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 Google analytics no longer supports IE8 and IE9 because they are so outdated.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.


The Who, How, What and Why of User Personas

Websites are multi-dimensional. They’re welcome mats. They’re information centers.

A website can serve as the first interaction between a brand and consumer, and it has the capacity to play a large role in determining the future of that important relationship.

One effective tool to leverage in personalizing the website experience and maximizing performance is user personas. These data-driven customer profiles enable brands to create a highly engaging, user-centered web experience, driving brand awareness, key performance metrics and ultimately strengthening the consumer to brand relationship.

The Who: Getting to Know the User

According to a study by The Wharton School, of the 700 million websites that exist, 72 percent fail to consistently engage users. The majority of these sites provide a one-size-fits-all experience and are unable to respond to the user’s needs in an individualized way.

Greater personalization is the answer. It starts by identifying who your primary user groups are – small business owners, young urban professionals, soccer moms, etc., – so that your brand can conduct the research required in order to better understand user needs and specific objectives

The How: Conducting the Research, Mining the Data

Once you’ve determined who the key user groups are, the next step is to learn as much as possible about them. The more a brand knows about what drives their core users, the more tailoring of the website’s UX is possible.

How do you go about doing this? Creating a user persona entails uncovering each customer segment’s behaviors, motivations, and pain points. Research is the key. User persona profiles are developed by synthesizing various types of both qualitative and quantitative research that may include:

  • User interviews to reveal key insights into how the site is perceived and what information is the most important.
  • Research and Analytics to aggregate and measure vital demographic information including average age, devices of use, and key methods of discovering information to ensure a brand’s marketing mix is in line with the persona’s habits.
  • MOSAIC profiles to anticipate customer behaviors, attitudes, and preferences.

These are just a few examples of the types of research you may wish to conduct during the exploration phase. When the process is complete, you’ll have a treasure trove of data you can use to create the personas that will drill the design process.

The What: Visualizing Your Persona

What does an effective user persona look like? User personas can be visualized in many different ways, but one of the most common executions is a one-page document that distills the key information you’ve identified during the research phase.

If your audience is small business owners, your user persona might look like this:
user-persona-sm-bizIf you’re targeting tech-savvy, altruistic young people, it might look like this:


If you’re talking to highly educated young urban professionals, it might look like this:


Whatever form the user persona takes, it must clearly spell out what makes your customers tick.

  • What are their goals, needs, and interests?
  • What are their hesitations, pain points, and concerns?
  • What do they ultimately hope to get out of the web experience?

Your user persona must illustrate this, in a clear, concise way.

The Why: Are User Personas Truly Worth the Effort?

Why go to all of the trouble of creating a user persona? Broadly speaking, it’s easier to aim when you can see your target more clearly. There’s also the “keeping up with the Jones’” argument. 89 percent of high-performing businesses have responded to market conditions by enhancing the customer experience. One of the ways these top companies respond is by creating an engaging, user-driven website experience.

User personas help web marketers do just that. Thoughtfully rendered, diligently executed personas produce insights you can use to justify UX design decisions, inspire the ideation process, and provide a valid basis for site critiques. They establish the “voice” of the user, which builds empathy, which in turn, enables designers to work in a more mindful way, putting the customer at the center of the experience.

Not least, user personas are critical in creating the next phase of the design process – the user journey (more on that to come soon).

Do you have user personas gathering dust on a shelf – developed in a whirlwind brainstorm, then forgotten and abandoned in the rush of daily activities? Or maybe your firm has never clearly defined user personas, but you’re ready to get started!

In either case, our detailed guide to user personas and customer journeys is a valuable resource you shouldn’t miss out on. It’s packed with clear guidance and detailed examples. Hit the link below to get access.

Get Your Free Guide



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.


Managing A Creative Team

Managing a creative team always has unique challenges.  Managing a creative team while managing a web design project creates an entirely different set of challenges.

Whether you’re a project manager at an agency, an agency client, or working with an in-house team of creatives, you need to know the common challenges of managing a creative team, and how to solve them.

