8 Landing Page Essentials that Most People Totally Forget

You’d think that by now we’d have a pretty good handle on what makes a good landing page and what doesn’t. Still, there are still quite a few people getting it wrong. Do you ever wonder if your landing page is getting it right? Here’s the checklist of the most left-out features. Make sure that […]

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8 Landing Page Essentials that Most People Totally Forget

9 Mobile Marketing Stats That Will Make You Look Smart on Twitter

mobile-marketing-statistics
Stats make you smarter. And if you tweet them, you get to look smart, too. Image credit.

Are you a mobile marketer? If you’re a digital marketer, then the answer should be a resounding “yes” – increasingly, your audience is interacting with your campaigns from a handheld device.

As the growth of this segment continues, mobile marketing statistics help us understand what we need to do to meet the needs of customers.

To that end, we’ve compiled a ton of data that will help you understand how people are using mobile and how you can best reach them.

Read on to learn about what’s happening in the world of mobile marketing. Then pick a tweet or two or three and tweet away, smartypants!

The massive growth of mobile

Ten years ago there were 26 million mobile internet users across the globe. Fast forward to 2015, and we’re looking at 2,781 million people accessing the internet from a smartphone.

Plus, mobile internet is getting faster. Whereas slow speeds have limited internet access in the past, 39% of all mobile connections are now considered to be “broadband,” with 3G, 4G and LTE networks becoming the norm.

Advertisers are starting to sit up and take notice. Mobile ad spend is expected to increase from $42.63 million in 2014 to around $69 million in 2015, and is showing no sign of stopping. By 2016, the amount spent on mobile ads could be more than $100 billion.


Mobile ad spend is expected to rise over $100 billion in 2016.
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People love their phones — a lot

An IDC Research report (PDF) states that 80% of people check their phones within 15 minutes of waking up.

And we take our phones everywhere. According to research done by 11Mark, 75% of Americans have used their phones in the bathroom. The other 25% are obviously just not willing to admit it.


75% of Americans use their smartphones while in the bathroom.
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I would be remiss to not mention that the bathroom is where the conversion magic happens.

According to the same 11Mark study, iPhone users are 12% more likely to make a purchase while sitting on the porcelain throne.


iPhone users are 12% more likely to make a purchase while sitting on the porcelain throne.
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I’m not sure who the genius marketer will be who will manage to take advantage of this statistic, but figuring out how to make the most of that information would be the marketing coup of the century. Not figuring it out would be like flushing money down the toilet.

Mobile is a research tool

That 80% of searches are performed on a mobile device should be enough to make marketers sit up and pay attention.


80% of web searches are done from a mobile device.
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That being the case, you definitely want to make sure you’re appearing front and center in  search results – especially since people use search engines as the starting point for their mobile research 48% of the time, according to Google’s Mobile Path to Purchase ebook:

google-mobile-stats

If a visitor gets to a landing page or website that isn’t optimized for mobile, 40% of the time they’ll just look for another result.


If your site isn’t optimized for mobile, it will be abandoned by 40% of mobile visitors.
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Those of you who take the time to become responsive to the needs of mobile users are going to end up with a nice, big piece of the search and conversion pie; this study by iAcquire states that 70% of mobile searches lead to action on websites within one hour.


70% of searches on a smartphone will lead to action on a website within one hour.
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Mobile is for email lovers

Depending on the source, anywhere from 50-66% of emails are now opened on a mobile device. That’s more than what’s opened on desktops.

Just how often are people checking their smartphones for email? According to one source, up to 91% of people are checking it daily.


91% of consumers check their email at least once a day on their smartphone.
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What’s more, nearly a quarter of marketing campaign emails that are first opened on a mobile device are later opened a second time. 70% of the time, this happens on the same device, and 30% of the time, it happens on a different one.

With so many people turning to their phones to check email, it’s now more important than ever to make sure that any email being sent as part of a marketing campaign is optimized for mobile.

The rise of mobile video

With video accounting for 55% of mobile data usage, it’s time for marketers to step up their video game. 50 million people in the US watch video on their phones on a regular basis, with 15% of all video hours being watched on either a tablet or a smartphone.


Video accounts for 55% of mobile data usage – that’s 50 million people watching in the US.
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And another stat from Invodo should make marketers excited about getting out their Handycams:


92% of mobile video viewers share video. Hear that, marketers?
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All right marketers. Video for mobile. Get on it.

Going mobile

Mobile isn’t something you’ll want to start adopting some time down the road eventually.

As these stats have hopefully shown you, the opportunity to reach customers through mobile is massive.

As people get curious about products, they search for them with their smartphone. The marketer who manages to put the product or service in front of the searcher in a way that reaches them on their smartphone will always have the upper hand.

So go – optimize everything you do for mobile. And while you’re at it, share some of those tweets to show your audience how savvy you are.

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9 Mobile Marketing Stats That Will Make You Look Smart on Twitter

4 Big Takeaways From A Launch That Did 6x Expected Revenues

A few weeks ago I created and ran a small internal launch for a side-business I’m involved in. When the launch was over we tallied up the results and realized we’d done 6x what we’d originally expected. We also had a few statistics most people would consider “impossible”, such as… 70% open rates… 71% optin […]

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4 Big Takeaways From A Launch That Did 6x Expected Revenues

The 10-Minute AdWords Management Workout

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As a busy marketer, you don’t have a ton of time to manage your AdWords account.

It’s not that you don’t care, you just have other things to work on. Like actually running a business.

Besides, why should you spend time in your dashboard when your efforts to date haven’t shown much success?

tom-and-jerry
You’re doing work, but are you getting anywhere? GIF source.

Improving your AdWords account is much like building your muscles at the gym. It isn’t about working longer or harder. It’s about working smarter.

Just like your frequency of squats, there’s a point of diminishing returns where your muscles won’t continue to grow bigger or stronger.

But there are certain workouts that will bring you gains, you just have to know how to effectively use your time and how to make the biggest and most positive impacts on your AdWords performance.

Let me introduce you to the weekly 10-minute AdWords management workout.

1. Speed-add negative keywords (3 minutes)

Expected results? Your gluteus maximus of a click-through rate will increase and wasted ad dollars will be spared.

