2014 Predictions: Year of The User

By  |  December 23rd, 2013  |  Uncategorized  |  No Comments »

With 2014 a little over a week away, it’s time to start planning for the New Year. We’ll let you make your own personal resolutions like eating healthier or going to the gym more often, but for anything related to design, development, or digital marketing, we’ve gathered our team of experts here at Zoom Creates to not only give you their predictions for 2014, but also some tips on what changes you should plan on making. Here are three things from each department that you should keep on your radar for the new year:

 

Design
What Should Be On Your Pallet: Corrina Reff, our Art Director, says that “muted pastels combined with bright colors” will be seen throughout the next year. Along with these colors, you will see floral prints and minimalist designs.

Popular Layouts: The block style Pinterest layouts will become much more popular in 2014 because they can easily be made responsive so they can work on a variety of different devices. With that we will see “simple and intuitive design, with flat colors,” says Reff.

Clear Messaging: Branding and messaging have always been important, but moving in to 2014, they will become a necessity. Because we are entering a technology era that is rapidly changing and highly centered around the user, “you’re going to have to move quickly, and the only good way to do that is to have a solid message,” says Reff.

 

Development
Prepare for Constant Change: “Websites are becoming more and more disposable, so anticipating is what we will do in the future,” says Lead Developer, Kurtis Holsapple. Because of this, when building a website, developers will have to anticipate any new device or interaction between the user that will need to happen when developing for multiple platforms.

Build for Multiple Devices: Moving in to the new year, API’s and responsive sites will be necessary. Technology is changing very rapidly, which means websites are no longer the only medium. In 2014 it will become crucial to plan and build for multiple devices. Modules and templates are going to become more important as we move into the future.

Browser vs User System: In 2014, our development team predicts that the browser will become more important than the user system. We’re already starting to see this shift with products such as the ChromeBook– a $250 computer that runs and operates through the Google Chrome browser.

Digital Marketing
It’s All About The Content: Unless you’ve been living under a rock, then you know that content is starting to take major precedence over keywords in the SEO world. “Content is important, and giving the right content to the right person is the most important thing, more important than keywords.” says Digital Marketing Director Zachary Cavanell. With this in mind, create a digital marketing strategy where content comes first.

Let go of the Keywords: We’ve already seen a major shift when it comes to the importance of keywords versus content, but in 2014 you will see how keywords are starting to take a back seat.  “Keywords are selfish in some way,”  says Cavanell, “it has no thought about the user. It’s exploiting what the user is looking for, rather than thinking about what they need and what is useful.”

Write For the User, Not for the Search Engines: A shift that we have already began making, and our clients have seen major success with, is creating websites based on the language and copy, more so than keywords. It’s based on how it speaks to the user. It’s about conveying a quality message and telling a story, and all of that has to be supported by design, development, and marketing,” says Cavanell.

The common theme and prediction from each department is that next year will be the year of the user. Whether you’re part of the design, development, or digital marketing process, make sure to keep the user in mind as you navigate through 2014.

Do you have any predictions for the upcoming year? We would love to know. Share them with us in the comment section.

 

Photo courtesy of Flickr user: Amodiovalerio Verde


Quick Tip: Easy Tool for Pinning a Web Page on Pinterest

By  |  November 4th, 2013  |  Design Love  |  No Comments »

ShotPinPinterest lets me bookmark all types of inspiration, from color palettes, to free font finds, to typography design. But one thing that I’ve been unable to do successfully is to pin a web design.

Because Pinterest only lets you pin photos on a page, you can never capture the look of a full website page. I’ve tried some tools in the past which were a bit inefficient, time-consuming and didn’t really grab exactly the items I wanted to pin. Today I found a new tool, ShotPin, a Chrome plugin that lets you take a screenshot of any webpage, or any portion of a webpage to share on Pinterest. And it’s about as easy as 1, 2, 3.

Step 1: Get the Plugin
First go to the ShotPin website and click the GIANT pin at the top of the page. This will open the Chome web store, where you can download the plugin for FREE!

ShotPin Chrome Plugin

Step 2: Make your Selection
Once you’ve added ShotPin to Chrome, pop over to your desired website and click the pushpin icon that should now be appearing in the top right of your browser window (You might need to refresh your browser for the pin to appear). This launches the plugin and also causes the page to dim slightly. From there, click and drag to select the area of the page you want to pin. Once you’ve created your section, another pin icon will appear at the bottom right of your selection box.

