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The 3 biggest mistakes B2B startups make with their websites

Building a great website is an iterative process.

It is never done.

So even though we increased on-site conversions for ShipHawk by 84% last year by creating an agile and persona-driven website, we still were still looking to make improvements and boost conversions.

You’re never going to have a 100% perfect website, but you can build a high converting site by avoiding some common mistakes that B2B startups often make. That is why we’ve compiled a list of the top three most common mistakes that B2B startups make with their sites.

Our list includes:

  1. Not building defined buyer personas and building your site around them
  2. Building a website with a complicated backend
  3. Using your product team to build your website

Let’s get to it!

 

Not building for your target persona

At the end of the day, what do you want your B2B website to do?

Get a ton of traffic? Nope

Tell investors about your business? Nope.

Your website needs to do one thing exceptionally well, and that’s convert.

That could mean converting visitors into free trials, demos, content upgrades, interacting with your chat widget (looking at you Drift), or whatever you set as a KPI that leads to marketing qualified leads (MQLs) and sales qualified leads (SQLs).

Conversions only happen when your well-targeted traffic meets a well crafted and relevant offer.

It’s hard to create that offer without a true understanding of your customer.

Why does knowing my target audience matter?

If you know…

  • How your audience speaks, you can use language that they would naturally use and relate to them
  • What their pain points are, you can specifically build content around their pains
  • Why they visit your site, you can build your website so it’s relevant to your most immediate needs
  • Where they hang out, you can reach them with your own content or ads

What do I need to know about my target persona?

Just like your website, building your target persona is never done. You should always be learning more and more about your prospects and customers.

You can start by understanding:

Demographics

  • Gender
  • Age
  • Location
  • Education
  • Industry

Behaviors/Habits

  • Would they consider themselves thought leaders?
  • Are they early adopters?
  • How do they make decisions?

Digital Habits

  • What blogs do they visit?
  • Are they active on social media? Which ones?
  • What type of content do they consume? Short form or long form?
  • Do they use internet research sites?
  • Do they lean on their online social network for buying decisions?

Goals

  • What KPI are they trying to hit?
  • How will their personal success be impacted by business success?
  • What projects are they working on?
  • What deadlines are they trying to meet? What events will they go to?
  • What is the overall business strategy and how will they try and meet them?

Challenges

  • What is taking their focus away from their objective?
  • What don’t they have the time/bandwidth to accomplish
  • What is slowing them down?

Check out the example customer profile that we’ve put together.

 

 

 

You can see that we’ve included detailed demographic and psychographic information along with a quote and picture to ensure that our team is visualizing our target persona.

How do I know all of this!?

If you don’t already have a deep understanding of your customer profile then you’ll need to do some work to better define them.

Customer Surveys

If available, one of the best ways to research your target persona is by surveying your paying customers.

You can easily set up a Google form with demographic, firmographic, and psychographic questions that will help you understand your customer further.

You can also add in questions about their buying experience to immediately receive ideas on how you can improve your site.

Check out the sample survey questions below:

 

Demographics

  1. What’s your title
  2. How large is your company
  3. What industry is your company in?

 

Website

  1. What problem were you trying to solve when you found {{company_name}}
  2. How did you find {{company_name}}
  3. What did you want to do on {{company_website}} when you first visited
  4. Did you complete your objective?
  5. What questions did you have that you could not find answers to?

 

Product/Pain

  1. How were you solving the problem before {{product}}
  2. What made you choose {{product}}
  3. Has {{product}} solved the problem for you?
  4. What can we do better to solve your problems?

Bonus Survey Tips:

Keep it short and sweet

The more questions you have the fewer people are going to complete your survey and once you go beyond 15 questions, your results will decline 5%-10% per additional question.

 

Make it mobile friendly

56% of all traffic will come from mobile devices in 2017 according to SimilarWeb while 54% of email opens happen on mobile devices.

Chances are that when you email your customers a survey, they’re going to open it on a mobile device. So optimize for mobile!

 

Stay away from multiple choice

It’s important that you allow your customers to say everything they would want to say in their own words.

Restricting them to preconfigured questions may lead to a few more responses but less valuable and actionable information.

 

Put a time limit and add an incentive

Only about 25% of people who receive a survey email and click through to fill it out actually complete the survey. Boost that completion rate by adding a cutoff date and an incentive to spur action.

People are much more likely to complete a survey if they will receive an Amazon gift card for doing so and they only have 48hrs.

Facebook Ads

The reason that advertisers are flocking to Facebook (and Google) is they reach billions of people and have a wealth of data that can be deployed for highly targeted marketing campaigns.

Any B2B marketer can build an audience for:

  • High income, married men, in Silicon Valley interested in Simon Sinek, healthcare services, SaaS, and Salesforce

OR

  • Single women in New York City who are interested in Apple, NASDAQ, and The Wall Street Journal

B2B marketers can test multiple audiences and obtain statistically significant results about the interests and demographics of their target market.

Already spending money on Facebook Ads?

If you’re already spending money on Facebook Ads, check out your audience insights to instantly learn a great deal about the users that follow your Page and interact with your content.

You can start by choosing the audience that you want to interact with.


Then dive in and understand demographic and lifestyle information.

 

Ask your sales team

If you want to understand who your prospects and customers are, why not ask the people that talk to them the most?

Sales development teams that are doing outbound outreach can be leveraged to test messaging and learn about your target market in the same way Facebook ads can.

For example, Square leverages their SDR team to understand and test new markets, products, or customer types.

B2B marketers can learn from their SDR teams by asking sales leaders what type of messaging has been resonating and with who.

Check Google Analytics

Much like Facebook insights, Google Analytics can give you detailed information about the users that are visiting your website.

Simply enable demographic and interest data on your Google Analytics account and you can start to build demographics reports like below:

 

 

And interest reports like these:

 

Once you’ve gathered this information you can add it to your ideal customer persona.

Conduct Interviews

If you don’t have many customers that you can leverage for surveys and don’t have the ability to gather ad spend data, then you can focus on qualitative interviews with your prospects.

You should focus on talking to customers from different backgrounds, industries, and buying situations. You’ll likely have multiple ideal customer profiles and you’ll want to make sure you gather information about all of them.

When you are conducting the interview focus on understanding the prospect’s unique pains, attributes, and buying situation. Dig deeper than the surface level and understand what’s really going on.

Use some of the survey questions that we listed above to get started, however, be sure to dive deeper. Here are a few examples of more in-depth questions

  • Tell me how X process works for you.
  • What part of this process takes the most time?
  • Is there any part of this process that costs more money than you’d like?
  • What is the most inefficient part of this process?
  • What tools do you use to help you with this process currently?
  • What part of this process provides you the most value?
  • How happy are you with the current process?
  • If you could improve one thing about this process, what would it be?
  • Do you use X tools to help you with this process? If so, do they do what you need them to do?

