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Take your daily dose of (only) relevant news, useful tips and tricks and valuable how to's on using the latest web technologies shaping the digital landscape. We're here to do all the necessary information sifting for you, so you don't have to, to provide you with content that will help you anticipate the emerging trends about to influence the web.

Embedded Analytics: How Precisely Does It Benefit Your Business?
“Experience”, “user experience”, “search experience”, “mobile experience”, “web experience”...   This highly popular family of words now has a (not so) new “member”: “analytics experience”.   Or, if you prefer a more suggestive name for it: “tailored analytics experience”!   It can only mean that, as a business owner, you shouldn't limit yourself to providing just your users with the best experiences, but your employees, too.   And here we're talking about crafting visually-appealing, optimized, nonetheless interactive (and don't forget customizable) self-service analytics experiences for your agile team!   Giving their data-handling experiences the due consideration you're, in fact, ensuring your business's relevance in your competitive niche.    Basically, as you streamline their entire work-flow, by embedding analytics in the apps (as opposed to standalone business intelligence tools) they use at work, as you guarantee them seamless analytics experiences, you actually empower your team to strategically turn all the accessed data into “fuel” for your company's success.   And all that in a timely manner!   Let's see, in detail, how precisely incorporating analytics in your team's workflow will impact your business:   1. It Enables Your Team to Make Accurate Predictions   Stop wasting time, stop wasting money!     Here's a “common” work scenario to ponder over: "Let's say you still rely on a standalone BI tool (or on several BI tools) in your company, that you import your software-driven data into this tool; what you're getting, in fact, what you'll be examining  later on, is nothing but “past tense” data.    And where do you add that you're practically losing valuable time waiting for this “historical information” to get imported before you start analyzing it, before you draw your own pertinent reports and way before you even decide to take action.   Can you really afford to lose all this time and energy?    Instead, by embedding analytics in your company's software you, and your team, will have real-time valuable data right at your fingertips, anywhere, any time!    2. It Puts Data In The Context of Your Team's Workflow   Embedded analytics means “contextualized analytics”.    And that's a big booster for your employees' workflow!   Put self-service analytics at your teams' disposal and they'll practically gain access to the particular information they need for carrying out the tasks in their departments. That, instead of “overloading” them with unnecessary data for their specific roles and skills.   Moreover (and this is another huge benefit): with this data available all the time, anywhere, not only that you stir their curiosity and encourage them to “exploit” the available data during their daily activities: you also help them gain their autonomy.   Instead of constantly calling the IT department, now they get to find find the answers to their questions themselves.   Instead of putting into practice risky tactics, they can now do the proper research first, themselves.   Using the analytics delivered to them by the apps they're using, they can turn their hypothesis and dilemmas into data-driven decisions.   3. It Streamlines and Tailors Reporting Within Your Team/s   Now this is another particularity of any agile team: its members' habit to share the collected information, their reports, to their co-workers. Spreading key data, cooperation and teamwork are some of “agile teams''” basic particularities.   But how does embedded analytics set itself apart form third party software from this standpoint alone?   It enables your employees to send out “tailored” reports!   So each department will get its own report and data: the sales one its own dedicated chart, the web design and the IT departments their own share of data relevant for their specific tasks and so on.   Get it? Relying on telemetry, embedded analytics points out what charts and data to be sent out to specific teams/people from your company.    So you won't be wasting anyone's time; so you won't be wasting company money.   Increasing efficiency is the major goal you'll reach using embedded analytics!   4. It Turns The Analytics Experience Into Visual Storytelling   “Storytelling”! Here is another powerful word, as powerful as “experience”.   So, why shouldn't you provide your employees, to, with visual storytelling? And not just your customers?   Embedded, self-service analytics creates the perfect context for such interactive, visually-appealing experiences for your employees.   And were do you add that they're ideally customizable, as well?   Your team can:   drill down click through put together reports based on how they want the needed data to be delivered to them (and not on how a third-party software vendor would decide to display it to them)   5. It Fuses Together Data Coming From Various Sources   The heading says it all: you'd be saving loads of valuable time (that you'd be spending on taking action instead) by installing embedded analytics on your company devices.   Take this time and energy-consuming scenario into account:   “You need to run a mixed report, so your team of Toronto developers sets out on an never-ending “marathon”. They start collecting data from the cloud, the apps and other “storage” devices, then they draft multiple reports, then they examine all the data, take out the relevant one, keep the key one and it's only then they start to actually put together the mixed report that you need to gain insight and take action.”   Why should you “exploit” your team that way, especially since it's so time-inefficient?    Especially when you can simply embed analytics, which will pull in data from multiple sources, run reports and deliver you the all-in-one chart?   In real time!   Encourage Your Team To Embrace The Analytics Culture    Maybe we should have started our post with this part instead.    Why? Because you will never benefit from the above-mentioned advantages that embedded-analytics comes with unless you first “stir” an appetite for data in our employees.   Unless you don't promote data-driven decision making first.   An how do manage to build this whole analytics mindset?   Let us give you 3 scenarios you could use in your data-centered "demos":   you show your co-workers how precisely a server error could impact your online store you use conclusive data for influencing the way they'll spend the company's money in various work-related situations you use real-time data for setting targets to be reached within certain time frames   How about you? Have your efforts for promoting an analytics culture within your team paid off? Have you already streamlined your entire work-flow with embedded analytics?   If not, what stops you? We're curious to hear your thoughts about this topic! ... Read more
Adrian Ababei / Jan 19'2017
Unlock the Power of Customer Reviews on Your Website
“Engagement”, THE trend shaping today's web design and development landscape, would be “powerless” if it wasn't teamed up with: an open, honest and customer-centric approach.   And you can efficiently approach your customers and get them to engage with your brand only if you “hand them the microphone”: if you allow them to “publicly” praise or criticize your brand.    How? By creating the context for them to express themselves in!   It takes courage (for not all those reviews will put your brand in a good light) and it takes vision.    Why vision? For it proves that you are aware of all the benefits that your business will get from such type of user-generated content: both added value for your brand and SEO benefits.   Now let's see how precisely customer reviews impact your business:   SEO BENEFITS:    Customer Reviews Boost Your SERP Ranking   It's pretty logical if you just think about it for a few seconds: the content that these reviews “enrich” your website with will appear in text format in the HTML code, thus easing search engines' job to reach it and scan it.   This type of content is easily “accessible”, one of Google's top favorite words these days, remember? So, think “indexation”, think “text format”, think “accessibly” and: do the math yourself!   Customer Reviews Help You Identify The Right Long-Tail Keywords   No need to stress the long-tail keywords' “superiority” over the general, overly competitive keywords, right?    But how do you pick the “key” long-tail keywords? This is the question!   Well, you take some time to read your customer reviews! As easy as that!   They're usually “loaded” with specific phrases that your customers use for expressing their admiration or dissatisfaction with your products/services.   