Tag Archives: news

Web Development Reading List #188: Real-World Accessibility, Flexbox Madness, And The Ephemerality Of Things We Build

CSS is an amazing tool which we constantly use but we don’t seem to honor it appropriately. Whenever I see the growing browser support of the :focus-within selector, the much wanted justify-content: space-evenly for Flexbox or how great CSS Grids already work, I feel really grateful to have such awesome tools available to work with.
And with advanced new media queries such as prefers-reduced-motion, screen and (color), or pointer, we get amazing tools to improve accessibility and usability of our websites.

Continued: 

Web Development Reading List #188: Real-World Accessibility, Flexbox Madness, And The Ephemerality Of Things We Build

Web Development Reading List #187: Webpack 3, Assisted Writing, And Automated Chrome Testing

This week, we’ll explore some rather new concepts: What happens if we apply artificial intelligence to text software, for example? And why would a phone manufacturer want its business model to be stolen by competitors? We’ll also take a look at how we can use the new headless Chrome browser for automated testing and learn to build smarter JavaScript bundles with Webpack 3’s new scope hoisting. Sometimes it’s easy to be excited about all the improvements and new things our industry has to offer.

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Web Development Reading List #187: Webpack 3, Assisted Writing, And Automated Chrome Testing

Web Development Reading List #185: Safari 11, New Edge Build, Chrome 59, And CSS Optimization Insights

This week was full of great browser vendor news: Safari 11 was announced with long-awaited features such as WebRTC and tracking protection, and a new Edge build with new CSS features is now available, too. But the past few days also had some valuable articles up their sleeves: about implementing HTTP/2 push, using datetime-local, and slimming down your CSS, for example. I collected everything in this reading list for you, so you don’t miss out on anything.

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Web Development Reading List #185: Safari 11, New Edge Build, Chrome 59, And CSS Optimization Insights

Web Development Reading List #182: IPFS Wikipedia, New Webpack CLI, And CSS Grid Breakout

When did you take your last vacation? For many of us, it was probably a long time ago. However, since quite a while, I stumble across more and more stories about companies that take unusual steps vacation-wise. Companies giving their employees a day off each week in summer or going on vacation together as a team building event instead of traveling somewhere just to work.
But while there’s a new generation building their dream work environments, a lot of people still suffer from very bad working conditions.

See more here – 

Web Development Reading List #182: IPFS Wikipedia, New Webpack CLI, And CSS Grid Breakout

Web Development Reading List #177: Getting Started With Components, CT-Header, And New Regular Expressions

From time to time, we need to take some time off, and actually, I’m glad that this reading list is a bit shorter as the ones you’re used to. Because one thing that really stuck with me this week was Eric Karjaluoto’s article.
In his article, he states that, “Taking pride in how busy we are is one of the worst ideas we ever had.” So, how about reading just a few articles this week for a change and then take a complete weekend off to recharge your battery?

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Web Development Reading List #177: Getting Started With Components, CT-Header, And New Regular Expressions

Web Development Reading List #159: Code Splitting, A New Bundler, And Blake2x

As developers, are we paid to write code? This challenging question raises concerns about product quality, code quality, and our purpose as developers in a world of coded applications. You’ll find an interesting post that dives deeper into the matter in the “Work & Life” section of our reading list this week.
But we have other amazing resources to look at this week, too: new tools, new tutorials, and we’ll also take some time to reconsider CSS print styles.

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Web Development Reading List #159: Code Splitting, A New Bundler, And Blake2x

Facebook Organic Reach is Dying: Here’s Why It’s a Good Thing

Facebook reach
More and more our News Feeds are full of updates from friends… not companies — but there are benefits to this. Image via Shutterstock.

Facebook wears many hats. It does everything, and is everything. It’s where we turn to celebrate many important life milestones, share our lives with our friends, organize events, consume media and much, much more. But for marketers, it’s an advertising tool.

Social media marketing has changed a great deal over the past few years. One of the biggest changes is Facebook’s shift away from organic reach into a paid marketing channel.

If you manage a Facebook Page, I’m sure you’re familiar with this subject, and you’ve probably noticed a sharp drop in the number of people who are seeing and interacting with your content organically.

As a marketer, this change has been tough to stomach. It’s now much harder to reach your audience than it was a few years ago. And with recent updates that Facebook is, again, shifting its algorithm to focus on friends and family, it’ll be harder still to reach people who are already fans of your page.

