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A Comprehensive Guide To UI Design

(This is a sponsored article.) With the big picture established — mapping user journeys and defining your design’s look and feel — my fifth article in this series of ten articles dives into the details of designing user interface components.
UX, IA, UI: All of these abbreviations can be confusing. In reality, as designers, we’ll often be working across these different specialisms: designing the overall user experience (UX), organizing information logically as we consider information architecture (IA), and considering the granular design of the user interface (UI).


A Comprehensive Guide To UI Design

How To Spark A UX Revolution

Editor’s Note: Making big changes doesn’t necessarily require big efforts — it’s just a matter of moving in the right direction. We can’t wait for Paul’s new book on User Experience Revolution (free worldwide shipping starting from April 18!), and in this article, Paul shares just some of the little tricks and techniques to bring around a big UX revolution into your company — with a series of small, effective steps.

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How To Spark A UX Revolution


5 Expert Tips That Will Get You On the Road to Conversion

Conversion road trip tips
Who doesn’t love road trips? Image source.

If you’ve ever been on a road trip, you know that it can be the best time ever with bits of the worst time ever thrown in for good measure).

Kind of like being a marketer, isn’t it? I’ll refrain from using a “marketing is a journey, not a destination” analogy here but regardless of the cliché, it’s not so far from the truth.

We’re taking off on the Conversion Road Trip in July, holding events in New York, Toronto, Chicago, and Boston with the world’s leading optimization experts.

We asked five of them to share some lessons from their own marketing journey (fine, it’s a journey) to help keep you on the road to marketing mastery. Read on to learn how to speak to specific segments of your audience, how to outpace your PPC competition, how creating hubs around one topic can increase your traffic and more.

Angie Schottmuller learns to speak her customers’ language

When Angie Schottmuller was just out of high school, she took a road trip from Wisconsin to South Carolina with some friends. They were in need of some cash so they started asking residents for the location of a bank machine – which at the time, was referred to in Wisconsin as a TYME Machine.

Seriously. TYME machines. Who knew?

Now, imagine going to a place where people have no idea about TYME machines and asking them for directions to one. Needless to say, they got quite a few odd looks from the locals before running into someone from Wisconsin who told them to ask for an ATM.

Fast forward a few years and Angie has been named by Forbes as one of the top marketers of 2015 – so she understands the value of learning about your customers and how best to speak to them.

When we spoke to Angie a couple of weeks ago, she recommended starting by assessing the different needs within the segments of your customer base, and then writing copy that speaks to those groups.

For example, how would customers in the 18-24 age range who live in Mobile, Alabama who work in dentistry describe what you’re selling?

Establish a content baseline by adding copy from the different variants you’ve fleshed out that speak to those different segments of your audience. From there, you can start to discover the different areas that you need to target.

Angie said that marketers should not be afraid to speak to regional audiences in their own language. Some people drink pop, others drink soda. Some people say “you guys,” others say “y’all.” Some people say tomato, others… you get the idea. Those subtle dialect differences can be used by geoIP address targeting in ads and on landing pages dynamically.

These very simple, and very small changes can make all the difference in gaining the trust of your audience and can elevate engagement and drive conversions.

Kyle Rush on landing page change you can believe in

Kyle Rush is no stranger to the road and neither is his dapper dog, Tito, who keeps him company in the car. Kyle is as vigilant about making sure his dog looks good as he is about making sure that his campaigns are optimized.

Proficient in chemistry, advanced physics and being a good boy.

Kyle is perhaps best known for his involvement in the 2012 Obama campaign. As he said in a Growthhackers AMA earlier this year, his most successful test turned out to be a “false positive in disguise.”

There’s a psychological trick used on high-end restaurant menus. Dollar signs are removed from the prices and patrons end up spending more money. The idea is that the patrons are focusing on the food rather than the prices. Inspired by this concept, Kyle decided to remove dollar signs on the donation forms for the Obama fundraising campaign.

His first experiment showed an amazing 40% increase in revenue. But Kyle found out it was too good to be true.

As elated as we were, that’s an extremely hard number to believe. So we tested it two more times and only one of the three tests was significant. Turns out the visitors we sampled in the first test were somehow heavily biased towards the variation.

