Category Archives: Web Development

Web Development Reading List #165: Starting The New Year With Browser News, Container Architecture, And React “Aha” Moments



Happy new year! I hope you had a good start and can feel positive about what 2017 might bring. As mentioned in the last edition of the past year, I don’t like New Year’s resolutions too much, but I’d like to point you to something that Marc Thiele wishes for this year:

Web Development Reading List 165

“So my wish then also is, that you reflect and ask yourself, if you want to post the text or maybe even just have another, a second look on the text you are about to post. Maybe you decide, that you don’t post it. Maybe this helps, that less negative posts and emotions are spread.”

The post Web Development Reading List #165: Starting The New Year With Browser News, Container Architecture, And React “Aha” Moments appeared first on Smashing Magazine.

Source: Smashing Magazine

My Journey Of Learning Programming Through Flatiron School #6

My name is Mason Ellwood and I’m currently working on Flatiron School’s Online Full Stack Web Development Program. Each week, I’ll be writing about my experience, what I’m learning, and tips on learning to code.

Throughout my learning to program career, it seems like all I have and will be doing is learning and never actually be able to start my carrer. That seems like a stupid sentence, but a lot of the time it seems like the list of things I NEED to know does not stop. Every job listing you need to know 20 different abstract languages to even get your foot in the door, and I am constantly under qualified or lack enough experience to even land an interview. To put it frankly; that sucks. So where is the standard, what do I NEED to know, and what will actually be used on a daily basis; because if in my head I am constantly juggling 20 different language’s syntax on a daily basis, I may be over my head… I was discussing this with one of my good friends Paul Jackson who works in IT, and he helped me set everything straight. He said “If you master a language OOP (Object-oriented programming) concepts it will show in your work. Companies just want you to contribute in a certain way rather than to be an expert in all.”

As Eli eloquently touched on, most job postings come from a “pissed off IT manager” and a human resource person who both do not really know what they want. After the IT manager dumps tons of data on the human resource manager, he then writes a convoluted list of requirements that the developer needs to meet. When in actuality they only need you to do a few tasks, not all 20 “requirements” that are listed on the job posting. Thinking about the development world in this sense has better helped me personally prepare what I NEED to know to have a better chance at landing a developer job once I have completed the coursework for Flatiron Schools.

Alright let’s get into it, what is a Command Line Application! A Command Line Application, often referred to as a CLI (Command Line Interface) Application, are applications you interact with entirely through the terminal of shell. This includes no use of graphics or visual interface beyond what you see in the terminal. This birthed the software revolution!

“Write programs to handle text streams, because that is the universal interface”

– Douglas Mellroy, creator of UNIX Operating System

They are often times the most powerful interfaces you will interact with on a daily basis. This including GIT, Learn (the software Flatiron School is founded on), and Ruby’s CLI application interface. There are many more, but we will not talk about those.

So how do you use the CLI application logic with Ruby…. All files should follow a similar file structure with the top level directory being: bin, lib, config, spec, and something like app. You may also see .learn (specific to Flatiron Schools), .rspec, Gemfile, Rakefile, or program files like ttt.rb. If you are working in your terminal you can also use the bash command ls -lah which will show the list of files in your current directory, including hidden files (files starting in a period).

You can also use ls -a which displays all files including hidden files as well.

Inside the bin/ folder we generally want to place all the code that is relatable to running our actual program.

Inside the config/ folder you will place all the application environments. This includes all required files to initialize the environment of your program. These files connect to your database, and ensures your test suite has access to the files that contain the code it is testing.

Your lib/ folder is where a majority of your code lives. Within these files defines what your program can do.

Your spec/ folder is where test files go. These are written tests that makes sure your code behaves as expected.

Within the root directory of your Ruby program you may also file, if needed, your .rspec, .learn, GEMFILE, Gemfile.lock, Rakefile dependent on necessity.

Using Ruby’s CLI Application process, you are able to create dynamic programs that are able to capture user inputs to produces an interactive program. This follows a basic workflow:

  • Greet the user
  • Asks the user for input
  • Compares and stores the input
  • Do something with the input

As you can see by my beautiful artwork, running this program will first run files in bin/ and which are the instructions of how to execute. The file workflow sounds something like this.

