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Learning how to design an MVP webpage or website could be one of the best things you can do as a site creator in today’s digital world.

In a fast-paced landscape, where customer preferences and technology are constantly changing, most companies don’t have time to dedicate months or years to each web project. The longer you take to complete your website, the more likely your creation will be outdated by the time you hit “publish.” That’s why countless creators are beginning to take a different approach.

To avoid wasting time, money, and effort on something that doesn’t deliver a significant return on investment, designers are now building “Minimum Viable Products,” or “MVPs.”

Here’s what you need to know about creating your MVP webpage.

What is MVP Web Design?

Typically, the “MVP” development process is most common in the app or software creation world. It refers to when a developer builds the simplest version of a technology capable of achieving specific goals. For instance, if a company wanted to create an ecommerce app, they would design a simple tool capable of listing products, enabling payments, and tracking orders.

After launching the MVP product, the company or developer would check to ensure it had the right impact on the target market and generated positive results. Using feedback and analytics, the developer would then begin to add new features one at a time.

MVP design aims to ensure you’re developing the best, most valuable product for your audience while getting your solution to market as quickly as possible.

The same strategy in MVP app and software design can also apply to website creation. Rather than building a highly complicated website with multiple features straightaway, the designer would focus on creating a single page equipped with the essential elements.

For instance, instead of building an entire site for your online course, you may develop a single-page website where customers can learn about the system, sign up, and pay for their membership. The great thing about an MVP web page is it allows companies to start advertising their solution, product, or service quickly, with the minimum initial investment.

How to Create an MVP Web Page

Creating an MVP web page is similar to designing any Minimum Viable Product. Throughout the project, the focus will be on keeping the development process simple while collecting as much feedback as possible.

Here’s how you’d get started with an MVP web page.

Step 1: Planning

Planning is an important stage in any web design project. It’s particularly crucial in the MVP landscape, where you need to define the most critical features of your webpage or website to ensure it’s “viable” for your needs. The initial planning stage can sometimes be the lengthiest part of the process, depending on the amount of research you need to do.

For the most part, web designers and companies will begin by conducting market research. This means examining crucial concepts intended to drive your strategy, such as:

  • Your target audience: Who are you trying to target with this web page, and what will they need from your site? A user persona can be helpful if you don’t already have one.
  • Competitors: Who are your main competitors in this space, and what do their web pages offer? Which features do you need to replicate or avoid?
  • Goal setting: What is the main objective of this web page? What do you need it to do, and what might it need to accomplish in the future?

The key to MVP web page planning is ensuring you look holistically at your project without thinking too far ahead. The site you create should be capable of scaling and expanding in the future, but it shouldn’t have too many features from day one.

Step 2: Creating Your Feature List

Once you’ve done your research and formed the foundations of your plan, it’s time to list all the features your MVP web page needs to have. Unfortunately, this is where the process can get a little complicated. It’s easy to start adding capabilities and components that aren’t necessary to make your site more exciting or competitive.

As worrying as it can feel to release a very basic web page, remember your focus is on rapid growth and development. With this in mind, concentrate on narrowing your feature lists down into:

  • Initial must-have capabilities: First, decide what your web page can’t thrive without. If the primary goal of your page is to sell software subscriptions, then you’ll need to implement tools for collecting member information and payments.
  • Next stage functionality: Consider the features you might add once you’ve confirmed your webpage is effective. This will allow you to ensure you’re creating a platform that can expand to suit future needs.
  • Possible future requirements: You can also list features that might be helpful in the future but don’t necessarily need to be implemented immediately. For instance, if you’re selling an online course, you might create a separate page where people can sign up to learn about future lessons.

Step 3: Finding the Right Software

Next, you’ll need to decide how to build your web page. There are several options available to today’s designers. An open-source solution is usually the best route for designers who need to create something specific from scratch. However, if the factor that makes your solution “viable” is unique, you may need access to code to bring your idea to life.

Alternatively, if you’re building a basic webpage capable of something like collecting customer email addresses or facilitating transactions, you might be able to use an off-the-shelf tool. CMS services for web designers can reduce the work and expense involved in creating a minimum viable product.

For instance, you might use a tool like Wix or Squarespace to edit a pre-existing template and simply drag-and-drop the features you need into the right places. On the other hand, if you’re planning on adding more functionality to your site down the line, it’s worth checking if any builder you will use has the right level of flexibility. Many tools will allow you access to code, advanced features, and essential module-based building functions.

Step 4: Implement Your Analytics

One of the essential parts of an MVP workflow is feedback. When you roll out your MVP, you’ll be looking for insights, guidance, and analytics to help you decide what your next steps are going to be. As a result, MVP workflows are based heavily on experimentation.

This means you’re going to need the right analytical tools in place to track crucial information. You can implement tools for collecting customer feedback directly. It’s also worth having a system in place for tracking metrics like:

  • Conversion rate;
  • Traffic numbers;
  • User behavior;
  • Most used/least used features;
  • Technical site performance;
  • Bounce rate;
  • Average time spent on the page.

While Google Analytics is one of the most popular tools for collecting insights in the MVP website design world, various other options are available. You can even find tools with in-built heatmaps to see how people navigate your site more effectively.

It’s also worth having A/B testing components in place. This will allow you to test the different “new” features you add to your web pages over time and examine how they influence your conversions and support your goals. For example, you can use A/B testing to explore the impact of everything from CTA button colors to webpage copy and offers.

Creating Your MVP Web Page

In the fast-paced web development and design world, the old-fashioned and slow approach to designing web pages is growing increasingly less common. Instead, an MVP strategy may be the best bet for companies looking to go to market faster, collect insights from their target audience, and accelerate growth.

Though getting used to this design strategy initially can be challenging, it can save you significant time, resources, and money in the long term.

 

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Live chat is one of the most powerful tools for customer experience in the current marketplace. 

In a world where customers are constantly connected to the online world, online chat is a reliable way of getting quick solutions to common problems. 

Today’s consumers prefer talking to an agent over chat to calling a contact center, and they often feel that live chat is less frustrating than waiting for the right person to answer the phone. 

