December 30, 2018Comments are off for this post.

What I can do for you as a UX Designer

As I wrap up this quarter and my Digital Marketing class, I have been reflecting on what I have learned, and now I can apply it to my future role as a UX Designer.

Analytics

In marketing, I have had the opportunity to learn not only about research but also analytics! In my digital marketing class, we focused specifically on digital analytics

Customers aren’t very good at telling us what they want, but by using analytics, we are able to uncover what they like, don’t like their tendencies, and their habits. As a UX Designer, I will have no fair to dig into the data and perform analysis to understand better our users and who they are. 

SEO 

There are 3.5 billion searches daily on Google. Most users get to websites through organic search. With this in mind, understanding how search engines work is beneficial for designers. UX is a significant component of page ranking. If you don’t have a good user experience of your site, Google won’t rank it as highly and understanding how Google works helps you change that.

Coding

In the past year, I’ve enhanced my knowledge of HTML/CSS and even applied it in my work. I am not afraid to get into the code to make the changes I need and to build things if needed. With this understanding of code, I won’t need to bother developers with little things. Instead, I can do it myself. 

Mobile

More users search now on mobile than they do on a desktop. Google is starting to rank based on mobile experience, rather than desktop experience. Mobile isn’t going away. UX designers should start with designing for mobile because it helps you narrow down the essential features you need to share and then from there you can build out more features. 

Content

Content and UX work hand in hand. Content is your voice, and UX is how your users hear you. During this class, I learned more about content strategyand how to develop great content. Just like UX, users should be at the focus of your content strategy. 

A/B Testing

As I went over in my blog post titled “Let users make the decision for you” I discuss how to perform an A/B test and why we should conduct A/B tests. 

I personally am a huge fan of A/B testing, and I am excited to be able to apply them in my future role and testing out different components of my designs.

UX Design 

UX Design is the bridge between creative and analytical work. It is the process of creating products that create meaningful and enjoyable experiences for users. From research, to design, to usability, UX covers it all. 

I decided to study marketing and UX design to get a blend of the two in my studies. Through marketing, I have had the chance to learn about branding, digital, research and analysis and through UX design I have learned visual design, psychology, coding, and more. 

Certifications

Through this class, I had the opportunity to get certified in Google Analytics, Hootsuite, Hubspot, and Google AdWords. While I may not use these software in my future roles, I still have gained a lot of knowledge I can apply to my work.  

Through my understanding of Google Analytics, I am not afraid to get into the data myself and draw conclusions. I understand the key performance indicators of websites and can identify growth points and places to improve upon. 

From Hubspot, I better understand content marketing and how to best plan content. I can use this when planning out the flow of an app or website, or when helping plan out the best content to go on a website.

I understand how users interact with social and how to plan for social from Hootsuite

And finally, from Google AdWords, I can help create the best plans for promotion and design landing pages that create a seamless experience. 

More Learning

In addition to my classes this quarter some other things I’ve been doing to develop my skills more are: 

School of Visual Concepts – This quarter I will have taken 3 courses through School of Visual Concepts Portfolio Building Workshop, Design & Prototyping Tools: Sketch & InVision, and this Friday I am taking a class titled Intro to Data Analytics Workshop.  

Daily UI- I recently started the Daily UI Challenge to work on becoming a better designer. Each day for 100 days (not including weekends) I am sent a design prompt such as a landing page, a sign-up screen, a boarding pass, et al. This has been an enjoyable opportunity to challenge myself as well as working on my design skills. 

Books!– Then in the (little) free time that I have, I’ve been reading Emotional Design by Don Norman and About Face by Cooper, Reimann, and Cronin.

Next Up 

Following this class, I plan on looking more into voice technology and wearables. I want to understand better how consumers view these products and how to best design for them in the future. As a future UX designer, I want to understand better how to design for all things so I can be flexible and apply knowledge from one form to another. 

As I come closer to graduation, I get more and more excited about my future career. I chose to go into UX design because I love people, technology, problem-solving, working with others, and more. I have a passion for helping others and creating things to make people’s lives easier. I want to empower my users and build the best with them at the focus. 

December 30, 2018Comments are off for this post.

UX for Social Change

User Experience Design is about creating things that improve users’ lives. As UX Designers we can help create an impact with our designs. We can change the world. 

When we look through the human-centered lens, we are able to empathize and connect with users deeply, 

One group that is doing this right now is UX for Good, they are a not-for-profit organization that discusses UX projects that can help improve the world we live in.

How to Design for Social Change

Define the Problem – Uncover the real causes of the issue. Diagnose the problem and then understand the symptoms and the real cause. 

Focus on Empathy – People are at the heart of UX design, always build empathy for your users to understand who you are creating for. 

