Hila Qu, Vice President of Growth at Acorns, has a theory. She says there are two kinds of product managers:…Read blog postabout:Experimentation in product development: How you can maximize the customer experience
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Hila Qu, Vice President of Growth at Acorns, has a theory. She says there are two kinds of product managers:…Read blog postabout:Experimentation in product development: How you can maximize the customer experience
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After reading the title of this article, it might seem like it’s jumping the gun, but with retailers turning on holiday music and putting out holiday-related displays earlier and earlier every year, your consumers are primed to start thinking about the holidays earlier, too. In fact, a study done by the Tampa Bay Times revealed that in-store shoppers were exposed to holiday music as early as October 22 in 2017.
Of course, e-commerce handles the holiday season a bit differently than brick-and-mortar. It’s not really necessary to announce promotions or run sales in late October or early November. However, that doesn’t mean you should wait until the last minute to prepare your mobile website for the holidays.
In this article, I’m going to give you a quick rundown of what happened during the 2017 holiday sales season and, in particular, what role mobile played in it. Then, we’re going to dig into holiday design and marketing tactics you can use to boost sales through your mobile website for the 2018 holiday season.
Recommended reading: How Mobile Web Design Affects Local Search (And What To Do About It)
Before we get started, I want to quickly add a disclaimer:
This particular section focuses on e-commerce statistics because this kind of data is readily available. Something like the total number of page visits, subscribed readers, and leads generated… well, it’s not.
So, although I only use data to express how important mobile was to 2017 holiday sales, keep in mind that the tips that follow pertain to all websites. Even if your site doesn’t expressly sell goods or services, blogs and other content-driven sites can take advantage of this, too!
Now, let’s take a look at the numbers:
The National Retail Federation calculated the total amount of retail sales–online and in-store–to be $691.9 billion between November and December, a 5.5% bump from 2016.
Adobe put the total amount of e-commerce sales during that same timeframe at $108.15 billion in 2017.
Adobe takes it even further and breaks down the share of revenue by device:
While smartphone and tablet sales still trail those on desktop, there are a couple interesting things to note here. For starters, desktop revenue has mostly flatlined year-over-year whereas mobile continues to grow. In addition, there’s an interesting disparity between how much traffic comes from each device and what percentage of revenue it generates:
Pay close attention to desktop and smartphone. As you can see, more visits stem from smartphones than any other device and, yet, desktop leads the way in conversions:
Is this indicative of a lack of trust in smart devices to handle purchases?
In all likelihood, it probably isn’t. Data from other sources indicates that on holidays, in particular, mobile reigns supreme in terms of visits and conversions:
Also, let’s not forget to take into account the strengths of mobile devices within the shopper’s experience. According to the four micro-moments as defined by Google, a large number of mobile users commonly search for the following:
The second and third are clearly indicative of a searcher’s desire to find something outside their devices (and their homes) to spend money on. That might even be so for the fourth, though it could also be an indication that they want to do their research on mobile and complete the purchase on desktop.
Either way, we know that smartphones tend to be a primary facilitator in the customer’s journey and not something that’s putting an end to the shopping experience as a whole.
Recommended reading: Designing For Micro-Moments
While the overall numbers indicate that desktop is the leading platform for holiday sales, it’s not a universal rule that can be applied to each and every day in November and December. This is why your own data will have to play a big role in the design choices you make for your mobile site this season.
You have to admit, no matter how stressed or unhappy you might feel around the holidays, there is something nice about encountering just the right hint of holiday “cheer”. And that’s one of the keys to doing this right: finding the right amount of holiday flavor to infuse into your website.
Before we get into what you can do to spruce up your mobile web design, I want to remind you that security and speed are critical elements to check off your list before November gets here. These might not be in your realm of responsibilities, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t keep an eye on them.
If you’re doing all this design work in anticipation of boosting conversions over the holidays, don’t let it all be for nothing by forgetting about performance and security essentials. To protect your site from potentially harmful traffic surges, start with this front-end performance checklist. With regards to security, you can use these security improvement tips.
Now, let’s talk about the five ways in which you can prepare your mobile website for the 2018 holiday season:
If your website has been live and actively doing business for more than a year, you need to start with the data from 2017. Using Google Analytics and your CRM platform, locate answers to the following questions:
Google Analytics allows you to divvy up traffic based on technology in a number of ways:
Under Browser & OS, you can sort visitors by browser:
There is a small tab at the top of the table for “Operating System”. Click that to reveal which OS were used:
You can use the Mobile → Overview tab to look at the simple breakdown between desktop, mobile, and tablet users.
Really, your goal here is to weed out desktop users so you can focus strictly on mobile traffic as you assess the following data points.