Defined Budgets

Having clear budgets and time allotments are the most important things in having a successful relationship with your creative team members. Having the budget up-front allows your creative folks to do two things:

1. Create an approach that will allow them to meet that budget.

2. Allow them to raise objections to the budget prior to any work actually being completed.

Designers love to design. Sometimes it takes two iterations, sometimes ten.  If not given clear direction, they are going to want to do their best work for you and spend the ten iterations to get that perfect design. Having a clear budget expectation allows a designer to meet the budget as laid out in the proposal.

Your developers might be able to build a feature three different ways. If they have the limits of a budget, it allows them to properly pick a course of action that meets to amount of time available to work on a task.

Everyone wishes budgets didn’t exist, and that there was unlimited time to build the perfect project. Unfortunately, that’s almost never the case – but budgets don’t have to be viewed in a negative light!

Budget conversations provide opportunities for discovering what’s possible. Some agencies call this an upsell, which makes creatives uncomfortable. In reality, it’s an exercise in communicating what all the options are. If a designer or developer can clearly lay out how much time an additional feature might take, it gives the client the opportunity to decide if it is worth spending more money to get exactly what they want.

Defined Timelines

Whether you call it a project plan, a roadmap, or something else, visually laying out the timeline of a project and its deliverables really helps everyone succeed.

Something I personally learned the hard way in managing creative types, is that if you ask them to do something, they are likely to say, “yes,” regardless of availability. I think there are two reasons for this.

First, you are asking them to do design or build something. That’s what they do, that’s what they are passionate about, and if it sounds interesting or fun, they are going to say, “yes,” because they want to work on it.

Second, there’s an ugly trend popping up in the web design industry of getting work done no matter the personal sacrifice. This has led to people being fearful of losing a job because they aren’t willing to commit to an impossible deadline. At UpTrending, we work to have open communication with our team. We encourage them to push back when there isn’t enough time to complete the project or task, and we push for as much work/life balance as possible, because burning our employees out isn’t something that is beneficial for our team or our clients.

By clearly communicating a reasonable timeline to all parties involved, it allows creatives to succeed, makes the client happy to have deadlines met, and makes the company consistently look great. It really is a win-win-win situation!

Designers Design, Developers Develop

This one is bound to cause some controversy, but hear me out!

Even at UpTrending, we have skilled designers who can also develop and talented developers who can design. And yet, design and development are different skill sets. While people are more than capable of having multiple skill sets, usually we find team members excel at either design or development a bit more. From an agency perspective, putting team members in a position where they are able to produce their best allows them to be successful. In turn, their success leads to happy clients and a happy boss.

No Two Projects are the Same

This one really applies to the larger type of agencies. One of the things that can happen at any organization as it grows, is you begin to create reports and data and analytics on your team and their performance. There are a variety of reasons why this is important, but it can quickly lead to putting everyone in a box to meet goals that a management team member came up with.  

Judging a team member’s performance based on one project is a recipe for disaster. There are numerous questions that don’t get answered through reports.

  • Was the project the best fit for the team member’s skills?
  • What particular challenges did this project have that others didn’t?
  • Was the project budgeted correctly to begin with?

Ultimately, you realize that every project is dependent on a number of factors that are outside the control of the designer or developer.

A much better way to measure a team member’s performance is looking to see if they maximized the time they were given; they communicated throughout a project effectively; and they delivered the caliber of work your team expects. These are much more consistent measures of performance that do not always show up in a report.

Understanding Praise

One thing I learned quickly in working with creative team members was how to give them praise that they valued. Here are a few key things that seem to be consistent:  

1. Creatives would prefer you acknowledge the quality of their work, not the speed with which it was done.

2. Even if it was timeline or budget related, praise for a creative solution to a problem needs to go further than, “Thanks for getting me out of that jam.”

3. A simple, “thank you,” goes a million miles, especially when you have asked that person to go above and beyond in some way.

Creatives are People, Too

Ultimately, the key to managing designers, developers, copywriters, videographers and all other types of creative talent is simple: they’re people, just like you.

In the midst of discussions about budgets, timelines, assets, revisions, mockups and quality assurance, just remember that creative people aren’t vending machines, they’re artists. You don’t need to punch in your order and impatiently tap your foot until they deliver a predictable result. Instead, you need to give them the best tools to do their job, and build processes that enable them to focus on their craft with good boundaries.

At the end of the work day, creatives truly love to do what they do. And anything you can do to help them love their job more is going to result in some of the most spectacular work you’ve ever seen.