Research – Always start with research, this allows you to gain a broader view of the issue at hand and the users it affects. 

Test & Change – As always, continually test and change your design as needed. 

Examples of UX Projects That Make a Difference

Emily Waggoner – When North Carolina introduced a law requiring people to use the bathroom that matches the gender they were assigned at birth, Emily took-action and designed a map that shows where in the US there are gender-neutral restrooms. 

Be My Eyes – This is an app that connects blind people with volunteers around the world, bringing sight to the visually impaired. 

Live Safe– An app that aims to prevent incidents before they occur and connect people 

Daily UI 032 – Crowdfunding

I recently started the Daily UI Challenge to work on becoming a better designer. Each day for 100 days (not including weekends) I am sent a design prompt such as a landing page, a sign-up screen, a boarding pass, et al. On the 32nd day of the challenge I was challenged to design a crowdfunding campaign. 

Something that is really important to me is access to clean water. Water is a necessity for life, and it is important everyone has access to it. 

With that in mind, I designed a landing page for a crowdfunding campaign to give people access to clean water. 

Now if this were a real project, I would do user research, create personas, wireframes, and prototypes. Then testing and track the rate of donations before and after my design to see if there has been improvement. 

December 30, 2018Comments are off for this post.

Not just a game: AR, VR, & MR

By 2022 the market for AR, VR, and MR is expected to hit 209.2 billion dollars.

VR is no longer a game, it is a new medium. As these technologies move into the mainstream, it is essential to understand what they are, how they will affect UX, and how to best design for them.

Augmented Reality (AR)

A technology that superimposes a computer-generated image on a user's view of the real world, thus providing a composite view.

A typical example of AR is Snapchat or Pokemon Go.

Virtual Reality (VR)

The computer-generated simulation of a three-dimensional image or environment that can be interacted with in a seemingly real or physical way by a person using special electronic equipment, such as a helmet with a screen inside or gloves fitted with sensors.

Virtual Reality is associated with the headset you put on to interact with the new environment.

Mixed Reality (MR)

The merging of real and virtual worlds to produce new environments and visualizations where physical and digital objects co-exist and interact in real time.

A great example of this is the way Skype is used on the HoloLens.

Why are companies investing?

Facebook has Oculus, Microsoft has HoloLens, HTC has Vive, the list goes on. 

Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and Amazon all have implemented AR into their app experiences.

Companies are investing more and more into AR, VR, and MR because of how the technology can enhance the customer experience. This technology can delight users or give them useful information. 

By using AR, VR, and MR, we can start to solve some complex problems and provide more value to users. 

UX and AR, VR, and MR

With the implementation of these new technologies, some challenges we face as UX designers is how to design the best experiences for users. 

How UX will be transformed

Beyond the 2D interface 

With the introduction of these new realities, our interfaces will grow and expand from the 2D interfaces we use today. With this expansion designers will no longer be confined by screen size; instead, they can place things wherever they please. 

Interaction

In this new territory, we will need to define how users interact with the environment. With this change, we can pull upon how people interact in the physical world.

Context 

We can now gain information from the environment our users are in. Not only does this give us access to more user data, but we can also design things to be responsive to the environment and situation users are in.

UX Challenges & Best Practices

Hardware – With the introduction of different headgear, controllers, etc. UX designers need to think about the physical factors of the experience.  

Safety – since the users will be brought into a new “reality” it is important to consider their safety when in the environment. 

Prioritize – As we do with designing for mobile UX designers need to be selective about what makes it in the environment. Users won’t want a lot going on at once, so be intentional.

Ease of On-Boarding – Since this technology is so new it will take longer for users to understand the environment. Don’t overload them with too much information in the beginning. 

Make it Familiar – We like things that are familiar to use, whether that be images or interactions. Pull from past UX principles when designing interactions and gestures so it is recognizable to users. 

Google and Apple both have resources on how to best design for these technologies

Current Applications of AR, VR, and MR

Amazon – I’ve recently been looking at furniture and other products on Amazon, now when ordering these things online, it is sometimes hard to know how it will look and fit in your apartment. To combat this Amazon introduced an augmented reality feature to their app that enables you to see the product in your home. 

Snapchat, Instagram & Facebook– Another way we’ve seen these technologies infiltrate our everyday lives is its implementation into various social media channels. As you can see above, I had a ferocious T-Rex on my desk and I can share it with my friends!

Thanksgiving Turkey– if you, like me, have never carved a Turkey, the Washington Post is here to help! For Thanksgiving on their app, they introduced an AR experience to help guide users through the process of carving a turkey.

Travel the Cosmos– SPHERESis a VR experience through Oculus that allows users to take a journey through the stars, almost literally.