  • Include the files need to execute (lib/hello-ruby-program.rb)
  • Greet user
  • Asks user for input
  • Captures that input using #gets
  • Uses user input to do something else, setting it to the value of name which is in the method of greeting
  • Sends that value to the lib/hello-ruby-program.rb
  • Execute method with user inputted value
  • Display return value to the terminal.

Using this logic allow users to input a value directly to the terminal, with a return value displayed to the user.

Calling the gets method captures the last thing the user typed into the terminal, which can be set to a variable. Calling gets freezes the program until user inputs some value.

Comment below if you need any further explanation on what was covered before, and I will do my best to elaborate.

Read More at My Journey Of Learning Programming Through Flatiron School #6

Source: Web Design Ledger

My Journey Of Learning Programming Through Flatiron School #4

flatiron school

My name is Mason Ellwood and I’m currently working on Flatiron School’s Online Full Stack Web Development Program. Each week, I’ll be writing about my experience, what I’m learning, and tips on learning to code.

In the last post, I covered the definitions of a failing test and what data types Ruby, super fun stuff! Now that everything had a definition applied to it we are ready to get into arrays and interpolation! Heck yeah!

Arrays are used to store data as a collection. They do this by declaring literals or variable names separated by commas and wrapped in square brackets


Ex: this_is_an_array = [ “slot-one”, “slot-two”, “slot-three”, “slot-four”, “slot-five”, “slot-six”]



*A class is a kind of like a template for creating objects in Ruby.

*A bundle is simply a bundle of information and behaviors.

*And a string is an object

Within your array, each element within your array is associated with a number that represents their order, this is called an index and they begin their index at 0.


Ex: this_is_an_array = [ “slot-one”, “slot-two”, “slot-three”, “slot-four”, “slot-five”, “slot-six”]


In order to call an element in the array you just created you must call the name of the array the number in which you want to call.


Ex: this_is_an_array[0] => “slot-one”


To assign a new value to a current index of that array, you can call the array index of the number you want to re-assign and define it to a new variable.



Or you can place, put, or take away whatever you want anywhere within this array. You can do this with a variety of different methods. I will not be covering every instance that was covered in the lesson, but for an example you can use the shovel method which employs the shovel operator ( << ) which allows you to add items at the end of the array. Similar to the shovel method you can also use #push method to do the same thing.



Moving forward I am finally ready to cover methods. Basically with arrays and methods you can do just about anything in Ruby and are the staple of the language. So what is a method…. It defines something new your program can do. They teach your Ruby program about a new routine or behavior it can use. This is an incredible tool because to my understanding they are the meat of your program and allow the practice of DRY or don’t repeat yourself logic. By defining your method once you can then call the method as many times as you would like.



The code above may seem dumb…. But if i encapsulate the repetitive strings within a method I do not need to repeat myself over and over again, remember to work towards  DRY haha. So the above method I wrote def a_bunch_of_strings is the method signature, which defines the basic properties of the method including the name of the method which is a_bunch_of_strings. Everything inside of this is considered the body, and remember this must in end. Once a method is defined you can call is as many times as you would like by using the method name. Then through string interpolation we can then make it dynamic (to check out more on string interpolation please check out this link:



Up until this point, I have not had any real issues with the Flatiron Schools, in fact it has been really enjoyable. This next post I may jump ahead quite a bit, so bear with me. But everyone I have met within the school has been great. What I really like is that once I finally do reach out to customer support with questions about the current course work, they don’t just belatedly tell you what the solution is, which is great. They allow me to work through it myself while they nudge me in the right direction. This can get kind of confusing though because you are communication over instant messenger. Which can be difficult when trying to work through which piece of your code does not work.

Read More at My Journey Of Learning Programming Through Flatiron School #4

Source: Web Design Ledger

Top 14 Web Resources You Have To Use In Your Projects

6. HotGloo

Talking about getting updated with today’s world? Let us help you find some of the most important services online that will help you in your career in the tech industry. Don’t just go and Google it, that’s what most people do. Let us give you invaluable advice about choosing a great service on design and developing.


