What’s It Actually Like To Be A Data Analyst?

Data Analyst We touched upon a range of topics; from why he got into data analytics, to how his background helped him in his current work. We also got a fascinating insight into his particular role within his company, and the tools he uses on a daily basis.

Data Analyst

 

If hearing about Radi’s life as a data analyst has made you think ‘I could do this job!”, then why not get a taste by actually doing some data analytics? As part of our Intro to Data Analytics Course, you’ll focus on Microsoft Excel—a key tool in analytics— and get a crash course in analyzing data over 10 exercises.

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Our questions for Radi

  1. A background in data science
  2. A day in the life of a data analyst
  3. A career in data analytics and the future

1. A background in data science

What drew you to the world of data analytics?

Before I started working in the field, my understanding was that data analysis is used by companies to target specific consumers, or as a way for companies like Facebook and Google to “enhance the user experience” by targeting adverts based on browsing habits.

My opinions changed once I started working for my current company, which uses data analysis for a good cause. My company analyzes DNA related data in young people to predict future diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Diabetes, Crohn’s, and many more. This really changed my perspective on data analysis and made me feel like I’m making an actual difference in the world.

How has your background in computer science helped you?

To work as a data analyst, you need to master at least one of the main programming languages. The analysis for our medical data is done by an AI software that we built and continue to improve using two programming languages: R and Python. These are powerful statistical programming languages used to perform advanced analyses and predictive analytics on big data sets. They’re both standard languages in data analytics, and my computer science studies in university certainly gave me a good grounding in the languages from which I’ve built on.

2. A day in the life of a data analyst

Can you walk us through a typical day at work?

Usually, my day doesn’t start until I’ve finished my first cup of coffee. It’s not about the caffeine as much as it is a ritual of getting into “the zone” before I start working with massive amounts of medical data.

A typical day usually includes, but is not limited to, meetings with the analytics team to discuss the tasks of the day and brainstorm for possible solutions. When everything is clear, I start working on the data. Analyzing data consists of three main tasks: gathering the data, cleaning the data, and finally processing the data.

Depending on the problem I’m working on, gathering data is usually the most simple part of the process, because the medical databases I work with are easily accessible—and I don’t have to worry about searching for it. Cleaning the data, which is the next step, simply means going through the data and trying to understand it, making corrections where needed such as moving outliers or data that should not be included in the analysis. This step can take a lot of time, but understanding the data is crucial in order for me to start processing the data.

The data processing part of the process is where I get to use my programming skills, which I use alongside several different data tools. I use these skills and tools to analyze the work and come up with solutions for the problem at hand.

What are a data analyst’s responsibilities?

My role involves:

  • Gathering data
  • Cleaning data
  • Processing data
  • Producing reports
  • Spotting patterns
  • Collaborating with others and setting up infrastructure

How much of a role does data cleansing play in your processes?

Cleaning data is a very important process because you need to recognize which data should stay and which should not. Including incorrect data while processing it might give you the wrong results, which in turn can lead to coming up with the wrong solutions. You then have to repeat your work, which is a waste of your time.

How often do you meet with stakeholders to discuss business needs and new things to analyze?

Personally, I don’t have to meet with any stakeholders, that’s the job of my team members. The only people I collaborate with are the analytics team because we need to keep each other updated on how things are going.

What are your experiences with Excel?

While Excel is a powerful tool in data analysis, it still has a lot of serious limitations. Excel cannot handle datasets above a certain size, and does not easily allow for reproducing previously conducted analyses on new datasets. The main weakness of such programs is that it was developed for very specific uses, and do not have a large community of contributors constantly adding new tools. Which is why I prefer using and R and Python.

Tell us more about R and Python!

R and Python are the two most popular programming languages used by data analysts and data scientists. Both are free and open source. R is used for statistical analysis, and Python is a general-purpose programming language. For anyone interested in machine learning, working with large datasets, or creating complex data visualizations, they are both godsends.

To go into a bit more detail, R is one of the most frequently used tools in data science and machine learning. Over the last few years R has become the golden child of data science. It’s used frequently to unlock patterns in large blocks of data and was designed by people like me, statisticians, to make our work easier. It one of the most must-know programming languages in the field of data analytics and data science.

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3. Having a career in data analytics and what the future holds

Where can you see data analytics heading in the future?

Data analytics IS the future, and the future is NOW!

All the actions you do on your computer, smartphone or tablet are recorded and collected by a data analyst somewhere who is trying to make their business flourish. That’s right—every mouse click, keyboard button press, swipe or tap is used to shape business decisions. Everything is about data these days. Data is information and information is power. I don’t want to get political, but the more ‘data’ you have on someone, the more you can control their lives.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

Honestly, I don’t know. A year ago, I couldn’t have imagined living and working in Berlin, but here I am, and it’s the same regarding my work. As long as the effort I put into my work is worth the reward then I will keep doing it until it’s not. And fortunately, my education in computer science and graphic design will always be in demand, so I try not to worry about the future and just enjoy the moment for now.

What does career progression in data analytics look like?

There are various professional possibilities that people in data analytics can aim for.

Some of these possibilities are, but not limited to:

  • Data Management Professional
  • Data Engineer
  • Business Analyst
  • Machine Learning Researcher/Practitioner
  • Data-oriented Professional

But of course, each one of these categories can branch out to subcategories which can open up more career opportunities.

8 Typography Trends That Will Transform Your User Interface

When it comes to user interface (UI) design, typography is one of the most important aspects to consider. Not only does the right typography help to convey the brand; it also plays a crucial role in ensuring readability, making sure that your website or app is user-friendly and accessible.

Typography

If you’re faced with the task of choosing the right typography, the good news is that typography has evolved considerably over the years. Back in the day, readability seemed to be all that mattered; nowadays, it’s all about bold, innovative fonts that really tell a story.

