3 ways to find out if your SEO initiative is working

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There has never been more data available to digital marketers. With this abundance of information, however, comes the significant challenge of understanding and leveraging the data.

The goal of any SEO campaign is to look at a project and quantify its impact. Was the project a success? What was the lifetime value of a project? What types of projects work best for each objective? Once these facts are known, it is possible to gain a better understanding of how and why certain projects were successful and then predict the impact of future projects and initiatives. More specifically, if the expected return on a project is known, it is possible to prioritize budget and timing accordingly.

Most marketing experts measure unique users, page views, time on site, bounce rate and search rankings to determine if a campaign is working. These metrics don’t determine, however, why it worked. Fortunately, there are lesser-used statistical analysis processes that can be leveraged to make these determinations and get to the root causes of poor performance.

  1. SIMPLE LINEAR REGRESSION

A simple linear regression is a basic input versus output equation. In relation to SEO terms, analyze organic search trends over a 12-month period and adjust for seasonality. To do this, first find the seasonal index, a breakdown that shows the relationship of one month to the entire year.

Once the index is complete, “de-seasonalize” the data by dividing each month by its seasonal index, run a simple linear regression to find a true forecast and then re-apply the seasonal index to each corresponding month. Once this simple linear regression is complete, it is then possible to create yearly forecasts for organic search traffic, set accurate SEO program goals and generate monthly expectations for a project that takes seasonality into account.

  1. MULTIPLE LINEAR REGRESSIONS

A lot more variables exist that can impact organic search traffic than just seasonal trends, and that’s where the use of multiple linear regression becomes effective. This is an approach for modeling the relationship between a dependent variable (“Y”) and multiple explanatory variables (denoted “X”). From an SEO standpoint, a multiple linear regression takes external factors such as paid search, display advertising, market fluctuations and seasonality into consideration. With these factors included in the equation, it is possible to determine how various inputs impact search traffic, accurately predict future organic search traffic and provide a historical indication of where SEO may have led to incremental traffic.

 

GROW YOUR SEO

Businessman editing the annual report charts - working on a tablet computer

SEO

See what gardening and SEO have in common in this infographic at wsm.co/gardenseo

  1. IMPACT ANALYSIS MODEL

Multiple linear regression relies heavily on historical organic search traffic, but the impact analysis model (another form of analysis) allows us to establish a baseline, incorporate multiple inputs and uncover the incremental value of SEO projects. A baseline for organic search traffic is essentially what the numbers would be without the use of SEO. That being said, traffic should fluctuate with industry search trends. In order to develop a baseline, first determine the search volume trends within the industry or vertical. Once that is complete, determine a year-over-year growth/decline rate for each month within that sector and then apply (monthly) the growth/decline rate to the previous year’s organic search visits and get this year’s baseline. Then, using a multiple linear regression, determine the impact of media spend contributions including online media click and impression contributions. This process takes into account both online and offline advertisements.

Incremental visits are then determined using the following equation:

Organic visits – (Organic Baseline + Online Media Click Contribution + Online Media Impression Contribution) = Incremental Visits.

With these factors considered, digital marketers can determine how many incremental visits and conversions the SEO project drove over the course of a year, how the various SEO projects impacted traffic and what the impact of future projects will be. Using linear regressions to forecast the future, multiple linear regressions to understand the external factors and the impact analysis model to determine expected return on a project, it becomes possible to prioritize budget and timing moving forward.

Applying this level of advanced statistics to SEO projects can seem to be a relatively novel concept, but its effectiveness demands a closer look.

How Can you Tell if your Website Needs a Redesign?

One of the biggest failures of any business today is neglecting its digital presence. Many companies erroneously believe that in order to be successful they simply need to have a Facebook page, but that is no longer enough. If you want your business to prosper, it’s imperative to have a great company website.

Perhaps the most important feature of website design is a little element I like to call, timeliness. You can easily figure out whether or not your site is timely by asking a single question. Does your website look like it would fit in the modern world, or does it look like something from the early 90s? Here is an of examples of the latter category:

website redesign
Does your website look like this?

old sample website

A common misconception when it comes to website design, is that it only involves visual aesthetics and style. While visuals are certainly a huge factor in a website’s timeliness, they are not the only concern.

