I vividly remember waking up as kid to get ready for school at around 7:30 AM, to walk 2 to my neighborhood’s school, which was about 2 minutes away. I thought it was the worst thing in the world, especially during the winter time. (First world problems, right?) There was one thing that cheered me up more than anything during the cold winters, and I think you already know what I’m talking about. It was of course, alcohol. Just kidding, it was hot cocoa. But not just any hot cocoa, it was Nesquik hot cocoa. And trust me, Mom, I knew when you replaced the real thing with that cheap Walmart knock off brand. Not cool, Mom, not cool.
The Nesquik Mascot
Jokes aside, Nesquik probably played a big part in your childhood as well, and you are pretty familiar with the famous rabbit, Quicky.
Well, the bunny suffered a serious makeover and he now changed from the 2005 looking character, to this detailed and modern looking mascot.
Frankly, I think the bunny looks fine (a bit creepy though), and it was surely nice of them to put some clothes on him. However, as a marketer, I am surprised that they had the guts to commit to this hugr change. Of course, every redesign is risky, but changing the image of such a widely known product is probably the riskiest. The thing that Nesquik did with this marketing move was adapting to the new technologized generation. Young, fickle, easily influenced kids are expressing brand preference at an earlier age than previous generations. Marketing experts say children can express brand awareness as early as the age of 2, an awareness encouraged by a world that offers more choices than ever before.
Kids are more likely to see a little of themselves in the mascot, therefore, more likely to convince their parents to buy the yellow box of awesomeness.
An important aspect that they haven’t considered is the Uncanny Valley effect. Some people are complaining that the mascot creeps them out, and I can see why. However, I think that kids see characters like Quicky every day and the mascot’s creepiness isn’t as visible to them as it is to some of us.
The Nesquik Logo
The Nesquik logo has also suffered some changes. While I like the new mascot, and the idea behind the rebranding, the new logo seems a bit incomplete. Although it looks a lot more friendly, and softer, you would expect a bit more, considering the potential.
I think the guys from AtomicVibe got it right. “I can appreciate that the previous logo had endured since the ’90s, and thus, had cemented itself into our consciousness by virtue of nostalgia. But, in my opinion, this new logo attempts to make more of a visual connection to the product. Its smooth, soft, flowing, script-style curves are friendly, gestural, and expressive, and make me think of milk being splashed — more so than the previous version. Coincidentally, this new lettering seems to take its aesthetic cues from the product’s heritage. The product was called “Quik” from its inception in the ’40s through the ’80s, and this is a sampling of what the Quik logos looked like during that time period:
Thumbnail It was renamed “Nesquik” in the ’90s, and was subsequently rebranded. I don’t think the old logo was bad, per se, but compared to both the heritage Quik logos and this new refresh, the ’90s Nesquik logo just seems too stiff and rigid, too condensed, and too geometric — characteristics that don’t seem to fit with the “splishy-splashiness” of the product. “ The new Nesquik logo and the old logo are both suitable for the product they represent. The new one definitely brings more warmth and friendliness to the product, but it could still be improved a lot. You kind of know when a logo will be redesigned in a few years, so I’m really looking forward to the new one. Until then, this one will have do. It’s just “meh”.
According to data from the Direct Marketing Association, you can expect a ROI of $38 for every $1 you invest in email marketing. This fact is further established by statistics from Monetate — based on an analysis of over 500 million shopping experiences — that found that email is the highest converting source of traffic… converting more than search and social traffic combined.
In fact, email is so powerful that it consistently accounts for the most holidays sales — in Black Friday 2015, email accounted for 25.1 percent of all sales. That’s the highest of every traffic source, and much more significant compared to the 1.6 percent of sales generated by social media.
With all these facts established, it is important to realize that there’s a right and wrong way to go about email marketing. Statistics from Microsoft reveal that the inbox of the average email user is made up of 50 percent newsletters and 20 percent social network updates. To help you get the best from your email marketing efforts, I digged into research to present you some proven ways to do more effective email marketing.
Incentivize People to Join Your List
If you ask many people what the fastest way to build an email list, they will give a variety of answers ranging from investing in social media to having neatly designed forms and a clear message encouraging people to sign up. But, what indeed is the fastest way to build an email list? Offering an incentive!