You already know that adding negative keywords on a regular basis helps you reduce wasteful spend (if not, read this super quick post by AdStage).

But did you know you can add negative keywords in just a snap?

You’ll want to look for search terms that don’t have your most common root keyword in them.

For example, let’s say you sell ice cream online and you want to quickly scan if some of your search terms don’t include the word “ice cream.”

To do so, go to your search term report inside your AdWords account, and quickly use the on-page search function of Command + F if you’re on a Mac, or Control + F if you’re on a PC. Then type in “ice cream” in the search bar.

You’ll want to sort your impressions column in descending order so you tackle the biggest performance killers first.

Screen Shot 2015-06-09 at 6.09.09 PM
If something isn’t highlighted yellow, then take a closer look.

Then scan your entire search term report, while paying extra close attention to the non-highlighted search terms. These are usually the ones you will be adding as negative keywords since they fall outside of your root keywords.

As you’re scanning your search term report, add negative keywords to a spreadsheet and keep it on hand for our next workout.

Over time, you’ll start seeing less and less negative keywords that need to be added because you’re continually pruning and trimming.

Have multiple root keywords? Then use this approach on the different keywords you’re bidding on.

But be careful.

As you do this once a week, you may neglect what I call “search term creepers.”

These are search terms that get such few impressions and clicks week by week that they may go unnoticed as you scan through your search term report, but add up in the long run.

Screen Shot 2015-06-10 at 6.42.12 PM
Search term creepers are usually pretty good at hiding. Image source.

To combat them, change your AdWords date range once in a while to the last 30 days instead of just the last seven days. See if they’re adding up impressions and clicks that you don’t want to pay for.


Quickly add #AdWords negative keywords with this 3-minute campaign management workout.
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2. Negative keyword list adding (10 seconds)

Expected results? You’ll be saving time on the AdWords treadmill and saving money on clicks that are wasteful.

If you have multiple AdWords campaigns that share common negative keywords, then a negative keyword list will be your best friend.

Negative keyword lists help you save time by not having to copy and paste your new negative keywords across all your campaigns. Instead, you can keep them all in one hub and apply that negative keyword list to all or just a few of your campaigns.

If you followed my advice from the previous workout and have your spreadsheet filled with new negative keywords, you can now take that list and add it to your negative keyword list.

To find your negative keyword lists, simply go to the “Shared library” on the left hand side of your AdWords interface and then to “Campaign negative keywords.”

all-online-campaigns

Your negative keyword lists are found through here. Specifically right here:

negative-keyword-list-specific

3. Bad ad pausing (1 minute)

Expected results? Better overall account well-being and improved average ad positions, average conversion rates and average cost per conversions. In short, you’ll sleep better at night.

Just like a horrible tasting protein shake, horrible ads have to be dealt with in order to make your workout more enjoyable and your AdWords performance stronger.

The idea here is to pause under-performing ads in the ad groups that have the most clicks and highest costs.

The reason why we want to make changes in the ad groups with the most clicks and highest costs is because it’ll have the biggest positive impact on your account, compared to just randomly making changes in different ad groups.

Think of it as doing bench presses (that can strengthen your entire upper body), compared to just regular dumbbell curls that just strengthen your biceps.

For this workout, you’ll want to go to “All online campaigns” and be on the “Ad groups” tab.

all-online-campaigns2
This is where you’ll find it.

Then, make sure you’ve clicked on the “Clicks” column for descending order (highest to lowest) and that your date range is around two to three months back.

Once you’re there, you’ll want to right-click on the top 10 ad groups with the most clicks and open each of them in new browser tabs.

all-campaigns-new-tab

This also prevents slow browser loading of going back and forth between ad groups.

Now to the fun part.

Go to each of the new browser tabs and pause the ads in each ad group that are performing worse when comparing cost per conversion, conversion rate, and click-through-rate (in that order) between the ads.

competing-ads
Here’s a look at two competing ads in which one got the axe. Can you guess which?

Make sure you have at least two ads running in each ad group for continuous A/B testing purposes. This will help take us to the next AdWords management workout.

4. New champion ad creations (1.5 minutes)

Expected results? You’re taking what’s already working and making it better. Building off your past success only makes you stronger.

Now that you’ve paused lower performing ads in the top 10 ad groups based on click volume and costs, it’s time to make new variations of the champion ads (the better performing ads you left running).

If you don’t, then you’re missing an opportunity to be constantly improving.

If your champion ads have similar ad copy in the top 10 ad groups (or even if they’re wildly different), then I’d recommend isolating one section of the ads (like description line 1) as the part that you’re testing.

isolated-ad-section
Pick an ad section to isolate and test.

When you create multiple ads that share similar ad sections, then it’ll be easier and faster to see if ad performance has improved since you’re now gathering data faster than you would with just one ad test in one ad group.

Once you’ve decided which part of the ad you want to isolate and test, use AdWords labels so you can filter to see those ads later on after they’ve gotten enough data and clicks and compare them to the rest of your campaign or account.

You can highlight the new ads you’ve created and create a new AdWords label called “New Ad Test,” or whatever makes it easier for you to keep things organized.

Depending on your traffic volumes, you can quickly get an ad data snapshot like the one below (the yellow line is from your filtered ads from your AdWords label).

sweet-sweet-numbers
Those are some sweet, sweet numbers :)

To see if your ad testing has statistically significant results, you can jump over to KISSmetrics’ A/B calculator here and type in your clicks and conversions to see your confidence levels.


Run similar #AdWords ad tests across multiple ad groups for faster results.
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5. Bad keyword bid lowering (1.5 Minutes)

Expected results? Just as there are 17 different ways you can perform a squat, all keywords perform differently when it comes to CTR, CPC and conversion rates. This’ll help you ditch expensive ones that increase costs and keep you out of shape.

If you have AdWords conversion tracking set up (I sincerely hope you do but if not, read this), then there’s a really good chance you know your average conversion rate and average cost per conversion across your entire AdWords account.

Think of these as your AdWords Body Mass Index (BMI) scores that you’re trying to improve so that you can finally get in that 80s aerobics video you always dreamed about.

80s-workout
Colors and fashion were so on point. Image source.

