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Seeing Diminishing Returns in AdWords? Here Are 5 Advanced Optimization Tactics

Being a modern-day Paid Media Manager can make you feel a bit like Sisyphus.

Your VP of Marketing has charged you with rolling a boulder uphill (continuously optimizing your AdWords campaigns even when you’ve reached your quarterly objectives).

Image via Shutterstock.

This becomes especially painful when you’re getting diminishing returns out of your optimization efforts. There are many tactics to choose from, but many of them may be a waste of time and may leave you with minimal impact.

When the going gets tough, you need to get creative and find cost/time-effective ways to keep optimizing your campaigns as granularly as possible.

Here are five advanced strategies for getting big optimization wins in AdWords.

1. Reach people who ignored you due to your budget

Before investing time into extensive research, ask yourself:

Am I getting the full value out of my existing target market?

Chances are, you’re losing market share for your target keywords (and locations) due to budget caps.

To grow your campaigns, reduce the market share loss due to budget caps.

Reality check: Are you losing market share due to budget?

Check the “Search Lost IS (Budget)” metric in Google AdWords. You’ll find it in the Competitive Metrics category.

So what’s your number? 2%, 12% or 32%?

Here’s an example: our client’s account was losing up to 32% of market share due to budget by week four. That means they were pacing stronger at the beginning of the month, but needed to slow down towards the end of the month to meet the monthly budget goal.

Search lost due to budget chart (via SCUBE Marketing)

Once you know how much market share you lost at account level, you can dig deeper into the campaign level data. You’ll know exactly which campaigns contribute to the loss. Those gems are your growth opportunities.

Search lost due to budget by campaign (via SCUBE Marketing)

Action plan: Increase daily budgets… with performance in mind

One path you can take here is to increase the daily budgets based on performance. Use three performance buckets to make decisions:

  • Great. Your CPL is healthy. Get more of it. Increase budgets.
  • Poor. Your CPL is high. You’ll spread the poor performance wider by increasing the budget. You won’t make it up by volume. Reduce budgets so you can allocate more spend to the performing campaigns.
  • Borderline. Your CPL needs work. Work on reducing the wasted ad spend and start raising your daily budgets — slowly.

Shared Budgets will help you manage your campaign budgets easier. Here’s how to prioritize your campaigns and group them into Shared Budgets:

  1. Sort campaigns by Conversions and CPL.
  2. Group campaigns into Shared Budgets based on performance. We like to have four groups — B1 through B4 — based on importance, where B1 has no budget constraints, and B4 has the most budget constraints.
  3. Calculate required monthly spend. Sum each campaign category by cost for the month. Make sure all campaigns fit in your monthly budget.
  4. Allocate respectively. Use maximum required budget for B1 first, then B2, B3, B4.

Here’s something else you can do to grow your AdWords campaign.

2. Improve market share lost due to low Ad Rank

Another great way to grow your AdWords campaigns is to reduce lost market share due to low Ad Rank. If you’re not familiar, I’ll give you a quick, practical overview.

Ad Rank is like MTV Top 40 (and if you remember Scatman, I will give you a high five). Instead of rank being based on sales of audiocassettes, vinyl and other formats across a seven day period, Ad Rank is based on three variables for each search query:

  • Your bid
  • Your Quality Score
  • Your ad extensions
Scatman (via Giphy)

I will skip ad extensions, as most serious advertisers use them already (and I hope you’re one of them).

The two variables that matter are your bids and your Quality Score. If they stay constant in your account, but your competitors keep increasing theirs, your Ad Rank relative to competitors decreases and your market share (impression share) is lost due to Ad Rank increases.

Reality check: Are you losing market share due to Ad Rank?

Just as you did with your budget, check the “Search Lost IS (Rank)” metric in Google AdWords. It’s in the Competitive Metrics category.

Search lost due to Ad Rank metric (via SCUBE Marketing)

Once again, find your number for both the account and campaign levels. Once you know, you’ll know what direction to take things in.

Your growth menu is limited to two options:

  • Bid increase
  • Quality Score improvement

Action plan: Increase your bids

If your Quality Score is high already (attempts at improving it may result in diminishing returns or a negative impact on your conversion rate), and your CPLs are healthy, you have no other choice but to increase the bids. Your CPL will go up, but you can gain a lot more conversions.

Action plan: Improve your Quality Score

If your Quality Score is low, work on improving it. You can affect your Quality Score with three factors (directly from Google):

  • Your ad’s expected click-through rate: This is based, in part, on your ad’s historical clicks and impressions. You can think of this as an estimate as to how well your ads might perform, after factoring in things like extensions, and other various bells and whistles that impact performance.
  • Your ad’s relevance to the search: How relevant your ad text is to what a person searches for.
  • The quality of your landing page: How relevant and user-friendly is your landing page?

Recently, Google has improved its Quality Score reporting. You can see the makeup of your score using historical data. This helps you to evaluate how the previous account changes affected your score.

New Quality Score reporting (via SCUBE Marketing)

The problem: you can’t take your Quality Score to the bank. It’s not a KPI.

Given that, if your conversion rates are healthy, don’t sacrifice your results for the sake of Quality Score. Yes, you may improve your Quality Score a bit, but if your conversion rate tanks, cheap clicks won’t matter.

If your conversion rates are not healthy, you can either:

  • Write more relevant ads (with focus on improving CTR and CVR)
  • Improve your landing page (with focus on improving CVR). I recommend using Unbounce to create highly relevant landing pages focused on conversions. You can improve their relevancy with Dynamic Text Replacement, responsive design and fast loading times.

Once you’re satisfied with the conversion rate, go back to increasing the bids. On to the next move you can make to strengthen your campaigns.

3. Expand into a new buyer stage

Buyers have different stages in their journey. You need to understand the buying stages for your customers, understand their differences and finally adapt your marketing to them.

To illustrate the difference between them, I’ll use an example that revolves around unicorns. Let’s say you kept your unicorn enclosed in a submarine for a few years. Your unicorn was exposed to asbestos and got a sick with mesothelioma. You decided to sue the owner of the submarine and you started looking for a lawyer. A good one. Someone like Saul Goodman.

Saul Goodman can sue anyone (via YouTube)

You may be going through any one of three different stages:

  • Awareness – early in the process. Looking for ideas or trying to identify the problem. Far from making a decision. Example: looking for symptoms or treatment options.
  • Consideration – considering potential options. Not ready to make a decision. Example: looking to find out how the settlement amount for getting your poor unicorn sick.
  • Decision – ready to make a decision. Looking for a solution. Example: looking for a lawyer.

In fact, we used this approach for real law firms. One law firm had their eyes set on the strategy behind the decision stage. We identified opportunities to expand into the consideration and awareness stages. New stages helped to double the leads. Let me visualize it:

Double your leads by expanding into new buyer’s journey stages (via SCUBE Marketing)

Reality check: Are your campaigns assigned to specific buyer stages?

