Corporate Blogs

How to Use Referral Marketing to Grow your Ecommerce Store

Pickaweb Blog -

There are many benefits to having satisfied customers. A positive experience increases the likelihood of sales later down the road. 70% of customers are happy telling their friends and family about the good experience they had with a brand. Word-of-mouth can directly or indirectly influence 20 to 50% of purchase decisions. In fact, half of The post How to Use Referral Marketing to Grow your Ecommerce Store appeared first on Pickaweb.

Things To Consider Before Presenting At WordCamp

InMotion Hosting Blog -

There’s a lot that goes into preparing a presentation for WordCamp. For many, just the idea of speaking in front of a group of strangers can be overwhelming. But fear not, a solid preparation will help you beat the jitters and give a stellar presentation. Don’t Have a Cutesy Title In the tech community there’s always some new meme on everyone’s mind. Often, presenters will try to be clever and title their talk with a catchy, cutesy title. Continue reading Things To Consider Before Presenting At WordCamp at InMotion Hosting Blog.

First Half 2019 Transparency Report and an Update on a Warrant Canary

CloudFlare Blog -

Today, we are releasing Cloudflare’s transparency report for the first half of 2019. We recognize the importance of keeping the reports current, but It’s taken us a little longer than usual to put it together. We have a few notable updates. Pulling a warrant canarySince we issued our very first transparency report in 2014, we’ve maintained a number of commitments - known as warrant canaries - about what actions we will take and how we will respond to certain types of law enforcement requests. We supplemented those initial commitments earlier this year, so that our current warrant canaries state that Cloudflare has never:Turned over our encryption or authentication keys or our customers' encryption or authentication keys to anyone.Installed any law enforcement software or equipment anywhere on our network.Terminated a customer or taken down content due to political pressure*Provided any law enforcement organization a feed of our customers' content transiting our network.Modified customer content at the request of law enforcement or another third party.Modified the intended destination of DNS responses at the request of law enforcement or another third party.Weakened, compromised, or subverted any of its encryption at the request of law enforcement or another third party.These commitments serve as a statement of values to remind us what is important to us as a company, to convey not only what we do, but what we believe we should do. For us to maintain these commitments. we have to believe not only that we’ve met them in the past, but that we can continue to meet them. Unfortunately, there is one warrant canary that no longer meets the test for remaining on our website. After Cloudlfare terminated the Daily Stormer’s service in 2017, Matthew observed:"We're going to have a long debate internally about whether we need to remove the bullet about not terminating a customer due to political pressure. It's powerful to be able to say you've never done something. And, after today, make no mistake, it will be a little bit harder for us to argue against a government somewhere pressuring us into taking down a site they don't like." We addressed this issue in our subsequent transparency reports by retaining the statement, but adding an asterisk identifying the Daily Stormer debate and the criticism that we had received in the wake of our decision to terminate services. Our goal was to signal that we remained committed to the principle that we should not terminate a customer due to political pressure, while not ignoring the termination. We also sought to be public about the termination and our reasons for the decision, ensuring that it would not go unnoticed. Although that termination sparked significant debate about whether infrastructure companies making decisions about what content should remain online, we haven’t yet seen politically accountable actors put forth real alternatives to address deeply troubling content and behavior online. Since that time, we’ve seen even more real world consequences from the vitriol and hateful content spread online, from the screeds posted in connection with the terror attacks in Christchurch, Poway and El Paso to the posting of video glorifying those attacks. Indeed, in the absence of true public policy initiatives to address those concerns, the pressure on tech companies -- even deep Internet infrastructure companies like Cloudflare --  to make judgments about what stays online has only increased.  In August 2019, Cloudflare terminated service to 8chan based on their failure to moderate their hate-filled platform in a way that inspired murderous acts. Although we don’t think removing cybersecurity services to force a site offline is the right public policy approach to the hate festering online, a site’s failure to take responsibility to prevent or mitigate the harm caused by its platform leaves service providers like us with few choices. We’ve come to recognize that the prolonged and persistent lawlessness of others might require action by those further down the technical stack. Although we’d prefer that governments recognize that need, and build mechanisms for due process, if they fail to act, infrastructure companies may be required to take action to prevent harm. And that brings us back to our warrant canary. If we believe we might have an obligation to terminate customers, even in a limited number of cases, retaining a commitment that we will never terminate a customer “due to political pressure” is untenable. We could, in theory, argue that terminating a lawless customer like 8chan was not a termination “due to political pressure.”  But that seems wrong.  We shouldn’t be parsing specific words of our commitments to explain to people why we don’t believe we’ve violated the standard. We remain committed to the principle that providing cybersecurity services to everyone, regardless of content, makes the Internet a better place. Although we’re removing the warrant canary from our website, we believe that to earn and maintain our users’ trust, we must be transparent about the actions we take. We therefore commit to reporting on any action that we take to terminate a user that could be viewed as a termination “due to political pressure.”UK/US Cloud agreementAs we’ve described previously, governments have been working to find ways to improve law enforcement access to digital evidence across borders. Those efforts resulted in a new U.S. law, the Clarifying Lawful Overseas Use of Data (CLOUD) Act, premised on the idea that law enforcement around the world should be able to get access to electronic content related to their citizens when conducting law enforcement investigations, wherever that data is stored, as long as they are bound by sufficient procedural safeguards to ensure due process.On October 3, 2019, the US and UK signed the first Executive Agreement under this law.  According to the requirements of U.S. law, that Agreement will go into effect in 180 days, in March 2020, unless Congress takes action to block it.  There is an ongoing debate as to whether the agreement includes sufficient due process and privacy protections. We’re going to take a wait and see approach, and will closely monitor any requests we receive after the agreement goes into effect.For the time being, Cloudflare intends to comply with appropriately scoped and targeted requests for data from UK law enforcement, provided that those requests are consistent with the law and international human rights standards. Information about the legal requests that Cloudflare receives from non-U.S. governments pursuant to the CLOUD Act will be included in future transparency reports.

