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What Makes Things Go Viral?

Jonah Berger, a marketing professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School asked the very same question – why do some things catch on and go viral, while others are left in the shadows? In his pursuit to answer the question, he penned the must-read marketing book, “Contagious: Why Things Catch On?

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The book explains the science of social transmission, why people share ideas, stories, their recommendations and opinions of brands and products, with their own personal networks. What incites people to talk about something, such that word of mouth spreads the message much farther and wider than a simple ad.

By taking a look at brands, ideas, content and products that have successfully gone viral, Berger identifies six qualities shared by these contagious campaigns.  Using the acronym STEPPS – he explains how Social currency, Triggers, Emotion, Publicity, Practical value and Stories combine to create infectious material that people just have to talk about.

Read more: What Makes Things Go Viral?

Set Up Your Email Marketing for Success

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Email marketing is not dead. Were it not an effective strategy, our inboxes wouldn’t be inundated daily with emails from the various businesses we have agreed to receive emails from. We want to stay in the know about deals, be the first to hear of sales, or learn of new and interesting industry trends and niche topics. Yet, despite our desire to be the first to know, we also get easily annoyed when our inboxes are full of crap.

So, how do you as a small business owner set up your email marketing for success rather than having your mail chucked into the trash folder? Well, first off – you want to provide valuable knowledge and make your message count by standing out from the rest. It is possible.

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Google to Penalize Mobile Websites with Intrusive Popups

I hate popups. I’m not going to lie. When a stellar headline grabs my attention and I click through to read the article only to be interrupted by a popup requesting my email or trying to bait me to download an app, it makes my blood boil. I have zero patience for those obtrusive windows that block the content I clicked through to see. Especially when I’m viewing web pages on my mobile device and the exit “x” is tinier than a grain of sand.

My own ranting aside, apparently Google agrees with me too! Fortunately, the search engine giant is taking steps to improve the mobile experience for all of us by penalizing mobile websites that employ popups or “interstitials” that prevent users from easily accessing content.

Google disclosed on their Webmaster Central Blog that starting January 10, 2017, “pages where content is not easily accessible to a user on their transition from their mobile search results may not rank as highly.” Bam! It’s a factor in their algorithm now. That means, mobile websites using intrusive popups will now rank lower in mobile search results. Thanks Google!  

Read more: Google to Penalize Mobile Websites with Intrusive Popups

Tell-tale Signs It’s Time for A Website Redesign

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You don’t want your website to be like a mouldy piece of food forgotten about in a Tupperware container at the back of your fridge. Gross, we know. But that’s the point. Your website is the virtual face of your business and it ought to reflect what it is you do. It should temptingly feed your customers the knowledge they’re looking for and cause them to follow through on your calls to action. You want them to stay, not go away because they’re off put by a bad user experience or an outdated look.  

With search engine algorithms updating to factor in things like web design and usability in their rankings, it matters now more than ever that your website is up-to-date and not just rotting away. You want to reach your customers for leads, conversions, clicks and sales and to do this, you’ll want to make sure that the web experience they’re getting is up to speed with the times. Identifying whether or not your site is in need of a total overhaul or just updates can be tricky, but there are a few tell-tale signs to point you in the right direction. Here are five signs indicating it’s time for a website redesign:

You can’t update your own website’s content easily

If it takes an IT person or a phone call to your web developer to get a comma removed or wording edited on your current website, then it’s time for a website redesign. Content Management Systems (CMS) have come a long way and empower even non-techies with the ability to add, edit and maintain content on their own website. Not having a user-friendly website that lets you access the backend of your site comfortably is a key indicator that you need an architectural overhaul.

Read more: Tell-tale Signs It’s Time for A Website Redesign

5 Ways to Improve Your Website Today

how-to-improve-your-websiteYour website acts as your around the clock salesperson. It vouches for you in the wee hours of the morning and into the late hours of night and you don’t even have to pay it overtime! So long as you have a solid web design and stellar copy to sell your pitch, it ought to be showing off your awesomeness and bringing in leads. But what if this isn’t the case?

Maybe, just maybe there’s some key things that are missing or got overlooked. For example, do your web pages include a clear call to action? Do you possess social proof of your successes to satiate those potential customers that need to hear from others to be convinced? Are you capturing your web visitor’s information so you can follow up later?

Without these vital things in place, you miss the opportunity to connect with your potential customers in a meaningful way that could have been a successful transaction. Let’s fix that! Below are five things you want to think about when assessing your website and correspondingly, five fixes to make what’s missing, right.

Where’s Your Call to Action?

Your call to action directs your web audience on what to do next. What does that mean? It means you need to ask for what you want. Do you want your web visitors to contact you for a free quote or for more information? If the answer is yes, then there should be a button on your website that succinctly asks for this. Do you want your web visitors to sign up for your newsletter? If so, do you have a capture form to gain this information? Do you want your audience to come to your location? Then tell them so!

Without a clear direction to take, your visitors won’t know what to do next and that’s why you need to guide them. We’ve written about creating click worthy calls to action here.

