Rules to Successfully Launch New Websites

2016-06-30

Launching a new site soon, but not sure if it’s going to go smooth? Maybe you have a history of getting in way too deep with website design only to reach a wall that stops you from moving forward. Setbacks, miscommunication, and missed deadlines are your biggest nightmare when building a new website.

What’s the best approach to launch a new website with success?

2016-06-30

Identify Mistakes

Don’t make the same mistakes twice. Before you ever dive into a redesign, take a good look at the website you currently have and identify the worst. Are there things that are just plain wrong? These days, you can develop a website design that becomes obsolete in less than a year. It’s probably not your fault, but it’s time to change all the mistakes left on your website.

Something that my team had to fix before our last website redesign was the blog feed location. The blog feed was running from the homepage instead of the subfolder /blog/, which created a mess before we ever started working on the new website redesign. We did our research and concluded it was best to move blog articles to the /blog/ subfolder with 301 redirects before we began building the new website.

Create a Plan

Know what you’re getting yourself into long before you begin. Launching websites is not an easy task, and it takes a lot more careful planning, time, and attention than you may think. Create a plan that outlines all work needed to be done, and get the conversation started with your team. Sometimes this is best done by conducting a meeting in which every department (design, programming, content, social, administrative) can communicate the total workload for each part of the website design and development.

Once all changes that need to be made are identified, it will be much easier to get a much clearer picture of what the website will look like when finished and what steps it might take to get there.

Map Your Work

Give yourself more direction by constructing a roadmap. After you’ve come up with a rough plan including each department’s workload, a general roadmap of your website design procedure will give everyone on your team a better understanding of timelines. Some aspects of your redesign will naturally begin with a programmer, a designer, and copywriter, but eventually, one person will be waiting on the next to supply content to be uploaded.

A map will outline key aspects of your workflow, and help you identify components that must be finished before the next part of the project can even be initiated. It helps to start with a website design checklist to assure that, when you do set tasks for everyone, nothing is overlooked.

Considering Blocks & Setbacks

Murphy’s law states — if there’s anything that can go wrong, it will. Considering this, you might want to allow yourself a few extra days or weeks for specific parts of your website redesign. Rushing through a website redesign is a quick way to pile on the stress and raise your blood pressure. It’s best to reach one conclusion before you begin — there will be setbacks. If you don’t see them coming, they turn into “blocks” that keep the website from launching on the deadline. To avoid being blindsided by blocks and losing momentum, take the time to consider everything that could possibly go wrong when building out your new website.

Set Steps & Deadlines

Once you’ve gotten the big picture out of the way, it’s time to set tasks, dates, and begin. Your website design should begin just after you’ve outlined the steps needed to finish the design and tasks needed to accomplish each step. All tasks and steps should have their own set of deadlines that move the project along. Keeping all parts of the project moving forward and finishing each step on time will assure your website is ready on launch day.

Promote the Launch

If you’re confident in your ability to publish a working site, then start promoting your website long before launch day arrives. Once you know launch day is in sight, set up a series of posts to complete a redesign launch campaign, and drive more traffic to your website.

The Testing Phase

Time to test your website before launch to assure everything works. Our web developer builds out new redesigns by first using a dev server then transferring the final product upon completion. This means that he has much more flexibility when programming the redesign since it’s not automatically affecting the live website. The testing phase of development assures that your website is going to work, and there are no broken elements before launch day.

Launch Day

By the time lauch day rolls around, you should be confident your website is finally FIN. Launch day is a time for celebration. If you haven’t already, start promoting your website redesign launch as soon as you are certain the website is up and running and most importantly works. Give everyone on your team a high five, and be happy because you launched a new website, and holy crap, it works!

Do you use these rules when launching new websites? Please leave a comment, and share this article with your network.

SOURCES:

Website Timeline: A Plan for Success

Read More at Rules to Successfully Launch New Websites

from Web Design Ledger http://webdesignledger.com/rules-successfully-launch-new-websites/

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Drawing a Speech Bubble Icon in Adobe XD

Dansky_Learn How to Draw a Speech Bubble Icon in Adobe XD

In this tutorial, we’re going to learn how to draw a speech bubble icon in Adobe Experience Design CC (Adobe XD).

The Steps (1-8)

1. Create a New Artboard.

2. Select the Ellipse Tool, Left-click anywhere on the artboard and hold Shift to draw a circle.

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3. Next, select the Rectangle Tool, Left-click and hold Shift to draw a square. Make sure that the square is about 1/5 the size of the circle created in Step 2.

4. With the Selection Tool, Double-click the newly created square to edit, and select the top-right anchor point. Hit Delete or Backspace to remove this anchor point. This will leave you with a three-sided shape.

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5. Position the three-sided triangle shape in the bottom-left corner of the circle. Double-click the bottom-left anchor point to edit, and use the Left/Down arrow keys to move this anchor point downwards and towards the left. Whilst this can be done using the mouse, currently dragging the anchor point using the mouse does not snap it to a 45 degree angle, and so using the arrow keys (in turn, one after the other) ensures that as you adjust the ‘point’ on the triangle, it remains balanced without being skewed out of shape.

6. Once you are happy with the proportions of your triangle shape, adjust the overall size by Left-clicking and holding Alt + Shift on any one of the corner anchor points to scale the shape upwards/downwards from the centre.

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7. When you are happy with the shape and size of your speech bubble, Left-click and hold Shift to select both the circle and the triangle shapes, and in the Pathfinder Options in the Property Inspector, select the Add option. This will combine the two shapes into one complete speech bubble shape.

8. Select a Fill colour of your choice (for this tutorial, the Fill colour is set to white #FFFFFF) and also adjust the Colour and Width of the Border. For this tutorial, the Border Width is set to 30 pixels.

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Download Adobe Experience Design CC (Adobe XD).

