The Importance of White Space on the Web

The way we create, view, and understand content changes everyday, which keeps web designers on their toes. As new trends emerge, technology enables new ideas, fonts become more accessible, and filters change the way we look at an image, I like to keep close a fundamental design element that I learned early on that is key to hierarchy and visual storytelling – white space.

White Space is:

  • Harmonious
  • Purposeful
  • Emphasis


Source: Lines Conference


White Space isn’t:

  • Empty
  • Lacking
  • Under-utilized


Your content needs to breathe.

Web designers use white space to guide the user through content, and to craft how the user understands a given subject. Allowing room for the eye to find the start, dive into the body, and take visual breaks is key to comprehension.



Source: Flipboard

Finding a rhythm of content and white space creates an enjoyable user experience and allows the user to read, browse, or click in an intuitive way.

Enhance Your Message

Removing visual distraction allows the user to focus on what really matters. Guiding users to take action or understand what’s most important can be achieved without adding a single element. By simplifying the presentation, the content becomes more important.



Source: BMW

Effective use of white space is a conscious brand decision that is often associated with high-end, luxurious brands and a universal technique that can be applied to any type of content. Giving the message space makes it valuable to the eye.

White Space = Conversion

The goal for any marketing website boils down to conversion. Whether it’s to purchase, book, join, sign up, or follow – we design the experience to guide the user. An essential part of this is presenting them with navigation options in the right location and free of distraction. Allowing the primary call to action to stand on it’s own through proper use of white space will encourage the user to take action, increasing conversion.


Source: Nike

Something to think about

“Good design is obvious. Great design is transparent.” – Joe Sparano

“A designer knows he has achieved perfection not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.” – Antoine de Saint Exupéry

“Space is the breath of art.” – Frank Lloyd Wright

“The empty space on a page can be every bit as important as the space occupied by imagery, because even empty space serves a purpose and supports the visual integrity of a layout.” – Jason Santa Maria


Featured UpTrender – Mark Heinsman

This post is part of a series highlighting the talented team of UpTrending. We believe in hiring the best and brightest in all areas of expertise, and it shows in the wide range of personalities and skills we have on our team. But our team members are more than just talented professionals – and you deserve to know them a bit better.

This month, we get to talk with Mark Heinsman, a key member of our Web Development team. Mark joined UpTrending earlier this year, and comes from a background of remote agency work, as well as freelance.


When people ask what you do, what’s your answer?

“I build websites.”


Simple enough. How’d you get started with developing websites?

I dabbled in web development back in middle school but it was in the form of building extremely rudimentary, table based, flat HTML pages using Microsoft Word. I didn’t really get into the field until college.


Was Programming your course of study?

Actually, I received my Bachelors in Advertising with a Minor in Graphic Design.


What’s your path from art to development look like?

I spent two years as an Art Director at an agency here in Virginia Beach. I then transitioned into web development for a small remote agency that specializes in nonprofit work. Art has always been a big part of my life but coding has become more of a passion in recent years.


And after those stops, you joined UpTrending. Why?

UpTrending is a remote agency, but it isn’t small. I loved the flexibility of working remotely but I was tired of working at a smaller shop where I had no backup when multiple deadlines hit at the same time.


Speaking of your backup and support team, what’s a common misconception about developers?

We’re all nerds.


Break the stereotype, then – what are some of your hobbies?

I’m really into rock climbing. It’s really healthy to step away for the computer for a couple days and get outside!


Do you find any correlation between rock climbing and coding?

Would it be a stretch to say that the problem solving aspect of climbing translates into my coding skills? That’s my favorite part of my job – the problem solving aspect.


Can you give an example?

After learning how to code for about four months I was working on a customized e-commerce site. The company I was working on it for had me on part-time to test my skill levels. My boss had been coding for years and after I spent all night solving a complicated plugin hack to add a feature we were working on he was shocked and said, “How the heck did you do that?!” The next month they hired me full-time.


Wow, that’s awesome! So, what’s your least favorite part of the job?