WordPress vs. The Rest

We build a lot of WordPress sites here at UpTrending, so we often get asked about how it compares to other Content Management Systems. Whether it’s Joomla, Drupal, SquareSpace or even a proprietary CMS, companies want to be sure they get the right platform for their largest digital asset.

Why WordPress is the Best

Nine times out of ten a company building a new website should do it in WordPress. There are so many reasons why WordPress squashes the competition, but we’ve chosen to highlight just five.

Ease of use

One of the biggest points in WordPress’ favor is that the admin interface is extremely easy to manage. The key to this ease-of-use is organization. A well-setup theme will separate out custom post types like press releases or white papers from larger static pages. This keeps everything filed in its proper place in a big grey sidebar that’s always accessible for admins.


A good theme will also break out sections of a page into “custom fields” letting users edit the specific content they want without breaking the html structure of the whole page. The Advanced Custom Fields plugin makes these so easy, it would be foolish not to use them!


Menus are also extremely easy to manage in WordPress. With just two clicks in the admin panel, you can be editing menu links and text. You can independently edit your main menu, footer menu, mobile menu or any other menus you have globally on your site. While most other CMS’ allow for menu customization, they often require an extensive tutorial to understand the process.


Statistics show that 24% of the web is powered by WordPress. Why does your business care? Simple – more people are familiar with it.

When hiring a new team member to manage the company website, finding someone with WordPress experience is exponentially easier. Most developers also know how to manage a WordPress site’s code. Choosing a development partner with WordPress is easier because almost everyone knows how to work on them.


With over 39,000 plugins (and counting!) in the official WordPress directory, plus countless themes at your fingertips, WordPress is by far the most flexible CMS to customize. Most custom features requested for company websites can be implemented with a simple plugin that someone else has already written and is giving away for free, or a relatively low cost.

That being said, it is sometimes better to have a developer custom-build these features, because plugins with bad or bloated code can cause issues down the line. It is always good practice to question plugins (and test them) before throwing them into a site.

Community support

The WordPress Codex offers a wealth of knowledge on how to customize and build a solid theme or plugin. There are also many forums that are regularly updated and dedicated to WordPress theme and plugin support. On the rare occasion when a solution can’t be found with a simple Google search, it is easy to drop a question in one of these forums and get answers, sometimes within minutes!

Open source

WordPress is free to use and always will be. This beats getting locked into a payment plan with SquareSpace or Wix where they control the site and never give up ownership of the code.

The Exceptions to the Rule

There are some cases where WordPress is not the best solution. Here are three cases where another option will work out much better in the long run.

Web or mobile apps

Complicated web or mobile apps are not what WordPress was built for. There are cases where these can be achieved with WordPress, but using a more robust framework like Ruby on Rails or Laravel is probably a better option.

Single-use landing pages

Sometimes a single page site is so static it never needs the content updated. In this case it may be faster to build it out as a flat HTML site.

However, implementing WordPress isn’t all that complicated so it may be better to use the CMS for single page sites that do get their content refreshed every so often.

Complex e-commerce sites

WordPress did recently partner with the popular e-commerce plugin WooCommerce. This does allow companies who sell goods online to use WordPress, and it works very well.

However, some enterprise level e-commerce sites are so complicated that it is much less headache to use the popular Magento CMS to manage the online shop. In these cases it is still nice to use WordPress for the marketing side of the company site to get the benefits of both platforms.

Not convinced that WordPress has what it takes to power your company’s website? Check out some examples of our enterprise clients whose sites are built on WordPress.



Why a Responsive Website is Worth the Investment

It’s ludicrous to think about creating a website in 2015 that isn’t responsive, and yet somehow, the conversation keeps coming up.  Typically, it’s about the money. Is it really worth the extra time to develop those scaled-down experiences?

Maybe you need to hear this. Maybe your boss does. Maybe your CFO isn’t familiar with this discussion. Whatever the case, here are five reasons you should feel confident in choosing a responsive website.


A big shout-out to KISSMetrics, the Aberdeen Group and Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers for our source data.

Speaking of website designs worth the investment, check out how one of our website projects helped land our client an $80 million round of funding.