You have some keywords that are performing great, and then you have some that are, ehh, not so great (maybe the CTR is low, Quality Scores suck or the costs per conversion are higher than your account average).

One of the fastest levers you can pull on lowering your cost per conversion is by lowering your max CPC keyword bid amounts.

Let’s say your average cost per click is $5 and your conversion rate is 10%. This gives you a $50 cost per conversion.

If you lower your bids to be $4 and you’re able to maintain the same click-through and conversion rate, then technically your new cost per conversion should be $40.

But don’t do this on all your keywords. Identify which keywords are the most expensive by their cost per conversion metrics.

To do so, make sure you’re viewing “All online campaigns” and then go to the “Keywords” tab and sort your “Cost / converted click” in descending order.

high-costing-keyword-conversions
Here’s a look at high-costing keyword conversions with at least 30 clicks.

This will show you the highest costing conversions and which keywords are responsible for them.

In the example above, you’ll notice that some keywords are much more expensive than your account average, and as long as you have enough clicks (at least 30), you can start slowly lowering their bids.

Quick workout note: If you lower bids too much, then you may also be lowering your average positions and damaging your CTR. You may find that lowering your bids puts them below “first page bid estimates” or doesn’t allow you to enter in the AdWords auction.

If that happens, then be quick to increase bids back to normal.

Make sure you have enough clicks (at least 30) for a keyword you’re about to lower the bid on. Anything less than that would be premature since the averages might not have had enough time to pan out yet.

With an understanding on how bid adjustments affect average ad positions and click-through-rates, you’ll want to slowly lower bids (5-10% of current bid amount) so that your average cost per conversions go down more smoothly.

6. High performing keyword bid increasing (1.5 minutes)

Expected results? Think of your keyword conversions as the number of leg extension reps you can do each set. Increasing bids is like eating more protein so you can start performing more reps.

Feeling a little winded? Good!

We’re eight minutes and 40 seconds into our 10-minute AdWords campaign management workout.

You’re making quick progress and your AdWords account is starting to look pretty dang sexy.

Screen Shot 2015-06-10 at 7.19.20 PM
That’s a definitive yes Ryan. Thanks for noticing.

Just like we lowered bids on keywords that were too expensive, we’re going to do the exact opposite on keywords that are performing well, to get them to perform even better.

This time, you’ll want to reverse the “Cost / converted click” column in ascending order.

Now you’ll start to see which keywords are your best performers and their associated average ad positions.

sweet-improvements-to-be-made
Some sweet improvements are about to be made here.

If a good performing keyword has an ad position of 1.2 for example, then raising the bid won’t do much to improve CTR or give you more conversion volume.

But…

If it’s 1.7 or worse (your keywords are triggering ads that mostly show in spot #2, but sometimes in spot #1), then increasing bids will help you get more of those type of conversions since an increase in bid can improve the average ad position and therefore increase the click-through rate.

Here you can be a little more aggressive with keyword bids and increase them 10-20% at a time since there’s no fear of having them disappear in the ad auctions.

You may quickly notice that your lowest-conversion-costing keywords are keywords with zero clicks and therefore technically have the lowest cost per conversion of zero dollars.

To prevent this and to make sure you’re changing bids on keywords that actually have traffic, we’re going to save some time and create some custom filters you can use every week moving forward.

Which takes us to our next AdWords management workout…

7. Creating and saving custom filters (35 seconds)

Expected results? AdWords filters are like listening to your favorite songs while working out. They help you get in and out, and on with your life. Creating an AdWords filter will help you move through workouts 3, 4, 5 and 6 even quicker.

You’ll want to use filters to quickly showcase the worst or best performing keywords/ads based on the criteria you choose.

adwords-custom-filters
Think of filters as your personal spotters. Ready and excited to help out.

For the example above, let’s say you only want to decrease bids on keywords that have more than 20 clicks (because anything less than that would be premature) and a cost per conversion greater than $40 (this amount will obviously vary for your AdWords account).

The filter will then only show you those keywords that fit your criteria so you can make your bid adjustments on them.

You can then save the filter for next week’s workout with the goal of having the filtered “bad keywords” and “bad ads” become less and less frequent over time.

8. Checking for alerts (45 seconds)

Expected results? Sometimes it’s easy to forget the small things, like how certain workouts are actually supposed to be done. Think of the AdWords alerts as your own personal trainer that can prevent you from looking silly.

youre-going-places
You’re going places. GIF source.

You’ve hustled through your workout so fast that you’re not even sweating – you’re raining like Shaquille O’Neal. Now it’s time to cool down from the intense AdWords management workout you just went through.

As you sit down to start stretching, thinking about that delicious post-workout chocolate milk, you remember there’s just one thing you forgot: checking for AdWords alerts.

Are there any conflicting negative keywords, disapproved ads or budgets that are hitting a ceiling?

If so, your little right-hand corner bell inside your AdWords interface will tell you.

59-ads-disapproved

No need to change everything it recommends though.

Click on any of the alerts to make the quick adjustment – if they make sense.

I say this because almost everything that Google recommends comes with the idea of having you spend more money, so take it all with a grain of salt.

If nothing strikes your eye, then it’s time to pat yourself on the back and drink that milk. You deserve it.

Good work!

Your workout is now over and you feel amazing. Instead of just running mindlessly on that elliptical, you actually came in and did what needed to be done to bring you closer to your AdWords goals: more conversions, lower costs per conversion and higher conversion rates.

All in record time.

Over to you. When it comes to effective AdWords management, what have you found to make the biggest impacts in the shortest time?

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The 10-Minute AdWords Management Workout

40 Responsive Sports Icons [Freebie]

Free icons are always great to spice up our work with minimal effort. Today, we’re happy to release a free set of 40 sports icons in four styles and six formats. Each icon in this set comes in four styles: flat colored, glyph, Google material palette, and line strokes. Additionally, the line icons morph into four responsive sizes, comprising a unique icon at every breakpoint. That way, details adjust according to size while preserving the icons’ style and identity.