Facebook organic reach is hard
TFW you can almost reach your audience… but not quite. Image via Giphy.

Before we dive into why the plight of organic reach is a good thing, let’s first take a look at what brought along this decline in the first place.

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Understanding how social reach is declining

In 2014, Social@Ogilvy released its much-cited report, “Facebook Zero: Considering Life After the Demise of Organic Reach.”

In the report, Ogilvy documented the harsh decline of organic reach between October 2013 and February 2014. In that short period of time, organic reach dropped to around 6% for all pages, and for large pages with more than 500,000 likes, the number was just 2%.

Ogilvy graph

Based on this data, a Facebook Page with around 20,000 fans could expect fewer than 1,200 people to see its posts, and a page with 2 million fans would, on average, reach only 40,000 fans.

The reasoning behind this change from Facebook’s perspective is twofold, as Facebook’s VP of Advertising Technology, Brian Boland, explained in a blog post.

The first reason for the decline in organic reach is purely the amount of content being shared to Facebook. Advances in smartphone technology means we can now create and share this content with just a few swipes of the finger or taps on a screen. More and more of our friends and favorite brands are also active on the platform, meaning competition for attention is higher. Boland explains:

There is now far more content being made than there is time to absorb it. On average, there are 1,500 stories that could appear in a person’s News Feed each time they log onto Facebook. For people with lots of friends and Page likes, as many as 15,000 potential stories could appear any time they log on.

The second reason for the decline in organic reach on Facebook is how the News Feed works. Facebook’s number one priority is to keep its 1.5 billion users happy, and the best way to do that is by showing only the most relevant content in their News Feeds.

Of the 1,500+ stories a person might see whenever they log onto Facebook, News Feed displays approximately 300. To choose which stories to show, News Feed ranks each possible story (from more to less important) by looking at thousands of factors relative to each person.

To a marketer, this may feel like a negative, but it’s actually a good thing, because what we’re left with now is a far more powerful marketing tool than we had when reach was free.

Let me explain…

Why the decline of organic reach is a good thing

When a social network first achieves mainstream popularity (think Facebook circa 2009, Instagram in 2014-15, Snapchat in 2016) organic reach rules the roost. As a marketer, it’s all about figuring out what content your audience craves and giving it to them.

Then, we hit a peak, and suddenly the social network all but transforms into a pay-to-play platform — bringing with it another huge marketing opportunity. At Buffer, it’s something we like to call The Law of the Double Peak:

Buffer double peak

Facebook hit the organic peak in 2014, and since then reach has declined to a point where it’s almost at zero now. But, on the other hand, we’re left with a far more powerful advertising tool than we had before.

It’s also important to remember that before social media — with print, radio, TV, banner ads, direct mail or any other form of advertising — there was no such thing as organic reach. You couldn’t create a piece of content and get it seen by thousands (even millions) with no budget.

Facebook, now, is probably one of the most cost-effective digital ad products we’ve ever seen. It’s the best way to reach a highly targeted audience and drive awareness about your product or service, and probably an even better marketing channel than it was back in 2012 when organic reach hit its peak.

4 ways to maximize the paid marketing opportunities on Facebook

Once you’re over the fact that not everyone on Facebook gets to discover your brand for free anymore…

1. Ensure your ads are relevant

With more than 3 million advertisers all competing for attention in more than a billion users’ News Feeds, Facebook uses what’s called an ad auction to deliver ads.

The ad auction pairs individual ads with particular people looking for an appropriate match. The social network’s ad auction is designed to determine the best ad to show to a person at a given point in time. This means a high-quality, hyper-relevant ad can beat an ad that has a higher advertiser bid, but is lower quality and less relevant.

The two major factors you need to work on to ensure Facebook sees your ad as relevant are your targeting and ad creative.

For example, if you’re targeting a broad audience such as men and women, ages 18–25, living in the United Kingdom, chances are your ad may not be relevant to every person. However, if you were to break your audience down into smaller, more specific groups your message may be more relevant (and therefore successful).

2. Test different messages and creative

There are endless opportunities for testing on Facebook Ads: titles, texts, links, images, age, gender, interests, locations and so on.