Mistake #2: Building a complicated backend

Building a pretty website isn’t difficult.

Anyone can go on Themeforest, find a good looking template, do a few customizations and be off to the races.

Without getting into the security and performance pitfalls that await you, simply getting a website launched is only the first part. Your website is your company’s central information location, and it’s only as valuable as it is consistently updated. What do you do when you need to make changes?

Are your Marketing Team’s needs for updates tied to your engineering team’s schedule? Does your team spend hours clicking around a confusing interface, choosing the same options repeatedly, just trying to get a new content piece online?

If your website is a pain to manage, your high-value marketing employees are going to spend their time hoping they can figure things out. Now your message is hindered by a messy process when your original goal was to have a tool that would help your team be more effective.

How does a complicated website prevent me from reaching my goals?

A complicated website will

  • Be difficult change and update, without needing to spend hours building a deep technical understanding of your website’s architecture
  • Limit your ability, so your marketing team will not be able to easily spin up unique landing pages
  • Force you to enter content repeatedly, after you create a landing page, you have to go create a block on the home page, and another banner
  • Leave you hanging without the tools you need, so you’ll have to go searching for plugins and or revisiting the development process every time a need arises
  • Not be built for SEO from the onset, so you may need to do major SEO overhauls down the road

At HUSL, we build modular websites that easily and simply adjust to your content so all your team has to do is plug in the appropriate content and launch their campaigns.

The team at CloudCheckr recently launched their modular website and are now able to build unique landing pages for every trade show their company attends in a matter of minutes.

Mistake #3: Using your product team to build your website

The mad scientists building your company’s tool are really the rockstars of any startup.

They are the innovators that build the tools that wow your investors and solve your customer’s problems… But they aren’t the best team to build your website for two main reasons.

  1. Their time is extremely valuable ($150k+ a year in the Silicon Valley!) and extremely limited
  2. They just aren’t marketers

Let your product developers do what they do best

Developers tend to build their websites with themselves in mind and not the marketing team that will be working on the site.

This means that they’ll often use code snippets to build the site which makes changing the website difficult, frustrating, and time-consuming process for any non-developer. So when your marketing team needs to make changes to the website they’ll need to ask their development team.

This time-consuming process can be eliminated by letting your development team focus on your product and allowing your marketing team to focus on the website.

 

Wrapping up – Avoid these mistakes

We’ve seen a lot of mistakes over the past 10 years and we’ve learned from them so you don’t have to go through the pain of building a bad website.

Remember to always:

  1. Understand your ideal customer profile so you can speak to them in their language
  2. Build your website so that anyone on your team can easily make changes, add pages, and edit copy
  3. Let your product team focus on your product and your marketing focus on iterating your website

 

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The 9 B2B Website ‘Must Haves’ For Driving Traffic & Leads

You know having a great-looking website is important, but what’s the point of the site if it doesn’t help you win more business? Yep– your website needs to sell. A sharp B2B website not only looks great, but also drives traffic and leads.

Whether you’re building a new site or want to optimize an existing one, there’s much you can do to create a winning site. You need inbound links, on-page SEO, and an emphasis on design that converts.

It isn’t always straightforward. That’s why we’ve put together 9 B2B website ‘must haves’ for driving traffic and leads. When you’re done with this guide, you’ll…

  • Understand the 9 ‘must haves’ for driving traffic & leads
  • Have a sense of what needs to be done to improve your site
  • Know how CTAs impact conversions
  • See how SEO impacts a B2B website
  • And more!

Get Your Guide Here

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6 Web Design Trends We’d Be Stoked to See More of in 2017

As we enter the year 2017, we here at UpTrending are looking forward to embracing some of the latest and most effective trends in web design that are pushing new boundaries in the area of user experience.

While there are a few web design trends we have no problem turning our back on, there are so many more that represent everything that makes us excited to do what we do. The great thing about working in an industry such as this one is that there’s always someone pushing the envelope and something new to look forward to. 2017 is right around the corner and with a new year comes a new motivation to create, an optimism in what’s possible, and an excitement to be a part of it all.

Here are just a few of the emerging trends we are looking forward to seeing more of in the coming year. While they aren’t necessarily new, they are proving to be the future of web design.

Web design trend #1: Long scrolling single page design

Multi-page hierarchical website architecture makes a lot of sense to our organization-obsessed brains. Like an Ikea closet system, everything has its place, and as long as the hierarchy makes logical sense, the pages on sites designed this way are relatively easy to navigate. But this is a website people, not a book or newspaper. Why are we even talking about pages at all? This ain’t print!

The future of sales and persuasion is storytelling. As new platforms and devices emerge, new methods of presenting information emerge and methods like long scrolling single page sites open up new ways of telling visual stories on the web. When you’re presenting information in a sequential format, it is essential that your users make it to the end where the story they’ve been told comes together and they are compelled to act. Clicking from page to page can be tiresome and boring causing many users to drop off before they’ve gotten the full story, but long scrolling provides opportunities to encourage continued engagement with the story through subtle animations Look no further than The Boat for a devastatingly amazing use of single page storytelling, ripe with rich animation that will keep you scrolling just to see what happens next!

SEO nerds can put your hands down, we all recognize the inherent problems that single page design has with search rankings. Shame on you for assuming we haven’t thought of that and come across solutions and workarounds. We are professionals after all!

Some will even decry the user experience of a single-pager based on navigability. Again, puh-leese! Look no further than this beautifully designed page for a prime example of how to do something as simple as anchoring stops along the way to allow users to quickly access information anywhere on the site.

“But wait!” You cry. Remember this post where you denounced scroll jacking? Yes. However, the thoughtful and intentional structure of this site is worth calling out. While scroll jacking can be inherently annoying, this site’s workarounds are impressive. For example, clicking on any of the section titles in the top navigation renders an immediate response. The site also keeps the footer navigation at the bottom of every section, as opposed to just the bottom of the last section.

Granted, the single page approach doesn’t work in every instance but if nothing else, a long scrolling approach to storytelling can be implemented even into multi-page sites with great effect.

Web design trend #2: Animation-rich microinteractions

They say the devil is in the details. This idiom particularly holds true when it comes to user experience. Sure we put a lot of stock on driving that one, or those few, big interactions that lead to conversions, but lately a great deal of emphasis has been placed on microinteractions, the everyday ways that users engage with a site or app.