Go through your campaigns and map them to the appropriate buyer stages. If you’re not deliberate on your buyer stages, your conversion rate may be affected due to poor matching between the offer and the intent of the buyer stage.

Think of the traffic temperature concept covered by Molly Pittman and Johnathan Dane. Then, review your offer and make sure it matches the intent of the buyer stage.

Offers matched to traffic temperature, with cold leads (awareness) on the left and warm leads (decision stage) on the right. (via KlientBoost)

Action plan: Identify gaps and expand into new buyer stages

Once you map your campaigns to specific buyer stages, identify the opportunities to expand.

Expand into the stages that you haven’t covered. For example, if you’re focusing on the decision and consideration stages, expand into the awareness stage.

Once you identify the missing stage(s), do the following:

  1. Perform keyword research for the new campaigns within the missing stage.
  2. Develop offers that represent the intent of the buyer stage.
  3. Create the ads and landing pages that reflect the offer.

Let’s take a look at the next step you can take toward growing your AdWords campaigns.

4. Expand into new locations

Locations may be an overlooked avenue in which to expand.

Let’s say you own a unicorn breeding business and are targeting locations within a certain radius of your office. You assume you should be targeting people living near your business.

Unicorn breeding farm (via Giphy)

Think about it again. You may be missing your opportunity. Take these two facts into consideration:

If you don’t have these in your targeted locations, you’re missing out. For example, one client, selling custom kitchen cabinets, provided us with a recommended list of locations with a wealthy population. We ran ads at those locations and the traction was small. We didn’t use the whole budget.

Then, we identified a new set of geographies — where the target audience may be working — and tested again. The leads went up by 155% in month 1 (after the change) and 30% more in month 2.

Location targeting (via SCUBE Marketing)

Reality check: Are you targeting all possible locations?

Check your target locations. Are you targeting based on where people live, commute and work?

If you’re missing any location categories, identify them.

Action plan: Expand into new location categories

Once you identified the gaps, do your research and expand. You can expand based on the following scenarios:

  1. Commuter locations. People within the existing market commuting.
  2. Work locations for existing market. People within the existing market at work.
  3. New locations for new market. New locations to reach a new audience, provided your business can operate in them.

5. Expand your offer

New customer acquisition matters — a lot. It doesn’t matter if you acquire them selling the core product or a loss leader. (If you’re not familiar with the loss leader concept, here is the rundown. A loss leader is a product that opens doors for new client acquisition.)

Once you get a customer, your goal is to increase their lifetime value. I’ve covered customer lifetime value extensively in another article.

Let’s take Starbucks, for example. There’s a reason why they’re one of the unicorns of the industry. Their marketing isn’t focused on selling a five-dollar Unicorn Frappuccino (they actually exist), it’s about acquiring a loyal customer who will generate $14,099 over the lifetime.

Starbucks Unicorn Frappuccino (via Starbucks)

Reality check: Do you have a unique offer you could sell to acquire new customers?

Consider cell phone companies. Their core product is not the cell phone. It’s the subscription service. See what happens when I search for “cell phones” — I get ads from the cell phone companies.

Cell Phone Offers (via Google)

What does that mean?

These companies expanded their offers to include additional products that serve as new entry points for new customers and growth.

My question to you is this — do you have a new offer you can use to acquire new customers?

Action plan: Expand your offers

Executing this is easier than it seems. Follow these four steps to expand your offer:

  1. Research your customers to understand their expectations. I’ve covered four research methods in a separate article.
  2. Create your offer tied to the core product first.
  3. Perform keyword research representing new offer.
  4. Create the ads and landing pages that reflect the offer.

Final thoughts

You made it! Now, you have five different ways to grow your AdWords campaigns. Remember, start with the analysis first, and take action second.

Once launched, don’t forget to evaluate often, and revise. Your analysis isn’t always right. You need to try, try, and try again — until you find success.

What effective ways have you found to grow your AdWords campaigns? Share in the comments below.

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Seeing Diminishing Returns in AdWords? Here Are 5 Advanced Optimization Tactics

Documenting Components In Markdown With Shadow DOM

Some people hate writing documentation, and others just hate writing. I happen to love writing; otherwise, you wouldn’t be reading this. It helps that I love writing because, as a design consultant offering professional guidance, writing is a big part of what I do. But I hate, hate, hate word processors.

Documenting Components In Markdown With Shadow DOM

When writing technical web documentation (read: pattern libraries), word processors are not just disobedient, but inappropriate. Ideally, I want a mode of writing that allows me to include the components I’m documenting inline, and this isn’t possible unless the documentation itself is made of HTML, CSS and JavaScript. In this article, I’ll be sharing a method for easily including code demos in Markdown, with the help of shortcodes and shadow DOM encapsulation.

The post Documenting Components In Markdown With Shadow DOM appeared first on Smashing Magazine.

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Documenting Components In Markdown With Shadow DOM

Building Pattern Libraries With Shadow DOM In Markdown

Some people hate writing documentation, and others just hate writing. I happen to love writing; otherwise, you wouldn’t be reading this. It helps that I love writing because, as a design consultant offering professional guidance, writing is a big part of what I do. But I hate, hate, hate word processors.

Documenting Components In Markdown With Shadow DOM

When writing technical web documentation (read: pattern libraries), word processors are not just disobedient, but inappropriate. Ideally, I want a mode of writing that allows me to include the components I’m documenting inline, and this isn’t possible unless the documentation itself is made of HTML, CSS and JavaScript. In this article, I’ll be sharing a method for easily including code demos in Markdown, with the help of shortcodes and shadow DOM encapsulation.

The post Building Pattern Libraries With Shadow DOM In Markdown appeared first on Smashing Magazine.

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Building Pattern Libraries With Shadow DOM In Markdown

Capturing supermarket magic and providing the ideal customer experience

Reading Time: 6 minutes

The customer-centric focus

Over the past few years, one message has been gaining momentum within the marketing world: customer experience is king.

Customer experience” (CX) refers to your customer’s perception of her relationship with your brand—both conscious and subconscious—based on every interaction she has with your brand during her customer life cycle.

Customer experience is king
How do your customers feel about your brand?

Companies are obsessing over CX, and for good reason(s):

  • It is 6-7x more expensive to attract a new customer than it is to retain an existing customer
  • 67% of consumers cite ‘bad experiences’ as reason for churn
  • 66% of consumers who switch brands do so because of poor service

Across sectors, satisfied customers spend more, exhibit deeper loyalty to companies, and create conditions that allow companies to have lower costs and higher levels of employee engagement.

