Moveable Online

Moveable Online

About Moveable Online

Moveable Online acts as the IT strategy and implementation support team for design firms, agencies, corporations and institutions. Located in Toronto, we focus on providing best-in-class corporate digital strategy and implementation.

8 Web Design Tools for New Designers

web designer laptop

When you live and breathe web design and development like we do, it’s easy to forget that everyone has to start somewhere.

So we’ve collected eight of our favourite web design tools that can help web designers who are just starting out, small businesses who are looking to build their own site, or just the amateur enthusiast who’s looking to up their design chops.

Enjoy!

 

1.Pixlr

pixlr

For new web designers, shelling out $70 a month for the Adobe Creative Suite can seem a little steep. Especially if you’re not sure how often you’re going to use those incredibly powerful programs.

That’s where Pixlr comes in.

There’s no doubt that it’s not as powerful as Photoshop. However, it’ll get you most of the way there, and it’s completely free to use.

Its web-based app is one of the most popular photo editors in the world, and with a layout-based system, you can easily transfer your skills to Photoshop when you’re ready.

 

2. Affinity

affinity

Affinity is another Photoshop alternative. While it does cost $70 or so, it’s only a one-off cost and then yours forever – no recurring payments.

So if you’ve been designing for a while, it might be a good option before you upgrade to Creative Cloud. For most beginner web designers, there’s little that they might want to do that Affinity can’t help them with.

 

3. Coverr

cover

Coverr is a completely free source of stock hero image videos. Amazingly beautiful and completely free, it’s a great way for you to make your designs really pop off the screen with an asset that traditionally, cost thousands to buy or build.

 

4. Proto.io

Proto.io

One of the most challenging things for a designer is knowing whether an idea is worth pursuing before they invest the money (and time!) to develop it.

Back in the day, designers simply accepted these limitations, working with wireframes and then handing off and hoping for the best.

Fortunately, those dark days are behind us, in part because of how good (and inexpensive, and fast) prototyping has become.

Enter Proto.io. They’re a software company who lets designers quickly build and test prototypes and ideas with absolutely no coding requirement.

You can even design and build in Proto if you want, or import directly from Photoshop, before pushing it to UserTesting (more on that in a minute) to validate.

The result is that you can validate ideas quickly so you’re putting effort into ones that have legs, without having to guess what your users will like.

 

5. CodePen

code pen

CodePen might be more familiar to developers than designers, but the line blurs enough that it can be considered a great tool for everyone to have in their back pocket.

The tool is a sandbox where you can write (or copy-paste) code and code snippets to see how it’s going to look.

For designers, this is great when you’re starting to incorporate multimedia fields and images through your site and you want to quickly get an idea of what it’s going to look like.

Plus, with a huge community of designers and developers, it’s a great place to grab animations for your site that you can use for free.

 

6. UserTesting

user testing

Once you’ve built a great design or prototype, you need to test it. That’s where UserTesting comes in. Priced on a per-test basis and offering a huge range of deliverables, UserTesting gives you incredible insights into what’s working on your site or Proto.io prototype (the tools integrate really well).

With a giant panel of users, video recordings of the testing, and robust metrics on what’s happening during the sessions, you can pinpoint where your site or app is breaking for your specific users and hone your design accordingly.

 

7. ColorZilla

colorzilla

You know when you see an incredible website where you love the colour scheme, but you can’t figure exactly what shade it is?

Wonder no more.

ColorZilla is a Chrome extension you can use to quickly get the exact colours, then and there. There are other features as well, like Advanced Colour Picker (like Photoshop’s), and colour palette analyzer, plus it copies the colours directly to your clipboard, so you can see, identify, and copy in seconds.

 

8. WhatFont

what font

WhatFont is like ColorZilla, but for fonts.

See a font you love but you’re not sure what it is? WhatFont lets you identify what font is being used on any site, so you can use it on your own designs.

It doesn’t work with every font, but it will help you identify all the basic web fonts and a good chunk of the more unusual ones too.

 

Wrap-Up

There you have it. Eight tools you can use to drive your budding web design career and get your deliverables (or even your own site) looking awesome.

Got web design questions? We’d love to hear ‘em. Get in touch and we’ll see if we can help you out!

8 Key Features for Websites in the Education Sector

college website

One of the most challenging types of websites to design and deploy are those of education institutions.

Students, prospective students, faculty, administrators, graduates, and alumni all have specific needs. And unlike websites of other big organizations, these user groups have few overlapping needs.

education website

Which is why so many educational websites feel behind the curve.

