7 Web Development Trends You Should Consider

Author Credit Chris Winn. Chris Winn is a Senior Web Engineer at Creative Market. Creative Market is a platform for handcrafted, mousemade design content from independent creatives around the world.

 

Every developer has a collection of tools that are indispensable to getting the job done. In this article, we will take a look at 7 web development frameworks and trends that are set to become even more important in 2015.

1. React

React isn’t new in 2015, but it’s going to keep winning the hearts and minds of engineers. Seeing frameworks like Angular, Ember and Meteor all embrace React means virtual DOM-diffing and unidirectional data flows are a proven pattern.

A_JavaScript_library_for_building_user_interfaces___React

2. Flux

MVC is here to stay — just not on the client. JavaScript frameworks seem like they’re in a constant state of reinvention. That can be a sign the problem is being solved the wrong way. Flux is simple, easy to work with, and pairs great with React.

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3. Microservices

Loosely typed, dynamic languages are great for rapid iteration on the web, but it makes a lot of sense to split off parts of a large project into more focused, smaller applications. Break up your monolithic application with API-driven, modular components.

This article over at the NGINX blog explains the difference between a monolithic architecture and a microservice architecture pattern. In this example, they’re building a new taxi-hailing application intended to compete with Uber and Hailo.

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4. Not jQuery

jQuery has been the most important, impactful library in web development for the past decade, but manual DOM manipulation is on the way out. Instead, think about user interactions, data state, and components — then have something like React manage the rest for you.

Check out this example of a sidebar component built with React, CSS transitions and SVG path animations.
react-burger-menu

5. Server side JSX

Node and JSX fit together naturally thanks to V8, but for teams not heavily invested in the Node ecosystem, we think there is room for interfaces between V8 and other languages.

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6. PHP

We’re biased on this one, but PHP is due for another good year. For all its shortcomings, PHP still gets things right when it comes to the fast feedback loop necessary for the web development. And the tooling is only getting better.
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7. Go

While we’re just getting our feet wet, we love Go at Creative Market. It feels simpler and safer than C and can pick up the slack where PHP falls short.

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Social Media Tips for Your Digital Marketing Strategy

Special thanks to Sean Smith at Sprout Social for reaching out and sharing their blog post for our readers. It’s Friday and I didn’t feel like writing anything anyway, so this was helpful.

Thanks Sprout. Thumbs up!

Author Credit:Jennifer Beese

 

How to Use Social Media for Small Business

A couple of years ago, small business owners were questioning whether social media was a worthwhile investment. Now, it’s no longer a question of should you be using social media, but rather how you can use it efficiently and effectively to drive your business forward.

Jump to the Social Media for Small Business Infographic.

According to research from LinkedIn, 81% of small businesses use social media. An impressive stat no doubt, but it also means there’s still a significant number of SMBs not taking advantage of social media for their marketing campaigns. That’s mind blowing when you consider the following:

With all of that potential for success, there’s no reason to be watching from the sidelines. Our guide focuses on using social media for small business. We’ll cover everything you need to get up and running, and how to sustain your online presence once it has been established. First, we need to review some marketing basics.

Define Your Goals

Using social media for small business is obviously a great idea, but you may wonder what’s the the real benefits for doing so? You won’t know if your efforts are truly paying off unless you have something to measure against. We’ll take a closer look at measurement a bit later when we talk analytics, so for now, let’s focus on objectives.

Not all social media strategies are created equal. Some are designed to drive awareness while others are built around engagement and specific calls-to-action. There are a lot of elements to social media. For instance, Facebook is a single platform that has many moving parts. You don’t want to approach it haphazardly. It’s inefficient and only creates more work for yourself.

By forming and actually writing down thoughtful and achievable goals, you’ll have a solid understanding of whether or not your social media efforts paid off. A study found 76% of participants achieved their goals through specific goal-setting strategies. There are numerous approaches to goal-setting.

SMART goals are one of the most popular goal-setting frameworks for businesses.

  • Specific. The more specific you can be with your objective, the easier it’ll be to see what it is you need to do.
  • Measurable. Can your goal be measured? How will you track your progress and know if your goal has been achieved?
  • Attainable. Think realistically. Is the goal you’ve set for yourself possible to achieve?
  • Relevant. Does your goal drive your business forward? Is it the right time?
  • Time. Goals are meaningless without deadlines. Give yourself one.

Define Your Audience

When it comes to marketing effectively, you wouldn’t walk into the center of a crowded room and start yelling at people, so why do the same thing online? Social media is one of the best ways to reach your target audience, but first you have to figure out who they are. Those details will help you figure out which social platforms are best for you and the type of content you’ll share.

When identifying your target audience, consider factors such as:

  • Age
  • Location
  • Income
  • Education
  • Career
  • Interests/hobbies

Remember, the more specific you can be, the better. This will enable you to create a strong social media marketing strategy around these individuals and take a more targeted approach to each the right people at the appropriate time.