Every website’s holiday traffic history will look a little different. Take mine, for example:
My business really isn’t affected by the holidays at all… except that I know things are going to be super quiet on and around Thanksgiving and the major holidays in December. This is still important information for me to have.
For businesses that directly sell products or services through their site or content-based sites that plan publication schedules based on traffic, you’ll likely see a different trajectory in terms of highs and lows.
Again, for some of you, the matter of sales is irrelevant if you don’t offer any through your site. For everyone else, however, use the Google Analytics Conversions tab along with sales logged through your payment gateway or CRM to check this number.
Just remember that you have to activate the Conversions module in Google Analytics if you want it to track that data. If you didn’t remember last year, put it in place for this year.
Much of this has to do with how you promote holiday-related events, promotional offers or content through your website. If you consistently market around the holidays from November 1 to the end of the year, you should see relatively steady traffic and sales.
Some days, of course, may be slower than others (like during workdays or earlier in the season), so it’s good to get a sense for the ebb and flow of your site’s holiday traffic. On the other hand, your website might be a major draw only on special sales days and the holidays themselves, so you can use this data to harness your energy for a big push on the days when it’ll have the greatest impact.
Try to identify patterns, so you can plan your design and marketing strategy accordingly.
At some point, your site is going to see a dip in activity. There are some businesses that embrace this.
Let’s use Xfinity as an example. Around mid-November of last year, this is the holiday-centric message the top of the home page was pushing:
A month later, on December 9, any mention of the holidays was gone and replaced by a promotion of the upcoming Olympic Winter Games.
One can only assume that a major sporting event like the Olympics helps Xfinity sign more subscribers than trying to capture last-minute sales for the holidays.
Logically, this makes sense. December is a busy time for families. They’re planning travel, purchasing gifts and running around town in preparation for the upcoming celebrations. Most people probably don’t have time to set up a new cable or Internet package and wait around for Xfinity to configure it then.
Bottom line: it’s okay if your holiday-related traffic and sales drop off earlier than December 31. Study your data and let your user behavior guide you in your mobile design and promotion strategy.
It’s actually not enough to identify the most popular sources of mobile traffic for your site. Sure, you want to know if organic SEO and social media promotional efforts worked to bring traffic to it… but it won’t really matter if those visitors abandoned the site without taking action.
When you start digging through the ways in which you acquired mobile visitors, make sure to review the sources and keywords used against other telling metrics, like:
This will give you a good sense for what sources — e.g. keywords, PPC ads, social media content, promotional backlinks from other sites — that attracted high-quality leads to it during the holiday season.
One more thing to look at is what exactly performed the best between November and December with mobile visitors.
Did you run a pop-up promoting free shipping that was dismissed by most mobile visitors, but greatly taken advantage of by those on desktop? Did your custom home page banner touting an upcoming Black Friday sale get more clicks than the home page banner otherwise does at other times of the year? And what pathway resulted in the most conversions?
Dig into what exactly it was that appealed to your mobile visitors. Then, as you work on this year’s plan, focus on reproducing that success.
The navigation plays two important roles on a website:
When reviewing your navigation in the context of holiday traffic, you must ensure that it fulfills both of these roles.
Let’s look at two websites that provide relevant links during the holidays while also streamlining the visitors’ journey from entry to holiday-related pages.
Food52 is an online hub for people who enjoy cooking. You can buy kitchen gadgets from the site and peruse a whole bunch of content related to food and cooking.
I want to call out a number of things Food52 does especially well in terms of navigation:
One other thing I’d like to point out is the navigation itself:
There are a number of things you’ll notice:
L.L.Bean is another website that handles mobile navigation well.
As you can see, there are four buttons located within the mobile header:
Once a mobile user expands the hamburger navigation, they encounter this:
As you can see, “Call Us” is the first option available within the mobile navigation. Again, with people in a rush and trying to get purchases done right over the holidays, having a direct line of communication to the company is important. The account link and “Ship To” personalization are also nice touches as these icons keep conversion top-of-mind.
Now, looking down the navigation, you’ll see this is a pretty standard mega menu. However, take note that at the very top of this category (as is the case for all others) appears a page for “Gifts”. This is not something you see the rest of the year, so that’s another holiday-related touch meant to streamline searches and sales.
Here is everything you need to know to optimize conversions at mobile checkout. If I can add an additional two cents to this matter, though, I’d like to briefly talk about add-ons at checkout… but only around the holidays.
Typically, I believe that a fully streamlined checkout process is essential to capturing as many conversions as possible on mobile devices. It’s hard enough typing out all that information (if it doesn’t auto-populate) and trusting that devices and websites will keep payment information secure.