From there, Kyle and his team were a lot more careful about their sampling. This was a really important lesson that helped them be a lot more successful in the long run.

It’s easy to get carried away when seeing great results from a test. Any positive numbers, especially ones that are overwhelmingly positive, can be tempting for marketers to claim as fact. But it’s not until further testing against other sample groups that you find where the truth lies in any group of statistics.

Don’t be fooled by early results. A/B testing takes time and patience.
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Sampling requires an investment in time. Like any good road trip, testing is all about being in it for the long haul.

Larry Kim on getting there first

If you’ve traveled out of town on a long weekend, you know that you have to leave early. You don’t want to get stuck in traffic for hours on highways that look like the “leaving Atlanta” side of the highway on the Walking Dead poster.

ppc first adopter
Only get there first if you are certain there are no zombie hordes. Image source.

As the proud papa of son Jules (#ppckid), Larry Kim is well aware of the importance of leaving early. And with a car full of toys, a playpen, a diaper bag, bottles and more, road tripping is a whole new adventure.

In a conversation we had with Larry, he recommended employing this “get going” strategy in the PPC game as well.

My best advice for PPC advertisers today is to be a first-mover. Spend time reading up on the new features and options in AdWords, new targeting features in Facebook Ads, etc. Do whatever it takes to learn about and try out those new technologies and tactics your competitors haven’t caught on to yet.

Advancements in PPC come fast and furious. There’s always something new going on. But the only way to find the true winners is to stay up to date and test new features.

Something as simple as adding new extensions to ads can help you stand out in search results, garner more clicks, raise Quality Score and, in turn, lower costs.

If you’re looking for a resource to help you stay on top of your PPC game, check out this exhaustive list of great PPC blogs.

You know what they say: The early bird gets the click from the search term.

Andy Crestodina on niche destinations

Andy Crestodina, Co-Founder and Strategic Director at Orbit Media Studios, wants you to create a niche destination for your traffic.

A niche destination for a road trip might be somewhere like Orlando, Florida, where you’ll find SeaWorld Orlando, Universal Orlando, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, the Magic Kingdom and many more family-friendly attractions.

People go to Orlando because they know they’re going to get a specific type of entertainment.

content hub marketing
You can do anything in Orlando! Image via OrlandoWeekly

Andy explained that you can get more traffic on your site by making it into a niche destination with something called a content hub.

Anyone can publish an endless stream of loosely related posts. But a pro knows that a great blog is built around sets of tightly related topics.

Start by picking a topic that is relevant to your audience. Dig deep into the problems/questions people have around the subject, as well as what your company does to answer/solve them.

Then start making friends with influencers around that topic. Like Andy says:

Follow them, share their content, comment and do anything else that slowly wins their attention in a positive way.

Now you’re ready for your “central hub.” Your central hub will be one piece of content on your site that is the strongest and most useful piece of content you have on this particular topic.

Next, publish “supporting content” in the form of webinars, blog posts, infographics and anything you can use to support your position on the original topic.

If you’ve made relationships with influencers as suggested above, then at this point you can start asking them to share your content. See if you can get a guest post exchange with your new contacts.

You’ve now built a content hub that will give you an advantage in search rankings, social sharing and lead generation. By dominating a specific topic, your traffic to your niche destination will increase, and your influence with regards to the topic will rise right along with it.

Oli Gardner on focusing attention on landing pages

Unbounce Co-Founder Oli Gardner travels so much, we often wonder if he remembers where he lives. And he never takes off without his trusty camera.

Oli’s not just a landing page expert, he’s a professional photographer who will go so far as to take a solo road trip into the desert to take pictures.

In Oli’s blog post, Designing for Conversion — 8 Visual Design Techniques to Focus Attention on Your Landing Pages, he unpacks some visual techniques from the world of photography that can help guide landing page visitors through your page to the conversion area.

Oli breaks the techniques up into two categories:

  1. Suggestive directional cues: Abstract techniques that guide attention in a more subtle way.
  2. Explicit directional cues: The use of arrows and real-world indicators already familiar to us.

There are eight techniques covered here, but one of the most fascinating is broken down in a section titled, “The Suggestive Power of the Eye.”