By offering an incentive, many people have been able to quadruple the number of subscribers they get on a regular basis, permanently. In fact, offering incentives is so effective that Flyte New Media was able to increase their monthly subscriptions by 5,000 percent simply by offering an incentive. The initial message they used to try to get people to sign up was “Join Our Mailing List.” By changing this and offering an incentive, however, they were able to massively boost opt ins.
Segment Subscribers from the Get-Go
The traditional way of building an email list is to have the same sign up form on all pages of your site, lumping all users together and sending them the same messages. With this traditional approach, if you run a marketing blog someone who is interested in getting more traffic and someone who is interested in improving conversions will be getting the same message. Of course there must be a better way to go about this!
By segmenting your subscribers — right from when they sign up to your email list — you can ensure that you’re able to send only relevant, targeted messages to subscribers. In fact, segmentation is so powerful that, in a study, MarketingSherpa found that it is possible to boost conversion rates by up to 208 percent simply by sending targeted emails to segmented subscribers instead of sending the usual batch-and-blast messages. Data from Mailchimp also shows that segmented email campaigns usually result in 14.64 percent higher open rates and 60 percent higher click through rates.
Send More Frequent Emails
Most people email their list infrequently — perhaps once a week or once a month, based on the assumption that they do not want to “disturb subscribers.” But how effective is that? If you are sending an email once a month or once every few months, there’s a high likelihood that most of your subscribers won’t even remember you.
In marketing, there is a rule of 7 that says that the average customer needs to see your offer at least seven times before really noticing it. In the same way, more emails is always usually a good thing — especially if you have been very infrequent with your emailings. UK insurance company Aviva was able to record massive gains simply by increasing send frequency. By increasing send frequency, Aviva was able to increase unique clicks by 304 percent, email revenue by 45 percent and requested insurance quotes by 48 percent.
Of course, this should be done artfully — too many emails is one of the top reasons people cite for unsubscribing from email lists. However, if done properly, sending more emails will always improve conversions, revenue and traffic.
Exactly how many subscribers can you get from a properly run giveaway? For Josh Earl, a giveaway resulted in almost 200,000 subscribers and a massive 3,418 percent increase in email list size in just 11 days.
If you’re experiencing slow email list growth and want to give things a boost, running a giveaway can really turbocharge your list growth. Here are some tips:
Start by preparing something special you can offer to subscribers. It could be a paid product you own, a popular paid product in your niche or a widely recognized gadget. Web Design Ledger constantly offer top gadgets in their giveaways with massive success.
Make it a condition that people share your giveaway and sign up to your email list to participate in your giveaway. Give people bonus points for inviting their friends to participate in your giveaway.
Automate your giveaway; you can use a plugin like KingSumo Giveaways.
Notify top blogs, publications and influencers in your niche about your giveaway and get them to share it.
Optimize Your Email for Mobile Devices
A lot of emails are not optimized for mobile devices, and the result is that they end up being ignored or deleted. Research shows that a whopping 65 percent of all emails get opened first on mobile devices, and more shocking is the fact that 75 percent of emails will be deleted if they can’t be read on a smartphone. If as much as 75 percent of your emails are deleted, what’s the point of email marketing?
Here are some tips to optimize your emails for mobile devices:
If possible, send your emails in plain text.
If you have to use a template, try to use a responsive email template.
Effective mobile email goes beyond just sending mobile compatible emails — also make sure the links in your emails are properly optimized for mobile devices.
Automate Your Email Marketing Efforts
To do email right today the importance of automation cannot be overstated. Automation is so powerful that research shows that it can boost email opens by 8 times, result in 6 times more revenue and boost conversions by as much as 50 percent.
Right now, email marketing is much more complicated than sending the same email to everybody at the same time — with some email service providers, you can automate emails to be sent to people based on what they click, based on their time zone, based on which of your emails they open and based on other factors. In fact, some email service providers are already experimenting with Artificial Intelligence to monitor people’s habits and optimize your emails for them accordingly.
It is important to make effective use of the automation features offered by your email service provider, or switch to a more sophisticated service if your current email service provider doesn’t offer automation features.