Of course, like any digital tool, live chat is only effective when using it correctly. Today, we’re going to show you the crucial KPIs you need to consider if you want to ensure that your chat strategy is delivering a tangible return on investment. 

The Most Important Metrics to Measure for Live Chat

These days, implementing live chat tools is easier than ever. 

You don’t necessarily need to hire a professional developer unless you want a specialist widget with specific functions and unique branding. Many plugins and tools for sites built on Shopify and WooCommerce allow you to instantly access chat functions. 

However, just because implementing live chat is easy doesn’t mean that there aren’t countless ways for your strategy to go wrong. Keeping an eye on these crucial KPIs and metrics ensures you’re making the right impression with your chat strategy. 

1. First Response Time

First response time is a crucial live chat metric. This measures how long customers need to wait before someone responds to them. Technically, this metric only refers to how quickly an actual agent responds to your customer, so automated “thanks for getting in touch” messages don’t count. However, immediately responding with one of those messages can convince your audience to stick around for a little longer. 

The faster your agents can respond to messages and solve problems, the better your brand reputation becomes. The good news is that a good live chat strategy can lead to pretty quick response times. The average time for an agent to see a live chat message is around 2 minutes and 40 seconds.

To improve your FRT statistics, make sure you:

  • Invest in chatbots: AI chatbots can support customers 24/7 with handy, self-service functionality. These tools will also filter out the customers waiting for an agent who can find a solution to their problem on your FAQ page.
  • Prepare canned responses: Quick responses to common queries can help you to address a problem much faster. In addition, preparing canned responses will ensure that your team members can quickly respond to more customers. 
  • Increase your resources: Ensure you have the right hand and enough agents to handle peak demand.

2. Average Resolution Time

The first response rate only looks at how quickly someone responds to a customer’s message for the first time. However, it doesn’t show how rapidly you deal with client problems. Average Resolution Time is the metric that helps to measure customer satisfaction by seeing how long it takes to get to a point where your customer can close the chat. 

If it takes too long for your employees to solve problems, there’s an increased risk of your customers becoming annoyed and frustrated. Additionally, the longer agents take dealing with each individual chat, the more other consumers will have to wait for someone to become available. Finally, the longer it takes to resolve an issue, the more customer satisfaction decreases.

The key to success is ensuring that the right agent deals with the correct customer and that everyone on your team is empowered with the appropriate tools and information. Boost resolution time by:

  • Giving customers a quick self-service solution: For common questions, make sure that you have an FAQ section that you can direct your customers to. In addition, a chatbot that can offer quick canned responses to regular queries can save time. Plus, they’re great for reducing the pressure on your agents’ shoulders. 
  • Integrate CRM tools with live chat: Make sure your agents have access to information about each customer as soon as they start the conversation. This information should include the customer’s name, what they’ve purchased before, and if they’ve issued any support tickets. Integrating with the CRM makes it easier for agents to jump straight into the action without needing the customer to explain everything first. 
  • Keep resources handy: Your team members should have instant access to all the information they need to answer customer questions. Ensure that searchable data repositories are available for everyone on your live chat team. 

Remember, routing tools that automatically send customers to the agent with the proper knowledge or skills will also improve response times and reduce the number of times a customer needs to repeat themselves. 

3. Chat to Conversion Rate 

Live chat tools aren’t just an avenue for problem resolution. Although customers can get excellent service through live chat, they also look to chat to collect information before a potential purchase. Around 38% of customers say that they end up purchasing a positive live chat experience. 

The live chat app on your website can provide real-time assistance for sales queries, converting leads, and maximizing your return on investment. However, to determine how successful your chat system is at encouraging sales, you must look at the chat to conversion rate metric. 

Essentially, you measure the number of chats your company has been involved in, then compare that number to the total number of conversions from those customers. It might be helpful to narrow down your results here by using your data and analytics tools to separate your total number of live chats into those intended for sales information and those requiring assistance. 

If your chat to conversion rate isn’t as high as you would like, there are lots of things you can do to start making a positive impact:

  • Automatically launch a chat: As soon as someone comes to your website, launch a chat window with a bot that asks whether you can help your customer. You can even include a list of commonly asked questions so your customer can get help faster. 
  • Follow up on chat conversations: Make sure you follow up on any questions that customers ask on your chat widget with an email. This is a great way to reach out to customers that may have been distracted and ended up abandoning their cart.
  • Personalize suggestions: Use AI insights and information from your customer management tools to determine which products are most likely to appeal to each customer, then suggest those items. Remember to ensure that your tone of voice in the chat matches your brand too. 

Remember, the faster you can answer customer queries and address their concerns with your live chat strategy, the more likely the chat will lead to a sale. Ultimately, customers are convinced to purchase when they believe they can trust your business to deliver excellent experiences. 

4. Customer Satisfaction Score

The customer satisfaction score is probably one of the most critical metrics in any customer experience strategy. It directly measures customer satisfaction levels and gives you an insight into how well you’re doing from the perspective of your target audience. 

The best way to measure CSAT through live chat is to add a survey to the end of the chat session. For instance, you could ask, “How would you rate this session on a scale of 1 to 10”. Then, based on the score, you’d calculate a “Net Promotion Score.” Each score falls into one of three categories: “Detractors 0-6”, “Passives 6-8,” and “Promotors 9-10”.

The more information you collect about your CSAT score, the easier it will be to determine where you’re going wrong with your live chat strategy. On the other hand, if the score is pretty good after a chat session, you’re probably on the right track. To improve your overall score:

  • Encourage feedback: Getting people to leave feedback, even on a live chat app, can be difficult. Offering customers the chance to win something in exchange for their insights could help you to get more data. 
  • Follow up: Connect with your “detractors” to find out what you did wrong. Follow up in the live chat session by asking if they’d like to leave a more comprehensive review. Alternatively, you can send an email asking for additional information. 
  • Reach out to promotors: Connect with the people who give you the most favorable scores to ask them for their insights. Find out what they enjoyed most about the experience and request a review that you can place on your website for social proof. 

5. Missed Opportunities

The longer someone waits for you to answer their question in a live chat or respond to their initial message, the more likely they’ll give up on the conversation. Unfortunately, this means that your company ends up with missed opportunities. You lose the chance to potentially make a sale, delight a customer, and strengthen your brand reputation.