So how do you go about choosing the right typography for your next design project? To get you feeling inspired, we’ve rounded up eight of our favorite typography trends—check them out below.

1. Serif fonts: The epitome of modern-day elegance

We tend to use sans-serifs to portray a sense of modernity and elegance, and we are starting to see logos and website copy using bold and high-contrast serifs. Although they look modern, there is something nostalgic about serifs. They want to tell a story about a product. In essence, design is all about telling a story to the user, and your chosen typography helps you to do this. Opting for a bold sans-serif font will ensure your message stands out loud and clear!

Sans serifs trends also are moving toward clean and very round forms. This is best exemplified through logos such as Airbnb, Spotify, and Google. Roundness entails simplicity and straightforwardness, which can help to build trust between the brand and the user. Of course, the overuse of rounded sans serifs can be risky since they can look a bit childish, so it’s important to use this font in the right context.

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2. Rustic fonts: The magic of handwriting

For a while now, the use of handwritten script fonts has been on the rise, with thousands of highly customized typefaces readily available. While the popularity of hand-lettered scripts will likely never disappear completely, we’re beginning to see the same level of customization in non-script typefaces. This style of typography is especially popular in the design and branding used for breweries, farms, bakeries, coffee shops, boutique stores, and other traditional industries. The handwritten style provides a sense of authenticity and artistry that’s slowly making its way into the mainstream, but conveys a unique and personal feel nonetheless.

3. Minimalist typography: Readability at its best

Whether you want to use them for prints, logos, or for a website, minimalist fonts are very versatile and can be used in pretty much any kind of design. The minimal design trend is here to stay, which is why minimalist fonts are so popular among designers. With the overwhelming use of mobile devices, and the increasing emphasis that search engines are placing on website speed and usability, users are now looking for designs that are easy to use, without any over-the-top effects or graphics. Examples of minimalist fonts that are currently trending are Roboto, Museo Sans, Blogger Sans, Prime, and Gogoia. What makes these fonts minimalist is easy readability. Ironically, keeping certain text simple heightens its sense of importance, and pairing these minimalist fonts with an all-white or all-black background adds even more gravitas.

4. Pixel fonts: Stylish nostalgia from the 2D gaming era

When you hear the words “pixel font”, Super Mario Brothers or Pac-man might come to mind. Indeed, pixelated typography is both nostalgic and stylish. Pixel art evolved from the 2D computer graphics of the 70s through the 90s, and currently, pixel style fonts are making quite a comeback. While these fonts are fun and playful, they’re being used well beyond the realm of video games; we are starting to see Pixel fonts in bars and food trucks, too. Check out some examples from Pinterest. While pixelated typography isn’t appropriate for all brands and products, it’s ideal if you want to convey a quirky and playful tone.

5. 70s and 80s fonts: Retro typography inspired by the movies

With the release of the hit Netflix show Stranger Things, which takes place in the 80s, the nostalgia for the late seventies and eighties typography was well and truly opened up. This retro trend goes further than the long hair and tight blue jeans that feel like they were pulled directly from Nightrider. We’re seeing a trend back from the heavily spaced out words of the past few years. Now there is a steady acceptance of the “tight kerning” that defined that decade’s style. A designer could even connect the words together without any kerning, using a Star Wars logo-like look—another movie from the 80s!

6. Kinetic (moving) fonts: The power of typography and animation combined

With the onset of 5G network speed, motion design is becoming more of a reality, and as a result, moving text or fonts will eventually become the norm. Kinetic typography is just a cool way of saying “moving type.” It’s a combination of old-fashioned typography with the power of video and animation in order to create really eye-catching, memorable designs. Unlike standard type or fonts, a designer working with kinetic type has to also take into account style, effects, and timing in addition to normal considerations like alignment, weight, and hierarchy. We’re seeing the rise of this type of font predominantly in the videogame industry, where designers are simultaneously burdened and blessed with the responsibility to use their imaginations by creating kinetic typography. The challenge with this style of typography lies in clearly conveying your message while entertaining the user at the same time.

7. Colorful fonts: Monochrome’s more daring cousin

Historically, fonts have traditionally been strictly monochrome (black or white, or just one tone) as they’ve been largely tied to the print process. But with more typography happening on-screen rather than on the printed page, designers are starting to open up to the possibilities of colorful fonts and their potential for creating exciting designs. The purpose of both UX and UI design is to make products and experiences more inclusive. Vibrant and non-traditional color schemes encourage designers to think outside the box while thinking about what voice and tone they’re portraying to their users. No longer are companies restricted to equating professionalism with simple layouts; these days, it’s much more common for a brand to want to evoke some kind of emotional response from the user. Adding a bit of blue may provide a sense of calm, or red a sense of urgency. If you’d like to learn more about the power of color, check out the ultimate color glossary for UI designers.

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8. Contrast: High-impact typography for a lasting impression

Just the right amount of contrast can lead to a visually rewarding design. There are a few trending typographic options that will help designers make the most of this style. You can mix together two styles to get a pleasingly high-contrast look. For example: Large, massive, super-heavyweight bold fonts are a popular attention-grabber at the moment, and combining them with sophisticated, minimalist sans-serifs creates a beautifully balanced effect. The principle of contrast can be used in other areas of design, too, like color. The great thing about contrasting typography is that the options for pairing different styles are practically endless, leaving plenty of room to express your own individual style.

It’s a wrap!