Read More at Drawing a Speech Bubble Icon in Adobe XD

from Web Design Ledger http://webdesignledger.com/drawing-speech-bubble-icon-adobe-xd/

Facebook to Change News Feed to Focus on Friends and Family: Here’s Everything You Need to Know

The goal of Facebook’s News Feed is to show people the stories that are most relevant to them. That’s no small task when you have over 1.65 billion people to keep happy and over 1,500 stories per day to prioritize for each of those individual users. Now, Facebook has announced one of their most significant News Feed shuffles.

On Wednesday, Facebook shared that the News Feed algorithm is going to shift so that it will more favorably promote content posted by the friends and family of users.

These changes are likely to mean that content posted by brands and publishers will show up less prominently in News Feeds. In the announcement, the company explained their priority is keeping you connected to the people, places and things you want to be connected to — starting with the people you are friends with on Facebook.

Back in April 2015, Facebook made a similar algorithm update trying to ensure that stories posted directly by the friends you care about will be higher up in News Feed, so you are less likely to miss them. But based on feedback, Facebook understands that people are still worried about missing important updates from the friends.

This update is likely to affect all types of content posted by brands and publishers, including links, videos, live videos and photos. Facebook said it anticipates that this update may cause reach and referral traffic to decline for many Pages who’s traffic comes directly through Page posts.

The update will have less of an impact, however, if a lot of your referral traffic is the result of people sharing your content and their friends liking and commenting on it. Links or Page content shared by friends or content your friends interact with frequently will still appear higher in the feed.

For example, the post from my personal Facebook account (on the right below) would be more likely to appear above the post from Buffer’s Page (on the left) in the News Feed:

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What do users expect from the News Feed?

Facebook’s success is built on getting people the stories that matter to them most.

To help make sure you don’t miss the friends and family posts you are likely to care about, Facebook try to put those posts toward the top of your News Feed. The News Feed learns and adapts over time based on the content you interact with the most, too. For example, if you tend to like photos from your sister, they’ll start putting her posts closer to the top of your feed so you won’t miss what she posted while you were away.

Facebook research has also shown that, after friends and family, people have two other strong expectations when they come to News Feed:

  • The News Feed should inform. People expect the stories in their feed to be meaningful to them — and we have learned over time that people value stories that they consider informative. Something that one person finds informative or interesting may be different from what another person finds informative or interesting — this could be a post about a current event, a story about your favorite celebrity, a piece of local news, or a recipe. Facebook’s algorithm is always trying to better understand what is interesting and informative to you personally, so those stories appear higher up in your feed.
  • The News Feed should entertain. Facebook also found that people enjoy their feeds as a source of entertainment. For some people, that’s following a celebrity or athlete; for others,  it’s watching Live videos and sharing funny photos with their friends. Again, the company’s News Feed algorithm tries to understand and predict what posts on Facebook you find entertaining to make sure you don’t miss out on those.

The makeup of a successful social network (and why this update is essential for Facebook)

Despite its venture into publishing and partnerships with large news and entertainment brands, at its heart, Facebook is still a place for friends. And without solidifying our connections with those closest to us, Facebook could face struggles to keep its 1.65 billion monthly active users coming back.

To understand the inner-workings of social networks and what makes us keep using them, the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology studied networks like Friendster and Myspace with the goal of figuring out what factors can be detrimental to a social network.

As explained over at Wired:

They found that when the time and effort (the costs) associated with being a member of a social network outweigh the benefits, then a decline in users becomes likely. If one person leaves, their friends become more likely to leave and as more people leave, this can lead to a cascading collapse in membership.

Networks like Friendster and Myspace were the Facebook of their day. Both had tens, and eventually hundreds, of millions of registered users, but what the study found is that the bonds between users weren’t particularly strong. Many users had very few close connections, and it appears there’s a direct correlation between how connected we feel to our friends and family and our affiliation with each network.

If Facebook users are worried about missing important updates from the people they care about most, then their affiliation with the network could begin to decline as they find other ways to stay connected. And once user begins to leave, or become un-engaged, it could have a waterfall effect on the network. David Garcia, a professor at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, explains:

“First the users in the outer cores start to leave, lowering the benefits of inner cores, cascading through the network towards the core users, and thus unraveling.”

You can see how a social network unravels in the below graphic (Friendster is used in the image):
social-network-connections

For Facebook, the News Feed is the most integral part of their product to make us feel connected with those we care about. And as such, it’s important for Facebook to keep the content we want to see the most at the top of the feed.

How will this update impact business Pages?

The changes will affect all types of content posted by Pages, including links, videos, live videos and photos.

In their “News Feed Values” shared alongside this announcement, Facebook made it clear that content from friends and family will come first. And the company also highlighted the importance of authentic communication and being inclusive of all perspectives and view points without favoring specific kinds of sources — or ideas.

We expect that this update may cause organic post reach and referral traffic to decline for some Pages. The impact will vary for every page and will greatly depend on the composition of your audience or the way in which your content is shared on Facebook. For example, if a lot of your referral traffic is the result of people sharing your content and their friends liking and commenting on it, there will be less of an impact than if the majority of your traffic comes directly through Page posts.

As with all Facebook algorithm updates, it may take a little time to determine exactly what will continue to work and how to increase organic reach (though Facebook feels like it’s shifting more towards a pay-to-play market for businesses). 

One tactic that could become increasingly important is the amplification of brand content. With Facebook favoring content shared by users rather than Pages, it feels essential to find new and innovative ways to encourage your audience to share your content directly to Facebook. Ensuring your content is discoverable away for the Facebook News Feed could be another key play as well.

It also feels important to keep a focus on what people are looking for from the News Feed. As mentioned earlier, aside from friends and family, Facebook users turn to the News Feed to be informed and entertained. With those goals in mind, it’s worth thinking about how the content you create for Facebook can satisfy those desires.

Over to you

In their announcement, Facebook says their work is “only 1 percent finished” so it feels like there are plenty more twists and turns ahead for the News Feed.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this update and how it may affect the way you use Facebook and the types of content your share? Please feel free to leave a comment below and I’m excited to continue the conversation with you. 

from Social https://blog.bufferapp.com/facebook-change-news-feed-focus-friends-family

The Keyboard Waffle Iron Giveaway

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Do you love waffles? Do you love keyboards? We sure do!