How to Boost Your Online Store with Google Shopping Insights

HostGator Blog -

The post How to Boost Your Online Store with Google Shopping Insights appeared first on HostGator Blog. eCommerce is growing by more than 10% a year, which is both good news and bad news for online store owners. The good news is that people are buying more online, as in-store retail growth stalls out. The bad news? Competition for eCommerce customers is fiercer than ever, because there are more stores and because shoppers have higher expectations of online merchants now than ever before.  How can you make your store stand out in search results and impress shoppers when they arrive? One powerful tool you can use is Google Shopping Insights. What’s Google Shopping Insights? To understand Shopping Insights and why it’s so useful for online store owners, it helps to know a bit about Google Shopping first. Google’s comparison-shopping engine lets consumers search for what they need, compare prices, and visit retailers’ websites to make their purchases.  You’ll see advertisers’ featured items (called product listing ads) at the top of most search results pages. But the Shopping tab takes you to even more Google Shopping results. You can refine your Google Shopping results by price range, item features, seller and more.  This tool makes it easy for people to comparison shop, bookmark products for later and make purchases fast. Google Shopping is where the retail industry spends most of its search ad money, and it’s where retailers get most of their search ad clicks.  That means Google gets a lot of continuously updated retailer, product and consumer data to analyze for insights that can help store owners reach more shoppers and earn more sales.  They’ve turned that into a searchable tool: Shopping Insights. How to Use Shopping Insights to Improve Your eCommerce Store Google’s keyword analysis monitors the pulse of online shoppers’ habits, with daily search data available for the past 12 months. The dataset covers every designated market area in the U.S., 5,000 product categories and more than 45,000 brands. Here’s what you can do with all that information. 1. Adjust your content Effective keywords come and go, depending on consumer trends, shopping seasons and other variables. To attract the most customers, you want your site to feature keywords they’re searching for now. There are a couple of ways you can use Shopping Insights to do your research. First, compare the popularity of the items you offer.  For example, if you own a music store, you can see which of the beginner electric guitars you carry is the most popular in searches.  Here’s a year’s worth of search data. It looks like shoppers consistently look for the Fender model more than the other two.  Next, create or update your content to feature the most searched-for products.  To get more traffic from searches, you can feature the Fender Modern Player Telecaster on  your guitar category landing page. any other relevant category pages, like student instruments and great gift content on your site, like a guide to choosing a beginner guitar.  See which products and categories do best during certain shopping seasons. You can search Shopping Insights by season to see which item or category searches spiked on, say, Cyber Monday. Here’s a good example for our hypothetical music store owner: Looking at the 2018 winter holiday season, you can see that there were a lot more searches for guitars than for drum kits and bagpipes. You can also see that there were more searches for guitars on Cyber Monday than any other day of that season.  Based on that, you might consider updating your holiday gift guides, blog posts, and Cyber Monday landing page to include more information about guitars vs. pipes and drums. 2. Make your online store work better We’ve blogged before about the importance of setting up store categories that make sense for your customers. It’s tempting, if you’re a logical person who likes order and patterns, to organize all your category pages and navigation in the same way.  But that may not help your customers find what they want. In fact, it may slow them down and turn them off. Here’s an example. Let’s say your online music store has navigation tabs for strings, percussion, brass, etc. Logical, but is it helpful? We can enter some of the string instruments into Shopping Insights to find out.  Based on the results – searches for guitars dramatically outperformed cellos, violins and upright basses by a wide margin all year long – your store should have a navigation tab and category specifically for guitars so they’re easy to find.  Just below this graph is more information you can use to make your store easier to navigate.  Based on the popularity of Fender and Gibson in searches for guitars, you might want to create separate categories and navigation tabs for each of those guitar brands.  You can also see what type of device people are using to search for the products you sell. If you haven’t already optimized your online store for mobile shopping, here’s the evidence you need that it’s time to do so. 3. Improve your product pages You can use Shopping Insights results to fine-tune individual product pages, too. Here are a few ways to get started: Use the full name of popular products in their page metadata and product description copy. Don’t rely on shortened names or images alone.Include the most searched-for products in “other products you may like” recommendations on relevant pages. For example, based on the chart we saw earlier, you may want to include the popular Fender Modern Player Telecaster as an “other product” on the pages for your Ibanez and Epiphone beginner guitar pages.  To keep up with keyword trends, you can subscribe to Google’s weekly and monthly Shopping Insights updates for the products, brands and categories in your store.  You can also use Google Merchant Center to upload your current product information for easier integration with Google Shopping Ads and more detailed shopping insights.  Want more tips for making your store work better? Check out this post on improving SEO for your product pages.  Find the post on the HostGator Blog

Take Advantage of Amazing Web Week Savings!

WP Engine -

Here at WP Engine, we’re pleased to kick off the fourth annual Web Week! Web Week began in 2016 as a way for us to give back to our customers the best way we know how: with awesome deals and discounts from our partners. We encourage brands and agencies to take advantage of this low… The post Take Advantage of Amazing Web Week Savings! appeared first on WP Engine.

PPC Trends and Predictions for 2020

Pickaweb Blog -

In the increasingly competitive world of digital marketing, you want to make sure that you are getting the most out of your advertising budget. But, with new PPC trends emerging all the time, it can be difficult to know which ones are worth taking note of. In fact, this is why so many businesses choose The post PPC Trends and Predictions for 2020 appeared first on Pickaweb.

