Japanese Photographer’s Stylish Abode Is A Dream Home For Minimalists

Located in Shiga, Japan, ‘House for a Photographer’ is a creation by FORM/Kouichi Kimura Architects—designed to be modern and minimalist, the building “made of mortar and galvanized steel sheet which reflects dull light, making it look massive.”

Built within a L-shaped lot, it is meant to be both the studio and gallery, as well as residence, of the photographer—guests are guided through the entrance hall by light from the ceiling into the inner space.

According to the architecture firm, this space that “that quietly inspires a feeling of exaltation among ordinary life also plays a role of photogenic shooting location.”—the hall at the center of the building serves as a hub that connects all the other spaces.

Scroll down, or head over here, for more images of this “minimalist dream house.”

[via Bless This Stuff, image via FORM/Kouichi Kimura Architects]

Adobe Stock: Stepping into the Third Dimension

Adobe Stock: Stepping into the Third Dimension

Adobe Stock: Stepping into the Third Dimension

Sep 01, 2017

Each month, our friends over Adobe Stock will explore through their photo database what creators have been up to making. For this month’s theme, they are looking into 3D with a number of artists. From architectural renders and automobile design, to furniture ads and abstract art. 3D is all around us, and new creative tools are opening up 3D technology to any designer who wants to give it a try.

In Adobe’s Words

This month we’re thinking about artists who go that extra dimension. 3D is on our minds for two big reasons: new creative tools are opening up 3D technology to any designer who wants to give it a try, and more and more 2D designers and brands are embracing what 3D can do now and in the not-too-distant future.

According to Chantel Benson, Adobe product manager and 3D-industry veteran, using 3D has a lot of benefits. Beyond saving a car company from expensive, complicated on-location photo shoots, 3D opens up future possibilities. Take Ikea: “They’re jumping into this trend because working with 3D models gives them the ability to use content for more than just static marketing collateral like 2D websites — the same chair, cup, or window treatment can be used for immersive shopping experiences, too.”

So who else is making the jump into 3D design? Some of the earliest adopters include graphic designers working on branding, using 3D tools to visualize the look of a logo or package design on the actual bottle or box. Designers are also embracing the tools to develop infographics. And digital artists are exploring the creative side of 3D design.

Visual Designer Michael Dolan has experimented with 3D art for art’s sake as well as client work. “It’s always fun to step away from work and just create. I’ll see something inspiring and say, ‘I think I’ll create that, too,’” says Michael. “I also use 3D for commercial projects. It’s useful for phone and device mockups on tables. I’ll purchase images and pop in app UIs. You can snap a picture of a table and then throw a device down.”

Adobe Stock: Stepping into the Third Dimension

Others artists can share its insights including:
Ingrid Tsy, a freelance artist, started exploring 3D by way of her first love: fashion. 
Ryogo Tovoda finds inspiration from Nintendo designs and brings those to life in a three-dimensional toy town world. 
Daniel Mangiuca creates sci-fi-influenced renderings and first took advantage of the 3D modeling and software boom to produce amazing art.


Via Adobe Blogs

Critical tips for navigating difficult client relationships

At some point in your PPC career, it’s nearly guaranteed you’ll have to manage a difficult client. Whether it’s an agency, consultancy or in-house relationship, somebody’s bound to be unhappy. Numerous issues will arise that will test your patience, attitude and self-worth.

This article will share a few tips regarding how to navigate the choppy waters of managing difficult clients, and how you can build a successful relationship with them.

Tip #1: Demonstrate empathy

Whenever a client of mine is being difficult, I try to visualize myself in their situation. Clients exert a ton of pressure on those who execute their PPC programs, but that doesn’t mean they’re immune to pressure being put on them.

With difficult clients, I want to ensure I have a full understanding of their context, and I probe for answers to the following questions:

  • How is actual PPC performance vs. the client’s goal? If performance is down, do I truly understand why? Have I fully communicated the “why” to my client, and have I also communicated a comprehensive plan for addressing any performance issues? Clients get frustrated when they need answers and those who are responsible for executing their paid search program are not proactively supplying this information to them.
  • Is there a bigger business issue at play that I’m not aware of? Oftentimes, when clients are stressed about performance and become overly demanding, there are usually bigger issues at play — such as across-the-board digital underperformance. PPC is usually the one lever that can be pulled quickly to drive immediate results, so clients lean on their PPC team to help them get out of trouble. Recognizing this dynamic and asking questions about the entire business helps project confidence that you have a 360-degree understanding of the challenges your client faces.
  • Am I being innovative enough? I’ve experienced firsthand clients getting frustrated because I didn’t bring big ideas to the table. Clients spend a lot of money on paid search and social — and they demand (rightfully) that they’re getting above-and-beyond value.

