We optimize our checkout process continually. To do so, we keep track of our shopping cart abandonment. Why won’t people complete their purchase, even after they have already added your products to their shopping carts? That’s what we’ll discuss in this article.

Shopping cart abandonment

Some of the reasons for shopping cart abandonment are so obvious, that you would almost forget to take these into account when optimizing your checkout process. You see, a lot of the focus on shopping cart abandonment is on why people would abandon a shopping cart, and how to prevent it. However, we think there’s one step to take into account before abandonment.

Use of shopping cart

Research by Close and Kukar-Kinney (2010) states that at first, it’s not about why people abandon a shopping cart. It’s about why they’re using the shopping cart in the first place! You’d think the main reason for putting products in a shopping cart is to purchase your stuff, right? That might not be entirely true. It’s actually a pretty big assumption when you think of it!

Close and Kukar-Kinney actually found that a significant number of people also used the shopping cart as a sort of wish list or to simply check out the total price. The reason for the latter could be that the user, for instance, wants to check for any hidden costs you might add later on in the checkout process.

It’s mentioned in at least one other study by Kaufman-Scarborough and Lindquist (2002) that people might use the shopping cart for other purposes than just buying directly. What does that mean in terms of shopping cart abandonment? Quite a lot. The Kaufman-Scarborough and Lindquist study states:

Perhaps the notion of “abandonment” is an oversimplification. Some consumers may simply use shopping carts to investigate and tally possible future purchases, with no intent to purchase at the specific time that they are online.

Online window shopping

A woman’s perspective by Marieke

Although hard to imagine for some, shopping is not solely a functional activity for everyone. Some people just love to shop, even without buying anything. These so-called window shoppers take pleasure just in the shopping activity; regardless of them actually buying anything. In most cases, these people don’t have the budget to ever buy the stuff they’re looking at.

I would expect there to be window shoppers on the internet as well. They’ll pick out stuff and put it in their baskets, without any intention to buy (all of it). Putting stuff in their baskets is just good fun for these window shoppers. Their shopping needs are met solely by filling their baskets. Shopping cart abandonment could thus be partly explained by online window shopping.

They might just be right. People aren’t abandoning a cart at all if they use it as a wish list. They might just be setting the cart aside and go for a nice cup of joe. Only to come back later and purchase all the things in that cart anyway. Calling it abandonment is in itself an assumption. It would be better to call it shopping cart use. Understanding how and why people use your shopping cart is quite important.

On a side note: think about what this means if your session time-out is set to one hour or so. That simply means that all these people using your cart as a wish list see their wish list emptied, while they might want to buy everything this evening. Or even purchase all tomorrow. A nice reason for longer session cookie expiration times, right?

Complications

It’s not an easy job to find out why people are abandoning your shopping cart, let alone how people are using your shopping cart. That doesn’t mean it’s impossible to do. When we first published this article in 2014, we mentioned that it would be great if more companies would try to be of assistance in this. Every customer is different; perhaps that’s what makes this very complicated. But that’s just me thinking out loud.

Up to today, it’s mostly reading or doing studies and funneling/enhanced eCommerce in Google Analytics that will give you some insights. Enhanced eCommerce will tell you at which point people abandon your cart and with what product in that cart. There is some filtering that can be done here as well; it might be worth your while to dig into this, actually.
It will also pay off to simply ask your visitors why they abandon your website. That can be done by e.g. creating a so-called exit intent survey. That survey will only pop up if a visitor is moving his cursor to close the window. If you ask people at this point in time why they’re leaving, it could give you some very useful insights.

Baymard Institute has compiled 24 different studies and found that the average shopping cart abandonment is a whopping 68.63% (January 14, 2016). That’s a lot. It shows that you want to be sure you’ve looked at it from every possible angle.

Shopping cart abandonment

Even if a vast number of your visitors uses your cart as a wish list or for later purchase, there still are people that actually abandon your shopping cart. They all have their reasons. Results from surveys asking customers why they abandoned the shopping cart give useful additional insights:

Statista: Shopping Cart Abandonment US (2015)

This chart by Statista shows that people browse eCommerce sites and simply add products to the cart just to be able to decide later if it’s worth buying. As always, you need to be aware that methods of doing such research, especially in surveys, can lead to some discrepancies. A 2014 study by comScore showed that “not being ready to purchase” or “saving the items for later” were the biggest factors. I can totally see that being true today as well. It aligns with the ‘wanted to wait for it to go on sale’ in the Statista chart as well.