An Update on CDNJS

CloudFlare Blog -

When you loaded this blog, a file was delivered to your browser called jquery-3.2.1.min.js. jQuery is a library which makes it easier to build websites, and was at one point included on as many as 74.1% of all websites. A full eighteen million sites include jQuery and other libraries using one of the most popular tools on Earth: CDNJS. Beginning about a month ago Cloudflare began to take a more active role in the operation of CDNJS. This post is here to tell you more about CDNJS’ history and explain why we are helping to manage CDNJS.What CDNJS DoesVirtually every site is composed of not just the code written by its developers, but also dozens or hundreds of libraries. These libraries make it possible for websites to extend what a web browser can do on its own. For example, libraries can allow a site to include powerful data visualizations, respond to user input, or even get more performant.These libraries created wondrous and magical new capabilities for web browsers, but they can also cause the size of a site to explode. Particularly a decade ago, connections were not always fast enough to permit the use of many libraries while maintaining performance. But if so many websites are all including the same libraries, why was it necessary for each of them to load their own copy?If we all load jQuery from the same place the browser can do a much better job of not actually needing to download it for every site. When the user visits the first jQuery-powered site it will have to be downloaded, but it will already be cached on the user's computer for any subsequent jQuery-powered site they might visit.The first visit might take time to load:But any future visit to any website pointing to this common URL would already be cached:<!-- Loaded only on my site, will need to be downloaded by every user --> <script src="./jquery.js"></script> <!-- Loaded from a common location across many sites --> <script src=""></script> Beyond the performance advantage, including files this way also made it very easy for users to experiment and create. When using a web browser as a creation tool users often didn't have elaborate build systems (this was also before npm), so being able to include a simple script tag was a boon. It's worth noting that it's not clear a massive performance advantage was ever actually provided by this scheme. It is becoming even less of a performance advantage now that browser vendors are beginning to use separate cache's for each website you visit, but with millions of sites using CDNJS there's no doubt it is a critical part of the web.A CDN for all of usMy first Pull Request into the CDNJS project was in 2013. Back then if you created a JavaScript project it wasn't possible to have it included in the jQuery CDN, or the ones provided by large companies like Google and Microsoft. They were only for big, important, projects. Of course, however, even the biggest project starts small. The community needed a CDN which would agree to host nearly all JavaScript projects, even the ones which weren't world-changing (yet). In 2011, that project was launched by Ryan Kirkman and Thomas Davis as CDNJS.The project was quickly wildly successful, far beyond their expectations. Their CDN bill quickly began to skyrocket (it would now be over a million dollars a year on AWS). Under the threat of having to shut down the service, Cloudflare was approached by the CDNJS team to see if we could help. We agreed to support their efforts and created which serves the CDNJS project free of charge.CDNJS has been astonishingly successful. The project is currently installed on over eighteen million websites (10% of the Internet!), offers files totaling over 1.5 billion lines of code, and serves over 173 billion requests a month. CDNJS only gets more popular as sites get larger, with 34% of the top 10k websites using the service. Each month we serve almost three petabytes of JavaScript, CSS, and other resources which power the web via can happen when a very large or popular site installs CDNJS, or when a misbehaving web crawler discovers a CDNJS link.The future value of CDNJS is now in doubt, as web browsers are beginning to use a separate cache for every website you visit. It is currently used on such a wide swath of the web, however, it is unlikely it will be disappearing any time soon.How CDNJS WorksCDNJS starts with a Github repo. That project contains every file served by CDNJS, at every version which it has ever offered. That’s 182 GB without the commit history, over five million files, and over 1.5 billion lines of code. Given that it stores and delivers versioned code files, in many ways it was the Internet’s first JavaScript package manager. Unlike other package managers and even other CDNs everything CDNJS serves is publicly versioned. All 67,724 commits! This means you as a user can verify that you are being served files which haven’t been tampered with.To make changes to CDNJS a commit has to be made. For new projects being added to CDNJS, or when projects change significantly, these commits are made by humans, and get reviewed by other humans. When projects just release new versions there is a bot made by Peter and maintained by Sven which sucks up changes from npm and automatically creates commits.Within Cloudflare’s infrastructure there is a set of machines which are responsible for pulling the latest version of the repo periodically. Those machines then become the origin for, with Cloudflare’s Global Load Balancer automatically handling failures. Cloudflare’s cache automatically stores copies of many of the projects making it possible for us to deliver them quickly from all 195 of our data centers.The Internet on a Shoestring BudgetThe CDNJS project has always been administered independently of Cloudflare. In addition to the founders, the project has additionally been maintained by exceptionally hard-working caretakers like Peter and Matt Cowley. Maintaining a single repo of nearly every frontend project on Earth is no small task, and it has required a substantial amount of both manual work and bot development.Unfortunately approximately thirty days ago one of those bots stopped working, preventing updated projects from appearing in CDNJS. The bot's open-source maintainer was not able to invest the time necessary to keep the bot running. After several weeks we were asked by the community and the CDNJS founders to take over maintenance of the CDNJS repo itself. This means the Cloudflare engineering team is taking responsibility for keeping the contents of up to date, in addition to ensuring it is correctly served on agreed to do this because we were, frankly, scared. Like so many open-source projects CDNJS was a critical part of our world, but wasn’t getting the attention it needed to survive. The Internet relies on CDNJS as much as on any other single project, losing it or allowing it to be commandeered would be catastrophic to millions of websites and their visitors. If it began to fail, some sites would adapt and update, others would be broken forever. CDNJS has always been, and remains, a project for and by the community. We are invested in making all decisions in a transparent and inclusive manner. If you are interested in contributing to CDNJS or in the topics we're currently discussing please visit the CDNJS Github Issues page.A Plan for the FutureOne example of an area where we could use your help is in charting a path towards a CDNJS which requires less manual moderation. Nothing can replace the intelligence and creativity of a human (yet), but for a task like managing what resources go into a CDN, it is error prone and time consuming. At present a human has to review every new project to be included, and often has to take additional steps to include new versions of a project. As a part of our analysis of the project we examined a snapshot of the still-open PRs made against CDNJS for several months:The vast majority of these PRs were changes which ultimately passed the automated review but nevertheless couldn't be merged without manual review.There is consensus that we should move to a model which does not require human involvement in most cases. We would love your input and collaboration on the best way for that to be solved. If this is something you are passionate about, please contribute here.Our plan is to support the CDNJS project in whichever ways it requires for as long as the Internet relies upon it. We invite you to use CDNJS in your next project with the full assurance that it is backed by the same network and team who protect and accelerate over twenty million of your favorite websites across the Internet. We are also planning more posts diving further into the CDNJS data, subscribe to this blog if you would like to be notified upon their release.