Help Readers Stay Within their WordPress Search Results Using this Simple Concept

Everyone knows that content is king, and one of the ways that you can keep your site fresh is to maintain a blog on your website. This is a great way to engage your audience with relative information to your market, news about your company, and even tips and advice on how to use your service or product.

Once you’ve built up some content, your readers may find themselves searching your site for blog posts relevant to them. But we all know that the first result isn’t always exactly what we’re looking for, or perhaps not the only one that we want to read. So I’d like to present a concept we can use with WordPress that will help readers continue traversing through the results their search returns.

Capture the Results

The first thing we want to do is create a function we can use to retrieve the ID’s of the posts that our search returns.
[php]function ut_search_array( $search_hash ) {
// check for existence of unique transient
if ( false === ( $search_array = get_transient( ‘ut_search_’ . $search_hash ) ) ) {
global $wpdb;

$posts = $wpdb->get_results( $GLOBALS[‘wp_query’]->request );

$search_array = array();

if ( false === empty( $posts ) ) {
foreach ( $posts as $post ) {
$search_array[] = $post->ID;

// save the transient for 10 minutes
set_transient( ‘ut_search_’ . $search_hash, $search_array, MINUTE_IN_SECONDS * 10 );

return $search_array;
This function starts out checking to see if a transient unique to this search result exists. If it doesn’t, we create it using a unique string, the `$search_hash`. This function will return an array of post ID’s. Let’s say for our example that the ID’s it returns are 2, 4, 8, 9, and 11.

Store Data in a Session

Next, we’ll need the plugin WP Session Manager. This gives us a simple way to create sessions with WordPress. We’ll store the search string that was entered into the search box, the search hash – a unique string that WordPress creates when a search is performed – and the array of posts ID’s from the function that we created above.
* Set session search_string
function ut_set_search_string() {
global $wp_query;

$wp_session = WP_Session::get_instance();

// if we’re on a search page, save the search data
if ( !is_admin() && is_search() && isset( $wp_query->query_vars_hash ) ) {
$search_string = $wp_query->query[‘s’];
$search_hash = $wp_query->query_vars_hash;
$wp_session[‘search_string’] = $search_string;
$wp_session[‘search_hash’] = $search_hash;
$wp_session[‘search_array’] = ut_search_array( $search_hash );
// if we’re anywhere else, clear the search data
if ( !is_admin() && !is_search() && !is_single() && is_main_query() ) {
$wp_session[‘search_string’] =
$wp_session[‘search_hash’] =
$wp_session[‘search_array’] = null;
add_action( ‘pre_get_posts’, ‘ut_set_search_string’ );[/php]
This is added on ‘pre_get_posts’ and will let us temporarily store data unique to the current user without them having to be a user in the WordPress database. We can now get this data anywhere else on the site. But take note to where the data is destroyed if they are on certain pages.

Find our Place in the Post ID Array

Now we’ll need a function that we can use inside a post to find out where that post is within the post ID array. So for instance, if we’re on post 4, we’re in the second position in the array. That makes the next post 8, and the previous post 2.
* Get the next or previous post in the array
function ut_get_next_search_result( $next = true ) {
$wp_session = WP_Session::get_instance();

// make sure there’s a search saved in the session
if ( isset( $wp_session[‘search_array’] ) === false ) {
return false;

// set variables
$next_key = 0;
$search_array = $wp_session[‘search_array’]->toArray();
$current_key = array_search( get_the_ID(), $search_array );

// get next or previous location in the array
if ( $next === true ) {
$next_key = $current_key + 1;

if ( isset( $search_array[$next_key] ) === false ) {
$next_key = 0;
} else {
$next_key = $current_key – 1;

if ( isset( $search_array[$next_key] ) === false ) {
end( $search_array );
$next_key = key( $search_array );

// return value from that location
return $search_array[$next_key];
This function merely returns the next or previous post ID according to where you are within the search results array. It does nothing if there is no search array stored, which would be true had we visited a page outside of the search results as set by our second function.