Mobile cart abandonment

Abandonment can be caused by a lot of factors. Ventureburn recently listed seven more reasons that apply to mobile shopping carts that make perfect sense to me:

  1. Long checkout process
  2. Poor design
  3. Bad loading speed
  4. Not interruption-proof
  5. Registration forms
  6. Limited payment methods
  7. No A/B testing – no conversion improvements

I like the fourth one a lot. Especially when surfing a website on a mobile device, interruption is always a factor. I totally agree with that last one as well: keep on testing, monitoring and improving. Find more details in the article by Ventureburn itself: 7 reasons why customers are abandoning your mobile shopping cart.

Improvements

Being clear about your prices and additional costs is just one of the things we mentioned as an improvement for your checkout page or shopping cart. There are many things you can do to keep people from abandoning or ‘misusing’ your shopping cart. After reading this post, one of them must seem quite obvious: offer people the wish list we mentioned earlier. Amazon is the obvious example for this. It’s an effective way to reduce the ‘noise’ in your statistics from alternate uses of your shopping carts.

Being clear seems to be a common thread in the advice:

  • Clearly state prices.
  • Clearly state any additional (f.i. shipping) costs.
  • Clearly state your payment options.
  • Clearly state the number of steps in your checkout process.

Just to name a few.

Over to you

What about your shopping cart? Do you monitor abandonment? Do you already provide that wish list? Or does that make no sense at all for your website? I trust this post will give you some food for thought for your own website!

Read more: ‘How we built a checkout page we’re proud of’ »

HTTPS EverywhereThere was a bit of tweeting in the SEO community today because Bing introduced an HTTPS version of their site and people thought that would mean they’d lose their keyword data. That’s not true, if you take the right precautions. I thought I’d write a bit of an intro in how all this works so you can make an informed decision on what to do and I’ll tell you what we will do.

Referrer data and keywords

When you click from http://example.com to http://yoast.com, your browser tells the website you went to (yoast.com in this case), where you came from. It does this through an HTTP header called the referrer. The referrer holds the URL of the previous page you were on. So if the previous page you were on was a search result page, it could look like this:

http://example.com/?q=example+search

If you clicked on that search result, and came to yoast.com, I could “parse” that referrer. I could check whether it holds a q variable and then see what you searched for. This is what analytics packages have been doing for quite a while now: they keep a list of websites that are search engines and then parse the referrer data for visits from those search engines to obtain the searched for keywords. So your analytics rely on the existence of that referrer to determine the keywords people searched for when they came to your site. And this is where a search engine moving to HTTPS starts giving some trouble.

HTTP, HTTPS and referrer data

The HTTPS protocol is designed as such that if you go from an HTTPS page to an HTTP page, you lose all referrer data. That’s necessary because you’re going from an encrypted to an unencrypted connection and if you’d pass data along there, you’d be breaking the security. If you go from HTTP to HTTPS or from HTTPS to HTTPS, this is not the case and the referrer is thus kept intact.

So if all search engines were on HTTPS and your site wasn’t, you’d never get keyword data. The solution for that is simple though: move your website to HTTPS and you’d suddenly have all your data back. This is the case with Bing’s HTTPS implementation: if you search on it and go to an HTTPS page from their results, the keyword data is all there, as you’d expect.

Google’s not provided

“But, but, but” I hear you think: would moving to HTTPS get me all my Google keywords as well? No. Google is doing some trickery when you click on a URL, they actually redirect you through another URL so that the site you visit does get referrer data (showing that you came from Google). They hide the keyword though, as they say that’s private data. Even if you think they’re right that keywords are private data, the wrong bit about what Google is doing is that they are still sending your keyword data to AdWords advertisers. I’ve written about that before in stronger words. If they were truly concerned about your privacy they’d hide that data too.

I’d argue, in fact, that Google is breaking the web more than Bing here: even though I’m going from HTTPS to HTTP, Google is telling the website I visited that I came from Google. It shouldn’t. That’s just wrong.