Six Questions to Structure Great Projects

Facebook Design -

A clarifying rubric to help teams align around new ideasNot every work project is cut from the same cloth. There are “big honkin’ bets” that involve bravely stepping into the unknown, and there are tiny tweaks that you wrangle for quick improvements. I’ve worked at Facebook for more than six years now, across four teams — and in the process of building products for over 2.8 billion people, my teams have seen both ends of that spectrum.But sandwiched between those extremes is a vast expanse of projects that are just begging to exist. They’re often far more numerous, and at times we can struggle to understand how we approach them. Over time, I developed a rubric that’s helped foster more clarity and alignment among my collaborators — and it may help your team, too.Before green-lighting any project, there are six questions your team should be able to answer:What’s the context?What’s the “people problem”?What’s our causal hypothesis?What’s our project plan?How will we measure success?What will we do next?My teams have used this process in varying degrees for over three years now, and I’ve ballparked it as something that works well for that sweet spot of projects where you know enough to form some hypotheses before you begin. You won’t always be able to articulate these questions out loud every time, but as long as you and your teammates have them (and their answers) ringing in your heads together, you’re on the right path. I’ll define more as we go, so let’s dig in!Setting the SceneFirst, imagine a scenario with me. See if this rings a bell: Somehow your teammate[s] decide a new project or task is important. There’s a loose scramble to figure out the whos, hows, and whens. It’s only days or weeks later you realize that many of these — plus the all-important whys — had been left curiously ill-defined.Sheerly to make this memorable, let’s sketch an example scenario where you sidle up to your coworker one day to talk through some work, and this conversation unfurls:Coworker: “But . . . so why are you making this decision again?” [Gestures at a point in the product]You: “Well, [other team member] said they wanted it. . . .”Coworker: “What are you testing for here?”You: “I mean, if this works, I guess we’d probably ship it to all our users, so. . . .”Coworker: “Why? What ‘people problem’ are you solving for?”You: “I mean . . . uh . . . it’s just a better experience!”Coworker: “Uh-huh. Well, assuming you have a way to measure success in mind, what happens if it fails?”You: “This hypothetical conversation is way trickier than I anticipated.”The point of dragging your coworker into this is that we often leap into project work without answering why we’re doing it — and what we’ll conquer next. This practice gels around the idea that any project should answer a set of core questions in order to actually allow it to move forward. We do this to ensure the whole team is on board with these goals, because it helps deftly dodge unnecessary “Wait, what?” moments down the line (and even helps cut projects that are revealed to be unnecessary when they don’t have answers).No answers? Your first order of business is getting them.How Do You Define a Project?I’m loosely defining this as a chunk of work that represents a feature, product, tool, or other endeavor that takes more than a day to design, build, and ship. There may be unknowns, but you know enough to form some hypotheses. There’s no right answer here, so use your own judgement: No, I’m not suggesting you need to answer six questions to tweak your button color to “tomato red.”A project isn’t a wholly novel exploration you’re about to kick off, charting new territory. When there are a bunch of unknowns around your project — like kicking off a brand-new idea, big or small, or considering a new audience — you might structure your project around brainstorming and ideating models, like “How Might We” statements instead. Again, use your own judgment!Great, But What Are the Questions?1. What’s the Context?If there’s a larger, company-driven motivation or backstory that’s necessary to understand this project, that’s what this is for. When needed, it can be seen as a sort of preamble to why this became a project. Abstracts like this are optional.2. What’s the People Problem?“People problems,” in Facebook parlance, are needs and issues as they might be articulated by people on the street. They identify progress that people are trying to make in their daily lives and define what’s broken or unsatisfying about their current solutions. Note the difference between these and company problems — which are internal goals, priorities, and challenges that map back to your company mission.The words you use matter. Framing product development in terms of people problems aligns your work with the community you serve. This helps you identify meaningful opportunities for impact, and stay true to your core product values. People problems are not the only problems products must solve to be successful, but they are where success starts. (Good, real live human experience research helps at this stage! Read more info on the People Problem framework here.)3. What’s the Causal Hypothesis?Kicking off a project without a hypothesis (a.k.a., What’s going to happen when you do this thing?) can be a bit like throwing all of your cupboard contents into the oven for dinner. Will these ingredients make bread or a kitchen fire? Who knows!?This isn’t to say every endeavor creates a clear path toward a hypothesis. Hypotheses can also change as you go: Particularly in work with a lot of unknowns, you’re often running experiments just to learn what levers you have to pull.But for projects — or people problems your team understands more than just a giant blank slate — there are a couple of easy templates to follow to create a causal hypothesis:Option 1: “Changing _______ into ______ will [change conversion goal], because: _______.” (This is borrowed from marketing principles; Olivia Williams writes more on how to write a great hypothesis here.)Option 2: “Because [motivation], we’re working to [provide this value] by [building this product].”Examples:Changing the Facebook Events app to include additional “things to do,” such as museums, parks, and restaurants, will increase retention because it involves a wider and more regular-use set of activities to do in the real world with friends. (This example is a broad hypothesis, and would likely need to be broken down into sub-tasks.)Changing the Event post attachment in News Feed to show what friends of yours have already expressed interest will increase event RSVPs, because it makes the event more relevant to people and may indicate the event is higher-quality.4. What’s the Project Plan?Put another (wordy) way, this is your “experimental plan for validating or invalidating your hypothesis.” You’re not just creating a project plan to blindly execute tasks: You’re structuring your time and your work in a way that gives you as much clarity as possible. You can sometimes answer this as you go.Example:— Initial mocks to be created for Android. Carlo to design by Fri 22 July— Team to meet and discuss with leadership during week of Mon 24 July— Final mocks for experiment created by Fri 5 Aug, after leadership review— Engineer (Michelle) freed to build over two-week sprint beginning Mon 8 Aug— First experiment to run by Tue 23 AugAs an evolving piece of your project plan, it’s good practice to always keep everyone abreast of the designs related to this work. If you’re using a task-tracking tool like we do at Facebook, link here to the trail of relevant mock-ups — so there’s a single source of truth for where the project has been (and where it is going). Once things move into the build phase, code diffs can be attached to the task separately.How you arrive at those designs, of course, is a great discussion worthy of its own write-up. The point here is that by clearly communicating where design sits throughout the process (in a place everyone can easily reference, like the “single source of truth” task), there’s less confusion and far less stress about who you need to update individually. Want to know the latest, partner? Go to the task!5. How Will We Measure Success?If you don’t have clear methodology (metrics or otherwise) to follow for success, you waste a titanic amount of time arguing over it later — often after shipping, when more voices enter the fray. Having your entire team define and agree upon this goal from the get-go nullifies a lot of quarrels later. For example, when the latent partner jumps in a week after launch yelling, “This is down on [metric A]!” you can easily point out that your goal was [metric P].*You’ll run into cases when you’re not entirely sure what will happen when you ship something. Especially in those projects where you’re braving a ton of unknowns, that’s okay; but come to an agreement on it with your team, and make an informed decision.Example:Increase retention by at least 20 percent by end of year.*Okay, “easily” is a bit of an overstatement. But, hey, it does give you far greater alignment.6. What Will We Do Next?A glaring oversight for many projects is knowing what you’ll do after it’s out in the wild. What actions will you take once your hypothesis is validated — or invalidated?What if this blows away your metric goals? Will it ship immediately, or will you have to take the data to other teams and discuss its merits in relation to their metric goals? Are you running this merely as an experiment to inform a much more polished project later on? Having your team align on “next steps” is critical to avoid sleepless nights.Similarly, what if this project tanks? Is there a fallback plan? What’s next? Knowing this can be just as important as planning for positive outcomes.Answering this question can be deceptively crucial — and can even inform whether you should do a project. Adding this step became crucial years ago when my team consistently found ourselves working on experiments whose results didn’t point us toward any understood next steps. Figure this out, and it quickly focuses you on other projects, which can give answers.Example:If successful:Roll out initial experiment to 100 percent of people on Android; build and ship iOS and www implementations in the following sprint.If not successful:Reevaluate signals that show relevance for people and do additional design and content iterations.So, Like, How do I Use These?Follow this foolproof plan! (Note: May contain actual fools, but it’s worked well for my team.)Your first option is casual: With small, fast-moving teams, bring up these questions as you’re starting to formulate projects. In many cases, though, documentation is useful; so, using whatever task tool your company uses, here’s a template you can copy and paste into each new project description:1. Context[General internal motivation to understand project, if necessary]2. People Problem[Need or issue as might be articulated by people on the street]3. Causal Hypothesis?Changing _______ into ______ will [change conversion goal], because _______.4. Project Plan— Milestone— Milestone• Design [Links to relevant design documentation]5. How We Will Measure Success[Metric or non-metric goals]6. What We’ll Do Next— If successful:[Action we take]— If not successful:[Action we take]Just like any work rubric, these questions have morphed a bit over time — taking new forms to adapt to how they’ve been used. (I expect in 20 years our new VR-based lives will encourage entirely new practices for us to adopt.) As a result, these may continue to shift, but so far this system has generally allowed my teams to focus intently on the problems that matter — and to articulate goals in a way that we can all understand and agree upon. There have been fewer surprises, fewer randomized tangents, and fewer experiments leading to nowhere.If you were to use this with your team, what would you change? What systems have worked well for you?Thanks to David G. for the inspiration in asking many of these hard questions; and Jasmine F., Jonathon C., Arthur B., Cameron M., and Aaron C. for gut-checking me on how this stood up to light. I fully invite you to build upon this system and suggest ways it could be improved based upon your experience.Six Questions to Structure Great Projects was originally published in Facebook Design on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Turning Disruption into Opportunity: Our Approach to Magento’s Platform Change