When it comes to designing the checkout for holiday shoppers, I think it’s at least worth experimenting with add-ons. For example:
Nordstrom doesn’t even wait for visitors to get to the checkout to promote this.
The very top of the site has a sticky bar promoting the free shipping and returns offer. This way, visitors are already in the mindset that they can get their Black Friday purchases or holiday gifts for even cheaper than planned.
Fitbit has another example of this I really like:
The top-half of the Fitbit homepage gets visitors into the mindset that there are cost savings galore here. Not only are items on sale, but certain orders come with free and expedited shipping. And the site clearly states when the sale ends, which will keep customers from getting upset if gifts don’t arrive on time. (It will also probably motivate them to get their shopping done sooner if they want to cash in on the sale.)
So all appropriate expectations regarding pricing and shipping are set right from the very get-go, making checkout go more smoothly.
I know that some may argue these will be bad for UX (and normally I’d join them), but I don’t see them as distractions during the holidays. This is an expensive and busy time of year.
Anything you can add to checkout that says, “Hey, we’re thinking about you and want to make this holiday season go just a little more smoothly” would go over well with your users.
Images are a tricky thing this time of year. You want to use them to appeal to holiday-minded visitors, but you don’t want to overdo it because images add a lot of pressure to your server. You need your site running fast, so be smart about what you do with them.
That said, images can go a long way in communicating to visitors that your site and business are ready to spread some holiday cheer without having to ever explicitly say it. This might be the ideal choice for those of you who design websites for global audiences. Perhaps you’d rather use an image that evokes a festive feeling because you don’t want to unintentionally offend anyone who doesn’t celebrate the holiday your copy calls express attention to.
Here is a great example from Uncommon Goods:
I wouldn’t necessarily say the images used here are festive, but there are unique elements that evoke a certain association with the holidays. Like the color green used within the photos. Or the partial glances of what appear to be snow globes. They’re seasonal elements, but not necessarily relegated to Christmas, Hanukkah or Kwanzaa.
Then, there’s the United States Postal Service (USPS) website. Granted, this website targets visitors within the United States, but it remains mindful of the differences in religions practiced and holidays celebrated.
The message remains neutral as does the image itself. The USPS is simply trying to help people quickly and festively send holiday cards, gifts and other items to distant relatives and friends.
The factor of speed is a big one when it comes to designing the customer journey. While the navigation cuts down on any unnecessary steps that might be taken when visitors can afford a more leisurely pace, your design should expedite the rest.
In other words:
Below is another example from the Food52 website from the holidays. As you can see in this snippet, two kinds of holiday-related content are promoted. What’s cool about them, though, is that it’s not necessarily in-your-face.
The relish recipe could easily be used any time of the year. However, because pomegranates are often considered a winter food, this falls into the category of holiday-related content. The second post is more blatant about attracting holiday readers.
The final element in this screenshot is also worth taking note of. To start, it appears they’ve customized the copy specifically for this time of year. All it takes is one addition of the word “joyfully” to let visitors know that Food52 took time to make its site just a little more festive.
I also want to give them kudos for including a newsletter subscription box here and in other key areas of the site.
If the research from Adobe is right and only about half of mobile visitors convert, then this is a smart design choice. This way, Food52 can collect visitor information on mobile and contact them later. When interested visitors receive the reminder at a more convenient time and place, they can hop onto their desktop or other preferred device and finish the conversion process.
Another site which I think handles the customer journey optimization well is Cracker Barrel.
Cracker Barrel doesn’t overdo it when it comes to designing for the holidays. Instead, it’s developed a series of calls-to-action that set certain types of visitors on the right path.
The first one features an image of what looks like a holiday feast with the CTA “Order Heat N’ Serve”. That’s brilliant. If people are taking the time to visit this site right before Thanksgiving, it’s probably to see if they can get help preparing their major feast… which it appears they can.
The second section sort of looks festive, though I’d still say they play it safe with choice of color, texture and gift card image. With a CTA of “Buy Gift Cards”, they’re now appealing to holiday shoppers. Not only can you get a whole feast conveniently prepared by Cracker Barrel, but you can buy gifts here, too.
Sometimes designing for the holidays isn’t about the blatant use of snowflake imagery or promoting recipes for cooking a turkey. Sometimes it’s about understanding what your users’ particular needs are at that time and helping setting them on that exact journey right away.
I understand that there are ways to add a dancing Santa to a site or to spruce up pop-ups with animated text and images, but I think subtler is better.