Zoom Creates Home Page Screen Shot

Step 3: Post your Pin
When you click the pushpin icon, your normal Pinterest pop up box will appear with a description area and the list of all of your boards. Fill out the description—I’d suggest including the name of the website and what exactly it is you’re pinning (Homepage, work, services, etc). Then click or create a board to pin the image. From there, your screen grab will appear on your Pinterest account with a link directly back to the site. Easy Peasy. It might be a few more steps than your normal pin, but you get to choose exactly what you want to show.

Pinterest Popup Box

I did have some minor issues with the plugin. Sometimes the “Shot Pin” button did not want to appear after I clicked the pushpin plugin icon. If this happened, I refreshed the page, clicked it again, and had no issues.

Anyone else have any handy tools they are using to capture items from the web? We’d love to hear about it!

 

For more pinteresting tips on Pinterest, check out my related post:

How to Increase Your Pinterest Followers: 20 Pinteresting Tips

How to Create Pinterest Images that People Love to Pin: 7 Pinteresting Tips

Should Your Business be on Pinterest—an Infographic

And as always, don’t forget to follow me on Pinterest, and of course, Zoom Creates.


Step 6: The Zoom Creates Website Design Process Series – Design Approach

By  |  June 18th, 2013  |  Uncategorized  |  1 Comment »

Zoom Creates WEBSITE DESIGN PROCESS

Step 6: DESIGN APPROACH

In our last segment of the design process series we discussed the creation of wireframes and how they serve as a blueprint for the arrangement of the visual content of the website. The next step in the process is the design approach. The design approach is a process in its own, where we determine the overall look and feel for the website. Zoom Creates Website Design Process with J.R. Johnson

Making the Homepage

Once we have sign-off on the wireframes, our Zoom Design team can set to work on creating the visual appearance of the website. To begin, we put our focus on the design of the websites homepage. Why the homepage? The homepage is like the skin of your dermatologist or the cupcake on display at a bakery … it’s the first impression. Would you trust a dermatologist with acne infested ears and wart-covered fingers to take care of your skin? Hell no, you’d turn and run. Would you be inclined to go into the cupcake shop if there was a moldy cupcake in the window? I think not! The homepage is the area that users first see when they land on the page, it is crucial to setting the tone for the rest of the website. First impressions are everything, so we want to make sure each site we create is consistent with the client’s brand elements, visually compelling and easily navigable for users.

Researching the Competition

To make the best first impression, our design team starts by researching our client’s competitors. We look to the competition to learn what is and isn’t working visually on their sites and within their brand. We check out the navigation, visual elements, written content, and hierarchy of information on the page. For example, if we see a very chic and attractive navigation technique on another website, we might be inspired to build upon that idea and create an even better technique for our client. These elements give us a gauge of what is currently happening in the industry and allow us to find creative ways to improve or build upon what’s already been done. Knowing what the competitors are doing enables us to make informed decisions for our clients and lets our work both stand apart from their competition and make sense within their industry.

Getting Inspired
Along with finding out about the competition, we like to see what others are doing outside of the specific industry of J.R. Johnson Inc. For this, we look to alternative visual inspiration, websites we find inspiring both visually and functionally and current/upcoming web design trends and patterns.  The more diverse our inspirations are, the more diverse our design comps will be.  Sometimes, a designer might use skateboarding websites or culinary landing pages as their inspiration for an architecture project.  The point being, as long as you are keeping your client and their specific industry in mind, inspiration is just that. For example, try watching Rise and Shine – feel anything? That’s inspiration.  Getting inspired is important to the creative process; it lets us create design work that is current, relevant to today’s standards, visually unique and highly usable.

Providing Options
On the majority of projects that come into Zoom Creates, we like to provide our clients with options—presenting them with 2-3 unique design comps/concepts of the homepage that the client can choose from and then later refine. People like to know that they are the one making the final decision so, we like to give them several options to choose from and call their own. In the case of J.R. Johnson, we had the opportunity to work with them on a previous project that gave us a general look and feel as a starting point for the new website. With this knowledge, we focused our attention on 1 concept that would feel cohesive and family with the existing designs.

The “Marinating Process” aka Creating the Concepts
Once we’ve gaged the competition and found our inspiration, we start the “marinating process”. This is where we bring together our new knowledge of what we’ve learned along with our collective design experience to create the visual look of the site. Using the wireframe, as a guide for what content should appear on the page and our knowledge for the previous project, we start organizing and prioritizing information to build a visual hierarchy of content, photography, and visual elements.

While designing, we make sure we are in-line with the company brand and the needs and goals of the client. In the case of J.R. Johnson, they wanted a look that felt professional, trustworthy, approachable, and knowledgeable. During this phase we have critiques with our full Design team, Development team, and Digital Marketing team to discuss and review the layout of the site. This step ensures that the design vision is in-line with the thinking of each team and with the goals of the client.