Web design microinteraction example
Source: www.dribbble.com/leozakour

Actions like saving, syncing, liking, swiping or even just clicking a button qualify as microinteractions and they happen a lot. But let’s not forget that these experiences are taking place within a digital (read non-physical) world and as tactile creatures we require feedback from our environment. Interacting with digital elements without some visual or audible signal that our input has been received can be vexing and many cases, capable of ruining user experience.

Simple yet rich animations can go a long way in providing the necessary feedback that satisfies a user’s need for validation. It can even prevent problems. Think of payment processing situations in eCommerce over a slow or interrupted internet connection. Especially in situations where a monetary transaction is taking place, users want to feel secure that they’ve “done it right.” Clever or cute microinteractions can even delight users when they aren’t expecting it. Why concern yourself with delighting someone over something so trivial? Because it turns an otherwise boring activity into something exciting and perhaps fun, something they might consider doing again. That sounds like a win to us!

Web design trend #3: Card-based design

Web design Pinterest card based design
Source: www.pinterest.com

One of the more exciting trends we are seeing across the web is card-based design or card layouts. Humans have used cards to encapsulate and disseminate information for hundreds of years. From playing cards to business cards to baseball cards, these rectangular objects have appeared in every culture and time period from here to Ming Dynasty China. In short, cards are a recognizable and familiar concept and when it comes to web design, familiar means intuitive, and intuitive makes for a great user experience.

Web design Kenny powers card based design
Source: www.cardboardconnection.com

Cards are incredibly useful for content-heavy sites because they provide neat little containers to hold and display information just as they do a pitcher’s stats on the back of a baseball card. In fact, they actually work much in the same way as baseball cards do. On the front you have a great image with some context like a name or a title, and on the back, a lot of really granular information, statistics, maybe even a story. In this way, the card layout is more than just a neat-looking design element, it represents an entire framework for how digital products can (and should) be structured. In this way, they are ripe for aggregating content from basically anywhere and capable of displaying it in a consistent fashion.

Perhaps one of the most endearing qualities of cards is how well they lend themselves to responsiveness. Pick up your phone. Remind you of anything? Kinda has the same shape a card doesn’t it? Cards stack with ease and can be expanded to reveal more information. That’s the beauty of them! And while we’re on the topic of mobile applications, can we briefly talk about how brilliantly they work with gestures? Since they’re based on physical, real-world objects, they practically beg to be flipped, tapped, and swiped with little to no instruction required.

Web design trend #4: Authentic imagery and illustrations

“Cool stock photo bro!” Said nobody EVER. As concepts mature, so do their users and mature internet users are hip to lazy tactics like using stock photos to fill space. People gravitate towards stock photos because they are easy but since when did taking the easy route result in something extraordinary? The whole idea of a web page is to communicate value and it’s really hard to do that when you are designing around stock photos that don’t really say much of anything or represent your product or brand.

Web design UpTrending custom designs for shiphawk.com
Source: www.shiphawk.com

If you want to stand out, you’ll need to use authentic imagery that speaks to your brand. Granted that does mean adding photography to your budget and good photographers certainly aren’t cheap but why would you spend money on great web design only to fill it with cheesy photos of suits pointing at charts or random college kids laughing about nothing?

When high quality photographs are out of the budget or simply not all that relevant, look to illustrations as an effective tool to get your point across. Even simple illustrations can make a world of difference in communicating more authentically when they are on-brand and part of a larger, unified system of related illustrations.

Web design trend #5: Vibrant colors

Web design Vibrant colors at Mossterstudio.com
Source: www.mossterstudio.com

Color conveys so much more than we probably realize. There’s a whole psychology to it that is endlessly fascinating, all the more so because it works on such a primal, subconscious level. Computer screens are capable of displaying literally millions of different colors and as of late, designers have gotten pretty bold with their choices.

Perhaps as the designs themselves become more minimal, designers look to color palettes for expression. Compare a more recently built website to those from several years ago and observe soft blues and bright whites give way to vibrant, powerful colors that make bold statements. These fierce, impactful colors allow even the most minimal design to scream.

Designers talk a lot about whitespace but that space doesn’t have to actually be white, does it? Brightly colored backgrounds can have the same effect of drawing attention towards important elements like calls to action while also setting a tone or conveying emotion.

Web design Spotify vibrant colors
Source: www.spotify.com

Vibrancy doesn’t have to be loud and abrasive though. In fact, if anything it requires even more restraint and thoughtfulness to really nail it. Spotify’s tendency towards the duotone effect is a prime example of how to use vibrant colors in a subtle and impactful way without being garish or flamboyant.

Web design Pantone color of the year
Source: www.pantone.com

Oh and by the way, Pantone’s 2017 Color of the Year is Greenery which takes its cues from nature. It’s pretty vibrant.

Web design trend #6: Serif typography

Don’t call it a comeback! Despite years of a sans-serif dominated web, those quaint little tails are popping up more and more as some designers blend classic styles into their contemporary designs.

Web design Typography example
source: www.typewolf.com

The earliest typefaces had serifs as they imitated brushstrokes and allowed those carving the characters into stone to neaten up the ends of letterforms. In the early days of print, they proved more readable in body copy having something to do with typesetting but they proved less so with the advent of the computer screen. Low resolution made it difficult to display the tinier details especially as the letters scale down, but as screen definition improves and technology and trend push web design further towards an image and animation-driven medium, serifs make for great contrast in titles and headlines that stand out from body copy. Sans-serif fonts may work great for comprehension but serifs have impact!

If nothing else, serifs speak to a retro aesthetic and a throwback to print. In that way, they certainly stand out as a relic or an artifact from a simpler time, nostalgic and not to be forgotten. Here are some pretty cool ones.

Again, these trends aren’t all new and they aren’t the standard… yet. They all however, represent the evolution of user-focused design to this point in time while being informed by popular trends and the movement towards mobile computing. Choosing one or some combination of these elements certainly won’t guarantee results; that requires strategy. That being said, we hope to see more of this in the coming year but at the end of the day, we’re just happy to make great websites for great clients.

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Rapid Prototyping for Outside the Box Web Design

Prototyping has been used in engineering and industrial design to validate concepts and build better products for decades. Today’s web designers are using prototypes to create better user experiences and it’s pushing the envelope of how we use the internet in exciting new ways.

Whenever we set out to create something, we tend to have a pretty specific idea of what that thing is going to look like, how it’s going to work and how it will be used. If you’re designing a chair for example, you can rely on some basic assumptions as to the general form it should take and how someone is going to sit in it. While this approach works well for established conventions like furniture, it doesn’t always work out as neatly in the digital realm. Intuitive as it may seem, rarely does our own, personal perspective do a very thorough job of considering how others will instinctively interact with such a product.