Knowing your client’s overall situation can help you better discern what’s driving them to be frustrated and difficult. Having a deep understanding of your client’s pain points will help you develop a plan of attack that reduces frustration and therefore allows you to focus on what’s most important, which is doing the work and driving results.

Tip #2: Always provide context

A current client of mine once told me, “Data is just data. I don’t care about it. What I need to know is what it all means and what you’re going to do about it.”

Clients really dislike having a lack of context and insight regarding the state of their PPC. Following are some of the ways we can provide context to our stakeholders:

  • As I mentioned earlier in this article, always have a definitive answer to the question of “why.” In my experience, poor client relationships and associated churn is a direct consequence of failing to explain the “why” behind both good and bad performance. Failure to provide deep performance insights creates a lack of understanding perception that destroys trust. For instance, when not being able to explain why performance is good, clients form a perception that PPC is doing well despite your efforts. Not being able to explain why performance is bad could radiate a perception of incompetence. Being able to explain what the results are, what they mean, and what’s going to be done to double down on success or adjust after failure signals to clients that you’re in control of the situation and have a solid plan to move forward.
  • Have a document on hand that can be shared with clients to show them what you’re working on. You shouldn’t spend much time discussing the to-do list, as clients can read over the status doc at their leisure and ask questions when needed. Instead, focus your meeting times to explain the impact of your work and what it’s leading you to work on next. Having a status doc that can be proactively shared with clients allows them to stay constantly updated regarding your work. It also demonstrates your willingness to be 100 percent transparent, which increases trust.
  • Understand your client’s most important KPI, and drive to it as hard and fast as possible. I work with many lead-gen clients, and they usually have dual goals (e.g., get me x leads at x CPA). When taking that guidance literally, then explaining results, I usually receive response statements such as, “We don’t have enough lead volume,” or “CPA is too high despite the increase in leads.” KPIs are usually not created equal, so ask your client to define which KPI is most important to hit. This will give you some insight into whether their business is focused on growth or efficiency. Having this information will help you design a better-informed overall account strategy. Having this extra context could mean the difference between experimenting with new platforms to grow volume or spending most of your time trimming bids and adding negative keywords to an account.

Providing the “why” can help remove frustration directed at you personally. Clients want to know why things are the way they are so the best decisions can be made. Make it easy for your client by providing all the information available that’s relevant to share. Clients will appreciate the transparency, and while they might be frustrated about performance, they’ll want to continue working with you to find new solutions and ways forward.

Tip #3: Make it a partnership

The client relationship profile most prone to failure is one that lacks some level of partnership. For instance, a situation wherein a client insists on dictating strategy and action plans without input from the PPC team usually leads to disagreements, misalignments and frustration on both sides.

On the other hand, I’ve experienced client relationships that do not work out because a client is too hands-off. Without some level of guidance and direction from clients, it’s very difficult to keep PPC aligned with the overall business strategy, goals and objectives.

Below are a couple of things you can do to help create a successful partnership:

  • Negotiate a nearly equal say in the direction of the PPC program. In this scenario, someone has to be the final decision-maker in terms of strategy and overall direction — and in my opinion, that should be the client’s responsibility. However, if the everyday PPC person or team can provide a large amount of input into the strategy and direction, they’ll feel more invested in its success.
  • Do your part to ensure everyone involved with the PPC program is treated with respect. Passing the buck or assigning blame in a non-constructive, disrespectful way will only lead to animosity, which will reduce the effectiveness of the relationship and hurt results. Tough feedback from clients is part of the business and should absolutely happen. Agencies and partners should feel comfortable providing tough feedback of their own when warranted and be able to hold those clients they work for accountable as well. In all instances, both sides should be working to provide feedback and criticism in a constructive, positive way.