Presenting Our Work
Once it has been given the seal of approval from our internal teams, we present the layout to the client. We walk through the design, discuss our reasoning and thought behind chosen elements, and make sure our clients understand our thinking behind our decisions. Once we’ve presented we look for feedback from the client. We discuss what they love, hate, and what is and isn’t working with the layout. From there, we bring the homepage back into design and revise as needed for the client is happy and the site still meets the needs of the end goal.

Creating Level 1 Templates
With the approval of the homepage we then move forward with layout of the “Level 1” template pages. Level 1 pages are the interior pages of the site that hold the bulk of the website’s main content. These pages act like interview processes in a way.  The first level 1 page is like the phone interview… if it’s good enough, the consumer will want to find out more in a “second interview” (i.e. the next level 1 page). Our goals is for the consumer to “want to hire you” by signing up for your services, buying your product, or J.R. Johnson has several Level 1 page templates on their site to meet their business’s specific needs. Each page is designed to contain specific types of content on the site. When designing Level 1 pages, we go through the same process of approval as on the homepage, revising the pages as necessary until we receive client approval.  This goes back to the examples presented above… once we hook the audience with our shimmering/moist cupcake display, we must ensure that the flavor is unforgettable and leaves them wanting to order another.

Mocking up for Mobile

J.R. Johnson’s site is unique in that it will be a responsive design. This means the site will shift in size and shape to look great on both a desktop computer and your mobile device. Once we had approval on the homepage and L1 pages templates, we wanted to demonstrate to J.R. Johnson how these pages would be display within a mobile layout. To do this, we created a mockup of the mobile layout, focusing on the adjusted hierarchy of content, and how a phone user would navigate through the site.

Passing files to Development
Once the client has approved all aspects of the site, it’s time to build and pass over our design files to the development team. Along with files, we include necessary fonts and style information so that they can develop the site accurately, based on the chosen design concepts. In our upcoming posts, we will be describing the copy writing process — the story behind the design, the vision, and the company!

 

Check Us Out! 
Website | Reel

 


Step 3: The Zoom Creates Website Design Process Series – Research

By  |  May 1st, 2013  |  Web Design Process Series  |  No Comments »

Step 3: RESEARCH PROCESS

Coming Soon….

 

Next Steps:

Step 4: The Zoom Creates Website Design Process Series – What is a Sitemap?

Step 4a: The Zoom Creates Website Design Process Series – How Zoom Creates a Sitemap

Step 5: The Zoom Creates Website Design Process Series – Wire Framing

Step 6: The Zoom Creates Website Design Process Series – Design Approach

Step 7: The Zoom Creates Website Design Process Series – Copy Writing

Step 8: The Zoom Creates Website Design Process Series ‎- Breaking Points

Step 9: The Zoom Creates Website Design Process Series – Development 

Step 10: The Zoom Creates Website Design Process Series – CMS 

Step 11: The Zoom Creates Website Design Process Series – SEO

Step 12: The Zoom Creates Website Design Process Series – Testing

Step 13: The Zoom Creates Website Design Process Series – Analytics

Step 14: The Zoom Creates Website Design Series – Launch


Step 5: The Zoom Creates Website Design Process Series – How Zoom Creates a Wireframe

By  |  March 6th, 2013  |  Web Design Process Series  |  3 Comments »

Zoom Creates Website Design Process with J.R. Johnson

STEP 5: How Zoom Creates a Wireframe

In the last segment about sitemap creation for J.R. Johnson, Inc., we described how we planned out, divided, and arranged the contents of J.R. Johnson’s website into pages. The next step in organizing all this information is called wireframing. Wireframing outlines the arrangement of content on a page to provide a clean, simple, and functional user experience.

What is a website wireframe?

A wireframe is much like a newspaper layout. It is used to determine how much space titles, texts blocks, and pictures will take up and how they are arranged. As the name suggests, a wireframe is a mockup of the finished website using only borderlines and descriptions of each section. Similar to a newspaper layout, different page templates are used depending on the purpose of the page.

For example, think of the home page of a website as the cover page of the newspaper. Most of the space is taken up by pictures, headlines, and introductory text to each of the top stories, and references on how to find other news within the paper.

There are also cover pages for each section; for example, living, sports, and business. These pages would are like level one pages of a sitemap. For the J.R. Johnson website these pages would be service category pages like construction defect repair, fire damage restoration, storm damage restoration. These pages will be similar to the cover page but with more text and content specific to that section.

Finally, there are the internal pages. These pages are very text heavy. This is where most of the specific information for their category is found.