Invest some time in analyzing the words and phrases that your customers use in their reviews and you'll identify the right long-tail keywords to “fuel” your whole SEO strategy with.   Customer Reviews Help You Gain Your Authoritative Voice   It's a whole “combo” of reviews-centered factors that turns your brand into an authority in your niche:   the interaction going on your website   all the buzz from your social media accounts   your customers' high level of confidence in your brand   To cut it short: Google won't remain indifferent to all this “talking about your brand” going on online and will soon start perceiving your website as an authority.   Customer Reviews Fuel Your Site With Valuable Content      Content is king and constantly churning out fresh, unique content can turn into a major challenge now and then, don't you agree?    We sure can empathize with you: we too, are constantly striving to craft new, high-quality content for our Toronto web design company's clients.   Well, how about that: by enabling customer reviews on your site you actually “authorize” your customers to lend you a hand with your content marketing efforts!   As they write down their unique reviews they'll actually take some of the “quality content-producing burden” off your shoulders!   Say hello to a new “wave” of organic traffic!   Customer Reviews Fuel Your Site With “Unique” Content    You do know how much Google hates it when same content is used and overused on multiple websites, don't you?   In this respect, the content included in the customer reviews on your website is utterly valuable due to its uniqueness, as well. You won't find two customers describing their experiences with your brand the same way.   “In a similar way”, maybe, but never “the same way”.   Customer Reviews Boost Your Local SEO Efforts    And it's no magic: since both the name of your business and its location will obviously get mentioned in your customers' reviews, these reviews will automatically turn into the most reliable factors for Google to rely on when “localizing your website”.   Guess who'll be improving his/her website's local ranking this way?   Now let's move on to the next benefit!   BUSINESS BENEFITS:   Customer Reviews Help You Build Trust   Let your existing customers attract new customers!   This is probably one of the most straightforward ways of generating business: you set the proper context for your existing customers to go public about their experiences after using your products and they'll practically send out an “invitation” to other customers to “join their community”.   It's human nature that people trust other people rather than companies, so let your customers build trust around you brand and attract prospects through their own reviews.   Allow them to do that by incorporating customer reviews into your website!   Customer Reviews Increase Your Website's CTR   Reviews have been influencing websites' CTR in SERP ever since Google allowed developers to include review data in their ad copy.   So, it's easily predictable that users will click on those site links, appearing in their search entries, that display reviews, too.     Customer Reviews Signal The Issues You Need To Focus On   Bad reviews, too, make a great resource for you to "exploit".   How come?   They help you identify your products'/services' weak points. They point out to you the issues that you need to improve or change for meeting your customers' expectations.   Instead of ignoring negative feedback, turn it into an advantage: see how you can fix the signaled issues, whether they're products or customer services-related.   Instead of covering up bad reviews, “dazzle away” your customers with honesty: display this non-appreciative feedback on your Drupal website!   While you rush in to fix the highlighted issues, you'll be also reinforcing trust in your customers: no one's that naive to trust a brand showing up exclusively highly-appreciative reviews, don't you agree?   SMO BENEFITS:   Customer Reviews Enrich Your Site With Content With Viral Potential   Here is how you can boost this user-generated content's viral potential: you just link your website to your social media account.    Then, the good reviews uploaded on your Drupal site will stand all the chances to go viral!   Customer Reviews Lead to Confidence, Leading to Social Acceptance   Once your website's content starts to go viral on your social media accounts, it will be just a matter of time till you're granted “social acceptance” from your customers/followers.   Reviews lead to sharing, to liking and to confidence. And it's your customers' confidence that will help you build your own community on social media.   And loyal communities sure are brands' most valuable “assets”, right?     And here we are, at the end of our list of benefits that your business can reap from enabling customer reviews on your Drupal website. We consider them to be more than “tempting”, but how about you?   We look forward to hearing/reading your own thoughts about allowing customers to upload their reviews, good or bad, on one's site! ... Read more
Adrian Ababei / Jan 18'2017
8 Crucial Cyber Security Tips that You Should Start Implementing Right Now
“Ignorance is bliss!”   And yet, it's enough for you to ignore a vulnerability in your security system and you'll face chaos!   You will have turned your worse nightmare into reality: your business's digital identity has been compromised for good, cyber criminals have infiltrated your system, your customers' sensitive data has been exposed and your brand's reputation irreparably damaged.   It's enough for you to ignore the necessity of a patch in a given context and you lose everything.   And “everything” has the same significance for you whether you're running an “enterprise-level business” or a small one, wouldn't you agree?   Now, don't you find “reducing the likelihood that such a scenario should become reality“ a far healthier business mentality than: “rely-lying exclusively on good fortune”?   In this respect, here are 8 crucial cyber security tips you should start implementing ASAP for “your good night sleep”:   1. Point Out The Safety Protocols For Social Networking   First of all, you need to face it and accept it: it's your employees that actually turn your vision, as a business owner, into reality. And it's them, as well, that could “put you out of business”.   And more often than not they “manage” to do this unintentionally!    By simply not following some basic safety protocols whenever they access social networking sites on company devices.   Here are some elementary precautions that you should remind them (on a regular basis) to take whenever they access these websites at work (or at home, but from company devices):   never post identifiable information on your social account or, even worse, information breaking the company's confidential policies and procedures never trust the “friends only” option available on your social account: absolutely everything you post there could get public there's no turning back once you've posted something on your social account; “deleting” that particular link/image won't guarantee you that all the copies of the information will get deleted think twice before you post any kind of information about somebody else from work never trust “new people” that you socialize with on such networking sites: you never know to whom you might unintentionally give away confidential information   2. Consider Encryption: Protect Your Clients' Sensitive Data   Especially if it's credit card details or patient records that you're storing on your Drupal website.   You should handle this sensitive data as if you were handling delicate (and nonetheless expensive) china!   And encryption technology is the best way to protect such confidential data. We, the team of developers working in this Toronto digital agency, strongly believe this!   You already know how it works: the used technology relies on specific algorithms which make that sensitive information readable only to those having the correct keys.   Still, you should go from just “knowing” (how it works) to actually “implementing” it! Your clients' data is definitely not a subject of debate: “to use or not to use encryption”!   3. Train Your Team on Specific Cyber Security Protocols   Do not expect your employees to guess the specific precautions they should take for avoiding to unintentionally cause security breaches within your company.   Also, do not rely exclusively on good faith, thinking that they'll stick to the protocols that you will have developed for them either. Keep reinforcing these good practices, keep giving them trainings aimed at reminding them which are the risky cyber security habits that they shouldn't adopt and the specific security protocols they should incorporate in their work from day one to the very last days in your company.   4. Keep Your Business WI-FI Network Safe    Running your business on an unsecured WI-Fi network is almost like: riding a bike blindfolded!   It's a one-way road, you'll keep it on your cycle track, and you know you've been riding bicycles on this particular road ever since you were a kid. Chances that anything bad should happen go down to zero.    