1. Codester

Are you looking for one of the best marketplaces online for developers and designers? Then you must know about Codester, a great place where you can buy and sell various set of assets to make your development process a lot quicker. They have a great deal for everyone who decides to open a store there – a 70% commission, while you can keep selling the items on your own web page. Also, there is no minimum number of sales required for you to gain your monthly payment through PayPal or wire transfer. The products they have for sale are quite diverse, from backend PHP scripts to JavaScripts, from HTML5 themes to latest WordPress plugins. Even more, you can get graphic content, like icons and a logo for your app, or even a full user interface. This is the place for you to start a project in no time and get your business to the next step of shipping a project. They have source codes for Android, iOS Unity and even Tatanium apps. Codester comes with another way for you to increase your revenue through passive sales and even more, though, affiliate links. If you become an online marketer for them, by sharing your links to your followers, you get 20% of what they buy through them, just like that. With all these opportunities, why wouldn’t you start an account at Codester right now? Stop debating and start building!


2. Visme

Your marketing strategy can be significantly improved by using Visme, a very handy tool which will give you the chance to create interesting and engaging content, that you can style however you wish. All you have to do is to have an idea and then Visme helps you easily bring it to life by providing you with a huge range of free images, icons, infographic visuals, fonts and so forth, that will enable you create presentations, infographics and other kinds of content.

Start with no skills of graphic design and finish with a professional looking piece of content in no time! All can be done through a simple and efficient dashboard that gives you a good range of options to choose from, in order to edit your projects, such as adding shapes, images, icons, videos, charts, graphs and audio. The final result will be stunning and unique, thanks to the wide library of customization options. The final part is the sharing! The content can be shared by using an URL, embedded in a website or downloaded as an image a PDF, or HTML-5 depending on your payment plan. Oh, did I mention that Visme’s biggest attraction is its price? It starts from just $4.50 a month, so anybody who needs professional looking visual content can now afford it. Awesome !



If you do not have so much time, are a skilled designer, but you require high quality, semantic and valid code, then PSD2HTML® would definitely be worth considering if you. They are a great team of over 470 professionals that will help you transform your visual representation of your desired website into a real, good-looking and functional website.

All you have to do is to send them the Photoshop design, make some notes about it and then select from a bunch of options, such as fluid or static width, browser compatibilities, resizable fonts, and cool add-ons. They will immediately process your request and, in no time, they will start working at your project, asking you relevant questions when needed.

Some of the services they provide you are front-end development (PSD to HTML Conversion), CMS-based development (PSD to WordPress) and email templates (PSD to Email). Apart from this, you can see their portfolio on their website – you will immediately become their fan, if not even their client. 🙂


4. Simbla

Two of the many things that make Simbla special is the ease of use and the adaptability to any device. If you want to start using this powerful platform with amazing responsive website templates on Responsive website templates , all you have to do is to create an account which requires your email, your location and a password. Afterwards, you can choose a template and a suited name for your site. In case you need further instructions, you can take a quick tour before using it which will take you less than a minute to complete it. This is the best way to show you the basics of working in Simbla and help you save lots of time and effort in the future. You should go ahead and start benefiting from its responsive website templates.


5. Themify

Themify is one of the most popular places to buy Word Press themes that will save you from the struggle of going through the endless list of themes before you find the beautiful and responsive one which you can trust. What makes it so popular is the wide range of options, meaning you can try out your website in different appearances before taking a decision. Let’s dive in!


6. HotGloo

HotGloo is a wonderful wireframing tool with a mature, fully developed set of elements covering huge sets of icons and loads of pre-build UI widgets, fitting every need. Build and test your prototypes before you design and start coding. Collaborate with your team and show your work to your clients for approval. Their plans are starting as low as 13$/month. Try now!


7. Droplr

They say communication skills are something you are born with, but this time they’re proven wrong. Even though working in a team may seem difficult and stressful, Droplr makes it easy, efficient and quite fun. With its group conversations, its features which let you make  changes on work projects in real time, all in one app, and the possibility of giving feed-back s in a GIF, everything you got so tired of can become really entertaining.