Final thoughts

Collaborating with clients is difficult, but it doesn’t have to be adversarial. Understanding your client’s point of view, determining the stress they’re under and providing them with the information and context needed to be successful can go a long way toward cutting through negative emotions. Doing so allows both sides to focus on what’s important: finding solutions to big problems.

The post Critical tips for navigating difficult client relationships appeared first on Search Engine Land.

How to Create a Content Marketing Strategy for Virtual Reality

Customers are more inclined to engage with or purchase from brands they feel the strongest connection with. This isn’t a new development. What is new is the definition of the term “engagement” itself, or more accurately, what defines a customer’s engagement.

For many customers today, an experience is inauthentic if it’s not interactive. Meaning, they have to be able to reach out and feel like they’re grabbing the thing you’re selling, which is a far cry from the days where leaving a comment on a blog post counted as a sufficient interaction.

71% of consumers think a brand that uses virtual reality is forward-thinking. And however you feel about the term “forward-thinking,” one thing is for sure: these brands stand out and gain consumer attention.Click here to sharpen your skills with the help of our content marketing workbook.

Despite what you might think about VR, it’s not a completely inaccessible marketing tactic. Creating a content marketing strategy for virtual reality isn’t that different from a normal content marketing strategy, but it requires an understanding of engagement through interactivity.

How to Create a Content Marketing Strategy for VR

Keep Your Existing Audience in Mind

How does your ideal customer consume your content already? Is it through a weekly webinar or Q&A? Or maybe a daily vlog from the CEO’s desk? Whatever content routine you’ve created, you can continue that strategy while incorporating VR technology.

For example, if your primary medium is Facebook video, you can start producing virtual reality content on Facebook Spaces Although Spaces is still in beta, it’s poised to become a Facebook standard in the not-so-distant future. There’s no better time than the present to start thinking of ways to make it benefit your brand.

Does your business have an app? One emerging trend for app-based businesses is to infuse virtual reality content for use with a Samsung or iPhone paired VR headset. Take mega-ticket marketplace Stubhub as an example. They’ve now added a 360 degree virtual reality view to every ticket purchase, allowing customers to see the view from their actual seats.

Screenshot via Recode

These virtual views have been available on Stubhub.com for a while now, but used to be standard (rather than 360 degree) images. Thanks to the incorporation of VR, the brand has enhanced their customer’s existing experience, and helped them better navigate to a purchase.

Just think of how many times you’ve decided against buying tickets because you weren’t sure about the view. Stubhub is effectively solving this problem by tweaking their existing content to enable VR capabilities.

Don’t Just Content, Create An Experience

The notion of a content marketing strategy combined with virtual reality might be misleading. After all, virtual reality is not about the content, it’s about the user experience. Thus, your content creation strategy should aim to be immersive for the consumer, giving them an in-depth view at your product offerings.

Store “Walk-Throughs”

Take the customers through your store, showing them your best inventory and product offerings first hand, like Shopify. The e-commerce giant is about to release their all-new thread studio, which is a VR app that will take consumers into a virtual studio to view t-shirt designs and other apparel.

Image via Shopify

Once they’ve mixed and matched colors and found the design that’s best for their project, they are sent to Shopify’s print-on-demand provider, Printful. From here, they can turn their virtual vision into a real-life, tangible product. As brick-and-mortar stores continue to shut their doors, they’ll be replaced by these virtual stores that allow consumers to walk through and browse without leaving the house.

Seek Long Distance Customers — Yes, Really

Not that you should only seek customers who live far away, but VR will make it easier to craft content to a more widely located buyer pool.

Just think about how VR will transform the home buying process. If you’re a realtor, you’ll be able to take potential buyers through a completely virtual tour of your property. People from around the world can see a home inside and out like they’re visiting in person.

Forbes writes about this in their article about VR in real estate, only they add another possibility to the mix. They posit that realtors would be able to allow their clients the ability to make custom changes to the home through the VR app, helping the user experience become more interactive, and giving clients a clearer vision of what it’d be like to live in the property.

Show Consumers What Products Will Look Like

Giving consumers a visual of what furniture and household items will look like is an important way to encourage them to purchase.

Home improvement giant Lowe’s has already added a VR element that mirrors the home customization idea. Called Holoroom, it takes customers through a model home to provide a look at what the space would look like with their products.

IKEA has been adopting a similar concept for years, in the form of an augmented reality product catalog. They also recently launched an augumented reality app called Ikea Place.


