very different experience in the way of edition: a really fast, interactive, and well thought interface, which you can use to build your creations: structure sections within sections, edit properties with context-aware option panels (it includes a full-screen button to maximize space, and a Preview button -which works in real time- as well) and a lot more.

Through Blueprint, you will play around with lots of universal building blocks such as blog entries, contact forms, galleries, featured posts, product categories for your shop, sliders, and also elements unique to Bateaux, such as testimonials, team, modal (pop-ups), and other interactive elements. This, in sum, is where the action happens, and the core area from where you can unleash your creative potential to invent something new, or simply use any of the included templates, which look already great in terms of grid design and visual space. It will take some time to get used to, but probably visual design interfaces are where the future of WordPress is heading towards. Bateaux’s Blueprint editor does a really fine job at offering all of that today. To sum up Bateaux:

THE GOOD:

  • Great design, elegant and aesthetic.
  • Truly responsive and retina-ready.
  • Nice included toys like Slider Revolution.
  • Lots of cool templates and designs out of the box.
  • Not only WooCommerce-friendly, but including pre-made designs to deploy right away with your shop.
  • Multi-lingual ready through WPML compatibility. – A bazillion of options for customization.
  • Fast: GTMetrix reports a PageSpeed score of 97%
  • A truly useful, original and quick page-builder that may arguably hold the key to the “last theme you will ever need” WP holy grail: why buy any other theme, if you can build anything you can think of using this one? Moreover, the more you use it the more you’ll know how to get what you want.
  • Clean and light page-builder. Since the author designed Blueprint very light and clean, you will find it very fast compare to other page-builder in the market. Everything interacts real time with no waiting time and need to click “save” button.
  • Zealous, responsive customer service.

THE NOT-SO-GOOD:

  • A lot but worth to learn. The downside of not having to mess with the code is of course the amount of options available, to tweak the theme so it will do what you want. You’ll need to dedicate a certain amount of time to understand where everything is, what it does, and how it does it.
  • The documentation is okay, but needs expanding with more detail on the concepts, and examples. But they are reportedly working on it.

VERDICT

Bateaux is built aesthetically around typography and intelligent grids, with great attention to detail, so it looks gorgeous. It comes with a lot goodies out of the box, and many fantastic designs to kick off. It’s clearly built from the ground up upon the new WP ethos of being not a theme, but a platform to create themes. As such, everything can be adjusted through options, which is great if you look for quick WP development cycles and minimal fiddling with coding. The flip side of so much control is obviously the massive amount of options needed to set everything to your liking. And since each designer crafts their theme according to their own idiosyncrasy and ability, stuff is located in different places, organized under its own internal logic. In that sense, Bateaux needs, in my opinion, to reorganize its options a little bit, and to expand on the documentation. The authors have told me they are indeed working on this.

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In terms of support from the developers, I must say it has been excellent. I have contacted them with a couple of questions and got a succinct reply in less than an hour, which is great in my book (consider other themes’s authors who’ll take a week to reply, if at all). By browsing Bateaux’s support forum you can quickly tell issues are dealt with quickly and efficiently, and that the authors are really behind their theme. Hopefully they will continue to develop it and expand it even further. Highly recommended.

Check out our Demo and More Info!

Bateaux REVIEW by gustavo@unclezeta.com


 

Read More at Bateaux – The Only Theme You Ever Need

from Web Design Ledger http://webdesignledger.com/bateaux-theme/

Bouncy Balls in Adobe Muse – Muse Motion 2

Muse For You - Bouncy Balls in Adobe Muse - Web Design Ledger

 

Create a bouncy ball effect in Adobe Muse with the Muse Motion 2 Widget Powered by Greensock’s Animation Platform (GSAP). No Coding Skills Required.

Adobe Muse CC Logo Muse For You - Adobe Muse CC Greensock Logo

The Greensock Animation Platform (GSAP) is one of the most sophisticated animation platforms available for the web. With the Greensock Animation Platform you can create animation sequences and add animations to individual elements on your website. I was very excited when I first created the Muse Motion 2 widget for Adobe Muse. This gave you access to the Greensock Animation Platform without having to know any code. Developers spend hours fine tuning their code to get great animations. With the Muse Motion 2 widget the Greensock animations can be achieved with just changing a few settings in the widget.
Muse For You - Muse Motion 2 Widget Powered by Greensock's Animations Platform - Adobe Muse CC

In the video above I go over just how easy it is to create a bouncy ball effect in Adobe Muse using the Muse Motion 2 widget. Simply add a few circles, add the widget, set the settings in the widget, and apply the widget to the element. It took me less than 4 minutes to achieve this effect in Adobe Muse with the Muse Motion 2 widget.

