Progressive web apps now being served

Progressive Web Apps

When Google says something is the next big thing, we tend to listen.

And Progressive Web Apps (or PWAs) are, in a word, it.

If you missed this news and were absent the day they had the PWA meeting at work, here’s what you should know.

The nutshell version.

PWAs can be summed up as a web page that can be hot-linked to the homescreen of the user’s phone, creating an app-like experience. Some recent technology enhancements and the increased power of newer smartphones and devices make it possible.

In slightly more technical terms, think of a PWA as a hybrid utility – a mix between a website and a native application on a mobile device.

Thirsty for an example? Here’s an example of a simple PWA that allows users to learn more about beer. Cheers.

Top 10 reasons they’re a good thing

Google (and us for that matter) like PWAs for these reasons.

  1. PWAs are fast to load
  2. They feel like an app
  3. They don’t require an app store to install
  4. They build search engine visibility
  5. They’re responsive
  6. They work with all browsers
  7. PWAs are linkable and not be hard to install
  8. They’re enhanced to work offline or on low-quality networks
  9. They stay fresh because of a background update function
  10. PWAs are safe and served via HTTPS

If you need a laundry list of PWA attributes, look at this detailed look at what Google says are the key elements of a good PWA.

How PWAs keep users engaged.

Studies have shown that in a consumer mobile app, you lose around 20% of the user base for every step a user has to perform before getting to valuable content or experiences.

It’s called the “funnel effect.” And it has huge implications. For example, what if the user has to do any of the following?

  1. Go to the app store
  2. Download the app
  3. Open App
  4. Sign up for the app
  5. Create something
  6. Post/Send to friends
  7. Overcome any other typical experiential roadblock

If each of these steps causes a 20% drop in users, the attrition rate is ridiculous. With PWAs, the first three steps are bypassed, allowing users to find value quicker and stay engaged longer.

Loading & Pushing.

People expect a site to load in 2.0 seconds or less, according to study. After 3.0 seconds, many are gone. Now think of a phone on 3G trying to load the heavy elements of a website. The words “clunky,” “glacial,” and “stultifying” come to mind. PWAs, by contrast, load quickly even in areas with poor connectivity.

Another great PWA feature is the ability to send Push Notifications to users who have added the PWA to their phone. Push notifications can increase CTR by up to 40%.

And now, for PWA drawbacks…

Since Google began leading the push for PWAs in 2015, development has been slow.

Cutting edge browser technologies are needed for a PWA to function correctly. Sure, the PWA most likely will still work on older devices and browsers, but the UX won’t be the same.

Apple is developing the required pieces for PWAs to function 100% correctly on iPhones and other iOS products. And because PWAs function similar to a normal website, a user on an iPhone can still reap the benefits of the PWA, even if they are unable to add it directly to their homepage.

Source links:

[1] https://www.smashingmagazine.com/2016/08/a-beginners-guide-to-progressive-web-apps/
[2] https://developers.google.com/web/fundamentals/getting-started/codelabs/your-first-pwapp/
[3] http://blog.gaborcselle.com/2012/10/every-step-costs-you-20-of-users.html
[4] https://blog.kissmetrics.com/speed-is-a-killer/
[5] http://andrewchen.co/new-data-on-push-notification-ctrs-shows-the-best-apps-perform-4x-better-than-the-worst-heres-why-guest-post/
[6] https://jakearchibald.github.io/isserviceworkerready/

What happened to boat OEMs and safety?

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Safety is lost at sea

Looking at some of 2015’s Top Sportcruisers up to 45 feet, you see the usual suspects: Searay, Bavaria, Jeanneau, and so forth.

 

Now go to their sites. What you don’t see is any message about safety. [Sorry Searay, all your safety links redirect to your home page.]

 

It makes us wonder why OEMs (of boats and related equipment, such as navigation electronics) don’t see the chance to reach boaters at a level beyond the features and specs of their products and talk about something that matters: Being safe on the water.