Do you remember what old school websites actually looked like? Do you remember how clumsy and sluggish they were in terms of usability? Stop for a moment and picture them. They had huge, oversized buttons, solid and very bland colors and lots and lots of text. That’s mostly because website design and HTML code hadn’t progressed far enough to support advanced techniques.

Fortunately, all that has changed considerably over the years. Now, you can build an entire website with just images if you really wanted, stripping text from the design completely. But, a good user experience isn’t just about appearance it involves so much more. Mechanics, navigation, and accessibility are all equally, if not more important. For instance, you don’t want your mobile users to have a terrible online experience because the shopping cart system doesn’t work on smaller screens.

So, how do you truly know if your website is acceptable in the modern world? Let’s break each component and find out if your site is “timely” or not.

Can you browse the site efficiently on a mobile device or tablet?

Does your website support mobile browsing and is it optimized to provide an enjoyable experience on mobile platforms? If the answer to this question is no, then you’ve most certainly failed at providing a timely website.

Customers now expect the same online experience on a mobile device as they get on traditional desktop computers. Thanks to all the recent advancements in responsive design, it’s easier than ever to create a website that looks great on mobile.

Here are a couple of examples of what your site can look like from a smart phone. See how easy it is to view and access everything? website redesign The benefit of responsive design, is that you no longer need to create a dedicated mobile website. You can simply optimize it to accommodate smaller screens and touch based navigation.

mobile website

Browse your own website with a mobile device. If you run into complications or experience visual bugs (images that are too large, ads jutting out of the wrong places), then there’s a good chance your customers will encounter the same problems.

Pro tip: Ensure your website can be easily navigated using mobile devices.

Are the images healthy and fresh?

You’re probably wondering how could an image look healthy? Have you ever seen an old picture that’s been worn and disfigured because of age? They turn a yellowish color and lose their vibrancy and saturation. The retro theme is great in certain places, but your business website is not one of them.

website redesign For crying out loud, we now carry devices capable of HD visuals in our pockets. Take advantage of that. Don’t use clipart, poorly cropped images and lower resolution photos on your website. Not only does it look bad It looks bad sure, but it’s also considered unprofessional.

Your website is a statement, one that says your brand is fresh. Using poor quality images is not a good way to do that. In the example above, you can see only one picture on an old looking background that doesn’t fit the words on the page. Is this how you’d want your website to look to potential customers?

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Pro tip: Always use clear images that are of a high resolution.

 

Have you put the most important information at the front?

There’s nothing wrong with clicking through a couple of menus and adding interactive dialogue buttons. That’s part of website design. However, the most important information needs to be displayed right up front for potential customers and visitors. website redesign Do your potential customers know about your business or brand? Do they know what you sell or what kind of services you provide? Don’t make it a chore for people to figure out the important information. We browse the internet because it’s convenient, readily available and incredibly easy to access. Don’t make your website the hurdle in making a sale.

sample site

Is your website showing up in search results?

Before anyone comes to your website, they are likely to search for something using a search engine. So, the best way to get noticed on the web is to be one of the first few results they see when the perform a search, say on Google.com. However with hundreds of similar companies competing for the same bit of search real-estate, it’s increasingly difficult to have a high enough ranking to be noticed.

A cottage industry (known as “Search Engine Optimization” or SEO for short) has evolved around search engine ranking and it’s imperative for all modern websites to embrace some of its key principles. Broadly, SEO has three steps you need to follow when creating a website:

Research: Find out what are the keywords you want to target for your business. Also look at what your competitors are targeting. Use this information to set your goals.
Set your goals: All websites have three main goals: drive traffic, gain exposure, and build revenue. Good SEO helps bring in traffic, it’s up to you to figure out what to do with it to convert them.
Marketing: When you’ve figured out what you want to do, you can start optimizing your website, building links, networking, and creating great content that spreads your relevant keywords around.
Unfortunately, SEO is not something that can be implemented at a later date. Your website actually needs to be designed from the ground up with SEO in mind. The same holds true for mobile design though, so if your website is not optimized for either of these elements the initial design process is the best place to start.

sample seo

A lot more than simple design goes into a successful website. If you follow these simple points however, you’ll be well on your way to providing a timely website.

Five Reasons Why Responsive Design is a Big Deal Indeed

So Long Desktop

…in 2014, mobile usage surpassed desktop usage. If people are using their phones to access your website even when they have a desktop at hand, you need to make it easy for them.