Image via: Architectural Digest

For the record, augmented reality is very similar to virtual reality, only the former layers artificial elements on top of a realistic background whereas the latter generates an entirely artificial environment.

Provide an Emotional Journey

Honor Everywhere provides a virtual reality experience to terminally ill military veterans, allowing them to “visit” the war memorials in Washington D.C. Volunteers are bringing VR headsets into assisted-living centers to give to the veterans and let them enjoy the experience.


Image via WTOP.com

Although there’s nothing quite as unique as this cause, you can still find ways to take customers on an emotional journey through your own VR content.

“Emotional” doesn’t have to mean sadness: think in terms of what your audience is most passionate about and produce content that addresses those areas.

For example, if you’re writing a travel blog that doubles as an affiliate site, your goal is to truly sell the one-of-a-kind experience a customer will feel by purchasing your vacation package. Through the immersiveness of virtual reality, you can take effectively transport them to the beaches of Rio de Janiero, or atop the Eye of London in a millisecond of time.

You can even take a page out of the always adventurous MythBusters’ playbook, and give consumers a first person tour of a wrecked ship that rests in shark-infested waters.

There’s nothing like a swim among sharks to rouse people’s’ emotions.

Embrace Your Location

If the goal is to immerse your virtual audience into a new space, then it only makes sense to show them a fun location.

Offer them a virtual tour around your city, show them a famous landmark, take them to a special event. It’s mid-July at the time of this writing, so a San Diego company might want to show their audience around Comic Con — just an example.

Use Outside Content

Perhaps the most underrated — or under talked about — aspect to content marketing is the cultivation of a community of users, many of whom can contribute their own content.

Thanks to tools like Facebook Spaces, Periscope, and now YouTube, your brand can easily integrate user-produced VR videos onto your website.

Reach out to consumers through channels like social media, email marketing campaigns, and calls-to-action on your website.

What to Do as a Content Creator?

Should you overhaul your entire content strategy to make room for virtual reality? For most of us, the answer is no.

But 2017 is the year we should at least start acknowledging its existence, and begin experimenting with it. Content creators should A/B test with and without virtual reality technology, then gauge the user’s response.

Rather than dedicating your entire site to VR, start with individual posts or pages, then begin building as you see fit.

Free Content Marketing Workbook

  Free Content Marketing Workbook

What’s the Best Music for Designing to?

Madonna once said that music makes the rebel and the bourgeoisie come together. I find it difficult to believe that either of these demographics would spend much time listening to pop from the year 2000, but who am I to argue with Madonna?

Now, for the young rebels out there, Madonna was our… ummm… Beyonce, maybe? I’m not good at these comparisons.

In any case, Madonna did not say that music is a huge part of the web design process, but she should have. Not on the front-end, thank God. Anyone who autoplays music on their site should be forced to browse with Netscape Navigator for a year, per infraction. But creatives of all kinds, the world over, use music to help them create. Whether they use it to lighten the mood during tedious tasks, to occupy the parts of their brain that aren’t busy, or take direct inspiration from it, music is there, helping synapses make connections.

We thought it would be fun to ask our community what music they listen to. To keep some semblance of organization, we’re going to do this with a series of polls. However, no one on this Earth has the time or resources it would take to make a comprehensive music genre survey, so this will understandably be limited. We’re also going to heavily favor the kinds of music that people typically use to help them concentrate.

Can’t find an option you like? Go blow up the comment section with your genre choices.

Lyrics or no lyrics?

Our first poll is going to be pretty all-encompassing. Simply put, do you like your work music to have words in it, or not? Some people simply can’t concentrate at all if the music has any lyrics, whereas others treat all music as a sort of extra-pleasant white noise.

The Classical Poll

Classical music is often treated as one genre by people who aren’t that into it. Dig past the surface, and you could say that every major composer developed their own genre. Some of them developed more than one, and nearly all of them experimented with what their friends came up with.

Ride of the Valkyries by Wagner is almost the quintessential “epic moment music”. Beethoven wrote massive epic symphonies, too (quite a few, in fact), but some of his most recognizable tunes are piano pieces for quieter moments, such as Fur Elise, and Moonlight Sonata. Many will recognize Tchaikovsky’s most famous work as the soundtrack to fairy tales and cartoons, while Debussy is known for his more sedate orchestral works.

