• Design
  • EASILY FIND PROBLEMS IN YOUR WEBSITE UX

    You might have a good understanding about your target audience, but you can’t know know how a real user will view respond to your website unless you’ve had one test it out. Even if you’ve agonized over every detail, perfecting the layout and choosing your images carefully, there will always be some unexpected issues.

    Stepping back and watching somebody else look over your website can give you incredible insights into the potential usability problems or confusing information on your site. This kind of testing is addicting- once you realize how quickly you can gather valuable feedback this way, you won’t want to stop testing. The website testing plan example available for download above makes it easy and fast to gather information that will be of immediate value to your business.

    If you’ve been working on your website for a decent amount of time, everything on the site may seem obvious and easy to use from your perspective. The only way to see it from the point of view of a new user is to get someone who hasn’t seen it before to take a look. You’ll be surprised at what you’ve missed that can easily be fixed or improved.

    how to user test your website

    CAN I GET MY FRIENDS TO UX TEST?

    Ideally the person who looks at your website should have no connection to your project as this may influence their opinions and thoughts about the design and user experience. If the person has no vested interest in your project, you will likely get more real and honest feedback. Your friends may be hesitant to nitpick through your project.

    Someone who has no knowledge or understanding of your project will give you clear insights into how a normal user will feel when coming across your site. A person who is completely unfamiliar with what you do should be able to tell by looking at your website what your company does without any additional explanation.

    ux test your target market

    Do user testing with people in your target market, making sure to include a range of ages and backgrounds so that your feedback is more complete. You can experiment with a few testers from outside your target market as well. These people will likely add further insights about your website user experience.

    KEEPING COSTS LOW WHEN TESTING YOUR WEBSITE

    Keep in mind that your friends might sugarcoat their experience with your website so as not to offend you. It’s better to find a neutral party who can analyze your site from a real user’s perspective. Conducting user testing doesn’t need to be expensive. Using the SOP provided above, you can ask anyone in your target market without any special skills to conduct this test. You can find freelancers on websites like Fiverr (non-affiliate) or Upwork (non-affiliate) to do this test for you.

    Using third party platforms like Fiverr or Upwork can also be beneficial because the users testing your site may have backgrounds in design or user experience themselves. These freelancers have probably worked on a multitude of other websites and are aware of what does and doesn’t work, especially when it comes to design.

    how to choose your color palette

    If you tend to favor a certain color palette in your personal taste, it may help you to see those colors through the eyes of another person. You might find that some color schemes distract the reader from the actual content or make it more difficult for the reader to use the website.

    You may not have considered that some of your users might have some kind of color blindness which would make it difficult for them to distinguish between different shades of certain colors. You want to make sure that your colors don’t ultimately make it more difficult for someone to use your website properly. At the end of the day, you want to deliver your message clearly and with as few obstacles as possible.

    Take time throughout your development process to periodically do user testing. This will help guide your user experience as well as help you to avoid wasting time on unnecessary features and designs. Use the SOP at the top of this blog post to get started with some basic user testing.

  • Research
  • FINDING YOUR COMPETITORS IN GOOGLE (so you can crush them)

    Let’s put the “anal” in Competitive Analysis! I nerdily just cracked myself up with that one. But seriously, competitive analysis is tedious and dull, and yet absolutely critical for you to do for your website. The competitive analysis template that is downloadable above will help you get this task done without the headache. Once you’ve finished, you’ll have a good understanding of your market position and have a wealth of new sources for content ideas, designs and social media strategies.

    It’s easy to get convinced that you’re the only person out there creating a website about a certain topic or product. Maybe you haven’t heard of or come across one before that provides the information or resources that yours will have. It’s time to put in a little elbow grease and find out exactly what’s out there and whether it is a competitor to your site. Having competitors shouldn’t scare you out of creating your site. On the contrary, having competitors often validates your idea, proving that there is a market out there interested in your service or product.

    If your website is already live and you still haven’t done a competitive analysis, don’t worry. No matter what stage you’re at in your business, you can glean great insight and inspiration from understanding who else is out there working in a similar niche.

    You might be afraid to seek out your competitors, thinking that you’ll discover someone out there who’s beating you at your own game. Suck it up, soldier! It’s better to understand the threats facing your business and tackle them head on than to be totally blind and find out after you’ve already sunk your blood, sweat and time into your project.

    There are various methods of doing competitive analysis, but the one we’ll be focusing on here is to find out who your competitors are in Google. Unless you have a massive marketing budget (congrats for you!), you’ll want to make sure that people are able to find your website when they search in Google.