It’s kind of like the whole holiday music and decorations thing. How many times have you gone to your local drug store at the end of October for the purposes of getting Halloween candy, only to be met by an entire aisle full of holiday decorations? Or maybe you entered a department store like Macy’s in November, thinking you’ll beat the crazy holiday crowds. And, yet, holiday music is already playing. It’s overkill.
If you want to impress mobile visitors with your website around the holidays, focus on making this a worthwhile experience. Optimize your server for high volumes of traffic, put extra security in place, reorganize the navigation and add some small festive touches to your design that call attention to the most relevant parts of your site at this time of year.
What happens when nobody clicks on your call-to-action phrases and buttons? You don’t get any leads. Nor do you generate any revenue. That’s the opposite of the point, right? Which is why I tell business owners and marketers to take the time to refine their CTAs. A poorly-written CTA negates all the hard work you do for the rest of your marketing campaign. Someone who visits your website might be with you up until that point, then decide to bail on the conversion. So, how do you write call-to-action phrases that convert? What is the Psychology Behind CTA Phrases? From…
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Remind me: How many chances do you get to make a good impression? Oh, that’s right. One. Just one. If you don’t have the best homepage possible, that first impression becomes negative for website visitors. You lose that first impression forever. Will the visitor come back? Maybe. But you’re playing with fire. There aren’t any new statistics on web design aesthetics and first impressions, but an older study demonstrated that 94 percent of people’s first impressions of a business were related to web design. That’s pretty illustrative. If you have a beautiful, functional, easily navigable homepage, you’re more likely to…
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Smooth collaboration between developers and designers is something everyone aspires to, but it’s notoriously difficult. But with today’s advanced web, it’s difficult — if not impossible — to build a truly great product without collaborating across disciplines. Because of the range of technologies required to build a product, the product can only truly succeed when all disciplines — developers and designers, content creators, and user experience strategists — are deeply involved from the early stages of the project. When this happens, all ends of what it takes to build a product come naturally together into a unified whole, and a thus great product.
Because of this, no one is really promoting waterfall processes anymore. Nevertheless, involving other people early on, especially people from other disciplines, can feel scary. In the worst case scenario, it leads to “design by committee.”
Moreover, both designers and content strategists often have backgrounds in fields in which a sole creative genius is still the ideal. Having someone else proof your work can feel like a threat to your creativity.
So how can you involve people early on so that you’re avoiding the waterfall, but also making sure that you’re not setting yourself up for design by committee? I found my answer when learning about code reviews.
In July 2017, I founded Confrere together with two developers, and we quickly hired our first engineer (I’m not a developer myself, I’m more of a UX or content designer). Our collaboration was running surprisingly smoothly, so much so that at our retrospectives, the recurring theme was that we all felt that we were “doing it right.”
I sat down with my colleagues to try to pinpoint what exactly it was that we were “doing right” so that we could try to preserve that feeling even as our company grew and our team expanded. We came to the realization that we all appreciated that the whole team was involved early on and that we were being honest and clear in our feedback to each other. Our CTO Dag-Inge added: “It works because we’re doing it as peers. You’re not being berated and just getting a list of faults”.
The word “peer” is what gave me the aha moment. I realized that those of us working within UX, design, and content have a lot to learn from developers when it comes to collaboration.
Peer reviewing in the form of code reviews is essential to how software gets built. To me, code reviews offer inspiration for improving collaboration within our own fields, but also a model for collaborating across fields and disciplines.
If you’re already familiar with code reviews, feel free to skip the next section.
A code review can be done in various ways. Today, the most typical form of code review happens in the way of so-called pull requests (using a technology called git). As illustrated below, the pull requests let other people on the team know that a developer has completed code that they wish to merge with the main code base. It also allows the team to review the code: they give feedback on the code before it gets merged, in case it needs improvement.
Pull requests have clearly defined roles: there is an author and a reviewer(s).
As an example, let’s say our senior engineer Ingvild has made a change to Confrere’s sign-up flow. Before it is merged into the main code base and gets shipped, she (the author) creates a pull request to request a review from our CTO Dag-Inge (the reviewer). He won’t make any changes to her code, only add his comments.
It’s up to Ingvild how she wants to act on the feedback she received in the review. She’ll update her pull request with the changes she sees fit.
When the reviewer(s) approve the pull request, Ingvild can then merge her changes with the main code base.
Code reviews set the tone for the entire company that everything we do should be open to scrutiny from others, and that such scrutiny should be a welcome part of your workflow rather than viewed as threatening.
Code review reduces risk. Having someone proof your work, and also knowing someone will proof your work, helps weed out errors and heightens quality. In addition, it ensures consistency and helps every team member familiarize with more of the code base.