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40 Responsive Sports Icons [Freebie]

Freebie: Responsive Sports Icon Set (40×4 Icons, AI, CSH, PNG, PSD, Sketch, SVG)

Free icons are always great to spice up our work with minimal effort. Today, we’re happy to release a free set of 40 sports icons in four styles and six formats. Each icon in this set comes in four styles: flat colored, glyph, Google material palette, and line strokes. Additionally, the line icons morph into four responsive sizes, comprising a unique icon at every breakpoint. That way, details adjust according to size while preserving the icons’ style and identity.

All icons are included in six formats: AI, PSD, SVG, PNG, CSH and Sketch. We’ve optimized the SVG format, producing really light and small-size files that will enhance your websites’ and applications’ performance. Additionally, it makes creating web fonts a lot easier. The set is still in its infancy with plenty more icons currently in production. It’s licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

icon-styles-opt-small1

Every icon in the set is named and archived in the appropriate folder, which makes finding icons very easy.

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Colored style. (View large version3)

glyph-opt-small4
Filled glyphs. (View large version5)

responsive-line-icons-opt-small6
Responsive line stroke. (View large version7)

material-opt-small8
Google material palette. (View large version9)

Download The Icon Set For Free!

Insights From The Designer

“With responsive design thriving, the need for scalable iconography increases. After all, adaptability is key. Simply scaling an icon won’t do: details get lost during downsizing, lines disconnect or overlap, and minimalistic icons don’t always suffice when enlarged. We decided to create an extensive library of responsive icons, or in other words, icons that adapt. Whether your design needs detailed flat-style icons, glyphs or simple line strokes of any size, we’ve got them all.”

We sincerely thank Ramy Wafaa12 for the design — we appreciate your time and effort, and please do keep up the brilliant work.

(ml, og)

Footnotes

  1. 1 http://www.smashingmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/icon-styles-opt.png
  2. 2 http://www.smashingmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/colored-opt.png
  3. 3 http://www.smashingmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/colored-opt.png
  4. 4 http://www.smashingmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/glyph-opt.png
  5. 5 http://www.smashingmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/glyph-opt.png
  6. 6 http://www.smashingmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/responsive-line-icons-opt.png
  7. 7 http://www.smashingmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/responsive-line-icons-opt.png
  8. 8 http://www.smashingmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/material-opt.png
  9. 9 http://www.smashingmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/material-opt.png
  10. 10 http://provide.smashingmagazine.com/responsive-sports-icon-set/responsive-sports-icon-set.zip
  11. 11 http://iconsresponsive.com/
  12. 12 https://twitter.com/RamyWafaa

The post Freebie: Responsive Sports Icon Set (40×4 Icons, AI, CSH, PNG, PSD, Sketch, SVG) appeared first on Smashing Magazine.

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Freebie: Responsive Sports Icon Set (40×4 Icons, AI, CSH, PNG, PSD, Sketch, SVG)

Effective Logo Design, Part 2: Using Nature’s Patterns In Logo Design

There are only a handful of fundamental patterns that create all of the natural diversity around us. Nature’s patterns perform three basic tasks that get the work of the universe done by moving, storing and connecting energy.

Nature communicates within an interconnected and intricate system of checks and balances to weave patterns and processes together for perfect and purposeful outcomes. Nature is the ultimate economist when it comes to creating so much from so little. Everything gets used in this supremely elegant system. Nothing is wasted. And all of it happens in the moment. We covered Symbols, Metaphors And The Power Of Intuition1 in the first post of the series last week; this week let’s take a closer look into nature’s patterns.

“Man invented things by imposing a shape on nature. Man discovered things by revealing the pattern of nature.”

– Alan Fletcher

The essential property of a pattern is repetition. Because they are continuous, they read like a story. Human beings learned the language of nature to survive. The periodic migration of herds, the transit of constellations across the sky and the distinct features of different terrains are all examples of patterns that create expectations upon which we depend. Designers use patterns based on nature because they are reliable. Biomimicry is relevant not just to product and industrial designers. Bio-inspired graphics yield more communicative power to a logo by relating it to a pattern that all human beings inherently know.

Handprints2
Handprints. (Image credit: elnavegante3) (View large version4)

This three-part series explores fundamental creative strategies for designing effective logos. The first part5 showed how to use symbols, metaphors and the power of intuition. The second part shows how to use nature’s patterns in logo design.

The Relationship Between Natural Patterns And Design

Natural patterns establish relationships between dynamically opposed, seemingly unrelated or invisible forces — everything that compels good communication. A designer’s understanding of this can be carried into the planning of a logo’s “genetic material” to integrate universal relationships, giving the logo a wider reach. Intuitive sensing is free of cultural associations and the encumbrances of language because it uses imprints far older than civilization. It is a direct route to establishing a connection with your audience.

Awareness of how patterns work in nature helps a designer choose the most appropriate visual elements to describe a client’s unique qualities while simultaneously using easily understood, universal concepts. When the audience’s initial glance is bridged with relevant visual information, a profound opportunity to get into the details of the communication is established.

Essential natural patterns combine in ways that are stable and efficient enough to be practical within the limits of three-dimensional space. These basic patterns underlie processes that are pervasive from micro- to macro-scales throughout the universe. As movement is the fundamental principle of life, we’ll begin there.

Patterns Of Movement: Branching And Meanders

Patterns of movement transfer energy from one place to another and occur in a variety of circumstances. The linear patterns of tree branches and roots, rushing rivers, blood veins and neural circuitry, streams meandering through pastures, and brain and intestinal convolutions are all examples of energetic transference.

The branching pattern transfers energy from leaf to plant in the same focused manner it moves impulses through our nervous system, while the lackadaisical meander distributes energy over a broad area in an easy roll-and-turn motion, much like brain or intestinal convolutions.

Branching pattern, the nervous system, and the lackadaisical meander6
Branching pattern, the nervous system, and the lackadaisical meander. (Image credit: AlterYourReality7, www.visuallanguage.com8, Xavier Marchant9) (View large version10)

The purpose of the branching and meandering patterns are implied by their forms: A point of origin is connected to its destination point in a line. Our bodily fluids carry air, water and nutrients through an intricate system of tubes from the outside in and the inside out; sunlight is converted into energy in a plant’s leaves and transported throughout its branches, stems, trunks and roots; waterways meander and branch into the contours of the earth to provide nutrients and water to plants and animals; and lightning transforms carbon and nitrogen into compounds that plants can assimilate from soil.