While you might assume that your customers will know you can’t be available to answer all of their questions immediately, that’s not the case. INC tells us that 51% of consumers believe a business should always be open. So every missed chat is another negative mark against your reputation. 

If you discover that your team is missing a lot of chat chances, this could be a sign that you don’t have enough resources available in this area. However, there are a few ways that you can reduce your chances of missed opportunities, such as:

  • Hiring more team members: If you know that there are times of the year or week when you have peaks in demand, ensure that you have the correct number of staff members available. 
  • Using chatbots: Chatbots won’t be able to answer all customer questions, but they can deliver quick responses to commonly asked queries and reduce the risk of lost opportunities.
  • Provide alternative forms of communication: if your customer can’t reach you on live chat, make sure that there are other options available, like a phone number and email address or a form where your customer can automatically submit a ticket. 

6. Total Number of Chats and Tickets

Keeping track of the total number of tickets your customers submit, alongside the number of chats your employees engage in, will give you helpful information. First, the total number of conversations shows how many customers are taking advantage of your live chat function on the website. 

You’ll also be able to compare your total number of chats to the number of resolved problems you deal with for your customers. For example, comparing your total number of chats to an unlimited number of tickets shows you how many customers have been left to rely on other sources of communication. You can also see how good your employees are at following up with tickets issued by customers. 

When you’re analyzing your number of tickets and chat sessions, you might notice that many of the queries you dealt with were connected to specific questions or topics. If that’s the case, you might be able to create a new FAQ page for your customers or provide your chatbot with extra information that it can use. 

If you’re getting more support tickets through alternative means than live chat, it might be time to ask yourself what’s wrong with your live chat performance and why your customers choose not to use it. 

Improving Live Chat CX for Your Business

Live chat can be a powerful tool for improving customer experience and an excellent way to strengthen your relationship with existing and potential clients.

Step into the shoes of your customer and discover what it feels like to walk through the whole live chat experience, from the moment that you send a request to the live chat team to the moment when you close down the chat with a solution to your problem. Other quick tips include:

  • Getting the software right: Make sure your live chat app is easy for your end customers and your employees. The chat app you use should be convenient and suit your brand. It also needs to collect information effectively without causing problems like GDPR and regulations. Get a developer involved if you think you have a problem with your chat functionality. 
  • Guide your team: Remember that your team needs to know how to use the live chat tools available effectively if they’re going to deliver the best results to your customers. Make sure you give your employees scripts to deal with problems if needed. In addition, chatbots that can quickly grab information from integrated CRM tools and other solutions could make your agents’ lives much more manageable. 
  • Pay attention to feedback: Ask your customers for feedback on their live chat experiences whenever you can. Ensure you pay attention to what they say they like and dislike about the encounter. If you can listen to your customer’s opinions, they’ll give you a lot of helpful information to work with when you’re enhancing and optimizing your live chat strategy. In addition, listening to your audience shows that you have their best interests at heart.

Remember, as well as customer feedback; you might be able to ask your employees for their insights into how you can improve live chat performance too. Employees also work with these tools regularly, so they know which features are more problematic than others. 

Measuring and Improving Live Chat

Live chat functionality isn’t something that you implement into your website and forget about. Instead, like any form of customer service or engagement tool, your live chat solution should be something you test regularly and constantly update to suit your customers’ needs. 

Knowing which metrics to measure when examining live chat functionality and performance will boost the experience you can give your audience and even open the door for better relationships with clients in the long term.

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There are several software products on the market that are used for their varied applications. This software makes the different tasks easier and allows for increased efficiency and performance. Development of any software is a tedious and long process, and it undergoes a series of quality and performance tests before its release and use. With the development in technology, the software gets upgraded with the latest updates.

As the technological world evolves, so do user expectations for handling applications; it is essential to test the performance of the applications before deploying them on a large scale.

Source de l’article sur DZONE

Data is becoming increasingly crucial for success in the digital economy. You might ask, why do organizations rely so much on data? Well, a majority of organizations rely on data for multiple processes, from product management and fraud detection to HR, finance, and manufacturing. Data analytics allow users to use pre-made reports to track performance metrics on demand. Research shows that 94% of organizations believe that data and analytics solutions are critical for growth. Not a surprising statistic since it offers several benefits, including an increase in productivity and efficiency, faster and more effective decision making, and financial gains!  

Before we dive into the ins and outs of data analytics, it is important to understand the two terms, namely ‘data science’ and ‘data analytics. Data science lays emphasis on finding meaningful correlations between large datasets, while data analytics is a branch of data science designed to uncover specifics of extracted insights 

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Having the right WordPress plugins on hand can do wonders for your business or online presence. WordPress offers a vast collection to choose from.

There are so many of them. However, finding those that get the best reviews and can do the most for you can be a challenge.

A plugin can give you additional functionality. It could otherwise be difficult or overly expensive to realize with your website by itself. A glance at the 10 top WordPress plugins described below can provide a powerful case in point.

Your website’s purpose or niche will usually dictate the types of essential WordPress plugins you would do well to invest in. The right ones can make your website a genuine powerhouse and, by extension, your business as well.

1. Amelia

Amelia is an excellent choice for beauty, healthcare, fitness, consulting, and businesses that might be saddled down with a manual or semi-manual booking system by saving them and their clients time while eliminating booking mistakes that often occur in those manual systems.

  • Clients can book appointments online 24/7, change or cancel their appointments, and receive reminders of upcoming appointments and other notifications via SMS or email.
  • Amelia enables business owners or department managers to track and manage employee schedules and time off.
  • Amelia can manage bookings for appointments, book tickets for events, and manage group bookings, all at multiple locations. There are no limits on the number of appointments that can be managed.
  • Booking forms can be customized to best serve a business’s needs and match its brand.

Amelia fully supports WooCommerce with PayPal, Stripe, Mollie, and RazorPay payments. Click on the banner to learn more about this time and money-saving plugin.

2. wpDataTables

wpDataTables is a premier WordPress table and chart building plugin that features virtually everything you are apt to need to build any table or chart you want.