Anytime you design something for others to use, your decisions along the way are likely based off of certain assumptions you make about how your users will interact with it. These assumptions aren’t bad or wrong but they can be based on limited information and in some cases, personal bias. The natural tendency is to think about how a product will be used based primarily on the way you, yourself would use it. It’s not wrong, it’s just not necessarily right for everyone.

What’s missing here is the user. Who else can better speak to how they will interact than the very one doing the interacting? This idea isn’t new. We as designers have always sought feedback on how to improve and optimize what we create and often go to great lengths to do just that. It’s just that before, we weren’t seeking that feedback until after we’d finished building. Conceive, analyze, design, construct, test, maintain – this was the way things were done for a long, looooooong time.

Anyone can see that this approach is slow, frustrating, and expensive. Valuable time and money are spent in the laborious pursuit of incrementally improving upon completed products that are difficult to evolve. If the key to improving on the conventional wisdom is faster access to feedback, how then can one tap into those powerful insights earlier in the process? The answer is prototyping and it’s changing the way designers and developers alike approach building digital products.

The better way.

Prototyping allows new features and elements to be quickly validated or abandoned by creating simulated versions that can be put in front of users before they are completely developed. This iterative process ultimately shortens the feedback loop, allowing products to evolve faster and be more refined.

Prototyping allows you to test the assumptions you make about your users by putting low fidelity versions of your product in front of those very users to observe their behavior and elicit feedback. The prevailing wisdom is to do so early and often, building prototypes that merely resemble what you ultimately hope to release and discovering how users actually interact with it. What results is a continual loop of design, user testing and refining until something very near perfection is reached.

In rapid prototyping this process is performed quickly with little concern for the level of detail involved. The faster an idea can be tested and either proven or disproven, the faster the ideal version will be revealed. Anything from simple HTML mock-ups to downright prehistoric paper models will suffice as long as it is testable. At UpTrending, we use programs like InVision and UXPin to create fully interactive, high fidelity prototypes that give us early insight into how users are interacting with our sites and apps.

UXPin menu prototyping example
Source: UXPin.com

The bennies.

So why go through all the trouble of creating simulations of a final product only to throw them out at the end of the day? So glad you asked.

1. Prototyping is efficient.

Errors or usability issues can be detected far earlier in the process saving time and money in the long run. Why wait until you’ve finished building something to see if users respond the way you expect them to when you can find out sooner and make adjustments along the way? Rejecting false assumptions and eliminating features that don’t work earlier in the process minimizes waste.

2. Prototyping improves user experience.

When the end product is designed for (and in some ways, by) users with their direct input rather than expecting them to conform to a designer or developer’s idea of how things should work, a more intuitive experience arises organically. Since it focuses primarily on the user, guess what? The user experience is just plain better! You are, after all, building this almost exclusively for them, so why not let them tell you how best to get them to do what you want them to do?

UX illustratration
Source: Shutterstock.com
3. Prototyping is the future.

Rapid prototyping allows designers to take risks they might not otherwise take if doing so means committing time and resources to building something out completely. Because prototypes are merely simulations, their cost is low but the reward can be significant. What results may be quite different from that which you initially sought to create, but it could be all the better for it. By throwing out personal bias and preconception, we can design outside the box to create better digital products that achieve their intended goals.

Yay, prototyping!

Many traditional approaches to web design fail to give due consideration to the most important element in the design process – the end user. But as you can see, there is a better way. Through prototyping, designers are able to glean valuable insights directly from users which they can then use to adapt and evolve products into their most fully realized selves. And through rapid prototyping, we can shed the conventions and traditions that hold us back to discover new and better ways to improve user experience.

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5 Web Design Trends We’d Like to Say Buh-bye to in 2017

Web design trends come and go. Flash, anyone? As technology improves, the web goes ever more mobile and user experience becomes the focus, these trends are evolving a heck of a lot faster these days. While we can all agree that page counters, scrolling marquees and pop-up windows are dead and done, there are quite a few modern web trends that have already outlived their usefulness.

You yourself may very well be attached to a dying trend. But as hard as it is to let them go, it’s time to say buh-bye to the following web design trends as we approach another new year.

Trend #1: Sliders & carousels

There are a host of reasons why auto-forwarding carousels or sliders are a bad, if not downright bloodless, design move, but chief among them within the realm of B2B web design are usability and conversion.

Auto-forwarding sliders are actually perhaps one of the worst elements you could possibly incorporate into a website from a user experience perspective.

Think about it…

If a user isn’t interested in what’s in front of them, they’re going to scroll away, not sit and wait to find out if the next slide is as droll and irrelevant as the first. Or what if they were interested and you just took it away like a playground bully. Did you expect them go look for it again? Why would you want to tease your users like that? Didn’t you put a lot of time and effort into building this site exclusively for them? Why are you being so mean?!

Then of course there’s that whole thing about the purpose of your site in the first place – driving conversions. Unless you’re some giant brand looking to create a unique digital experience to build brand equity, your site’s users are probably not interested in just hanging out and poking around. Chances are they have a problem and they want to solve it as quickly as possible because then they don’t have a problem anymore and can get on with more satisfying things like watching baby goat videos. In B2B, a conversion-focused approach should do very little beyond encouraging the specific action you want the user to take. Anything and everything on your site should be there for the sole purpose of convincing your user to take the action you want them to. Expecting them to voluntarily sit through a parade of marketing materials is just plain presumptuous. Just get to the point!

And if the theory doesn’t do it for you, how about some data? Guess how many people out there actually click on slider images? The answer is 1%. And 84% of that ridiculously small number ever get past the first one. Are you feeling me yet?

Ok, one more. They’re also bad for SEO. Now what?!

So what should you do instead? Well, that depends now doesn’t it? As sick as you no doubt are of hearing that answer, it’s the truth and you know it. There is no other way to determine what the best method of driving conversions on your site is besides testing and iteration.

Again, we could go on and on about how badly carousels need to go (and perhaps we will), but for now we’ll just say…

buy-bye gif
Source: giphy.com

Trend #2: Flat design

Way back when in the early twenty-teens, flat design was welcomed with open arms, invited to sit at the table and given the biggest helping of mashed potatoes. “It’s so simple,” they said. “So beautiful. So… sophisticated!” But is it really?

Embracing the two-dimensional screens we view websites on for what they are, flat design finally stopped trying to imitate the real world the way Apple did with their skeuomorphic bevels and drop shadows. The minimalistic approach allowed us to minimize by stripping things down and focusing on usability rather than attempting to simulate familiar experiences we may be more accustomed to. Not to mention that websites with flat design look cool as hell and boy are they fast! However, cool as it may be, flat design isn’t without its own usability problems. Remember the Windows 8 Metro UI? Waaaaaaay too flat! It ignored the signals and context we need to interact intuitively with the web.