8 codepad

On you can create shareable online snippets of code for your web developing projects. You have the possibility of controlling the version of your work, so you won’t lose anything. You can collaborate on public playgrounds, follow other popular developers and get their work in your timeline and create collections of different snippets for a larger scope. And if your work is astonishing, other people can send you job offers directly on your email.


9 HostTracker

Thank to Host-Tracker, you can now be the first to know when your website is down! It is a very easy to use, but advanced website monitoring tool that gives you many great features to help you with the monitoring of your website. It targets various tasks, such as the simple checking of a web page or even enterprise-level features like database tests. Moreover, you have possibility to receive notifications about all changes, activities and the overall status of your website!


10. Redbooth

A teamwork management app must be able to keep you on track and aware of any changes or issues concerning your project in real time. Redbooth definitely thought this out, as it offers its online project management software on a wide variety of devices and platforms, such as Apple’s iOS and iPad and Android. It also lets you integrate your favourite apps, such as Outlook, Evernote and Dropbox. It fits all of your needs, according to your lifestyle, which is what made it successful.


11 Invoice Ninja

Except of all the services it offers, Invoice Ninja makes it look like it is all about your company, which is pretty flattering. Lots of options to design the template, like choosing out of a series of colors and styles in order to match your brand’s logo, actually encourage you to raise awareness of your company’s worth. Believing in yourself is the key to success and Invoice Ninja hands it to you, while also getting work done in seconds.


12. Colorlib

Are you planning to start a new blog but you can’t find the right theme ? Then you should definitely try Colorlib. This company has dozens of themes available for you to choose from. Some of them are even free so you’ll find the most suitable for your interests and budget. Some of the free themes are: Flexible, Illdy, Activello, Sparkling, Dazzling and many more.



We found the solution to make your work with tables, charts and data management easy. It is called wpDataTables and it is a plugin from that lets you create a responsive table in WordPress in a matter of minutes, and using it requires no coding! You can choose and customize the design, edit tables both from front-end and back-end and even pull table data from any source. Besides this, their tables are very responsive and can work on any device!



What does it mean for your organization to use the services of xfive? It provides Web design and Web development services. It specializes in front-end, back-end, Word Press, JavaScript, and Email development services. xfive will definitely help you get your business off the ground. Their motto is “Our mission, our commitment, our passion, that is to materialize the innovation dreams of our customers into tangible business”. Give it a try!

And to add more fun to our 14 excellent resources, we’re presenting a new, fun web developer comic by Browserling:


Who said web developer jokes aren’t funny? That’s exactly what Browserling‘s new web developer jokes comic tries to prove every week with a funny code/joke/cartoon. Their jokes are pretty hilarious. They offer their jokes for free for you to enjoy. Go to for all jokes and subscribe to their feed.

If you enjoyed our selection, as diverse as it was – a graphic-to-code conversion service, a market for developers and several theming websites – you can go right now to the ones you’ve found fit and check them out. If you start using their services, your work will certainly create more value and bring more revenue.

Read More at Top 14 Web Resources You Have To Use In Your Projects

Source: Web Design Ledger

In Praise of the Peculiar: How and Why to Use Surreal Images

Macro closeup of fractal flower, digital artwork for creative graphic design. Colorful texture with floral pattern. Digitally created artwork.

Sponsored by:

Logo iStock

Macro closeup of fractal flower, digital artwork for creative graphic design. Colorful texture with floral pattern. Digitally created artwork.

By: Anastasia Dyakovskaya

“Humans are complex and unpredictable, and there’s no reason why brand visuals can’t be, too.” – Lauren Catten, Art Director at Getty Images

Imagination is one of the four factors that make for a powerful image, and nothing stirs it more than Surreality – one of iStock & Getty Images’ 2016’s top visual trends.  

The reason is simple: these original and sometimes peculiar compositions trigger a feeling of pleasure in experiencing the unpredictable. The aesthetic can transform an ordinary topic into something new and exciting. It can help distinguish a brand in a sea of similarity, making for memorable content that leaves a lasting impression. And, thanks to its hyper-immersive, psychedelic visuals, it has very broad appeal.

Nature-related images work as a particularly potent metaphor in this realm, leaving room for interpretation and creating meaningful connections with your content.