Enter The Keyboard Waffle Iron Giveaway to win this geek-chic waffle iron by Chris Dimino.

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The Keyboard Waffle Iron is designed from the waffle-out. It features a unique wide format plate that creates a delicious Belgian-style waffle in the shape of your beloved computer keyboard. It also features a comfortable heat-resistant bakelite curved handle for easy flipping.

All of this in a simple and sleek design that compliments your kitchen. Just add heat, batter, and toppings!

Whether on your kitchen stove, backyard BBQ, or outdoor camping grill, you can make great waffles just about anywhere! The Keyboard Waffle Iron’s slim and “wireless” design makes for easy toting to your next brunch, tailgate, or QWERTY club meeting.

In this case, playing with your food is HIGHLY recommended!

Winners will be announced on July 15th! Good luck!

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Read More at The Keyboard Waffle Iron Giveaway

from Web Design Ledger http://webdesignledger.com/keyboard-waffle-iron-giveaway/

30 Premium Responsive WordPress Themes – Part 2

This article is a kind of sequel showcasing 30 more premium Responsive WordPress Themes you might like to take a look at. Click here to browse the first batch of WordPress themes.

So, what do we have for you today? 30 stylish WordPress themes that fit different business niches. All themes  are easy to customize, so you don’t even need to have extensive coding skills to alter your WordPress site. It goes without saying that all WordPress themes listed below are cross-browser compatible and 100% responsive, which makes it possible to visit and enjoy your web page from any modern mobile device. The themes are also search engine friendly; thus you will always be able to optimize your website so that more clients are able to learn about the goods and services your company provides on the Internet.

Are you ready to browse 30 top-class premium responsive WordPress Themes right now? We hope that one of them will be ideal for promoting your business and you will take the lead position in your niche. Or maybe you’ll find a perfect design for your client’s website here.

1. Interna WordPress Theme

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Interna is a responsive WordPress Theme which was created for an architectural company. This stylish theme has a lot of nice features like parallax scrolling effect, stick-to-top menu, drag and drop content editor, etc. Btw, Interna can be used for a multi language site as it is WPML ready. The theme has Cherry Framework at its core that offers solid Bootstrap options, numerous shortcodes and widgets and a simple way to update the current design with Parent/Child theme possibilities. Finally, the theme comes with 24/7 free lifetime support.

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2. Effective IT Solutions WordPress Theme

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Here is a minimalist responsive WordPress theme which will be perfect for an IT company. This SEO friendly theme has a stylish slider, a parallax effect, a drag and drop content editor, a working contact form, and lots of other features.

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3. Style Park WordPress Theme

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This is the brightest theme in our responsive WordPress Themes collection. Its combination of neon colors and metro-style blocks will differentiate your fashion blog from the competitors. The theme is packed with a huge set of premium widgets which will help you build feature rich and versatile layouts. WordPress live customizer, Bootstrap, valid and well documented code, 24/7 free support are just a few things that you’ll get with this WP theme. In fact, Style Park is a GPL WordPress theme, meaning you can use it many times.

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4. Page Down Responsive WordPress Theme

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Page Down is a responsive WordPress theme that is suitable for design agencies and business sites. Its transparent header seamlessly blends with the layout. The projects are categorized. Contact form is available right on the home page. The theme has a clean design, a minimal layout, and a stylish responsive slider.

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5. CorpoRational WordPress Theme

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This business WordPress theme comes with a MotoPress editor plugin, which will help you process and edit your website. Drag and drop elements the way you like and enjoy the process of managing your site layout in a visual mode.

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6. Clean Folio Responsive WordPress Theme

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This bright theme is a great option for creative designers who want to be different from their competitors. The author skillfully uses white space, so that the page looks really professional.

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7. Bit News WordPress Theme

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The theme is an ideal option for a news portal. It is delivered with a set of premium widgets (like posts carousel, simple slider, image grid, category tiles, and so on) to build feature-rich and versatile layouts.

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8. Multimedia WordPress Theme

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The next theme on our Responsive WordPress Themes list is ‘Multimedia’. It is coded with valid XHTML + CSS, which will provide flawless performance of your future website.

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9. Editorso WordPress Theme

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Unlike many of the Responsive WordPress Themes, this one, for a journalist blog, doesn’t require any coding skills from you. You will cope with installation, fine-tuning and maintenance without difficulty as all these factors are being executed via a user-friendly interface with tons of settings. Btw, Editorso is a GPL WordPress theme, which means it can be used to build more than one WordPress site.

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10. DailySports WordPress Theme

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Dark layouts always capture users’ eyes, so it’s an ideal option for a sport news portal. The theme is 100% GPL, built with Bootstrap, SEO friendly and has valid and well documented code.

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11. Kustrix WordPress Theme

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This fashion theme is customized with the help of WordPress live customizer. This feature gives you the ability to customize your website with just a few clicks and see the changes in real time.

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12. OnePage Responsive WordPress Theme

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This is a trendy one page WordPress theme for a web design agency. Featured posts from the blog are placed into the slider (the second one on the home page), so you will be able not only to present your company online, but also to build a loyal community around it. OnePage has minimalist design and a stunning motion slider.

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13. TripTastic WordPress Theme

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This is a wonderful responsive WordPress theme for a travel blog. It is well documented and has clean code, but 24/7 effective and friendly support is always ready to solve any issue you might encounter.

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14. Concept WordPress Theme

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The theme is great for any design agency or business site. It has a clean and minimal layout and scroll motion slider. The theme is Search Engine Optimized and crossbrowser compatible.

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15. HostPro WordPress Theme

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This theme, designed in flat style, has Infographic elements in the layout. Additionally, you can choose between multiple slider plugins (including Cherry Simple Slider and Premium MotoPress Slider) when crafting your theme. They allow you to assemble professional looking slides of text, images and videos, boosting them with cool transition effects.