 

What car manufacturers understand

The automotive industry knows how to make safety a brand differentiator. Exhibit A: Volvo, where safety is a science-based religion.

 

Volvo understands that cars carry babies and pets in addition to grownups, that the female head of household is driving the decisions around what to drive, and that safety for her family is a front-and-center issue in everything she does.

 

The point: Boating OEMs should consider opening a marketing channel to all consumers, men and women, to talk about product safety. It’s good marketing and good business.

 

4 ways to leverage safety content into marketing content

  1. Start by stating the obvious. Create website content that brings safety information to the user in terms they’ll understand – not just a bunch of compliance and credentials and owner’s manual information, but well-designed pages and experiences that bring safety into the mainstream of the user experience.

 

  1. Make safety packages an upgrade. A leading brand like Sea Ray highlights features called QuietRide and TunedTransom. Why not build a package of USCG-mandated safety equipment – plus add-ons like a 4-person ditch bag – and offer safety package upgrades? Customers might begin to think that the OEM actually cares about them beyond the sale.

 

  1. Partner with other brands. Boating OEMs and equipment manufacturers often go it alone. But when it comes to safety, they should be less cautious about forming partnerships and alliances around products that send the right message. Example: Why hasn’t anyone partnered with Raymarine to promote the LifeTag Man Overboard System?

 

  1. Elevate your search hierarchy around safety. Search results for “boat safety” reveal the hard truth that the issue has been given over to organizations like Discover Boating, Power Squadron, and the Coast Guard. Some basic SEO direction (organic and perhaps paid) can move the right company with the right content into a search results page with a fresh message.

 

Full disclosure: We have helped marine brands including Ritchie Navigation, Sabre Yachts, VETUS-Maxwell, Navtec, Hinckley, and others overcome all sorts of communications obstacles.

And we’re happy to talk to you.

Join us for a cup of coffee at our office in Madison, CT.

Eyeflow: How do people scan your site?

dcblog-eyeflowIt takes 1/5 of a second for someone to form an impression of your site

 

In another 2.6 seconds, they will have located the content that interests them.

 

In that time span of 2.8 seconds the user has scanned the page, made some judgments, and is ready to move deeper into your site.

 

Or move on in search of a better site.

 

Our point: Every aspect of content placement on a home page or landing page has to be scrutinized because even the smallest decisions can affect performance.

 

So let’s take a look at exactly what’s happening in those 2.8 seconds and talk about a few of the essentials of eyeflow.

 

1. Scanning vs Reading

 

Scanning a page – as opposed to reading it – is how people seek content. Jakob Nielsen pointed out many years ago why we scan rather than read but the dominant reason is twofold: Time pressures, and the fact that reading a computer screen is tiring to the eyes.

 

When scanning, the eye generally makes short, rapid eye movements as it moves across a web page, seeking the touchstones and visual cues that signal the content environment is relevant and useful.

 

2. From Gutenberg’s “Z” to Nielsen’s “F”

 

Gutenberg’s diagram is the basis for how we are taught to enter a web page visually.

 

Our eye tends to move in a “Z” shaped pattern, starting in the upper left corner – because that’s how we read – and moving right, left, and right. [This explains why, in print advertising, the logo is often positioned lower right.]

 

But our exposure to the web – and especially to search pages – has reshaped our eyeflow into the form of an “F.”

 

As you’d expect from the shape of the “F,” – as opposed to a “Z” – the eye tends to look across the screen twice and then stop, rather than completing the scan in the lower right corner.

 

Nielsen pointed this out in 2006 – viewers often start in the upper left corner and go right. Then they come back and follow a second movement, also left to right. Then they return to the left side and scan vertically.

 

Side point: Viewer eyeflow can change based on needs. General browsing eye patterns are slower, and more random than information-seeking patterns, which tend to be quicker and centered on navigation. Search page eyeflow tends to have a “hot potato” effect. If you’re redesigning a site, usability testing can provide clarity around how your content is being scanned..

 

3. Type hierarchy matters. Big Time.

 

Viewers look for and read headlines as an instinctive process for locating the main message of a page.