Words are gaining more dominance in the field of product design. As a designer, it’s vital to understand what message you are trying to convey when choosing a typography style. As with any part of the design process, a thorough and instinctive understanding of your target audience is the best place to start, so think carefully about the context surrounding your users and your product when picking a font. If you’d like to learn more about user interface design, check out the following:

  • What is typography and why is it so important? A beginner’s guide
  • 10 Examples of beautiful blogs that have nailed their UI design
  • 7 Ways to improve your UI design skills

Must Have Google and Website Updates for 2020

Google is always pushing us to build better, safer websites. In most cases, I agree with their policies and changes. When it comes to search, Google is very good at pushing incentives to put the user first. These practices generally result in better user experience and a safer Internet.  Privacy policies and cookie notifications are a perfect example of Google pushing user first initiatives.

Google

And featuring an embedded Google Map on your site is a great way to boost user interactivity and connect your website with Google in a tangible way to deepen your relationship with the almighty Google gods.

1. Add a privacy policy to your site.

We’re all used to seeing privacy policies on e-commerce sites, but now pretty much every website is expected to have one. They are meant to provide transparency about how websites use visitor data. Privacy policies not only improve trust with your viewers — if you collect personal information from your website visitors using an email form or track user behavior with a system like Google Analytics, you are legally required to have a privacy policy.

You can manufacture your privacy policy in many ways.  You could attempt to craft it yourself, pay for an online service, or hire a lawyer to write one for you. Your privacy policy is meant to inform visitors about how you collect information, how it’s used, and if it’s protected, traded, or not. It doesn’t just talk about their personal information, it also talks about usage of cookies, if you plan to contact them through your marketing, and how to contact you with questions. As the privacy laws change, and they are definitely in flux right now, your privacy policy needs to adjust as well.  For this reason, we generally utilize an online service to build and host privacy policies for our sites and those of our clients.

You don’t necessarily have to require people to read your privacy policy before they submit an email on your site; you do have to make it available to them.  And simply posting one can build trust and rapport for little to no investment on your end. Link to your privacy policy from the footer of your website and consider linking to it below each email form on your site as well.

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2. Get on board with cookie notifications.

Cookies notifications, like privacy policies, are another way to build trust with visitors. The act of informing users about cookies is becoming less of an option and more of a mandate by the day.  Google announced in January of 2020 they plan to make it required for sites to disclose cookie usage to visitors.

Not sure what cookies I’m talking about?  You’re not alone. I recently wrote a comprehensive article about what cookies are and how to handle them as a site user and owner.  In a nutshell internet or web cookies are communication between a browser and a server. They make websites easier to use for visitors, track site usage, and enable cross-site marketing.

Cookie notifications are the pop-ups you’ve been seeing on websites either telling you a site is using cookies or asking for you to accept them. There are three initiatives requiring websites to tell visitors about cookie usage, two are in Europe and one is in California.  They classify cookies as personal data and require all sites with visitors from their locations to allow visitors to opt out of cookie use.

If you’re a site owner, it’s highly likely you’re using cookies.  They’re used for Google Analytics tracking, shopping carts, saving logins, and a whole slew of other functions. And odds are high you receive traffic from either Europe or California. Every website I manage (over 200 of them) have traffic from at least one of those locations.  Yours likely does, too. Lets just say it’s called the World Wide Web for a reason.

So, pretty much almost everybody needs to have the cookies notification (as well as a privacy policy) on their website. ‘Cause Google, Europe and California say so, and you owe it to the people visiting your site to clearly identify what you’re doing with their information.

There are multiple ways to adjust your cookie settings in your browser and notify people of cookie usage on your website.  I go over the nuts and bolts in my lovely cookie thesis, I mean blog post.

3. Embed a Google Map on your site and link it to your Google My Business listing.

Dang all this mandating, requirement mumbo-jumbo has got me down… I like to make my own rules!  So now you’re gonna do something for yourself. You’re gonna stop using crappy map plugins and instead directly embed a Google Map on your website. Google keeps changing its Maps API, which is great for users, but a total pain in the butt for developers and the maps plugins are having a hard time keeping up. Here’s the good news, though: you don’t actually have to use some fancy plug-in anymore, because WordPress has actually evolved to allow you to do this the good old-fashioned way.  That just sounds weird, using evolution and old-fashioned in the same sentence… can that be right?

To be fair, Google Maps has always allowed you to embed maps in a website — well, at least for as long as I can remember. The challenge was if you embedded a map in WordPress, you were forced to only edit the page with HTML because switching to visual mode in the editor would erase the map embed code.  Yeah, that sucked. But it doesn’t do that anymore! Plus, now you can actually tie the Google Map you embed in your website to your Google My Business listing! 🤯

This is cool because it reinforces the relationship of your website with your Google My Business listing, and your visitors can easily click and get directions to your place of business using Google Maps! Plus, less plugins means faster loading sites and more security.  See, it really is a treat for you.

Make your site load faster.

You need to implement these invisible magical suggestions for sure.  Slow-loading websites are one of the biggest atrocities online right now. People are not patient. When people click on a link to your site and then impatiently abandon the slow-loading dinosaur, Google sees that and infers your website is low quality because people are leaving it.  That results in lower search engine ranking AND lost business.

So, how can we speed up your site without a total re-do? Here are a few band-aids to keep you in the game:

4. Install a caching plugin.

What is caching? Story time! When a website loads, the server is compiling multiple things: HTML and PHP, CSS, Javascript, and content from your database to tell the browser how to display the information on a page. All of those things take time to load. When you use a caching plugin the server holds a copy of the pages on your website, fully rendered and compiled, ready for someone to view, so it doesn’t have to pull all the resources and download everything to be able to show the page to your visitors — which makes things load faster, and loading faster is better.

There are lots of different caching plugins to choose from. Our favorite is WP rocket. It is a paid plugin, but it does about a bajillion things to improve load time. You can also extend its features with other add-ons; we often combine it with Autoptimize to improve minimizing, which, like caching, also decreases load time.