Research the Platforms

Now that you know who you want to reach, you’ll need to figure out where they are. Social networks have varied user bases—some cater to niche groups while others are digital melting pots. As a small business, your time and energy is very valuable. It doesn’t make sense to invest it on one social network if your primary target audience is more active on another.

B2B & B2C Considerations

In a broad sense, the industry you’re in will help you decide which platform to use. B2B and B2C businesses use social media differently. Consider this when you’re trying to decide which platform to use. In Social Media Examiner’s 2015 Social Media Marketing Industry Report, B2B respondents listed LinkedIn as their number one choice for social networking while B2C businesses go to Facebook, and in larger numbers.

If you’re B2C, you’ll need to become very familiar with the key social media players and their demographics. It’s a time consuming endeavor, but not to worry because we’ve put together a complete guide to Social Media Demographics for you. Read through it for detailed insights across seven social media platforms.

Platform Strengths & Weaknesses

Going beyond just demographics, you need to know the strengths and weaknesses of each platform. If you specialize in video content, for example, then you’ll want to choose the platform that best supports that type of media.

Specifically, on YouTube, 300 hours of video is uploaded every minute, but 67% of Facebook users in the US said they discovered the videos they watch on the social network.
Do you want to work within a six- or 15-second time constraint, or would you like your content to disappear after it’s viewed?

How often do you plan to publish content? Is Facebook or Twitter better for engagement? If you’re going to update multiple times a day, then Twitter’s fast-moving stream might be the right fit. But if you only plan to post a couple of times a week, you don’t want that content to become buried minutes after it’s been published. Facebook has a longer lifespan than Twitter, making it easier to stay relevant without burning out on content.

Customer Service

Using social media for small business isn’t only good for driving awareness and engagement; it’s great for relationship building as well. When customers try to reach you with a question or complaint, many do so on social media. So which platforms are best equipped to help you handle customer service queries?

Consumers complain about brands 879 million times a year on Twitter, Facebook and other social media sites. What’s worse is brands aren’t responding. Seven in eight messages to brands go unanswered within 72 hours.

Being responsive and engaging has never been more critical, especially for a small business where the loss of a customer could be substantial. You have to think about which social media platforms are best equipped to help you handle customer service queries.

Although Instagram is great for engagement, it might not be the best place to direct customers with questions about your product or service.

Twitter and Facebook tend to be a customer’s first support resource because of their accessibility and private messaging capabilities. While you should monitor every platform you’re on for mentions of your brand, pay extra attention to Facebook and Twitter.

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Digital Marketing Myths

Author Credit: Scott Rayden

If you’re in client services or sales, you’ve most definitely heard a few prevailing myths about one or another facet of digital marketing.

Instead of using a phone call to review numbers or talk case studies, you go down the rabbit hole of gently explaining (often to CMOs who don’t have their ear to the ground on all things digital) why old assumptions need to be put to rest.

With that in mind, we did a quick poll of our client services team to learn the myths they’ve needed to dispel (repeatedly) across channels and services. Add this to the questions I answer every day for (sometimes half-informed) prospects looking for a leg up in digital marketing, and we’ve got a pretty healthy list.

Some of myths were once true but need to be revisited; some never really were true but became part of an easily-spouted narrative. In each case, we’ll take a look at the myth — and the corresponding truth.

We’ll start with SEO myths, move to paid social, then look at myths surrounding creative, SEM, attribution, mobile and retargeting.

Myth #1: SEO Can Be “Set It And Forget It”

We often encounter clients who allocate a certain budget towards SEO for a quarter, then just replicate that budget in subsequent quarters. (Some also siphon budget from SEM for a quarter to “do SEO” and then never come back to their organic efforts.)

The idea that SEO is a one-time project, or a project that requires the same amount of resources over regular intervals, is a faulty one. Like any other channel, it requires more than just maintenance; it must involve a cycle of testing and re-strategizing that can dig up reasons to increase (or decrease) resources.

Search algorithms change all the time — and SEO and content strategies have to be revisited at least yearly to make sure they’re still effective.

Myth #2: I Can Buy A Tool For My In-House SEO Team, And They’ll Be Golden

Tools are great for efficiency and automation. But they cannot replace human talent, intuition or foresight.

I’ve seen instances where in-house teams that are too heavily reliant on tools become pigeon-holed in a vertical, which actually leads to a narrow perspective and lost understanding of the overall space.

Myth #3 (One Of Our Favorites): SEO Is Dead

The SEO of 2010? Sure, that’s dead. Tons of black-hat and gray-hat techniques have gone to seed.

SEO as a discipline looks a lot different and varied today than it did back then; it’s much more interdisciplinary, and mere keyword optimization and proper site architecture won’t get you as far as it used to.

But it’s also grown to incorporate hugely important initiatives like UX, conversion rate optimization and CTR optimization.