Fortunately, there are plenty of best practices out there to help bring these hulking websites firmly into 2017. Here are our top 8.

Continue reading

6 Key Features for a Professional Association Website

man on tablet

Your professional association’s website is the centrepiece of your customer communication. First impressions will be based on it. Having one that reflects your brand in a refined and designed way is an absolute must.

Here are six features to implement in order to get the most from your digital dollars.

 

1. Mobile optimized

BILD Mobile

In 2015, around 36% of traffic to websites came from mobile devices.

Since then, that number has increased to 46%.

Some other staggering mobile statistics are:

  • 80% of users own a smartphone (Smart Insights)
  • 61% of people are unlikely to return to your site if you have a bad mobile experience (McKinsey & Co)
  • Conversion rates on smartphones are up 64% compared to desktop conversion rates (socPub)

The conclusion is clear – a good mobile experience is no longer optional.

Fortunately, just as the demand for high quality mobile experiences has increased, so too has the technology to provide them.

Companies can now choose from responsive web design for maximum flexibility and minimum fuss, native mobile apps for the best possible experience, or mobile sites for content specific to customers on the go.

 

2. Clear, simple navigation

RCDSO navigation

Professional association websites are usually chock full of information, so navigation is a key issue. Generally, simple options are better for main menus, with sub-menus where necessary for additional information.

As with navigation for other websites, make button labels consistent with:

  • Audience expectations (for example, ‘news’, ‘tools’, ‘events and more’)
  • Each other – consistent menus and page layouts confirm audience expectations
  • Other websites – users have become accosted to a way that websites work. The more you comply with existing norms, the better your website will be.

It’s also a good idea to include quick links for your most requested web services, either on the home page or available no matter where visitors are on your site.

 

3. Powerful SEO

SEO

There’s no point in having an amazing website if no one can find it.

Simple SEO practices like using target keywords for posts and ensuring you have readable, friendly URLs will help you make yourself easy to find for your target audience. Even if your users are motivated to get to your specific website, most will probably type the organization name into Google to get there.

You need to make sure that you’re at the top of page one.

 

4. Strong call to action (CTA)

RCDSO website on tablet

For any website, even professional associations, driving users to specific actions is critical to a great experience.

You need to make it clear what you want users to do and easy for them to do it.

It’s a good idea to include an audience funnel on your homepage as well. This will prevent visitors from getting lost and makes them more likely to stay around.

 

5. Images and video

Chicago Fund iMac

Humans are fundamentally visual creatures. We can process information in a picture of video at a phenomenal speed compared to reading. What’s more, video and images are increasingly popular mediums – and ones that you should be considering as part of your core messaging strategy.

 

6. Use a content management tool (CMS)

CMS

We tend to focus on what visitors see when we talk about websites.

But the back end of your site is just as important.

The most active professional associations are always releasing new content:

  • It reinforces their leadership position within the industry
  • Drives organizational value and encourages user sign up

A CMS makes the processes around content production and organization easy. You can create and publish content to your digital properties quickly and efficiency, without needing to contact webmasters every time you write a blog post.

 

When it comes to web design and functionality, we could go on forever. But we won’t. Use the features above as a starting point for creating an exciting, dynamic web presence that your visitors and association members will love and new prospects can’t wait to check out.

Implementing Google Markup on Your Website

IBM search results

This is an update to an earlier version of this article. It has been edited for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

By now, you’ve likely seen rich search results popping up in Google for brands and publishers, and you might be wondering how you can get your site to appear in search results like that.

In this article, we’re going to cover how you can enable what is referred to as “Google Publisher Markup”, and why it’s valuable for your site.

 

What can you do with Publisher markup?

Over the years, Google has added more and more rich snippets to its search results pages.

Listicles, answers to questions, definitions, directions, instructions, company profiles, reviews, and the weather are all things that Google can now pull from content and repurpose into a search result.

Publisher markup (along with Schema.org) is the technical HTML implementation of this.

Publishers traditionally allowed companies to post their own information in a short bio (“meta description”) as a search result when people Googled them.

For example, here’s ours:

moveable online search results

Today, the same functionality has been expanded to include other capabilities that let you:

  • Add a searchbox to your site

washable search bar

  • Provide a specific name for your business to show up in organic search (or multiple names)
  • Submit a specific logo to show up in search results and the knowledge graph, like in the example of IBM at the top of the page
  • Add breadcrumbs
  • Add social media links to SERPs
  • Redirect people to your app instead

 

Why bother with markup?