When done right, code review also builds a culture for collaboration and openness. Trying to understand and critique other people’s work is an excellent way to learn, and so is getting honest feedback on your work.
Always having at least two people look over the code also curtails ideas of “my” code and “your” code. It’s our code.
Considering these advantages, a review shouldn’t just be for code.
With reviews, there is always one author and one or more reviewers. That means you can involve people early on without falling into design by committee.
First, I have to mention two important factors which will affect your team’s ability to do beneficial reviews. You don’t necessarily have to have mastered them, but as a minimum, you should aspire to the following:
Even if we’re not reviewing code, there’s a lot to learn from existing best practices for code reviews.
Within our team, we try to adhere to the following principles when doing reviews:
These principles weren’t actually written down until after we discussed why our collaboration was working so well. We all felt we were allowed to and expected to ask questions and suggest improvements already, and that our motivations were always about building something great together, and not about criticising another person.
Because we were being clear about what kind of feedback we were giving, and also remembered to praise each other’s good work, doing reviews was a positive force rather than a demotivating one.
To give you an idea of how our team uses review across disciplines and throughout a process, let’s look at how the different members of our team switched between the roles of author and reviewer when we created our sign-up flow.
Author: Ida (UX)
Reviewers: Svein (strategy), Dag-Inge (engineering), Ingvild (engineering).
Whiteboard sessions can be exhausting if there’s no structure to them. To maintain productivity and creativity, we use the author/reviewer structure, even for something as seemingly basic as brainstorming on a whiteboard. In this case, in which we were coming up with the requirements for our sign-up flow, I got to be the author, and the rest of the team gave their feedback and acted as reviewers. Because they also knew they’d be able to review what I came up with in step 2 (plenty more opportunity for adjustments, suggestions, and improvements), we worked swiftly and were able to agree upon the requirements in under 2 hours.
Author: Ida (UX)
Reviewers: Ingvild (engineering), Eivind (design), Svein (strategy).
As an author, I created a mockup of the sign-up flow with microcopy. Did the sign-up flow make sense, from both the user and engineering perspective? And how could we improve the flow from a design and frontend perspective? At this stage, it was essential to work in a format in which it would be easy for all disciplines to give feedback (we opted for Google Docs, but it could also have been done with a tool like InvisionApp).
Author: Ingvild (engineering)
Reviewer: Ida (UX) and Dag-Inge (engineering).
We had agreed upon the flow, the input fields, and the microcopy, and so it was up to Ingvild to implement it. Thanks to Surge, we can automatically create preview URLs of the changes so that people who can’t read code are able to give feedback at this stage as well.
Author: Ida (UX)
Reviewer: The users.
Yes, we consider user testing a form of review. We brought our newly built sign-up flow face-to-face with actual users. This step gave us a ton of insight, and the most significant changes in our sign-up flow came as a result.
Author: Eivind (design)
Reviewers: Ingvild (engineering) and Ida (UX).
When design suddenly shows up here in step 5, it might look a lot like a waterfall process. However, our designer Eivind had already been involved as a reviewer since step 2. He gave a bunch of useful feedback at that stage and was also able to start thinking about how we could improve the design of the sign-up flow beyond the existing modules in our design system. At this step, Eivind could also help solve some of the issues that we identified in the user testing.
Author: Ingvild (engineering)
Reviewer: Eivind (design), Ida (UX) and Dag-Inge (engineering).
And then we’re back to implementing.
In summary, there’s always just one author, thus avoiding design by committee. By involving a range of disciplines as reviewers early on, we avoid having a waterfall process.
People can flag their concerns early and also start thinking about how they can contribute later on. The clearly defined roles keep the process on track.
Taking inspiration from code walkthroughs, we also do regular review walkthroughs with different foci, guided by the following principles:
We’ve done review walkthroughs for things such as accessibility audits, reviewing feature requests, auditing the implementation of the design, and doing heuristic usability evaluations.
When we do our quarterly accessibility reviews, our accessibility consultant Joakim first goes through the interface and documents and prioritizes the issues he’s found in a shared Google Sheet. Joakim then walks us through the most important issues he’s identified.
Meeting face-to-face (or at least on video) to go through the issues helps create an environment for learning rather than a feeling of being supervised or micromanaged.
If you find yourself always being tied up with something that’s due for release, or fixing whatever is at the top of your inbox, reviews can help remedy that. If you set aside regular half days for reviewing work you’ve already done, you can identify issues before they become urgent. It can also help you refocus and make sure you’re priorities are keeping along the right lines. Your team should maybe not begin building that new feature before you’re confident that the existing features are living up to your standards.