 

Subheads tend to be scanned as viewers go deeper into subpages, looking for relevant content – so don’t write meaningless subheads. Make sure each subhead actually encapsulates the written content below it. This builds reader trust. And keep your fonts simple and consistent so readers begin to feel confident in the aesthetics and standards of the site.

 

4. White space

 

Clients tend to overfill web pages, forgetting that unoccupied space creates a sense of calmness, focus, and makes reading and visual digestion easier.

 

We advise clients to think of white space not just in terms of large areas, but also in terms of column spacing, leaving room around graphics, and even in terms of paragraph length. Short, one and two-sentence paragraphs surrounded by white space accelerate the read and make viewers feel they are getting somewhere.

 

The elements of commanding attention and directing viewers’ eyeballs to where they need to go is a big topic.

 

Too big, in fact, for a blog.

 

But if you want to get into it deeper, we suggest you stop by for a beverage.

4 NEW RULES FOR SEO

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It All Comes Down to Content

You’ve heard it ad nauseam, but today, when it comes to being the highest ranked on a search engine result page, content really is king.

With Google’s new SEO algorithm introduced in Google Panda content is being scrutinized as never before.

Panda evaluates UX in its analysis of site content. So it’s not just the range of content your site features, it’s the quality. That means a lot of site managers need to rethink their content strategy.

The rules have changed. And now, SEO thinking has to change, too. Here’s a guide to 4 critical new rules of SEO as seen by the folks here at drinkcaffeine.

The “Best of the Best” Rule

To maintain basic competitive positioning in search hierarchy, your site content must be as good as the best results on any particular search page. If you can’t consistently maintain this standard against the keywords used to explore your category, the hard truth is you do not have the opportunity to rank.

Search is becoming a mature category. Lots of sites have good, unique content. But it’s not enough to get to the top. You should aim to be the absolute best and then some.

If you don’t think you have the content to fulfill the keywords that drive your site traffic and your industry, then go back to the drawing board and review what it will take to bring your content to the next level.

The Right Links

 In the new world of Panda, links matter. Panda will discern between links that are authoritative and ones that are not.

Google, again valuing the best user experience, favors sites that are organically linked to by users. In fact, if you’re not earning links organically, you may even be earning undesirable links that Google is penalizing you for by lowering your Search Engine Results Page (SERP) ranking.

It’s an uphill battle to earn links with anything less than the best content, but there’s a reason why getting to the top of the hill is worthwhile. And users are already beginning to notice that top-ranked players on any given SERP have the goods.

Think mobile

User experience more than ever relies on mobile-friendly sites, pages that load instantly, and device rendering. Don’t forget this aspect of UX as you develop your site. Panda certainly hasn’t.

So how do you become the best?

The shifts in Google’s algorithm require us all to look in the mirror and examine content more critically than ever before. Here are some critical questions.

  • Do my pages answer specific questions or call outs that a user may be searching for? A user problem-solution model is a powerful way to earn user trust, and links.
  • What’s my site like from a UX perspective? Are pages loading quickly? Is the navigation really intuitive and based on what users want?
  • Where is my content being sourced from? Content that pulls from trusted, branded sources will be far superior to the content that has no anchor to solid data.
  • Am I communicating visually? As we mentioned, people want their information delivered quickly and efficiently. Tidbits of text information will seldom surpass the power of an infographic or graph.
  • What am I missing? What are the top SERP leaders missing that you can provide? This is how you’ll set yourself apart.

When it comes to building out your best content, we’re your search engine optimizers. Search drinkcaffeine for your best result.

 

 

The 3 Big Problems with Marketing in the Marine Industry

dcblog-keepafloatIf you’re a marketer in the boating industry the thought may have occurred to you that, for all its emphasis on product advancement, the sector as a whole is still stuck in the mud on some very important marketing issues. Here’s our 2 cents and nickel of advice.