Markup makes your search result easier to read and understand. It helps drive user engagement. Markup gives MOST users MOST of the information about your company they’re going to be looking for.

Dave’s Computers Search resultsFor example, imagine that you were getting your computer fixed by Dave’s Computers, but you’re going to be 20 minutes late picking it up.

Without Markup, you have to dig through three pages of the site to get a contact number.

With Markup, it’s just one click. You can even call directly from the search result for a more streamlined experience.

Second, snippets will get more important as people increasingly search via voice tools like Siri or Google Assistant. In conjunction with the Schema.org project, Google is moving from telling you where to get information to providing that information themselves.

This is an important shift.

As Google becomes more of a one-stop shop, they’ll prioritize companies that make it easy for them to pull information in the form they want it. To catalyse the change, Google’s made it good for SEO, both in terms of ranking and in how your result looks in the SERPs:

  • Google My Business links your Google+ account to your search results. This ports over the information to your search results (e.g. phone numbers).
  • Enable breadcrumbs so people can see where they’re going to land before the click.

 

Accelerated Mobile Pages

The final benefit of using Publisher markup is integration with the Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) project.

It’s a system of building web pages in stripped-down HTML so they respond extremely quickly over slow connections on mobile devices. You can publish your site with AMP using a plugin if you’re using a CMS, or you can build your own AMP pages.

Either way, AMP helps your site by:

  • Providing a visual cue in the SERPs that your site is speedy on a phone
  • Letting your content into the Top Stories carousel
  • Pulling enriched snippets from your content for certain content types like reviews, recipes, music, video, local businesses, and TV and movies

NY Times AMP results

 

How to add Publisher markup

Fortunately, you don’t have to bother with rel=publisher links anymore.

Now, adding Publisher markup to your site is a simple task:

  1. Register your business with the search console.
  2. Configure your information like name, number, address, and hours to display exactly how you want to them too.
  3. Add a specific site name to search results using JSON-LD or Microdata.
  4. Add your logo to the knowledge graph using Microdata in your page header.
  5. Add social media links using this microdata markup in your page header.

Now, you’re set for the basics of Publisher markup.

However, there’s plenty of additional work you can do to make your site even more user (and Google) friendly.

  • Adding breadcrumbs makes it easy for people to see where they’re going before they click.
  • Adding a searchbox using markup language on your homepage reduces the clicks for users to get where they’re going.

 

Over to you

Now it’s over to you.

Making your site exceptionally user friendly doesn’t have to be an arduous task anymore. Google’s Schema.org project, AMP, and Publisher markup present brands with unique opportunities to provide users the information they want at the click of a link. And with distinct SEO benefits as well, the opportunity cost of not being on Publisher is only going to increase.

At the end of the day, Publisher can help make your customers’ lives easier.  And no one’s ever lost business doing that.

5 Things to Make Users Love Your Website

mobile website

Providing a robust, designed user experience is hard. It’s an iterative process requiring lots of tweaking and detailing, testing and retesting to continually improve.

And while not every company has the time/resources to pour into it, these five guidelines can help improve virtually any website.

 

1. Get rid of drop-down menus

drop down menu

Holding a mouse over menus that keep disappearing is a surefire way to drive your users crazy.

Just stop doing it.

What’s more, the Nielsen Norman Group recommends using them sparingly because “Drop-down menus are often more trouble than they are worth.”

Here’s why:

  • They hide information and make discovering your site harder.
  • They take up too much screen space when expanded.
  • There are other alternatives that work better (e.g. endless scroll on mobile).
  • Hovering over menu after menu only to lose the whole structure at the end is outrageously frustrating.

Of course, these can’t always be avoided. In some cases, large websites are are simply too complex for drop-down menus to be avoided, and can even warrant a ‘mega menu’.

But if you can, make your users happy, and use drop down only sparingly.

 

2. Refine your design

Luum Textiles

Image source: Luum Textiles

Almost every single website has one or two design elements that don’t add much, but the designer/developer/approval committee/stakeholders absolutely loved. A big part of making a great site is paring back elements that don’t add much at all, so the ones that do can really shine.

A good rule of thumb is that if you can’t explain why something is on a page, then it shouldn’t be included on that page.

For example, imagine you’re designing a features page, and you want an icon at the top because it looks nice.

While it might look nice, that’s not a specific function (unless, of course, your target audience doesn’t know what features are but understands intricate iconography. Then, by all means.)

Which means it should be cut.

This sort of ruthless element assassination keeps your site lean, fast, and easy to understand – no fluff, no nonsense.