Creating a table that is by any definition complex often requires tools that may not necessarily be easy to come by. wpDataTables uses four chart-building engines, one or more of which should suit you perfectly.

They are:

  • Google Charts
  • Highcharts
  • Charts.js
  • Apex Charts

For both table and chart building, wpDataTables can connect you to multiple database sources, including –

  • MySQL
  • MS SQL
  • PostgreSQL

wpDataTables can process data that exists in the commonly used formats and features various sorting and filtering options that allow you to create a host of different table types.

Both tables and charts are editable and responsive and, thanks to the wpDataTables conditional formatting feature, can highlight and color-code critical information.

Click to learn more.

3. Site Kit by Google

While your website’s performance might exceed your wildest dreams, it is more likely that there are areas that need improvement before your wishes can be met. 

Determining those areas can be a challenge, but Site Kit offers a one-stop solution to deploy, manage, and get insights from critical Google tools to make your site a success by making those critical tools available to WordPress.

They provide:

  • stats displayed on your WordPress dashboard from multiple Google tools
  • quick Google tool setup without your having to edit your site’s source code  
  • key metrics and insights for your entire site and individual posts, and
  • easy-to-manage, granular permissions across WordPress and different Google products

Site Kit shows you how many people have found your site, how users navigate it, etc.

Click on the banner to learn more about what Site Kit could do for you.

4. Tablesome –  WordPress Table Plugin With Form Automation

Tablesome is a WordPress form database and form automation plugin that you can use to store entries from WordPress forms to a database. It can be integrated with popular forms – Contact Form 7 DB, WPForms entries, Forminator database, Elementor Form submissions, etc.

After saving, you can:

  • Edit, auto-delete, and export entries to tools such as MailChimp, Google Sheets, Salesforce, etc.,
  • Display WordPress form entries on frontend pages
  • Automatically export contact data using the Mailchimp WordPress Integration

5. TheDock

TheDock eliminates the need to search for just the right WordPress theme by enabling you to create your own – which can be more fun anyway.

Among TheDock’s many features, a few key ones include –

  • A comprehensive, option-rich Design System
  • A responsive design system that ensures your site looks great on all screens.
  • Designer, developer, and editing collaboration support. 
  • Clean, readable code.

6. Slider Revolution

Beginners and mid-level designers can sometimes have difficulty finding ways to WOW their clients with professional-level visuals.

Slider Revolution changes all that by bridging the gap between what clients want and what you can provide with its –

  • 200 designed-to-impress website and slider templates
  • 25+ powerful addons and brand new WebGL slide animations
  • ability to import dynamic content from WooCommerce and social media outlets.

7. LayerSlider

More than a simple slider-builder, LayerSlider is an animation and website-building tool you can use to improve any website’s look and feel through eye-catching animations, contemporary graphics, and interactive features.

This is made possible in part through the use of –

  • 160+ website, slider, and popup templates
  • LayerSlider’s modern and intuitive editing interface

Plus, you can count on professional one-on-one customer support.

8. Download Monitor

The Download Monitor plugin helps you sell your digital products by offering a ready solution for tracking file downloads, gating content to generate leads, build your audience, and ask users for personal information in exchange for valuable content.

Download Monitor lets you –

  • add any type of file you need to your website
  • link a page to all your channels and promote your social media networks
  • place ads – and more.

9. Ads Pro – Multi-Purpose WordPress Ad Manager

The biggest ad manager for WordPress, Ads Pro gives you everything necessary to manage and sell ads.

Ads Pro’s admin panel makes managing ads straightforward for you and your users.

  • Key ad features include 25+ ad templates and 20+ ad display options.
  • CPC, CPM, CPD billing and PayPal, Stripe, and bank transfer payment methods are built-in.
  • Geo-Targeting lets you show/hide ad spaces based on countries, provinces, cities, and Zip Codes.

10. Ultimate Membership Pro

If selling content is your objective, Ultimate Membership Pro is the tool you’ll want to take your website and convert it into a powerful content selling platform.

The Ultimate Membership Pro plugin enables you to –

  • Create unlimited subscription levels, including free, trial, and paid member subscriptions
  • Control customer access to content based on their subscriptions
  • Send emails to welcome new members and send notifications and reminders to regular subscribers.

The WordPress plugin directory is already stuffed with almost 60,000 plugins. This guide has been published to narrow things down to 10 top WordPress plugins for your use.

We consulted with experts to create this list of excellent plugins for WordPress. It can help you with content strategy, SEO, site security, and even social media marketing.

Installing plugins and getting the functionality they provide can add immense value to your use of WordPress.

 

[- This is a sponsored post on behalf of BAW Media -]

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Designing for user experiences is what all designers do. UX is often thought of as the preserve of app or web designers; however, even a print designer laying out a magazine anticipates reader reaction to the scale of type, the placement of adverts, and the art direction of successive stories.

Because all designers design user experiences, the role of UX Designer has come to mean someone focused on creating a product or service utilizing research and testing to guide decision-making.

To research and test anything, you need metrics: a baseline and a target against which to measure. No one set of metrics is suitable for all projects, but because UX tends to be for financial profit, the Pirate Metrics Framework — Acquisition, Activation, Retention, Referral, Revenue — is a good starting place.

You might seek out very different metrics in some cases. For instance, a museum might measure the success of its education program based on how many students go on to study paleontology. However, those types of metrics are notoriously difficult to quantify. Excepting a few niche cases, successful UX increases user productivity, decreases errors, reduces the cost of support, and increases sales.

So if it’s as easy as counting dollars, why does UX go bad?

UX vs. Design Principles

To understand what UX is, you need to understand what UX is not.

One of the most straightforward design principles to understand is hierarchy: bigger is more important, i.e., a heading is visually stronger than a sub-heading, a sub-heading is visually stronger than the body text.

Design principles stem from one thing: human-centered design. At the most basic level, bigger is more important because the bigger a saber-toothed tiger appears, the more likely it intends to eat me.

The evolution of human beings is so slow that had a smartphone existed at the time, a neanderthal would have been able to tap a button with the same level of precision as me. Prehistoric man shares the same minimum button size as modern man: 48 x 48px. Design principles don’t change, don’t require research, and don’t need verifying with tests.