Nexcess Blog -

Disruption. Not a word anyone running a mission-critical business wants to hear. And there’s no shying away from the fact that Magento has introduced disruption into the commerce market by sunsetting the Magento 1 platform and encouraging merchants to re-platform to M2.   But what about when disruption creates opportunity and innovation?  When disruption brings about a transition to something bigger, better, different, and future-proof?  Well, we think about it in a different frame. Turning disruption into opportunity is how we here at Nexcess view the pending M1 End of Life in June of 2020. Many companies like yours are having to make decisions about what happens next to Magento-based online stores. You’re likely seeing messaging that ‘the sky is falling’, wrapped around offers, tutorials, and guides on how to migrate as fast as you can before everything crashes down. But before you get worried, think strategically. This kind of shift will require a transformation – and transformation requires clear-headed thinking, planning, and solid change management. This is a perfect opportunity to audit where you are and make good decisions about where you’re going. Planning for and executing strategically on this change is where Nexcess can help you transform challenge into triumph.  Not every business is the same and knowing that this event was coming allowed us to expand our portfolio of solutions to meet you wherever you are. We’ve developed a brand new product called Safe Harbor for those who want to stay put for now. We also have Magento agencies ready to help you migrate to M2. And if you decide that a re-platform to M2 doesn’t align with your overarching business strategy, we’re prepared to offer extensive support for other platforms that allow you to drive growth. Getting What You Need from Open Source With the introduction of Magento in 2007, the commerce landscape was forever changed. What was originally called Community Edition turned into Magento Open Source a few years ago. Upon its arrival, it quickly became the de facto solution for anyone selling online. And we were there. In fact, the first instances of Magento were built on the Nexcess platform and we have been the #1 hosting provider for Magento stores ever since.  But today’s landscape is far different than it was a decade ago. There are platforms aplenty for small and large businesses, both open and closed. And with so many options, it can be overwhelming to pare down and prioritize what features and functions are going to make your site the best it can be. Remember – easy doesn’t always mean best – especially if you’re considering a closed platform like Shopify for your foundation. As a SaaS platform, it limits customization, performance, and scalability. A lack of built-in features often requires add-ons that are costly, resource-intensive, and can slow down your site. Add to that restrictive product & SKU customization, a lack of flexibility for site design & modifications, and exorbitant subscription fees and what might seem like an easy path becomes unforgiving and expensive. Shopify’s transaction and payment gateway fees alone could cost you more than 5% of every sale you make.  So if there’s one takeaway from this moment of transition, it’s that making open source your foundation for commerce directly aligns to achieving long-term growth. From its revolutionary beginnings to current day frameworks, open source optimizes people and technology. The value of rapid contribution from experts, the elimination of extra licensing and maintenance fees, and the ability to inherently know they can meet the needs of every customer is exactly why our industry-leading agency clients invest in open source with us. They know that they can meet the needs of every customer with confidence and without hesitation. We’re proud of our leadership in this space. And we’re committed to continuous investment here, developing the broadest possible community dedicated to open source ecommerce. Taking Action  Ready for next steps? We’re excited to share options that will provide a smooth transition for you and your clients:  Option 1: Stay on Magento 1 with Nexcess’ Safe Harbor:  After June 2020, Magento will stop providing core updates and security patches. Safe Harbor offers: Updates and security patches that will keep your platform running, safely.  Malware scans with visibility into malicious attacks and blocked requests by our WAF.  A vetted list of modules we frequently update with recommend extensions that can be used without risk. Simple integration that does not require dev support.  This is a great option available for Q120+ which can avail you more time to work on your broader strategy. Option 2: Move from Magento 1 to Magento 2:  If you’re growing fast, have a migration plan already in place, and a high number of customers and SKUs, this option likely makes sense for you. While it requires re-platforming, we’ve made the transition to M2 as seamless as possible by serving up a stable platform with capabilities designed to elevate the consumer experience, while still ensuring your team is supported at every turn. We have a broad set of agency partners we can connect you with who are at-the-ready to help you re-platform. Security Apply security updates and patches Create malware signatures and firewall rules Look and feel and UX Design themes Data migration Basic training Product data loading Support Dedicated project manager Ongoing support after migration is complete Security and core patches Store performance analysis and optimization Support for most popular extensions for payments, shipping, tax, and email marketing Option 3: Talk with Us About Alternatives: We’re experts in open source ecommerce and we’re ready to work with you on building out your plan. Not sure if Magento is still a good fit? We have customers of all sizes on our Managed WooCommerce Hosting platform. One example is an enterprise with more than 5,000 SKU’s, processing 25,000 orders a month, and generating more than $10M in annual revenue. Marrying needs & budget with ongoing support that aligns to your long-term growth objectives is what we do best.  We’ve learned a lot in the last decade: not only about Magento and the surrounding community, but about ecommerce. Now that you know our plans, we’re ready to hear about yours. Whether you’re staying on Magento 1, moving to Magento 2 or considering alternatives, our ecommerce partners are ready to help you with your next move. Contact us today for a review of where you are now, and how options like Safe Harbor will keep you secure as you determine next steps. Interested in Learning about Safe Harbor? Let us know in the form below  The post Turning Disruption into Opportunity: Our Approach to Magento’s Platform Change appeared first on Nexcess Blog.