December 30, 2018Comments are off for this post.

Getting to know Blockchain

Ever since the boom of cryptocurrency, news has been inundated with the term “Blockchain.” 

We hear that this will be the technology that will revolutionize business, but what really is it anyway?

History of Blockchain

In 2008 a white paper titled, “Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System” was published by an author or authors using the name Satoshi Nakamoto. The document outlined the design of blockchain, a sophisticated form of encrypted technology that can be used to verify and record transactions. Following the 2008 white paper, the team built Bitcoin in 2009, the first public decentralized blockchain database to be used for the new cryptocurrency. 

How Blockchain Works

Distributed Database – No single person controls the information on a blockchain, the data is transparent and open to either party. All the records of transactions are available and cannot be manipulated. 

Peer-to-Peer Transmission – Communication happens between two groups, not a central party. 

Transparency with Pseudonymity – All transactions are transparent and include information about the value associated with it. Each user is assigned a unique ID address and can remain anonymous if desired. 

Irreversibility of Records – When a transaction occurs the database and all accounts concerning the transaction are updated. This is where the “chain” comes in, these records cannot be changed because they are linked to all the transactions before. 

Computational Logic – Since this is all digital users can program algorithms and rules that can automatically trigger transactions.

Current Use 

Since the craze of blockchain began the technology has been introduced into many industries

Spotify is using blockchain to help better connect artists and licensing agreements. 

Warrenteer is a blockchain application that allows consumers to access info about products and helps in the event of product malfunctions. 

IBM is introducing blockchain into supply chain and using it to create a shared record of ownership and locations of products. 

Why should UX designers care about blockchain?

Blockchain is slated to change the digital world, it will impact things from banking to digital voting to digital identity. With changes in all these areas, it is essential to understand the impact it will have on UX and other technologies. 

UX as the Main Focus of Blockchain

With the boom of interest in blockchain and the rise of blockchain applications in all industries, it is important for these applications to be user-centered. We should be investing in resources that will produce a user-focused app that will serve the users purpose. Basically, if it isn’t going to be better for the user why should we do it?

UX Principles for Blockchain

Transparency – One key feature of blockchain is the fact that it is transparent. This will help increase trust with users. How do we share this trust and transparency with users? How do we educate them on how it works?

Jargon – Cut the jargon, it is hard to get users excited about something they may not understand. 

Focus on the Product – Users don’t care how the app works, they care about what it does for them. 

Programmatic Marketing & Remarketing

Programmatic Marketing – The practice of automating business rules that allow you to target your most valuable customers with personalized ads effectively. 

Remarketing – This is the practice of serving ads to people who have already visited your site. You know when you put something in your Amazon cart then see an ad for it later on? That’s remarketing. 

Both of these processes involve bidding and ad buying on platforms such as Google Ads or Bing Ads. 

Where does Blockchain fit in?

The challenges of these are the existence of a middleman, it is highly subject to fraud, and it is hard to measure effectiveness. 

Using Blockchain, we can eliminate the need for a middleman, such as Google, to oversee ad buying. Advertisers and publishers can communicate directly and create agreements enforced with blockchain. 

To learn more, check out the MAD Network– they’re actually doing this right now.

December 30, 2018Comments are off for this post.

Mobile First

At some point in your life have you’ve visited a webpage on your mobile device and had it take a ridiculously long time to load? My guess is yes that has happened to you. 

Mobile devices have a harder time loading web pages that are a large file size. Slow pages increase bounce rate and decrease time spent on a page. Basically – if you want your user to stay on your website you need to optimize for mobile. 

How can you do that?

AMP

With slimmed down web pages; duh! AMP is an open source library created by Google to help create web pages that have minimal loading time. With stripped down HTML, a JS library, and the Google AMP Cache you can create web pages that load almost instantly for your users. 

If you read my recent blog on search engine marketing, I talked about how one-way Google decides page ranking is based on your load time and user experience of your site. With AMP not only can you improve the experience of your webpage but you can also improve your search ranking. Also, faster load times means that your website will be more reliable for your users so they will come back time and time again.

AMP Design Principles

User Experience > Developer Experience > Ease of Implementation.

Only do things if they can be made fast.

Don’t design for a hypothetical faster future browser.

Prioritize things that improve the user experience – but compromise when needed.

Don’t break the web.

No whitelists.

Solve problems on the right layer.

Who uses AMP?

TransUnion– by implementing AMP pages they saw a 3% rise in conversion, a 26% lower bounce rate, and time on site multiplied 2.5 times.

CNBC – As a news source, it is important for CNBC to ensure their users can get their content when they want it. After CNBC implemented AMP pages, they saw a 22% increase in returning mobile search users and a 4x decrease in mobile load time.