98%

…of people age 30 and under own a cell phone. Without responsive design, you’re pretty much ignoring the entire younger generation.

Google 

…announced that effective April, 2015 it is scoring mobile-friendly websites higher in mobile search results. Why is this important? A whopping 46% of searchers now use mobile devices exclusively to find information.

Device Mayhem 

…with thousands of device types to optimize for with varying screen sizes and resolutions, responsive design is the only way to ensure your website looks as good on a mobile device as it does on a desktop. Since half of all web visitors will never return to a website they’ve had trouble viewing in the past, better make that first mobile experience a good one.

More Than 18% 

…of companies have already implemented responsive website designs giving them a leg up over your company if yours isn’t one of them.

We Can Help

Is your organization one of the 82% that don’t have responsive design yet? It may seem like a daunting and time consuming task, but our web content and experience makes it easy to go responsive quickly and effortlessly. 

We’ve helped countless customers. If your web content management system isn’t mobile-friendly, why not take a look at ours?

10 Benefits of Having a WordPress Website for your Small Business

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1. Ease of Use

WordPress is very easy to use and has an intuitive interface.  Adding new pages, blog posts, images, etc. on a regular basis is a breeze and can be done quickly.  Because the technology is so simple, time spent on formatting is greatly reduced.

2. Manage Your Website from Any Computer

WordPress is browser-based. You can login from any Internet connected computer and manage your site.

3. No HTML Editing or FTP Software Required

WordPress is a self-contained system and does not require HTML editing software (such as Adobe Contribute or Dreamweaver). You can create a new page or blog post, format text, upload images (and edit them), upload documents, video files, image galleries, etc. all without the need for additional HTML or FTP software.

4. Search Engines Love WordPress Sites

The code behind WordPress is very clean and simple, making it easy for search engines to read and index a site’s content. In addition, each page, post, and image can have its own meta tag keywords, description, and title, and be optimized for specific keywords, allowing for very precise search engine optimization.  You can also use tags to further enhance your search engine optimization efforts.

5. You Have Control of Your Site

No more waiting for your web designer to make simple updates to your site. With WordPress, you have control of nearly every aspect of your site and can easily make those simple updates yourself.

6. The Design of Your Website is 100% Customizable

WordPress acts as the engine for your website. The look and feel of the site can be 100% customized so your brand can shine through on your site and provide a unique experience to your visitors.

7. A Blog is Built-in and Ready to Go

Since WordPress was originally created as a blogging platform, blogging capabilities are built-in and are easy to integrate, if desired. Setting up RSS / email subscriptions to your blog, commenting capabilities, and automatically adding the most recent blog posts to other pages of the site (your home page, for example) are also very simple to set-up, and help to extend your company’s reach and make your site more dynamic and interactive.

8. Extend the Functionality of Your Site with Plugins

Want to add an event calendar, video gallery, Twitter Feed, Facebook Fan Box, and more to your site? WordPress makes this possible with plugins, most of which are free or very reasonably priced.

9. Your Site Can Grow as Your Business Grows

WordPress sites are very scalable. You can have hundreds of thousands of pages or blog posts on your site and the performance of the site will not be compromised in the least.

10. Have Multiple Users

As an administrator of a WordPress site, you can set-up multiple users for the website and assign access levels and capabilities to each user.

8 Web Design Mistakes Small Business Should Avoid

aab design

“ai chi wa wa, I didn’t know that!”

Small Business need good website to grow their business. As a small business owner you are depending on your website to drive customers for your business. Business owners become serious and more consider about their website.  It’s not always easy to drive visitors to your business. Some web design mistakes occur more frequently than you may think. If you avoid those mistakes you can drive customers for your website. In this post I have listed some mistakes which you can avoid for long run.

Ignore Mobile Optimization

In the recent research revealed that 80% of the smart phones users prefer to access internet from their mobile. More over Google ignore the websites which is not mobile compatibility. So you can’t close your eyes on the mobile compatibility. Mobile optimization is not an expensive or unmanageable operation. There are web designers out there who know the tools to make sure your website is accessible from any device.

Insignificant Graphics

Using more images in your website may be fun for you. But please note it will slow down your website speed. Website. Website loading speed also playing important role when you design your website. For mobile make sure your images are well optimized for the devices.