 

3. Hone your copy to add value

copywriting

If you really want to get your users to love your website, you need to refine what you say so they’re getting the most bang for their time.

Remember: your users are people. And as a rule, people don’t have a lot of spare time. They’re busy with all sorts of other things. That’s why if you look at a graph of load time vs visitor retention, there’s a huge drop off after three seconds – people will move on to something else.

Which means your copy needs to convey exactly why they should give you the time of day, right at the very start.

Take, for example, the headline for Trello, a project management tool:

Trello headline

Trello lets you work more collaboratively and get more done.

Instantly, they tell the user:

  • What they do
  • How they do it
  • What the benefit is

All your website copy should aim to be as focused, concise, and as user-orientated as Trello’s headline.

 

4. Give content away for free

moveable online resources

The value of a blog is well documented. But that’s not the only content stream you have available to you to reach your users and give them what they what.

Value-add or protected content, where you get your users to give up something (usually contact information) to access it, is usually seen as a marketing trick.

And one that users tolerate, but don’t love.

The key to getting your users to love your site is to create content (even protected content) that’s so useful they’re lining up to get it. 

For example, if you produce an amazing, long, and detailed guide to solving a precise and technical problem, your users will be so grateful they’ll love your site forever, regardless of the fact they’re on your email list now.

 

5. Make your processes easy

Finally, the best possible thing you can do for your users is make your processes easy.

It’s as simple as that.

Whether it’s an onboarding process, an inbound sales process, or finding contact information so they can give you a call, make it easy for your users.

That’s what unites incredible user experiences and sets them apart from mediocre ones: they’re easy.

For example, if you have some value-add content, focus on what you’re asking for in exchange. How much value does it really add to ask who people work for? If it doesn’t offer much for your purposes, that’s a field you can get rid of.

This sort of micro-optimization will make your overall site easier to use, and thus, your users happier overall.

 

Conclusion

You don’t have to be Apple, or have a team of UX/UI designers on staff, to make your users love your site.

Just be refining, streamlining, and optimizing and testing over time, you can build a website that is simple, elegant, and great at what it does.

If you do that, your users are sure to love it. Guaranteed.

Have you got a thorny website that your users just can’t seem to get behind? Get in touch! We might be able to help.

How You Can Leverage the Nudge in Your Digital Marketing

nudge

A few years ago, we covered some prime examples of nudge marketing. As you can tell from that post, we love a good nudge campaign – it’s a subtle, simple way to get a lot of bang for your marketing buck.

So we’re back today with some more examples of how the humble nudge can be used well. We’re covering a few new nudge strategies, as well as revisiting some old favourites from our earlier post.

But before we dive in, here’s a brief refresher on the humble nudge.

 

What’s Nudge Marketing?

There are no surprises here—nudge marketing is exactly what it sounds like. Instead of hitting your customers over the head with your call to action, the idea behind nudge marketing is that you can gently push your customers towards the action you want using subtle cues.

Essentially, nudge marketing is a consumer influencing strategy: by manipulating how and when information is presented to consumers, you can steer them towards the behavior you’re hoping for. By subtly promoting the choice you want people to make, they’ll gravitate towards it without even noticing.

There’s a pretty strong theoretical basis for this. Nudge theory has been prevalent in politics and behavioral economics for decades, and it was popularized in a 2008 book by economists Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein. In the book, they describe a nudge as ‘any aspect of the choice architecture that alters people’s behavior in a predictable way without forbidding any options or significantly changing their economic incentives.’

So what does this look like in practice?

There are countless examples of nudges out there: the UK government has had its own dedicated ‘Nudge Unit’ dedicated to encouraging people to make better social choices; supermarkets use nudge marketing to boost produce sales; and nudges have been used in some industries to achieve a ‘zero accident’ workplace culture.

So how can you use the power of the nudge to your advantage? Here are five examples of easy-to-implement nudge strategies.

 

1. The Cognitive Ease Nudge

This one is pretty intuitive: people are less likely to do something – whether it’s buying a product or signing up for your service – if they think it’s going to be hard. On the flip side, a perception of ease can be a powerful nudge towards engagement or purchasing.

Take the map feature on Zipcar’s website for example. They’ve identified a major barrier to car share use (the perception that shared cars are scarce and hard to find), and they’ve used the map to subtly tell users how easy a Zipcar is to find and use.

zipcar nudge

The brilliance here is that they’ve figured out what their potential customers perceive as the hard part of using their service, and they’ve sent out subtle cues that they’ve got those concerns covered, eliminating a major barrier stopping customers from taking the plunge.