PWA

progressive web app is AMP’s app cousin. PWA are web apps that are slimmed down and optimized for mobile use. They load like your typical web pages, but go far beyond that with things like offline capabilities or push notifications

Think about it: an app experience, but in your browser.

Why care?

52% of web traffic is through mobile phones. 

53% of users will abandon a site if it takes longer than 3 seconds to load. 

40% of web users would not re-visit an e-commerce web page that does not load quickly enough.

If any of these stats seem alarming to you, you should care about AWP and PWA. Your site’s user experience is imperative to conversion or usage of your site.

With AMP and PWA we can offer users richer experiences on mobile and web.

The Future is now

Mobile isn’t going away – With this in mind, it is essential to think about having a consistent user experience across devices. 

Voice – Graphic-less user interfaces are on the rise. With technology like the Amazon Echo or Google Home designers need to think more about designing a user experience without an interface, such as how do people talk to a device or how do we create a journey with a conversation?

VR, AR, & MR – With technology like augmented reality the physical and digital worlds are mixing. When we bring these two worlds together what challenges will we face?

Tips for UX Design for Mobile

Focus on the essential features – Having tons of elements does not mean a better app, by focusing and having the most important features available to your users you will provide a better experience.

Cut the clutter – Don’t overload your user with too much information, strive for minimalism.

Be finger friendly – People are using the app or website on their phone, meaning they don’t have a mouse or keyboard! So be sure your touch controls have a target large enough and that your app is driven with touch.

Feedback – One of the most fundamental pieces of human-computer interaction is user input and computer reaction. Be sure to give feedback to the user when the app is loading or doing something, let them know it’s working.

And always, test your design.  

At the end of the day, the experience a user has with your site or app is everything. If they don’t have an enjoyable or easy time using it, they won’t come back. By implementing AMP and PWA, you can improve the mobile experience of your site drastically.

December 30, 2018Comments are off for this post.

Email is not dead!

Marketing Automation

Marketing Automation is defined by Salesforce as “technology that manages marketing processes and multifunctional campaigns, across multiple channels, automatically.”

With Marketing Automation tools businesses can keep connected with customers through automated messages through email, web, social, and text. Allowing Marketers to be more efficient and to nurture more leads at one given time. 

B2B - In the B2B realm marketing automation includes lead scoring, lead nurturing, and lead lifecycle management. 

B2C - In B2C you would use marketing automation to manage cross-selling, up-selling, customer loyalty, et al. 

Components of Marketing Automation 

Most people tend to believe that marketing automation is just the same thing as email marketing, but it is actually so much more than that. Of course, email marketing is a big component of marketing automation but it is not the only piece. 

Email Marketing – Email is not dead! It is very much alive and a very useful marketing component. Using a marketing automation software, you can automate your emails in trial streams or even send out emails triggered by a user interaction. The possibilities are endless.

Landing Pages – Landing pages are essential to marketing campaigns since they are so crucial you can build landing pages and even test them in tools like Marketo. 

Forms – You can place forms on landing pages in order to capture lead information and directly add it to your CRM and your marketing automation software.

Testing – You can even set up A/B tests within most software, allowing you to test subject lines of emails, landing pages, forms, et al. 

Lead Nurturing– Send your users relevant content over time based on behaviors and campaign steps. 

Lead Scoring– With lead scoring the software can actually give a number to how close a user is to making a purchase based on past user data. This allows you to invest more into those who are further down in the funnel. 

Behavior Tracking– You can track if your lead opens your email, goes to your website, what whitepapers they download, and so on allowing you to create better content or better serve the lead based on user data. 

Segmentation– By connecting your marketing automation tool to your CRM you can segment customers based on different filters and tailor your experience. 

My Experience with Marketing Automation

During the summer of 2017, I was a Marketing Automation Intern with Nintex. During my internship, I helped with building nurture streams, weekly newsletters, and even got the chance to build a marketing automation program designed to re-engage with leads who are inactive or to unsubscribe them from our content. Marketing Automation was a fascinating role to be in because it was technical while still allowing me to be creative and have a customer focus. 

Best Practices

Personalize – Even though a computer is sending these emails, it doesn’t have to seem like it. Use your customer data and personalize your emails and ensure you are sending the best emails to the right customers. 

Content – Don’t just send content to send content, make it meaningful. 

Mapping the Process – Map out your whole marketing automating process from email touch points to landing pages. This allows you to have a better view of what your customers are going through and to identify pain points. 

TEST – Just do it. Test your emails, your landing pages, your CTAs, everything. You will thank me later. 