It’s frustrating when clients choose to do something I know is not in their best interest, but they won’t listen to my professional advice. Thankfully that doesn’t usually happen!


Take a second to talk to future clients, and anyone who works with developers. What advice can you give them?

Make sure the project deliverables a clear. Don’t forget to mention any big functionality till the end.


And speaking of clients, can you talk about some of the client work you’ve enjoyed most?

I’ve done a lot of work on the Chartboost and SumoLogic websites. Whenever I’m telling someone about what I do I’ll show them one of those sites because they look so good.


And that is partially because of your hard work. What do you think makes you good at being a developer?

I’m a fast learner. Also, a big key for me is having fun at work. If I can enjoy building a site and find something fun about it, the whole thing goes really smoothly.


Switching gears for a minute, you talked about how much you love working remotely. If you could live anywhere, where would you go?

Well, I grew up in Taiwan but it’s a little far. I would love to live in New York City. The big city reminds me of home where I grew up. I love the business and how there’s always something going on up there.


How and Why to Fix Google Analytics Referral Spam

Data is all the rage these days. But whether it’s real-time or big, there is one consistent theme: data must be clean to be valuable.

And that’s why Google Analytics referral spam is such a big deal – because it poisons the well of your web analytics data, leaving it tainted and untrustworthy.

Let’s examine why this fast-growing trend is so detrimental to your business, and how you can keep it from showing up in your analytics reports.


What is Google Analytics spam?

There are so many valuable articles already written about the various forms of Google Analytics spam out there, and I’d definitely advise checking them out. But in case you’re in a hurry or just aren’t interested, there are two types of referral spam:

  • Ghost Referrals – A website uses your Google Analytics UAID to send false data to Google. They never even visit your website!
  • Spam Bots – Unlike ghost referrals, these bots actually do visit your website, albeit briefly.

Why would they do that?

This isn’t some sadistic high school prankster having a laugh at all the mischief he’s created. No, these are intentional, sophisticated efforts with one (or more) of several intended outcomes:

  1. Sell you something. By putting their name into your referral list, they are hoping you will be tricked into visiting their website. Here, they may try to sell you services – common referral spammer is in this boat. Or, they may have more sinister intentions…
  2. Malware placement. Similar to gaining traffic, this spammer wants to get you to his website. But once you’re there he will attempt to place malware on your machine. This could take the form of a keylogger for stealing financial information, or including your computer as part of a large botnet. Whatever the case, this means bad news for you if you visit.
  3. Send you to another site. Affiliate marketing is where retailers pay a small commission if another site sends them a purchasing customer. To this end, some spammers are hoping that you will click one of the thousands of links on their site and buy something, earning them a kickback. Is it likely? No. But it doesn’t take much effort on their part to generate traffic this way, and they’re playing a numbers game.

Why is Google Analytics spam a big deal?

While this referral spam may not be harmful in and of itself, the biggest impact it has is corrupting your data Google Analytics data. The degree to which your data is tainted will depend on the amount of traffic your site sees, as well as the amount of referral spam.

If your Google Analytics install is being plagued by referral spam, expect to see bad data in the following places:

  • All total/composite metrics (visits, bounce rate, pages viewed, new vs. returning, etc.)
  • Referral Sources
  • Events
  • Countries
  • Campaigns
  • Site Speed

If you know you have bad site speed data, how do you know whether you need to take to fix it? What decisions can you make about site effectiveness if all your engagement metrics are flawed? How can you send an automated campaign report to your CEO knowing that it’ll show a line item for “Get-Free-Traffic-Now”?


You can’t. The most powerful information you have about your largest digital asset (your website) has just been rendered flawed. It’s like putting a smiley face sticker on the Mona Lisa.

What can I do about Google Analytics referral spam?

There is no “one-size-fits-all” that works for removing spam from your web analytics. However, implementing these steps will solve the issue for most websites with the least amount of ongoing hassle.

Always keep a clean or “raw” view.