 

2. Embedded Nudges

This nudge works by embedding a desired action into your website’s user flow. If a nudge towards a particular action pops up at a natural point in your user’s experience, they’re more likely to take your cue. Embedded nudges are particularly great for getting people to sign up or subscribe to your content, so you’ll see this nudge a lot on blogs or news sites.

In the past, marketers tended to use obvious, disruptive embedded nudges like modal windows. But recently, there’s been a shift toward subtler embedded nudges.

The Harvard Business Review’s website does this especially well. At the bottom of every article, they tell you how many free articles you have left to read, and then prompt you to register to access more. If you’re reading (and enjoying) an article and you see a subtle prompt to subscribe at the bottom of the page, the chances are good that you’ll at least be tempted to take them up on that cue.

HBR Nudge

 

3. The Scarcity and Loss Aversion Nudge

This nudge sparks users’ FOMO. Advertisers have leveraged the fear of missing out for decades, and that’s because creating a perception of scarcity works as a powerful trigger for customers. Humans are naturally loss averse – it turns out that people’s desire to avoid loss is even greater than their desire to acquire gains.

amazon scarcity marketing

via Amazon

Scarcity comes in a few different forms: you can make your content seem exclusive, you can make an offer time-limited, or you can show potential customers that supplies of your product or service are running out. All of these things nudge people towards taking action quickly.

 

 

4. The Social Proof Nudge

We covered the social proof nudge in our previous blog post, but we’re revisiting it here because it’s a tried and true nudge method.

The basic premise of this nudge is that people are pack animals, and we love to follow the crowd.

There are a few approaches you can take to the social proof nudge. You can tell your site visitors what people have liked in the past, or you can show off your social network connections and media likes and follows. You could feature ‘as seen in’ media logos on your site, or throw some influencer endorsements up on your web page.

As with the embedded nudge, however, social proof nudges have been getting more understated (but no less effective) over the past few years.

AirBnb’s booking system is a good example of the social proof nudge in action.  When you’re browsing, they tell you how many other people are searching their site for the same dates as you.

airbnb

And once you land on a home to rent, the site tells you how many other travelers have ‘saved’ the place you’re looking at, and shows you other travelers’ reviews. AirBnb’s use of the social nudge gets bonus points for activating the scarcity nudge at the same time.

airbnb-2

 

5. Authority

People trust the experts, and subtle references to authority and expertise can provide a good nudge. You can do this through expert testimonials and quotes, but our favorite authority nudges are well-chosen, well-placed statistics. People tend to perceive stats – especially those that indicate success or know-how – as symbols of authority.

This nudge is a bit more of a long-game – it’s not going to directly steer people into taking a particular action, but that’s OK. It’ll still nudge people towards trusting and engaging with your product, which is a pretty good outcome if you ask us.

Here’s a good example from Hubspot’s site:

hubspot nudge

 

Wrap Up

Nudges are deceptively simple – they’re not flashy, and they don’t have a lot of bells and whistles. But done well, an unassuming nudge can set off your users’ complex psychological triggers in powerful ways.

The Best 6 Tools for New Website Owners

new website tools

Are you a the owner of a new website, and not sure where to start? We’ve got you covered.

Here are the best (mostly free) tools for you to get your site off on the right foot.

 

1. Who.is

who.is

Every new website owner knows the pain of trying to get the domain that they want. It can be frustrating to enter option after option into your hosting provider’s search bar but having all of your preferred domains rejected because someone else owns it.

With Whois.net, you can save yourself a lot of that pain. It lets you know immediately if a domain is available and, more importantly, who owns it if it’s not. You might not want to shell out for the perfect .com domain, but with Whois, at least it’s an option.

 

2. Screaming Frog SEO

screaming frog

One of the biggest challenges for new website owners is getting your site ranked and found in organic search.

Screaming Frog SEO can help. Their free tool, SEO Spider, gives you incredible insight into any website (including your own). Essentially, it lets you see what Google’s web crawlers see, which lets you identify your SEO weaknesses and iterate on your strengths to propel yourself to the top of the Google rankings.

 

3. Google AdWords

keyword planner

Even if you’re not running any PPC campaigns, you can still reap major benefits from using AdWords as a prospecting tool.

With plenty of campaign explorer and design tools, it’s a great way to get a snapshot of what people are searching for around your business, which keywords have the most competition, and where there might be opportunity for you.

If you’re launching a new site, you’re unlikely to rank for competitive keywords. But by looking at high volume, low cost keywords in AdWords, you can find holes in the market to fill.