1. Viewing the product as an end result rather than part of a larger experience.

Manufacturers at every level – from premium yachts to the smallest pieces of on-board equipment – tend to see their product as an endpoint. This explains the rigid content focus on specs, images that isolate the product, and very little emphasis on how the product enables the end user to have a certain kind of experience.

Our work with Hinckley was a rare departure from this – a website that balanced boat images with environmental backgrounds. The result: An emphasis on a lifestyle aesthetic of which the boat was a key component.

What to do about it: Rethink visual branding. Reacquaint yourself with ingredient branding. And start talking to photographers and agencies who understand how products fit in the world of consumer experience.

2. Homogeneity in ad content.

Flip through any of the major boating mags and you’ll see the same thing month after month: an ocean of blue sky, white hulls and water spray, and blonde women in bikinis stretched out and sunning themselves on the deck.

Boat and product manufacturers need to know this: Effective print advertising is predicated on capturing attention through differentiation – quickly.

The rule of thumb is 2.0 seconds. That’s how long you have to distinguish the ad’s visual presence and enable the reader to create a mental impression of the content. If your imagery and language is indistinguishable from its surroundings, there’s even less possibility the reader will grasp it.

What to do about it: Start thinking outside the boat and the bikini. Experiment with different logo placements in your layouts. Add a new signal color to the brand standards. Start using imagery –photography, illustration, graphics, fonts – that takes a different path from the advertisers you call your competition.

3. Consistency

Consistency is good in advertising – to a point. But a media buy that secures the same ad space over time will have diminished effectiveness. Here’s why:

Consumer preference is a bell curve as it relates to advertised products. Initial exposure, if repeated, will result in awareness and interest.

But repeated reinforcement will peak and decline over time – and overexposure creates perceptions of overabundance and lower quality. Think about the steady frequency with which many low-end consumer products are advertised – fast food, personal injury attorneys, big-box furniture stores. The painful consistency of their message turns their advertising into cheap wall paper.

What to do about it: Change ad creative content frequently. Reconsider your media mix with no sacred cows. Explore online ad placement outside of boating sites. And contact us.

If you’re a marine or boating brand and you’re tired of cruising in the same waters, contact us.

Our Top 5 reasons why timesheets suck harder than an airplane toilet

dcblog-timesheetdilemma

Anyone in professional services knows the issue.

Timesheets, to put it as delicately as possible, suck. Show us someone who likes timesheets and we’ll show you an anal-retentive, neo-maxi zoom dweebie.

The many sucky aspects of timesheets

1. They suck creativity out of the brain. Timesheets are the ultimate buzzkill. They are to creativity what kryptonite is to Superman: a life-denying, soul-shattering, anti-matter experience that leaves a trail of scorched cerebral earth in its path.

2. They suck away time that could be spent on YouTube. One of our employees claims that he can’t work past 3:30 without going on YouTube to watch a baseball manager get thrown out of a game. Timesheets seriously cut into his Watch-a-Grown-Man-Have-A-Hissyfit time. Argue with that.

3. They suck the life out of my Kwan.

As Rod Tidwell said in Jerry McGuire, you gotta have the Kwan. Timesheets are a total Kwan-killer.

4. They suck because all forms suck. Misery comes in many forms. Most are either IRS forms or timesheets.

5. They suck because they make people go shoplifting in convenience stores. Unproven fact: Timesheets are known to cause people to shoplift at their local Gas n Sip, resulting in excess consumption of turkey jerky.

AND why we do them anyhow

  1. They help us understand process. If we’re way over budget or behind schedule, we can look at how we got there.
  2. They help manage workflow. Some tasks take longer than others. Some people work faster than others. Timesheets tell us about ourselves and how we can organize our efforts better.
  3. It’s just good business. We talk about metrics and how they can tell whether something is worth the investment. Timesheets are a metric for telling us if we’re performing at a strong level, fro clients and for ourselves.

Chime in. Let us know your true feelings about timesheets.

SEO for CMOs: What you need to know

dcblog-seotoday

Is your brand getting buried alive on search?