An important motivation for code reviews is to reduce risk. By doing it every single time you introduce a change or add something new to your product, and not just when you suspect something is maybe not up to par, you diminish the chance of shipping bugs or subpar features. I believe we should look at user testing from the same perspective.
You see, if you want to reduce the risk of shipping with major usability issues, user testing has to be part of your process. Just having your UX designers review the interface isn’t enough. Several studies have found that even usability experts fail in identifying every actual usability problems. On average, 1 in 3 issues identified by experts were false alarms — they weren’t issues for users in practice. But worse, 1 in 2 issues that users did in fact have, were overlooked by the experts.
Skipping user testing is just as big a risk as skipping code review.
People working within design, user experience, and content often have educational backgrounds from art schools or maybe literature, in which the sole creator or creative artistic genius is hailed as the ideal. If you go back in history, this used to be the case for developers as well. Over time, this has changed by necessity as web development has grown more complex.
If you cling to the idea of creativity coming from somewhere deep within yourself, the idea of review might feel threatening or scary. Someone meddling in your half-finished work? Ouch. But if you think about creativity as something that can spring from many sources, including dialogue, collaboration, or any form of inspiration (whether from the outside or from someplace within you), then a review is only an asset and an opportunity.
As long as we’re building something for the web, there’s no way around collaborating with other people, be it within our own field or others. And a good idea will survive review.
Let’s create something great together.
Every website redesign is different. I’ve worked on a ton of them, so I should know. What’s important, though, is that you take a strategic approach to your website redesign. Know what isn’t working, what does currently work, and what goals you wish to achieve. Let’s look at some of my favorite techniques for creating a website redesign strategy and implementing it for maximum ROI. If you’d like to skip around, here are the topics I’ll address: How Do You Know If Your Website Needs a Redesign? How to Start the Website Redesign Process 8 Website Redesign Tips and Best…
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If you have a strong conversion funnel, you’ll generate more sales. Optimizing your SaaS conversion funnel allows you to visualize the buyer’s journey, collect the right data, and apply what you learn from reports, recordings, and other analytics. The conversion funnel is often misunderstood, though, which is why we need to break it down into stages, figure out what data to track, and optimize accordingly. Your conversion funnel contains the general steps your prospective customers take to reach a buying decision. Narrowing the conversion funnel and pushing prospects through faster can result in higher profits. To do so, you must…
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For a while now you may have heard the buzz surrounding Google’s Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP), and—if you haven’t already done some research—you might be wondering what all the fuss is about (or wondering why a landing page and conversion platform like us hasn’t mentioned this trendy topic yet).
Well, we’ll get to all of that! Today we’ll walk you through everything you need to know about AMP as a marketer and why your Google rep has likely been singing its praises.
AMP is a project that was first announced by Google back in 2015 as a means to serve up mobile pages faster. Accelerated mobile pages use a restrictive HTML format to serve up web pages almost instantly to your visitors, with the added benefit of pages being cached and pre-rendered by third parties (like Google, Facebook, Twitter, Bing News, and Cloudflare).
This is a stark change from waiting for every single element on your page to load and, at its core, it’s a way of developing simple web pages that meet strict guidelines for preventing slow load times. It’s helping bring the internet back to basics.
Early adopters of AMP included publishers like The New York Times, The Guardian, and The Wall Street Journal. Much like Facebook’s Instant Articles, AMP gave these publishers a way to reach audiences in an almost-instant way (ultimately important for decreasing bounce rate, and signalling to Google your content is satisfying visitors). Since publishers run their business on page views, this was a natural place to start and great fit for AMP.
Google then created extra incentive for publishers by prioritizing AMP articles in their “top stories” carousel. You can currently spot AMP articles in your own mobile search results by looking for the AMP thunderbolt symbol.
The AMP Project has come a long way since 2015, but it’s still having a hard time shaking some of its roots. Here are a few of the myths floating around:
Myth 1: AMP is only for online publishers
AMP landing pages are a perfect match for publishers, but serving up news faster is not its only use case. Believe it or not, even eCommerce brands are increasing their revenue with the same traffic by converting their product pages to AMP.
While this giant conversion over to AMP may sound like a massive undertaking, remember: You don’t need to create an entire AMP mobile website like Aliexpress. You can start with a single landing page that lots of customers reach from organic or paid search. Simply decreasing your bounce rate on the visitor’s first entry and speeding load time up can have a big impact on first impressions, and ultimately your conversion rate.
Myth 2: AMP is owned by Google
We can’t deny that Google has been the driving force behind the AMP technology and its adoption around the world. But despite its massive role in driving AMP forward, the team is insistent that AMP is not a Google project, but rather an open-source project. Although the lion’s share of the more than 500 contributors on GitHub are Googlers, they’re not the only ones.