The two basic patterns of movement have specific differences but are equally efficient for the tasks they perform. Branching patterns are direct, angular and no-nonsense, while meanders roll and relax into their destination. There’s a reason for that — nature always has a good reason — branching is concerned with the task of getting energy urgently from one place to another, while meanders distribute energy in curves that slowly and evenly wind their way to an eventual destination with greater coverage (a clue as to when to use angles and when to use curves as dominant shapes for different clients).

The Branching Pattern in a Logo

The logo for ISTEC (Ibero-American Science and Technology Education Consortium…sometimes acronyms are essential for certain clients!) has multiple cultural and technological references that provide information instantly about the organization. ISTEC is a non-profit that procures technology software, hardware and training from large tech companies in the United States and delivers them to universities in Central and South America, as well as Spain and Portugal. The corporations that provide the tech services have access to the best students graduating from these programs, providing a back-and-forth exchange.

The underlying template of the branching pattern intuitively suggests movement to describe the process of exchange, an appropriate metaphor for a tech-transfer business that moves the energy of current (or urgent) technology from one place to another. The overall square shape of the logo further substantiates the client as stable and reliable, an important consideration when representing new technologies and establishing cross-cultural relationships. (More on shapes in part 3, “How Geometry Influences Logo Design.”)

The process of the ISTEC logo11
The process of the ISTEC logo. (Design: Maggie Macnab) (View large version12)

The conceptual process for this logo shows specific references to the client in both cultural and technological terms, and the design is further supported by integrating the branching pattern to address its purpose of tech transfer.

The Meander Pattern in a Logo

The meander transfers energy just as a branching pattern does, but with a significant difference: it displays no real urgency and has a certain amount of fluidity and freedom. Duffy+Partners created an identity to brand the Islands of the Bahamas with distinctly atypical and vibrant characteristics of form and color. A meander isn’t a typical pattern to use in logo design because it is so loosely organized, but in this case — as a descriptor of travel, fun and spontaneous island-hopping — it works perfectly.

The Bahamas’ identity design by Duffy+Partners
The Bahamas’ identity design by Duffy+Partners.

The designer’s process shows the conceptual development of blending the island chain with the bright flora typical of a Caribbean destination as appropriate visual cues for this logo.

Process of the The Bahamas’ identity design13
Process of the The Bahamas’ identity design. (Image credit: Duffy+Partners14) (View large version15)

At first glance, the logo doesn’t look like a meander, but think a little deeper, as in below the surface. Island chains are connected below the ocean’s surface (maps were also referenced by the designer in the conceptual roughs). The bright colors, random shapes and underlying meander pattern all fit and support the idea of a relaxing, fun-filled tropical vacation.

Stacking And Packing Patterns: The Hexagon And Other Tessellating Shapes

The stacking and packing pattern accomplishes two primary objectives in nature: it stores and stabilizes energy for later use. Drying mud, bubbles and cracking cement all tend to break at approximately 120° angles. There’s a reason for that. Nature is primarily composed of spherical atoms, molecules, germs, viruses and cells, which achieve the tightest fit when packed with their own kind — a hexagon made up of approximate 120° angles.

Spherical objects make up the bulk of physical space and have the tightest fit in a six-around-one configuration.
Spherical objects make up the bulk of physical space and have the tightest fit in a six-around-one configuration.

Spherical objects make up the bulk of physical space and have the tightest fit in a six-around-one configuration. The hexagonal pattern results when the objects are compressed by heat, gravity and pressure in physical space. This perfect-fit pattern, called a tessellation, has neither empty space nor redundant overlaps, just like pieces of a puzzle. Because of its perfect fit, it is the most efficient and stable mode of energy storage. Only two other shapes can achieve a periodic, or regular, tessellation: four-sided and triangular figures.

Classic examples of the stacking and packing pattern: Breaks in a cement sidewalk and the beehive16
Classic examples of the stacking and packing pattern: Breaks in a cement sidewalk and the beehive. (Image credit: Amy Walters17, Dainis Derics18) (View large version19)

Classic examples of the stacking and packing pattern: Breaks in a cement sidewalk at approximately 120° angles from the molecular scale up display a self-similar pattern. The beehive is perfectly formed for extraordinary strength and economy of space — a shape also adopted by architect Buckminster Fuller for the ultra-energy-efficient geodesic dome.

Stacking And Packing Patterns In A Logo

Stacking and packing patterns are a perfect fit for businesses that want to communicate security or storage. Angled shapes in general are included in this group (the triangle, rectangle and square are discussed further in part 3 of this series). An angled shape sits squarely on its bottom, and the corners provide exact points of measurement. This suggests reliability and precision, which, in turn, imply transparency and honesty. When something can be accurately measured it is said to be “true” or “trued up.”

Angled shapes are favored by banks and other organizations in the financial industry for this reason, as well as contractors and others who want to imply those qualities in physical space. (Keep in mind that today’s technology allows decimal points to be manipulated at will: Reinforcing the idea of security is very important — most particularly with digital currency.)

The logos of HSBC and the NYSE20
The logos of HSBC and the NYSE. (View large version21)

The logos of HSBC, Chase Manhattan, the NYSE and many other financial players use angular templates in their design to reinforce their message of security and stability.

Connection And Regeneration Patterns: The Helix And Spiral

The helix and spiral have similar shapes but different purposes, much like the meander and branching patterns. A helix’s diameter never expands or contracts but remains a constant distance from its center, enabling it to penetrate substantial structures or stand up to formidable forces. The spiral, on the other hand, follows an ever-expanding path in a geometric progression of self-similar curves. As you may have guessed, each has specific — but related — purposes.

The Helix Pattern

The helix is a concentrated form of energy designed for a serious and intentional purpose. In nature, the singular helix is the underlying pattern of the concentrated power of funnel clouds and waterspouts. We apply this principle to tool design to create the drill, which penetrates strong structures so they can be bound together for longevity, or a corkscrew that grips and extracts a plug from an ultra-tight fit. When paired, the back and forth twisting motion of two helices weave a complementary relationship that bring together and balance opposites. The double helix pattern points to the immense power necessary to funnel the genetic blueprints of DNA into a new generation.