Send to Unopens and Unclicks
Data from the USC Viterbi School of Engineering that analyzed 16 billion emails has found that 90 percent of people who don’t open your emails within 48 hours will never open it again. There are many reasons for this, but it’s especially worth noting that people are overwhelmed — over 2.5 million emails are sent every second.
When a good portion of subscribers are not opening your email, it can be because people are especially busy or because your email subject line is very busy. Regardless, it doesn’t end there — resending your email to those who did not open it at first can significantly improve your open and clickthrough rates — seven-figure blogger Pat Flynn reports an extra 10 to 15 percent increase in open rates simply by re-sending emails to people who failed to open his first email. Entrepreneur Neal Taparia records an increase in open rate of up to 54.7 percent by re-sending to subscribers who did not open his emails. Here are some tips:
Wait a few days before resending emails to those who have yet to open — since 90 percent of people will open their email within 48 hours, you can wait three to four days to resend.
Change the subject line of the email you’re resending — if you use the same subject line, some email clients will simply merge it with the old email, giving it less visibility.
Let people know that you’re re-sending the email to them because they didn’t open your first email.
There are a few similar programs around, but none as in depth or intuitive asShare and Earn by Font Bundles. It’s taken an affiliate program and made it accessible to anybody, of any experience, with any size following. The best thing is they pay more than any similar programs out there, with 25% commission on ALL sales FOR LIFE.
The easy to use share buttons and tracking URL’s mean that in 1 click, you can be enjoying cash rewards for introducing people to the program. The best thing is, you don’t need to really do any selling. The products literally sell themselves, and with their range of premium FREE products, you can entice your audience with products they can try and use.
The main highlights of the Share and Earn program are:
25% sales for life commission (commission on every purchase a user makes for life)
Over 10,000 font and design products which can be shared at the click of a button
Payment within 1 hour!
Intelligent advanced statistics of where your visitors come from and what they buy
Email/Website creatives for any larger campaigns
Instant sign up and approval – no lengthy forms
It’s very easy to see why the program has been so popular with crafters and graphic designers, with some easily pulling in recurring 4 and 5 figure monthly sums for little work.
So if you are ready to earn some extra cash doing what you love, head on over and sign up to Share and Earntoday!
Every once in awhile, I stumble upon articles that simply change the way I think completely. Those kind of disruptive articles are really hard to find. And as a marketer, I’m always obsessed with creating that kind of content, disruptive content. Knowing that I could change the way you think, even in the slightest, and that my article could be a pivotal point in your career is simply mind-boggling and it truly resembles the staggering power of content.
That data alone is completely and irrevocably humbling.
It just gives you an idea of how small you are. If you aren’t new on the internet and you already have an audience, that’s something that you should take pride in and not neglect it. After all, with great power comes great responsibility. Knowing that someone, someday, chose to read your article, admire your design, and use your products instead of going to the other gazillion alternatives, is truly mind boggling.
The Three C’s of Engaging Content
Now, in the vastness of content created every day, how do you get noticed? Namely, what sets your article apart and what is your value proposition?
Truth be told, nowadays, getting noticed is a matter of uniqueness. I full heartedly believe that as a modern day content creator, you can’t afford being stuck in the box. You can’t come up with the same ideas you came up with in 2013. There are a few factors marketers use to grab someone’s attention, and I think content creators can pull off the same techniques. Curiosity, Creativity and Controversy. Or the three “C’s” of user engagement, if you will.
Although this article focuses mainly on Controversy, let’s talk a little bit about the two other C’s.
It’s disturbing but fascinating that we are paradoxically drawn towards some quite unpleasant things. The reason why a video about two guys eating a Carolina Reaper pepper gets more than 18 million views, is the same reason why someone would eat those peppers in the first place. Curiosity. Answering questions like “What happens if..” is fun, and being curious is something we all have in common.
Curiosity is the driving force behind mankind’s never-ending pursuit for knowledge. Curiosity can be the right incentive for an individual to click on your article, view your video, look at your design, or engage with your content for that matter.
Differing from the other two, the process of creating something truly creative, requires a tremendous amount of work. It takes a good amount of skill to awe someone with your creative work.