Muse For You - Bouncy Balls in Adobe Muse - Web Design Ledger

This is the first video out of a series of videos I will be creating on how to create simple yet sophisticated animations with the Muse Motion 2 widget. I also show the Muse Motion 2 widget combined with the Muse Morph widget to transform SVG elements as they bounce. Hopefully this will inspire you for your own website🙂.

For more video tutorials and widgets for Adobe Muse visit http://museforyoushop.com.

Happy Musing🙂.

Read More at Bouncy Balls in Adobe Muse – Muse Motion 2

from Web Design Ledger http://webdesignledger.com/bouncy-balls-adobe-muse-muse-motion-2/

Zoey: An eCommerce Platform With A Difference

Zoey Featured

There is no shortage of eCommerce platforms and tools for online businesses. However, most of them suffer from the same flaw: they are either overloaded and bloated, or they rely on heavy customization and coding skills.

Even more so, numerous eCommerce platforms tend to work well only if you extend their functionality by means of addons and plugins. Otherwise, it is nearly impossible to run an eCommerce store.

Ever faced the same problem with eCommerce platforms? If that is the case, this post has a special solution meant for you. Meet Zoey, a new eCommerce platform and online store builder.

What makes Zoey special? Well, it expects no coding skills from you, and works perfectly well right from the start.

Zoey: An eCommerce Platform With A Difference

What is Zoey?

As already stated, Zoey is an eCommerce platform and an online store builder. As an eCommerce platform, Zoey gives you absolute control over your online business. And as a store builder, it lets you put together your online shop within minutes using a handy drag and drop interface. Even if you have never built an online store before, or having no experience in coding, Zoey is very easy to master.

Zoey Featured

We will be giving Zoey a spin later in this article, but first, let us take a look at its major features.

Design

To begin with, Zoey offers an impressive arsenal of web design features that can give any other tool a run for its money. Don’t like coding? Have no fear, the drag and drop builder can be used by anyone. Need pre-made presets and design assets to save your time? How about a special style editor for controlling every single element of your site, and a live preview to help you view your changes in realtime? Yes, Zoey offers all of that.

Plus, since this is the era of the mobile web, Zoey offers special tools to preview and test mobile design. In addition to that, Zoey also comes with several free and fully responsive themes that are ready to be customized as per your needs.

zoey ecommerce

Infrastructure

Your online store is only as good as the infrastructure it is hosted on. After all, if your visitors find your website offline, there will be sales.

Zoey takes care of everything, thereby giving you time to focus on your actual business. Whether you need specialized datacenter location to target customers from a specific location, or a Content Delivery Network to boost the performance of your store, Zoey offers it all. You get to choose from 10 globally distributed datacenters and powerful scalable hardware. Your store also gets unlimited bandwidth, so have no fear even if you get millions of hits daily.

Also, Zoey implements site-wide HTTPS to foster a feeling of trust and security for your visitors and clients.

Marketing, Payments and Operations

Zoey offers a large array of marketing tools to help you drive more traffic and sales to your store. You can run batch promotions, discounts, special coupons and gift deals. Zoey has Search Engine Optimization tools that you can utilize in your store such as site wide HTTPS, advanced site map, and mobile friendly design. These are all things that Google looks at to give you a higher rankings in search. Zoey also gives you the freedom to customize H1 tags, title tags, meta descriptions, URLs and more to improve rankings.

Zoey comes with detailed statistics and reports for cases such as cart abandonment. You can also integrate it with various other platforms such as Google AdWords, Optimizely and MailChimp.

You can implement over 50 payment gateways on your store, including credit cards, PayPal, bank transfers and Cash on Delivery. If you are selling physical good on your store, you can select from various shipping carriers, manage inventory and even integrate with the likes of Etsy and eBay.

B2B eCommerce

Screen Shot 2016-08-19 at 11.13.52 AMIf you are running a wholesale business or B2B store, Zoey is the ultimate solution for you. Now merchants take take advantage of essential features needed to run a B2B business, such as site access restrictions. This will allow you to control the customers who can access your store or which customers have the ability to checkout. You can make the entire store password-protected so only the customers that you have pre-approved on the backend can view your store. Another setting in B2B is the pricing flexibility – which is extremely important for any B2B business. Zoey let’s you customize pricing based on customer group and order volume so you can manage different pricing for wholesale and retail customers. Furthermore, you can allow bulk orders, offer custom pricing for B2B buyers, and so on.

Well, enough with the features. How does Zoey perform in reality? I decided to give Zoey a spin and find out.

Zoey in Action

Once you successfully login to the admin panel, you will find it fairly similar to any modern-day CMS out there. There are specialized menus for each function to help you get started. I am going to run each menu one at a time, so as to give you a comprehensive picture of all that you can expect from Zoey.