As conversion optimization specialists, we test in pursuit of the perfect customer experience, from that first email subject line, to the post-purchase conversation with a customer service agent.

We test because it is the best way to listen, and create ideal experiences that will motivate consumers to choose us over our competitors in the saturated internet marketplace.

Create the perfect personalized customer experience!

Your customers are unique, and their ideal experiences are unique. Create the perfect customer experience with this 4-step guide to building the most effective personalization strategy.



By entering your email, you’ll receive bi-weekly WiderFunnel Blog updates and other resources to help you become an optimization champion.


Which leads me to the main question of this post: Which companies are currently providing the best customer experiences, and how can you apply their strategies in your business context?

Each year, the Tempkin Group releases a list of the best and worst US companies, by customer experience rating. The list is based on survey responses from 10,000 U.S. consumers, regarding their recent experiences with companies.

And over the past few years, supermarkets have topped that list: old school, brick-and-mortar, this-model-has-been-around-forever establishments.

Customer experience - brick-mortar vs. ecommerce
What are supermarkets doing so right, and how can online retailers replicate it?

In the digital world, we often focus on convenience, usability, efficiency, and accessibility…but are there elements at the core of a great customer experience that we may be missing?

A quick look at the research

First things first: Let’s look at how the Tempkin Group determines their experience ratings.

Tempkin surveys 10,000 U.S. consumers, asking them to rate their recent (past 60 days) interactions with 331 companies across 20 industries. The survey questions cover Tempkin’s three components of experience:

  1. Success: Were you, the consumer, able to accomplish what you wanted to do?
  2. Effort: How easy was it for you to interact with the company?
  3. Emotion: How did you feel about those interactions?

Respondents answer questions on a scale of 1 (worst) to 7 (best), and researchers score each company accordingly. For more details on how the research was conducted, you can download the full report, here.

In this post, I am going to focus on one supermarket that has topped the list for the past three years: Publix. Not only does Publix top the Tempkin ratings, it also often tops the supermarket rankings compiled by the American Customer Satisfaction Index.

Long story short: Publix is winning the customer experience battle.

WiderFunnel Customer Experience Ratings Tempkin 2017
2017 Customer Experience ratings from Tempkin.
WiderFunnel Customer Experience Ratings Tempkin 2016
2016 Customer Experience ratings from Tempkin.

So, what does Publix do right?

Publix growth - WiderFunnel customer experience
Publix growth trends (Source).

If you don’t know it, Publix Super Markets, Inc. is an American supermarket chain headquartered in Florida. Founded in 1930, Publix is a private corporation that is wholly owned by present and past employees; it is considered the largest employee-owned company in the world.

In an industry that has seen recent struggles, Publix has seen steady growth over the past 10 years. So, what is this particular company doing so very right?

1. World-class customer service

Publix takes great care to provide the best possible customer service.

From employee presentation (no piercings, no unnatural hair color, no facial hair), to the emphasis on “engaging the customer”, to the bread baked fresh on-site every day, the company’s goal is to create the most pleasurable shopping experience for each and every customer.

When you ask “Where is the peanut butter?” at another supermarket, an employee might say, “Aisle 4.” But at Publix, you will be led to the peanut butter by a friendly helper.

The store’s slogan: “Make every customer’s day a little bit better because they met you.”

2. The most motivated employees

Publix associates are famously “pleased-as-punch, over-the-moon, [and] ridiculously contented”.

Note the term “associates”: Because Publix is employee-owned, employees are not referred to as employees, but associates. As owners, associates share in the store’s success: If the company does well, so do they.

Our culture is such that we believe if we take care of our associates, they in turn will take care of our customers. Associate ownership is our secret sauce,” said Publix spokeswoman, Maria Brous. “Our associates understand that their success is tied to the success of our company and therefore, we must excel at providing legendary service to our customers.

3. Quality over quantity

While Publix is one of the largest food retailers in the country by revenue, they operate a relatively small number of stores: 1,110 stores across six states in the southeastern U.S. (For context, Wal-Mart operates more than 4,000 stores).

Each of Publix’s store locations must meet a set of standards. From the quality of the icing on a cake in the bakery, to the “Thanks for shopping at Publix. Come back and see us again soon!” customer farewell, customers should have a delightful experience at every Publix store.

4. An emotional shopping experience

In the Tempkin Experience Ratings, emotion was the weakest component for the 331 companies evaluated. But, Publix was among the few organizations to receive an “excellent” emotion rating. (In fact, they are ranked top 3 in this category.)

widerfunnel customer delight
Are you creating delight for the individuals who are your customers?

They are able to literally delight their customers. And, as a smart marketer, I don’t have to tell you how powerful emotion is in the buying process.

Great for Publix. What does this mean for me?

As marketers, we should be changing the mantra from ‘always be closing’ to ‘always be helping’.

– Jonathan Lister, LinkedIn

In the digital marketing world, it is easy to get lost in acronyms: UX, UI, SEO, CRO, PPC…and forget about the actual customer experience. The experience that each individual shopper has with your brand.

Beyond usability, beyond motivation tactics, beyond button colors and push notifications, are you creating delight?

To create delight, you need to understand your customer’s reality. It may be time to think about how much you spend on website traffic, maintenance, analytics, and tools vs. how much you spend to understand your customers…and flip the ratio.

It’s important to understand the complexity of how your users interact with your website. We say, ‘I want to find problems with my website by looking at the site itself, or at my web traffic’. But that doesn’t lead to results. You have to understand your user’s reality.

– André Morys, Founder & CEO, WebArts

Publix is winning with their customer-centric approach because they are fully committed to it. While the tactics may be different with a brick-and-mortar store and an e-commerce website, the goals overlap:

1. Keep your customer at the core of every touch point

From your Facebook ad, to your product landing page, to your product category page, checkout page, confirmation email, and product tracking emails, you have an opportunity to create the best experience for your customers at each step.

customer service and customer experience
Great customer service is one component of a great customer experience.

2. Make your customers feel something.

Humans don’t buy things. We buy feelings. What are you doing to make your shoppers feel? How are you highlighting the intangible benefits of your value proposition?

3. Keep your employees motivated.

Happy, satisfied employees, deliver happy, satisfying customer experiences, whether they’re creating customer-facing content for your website, or speaking to customers on the phone. For more on building a motivated, high performance marketing team, read this post!

Testing to improve your customer experience

Of course, this wouldn’t be a WiderFunnel blog post if I didn’t recommend testing your customer experience improvements.

If you have an idea for how to inject emotion into the shopping experience, test it. If you believe a particular tweak will make the shopping experience easier and your shoppers more successful, test it.

Your customers will show you what an ideal customer experience looks like with their actions, if you give them the opportunity.

Here’s an example.

