Tag Archives: project

Building Production-Ready CSS Grid Layouts Today

Industries often experience evolution less as slow and steady progress than as revolutionary shifts in modality that change best practices and methodologies seemingly overnight. This is most definitely true for front-end web development.

Building Production-Ready CSS Grid Layouts Today

Our industry thrives on constant, aggressive development, and new technologies emerge on a regular basis that change the way we do things in fundamental ways.

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Building Production-Ready CSS Grid Layouts Today

How to Create, Track and Rank CRO Hypotheses So You Know What to Test

CRO hypothesis ranking

CRO makes big promises. But the way people get to those 300% lifts in conversions is by being organized. Otherwise, you find yourself in the position that a lot of marketers do: you do a test, build on the result, wait a while, do another test, wait a while… meanwhile, the big jumps in conversions, leads and revenue never really seem to manifest. That’s because only a structured approach can get you in position to make the best use of your testing time and budget. This isn’t something you want to be doing by the seat of your pants. In…

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How to Create, Track and Rank CRO Hypotheses So You Know What to Test

How To Create Native Cross-Platform Apps With Fuse

Fuse is a toolkit for creating apps that run on both iOS and Android devices. It enables you to create apps using UX Markup, an XML-based language. But unlike the components in React Native and NativeScript, Fuse is not only used to describe the UI and layout; you can also use it to add effects and animation.

How To Create Native Cross-Platform Apps With Fuse

Styles are described by adding attributes such as Color and Margin to the various elements. Business logic is written using JavaScript. Later on, we’ll see how all of these components are combined to build a truly native app.

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Glossary: Influencer Marketing

glossary Influencer Marketing

Influencer marketing is the activity of engaging with influential people in order to obtain press and/or get content disseminated to large audiences. Influencer marketing leverages the influence or reach of leaders in a particular industry, field, or even sub-culture. For example, a renowned surgeon is an influencer in the field of medical science and an athlete is an influencer in the sports/fitness industry. Companies encourage relevant influencers to recommend their products or services to their followers. Examples of Influencers Marketing An example of influencer marketing is the promotion of J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter books. Millions of people have read them…

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Glossary: Influencer Marketing

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!

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

How To Develop A Chat Bot With Node.js

In the past few months, chat bots have become very popular, thanks to Slack, Telegram and Facebook Messenger. But the chat bot idea is not new at all.

How To Develop A Chat Bot With Node.js

A chat bot interface is mentioned in the famous Turing test in 1950. Then there was Eliza in 1966, a simulation of a Rogerian psychotherapist and an early example of primitive natural language processing. After that came Parry in 1972, a simulation of a person with paranoid schizophrenia (and, yes, of course, Parry met Eliza).

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How To Develop A Chat Bot With Node.js

Web Development Reading List #154: Yarn, Deep-Fried Data, And A Guide To Stateful Components

With new frameworks and libraries emerging, the tools we have at hand are constantly changing. But it’s not only our toolkit but also the way we write code that constantly evolves — new CSS conventions are developed all the time and the best practices to write JavaScript change at least every year.

A cat in a rocket — the mascot of Yarn

But then again, we have to remind ourselves that we shouldn’t immediately jump to a new tool just because it’s available, to not rewrite the whole code of a project just because conventions have changed. No project will stop working because you’re using OOCSS instead of ITCSS or Backbone.js instead of React.js. If the project is an ongoing process and will be developed and maintained for another few years, you should evaluate to change tools from time to time, of course. But take your time. Better evaluate first, then reconsider, before you immediately jump on a train from which you don’t know where it’s heading.

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Web Development Reading List #154: Yarn, Deep-Fried Data, And A Guide To Stateful Components

I Contributed To An Open-Source Editor, And So Can You

A few months ago, Jason Grigsby’s post about autocompletion in forms made the rounds. I loved the idea of allowing users to fill in their credit card details by taking a picture of their card. What I didn’t love was learning all of the possible values for autofill by heart. I’m getting lazy in my old age.

Contributing to the open source community is easy

Lately, I’ve gotten spoiled from using an editor that does intelligent autocompletion for me, something that in the past only massive complex IDEs offered. Opening my editor of choice, I created an input element and added an autocomplete attribute, only to find that the code completion offered me the state of on or off. Disappointing.

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I Contributed To An Open-Source Editor, And So Can You

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Sailing With Sails.js: An MVC-style Framework For Node.js


I had been doing server-side programming with Symfony 2 and PHP for at least three years before I started to see some productivity problems with it. Don’t get me wrong, I like Symfony quite a lot: It’s a mature, elegant and professional framework. But I’ve realized that too much of my precious time is spent not on the business logic of the application itself, but on supporting the architecture of the framework.

Sailing With Sails.js

I don’t think I’ll surprise anyone by saying that we live in a fast-paced world. The whole startup movement is a constant reminder to us that, in order to achieve success, we need to be able to test our ideas as quickly as possible. The faster we can iterate on our ideas, the faster we can reach customers with our solutions, and the better our chances of getting a product-market fit before our competitors do or before we exceed our limited budget. And in order to do so, we need instruments suitable to this type of work.

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Sailing With Sails.js: An MVC-style Framework For Node.js

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The Battle between Short and Long Pages Continues. Guess which Scored a Point.

I think I should make a series of all the A/B tests that I have personally come across in which removing a certain element worked for one company, and adding that same element worked for another. (To understand what I mean by element, you should read this post.) After all, every business is different. And so are their target audiences.

Few months back, I came across this wonderful test in which an SEO company went from a content rich page to one with only a form and headline texts, and improved their conversions. I was intrigued, and curious to know the science behind why such pages work, and why even giants like Facebook, LinkedIn and Quora have bare minimum homepages. I have added my findings about why they work, and what the challenges of such a page could be in the same post. Do give it a read.

In fact, we, at VWO, were so inspired by this test that we decided to give it a shot. And hey, have you checked our homepage recently? And may I add, it’s working well for us as well.

For today’s case study, I have a test the bang opposite of this!

The Company

PayPanther is an all-in-one solution for free Online Invoicing, CRM, Time Tracking, & Project Management software for freelancers & businesses.

The Test

PayPanther wanted to test between a long and a short version of the ‘pricing and signup’ page. The first time they made this page, they believed that a shorter page would drive more signups as there would be lesser distraction and content to read. In this test, they setup the original page to be pitted against a page which had 3 more sections: FAQs about pricing, testimonials, and another call to action button asking people to sign up.

This is how the original looked like:

Before

And this is how the new page looked:

After

The test was run for a month on about 1000 visitors and the variation, containing FAQs and testimonials, won! It recorded an increase of 372.62% in signups.

Thrilled by the results, PayPanther has implemented this longer page as their default “pricing and signup” page. They even plan to do further tests to find out the most optimum headlines and button texts.

Why the Variation Won?

  1. The FAQs section answered the common doubts and concerns the website visitors had. It, thus, created a sense of credibility and trust.
  2. Adding testimonials work, always. I am yet to see a test in which adding testimonials hurt conversions. You can look at this, this, and this case study for examples. Of course, they have their own rules and to use them effectively, I suggest you read this excellent post to get the most benefit from testimonials.

Let’s Talk!

Tell me know what you think about this case study. Have a similar test that you did on one of your webpages? Let’s talk about it in the comments section below.

Spread the awesomeness by sharing this post with your network on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

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The Battle between Short and Long Pages Continues. Guess which Scored a Point.