Is this “right” in the first place?

I’ve been thinking a lot about this. Of course, as a marketer, I love keyword data. I love knowing what people searched for, I love being able to profile based on that. But is it right? Let’s compare it with a real world case: say that you’re shopping in a mall. You leave store A, and they put a sticker on your back. You enter store B and the shopkeeper there takes the sticker from your back and can see what you looked for in store A. You would argue against that, wouldn’t you? Now if you walk from section to section in a store and the shopkeeper can see that and help you based on that, there’s arguably not that much wrong with that.

Of course there’s more to this, in real life a shopkeep can see you, your clothes, your behaviour etc. And of course, shopkeepers target on that too. Targeting always happens, perhaps it’s just that people should be more aware of this. In quite a few cases, it might actually be deemed helpful by the user too.

Aviator logoI’m thinking the same is true for referrer data on the web: if you go from site A to site B, perhaps referrer data shouldn’t be passed along. Within a site though, it’s probably better if you do get that data. This is exactly what Aviator does, a browser that touts itself as the most secure browser on the planet. I think it’s an interesting concept. While as a marketer I’d hate losing all that data, as a person I think it’s the right thing to do.

Another thing I should mention here is EFF’s HTTPS everywhere project (of which I used the logo in the top of this post), which helps you use HTTPS on websites that have HTTPS for users but don’t default to it.

Should we all go to HTTPS with our websites?

Now that Bing has launched its HTTPS version (even though the vast, vast majority of their users still get the HTTP version by default as you have to switch to it yourself), it makes even more sense to move your website to HTTPS.

Here at Yoast.com we’ve always had every page that contained a contact form and our checkout pages on HTTPS and everything else on HTTP. The reason for this was that HTTPS was slower than HTTP and we’d rather not put everything on HTTPS because of that. Google’s recent work on SPDY actually negates most of that speed issue though, if your hosting party supports it. It was one of my reasons to switch to Synthesis a while back.

There’s another issue with mixed HTTP / HTTPS websites: they’re horrible to maintain when you’re on WordPress because WordPress mostly sucks at it. When you’re on an HTTPS page all internal links will be HTTPS and vice versa, which is annoying for search engines too.

So we’ll be changing, moving everything to HTTPS somewhere in the coming weeks. My suggestion is you do that too. If we’re all on HTTPS, we all get referrer data from each other (for now at least), we get keyword data from search engines like Bing that play nice and we get a more secure web. I’d say that’s a win-win situation. I’d love to hear what you think!

This post first appeared on Yoast. Whoopity Doo!

deadly-indicators

One beautiful day, I sent out an article to be published on a given website. I got a no. A fairly common thing. Not all posts find their home at first try, so I just decided to broaden my research and look for other sites that could be a good host for that article.

I found one and submitted it.

How surprised I was when the editor got back to me and told me that the article didn’t pass Copyscape (the plagiarism checker). What it basically meant was that someone else had previously published the article.

After connecting the dots quickly, I found that the article was indeed published by the first person I sent it to. They published it on a different site, with no attribution.

Contacting them didn’t produce much of an effect. So I’ve decided to give it a rest and share the article with you here instead. Fighting those kinds of people is never a productive habit. If you can afford it, leave such things behind you and move on with your projects (a general advice).

Having this lengthy introduction behind us, let’s focus on the topic at hand. We all desire some recognition, don’t we? Some online popularity, preferably profits, and overall stardom…things like that.

However, the road to success can be long and difficult, and at some point, we can stumble upon some disturbing signs that we might not be going in the best of directions. I’ve had a number of sites failing in the past, so I know what I’m talking about.

But you know what, I don’t mind. Failure is just a step towards success.

So what to do and what are the indicators of our website going south? Here’s my list and some advice on how to deal with them:

1. Content published irregularly

Every website (this also goes for business sites) should publish content as regularly as possible. It really doesn’t matter whether you’re publishing twice a day or once a week as long as you stick to your schedule.

Of course, you can change things up a bit over time, but don’t do it for no apparent reason every two months or so.