 

4. Google Trends

Another free tool from Google, Trends lets you look at search volume changes over time and compare different terms. For more established companies and websites, it’s a good way to identify how people are engaging with your brand.

But for new website owners, there are two core functions.

1. Identifying new opportunities

Using Google trends, you can look for search terms and ideas and how their search volume has changed over time. This gives you amazing insight into what trends on the up and up and what’s declining.

For example, if we look at search volumes of responsive design over five years:

responsive design google trend

You can see that there was a peak and now there’s declining interest.

But when we look at the search term native app, we see the opposite trend:

native app google trend

So we can deduce that in recent years, people have become much more interested in mobile apps than in responsive design, so that’s what we should be talking about.

This sort of research can help you narrow your website content strategy early so you’re always talking about rising trends, not falling one.

2. Finding related topics/keyword ideas

Using the related terms function, you can get ideas for where your customers’ heads are at. Running searches on key competitors, ideas, keywords, and industry-specific trending topics will give you lots of insight into what connections and being made. Then, you can tailor your website to exploit them.

 

5. Stripe

stripe

If you’re running an ecommerce website, choosing how you’re going to accept payments is one of the biggest decisions you’re going to make. A lot goes into it, like user experience, your own experience, what metrics you can generate, functionality, and of course, cost.

And one that should be on your shortlist? Stripe.

With an awesome interface and super easy implementation, you can start accepting payments right away. And with a focus on design and user flows, you can drive more profit from your site with less drop off and abandonment.

 

6. Asana

asana

Finally, as a new website owner you’re going to quickly run into the problem of lots to do and no time to do it.

Asana is a free project management tool that can help you keep a handle on your towering workstack. And as you realize you’re not equipped to do everything you need to, it’s easy to add freelancers and keep everyone on the website project on the same page.

Turning your fledging website or ecommerce store into the next unicorn might not be easy (or, frankly, very realistic). But with these six tools, the path towards runaway success is a whole lot easier to trod down.

Have you got a favourite website tool that we missed? Let us know in the comments!

5 More Characteristics of a Great NPD Project

new product development

We’ve talked about New Product Development (NPD) projects here on the blog before. But there’s always more to say on the topic.

NPD is a tricky business, and it’s all too easy to make a misstep. As we said in our previous NPD post, having a great idea is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to developing a new product. Once you’ve had your flash of inspiration, you’ll need to follow through with a great strategy.

There are a lot of moving parts here: testing your ideas, identifying your target market, finding your price, and defining your product. And since every new product is different, there’s no one-size-fits-all process.

But in the midst of all this complexity, it’s possible to find some common ground in successful NPD projects. Here are five characteristics of great NPD processes.

 

1. They’re based on solid research

A successful NPD project requires a thorough understanding of a laundry list of items: your target market, the market need, your unique value proposition, your competition, your pricing options – the list goes on. There’s no point launching a product if you don’t know anything about your target market, or if your product doesn’t have anything setting it apart from the competition.

If you’ve got existing market research, use that as a springboard for going even deeper. If your existing market research is less-than-impressive, then you’ll want to invest in that, stat.

 

2. They test the product (and then test again)

We’re big fans of user testing and an iterative approach. That’s because they put user needs at the forefront and respond to changing user demands.

While we usually talk about iteration and user testing in the context of already existing products, they can work wonders for product development as well. Testing your product proposal with customers will give you valuable feedback and insights that you can use to improve the product you’re developing in a way that you know users will love.

 

3. They’re focused

Successful NPD projects avoid the temptation of doing too much. By now, most of us are familiar with the dreaded “feature creep” – the tendency to keep adding features to your product past the point of usefulness. Feature creep is a problem because it leads to products that are needlessly complex and hard to use.

But it’s also a problem for NPD processes. Once you’re finished your research and product testing stages, you’ll likely be tempted to widen the scope of your project, bring on even more team members, and add features to your product. There’s nothing wrong with this in theory – but in reality, it can slow your project down and throw unnecessary complications into the mix. Good NPD projects tend to stay focused on specific, clear objectives.

Which brings us to another characteristic of successful NPDs…

 

4. They have a timeline

timeline

Good NPD projects tend to combine this focus on clear objectives with a commitment to a hard timeline. In our experiences with NPDs, we’ve found that the best approach here is to distill everything down into manageable project phases. Each phase should have a deadline attached to it, and a solid roadmap for getting things done. NPDs rely on a lot of creativity and inspiration, but behind all of that, you need a pretty stubborn commitment to achieving your targets on time.