So what’s your classical poison?

The Pop Poll

From cheesy, naïve love ballads, to the literal song-and-dance routines of boy bands, pop is designed to appeal to as many of us as possible. So… it’s no surprise that it does appeal to most of us. I mostly listen to metal and techno of various kinds, but even I can’t help but love some now-classic ’90s pop from my youth. However, I still don’t have a favorite Backstreet boy, and even if I do like some of their songs, I refuse to learn their names.

Going back further, we have Michael and Madonna, the indisputable king and queen of the genre (sorry Cher). Bringing it back to the present, Divas rule the scene, with Beyonce and Lady Gaga each having a fan base that would make some cult leaders green with envy. Look, I’m not saying either one is leading a cult, but if they did, they’d have so many people signing up.

So if you’re in the mood to have your ears soothed by the familiar while you make websites, which would you go for?

The Pre-rock Poll

Before Rock ‘n’ Roll, we had… well we had a lot. But the musical styles that were most popular right before the the introduction of rock include Jazz, Blues, Country, and Big Band. Heck, the Beatles made albums that were almost entirely Country. Beyond that, I have to admit that I am not particularly familiar with the subgenres here, nor any of the legendary musicians of these musical styles. This is largely why they got grouped together.

If you’re in the mood from something out of another time, or just something from the rural U.S., what’s your pick?

The Rock Poll

This is not the greatest music blog post in the world. This is just a tribute. To call yourself a lover of rock doesn’t really narrow it down, much. Rock has more subgenres than several other styles of music combined, and half of them are just metal subgenres. But, if you think of it in terms of your mood, it’s a little easier.

Wanna listen to something angry? Metal always has your back. Ditto grunge. Want something romantic and sappy? Soft rock probably has something for you. Want to hear the legends scream their way to greatness? Classic rock now technically includes everything from the ’90s on backwards, so there’s a lot there. Listening to something but you have no idea what to call it? It probably fits into “alternative rock”.

So what’s your mood?

The Electronica Poll

Ah, electronica. As a young whippersnapper in the ‘90s, we just called it “techno”, and we liked it that way! Oh, don’t hurt me Disco fans, you know I’m kidding. Mostly.

But yeah, we have Disco, and we have all the dance music that came post ‘90s. Then there’s more experimental instrumental stuff like Trance, which was brought to the mainstream, and my attention, by the late Robert Miles. Rest in peace. Then there’s Chillout, a decidedly slower, more sedate form of electronica, often instrumental, which is supposed to help you do what it says on the label.

The Hip-hop Poll

I’ll admit, hip-hop is a genre about which I could be much better educated, though I do rather like most of what I’ve been exposed to. The most popular genres seem to have sprung from the classic days of rap.

There’s Gangsta Rap, for when you need motivation to get your hustle on. There’s Conscious Rap for those who want to spend their day contemplating social issues, and wireframing. Then there’s Battle Rap, where people insult each other a lot. Hey, it can be funny. Lastly, I’m including Instrumental Hip-hop, which can be quite relaxing, actually.

So that’s everything I have space for, and then some. I am now expecting some actual music experts to go nuts in 3…2…1…

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Why Designers Need Creativity and Practicality to Succeed

One of the lasting messages we see across the world of web design is the idea of inspiring creativity. Designers everywhere are encouraging us to find our inner artist by any means possible. I admit, I’ve written a post or two on that very subject.

In many ways, that makes perfect sense. Our jobs require a certain level of creativity – we probably wouldn’t be in this line of work without it. But that doesn’t mean endless creativity has to flow through our veins. It’s just not realistic.

What we never hear mentioned is another essential skill: Practicality. I know, it sounds like something your grandparents would talk about. But I’d argue that it’s just as – if not more – important that being creative.

Practical Matters

Practical Matters

Being practical may mean different things to different people. For designers, it’s all about doing things in a safe and well-thought-out manner. The results show up in things like placing navigation where users are most likely to expect it and making sure websites are accessible, among other things.

In other words, our job is to carry out the main mission of virtually every website: Build something that allows users to access the information they need as painlessly as possible. You can’t do that without being at least a little practical.

Back in the early days of web design, practicality wasn’t often a consideration. Since the web was a new medium, the philosophy was often more about throwing a bunch of components together and seeing what would stick.