Natural helices of the waterspout, an example of human design mimicking nature’s pattern, and an artist’s interpretation of DNA’s double helix22
Natural helices of the waterspout, an example of human design mimicking nature’s pattern, and an artist’s interpretation of DNA’s double helix. (Image credit: NOAA23, Matthew Gough24, Sebastian Kaulitzki25)

The Helix in a Logo

The helix communicates information about cooperation between opposites, intense strength at minute sizes and longevity that spans generations. It was the template pattern I chose to describe an acupuncture clinic. When you understand how patterns work you can validate your initial intuitive choice as the right one. Intuition is the genius of our senses and helps us to make choices that are inherently correct. (See the first part of this series, “Symbols, Metaphors and the Power of Intuition.”) Understanding this information also helps sell your idea to the client because the logo has been “trued up” to the story it needs to tell — and it’s easy to explain.

The Oriental Medicine Clinic logo was almost fully formed upon conception
The Oriental Medicine Clinic logo was almost fully formed upon conception. (Design: Maggie Macnab)

Several years ago I created this logo for an alternative healthcare clinic with a concentration in Chinese medicine. The founders were already traditional Western medicine caregivers and expanded their services as licensed acupuncturists. I used a caduceus to incorporate both traditional Western medicine and the “qi” (chi) — or the balancing of energy in Eastern medicine. This was one of those logos that didn’t need a lot of conceptual thought. The solution presented itself in my first sketch (a reminder to collaborate with your intuition to get “inside” access to workable ideas). The hybrid caduceus-chi logo addresses the two healthcare modalities, and the underlying pattern of the helix alludes to the (literally) penetrating nature of acupuncture to achieve effective results by stimulating the energetic meridians of the body.

The Spiral Pattern

The spiral is a pattern of creativity and regeneration with the purpose of connecting energies together. This is geometrically described in the construction of the logarithmic spiral, or a spiral that grows geometrically at a progressive rate. The connecting circles that create a phi spiral demonstrate this fact in form.

A phi spiral is constructed when a series of ever larger and geometrically progressive circles are connected at their points of intersection. This particular construction is based on the Fibonacci sequence.


A phi spiral. (Animation: Aldo Vidrio)

The progressing spiral is a pattern of growth in nature, and it is the only pattern that is also a shape (see more about the spiral in part 3, “How Geometry Influences Logo Design”). This pattern expresses new life as it unfurls into the world. It is common in developing embryos and sprouting seeds.

From unfurling ferns to a mouse embryo, life displays its process of becoming in the spiral of creative regeneration.
From unfurling ferns to a mouse embryo, life displays its process of becoming in the spiral of creative regeneration. (Image credit: Alkalyne26, Seth Ruffins)

The Spiral in a Logo

A helix and spiral were both included in the logo design for Valle Encantado, a small farming group that grows food for their communities. The helical tendril curling up the handle of the spade defines the handle and represents the intense work of digging and growing, while the logarithmically progressing spiral points to the creativity of producing food to support the community. Other graphical elements are used in the design to more specifically address the client (see part 1, “Symbols, Metaphors and the Power of Intuition,”27 for more about them).

Valle Encantado logo
Valle Encantado logo. (Design: Maggie Macnab)

Exercises

Patterns exercise #1: Walk the nature talk

Get your sketchbook and pencils and go on a walk.

  1. Focus only on natural forms (not buildings, sidewalks or anything else manmade)
    Try to identify each of the five basic patterns discussed in the article: branching, meander, stacking and packing shapes, and the spiral and weaving (helix) patterns. As you find them, sketch them and identify what pattern you think is dominant in the forms you are observing, as nature typically weaves several pattern processes together.
  2. Look a little deeper
    What does their form tell you about the kind of work they do (moving, storing, connecting)? Can you identify what the pattern is doing in the context of how it is used?
  3. Patterns work together
    Can you find more than one pattern working together? How do they interact or support one another?
Artist and Design by Nature student Robert Barberena, with one of his pattern sketches at Casa de los Tres Mundos, Granada, Nicaragua, 2013.
Artist and Design by Nature student Robert Barberena, with one of his pattern sketches at Casa de los Tres Mundos, Granada, Nicaragua, 2013. (Image: Alejandro Vasquez)

Patterns exercise #2: Expressing pattern as design

To be an effective logo designer, you must learn to identify and extract valuable information. This pattern exercise is designed to give you a true working context of observation, interaction, refinement, extraction, elimination and reordering, while using critical thinking skills in all stages of the process. Choose any form from nature that intrigues you (animal, plant, mineral, any of the elements), and use this exercise as an opportunity to learn more about it in an immersive experience.

Design by Nature pattern exercise, Santa Fe University of Art and Design.28
Design by Nature pattern exercise, Santa Fe University of Art and Design. (Student: Jimena Valdez) (View large version29)

  1. Create a realistic drawing
    Draw your subject as accurately as you can with your choice of media (pencil, colored pencils, pen, etc.). If the subject is too detailed and you find it overwhelming to draw the entire object, pick a part of it and focus on that.
  2. Explore your subject in three dimensions
    Take an aspect of your subject (or the whole subject, if you care to), and create a three-dimensional representation of it. You can do this with paper folding, craft materials or natural materials. Observe the primary movements or shapes of patterns to help define a three-dimensional representation that accurately conveys the pattern. Origami is not difficult to do, and you can find all sorts of instructional videos on the Internet of how to create different folded forms.
  3. Create a detail
    Find an aspect of the object to detail. This could be an edge, a shape or the overall pattern refined as a simplified detail. (Note: You might want to research micrographs of your subject as well. Seeing it at different scales or dimensions will give important clues to help identify the dominant pattern.)
  4. Stylize the form
    From the previous parts of the exercises, identify the dominant pattern you are working with and stylize it as black-and-white vector illustration, created in Illustrator as a repeating form.
Example of a simplified and stylized natural pattern created in Illustrator.30
Example of a simplified and stylized natural pattern created in Illustrator. (Image credit: JuRitt31) (View large version32)

Conclusion

The process of distilling general information into specific communication provides value for your audience. When you develop your awareness of the universal meanings of the basic patterns of nature, you can effectively integrate them as simple strategies for good logo design.