 

5. They’re adaptable and flexible

This one is a caveat to all that talk about deadlines and project phases and strict time management.

Before setting out on an ambitious NPD project, you should know that things aren’t going to go as planned. Markets change, demand for products like yours might suddenly dry up, the economic winds can change, and new opportunities can even emerge.

This uncertainty doesn’t have to jeopardize your timeline, though. Good NPDs build uncertainty into their process. In our work, we’ve noticed that the best practice here is to try to project at least two iterations down the line with your long-run objectives in mind. There’s always going to be a fair bit of unpredictability when you’re developing a new product, but baking in a hefty dose of flexibility into your processes will help you absorb it.

Show & Tell: 7 More Resources on Voice Search

Amazon Echo Show

A few years ago, we wrote a post about resources for voice search. We covered what it was, where it came from, basic commands, and how you can leverage voice search when you’re producing content.

Since then, voice has come a long way. So, with Amazon launching their Echo Show earlier this month (more on that in a minute) we thought it would be worth updating our original post.

Here are seven more resources to let you understand where voice search is today, and how you can take advantage of it with SEO and content.

 

1.  Google tackled the importance of voice search back in 2014 on their blog. In an infographic, they released a tantalizing sliver of data on search trends in relation to voice search. Stats like 55% of teens and 41% of adults are searching with voice.

voice search infographic

There’s also details on what we’re using search for. Definitely worth exploring. (Link)

 

2. Neil Patel, the content and SEO marketing guru, produced a short cheat sheet with everything you need to know about search. While it’s not really everything you need to know (it’s only three pages long) it’s a great way to get a rough idea of what you need to do and how you need to do to get your site voice-search compatible with structured data, schema and XML markups (Link).

 

3. Yoast, who we’ve mentioned on the blog before for their great SEO WordPress plugin, wrote a piece on how you can understand what people are searching for with voice. Basically, people search the five W’s: Who, What, When, Where and Why.

voice search

Producing content that answers those questions (e.g. an FAQ) is a good way to rank for voice-based search queries. (Link)

 

4. Search Engine Land weighs in with a critical SEO strategy for how to rank for questions people are asking around your niche for a local business. Voice search will often use spatial context to serve results. For example, you’re more likely to say:

‘OK Google, where’s the best craft beer near me?’

Compared to:

‘OK google, where’s the best craft beer in Waterloo?’

when you’re in Toronto.

This article will help local businesses rank for relevant searches when they happen nearby. (Link)

 

5. If you’re still a little bewildered on how you’re going to turn voice search into the next big thing for your company, Moz’s blog is great place to visit. They’ve produced resources around what voice search is, who’s using it (and what for), and how it differs from typed searches.

They’ve also gone one step further with a step-by-step guide for how to use PPC to not just build but optimize your search content over time.

 

6. The Amazon Echo Show is the latest addition to Alexa’s family, and with details released only earlier this month, there’s not a lot of guides and resources (yet) for how you can use it to drive your KPIs.

amazon echo show

 

However, even now, there are some early conclusions we can draw:

  • If you’re not already, start producing video content that answers questions.
  • Third party integrations are going to be a big part of the Show, just like with the rest of the Echo family. If you’ve got an app that benefits from video functionality, make sure you’re working on integration capabilities.

 

7. Finally, we get to future proofing. If you’re already optimizing for voice search, you’re testing new keywords with PPC ads, and you’re ready to integrate with the Echo Show at a moment’s notice, what’s next?

Search Engine Land tries to answer that exact question, detailing the challenges of ad space on digital assistants, the role VR will likely play, and what marketers need to be ready for. It’s worth a read if you feel like you’re already on top of everything else.

 

Summary

Voice search, via mobile search, in-home, and personal digital assistants like Alexa and Cortana, is on the rise. It’s going to be an increasingly relevant part of our lives as devices move out of the early adopter phase and into the hands of the public at large, and as the market stratifies to offer a range of price points (just like smart phones did).

The result will be more voice driven search traffic. What’s more, it’s going to increasingly become the default way people search, rather than an auxiliary to typed queries.

People may soon expect that they should be able to get information from your website without having to look at a screen. To keep a step ahead of consumer demands, businesses will need to embrace voice search, and use these resources to keep their websites voice search friendly.

Have you got a great tip for how to optimize for voice search? Let us know in the comments below!

How Teknion Used Sitefinity to Transform Its Business

teknion banner

You may not have heard of Teknion, but you’ve almost certainly sat on the company’s furniture before.