I think about the first websites I built and how little consistency there was from page to page. There wasn’t a whole lot of thought put into why I did things – I just did them.

But as the web has matured, we have seen the light of what practicality can do for design. What the best designers have found is that all the crazy special effects in the world mean nothing if they take away from the purpose of the website. Being practical means that we’re only adding bells and whistles that enhance the user experience – not take away from it.

When Creative Solutions Turn Practical

Where creativity comes in is not only about aesthetics, but also finding solutions to potential problems. For example, some wise soul out there decided that mega menus were the answer to helping people navigate a site with a large amount of categorized content.

But the interesting thing is that sometimes a creative solution can grow up to become a practical one. In the case of mega menus, we now see that as an acceptable way to implement vast navigation structures. In the right circumstance, it’s the most practical thing to do.

That’s not to say we don’t still have room for a more unbridled type of creative work. There are still designers out there working to build experimental interfaces and pushing the boundaries of what works on the web. Those renegades are still an important part of the overall picture.

Their risk-taking is an essential part of moving things forward. And, their successes may very well become the next mainstream solution to whatever issues we face.

The Practical Approach to Design

The Practical Approach to Design

How, then to add practicality to your design arsenal? The good news is that you’re most likely doing some practical things every day – even if you aren’t really thinking about it in that way.

The process of planning out a project, for instance, is a very practical thing to do. Figuring out content structure and the specific needs of the site you’re working on are the first steps. From there, you move on to prototyping, revision and implementation. It all sounds like a pretty well-thought-out way to do things.

Beyond that, the key is to think about the challenges you face and how to best approach them. Think it out rather than go for the first idea that pops into your head. Look deeper into the potential issues each idea can resolve, along with any unintended consequences that will go along with it. In the end, make your decision based on what makes the most sense for users.

At that point, it’s time for your creativity to kick in. Implementing the choices you’ve made will require a creative touch. Going back to the earlier example, if we decide that using a mega menu is the best route to go, we then need to carry out the task of building it using our imagination. The menus will need styled, organized and any special touches can be added in from there.

If you’re working on a problem so unique that it either doesn’t have a practical solution or the ones out there aren’t so great, you can then use creativity to make things better. Remember that everything now considered practical was once radical to someone out there.

You Need Both

You Need Both

While creative inspiration may be the sexier subject, a practical approach to web design is just waiting for someone to give it some love – and rightfully so. It, after all, is a big part of the overall equation when it comes to creating a great website.

Therefore, this is my ode to practicality. Let’s celebrate all it does and can do for us. Alright, now it can go quietly into the background. Bring on the creative inspiration posts.

The post Why Designers Need Creativity and Practicality to Succeed appeared first on Speckyboy Design Magazine.

How to Generate Revenue With Your Content

Want to make money from your content? Wondering how a loyal audience can create business opportunities? To explore business models that help publishers generate revenue, I interview Joe Pulizzi. More About This Show The Social Media Marketing podcast is an on-demand talk radio show from Social Media Examiner. It’s designed to help busy marketers, business […]

This post How to Generate Revenue With Your Content first appeared on .
– Your Guide to the Social Media Jungle

How to Identify Which Experiments to Run

The last time I made an appearance here on the HubSpot Marketing Blog, I wasn’t shy about my love of experiments.

At the same time, I wasn’t shy in my sense that, all too often, they’re conducted for the wrong reasons. We talked about how the purpose of online experiments is to answer questions about how people use your website.

But how do you know which questions to ask? And how do you know whether experiments are even a viable option to answer your questions in the first place? Before you jump in, you need to make sure you know these things.Click here to start A/B testing using our guided instructions and tips from professionals.

Not sure where and when you should start? Fear not — we’re here to help. Let’s get to it.

How to Tell If You Can Run Experiments

Before you come up with experiments to run, you need to make sure you can accurately run them. Experiments should be completely off the table until you have an established online presence and means to track behavior. To do that, you’ll need five things.

1) Traffic

In order to trust that the results of an experiment are unlikely to be influenced by randomness, you need to have a high volume of traffic. Some experiments require larger sample sizes than others — even hundreds of thousands, in some cases — but typically, you’ll need a minimum of 100 unique page views per day to reach statistical significance within a reasonable amount of time.