Then Google came along and figured out a way to put the third dimension and a little motion back onto the screen with Material Design, a framework complete with tools and guidelines that essentially requires its practitioners to drink the Google-Aid. An impressive albeit very Google-looking way of doing things, Material Design is certainly effective and naturally intuitive, but it’s also rigid and restrictive to silly little things like creativity and expression that we designers kind of pride ourselves in.

So what’s next? Well for now, hybridization seems to make sense as a natural starting point. There were things that worked in material design and flat design has certainly proven its effectiveness, so why not go with the best of both worlds? Flat Design 2.0 is here and it combines the user-friendly, mobile-centric, layered approach of Material Design with Flat Design’s super-speedy page load speeds and modern aesthetics. You can see it demonstrated beautifully in this seasonally appropriate example from none other than Google herself. It’s gorgeous and flat but layered and complex at the same time. What more could you ask for?

Trend #3: Complicated or distracting animations

Animation is hot right now and for good reason. It can be a powerful tool that reinforces design concepts and enhances the usability of a website in a number of significant and appropriate ways. If we’re calling this thoughtful and purposeful use of motion “functional animation,” it’s antithesis can only be referred to as dysfunctional animation and ohhhhhh, how it sucks.

New trends are abused, it happens. We were all kids once (some of us still are) and we’re all guilty of falling for the shiniest new toys. We may have grown up, but we’re still susceptible to losing our minds over the latest innovation and allowing our enthusiasm to take over until what once had potential loses all purpose. Animation has purpose though. Unfortunately we forget that sometimes, possibly because the word itself conjures images of our favorite childhood cartoons or the medium’s potential to be limitlessly expressive. But when we do forget this, it just gets in the way and instead of reinforcing design concepts, it distracts, it confuses, and it frustrates. And the last thing we want to do is frustrate our users. Right?

In the future, let’s all agree to validate any and all motion on our sites. You should be able to defend the function of every animation for its purpose in providing context or encouraging action. If you can’t, get rid of it. If you disagree, maybe you should be working for Pixar?

Trend #4: Scroll jacking

Remember the last time you found yourself in a situation you couldn’t control and thought to yourself, “Gee, this is great! I love the restrictive way I’m being forced to experience this!” Having some trouble? I thought so. That’s because you are a human being with free will and a brain capable of making inferences and decisions on your own, not a host on Westworld doomed to repeat the same behavioral loops over and over again. You don’t need anyone to tell you how to use something that should be intuitive in the first place.

Westworld gif
Source: giphy.com

Scroll jacking is like an overbearing mother or a micromanaging supervisor always over your shoulder. It’s annoying and honestly a little bit patronizing. You’ve probably been a victim of scroll jacking if you’ve ever done any research on a new Apple product and been forced to suffer through slide of explanation on why you need their latest device, OS or app. If you’re like me, you’ve at least experience that “Get me out of here!” moment of helplessness and frustration, but beyond the simple annoyance of it all, there are gigantic accessibility and usability issues that only prevent users from interacting with your site.

Websites and digital products should be intuitive. They should not require the guiding hand of “the Builder,” but rather be open to exploration by the user, capable of being experienced in the most appropriate way for that individual or persona. The most important information should be accessible but not force-fed. Visitors should have the freedom of choice to explore that which is relevant to them in the most logical way. Do the tiniest amount of user testing and you’ll find that different personas are likely to interact with the same product in completely different ways. Sometimes people need to be left alone to learn and discover things on their own in order to make a confident and informed decision. Scroll jacking flies in the face of this concept and is just plain arrogant in its assumption that there is a one-size-fits-all best way to experience a site.

Trend #5: Sidebars

This entry may be better suited for a similarly themed post with 2014 in the title. Enough already! It’s time to put purposeless sidebars to pasture.

This is the age of minimalism whether you like it or not. And not just in web design. Flat, Material, Flat 2.0… these are the design trends moving forward and they work because they’ve stripped out unnecessary and gratuitous conventions like the sidebar. You see them all the time on News sites which makes absolutely zero sense because their objective should be to get you to focus on the content, not bouncing from story to story like a caffeine-addled spider monkey. While it’s safe to say these sites likely have ulterior motives for emphasizing page views over time on page or driving a specific action, that should not be what informs the page design of a B2B site with a clear conversion strategy.

Let me ask you something. What do you need a sidebar for? Navigation? What’s wrong with your primary navigation? Well, fix it, don’t just make it redundant. Redundant or irrelevant sidebar content does nothing but distract attention from whatever it is you are supposed to be communicating to the user on that particular page.

When conversions are the name of the game, you should be taking every possible step to maximize them through testing different CTAs and their placement on the page. Convinced that the sidebar is the most appropriate place for that button or form? Doubt it. This company removed their cluttered sidebar, moved their CTAs in line with the content itself and saw a 71% increase in conversions. Remember, it’s all about experience. If a blog post is written with the intent of compelling a user to act, it makes for a far more natural experience after all when the CTA is presented at the exact point at which the user is compelled.

Sidebars are almost always nothing more than a distraction and in this age of minimalism, distractions should be the first things to go!

Bring on 2017

You may very well notice some of these conventions on what are otherwise highly effective sites. In fact, we may have used some of them in our own work in the past. But the past is exactly where we intend to leave these and other tired conventions, replacing them with innovative new experiences that are backed by experimentation and testing. So don’t think of this as the Burn Book from Mean Girls so much as lighthearted constructive criticism intended to make your website better and the internet in general a tidier, less annoying place.

Suffice it to say that we are looking forward to a new year and the web design trends that follow, but no matter how shiny and hyped they may be, we’ll always rely on that which is backed by data and results. Check back soon to see what new web design trends we hope to see take the spotlight in 2017!

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How to Infuse UX with Delightful Microinteractions

When designers think about user experience, we often think of the end product. We ask ourselves: What is a customer’s overall experience with our platforms, websites, and mobile apps? How seamless are their interactions? The best UX happens when the big picture view and the little details work together. Little details should be considered with every single project. It matters where the user clicks. It matters what happens when they do.

So, how can you ensure you’re taking care of all the details? Many designers are zoning in on microinteractions, the small moments that happen inside and around the overall experience.

Today, we’re going to unpack the concept of microinteractions and talk about how UX can be improved by using them.

Microinteractions, UX’s new frontier

We’re constantly interacting with technology. But what defines our experience? How do we get feedback from the platforms and apps that we spend our time with?