Poor Font

When you use a font for your website you have to select proper font which has the good readability. The size and type of font is probably one of the most under-stressed aspects of a website. Fonts less than 12pt have been regarded as too small to read comfortably.  Font is playing big role to keep the visitors read your content.

Poor Focus and Implementation of SEO

SEO may sound like old chapter to you, but how much attention have you been paying to it? As you design your website, it is important to have SEO in mind, right from the start. A website that looks great but cannot be found is as good as dead. No one will listen to you if you don’t talk loud enough to capture their attention. So SEO is inevitable.

Broken Links

Customers are not happy to see the 404 error page often.  Nothing can be more annoying than clicking a page and find the link broken. Most of the visitors will not come again if they see broken link in the website. You must check your links on a regular basis to ensure that they are correctly lead the users to the right page.

No Calls-to-Action

“Research shows that you have just three seconds to communicate your message on a web page to visitors before they’ll click away,” Do you know what feature distinguished Facebook from other social media sites in the early race to domination? It was the “Like” button. Before Facebook introduced the “Like” button in 2009, users comment to show interaction with a post. The “Like” button is a simple call to action, but gets highly responsive results. Calls to action may be an anchored text link, an image button link with text, or a sentence including a quick link.

Consider Writing For Search Engines Instead Of Customers

Marketers think that their site can be positioned high in the search engines by stuffing more keywords on the web page. However, this is one of the ways to get blacklisted by Google. It is recommended to use a few keywords and write for your users. Create relevant, fresh and unique content, which is of great interest to your audience.

Out-of-Date Content

Always post updated content so users visit your website believe that you are in the business.
Providing website visitors with out-of-date content is one of the worst pitfalls for marketing your company image and value. Many websites avoid dating content at all. Others regularly date items such as blog posts, news releases, and more.

In Conclusion

For small business owners, a website is a crucial piece of their branding and marketing efforts. People visit your site for some specific reason. As you design your website, it is important to note that it is never about you when it comes to your business or your website. It’s always been about the customer. So, ensure that you provide them what they are looking for and use your site to promote your products & services.

9 tips on using landing pages for your social ads

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Landing pages are an inseparable part of the web browsing experience: we have all visited one at some point, whether or not we were conscious of the fact. Whenever you click on an online ad, register for a webinar, download a survey or a white paper, it’s likely that a landing page facilitated your experience. It’s not surprising, then, that these types of pages are an essential tool for a marketer, as they help move the potential lead down the sales funnel, converting a visitor into a customer.

What is a landing page?

In the realms of marketing and advertising, landing pages are the web pages which are accessible exclusively through a link or a button, and built to serve a specific objective. Social media landing pages, which we will focus on in this post, are commonly accessible by call-to-action buttons on paid social advertising, among other times of digital ads.

Elements of landing pages include a brief description of the offer, a call to action, and a preview of the product or service. In an ideal landing page, both the copy and the page design converge on a single purpose: to drive the customer to a specific action, such as downloading a white paper or registering for a webinar.

Almost as important as knowing the definition of a landing page is knowing what the landing page is not. A landing page should not just be the homepage of your website—there are too many buttons to click, options to choose from, and products and services offered. If the goal of your social ad is to increase traffic to your domain, consider other options and leave landing pages for what they do best—help acquire sales leads.

Landing pages help businesses increase conversions on the social media ads by honing in on the juicy details of the offer. This helps make the ads more effective, since most of them are limited by character and image size on the host social network—the landing page helps elaborate more on the value of the initially advertised offer. It also segments the value proposition into several easy-to-understand parts: for example, your social ad may contain a call-to-action button that simply says “Learn more,” which takes the user to a landing page with an added offer of a free trial. However, it’s important to be consistent with your offers across the advertisements and landing pages, even if the offer is segmented into two or three parts.

Landing pages also provide a better social advertising user experience: a user who noticed your ad while browsing their Facebook News Feed will have a dozen distractions—friends’ updates, photos, birthday and event notifications, etc. By taking the user to a dedicated page, you are removing all the extra noise and helping them focus exclusively on your offer.