For example, publishing 4 posts one week, then nothing for the next month, and then switching back to 4 a week is NEVER a good idea. Your readers won’t be able to follow your blog because they won’t know what to expect.

In essence, predictability is nothing negative when it comes to publishing schedules.

2. No emails or other forms of contact

If you’re doing something good, chances are that other people will want to reach out to you and either congratulate you, or propose some form of a joint project that can present a completely new opportunity on its own. I, for example, was surprised when I was offered a paid freelance writing deal just because someone enjoyed my style of writing.

More than that, you will probably also start receiving some hate mail. I’m not saying that hate mail is something I enjoy seeing in my inbox, but it’s surely an indication that your content touches people personally, which, in essence, is a good thing.

Anyway, if there are no emails or other messages in your inbox at all, then there’s a lot of room for improvement.

3. No user feedback

A website exists as long as it’s alive, so to speak. A website lives when people read its content and interact with it in one way or the other.

This all depends on your niche, style of writing, and other things, but there should always be some form of reader activity. Some topics attract a lot of comments naturally. Others are more social-media-friendly (a lot of re-tweets). Others are more prone to bringing you a lot of direct emails (sometimes angry ones, like I said). No matter what it is, there has to be something.

If there’s no user activity at all, you’re probably in trouble.

4. Low-quality design

You really don’t have to be a designer to be able to tell whether a site is of good quality or not… However, when it comes to our own websites, we tend to NOT notice bad things about them, and we do it on purpose.

The best way of protecting ourselves against such problems is to start with a quality premium WordPress theme in the first place. Yes, you do have to spend some money if you want a quality design. Thankfully, spending it on a premium theme by ThemeFuse or Studio Press is a lot better investment than hiring a designer directly.

The truth is that visitors will evaluate your site just by looking at the design. If the design doesn’t seem professional, they will reach a conclusion that you’re not professional either.

5. Using only the “new” SEO techniques

In all seriousness, SEO indeed is the most powerful method of promotion online, especially if you’re working on making your business profitable directly because of its presence on the web. That being said, SEO doesn’t always work, and sometimes it can even hurt your site altogether.

Most problems happen when we try to do many things at the same time and make it our effort to test every new technique out there. The thing with new SEO techniques is that Google always needs a while to decide whether something is “cool” or “not cool at all.” Therefore, whenever you try something new, and then Google decides that the technique is not in tune with their guidelines, you’re cooked.

If you don’t want to lose your search engine presence, always make sure to focus on well-tested SEO techniques.

6. Poor rankings and low traffic

This is probably the simplest indicator of them all and it somewhat connects with the previous point. Google’s goal is to promote quality sites that are valuable to their readers, and to bury the weak sites at the same time.

If your site is not quality enough, Google won’t give it a good spot in the rankings, which will have a huge impact on the traffic.

If you’re not receiving the traffic you think you should be receiving (check via Google Analytics, or better yet, Clicky) it’s probably a good time to take care of some SEO and also to step up your game when it comes to publishing quality articles.

You can check your rankings through a tool like Moz or Raven Tools, or a number of free services available on the internet.

7. You have no real business plan

I know that business plans are not fun. To be honest, I hate working on anything that resembles a business plan in any shape or form. But sometimes there’s just no escape…

Generally, I advise you to treat business plans as guidance for yourself, rather then for some third-party entity that might be interested in your business. Your business plan must make your goal clear to YOU. That’s the only rule.

But what does it have to do with your website, right? Well, if you don’t have a thought through business plan then your website likely doesn’t have any action or promotion plan either. In short, your business plan is what is going to guide your actions regarding your website.

Once you have the plan ready, you can, for example, tell whether paid advertising is a good method of promotion for your site or not, and make many other similar decisions. Crafting a business plan is hard…but it pays off.

That’s it for my list of these 7 deadly indicators, but I just have one last question: What are you doing to keep your site on the quality side of the web and make your business profitable?

7 Quite Deadly Indicators That Your Online Business Website Is In Bad Shape | newInternetOrder.com

As of January 2nd we’re offering Conversion Reviews, in which we review your website and give you a list of improvements to increase your conversion rates. We’ve come to the conclusion we needed to offer these Conversion Reviews as a result of my own activities within Yoast, as well as our experience with the Website Reviews.