The concept of microinteractions was introduced in Microinteractions, a book by Dan Saffer. Saffer believes it’s the little things that turn a good digital product into a great one, and that microinteractions can help revolutionize a product and a brand.

Here’s how Saffer defines microinteractions:

“Microinteractions are contained product moments that revolve around a single use case—they have one main task. Every time you change a setting, sync your data or devices, set an alarm, pick a password, log in, set a status message, or favorite or “like” something, you are engaging with a microinteraction.”

These microinteractions have a purpose– to provide an update on the status of an action. They’re a tiny bit of communication to let the user know that their action had a result.

For example, if you like a photo on Instagram by tapping twice, a large heart will appear in the center of the photo, and the heart underneath the photo will turn red.

Here are a few other examples of microinteractions:

  • Showpad – When users click the “Filter by Industry” button, it  reverses the direction of the arrow to show the action being taken.
Nov-16-2016 14-18-06
Source: www.showpad.com/case-studies/

 

  • Chartboost – When clicking  on the “Get Started” CTA in the hero area, an animated spinning gear is displayed while the form loads.
Nov-16-2016 14-23-42
Source: www.chartboost.com

 

How to use microinteractions

You probably use a lot of microinteractions already, but are they delighting your audience? The best microinteractions provide a feeling of satisfaction, and make people feel connected.

Here’s how to improve overall UX with microinteractions:

Catalog each and every touch-point

Whether you’re designing a mobile app, website, or software platform, you can start assessing your microinteractions by cataloging each and every touch-point.  What are the actions a user can perform, and what feedback do they get when they perform these actions?

Microinteractions are used when:

  • Things are turned on and off
  • Comments are made
  • Making changes
  • Viewing messages
  • Receiving notifications
  • Liking, sharing, or posting on social media
  • Connecting to other platforms and devices (for example, software integrations and Bluetooth)
  • Sharing progress along the way

By understanding where are the touch-points are, you can figure out where microinteractions fit in. Are you already using them? Are they accomplishing your goals? How can they be improved?

Both quantitative and qualitative metrics should be considered, so be sure to understand how success will be measured. While fun microinteractions are important, they should be also well-thought out and integrated with the overall strategy to accomplish certain goals.

Decide on a brand voice + tone

Most UX designers use microinteractions to provide user feedback. However, the best experiences come when the microinteractions are designed deliberately to delight, fitting into a greater branded voice and tone.

For example: MyFitnessPal’s brand mission is to be as helpful as possible when someone is trying to track what they’re eating. To be as encouraging as possible (and to make sure they’re not annoying), MyFitnessPal automatically turns off notifications if a user doesn’t respond, and provides updates along the way.

Blog 2

Design to delight

Microinteractions are magical when they delight the user, and many companies are finding ways to upgrade their feedback loops. For example, what happens when a user has to wait while your app has to connect to a server?

Rather than letting the user get bored while they wait, provide them with an update. Uber does this by showing you where your car is located while you wait for it to arrive. Many others do this simply by adding an animated progress update.

Source: Chris Plosaj
Source: Chris Plosaj

Wrapping up

When we start a new UX project, we consider both the big picture and the micro details. After all, what happens once someone starts interacting with our designs? They need feedback to know their actions have an effect, and that feedback should delight them.

If you want to make your audience feel good about the overall experience, you should devote attention to microinteractions. These microinteractions can redefine the user experience and take it from good to great.

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Bad Plugins Increase Development Time

WordPress is a great CMS. For many startups and SMBs, the platform seems ideal – flexible, customizable, widely known and used, and (most importantly) approachable to a non-developer audience.

And therein lies a challenge.

See, WordPress offers a UI and functionality that lets you adjust the content, appearance and interactive features without doing any coding or design work. However, you will likely need to customize code in some way during the lifetime of your website.

Enter plugins.

Plugins make it easy to customize your site in ways the stock admin interface doesn’t allow. Unfortunately, some plugins are made in a way that can cause significant issues for your website.

A plugin with low code quality can make your site unstable, hard to fix, and difficult to customize down the road. Even if you’re not a seasoned programmer, there are ways to evaluate plugins and spot signs of poor quality.

Here are a couple of issues that seem to occur most frequently.

bad-plugins-1

Bloated Code

Sloppy code files make updating and customizing a plugin a nightmare. Your developer will need to parse through a ton of unnecessary code or deal with unwieldy organization in order to make changes, debug and test it to satisfy your needs.

The more time it takes your dev to make the changes, the bigger the hit to your budget and timeline.

Ideally, each file should contain code specific to the operation of that particular class or group of functions in the code. They should also be split up into relatively medium file lengths. If you open up some of the files in the plugin and see 1000+ lines of code, that might be a challenge later.

Bolt-On Functionality

Plugins that have been around a long time may have grown organically, adding lots of patchwork fixes to implement new functionality. Evidence of this can be seen in if-statement blocks repeated after each other, over and over.

This means when your developer makes a change, there’s an increased risk that something else could break as a result (regression errors).

It can be hard to know what if-statements are related, or may affect one another. In addition to the number of if-statements, take a look at the length of code inside each if-statement block.  A hundred lines of complicated logic inside each if-statement will be very difficult to parse through. Following the intent of what the code is supposed to accomplish will become harder.

The longer it takes to figure out where to make code changes, then more time (and budget) it’ll take to achieve results.

Front-End & Back-End Code Confusion

Another thing to look for is separation of back-end and front-end code. By this, I mean that any HTML markup should be in separate files away from logic code that makes decisions and processes information. The official terminology for this is separating View and Presentation layers from Controller, Logic and Model layers.

Why separate the code? When HTML is mixed in with PHP, it is just plain hard to read.

Combined code also tends to cause issues with the syntax highlighting mechanisms in most programming editors. Muddy HTML and logic also makes it difficult to backtrace what you’re seeing live on a website with what’s in the code files.

All of these issues increase the odds of making mistakes when developing.

External Resource Files

Externally loading resource files that are crucial to make the plugin work is a big issue to keep an eye out for. Common externally loaded reference files are javascript, font, style CSS, and image files.

Ideally, every part of the site should be self-contained. When you externally load in files, you’re depending on an outside party to keep those reference files unchanged and publicly hosted – forever. While this can work for common libraries like jQuery and Bootstrap, it’s not okay for small, customized javascript that is unique for that plugin, especially if it is essential to the plugin functioning.

These files are also often minimized, meaning they’ve been condensed into the smallest file length possible and as a result, are not readable by a human being – making it impossible to alter or fix issues in that file. All of the javascript files should be hosted inside the site’s directories, with both the minified and full development versions of the files being available. This makes switching between the minified and full-length development version easy when you need to have code customized or make a fix.