The goal of creative work is to generate emotions. Whatever the purpose of the work itself is, you want people to connect with it. Regardless of the type of content you are creating, the way you deliver your content can make all the difference between standing out among the message flood or getting lost in it. After all, you can have a completely dull, or common idea and just approach it creatively. A great example is Apple. They took comon ideas like an Mp3 player and with the right design, and a creative value proposition, they revolutionised the music industry with the iPod
The type of controversial content that intrigues a user is so much more engaging than the same old traditional content.
Predicting the outcome of controversial content is arduous, which makes it really difficult to handle. Apple was probably one of the first companies that leveraged controversy as a PR move. the challenge has always been to break rules, to find something unexpected to engage people to tell a story. They knew that this tech is not going to be just another business for Steve, but this is actually going to change the world. They had to introduce the Mac in a dramatic memorable way. They needed something brave, something controversial. The ad depicted a sea of people blindly following “The Big Brother” which people perceived as being IBM. And here comes Apple, viewed as a women that stood up against the big brother through the democratization of computers.
People weren’t talking about the Super Bowl game where the ad was displayed but instead they were talking about the ad, which asserts the viral nature of controversial content. United Colors of Benetton are known for their controversial ads which are often enough viewed as audacious. In one of their recent campaign, the Unhate campaign, the ads were showing some of the most influential people kissing as a symbol of unity across race, religion and political beliefs. The media exploded. Everyone was talking about the ads, and Benetton’s brand awareness grew exponentially.
Sometimes, controversial content backfires.
Benetton was forced to pull one of its images from its new ‘Unhate’ campaign. The Italian firm withdrew the photograph featuring Pope Benedict XVI kissing a senior Egyptian imam on the lips after the Vatican denounced it as an unacceptable provocation. Some people would agree that creating that image of the Pope was a bad move and it brought a lot of hate to Benetton from the Catholic community, which is counterproductive considering the message of the campaign. However, it also brought a lot of media exposure, which we all know that it’s always good. Right?
Different and original content works. Regarding if it’s categorized as controversial, creative or curious, content that excites people at any level, is usually performing better than the other mainstream content. It gets attention on social media, it generates links and mentions, and it often leads to a huge amount of exposure. As long as controversial content is created and managed with care, it’s a great marketing tool.
I find it a bit difficult to write this article because advising project managers on how to do their job better, is hard. First of all, every project is different so there really isn’t one solution to fit all. Second of all, these guys tell other people how to do their job for a living, so it’s a pretty tough audience.
There is one thing I know for sure about Project Managers. They are always busy! Even as an editor, I find myself with twenty tabs opened and have 3 ongoing conversations on Slack while emailing everybody and their brother. What’s even worse, is knowing that there are still lots of things you need to complete and at the end of the day, you might not feel satisfied with the amount of work you have completed. It’s just a lot to deal with and this amount of work can get stressful relatively quickly. Long story short, being a project manager isn’t easy.
However, there are a few tools and techniques that can make your life tremendously easier. It all comes down to three key aspects.
How you manage your time
How you manage other people’s time
How to get a bird’s eye view on your project.
. Paymo has been around for quite a while now. The company started in 2008 as a time tracking app and has evolved into a full-featured online project management software. They have clients in more than 50 countries, and the application is available in 18 languages – most of the clients are small and medium design and creative agencies in the US, UK and Canada. The reason why we choose them over other their competitors is because these guys are constantly developing their platform to deliver the best project management experience. And of course, because of this page, which is freaking awesome!
Now, let me show you how to cover those three steps I was mentioning earlier using Paymo.