Another advantage of using landing pages for social media ads is their increased capacity to capture leads. Major social media networks offer ad analytics for businesses, which include the user’s location, gender, and age group. But capturing the specifics, such as their name, occupation, and email address is a different story. This is where landing pages come in: most of them include a lead capture form that encourages users to fill out their first and last names, email address, company they work for, and their job title. Not only does this help marketers get a better picture of their potential customers, but it also presents an opportunity to contact these customers with similar offers in the future. However, be careful about how much you ask of your customers—the general consensus among conversion experts is that the more information you ask to disclose, the lower your conversion rate will be.

9 tips on using landing pages for your social ads

There are many elements to a landing page, and the best way to find out what helps your business achieve the best conversion rates is to test, test and test. Keep this in mind when you consider implementing any of the following tips—these practices have been effective for other businesses, but your product or service may call for something completely different. Don’t be afraid to trust your instinct, but make sure it’s always backed by conversion data.

1. Keep your copy consistent across ads and landing pages

The last thing you want to do is mislead a potential customer with inconsistent offers. Since the landing page works best as an extension of your advertising, make sure the copy is consistent in both the ad and the landing page. For example, if you’re drawing people in with a 2-for-1 offer in the social media ad, your landing page should give more details on how the customer can get the 2 items for the price of 1.

This social media ad popped up in my News Feed, and lead me to the shop’s homepage—but the offer is site-wide, which makes one of the few exceptions to the “no homepages as landing pages” rule.
landing pages for social media ads

2. Acknowledge the social media referral on the landing page

The way brands communicate with customers on social media is often different from any other communication line—there’s room to show off personality, have a sense of humour, and stray off the beaten path for different approaches to interaction. Thus, it’s advantageous for brands to address the referral source on the landing page, especially if you know the customer will be arriving there from a social network. This can be done by including the brand’s official Twitter handle or Facebook page in the body of the landing page copy, or simply open with a line that mentions the network.

This is especially helpful for brands involved in social media marketing or e-commerce, since they know their customers will also likely to look for profit from social channels. Take a look at the way Shopify frames their landing page originating from a Facebook ad:

Shopify’s Facebook ad
social media ad Shopify – examples of landing pages
Shopify’s landing page originating from the Facebook ad
In addition to directly addressing the way the Shopify app can be helpful for Facebook marketing, the landing page also contains clever design cues that tailor it to the network. The page’s colour palette is congruent with Facebook’s colour, and the header is designed to look similar to a Facebook search bar.

3. Place essential page elements above the fold

The central part of the landing page is the call to action button—whether you’re encouraging the customer to start a trial, download an asset, or sign up for a webinar, all the design and copy are designed with the single purpose of driving the user to click the button. In order to accomplish this, design your page to have all important elements “above the fold,” or in the portion of the page that is visible in a browser window when the page first loads. If you’re not sure if your landing page presents the information right away, look at the portion above the fold and ask the following questions, from a user’s perspective:

Where am I? What’s the purpose of this page?
Do I know what they’re offering?
Does this page explain what I have to do in order to get the offer?
The first question might seem a bit silly, but you’d be surprised at how many landing pages fail to identify their brand association. Whether it’s a logo, recognizable brand colours, or a headline that mentions your company, your ownership of the page should be explicit. Take a look at the ‘above the fold’ portion of the landing page for our latest white paper on Social Governments:

landing page for social media ads

Once the page first loads, I can see that this is a Hootsuite property, I know it’s about social media strategies for government bodies, I can glean that it offers a white paper from the little icon underneath the headline, and I can read the first couple of lines of its description. While I can’t see the call to action button, I see an arrow that shows me how I can access the advertised resource, and the top of the lead capture form. These directional cues are a great trick to draw the user’s eyes to the important elements, even if they end up below the fold.

4. Don’t reuse copy for multiple ads or landing pages

Since landing pages are such an important part of the lead conversion process, your company needs to pay special attention to the text on the page—which can be a challenge if you don’t have a dedicated copywriter. Thankfully, there are plenty of online resources that can help you optimize copy for the purposes of your landing page. Plus, if done right, your word count for landing page copy shouldn’t be that high anyway.

The main thing to remember is to tailor each landing page to the value prop of social media ads that refer to it, as well as the offer. Don’t reuse copy from other landing pages, even if the chances of the same customers seeing the copy twice are low. Not only does it appear lazy, but it can also hurt your conversion rates, especially if the copy is inconsistent with the offer from the social media ad.