And yet, why should you run any risks at all?    When you could simply take some additional steps for properly securing your WI-FI network?   hide your network name go for an ultra-strong password use a firewall   Better safe than sorry! Better “with the eyes wide shut” than “blindfolded”, right?   5. Strengthen Your Passwords   And this doesn't mean that you should rush in now to double or to triple the number of characters included in your passwords.   It's not just the number of characters (ideally at last 12) that makes a password “solid”.   There are other criteria, too, you know:   first of all: it shouldn't be a word included in the dictionary   secondly: it should include symbols, uppercase and lowercase letter and numbers, as well   And that's how you get yourself some “hard to crack”, “superhero” passwords!   Note: whenever recalling all these superhero passwords gets increasingly challenging, go for a “password manager”. Do a little research yourself, find the one that best suits you business security needs and commit to sticking to it along 2017!    Make a pledge!   6. Set Up Multi-Factor Authentication    Once you've implemented tip no. 5, accept and adapt to this proven fact: there's no such thing as "unbreakable" password!   How about that?    You should always back up your otherwise solid passwords with a two (or a multi)-factor technology!   One that requires an extra step in the login process: an extra element that the one involved should provide before logging into his/her account.   Think Paypal, for instance, or think (pretty much) any bank: their login processes do not limit to the steps of typing in a user name and a password. There is an extra security information that you need to type in before you access your account.   Again, we need to stress this idea: especially if it's sensitive data that you're storing on your Drupal website you shouldn't tighten the purse-strings when it comes to the no. of data protecting technologies that you're using.   Better safe than “unworthy of your client's trust”!   7. Backup, Backup, Then Backup Some More   Your data is your business! It's the very DNA of your business!   So, you can't afford to run any risk of losing it, just like that, after a sudden cyber attack.   After all, the whole idea behind implementing all these cyber security good practices is not just to avoid putting your business at risk, but to be “up and running” immediately after such an event does occur (if)!   Preparation is key!   So, while keeping your business' digital identity at bay from any cyber security vulnerabilities that could be exploited, make sure to be properly prepared if “the unwanted” sill occurs!   By setting up a backup plan you actually make sure that an eventual attack won't cost you too much “recovery time”. And time is, indeed, money!   It doesn't have to be a tedious process, but rather a consistent one, made of regular data backup up steps that you need to take throughout the whole life of your business!   It's a “commitment for life”!   8. Constantly Update Your Software and Browsers    We could, as well, have called this last tip: update, update, then update some more!   We know how annoying those notices can get when you're running out of time and you still have so many tasks to handle. We've been there, too, while working on our web projects in our digital agency in Toronto.         And yet, do yourself a favor: do not ignore them!   Moreover, follow your software or operating system's advice and run these updates or use the patches they're ready to strengthen your business with.   It's time consuming, we know, but do not think it in terms of “time is money” (not this time), but rather as “time invested in your business's long future”.   Since cyber criminals are constantly “refining” their breaching methods, software companies, too, need to keep up with them and to constantly update their security systems.   So, overlooking their recommendations to update is like saying: “No, thanks! I'm way too busy going out of business”.     Two more tips and we would have had a “cyber security Decalogue” for you!    What other 2 more “tips”, to make a list of 10, would you have added? Feel free to share them with us in the comments below! ... Read more
Adrian Ababei / Jan 17'2017
Cards vs Lists: Which UI Style Best Suits Your Type of Website?
It's not a matter of “better or worse”, but one of “appropriate or inappropriate given context”. This is what our experience as Toronto developers has taught us.   And that given context is given by your website's specificity itself!    So, you should start weighting up the two UI styles, the two ways of displaying content on your website, from this perspective: each one provides the best UX for a particular type of website that you're owing/developing.   It's your Drupal website's particularities that shape your own purposes and your users' main goal, too, once they land on your website, and which determine the best type of web design to use, as well.    In this respect: what kind of website do you have in mind?   Now, how about pushing these 2 “leading actors” into the spotlight?   How about shading some light on each one's advantages and limitations and pointing out the best contexts when they can help you provide the best UX to your visitors?   What's a List (or Grid) Design?   A more or less basic definition of a list would go something like this: a list is a page featuring several entries or candidate items meant to match the user's search criteria.   Lists are ideal for newspaper websites!   They ease users' “job” of quickly scanning over the headlines in order to gain an overview of the latest news before they decide which article's worthy for being further explored.   Till they decide which is the piece of news worthy, interesting enough for them to “click on for more information”, they need to quickly “overfly” all the headlines.    And a list design, being more compact, is by far the best means for organizing content, for steamlining this scanning process after all.   Did anyone said that: facilitation is a synonym for “better user experience”?   What's a Card in Web Design?   An “entry point”, a “container of related information” or a “brief summary of information”. These are but three possible vague definitions of a card in web design.   Now, let's detail a bit, shall we?   Imagine a card as some sort of an “informational teaser”: it's a container that gives users just an entry point to some more detailed information.   “More detailed information” that the user can access, for further exploration, once they've clicked the card-shaped entry point.   It's no news for anyone that Pinterest's been THE card-based UI's trend setter.   Its popularity, among users, convinced Google, Jelly, Tinder, Weotta, and other giant “players” on the online arena to adopt this UI design.   Although a product of flat design, a card is rather a Flat Design 2.0, since it features light 3D effects (such as drop shadow) pointing out to users that they should click for “unlocking” the rest of the information prepared for them.   What else could we briefly (for now) say about cards?   They work best on archive pages, where you, as a web developer in Toronto/Drupal website owner want to just “tease” your users with brief summaries of the additional content available for them for further exploration.   When Should You Go For a Card-Based UI?   1. For Grouping Various Types of Content   If lists make the best choice when it comes to organizing and displaying similar content, cards, on the other hand, work wonders for helping users easily navigate through several types of content.   Just rely on borders for marking the differences among various elements on your website, among the various pieces of content. Thus, you'll provide a visual boundary for your users to rely on for easily navigating through your “puzzle” made of several distinct items.   2. For Enhancing Information Browsing   Think of Pinterest (again)!   You don't visit Pinterest to search for a particular piece of information.    Instead, you have a content category in mind and some spare time to invest in exploring whatever collections of stunning images you'll might get surprised with.   So, basically you go on Pinterest for scanning through pins, through all those stunning images.    And there you have it!   You've just named precisely the type of user goal that the card-based web design best responds to: “scrolling through”/”scanning through”/”browsing through” or however you wish to call it.   It's not for searching for specific information that you should use this type of UI, but for encouraging and enhancing the act of browsing through a whole collection of bits of information.    You impose your users no content hierarchy whatsoever (like you do when using a list-style design).   Instead, you grab their attention with visually-arresting images encapsulated in those cards and, moreover, you layer bits of information on their surfaces, making teasing textline + eye-catching images work together hand-in-hand.   