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16. Freelancer Responsive WordPress Theme

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This responsive WordPress theme can be used by design agencies. It has a sticky navigation menu that stays before your eyes as long as you are on the site. Company projects are presented in a grid and supplied with hover effect.

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17. Fashion Spot WordPress Theme

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A very glamorous WordPress theme for fashion sites. By the way, you can use more than 80 handy shortcodes for post output, elements, grids, lists, tabs, video and audio, Google map, and much more.

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18. Pixel WordPress Theme

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This neat design will be a perfect fit for any creative agency. Responsive slider and masonry layout will help you present your work in a modern stylish manner.

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19. Samuray WordPress Theme

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If you are choosing among responsive WordPress Themes for security sites, you should seriously check out this one. You will be able to build a unique and stylish site for any kind of business with a variety of custom pre-designed page templates.

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20. Deltex WordPress Theme

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This is a solid business theme with transparent header and lowered main menu. It is supplied with WPML, which makes it easier to run a multilingual WordPress site with a single install. With WPML you can modify pages, posts, custom types, menus and the theme’s text and they will be displayed properly in every language.

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21. Architecture WordPress Theme

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This is a responsive and retina ready architectural theme that includes PSD source files. That means the theme is fully customizable and is optimized to be used equally well by experts and beginners.

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22. Redwoods Responsive WordPress Theme

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This theme brings on a surge of sweet nostalgia. Happy kids photos, picturesque landscapes, decorative border stitching take site visitors back to their childhood, when their parents used to send them to summer camps and then they would come back home with lots of pleasant memories of that unforgettable experience.

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23. Design Studio WordPress Theme

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This theme for a web design studio will help you present your works in the best possible way. It is built on Cherry Framework 4, which provides hassle-free installation of your theme, Bootstrap options, shortcodes, widgets and so much more…

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24. Adv WordPress Theme

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If you are looking for a trendy theme for an advertising agency among responsive WordPress Themes, here is a good one to consider. It gives you the freedom to use unique types of posts for a variety of information, like customer testimonials, team bio posts, company services description, etc. In short, every page of your website will be special. All you need to do is choose from a list of available post formats.

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25. Monstroid – Multipurpose WordPress Theme

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This is one of the best responsive WordPress Themes featured here. Monstroid is a multipurpose theme, which means that you can make whatever you need out of it (a blog, an online portfolio, a news site, a corporate site or even a web shop). It is supplied with all necessary tools for the purpose.

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26. VPress Responsive WordPress Theme

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The theme was created for video blogs and video design companies. Videos on the web page are categorized and have tabbed navigation for users’ convenience.

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27. Vegetexia Responsive WordPress Theme

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You can place all your information on healthy diet on a clean vegetarian blog. This nice eye-pleasing WordPress theme is packed with a huge set of premium widgets allowing you to build feature-rich and versatile layouts.

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28. Vector WordPress Theme

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This responsive WordPress theme has an uncommon navigation. You can use a vertical main menu, placed on the white text block together with logo, social icons and copyrights. Actually, the theme’s home page appears as a full screen slider showing HD images that capture users’ attention.

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29. AutoTowing WordPress Theme

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The theme is retina ready, so it will perform and look great even on displays with high pixel density. This will help you keep your site up to date for many years.

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30. Creator Responsive WordPress Theme

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This responsive WordPress theme has a very impressive slider and intuitive navigation. You can use not only the main menu, but also promo banners to research website pages and their content.

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So, these were 30 elegant premium responsive WordPress Themes for different kinds of businesses. Liked anything? Please leave us a comment! Do you think we’ve missed any extraordinary template? You are welcome to make your additions to our list.

Read More at 30 Premium Responsive WordPress Themes – Part 2

from Web Design Ledger http://webdesignledger.com/30-premium-responsive-wordpress-themes-part-2/

55% of Visitors Read Your Articles For 15 Seconds or Less: Why We Should Focus on Attention Not Clicks

Millions of blog posts are published every day.

A small percentage gain traction and attract readers.

And among those readers, 55% will read the blog post for 15 seconds or less.

(If you’re still reading, thanks for sticking with this one!)

The internet is a daily battle for attention. Everywhere you turn, people are trying to share the latest marketing hacks with many of the same points echoed repeatedly.

I’m guilty of it myself, and I completely understand why many of us write articles that are a little similar and repetitive. It’s because they work. You could argue that content is becoming less art and more science. There are formulas to it — if you find the best keywords and write the correct content, you can build a high-traffic blog (that’s almost a guarantee).

But is traffic the goal of content? Or can there be some new and unusual ways of measuring content success? I have some ideas I’d love to share.

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Do the surface metrics really matter?

Why pageviews and sessions might be the wrong numbers to chase

Often (and, I’m guilty of this too) you’ll hear someone talk about the success of their content by saying something like: “10,000 people read my post” or “60,000 people saw my video on Facebook.”

But I’ve started to wonder if this is really an accurate measure of successful content?

Even if someone clicks on your article, the likelihood of them taking it all in is very slim. The internet has changed many of our habits. But one thing that hasn’t changed in nearly 20 years is the way we consume content online. Most of us still skim and rarely read a full post.

Many publishers have now started to focus on “attention metrics” alongside more traditional measurements like pageviews. Medium’s Ev Williams explains their stance on which numbers are meaningful:

We pay more attention to time spent reading than number of visitors at Medium because, in a world of infinite content — where there are a million shiny attention-grabbing objects a touch away and notifications coming in constantly — it’s meaningful when someone is actually spending time.

Maybe we need to stop focusing on how we can hack and grow the number of views our content gets. And instead, focus on how we can make each reader care about what we’re saying.

I’d argue that you don’t build a successful blog by accumulating a huge number of page views. Rather, you build a successful blog by creating something of value.

The only way content will drive results for any business is if it provides value to someone else. It’s not necessarily about how many people you reach; it’s how many you connect with. Because when people connect with us, they remember us, come back for more, trust what we have to say, and may eventually buy from us.