Myth 3: AMP is only for mobile
It’s true mobile is a huge part of Accelerated Mobile Pages (it’s in the name, after all), but that can be a little bit misleading. As Paul Bakaus from Google explains, AMP HTML is mobile first but not mobile only. He believes you’ll see better gains from AMP on mobile pages, but recommends trying AMP on desktop as well.
We know that fast-loading pages equal lower bounce rates and higher conversions, and AMP provides an almost foolproof way of achieving fast mobile landing pages. Its strict guidelines for what can be included have speed best practices built in, which is why AMP landing pages have a medium load time in under one second. And let’s be honest: We could all use some extra conversions on our landing pages via speed increases.
So what does AMP mean for SEO?
While an AMP landing page does not necessarily equal a higher search ranking, Google recently announced that, starting this summer, page speed will finally become a ranking factor in its mobile search algorithm.
While Google has always favored content with a positive user experience (speed being a part of that) speed did not previously have a direct effect on the ranking algorithm. Before July 2018, it might be a good idea to do some spring cleaning of your mobile landing pages (swapping out massive images and keeping things small)—whether these pages are accelerated or not.
What do AMP landing pages mean for PPC?
For a long time now, “landing page experience” has played into your Ad Rank on AdWords, and we know that page speed factors into this experience. One of AdWords’ five tips for improving landing page experience is to “decrease your landing page load time,” for which they suggest to “consider turning your landing page into an Accelerated Mobile Page (AMP).”
AdWords expert and ex-Googler Frederick Vallaeys has even called AMP landing pages “the best kept AdWords secret” due to the opportunity for improving conversion rates.
At the end of the day, the reason you’d create an AMP landing page is to improve your page speed. By creating these pages, you ensure fast load time, but this doesn’t guarantee your content is good enough to keep people around. Page speed is only one factor in a positive landing page experience, and won’t solve the problem of bad content.
Moreover, if page speed is what you’re after, AMP is only one way of achieving it. Even the AMP Project’s website admits that the format puts user experience above the developer experience. Simply put, it’s not the easy way to do things. So before jumping straight into AMP, consider whether or not you can reduce page speed in simpler ways, like cutting back on scripts and image sizes.
AMP can do wonders for your page speed, but it doesn’t come without a few caveats. In fact, the reason the AMP framework creates a fast page is because it is so restrictive. AMP is constantly being improved, but it’s still far from perfect. Here are a few limitations to consider before going all in on AMP:
Scripts are often not supported
Analytics aren’t straightforward
One of the best features of AMP is also one of its biggest drawbacks. Since the AMP pages are pre-cached, they are served from a different domain than your own. That means that your website visitor might click an ad, then visit your AMP landing page served up pre-loaded from Google.com, and then click through to your website.
This can really throw off your site’s analytics, splitting up your user sessions between your domain and third-party domains. If you’re not comfortable giving up perfect analytics for gains in load time, AMP might not be for you.
Worried about your website visitors seeing inconsistent domains? As of last month, AMP released an update that will keep the display URL as your own domain even if the page is being served from another domain such as Google.com.
Even though AMP Analytics are available, there are a limited amount of options available. Here’s what you’ll be able to track:
Setup isn’t super quick
Just because AMPs format is restrictive doesn’t mean it’s a walk in the park to implement. Developing AMP pages could take your developers significantly longer to create than a non-AMP page. They’ll then need to validate that their code ticks all of the boxes of the AMP format and also upkeep the pages to make sure they continue to comply with these restrictions.
Browser versions are limited
A smaller restriction (but one nonetheless) is that AMP only supports the most recent two versions of major web browsers. This means if your visitors are hanging onto a circa 2014 version of Chrome, they won’t see your AMP page.
Like anything, there are two sides to the AMP story. Because of its close ties to Google, some think the company has too much control, using its power to shift the internet to a new way of developing web pages altogether. Some think it’s unfair for Google to pressure companies to adopt the framework in order to reach the top stories carousel or maintain their organic rankings. Others worry that Google could abandon AMP at any moment, after more than 1.5 billion web pages have already been published using the format.
On the other side of the argument, web users are speaking for themselves by abandoning slow pages at a faster rate. They’re also choosing Google more than any other search engine. Although there are alternatives, Google holds 90% of mobile market share. There must be a reason for this, and I’d hazard a guess that it’s because Google gives a better user experience than its alternatives.
From the AMP Project’s website:
“The companies involved in the project want to make the mobile web work better for all — not just for one platform, one set of technologies, or one set of publishers, or one set of advertisers. Making the project open source enables people to share and contribute their ideas and code for making the mobile web fast. We are just at the beginning of that journey and we look forward to other publishers, advertisers and technology companies joining along the way.”