1.How you manage your time
Managing your own time and resources is sometimes uncomfortable. It can make yourself conscious knowing how much time you slacked on Facebook, or how often you get distracted. However, if you are a professional slacker, like I tend to be, tracking your time is absolutely essential. The thing is, if you know how your time is passing by, you will know what to and what not to prioritize. As Patric Kreidler from Power Digital Marketing said:
One big difficulty I have found in being an effective Project Manager day-to-day is figuring out what the best method for tackling work that comes up unexpectedly, or “fires” as we call them. Usually, Project Managers that perform well are extremely organized (since at an agency especially they are dealing with multiple accounts or clients), and have a method for prioritizing their workflow. The complication becomes figuring out how to re-prioritize your existing work when something unexpected comes up, while still getting it all done and staying on schedule. For example, if you have a full day of optimizations, meetings, tasks and work blocks, and then an urgent client request or “fire” comes up – it can become difficult to figure out how to re-arrange your day while still getting everything done that you planned on, without working a few extra hours to make up for it. Ad-hoc work will typically be thrown at your because it’s urgent, so naturally it takes precedence. But, when that work is pushed to the “top” of your workflow, how do you rearrange the rest of your day’s work in a strategic and effective way? This part takes a lot of critical thinking and organization, but is so necessary for maintaining your productivity and sanity in the process!”
This isn’t just his pain point, a lot of project managers deal with this and it takes a lot of determination and a good understanding of your project to know how to address this.
What I recommend using for keeping everything in order is the plain old timesheet.
Being able to plan on the go is also really important. What’s great about Paymo is that any changes you’re making while working offline on your Paymo mobile apps will be automatically synchronized with your online account when you connect to the Internet.
(Apparently, they’re are big fans of “The office”)
2.How you manage other people’s time
Time tracking is so much more than just keeping an eye on the work time. It goes beyond that, and it has a deep impact on someone’s work performance. Time tracking works on two levels. First, you and the people in charge will get a deeper knowledge on how the team is spending their time and how to optimize it. Secondly, your team, and each employee can boost their productivity by being aware of how their time is being spent and know how long it takes to complete a task. For those who work under a SCRUM workflow time might not be a metric you follow, but it is definitely helpful when planning.
Without a doubt, abuse of time tracking software does occur and good people do pay the price. When properly and ethically used, however, time tracking software can actually be very beneficial to employer and employee alike. How so? What are some of the ways that time tracking can benefit both parties?
Paymo covers this aspect like a champ. You can track the time you spend on different tasks by using their time tracker and then add each task in your Gantt looking timesheet. You can use their time tracking desktop app, mobile apps, web timer and Paymo Plus which automatically tracks everything you do on your computer.
3.How to get a bird’s eye view on your project
Let’s not forget that a project manager might also reports to a CEO, or someone of a higher function. Therefore, being able to create reports with the team’s status is absolutely crucial for every manager.
What I love about Paymo is that it allows you to create, assign, plan and schedule tasks, collaborate in real time with co-workers, accurately and automatically track work time, create time reports and issue invoices to the client.
What is more, you can get a quick high-level view of the entire portfolio with the Table View in your “Projects” list.
In project management, it’s really important to understand that you are working with humans who have their own weakness and strengths. I asked Chas from The CEO’s Navigator how he views project management, and his answer was mind-blowing.
Honestly the hardest part is having executives and managers understand we are dealing with people not ‘mules in a mule train’ who are all standard and do the same thing the same way. I find top leaders and especially the CEOs forget that their company is simply a Rorschach Test of themselves, the team has carefully mirrored both their good and not so good qualities. So the biggest piece is getting the CEO to change his or her behavior first in the right ways and then changing the power dynamic to have the team responsible for driving the company to make more money daily not having the CEO drive it so hard by themselves – which is the root causality of the problem needing repair.
Add a Rollover Effect to your Adobe Muse website. No Coding Skills Required.
Subtle animations and rollovers can really make a website more dynamic. Whether you are showcasing a product or giving more information about an image, rollovers can be very effective.
Adobe Muse makes it really easy to create a rollover effect via their states panel. The states panel consists of four different states. They are:
For each of the states you can change the color, border, and image for the state. This allows for a unique rollover effect when applying to images. Also with the later versions of Adobe Muse the transition dialog was introduced for more fluid rollovers and transitions. So rather than a quick change when rolling over the image, the image can now fade in and out of another image.
Adobe Muse CC also integrates seamlessly with Adobe Photoshop CC so you can take different layers in Photoshop and apply them to the different states via the states panel. An example of this would be taking one layer in Photoshop and applying it to the normal state, and then taking another layer in the same Photoshop file and applying it to the rollover state. This will give you a nice rollover effect in Adobe Muse all from the same Photoshop file.