External resources also pose a security risk to websites, as they can provide a bridge in for hackers and malicious files.

The Right Plugin Makes All the Difference

Some plugins are small, and others are huge with hundreds of files. Whether it’s small or large, these “gotchas” can make keeping your site updated and tailored to your needs difficult.

Features and fixes will always need to be made as websites change, and you don’t want to be in an awkward position when that time comes. If a central functionality of your website is tied to a plugin that is completely unmaintainable, you’ll be forced to either start over, or pour excess time and money rectifying your vulnerability. Nobody wants to be in that position.

Choosing the right plugins for your WordPress site is an essential part of web development success. Open-source CMS’ and their plugins have a great price tag (free), but if you aren’t careful, a low price tag up front can come with considerable costs down the line.

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Why Marketing Automation is a Startup Marketer’s Most Valuable Tool

For a startup marketer, the most valuable asset is time. Every tool, channel and campaign that needs active management consumes that valuable resource, leaving little for important, but less urgent, tasks. Enter marketing automation.

Businesses have been managing their email marketing and content management with software for years. However, the variety of different systems available resulted in difficulties. What if your landing page software didn’t integrate with your email system? Was there a way to trigger personalized email responses based on blog posts read on your website?

Modern marketing automation allows marketers to manage all of these different automations under a single program. This allows marketers to put their time into more valuable pursuits, without worrying about whether their systems are integrated and automated.

Not convinced? Let’s explore how marketing automation can save you time, and make your startup’s marketing more scalable.

Work Smarter, Not Harder

Scenario 1. You need to send an email to a subset of your existing customers. Do you need to visit your CRM, sort by a particular field, limit by date range, export that list in CSV, then import into your Email Service Provider (ESP)?

Scenario 2. You just pushed a new blog post. You want to share it on several social media networks, and at different times. Do you fire up your Social Media Management (SMM) software, copy-paste the link into a UTM builder, shorten it, then copy-paste into your SMM and schedule?

These are just two examples of the simple, repetitive tasks that marketing automation lends itself to. In fact, good marketing automation software can help you manage:

  •       Content Production
  •       Landing Page Creation and Tracking
  •       Lead Nurturing
  •       Campaign Analytics
  •       Social Media Management
  •       Email Marketing

Marketing automation isn’t built on the promise of helping you manage each of these repetitive tasks – there’s already software that does that. Instead, it delivers huge returns by simplifying, standardizing, and executing these tasks automatically.

startup-photos
Photo Credit: pexels.com

Marketing teams spend too many of their working hours managing the various ins and outs of these initiatives. Marketing automation empowers you to delegate the most mundane aspects of your job to a software program, and focus your attention on more strategic duties.

To Err is Human

Consider every time your social media intern manually logs into Twitter to share your content. Or each time you have to create a new landing page in your CMS, but with a different headline. Think of every deadline you have related to posting or sending or sharing in the next 7 days. Every time a human interacts with your marketing, there’s a chance for error.

Not so with marketing automation.

Automating these “grunt work” touches with software means that tasks are completed with perfect precision. No more sending to a mistyped email address. No more missing a post deadline because you were in a meeting that ran long. No more forgetting to tag that link. Automation eliminates human error or forgetfulness. Every task performed is automatically logged and measured, resulting in a wealth of data and metrics which you can use to make your processes even more efficient.  

A Real World Example: LeanLogistics

LeanLogistics is a provider of online transportation management systems (TMS).

While their campaigns were effective, their productivity was suffering. But after implementing marketing automation, they slashed wasted time across the board, enabling them to scale their successful efforts and grow their brand.

  • Email campaigns were built in hours, not days.
  • Prepping for tradeshows and webinars went from 6 weeks down to 2 days.
  • The amount of campaigns running doubled without needing extra help or time.

You can read all the specifics  here.

Start Future-Proofing

Marketing automation software is now simple enough and affordable enough to be attractive to small businesses.  For startups looking to stretch budgets and improve efficiency, the software can easily become the most valuable tool in their arsenal.

people-at-window
Photo Credit: pexels.com

If you haven’t already integrated marketing automation, it’s worth your time to look at the facts. The days where marketers needed to do everything themselves are long gone.

Marketing automation can be a valuable tool for businesses, especially startups and small businesses. If you are ready to scale your marketing and lead nurturing, or are frustrated with the amount of time spent doing mundane digital tasks, it might be the solution you’re looking for.

Have questions about implementing marketing automation with your current website and other marketing platforms? Our team would be happy to provide expert guidance and implementation – just reach out.

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Don’t Build That Smartphone App

App development may seem like a perpetual goldmine, but like with all gold rushes, the majority of prospectors eventually leave both empty-handed and disappointed. There’s a joke going around the boardrooms of Silicon Valley and classrooms of Ivy League schools. Perhaps you’ve heard it a time or two:

A young man opens a bar in Silicon Valley. It’s revolutionary—nobody has ever seen or heard of amenities like the ones his bar has. With great fanfare, the young man throws the doors open and endless crowds stream in.

They gape at the beautiful design and the quality products on offer. They give the bar excellent reviews and tell all their friends about it. Soon the whole city is inside the bar, laughing, chatting and thoroughly enjoying themselves. The young man is the talk of the town.

 

coins on table
Photo Credit Pexels.com

After a good while, people start to stream out again. They leave in droves, heading to new bars. The young man is left alone. The shelves are full. The bottles remain corked. Nobody has bought anything.

Unfortunately, this is more than just a pithy story. For many entrepreneurs and developers around the world, this tale hits close to home. Even the most popular and well-designed apps often struggle to pay for themselves. The worst can bankrupt their creators.

Should I Make a Smartphone App?

There was a time when app building was simple and lucrative. A few years ago, the business world had app fever. Entrepreneurs simply needed to build an application, upload it to the Apple Store and then put their feet up. On the crest of that wave, almost anything would sell.

 

Unfortunately, those days are over. Apps have lost much of their original novelty. They’re a standard feature on all smartphones. With few exceptions, they no longer elicit wonder and awe from their users. We’ve reached the high water mark.

Yes, there is still a time and a place for app building and a great deal of money-making good that can come from them. However,  it’s important to be absolutely certain of your business model before getting involved. The following are a few potential obstacles to consider before you build an app:

High Overheads and Low Profits

A common misconception among novice app-builders is that the process is quick and easy. Simply put, it isn’t—apps require a lot of overhead. A great deal of time, talent and money go into even the worst ones. If you’re looking for a cheap way to raise awareness for your business, you might consider an alternative. For example, for the cost of building one smartphone app, you could invest in a number of highly-targeted social media posts, ensuring that the right eyes are learning more of your business.