Create the Next and Previous Post Links

Finally, we can use all of the data we’ve stored and the functions we’ve created to give the user a chance to go backwards or forwards within their search results, instead of between all of the posts on the blog.
$prev_url = $next_url = false;
// get next and prev search results or just the links
if ( ut_get_next_search_result() ) {
$wp_session = WP_Session::get_instance();
$prev_url = get_permalink( ut_get_next_search_result(
false ) );
$next_url = get_permalink( ut_get_next_search_result() );
} else {
$prev_url = get_previous_post();
$next_url = get_next_post();
<div class=”single-nav”>
<a href=”” class=”prev”>Previous</a>
<a href=”” class=”next”>Next</a>
This checks to see if a next or previous link exists within the search results. If you’ve arrived on the current post without searching, then it will simply return the chronologically next and previous post links.

There are a few checks and balances I’ve omitted for brevity’s sake, but I hope that you’ll find this technique useful. If you have any questions about using this technique, you can connect with us on LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter, or check out our work on GitHub.


4 Ways to Cut Development Costs (Plus 3 Ways Not to)

Price matters.

Sure, we’d like to think that every development project is focused on building the absolute best, most creative, seamless final product…but that’s not entirely true. Ultimately, budgets are finite, which means projects have limitations.

So how do you make sure that your development project still ends up being amazing, when you don’t have bottomless pockets?

After launching hundreds of successful websites and applications, we’ve identified some key ways to maximize your project’s budget and make sure hours are spent on features and content that produces results.

The Right Way

Identify stakeholders and the project lead

Assemble the team, get the band back together, rally the troops…however you do it, knowing who on your team should make final decisions assures that the right questions are asked. Your project team should cover these key areas:

  • Marketing – defines key performance indicators
  • Content – decides and approves messaging and copy
  • Analytics – establishes measurement requirements
  • Technical – makes decisions about hosting and security

Making the right decisions with the right people prevents recreating work, or worse, missing key information about your objectives.

Define your goals

The fastest route to a successful project involves having a clear vision of desired traffic, conversion goals, and publishing requirements. Now that we know who’s in charge of these decisions, stating them clearly will keep the process on track from the beginning:

  • What constitutes a successful visit? Ex: a sale, download or form contact.
  • Who should be able to update what parts of the site? Ex: Resource uploads, job listings.
  • Who is your target audience? Ex: CTO looking for info, developer looking for documentation

By starting out with the end in mind, you can avoid costly mid-project pivots.

Prioritize features

You’re now equipped with the team of deciders and a vision of success. The ideas are flowing and the list of wants is growing constantly. The important task of prioritization is at hand:

  • What features are most important for your audience?
  • What content will drive conversions?

With all of the great ideas developed during the discovery process, it’s important to map out development phases to focus on the most effective choices to launch with. A lean launch will help focus all your efforts on great execution.

Utilize open source tools

With all of this groundwork, your story is bursting at the seams, ready to be told. A good development partner will suggest unique ways to present your story and deliver conversion-focused results. However, there are several facets of a website or application that don’t need to be custom built.

Open source frameworks like WordPress provide a secure, stable base to build on. By relying on code that has been tested and reviewed by thousands of developers, you can avoid spending your development budget on common features like content publishing and user management.

The Wrong Way (aka How to Wreck Projects and Waste Money)

So, now that we know some ways that save time, focus effort and reduce the complexity of development, lets look at some common pitfalls during projects.

Purchasing pre-built templates

With the popularity and ease of use of open source content platforms like WordPress, many commercial template providers have sprung up. These pre-built resources serve to quickly allow novice and inexperienced developers to build a site and they seem to fit alongside the “Utilize open source tools” recommendation. Low-cost, open source…what could go wrong?

Unfortunately, that ease of use ends up costing more in the long run for lower quality results.

For a template to be commercially successful, they attempt to fit the needs of many potential scenarios at once. The features provided by these themes rely on an extremely large assortment of plugins and libraries that can grind site performance to a halt.

Not only that, but when you’re ready to upgrade, expand, or build out custom features, your development partner will spend even more time wrangling the framework or rewriting code to fit your needs.

Cramming content into fewer pages

While planning out your messaging, it’s tempting to drive for fewer pages with more content. Long home pages can be a great way to tell an engaging story, but there’s a limit to how much information should be on a single page.

Single-page content should take into consideration:

  • The attention span of your visitors – How much information is relevant to a visitor before they’ll take the next action?
  • Actual and perceived load time – A large number of photos, illustrations and videos can reduce the page load speed, driving a higher bounce rate and lowering search engine ranking.
  • Reference and linkability – Is important information buried halfway down a page? It may be hard for someone to remember its location or save a link to it.