The image is the first thing people see when your ad shows up in their News Feed. It’s what grabs their attention and makes them stop and click, which means it’s essential to get the image right. Though, you probably won’t hit the nail on the head first time ‘round. Thankfully, Facebook allows you to upload multiple images for each advert and optimizes to display best performing ones.

Your creative can have a huge difference when it comes to conversions. AdEspresso recommends coming up with at least four different Facebook Ad variations and then testing each one. For example, you might test two different images with two different copy texts (2 images x 2 texts = 4 variations).

AdEspresso also found that creative with a picture of a person performs far better:

Facebook ad variations

When you create ads, plan out a number of variations — changing copy, images and CTAs in order to discover what works best for each audience you’re targeting.

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3. Be specific with your content

Combining the first two points above, targeting to a specific segment using creative that is specifically built for that target audience is incredibly powerful.

Many businesses have a range of customers, all with slightly different needs. For each customer your business is targeting, jot down as much information as you can about them and try to form a few customer personas to create specific ads for.

Then, with your target personas in place, think about how you can use Facebook Ads to target each individual group. This could mean creating an ad set for each group and testing different images and copy within your ads to see what works best for each group.

By tailoring ads to specific personas, you can vastly improve your advert’s relevancy and also serve the needs of your customer better.

4. Pay attention to real metrics

With social media, it can be easy to fall into the trap of measuring only soft metrics — the things that don’t correlate directly with sales or revenue growth, but can still be good indicators of performance. On Facebook, this means things such as Likes, Comments and Shares.

When it comes to paid marketing channels, like Facebook Ads, it’s important to have some solid goals in mind and pay attention to the metrics that translate into your ultimate goal. For example, having a post receive a few hundred Likes or a high engagement rate could be seen as success, but that’s probably not the ultimate goal of your campaign.

Paid advertising on Facebook is a lot like paid-for marketing has always been. For 90% the end goal is sales or, for larger companies, brand awareness. And with paid-for ads you’ll want to be a little stricter with yourself when it comes to measurement. That’s not to say ALL advertising on Facebook must be purely focused on selling — that strategy likely wouldn’t work — but certainly any specific advertising campaigns should be focused on increasing your bottom line.

How do you use Facebook?

I’d love to hear your thoughts on the evolution of Facebook as a marketing channel. How have your strategies changed over recent years? Are you one of the 3 million businesses who advertise on the platform? I’d love to hear your learnings and perspectives too.

Thanks for reading! And I’m excited to join the conversation in the comments.

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Facebook Organic Reach is Dying: Here’s Why It’s a Good Thing

Web Development Reading List #149: CSS Dynamic Colors, Refactoring CSS, And CSP Hashing

Even though we think everything happens in real-time nowadays, we need patience. While technology has been capable of real-time for long now, the “bottleneck” are human beings. Whether it’s a pull request that’s waiting for review since days or weeks or an email response, we need to keep in mind that delays might happen for a good reason.
Different people have different priorities, they might be focusing on something else at the moment, or they just take a break.

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Web Development Reading List #149: CSS Dynamic Colors, Refactoring CSS, And CSP Hashing

Web Development Reading List #148: CSS Color Syntax Change, Browser News, And Hidden Expectations

I shut down my browser on Wednesday, accidentally having a setting switched on that clears history and all sessions. First, I was sad to have lost many tabs with articles I stored “for later”. At the same time, it felt refreshing, liberating to have a clean browser window with zero tabs open. So my new goal is to start work in the morning with a completely clean browser window at least once a week.

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Web Development Reading List #148: CSS Color Syntax Change, Browser News, And Hidden Expectations

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How VWO Affects your Site Speed

A recent post published on the ConversionXL blog highlighted a study conducted to find out how different A/B testing tools affect site speed. VWO was among the tools compared and we feel the results of the study are not an accurate reflection of our technology.

In this post, we are going to highlight some aspects of the study that had a large impact on the results and also elaborate on how the VWO code affects your page load time.