When you’re creating great content, you don’t need to live or die by your analytics. Maybe we should let go of our desire to write for everyone in order to skyrocket our pageviews, and instead hone in on sharing what’s unusual, valuable, and unique?

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How to measure the value of your content

3 under-used metrics to tell you just how valuable your content is

Value is quite subjective and can be hard to measure. In this section, I’d love to share a few ways we’re starting to measure the value of our content here at Buffer.

1. Run an NPS survey

A Net Promoter Score (NPS) is commonly used to measure loyalty between a brand and a consumer. It can also be a great way to measure the value that your blog is delivering to readers.

You calculate NPS by asking a simple question: How likely is it that you would recommend our blog to a friend or colleague? (Using a 0-10 scale to answer.)

Respondents to the question are then grouped as follows:

  • Promoters (score 9-10) are loyal enthusiasts who will keep buying and refer others, fueling growth
  • Passives (score 7-8) are satisfied but unenthusiastic customers who are vulnerable to competitive offerings.
  • Detractors (score 0-6) are unhappy customers who can damage your brand and impede growth through negative word-of-mouth.

Subtracting the percentage of Detractors from the percentage of Promoters yields the Net Promoter Score, which can range from a low of -100 (if every customer is a Detractor) to a high of 100 (if every customer is a Promoter).

This handy graphic from the Net Promoter Network highlights the formula:

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By running an NPS survey on your blog you can begin to understand how many of your readers truly value the content you’re creating and whether they would be happy to share it with their networks.

How to run an NPS Survey

There are plenty of great tools out there to help you run an NPS Survey on your blog and I’d love to share a few below:

You can also create your own survey using a tool like Typeform and distribute it to your readers. One thing that feels important to be mindful of is ensuring you reach all kinds of readers with your survey. For example, sending it only to your email subscribers could slightly skew results as they’re likely to already be your most engaged readers.

2. Pay attention to the comments

There has been a lot of debate about the state of blog comments. With the rise of social networks like Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn, readers have a multitude of ways to engage with your content:

  • They can share a link to your post on Twitter, Facebook (or any network of their choice)
  • They can interact with a post where you’ve shared a link back to the blog (favoriting a tweet, sending a reply, liking on Facebook)
  • They can retweet your tweet sharing the post or share your Facebook post
  • And much, much more…

With all these options and ways to interact with content, you could argue that a blog comment is losing its relevancy — or on the contrary, you could see it that the value of a blog comment is rising.

Knowing that people can share and comment on your post anywhere, the fact they’re taking the time to respond directly within the post itself could be perceived as the highest form of engagement.

For us, comments are an increasingly important metric and one we’re focused on measuring. In Q2 2016, we’ve had a focus on increasing the average comments on each blog post by 100% from Q1 and here’s how we’re getting on:

comment-tracking

Comments feel like a great measure of the value your content creates. If someone takes the time to spark a discussion on reply to us through a comment then we feel the post must have been useful to them in some way or sparked some curiosity.  A great example is our recent social media study post. This one generated over 70 comments with readers sharing their thoughts on the study and also how our findings compare to their own.

3. Monitor mentions and shares

Whenever I publish a post on the Buffer blog, I’ll get a few mentions on Twitter or LinkedIn when people share it. As a result of this, I’ve started to build a slight intuition around how much value each post is generating based on shares and mentions.

When a post really delivers value and goes above and beyond reader expectations, I’ll notice a distinct spike in the number of shares it receives and the number of mentions we receive both via the @buffer accounts and my own personal social media accounts.

It’s super easy to keep tabs on how many times your content has been shared. Sharing plugins like SumoMe and Social Warfare can provide share counts on your posts and PostReach (full disclosure: this is a tool a few friends and I have built) and Buzzsumo can pull in data about who is sharing each of your posts on Twitter. I also like to pay extra close attention to my mentions on Twitter after a new post goes live so I can gauge how it’s doing and see what people are saying.

A quick tip: Promise value in your headline

Headlines are amazingly important to the success of a piece of content. Before we publish a post, we spend a bit of time focusing on how we can craft a headline that gives the content the best chance of being seen. Amazing content behind a weak headline probably won’t get seen.

Sometimes we’ll create between 20-30 headlines for each post and choose the one that feels best and other times we’ll have a quick chat and riff on how we can make the headline stand out. Here are some extracts from a recent conversation between Leo and I:

headline-convo

The original headline we had was:

53 Graphic Design Terms and Definitions for Non-Designers

And the title we decided on when we hit publish is:

Why Every Marketer in 2016 Needs to Be a (Part-Time) Designer: 53 Design Terms and Tips to Level-Up

This post has generated plenty of shares so far and 18 comments (at the time of writing). By focusing on the headline, we were able to promise value: 53 Design Terms and Tips to Level-Up. And also spark a discussion about the role of a marketer: Why Every Marketer in 2016 Needs to Be a (Part-Time) Designer. Without the time spent tweaking this headline, I’m not sure we would have had such success with this post.

line-section

What makes an idea worth writing about?

Every blog post begins as an idea, but what makes an idea stand out and how do you know which ideas to act on and publish?

Before choosing a post to write, I tend to ask myself three questions:

  1. Is this actionable?
  2. Who will amplify this?
  3. What makes it unique?

And I’d love to go into detail on each of the three questions below:

1. Is it actionable?

On the Buffer blog, we strive to deliver content that helps readers solve a problem or challenge they face in their every-day work environment. This means we like them to be able to read a post and directly action something they’ve learned from it.

We focus on making content actionable because we believe that if someone learns something from one of our posts they’re likely to remember us and even share the post with their network as a New York Times study found that content that is practically useful gets shared more than any other content:

surprising-interesting-practical-viral

2. Who will amplify it? 

When creating content, it’s important to hone in on your audience and think about who you’re writing for. One way I like to frame this is to ask myself “who will amplify this post?” If I can’t answer this question then I won’t write the post. Normally, this question forces me to focus on a specific area of marketing or a specific role.