Read more: 5 Ways to Improve Your Website Today

The Best Web Design Blogs On the Net in 2016

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As a web design and development firm, we spend a lot of time on the web. We realize that the net can be a zoo to navigate with content being produced at a staggering rate every second of everyday. Not to mention, every ad, app and social media network also competing to steal our attention.

Deciphering which blogs are must-follows and which can be kicked to the curb can get taxing on one’s patience and one’s eyes when sorting through the riff-raff. But like we said, fortunately for you - our days are spent on the web and thus, we’ve put together a list of the best web design blogs to follow on the net. Whether you’re looking for web design inspiration, free fonts, ideas or CSS tutorials here’s a list of the best web design blogs we’ve found during our online travels:

Smashing Magazine 

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As a blog devoted to professional web designers and developers, Smashing Magazine contains a wealth of resources and information for web design rookies and veterans alike. The site is easy to navigate with articles and tutorials categorized under the main headings of Coding, Design, Mobile, Graphics and UX Design. These top level categories are then broken into subsections like CSS, HTML, and JavaScript for ‘coding’ and User Experience, UI Design and E-Commerce for ‘UX design’. The articles are thorough and provide insight on the latest trends and research conducted in the field of web design.

Read more: The Best Web Design Blogs On the Net in 2016

Writing for The Web: Tips for Keeping Your Online Visitors Engaged

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People read differently when they’re on the web as opposed to when they are reading a paper document. Web users typically scan information, looking to subheadings as signals for what they want more of or what can they can pass over. The prevalence of online list-cles rather than full-length articles marks this change in online reading behavior, as web users want to find things fast.    

A study tracking online reading behavior conducted by Jakob Nielsen found that webpage visitors “have time to read at most 28% of the words during an average visit; 20% is more likely.” So you don’t want to waste your words when crafting the copy that will appear on your website. Instead, you want to take the time to hone in on the essential things you want to say, to keep your web visitors interested and get your message across.

Read more: Writing for The Web: Tips for Keeping Your Online Visitors Engaged

Website Analytics 101: Why This Data Should Not Be Ignored

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Website analytics measure, collect and report valuable data about how your website is viewed, what pages get the most traffic, who is viewing your site and way more. As a business owner, you can harness this information to improve the effectiveness of your website, using the metrics to optimize the pages that work best and fix up the ones that cause web visitors to exit your site.  You can actively track your online campaigns to discover which are working and which are failing. Plus, Google Analytics (GA) if FREE. Why wouldn’t you sign up for an account?

Learn About Your Customers & Leverage That Knowledge

Your website’s analytics give you a window into who your customer actually is, what they find most valuable on your website and even how they come to your site via your social media channels or other domains on the web. In GA within the “Audience” information you can find out what country web visitors are from, their age, gender, even the operating system they are using to access you.

Read more: Website Analytics 101: Why This Data Should Not Be Ignored

What Eye Tracking Studies Can Teach Us About Effective Website Design

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You bet there’s technology out there that can detect where our eyes go when scanning a website for the first time. It follows our eyes, creating a roadmap that shows what text, images and graphics in a website design our eyes gravitate to and can’t look away from. Big names like Google, Epson and Ogilvy & Mather have harnessed this technology provided by EyeQuant to assess and then effectively create great user friendly web designs.

EyeQuant uses algorithms based on eye tracking studies and research to evaluate websites. Using algorithms derived from the movement of the human eye while looking at computer screens or webpages on mobile devices, the company claims they can then predict where a viewer’s attention will go when they load a website.

Eye tracking allows us to see how users are using websites, where their eyes go and what they are drawn to.

There’s a reason that logos traditionally inhabit the top left hand side of a web design. Users are accustomed to clicking on the top left logo to get back to the “home” page of the website they are on – it’s part of a great user experience.  Recreating the wheel will not serve you in this instance. People come to expect certain behaviors and processes and as such, when you switch this out, you are doing a disservice to the people that are checking out your site.

Read more: What Eye Tracking Studies Can Teach Us About Effective Website Design

The Mobile Movement: Why Responsive Web Design is Key

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In a study conducted by Google canvasing the habits of smartphone users they found that two-thirds of people check their mobile devices within 15 minutes of waking up in the morning. I’m among that group for sure, I check my phone while waiting for coffee to brew. Actually! It’s my smartphone that wakes me up in the morning.

For millennials (the demographic born between circa 1980 – 2000), they’ve got their smartphones with them 87% of the time – day and night – according to the same study. I imagine, the only time they don’t have their phones at their side is when showering (unless there’s some kind of case that shields against water damage.)

That said, there is NO QUESTION that having a mobile responsive web design is KEY. We look to our phones for answers while we are on the go, for how-to’s when we’re figuring out a new product, for help when we’re in the middle of an impulsive DIY project, when we cook, buy things, need a phone number, want to clarify facts in a conversation and beyond.

Read more: The Mobile Movement: Why Responsive Web Design is Key