On the other hand, a neanderthal would not have understood a smartphone, let alone an app. You only need to step back by a single generation to find perfectly intelligent people baffled by a commonly employed design pattern.

Unlike design principles, user experience is a house built on sand. When the sand shifts, the walls crack. The bricks are still solid, but the rain gets in.

Because effective UX is temporary, so is the ROI.

Technology Breaks UX

Technology unfolds at a rapid pace. As technology develops, the user experience defined by that technology changes.

The classic example is the mobile revolution, but technological change does not necessarily mean hardware. One of the most significant shifts in UXD (User Experience Design) in my career has been the popularisation of AJAX — the process of using JavaScript to load new data without refreshing the page. This seamlessness has been around since the early 2000s, but it’s only in the last ten years, as the code to achieve it has simplified, that it’s been widely used.

Jakob’s Law states that users spend most of their time on other sites and, as a result, prefer your site to function like other sites by following familiar design patterns.

Even if your UX is rigorously tested and optimized, when other sites and services carry out their own research, they are testing against the background of younger technology, and the “other sites” Jakob Nielsen refers to begin to change. As a result, the UX of your site is gradually eroded.

The consequence of continual technological change is that user research is constantly invalidated. The UX of an app, site, or service begins to degrade as soon as it is created.

User-Experience Lifecycle

Human beings have two deep-seated motivations: survival and procreation. The most important, survival, depends on discovery — new food sources, new routes through dangerous territory, new ways to skin a mammoth. We are biologically programmed to seek out the new.

A typical user passes through three phases of a relationship with a site, app, or service: discovery > comfort > boredom. Churn, or drop-off, tends to occur in the discovery phase (if the comfort phase is too slow in developing) or the boredom phase. The sweet spot is the comfort phase. That’s the part of the business-customer relationship in which the customer requires minimal support and is least likely to drop off.

The most effective form of UX — meaning the one that satisfies most metrics — rapidly moves a user from discovery to comfort and then continually eases the user back to the start of the comfort phase without tipping back into discovery.

This can be achieved with numerous micro-discoveries, tiny chunks of new experience, from simple functionality tweaks to style revisions.

Summary

All UXD, regardless of the quality, level of investment, and skill of the practitioner, begins to degrade the moment it is created.

Design principles like simplicity are good indicators of successful UID (User Interface Design) and are timeless; comprehensive design systems, brand assets, and content offer good ROI.

The most effective UX is broadly familiar and continually refreshed in small ways, allowing users to enjoy the comfort of the familiar while also experiencing the excitement of discovery again and again.

 

Featured image uses photos by Wolfgang Hasselmann & Shainee Fernando.

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With microservices architecture becoming the de facto standard for web applications now, effective debugging and anomaly detection calls for a system that is observable — which means, the internal state of an application can be inferred by observing and tracking the metrics, traces, and logs.

Observability is all about data exposure and easy access to information required to find issues when the communications fail, internal events do not occur as expected or events occur when they shouldn’t. Here, you’ll learn and know about different microservices monitoring tools and how to monitor microservices. Let’s take a look!

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WordPress is by far the world’s most popular CMS. Not only does it dominate the CMS market with a 64% market share, but it also powers 39.6% of all websites. It has taken the internet by storm by democratizing the web for all. Now, anyone can build, manage, and host a successful website without needing a college degree or coding expertise.

However, while WordPress is great at managing many technical aspects, it still can’t do everything for you. Built mostly on PHP, there are often concerns regarding how performant WordPress is. And, with performance impacting everything from bounce rates to SEO rankings to conversions, it’s something that should be on your radar too.

If you don’t know it yet, images are one of the main causes of slow-loading websites. In recent years, WordPress has stepped up its efforts to try and help users with image optimization out-of-the-box.

Still, as we’ll show, it’s not a total solution, and there is still plenty you can do to deliver better experiences on your WordPress website through image optimization.

What is WordPress Image Optimization? Why is it Important?

Simply put, image optimization is anything you do to make images load faster on your website pages. Almost all websites that use images can benefit from some form of image optimization, even those using WordPress.

Why?

Well, performance is a hugely significant factor when it comes to the competitiveness of your website today.

Google has also made performance an increasingly important factor when it comes to SEO rankings. In fact, performance is a direct ranking signal that carries significant weight.

Google’s Page Experience Update that went live in 2021 has been the biggest move in that direction yet. Soon, Google might even use visual indicators in SERP results to distinguish high-performing websites from the rest.

In Google’s own words, “These signals measure how users perceive the experience of interacting with a web page and contribute to our ongoing work to ensure people get the most helpful and enjoyable experiences from the web.”

So, Why Should We Target Images For Performance Optimization?

According to Google, images are the largest contributor to page weight. Google has also singled out image optimization specifically as the factor with the most untapped potential for performance optimization.

This problem isn’t going away soon. According to data by the HTTP Archive, there are roughly 967.5 KB bytes of image data on desktop web pages and 866.3 KB of image data on mobile pages. This is an increase of 16.1% and 38.8%, respectively, over the last five years.

Thanks to popular e-commerce tools like Woocommerce, it’s estimated that up to 28% of all online sales happen on WordPress websites.

And don’t forget, images are both a key part of conveying information to the user and integral to the design of your website. If they take significantly longer to load than your text, for example, it will negatively impact the user experience in a variety of ways.

In summary, optimized images help your WordPress website by:

  • Improving user satisfaction.
  • Improving various traffic metrics, like bounce rates, time-on-page, etc.
  • Boosting your SEO rankings.
  • Contributing to higher conversions (and sales).

How Does Image Optimization in WordPress Work?

WordPress is so popular because it’s a CMS (content management system) that allows anyone to build, design, and manage a website without any coding or advanced technical experience. Advanced features can be installed with just a few clicks, thanks to plugins, and you rarely have to touch the code behind your website unless you want to make some unique modifications.

In short, using a CMS like WordPress shields you from many of the day-to-day technicalities of running a website.