Failing to launch

Once the design and development process is in motion, it’s easy to get swept up in the excitement. You start seeing new possibilities for engagement, new features and content areas, and pretty soon, we’ve blown the deadline and budget.

Be patient.

Remember that web design never stops. By staying focused on your priority features, you can focus on a successful, well-executed launch. Once you see the impact of your new design and start to measure the results, then you can expand your vision.

Some Final Thoughts

Remember, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Whether you’re building a full website, a microsite or a custom application, a little preparation goes a very long way towards maximizing your budget and ensuring the initial launch is on its way toward achieving its goals.


Web Trends You Need to Know Before You Redesign

With the world of website design changing so quickly, how on earth are we supposed to keep up with “what’s hot and what’s not?” It feels like every guideline we come up with gets broken and every web trend that comes along is just a fleeting fad. The reality is, the rules of website design change so quickly that marketers have to rely on a flexible platform that can change and adjust with new trends, growing with your brand vs. holding you back.

Gone But Not Forgotten

Let’s take a look at some of the strict guidelines and cool features that were common just a couple of years ago and are now extinct.

1. All of your important content must be crammed and forced “above the fold” until you are so confused with what you are seeing that it all just looks like a jumbled mess! Please don’t.

2. Do we create an M-Dot mobile version of our site that we have to manage with an entirely separate CMS and create duplicate content for, or do we go responsive? P.S. – what does “responsive” even mean and do I need to hire a new graphic designer?

3. How can I expand our main menu and fit 10 more subcategories into the header? Maybe we can create a menu that goes 4-6 subcategories deep…yahhhh, customers will love that. Wrong!

4. Classical music playing as I land on the homepage, letting me know that the brand is classy and upscale. I mean, do I even have to say it? Auto songs are like matching velour pant suits with your partner…you just don’t do it. That should’ve died along with the crazy animation you’d see when landing on a Myspace page.

At one point or another, the examples mentioned above were guidelines, rules or considered cool features that everyone wanted, but now we know better…don’t we?

If we do know better, then it means we are approaching the design of our websites similar to a game of chess – two moves ahead. Web trends are changing so rapidly that we can’t afford to be fast followers, we have to be innovative and constantly re-evaluating how to simplify, customize and engage. So how does this new, innovative thinking apply to the way we design our websites? Well, we can start by taking a look at the trends that are happening right this minute.

The New Hotness

Here are a few of the top web design trends we are seeing:

1. The Consolidation Project

Previously, if you asked a marketing team what they needed on their website, the obvious answer used to be, “I want to add a page on our new product line,” or “I want to add a new page about our Corporate Social Responsibility project.” Now, the name of the game is consolidation, and the question is, “how do we remove pages from our site?” Less is more. The goal is to have a really clean interface with a simple menu structure that takes the user straight to a call to action without having to click six times to get to the page they want to see.

Chartboost uses the minimalist approach by keeping their nav simple and focusing their menu on main calls to action.


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2. Microinteractions – No, This isn’t a Science Term

One design agency explained it like this, “The best products do two things well: features and details. Features are what draw people to your product; details are what keep them there. Microinteractions are those details.” They are the small bits of functionality on a site that give the customer a special touch that makes them smile, or allows them to understand how something works in a very visual way.

For example, giving something a star rating, filling out an email signup box or “liking” something are all microinteractions. However, when it comes to website design, microinteractions can be used to highlight a call to action on your site in an extremely powerful way.

Another design agency has explored how big brands are starting to use microinteractions purely for user delight. One designer noted, “The other night I was browsing the Zappos iPhone app for a new pair of boots. I found a pair I liked and added it to my favorites…and that’s when a kitty cat surrounded by hearts flew across my screen.” It’s silly but it evokes emotion. If your brand can do something small to make your audience smile, then you are #winning, my friend!

As long as it doesn’t affect performance in any way, then you can make room for cuteness within your website design budget.


flying cat

3. It’s Never Too Late to Abbreviate!

Websites have a tendency to become ridiculously crowded! Too much information —> too many options —> TOO MUCH TEXT! So why on earth would anyone want to recreate that crowded and overwhelming feeling on their corporate site? Think of it this way; your website is a compact parking space – the shorter the better! Content needs to be summarized, giving just the right amount of data to inform but not overwhelm the user. If you still have pages on your site that are long columns of text, you can be sure they aren’t being read and the bounce rates are high. The key is to give the power to the customer; let them choose how much information they want to see.