Building Powerful Digital Experiences with HubSpot and WP Engine

WP Engine -

Salted Stone is a global full-service digital agency headquartered in Los Angeles. Founded in 2008, the agency has in-house teams around the world and has spent the last 10+ years designing and developing websites, crafting end-to-end business solutions for sustainable growth, and implementing data-driven marketing and sales strategies for hundreds of clients.  One factor that… The post Building Powerful Digital Experiences with HubSpot and WP Engine appeared first on WP Engine.

How to Have a Profitable Writing Career

Pickaweb Blog -

If there’s one piece of advice for writers that should never be overlooked, it’s the need for a writing niche. This is advice you may have already heard, but did you know that having a niche can actually help you earn more money in your writing career? Niching out makes you more valuable to clients, The post How to Have a Profitable Writing Career appeared first on Pickaweb.

Guide to 2020 Social Media Image Sizes

The Blog -

Social media. It’s pretty pervasive. No matter where you look, someone is on their phone checking on their social media — updating friends, posting photos, or shopping via links businesses share. If you’re a small business owner or entrepreneur and your business doesn’t have a social media presence, then it’s time to create one. Considering social media is one of the most cost-effective forms of digital marketing, you really don’t have anything to lose. Just as with websites, people want to visit good-looking social media profiles, and that’s where this guide comes in handy. Social Media Image Sizes In our social media image size guide, we’ll be covering what you need to create to run ads on some of the biggest and most popular platforms. Keep in mind that your business doesn’t need to be on each and every existing social media site. You only need to have a presence where your audience and customers are. It may take some trial and error to narrow down what platforms they’re on, but it’s worth the effort. Facebook Social Media Image Sizes Facebook is frequently updating its algorithms and making changes to its platforms. Often times this means tweaks to the way personal and business pages are displayed.’s Facebook profile. Facebook Cover Photo Your Facebook cover photo is only going to appear on your page. It won’t be seen throughout Facebook or in other locations. It will display differently on a desktop than it will on a smartphone as Facebook crops cover photos to best fit the devices they’re displayed on. Due to this cropping, keep the focus of your cover photo towards the center of your cover image. Any important details or designs along the borders could risk getting cropped and not displaying on certain devices. 820 x 360 pixels (Facebook recommends 851 x 315 pixels but that’s the absolute minimum you should use. Any less and your photos risk looking distorted.)Cover photos should maintain a 16:9 proportion. Facebook Event Cover Photo Will your business be creating events on Facebook? If so, make sure your event cover photos are sized at 1920 x 1080 pixels. Facebook Profile Photo Your page’s profile photo displays at 170 x 170 pixels on desktop, 128 x 128 pixels on smartphones, and even smaller on feature phones. Your profile photo will appear cropped into a circle. We use a 400 x 400 pixel image for our profile photo and recommend you do the same. Instead of uploading a JPG try uploading a PNG for your photo. This ensures a better quality photo that won’t look pixelated or stretched. Facebook Photos Shared in Posts Facebook posts with images get a 37% engagement rate on average whereas posts with only text receive about 27%. Sharing a link with a photo? That image should be 1200 x 630 pixels. (This size is also perfect for Twitter and LinkedIn!) Facebook Stories Facebook Stories take up the entire display on mobile devices. Images should be maintain a 16×9 ratio. Images should be optimized for Stories at 1080 x 1920 pixels. Twitter Social Media Image Sizes Twitter updated most of its image sizes in 2017 and changed the aspect ratio of its header image (similar to Facebook’s cover photo, it’s the image at the top of your profile) in 2019.’s Twitter profile. Twitter Header Image Size Twitter recommends uploading a header image at 1500 x 500 pixels.  Uploading a vector-based or line art image? Use a GIF or PNG file. Uploading a photo? Use a JPG or PNG file (although we recommend always using PNG.)Although Twitter says that your header image will be cropped into a 2×1 aspect ratio on mobile devices, that no longer seems to be the case as of summer 2019. Now, images still display at a 3:1 ratio whether on mobile or desktop. Twitter Profile Photo Your profile picture should be 400 x 400 pixels and it may be resized to fit. Profile photos display in a circular shape, so make sure to center your image on a larger background if you’re afraid of important details getting cropped out. Twitter Images Shared in Posts When sharing posts or links with a single image or GIF, Twitter recommends that they are a minimum of 600 x 355 pixels. However, if you want your image to be optimized when people click on it for a larger view, and still look good in your feed, we recommend 1200 x 630 pixels. Twitter Advertising Creative Specifications You can create and share a variety of types of tweets if you’re doing paid advertisements on Twitter. Here’s a link to their creative specifications page for advertisers so you can see your options and find the correct dimensions and specs for your images, GIFs, and videos. Instagram Social Media Image Sizes Instagram is a visual platform that’s great for connecting with your customers and followers. It was created as a photo-sharing app and was purchased by Facebook in 2012.’s Instagram profile. Instagram Profile Image Size Profile images on Instagram display at small sizes. On desktop, they display at 152 pixels. On mobile, they display at 110 pixels.We recommend uploading a larger image of 400 x 400 pixels to avoid any issues with quality and so you can ensure nothing important gets cropped out of your