Imagine yourself sitting in a restaurant across the table from someone. The other person is talking to you, looking at you, and then suddenly turns their head slightly to the right and looks over your left shoulder.

Chances are good that you, too, will pause and turn around to see what’s going on.

The same principle applies in photography and, as it turns out, on landing pages.

Take this picture that Oli took of a monkey. The monkeys eyes and tilted head force you to stare at the banana.

In the landing page example below, the woman’s gaze is focused on the headline, which prompts us to focus there, as well.

Unfortunately, the headline doesn’t tell us much, but at least they managed to get us to look there!

You can make use of this suggestive directional cue on your landing page to help draw your visitors’ gaze to a section of your page that requires special attention. It is especially useful as a directional cue to get visitors to look at that all-important call to action.

The journey begins

Since marketing is all about the journey, you should come join us for one of the stops on the Conversion Road Trip to hear one of these wicked smart optimization experts break down some of the most valuable marketing insights you’ll hear all year.

Whether you make it or not, we hope these tips help you find your way on your great marketing adventure and point you in the direction of the marketer’s favorite destination: the conversion.

– Mark John Hiemstra

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5 Expert Tips That Will Get You On the Road to Conversion

SEO For Responsive Websites

When Google announced its preference for user-friendly responsive websites in June 2012, I immediately saw an influx of posts that equated responsive design with search engine optimization. This is unfortunate because, while responsive websites can be SEO-friendly, some responsive websites are not.
I’ve detailed some of the common errors that give responsive websites problems in search results in an article on Search Engine Land earlier this year, so it’s nice to be able to do a more in-depth SEO audit of a responsive website here on Smashing Magazine.

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SEO For Responsive Websites

Smart Transitions In User Experience Design

Some websites outperform others, whether in their content, usability, design, features, etc. Details of interaction design and animation make a fundamental difference on modern websites. We’ll share some lessons drawn from various models and analyze why these simple patterns work so well.
When we design digital products, we often use design applications such as Photoshop and Sketch. Most people who have been in the business for a few years obviously know that design is more than just about visual presentation.

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Smart Transitions In User Experience Design


Retiring The Portfolio Screenshot

The humble screengrab, staple component of a million personal and agency portfolios, can now retire with thanks for years of sterling service showing snippets of work done for a particular client or project. The screengrab always reflected a mythical state in time where the website looked just as the designer intended it, not how it typically ends up after a week or two when the client has been adding their own ad banners, stock photos of business people shaking hands or several poorly worded press releases.

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Retiring The Portfolio Screenshot

The Guide To CSS Animation: Principles and Examples

With CSS animationnow supported in both Firefox and Webkit browsers, there is no better time to give it a try. Regardless of its technical form, whether traditional, computer-generated 3-D, Flash or CSS, animation always follows the same basic principles.
Further reading on Smashing: SVG and CSS animations with clip-path Creating ‘hand-drawn’ Animations With SVG The new Web Animation API Practical Animation Techniques The Math Behind JavaScript Animations UI Animation Guidelines and Examples Designing Animations In Photoshop Fast Prototyping UI Animations In Keynote In this article, we will take our first steps with CSS animation and consider the main guidelines for creating animation with CSS.


The Guide To CSS Animation: Principles and Examples

Designing Websites For Kids: Trends And Best Practices

How would you like to design a beautiful, colorful, stimulating website that is captivating, memorable and allows you to let your creative juices flow without the need to worry too much about conventional usability and best practices? In today’s Web design market, it’s rare that such a project would present itself — unless you were asked to design a website for children!
Websites designed for children have been largely overlooked in Web design articles and roundups, but there are many beautiful and interesting design elements and layouts presented on children’s websites that are worthy of discussion and analysis.

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Designing Websites For Kids: Trends And Best Practices

25 Brilliant Animated Short Movies

Beautiful animated short movies are excellent for tedious coffee breaks and uninspiring monday mornings. To put some beautiful story in a short 2-5 minutes sequence isn’t easy, but even in this case designers and artists are quite creative and manage to come up with very surprising and unusual results. The selection below is supposed to make you cry, laugh, feel bizarre or even shocked — in every case being absolutely smashed.


25 Brilliant Animated Short Movies