For example, if you offer numerous services, give a brief description of each and showcase a thumbnail for a visual summary of the service. Provide a call to action that allows the customer to read more. You’ll be surprised how well this works to keep a customer engaged on your website because you handover the power and let the customer choose the next level of information that displays content applicable to them.

Appurify’s website highlights their core products with a beautiful, clean, white space canvas and simple icons that help direct the user to what they are looking for.

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4. Everyone is Down with the Scroll

As we’ve already stated, the idea of keeping content “above the fold” is dead and gone. In today’s world, people are used to scrolling down web pages, because that is what we do every day on our mobile phones and tablets. It is second nature for a user to land on a page and scroll down to see the rest of the content.

In fact, the art of scrolling is slowly taking the place of clicking in a major way. Businesses are coming up with innovative ways of using the long web page to their advantage, because you can showcase a robust amount of content to the user while they scroll, without forcing them to click and possibly bounce off the site.

A recent trend uses infographics to make the scroll a fun and engaging experience for the user. Take the Kontiki website for example. They make the page come to life by using a dynamic infographic that animates as your scroll down the page, imparting knowledge about their services in a really entertaining way.


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5. Say Goodbye to Stock Photography

I remember the days when I would search through stock photography looking for pictures of multi-ethnic men and women sitting at a conference table, and THAT was meant to be a depiction of our company and our office. Not anymore! The days of posed Colgate smiles are slowly fading.

“Be original!” “Be real!” This is the sound of the new generation, and website users are expecting to see more of this type of photography on corporate sites. They want to see real pictures and videos that depict your brand’s personality and your everyday office life. This is a web trend that customers can relate to and it establishes trust.

If you want to relate to your audience more effectively, then make sure to capture activities that really show an accurate depiction of your company culture. SumoLogic took this idea to heart when developing their “Who We Are” page.


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6. Even Your Font Can Be Fun!

The future of website production allows graphic designers to break free from the chains of Helvetica and other boring fonts. There is no need to be a prisoner to a specific website font any longer. Graphic designers are taking liberties with the overall design of the website by incorporating bold, unique fonts that tell a brand story on their own. Expect to see more typefaces with personality to attract attention and make it easier to convey your message.

If you want an example of a website that has really done a great job of experimenting with different fonts to help tell a story about their product, check out Wearality!


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7. Nothing Stays Static!

I’ve already made a solid case about how quickly the website design world is changing, so why on earth would we want to fill up a website with something static? I am referring to more than just updating content, I’m talking about making a website come alive by replacing text and static graphics with video. Don’t be alarmed, I’m not telling you to use Flash on your website. There are numerous other options available, like HTML5 video players that can create visually stunning canvas video effects across your site.

I had to reference SumoLogic again on this one. They took this video idea one step further, by adding dynamic video reels of their employees across multiple pages of their website.

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Checking Our Crystal Ball

So what does the future hold for web trends, beyond 2015?

One possibility: pageless design.

What does that mean? Well, we won’t be counting pages in the future, we’ll be telling stories beyond page limitations. Storyboards will come to life as a user moves through interactions – not pages. Every piece of content will be displayed based on a customer’s interest or who they are as an audience.

Imagine landing on a website and every single interaction you have with the site naturally guides you closer to exactly what you were searching for, without ever reading text that didn’t apply to you. Interactions display content that is focused on how you engage with the site, allowing you to move seamlessly through an experience as if the site was developed just for you and your needs.

The site isn’t developed around a concept of “pages,” but more-so, becomes a beautifully customized experience that provides a unique interaction between the brand and the customer.

Now that will be something to talk about!


Mobilegeddon 2015 – We will rebuild.

Just kidding. We specialize in designing responsive websites here at UpTrending. We weathered the mobile storm.


Surviving a Post-Mobilegeddon World – What you need to know about Mobilegeddon:

YOUR WEBSITE NEEDS TO BE MOBILE FRIENDLY, otherwise Google will penalize it.

Boom – that’s it.