5. Use an image optimizer.

Just because you upload an image to your website doesn’t mean it’s actually web-optimized. Uploading an image just…well…uploads it. Web images are supposed to be formatted in a certain way — if you want to get technical: 72 dpi, in RGB, resized to the exact dimensions you plan to display it, and last but not least, saved in the proper file format: JPG, PNG or GIF.

When you take a picture with your camera (or a fancy phone), you may have noticed the file size is way bigger than something you steal from Facebook.  That’s because Facebook optimizes images as they’re uploaded, or it would take FOREVER to load your news feed.

Installing an image optimizer, while it doesn’t fix all your image loading issues (educating yourself is the only way to do that), can compress your images, adjust the color profile, and adjust them to a lower DPI — all of which (if you don’t care about the logistics), put very simply, makes your site load faster. (Notice a recurring theme, yet?)

We use two plugins most often to optimize images: EWWW and Smush.  If you want to know more optimizing images and see a great in-depth evaluation of plugins and methods, Smashing Magazine has a very comprehensive article.

6. Leverage a CDN.

CDN, or Content Delivery Network, is a group of servers dispersed throughout a geographic area to deliver data faster.  Using one improves website security and makes your site load faster.

Even if your website has a caching plugin, it is still serving from your own normal server from its own normal location. The performance of your website is often contingent on that server environment.  If another site on the server is experiencing heavy traffic or gets hacked, your site may load slower as a result. Also, although we don’t think about it this way, when someone from across the world loads your site, the data still has to travel to their location.

A CDN makes an entire replica of your website on its server, and it serves it up lickity-split from the locations nearest to your visitor, allowing it to load faster than a normal server setup (There it is again!). It also adds another layer of protection against certain types of hacking. Bonus.

I’m not going to say setting a website up on a CDN is a breeze. It’s probably not a beginner level activity. You have to change some settings that, if not handled correctly, have absolutely crap-tastic ramifications, like breaking your email or making your website disappear.  But the benefits totally outweigh the costs. A safer site that loads faster just makes sense.

Cloudflare is our favorite CDN.  What’s even more magical about Cloudflare is it’s free… Yup — the basic service is free.  Many of the websites we manage get great results with just the free service.

Clean up emails from your site.

Email seems like old news. After all, the first email was sent in 1969. Now everybody uses email, it’s a business communication staple.  So why is it so hard sometimes? It seems like you just click send and VOILA! It magically delivers — but it’s actually a pretty technical beastie.  When you send an email, it’s probably transferring between four or more servers before it hits the inbox of the recipient. Even in 2020, there are ways we can improve email from our websites.

7. Install a CAPTCHA on every email form.

If you have an email form on your site, that doesn’t have a CAPTCHA, you probably hate yourself right now because you’re getting so much crappy spam traffic.  You need a CAPTCHA. Most of the spam emails that you get from the email form on your website are submitted by a bot. Bots can do a lot of things, but one thing they can’t do is read pictures.  And ultimately, that’s what a CAPTCHA is: it’s a picture that a user has to read and correctly identify to submit a form.

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8. Send your website form emails using SMTP.

Using SMTP to send emails is safer and more reliable. SMTP stands for Simple Mail Transfer Protocol.  Contrary to its name, SMTP sounds pretty technical. But if you’re still with me, you may have noticed all the invisible junk I’m squalking about today is also technical.  So let’s take a look at this doozie.

If your website is on WordPress, it’s written in PHP. When a site is written in PHP, it can (and likely does) just use the built in PHP mail function to send emails from your site.

While it’s the easiest way, PHP isn’t always the most secure or reliable way. Some email clients filter things too enthusiastically, and many mail servers require SMTP authentication for delivery, which is something PHP mail doesn’t do. As a result, many PHP sent emails get stuck in spam filters, or they just never deliver. That means you or your clients may not get the emails from your website.

Free WebSite Services vs Custom Website Design Companies

Building a professional website to give your business residence online for the sake of promoting your enterprise is an essential necessity these days. Companies frequently make the mistake of spending a lot on advertising, and not enough on their websites, when both are priorities.

Web Site

Enticing visitors to go beyond your site’s homepage permits the beginning of a potential business relationship. Once you reach the decision to establish a web presence, you have two choices. Either you hire a custom website design firm or you tweak your pioneering spirit to do it yourself using one of the free or less pricey services available on the internet.

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If you learn well, are good at teaching yourself programs, and have the patience, then by all means, the free services might work for your website project. An added bonus would entail possessing savvy skills in the marketing department. On the other hand, if your time is focused on other tasks and imagining yourself cluelessly ensnared in beginner pseudo programming already feels like a nightmare, then a web design firm would be a helpful coach to guide you through the process with professional advice. Any reputable design company commands technical concepts in the vernacular, metaphorically, has a firm grasp of technical concepts and fluent expertise in areas such as target audience, color principles, fundamentals of design, and calls to action. If these terms befuddle you, and you have the resources to hire a firm, it might be in your company’s best interest to take this path.

The amount of money you are able to allot is an obvious constraint. Naturally, if you lack sufficient funds to invest in the project, then hiring a design firm is only going to work once your company obtains funding, and for the time being, one of the free services would be the sensible approach. A site created by a web design company could easily be priced into the thousands, often excluding the costs of a custom domain name and website hosting. Whereas other internet services are either free or at a minimal monthly cost, anywhere from less than $5 each month to a couple of hundred dollars each year.

Compelled by a lean wallet from the current economy to ask what these sites are? Sure, we have some recommendations for you. A caveat: you might not be able to take your site elsewhere. WeeblyGo DaddyYolaDevHub are among the services available on the internet allowing you to design, publish, and host your site using editors to spare you actual programming. Let us consider Yola. A free website grants you up to five sites, 1GB storage, unlimited bandwidth, up to 15MB file uploads. With a Weebly account, you are given two sites, unlimited pages, bandwidth, and storage, and a 5MB upload. The downside is you can’t upload multiple files simultaneously.