Zoey Menu

The first menu is fairly simple, whereas the Orders menu lets you view new orders and manage them accordingly. However, the standout menu, in my view, is the Analytics section. Now, many eCommerce platforms tend to outsource analytics to external services, such as Google Analytics or likewise. However, Zoey offers it all for you straight in the admin panel. You get details such as total number of orders, conversion rate, revenue earned, purchase funnel, etc. Furthermore, you also get to view analytics related to abandoned carts to help you better optimize your site.

Zoey Analytics eCommerce

Adding products to your store is a breeze too. You can setup categories and attributes, specify gift cards or discounts, and add a product within minutes. Interestingly, Zoey lets you add SEO details, and upsell or cross-sell features right at the time when you add a new product. There is no special extension or page that you need to visit.

Add Products eCommerce

Similarly, you can create lists and groups of your customers, or export that list as a backup. Adding a discount rule is also pretty easy, perfectly with all the conditions and time limits for the particular discount.

Zoey Add Customer

In the Setup menu, you can add details such as shipping, localization, taxation, et al. Similarly, for advanced users, there are API integrations, URL rewrites and various other options available in the Advanced menu.

However, one of the most striking feature of Zoey is the Blog menu. Now, there are numerous blogging platforms out there, and there are numerous eCommerce platforms out there. However, what if your eCommerce solution allowed you to run your blog natively? I know many big online stores that use an external solution, such as WordPress or Ghost, to run their blog. This is often an unwanted maintenance on their hands, because more often than not, online stores tend to use their blogs only to mouth the company developments, announce new deals, etc.

Zoey lets you run a blog from the admin panel itself. You just need to specify a blog address (such as mystore.com/blog or mystore.com/notes and so on), and then get started with writing.

Blogging Zoey

You can add excerpts, categories and tags to your posts in the blog.

Blogging eCommerce

As you can observe, Zoey’s backend is fairly simple and straightforward that can be mastered within minutes.

But wait, aren’t we forgetting something?

Yes, the drag and drop editor!

All you need to do is hit Edit My Design, and then select the page that you wish to edit.

Zoey Edit

All edits happen live with previews, so you can be sure of what you are doing. You can drag and drop elements, or add new elements directly in the live editor.

Drag and Drop

All themes are free and responsive, so you can select whichever one that you love the most.

Themes

Pricing

Zoey offers three plans for you to choose from. All plans come with support for responsive themes, advanced analytics, unlimited storage and bandwidth, custom domains, as well as Point of Sale and Amazon/eBay integrations.

Professional Plan costs $89 per month. If you need something extra, opt for the Business Plan at $199 per month that comes with support for HTTPS, B2B functionality, CDN, and multiple languages and currencies.

Beyond that, there is also the Premier plan that starts at $599 per month. It comes with enterprise level features such as custom apps and design, a dedicated account manager with priority support, and a lot more.

All plans come with a 14-day free trial, so you can give them a try with no string attached. Also, there are no setup or transaction fees involved in any plan.

Conclusion

Running an eCommerce store is complicated business. You have to take care of shipping, product management, taxes, customer support, and a lot more. Quite obviously, website management and development as well as hosting can be another chore that you’d be better off avoiding.

Zoey is very clearly a good fit for online stores and businesses. It does its job well, and lets you focus on the actual management of your business. You can easily forget about web hosting, running custom scripts to integrate payment gateways, or paying a hefty fees for getting a responsive site.

Furthermore, if you are a web designer yourself or a web design agency, you should by all means give Zoey a try right away! It goes without saying that you must be having various clients asking you to setup a website for their eCommerce store. Using Zoey, you can setup websites and stores within minutes, and since the interface is beginner-friendly, you can pass on the website to the clients easily.

So what are you waiting for? Go ahead and make use of the 14-day free trial, and check out Zoey right away!

Read More at Zoey: An eCommerce Platform With A Difference

from Web Design Ledger http://webdesignledger.com/zoey-ecommerce-platform/

Zoey Business Subscription Giveaway

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Zoey is an all-in-one eCommerce platform for ambitious merchants, and was built to offer a refreshing alternative: the ease of use of hosted platforms paired with the power of an on-premise solution.

We are giving away FREE Business Subscriptions to three lucky winners – Enter the Zoey Subscription Giveaway today.

1st Prize: One year FREE on Zoeya $2,388 value
2nd Prize: Six months FREE on Zoeya $1,194 value
3rd prize: Three months FREE on Zoeya $597 value

 

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Read More at Zoey Business Subscription Giveaway

from Web Design Ledger http://webdesignledger.com/zoey-business-subscription-giveaway/