Integrating patterns appropriately reinforces the message at every level — beginning with the first glance, which queues the audience’s intuition and interest. Combined with effective symbolism and metaphors, pattern templates bring more communicative depth to your logo. Another sound design strategy is the use of basic geometric configurations in logo design, coming up next in part 3, “How Geometry Influences Logo Design.”

(il, ml, al)

Footnotes

  1. 1 http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2015/06/05/effective-logo-design-symbols-metaphors-intuition/
  2. 2 http://www.smashingmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/p2-01-handprints-opt.jpg
  3. 3 http://www.shutterstock.com/g/phc
  4. 4 http://www.smashingmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/p2-01-handprints-opt.jpg
  5. 5 http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2015/06/05/effective-logo-design-symbols-metaphors-intuition/
  6. 6 http://www.smashingmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/p2-02-branching-meander-opt.jpg
  7. 7 https://secure.istockphoto.com/profile/alteryourreality
  8. 8 http://www.visuallanguage.com
  9. 9 http://www.shutterstock.com/g/xavier
  10. 10 http://www.smashingmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/p2-02-branching-meander-opt.jpg
  11. 11 http://www.smashingmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/p2-03-istec-process-opt.jpg
  12. 12 http://www.smashingmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/p2-03-istec-process-opt.jpg
  13. 13 http://www.smashingmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/p2-05-Bahamas-process-opt.jpg
  14. 14 http://duffy.com/
  15. 15 http://www.smashingmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/p2-05-Bahamas-process-opt.jpg
  16. 16 http://www.smashingmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/p2-07-sidewalk-beehive-opt.jpg
  17. 17 http://www.shutterstock.com/g/pixelbrat
  18. 18 http://www.shutterstock.com/g/dreef
  19. 19 http://www.smashingmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/p2-07-sidewalk-beehive-opt.jpg
  20. 20 http://www.smashingmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/p2-08-hsbc-nyse-logos-opt.jpg
  21. 21 http://www.smashingmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/p2-08-hsbc-nyse-logos-opt.jpg
  22. 22 http://www.smashingmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/p2-09-helix-opt.jpg
  23. 23 http://www.noaa.gov/
  24. 24 http://www.shutterstock.com/g/tonmeistermat
  25. 25 http://www.shutterstock.com/g/eraxion
  26. 26 https://secure.istockphoto.com/profile/alkalyne
  27. 27 http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2015/06/05/effective-logo-design-symbols-metaphors-intuition/
  28. 28 http://www.smashingmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/p2-14-jimena-pattern-opt.jpg
  29. 29 http://www.smashingmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/p2-14-jimena-pattern-opt.jpg
  30. 30 http://www.smashingmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/p2-15-stylized-pattern-opt.jpg
  31. 31 http://www.shutterstock.com/g/JuRitt
  32. 32 http://www.smashingmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/p2-15-stylized-pattern-opt.jpg

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Effective Logo Design, Part 2: Using Nature’s Patterns In Logo Design

How to Apply the Psychology of Persuasion To YOUR Business

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Robert Cialdini’s famous book Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion is a staple of any business-oriented must-read list. You’ve read the concepts before and you’ve probably even seen the full list of principles on numerous occasions. Reciprocity, Consistency, Social Proof, Liking, Authority, & Scarcity These principles tend to dictate the way we behave in society, and […]

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How to Apply the Psychology of Persuasion To YOUR Business

Your Campaigns Are Doomed Without These 5 Articles on User Experience

User Experience for Marketers

When smart marketers design landing pages, they follow the principles of conversion-centered design, which are focused on guiding the user toward completing an action that serves a single business goal.

But in the process of corralling as many conversions as possible, it can be easy to lose focus on the needs of each individual user. If people have a terrible experience on your landing page or at any step of your campaign, you’re gonna have a bad time when you start counting your conversions.

That’s why all marketers could stand to learn a little bit more about user experience (UX) design.

Depending on who you ask, you’ll get entirely different answers for what UX design means, so let’s keep it simple: it’s designing the way users interact with and consume content, and is concerned much more with how a design works than how it looks.

Whereas conversion-centered design persuades users to take action, user-centered design seeks to enable users to accomplish those actions as easily as possible. Ideally, both of these design philosophies should lead to the same endpoint: the user gets what they want, and the business gets what they want. Everybody wins!

Ready for more win-win scenarios in your marketing campaigns? From mobile modals to the science of clickability, here’s some of the best content in the UX community right now — with some campaign-specific takeaways just for you.

1. How to Create UX Personas by Gregg Bernstein for UX Mastery

Meet Jane. She’s in her late 20s, lives in New York City, and tends to use her phone more than her laptop to access the web. She’s a manager at a small boutique that is looking for tools to help her manage her inventory without breaking her budget.

She also doesn’t exist. She’s a persona, a fictional character meant to serve as a stand-in for a segment of the market that shares specific traits.

Personas are one of the backbones of modern marketing. By creating personas and targeting our campaigns toward them, we can deliver focused messaging and offers rather than just targeting everyone and hoping it works out okay. A landing page designed with Jane in mind is going to look a lot different from a page targeted at someone in their 40s who isn’t technically savvy.

Both marketers and UX designers use personas to better understand the needs, desires, limitations and even the personalities of our audiences. UX designers use this information to design products that are frictionless and fun to use; we can do the same for our marketing campaigns.

This three-minute video from MailChimp’s research manager, Gregg Bernstein, illustrates a great persona framework for marketers and designers alike.

2. Modals on Mobile: How to Use Them Wisely by Chris Wigley for UX Magazine

Overlays (also known as modals) have been in the spotlight a lot recently. Once largely relegated to the realm of interface design, they’re now a mainstay of lead generation campaigns. In particular, exit overlays — which trigger only when the user’s cursor moves to close the tab — have been shown to have hugely positive effects on landing page conversion rates.

Despite their efficacy, opinion is pretty split on whether these overlays provide a good user experience. A poorly designed overlay can transform into an unconscionably bad user experience, especially on mobile.

In this piece for UX Magazine, Chris Wigley highlights the pitfalls of not redesigning your modals for mobile, and starts off by pointing out that these things are really not designed for one-handed interaction.