The standard setup in Google Analytics is that each Property starts with a View called “All Web Site Data.” Don’t mess with that one, just leave it alone. No filters, no limits (feel free to add goals and site search, though). By doing this, if something goes terribly wrong with your filtering, you always have a clean view to fall back on for verification.

You can have up to 25 views for a Property, such one just for internal traffic, or one for only traffic from a certain country. For our purposes, we recommend creating one called “Filtered” or “All Data, Filtered” for easier remembering later.

Add a Hostname filter.

Since ghost referrals never land on your site, they don’t generate a proper hostname to Google Analytics. This makes filtering them relatively easy. Check out your Hostname report for the past 12 months and see what common hostnames have been logged. Choose the ones fit your specific usage. These will form your filter.


Once you have identified your hostnames, go to the Admin panel and choose your Filtered view (see step above). Create a new filter called “Ghost Spam – Hostname” or something else you’ll remember. I’m personally a fan of “Pac-Man” because it’s killing ghosts! Okay, that was terrible. Moving on…


Set your filter to Include the field Hostname, and then insert acceptable hostnames from your report. Remember that this is RegEx, so precede dots with backslashes. In most cases, your filter will look like “mysite\.com|”. By including the domain, all subdomains are covered.

Create a filter for known spammers.

Since the Hostname filters includes only your website, you will still need to exclude the bots that actually visit your domain. The trick to this filter is that you want to exclude the field Campaign Source. This seems to work better and more consistently than Referral.

There are two approaches that I have seen employed:

  1. Enter each spam website completely as they appear on your referral list, starting with a seed list (com has a good one to start with). This approach is very thorough, but also time-consuming to setup and maintain, as you will need to be adding new offenders on a regular basis, such as weekly.
  2. Enter common domain words to eliminate the majority of spammers, and add the rest as they appear. This has a higher chance of filtering legitimate traffic, but also requires less maintenance. An example might look like “porn|buttons|free|seo|money”.

Several of our clients use the second option, and it seems to work very well. If you’re going to use this approach, I’d recommend exporting a all referral sources for the past 12 months to Excel, and using that to build your domain filter list. Everybody’s will look a little different – for example, it’s not uncommon for us to get a legitimate link from a site with “seo” in the domain, but a website about cosmetics could pretty safely filter on that term.

Filter countries that aren’t relevant.

Depending on your business, you may have a targeted geographic approach. Maybe you can only work with companies in the United States, or North America, or just not anyone in Australia. Based on these limitations, you can employ country exclusion filters to not see traffic that isn’t important to your business. Some common countries that drive referral spam are Russia, Brazil, India and China (aka BRIC).


On a side note, this is a good practice even if you aren’t trying to filter Google Analytics referral spam, because it allows you to focus on how the visitors you care about most are performing. Obviously, don’t filter out countries that you have a legitimate interest in.

Will this solve all of my problems?

This is by no means an exhaustive list of techniques that you can employ to stop Analytics spam. Spammers are creative, constantly coming up with new ways to bypass our protections, almost as soon as we get them setup. In six months, they may have something completely different to deploy.

However, the majority of our clients have seen success by implementing these filters. I encourage you to try these out, and regain confidence in your data.

Also, if you need some help getting these changes in place, or just want a fresh set of eyes on your web analytics, we’d be glad to help. Just drop us a line!


Increase B2B Brand Credibility with Social Media

Did you know there are over two billion active social accounts?

That’s what makes social media is a great way for businesses to find customers. We all thought social media was something for teens, but quickly realized our B2B audience was there too. Through LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook, B2B buyers are interacting with brands on a much more consistent basis.

This creates a unique opportunity for B2B marketers to position their businesses as a credible brand. A good example of this is General Electric’s B2B social media strategy. Instead of boring its audience with the products and services they offer, GE consistently puts out creative and engaging content that focuses on the technology and innovation behind their business.

Of all the B2B marketers using digital marketing strategies, a whopping 92 percent of them are using social media. So, how can your businesses take advantage of this growing potential?

Here are five ways to build brand credibility with social media.