Experience

We already focused on conversion when making our Website Reviews, among other things. During the hundreds of Website Reviews we’ve done so far, we noticed a lot of the websites we were reviewing could use more than just a ‘nudge in the right direction’. Because while we are helping people to get more and more traffic to their site, it’s a waste to see only a sliver of that traffic actually converting.

Apart from that, I’ve personally noticed that I’ve had more and more to say about the conversion part of the Website Reviews. Sometimes I actually had to hold back on this part, so it wouldn’t drown out the rest of the review.

So making the Conversion Review its own thing was a logical step. Business wise it’s a logical step as well: the Website Review will help you draw as much visitors to your website as possible, and the Conversion Review will help you make the most of these visitors.

Conversion Review

In short, the Conversion Review will help you optimize your conversion rates. Whether your website is aimed at sales, email subscriptions or simply page views, the Conversion Review will give you a handy list of what you should change. Basing our claims on (scientific) articles and findings from other tests and studies, we tell you what you should change, what you could test, and why.

So even if you’re no stranger to conversion rate optimization, this review will be helpful to you. It will give you a clear focus on your most important pages and where the best improvements could be made.

What others thought

In december 2013 we’ve already done some Conversion Reviews. Here’s what one of our customers had to say:

Bully Max“We would like to thank you for the review as it is proving to be indispensable for us growing the business. In fact, so far I think I look at the review at least once a day for reference. Thank you also for taking care of our Google Analytics issues. Having a backup of the data is a great thing. Your hard work with this is very appreciated. All in all, your reviews are awesome, and any serious online business would be missing out, not to take advantage of such knowledge.

Team Yoast is money well spent, bottom line!”

Matthew Kinneman, Bully Max

Order your Conversion Review here »

 

 

This post first appeared on Yoast. Whoopity Doo!

banned-from-adwords

So you’ve just been banned from AdWords … now what?

If that’s the question on your mind, you’re in the right place.

On a personal note, I didn’t really mention this until now, but one day, I too got banned from AdWords.

 

As a matter of fact, I can even do you one better. I got banned from AdWords twice!
 

It happened a couple of years ago, at a time when I was making some nice monies with the AdWords-to-affiliate business model. Everything was going well, until this email appeared in my inbox (actual email):

 

 
Hello AdWords Advertiser,

Your AdWords account has been suspended because it doesn’t comply with our Advertising Policies and our AdWords Terms and Conditions. Please note that this means your account and any related accounts have been suspended, you can’t create any new accounts, and your ads will no longer run on Google, our search partners, or on Display Network placements.

Let me translate this into plain English:

 

 
We, Google, don’t want to have anything to do with you. And although you are ready to throw a lot of money at us, we won’t accept it because f*** you, that’s why.

So how did I manage to get banned twice? I don’t know why exactly (I can only imagine that it’s because there’s a big mess at Google), but a stunning 2 years after the initial ban notice, I got another one saying the exact same thing.

I don’t know, maybe Google feels that once in a while, they need to remind me I am banned.

Anyway, onwards.

 
 

The not-effective way of handling an AdWords ban

 

A standard human reflex is to just send an email back asking about the issues, trying to negotiate, saying that you will improve, promising to be a good boy, etc.

 

But with Google, none of that works.

 

Google AdWords is notoriously known for not responding to any email, so you’re just hitting a wall with every attempt to experience any form of actual human interaction with anyone at Google.

 
 

The alpha-male way of handling an AdWords ban

 

Note. Sorry, but if you’re looking for classic “nice guy” advice, this is not it. I won’t be talking about how you should fix your site, reach out to Google, apologize, and so on. None of this has made its way to this tutorial.

Before I go into the nitty-gritty, let’s take a look at the two possible scenarios that you might be in at the moment:

 

Scenario #1:

AdWords was the only traffic source for your site. A fairly common thing in the online business space, especially if your business model is affiliate marketing or advertising.
Scenario #2:

AdWords was just one of the traffic sources.
Now, this might sound counterintuitive, but the first scenario is a lot easier to deal with, even though you are losing 100% of your traffic after the ban.