    Blog image organic seo template

    People that find your website by searching in Google or other search engines like Yahoo or DuckDuckGo are called “organic traffic” because they naturally find you without being served an ad or visiting your site directly through the URL. The more organic traffic you get, the less you’ll need to spend on advertising to attract an audience.

    Determining Your Target Keywords

    Before you start this competitive analysis, you’ll need to know which keywords you are targeting for your website. That is, what would you want someone to be typing into Google in order to find your site?

    For example, pretend you run an e-commerce site that sells luxury dog beds. Potential customers might type keywords like “best dog beds” or “most comfortable dog beds” into Google in order to find your website.

    If you already know which keywords you are going after, great, keep going! If not, take 20 minutes now to learn some strategies for picking great keywords from the links we’ve wrangled up below.

    As a general rule, you should aim for keywords for which it will be possible to rank in the first page of Google. If all the links in the first page of Google are already being dominated by big names like Wikipedia, eHow, etc. for a keyword, then throw it out and go after some different ones. If you’re not sure about the strength of your competitors, you’ll know more about where you stand after completing the competitive analysis SOP available above.

    Here are some resources from trusted sources for choosing the best keywords for your website:

    1. Beginners Guide to SEO (non-affiliate)
    2. Keyword Research (non-affiliate)
    3. Niche Site Keyword Research (non-affiliate)
    Know your keywords blog graphic

    Once you have your keywords ready, you can collect thorough data about your competitor’s websites. This task takes a bit of time but it doesn’t require any special skills. If you are strapped for time, pass the SOP document to your freelance worker and they will handle it for you.

    If you don’t have a freelancer ready, you can also click the link below to have us do it for you. Whichever way you choose, the information you gather will be extremely valuable for your business.

    Even if you’ve done a competitive analysis in the past, it’s best to run the research again every six months or so to make sure that there aren’t any unknown sharks out there nipping at your heels. That’s why we recommend getting into the practice of outsourcing this task using the SOP so that you can get it done regularly without sucking up your own precious time.

    Steps for Completing the Competitive Analysis Template

    The process in the SOP template above entails plugging your keywords into Google while using a special Google address that doesn’t skew the results based on your location or previous searches. This is all explained clearly in the SOP’s step-by-step instructions.

    Afterwards, you will record the websites that come up within the first 15 positions in Google. You’ll then evaluate each of these sites using a free tool that will help you determine how strong of a competitor those sites are and how difficult it will be to outrank them in Google.

    How to find google competitors template blog image

    You’ll be working with some great, free tools like the Moz toolbar (non-affiliate). Using these tools, you can find key information like your competitor website’s domain authority to determine how strong the website is. These tools allow you to peek behind the curtain of your competitors, rather than having to guess on your own.

    The SOP download includes simple step-by-step instructions that anyone with basic computer skills will be able to manage. It will take you or your freelancer through all of the steps necessary to finish a competitive analysis and uses only free tools to collect the information that you need.

  • Research
  • FIND YOUR PODCAST’S TOP 5 COMPETITORS

    There are so many great podcasts on the market, so it’s no longer just enough to upload your podcast and then walk away and hope that people listen and subscribe to it. It’s important for you to know what other podcasts are out there that might be competing for a similar audience that you hope are listening to your own podcast.

    Based on my own experience of listening to podcasts I’ve often searched for one topic, for example “true crime”- that’s my podcast weakness. iTunes will give you other related podcasts that you can you can also check out. You may call it ‘judging a book by its over’ but even before I’ve listen to a podcast I’ve been turned on or turned off by the podcast cover art or by the level of information that the podcast gives me in the metadata. Look at your competitors and decided what you find attractive or off-putting about your competitor’s podcast.

    VALIDATING YOUR PODCAST IDEA USING COMPETITORS

    Identifying your competitors is also a way to validate your podcast idea. If there are no other competitors on the market today, it is more likely that this is a sign that your topic is not really something that people are interested listening to. If you’re truly passionate about the topic of your podcast however, don’t just use the lack of competitors to decide whether or not to do the podcast. This is not ultimately the deciding factor. The point is not to be scared off by the presence of competitors because it means that there truly is a market interested in this topic.

    That brings us to another key idea that you need to consider when looking at your competitors- who exactly is your target market? There’s a lot of information online which will help you to define your target audience, and you can use that to find the podcast which you believe have the same target audience. These are most likely your competitors.

    LEARN FROM COMPETING PODCAST BUT STAY UNIQUE

    Something that you should consider when you look at your competitors is that they may not necessarily be in the right. What I mean by this is that just because your competitors are following a certain format, you don’t necessarily have to copy the same script or set-up of those competitors. Let’s go back to my true crime podcast obsession. Some of those podcasts are narrated by a single person while others are acted out as the narrators recreate the true crime events. Both of these are successful formats and there may be other ways out there to present that would work as well. The purpose of studying your competitors is to collect ideas and make adjustments to find that unique offering that your audience will love.