Consistent Design

Whatever marketing efforts you currently have going have already presented your business in a carefully designed image. This brand image needs to remain consistent with all your social media accounts. If your social media networks have an amateur look, your business will be viewed as amateur.

  • Keep your username or URL consistent across all channels.
  • Use similar profile images, and match covers/headers to your website branding.
  • Keep a unified voice on all company descriptions.

Take a look at MailChimp’s Instagram page. Rather than promoting a product or service, the company promotes its culture and voice. MailChimp’s quirky millennial brand image is portrayed perfectly through its account.

Effective Communication

Social media for B2B is all about connecting and communicating with your audience. When a customer contacts you through social media, they usually want an immediate response. Responding quickly and effectively to both positive and negative messages will not only show you value your customer, but builds credibility as well. Responding to negative messages may not be the highlight of your day, but it can prevent backlash from the same customers in the future.

In an interview with Forbes earlier this year, a Verizon executive explained that their customer service teams have adapted to use Twitter, Facebook, Google+ to answer customer service questions from consumers and small businesses alike. The 24/7 team managed more than 400,000 social media interactions in 2014 alone.

Maintaining Engagement

Social media provides a unique way to connect with your customers. To make the most of this publish interactive content like videos, infographics, images, and contests, rather than relying on only text posts. You can increase your online engagement by fostering conversations and being a go-to for a specific subject. This is especially effective for B2B businesses looking to become subject matter experts among their audience.

Take a look at GE’s Instagram page, for example. Despite the stereotype that old companies can’t keep up on the Internet, GE humanizes its brand through amazing photos on its Instagram account. They also run contests there to keep the conversation fun and keep their audience engaged.

Industry Influencers

Whether you’re just starting out on social media or looking to change your existing strategy, connecting with industry influencers will help keep you in the loop for what’s popular on social media among your competitors. You can start building a relationship with these accounts by sharing and interacting with their content the same way you would want them to do with your content. By engaging with industry leaders, you not only build a relationship with a valuable social media partner, you increase your credibility among your industry.

IBM might be the most well-known B2B company in the world. However, when it came to joining social media, the IT consulting giant was a bit late to the game. Then in 2013 they overhauled their social media marketing efforts and trained sales teams to use the platform. The result? A 55% jump in Twitter followers and a staggering 2 million followers on LinkedIn. The “Made With IBM” campaign brought in influencers of all industries and pushed content through all social media channels.

Content Creation

If you’re trying to increase your credibility on social media, content will be your main driving force. However, don’t lose sight of your goals by pushing too many self-promotional messages. A good rule to follow is 80% non-promotional content and 20% promotional content. Presenting yourself in a self-serving manner is going to do nothing for your credibility, if not decrease it. If you’re not providing content that is relevant to your audience, then your audience will not be engaged. Increase your credibility on social media by posting high quality informational content that is relevant to your audience.

Last year, Airbus was nominated for a Shorty Award for its social media campaign. Airbus’ approach to social media was similar to that of B2C campaigns and captured a huge audience. They credit their success with adopting to the new medium quickly and having flexibility to experiment with how they post. The content they publish is often related to current events and has resulted in their brand name trending on Twitter several times.

Social media can be a great tool for B2B marketers, however, it can also backfire if not used correctly. If businesses want to be successful on social media, they need to develop a comprehensive plan and ensure it’s executed properly. Not only will this increase their credibility on social media, it can increase their bottom line.


Design Drives Business

We have long known that a strong website design supports your brand. But can you define and prove that there is a real-life, business case for good web design as it impacts business success?


Investing in a well-designed website is no longer just about branding – it’s about survival. Winning in the marketplace is now directly correlated to how well your company can present itself online.

But don’t take my word for it – let’s look at the facts. There is quantitative evidence to support the claim.

The Bottom Line

The Design Value Index is a formula that compares design-led companies to other companies based on stock market performance. In other words, do businesses that put an emphasis on design fare any better on the bottom line?

In the past 10 years, design-driven companies outperformed the S&P 500 by 228%!