And since it's browsing that you're encouraging and not the act of quickly accessing a particular type of information, the card-based UI turns all the “scanning through” into a delightful, effortless and fun scroll down card-shaped results.    Whenever your users spot something that surprised/intrigued/stirred their curiosity, they get to click the specific card(s) and indulge in further exploring the additional content.    And there you have it: instant gratification!   When Should You Go For a List-Style Design?   1. For Ensuring Quick Access To The Needed Information   As already mentioned: the list-style web design is perfect for newspaper and newspaper-like websites.    How come?    Just think about it: on this type of site users usually land for eye scanning the given content and for quickly spotting precisely the information/article that they're interested in.   It's not for passing time browsing through a visually-appealing collection of card-based results that they'll access your website.   No sir! In fact they'd hate spending too much of their priceless time looking at amazing pictures, for they're on the look for specific information and they want to gain access to it as quickly and as effortlessly as possible.   So, quickly scanning through a vertical list (far more easily to eye scan than a dashboard of cards featuring no helpful hierarchy) increases their chances to find what they're looking for quick and easy, with no unnecessary distractions whatsoever.    2. For Smaller Screens    It's obvious why lists make a better choice for smaller screens than cards: they take up less space on the screen.   Therefore, users aren't constrained to keep scrolling down, when using their mobile devices, if they want to access more content and they're not forced to rely on their short-memory either.    And this can only lead to better UX!   It's no rocket science why: list-style design enables you to display more choices, in short rows down the length of your web page.   Thus, you take out the (otherwise imminent) possibility of the discouraging “never-ending” scrolling of the equation!   In Conclusion   Cards are informational “teasers” linked to the content to be explored deeper into the website navigation.    They make the ideal choice when it's information browsing (instead of searching) that you'd like your users to do on your website and when you're displaying several types of content that they need to easily navigate through.   Lists are pages displaying search results matching the search items that your users will have typed in.   Being far more compressed and allowing you to establish a visual-guiding hierarchy, too, they enable users to quickly access particular information as they scan through similar types of enlisted content.      With these contexts, specific to each one of the 2 dominating UI styles, in mind, you should now be able to choose one over the other and thus to organize your content for ensuring the best user experience on your website. ... 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Adrian Ababei / Jan 16'2017
Curious What Google Has in Store for You for 2017?
How well did you keep up with Google's frequent updates in 2016? Didn't you feel, at some point, that striving to keep the ever changing “rhythm” that Google imposed was like “striving to keep yourself steady on quicksand”?   Preparation is key, right?   So, if you want to keep a steady balance while “walking on wire” this year (whether as a marketer, as a web developer in Toronto or as an online business owner) you need to anticipate the upcoming shifts in the SEO landscape.   In order to lend you a hand with that we have analyzed Google's most significant changes in 2016, read the forecasts of some the most influencing experts' in the field and we're here today, in front of you, ready to empower you with a list of 6 updates in Google's algorithms that you should expect to impact your business this year.    And here they are! Each one could easily win its own star on Google's “walk of fame”, the one grouping its most impactful updates along the years:   1. Google's Index Goes Mobile-First    In this respect, we couldn't be happier here, at our web development company in Toronto, with Drupal 8's mobile-first features!   Now this Google update is huge! It will most likely shake the entire SEO landscape and will challenge you to reconfigure all your digital marketing initiatives, plans and strategies.   If you have already implemented all the right measures for optimizing your website for mobile, for turning it into a welcoming place for your mobile users to land on, good for you.    Don't rest on your oars! Keep up the good work: 2017 means higher search ranking for you!   If, for various reasons, you've missed the train, and you stubbornly put all your faith (and therefore your brand's whole future) in your desktop website, “take a cold shower” and then get to work!   ASAP!   The wind of change will blow from Google's direction and might just sweep off your online presence if it lacks a strong foundation!   And that foundation, my friend, is made of mobile optimization-oriented measures.   Just think about it: not only that mobile-friendly will become a ranking signal, but it will be the primary source of ranking!   Google will push forward, right into the spotlight, mobile-optimized websites, while the desktop ones will remain behind, “in the dark”.    Moreover, it's not just a whole new way of marketing online that you should adopt, but a whole different mindset, too: you need to think mobile, not just to “act” mobile!   We witness the end of an era when marketers geared all their efforts towards making Google happy.   The modern day marketer should first and foremost make his user happy: by crafting the best mobile user experiences!   Here's how:   crafting unique content adjusted to the mobile's particularity (long gone are the days of keyworda and links-stuffed content and of those when you would transfer content from your desktop site to its mobile version in such a rudimentary manner)   ensuring them an intuitive navigation   guaranteeing them fast-loading web pages   And Google will always favor those who pay attention to and rush in to meet their (mobile) users' expectations.   2. Google Will Start an Intrusive Pop-Up Ads “Hunt”   Or better said “Google has started...”, for the announced change came into effect on the 10th of January.   How will this impact your website?    Well, the proper question would be: are you using interstitials on your mobile pages?    How much screen space do they take up?   You should know that Google has started to rank lower precisely those mobile website which keep annoying users with interstitials covering most of the content they want access.   Here are just a few of interstitial-related signals that will make Google wave its red flag:   a pop-up ad that the user has to close before he's given full access to the main content a pop-up add that covers almost entirely the content the user is reading, the he has to dismiss before (re)gaining access to the main content the usage of a specific layout where the above-the-fold section of the web page is an interstitial, while the main content is moved underneath the fold and thus is hardly accessible to the user   If the above practices sound too familiar to you, you should definitely consider revising your mobile marketing strategies!   Google is sure to strengthen its efforts for tracking down and penalizing those websites that will continue to annoy their users with pesky interstitials contributing to a bad user experience.    Accessibility, in the sense of easing users' access to that valuable content prepared for them on your mobile site, which goes had-in-hand with a good user experience, is what Google favors.   And intrusive ads are definitely not a means for achieving it!   3. Google Assistant Will Outshine the SERP Search   It's true that Google has a lot to catch up for being able to “rival” Siri and Cortana, voice assistants who've had the time to constantly improving their technologies, but we've gathered some really strong signals from this direction.   Can you imagine an SERPless future?    Google's Voice search technology would then efficiently guide users towards the information they're looking up for!   And, given the long-tail keywords, their whole search experience will get significantly improved: Google will bring the risk of irrelevant search results close to zero.   How prepared are you to reconfigure all the ads on your website, your overall online advertising strategy?   4. Google Will Expand Its Use of Rich Cards in Search   In the name of an optimized search experience Google's complimented its snippets with rich cards. It did this last year in May, so no news here.   The news is that Google's strengthening its efforts for adding even more industries to its list of verticals included in its rich card results. And this might impact your business, too, more precisely: the way your brand gets listed in searches, before your future visitors' eyes.   Therefore, even if you're not operating in the movie industry, you don't organize online courses or run a restaurant, mind you don't leave this Google trend out of your sight!   