(h/t to Rand Fishkin for this one)

3. What makes it unique?

We’re surrounded by content nowadays and if you want to stand out, you need to craft content that’s unique.

What makes a piece of content unique can vary from post to post. Sometimes it can be timing that makes a post unique, for example, when we published our post on Twitter Polls it was launched shorty after Polls were publicly announced and was one of the first guides on how to use the feature.

Other ways to make your content unique include:

  • Sharing your unique perspective: One of the best ways to make a piece of content unique is to create something that only you can by adding in your own perspective and point of view. As Jory McKay explains on the Crew blog: “Everything has been said before, but it’s never been said by you.” 
  • Going deeper on a topic that anyone else: There might be a ton of posts out there about Facebook Ads, for example, but you can create a unique post on this subject by going more in-depth than anyone else has.

line-end

Over to you

I believe we can create more value if we pay closer attention to depth than breadth. It’s not so much how many people click on our content, it’s how many people pay attention to our content. It’s how many people we can make an impression on and connect with that really matters.

Measuring the success of blog content is an interesting topic and I’d love to hear your thoughts on the subject.

Do you feel we put too much focus on the metrics like page views and sessions? How do you measure the quality and value provided by a blog post? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below. 

from Social https://blog.bufferapp.com/55-visitors-read-articles-15-seconds-less-focus-attention-not-clicks

Suicide Squad Character Morphing in Adobe Muse

Muse For You - Suicide Squad Character Morphing - Adobe Muse CC

Morph SVG elements in Adobe Muse. No Coding Skills Required.

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

Most have us have seen the colorful trailer of the new Suicide Squad movie. We’ve seen Will Smith as Deadshot, Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn, and lets not forget the joker played by Jared Leto who looks deviously insane. You might be asking…why am I reading about this in a web design article? Great question.

I was recently invited to be a guest speaker at the Adobe Max – Creativity Conference on November 2nd to November 4th. I will be talking about Adobe Muse and my session is titled “Adobe Muse Power User Tips and Tricks.” One of the keynote speakers there is going to be Jared Leto who plays the Joker in the new Suicide Squad movie that comes out Friday, August 5th. This gave me the idea to use the new Muse Morph Widget to morph the characters from the Suicide Squad movie.

Muse For You - Suicide Squad Character Morphing - Adobe Muse CC

In the video above I go through the whole process from start to finish on how to morph the characters. I am using the new Muse Morph Widget Powered by Greensock’s MorphSVGPlugin Technology. The widget can be found at http://museforyoushop.com. This widget allows you to easily Morph SVG elements in Adobe Muse. No coding skills required. I also use Adobe Illustrator to set up the SVG elements (characters). Watch the video above to see how to use the widget and where to access it.

Happy Musing :).

Read More at Suicide Squad Character Morphing in Adobe Muse

from Web Design Ledger http://webdesignledger.com/suicide-squad-character-morphing-adobe-muse/

How to Blur Backgrounds in Adobe XD

Dansky_Learn How to Quickly Blur Backgrounds in Adobe XD

In this tutorial, we’re going to learn how to quickly blur backgrounds in Adobe Experience Design CC (Adobe XD).

The Steps (1-8)

1. Create a New Artboard. For this tutorial, we’ll be using the iPad artboard, with the orientation being adjusted to Landscape in the Property Inspector.

2. Select the Rectangle Tool, Left-click and Drag to create a four-sided shape that is the same width and height as your artboard.

3. Next, Drag the image that you would like to blur, from your desktop or folder, into Adobe XD and on to the shape that we created in Step 2.

blur-backgrounds-adobe-xd-1

4. Repeat Step 2 and create a second four-sided shape, that again, is equal to the width and height of your artboard.

5. Select a Fill colour of white or #FFFFFF for this new shape, and in the Property Inspector, select the tick box Background Blur – this will blur the image behind the shape.

6. The options that appear underneath (from top to bottom) are Blur Amount, Brightness and Opacity. The Blur Amount adjusts how ‘blurred’ your image underneath the selected shape will be, and goes up to +50. The Brightness adjusts how light and dark affects your image, and can be adjusted as low as -50, and as high as +50. The Opacity adjusts the amount of transparency for the shape created in Step 4, and how visible your image underneath is. Opacity ranges from 0-100%.

blur-backgrounds-adobe-xd-2

7. Selecting a different Fill colour and adjusting the Opacity slider below, allows any colour to display transparently over the image as an overlay.

8. The Background Blur effect can also be toggled on/off at any time in the Property Inspector.

blur-backgrounds-adobe-xd-3

Download Adobe Experience Design CC (Adobe XD).

Read More at How to Blur Backgrounds in Adobe XD

from Web Design Ledger http://webdesignledger.com/blur-backgrounds-adobe-xd/

MOO’s Chad Jennings: Meaningful Design Starts with People

Chad Jennings Web Design Ledger Interview

“There will always be a new technology, such as virtual reality, or in the case of paper and packaging, the internet of things. That will certainly change the medium, but the hardest part will always be to create meaningful products and services. For me, this always starts with a person”.

Chad Jennings Web Design Ledger Interview

Chad Jennings, VP of Product Design at MOO

Chad Jennings, VP of Product Design at MOO, has throughout his nearly 20 years in the business arguably helped shape user-experience design into what it is today. From the beginning, the ever-evolving internet of things has ignited Chad’s creativity and approach to his work. Chad’s initial love of design came by way of computers – finding the design of interfaces much more of a draw than the underlying workings of the machine itself. He went on to study user-centered design at the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago and began his UX/UI career working at firms Method and Smart Design. From here, he went on to found Blurb.com, an experience that would help shape his approach to designing physical products that are sold in a digital marketplace. Today, Chad finds himself in London leading product design for MOO, a brand loved by creative businesses and professionals for its customer-centric approach.

Throughout his career, Chad has watched design tools and mediums evolve but believes the core inspiration behind design remains the same – people. Chad and the product design team at MOO work tirelessly to keep customer desires as the driving force behind their work, approaching things with a human touch that can be hard to achieve online.  Read on to see how Chad and the MOO team come together to create their designs, and why he believes you should “eat a lot of cake”.