Sub-optimal Test Configuration with ‘DOM Ready’ Event Conditions

In the research conducted by OrangeValley, the test campaign was configured with sub-optimal settings within VWO. This means that rather than using the recommended WYSIWYG Visual Editor to change background image and text, a custom JavaScript code was used to make the changes. In addition, the code was configured to fire after the page had loaded (in JavaScript this is called a ‘DOM ready’ event). This impacted the result in two ways:

  1. The inclusion of the ‘DOM ready’ event made the VWO code wait for the entire page to load before it could display the changes made in the variation. The web page used in the study had a page load time of around 2.7 seconds.
    Here’s a snapshot of the campaign code from VWO settings (while the code waits for ‘DOM ready’):Sub-optimal way, waiting for DOM ready
    Here’s another snapshot of the campaign code (using the optimal way, without ‘DOM ready’): Optimal way, without waiting for DOM ready
    Executing after the DOM ready event will invariably increase the experienced loading time. Here’s the general case for it.
  2. To counter flicker and ensure a smooth loading experience for visitors, VWO hides all the relevant elements before they start loading on the page and only unhides them once the VWO code has swapped them with the variation changes. All this happens within a span of 110 milliseconds on average. If the campaign had been configured using the optimal manner, the flicker effect would have automatically been taken care of by our SmartCode.

Asynchronous v/s Synchronous Code

As clearly noted in the blog post, “Most A/B testing software create an additional step in loading and rendering a web page”. This happens because many A/B testing tools use synchronous code. VWO, with its asynchronous SmartCode is an exception to this.

With its unique asynchronous code, VWO ensures there is no delay in the load time of the page. VWO’s asynchronous code does not block the rendering of parts of the page and does not impact the page load time.

Asynchronous V/S synchronous Code Comparison

What is asynchronous code and why does VWO recommend it?

Simply put, asynchronous means that the code will contact VWO’s servers in the background, download and process the test package while the rest of your page continues to load and render in the browser normally.

With synchronous code, the browser has to wait for the package to download and then process it before loading the rest of the page. If for any reason the tracking code can’t contact its servers then the browser will wait, usually for 30 to 60 seconds, until the request times out. If your tracking code is in the tag, then your entire page won’t load and your visitor will be stuck with a blank page. Asynchronous code does not have this critical problem. If for any reason, the asynchronous VWO SmartCode can’t contact our servers your page will still download and render properly.

Private and Dynamic Content Delivery Network (CDN)

VWO has invested years of engineering effort to ensure that we build the best-in-class technology and infrastructure for our customers. An important part of this is setting up our own private CDN which uses Bare Metal Servers from IBM SoftLayer’s state-of-the-art global data centers. This ensures that we always have a server close to your visitor’s location and there is minimum latency, reducing critical download time.

VWO CDN Map

VWO’s CDN is also dynamic which caches not just the static code required to run tests but also generates dynamic test variation data. This has an edge over regular CDNs since they only cache static data. By dynamically generating test packages only the relevant variation data is sent to each visitor depending on the URL they are on.

Small Size of VWO’s Test Packages

Another factor that significantly impacts page load time is the size of test packages, which determines how long it will take for the browser to download it. VWO ensures small package sizes through two methods: by intelligently understanding and recording only the precise changes that you make to your page, and individually packaging tests for a visitor to deliver only the relevant content for the URL they are on.

Let us suppose you edit the HTML of your product page template to make two changes; increase the font-size of your text and insert a ‘recommended’ icon. VWO compares your changes to the original code and detects the precise edits – the change made to the CSS property “font-size” and the insertion of a new graphic. Other systems will save the entire block of code which will also convert the dynamic content into static content and will end up showing the same description across all product pages.

Small size of VWO’s test packages

VWO’s CDN is custom built for optimal A/B testing performance. It unbundles the payload to make smaller packages for each individual test and URL. Some A/B testing tools bundle all the data for all tests running on a domain into one large package. We’ve seen package sizes of up to 3MB when a website is running many tests, which obviously increases page load time. VWO, on the other hand, only sends the data required for the test running on a particular URL to make a small, tidy payload which downloads quickly. This is especially advantageous when you’re a power-testing team running multiple tests on different parts of your domain.

VWO - Small size of test files

Having said all this, we are confident that VWO’s best-in-class technology coupled with optimal campaign settings will ensure that your website never slows down. We would also like to invite OrangeValley to work with us on setting up their campaign correctly so that they can present a true comparison of all the tools in their study.

As always, if you still have any doubts or clarifications to seek in this regard, please feel free to reach out to me directly at sparsh@wingify.com.

Happy Optimizing!

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How VWO Affects your Site Speed