5. Focus your landing page on the value add for the customer

The purpose of landing pages is to gather more leads, but all elements of the page need to focus solely on how the offer can help the visitor, not your business. As such, it’s important to highlight the value of the asset or the offer every step of the way—whether it’s done by cleaning up the copy and removing any jargon-heavy parts, using more possessive pronouns, or including customer testimony. James Scherer of Wishpond advises marketers to “[h]ome in on what the visitor gets, not what they should do.”

For example, if you are designing a CTA button for an offer concerning a cleaning product, encourage customers to “Clean up my kitchen!” instead of “Buy now.”

6. Optimize your call to action button

The CTA button is the crown jewel of your landing page: it’s what the user will be looking for when they first arrive on the page, because it’s what gets them the asset or offer promised in the social media ad. So make sure your CTA button is clearly visible, ideally above the fold, and the copy is consistent with the offer. For example, if the purpose of the landing page is to get users to download a white paper, your CTA button copy should have a variation of “Download now” or “Read now.”

When it comes to the landing page’s CTA buttons, the testing rule is more important than anywhere else on the page. Test the colours of the button, the font of the letters, the actual call to action text, and directional cues around the button itself. You might be surprised what gets you that three-digit spike in conversions—sometimes, it’s something as little as changing a possessive pronoun!

7. Consider trust badges

If the conditions of receiving an offer ask the user to disclose personal information, it’s important that the customer feels safe to do so. In landing page design, this means including trust badges and displaying them in a prominent spot. Ideally, you want these badges to be close to the call to action button, so the customer is reminded of your trustworthiness as a final motivation to consider your offer.

You can also mention your partners or clients that belong to an industry that may be similar to the visitor’s occupation (especially if you target your social advertising to a certain demographic), as a way to show off recommendations from professionals in that field.

landing page for social media ads

Be aware of the design of these badges: you want to follow brand standards of security brands, as well as your clients and partners, but avoid piling in too many logos or conflicting colours. This might actually take away from the overall impression of your landing page, and that’s the opposite of the effect you want to achieve.

8. Optimize your design assets

In the same vein as the text on the landing page, all design assets should show off your offer in the best light without being too excessive. Follow a simple colour palette, don’t add too many images or videos, and don’t overdo it on the directional cues. With landing pages, less is more—try to include as little extra elements as possible, but make sure all of them contribute to the main purpose of the landing page.

9. Test, test, test

Remember how I said that testing is the most effective strategy to increase conversion rates? Before you implement changes based on any of the tips above, run an A/B test to see if these factors actually influence conversion on your brand’s landing pages. At the very least, test two different versions of the landing page to see how the different changes affect your numbers. However, according to WordStream founder and CTO Larry Kim, if you want to break the top 10% of winning landing pages, the more pages you test, the better are your chances of drastically increasing conversion rates. Kim recommends testing ten (!) landing pages with different offers, messaging and flow to find the winning combination for your business. So, suffice to say, designing landing pages is not for the faint of heart—but if it helps you gather more high-quality leads, these efforts will surely pay off.

landing-page-optimization-2

Increase your Blog traffic with Images

You want to create content that gets shared and builds an audience, right?

Of course you do. But (if you’re like us) – you don’t have a lot of time, so you need to make sure your content has impact.  The latest data tells us that picture list posts are right in the middle of the sweet spot and a content marketer’s secret weapon.

What Analyzing 100 Million Facebook Posts Told Us About the Power of Images

Do images help create impact and result in more social sharing? Well, you’ve been hearing that a picture is worth a thousand words since you were in school. But school’s out, and as grown ups we like a little proof before we pour our budgets into something.

So we looked at 100 million Facebook posts over the last three months.  We found those without an image had 164 interactions on average (shares, likes, comments) whilst those with an image had an average of 372 interactions.Your teacher was right. Images work.

We’re wired to respond to visual cues. What had the most the impact, the numbers you read above or the image?

Picture List Posts – What Are They?

So we like images. But what is a picture list post? In simple terms a picture list post is a series of curated images that delivers value through the combination of images. We like images but we equally like narrative and context. Picture list posts have a clear purpose for example:

Telling a story. We are hardwired to tell and remember stories. Picture List posts combine those two natural impulses into one format. A picture list post can create a narrative through a series of images. I can tell a story about technology simply by posting pictures of my old phones and my chargers over the last 10 years!