 MOO's Farrindgon, London office

MOO’s Farrindgon, London office

 

Let’s start from the beginning. You’ve worked for and co-founded some exciting companies over the course of your career. In doing so, you’ve managed an array of different teams (product, design, marketing, content, etc.) How did you end up in your current role at MOO?

I moved to San Francisco in ’99, and after stints building my own design chops and helping to form interaction design practices in the agency world at Method and Smart Design I had the amazing opportunity to co-found Blurb in 2005. Richard Moross, MOO’s founder and CEO launched MOO around the same time and so we crossed paths as part of the first wave of Web 2.0 companies. MOO and Blurb had many parallels including a brand loved by designers and photographers. In fact, both companies saw massive early growth in part because of our partnerships with Flickr, one of the first major photo-centered social networks.

So I admired MOO, especially the amazing brand Richard and the team crafted. I’d recently moved to London and when Richard asked me to lead Product at MOO, it was an easy decision. I also oversee physical product design and UX, which I love, as it keeps me grounded in the beautiful world of tactile design and artifacts. That said, I was also drawn to MOO for the opportunity to innovate in the digital space, most recently with the launch of Monogram, our iOS app to help you show your work, pitch your business, and share what you do.

What ultimately led you to focus on UX/UI?

I grew up a bit of a computer geek, coding BASIC, creating low-res games and playing text adventures on my Apple IIc (yes, I’m old). I started out studying computer science, but found my interest in the interface and psychology of how people used the computer, more than the underlying code. I love pinball and similarly was much more into the game design than the mechanical bits underneath. I was lucky enough to find my way to the Institute of Design at the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago which was one of the first programs to teach user-centered design. I found my calling there which brought together technology, business and design into what we now refer to as UX.  Steve Jobs once said “design is not just what it looks and feels like. It is how it works.” I think that is more important today than ever before.

MOO is the second company you’ve worked with that makes beautiful physical products that are sold exclusively online. How did your experience of co-founding Blurb influence how you approach UX/UI as a whole and your job at MOO?

Blurb actually had two designers on the founding team; myself and Brian Burkhart, now at Gensler. Brian’s background was in book packaging and graphic design. We were joined early by Alysha Naples, currently leading interaction design at Magic Leap. Our collaboration in defining a new brand and the physical and digital product experience at the same time was key to Blurb’s early success. Truly outstanding user experiences are seldom individually led, especially at Blurb and MOO, which are both characterized by fairly complex service design problems encompassing; e-commerce, design tools, a two-sided marketplace, packaging, and customized, on-demand premium physical products. That experience continues to influence me, and at MOO we’ve built a design-centered culture that draws really talented creative thinkers and makers. As a leader of both product management and UX, my job is to help clearly define customer problems and let the teams iterate on elegant solutions. I also believe user-centered methods drive easy-to-use, delightful products that have helped both Blurb and MOO stand out in rather competitive markets.

What are the challenges you face designing physical products that are sold online?

MOO serves both creative professionals and creative businesses who may value quality design and premium print, but not have the skills to translate that vision into a brand. For professionals, the biggest challenge is communicating our quality and innovation through photography, copy and brand. We offer two types of free sample packs; one for business cards, and another containing all of our printed products. We also have our ‘MOO Promise’ that is important for an online physical product provider, and states – “We’ve never thought ‘satisfaction guaranteed’ was the most inspiring phrase. We’d like you to be satisfied of course, but we’d prefer it if you were absolutely thrilled beyond words with your order.”

We believe strongly at MOO that good design works wonders and high-quality design should not only be available to professionals or those that can afford an agency. For non-designers, our online templates and creation tools need to be extremely easy to use and represent what they will receive in print. This is not always easy, especially as we explore innovations such as Printfinity (our patented technology that allows you to print a different photo or design on every MOO Business Card, Sticker or Postcard in a pack) and our recent launch of gold foil, spot gloss and raised spot gloss.

Take me through a day in the life of the UX/UI product team at MOO. How do you bring together the different teams (project managers/engineers/other designers) to ultimately bring to life MOO’s products?

The answer to this question is ever evolving as each team, problem and context changes over the course of a product lifecycle. That said, at MOO we have a few foundations all teams build upon. First, we always try to start with our customer. Who are they? What are their desires and pains? What jobs do they want our product to do for them? We use classic UX tools, such as personas, to help reinforce that we aren’t building products for ourselves.  

Next, all our product teams are built around a concept of cross-discipline “crews”. Crews vary in size from 5 people up to 15 people, but the goal is that each crew has everything they need to deliver and ship their product. Every crew tends to include product management, product design/UX, engineering, QA and in most instances a shared user researcher. We feel strongly this decentralized and embedded model of design org, where designers sit with their crew(s), is extremely important. It creates a strong feeling of ownership, allows for quick iterations, and design is part of the team. This is in contrast to the “agency” model which may be more efficient, but doesn’t empower strategic design or a co-ownership of the products.  Peter Merholz, one of the co-founders of Adaptive Path, has a book coming out soon titled the “Org Design for Design Orgs” where he proposes a hybrid “Centralized Partnership” model. The entire team recently had a workshop with Peter and were trying to shift how we work a bit. Like I said, always evolving.

In addition, the crews are (mostly) organized by the user journey. For example, we have crews devoted to the “Browse”, “Build”, and “Buy” experiences instead of the underlying tech. This keeps us all thinking about the overall user experience. Finally, each crew and the entire Org uses OKRs, which stand for “Objectives and Key Results”. Simplistically, an objective is the dream – a stretch goal or product theme – and the key result is how you plan on measuring success. Every crew crafts and commits to these each quarter. We then share these and align regularly. Given we now have 10+ crews all working on their section of the user journey, this alignment is extremely important.

How do you approach the task of designing products that will be the face of thousands of brands while maintaining the quality and feel MOO is known for?