Key Metrics for Marketing Automation

Now that you know about marketing automation, how do you measure its success? Some key metrics to track are: 

Site Traffic – This is a good indication of how your emails and other campaigns are doing. Do you see a spike after a specific email? Is a newsletter driving people to your website? 

Open and Click Through Rates – These can provide insight into how your emails are performing and the quality of the lists you are sending emails to. 

Unsubscribes – If you see an increase in unsubscribes you should be looking into your segmentation and emails to see what is causing this. 

Sales Cycle Length – It is important to measure how long it takes someone to go from being a prospective customer to converting, by understanding this you can better serve your lead at different touch points or identify key points in the process. 

Now, these are only a few metrics you should track, but keep in mind that every company’s metrics are different. There normally isn’t a standard open rate for emails and it will vary from industry to industry, so know your company’s baseline and compare to that. 

Companies who do this well

Squarespace 

I recently tested Squarespace for my portfolio. Following signing up for a free trial I was sent daily onboarding emails to help me get the most out of my Squarespace site. 

Nordstrom

I love Nordstrom. Not just because of their clothes, they also make great use of marketing automation. Recently I was browsing their site and added something to my bag but didn’t purchase it. A few days later they sent me an email reminding me about what I was thinking of buying. 

Chipotle

Chipotle makes great use of texting as a form of their marketing automation. Last week they had a $4 boorito for Halloween, two days before I got a text to let me know about the deal so I could plan my Wednesday’s lunch. 

December 30, 2018Comments are off for this post.

Learning to Code: HTML/CSS

Basics of Coding – HTML/CSS

HTML – HyperText Markup Language

CSS – Cascading Style Sheets

My favorite way to explain it is the HTML is the structure of the house, while CSS is the paint. These are two different file types that work together to make a webpage.

Here is a graphic I made explaining how each are broken down: 

HTML/CSS are most commonly known to build websites – but they can do so much more, like build an email or the UI for an app.

Why learn to code

As a UX Designer, learning to code is extremely useful. By understanding how to code you can have a better idea of what can and cannot be done, you can identify and suggest fixes to issues, and it helps you learn to think more logically about projects. If you know the raw materials of how something will be built you can better design for that process. 

It is like riding a bike, once you learn how it is hard to forget.

I learned to code in 7th grade but didn’t pick it back up until my junior year of college. Even after all those years when I got into a role where I needed to understand how HTML worked to make changes I was able to pick it back up quickly. 

How I have used HTML/CSS in my career:

Nintex - During my marketing automation internship with Nintex, I used Marketo to build and design the email newsletter I sent out weekly. Sometimes there was something that needed to be changed in the email that wasn’t working so I would need to switch over into the HTML of the email to make the changes. These were changes such as the link or tagging for to a button.

Boeing - Over the summer when I started working as a Customer Experience Designer for Boeing one of my projects was to rebuild the Customer Experience Center website. Once I finished the first steps of my project (user interviews, card sorting, information architecture, wireframes, etc.) I needed to actually build the website. Now we could have paid someone from IT to build it, but since Boeing gives a wireframe for their internal websites all I needed to do was go in and adjust it to fit my design. Luckily since I know HTML/CSS I was able to go in and build the website myself, saving my team money and saving IT’s time.

I’m by no means an expert at HTML or CSS, but my knowledge of it has helped me in many ways so far in my career. 

Learning to build a website

Codeacademy

If you are interested in learning to code a great resource is Codeacademy. In only 4 hours you will learn the basics of HTML, then you can go on to learn CSS and Javascript. The possibilities are endless. You can boost your resume over a weekend.

But wait! You can go even further than HTML/CSS and learn how to build websites from scratch, build web applications, build web APIs, learn python, machine learning, et al. 

Squarespace

If you’re someone who wants to build a website, but doesn’t want to get into the code, Squarespaceis something you can use. It is a web design and hosting company. Squarespace is great because it has an easy to use visual designer and premade themes (HTML/CSS frames) for you. 

Squarespace is a great program to use if you want to build a blog, portfolio, or another website.

My Portfolio – Semplice & WordPress

I’m currently in the process of building my portfolio. I’ve spent the last few weeks talking to other designers and recruiters about how to build my portfolio and what to include. I decided on this program called Semplice, it is a visual design tool that works with WordPress to help you design your website. I picked it because it allows me more freedom than Squarespace to create my own theme and site, without having to completely code the website myself. 


At the end of the day, unless you are a programmer, you don’t need to be an expert to be able to use HTML and CSS. Just having a familiarity with it will serve you well and make you a more valuable employee. 

December 30, 2018Comments are off for this post.

PPC Ads: Google or Bing?

Pay Per Click (PPC) Advertising

Have you ever noticed these results at the top of your result list from Google? The results with “Ad” in front of the URL in the second row? That is Pay Per Click (PPC) Advertising. 