During our partnership with e-commerce platform provider, Magento, we ran a test on the product page for the company’s Enterprise Edition software, meant to improve the customer experience.

The main call-to-action on this page was “Get a free demo”—a universal SaaS offering. The assumption was that potential customers would want to experience and explore the platform on their own (convenient, right?), before purchasing the platform.

Magento_CTA_Get
The original Magento Enterprise Edition homepage featuring the “Get a free demo”.

Looking at click map data, however, our Strategists noticed that visitors to this page were engaging with informational tabs lower on the page. It seemed that potential customers needed more information to successfully accomplish their goals on the page.

Unfortunately, once visitors had finished browsing tabs, they had no option other than trying the demo, whether they were ready or not.

So, our Strategists tested adding a secondary “Talk to a specialist” call-to-action. Potential customers could connect directly with a Magento sales representative, and get answers to all of their questions.

Magento_CTA
Today’s Magento Enterprise Edition homepage features a “Talk to a specialist” CTA.

This call-to-action hadn’t existed prior to this test, so the literal infinite conversion rate lift Magento saw in qualified sales calls was not surprising.

What was surprising was the phone call we received six months later: Turns out the “Talk to a specialist” leads were 8x more valuable than the “Get a free demo” leads.

After several subsequent test rounds, “Talk to a specialist” became the main call-to-action on that product page. Magento’s most valuable prospects had demonstrated that the ideal customer experience included the opportunity to get more information from a specialist.

While Publix’s success reminds us of the core components of a great customer experience, actually creating a great customer experience can be tricky.

You might be wondering:

  • What is most important to my customers: Success, Effort, or Emotion?
  • What improvements should I make first?
  • How will I know these improvements are actually working?

A test-and-learn strategy will help you answer these questions, and begin working toward a truly great customer experience.

Don’t get lost in the guesswork of tweaks, fixes, and best practices. Get obsessed with understanding your customer, instead.

How do you create the ideal customer experience?

Please share your thoughts in the comments section below!

The post Capturing supermarket magic and providing the ideal customer experience appeared first on WiderFunnel Conversion Optimization.

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Capturing supermarket magic and providing the ideal customer experience

How We Use Google Venture’s 5-Day Sprint to Ship Marketing Campaigns Faster

google-ventures-sprint-650

As marketers, we all love releasing new campaigns and collateral regularly (launch days are the best days, amiright?). But despite best efforts, projects can take much longer than planned and unexpected roadblocks can stop you from shipping as often as you’d like. Even worse, you can spend weeks extending deadlines in search of perfection, only to discover a project doesn’t perform.

Delays and underperformance can hurt more than just your KPIs, too. Morale can tank when your team loses a sense of purpose, momentum and focus. So how can you zero-in on marketing initiatives that will really solve audience problems and ship great work faster?

5-day-sprint-image-bookIn March, three partners from Google Ventures released a book titled Sprint: How to Solve Big Problems and Test New Ideas in Just Five Days. The book shares the tried-and-true sprint model Google Ventures has used to help hundreds of businesses find their focus and solve problems quickly.

In this post, I’ll share what my small marketing team-within-a-team at Unbounce learned from modifying the Google sprint for one of our projects, and why you should consider sprinting with your marketing team, too.

You may not go from idea to polished public launch in just five days, but you will create a prototype you can test with real prospects and customers before investing in the time and resources needed to build the real deal.

With a sprint you’ll:

  • Create content that performs to meet specific goals.
  • Execute new ideas faster.
  • Quickly deliver a polished marketing initiative based on a prototype.
  • Avoid scope creep.
  • Avoid polishing a brick of a project in secret by getting your work in front of customers faster (usability testing is one of the reasons the sprint is so helpful!).

Here’s how we did it.

Modifying Jake Knapp’s five-day sprint

There are tons of awesome details for each stage of the Google sprint in Jake Knapp’s book. And while he specifically warns against modifying the method, we needed to release a live initiative to help customers in 11 days, so we Frankensteined a sprint structure that looked very similar to Google Venture’s, but bent the rules a bit to get our project polished and live in a limited timeframe.

The Unbounce marketing department is structured around autonomous “squads,” each responsible for different phases of the customer lifecycle: Awareness, Evaluation, Adoption and Growth.

As the smallest, and therefore most agile squad of just three people, my team — the Adoption Squad — has found that borrowing pieces from the Google sprint helps us execute on content that addresses our KPIs in weeks instead of months. Instead of launching one large initiative per quarter, we can launch and measure the results of three.

The sprint breakdown

The long-term goal of our sprint was to get a specific number of new Unbounce customers to add their custom domain to their accounts.

For context, by default Unbounce hosts landing pages on a test url: unbouncepages.com, but we encourage new customers to add their own custom url featuring their brand name. This unique url helps convey that a landing page comes from a legitimate, trustworthy source. Our research indicated this was a critical action for our most successful customers, so we wanted to increase the likelihood folks add their domain at the start of a trial.

At the end of our sprint, our small team published a piece of content that made it easier to add your domain to Unbounce, outlining clear steps to completion and explaining why this action is so important:

sprint-landing-page
Built in Unbounce, here’s a part of the landing page we created as a result of our sprint. It helped us exceed our goals for evaluators in just a month.

So how’d the sprint work?

We had a testable prototype created in Unbounce at the end of five days (woohoo! Achievement unlocked!), and with modifications we:

  • Gave ourselves two days to build the prototype instead of just one (moving our actual user test to the following week).
  • Allotted two full research days.
  • Used a week after our 5-day sprint to implement the user test feedback on the prototype and build the final asset.

In short, we added days on to the sprint to conduct adequate research, build and polish up the prototype.

After clearing our calendars to focus solely on the sprint, here’s what our day-to-day looked like:

sprint-lifecycle-final-650
Click for larger image.

By making decisions faster, usability testing the design and managing our scope, our resulting project exceeded our team’s goal by 3X in just a month. Using the sprint, we saved time from ideation to execution and the project influenced our targets set on day one.

What’d we learn along the way?

1. Focus on one problem (or campaign!) at a time

The five-day sprint requires clearing your calendar entirely so your team has time to focus on one challenge for a week. In Sprint, Knapp shares examples of how companies have used the model to solve problems ranging from selling more coffee online, to ensuring hotel relay robots delight guests instead of scaring them. But no matter the company, everyone uses the framework to solve one main problem as opposed to a few at a time.

Our team found the sprint forced us to define the problem we wanted to solve on day one. We went from “let’s run an initiative to help customers,” to the more focused, “let’s get more self-serve customers on trial to add their domain by the end of this quarter.” Identifying a clear end-goal early helps shape your thinking and facilitates faster decision making.