From quite early on MOO recognized that building a strong brand was extremely important as a differentiator. Creating that trust takes years and a consistent commitment to quality design is what many companies lose as they grow. For my product team, we’re so lucky that we can focus on building the best products and digital experience, because we know we have amazing product marketing and comms design teams that are ready to scream and shout (in a uniquely MOO way) about the products. We move fast, but if it doesn’t meet our quality level it will never see the light of day.

We also spend a lot of time and effort creating truly unique features to help our customers, and MOO, stand out from the competition. MOO started with mini-cards, invented (and patented) Printfinity, launched our one-of-a-kind Luxe line, and most recently launched our Tailored collection (gold foil and spot gloss), as well as our Business Cards+ with NFC embedded technology, and Monogram app.   

For someone not familiar with MOO, how do you explain what sets the design of your products apart? In other words, why choose MOO?

There are many different elements that make MOO what it is today. We pride ourselves in being able to make great design accessible to all, whether that’s a single business owner operating from home, or a large enterprise with thousands of employees – and are constantly looking at technologies to help our customers achieve their design potential regardless of skillset. Design is at the heart of what we do, and that in itself sets us apart from our competitors. For design professionals, we offer a full upload option to bring their own designs to life, as well as plenty of inspiration on our site. For other customers, we have hundreds of stunning design templates that are easily customized on a user-friendly interface and can be ordered swiftly, as well as Printfinity. We strive to make things incredibly human at MOO, through little messages on cards and stickers included in our orders, the language we use when talking to customers on social channels and via email, as well as award-winning and down to earth customer service.

Do you have a favorite MOO product/project you’ve worked on recently?

Well, frankly, last year was a blast. We’ve begun a natural progression into the digital space, but are still making products true to the MOO brand and our mission. Last year we launched our internet-connected Paper+ platform. It features cards that are embedded with an NFC chip which triggers a digital action; like opening a webpage or starting a playlist, when tapped on an NFC-enabled device. Paper+ allows the user to change the action associated with each card at any time, even after printing, and see analytics of how it is used in the world. In March of this year we launched our first digital-only product, Monogram, which has really taken off especially with designers, photographers and artisan businesses. It’s an on-the-go portfolio app made from digital ‘cards’, allowing users to import images from their camera roll or Dropbox, as well as adding text and social links, and arranging the cards whichever way they choose. It’s a simple way to build new case studies and portfolios to present on a phone or share on the web. It is extremely important for us, as a business, that we continue to invent and we are always looking at how technology can help our customers and evolve our products.

Monogram app by MOO

Monogram, the iPhone app by MOO

 

What are the current challenges facing product UX/UI design? How do you see these challenges changing the industry?

I’ve now been designing interfaces for almost 20 years, and while the industry is always evolving, the fundamentals of quality design don’t really change much. There will always be a new technology, such as virtual reality, or in the case of paper and packaging, the internet of things. That will certainly change the medium, but the hardest part will always be to create meaningful products and services. For me this always starts with a person – their needs, pains and desires.  Keeping the customer (or potential customer) as the driving force in design is always easier said than done. I commonly ask in our design and product manager interviews when was the last time the person spoke with a customer. In many instances, unfortunately, the answer is never or at least not in the past year. As UX as a discipline has grown and attracted new people, I find it is less and less user-centric which I strongly believe drives innovation and more importantly, simple, elegant easy to use products.

Where do you find inspiration? Who in the industry do you follow?

We moved to London from Bay Area (shout out to Oakland!) over three years ago and we continue to find London and Europe to be an unbelievably inspiring place to live and explore. The museums, galleries and events are endless (Tate Modern, V&A, the Barbican are favorites) – and in London most are also free. You can just wander (and let your mind wander) which is when I find myself seeing patterns and connections in my work. It may be a bit hokey, but I also find much inspiration from my nine-year old daughter. Children see the world with a largely unfiltered and curious mind. She reminds me to be optimistic and believe in the inherent goodness of humans to make the world a better place.

As for specific people in the industry it depends a bit on what problem I’m working on at the moment. Currently at MOO we’re working through how to best collaborate across teams and quickly grow the product and design teams while keeping quality and delight at the center of what we make. I mentioned Peter’s book above, and we’re also referencing Christina Wodtke’s book “Radical Focus” as we try to make OKR’s work for us. Richard Moross, MOO’s founder, is also an incredible leader. It’s rare to have a CEO with such an eye for design and advocate for design and user experience a true market differentiator.   

What would you tell someone just getting started or looking to get into the design field?

Design is really about problem-solving. The more problems you solve (or attempt to solve) the better designer you become. I tend to tell new graduates to take a first job in a design consultancy (i.e. Method, IDEO, Smart Design) because it forces you to work on many design problems across a variety of industries. It also helps you hone your client management and storytelling skills. After a few years you’ll likely find moving in-house or to a start-up an easy and fulfilling switch, where you’ll be asked to focus (sometimes for years) on a market or customer. All those problems you solved and learned from early on coalesce into a powerful set of tools for building one of a kind brands and products. Also, don’t take yourself too seriously. Have fun. Hire people who are extremely talented and give them freedom run. Take breaks. Eat a lot of cake.       

Read More at MOO’s Chad Jennings: Meaningful Design Starts with People

from Web Design Ledger http://webdesignledger.com/moos-chad-jennings-meaningful-design-starts-people/

What Brexit means for tech in Europe and the UK


Since the UK voted to leave the EU this morning, a lot has happened: the value of the British Pound has plunged, as has the price of oil; Prime Minister David Cameron has resigned; millions of Britons will find it difficult to emigrate, live and work in 27 other European countries. One can only hope that there’s a silver lining to all this for UK citizens, but it’s not yet visible. In addition to affecting the lives of millions of Europeans, the results of the referendum will have a major impact on the tech industry across the continent. Brexit will deal…

This story continues at The Next Web

from UK – The Next Web http://thenextweb.com/uk/2016/06/24/brexit-means-tech-europe-uk/