Here, iStock by Getty Images explain how to use captivating Surreality to illustrate some common concepts:

Growth in Business

Frame conversations regarding market or business growth with photography that depicts flourishing flora. With a touch of fantasy, images of lush green plants and verdant pastures go far beyond a basic gardening blog, serving as an apt allusion to fruitful endeavors in any field.

Branch of cyan colored fantastic leaves. Studio shot with light spot in centreA Summer/Winter comparison. Composite image.A macro shot of strands of moss on a stone - vibrant colors, surreal looking.

Numbers, Data and Metrics

Content that deals with data and metrics works well with interesting, high-quality images focused on patterns, textures, and repetition found in nature. A quarterly report might feature a seasonally appropriate yet abstract visual, while numbers-driven blogs, articles, or internal documents may be enriched by images depicting some kind of quantifiable element wrapped up in a visually pleasing configuration.

iStock_000081578749_LargeMacro closeup of fractal flower, digital artwork for creative graphic design. Colorful texture with floral pattern. Digitally created artwork.Abstract leaves background

Health and Wellness

Healthcare and pharmaceutical businesses can benefit from incorporating altered images in an attempt to stand out in a crowded market. Double exposure, layering, and playing with proportion are all creative ways to illustrate topics on wellbeing or mental illness, while creating new layers of meaning.

Creative double exposure portrait of woman combined with photograph of natureWoman PortraitMonochromatic conceptual collage of a man inhabited by a feeling of wilderness. His body is made of successive layers of mountains, trees and birds. His eye is visible through the trees.

Invention and Innovation

Innovation or thought leadership content lends itself to images that stand out due to unexpected choices related to color, light and depth of field. Vivid hues are always attention grabbing, while focusing on a certain point and blurring out the rest suggests the highlighting of something special.

This is a horizontal, color, royalty free stock photograph shot with a Nikon D800 DSLR camera. It is a winter afternoon in South Florida's Everglades National Park, an international travel destination. Photographed on Anihinga Trail. The bright day time sky with bright blue sky and white clouds reflects on the tranquil water's surface. Lilly pad floats on this wetland landscape.Black and white image of a Dandelion detail close-up macro, with wet tip looking like fine paint brush.Deposits around a thermal spring. Orakei Korako geothermal area on the Northern Island , New Zealand, near Rotorua,

Financial Concepts and Banking

Banking and financial organizations might try to spice things up with a series of psychedelic landscapes serving as background or header images. For those industries that find it most challenging to tell a visual story or maintain an engaging array of images, Surreality may yet prove most effective when thoughtfully applied.

fantasy landscape with clouds and a starLonely tree with mist and fireflies in forestNorthern lights above a forest, Finnish Lapland

Beauty and Fragrance

Beauty brands featuring herbal, fruit, or floral ingredients in particular might attempt to stand out with unexpected compositions using abstract angles and extreme close-ups. A vibrant burst of color accompanied by a surprise element is sure to draw attention and spark curiosities.

Droste Kiwibackground of back lit ripe melon slices arrangedAbstract kaleidoscopic texture or background pattern design made from pineapple

Supply Chain, Systems and Distribution

Distribution and supply-chain topics across industries pair well with kaleidoscopic images that evoke a web or span of networks due to design elements like refraction, replication, and abstraction. The modern, technological flair of such shapes and lines makes for a kind of psychedelia-meets-Photoshop, alternate reality that stretches the limits of image manipulation and is just the thing to keep eyes lingering longer.

Organic abstract, background pattern with plant based shapes. Mutant alien nature, genetic mutant.Abstract nature background with various circle and triangle shapes. Use vertically or horizontally.Organic abstract, background pattern featuring a profusion of thorns. Mutant nature, genetic mutation.


Explore more Surreality images at iStock by Getty Images. New customers receive 10% off credits with code NEWISTOCK10 – Until September 30th.



Read More at In Praise of the Peculiar: How and Why to Use Surreal Images

Source: Web Design Ledger

5 Customer Support Hacks to Try Today

Support Hacks

For many designers, developers and agencies, customer service can be a burden, slowing down the day, stifling the creative process. It doesn’t have to be – here are five things to try today to turn support from your enemy to an ally.