    As Hollie mentioned before, identifying your competitors will help you to be aware of what kind of metadata they provide in the podcast marketplace that attracts their audience. Taking a look at the title of their podcast, the description and the cover art will help you to understand how your podcast fits into the market. In addition to that you’ll want to take some time to listen to some of your competitors podcasts to see if the actual content has elements that you are missing or is missing elements that you have so that you can figure out the strengths and weaknesses of your content.

    Identifying these competitors will also give you an idea for what types of advertising opportunities may be available once you’re ready for making money. Considering these other podcasts have similar target audiences, you may also want to contact some of these podcasts in the future for affiliate marketing.

    SOP FOR FINDING YOUR COMPETITORS

    You can pass the SOP provided above directly to someone else to help you identify your podcast’s top 5 competitors. Giving this task to somebody else will give you fresh eyes (in this case “ears”) on your own podcast and inspire you with ways that you can continue to improve. The SOP gives step-by-step instructions for how to use keywords to identify your competitors and will ask the person who is completing this task to sample those podcasts in order to find the elements that they like and don’t like about your competitors. Finding this information will help you to improve your podcast which should help you to reach a wider audience as you develop your show.

  • Research
  • SAVE TIME EVERY DAY WITH A GOOGLE DRIVE FILE TREE

    The world is full of many different kinds of trees, but none is more useful for business than the Google Drive File Tree. If you’ve worked with Google Drive for any amount time, you may have become frustrated with finding documents and folders- especially with shared content within your Drive. Solve the Google Drive organizational nightmare with a file and folder tree that you can generate instantly. Get the simple instructions via email to follow or to pass to your Virtual Assistant above.

    USING KEYWORD SEARCH VS. SIFTING THROUGH FOLDERS

    Although Google Drive has a search bar which lets you keyword search for specific folders and files, this can cause confusion and be more time-consuming if you have similarly named files and folders or if there are multiple files within shared drives. The Google Drive File Tree will provide a clear overview of everything in your Drive.

    The File Tree is not meant to be a replacement for the search bar in Google Drive, but rather an additional tool to help you and any other teammates (current or future) to navigate Google Drive. It also helps you to consistently add new documents in more logical places within the folders instead of just randomly guessing where they should go. This can be an invaluable time-saving practice in the long run.

    Generating the File Tree is extremely fast (takes just a few minutes) and will also help you to restructure the folders in your Drive. You’ll also be able to pinpoint and consolidate duplicate folders which contain similar content.   Once the File Tree has been created, you can easily save or print the HTML file for your reference. Being able to print the tree makes it easier for you to adjust or restructure your folders and files. You may also want to hang your printed hierarchy tree somewhere in your office so that you and your team members can see at a glance the likely places where the content you are looking for will be. It will regularly reinforce the organizational structure that you have created.

    HOW ORGANIZATIONAL STRUCTURES CREATE LESS HEADACHES

    While creating a sound organizational structure for your files and folders may make you want to get a lobotomy, it will make it so much easier for you to scale your business in the future by allowing new team members to quickly and painlessly sift through documents to find what they need. Like with any aspect of your business, get into the mindset that you’re creating a multi-million dollar business and do things right from the ground up. The organizational structure for your documents is no exception. In fact, you’d be surprised how much time is wasted in new businesses due to disorganized files and lack of structure.

    In this day in age, many of us are using freelancers and outsourcing many of our tasks. Once you’ve generated the tree, it will not only show you where files are located within folders but also provide direct links to those folders on the Drive. This gives you a great alternative way to navigate or help others find what they need within the Drive with ease.

    Follow the simple instructions in the SOP included at the top of this post. It’s one of the best time investments you can make early on in your business. Enjoy!

    Do you want a Google Drive Tree, but don’t have time to make it yourself? We can make it for you! Just go to the Google Tree Drive in our shop and add it to your cart.

  • Research
  • CREATE KEYWORD-RICH APP STORE METADATA

    App Store Optimization (ASO) is a big topic for anyone working on a mobile app. For those new to the subject, it basically means futzing around with the title, description, keywords, and images that you upload to the App Store.

    There is plenty of advice out there that gives you up-to-date practices for the latest algorithm changes in iTunes and Google Play. Rather than write a massive blog post about the ins and outs of all the strategies, today we’ll be giving you a quick and dirty guide for getting started today with choosing keywords and building great metadata for your app.