2) Goals

In an experiment, your hypothesis is the statement you’re working to prove. But what is it that you’re trying to improve as a result of this test? Those are your key performance indicators (KPIs) — the quantifiable measures of the experiment’s success. Without those, you have no North Star to guide the purpose of your experiment, or the objectives behind it.

3) Tracking

In order to measure and observe the performance and results of your experiment groups, you’ll need to establish which data you’ll be tracking and monitoring. In the digital realm, that might include factors like:

  • Which pages are people visiting?
  • Where did they come from?
  • What are they doing once they arrive at those pages? Are they converting, bouncing, or taking another action?

4) Baseline Metrics

Even if you’re hoping to make improvements to your funnel, before you start an experiment, you should have an established, recorded funnel conversion rate (CVR). In other words, before you begin, you should be able to track:

Funnel visit -> retained customer

If you try to start an experiment without that information, you’ll have no benchmark to compare where you were prior to running it — and therefore, you won’t know if you’re any better or worse off as a result.

5) You’ve picked all of the low-hanging fruit.

Make sure you’ve fully built out and iterated on all of the basic requirements for your funnel to work or even operate correctly. For example, in the ecommerce sector, you might want to do something like optimize your online product catalogue. But you can’t do so until you’ve made sure every product is listed there, you have a complete online checkout system, and have a way for visitors to contact you for customer service.

We have a phrase for this step: “Don’t start hanging up pictures before you paint the walls.”

How Do I Know If I Have These Five Things?

If you find yourself asking that question, we recommend running an A/A test — an experiment where you go through all the motions of running and tracking an experiment, without actually changing anything. We do this in three steps:

  1. Run the dummy test for five business days.
  2. Take the test down.
  3. Analyze the results.
    • Do you have 500+ unique users enrolled in the experiment?
    • Can you track both experiment groups full funnel?
    • Is funnel CVR about equal for both experiment groups?

So, do you have those five things? Nice job — you’re already ahead of the curve. But experimentation still only makes sense when you can identify questions worth answering through quantitative research.

Identifying experiments

First things first, you need to pick a funnel that you want to optimize through experimentation. Once you have your funnel, identify the unanswered questions you have about how your audience moves between its stages. To identify unanswered questions, we need to take stock of what we already know.

Identifying who moves through your funnel, and why

Do you know exactly who’s entering the funnel and from where, with quantitative and qualitative data to back it up? How about why they’re entering the funnel, with the same supporting data? If you don’t know the answers to these questions, this is where you should start.

Next, if you look at your funnel, can you figure out why people aren’t converting between steps?

Source: Apolline Adiju

Identifying knowledge gaps for how people move through your funnel

Let’s look at the following conversion:

Basic visit > purchase

Our goal is to identify why people do not convert between steps in our funnel. To find out, we need to list reasons why we think people are not converting, and seek out data to back up our claims. We will know that we have listed the right reasons when we can account for more than 100% of unconverted users, with supporting data.

  • Are people not purchasing because:
    • They have unanswered questions about the product? (Let’s say this reason accounts for 5% of non-purchasing users.)
    • They aren’t ready to make a purchase yet? 10% of non-purchasing users
    • They don’t see how the product fits into their lives? 40% of non-purchasing users
    • The product doesn’t align with what they are looking for? 5of non-purchasing users
    • There are better-priced alternatives? 10% of non-purchasing users
    • There are alternatives with more or better features? 10% of non-purchasing users
    • They lack confidence in the product or the company that sells it? 30% of non-purchasing users

Note: These percentages total >100% — each given user often has multiple reasons for deciding not to purchase.

If you find that you’re struggling to put together a list of reasons as to why people don’t convert, you’ll need to gather qualitative feedback from your customers.

Once you’ve put together a thorough list, take a step back and look for areas of opportunity. For example, on the list above, hone in on, “They don’t see how the product fits into their lives,” and ask, “Why?” Assuming we have product market fit, there must be something we don’t understand here. Otherwise, how can 40% of non-purchasing users be unable to see themselves using the product? It could become a fundamental question that we aim to answer through quantitative experimentation.

To boil it down: Experiments answer questions. To identify experiments, you need to identify gaps in your knowledge, and to do that, list what you do know — that will help you more easily identify what you don’t.

Next Steps

We hope that this post has provided you with the tools to identify when you should run experiments. In my next post, we’ll get into ways you can discover the unanswered questions about your funnel, and prioritize those questions to maximize your investment in a given experiment. Plus, we’ll provide a helpful framework for doing so.