Most of these web services present a menu of choices and a palette that involves a drag and drop feature. You are allowed to design, save, edit, administer, as well as upload images, video clips, and audio clips. Some offer a wizard accessory to help guide. Users have found the sparse layouts, large ads on the website, and limited designs to be the cost in paying less, from their experiences in designing with a few of these services, although keep in mind that the less pleasing features are not present in every free service. Certain services might also take a sales cut from free accounts.

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Remember, you need a lot of patience to learn the software, and it helps if you previously acquired programming knowledge. You can’t be wrapped up in other activities if you want to focus on your web design project using one of these web services. Research each free service before you roll up your sleeves.

Should you decide having your site worked on by a web design firm is the sensible selection for your business, then we certainly encourage you to give Lform a call. Again, do your research before working with a reputable professional web design firm that provides unbeatable social media integration, a strong design aesthetic, and service guarantees.

A Guide to Usability for Web Design and More!

Usability is a simple concept, yet so powerful that it can derail even the most amazing product concepts and sleekest of designs if it’s not implemented well. Put very simply, usability is the ease with which a person can accomplish a given task with your product.

Usability

  1. Impression – On first being presented with the design, how quickly do users adapt to perform basic tasks?
  2. Ability – Once basic skills are learned, how quickly will a user become efficient?
  3. Comprehension – After interacting with the design and putting it down, will users retain the required skills the next time they encounter it?
  4. Error Rate – What kind of mistakes do users make and how easy are they to correct?
  5. Contentment – How satisfied are users with the design?

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Give a Caveman a Potato Peeler and a Yukon Gold

First, he feels the weight of the peeler, the curvature of the metal and the sharpness of its blade. It feels right in his hand. Next comes experimentation. He strikes the blade against the potato and then stabs it. He runs the blade across its skin and finally discovers an efficient way to remove it. Success!

Our caveman spends the next five minutes learning the best way to peel the potato, starting at first with small, jerky movements. Soon, he learns that long smooth strokes will get the job done quicker. He grabs another potato and starts peeling. This one only takes him half the time. 30 minutes later he’s peeled every potato in the village, taking an average of 45 seconds per spud.

Why was he able to wield a tool that he’d never used before so easily? Because a potato peeler has a high usability level.

What did that have to do with Web design?

Whatever the tool, be it a potato peeler, a hammer, an iPhone or a website, ultimately, the only thing that matters is how well it assists you in reaching your goal. Are you looking to convert views to sales? Do you want your website to be a trusted source of information or entertainment?

Highly Usable Sites

Take a look at a few examples of sites that take usability to the next level.

www.YouTube.com

The largest video sharing website on the planet, from its effortless search system to rating, sharing, and embedding, YouTube has become synonymous with online video. My 70-year-old Mother in Law looks up recipes and my seven-year-old nephew searches for train videos. Neither are technologically adept and yet, with virtually no assistance, they can access a massive archive of information from their desktops more easily than if they had gone to the library.
www.Google.com

Google is so usable that it has become a verb and was voted the most useful word of 2002 by the American Dialect Society. A model in minimalist design, its multicolor logo and instantly recognizable search bar have become the main portal through which much of the world accesses the Internet.

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www.Nike.com

This well-known brand presents a consumer-centric site, geared towards making it as simple as possible for their customers to find products that specifically relate to their interests. Multiple categories allow for a very directed search. In addition, the site is responsive so it functions perfectly no matter what screen size or device you view it on.

Usability in web design is not necessarily about the most aesthetically pleasing solution; form follows function. If your site has 20 beautiful widgets but fails to provide a simple way for users to interact with it.

What Is a Web Developer and What Do They Do?

Web Developer, A designer’s job is to make sure your website is visually appealing. A developer, on the other hand, is tasked with making sure your site feels and works properly.

Web Developer

Hiring a qualified web developer can make all the difference for your website. Interested in learning more? Keep reading to discover what a website developer is, what they do, and how to find a qualified developer for your company!

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What is a Web Developer?

Remember, web designers, are more concerned with the visual aspects of your website. A website developer, on the other hand, is concerned with everything that goes on behind the scenes.

What is a web developer? They’re the person tasked with organizing the code that makes your website work. There are two types of custom web development you need to keep in mind.

The first is front-end development. The front-end involves how your website will showcase your site’s visual elements (created by the designer). This is also referred to as the client-side of your website. The back-end, or server-side, contains your website’s data. The back-end serves data to the front-end, where clients can see it.

When working on the front-end of your website, a developer might work alongside a web designer. This allows them to ensure the visual elements of your website work as planned.

Skills

A web developer will utilize a number of tools and skills to make sure your website functions properly. Here are a few common tools and skills your developer might use:

  • HTML
  • CSS
  • JavaScript
  • Git and Github
  • Frameworks
  • CSS processors
  • Libraries (e.g. jQuery)

A website developer will use these tools to make sure visitors can click and explore your website. Web developers don’t deal with a website’s typography or color palettes. That’s the web designer’s job. Instead, the web developer will bring these elements to life by working on your site’s back-end.

A web developer will also need to understand user interface (UI) and user experience (UX) best practices. Then, they can select the right tools and technologies needed to make sure your site works and feels as intended.

What Does a Website Developer Do?

Website developers build websites with both the client and consumers in mind. The backend design should make it easy for website visitors to find what they’re looking for. A customer should also find it easy to fill out a form or navigate around the site.

It’s the website developer’s job to make sure the site functions properly. A website developer should also know how to keep a website up-to-date. Website trends and needs change every day. For example, plugins are updated regularly.

If a plugin breaks your website, you can call a web developer to take a look. They can determine the problem and test possible solutions.