This info’s all well and good, but you’re probably wondering: what’s Unbounce—best known as a conversion and landing page platform—going to do about AMP?
I’m glad you asked.
We’re happy to share that we’re currently building AMP capabilities into the Unbounce builder.
We’re premiering this functionality with a tight-knit group of customers in an alpha test before we open up to a wider closed beta of additional customers. The reason we’re working with a small group first is to ensure that we are able to get early feedback while we work on adding more capabilities. We’ll be closely monitoring conversion data from the alpha participants to ensure customers are seeing the value that we think they’ll see with AMP.
Here’s a taste of what it might look like in the Unbounce builder:
By now you’re likely convinced that fast pages are critical to your conversion rates, and AMP can help, so you may be wondering, what took Unbounce so long to build (let alone talk about) it?
Well, we began investigating AMP and how it would work in the Unbounce builder back in 2017, and our friends at Google have been supporting us along the way. We made the decision not to publicly share our progress on AMP until we officially kicked off the development of our alpha program last month.
Trust us, page speed is something that’s been on our mind for quite some time. Last summer, our team became one of the first to complete Google’s Mobile Site Certification, and in September we returned to Google’s Canadian HQ in Toronto to join the search giant in co-hosting a mobile speed hackathon. Most recently, Google mentioned our alpha at their annual developer conference, and in a few months, they’ll be hosting the very first Canadian West Coast date of the AMP Roadshow right here in our Vancouver office.
We had hoped to bring you AMP a little bit earlier, but our team has been heads down for the past several months focused on the new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Keeping your data safe and secure is our top priority, and we believe it is important to provide you a landing page solution that is GDPR compliant as this sets a critical foundation.
We are proud to say after months of hard work, Unbounce is GDPR compliant. Less than a month ago, AMP also released an update designed to help AMP pages become GDPR compliant as well.
Now that we’ve got your data safe and secure via GDPR compliance, our team is full steam ahead experimenting and developing AMP capabilities in the Unbounce builder. We’ve made some great progress and it’s looking pretty darn cool if I do say so myself (seriously, we can’t wait to show you). Once we’ve completed our alpha test, we’ll be widening the scope to a closed beta test.
The progress will look something like this:
We’ll be sharing our progress right here on the Unbounce blog, and—if you’re a current customer (or about to create landing pages with us)—we invite you to sign up for early access to the beta once it’s launched.
Customer acquisition is all about convincing people to buy your products or service. That’s it. But it’s more complicated than you might think. You have to understand your customers’ buyers journeys and how they make the decision to buy (or to not buy). You might have heard that old adage about how much less expensive it is to retain customers than to acquire them. In fact, it’s about five times less expensive. That statistic sounds powerful, but it leaves an important element out of the equation. To retain customers, you first must acquire them. If you already have 10 million…
The post The Best Customer Acquisition Techniques You Need to Start Testing appeared first on The Daily Egg.
As developers, we often talk about performance and request browsers to render things faster. But when they finally do, we demand even more performance.
Alex Russel from the Chrome team now shared some thoughts on developers abusing browser performance and explains why websites are still slow even though browsers reinvented themselves with incredibly fast rendering engines. This is in line with an article by Oliver Williams in which he states that we’re focusing on the wrong things, and instead of delivering the fastest solutions for slower machines and browsers, we’re serving even bigger bundles with polyfills and transpiled code to every browser.
It certainly isn’t easy to break out of this pattern and keep bundle size to a minimum in the interest of the user, but we have the technologies to achieve that. So let’s explore non-traditional ways and think about the actual user experience more often — before defining a project workflow instead of afterward.
To help you cater for fast and smooth experiences, Vitaly Friedman summarized everything you need to know to optimize your site’s performance in one handy checklist. Read more →
*.github.iosubdomains or via third-party providers such as Cloudflare.
Upgrade-Insecure-Requestsheader have also been added. Quite a step forward!
npm auditcommand to audit your depenencies for vulnerabilities, but npm will do this automatically and report back during dependency installs. The new version also comes with
npm cito make CI tasks faster and a couple of other improvements.
same-siteattribute for Cookies. This will allow a web application to advise the browser that cookies should only be sent if the request originates from the website the cookie came from. Read more details in the announcement blog post.
nonekeywords in ARIA and when we should use which.
text-shadowto copy text to other rows, the other one uses
element()to copy the entire
<thead>to other rows — I still try to understand how Lea found these solutions, but this is amazing!
We hope you enjoyed this Web Development Update. The next one is scheduled for Friday, June 15th. Stay tuned.
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