What function does it serve in creating a finished product of a website?

Wireframing plays a major role in creating the user experience (UX) of a web page. In general, people have basic expectations of what they will find on a web page and how they will interact with it. In creating a wireframe, designers consider:

  • where to place standard website components like logos, navigation bars, search boxes, and contact information so that a user can easily find them,
  • text, image, and video priority to direct users to the most important and personally relevant information and do it in a visually appealing way,
  •  what links are placed where on the page in order to allow the user to easily navigate to the information that they are seeking.

 

If considering the interplay of all of these factors is not enough, the designer will also have to consider the tastes of the client. The sitemap serves as both a blueprint for UX and proof for the client.

How is a wireframe made?

Wireframing is the interface and alignment of every department within Zoom Creates. Most of the time our marketing goals, creative aspirations, and the restrictions of internet code all align to create a glorious website workflow. Sometimes wireframe creation is an interdepartmental cage fight with the website client as a referee.

Our primary focus is our client’s business goal. In this case, the goals are to position J.R. Johnson at the forefront of the market by presenting them as the most up-to-date, trusted, and knowledgeable of their industry and then to provide them with as many leads as possible. This meant creating a website that is intuitive, transparent and packed with high quality, highly user-relevant information.

With the business and website goals in mind, the wireframe was designed to navigate people to the service and information that is most relevant to them. As Corrina pointed out, “If someone’s house was on fire, they’re not going to care about construction defect repair.” The content will then be organized on the page to easily answer their most urgent questions and finally the user will be directed to a contact form or to call J.R. Johnson, Inc. to answer any additional questions they may have or to request an estimate.

One aspect that affects the wireframe creation is the textual information on each page. In the next segment of the Zoom Creates Website Design Process Series, we will detail the process of informative copywriting for SEO and show how it affects J.R. Johnson, Inc.’s business and website goals.

To follow this series, “Like” us on Facebook or subscribe to a feed below.

See the rest of Zoom Creates’ Web Design Process Series for J.R. Johnson

 

NEXT STEPS:

Step 6: The Zoom Creates Website Design Process Series – Design Approach

Step 7: The Zoom Creates Website Design Process Series – Copy Writing

Step 8: The Zoom Creates Website Design Process Series ‎- Breaking Points

Step 9: The Zoom Creates Website Design Process Series – Development 

Step 10: The Zoom Creates Website Design Process Series – CMS 

Step 11: The Zoom Creates Website Design Process Series – SEO

Step 12: The Zoom Creates Website Design Process Series – Testing

Step 13: The Zoom Creates Website Design Process Series – Analytics

Step 14: The Zoom Creates Website Design Series – Launch


Should Your Business be on Pinterest—an Infographic

By  |  February 27th, 2013  |  Marketizing  |  5 Comments »

With Pinterest’s heavy traffic and ever-growing popularity, many brands have been making the leap and joining the site every day. For many, it has been a mecca for pushing traffic to their business, giving them a platform to develop a great community and offering a new way to connect with their audience and spread their brand. In seeing this potential, our clients have been asking, is jumping on the Pinterest bandwagon right for my business?

Make a Strategy

As with any social media site, it is important to educate yourself on the platform, learning what is involved in being a truly active member and how much time it would take to maintain your profile. Not all businesses are right for Pinterest. You need figure out if your offerings and capabilities are compatible for the site and then build a solid strategy before you make the leap. Joining any social media site takes time, effort and, in the case of Pinterest, awesome imagery and great content. So, is your business ready to make the commitment?

Check out our infographic to find out if your business is right for Pinterest. Then read below to learn the 4 incredibly important questions you should ask yourself to find out if your business is ready to join up.

Should Your Business be on Pinterest? Infographic by Zoom Creates blog nineteenfortyone.com

Below are 4 incredibly important questions to ask yourself to find out if your business is ready to join Pinterest:

1. Can you stay active on Pinterest?

Before joining in, it’s important to figure out if you have enough time and effort to stay involved and get the most out of Pinterest. Being active on Pinterest means, pinning, repinning, commenting, or liking images on a regular basis that are relevant to your brand. Daily activity is best, adding roughly 1-30 pins across a variety of your boards. These pins should be from your own content, other original sources on the internet and users on the site. All this activity takes time—a lot of it. Pinterest can become a time-suck for your business if you do not have a strategy in place for how you are going to use it and how much time in a day you will spend being involved on the site.

Worried you may not have the time to stay active? A great way to get pins on your board regularly is to invite guest pinners to collaborate on your boards. Just make sure they share the vision and values of the company and will pin content relevant to your business. People love to follow users that are active pinners—If you join the site and remain inactive, you’ll go nowhere. You will need to make sure you can allot enough time and effort into staying involved on the site to reap the greatest benefits for your business.