WordPress Image Optimization: What It Can Do

As we mentioned, one of the main reasons WordPress is so popular is because it takes care of many of the technical aspects of running a website. With that in mind, many think that WordPress should also automatically take care of image optimization without them having to get involved at all.

Unfortunately, that’s not really the case.

True, WordPress does offer some built-in image optimization. Whenever you upload an image to WordPress, it currently compresses the quality to about 82% of the original (since v4.5).

In v4.4, WordPress also introduced responsive image syntax using the srcset attribute. This creates four breakpoints for each image you upload according to the default WordPress image sizes:

  • 150px square for thumbnails
  • 300px width for medium images
  • 768px max-width for medium_large images
  • 1024px max-width for large images.

Here you can see an example of the actual responsive syntax code generated by WordPress:

<img loading="lazy" src="https://bleedingcosmos.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/33-1024x683.jpg" alt="" class="wp-image-9" width="610" height="406" srcset="https://bleedingcosmos.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/33-1024x683.jpg 1024w, https://bleedingcosmos.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/33-300x200.jpg 300w, https://bleedingcosmos.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/33-768x512.jpg 768w, https://bleedingcosmos.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/33-1536x1024.jpg 1536w" sizes="(max-width: 610px) 100vw, 610px">

Depending on the screen size of the device from which a user visits your webpage, WordPress will let the browser pick the most appropriately sized image. For example, the smallest version for mobile displays or the largest for 4K Retina screens, like those of a Mac.

While this may seem impressive, it’s only a fraction of what can be achieved using a proper image optimization solution, as we’ll show later.

Lastly, WordPress implemented HTML native default lazy loading for all images starting with version 5.5.

So, in short, WordPress offers the following image optimization capabilities baked-in:

  • Quality compression (limited)
  • Responsive syntax (up to 4 breakpoints)
  • Lazy loading

WordPress Image Optimization: What it Cannot Do

There are other issues many have with both the implementation of image compression and responsive syntax as it’s used by WordPress. This leads to some users even purposefully deactivating WordPress’ built-in image optimization so they can fully take control of it themselves.

Here are some of the reasons why:

  • WordPress uses a very basic form of quality compression. It does not use advanced technologies like AI and machine learning algorithms to compress images while maintaining maximum visual quality. It’s also lossy compression, so the quality is lost for good. You can clearly see the difference between an original HD image and the compressed version created by WordPress.
  • WordPress only compresses most images by up to 20%, while advanced image optimization tools can reduce all image sizes intelligently by up to 80%.
  • Responsive syntax can provide significant performance improvements over simply uploading a single HD image to be served on all devices and screens. However, it’s still only limited to a set number of breakpoints (typically 3 or 4). Since it’s not dynamic, a whole spectrum of possible image sizes is not created or used.
  • Responsive syntax code is not scalable and can quickly lead to code that’s bloated, messy, and hard to read.
  • WordPress doesn’t accelerate image delivery by automatically caching and serving them via a global CDN, although this can be done using other tools.

Another important optimization feature that WordPress does not have is auto-conversion to next-gen image file formats. Different image formats offer different performance benefits on different devices. Some formats also enable higher levels of compression while maintaining visual fidelity.

Next-gen formats like WebP, AVIF, and JPEG-2000 are considered to be the most optimal formats on compatible devices. For example, until recently, WebP would be the optimal choice on Chrome browsers, while JPEG-4000 would be optimal on Safari browsers.

However, WordPress will simply serve images in the same formats in which they were originally uploaded to all visitors.

How to Measure the Image Performance of a WordPress Website?

As the undisputed king of search engines, we’ll base most of our performance metrics on guidelines established by Google.

Along with its various performance updates, Google has released a number of guidelines for developers as well as the tools to test and improve their websites according to said guidelines.

Google introduced Core Web Vitals as the primary metrics for measuring a web page’s performance and its effect on the user experience. Thus, Core Web Vitals are referred to as “user-centric performance metrics.” They are an attempt to give developers a testable and quantifiable way to measure an elusive and abstract concept such as “user experience.”

Combined with a number of other factors, Core Web Vitals constitute a major part of the overall page experience signal:

You can find a complete introduction to Core Web Vitals here. However, they currently consist of three main metrics:

  • LCP (Largest Contentful Paint): The time it takes the largest above-the-fold element on your page to load. This is typically a full-sized image or hero section.
  • FID (First Input Delay): The delay from the moment a user first interacts with an element on the page until it becomes responsive.
  • CLS (Cumulative Layout Shift): The visual stability with which the elements on a page load.

Here is an illustration of how these metrics are scored:

While these are the three most important metrics to optimize, they are not the only ones. Google still measures other metrics like the FCP (First Contentful Paint), SI (Speed Index), as well as the TTFB (Time to First Byte), TBT (Total Blocking Time), and TTI (Time to Interactive).

A number of these metrics are directly affected by the images used on your web pages. For example, LCP, FCP, and SI are direct indicators of how fast the content of your web page loads and depends on the overall byte size of the page. However, it can also indirectly affect FID by keeping the main thread busy with rendering large amounts of image content or the perceived CLS by delaying the time it takes large images to load.

These metrics apply to all websites, whether they are custom-made or built using a CMS like WordPress.

When using tools like Lighthouse or PageSpeed Insights, you’ll also get scored based on other flags Google deems important. Some of them are specific to images, such as properly sizing images and serving images in next-gen formats.

If you only use built-in WordPress image optimization, you’ll get flagged for the following opportunities for improvement:

Some of the audits it will pass, however, are deferring offscreen images (lazy loading) and efficiently coding images (due to compression):

A Better Way to Optimize WordPress Images: ImageEngine

Billions of websites are all vying for prime real estate on Google SERPs, as well as the attention of an increasingly fussy internet-using public. Every inch matters when it comes to giving your website a competitive advantage.

So, how can you eliminate those remaining performance flags and deliver highly optimized images that will keep both your visitors and Google happy?

Sure, you could manually optimize images using software like PhotoShop or GIMP. However, that will take you hours for each new batch of images. Plus, you still won’t benefit from any automated adaptive optimization.

A more reasonable solution in today’s fast-paced climate is to use a tool developed specifically for maximum image optimization: an image CDN like ImageEngine.