Companies that invested in metrics-drive design, better user experience, modern page and site structure, and eye-catching marketing campaigns saw a clear ROI.

The Trust Factor

Prospects today judge your brand by your website. It may not be fair, but it’s definitely the truth. If your site is disorganized, cluttered, or uses outdated colors and imagery, your first impression is tainted.

One study found that of all website elements affecting user trust, design was the highest influencing factor. Susan Weinschenk, founder of The Team W, put it this way:

“Design is the first filter — When participants in the study rejected a health website as not being trustworthy, 83% of their comments were related to design factors, such as an unfavorable first impression of the look and feel, poor navigation, color, text size and the name of the website.”

Your customers don’t just prefer a well-designed website, they demand it! Having a site that is user-friendly, contemporary and responsive are what most users consider to be standard.

How to Take Advantage

It’s clear that your site’s design is a big deal, and it plays a part in your company’s success. So how do you turn this to your favor?

Color Psychology

Color choice can have a massive impact on your audience’s potential for conversions. Take the time to invest in designers that leverage of color psychology when building your site.

By properly leveraging a modern color palette, you can subconsciously encourage positive customer behavior and move customers through your sales funnel by increasing urgency and highlighting the desired user flow.

User Experience (UX)

If your navigation has 30 subcategories and it’s impossible to find key information buried in your site, you can be sure that this is affecting your conversion rate.

Make sure the user flow is simple and instinctive. Feature prominent calls-to-action, and a clear unique value proposition within the first few seconds of landing on your website.

Don’t forget to measure the effectiveness of your user experience by continuously testing and optimizing your website. You’ll find your site will get higher conversion rates and decreased bounce rates with each phase of optimization.

Page Layout

Before you go downloading a one-size-fits-all WordPress template, take a moment to reflect on the following points:

  • You have a unique selling proposition
  • Your audience wants to feel like you are having a one on one dialog with them
  • Your potential customer will be more engaged by a unique website experience

Your site should accentuate your content, not force your content to conform to a pre-established layout. A custom design will serves up content in a manner that is easy to digest, interesting, and informative. Your page layouts should improve the positioning of your content and highlight the problems your product or service can solve for the consumer.

Want to see an example of a design that had a major impact on business?


Working Fast & Proper with Gulp

One of the things I love most about working at UpTrending is the freedom we are given to explore and implement better practices for processes and skill sets. Better practices make us more productive, so any time an UpTrender can find an area to improve upon, it is greatly encouraged.

I recently evaluated our development asset pipeline and noticed that we might be able to reduce our compile times. We’ve always been a Sass house, so I wanted to explore ways to make that development faster.

The Problem

Having so many talented and experienced developers is awesome, but sometimes, it can actually lead to pain points. On any given project assets were getting compiled, concatenated, minified, and sometimes images compressed, all via different applications or methods based on the developer working the project.

Some people used CodeKit, others Prepros, Compass, or Grunt. All of these methods work, but some didn’t play well with other methods, and some were just downright slow (I’m looking at you, Grunt). Adapting to each different method took time, and adapting the project to a new method sometimes took even longer.

The Solution — Gulp

The hero of this story, the LeBron (GOAT, haters gonna hate) of this story, is Gulp. Using node streams instead of file I/O (like Grunt) means that Gulp can be blazing fast in comparison. After some research, and finding and tweaking two really useful resources, our team has created a Gulp setup that works for us. This setup allows the flexibility we need to get work done now, and make agile changes if we need to later.

Our Setup

Using this blog post, I was able to get a really nice Gulp setup going in minimal time. For our needs (Sass compilation, JavaScript linting, minification, concatenation, and image compression) our setup uses the following gulp plugins:












That sure looks like a lot of plugins, but trust me, this setup is still incredibly fast. It’s also really easy to maintain, thanks to this blog post on splitting Gulp tasks into multiple files in a gulp-tasks directory. This allows for easier clarity and development of large tasks in task specific files.

We’re also currently exploring the concept of add ons. The goal of add ons would be to allow different compilation settings for things like WordPress editor styling and more.