2. Do you have visually engaging imagery, or can you create it?

Pinterest is an exceptionally visual space. People go there to get inspired, collect and organize the things they find across the internet—and being able to contribute visually interesting content is vital. if your business is already producing great imagery, you have a jump start on what you need to be involved on Pinterest. If you don’t already have great images, it’s time to create them. You may consider hiring a professional photographer or graphic designer to help enhance the imagery on your site or blog if you’re not able to produce it yourself. The question is, does your business have the time, money and energy to create content? If yes, then Pinterest may be right for you.

Does your Business have visually engaging imagery? Zoom Creates Blog | Should your Business be on Pinterest

Eye catching images and content are one of the most vital parts of successfully marketing your business on Pinterest.

3. Is your target audience using Pinterest?

Before you jump on to Pinterest you need to ask yourself, who is my target audience? If it’s female, you’re at an advantage. About 80% of Pinterest users are female, so having a product or service that appeals to that demographic is important to your success with the site. You must consider if your product or service is something that will visually appeal to women or if it’s something a woman may purchase, find helpful or want to share. This is not to say that a male-oriented product may not do well, you may just have to change your approach and get creative with how you showcase your brand across the site. The key to being successful on Pinterest is figuring out how your business can fit into the lifestyle of the highly female user base. If you can, Pinterest may be for you.

4. Do you have more to share than just what you do?

Pinterest is all about content you share, not only the product or service you provide. Sharing your own products and services on Pinterest is great, but your page shouldn’t be limited to your own work. Users get turned off when a brand becomes too salesy. They want to see items that are useful or interesting to them, not just a product list. Pinterest is all about telling a story with your brand, using imagery and content to build a lifestyle around your business. It gives you a way to reveal more about your brand personality rather than just your product line.

Use Pinterest to clarify who you are by posting inspiring images, news, tips, infographics, customer photos, or products from other companies. Pins can be used to highlight aspects of your business that may not come to mind when people first think about your brand. For example, if you own a hotel, Pinterest would not only be a great opportunity to show off your property, but you could create boards of local attractions, best scenic areas, local deals, dining spots, or even tips on how to pack your suitcase. Sharing more than just what you do will give users more reasons to connect and follow your business.

Petplan Pet Insurance shares more than what they do

Petplan Pet Insurance is a good example of a business that is sharing information beyond what they do. You wouldn’t necessarily think insurance would be an ideal candidate for a Pinterest page, but with all the boards dedicated to different aspects of our furry friends, they have succeeded in using Pinterest to tell a story about their company.

Should your business join Pinterest?

If you can answer yes to all these questions, you should definitely consider getting on board with Pinterest. This means you’ve got the drive, resources, and creativity to make Pinterest a successful marketing tool for your business. If your answer is no to the majority of these questions, your offerings may not be completely compatible with Pinterest. It’s going to take a lot more energy for your business to be successful on the site. You must then determine if the benefits are worth your time or if pursuing alternative social media or marketing options would be more of an advantage to your business.

For more pinteresting tips on Pinterest, check out my related post:
How to Increase Your Pinterest Followers: 20 Pinteresting Tips
How to Create Pinterest Images that People Love to Pin: 7 Pinteresting Tips

And as always, don’t forget to follow me on Pinterest, and of course, Zoom Creates.


The Analytics of Love

By  |  February 14th, 2013  |  Etc.  |  No Comments »

What Statistics and Analysis Tell us About Love

This Valentines Day, I want to tell you about my love for people…watching. You can call me a creep but you’d probably have to call yourself a creep then too. I love the little differences between how people should behave and the way people actually do. I live everyday to enjoy these little morsels of idiosyncratic human behavior. You know what I’m talking about. It’s the moment you catch a guy at the gym just staring at a girl’s butt as they walk by or when you go to a concert and  see your boss dressed as a centaur.

Internet analytics give you better insight into human behavior than any kind of observation or report of everyday life. If you want to know yourself, skip a psychologist and keep your browsing history and take a look at it over the last month. You are your browsing history. View your history since 1990 and you will get a better “timeline” of your life than Facebook could ever hope to portray.

We cruise the Internet, like we cruise around our own homes, not wearing pants and eating scrambled eggs over the sink. Ok, that was my morning. We all tend to wear a scruffy old pair of sweatpants more often than we probably would on a first date. You could call it self-awareness, you could call it shame, but the fact is, we act differently when we are not around anyone else. Our use of the Internet shows our own intents and purposes in this very same way.