I searched “Laptop” and the result in the photo above was what first came up in my search results. Microsoft used Google AdWords so that link would come up first in my search, and if I were to have clicked on that link they would have paid Google for that click. 

PPC Advertising is a form of online advertising where marketers pay when their ads are clicked by an online user. Typically, this is done through Google AdWords or Bing Ads. Using PPC advertising you can reach users who are actively seeking content that you offer. 

As a company, you can purchase a set of keywords then when users search those keywords and click on your ad you pay for that click. 

How is it different from SEO? 

With SEO (Search Engine Optimization) you are adjusting your own website in order to organically appear higher in search results, but with PPC Ads you are using Google AdWords or Bing Ads to actually pay for the result to appear higher and for someone to click on the link. SEO also takes time and patience, with PPC you can get started right away. 

The best part? Since users are usually looking for something specific the conversion rates from clicks are typically higher than in other forms of digital marketing. 

Picking Keywords

In order to be successful with PPC Advertising, you must pick the right keywords to bid on. 

To find the right keywords you can start with this:

Your Website – Use the core words from your website that describe your business 

Brand Terms – Bid on your branded keywords! Other companies can also bid on your brand’s specific keywords, such as your company name.

Think like your user – Put yourself in your user’s shoes and think about how they would search for something on Google, what words would they use?

Google vs. Bing

Google AdWords

Google AdWords is Google’s advertising platform that gives marketers the ability to bid for keywords to show up in search results. 

Google AdWords works on a bidding system. Your position in the search result is dependent on how relevant your Ad is to the searcher, your landing page, how much you are willing to pay, and your expected click-through rate. 

Using Google AdWords, you can Advertise in four different ways: 

Display – You know those lovely Ads on the top and right of your screen? These Ads will appear there.

Video– Have your Ad play at the start of a YouTube video

Search– This is the PPC Ad model we have been discussing

App Ads– These are Ads that will appear across other Google apps

Bing Ads

Bing Ads, like Google AdWords, allows you to share Ads in search results on Bing, MSN, Yahoo, AOL, and other Bing sites. Bing Ads also runs on a bidding system

Bing Ads tends to have an older demographic and a wealthier demographic than Google. In addition, Bing also reaches 66 million searchers that are not on Google.

How do you decide?

Since Google AdWords and Bing Ads seem so similar it can be tough to decide which is right for you. 

Market Share

Worldwide – Google has 72.37% of the market, while Bing has 7.70%

US – As of July of 2018, Bing has 24.2% of the US search market and Google has 63.2%

Audience

Bing’s audience spends 32% more online than the average internet searcher, 71% of searchers are 35 and older, 60% of searchers have attended college, and 55% of searchers earn 75K or more a year. Bing also has 66 million searchers that are not on Google.

Google’s audience tends to be younger, but with the sheer amount of data they have you are able to reach a larger audience with more specific filters.

Cost

Both PPC platforms are free to open accounts. 

For the cost per click, Bing Ads has an average of $7.99 and Adwords has an average of $20.08.

And finally…

Test! If your budget allows, throw some money at both and see which performs better. 

PPC Strategy – Awareness and Applications for WWU MBA

If I were in charge of PPC advertising for the WWU MBA Program I would do a few things when planning my PPC strategy: 

User Research – My first step would be to better understand the target market. I would want to know who they are, their goals, content they search for, why they choose the program, et al. 

Keyword Research –This would involve me gathering a list of keywords from our website, keywords our users search with, and industry keywords. 

Ensure a good user experience – Before setting up my account I would make sure that the user’s experience going from search to my landing pages is easy and not overwhelming.

TESTING – If you can’t tell, I love testing and am a huge advocate for it. In my strategy, I would be sure to set up different A/B tests to find out what performs the best.

Increasing Brand Awareness 

If I wanted to increase the brand awareness of the WWU I would bid on keywords such as Washington MBA, UW MBA, Best MBA, WWU MBA, MBA Program, and so on. 

I would use both Bing Ads and Google Ads. Since Bing’s demographics tend to align more with those that may be looking to get an MBA it would be smart to be where those users search, but Google’s breadth of users would be best to have a further reach.

Increasing Applications

Now if my goal was to increase applications I would adjust my strategy slightly. I would bid on keywords like MBA application, WWU MBA, WWU MBA Application, et al. 

I would also employ remarketing. Remarketing is a way advertisers can connect with previous site visitors. Through this, I can target the users who have already visited the MBA website and even the MBA application page. 

The Future of PPC 

AI and Machine Learning is a hot topic across many industries, and PPC Advertising is no exception. Using AI we can take out the guesswork and learn to better predict and bid on keywords in a PPC strategy. 