The Result

After implementing this new process, we are now seeing all of our CSS and JS functions taking up a fraction of the time they used to. In some cases, only half as long as similar functions in Grunt or CodeKit.

But speed isn’t just the only benefit of this work – we now have a unified system for building our assets. Every new project that has used this system is ready for a new developer to jump into the project with a simple npm install. Now we can all work faster and easier.


The 3 Most Common B2B Marketing Mistakes

Digital marketing is extremely competitive, and can be confusing for B2B organizations. There are options for email, PPC, social media, content marketing, videos, and webinars, all with the aim of trying to reach potential customers. As the number of opportunities to engage a customer grow, so do the chances to blow the sale.

B2B purchasers are faced with a mountain of unsolicited marketing and sales inquiries every day. In a lot of cases, bad marketing is the first reason a potential client will cut a company from their list of options to partner with. We’ve rounded up three of the most common mistakes B2B marketers make, and how you can avoid them.

Talking to the Wrong Person

There are two major factors to every campaign: the audience, and the pitch. If you get one of those wrong, you probably won’t have much success.

When planning a marketing campaign, some companies take the easy and cheap route. They pull the owner or CEO of a company and point all marketing efforts to them. The problem is the CEO is busy running the company; not making decisions about what copier brand to use. A strong leader knows the value of delegating tasks, so they can use their time to focus on the big picture, not the pixels that make it up. In other words, he or she’s got people for that!

Why send software specs to the CEO of a law firm? You’re completely missing the mark, and that’s no way to set a first impression. Your marketing dollars are likely going directly into the trash.

Taking the extra time to research the correct individuals before sending out a campaign will save you some grief in the long run. If you aren’t sure, a visit to LinkedIn or even a call to the office manager can help to lead you in the right direction.

Getting Your Personalization Wrong

Personalized content or email is a great idea, but problems pop up when that personalization gets your prospect’s name, gender, or role wrong.

Putting the wrong name on an email is a sign that your organization lacks proper attention to detail. If their name is wrong, how can they be confident their order will be correct, or their concerns will be taken seriously? We’ve all probably received at least one campaign email addressed to “Dear <First Name>” and our first instinct was to reach for the ‘delete’ key. Even worse, our first move might have been a screenshot to shame the company on Twitter, followed by ‘delete.’

While this mistake is all too common, the fix is pretty simple. Have a regular system of checks and balances built into your personalization. Whether this means a team member reviewing new leads, a salesperson double-checking your CRM, or even doing a test-run of your personalization once a month, a little extra time goes a long way.

On another note, if phone calls are your thing – before you make that call, be sure you can pronounce your target’s name. If you’re even slightly unsure, dial the front office staff first, their job is to be courteous and organized. Plus, they won’t take a personal slight at your lack of certainty – unlike your potential client.

Missing the Long Tail of Clients

Often referred to in product management or search engine optimization, the concept of the Fat Head and Long Tail is a distribution model. In this case, the Fat Heads are the big companies who everybody knows. They have the market share, and a vast majority of marketing and sales dollars are spent targeting them. The Long Tail, on the other hand, is the plethora of smaller companies who own less of the market, but also get targeted less…do you see where we are going with this?

b2b blog

If you’re basing your marketing off who made Forbes Top 100 lists, you’re missing out on a lot of good opportunities. Wouldn’t you rather spend your time, effort, and money on companies who are trying to get to that level? These are the companies who are hungry for success; the underdogs who are just waiting to pull off an upset when no one expects it. They haven’t settled for being part of the ‘in’ crowd, they are spending their money trying to take them down.

The entrepreneurial and startup market is exploding. Expand your marketing to growing businesses and expanding markets as well. You never know when you’ll find the next big thing that fits your marketing personas perfectly, just because you took a chance.

Landing new B2B customers can be difficult, but as the saying goes, “a little goes a long way.” As you spend hard-earned dollars and hours of your time designing and implementing marketing plans, make sure to avoid these mistakes. A little extra research and quality assurance will have a big impact on making your campaign more successful.