Via the Adobe Creative Cloud you can add vectors from Adobe Illustrator CC to your Creative Cloud library. You can then drag and drop those vector images as SVG files into Adobe Muse. Placing these images in rectangles allows you to create rollover states in Adobe Muse.
Images being prepared Adobe Illustrator CC
Images added to different states in Adobe Muse CC
The steps are as follows:
1. Create a rectangle in Adobe Muse.
2 . Fill the rectangle with an image for the normal state. The image can be added by going to the “Fill” option in the upper toolbar and then clicking on “Add Image.” You can select any image or a Photoshop file. If it is a Photoshop file you can select which layer you would like to add for the image. You can also select the fitting and position for the image within the “Fill” section.
3. With the rectangle selected go to the “States Panel” in the upper left hand corner of the Adobe Muse interface. Here click on “Normal” and select “Rollover.” You are now on the rollover state for the rectangle.
4. Fill the rectangle with an image or Photoshop file for the rollover state.
5. You can also add a “Mouse Down” state or an “Active State.”
6. Go to File > Preview Page in Browser to test and preview the rollover effect.
In the video above I go over how to create rollover states in Adobe Muse CC using Adobe Photoshop CC and Adobe Illustrator CC.
Page load speed is a very important factor when it comes to the overall success of a business’s website or blog. And it is something that should not be taken lightly. It can affect almost everything; from your conversions, SEO and rankings, time on your site, bounce rate, and the entire user experience. If you dip in all of those areas, this could easily result in loss of revenue and customers. Today we will explore just how much page speed is impacted by certain web hosts and why you might want to reconsider using a cheap shared host.
Speed is a Ranking Factor
Google announced way back in 2010 that page load speed is a ranking factor. What that means is that sites with a faster page load speed could in turn rank higher in search engine results pages (SERPs). In Google’s Site Performance for Webmasters video, Developer Programs Tech Lead Maile Ohye, states that “two seconds is the threshold for e-commerce website acceptability. At Google, we aim for under a half-second.”
And fast forward to today and we now have Google launching the mobile-first index. This means that the ranking factor is also heavily looking at mobile optimization. You can almost guarantee that whatever weight they placed on the speed ranking factor before that it will be increasing. So you need to ensure that you have a fast responsive loading site, along with possibly an AMP implementation.
You can use free tools like Google PageSpeed Insights or Pingdom to test your website’s page load speed. They will inform you how fast your website is and offer suggestions on how to improve it, such as leveraging browser caching or minimizing redirects.
Page Load Speed Can Affect Conversions
A slow page load speed can also affect your conversions and sales. For an e-commerce site, the last thing you need is to be losing revenue simply because your website is too slow. According to research from Kissmetrics,
“A 1-second delay in page response can result in a 7% reduction in conversions.”
Example: Let’s say your website loads in 3 seconds, and you have a product that sells for $200. On average you have 1000 conversions per week, equalling $200,000 in total sales. If you were to migrate to a faster web host and bring the page load speed down to 2 seconds, at 7%, that means you could potentially increase your weekly profits by over $14,000 a week!
Kyle Rush from the 2011 Obama for America campaign site showed through A/B testing that a 3-second page time reduction (from 5 seconds to 2 seconds) improved donations by 14%, resulting in an increase of over $34 million in contributions.
There have been countless studies proving that speed does affect your conversion rates.
Time On Site / Dwell Time
In Google Analytics, average time on site is a type of visitor report that provides data on the amount of time (in minutes or seconds) visitors have spent on your website. This is sometimes also referred to as “average session duration” or “dwell time.” The higher this number, generally the better.
A couple ways to keep your time on site higher is to write better and more engaging content that will keep the visitor on your site. Another way to structure your site in an organized fashion so people kind find what they are looking for. But speed is definitely a huge factor in average time on site as well. If a visitor gets frustrated with how fast it is to navigate your site they will most likely leave immediately. Ensure not only your homepage is fast, but your entire site.
Bounce Rate is the percentage of single-page sessions (i.e. sessions in which the person left your site from the entrance page without interacting with the page). According to another study by Kissmetrics, a whopping 40% of people abandon a website that takes more than 3 seconds to load!