Additionally, having dedicated days to complete each task gives you focus. Usually work days involve lots of context switching, so a sprint can be useful for eliminating distraction. If you have a large piece of content your business could benefit from or an experiment you’ve always wanted to try, a sprint is a terrific way to finally get it done.

2. Call on your company’s experts

Knapp notes that in the same way Danny Ocean called together his specialized crew for a casino heist, you’ll want to include very specific people in your sprint – including:

  • The all-important Decider (who makes the final decisions quickly as needed under time constraints) and
  • The Facilitator (the person who runs the team through the sprint’s activities day by day).

You can find these critical roles defined further in Sprint, but on day one you’ll also want to involve experts outside of your designated sprinters.

In the “ask the experts” part of our sprint, we interviewed three people from outside the Unbounce marketing team who had a different perspective on the problem we were trying to solve. These experts voiced considerations their unique viewpoint allowed them to see. The interviews helped align our team and ensure we avoided assumptions. When running your own sprint, be sure to book these experts in advance.

3. Usability testing can vastly improve your project prototype

Prior to our sprint, I’ll admit I didn’t believe user testing would reveal major oversights in our project that we couldn’t uncover ourselves. It seemed like a time-intensive practice that would add to our work and needlessly expand our deadline.

Now I recognize how shortsighted I was because internal and external user tests can be incredibly valuable. Our sprint’s usability testing helped us refine our project’s flow, discover shortcomings and eliminate assumptions.

To conduct our tests, we set aside one day for recording five hour-long tests and spread them out with a half hour break between them to reset. In each session we include a note taker, and someone to lead the participant through the flow and ask questions.

When testing prototypes with members of your team, some people will naturally slip into review mode. They’ll prescribe specific changes they’d like to see rather than simply navigate through as though they were a lead or customer (I’m very guilty of this as a tester). This is why you must prioritize your feedback — and how you collect this feedback is key.

A critical note taking approach

In Sprint, Jake Knapp shares the “how might we” note taking concept, and it’s been a game changer for our team. When a piece of feedback is given, your aim is to note the core issue (not just write down what the user tester told you might be better).

As an example, your tester might say:

I never read copy at the top of the page like this. Maybe take this part out?

And you’d make a note like:

How might we: accommodate people who skip the copy at the top and go straight to the thumbnail images?

This way, you don’t implement the exact solution a tester may present to you on the spot (it might not be the best advice), and you can address the real problem at hand (i.e. some people scan text, so how can your design better support this?).

prioritization-sheet-google-sprint-650
Here’s what our prioritization sheet looked like after user testing. Click for larger image.

Ultimately, you don’t need to please everyone or get consensus with your final project. Usability testing will reveal hundreds of interpretations, and our team found we had to prioritize the feedback to make this part of the sprint worthwhile.

To do this we created a feedback prioritization spreadsheet and used this to rank each “how might we” note received. The sheet dictated which changes we made before launch. To hit our deadline, we only implemented the notes that score the highest based on:

  1. The number of times a piece of feedback is repeated by various testers
  2. The note’s potential to make the project’s content more clear
  3. How likely the note would help us meet our measurable end goal

Not sure which feedback should be implemented before launch?

Steal Unbounce’s feedback prioritization spreadsheet to help determine what needs to get done first.
By entering your email you’ll receive weekly Unbounce Blog updates and other resources to help you become a marketing genius.

4. Group brainstorms aren’t all they’re cracked up to be

One of the components of the sprint that really resonated with me was the time dedicated to individual ideation. Instead of sitting in a boardroom and sharing on-the-spot ideas, the Google sprint involves everyone sketching out their independent ideas for a possible solution. In a marketing context, everyone on your team draws what they think the project’s flow would look like start to finish to solve your problem.

Our team did this and in just an hour and a half we had several sketches to choose from. We displayed each on the wall, browsed through them, and voted on the parts from each we liked the most. This way, no one idea “wins.” Instead, the strengths of each idea are considered.

google-spring-brainstorm

In the end, we were able to combine the best parts of a few sketches to create a hybrid approach, and started prototyping that idea the very next day.

At the end of the third day, the team agreed we couldn’t have come up with the idea we prototyped in a traditional group brainstorm. It was better to think through solutions by ourselves, with time to think about the details.

Half the battle’s in the planning

Using a modified sprint was a great way for our squad to ship an ambitious project on a tight schedule. We were able to think through our decisions and remain data driven, while moving quickly as a team without distractions.

We’ve continued to use the model this year and if your team’s interested in improving your processes or output, we recommend grabbing the book and giving it a try!

View article:

How We Use Google Venture’s 5-Day Sprint to Ship Marketing Campaigns Faster

15 Habits of Website Visitors That Will Completely Change the Way You Write Website Content

For the most part, website visitors are quite predictable. This gives you, a business owner, a huge advantage. Why? Psychology! If you understand the psychology, tendencies, and patterns of your visitors, you can tweak your content to capitalize on their habits. Here are 15 specific habits I’ve uncovered that will change your approach to writing content. 1. People Read On Mobile Devices A study from the Nielson Group found that most people view a website in an F-shaped pattern where they tend to favor the left side of the screen. That’s sort of true. The fact is, the ten-year-old study…

The post 15 Habits of Website Visitors That Will Completely Change the Way You Write Website Content appeared first on The Daily Egg.

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15 Habits of Website Visitors That Will Completely Change the Way You Write Website Content

5 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Ignore Flat Design for Epic Conversions

Flat design is easily one of the most popular buzzwords in the current UI/UX space.

Especially in the last few years, flat design has been pushed into mainstream. Even the biggest companies are now following this design approach.

So what’s the reason for its increasing popularity? Simply put, it works!

Flat design can drastically improve user experience on websites and apps.  And this, in turn, can effect a higher number of conversions.

This post will introduce you to Flat design, and the advantages it can offer.

Here we go.

What is Flat Design?

It is a design approach that involves creating minimalistic two-dimensional (flat) illustrations for web and mobile interfaces.

flat design table
Source

Flat design gets rid of unnecessary styling, and elements that give an illusion of three dimensions (such as gradients, textures, and drop shadows). This is in contrast to skeumorphism, another design practice, which involves creating designs that resemble real-life objects.

Flat design is all about crisp shapes, (both) sober and bright colors, and scalable illustrations. Even the fonts used in flat design are sans-serif.

Issues with Flat Design

In its early days, flat design was related too closely to minimalism and mobile-first design. While both these attributes contribute heavily to a successful flat design, they cannot be the only aspect in a flat design.

An example could be found with Windows 8 released by Microsoft. Metro design of Windows 8, considered by some as the pioneer of flat design, had some inherent flaws with it.

The NN Group conducted a usability test on Windows 8, and found out that users had difficulty in identifying actionable objects on its interface.