Teknion specializes in designing, manufacturing, and installing office furnishings, systems, and architecture products all over the world.

Some of their better known clients include LinkedIn, SickKids, Trip Advisor, Samsung, Roots Canada, and Harley-Davidson.

But like a lot of enterprise companies, they had accumulated a lot of online content. So they turned to a new CMS, Sitefinity (which was installed and configured by our team), to help them better catalogue it all, making it more readily available for website users.

Upgrading to a top-tier CMS transformed Teknion’s business in six key ways. Here’s how:

 

1. Consolidation

placeit (9)First, the Sitefinity platform enabled the Teknion digital team to take stock of their digital properties and consolidate them into a few key websites. It meant that for both internal and external users, it was no longer a struggle to find what you were looking for.

This digital consolidation had benefits beyond an improved user experience, though. Teknion uses regional sales and marketing teams to expand their reach. With a few digital properties, it was easier to use the site to reinforce the company’s brand voice, thus building national brand value among semi-autonomous teams.

Plus, having fewer properties dramatically reduced the business’s maintenance costs, freeing up developer time and resources for other long-term projects.

 

2. Content personalization

Now, there is a downside to the sort of consolidation we mentioned above – reduced personalization. But in using Sitefinity as its CMS, Teknion is able to produce and launch personalized content specific to regional markets.

Basically, they get the best of both worlds – easy content management with a few digital properties, and personalized content for audiences in key markets that suits those unique market needs.

 

3. Improved customer experience

teknion inspiration pageTraditionally, Teknion relied on printed marketing materials, catalogues and sales documents to drive leads and close deals. But this system had some obvious limitations:

  • The breadth of their range of products and services made catalogues unnecessarily restrictive
  • Many services (e.g. planning and visualization) need a computer anyways

Originally, the Teknion team tried to navigate these problems as best they could with a combination of excessive sales collateral creation and, at one point, actually mailing out CDs.

Now, all of those assets that had previously been printed are available via the updated website. Users can browse products, plan, visualize their space, and get much more useful information to help them make a decision.

Sitefinity makes all that possible, and allows Teknion to work with inbound and content-led marketing in a way that wasn’t previously possible.

 

4. Streamlined legacy asset management

Because of the sheer volume of content Teknion produces, including new products, content for inbound leads, guides, case studies, and other design and architecture resources, managing the asset lifecycle was critical to its team.

Sitefinity, through an integrated Digital Asset Management (DAM), makes it easy to track a piece of content, set expiry dates, and manage its removal. By enabling easy content pruning, the DAM improves the overall quality of what’s on the site while reducing content bloat.

 

5. Shift from a developer-focused to user-focused site

teknion homepage

Teknion homepage

Before Sitefinity, Teknion was a pure HTML website that was built developer-first.

Making even small changes required a developer. Uploading, managing, and deleting content required development help. What’s more, the experience was dated and unpleasant – and users voted with their clicks, bouncing away rather than trying to dig through to find the information they wanted.

Now, their website is a core part of how Teknion presents its services to clients. Making changes on the fly is simple through Sitefinity’s interface, and the whole experience is responsive so it looks great across all devices.

 

6. Measurable results

Teknion mobile siteThe last major transformation that Sitefinity enabled for Teknion has to do with trackability. Remember those traditional marketing materials like brochures or direct mail drops? Well, divining any sort of meaningful data from those is extremely hard. After all, how do you know at which page in a catalogue people get bored at? Or which page makes them pick up the phone and call you?

Since going digital, Teknion is able to assign far more accountability to their sales and marketing activity, and more accurately attribute and measure ROI.

For example, following the redevelopment of the Teknion website with on the Sitefinity platform, unique visits have increased 25%, with total visits increasing by 19%. Those sorts of numbers can be easily assigned a dollar value based on conversion rates, and the Teknion team can start to weigh up digital improvements against other sales or marketing activity to optimize their marketing spend.

Essentially, Sitefinity has allowed Teknion to emerge as a truly data-driven organization.

 

Summary

The use of the Sitefinity CMS has totally transformed how the Teknion team approaches their website, content, marketing, and customers. It’s allowed them to position the website as the central node to everything they do, streamlining multiple different activity and sales funnel positions in one place.

And because of its ease of use and adaptability, Teknion can provide a level of support to regional offices and clients alike that would never have been possible without Sitefinity.

Sitefinity has allowed Teknion to transform themselves into a digital-first company, and they’ve been reaping the rewards ever since.