One of the easiest ways to keep people from hitting that back button in their browser is to simply ensure that it loads fast! This can include even diving into more advanced optimization methods such as improving your TTFB and initial HTTP request. A content delivery network (CDN) is a great way to improve TTFB as it will help cache your static assets closer to the visitor. But one of the primary factors in this is the configuration of your web host’s servers.
But the number one factor that is going to drive the overall load times of your pages down is choosing a fast web hosting provider. And to be honest, it is one of the easiest. While it is great to save money, hosting is one area in which you should be very careful as choosing a bad provider could actually affect your revenue going forward. We recommend looking at hosting as an investment in your business/website and therefore skip the shared hosting route and go for a premium or managed host. You will be much happier in the long run.
Premium web hosts typically use a much faster technology stack based on the latest and greatest in the industry. Some things for 2017 that you will want to make sure they have are PHP 7 or HHVM, NGINX, MariaDB, HTTP/2, and premium DNS options. This combination has been shown to be very fast when it comes to loading any type of website, from a static site, to Drupal, and of course WordPress.
To show you just how much web hosts differ when it comes to performance, we decided to run a few tests. Here is a comparison of Kinsta, a high-performance managed WordPress host, vs a 3rd party shared host. Both are configured in the exact same way and are approximately the same distance from Pingdom’s testing server.
Kinsta Speed Test
We did a fresh install of WordPress on Kinsta, nothing is configured other than SSL. It is running the default 2016 theme. We ran 5 speed tests on Pingdom and took the average. As you can see the fresh install clocked in at 386 ms, which according to Pingdom is 98% faster than all other tested sites.
3rd Party Speed Test on Shared Host
We then replicated the exact same setup on a 3rd party shared host. We did a fresh install of WordPress and configured SSL. It was also setup with the default 2016 theme. We then ran 5-speed tests on Pingdom and took the average. As you can see the fresh install clocked in at 1.00 second.
So in this scenario the premium host, Kinsta, had 61.4% faster page load speeds! Why is there such a large difference? Here are a few reasons:
Kinsta uses NGINX whereas the 3rd party shared host was using Apache. NGINX has been proven to be lightweight and fast. Chris Lea said, “Apache is like Microsoft Word. It has a million options but you only need six. NGINX does those six things, and it does five of them 50 times faster than Apache.”
Here is a quick look at the top million busiest websites (see below). As you can see in the trending graph, Apache is losing market share while NGINX is rapidly growing. Large websites like upwork, themeforest, wordpress.org, quora.com, and dropbox all use NGINX.
Kinsta, like many premium WordPress hosts, use server-level full page and object caching to deliver pages lightning fast. The shared host we were using had no such technology in place. We could fiddle with caching plugins but then you should be looking at time involved hassling with this. With premium hosts it is a lot easier to just install and go! Joe from Human Made did a great comparison of the Batcache caching plugin vs Varnish, a server-level caching approach. As you can see under heavy loads server-level caching won by a mile!
Kinsta had Amazon Route 53, which is a premium DNS provider. The shared host was simply using their free included DNS. DNS works like a phonebook for the internet, as it is a mapping of your domain to an IP address. There are slower and faster DNS providers out there. Amazon of course is one of the faster ones since they have an enormous infrastructure and network. Faster DNS lookup times can further increase the speed of your site.
And don’t forget DNS Doomsday, besides performance, a premium DNS provider is also important when it comes to reliability and uptime for your site.
HTTP/2 is a new protocol designed to speed up connections with better multiplexing, parallelism, HPACK compression with Huffman encoding, the ALPN extension, and server push. Because of browser support, SSL/TLS is required to utilize HTTP/2.
The performance of HTTP/2 is a lot better than that of HTTP/1.1. For example, with server push capability HTTP/2 allows servers to respond with a page’s full contents other than the information in the browser’s cache. Efficient compression of HTTP header files minimizes protocol overhead to improve performance with each browser request and server response.
In our tests above, Kinsta was utilizing HTTP/2 on their servers which the shared hosting provider was not. You can easily see this by checking the header requests in Chrome Devtools network panel (as seen below).