Windows 8 Flat design

Regarding the OS interface (as seen in the above picture), the study says:

“Where can you click? Everything looks flat, and in fact ‘Change PC settings’ looks more like the label for the icon group than a clickable command. As a result, many users in our testing didn’t click this command when they were trying to access one of the features it hides.”

Windows 8 Flat design
Additionally, the Windows 8 interface was biased towards mobile users. The big colorful rectangular tiles looked sweet on a mobile device. The interface was well-suited for finger gestures on a touch-screen. However, the same tiles on a big desktop monitor looked clumsy. Its usability with a mouse was in question, as well.

Flat Design 2.0

Fixing the usability issues associated with it, flat design has evolved over time. It has moved on from being absolute-flat to semi-flat.

Though the approach of Flat 2.0 is still flat, it employs layers, contrast, and subtle shadows to give a hint of depth in an interface.

Here’s an example:

Flat Design 2.0

Now that we are familiar with what Flat design is, let’s look at how it actually helps websites win over users.

#1 Flat Design Improves Readability

One of the cornerstones of flat design is readability.

Flat design allows users to view and understand website content with ease, regardless of whether they do it on desktops or mobile devices.

It replaces complex images with simplified (minimalistic) icons and vectors. Flat icons and their accompanying text make it easy for users to grasp any concept.

Moreover, flat design emphasizes on clear typography and sans-serif fonts. The text background, too, normally comprises of a single contrasting color.

In a flat design, content is the focus. Tweet: 5 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Ignore Flat Design for Epic Conversions. Read more at https://vwo.com/blog/flat-design-increases-conversions

The below screenshot from profoundgrid.com shows how flat design succeeds at improving readability. The flat icons and text easily illustrates the features offered by the website.

Profound Grid - Flat design

With flat design, educating users becomes a breeze. And once users know about a product/service better, the chances of them converting increases, too.

#2 Free of Distractions

Flat design is all about minimalization.

A flat design lacks embellishments or decorative elements that don’t provide value to users. The aim is to steer users’ attention towards the prime content of a website.

Looking at the Profound Grid example above, we observe that the design is free of distractions. The attention of users only goes where the website wants it to go.

This design feature is often referred to as white space.

White space is an integral part of flat design. Tweet: 5 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Ignore Flat Design for Epic Conversions. Read more at https://vwo.com/blog/flat-design-increases-conversions

Let’s take another example from GetWalnut.com.

Walnut website - flat design

Walnut is an expense managing mobile app for individuals. On its website, Walnut is clearly able to display their key differentiators using white space. Surrounded by ample white space, the flat icons and text are able to grab users’ attention, convincing them to try out the app.

Flat design makes it easy to prioritize and highlight content. Tweet: 5 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Ignore Flat Design for Epic Conversions. Read more at https://vwo.com/blog/flat-design-increases-conversions

Related Post: JellyTelly Found their Navigation Elements Were a Distraction, Are You Making the Same Mistake?

#3 Decreases Page-load Time

Slow loading websites and apps are irritating to use; users bounce away.

Slow load time - user sleeping
Source

When you cannot cut on the content that you need to show to your users, and you still have to keep your website fast, you can either go for low-resolution images and graphics, or use flat design. Flat design seems like an obvious choice here.

Compared to websites that use heavy images and graphics, flat design loads much faster. With the absence of gradients, dark shadows, and other skeuomorphic elements in flat design, the page-load time of a website decreases. Mobile apps, too, perform faster in the same way.

Even from a developer’s perspective, flat design works quicker. It can shorten the code by 30 percent, leading to a lighter CSS stylesheet — further reducing the page-load time.

Moving further. A fast loading website affects the bottom-line of a business. It can actually help increase conversions and revenue for websites.

Fast loading websites can effect a higher number of conversions. Tweet: 5 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Ignore Flat Design for Epic Conversions. Read more at https://vwo.com/blog/flat-design-increases-conversions

Here’s an elaborate read on Why Decreasing Page Load Time Can Drastically Increase Conversions.

#4 The SEO Advantage

The load-time of a website plays an important role in determining the website’s ranking on search engine result pages. Page loading speed is one of the top factors in SEO for websites.

Since flat design decreases load time for websites, it in turn helps websites with search engine rankings.

Graphic-heavy slow websites, in contrast to websites with flat design, receives negative scores from search engines.

Flat design can actually help websites in SEO. Tweet: 5 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Ignore Flat Design for Epic Conversions. Read more at https://vwo.com/blog/flat-design-increases-conversions

With a greater chance of appearing on top of SERPs, flat design websites can tap high-intent users on search engines. Normally, high-intent users are more inclined to make conversions.

Add-on: Apparently, Google is testing a new feature on its SERP that labels websites as “slow” if they have a high load-time.

Take a look at the below screenshot (taken from a Google Plus user).

Google SERP labeling "Slow" websites

#5 Up-to-date Look

Web users form an impression about a website in about 50 milliseconds!

It means when users have spent only 0.05 seconds on a website, they decide whether they like the website or not.

So how does this work? Users can’t possibly go through the content of a site in such a short span.

They judge a website based on its look and feel. Users visit a website, look at its design/UI, and form an opinion about the website.

Flat design can help websites in shaping a favorable first impression on their visitors. Flat design represents a modern design approach. When users visit a website or an app, the modern (even futuristic) look and feel of flat design influences them positively.

More on this.

Flat Design Meme

Flat design is the arguably the biggest design trend at this moment. The giants in the web and mobile industry such as Apple, Google, Microsoft, etc., have accepted flat design with open arms. Users can take this as a cue, and set flat design as a benchmark for all the websites they visit.

Conclusion

Flat design is the design trend prevailing across web and mobile space, presently. Though best known for improving user experience, flat design has various other benefits to offer: better readability, reduced page-load time, seo advantage, etc. We’ve seen industry giants incorporating flat design and tapping those benefits.

If these benefits make sense to you and your business, (only then) you too should consider branding your website or app with flat design.

The post 5 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Ignore Flat Design for Epic Conversions appeared first on VWO Blog.

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5 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Ignore Flat Design for Epic Conversions

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How a Dutch Major Achieved 7.8% Increase in Conversion, by Simply Removing a line

The Client

VVAA, an association of over 75,000 Dutch healthcare professionals, specializes in providing quality advice to its members on areas ranging from setting up and managing a practice, to portfolio management and mortgages.

As a market leader in the healthcare industry and a pioneer in the area of medical liability insurance, VVAA attracts a very healthy traffic to its site. Visitors are greeted with a fairly big header image with a list of benefits and a CTA button. Things were good.

Then the VVAA corporate communication had a design idea. A horizontal line representing a  “lifeline” was added right at the bottom of the header image. The lifeline (that’s what I’m going to call it henceforth), it seemed, would be a good addition since it ties in directly with the industry that VVAA operates in. See the ‘The Test’ section for relevant images of the page.