When was the last time you clicked through to the second or (gasp) third page of Google in search of a listing for your company’s content? It’s a terrible feeling, as if your content is getting buried alive. It’s important for companies to keep an eye on their rankings for branded, non-branded, and industry terms – and understand how SEO is changing.

Keeping pace with search sophistication.

When search engines were first being used, there was less content Out There. The internet was simpler. A website would only use page titles, meta-descriptions and alt attributes to describe the content that was on a given page.

But search got smarter, and algorithms started discerning which sources of information were better than others. For example, Googlebot – the web crawler that looks for new and updated pages – started assigning more importance to content based on the credibility of the source.

SEO Evolution Timeline

Algorithms: Taking a deeper dive

As search engines got better at patrolling the web, they started looking at factors like inbound/outbound linking, anchor text, domain names and registration information. Then algorithms focused on domain authority (which relies heavily on other sites linking back to yours) and diversity of the external link sources. Linking between two or three sites wasn’t enough anymore.

The most recent and advanced algorithm turn the internet into a popularity contest. Social mentions are important, especially those from (wait for it) Google+. And there is a strong focus on user behavior: Once a visitor hits your site, are they easily finding what they are looking for?

Google wants to ensure content legitimacy, which is all good. Having a physical business location, contact page, and better user interaction are good criteria for search hierarchy. But to win at the game you have to know the rules of the road.

Content is still king.

Content has withstood the test of time admirably. There’s no substitute for having good, useful, usable content.

Keyword stuffing, duplicated content, invisible text, and other black hat tricks have been used to elevate search visibility, but unethical or illegal measures to rank your site higher on Google will most likely result in penalties such as lower rankings or being banned from the index. Our advice: make really good content experiences the centerpiece of your SEO strategy – and stay alert for new SEO advancements.

If you’d like an SEO update, feel free to contact us.

With trending topics, tread carefully

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The need to show relevance – and restraint

Social marketing strategy is about staying relevant. We advise clients to add their voice and content to hot topics – when it’s appropriate. Sounds obvious, yes?

But look around and you can see big brands that comment on every trending topic out there. Sure, it’s nice to make it to the top of Twitter timelines and be seen by more potential followers, but it requires diligence and discretion – attributes that easily get lost in the chase to keep up with real time trends.

How DiGiorno pizza got burned

DiGiorno Pizza is one of the biggest players in the twittersphere, with a witty, responsive, and relevant presence (as a rule). They have a smart-alecky, wise-guy voice and they tweet non-stop and comment on trending topics. In addition to sports games and awards show commentary, they even live-tweeted the Sound of Music.

But the practice of diving into as many trending topics as possible recently backfired on the DiGiorno’s social team. They accidentally made a humorous tweet about pizza and attached the #WhyIStayed hashtag – which was referring to domestic violence in response to the Ray Rice scandal.

“Uh-oh”

After a huge corporate social fail, there are different ways of handling the situation. Some companies choose to simply go dark. Others will delete a tweet/post and pretend it never happened. After they joked about the social upheaval in Egypt, Kenneth Cole made an apology and then waited for the next news cycle. DiGiorno also made a couple major apologies and tried to respond to each person who was offended by the post. They have not tweeted again since apologizing for the incident, which took place in early September.

While DiGiorno’s response was the most appropriate for them, most companies don’t have the manpower to devote to individual responses – especially if they have 82k followers.

How to sidestep disaster

Strategize on voice. While developing your social strategy, discuss what the voice of your company should be. Make sure it is in line with your corporate values and brand reputation. Are you going to be witty and funny about anything in pop culture or will you focus only on industry-specific topics?

Research the context. Even if it means your tweet will take 15 minutes longer to be sent, make sure that you research a topic before posting about it – especially trending topics on twitter.

Test it on teammates. A tweet that seems innocuous to you could be offensive to someone else. Take a few minutes to ask your co-workers what they think. Asking 3-5 different people should let you know if there are any potential landmines.

As always, we are here to help with your social strategy… contact us if you have any questions.