ImageEngine is an automated, cloud-based image optimization service using device detection as well as intelligent image compression using the power of AI and machine learning. It can reduce image payloads by up to 80% while maintaining visual quality and accelerating delivery around the world thanks to its CDN with geographically dispersed PoPs.

Why is ImageEngine Image Optimization Better Than WordPress?

When making a head-to-head comparison, here are the reasons why ImageEngine can deliver better performance:

  • Device Detection: ImageEngine features built-in device detection. This means it picks up what device a visitor to your website is using and tailors its optimization strategy to what’s best for that specific device.
  • Client hints: By supporting client hints, ImageEngine has access to even more information regarding the device and browser to make better optimization decisions.
  • Next-gen formats: Based on optimal settings, ImageEngine automatically converts and serves images in next-gen formats like WebP, AVIF, JPEG2000, and MP4 (for GIFs).
  • Save data header: When a Chrome user has save-data mode enabled, ImageEngine will automatically compress images more aggressively to save on data transfer.
  • CDN with dedicated edge servers: ImageEngine will automatically cache and serve your optimized image assets using its global CDN. Each edge server has device awareness built-in to bring down latency and accelerate delivery. You can also choose to prioritize specific regions.

So, the key differentiator is that ImageEngine can tailor optimizing images for what’s optimal for each of your visitors. ImageEngine is particularly good at serving mobile visitors thanks to WURFL device detection, which can dynamically resize images according to most devices and screen sizes in use today. As of now, this is a completely unique capability that none of its competitors offer.

It allows for far better and more fine-tuned optimization than WordPress’ across-the-board approach to compression and responsive syntax.

If you want, you could turn off WordPress responsive syntax and compression, and you would still experience a performance increase using ImageEngine. However, ImageEngine also plays nice with responsive syntax, so it’s not completely necessary unless you want to serve the highest-fidelity/low-byte-size images possible.

How Does ImageEngine Work with WordPress?

The process ImageEngine uses to integrate with WordPress can be broken down into a few easy steps:

  • Sign up for an ImageEngine account: ImageEngine offers three pricing plans depending on the scale and features you need as well as a no-commitment 30-day free trial.
  • Specify your image origin: This tells ImageEngine where to find the original versions of your images. For a WordPress website, you can just use your domain, e.g., https://mywordpresswebsite.com. ImageEngine will then automatically pull the images you’ve uploaded to your WordPress website.

  • Copy the Delivery Address: After you create an account and specify your image origin, ImageEngine will provide you with a Delivery Address. A Delivery Address is your own unique address that will be used in your <img> tags to point back to the ImageEngine service. Delivery Addresses may be on a shared domain (imgeng.in) or customized using a domain that you own. A Delivery Address typically looks something like {random_string}.cdn.imgeng.in. If your images are uploaded to the default WordPress folder /wp-content/uploads/, you can access your optimized images from ImageEngine simply by changing your website domain. For example, by typing {imageengine_domain}.cdn.imgeng.in/wp-content/uploads/myimage.jpg into your browser, you’ll see the optimized version of that image. Just press the copy button next to the Delivery Address and use it in the next step configuring the plugin.

  • Install the ImageEngine Optimizer CDN plugin: The plugin is completely free and can be installed just like any other plugin from the WordPress repository.
  • Configure and enable ImageEngine Plugin in WordPress: Just go to the plugin under “ImageEngine” in the main navigation menu. Then, copy and paste in your ImageEngine “Delivery Address,” tick the “Enabled” checkbox, and click “Save Changes” to enable ImageEngine:

Now, all ImageEngine basically does is replace your WordPress website domain in image URLs with your new ImageEngine Delivery Address. This makes it a simple, lightweight, and non-interfering plugin that works great with most other plugins and themes. It also doesn’t add unnecessary complexity or weight to your WordPress website pages.

ImageEngine vs Built-in WordPress Image Optimization

So, now let’s get down to business by testing the performance improvement you can expect from using ImageEngine to optimize your image assets.

To do this test, we set up a basic WordPress page containing a number of high-quality images. I then used PageSpeed Insights and the Lighthouse Performance Calculator to get the performance scores before and after using ImageEngine.

Importantly, we conducted this test from a mobile-first perspective. Not only has mobile internet traffic surpassed desktop traffic globally, but Google themselves have committed to mobile-first indexing as a result.

Here is a PageSpeed score using the Lighthouse calculator for WordPress with no image optimization:

As we can see, both Core Web Vitals and other important metrics were flagged as “needs improvement.” Specifically, the LCP, FCP, and TBT. In this case, both the LCP and FCP were a high-res featured image at the top of the page.

If we go to the opportunities for improvement highlighted by PageSpeed, we see where the issues come from. We could still save as much as 4.2s of loading time by properly resizing images and a further 2.7s by serving them in next-gen formats:

So, now let’s see how much ImageEngine can improve on that.

The same test run on my WordPress website using ImageEngine got the following results:

As you can see, we now have a 100 PageSpeed score. I saved roughly 2.5s on the SI (~86%) as well as roughly 1.7s on the LCP (~60%). There was also a slight improvement in the FCP.

Not only will you enjoy a stronger page experience signal from Google, but this represents a tangible difference to visitors regarding the speed with which your website loads. That difference will lead to lower bounce rates, increased user satisfaction, and more conversions.

There was also a 53% overall reduction in the total image payload. This is impressive, considering that it’s on top of WordPress’ built-in compression and responsive syntax.

Conclusion

So, as someone with a WordPress website, what can you take away from this?

Well, first of all, WordPress does feature some basic image optimization. And while not perfect, it should help you offer reasonable levels of performance, even if you use a lot of image content.

However, the caveat is that WordPress applies aggressive, across-the-board compression, which will lead to a noticeable reduction in visual quality. If you use WordPress for any type of website where premium quality images are important, this is a concern — for example, as a photography portfolio, exhibition, or image marketplace like Shutterstock.

By using ImageEngine, you can reduce image payloads and accelerate delivery even further without compromising too harshly on visual quality. What’s more, ImageEngine’s adaptive image optimization technology will provide greater improvements to more of your visitors, regardless of what device(s) they use to browse the web.