It’s Valentines Day today and people are looking for love. Well at least they’re searching for it. What better day is there to share with you what analytics has told us of the enigmatic human behavior of love. Ok, and lust too.

They’re searching for it. See, Google says so:

The Blue line is the number of searchers for “love.” The Red line is the number of searches for “valentines.”                                     This is called a correlation.

Analytics is all about quantifying data and finding meaningful relationships within the data. It is much like your everyday use of intuition but we base our decisions on large collections of data. Internet usage, and it may surprise you, is made into metrics and quantified. Quantified metrics, now things are really getting sexy.

One common metric we use is time. Just like you use time to measure things in your relationship, we use it to:

Aggregate interest of webpages and activities. Like when you:
Check the duration of a phone call with your significant other.

Measure rate of change of something. Like when you:
Note how many times  you have to ask your significant other to do something for you, per time, over time.

Measure trends between variables. Like when you:
Notice how much your significant other will do your dishes for you proportional to the amount of time you do “X.” No pun intended.

Here is an example of how we use time to measure a relationship of time. To clarify, we segment each age (a measurement of time) by each whole year and by the ages of women. Then we measure what ages these men are pursuing.  That’s why there are distinct pixels in this graph. Each pixel box represents the proportionality of occurrences the whole population of a man of that age Y is sending a message to a women who is age X. As you would expect, it is very uncommon for a 22 year old man to send a message to a 45 year old woman, not proportionally uncommon for 45 year old men to message 22 year old women.



To be fair, I will show the data for both relationships of the sexes.

Another metric we often use is location. We use location to target specific audiences and to see what audiences are searching for and consuming our content. I was happy to fumble across this article from the Huffington Post during my research. As it turns out Portland, OR is having the most promiscuous sex over any other location. Portland seems to have a lot of notable distinctions. For some reason, they are all the wierd ones.

What Cities are Having the Most Promiscuous Sex

The breakdown looks like this:
1. Portland
2. Seattle
3. Pittsburgh
4. Miami
5. San Francisco
6. Dallas
7. San Bernardino, Calif.
8. Denver
9. San Diego
10. Houston

We measure this data in the same way that we made the heat map of message target rate (above). We use location coordinates rather than age coordinates to show the expression of a variable. In this case the variable is frequency of bathing.

The question is: How often do you bathe or shower?

 
Red means less bathing. Green means more. Yellow is right around average. You get it.

I don’t know what this says about love, but again it sure gives us Oregonian another dubious distinction.

 

Another way we measure human behavior is by quantifying content. If you have ever had a girlfriend, you know that they count “I love you,” and their margin of error is probably less than one. Google does this too in several ways. It measures quantity of content searched for and consumed for trends (above example of “love” and “valentines”) and it measures quantity of content created to show relationships.

Here is an example of how we can quantify specific terms and visually show how they relate to a second variable, in this case, message reply rate. Creepy or not, Ok Cupid has “read” all the text of a lot of messages and found that these terms have a special value.

Here we see how mentioning specific interest and characteristics relate to the reply rate to a first message. Consider that the overall average reply rate is 27%. This would suggest that people might:

a) Have significantly higher interest in these things

b) Place a high value in commonality of these interests or characteristics

c) Recognize that the portion of people that value these things is relatively low so the value of having them in common is relatively high

Finally, because I love flow charts.

We can use page analytics to show sequences. Most often we measure navigation, but in this case, this is a sequence of conditions that would determine whether you are a match for OK Cupid’s creator Chris Coyne.

In conclusion, I love that everyday Zoom Creates pays me to geek out about human behavior. It’s not always as exciting as love and lust, but it is always about relationships. I hope that you have enjoyed this and maybe that math, statistics and analytics became a little more interesting and relevant. If you are one of my friends… and you made it all the way through, hopefully now you can understand why I am so weird…besides living in Portland.

Thank you OkCupid for all the great analytics.

Follow us for more great stuff about design, website development, and analytics.


Step 4a: The Zoom Creates Website Design Process Series – How Zoom Creates a Sitemap

By  |  February 12th, 2013  |  Web Design Process Series  |  1 Comment »

Zoom Creates Website Design Process with J.R. Johnson

Step 4a: How Zoom Creates a Sitemap

 

Step 4a in a series that illustrates the Zoom Creates process in Designing, Developing and ultimately Launching a website for our client, J.R. Johnson Inc.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In Part Three we described what a sitemap is and what role it plays in planning the finished website. As explained in Part 3, the sitemap serves to organize all the information on a website in a way that makes site navigation easy and intuitive. Creating the sitemap is like creating a blueprint for the website. Designing the sitemap is often considered the most important step in creating a website because, as Corrina, Zoom’s Art Director points out, “Creating a sitemap forces you to conceive of the design and content in terms of the end product.”