Making comparisons. Picture list posts make it easy to draw comparisons through a series of related images. These might be ‘before and after’ or a series of pictures over time.

Demonstrating how to do a task. Picture list posts can make it easy to follow a process or complete a task. These range from how to bake a cake through to using the new features in Google analytics.

Curating ideas. One of my favorite forms of picture list posts are those that help me brainstorm ideas quickly and provide me with inspiration. These might be 10 great landing page designs or 10 UX design ideas.

Do Picture List Posts Have Measurable Impact?

Do they work? Right now, the top ‘picture list posts’ on BuzzFeed and Playbuzz get over 1 million shares. Picture list posts consistently perform well relative to other content and publishers are well aware of this. Two of the Guardian’s top 6 most shared articles last year were picture list posts.

The most shared picture list post last year was one by BuzzFeed which received over 2.5m shares. This post revealed the huge size of the universe through a series of images, working away from the earth. The image showing the size of a large comet on the top of L.A. was also quite striking.

Photos: Matt Wang / Via mentalfloss.com and @lucybrockle
Photos: Matt Wang / Via mentalfloss.com and @lucybrockle

BuzzFeed is well known for its list posts but there is a growing trend for other publishers to also tap into the power of ‘picture list posts’. The Guardian is producing picture list posts more frequently such as this one Overpopulation, overconsumption – in pictures (which had over 300,000 shares).

Photos by Zak Noyle and Daniel Dancer
Photos by Zak Noyle and Daniel Dancer

The New York Times has run similar picture posts including its very popular the Year in Pictures.

Below is a selection of picture list posts that got over 250,000 social shares.

You may not achieve a quarter of a million shares but the evidence shows that a well designed picture list post will outperform other content formats.

The Perfect Content Formula: A combination of images, lists and curated content

One of the reasons picture list posts work so well is that they combine the power of images, lists and curation into a single post. It is like rolling three of your favorite superheros into one.

Let’s look briefly at the these three content formats.

The power of images

There is a mass of research and data about the power of images to back up our 100 million Facebook article analysis.  Research by Socialbakers found that images on Facebook constituted 93% of the most engaging posts on the network, compared with status updates, links and even video. On Instagram pictures can accumulate over 500,000 likes in a single week. People love to share images. So if you want your content to be shared, you simply have to include images.

The power of curation

Curated content works really well as there is simply too much content to consume. How many of the 250m images posted yesterday on the internet did you view? (Probably more than you should have). Good curators help us by selecting relevant content and add value through commentary and context.

Curation is generally undertaken by experts or those with a passion for the subject. They find, curate and contextualize content. This saves the user time significant time in undertaking their own research and content discovery. Good curators can also provide context to a story and add their own viewpoints to provide a more comprehensive overview of a subject. Curated content is increasingly popular in a busy world, where we are overloaded with content.

Pinterest boards can work really well as collections of curated images. You can also search for a collection of tagged images. For example, when I was after inspiration for my very small London walled garden I pulled up these images below of French Courtyard Gardens.

So How Can You Get in the Picture?

Sold on the benefits of picture list posts? Great. So how can you make them work for your industry or topic? Ask yourself some questions to get started:

  • What types of images work best in your industry or topic? Have a look at examples on Pinterest or Google images.
  • What images can you use to tell a story? For example, the growth of a company can be told very effectively through pictures of offices and staff over time.
  • What type of stories work in your area? How does one of your successful projects or case studies look as a series of images?

Do you really need a web design agency?

Thinking about hiring a web design agency?  Think again. Is that really all you need, an agency that designs websites? Even if ‘design’ also encompasses building your site, I am not sure that is enough for most organizations.

Do you really need a web design agency?
It’s not enough to launch a website anymore, you also have to think about its long term running. There are so many questions to answer. Questions like:
• Is your website recovering its costs?
• How are you measuring its success?
• Who is responsible for ensuring content is accurate and up to date?
• What happens if a user complains about accessibility?
• Who decides if there are disagreements about what should be on the site?
The list could go on.