These days Google might add your industry, too, to its list and then you'll be challenged to adapt, quickly!   Get yourself prepared by experimenting various pieces of content presenting your brand and “luring” users in, content that would go in the richer previews enabled by Google.   5. Google Will Favor Those Participating in Its AMP Project   Here's another strong signal that Google's moving at high speed towards mobile indexing!    We've already talked abut Google's Accelerated Mobile Page on this blog, but we'd still like to stress this project's importance.   It's Google's way of encouraging website owners/web developers to focus their efforts on perfecting the mobile web experience for their users.   Expect this open source initiative to become even more impactful in 2017!   And here is how you could benefit from getting involved in this “mobile-friendly environment creating” initiative that the AMP project aims at:   you improve your users' overall experiences on your mobile website (and this is definitely a benefit for you too: happy users= higher search ranking in Google) improved loading speed for your web pages, which, again leads to a better exposure in search results   6. Google Will Start Penalizing Unsecured Websites   It looks like it's “raining Google penalties” this month!    In addition to the pesky interstitials-related one, scheduled to come into effect on the 10th of January, Google will start to penalize websites that do not run on HTTPS secure browser connections.   Of course, not any sites, but those requiring all kinds of private details from their users: passwords, credit card details etc.   If your website falls into this category, here are the 2 major measures you should take lest you should start 2017 with a Google penalty:   install a certificate from a trusted vendor on your website  migrate all the traffic on your website from HTTP to HTTPS   Now that you've taken a peek into the future of SEO, that Google's drafting for you right now, it's up to you to incorporate all these impactful updates into your future digital marketing initiatives. ... Read more
Adrian Ababei / Jan 13'2017
How Does a Content-First Design Strategy Streamline Your Web Development Process
"But we're highly visual beings!" you might say.   It's true and yet, in modern design, which reaches out to users with shortened attention span, users that have the latest technology at their fingertips, technology enabling them to access the needed information instantly: content prevails.   And design is (just) the means for highlighting it with, for making it easy to find.   Now imagine this other possible scenario: "You pick the wrapping paper (and you're quite proud of your color choice, you so love its pattern, too) and then a cute gift box, a lovely ribbon, as well, and then: you go shopping for the present itself!"   It should fit in that box that you've already so carefully picked!   If it doesn't, you should go for another gift (even if it's your second best choice) or strive to make it fit in, somehow.   And this is what the "design first" strategy, the one that we, too, use in our digital agency in Toronto, does: it either forces you to craft a brand new content or to make it jam in the “package”/design.   In result: you either waste priceless time or you risk to “ruin” your content.   Now let's cut the chase and see exactly how a content-first strategy will streamline your website building/redesigning process:   1. Put Content First: Save Time and Money   Ready for some more visualization exercises?   Let's say you're almost there, so close to releasing your Drupal website (or your client's) into the wild and to “crushing” your competition from the very first day you launch it.   And, all of a sudden, someone waves the red flag:   certain pieces of the content still need stakeholders' approval (and this might require more time than estimated)   it's just now that you realize that there's more content needed to be written from scratch or revised and, surprise, surprise: you don't have all the needed resources to deliver it on time   the designer comes in with his/her own input, too: he's just realized that, well, his work and the copywriter's work are not exactly a “match made in heaven”    Can you guess where all the above scenarios lead to?    To project delay, to a major waste of energy from the part of your team, a lot of stress and last but surely not least: to a big hole in the budget allocated for this web project, too.   And you don't want this to happen.    If only you could have invested some time for strategically planning and structuring your content beforehand!   If so, now you would have just thrown it into the mocks, focusing on the last on the last details and polishes.   Planned ahead content:   would have helped your team lay the very foundation stones of the whole UX of your website (where exactly the user would find the needed information at various stages of his/her journey on your site) would have helped them draft the whole site's architecture would have also driven the right contextual design decisions, too.    Instead, now you're facing panic and the risk of not being able to efficiently repair the major gaps detected in your site's UX...   2. Organize Content First and Prioritize Users' Needs   It's content that users come for on your website!    You should keep this in mind throughout the whole Drupal site building/redesigning process!   Everything else revolves around content:    how to make it easy to find how to add meaningfulness to it how to compliment it with stunning visuals etc.   Now, by focusing on content first, on organizing and structuring it, you basically put your future users' needs first.    Get it?   And now speaking of organizing content first and foremost, it's vital for you to realize the importance of investing time in a solid content strategy:   it helps you outline the whole site's architecture it's the step where you put together your site maps   it's now that you structure the whole content hierarchy on your future website    Basically, it's at this part of the process that you take major content-related decisions on how to meet your audience's needs and how to reach your marketing goals through the content you'll provide on your website.   Who is your target audience?   What type of content will they be looking for on your Drupal website?   Where exactly, on which pages on your website will you be placing different parts of your content, each one standing for a different stage in your users' journey on your site?   Once you have some clear answers to all the above content creation-related questions: go ahead and run a content audit (if it's a site redesigning project that you're involved in)   establish every single step of the whole content production process with all the stakeholders.   Its vital, at this step, to know what budget and other types of resources the whole content creation process implies. This way you'll avoid all the unfortunate situations where certain content-related tasks included in the “master plan” cannot be carried out due to lack of resources.   3. Harmonize Content With Design From The Very Start   Design used to come first! And it was like putting the cart before the horse.   Just think about it: the design team would challenge their “muses” to help them create a truly stunning design for the final website with no guidelines, whatsoever (or very vague ones) regarding the content that will go on the website.   The content, the main reason why users would land on your website in the first place, remember, used to come second.   Where did this work-flow lead to?   Well, it lead to an imminent clash between design and content!   Content had to get “squeezed in” or “enlarged” just to fit the given design, in other words: it was the “package” that determined the item inside!   Be better than that!   Go for a content-first strategy and thus put the basis to a healthy and fruitful collaboration between the copywriters and designers, right from the start.   This way, they can harmonize their work. They can smooth out any wrinkle in design or fill in any gap in the user experience from the very start.   4. It Enhances Understanding From Start to Post-Launch   As already pointed out in this post: once the whole team, designers here included, get the chance to work with real content, instead of lorem ipsum, they get to put everything in a context and make the best design decisions right from the prototyping phase.   With real content at hand, crafting an intuitive navigation path and an engaging web design gets a lot easier.     Well planned content, crafted so that it should go hand-in-hand with design, will enhance users' understanding, as well. Your main goal, after all, either as a web developer in Toronto or a website owner.   And this is the idea that we wanted to get to in the first place!    Users won't have to rely exclusively on directional cues, arrows and tabs in order to navigate through your website: content, too, comes in the equation, making it far easier for them to scan though and explore your site. To get to the content they're interested in.   5. Planned Ahead Content Enhances Communication   Design is communication! Nothing to argue about here.   “A picture is worth a thousand words”, indeed, but not in modern design: think about mobile users looking for answers or information, looking to buy something or in need for a certain service etc.   In such cases words come first, no matter how suggestive or stunning the picture may be!   Get it?   The very first step is to think through what is it that you'll communicate to your users. Otherwise you'll communicate them just the “channel” used for conveying the message instead of the message itself.   The “What” (what message will you convey to your end users?) should come first, followed, closely by the "How": how could you present that content in a meaningful way? How can you craft the most intuitive interface for your user?   Your turn now:   What other reasons would you add to our list if you've already adopted the content-first strategy in your web projects?   Or what objections do yo have if you still consider that content should follow design instead? Feel free to express yourself in the comments below! ... Read more