photo. Instagram Shared Photo Size Instagram images aren’t restricted to squares anymore, but keep in mind that they will be cropped into squares when shown on your profile. Square images should have a 1:1 aspect ratio and be uploaded at 1080 x 1080 pixels. For horizontal, or landscape images, upload photos at 1080 x 566 pixels.For vertical, or portrait images, upload photos at 1080 x 1350 pixels. Instagram Stories Photo Size Images and photos uploaded to your story should be 1080 x 1920 pixels. People using phones with larger mobile displays may see cropped images, in which case, try uploading them at 1080 x 2340 pixels. Pinterest Social Media Image Sizes Pinterest is an image based social media platform. It inspires people to try new things and get creative with their ideas. Many businesses see good results from sharing their products and services on Pinterest, and by using it to connect with their audience and customers.’s Pinterest profile. Pinterest Profile Image Size Your Pinterest profile photo displays at 180 x 180 pixels. You can do that or go a little larger, like 400 x 400 pixels, to make sure it’s good quality and doesn’t get overly cropped. Pinterest Board Cover Image Size Unlike most pins, board cover images are square. They should be at least 340 x 340 pixels, but we recommend going larger at 600 x 600 pixels. Pinterest Shared Pins Image Size Pinterest recommends creating pins using images in one of three sizes:600 x 600 pixels, 1:1 aspect ratio.600 x 900 pixels, 1:1.5 aspect ratio (according to Pinterest, this is the optimal size.)600 x 1250 pixels, 1:2.1 aspect ratio.When someone clicks on your pin it’ll display no wider than 564 pixels. Pinterest Profile Cover Image Size Some business profiles can now edit their Pinterest profile covers.This feature hasn’t rolled out to everyone yet, but keep your eyes peeled for future updates.Cover images should fit the 16:9 aspect ratio, or 1920 x 1080 pixels. LinkedIn Social Media Image Sizes Once upon a time, businesses primarily used LinkedIn as an HR and recruiting tool. Nowadays, the platform has grown into so much more. You can use LinkedIn to build your personal and business brands, create and raise awareness, and leverage the power of your connections. Muttville Senior Dog Rescue’s LinkedIn profile. LinkedIn Personal Profile Image Size LinkedIn recommends uploading an image between 400 x 400 pixels and 7680 x 4320 pixels. Images cannot be greater than 8MB.You can adjust your photo after it’s been uploaded. LinkedIn Personal Profile Background Image Size Background photos appear behind your profile photo. Don’t put any important details or design elements in the bottom left corner of your image as they’ll likely be covered by your profile picture. Recommended size is 1584 x 396 pixels.Files can’t be larger than 8 MB. LinkedIn Company Page Logo Image Size If you’re uploading your logo to your business page, make sure it’s sized at 300 x 300 pixels. LinkedIn Company Page Cover Image Size The minimum size that LinkedIn allows for a page’s cover photo is 1192 x 220 pixels, although they recommend uploading an image at 1536 x 768 pixels. LinkedIn Shared Image Size If you’re only sharing an image(s) to your personal or company page, make sure it’s sized at 1104 x 736 pixels. LinkedIn Shared Image with Link Size If you’re sharing a link with an attached image, then upload the image(s) at 1200 x 628 pixels. Snapchat Social Media Image Sizes Is a younger demographic part of your target audience? Hootsuite reports that as of 2018, around 71% of Snapchat users were under 34 years old. With around 188 million daily active users, Snapchat (rebranded as Snap in 2016) could be the perfect social media platform for you. You’ll need to create a Business Account only if you plan on using Snap’s advertising features. Snapchat Profile Image Size Unlike other social media platforms, Snapchat doesn’t allow you to upload your own profile picture. In the past you could upload a GIF, but now you must use Bitmoji. Snapchat Shared Image Size Images shared on Snapchat should be 1080 x 1920 pixels. YouTube Social Media Image Sizes If you plan on doing any sort of video marketing for your business or side hustle, then YouTube is the place to be. 2 billion people across the globe use and log into YouTube on a monthly basis, and it’s the most popular social media platform in the United States. In fact, 73% of U.S. based adults use YouTube.’s YouTube profile. YouTube Channel Profile Image Size Although your channel’s profile picture only displays at 98 x 98 pixels, it should be uploaded much larger. We recommend using an 800 x 800 pixel image. Profile images display as circles, so the larger image means important details are less likely to be cropped out. You can upload JPG, GIF, BMP, or PNG files. YouTube Channel Cover Image Size Since people can access YouTube from so many different devices it’s important that your photo be optimized to display as nicely as possible.The largest your cover image can display is on a desktop at 2560 x 423 pixels. However, the smallest it displays is on a mobile device at 1546 x 423 pixels. Keep the focus of your image within the 1546 x 423 pixel area so it isn’t cropped out on mobile devices. This is the “safe zone.” YouTube Video Uploads Size Videos need to maintain a 16:9 aspect ratio when uploaded to YouTube.For your video to be considered HD it needs to be at least 1280 x 720 pixels. Create and Optimize Your Business Social Media Profiles Your audience is on social media, are you ready to find and connect with them? When creating your social media profiles, try to keep your usernames the same or as close to your domain name as possible. This helps carry your branding and name recognition from your website to the rest of your digital presence. We hope this guide for 2020 social media image sizes helps you optimize your social media profiles so your business is represented in the best light possible. Are there any social media platforms that weren’t included in this list that you’d like to see? Let us know in the comments! The post Guide to 2020 Social Media Image Sizes appeared first on | Blog.