Facebook does an about face

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Closing the Like-Gate

In a very quiet announcement last week, Facebook announced that the commonly used practice of “like-gating” a page for contests & promotions will be against policy, effective November 5, 2014.

Like–gating refers to the requirement that a visitor must like your Facebook page in order to enter a contest or take part in a promotion. The value of a like is questionable, but like-gating has been widely used as a successful fan-acquisition method. So let’s look at the issue.

The new policy

The updated policy, mixed in with other content on a Facebook Developers blog, says “You must not incentivize people to use social plugins or to like a Page. This includes offering rewards, or gating apps or app content based on whether or not a person has liked a Page. It remains acceptable to incentivize people to login to your app, checkin at a place or enter a promotion on your app’s Page. To ensure quality connections and help businesses reach the people who matter to them, we want people to like Pages because they want to connect and hear from the business, not because of artificial incentives. We believe this update will benefit people and advertisers alike.”

What it means & what you should do

With this new policy in place, contests, rewards, and promotions will be open to everyone on Facebook who encounters the content, no liking required. So you may get a bazillion entries, but not a single new like. For marketers who are still building communities and believe that Facebook likes may actually have some value, here are some ideas.

Use the wall

An on-wall promotion is when a brand makes a post and asks users to comment to enter. On-wall promotions have many benefits. For one, they cost less. They’re also easier to deploy & manage, with fewer barriers to entry for participants. Of course, these posts won’t get you more fans either, but if you run a weekly or monthly promotion, at least people have a reason to return.

Collect additional information

OK, so Facebook won’t let you make becoming a fan a condition for someone entering a promotion – but that doesn’t mean you can’t ask for information prior to entry. Have email as a required field. Maybe try for a phone number. Just remember that your contest has to have enough value to justify asking for the information.

Don’t abandon Facebook

Facebook is concerned about its own usability, which is a good thing for everyone who uses it. And we think Facebook recognizes that the overall quality of brand communities will increase if those communities are not inflated with hit-and-run contestants. So don’t eliminate Facebook outreach. Just make sure it’s not the sole focus of a campaign. Customers have multiple networks to choose from and brands should be available across most of them.

Encourage UGC

And remember that a single piece of UGC makes more impact than a Facebook like. That’s why we sometimes suggest “action-gating,” requiring a customer to submit some form of UGC (on any social media network they like) to be entered in a contest or promotion.

If you have any questions or need a beverage, we’re here.

Listen up: Time for website audio to make a comeback

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The argument against websites that autoplay sound is well-known.

It’s annoying.

It’s invasive.

It’s a dead giveaway at work that you’re not really working. And those cheesy speakers with no midrange aren’t helping matters any.

But when we turn off the sound, we’re saying goodbye to a sensory experience that can do a lot for the site experience. We think it’s time clients listen to the case for how sound can support the target experience.

5 reasons why audio should be reconsidered.

1. People work with headphones on. Thanks to tablets and smart phones, more and more people work with in-your-ear audio as a way of getting through the day.

2. YouTube changed everything. The ascendancy of YouTube as a research and learning platform has meant that it’s acceptable to include audio + video content as a core part of everyday life, even in the workplace.

3. Stories are told with sound. Branded content often has an agenda of cultivating a narrative around the product – anecdotes, stories from everyday consumers, and other forms of allegory. Categorically eliminating sound ties one hand behind the back of the website as it seeks engagement. See how this funky Berlin hotel uses audio to create an other-worldly experience

4. It can be subtle. Audio can be atmospheric and textural. It can be simple sound effects that set a tone or mood. Check out how audio works within this scrolling site for a story the Guardian built about a wild fire in Tasmania.

5. It can be elective. Website visitors can be empowered to decide if they want to listen to the audio – just make it clear to them that they’re going to a sound file with a “Hear the full experience” activation button for listeners who want to go deeper.

Sound off – or on? Let us know what you think.

There’s no definitive, yes-or-no answer regarding audio usage on websites. It’s all a question of whether it works for what you’re trying to accomplish. So let us hear your opinion, online or in person.