Adrian Ababei / Jan 12'2017
Here Is How You Build an Accessible Website With Drupal 8
"Barrier-free access” is carved within the very “DNA” of Internet itself. Therefore, your site, too, should be accessible first and foremost!   Before you even start to make it visually-arresting and useful. Before you even consider how you could add value to your website visitors' lives!   What started as an accessibility-focused initiative in Drupal 7, or better said "as an attempt” to comply with World Wide Web Consortium guidelines, has gradually evolved into a powerful set of accessibility-oriented features in Drupal 8.   Bugs have been addressed, “old” features improved, new enhancements and new features added in Drupal 8 to boost its accessibility in core.   Now let's stop “beating around the bush” and put the facts on the table!   Let us enlist and detail to you these particular accessibility-enhancing features in Drupal 8 that will make your job (building an accessible website) easier than never before:   1. Improved Contrasts   Empathize with those future visitors suffering from colorblindness, then try simulating a context where users would access your website (from their mobile devices) in bright sunlight.   Optimal contrast will “send” an invitation to the users in the above real-life scenarios to keep clicking/scrolling and thus prolonging their visits on your Drupal site.    The great news is that Drupal 8's accessibility maintainers have tackled the contrasts' issue and made the necessary improvements.   2. Controlled Tab Order    It was just yesterday, in our previews post, that we talked about the importance of “blazing your users' path” to the information they're searching for on your website. About easing their “search” with the right UX elements.   Well, this accessibility-boosting feature, in Drupal 8, serves the same purpose.    The Tabbing Manager Javascrip feature is that “flashlight” which will point out the main elements on your website to your visually-impaired or non-mouse visitors.   And this enhancement will make all the difference for them!   Just think about the time and energy that these visitors save by quickly scanning through your tabs instead of striving to navigate through a complex, crowded user interface relying entirely on screen readers!   Zero confusion leads to zero frustrations and to a better user experience for your website's visitors. And this is gold in the age of user experience, right?   3. Inline Form Errors   And this is a truly notable enhancement, which proves that we have come a long way from Drupal 7 when it comes to the support for accessibility available in Drupal 8's core modules.   If in Drupal 7 errors made when users filled in a web form appeared on top of that specific form, while fields got colored in red, as a “warning” sign (not exactly the most effective solution for the visually impaired users), Drupal 8 comes to your rescue with its form inline errors.   In this version of Drupal errors icons get displayed next to the specific fields of the form.   A much needed improvement, wouldn't you agree?   Note: still, the Form Inline Error is an optional Core module, therefore it needs enabling first.   4. Fieldsets for Radios and Checkboxes   When it comes to the Form Api, here's another great enhancement that Drupal's accessibility maintainers “spoil” you with: fieldsets for checkboxex and radios.   Just imagine how this improvement will ease screen readers' (and implicitly non-visual users relying on them) otherwise not at all easy “job” to parse complex forms.   Since related elements get grouped together in Drupal 8, it now becomes a lot easier for you (or your team of Toronto developers) to enhance forms in Drupal.   5. Alternative Texts for Images   Visually-arresting photography and stunning imagery cannot “wow” your visually impaired visitors.    Still, Drupal 8 lends you a hand for helping your users “visualize” and thus “bend before your talent” (or your web designers' talent). How? With its alternative text for image feature.   It's now a required field in Drupal 8, by default: you type in short descriptive text so that all users, without any discrimination, can imagine those visually-arresting images that you'll upload on your website.   6. More Semantics   Semantics! The ultimate impediment that any initiative aimed at enhancing accessibility on your site needs to overcome.   No wonder that one of the ultimate goals of Drupal 8 core maintainers was to “add more meaning to the code”. To enrich Drupal with more semantic HTML elements for the assistive technology to be able to interpret.   And here are the achievements of all the sustained efforts in this direction:   WAI-ARIA landmarks in core (a major step forward)   live regions   roles & properties     Now to name just one example of what “more semantics” in Drupal 8 means, when it comes to accessibility: now screen readers can easily interpret pieces of code such as  <footer>, <header> or <form>.    7. Tables and Views   Speaking of improved semantics, note that the views tables markup is more semantic in Drupal 8.   Let's shed some light on this feature:   it enables you to explain the purpose of a particular table on your website through a <caption> element   it enables you to add a quick “summary” explaining which is the best way to navigate the table and how the data included there is structured; and all this by using the <summary> element   it enables you to use “id” and “headers” attributes and thus associate data cells with header cells   it enables you to “play with” the “scope” attribute, thus to mark your tables' column and row headings   8. Aural Alerts    Animations, color changes, specific text and so on: how do you make visual updates accessible for all users? Even to those relying exclusively on screen readers as intermediates for accessing content on your website?   You rely on Drupal 8's Drupal.announce().   This JavaScript method creates an “aria-live” element on the page enabling instructions to be read to these specific visitors on your site either as assertive or as polite.   9. Hidden Elements    An alternative to CSS styling “display:none” was greatly needed, since this one makes elements invisible both to visual and non-visual users.   And hiding them from everyone is no web developer's (or website owner's) intention!   Therefore, the team “responsible” for Drupal 8's accessibility decided to enable future Drupal users to rely on 3 different classes for hiding certain elements:   “hidden”: for hiding an element from all the visitors on your site “visually-hidden”: for hiding an element from your website's visitors, but keeping it “visible” for screen readers  “invisible”: for hiding an element both from the visitors and from screen readers, without influencing your site's layout   10. CKEditor WYSIWYG Accessibility   CKEditor, too, has been greatly improved in Drupal 8 in the name of empowering users, like you, to generate accessible content on their Drupal websites!   Here are its significant improvements:   the WYSIWYG editor's been upgraded with keyboard shortcuts (for which all those keyboard-only users and power users on your site will “thank you” for)   more semantic elements have been added: for instance HTML 5 tags which enable you to add captions to images   a language toolbar button has been added, enabling screen readers to select the appropriate language for each content    an accessibility checker plugin is now available for CKEditor   And this is precisely how Drupal 8 empowers you to build barrier-free websites that say “welcome” to all visitors, both visual and non-visual!    What do you think of these improvements and new features in Drupal 8?   To what extent do you consider that they'll ease (or have they already?) your job as a Drupal web developer/Drupal website owner? ... Read more
Adrian Ababei / Jan 11'2017
What Are the 3 Most Common Web Design Mistakes and How to Avoid Them?