To organize the sitemap for J.R. Johnson, we had to segment and arrange their business in a way that fits into a hierarchical sitemap layout. In most cases, we will take into account the established industry standard of organization that site visitors already know. With this standard organization in mind, we tailor it to the business. If there is no standard or the standard can be improved upon, we will start with that standard and rearrange it until it becomes most effective.

How to arrange a sitemap

Site pages colored by relevance.

 

We began with the sitemap of J.R. Johnson Inc.’s previous website as a template. Unfortunately, one reason that J.R. Johnson Inc. needed a new website was that the organization of their previous website was unclear and overly complicated. In our office, we often hear Zachary, our Director of Digital Marketing, say, “This is a maze, it needs to be a hallway.”

 

 

 

To provide site visitors with a hallway to what they are looking for, we consulted with Alisa Gaylord, J.R. Johnson Inc.’s Director of Business Development and Client Services, and we re-categorized and prioritized pages from the previous website by visitor relevance.

How to arrange a sitemap.

Most relevant pages are most easily accessible.

 

 

 

 

We then brought those pages to the forefront of the website and made them easily accessible from the homepage and one click away from any page of the site. (Side Image)

 

 

 

The final version of the sitemap highlights the most important reasons to visit J.R. Johnson Inc.’s website: information on the services they offer, and how to contact the company for these services. The challenge of the next step in creating a website is to organize and prioritize information in the same way but this time for the visual layout of each page. This visual mock-up of each page is called wireframing. In the next post, we will describe how wireframing begins to plan out the site structure, page organization and overall user experience.

 

To follow this series, “Like” us on Facebook or subscribe to a feed below.

See the rest of  Zoom Creates’ Web Design Process Series for J.R. Johnson

 

NEXT STEPS:

Step 2: The Zoom Creates Website Design Process Series – The Discovery Meeting 

Step 3: The Zoom Creates Website Design Process Series – Research

Step 4: The Zoom Creates Website Design Process Series – What is a Sitemap?

Step 4a: The Zoom Creates Website Design Process Series – How Zoom Creates a Sitemap

Step 5: The Zoom Creates Website Design Process Series – Wire Framing

Step 6: The Zoom Creates Website Design Process Series – Design Approach

Step 7: The Zoom Creates Website Design Process Series – Copy Writing

Step 8: The Zoom Creates Website Design Process Series ‎- Breaking Points

Step 9: The Zoom Creates Website Design Process Series – Development 

Step 10: The Zoom Creates Website Design Process Series – CMS 

Step 11: The Zoom Creates Website Design Process Series – SEO

Step 12: The Zoom Creates Website Design Process Series – Testing

Step 13: The Zoom Creates Website Design Process Series – Analytics

Step 14: The Zoom Creates Website Design Series – Launch


3 indications your hotel’s SEO is destroying your bookings

By  |  February 9th, 2013  |  Marketizing  |  2 Comments »

Does your hotel website really need SEO help? Check for yourself before paying someone you’ve only talked to once over the phone.

Hotel SEO slimeball

“…and they didn’t even ask me what SEO meant!”

You’ve probably been told your hotel’s website needs Search Engine Optimization (SEO) but how would you know if this is true? Simple, how good your hotel SEO stands right now can be determined by following these three Google searches. Then you can feel confident on telling the person on the phone “We’re doing just fine, thank you!” 


1. Search for your hotel’s name.

Your hotel should be number one on the page. If you are not in the first position, this could mean your website is not optimized enough for your brand.

Search for hotel by name

The listings in the yellow boxes don’t count, those are paid ads. They may be yours, but probably not.

 


2. Search for hotels in your area.

For example, use the search term “hotels in Hillsboro Oregon.” Your hotel should show up within two pages. If it doesn’t, this may mean that search engines don’t believe your website is relevant enough for a search of hotels.

Search the area for your hotel

A hotel’s location is more important to the business than those medium size towels.

 


3. Search for your hotel’s address.

Your hotel should be the only listing displayed. If the results display other business names, this indicates that search engines do not know the correct address of your hotel.

Hotel Address Search on Google

At the least… you have to make sure your hotel’s address is correct.