More than just building sites, organizations need help, setting policies and procedures, outlining a roadmap for future development, carrying out ongoing testing, establishing responsibilities and roles. Organizations need a partner that can help with building a web team, setting policies and procedures, outlining a roadmap for future development, carrying out ongoing testing, establishing responsibilities and roles. They don’t just need somebody who is going to point out the problems, but an agency that will get involved in finding solutions.
Sure, there are smaller organizations that don’t need all of this. However, these are the kind of organizations that are probably better off working with a freelancer. Yes, there are some organizations that have already done all of this thinking and have their internal processes in place, but I suspect these are thin on the ground.

A web agency rather than a web design agency

My point is that most organizations need more than a web design agency that builds their site. They need a partner who can get really stuck into the organization and help to answer these questions. Here at aab design inc. we are not just a web design agency, our mission is to help established companies to become more successful 
in the digital world. We do that by taking the time to understand your goals and your business objectives, and by working with you to design & deliver bespoke WordPress solutions that gain you significant business advantage.

You may have noticed that on our website aabdesigninc.com we don’t call ourselves a web design agency anymore; we refer to ourselves as a digital marketing agency. That is because we believe our clients need a lot more than pretty pictures and development. Increasingly the work we do is as much about strategy, governance and measurement, as it is about building sites.
Our focus is on creating websites our clients are proud of, and websites we are proud to put our name to. We don’t just build websites, we build brands, and we know how important it is for a business to have a brand which represents its personality, goals and objectives.
So next time you go to hire a web design agency, ask yourself whether you actually need something more, at aab design inc. we offer the services that you need. We are designing Responsive and Mobile websites for the 21st Century.

What is UX?

The UX Umbrella

What is the value of UX ?

Let’s try to answer two main questions:

  1. What is the value of UX research?
  2. How does it fit into the product development process?

I want to refer to the basic understanding of user experience. I would like to quote Jacob Nielsen and Don Norman, people who can rightfully be named the “founding fathers” of user experience discipline. According to their definition:

“User experience encompasses all aspects of the end-user’s interaction with the company, its services, and its products.”

So when we talk about a user’s experience with a product, we mean the quality of user interaction not only with the product itself, but everything, including the design and copy of your ad, the look and feel of your website UI, the main features and functionality of your product, its usability, post purchase experiences and even the button label in your newsletter!

Obviously, creating a satisfying user experience is not that easy, but it is certainly possible when you know what your users need and you have the skills to build it.

To cut a long story short, with user experience research you get the knowledge and with design skills you build the product.

Let’s have a look at this illustration by Dan Willis that brilliantly highlights how exactly UX solves user problems.

UX Umbrella

According to Willis, UX includes visual design, information architecture, interaction design, usability, user research and content strategy.

It once again emphasizes the idea that user experience is a combination of multiple components and if you want to create a truly amazing product, those components need to work together in perfect harmony.

With this in mind, let’s now try to answer the first question:

What Is the Value of UX Research?

 

UX research tries to put people in the center of product development process.

UX Users

If we try to give it a definition, it would sound something like this:

User experience research is the process of understanding user behaviors, needs and attitudes using different observation and feedback collection methods.

So the true value of UX research is that it’s based on unbiased user feedback.

It’s not influenced by someone’s own opinion or authority. It simply speaks user’s thoughts.

This should be your number one argument when trying to communicate the importance of user research.

How Does It Fit into Product Development Processes?

 

There is no obvious answer to this question. It depends on the product type and its life cycle. But if we look at the product development as a dynamic process that is ongoing and doesn’t stop with the product launch, then we can identify two main roles of UX research:

  • Initial user research
  • Ongoing goal-based user research.

Initial UX research is conducted in early stages of product development. It helps inform the team and the stakeholders or entrepreneurs about the target user of the product, how and when he or she is going to use the product and what main problems the product will solve.

Usually the output of initial user research are user personas, user journey maps and product use scenarios.

Inital and Goal Based

Ongoing goal-based UX research can be done at any stage of product development, whenever there is a distinct question or problem that needs to be solved.

It helps make important decisions based on actual user feedback. Especially, when you are in the middle of product development process and have multiple design solutions to choose from, user research can be really helpful.

User experience works best when it is incorporated into every stage of product development. This way we can test, validate and iterate essential product hypothesis based on real user feedback.

Conclusion

Although interface and interaction design play a great role in creating remarkable experiences, they cannot work without real user data. User experience research solves this problem and bridges the gap between visually attractive design and usable products. If you know when and how to use each of UX research methods you will be able to make informed, and data-backed, design decisions.