 

Ken Yarmoush, the Founder and CEO of Savvy Apps, has spent his entire career advising clients on the most efficient way to build their mobile applications. He says that cheap development projects start around $25,000. Million dollar apps are not a novelty; they’re a fixture.

 

Now, for some people this investment pays off quickly. The investors behind Uber aren’t hurting, for instance. However, it’s a mistake to assume that every app story ends so happily.

 

Woman on a mobile phone
Photo Credit Pexels.com

 

In fact, Gartner Inc. estimates that less than one percent of all mobile apps ever become financially sustainable. The confidence some entrepreneurs have in mobile apps is founded more in groupthink than it is in research.

 

The goldmine metaphor holds true. Too many investors assume that a figurative pick and shovel is all they need to strike it rich. In reality they’d probably be better off investing in something else.

The True Cost of ‘Free’

That joke about the young man and the bar might not be all that funny, but it does highlight a very real problem. How do you make money with an app? There are a few traditional options.

 

For example, you can:

  • Charge to download the app
  • Make money from in-app purchases
  • Sell advertising space within the app
  • Charge a subscription fee for the app’s services

Most mobile app developers hope to recoup their investment from a mixture of the second and third options. They let you download the app for free, but not all the features come with it. To unlock premium features, users need to upgrade—for a fee of course.

 

Upgrade offer from soundcloud
Photo Credit SoundCloud

 

The same goes for advertising. If you want to get rid of the attention-grabbing ads running across the screen, you need to pay a fee. These models have worked in the past, but there’s a growing body of evidence which suggests they aren’t as reliable as they used to be.

Will Your Users Upgrade?

Flowspark Studios conducted research on in-app purchases and found that roughly 95 percent of users never make them. In the worst cases, less than half-a-percent of your users will ever upgrade. An app can be wildly popular while the developers and investors behind it struggle to make ends meet.

Walking the Advertising Tightrope

Advertising isn’t a safe bet, either. The marketing industry is reevaluating itself as ad blockers and the phenomenon known as “ad blindness” make digital advertising increasingly ineffective. In an industry that famously leaps from trend to trend, there’s no guarantee that advertisers will continue to focus on mobile advertising as they have in the past.

 

Tripod with mobile phone
Photo Credit Pexels.com

 

Even if they do, advertisers are interested primarily in impressions. Until your app has thousands of regular users, you’ll struggle to find buyers for your ad space. With this in mind, do you have a way to pay for the app until you get there?

The March of Progress

Mobile apps have captured the imagination of entrepreneurs and businesspeople all over the world. They changed the way we think about gaming, social networking and business. They will continue to be relevant and helpful for a long time, but it’s foolish to assume that they’re the final step of tech evolution.

 

For users, there are several serious downsides to mobile apps.

  • They require constant updates
  • They clutter screens with hundreds of icons
  • They take up bandwidth
  • They have questionable security
  • Most mobile games work on a planned obsolescence model

 

Already, innovators are looking at more streamlined options. Many marketers are moving to browser-based apps, which received twice as much traffic as their mobile cousins in 2015. These apps are potentially cheaper and more efficient than the traditional iPhone or Android versions.

How long will it be before the next step of the app evolution takes over? Needless to say, the indicators say sooner rather than later.

The Bottom Line

Mobile apps are an appealing way to make money, promote businesses and engage potential customers. However, they are not a panacea. They are not a failsafe. Before you rush into app development, make sure you know your boundaries. With the time, money and energy it would take to build a mobile app, you could almost certainly find a more efficient option.

So, what do you think? Is the age of mobile apps over, or are they still a viable option for startups and small businesses? Let us know on Facebook or Twitter.

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We Only Develop for the Latest Browsers – Here’s Why

As part of our development process for web products (websites, landing pages, microsites, web applications), we focus on the two most recent browser versions.

Occasionally, a client will be concerned that their audience uses older technology, and want us to develop backwards several versions. While we are certainly open to accommodating our clients’ needs, there’s a reason we focus on the most recent two versions.

We are UpTrending, which means we are all about all things trending up (see what I did there?). We are committed to innovation and modernity, demonstrated by an enthusiastic, unwavering support of the latest and greatest digital technologies – but that’s not why we ignore IE8.

We don’t support these browser versions simply because they are “new” – we support them because of what they can do for our clients, and what they can do for our clients’ audience. Let me show you why we support the latest two versions of browsers.

Look Forward, Not Back

The main reason we support the latest browsers is because the latest browsers support the latest technology. Old browsers such as IE8 and IE9 don’t support a lot of the animation and CSS functionality that is desired by most clients and their users.

To be frank, nothing is quite as upsetting as developing a beautiful website that collapses on an outdated browser.

These technologies offer a holistic approach to website positioning; these technologies can only enhance your website, not hinder. Optimizing your website for modern browsers will directly influence user experience, and propel your website into the trendsetting realm of exciting modernity. By supporting the most up-to-date technologies, you’ll position your business as cutting edge and forward thinking. You’ll do more than just communicate with your users — you’ll invigorate them.

Follow the Numbers

When deciding on whether to upgrade to the latest technologies, numbers don’t lie. Take a look at your analytics. What are your users using as browsers?

It’s generally a good practice to build your website to accommodate the platforms that your target audience is already using. Google analytics no longer supports IE8 and IE9 because they are so outdated. In fact, they are also no longer supported by Microsoft.

Look at where your users are coming from and do a comparison. Stat Counter is a great resource for wide-scale comparative analytics. It supplies statistics, by country, all about browser use. Do an internal audit, and honestly weigh the cost of optimizing your website for these outdated browsers (and also consider the very low and decreasing percentage of users still using outdated browsers). Then, you can objectively determine whether or not it’s worth the investment.

Show Me the Money

Coding for outdated browsers that don’t support current technologies adds significant cost and time to development as well as design.

Alternative designs may need to be created to work with the lack of support with certain elements or animations. If you choose to optimize your website to support outdated browsers, any time you request a feature or change, you’ll need to be prepared for the additional investment in resources for accommodating those changes.

The Alternative

Our suggestion? Carpe diem. YOLO. Seize the “right now” of digital technology, and encourage your users to do the same.

You can display a message to users with outdated browsers that will prompt them to update. You can even provide them with direct links and resources for these upgrades.

Supporting the latest browser versions is the perfect way to balance budget efficiency with the benefits of the latest technologies. You’ve invested a lot of time, resources, and creativity into your website. Make sure your users can enjoy that full experience you’ve created, in the best, most modern way possible.