So, is Mobilegeddon really a bad thing?

Mobilegeddon is an update to how Google search results show up on your smartphone. Mobile-friendly websites are now ranked higher in searches done on a smartphone than a website that doesn’t adjust to a smaller screen.

And I am happy to be the first to say it. Let ’em have it, Google.

Goodbye bad user experience.

Remember last Saturday in downtown Portland when you were trying to find a quick vegan place to meet the pickiest hipster friend (no judgment) in the world for happy hour after finding out that the place you were supposed to meet at for the “best vegan poutine in PDX” was closed for a private “craft beer” party?

No? Well I do.

Ten minutes of scrolling through a multitude of vegetarian websites, right to left and up and down, trying to find a nearby happy hour, followed by 15 minutes trying to convince a ravenous vegan craving fancy french fries topped with fake cheese curds that the local steak house (with an extension to a MOBILE-friendly happy hour menu) actually has amazing humus.

All I can say is, “Yee-Haw Mobilegeddon!” I am going to put on a dress, rent a pumpkin and throw you a party! We’ll call it Mo-Ball! (Get it? Like a Cinderella ball for mobile…No? Too much? Fine, I’ll return the glass slippers.)

Good user experience = find bad food fast.

Now, do you recall being lost in downtown Portland trying to find a stupid steakhouse in the pouring rain, having to pull over in a valet-only parking spot and locking your doors whilst frantically Googling the address to said local restaurant? Only then to have the directions magically appear at the very top of the page, as though a fairy-mobile mother had placed it there for you? Well it was a Cinderella moment (and you either have a terrible memory, or may not have actually been there).

While Google can’t be held accountable for the quality of Portland restaurants, or the understanding of a poorly tipped valet attendant, I am a happy Google user because Google understood the type of information I was looking for, and made it a quick find.

Mobilegeddon = good user experience on your phone.

The whole point of your website is to help people find the information they need. Google is working hard to make sure we not only get the information we are looking for, but that it is also in the most desirable format. Websites that aren’t mobile-friendly (and impossible to navigate with an angry valet knocking on your window), are sent to the back of the search results line.

And good riddance. Yeah, I mean you, “best vegetarian poutine in PDX” website. Throw a hamburger site menu on there and maybe we’ll talk.

So is this really new news?

Google has actually been warning us about this for quite some time. Google began making efforts to help cell phone vegetarian poutine searchers (and other searchers, too) have a better experience since 2013, when it started penalizing websites for poor results on smartphones.

In the fall of 2014, Google also announced that it was now labeling “mobile friendly pages,” in an effort to save you dirty looks from valet parking attendants.

And in an unprecedented event, Google actually warned you that this would happen and sent out warnings to many webmasters if their websites were not mobile friendly.

So no, it’s not new. Google has crossed its arms, gave you a warning, counted to three, and now your website is getting a time out for not playing mobile friendly.

The good news for people who like to resize things on their phone needlessly and hate valet.

1. Mobilegeddon does not affect your PPC traffic.
2. This update does not impact searches done on tablets – only phones.
3. Desktop results are not affected by Mobilegeddon changes (but may still attend the Mo-ball if attending by mobile invite).
4. The algorithm is on a page-by-page basis, so your whole website will not suffer in rankings if some of your web pages suck (And by that, I mean are not mobile-friendly).
5. Google is running this update in real time, so there is opportunity to show up quickly as “mobile friendly” after changes to your site are made (most likely 72 hours).

If your website was affected by Mobilegeddon, don’t feel bad, you aren’t alone. In fact, Mobilegeddon is said to potentially affect 40% of top websites, including many top brands. Early results have shown that RedditNBC SportsVogue, and Bloomberg Business have all been substantially affected by Mobilegeddon.

Click here if you would like to test to see how mobile friendly your website is on Google. If you aren’t happy with your ranking results, call us at UpTrending. We do beautiful, responsive design.

*The restaurant situations in this story are purely fictional. Names, picky characters, businesses, places, events and valet attendants are the product of the author’s imagination and lack of protein. Any resemblance to actual poutine, living or dead, or actual craft beer is purely coincidental.

**Is “craft beer” really just a fancy way of saying “micro-brew?” I guess I could just look it up on a mobile-friendly page on my phone…