Whether or not you still want to use WordPress’ built-in optimizations, ImageEngine will deliver significant improvements to your user experience, traffic metrics, and even conversions.

Plus, true to the spirit of WordPress, it’s extremely simple to set up without any advanced configuration. Just sign up for ImageEngine in 3 easy steps, install the plugin, integrate ImageEngine by copy/pasting your image domain, and you’re good to go.

 

[ This is a sponsored post on behalf of ImageEngine ]

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Yesterday’s creativity won’t keep pace with tomorrow’s requirements; businesses need speed and agility without sacrificing creative quality.

“The creativity that was needed in the past is not the creativity that is needed today,” according to Matthew Rayback, a creative director at Adobe. He’s not talking about the function of creativity but rather about the process of creative management in a marketing context. 

What is needed today? Speed and agility without sacrificing quality. 

Why? Because the pace of change has accelerated. As Rex Salisbury, a deal partner for the venture firm a16z noted early in the pandemic, “Businesses of all kinds are experiencing two years’ worth of digitization compressed into months.”

This accelerated digital transformation has put pressure on marketing teams to turn campaigns around faster. In turn, that places pressure on creative teams to generate the requisite creative for those campaigns. Leaders need to sharpen their awareness of the unfolding creative management trends to keep pace. To that end, below are five such trends to watch in 2022. 

1. In-House Creative Teams Continue to Grow

Companies have been building in-house creative teams for the better part of a decade. A 2018 study by Forrester Research and the In-House Agency Forum (IHAF) found the number of in-house teams has grown 22% in the last ten years or so. As The Wall Street Journal reported, more than half of advertisers (64%) have shifted their creative organizations to an in-house team.  

According to a more recent version of that same study, the in-housing movement didn’t stop throughout the pandemic. It revealed, “80% of respondents said they have brought more marketing assignments in-house since the onset of the pandemic, with 50% saying the increase was directly triggered by the events of the past two years.”

Businesses seem well-satisfied with the results because the urge to in-house is poised to grow beyond creative teams. For example, a recent survey by the customer intelligence company Axciom found about 50% of respondents believe the “in-housing is currently a top marketing objective, and 40% expect it will remain a top priority in the coming years.”

2. Outside Agencies Hired for Specialized Skills

Despite the in-housing trend, there is still opportunity for agencies, consultants, and freelancers, particularly those with specialized skills. Even the consumer-packaged goods giant Proctor & Gamble, a leading example of brands bringing marketing and creative teams in-house, still needs outside service providers.

Indeed, while in-house creative teams produce the lion’s share of creative work, the vast majority (86%) also continue to partner with agencies and freelancers; according to our own research, published in our 2021 Creative Management Report, which was facilitated by Lytho (formerly inMotionNow) and based on a survey of 400 creatives and marketers. 

When the survey asked creatives why they hire outside resources, the top reason was access to specialized skills (60%). That was followed in a distant second by a need for increased capacity (44%), help with developing strategy (24%), and, lastly, to get work done faster (20%). 

“It is very unusual for an in-house team to have no outside resources that they lean on,” wrote Alex Blum of Blum Consulting Partners, Inc. in a written assessment of the survey results.

He says there are two primary ways to partner with agencies. “First, for overflow capacity. There is always a need for more creative resources, and agencies can offer that flexibility without the cost of maintaining larger teams,” he wrote. “Second, in-house teams can divide areas of ownership with an agency based on the skill sets they have in-house.”

3. The Creative Process Evolves

Marketing today is dominated by an insatiable thirst for fresh content, produced and polished by creative teams. The demand for that content continues to explode. 

What does this portend for creative teams? Despite adding headcount, creative requests exceed the creative team’s capacity to produce it – even as lead times shrink. Matthew Rayback, the creative director at Adobe, suggested the creative process must evolve. 

He likens creatives to an auto factory, where “creatives used to be the assembly line to make a single car.” However, today, creatives are tasked with creating more cars, each with unique adjustments such as personalization. 

“The assembly line we built can’t accommodate that speed or volume,” he says. So the whole factory – the entire creative process – must be overhauled to adapt. 

4. Quantitative Measurement Drives Creative Priorities

Current methods for measuring the value of creative teams center on outputs. That is to say, the metrics tracked tend to quantify the number of creative projects in progress, the rounds of review, and the number of projects completed over time. 

These metrics are important, but alone they are insufficient. A complementary way to prioritize large volumes of creative requests is focusing on those tasks most likely to move the business needle. The barrier to achieving this is that most creatives aren’t kept informed as to the outcomes of marketing campaigns fueled by their creative efforts. This must change.

With the growing demand for content, the margin of error for applying creative resources to projects that don’t correlate to business results shrinks. Marketing organizations must build a feedback loop that brings quantitative results back to the creative team. In turn, creative teams must learn to use the data to drive their work priorities in collaboration with marketing. 

5. Creative Resource Management Becomes Essential

Resource management is both a leadership concept and technology (or a combination of technologies). It’s a means to plan, track, collaborate and measure creative operations, including people, processes, and budgets.  

Traditionally, planning and tracking of all things creative and marketing occurred in a spreadsheet. It works well when the future is generally predictable – yet cliché as it may be to say it – we are living in a state of uncertainty. 

Like many trends over the last 18-24 months, the global pandemic “forced virtual experiences, disrupted marketing channels and campaigns, and accelerated companies’ transition to digital marketing,” according to Forrester. The research firm calls resource management “essential” because it helps move “planning from static spreadsheets to a dynamic and real-time environment.” 

Final Thoughts

Yogi Berra paraphrased an old Danish proverb when he said, “It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future.” Even so, the pandemic has accelerated trends that were already underway, and these five trends are good examples. More than just watching them, creative and marketing leaders should take steps now to get ahead of them.

 

Featured image via Pexels.

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Much like running up bills on your credit card, technical debt can easily get out of hand. To avoid this happening, you need to keep track of how much debt you’re building up.

Technical debt metrics are designed to help you make sense of all the data you collect. There are many different metrics to choose from nowadays, and plenty of tools for recording the data.

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