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Abilities

Here are a few reasons you might want to call a developer:

  • Build out a web designer’s mock-up
  • Improve your website’s functionality
  • Switch between a CMS and HTML
  • Fix any broken forms, buttons, or links on your website
  • Redirect pages
  • Fix server issues

Some web developers also have skills to improve your website for search engine optimization (SEO). According to this report, search is the number one way to drive traffic to your website. It even beats social media by over 300%.

Finding a web developer who has experience with technical SEO can help your website attract more traffic.

For example, Google uses mobile-first indexing when ranking websites. A developer can help make sure your website is mobile-optimized. Without a sight that functions on mobile devices, you could miss out on sales.  Google also looks for websites that load quickly. A developer can use tools like Google PageSpeed Insights to determine what factors are causing your site to lag. Then, they can use CSS or JavaScript to speed up your site.

Improving your site speed will boost user experience and help your website page ranking. When you rank higher on Google, more people will see your site.

Creating a Website Testing Strategy-Testing Website

Conversion rate optimization (CRO) should not be a guessing game. It’s easier than picking out a birthday present for your Dad or finding a good hairstylist. The next step in testing should always be clear as you strategically change elements on a website to create the best possible conversion process.

Testing

However, if you don’t approach things the right way, CRO can feel like pulling ideas out of a hat and hoping you get something right. But, there is a better way. In this article, we’re going to talk about how to come up with a website testing strategy that allows you to progressively test and improve your website.

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3 Testing Website Mistakes

Sadly, there are 3 HUGE mistakes made when testing a website:

#1: Spending endless time improving an element that actually hurts conversion rate. That’s like putting glitter on a face mole….

#2: Improving elements that don’t really have that much influence on the conversion rate. This is like wearing a power tie to an interview. Sure, it might help a little, but is that what you should have spent 2 hours deciding?

#3: Endlessly adding new elements to the page looking for that surprising spike in conversions. This is like having more and more children until one turns out how you expected…but is that really the best way to get what you want?

At Disruptive, we remove moles instead of glittering them, prepare for interviews instead of picking ties and all our children turn out perfect the first time…

Testing the Right Way

Okay, all jokes aside, Disruptive is good at website testing because we use a 3-phase website testing strategy that allows us to avoid the 3 problems I mentioned.

The infographic above shows these 3 testing steps:

  • Phase One: Existence – Testing whether or not certain elements should be on a website by removing them.
  • Phase Two: Exploit –  Iterating on elements and working to improve them.
  • Phase Three: Explore –  Introducing completely new elements/designs to the site to see how the audience responds to them.

The brain father of these phases, Chris Dayley, describes it this way:

“Each of these tests helps us to learn specific things about the audience and can be used individually if needed. However, these tests are most powerful, and of the most value to your clients, when they are used together as part of a progressive strategy that gets better and better over time.”

A Good Website Testing Strategy in Action

One of our clients runs a massive recipe blog. They get millions of visitors a month, but before they started working with us, only about 15% of their traffic visited their Menu Plan Site (their main money-making page).

To make matters even worse, only 2% of their traffic was actually converting!

This is where we came in. Tons of traffic, great product, but no purchases. It was time for some strategic conversion rate optimization.

Testing Phase #1: Existence Testing

Now, if you haven’t put together a website testing strategy before, your first instinct might be to redesign your site.

DON’T!

Remember, mistake #1 was assuming a little freshening up will solve all the problems. While this may work for humans (a good shower never hurt anyone), there are a few steps you really should take first. Let’s take a step back and look at phase one.

The first testing phase in Disruptive’s website testing strategy revolves around removing different elements of the page. Often, this test alone can increase your conversion rates.

For example, if you remove an element and the conversion rates increased, you’ve identified something that was distracting people. If you remove an element and your conversion rate takes a dive, you’ve found something very important to the audience and conversion process.

You will want to do this for each page on the website, prioritizing by traffic and potential impact. The most important aspect of this test is learning what helps and what hurts the overall conversion process.

The Client

For this client, we wanted to start by increasing traffic to the menu plan page, so we tested removing different elements on the homepage (section about the Meal Plan, Email Signup, Links to Cookbooks, and a lovely About Us section).

Wait What? Removing the section linking to the menu plan page—the revenue generator (leaving only the link in the navigation bar), made the most money?

YES! THIS IS WHY WE TEST.

An additional metric we measured was email submissions. Results showed removing the meal plan section also had 0% impact on the likelihood that visitors would sign up.

Now the question was, what do we do with this information?

Testing Phase #2: Exploit

Phase 2 is all about maximizing the conversion rates of elements already on the page. If a section of your page or site is hurting your conversion rate, get rid of it! If you’ve identified sections that help your conversion rate, look for ways to improve those sections further.

The Client

In this example, the conversion rate did not decline when any of the sections were removed, telling us that no elements below the hero image had any positive impact on conversion rates in their current state…yikes.

To fix things, we started by testing email submissions. With the menu plan removed, it was email’s turn to shine on the page!

We tested different locations and content. We learned a free eCookbook offer was very motivational to visitors, with this information, we were able to create a winning variation that had increased email submissions by 255% and boosted revenue by 67%!

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Testing Phase #3: Explore

Once you’ve removed distracting elements and optimized your important elements, it’s time for Phase 3. These are the tests that everyone gets most excited about.

With Phase 1 and Phase 2 behind you, there are logical next steps about what to add to the website.  There are three main tests that we use in this phase:

  1. Redesign Tests – You have found the correct placement & test, now change ONLY the design. Change the color scheme, design principles, fonts, button styling, layout, etc.
  2. New Feature – Look at new elements that should be added to the page
  3. Competitor Copycat Tests – Test changes competitors are using that agree with your findings from Phases 1 and 2

With this knowledge, there is a very clear direction about what should and shouldn’t be added to the homepage.