1. Make Support Flow

If support is frustrating, consider the perspective of the customer. They’re in touch because something has gone wrong and can’t find the answer to their query. Ensure you have the steps in place to handle this and avoid cranky customer support.

Like your sales funnel, channelling customers to a make a purchase, support needs to be thought of as a funnel, directing customers to the right place to find relevant answers to their queries. For example, if you’re fielding support queries from email, Twitter, Facebook, contact forms… STOP. Direct all queries to a central support location, a single contact point that customers can find answers or reach out directly if needed.

Sketch out your support process flow, identify key pinch points – where customers are getting lost. Place as much documentation online as you can, ideally before any email or ticketing systems, and help customers to help themselves.



Support flow - capture queries, direct to a support center, then to a contact form connected to email or support ticketing software.

Make support flow – capture queries, direct to a support center, then to a contact form connected to email or support ticketing software.

2. Choose the Right Tools

Email is great for one-to-one communication, but how good is at tracking persistent queries, analyzing time spent on support and delegating issues to the appropriate personnel? Ticketing systems tackle these points, but introduce their own nuances – who wants to log into a separate ticketing system just to see the status of their support request or post a reply?

Some try using a forum to offer support, but experience dictates otherwise. While it can be great for a community project, for a paid-for product, customers will have little tolerance for the digressions and thread hijacks that appear to be par-for-the-course with forums. Managing the community and keeping discussion on topic is not conducive for good support.

Tools such as HelpScout offer the best of both worlds – support tickets can be created from emails or a web form. They can then be handled like any other tickets – delegated, tagged, notes added. Crucially however, it’s all transparent to the customer, the response is sent directly to their inbox and they can just hit reply to follow up on a query.

To minimize support queries hitting your ticketing system in the first place try using a dedicated support center such as our WordPress Knowledge Base products, which centralises documentation and support topics, acting as a gatekeeper to your support request form or email. We use it ourselves and it has helped customers resolve issues themselves without needing to wait for a response from our support team.

Useful support tools to check out today:

  • HelpScout ticketing software.
  • KnowAll knowledge base theme for WordPress, documentation and support hub.
  • Trello for making notes on ongoing issues, project planning and delegation.
  • Bitbucket for tracking issues and effective software version control with git.
  • Slack for the day-to-day discussions, replace instant messenger apps, incredibly useful integrations for keeping the finger on the pulse of support and sales.

3. Listen to Feedback

Though the customer may not always be right, they usually have a point. When tickets are closed, a follow up is great way to find out what went well and what could have gone better. This can be used to improve the support process flow.

Documentation feedback is great for gauging how well a guide or walkthrough is hitting the mark. At the end of the articles in our knowledge base we have voting buttons for visitors to rate article usefulness. Once they’ve voted they can submit comments which are reviewed by the support team to help refine the article and improve the helpfulness metric.

Feedback should be quick and easy for the customer. Review feedback on an aggregate basis, one irate customer may be an exception, but persistent similar comments are a sign that further action should be taken and regular review of customer feedback is a good starting point for refining the overall support process.

Write down your top ten comments from customer support and devise an action plan for each, the plan could be to do nothing, but by being aware of issues and tracking them effectively can help you better manage support in the long run.

Feedback is vital in establishing the success of your support center. Use it to improve and refine your articles.

Feedback is vital in establishing the success of your support center. Use it to improve and refine your articles.

4. Use Support as Your Brand

Great support is what we offer at HeroThemes, both by selling the products which help our customers deliver it and leading by example. It’s an ongoing process, but support can become the cornerstone of your brand by inspiring confidence and allowing potential customers to discover your products and services with SEO rich, accessible documentation, testimonials from well serviced customers and clear guides explaining your products.

This approach justifies the time and cost spent on support – no longer a time sink, support can be a marketing tool and a customer acquisition strategy in itself. Good and bad, people will talk about the experiences they have with your support team, so a proactive attitude is more crucial than ever. Invest in the right tools and people for the job, good documentation can not only reduce repetitive support emails but lead to increased sales.

Each aspect of the support process can be tailored to match your branding, the right balance of friendly and professional is key. Set expectations in the documentation to help reduce over-demanding requests, demonstrating any limitations of your products and pre-empting questions that could arise. Link to relevant third party documentation or further reading material to create jump off points if visitors get stuck.