The Impact of Machine Learning on PPC: 

10% decrease in cost per click

18% decrease in cost per acquisition 

8% increase in clicks 

22% increase in conversions

Using companies such as TrapicaAcquisio, and Frank.ai you can implement machine learning into your PPC strategy and be even more successful.

At the end of the day, PPC is useful in a digital strategy, but it is not something that can be done in isolation. Your digital strategy should include both paid and organic efforts in order to be successful.

December 30, 2018Comments are off for this post.

SEO: Not just link building and keywords.

The majority of website traffic comes from search. There are 3.5 billion daily searches on Google. We can now not only search on desktops, but also on phones, tablets, voice devices (such as Alexa), and other internet connected wearables. Basically, search is important and a key way users get to your site.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the process of improving your website for search engines so that the online visibility of your site increases.

How Search Engines Work

The best way to think about the internet is that it is the roadmap connecting all the websites in the world.  

Crawling – Search engines such as Google or Bing to send automated robots known as “crawlers” or “spiders” to the billions of web pages on the internet. 

Indexing – Once the crawlers hit your web page they dissect the site to understand what it is saying, how it is set up, etc. With this information, they store pieces of it in databases for recall later.

When a user searches something – When someone searches “What is SEO” into Google a few different things happen. Google dissects the question to understand what the person is looking for and then picks the most relevant pages to share with that user. Google decides which web page to share with the user based on myriad things such as: how many times is the search term on the web page? Is it in the title? Is this page from a good website? 

Watch this video from Google to learn more: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BNHR6IQJGZs

Link Building & Keywords

Links

One way that Google indexes web pages is by their page rank. Your page rank is dependent on how many outside pages link to your web page and how important those links are. 

Link building is the process of getting other websites to have links directing back to your website. 

So, how do you do this? 

Content Creation – Create high-quality content other pages will want to link back to. One way you can do this is to work with industry leaders to create joint content.

Promotion – Promote your best content and share it with the world! Have people review your product or share it on Facebook.

Partners – Work with others in your industry to link to each other. I’m not talking competitors but other key people in your industry such as blogs, magazines, et al. 

Link building won’t happen overnight, it takes time to build quality links.

Keywords

When someone searches something, the search engine looks for web pages with similar or the same keywords. So, it is important to use keywords on your web pages that match those you expect your users to search with. 

Don’t just throw a bunch of keywords on your page – Be intentional. Create compelling content that provides value to your users. 

Be Relevant – Use keywords that are actually relevant to your content and make sense in context.

Keywords in title and URL – If you can, work your keywords into your title or URL, this makes it more noticeable to search engines.

User Experience & SEO

Search engines are pretty good at telling which websites will provide the best experiences for users. With that in mind, having a good user experience is essential. If a search engine doesn’t think your website will provide a good experience they won’t rank it as highly.

Design for users, not for search engines –Keep your users at the forefront of your SEO and design strategy. Search engines are there to support users, not to show your page. If users are at the center of their strategy, they should be at the center of yours as well. 

Navigation and Structure – Ensure the organization of your site is clear and have links pointing to each page. Not sure how to organize your site for your users? Try card sorting

<title> & <alt> – Make sure your title and alt element in your HTML are clear and descriptive of what the page contains. 

Keyword Research – Create keyword rich content that matches the search terms you expect your users to use. 

URL Structure – Ensure your URLs are clear, clean, and include keywords from the page it directs to. 

Mobile – Be sure your website is responsive and has a mobile format.

Know Your Users

Understanding your users is extremely important in SEO strategy. You must understand how they think, the terminology they use, and what is important to them in order to build the best website. 

Make use of personas and involve users in the design process with activities such as card sorting, usability testing, interviews, et al. 

How Users Search 

There are three primary ways users search online. 

Do – This user wants to do something on the internet, such as purchase a concert ticket. 

Know – This user is searching for information. They have a question they need an answer to. 

Go – This is where the user wants to go to a specific place on the internet, such as LinkedIn.

With the rise of voice, we see more and more people searching in the form of a question. We used to search for things such as “weight of an apple,” but now we would search things such as “What is the weight of an apple.” 

SEO in 2018

In August Google updated its core algorithm, while they are many smaller updates throughout the year this update is the first major one since 2012. This update, known as the “Medic” update greatly affected sites in health and wellness, but was seen to affect other areas as well. In order to familiarize yourself with the changes in Google’s algorithm, Moz has a page titled Google Algorithm Change History that has all you need in one place.

December 29, 2018Comments are off for this post.

UX/UI, creating the best for your user.