User experience and usability!   Such “trendy” principles in today's web-design communities. Such powerful trends influencing major decisions-making processes in the digital world.   And yet, recent studies have proven that, although every web designer appears to be striving to craft the most engaging user experiences, to create web design “in the name of usability”, too many of them make the same mistakes as 20 years ago (when the approach to web design wasn't as sophisticated as nowadays or the expert advice as accessible as in the present days).   Well, it's time for you to “shake off" these “bad habits”, to take advantage of this time of year (a time of resolutions making) for making some strong commitments in this respect.   And here they are, the 5 long-lasting web design errors that we'd like to “confront” you with:   1. Failing at Responding to Users' Need for Clarity   Whether you're deliberately compromising clarity for the sake of “innovation”, for showing off your creativity, or you're simply overlooking its key role, it's time you helped your design (re)gain its clarity!   It's time you (re)considered your relation with your website's visitors:    you need to “serve” them first, by making it crystal-clear where they need to click and where exactly all the clicking will take them to and only then to “gain them over” with your talent and “appetite” for innovation.   It's not the other way round. It never is!   Now here are some “long-living” web design mistakes affecting clarity:   A. Unexpected content placement/Ambiguous category names   We preferred pairing these two examples of “popular” web design mistakes since they both lead to the same unwanted result: users getting the feeling that the particular content they're searching for is always somewhere else on the website.   It's perfectly legitimate and even advisable, as a web designer in Toronto or as a website owner, to want to break up the conventional patterns of design.   And yet, be aware that “you're playing with fire”.   Interfering with you users' browsing habits, placing certain pieces of content where they would never have expected to find them, might have the opposite effect: discouraging your visitors due to the time they will have wasted looking the information they needed.   Also, if you fail to clearly name your categories and your visitors land on web pages of your site having nothing to do with the content they were expecting to find (signaled by the “inappropriate” way in which you named your categories), you risk to make them bounce off your site for good.   B. Hidden fees   Reducing prices' visibility or hiding away certain fees is the quickest way to “crafting” a negative user experience!   So, shake off this bad habit and make a pledge for designing exclusively big and bold pricing information this year!   C. Misleading, almost identical links or navigational categories   It says it all: you risk (again) to piss off your visitors, who'll land on the “wrong” pages on your website for didn't stick to the principle of clarity when naming your links/navigational categories.   And this is how you lose some potential loyal visitors which could have converted into customers!   2. Failing at Efficiently Applying Basic UX Principles   How will your website's visitors find the needed information on your website? This is the question!   The question that should keep you alert throughout the whole designing process, lest you should wrongly apply or forget all about the fundamental UX “rules”.   You should envision your “mission like this: blazing your user's path to the due destination. Which is the information that he/she's searching for on your site!   And by “stuffing” your text paragraphs with internal links, placing your buttons in unexpected places or hiding away your navigation bar sure is not the way to do it!   Now here are some common UX errors you should commit yourself to avoiding this year:   A. Repetitive similar links   Resist the “temptation” of turning your visitors' quest for specific information hosted on your website into a “mission impossible”.   Forcing them to click on a heavy loads of almost identical links, over and over again, in order to access the information they're actually looking for, is nothing but a “sloppy” web design practice.   And you will only “succeed” in discouraging your visitors.    B. “Islets” of information   Here's a basic UX principle that way too may web designed keep “overlooking” even now, when “usability” is one every web designer in Toronto's lips: connecting together webpages hosting similar type of information.   You should avoid stranding your visitors on “final destination” type of web pages on your site. They do find the information they were looking for (hopefully), but are not “lured” with alternative destinations, as well: other pages on your website presenting a similar type of information that they might find useful.   In conclusion: make sure you don't “sabotage” yourself. Permanently “tempt” visitors with alternative pages they could visit, pages linked to the ones that they'll access first both through phsycal clickable links and through the similarity of the information that these pages provide!   C. Irrelevant search results   Remember: UX is all about lightening your users' path to the information they need.   Now imagine the following scenario: your visitor types his/her search items into your navigation bar, get the suggested link of a specific page on your website only to land there and to discover that it has nothing to do with the type of content he was expecting to find, based on his specific search terms.   How did you let this happen?    You've incorrectly or insufficiently tagged your facets and filters!   Now that you know how to avoid this mistake, you'll have no excuse for letting the above scenario turn into reality on the websites you'll design in 2017!   D. Casting away users on micro-sites   This is a web design mistake related to the one causing “islets” of information (that we've already detailed here).   Probably the most popular website relying on sub-sites is Yahoo. And this is a good example of web design: users are directed to visit certain subsites while they're provided with the way to go back on the main site, as well.   This is a good practice that you, too, should stick to when you handle sub-sites web design: whenever you suggest your users to visit a certain sub-site, remember to always make the home button as visible as possible. Otherwise you'll just cast them away, you'll drive them off the main website and thus “sabotage” yourself.   Why would you want that?    3. Failing at Creating An Effective Information Architecture   What's the point in creating valuable content when you, afterwards, “sabotage” yourself by making it discouragingly difficult for them to scan through it?   A well planned information architecture is what makes the difference between hasty web design and perfectly structured, intuitive navigation flow-ensuring web design. It's the very foundation stone of good design!   An effective information structure implies organizing, labeling and structuring the whole content available on your website as clearly as possible.   By the time you start to actually design your website, you'll have everything planned: how your future visitors will get from one section of your website to another, your page order, the number of pages your website will have, everything, to the slightest details, will have already been thought through.   What's the purpose of all these content structuring efforts?   Your users will effortlessly and quickly understand what your site is about, will be able to scam through its content and to easily “detect” the specific information that they're looking for.   Now here are 2 major information architecture mistakes you should avoid:   A. Content clutter   We'll never stop “bugging” you with this advice (presented to you in various forms) on this blog: declutter your website and you'll half won your “battle”!   Think “5 second attention span” and then think “fierce competition in the digital marketing arena” (competition which will get even fiercer this year).   No visitors will have the time or the will to try and “digest” huge blocks of text and to waste too much energy trying to navigate their way though piles of images, overcrowded products galleries or cluttered apps (weather app, countdown app, audio player etc.).   So, never bid on your user's goodwill!   Instead, do your best or easing his/her job for “digesting” the content on your website:   shorten your paragraphs give white (or so called: "empty space") space its due importance always bid of bullets   B. Hidden relevant links   And here we get to the risk of “auto-sabotaging” again!    Avoid placing relevant links in totally inappropriate, hard to find places on your website, such as amidst ads.   It will be like “looking for a needle in a haystack” for your visitors to find these particular links and thus you'll run the risk of blocking their access to key pages on your website.     This is how our list of web design “don'ts” for 2017 looks like!   Think them through, see which one(s) of them has been part of your work routine for too long now and make a pledge to “brake up with it/them” this year! ... Read more