Myth #4: Social Is A Top-Of-Funnel Channel

Yes, this was the belief (and sort of the truth) for many years. Today, thanks to incredibly improved targeting, ad types and available data on platforms like Facebook and Twitter, you can make social a bottom-of-the-funnel direct-response channel.

For many brands, social is the largest driver of new customer acquisitions and customer retention.

Social is all about people-based marketing; it allows you to reach the right people at the right time with the right message.

CMOs who have tried social in the past and are skeptical about its ability to drive bottom-line results should reinvest in the channel — or at least devote a small amount of budget to testing and be prepared to like the results.

Myth #5: Social Can Only Work For A Few Select Industries

Social can be an efficient channel for just about any industry. With that said, not all social channels are created equal, and you shouldn’t put equal emphasis on each channel.

If you’re a B2B company with a very technical service offering, for instance, Pinterest and Instagram are not channels to focus on; look at Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

The same is true if your brand is on the other side of the spectrum — if you’re a B2C online fashion retailer, LinkedIn is not the channel for you. But both ends of the spectrum have social channels that, implemented intelligently, can provide great return.

Myth #6: Negative Comments On Social Are Bad For Business

We hear this a lot, and it’s wholly untrue. Legitimate customer concerns around your product or service should be addressed head-on and considered golden opportunities for education and for allowing your customer service to shine.

Do not hide legitimate concerns or comments; instead, provide a very thoughtful response with the option to call or email customer service for further assistance, and make sure someone is following up internally to solve those issues before they become widespread.

And remember: The more you invest in your brand on social and grow your presence, the more brand loyalists and evangelists will come to your rescue and defend your brand to the naysayers.

Is it emotionally hard to see critical feedback? Of course it is. But you can turn it into a useful source of information and goodwill for your business.

Myth #7: Once You’ve Done A Cycle Of Creative Testing, You’re Done

Testing is never done. You should constantly be iterating on your pages, no matter how awesome the first wave of results might have been.

But remember that your testing should always be based on a hypothesis; don’t just test for the sake of testing.

Myth #8: You Should Constantly Be Redesigning Your Pages/Site

Constantly redesigning? No, not necessarily. But, to the point above, you need to test constantly whether you should redesign.

If you do want to redesign, make sure you have the results to back up the decision.

Myth #9: All Creative Needs To Be Flawless

The axiom “never let the perfect get in the way of the good” is wisdom you should live by where creative is concerned. Get it good, then test it.

Don’t lose time; get data.

Myth #10: SEM Is Not Good For Branding

It’s true that a channel based on intent is not the right choice to acquire new customers; if they haven’t heard of you, they won’t search for you.

That said, bidding on competitor terms is absolutely fair game, and there are ways to make big non-brand head terms more affordable than you think. (We’ll get to that in a second.)

Beyond all that, SEM is critical in preserving brand reputation; you can reinforce brand messaging and keep your competitors at bay by dominating the SERPs for your brand terms, for instance.

Now, about those head terms…

Myth #11: You Can’t Afford To Buy Big Head Terms On SEM

If your team is doing its job, you know the people who have already been to your site.

With search retargeting, you can buy head terms for just those users — who will generally be more familiar with your brand and therefore closer to conversion.

Myth #12: Attribution Is Overwhelming

Attribution technology is absolutely overwhelming. Attribution options (last click, first click, Time Delay, game theory and so on) can be overwhelming.

But there’s a lot you can accomplish just by setting up conversion pixels and Google Analytics accounts correctly — and if you’re a B2B, making sure your CRM is integrated with your marketing efforts. (There’s a wealth of info out there on attribution, but this post by Google’s Avinash Kaushik is a good starting point.)

Myth #13: Last-Click Attribution Is Best

Well, it’s certainly the easiest to track, but last-click attribution gives inordinate weight to direct-response channels (SEM, Facebook) and completely devalues upper-funnel channels that introduced you to users in the first place.

You can make an argument for (or against) any attribution models, but if you go with last-click attribution, make sure you have some proxies to gauge the value of your upstream channels — otherwise, you risk cutting off the flow of discovery and shrinking the funnel itself.

Myth #14: People Don’t Convert On Mobile

People are far less likely to go through a lengthy checkout process and fill out all those tiny fields on their mobile phones. If you’re asking them to replicate the desktop process on their mobile phones, you’re aiming for the wrong conversions.

Make your mobile B2B forms simpler. Ask your mobile e-commerce users to sign up for coupons they can use on desktop sites.

Focus SEM mobile ads on phone calls. Offer cross-device shopping cart integration.

(All of this is a nice way of saying that if people aren’t converting on mobile, it’s not the phone that’s at fault.)

Myth #15: Retargeting Is Creepy

Yes, it can verge on creepy if you ignore best practices. But done right, retargeting (or remarketing, as Google calls it) simply re-engages people who are already familiar with your brand.

There are a lot more myths (believe me!) out there, but these are the ones we encounter the most. What have you heard (and debunked) in your digital travels?


Author credit: Scott Rayden

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