 


Finding your true self

If you had trouble finding your own hotel with this search, your customers are not finding you either. These indicators reflect the need for local hotel SEO, a part of today’s standard marketing for hotels.ZoomKeeper Online Reputation Management Report

Our clients use our tool called ZoomKeeper. This reputation management tool shows how a company’s information is shared across the internet. ZoomKeeper monitors logistical information such as address and phone numbers as well as reviews on sites like TripAdvisor, Yelp and CitySearch. As a busy hotelier, you need one tool to help you respond to any negative reviews and give you the ability to share positive reviews on your favorite social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. And you need to know if your next client can find you with just a few clicks.

ZoomKeeper is free to try. Follow this link to receive a free ZoomKeeper Manifest report that will outline the following:

  • Number of different business names, URLs, physical addresses and phone numbers your hotel may have
  • How visible your hotel is on the internet
  • How many listings have accurate, incorrect and missing information
  • Display of actual errors found in listings
  • Aggregated review ratings with sources

Need to know more? Email me anytime. I’ll answer your SEO FAQs ASAP.

You can also get your FREE Manifest report here too.

Thanks to Keith at The Orenco Hotel for letting his hotel be exposed to the world.


Step 4: The Zoom Creates Website Design Process Series – What is a Sitemap?

By  |  February 8th, 2013  |  Web Design Process Series  |  1 Comment »

Zoom Creates Website Design Process with J.R. JohnsonPart 4 in a series that illustrates the Zoom Creates process in Designing, Developing and ultimately Launching a website for our client, J.R. Johnson Inc.

What is a sitemap?

The sitemap is, essentially, the blueprint of a website. Like a blueprint, a sitemap often doesn’t look like much; it’s just a two-dimensional depiction of what will become a multidimensional website. But like a blueprint, the sitemap’s beauty is that it defines the sites’ design and intended usage which will influence every decision that is made in the whole creation process.

How is a sitemap is laid out?

A simple way to think about the organization of a sitemap is in terms of parent and child pages. A sitemap lays out your website in the same way a descendant tree lays out the generations of your family. When you are at your family reunion, your grandfather and grandmother are the oldest generation. Grandpa or Grandma Jones is the home page. They have five children who are your mother and your four aunts and uncles. This generation is the child pages of the home page. Similarly, you and your cousins are the child pages of your parents generation. Depending on the size of the website this organization can go on for several more generations.

Descendant Tree Compared to Web Sitemap

What does a sitemap do for the website creation process?

From the User Experience standpoint the sitemap acts to lay out the easiest navigation from site entry to user goal. When you arrive at site’s homepage you are on a freeway. From there you would choose your highway then surface streets then ultimately the street that leads to the specific address of your destination. The sitemap is designed to make your navigation as intuitive as possible and minimize the amount of wrong turns or complete U-turns you make.

To make navigation as easy as possible, it is very important for the design and marketing teams to categorize and prioritize all the information that the client wants to provide on their website into a very understandable and intuitive hierarchy of pages. Many businesses will divide pages into product or service types, then into model types or services grades, then ultimately into specific products and services. Other types of businesses, hotels for example, want their websites to serve as a business card or billboard that displays the features and location of their business. Every business is unique in its goals, its structures and what it offers. The design and marketing teams take all this into account and carefully tailor the sitemap organization to each business.

With the organization clearly laid out, the design and marketing teams will then know what information will be displayed on each page and how each page will be laid out visually.

From the Development standpoint a sitemap helps developers visualize the location of each page on a website. It determines out how the URL structure should work and how each page relates to every other page. It helps developers make intelligent decisions when they set up a site so that they can write reusable code and set up the optional page attributes correctly. Coding with a well thought out sitemap in mind will make a better site structure, make the site easier to maintain and will save time in the long run.

Just as a home builder relies on a blueprints to build a functional, well-designed home that doesn’t have a toilet in the kitchen, a developer relies on a sitemaps to build a website that doesn’t have links that go to 404 pages.

To follow this series, “Like” us on Facebook or subscribe to a feed below.

See the rest of  Zoom Create’s Web Design Process Series for J.R. Johnson’

NEXT STEPS:

Step 4a: The Zoom Creates Website Design Process Series – How Zoom Creates a Sitemap

Step 5: The Zoom Creates Website Design Process Series – Wire Framing

Step 6: The Zoom Creates Website Design Process Series – Design Approach

Step 7: The Zoom Creates Website Design Process Series – Copy Writing

Step 8: The Zoom Creates Website Design Process Series ‎- Breaking Points

Step 9: The Zoom Creates Website Design Process Series – Development 

Step 10: The Zoom Creates Website Design Process Series – CMS 

Step 11: The Zoom Creates Website Design Process Series – SEO

Step 12: The Zoom Creates Website Design Process Series – Testing

Step 13: The Zoom Creates Website Design Process Series – Analytics

Step 14: The Zoom Creates Website Design Series – Launch