How do you identify which experiments to run? Let us know your approach — and hey, we might even feature your experiment on our blog.

Free Guide AB Testing

  Free Guide AB Testing

Talent Born Or Made?

Introduction: Talent Born Or Made?

Talent is Overrated: What Really Separates World-Class Performers from Everybody ElseTalent is Overrated: What Really Separates World-Class Performers from Everybody Else

Talent born or made? That’s an interesting question. This  post was inspired by a fascinating story I read in The Skinny on Success: Why Not You? by Jim Randel. The author relates a story in Geoff Covin’s book, Talent Is Overrated: What Really Separates World-Class Performers from Everybody Else.

In the book, Hungarian psychologist Laszlo Polgar wanted to test if talent was born or made. He ran an ad for a wife, but the twist is that their children would be raised to be champions in a field unrelated to their parents’ that neither had an aptitude for.

Schoolteacher Klara responded to the ad and agreed to the terms. Laszlo and Klara decided they would attempt to create chess champions since neither were accomplished in the game. They had three girls, Zsuzsa, Zsófia, and Judit and at that time it was the general belief that women didn’t  have what it took to excel at chess. The couple home schooled their daughters,  immersing them in intensive chess training.

Talent Born Or Made

In no time, the girls were competing in the game. The first daughter became the first chess grand master ever. The second daughter became the youngest grand master ever, male or female. And the third daughter is currently the number 1 ranked female player. According to Wikipedia, “Only 11 out of the world’s about 950 grandmasters [are female].”

Is this conclusive evidence that talent is made, not born? What are your thoughts? Is talent overrated?

Have you read?

Review – Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell
The Skinny on Success by Jim Randel: A Book Review


Here is an excerpt from Did Malcolm Gladwell Rip Me Off? By Michael Masterson in Early to Rise Ezine.

“There are four levels of proficiency in any valuable skill – incompetence, competence, mastery, and virtuosity.

  • To get past incompetence, you must spend about 1,000 hours practicing the skill you eventually want to master.
  • After putting in about 1,000 hours, you will be competent. To achieve mastery, you will have to continue to practice that skill for a total of 5,000 hours.
  • Virtuosity is extremely rare. You can’t get it simply by practicing. You must also have a natural gift. Even then, you must practice at least 10,000 hours to achieve it.

Michael Jordan was a virtuoso basketball player. Mozart was a virtuoso composer. Warren Buffett has been a virtuoso investor. But don’t make the mistake of thinking you must become a virtuoso. You can achieve greatness and make a fortune by becoming a master of your chosen skill.”

Final Thoughts: Talent Born Or Made?

If talent is made and not born, what are the implications for you? Are you interested in mastering a skill? Are you prepared to practice deliberately? Please chime in by commenting. Keep the conversation flowing.

UPDATE: First published in February 2010

Related Articles

The Grandmaster Experiment

Home-Grown Grandmasters; Laszlo Polgar’s Daughters Were Pawns in an Experiment That Changed the Chess World

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The post Talent Born Or Made? appeared first on The Invisible Mentor.

Staff awareness is vital to GDPR compliance

A recent study by Alfresco and AIIM revealed that 21% of senior executives in the UK have little or no awareness about the effect the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will have on their organisation.

Thirty-one percent of the organisations questioned had experienced data loss or exposure in the past 12 months due to what they felt was staff negligence or bad practice.

Staff need to be aware of GDPR requirements

With organisations facing significant fines for non-compliance (up to 4% of annual global turnover or €20 million – whichever is greater), it is essential that all staff have an understanding of the requirements of the new Regulation and how it will affect them.

All staff members should be made aware of the key changes introduced by the GDPR and the requirements that will affect their day-to-day work.

Get your staff prepared for the GDPR

With only nine months until the Regulation comes into force, now is the time to educate your staff on GDPR compliance.

IT Governance’s publishing division, ITGP, can produce all of its GDPR books in customised formats. Books can feature your company logo or a bespoke foreword, or can be customised to your company branding guidelines.

So far in 2017, ITGP has printed more than 6,000 customised books to help companies educate their staff on GDPR compliance requirements.

Find out how you can get your staff prepared for the GDPR with customised books >>

GDPR - Branded Publishing