The Hypothesis

Alwyn de Bruijn, the webmaster over at VVAA felt that the lifeline could be a distraction, leading visitors’ attention away from the CTA button. So, VVAA decided to A/B test the design against a variation that would be similar in all respects, except that it wouldn’t contain the ‘lifeline’.  The hypothesis was that the variation would convert more visitors (measured as clicks on the CTA).

The Test

The Control

A/B test control

VS

The Variation

Variation

The A/B test ran for 20 days, on 7885 visitors who were randomly shown one of the two versions – the control and the variation.

The Result

How often does it happen that a lifeline gets discarded and the patient gets better?

The variation without the horizontal line effected a 7.8% increase in CTA clicks, with a 99.93% confidence level. In other words, VVAA can be 99.93% confident that the variation (without the ‘lifeline’) will yield them a 7.8% increase on the number of clicks on the main CTA.

Thanks to the A/B test, VVAA now have an objective basis to form a decision, and optimize its page for better conversions.

Now that we’ve got the facts out of our way, let’s look at even more interesting things, like,

Why did the Variation Win?

In Brujin’s own words, the variation (without the horizontal line) won “because the life line affects where visitors eyeline is placed on the page and might miss the CTA at the beginning.”

Let’s break Brujin’s analysis down, further.

Eye-Tracking

Web Page visitors largely read along an F-shaped pattern.

first, horizontally across the page

- then vertically down the page a bit - and further across the page horizontally – 

- before settling into a quick vertical scan of the rest of the page.

Hold on to that information. There’s another piece to solving this puzzle.  In this study by Neilsen Norman Group, it emerged that visitors spend as much as 69% of viewing time on the left half of the screen.

Now, keeping both these insights in mind, let’s try and track the eye movement of Bob, a visitor on the VVAA page.

He scans across the page horizontally, covering most of the header elements. Then he moves down the largely empty left section of the page. That’s when the bright orange “lifeline” disrupts his flow. It acts as a leading line, guiding Bob horizontally along the line. By this time, Bob has already moved past the CTA button. Bob might then scan the rest of the page. But, rest assured, VVAA has already lost Bob by then.

But, it’s right there, the CTA button, you might argue. Why wouldn’t Bob just notice it, and go right back to the real CTA?

Consider this.

What if Bob couldn’t notice the actual CTA button? (no, Bob is not blind)

The Curious Case of ‘False Button’

The ‘lifeline’ carries a bubble about right below the intended CTA button. The bubble also has a text element below it that says “Zelf uw zorg kiezen”, which translates to “Choose your care”.

Could the bubble pass for a prominent element – a false CTA, perhaps?

False Button

There’s more. The dialogue box that holds the actual CTA button has an appendage pointing right to the center of the bubble. That’s another cue for the visitor that the bubble is of some importance, diluting the attention that the actual CTA should otherwise receive. Also, that the lifeline has the same color as the CTA, doesn’t help with creating any discernible contrast, or conversion.

But, the CTA is still there! Can’t you expect some Bobs to realize this? Yes, you could expect, but it might not be reasonable. Why?

Fitts’s Law!

A simplistic explanation of a key tenet of the law is this – the closer and larger a target (a clickable element on a page), the faster it is to click on the target. This awesome Smashing Magazine article, points out that the larger the absolute or relative size of a target button, the higher the probability for it to be clicked.

With the false ‘bubble’ button right below the actual CTA, and in the same color, the relative size (and visibility) of the CTA diminishes in the eyes of Bob, killing that tiny weeny chance for the CTA to be noticed.

Interesting? We’re not done yet.

Directional Cue

Directional Cue

The VVAA header image plays on an important psychological cue – directional prompts.By nature, our sight locks in on the eyes of a human or human-like subject and then follow the line of sight of the subject. In the case in question, the woman’s eyes lead towards the part of the image with quite a few elements – the actual CTA button, the false button and the pointy bit of the dialogue box appendage. By clustering together these elements, the actual CTA button loses its prominence. There goes your Big Orange Button for a toss. And Bob, too.

By taking the lifeline away, and with it the false CTA, the actual CTA gets ample white space around it. This accentuates the importance of the button, improving conversions – useful clicks on the CTA.

What Do You Think?

Should such seemingly trivial changes (removing the lifeline) be implemented based simply on intuition? Or would it be prudent to have changes, however minor, tested first?

It would also be interesting to know if you are able to identify any potential for such minor major changes on your current page.

Let us know in the comments section right below. You can also reach me on twitter @SharanTheSuresh or hit us with your thoughts on twitter @wingify.

We’re listening.

UX guide to increase eCommerce sales

The post How a Dutch Major Achieved 7.8% Increase in Conversion, by Simply Removing a line appeared first on VWO Blog.

View article:  How a Dutch Major Achieved 7.8% Increase in Conversion, by Simply Removing a line

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RICG Responsive Images For WordPress

I recently teamed up with Mat Marquis of the Responsive Images Community Group to help integrate responsive images into the WordPress platform. We decided to refactor a plugin that I had built several months ago, hoping that it would lead to a more useable and performant solution.

After months of pull requests, conversations on Slack and help from WordPress’ core team, we’re finally ready to share what we’ve been working on. You can download and install RICG Responsive Images1 from WordPress’ plugin directory, while keeping track of our development progress on GitHub2.

What Does The Plugin Do?

WordPress hasn’t changed the way it outputs the img tag in quite some time. And although there are plenty of ways to hook into WordPress’ native functions and alter the img snippet, doing so can be overwhelming for beginners and non-theme developers alike. Compound that with the complexity of Picturefill and of the srcset specification, and WordPress users have had few options for implementing a clean and properly functioning responsive images solution.

To solve this problem, we set out to build a plugin that gives users responsive images as soon as the plugin is installed, with no extra effort needed. No admin setting, media uploading configuration or coding is required. The plugin comes with one dependency3, a polyfill for browsers that don’t yet support native responsive images. Removing this file is completely optional and will not affect the functionality of the plugin, as long as the user has a modern browser.

As soon as an image is uploaded through the media interface, WordPress automatically creates three variations of the image at different sizes. When the plugin is activated, adding “Featured” and content images to a post will return WordPress’ standard image markup, with an added srcset attribute4. We’re using the srcset attribute because it’s the easiest attribute for both developers and users to add. While the picture element provides the user with a richer set of options5, we felt that the srcset attribute makes the most sense as an out-of-the-box solution. It’s also best to use when you’re focusing on resolution-switching more than art direction6 (more on that later in the article).