The Client

Based off the insights we obtained during our previous tests, we decided to add an element focusing on the incredible recipes to this client’s site. As visitors try more recipes, they are willing to come back and purchase the meal plan. Some of these recipes will be directly from the eCookbook.

Golden Rules For Running An Online Business

Online Business People have a tendency to want to over-design their website in an effort to make it stand out or look cool. They may add flash animation, sound in the background, and load the site up with large graphics. This is a huge mistake, especially for business-oriented websites. It is much more important to make sure your design is organized in a way that visitors can easily find what they are looking for at a glance. Music blaring out is actually a pet peeve of many internet shoppers, especially if they are surfing at work as many do. You also want to make sure that the text is easy to read. Dark text on a simple light background is the safest way to go.

Online Business

Apple.com is the perfect example of a well-designed website. Apple.com has some of the best web designers in the world who develop their website, check them out and also other big company sites for ideas if need be.

Respond To Your Visitors Promptly

When a visitor, a potential customer, emails you or fills out your contact form, it is imperative that you get back to them as soon as possible. People always take mental note of how long it takes an online business to get back to them. Even if you are on vacation, you should either have an employee answering the emails in your absence or take your laptop along and answer the emails while your out-of-town.

There is way too much competition out there now for you to let potential clients slip through the cracks because you weren’t diligent enough to follow through.

Engage Your Visitors

If you can turn your visitors into active participants on your website, you will increase loyalty and sales. The simplest way to do this is to add a blog and open it up for comments from your visitors. Advertise your posts in your newsletter and ask for comments. For larger sites, you may want to add a discussion board where your visitors can create their own topics.

Set yourself upon a number of Social Media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest or LinkedIn and conversate/share/inform your customers with high quality answers and content. Also make sure that you have a follow, Fan Page ‘Like” widget or a Pinterest badge on your website so that people can follow you through their favorite social media platform and stay in tune with your progress and updates.

Give Your Visitors a Reason To Come Back

Repeat visitors to your online business will increase sales for sure. You can give your visitors a reason to come back in many ways. For example, you can let them know that once a month you post a one-day-only sale. Another example might be to write an article and let the readers know there will be a follow-up next month. Make the topic of the follow-up something that people really want to know.

Just adding quality content on a regular basis is a good way to get repeat visitors.

Do Not Over-Sell To Your Visitors

No one likes a pushy salesperson in a brick and mortar business. Online business are no different in this aspect. People hate to feel like they are being overly pressured to buy something. You can point out the advantages of your product or service but try not to over-sell. Watch out for superlative spammy language too. It will usually backfire on you!

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Do Not Over Optimize Your Website

You have probably heard of the term, “search engine optimization” or SEO. This is where people design their webpages with the intent of ranking higher in the search engines, particularly Google. Many online businesses push this way too far. Their sites end up being demoted or even banned from the search results because the search engines view their efforts as spam. Over optimizing, pages also make them less likable and readable by real human beings.

Do Not List Your Website In Bad Neighbourhoods

For a long time, it has been well-known that Google and other search engines look at how many links there are to a website as one important factor in determining how to rank that website in the search engine results. This has prompted online business owners to want to get as many links as they can. Sometimes they even pay for links in directories and blogs. However, in most cases, these paid links are sites that are known as bad neighborhoods by the search engines. In other words, they are spammy sites and having your website listed in them can actually hurt you, not help you!

Maintain a High-Quality Mailing List

Ask your visitors to sign up for your newsletter when they come to your online business site. Give them an incentive to do so such as a free report or free e-course on a topic related to your business. Having said this, respect your visitors and their time. Be sure not to send out your newsletter too often, perhaps once a month and occasionally send a special announcement. Also, make sure to put quality content in your newsletter and give your subscribers an easy way to opt-out.

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Remember At The End Of The Day Your Customers Are STILL Real People

A lot of people forget this, they are not treating their customers as real human beings and are not putting themselves in the customer’s shoes. Customer service will always be around, that’s why we need to stay good at looking after our clients. If you can’t help them with their request, get back to them and let them know that you have exhausted every avenue to find a way and maybe even refer them onto someone who can help them. Even though you may not be able to help them at that very point in time, they WILL remember you went the extra mile for them and will tell their friends via word of mouth or by social media (which would be great promotion for you), either way, you can rest your head at night knowing that you are doing everything you can to hold a good name for your business and that everyone that deals with you is satisfied.

4 Imperatives for Sales Enablement in 2020 and Beyond

Sales Enablement When the role first showed up in the B2B enterprise, Sales Enablement became a sidekick to the in-person, acquisition-focused selling conversation. But selling today looks completely different than it did back then. And given the role’s unique position, Sales Enablement is primed to step up, take the lead, and drive a new approach to sales and marketing messaging, skills, and content for years to come.

Sales Enablement

These four emerging and imperative trends will drive Sales Enablement in 2020 (and beyond).

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Four Sales Enablement Trends for 2020

1. Customer Success Emerges as a Growth Engine

Analysts estimate that 70-80 percent of the average company’s annual revenue now comes from existing customers. And our research shows that if you use the same selling strategy, message, and skills to sell to an existing customer that you use when you acquire a new logo, you decrease the likelihood of retaining or expanding with that customer.

To adapt, Sales organizations need to become situationally fluent, recognizing the difference between acquisition and expansion, and Customer Success needs to get better at selling value proposition to existing customers.

2. Remote Selling Replaces Face to Face

75 percent of all sales calls are now conducted over the phone or the web, yet most Sales Enablement strategies are built for face-to-face selling scenarios. As a result, sellers are radically under-enabled for the most common selling scenario.

Remote selling is a different animal—one that requires a completely different approach to Sales Enablement. In 2020, you need to enable the remote selling conversation first. And only after you’ve done that should you enable the in-person conversation.