Boost Your Side Hustle Revenue with Personal Branding [4 Strategies]

HostGator Blog -

The post Boost Your Side Hustle Revenue with Personal Branding [4 Strategies] appeared first on HostGator Blog. Do you remember the olden days? You know…the days when the only people with a recognizable personal brand were celebrities, politicians, and big business leaders? We all know it’s a different story today. With the advent of the internet and the abundant growth of social media, it’s now possible for anyone—even fun teens like the Backpack Kid—to make revenue by growing a personal brand.  While your side hustle may not include sharing an infectious dance move via Instagram, it doesn’t mean you can’t boost your side hustle revenue by investing more into your personal brand. To help you out, here are some personal branding strategies that will result in you growing your side hustle, becoming an industry authority, and helping you reach your financial goals. 1. Build and Optimize Your Website Creating a website is one of the top ways to build a personal and lucrative brand. Why? Because consumers find you, and your side hustle, primarily through an internet search. And, top search results influence purchasing behaviors—ka-ching! Don’t believe it? Take a look at the following stats that show the power of having a solid online presence: 65 percent of online users view search as the most trusted source of information. 84 percent of business decision-makers start their buying process with a referral, and Google is the very first place people look after getting a referral. If your side hustle doesn’t exist online, then it’s impossible for internet users to find you online. Yes, it’s important for your side hustle to have a website. But, why invest in your personal brand? Because, statistically, consumers trust people more than companies.  For example, employees have 10 times more followers than their company’s social media accounts on average, and content that is shared by employees receives 8 times more engagement than content shared by brand channels. When push comes to shove, consumers respond more positively to the people behind the products or services. So, take the time today to build your new website around the person running your side hustle—you. 2. Tell Your Story Another reason consumers connect more with personal brands is because people love human stories. Take Jon Morrow, for example. Jon Morrow is the founder of SmartBlogger and one of the most influential bloggers on the internet and of our time. Not only does Jon Morrow provide data-driven, professional blogging insight to beginners, but his story is incredibly inspiring. It’s easy to fall in love with Jon Morrow the second you learn who he is and what he has had to overcome to be where he is today. If you don’t already know his story, here is a quick overview. Jon was diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) at a young age—a disease where people aren’t expected to live through adulthood. However, Jon has never let his disease stop him from living his dreams. He started out blogging about his life journey, has built one of the most successful blogs in the industry, and is radiantly living out his life every day. Humans have an innate neurological response to storytelling—it’s in our DNA, folks. Do yourself a favor and cling to your story as your top marketing tool for your personal brand. Consumers will love you for it. 3. Build an Active Social Media Presence  Building your social media profiles is another top way to boost your personal brand, especially if you are looking to increase annual revenue from your side gig. Look at Simone Bramante, for example. Bramante (@brahmino) uses his personal Instagram profile to grow his photography business. By quickly browsing through his Instagram page, followers, and potential clients can see who he is as a photographer, what his shots look like, what he values, and what he will bring to the table if you hire him for a photo shoot. Social media is a powerful tool when it comes to showcasing who you are as a person and business owner. It doesn’t matter if your side hustle is photography, fitness, comedy, dog walking, cooking, or marketing, you can leverage your personal brand through social media to boost your business.  On the flip side, it’s also interesting to note that brands will often reach out to social media influencers to help them sell products. In fact, influencer marketing is currently a $5-10 billion dollar industry. And with 65% of influencer marketing budgets projected to increase this year, there are no signs of it slowing down. 4. Invest in Your Personal Content Strategy Truth be told, it won’t do you much good to have a blog or social media presence if you don’t have a content strategy. Similarly, it’s difficult to acquire followers, and become an industry leader if you aren’t putting out any content. It can be overwhelming to come up with a content strategy, especially considering how many different content types are out there. But, the good news is, you don’t have to write articles, produce videos, run webinars, build an online course, and publish infographics all the time and every day.  Just commit to one content type, work on becoming consistent, and then grow from there. When in doubt, consider starting with the content type you enjoy producing the most. Once you have a good following and are making more money, you can hire people to help you with your content strategy. Personal Branding and Your Side Hustle It’s probably safe to say that “side hustle” is code for your passion project or dream job. In other words, it’s part of who you are. Don’t be afraid to build your personal brand into your side hustle. You may just find you are making connections left and right, establishing yourself as an industry leader, and boosting your revenues faster than you ever anticipated you would. Now is the time to get started, and the best part is it’s easy. With the help of Gator Builder, you can take the first step in building your personal brand by getting your website up and running. Find the post on the HostGator Blog

WP Engine’s Engine For Good Exceeds 16,500 Volunteer Hours Advancing WordPress and $260,000 in Charitable Contributions in Inaugural Year

WP Engine -

AUSTIN, Texas — Dec. 19, 2019 –  WP Engine, the WordPress technology company, announced today that its corporate social responsibility program, Engine for Good, exceeded 16,500 hours in contributions to advance WordPress, while also tallying 1,400+ community volunteer hours and $260,000 in largely employee-led donations, almost double the amount raised in 2018, to more than… The post WP Engine’s Engine For Good Exceeds 16,500 Volunteer Hours Advancing WordPress and $260,000 in Charitable Contributions in Inaugural Year appeared first on WP Engine.

Creating a Healthy and Productive Work Environment From Home

Pickaweb Blog -

Many individuals new to the world of freelancing may have a distorted view of what freelancing and working from home entails. They idealize the concept of telecommuting as an unending holiday with plenty of time to chill out, check their Instagram account, and work, well, whenever. Because of this, and other diversions, a very important The post Creating a Healthy and Productive Work Environment From Home appeared first on Pickaweb.


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