<a href="http://ricg.dev/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/image.jpg"><img class="alignnone size-full wp-image-6" src="http://ricg.dev/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/image.jpg" srcset="http://ricg.dev/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/image-150x150.jpg 150w, http://ricg.dev/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/image-300x300.jpg 300w, http://ricg.dev/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/image-1024x1024.jpg 1024w, http://ricg.dev/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/image.jpg 1800w" alt="a cool responsive image" width="1800" height="1800"></a>

The plugin is designed to be backwards-compatible, meaning that images added before the plugin was installed will be responsive when added to a post or “Featured Image” section. This is because it uses the image sizes previously defined by WordPress and the active theme’s functions.php file. The image ratio will be maintained throughout the srcset array, meaning that images differing from the aspect ratio of the initial uploaded image will be left out.

Theme developers can use the plugin to place responsive images wherever they’d like by using the tevkori_get_srcset_string() function, which takes an image’s ID and size as parameters.

<img src="myimg.png" <?php echo tevkori_get_srcset_string( 11, 'medium' ); ?> />

There’s also a tevkori_get_srcset_array() function that takes the same parameters and returns an array of srcset values for the specified image.

How Does The Plugin Work?

Most of the functionality happens when an image is dropped into WordPress’ WYSIWYG editor. Because all of the resized images will have been created during the uploading process, the only thing left to do is create an array containing the URLs of the available images in various sizes, as well as their dimensions. This array is then filtered to remove the image sizes with aspect ratios that don’t match the ratio of the full-sized image.

The array is created by calling the wp_get_attachment_image_src() function and storing the results. At the same time, we use wp_get_attachment_metadata() to retrieve the same results but for every possible variation of the image. Next, the ratio is calculated by multiplying each image’s width by the result of the initial image’s height divided by the initial image’s width. If that result matches the initial image’s height, then the image will be pushed into the final array, to be returned by the tevkori_get_srcset_array() function.

The tevkori_get_srcset_string() function calls tevkori_get_srcset_array() and places the result inside of the srcset attribute. A filter is applied to the image_send_to_editor function, where a regular expression is used to place the result of the tevkori_get_srcset_string() function directly after the src attribute in the image. The same process occurs for featured images, with a filter being applied to the post_thumbnail_html function.

If the image size is changed in the post’s editor, then the plugin will detect the change and update the srcset value accordingly. This ensures that the correct image ratio is always maintained. To enable this functionality, we’re using JavaScript to hook into the wp.media object7 and recalculating the srcset attribute by running the same image-ratio calculations defined in tevkori_get_srcset_array(). Before starting on this project, I was unaware of the wp.media object and its useful functionality. Because not much documentation for it exists, explaining in detail how we’re using it might be helpful. As it turns out, you can listen for an image-update event in the post’s editor by adding an event listener to the wp.media object.

wp.media.events.on( 'editor:image-update', function( args ) 
  var image = args.image;
  //more function logic
);

With this function, a theme developer can access every image as soon as it has been updated in the post’s editor. You can also take advantage of Underscore8, which is used as a dependency by the media uploader to edit image data on the fly. In the case of our plugin, we’re using a helpful Underscore utility to get our image-size ratios once the editor:image-update event has been fired.

// Grab all of the sizes that match our target ratio and add them to our srcset array.
_.each(sizes, function(size)
  var softHeight = Math.round( size.width * metadata.height / metadata.width );

  // If the height is within 1 integer of the expected height, let it pass.
  if ( size.height >= softHeight - 1 && size.height <= softHeight + 1  ) 
    srcsetGroup.push(size.url + ' ' + size.width + 'w');
  
});

To learn more about how we hook into the wp.media object, be sure to look at the code in wp-tevko-responsive-images.js9.

The sizes Attribute

Currently, this plugin doesn’t add a sizes attribute10 to complement the srcset attribute. The reason is that we initially recognized that we could never predict what those sizes would need to be, because they depend on how the user’s theme is styled. While we are working on a solution to this issue, we’re encouraging all users to include a sizes attribute on their own, either manually or via another WordPress plugin, such as wp-lazysizes11. One thing to note is that the responsive images specification has recently changed, and use of the w descriptor must now be followed by a sizes attribute. Omitting the sizes attribute will render the markup technically invalid, while still falling back to a default size of 100vh.

What About Features X, Y And Z?

While much more can be done with responsive images, you’ve probably noticed a few use cases that this plugin doesn’t cover. The first thing that we’re usually asked about is a feature for art direction. Art direction refers to loading differently styled images at different breakpoints — whether that means entirely new images or the same image cropped or focused differently. This feature would require use of the picture element, which in turn would mean a lot more markup to generate the final image.

Adding this feature to WordPress would be impossible without the addition of a fairly complicated interface in WordPress’ media uploader, because the user would need to be able to define all breakpoints and then select images to be loaded in when those breakpoints are reached. Our goal for this plugin is to allow for a basic implementation of responsive images, with absolutely no configuration needed by the user. So, we’ve decided to omit this feature. We will, however, do our best to allow art direction to work side by side with our plugin as we expand the API for theme developers.

Lazy-loading and image compression are two other features that we have no plans to implement, simply because they fall beyond the scope of a more or less “default” solution for responsive images. Again, we aim to make the addition of these features possible for theme developers who use our plugin via a feature-rich API.

What’s Next?

While the plugin is available for everyone to download and install, we’re actively working to make it better. So, users can expect frequent updates, resolved issues and an all-around better functioning plugin as time goes on. We’re planning to add more features, such as the sizes attribute and hooks that allow theme developers to further customize the plugin.

Another feature we have yet to consider is ratio descriptors like 2x and 3x for “Retina” use cases. Better documentation and support are coming soon as well. Eventually, we’d like to see this plugin become a part of WordPress’ core, which means that it will stay minimalist, admin-less and easy to use.

(il, al, ml)

Footnotes

  1. 1 https://wordpress.org/plugins/ricg-responsive-images/
  2. 2 https://github.com/ResponsiveImagesCG/wp-tevko-responsive-images
  3. 3 http://scottjehl.github.io/picturefill/
  4. 4 http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2013/08/21/webkit-implements-srcset-and-why-its-a-good-thing/
  5. 5 http://alistapart.com/article/responsive-images-in-practice#section4
  6. 6 http://css-tricks.com/responsive-images-youre-just-changing-resolutions-use-srcset/
  7. 7 http://codex.wordpress.org/Javascript_Reference/wp.media
  8. 8 http://underscorejs.org/
  9. 9 https://github.com/ResponsiveImagesCG/wp-tevko-responsive-images/blob/master/js/wp-tevko-responsive-images.js
  10. 10 http://ericportis.com/posts/2014/srcset-sizes/#part-2
  11. 11 https://github.com/aFarkas/wp-lazysizes

The post RICG Responsive Images For WordPress appeared first on Smashing Magazine.

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RICG Responsive Images For WordPress