Create a support branding document for your business that outlines standard responses and policies, try to avoid canned responses, instead use it as a framework for providing consistently great support.

5. Don’t Take it Personally

Support is like any relationship that can have good and bad days. The key is not to take it personally and understand that support is a process that is there to be crafted, worked on, improved, and with the right tools and people, should become an asset.

You need to remember that customers are reaching out for support from a position of confusion or frustration, something has gone wrong- see the opportunity to turn that customer into an advocate. For whatever reason, this may not always go right, but the learning potential from each interaction is there to build better support processes and flows. Don’t take issues to heart, but do take the time to understand what went wrong and where things can be improved.


Support is seen as a dreaded demon, a drain on resources. But it need not be, try the suggestions from each of these five tips to see how they can improve your business today.

Focus on building support that flows, with the right tools to match your customer base and service expectations. Listen to feedback from your customers and leverage support contact points to enhance your brand. Finally, don’t take it personally, treat it as any other process in your business, to be nurtured over time.

P.S. If you’re looking for an all-in-one knowledge base solution, consider the HeroThemes KnowAll theme, quickly create a brand-able and customizable support site that works with a range of ticketing and email systems.

What support hacks do you use to get through the day? Let us know in the comments below.

Read More at 5 Customer Support Hacks to Try Today

Source: Web Design Ledger

Web Content Personalization: Intersection of IT and Marketing

Web Content Personalization

Effective Strategies for Improving Web Content Personalization

Web Content Personalization

Personalization of web content is becoming increasingly important for businesses to gain – and maintain – their competitive advantage. Web personalization is key to increasing conversion rates and return rates, as well as boosting retention, time-on-site, and page views, according to a December 2015 VentureBeat study, which noted that 87 percent of companies have seen a lift of at least 5 percent in their most important metrics as a result of personalization.

But personalization efforts are no longer solely the bailiwick of marketing. To be successful, IT, design and marketing must work together. Research firm Gartner noted that teamwork is needed in order to evaluate solutions, source data, manage and consolidate the application portfolio, and integrate solutions.

This collaborative effort is predicted to be fruitful. Gartner estimates that by 2018, CIOs who build strong relationships with CMOs will be able to drive a 25 percent improvement in return on marketing technology investment. Furthermore, those firms that that incorporate personalization into digital commerce will realize revenue increases up to 15 percent.

“Personalization enables sellers to remain competitive and drive customer satisfaction, loyalty and advocacy, as well as increase profitability,” Gartner noted. “Consumers who have personalized experiences spend more. Companies that incorporate personalization into B2B digital commerce strategies will make their business customers more efficient, provide a better customer experience and increase the likelihood of greater purchase value as well as upselling and cross-selling — all leading to greater revenue.”

Creative Bottleneck Drives Companies to a Screeching Halt

While the benefits and projected ROI described by Gartner and others are enticing, web personalization programs are very resource intensive. Developers must build code for alternate experiences, then marketers must generate the appropriate content. But as they work together, it quickly becomes apparent that there’s a creative bottleneck.

There are many content optimization/personalization tools – such as Maxymiser, Optimizely, Adobe Target, Ensighten – available today that offer WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) editors to help speed coding and development. But the creative bottleneck stubbornly remains. It all boils down to manpower. With current tools, companies can create great personalization or A/B test ideas. But they are unable to execute on them because the creative team does not have the vast number of people, the time or the resources to develop what’s needed. Effective web personalization needs more than even infinite manpower can be expected to achieve.

For many companies, it’s a Catch 22. The more successful they are in their optimization program, the harder and more resource-intensive it will be to scale and maintain. This is especially true as personalization becomes increasingly granular, requiring even more content catered to the individual user.