HTTP/2 Supported (Kinsta)
HTTP/2 Not Supported – Still Running over HTTP/1.1 (Shared host)
HTTP/2 is simply a must now for secure connections!
Another issue with shared hosting is that they overcrowd their servers. Typically shared hosts don’t make any money on actual hosting customers, due to the overhead of support. For example, the shared hosting plan being tested above only cost us $10 a year!
They make most of their revenue on upsells and 3rd party add-ons such as domain registrations, SSL certificates, etc. Due to the fact they have very low margins they will tend to put as many customers on the same servers as they can until it starts to slow down. You can guarantee that at some point your site will be affected. And unless you have a performance monitoring tool running you will never know at what time it happens.
With premium hosts they normally go a different route. For example, with Kinsta above, they use Linux containers (LXC), and LXD to orchestrate them, on top of Google Cloud Platform which enables them to completely isolate each WordPress site. This is much more secure and when it comes to performance the Google Compute engines allow them to sale the sites automatically. The overcrowding and scaling issue is simply not an issue at all.
As you can see, page load speed is super important, as it can affect everything from your SEO, time on site, bounce rate, and conversions. Choosing a premium or managed hosting provider can be one of the smartest decisions you make for your business or blog; as it plays one of the biggest roles in improving your page load speeds. The old saying “You get what you pay for…” comes into play here. Think of hosting as an investment and choose wisely, as they greatly differ in terms of performance and technologies being offered.
The filesharing company WeTransfer has pulled out probably the best redesign we’ve seen this year.
To be completely honest, I’m a bit buyest when I say that, because WeTransfer is a product that amazes me through its simplicity.
WeTransfer is the kind of product that embraced simplicity at its core and built the whole user experience with the KISS rule in mind. (Keep It Simple Stupid) Sometimes, all it takes to disrupt an industry it’s simplicity and delivering a straightforward experience to the users. Creating a clutter free design is definitely a difficult process. It takes courage and a very good understanding of your audience to be able to sacrifice features, visual elements or conventional design “must do’s” to the detriment of what’s relevant to your user.
Companies like Teamweek, Medium and of course, WeTransfer, are leveraging their simple design for creating a tool tremendously accessible to the masses.
What WeTransfer did with its new redesign is to push the limits of simplicity even further and created an utterly intuitive file sharing platform that is suited both for their Plus customers and for the average one-time user.
I’ve asked WeTransfer’s Senior Designer, Thomas Schrijer, for a reason why the redesign makes WeTranfer the go-to platform when it comes to filesharing, and he gave me five. Enjoy.
1. We Optimized the transfer window.
Our biggest challenge was improving the iconic transfer window. We had a few things that our users (and ourselves) wanted improved. There was no good overview when you added a lot of files, multiple email addresses or a long message. We made the behavior within the box a lot smarter. The box will now grow to fit all the contents. When you write a long message for example, the field will expand so the overview remains.
2. Clear navigation
We made massive improvements on the navigation side of things. In the previous version we had two labels attached to the left side of the box, which barely anyone noticed. Now we’ve put three main navigation items at the top right part of the screen which make it a lot easier to reach out for help, learn more about our service and manage your Plus account. All the information is presented in the panel, that covers the wallpaper. Because a piece of the wallpaper is always in sight, you’re able to go back from wherever you are.
3. Our Plus users get way more attention on the new WeTransfer
There is now way more space to manage transfers and contacts. We’ve made a distinct section to personalize your wetransfer experience, under the label Profile. But this is just the start, we’re already thinking of ways to make our Plus users even happier.
4. Brand refresh
With the new site also comes a new logo and identity. The focus is moving away from transferring, and towards we. We’ve collaborated with Paul van der Laan from Bold Monday to help us sharpen our ideas on the logo. Next to the logo we’ve introduced a new colour palette, updated typography and a visual language around particles.
When people interact with our service, they come across a few important moments. We’ve worked together with illustrators to mark these moments. Now when your transfer is done, you’ll get a thumbs up by a shark, or a cool pug smiling at you. We’ve added a level of emotion to our product by doing this. And it makes sense, because working with the creative community is a big part of our DNA.