Since the close button is usually in the upper-right of the screen, reaching it with your thumb can be tough — especially as phones get more gargantuan every year. Worse, the consequences of tapping in the wrong spot can be frustrating:

Upper right placement of the close button also increases the likelihood of the dreaded accidental refresh (when I fat-finger the refresh button instead of the close button because they’re both so small and on Safari they’re right next to each other).

(If this seems like a detail that never would have occurred to you: welcome to the wonderful world of user experience design!)

Wigley recommends exercising caution when using modals on mobile, and I’d recommend the same. Just look at this overlay I got from Contently on my phone the other night:

Contently Overlay

Thankfully, the close button was low enough to reach one-handed, but looking at the email field and submit button, it’s pretty clear that nobody thought about making sure this modal was a good fit for mobile.

Check out the full piece at UX Magazine for more smart overlay advice.

3. Beyond Blue Links: Making Clickable Elements Recognizable by Hora Loranger for Nielson Norman Group

Whether it’s opening a page or submitting a form, the click is the action that conversion-centered marketers hold above all else.

Beyond Blue Links: Making Clickable Elements Recognizable begins by tracing the link back to its humble blue-and-underlined origins, and goes on to highlight the consequences of the enduringly-trendy flat movement, which abandons simulated dimensionality (bevels, gradients and shadows) in favour of a purely-digital look that focuses on typography and flat colors.

Flat Landing Page
The CTA button on this page by Schoolrunner shows how the flat movement has lead to design that strips away many of the things that once indicated to users that something was clickable: gradients, bevels and shadows.

While flat design may be a bit easier on the eyes, it comes with some serious tradeoffs. As Hoa observes:

The idea behind flat design is to simplify the interface. However, stripping away too much undermines this objective by making the interaction more complex. A major issue with many flat designs is that one of the strongest clickability signifiers — the 3-dimensionality — is removed from the equation. Textures that users were long relied upon for cues are stripped away, making it difficult for users to determine what is clickable and what is not.

I don’t know about you, but anything that includes the term clickability signifiers gets my blood pumping. (It’s a real problem and my doctors are at a loss to do anything about it.)

Conversion-centered marketers have known for a long time that making interactive elements stand out and appear tactile has a very real impact on conversions, but this article breaks down in stunning detail exactly what it is that makes something irresistibly clickable.

4. Why Great Web Design Needs Great Copywriting by Jerry Cao for Creative Bloq

Compelling copy is the cornerstone of a high-converting landing page — that’s why we always advise that you write your page’s copy before you start designing it.

That’s an idea that’s gaining a lot of steam within the web design community, too. UXPin’s content strategist Jerry Cao makes the case in this piece for Creative Bloq:

Regardless of whether you use a copywriter or not, the important thing is that your design factors in the writing earlier rather than in the later stages.

Jerry explains that there are two main reasons that you want to incorporate copy very early into the design process:

Reason #1: Copy dictates the tone and personality of a page

It would be pretty weird if a page with somber, somewhat cautious copy was matched with a design that was colorful and fun, right? But that’s exactly what can happen if you design a page before you’ve seen the words that go into it. Cao writes:

Phrasing, tone, and word choice all affect the personality the site design exudes … It’s not enough that the tone match the visuals – the tone has to match the product as well. The writing is, after all, the product’s voice.

Moving copy to the top of your priority list will help you ensure from the beginning that the messaging and visuals both work to best represent the campaign you’re developing.

Reason #2: Copy must be “designed” so that users actually read it

Compelling copywriting is about more than just the words themselves; it’s also about how those words are structured. As Cao writes:

It’s now common knowledge that users will not read every word on your site, and the more blocks of text they see, the more likely they are to scan for what they’re looking for.

Copy has to be laid out in such a way that optimizes readability and pairs the right words with the right visual elements. But how are you going to do that when your copy is some latin gibberish?

When designers and writers work concurrently with each other, it can make the process feel more complicated, because each is adjusting their work based on the feedback of the other. But the result is almost always better.

Continue reading at Creative Bloq for more tips on integrating copy into the design process.

5. Why You Should Ignore UX Best Practice by David Mannheim for UX Mastery

Perhaps it’s just me, but there seems to have been an increase in scrutiny toward so-called “best practices” over the past few months. That’s probably due, at least in part, to recent high-profile failures of best practices.

Crocheted birdhouse emporium Etsy found that their users wanted more results per page, and they wanted those results faster. So the team at Etsy did the obvious: they started testing an infinite scroll implementation, so that users could simply continue scrolling to see more items. Surely a big UX win, right?

Not so fast. In an article for UX Mastery, conversion rate optimizer David Mannheim breaks it down:

The team knew that this is what users wanted, and the user need was backed up by research. Surely this exciting new feature was embraced by the subset of users involved in the test?

Hardly.

Etsy discovered that:

  • Visitors seeing infinite scroll clicked fewer results than the control group
  • Visitors seeing infinite scroll saved fewer items as favourites
  • Visitors seeing infinite scroll purchased fewer items from search

The thing about best practices is that they’re actually just assumptions based on someone else’s success. And you know what they say about assumptions!

(They say you shouldn’t make them, because claiming something is true without evidence could cause you shame among your family and/or peer group if those claims turn out to be unfounded.)

Now, I’m not advocating that you start breaking every rule in the conversion-centered design book. Keep your visually-prominent buttons and your directional cues — we know they work.

But go crazy with testing out new ideas instead of simply following what other marketers are doing. Just because something worked well for someone else doesn’t mean it will work well for us, too.

Learn more about how breaking the rules is cool in the full article.

Broadening your horizons

Every single marketing campaign includes aspects of graphic design, UX design, copywriting, data analysis, SEO, CRO and countless other marketing disciplines.

While I’d never recommend one dedicate their energy to becoming a jack of all trades yet a master of none, staying abreast of marketing and technology trends, regardless of whether or not they’re your specialty, can only serve to make you a better marketer.

After all, if you never peek your head out of the box, how can you be expected to think outside of it?

pppffooooommmmm! pffffooooom

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Your Campaigns Are Doomed Without These 5 Articles on User Experience

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