Adrian Ababei / Jan 10'2017
What Are the Trends with the Biggest Impact on Your Digital Marketing Success? 7 Most Powerful Ones
“Good things come to those who plan ahead!”   Or maybe we should have gone for this quote instead: “Those who plan ahead stay ahead of plan!”?   What do you think? Have we managed to select the 2 most suggestive sayings for the topic announced in this post's headline or... not quite? We can take a brutally honest answer, you know.   What we'll strive to point out in today's post is that digital marketing is a permanently evolving industry!   You can never ever afford to rest on your oars (not even if you've successfully managed to anticipate all the major trends which have shaped the digital marketing “realm” in 2016).   New powerful trends will emerge and new shifts will shake this industry on a regular basis; your competitors might seize them before you do and you risk to be left behind, at considerable disadvantage.   And you definitely don't want that!   There's no need to panic either! Even if we all know that the “addressees” are more or less the same (from a numerical point of view) and (yet) that more and more brands are making their debut in the digital marketing landscape, all of them wanting (at least) a “piece of the pie”.    For if you keep your cool and you remain vigilant, you can “track” the brand new influencing trends and the already emerged trends which will grow a lot more powerful in 2017.   As you run your own researches that will help you predict the digital marketing trends in 2017 with the biggest impact on your business, we'd love to share with you some of our own forecasts, too.    Ready?   1. VR and AR Will Be The New Marketing Channels   Future-oriented marketers have had a lot to learn from the whole Pokemon Go “hysteria” in 2016.   How about you? What insights into the industry's future development and into the online users' preferences and new expectations have you developed from the Pokemon Go “madness”?   Here is what we, the team working in this Toronto web design company, have learned:    that this year, after all the “Pokemon frenzy” which dominated 2016, users will expect to be engaged in even more augmented reality experiences    that, implicitly, AR becomes one of the newest/surest source of revenue for agile marketers in 2017   Whether you implement AR ads or maybe AR games into your digital marketing strategy this year, one thing is certain: augmented reality is here to stay and rule the day!   It's up to you how you'll be turning it from (just) a trend into a “cause” for your overall online marketing success in 2017!   2. Brands Will Start Targeting Niche Communities    It will continue to get more and more crowded in the digital marketing arena in 2017!   You'll need to deal with it and to adapt to the given context: more brands will emerge in the online landscape while the number of available users won't grow exponentially.   Get the point? Competition is going to get fiercer!   What do you do then? You find your “tribe”, so to say.   You appeal to your on niche market instead of wasting valuable resources of time and money trying to reach out to a mass market.   This means that you should start (if you haven' already) or to continue to personalize your content, your overall marketing campaigns in order to appeal to your niche audience.   Resist temptation of getting recklessly greedy and thus delivering “one-size-fits-all content” to a larger audience and steer your efforts to fine-tune the user experiences that you're crafting for your own loyal, dedicated community of users instead.   Food for the thought: niche communities (GoodReads for “voracious” readers, Fantasy Life App for sports addicts etc.) are perfect for you to “recruit” your future dedicated users from.    3. Immersive Content Will Be Almighty King in 2017   Make your users feel that they're doing so much more than just staring at their devices' screens!   This is the rather “rudimentary” goal that you should have in mind each time you'll “experiment” in the field of immersive content creation!   It will surely be exciting to discover where all these experiments will lead to in 2017!    For now, what we know for sure that marketers like you have at their disposal, in terms of technology, for crafting emmersive user experience is:   360-degree video live video  AR and VR technologies   From webinars, to augmented reality ads, to workshops and 360 videos, your marketing “toolbox” is already more than tempting.   Just pick the type of technology that will help you create and deliver emmersive content and get ready to “wow”  and to engage your users.    Provide them those highly interactive experiences that will instill in them the feeling that they're being challenged to participate to something bigger, that they're “actors” in the story that you're telling and not just some addressees.   4. Native Advertising Will Become an Engaging Factor    What is there left to do for a marketer “stuck” in the age of ad blockers, of the decline of banner ads, of less and less social media organic reach?   Well, a savvy marketer, like you, should “exploit” the native advertising's potential!   Instead of longing for the good old days, when one could get away with “annoying” users with ads, lots of ads, and thus to increase his (short-term) profits, how about embracing the future of online advertising?   Native ads, with their higher level of personalization, are more likely to engage users and to get shared.   And these already are 2 way too significant goals that you can't ignore in the “age of engagement”, right?   5. Live Video Will Dramatically Impact Digital Marketing   And it won't be a “shock” for any savvy marketer!   Live video streaming has been a “ticking time bomb” last year and it was expected to “explode” in 2017.   Users love live videos! They crave and demand “in-the-moment” type of content, so you can't but comply with your users' expectations and deliver it to them.   Think this powerful trend through, gather around your team of web development “gurus” and find out how you could integrate a “live streaming” functionality to your Drupal website/app if you still want to remain competitive in you marketplace.   Users have slowly got bored with “just” content. They now enjoy faster internet and own mobile devices of the latest technology, so their expectations, too, are continuously redefining.   Not only that they want to be challenged to interact, but they want to “be there”, to actually enjoy the ongoing event, even if psychically they can't participate.   Think Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other big “players” which are using live streaming and then think of last year's live streamed Presidential debate.    6. Longer-Form Content Will Rival “White Noise”   Counteract the effects that the “white noise” type of content has on your users (making them skim, skip and filter through the articles/posts they're invaded by online) with denser, high-quality content.   If we've already “warned” you, in our 2016 posts, that long-form content would gradually take over short, superficial content, now it's a powerful trend you can't afford to underestimate: you either invest in your research, in crafting your pieces of content and personalizing them, in investing them with added value, or you'll get swept by your competition.   7. The Usage of Data Visualization Tools Will Be a Must   That's right, this year it will no longer be a matter of “should” or of “the size of the company” when it comes to using data visualization tools for collecting and efficiently “deciphering” big data.   Everything can be measured in digital marketing, remember?   Well, it's no excuse any longer no to efficiently interpret your data, especially since 2017 will witness an “explosion” of data visualization tools. Pick the one that better responds to your business's specific needs, the one that you find easier to implement and to handle and start getting the most out of your data!   You'll have no excuse, whether you're an entrepreneur or a small business owner, not to be efficiently interpret your data, claiming that the process is way too challenging for the human brain.   Now the online delivers you the right tools (and there will be much more emerging along the year) to help you collect and learn what your data “is telling you” (valuable information about your campaign performance, about your target audience etc.).   It's this data that will help you craft your personalized, targeted user experiences this year. For yes, this is our last prediction regarding the 2017's digital marketing “arena”: personalization will definitely take off this year!     What do you think?   Is it likely for these predictions to turn into some truly influencing trends this year? Which one(s) of them will have the greatest impact on your own future marketing campaigns? ... Read more
Adrian Ababei / Jan 09'2017