    This SOP will give you a jumping off point and is designed to get you going in the right direction. Once you’ve completed this task however, the job isn’t done. In fact, with ASO the job is never done. Working on ASO is a constant tweaking process. Check out the More Resources section in the sidebar once you’ve finished this task to find out where to go next.

    THE ASO PERSONALITY TEST

    Those who like tinkering with the details thrive in the task of finding the perfect mix of keywords, imagery, and content for ASO. These are the types of people who probably took apart the toaster as a kid, once they had discovered Daddy’s toolbox. If you’re not one of those people, it’s best to outsource ASO if you have the budget for it. You need a detail oriented person who loves statistics to get the most out of your ASO. If your budget is tight, you can at least get started with this SOP in order to get a baseline and decide how much effort to put in later.   

    IS ASO REALLY NECESSARY?

    Getting your app seen in the App Store is the best way to generate organic app downloads from your audience. There is no exact formula for completing this task, but there are some pretty stable principles that you can learn in order to get started.

    The two most important things for ASO is the title of your app and the keywords associated with it. When you choose to name your app, you should try to be as descriptive as possible. Make it obvious what the app helps people do. This is important when people are searching for your app in the App Store, because they have likely never heard of you or your company before.

    Apple and Google both have their own set of requirements when creating the metadata for your app. For example, with regards to the title, Google only allows you 30 characters while Apple allows you quite a bit more. It used to be recommended for Apple that you utilize all of the characters available to you in the app title field in your meta-data however it seems to be the trend lately that Apple penalizes you for keyword-stuffing or adding unnecessary data in this field. The point is, create a title that is relevant and descriptive without keyword-stuffing.

    ASO is very similar to web SEO in that if you overuse specific keywords, you’ll be penalized. So when creating your keywords, try using some synonyms as these may be keywords that your competitors have not thought of.

    The next thing you should consider is your competition. If you rank for a keyword that has very high traffic but you rank in the 200s, this would be a waste of keyword space because no one will scroll down 200 apps to find you. Instead, go for more specific keywords or phrases for which you are most likely to rank in the top 10 slots within the App Store.  

     

    There are several free tools available for monitoring and choosing keywords which have high traffic but low competition in the App Store. Here’s a list of some of the good ones to get you started:

    1. AppTweak
    2. Sensor Tower
    3. SearchMan
    4. Mobile Action
    5. Appcodes
    6. App Annie
    7. Gummicube
    8. App Mind

    When using these tools, the most important thing to consider is relevance. The next thing you should consider is competition.

    Google Play doesn’t have a separate keywords field in the metadata for your app on the App Store. For an Android app, you’ll need to strategically place your keywords inside of your app’s description. Google will also penalize you for over-using specific keywords so again, follow good SEO principles like you would on a blog post. Use descriptive words which excite your user about your app while using relevant keywords- but don’t overdo it.

    Google’s app description is also quite a bit longer than the description you’re allowed in iTunes, so feel free to be more informative and use this space to its entirety. Keep in mind however, that the user will most likely only read the first paragraph and decide based off of that whether not to download the app. Make sure the first paragraph clearly describes the benefits to the user and functions available your app.

    For Google Play, organic search makes up 80% of app downloads. Similarly to iTunes, Google Play has an algorithm for ranking apps. Most of this is a mystery, however there are some things that we do know. Among these is certainly ratings. If you have 200 reviews this will definitely have a positive effect on your ranking. A consistently high number of downloads will also improve your ranking in Google Play.

    Users may also stumble across your app when doing a keyword search in Google when they’re working on a computer. Take advantage of this by making sure that your metadata is suitable for both experiences. Whether the user is on a small screened phone or at their work computer, make sure the metadata looks great and is easy to read.

    Google also allows you some extra fields to enter information into that iTunes does not have. For example, there is a promotional text area which gives you the opportunity to write a one-sentence description that summarizes your app. This description is all that most mobile users will read of your app’s metadata because they will have to click down to view the full app description.

    STRATEGIES FOR TRACKING YOUR ASO

    Once your metadata is finalized, decide how you’re going to measure its performance. If you make any changes to the metadata, make sure you do it little by little so that you’re able to accurately measure the impact that it has on your app downloads and visibility in the App Store. Also consider that the strategy for each App Store will be different. Don’t be afraid to change the Google Play app description so that it’s totally different from the iTunes app description if it will improve your downloads or rankings. As long as it’s telling the story of your app, that’s all that matters.

    The SOP download provided above gives you detailed instructions for how to create optimized metadata that will fully utilize all of the opportunities available in the App Stores, both for Google Play and for iTunes. It lays special emphasis on walking you through the steps to do good keyword research. This is a task you can and should outsource from time to time in order to discover new keyword gems that can make a big difference in your App Store visibility.