The Green Light for Improved Web Content Personalization
So, how can your company scale up its web content personalization initiatives without hiring an army of creative folks?  Here are some strategies that can help you achieve optimal web personalization:

  • Start with A/B Testing – Most A/B testing tools enable you to add segments to your experiments to get insight into how different audiences are behaving in response to each experience. Tools like Maxymiser will automatically find the relevant segments and present them to you. But with some others you have to add the segments ahead of time, which can be guesswork. A/B testing your way into personalization is a great way to back into a personalized site, while also gathering data ahead of time about which personalization strategies are most effective for future use. Of course this leaves out many possibilities as some personalization strategies can’t be backed into. But A/B testing is a great way to increase your ROI with limited resources.
  • Increase the Number of Experiences per Test – Many tests are only run with the default experience and a single alternate. This is fine for UX changes where only a single alternate makes sense. But if your goal is personalization, you should add more experiences since you never know what may garner responses from different segments of traffic. Instead of two experiences, try four or more. This approach will give you more chances to find something relevant to your core segments.
  • Know Who Your Visitors Are – The more you know about your visitors, the more opportunities you will have for personalization. This may sound obvious, but from my experience, it’s often overlooked. In addition to the typical temporal, behavioral and browser-level attributes you are looking at, see what other data is available about your visitors, including information that other internal teams may control. For instance, your CRM probably contains a wealth of information about your visitors’ gender, purchase history, campaign engagement and more.  Several data management platforms (DMPs), such as Oracle Bluekai and Adobe Audience Manager, and even some tag management tools, like Ensighten and Tealium, can help you onboard and make use of this data in your A/B testing tool for segmentation and targeting.
  • Leverage Dynamic Content Creation Tools – You need to remove the limitations associated with manually creating and managing content, and instead take a programmatic approach to those tasks. Tools, such as Cloudinary, automate the process of creating and delivering images dynamically. Simply changing the URL of the image and applying custom parameters right in the image URL will enable you to build a new, customized image on the fly, without creative team involvement. You can reuse existing creative content and transform it to fit your current requirements by re-sizing, cropping, overlaying text and other images, adding borders and more. Taking this step will enable you to scale and execute your personalization strategy by eliminating that creative bottleneck. If you cannot automate content creation, you’ll remain limited not only in the tests you can execute, but in those that you can fully scale going forward after winners are determined.

For web personalization and content optimization to be successful, you must take a broader approach – looking across your organization to encourage closer collaboration between IT, design and marketing. By working in tandem, and leveraging a number of tools available on the market for testing, dynamic content creation and automation, your company can deliver content that is tailored to a wide variety of users, which will in turn translate into more sales, greater return on investment and a stronger, long-term relationship with your customers.

About the Author
Robert Moseley is a senior solutions engineer at Cloudinary.



Read More at Web Content Personalization: Intersection of IT and Marketing

Source: Web Design Ledger

Popular design news of the week: March 7, 2016 – March 13, 2016


Every week users submit a lot of interesting stuff on our sister site Webdesigner News, highlighting great content from around the web that can be of interest to web designers.

The best way to keep track of all the great stories and news being posted is simply to check out the Webdesigner News site, however, in case you missed some here’s a quick and useful compilation of the most popular designer news that we curated from the past week.

Note that this is only a very small selection of the links that were posted, so don’t miss out and subscribe to our newsletter and follow the site daily for all the news.

Css 3 Loading Effect

How to Become a Great UX Designer Without a Degree

Slack, I’m Breaking up with You

Site Design: Google I/O 2016

The Color Thesaurus

How to Organize Complex Design Projects

9 Design Predictions for 2019

How We Build Code at Netflix

Viewport Unit Based Typography

How to Be a Better Designer

Why You’re Blind to the Flaws in your own Design

What Slack is Doing to Our Offices…and Our Minds

The Power of the Modern Brand

Links are no Longer a Major Ranking Factor

Chrome Music Lab

The Spaceship Rises: A First Look at Apple’s New Campus

Apple will Live Stream a Keynote on March 21st

Cubetto 2.0: Coding for Kids

You Can Now Sign up for Google’s Innovative Cellular Network Without an Invite

The Mystery of the @ Sign

McDonald’s is Transforming Happy Meal Boxes into VR Headsets

Skype Kills its Smart TV App

Understanding Immediate and Anticipated Emotions in Landing Pages

The True Story of How I Went Viral. Twice

The Minimalism Myth – Why Simplified Graphic Design Isn’t ‘Easy’

Source: Webdesigner Depot