User Experience (UX) and User Interface (UI) are often confused and thought of as the same thing, and while they do work together, they are not one in the same. The Interaction Design Foundation defines the two as:

User Experience Design

“User experience (UX) design is the process of creating products that provide meaningful and relevant experiences to users. This involves the design of the entire process of acquiring and integrating the product, including aspects of branding, design, usability, and function.” - The Interaction Design Foundation

User Interface Design

“User interface (UI) design is the process of making interfaces in software or computerized devices with a focus on looks or style. Designers aim to create designs users will find easy to use and pleasurable. UI design typically refers to graphical user interfaces but also includes others, such as voice-controlled ones.” - The Interaction Design Foundation

UX Designers are concerned with things such as interaction design, wireframes, prototypes, information architecture, user research, etc. UI Designers, conversely, are focused on visual design, colors, layouts, typography, etc. 

UX – Why care?

A user’s overall experience with your product/brand can make the difference of whether or not they choose to buy or come back to buy again. If your product is hard to understand or use people will not come back to use it. 

Having a user-centered focus within your company and product will make the experience that user has with your product all the better. In order to do this, you need to deeply understand who your users are – I’m not talking demographics, I’m talking understanding their motivations, goals, perceptions, etc. 

UI – Why care?

The user interface of your website, app, or landing page is often the first thing a person interacts with from your company, meaning that this is their first introduction to who your brand is and is what they will base their first impression of you on. 

Good UI keeps the user engaged and makes the product easy to use and understand.

88% of users are less likely to return to a site after a bad experience, so having a good UI and UX is imperative. 

Landing Pages

What is a landing page? - A landing page is a page a user “lands on” when they go to your site. The goal of a landing page is to help convert a visitor into a customer. 

UX best practices for landing pages:

Understand your user– Who are they? What are their goals? Why are they here? By better understanding your users you will be able to design the best possible landing page to help them achieve their goals. 

Avoid Friction– If a site has too much friction of use, users won’t use it. Don’t make your users think too much, don’t make design choices that cause eye strain, and don’t present too much information too quickly. 

Build Trust– You want to build trust with your user through your landing pages. Without trust, users will not make a purchase or continue to use your product. You can build trust by being transparent, being consistent, designing for everyone, and so on.

Avoid Distractions– Don’t have unnecessary things on your landing page and don’t give too many choices. This page has one purpose, get to it. 

Clear CTAs– Be sure your calls to action are easy to find, read, and are descriptive of what they lead to. 

User-Friendly Forms– Don’t ask for too much information at once and make sure the information is easy and doesn’t make the user think too much. 

Be consistent and on-brand– Make sure your landing pages align with the rest of your brand from a design perspective and is consistent with buttons and controls. If it is too off-brand users won’t think it is your landing page. 

What businesses do UX well?

MailChimp - High Five

Sending an email can be daunting and something you want to make sure is done right. After you schedule/send an email through MailChimp you may be wondering, “did that work?” Well, it did when you see a high five from a chimp come onto your screen. 

Rover – Transparency 

Looking for someone to watch your beloved pet while you are gone can be scary. You are putting your pet’s life in this stranger’s hands. Rover recognizes this and, thus, when you review a sitter, Rover gives you all the information you need to make your decision such as ratings, reviews, number of repeat customers, et al. 

Chipotle – Don’t make the user think 

The other day, I went to mobile order Chipotle for lunch but since the app had recently updated, I had been logged out. Of course, with all the different passwords I use, I wasn’t sure which I used for Chipotle and typed it in wrong. Upon doing so not only did the app tell me my password was wrong but they also told me what their passwords are required to have (capital letter, number, etc.); because of this I didn’t have to think about what my password may be, instead I knew instantly. 

Spotify – On-brand & Clear CTA 

Spotify’s landing page for their premium subscription is a great example of being on brand, having a clear CTA, and only giving the user the information they need when they need it. 

Beyond UX/UI

Beyond UX and UI Designers, there are many other roles that fit under the User Experience umbrella such as: 

Interaction Designer  Mental Modeling, Storyboards, Journey Maps, Wireframes, User Interfaces

Information Architect –Site Architecture, Navigation DesignOrganization DesignSearch Design

UX Researcher –Personas, Empathy MapsHeuristic ReviewsUsability Studies, Interviews, and Surveys

UI or Front-End Developer –Code to implement designsFront-end frameworksHTML/CSSJavascript

Content Strategist –Content MappingContent DevelopmentCommunications, Content Organization

UX Strategist – AssessmentVisionObjectives, PlanningMeasurementExecution

With the shift to more products being offered as a service user choice becomes more frequent, so it is important to care about user experience design because it is what will set you apart.


Lizzie Rice

ux designer

elizabethkayerice@gmail.com