3. Training Adapts to the Speed of Business

Sales Enablement has generally been effective when looking at the company’s revenue budget for the coming year, building a twelve-month program against that budget, and executing that plan. Unfortunately, twelve-month plans are rarely relevant past month three.

Businesses are so dynamic and new challenges come up so quickly that traditional training models just can’t keep up. When unplanned business needs arise, you need to launch dynamic training that equips your team with the skills they need to respond immediately. To deliver training at the speed of business, organizations need to identify needs and roll out the appropriate solutions in weeks, not months.

4. Sales and Marketing Converge

The B2B buying process isn’t as linear or predictable as Sales leaders assume. In fact, it’s more convoluted than ever, handoffs are less defined, and buyers are struggling to make sense of their options. The companies that win will be the ones in which Sales and Marketing work together to help people make buying decisions. Sales Enablement is the natural bridge between these two sides.

One way to make your customer’s buying decision easier is to provide tools that help them take the next step in their buying journey. These tools should be simple, relevant, and credible. They should be built to enable consensus since most buying groups are now made up of six to 10 people. And the best way to build those tools is to understand how customers make decisions.

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Sales Enablement Can Take the Lead

As a Sales Enablement leader, you can choose to seize these trends and lead the charge toward the new reality of selling. Or, you can hold back, waiting to be told to address these issues to catch up with your competition.

4 Ways Fintech Has Reshaped The Financial Services Industry

Fintech We live in an era where the Internet and smartphone have become core elements of our lifestyle. The rise of technologies like Mobile, Blockchain, AR, and VR has brought a whole new level of disruption to almost every industry and the finance industry is no exception.

Fintech

Simply put, the digital revolution brought by the latest technologies has changed the way consumers access financial services today. The intersection of finance and technology has accelerated the pace of change at such an incredible rate that it has successfully reshaped the finance industry’s status quo with Fintech.

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What Is FinTech?

Fintech is basically the new processes, applications, products, and business models in the financial services industry that aims to improve activities in the finance sector through technology and innovations. In fact, Fintech startups have gained significant momentum in the past recent years, causing notable disruption to the traditional methods. For instance, fundings received by FinTech startups in 2018 reached a whopping $111.8 billion, which is up by 120% compared to $50.8 billion received in 2017.

These FinTech startups have basically changed the way customers access financial services today. For example, nowadays people don’t prefer traditional financial services. Instead, they seek and use services that offer them a quick and prompt response. That being said, let’s delve deeper and understand how FinTech is reshaping the future of the financial services industry.

1 – Smart Solutions

In today’s digital era, business is all about providing smart solutions to consumers. And this ever-growing need for smart solutions has forced the finance industry to come up with solutions that are robust, flexible, and quick. Therefore, FinTech startups have developed highly effective solutions to replace traditional methods that had been neglected by the banks.

For example, the emergence of online platforms allows consumers as well as businesses to lend and borrow from each other. This lending and borrowing innovation has manifested alternative credit models using powerful data analytics to increase lending processes and lower the operational costs. With this surge of technology-driven payment processes, FinTech is successfully facilitating easy payments and the transfer of money using electronic devices.

2 – Redefining Customer Services

The finance and banking industry is all about driving customer satisfaction as higher as possible. To achieve this, FinTech startups offer 24/7 access to financial services via the Internet and mobility. FinTech basically merges digital trends with customers’ expectations and empowers them digitally. Social Media, for example, is expected to become the primary source to connect, engage, and inform customers.

In fact, research shows that social media will be the main channel where consumers will research and compare different financial institutions’ offerings. This research has also motivated banks to shift onto non-physical channels by incorporating the latest technologies and developing new methods to reach, engage, and retain customers.

While some segments in banking still demand human interactions for certain parts of the process, but the majority of consumers expect a digital solution from their banks. Therefore, banks today also prioritize 24/7 customer services, which is often provided via social media and mobile applications.

3 – Insurance And Asset Management

FinTech has, without any doubt, caused a high level of disruption to consumer banking and lending and borrowing practices. And now, it is bringing another wave of disruption to the insurance and asset management sector. Right now, the pace of change in the global insurance industry is being accelerated far more quickly than anyone imagined. The investment industry, on the other hand, is also experiencing a powerful pull into the vortex of innovative technological developments.

The innovations in equity crowdfunding and lending are providing quick access to asset classes that were previously unavailable to average individual investors. Additionally, the emergence of data analytics in the Investment sector has also empowered firms to deliver custom products and automated investing.

4 – EWallet Solutions

The growing penetration of smartphone technology in our everyday lives has encouraged financial institutions to enter the mobile banking services through FinTech. Also, since the number of unbanked and underbanked in developing countries is still high, mobile banking and eWallet solutions like PhonePe and M-Pesa are providing solutions to both these problems. In fact, not these eWallet solutions are cheaper than traditional banks, but they’re also bringing more people under the basic financial services umbrella.

From an average consumer viewpoint, both mobile banking and eWallet solutions offer highly useful products with 24/7 customer service availability. And the best part is, both these solutions also eliminate the need for ‘middle man’, speeding up the transaction process as a result. From FinTech startup viewpoint, on the hand, these solutions improve their customer satisfaction, engagement, and retention ratio, making this a win-win scenario.

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FinTech Is Leading Charge!

Smartphones, mobility solutions, and the Internet together are giving a new thrust to the FinTech adoption in the financial industry today. In fact, as FinTech innovations continue to rise, banks and financial institutions will have to necessarily invest in emerging technologies to survive.

But, no matter how FinTech startups keep changing and setting new standards in the financial services industry, there is one aspect that will remain the same for succeeding in the market – It is that companies that meet customers’ ever-changing needs will be the ones that will succeed. Overall, the paradigm has already been shifted. FinTech has proved to be a disrupting force in the finance sector and it will continue to do so in the coming years as well.