Here’s what you do:

 

only

Things to do if AdWords was your only traffic source

 

Step #1.

Start by buying a completely new domain, new hosting account (at a new IP address; you can do this with IXWebHosting, by the way – they offer unique IPs to every customer).

 

Step #2.

Install WordPress, pick a new theme, and create a new structure on your new site.

The structure should be a bit different than that of the original site, but it should provide a somewhat similar experience.

 

Step #3.

Copy your old content to the new site. At this point, your new site is very similar to the old one, content-wise. But it does have a new design and a new structure. Not to mention the new name and web address.

 

Step #4.

Now the best part. Create a new AdWords account with another credit card number.

Yeah, I know, Google tells you that you can’t do that, but the fact is that it’s not so much that you can’t … you’re just not allowed.

Kind of like your mom saying “don’t touch the pie until it cools down.” You know you’re not allowed to, but you will do it anyway…

With Google, the worst that could happen is them banning you again. In which case, you will just repeat the process.

 

Step #5.

Launch new campaigns on your new account.

Done.

not-only

Things to do if AdWords was one of your traffic sources

 

This is a bit tougher.

You can’t just scrap the site because you don’t want to lose those other traffic sources, but you still want to get your advertising traffic flowing.

 

The simplest solution, although I will be sounding a bit obvious, is to start testing new advertising networks. Often, it’s also the best solution.
 

These days, there really are many possibilities. And I’m not only talking about other PPC networks, like Yahoo Advertising, 7search. You can also try media buys, direct blog ads, sponsored posts, newsletter ads, and so on.

 
 

Let me emphasize the point here. This really is the first thing I would try after being banned from AdWords.
 

However, if you do want to somehow get back in the system, you can do the following.

Note. High risk method.

 

Step #1.

Create a gateway site. This site is just a one-page site – a landing page. It should play a role of a middleman between your ad and the target page on your main site.

This means the gateway needs to feature some strong copy to convince the visitor to click through to your main site. This will obviously lower your overall CTR, but that’s another story.

The technical side of this gateway is similar to the approach described a couple of paragraphs above – you need to get a new domain and a new host.
 

Step #2.

Cheat your way into AdWords one more time with a new email and a new credit card. Just like described above.

 

Step #3.

Set your campaigns and point them to your gateway.

I’ve labeled this method high risk because it’s a lot easier for Google to get a grasp on what’s going on, so the lifespan of your new site will be even shorter.

 

What about “the right thing to do?”

There’s no right thing to do here.

I said it multiple times in the past and I’ll say it again; I’m not here to teach the right thing to do. I’m here to list the possibilities and leave it up to you to decide whether it’s a path worth taking in your specific situation.

I’m not judging. If you are okay with the methods described here, it’s your call. If not, that’s cool too.

Looking for some online business advice for normal people
and more resources just like this one? Jump in.

What to Do if You Get Banned From Google AdWords | newInternetOrder.com

control

So you’ve been working on your online business, testing different things, playing with new methods…overall, just trying to make things go a little better.

Inevitably, however, comes the day when you will start having doubts.

 

Don’t deny it.

YES, YOU WILL EXPERIENCE THIS.

It happens to everyone.

 

Pat Flynn’s recent hit – Let Go – is basically about the path from panic to profits and purpose (his own words).

let-go

Corbett Barr – the creator of Fizzle (and the killer of Think Traffic) – has his own two cents to share about overcome self-doubt too.

fizzle

Almost every big name out there faces this. If it didn’t hit you yet, it will. Sorry for being the bearer of bad news.

I did go through this too, by the way. A number of times. Probably a lot more times I’m comfortable admitting.

 

The thing with doubts is that they are not always that relevant to the reality we’re in. Sometimes, we’re simply worried about things that don’t make sense.

Other times, we’re worried because we don’t feel like we’re in control. We’re worried that we’re only a victim of circumstances and everything we do is kind of reactive or even accidental in nature.

not all worries are real
For example, why are you trying to utilize a certain promotional method in your business at the moment? Is it because it’s part of your overall yearly plan of action or something? Or did you just see it somewhere on the internet and decided to give it a shot? If it’s the former, then cool, you rock! If it’s the latter, then welcome to the party, you’re just like the rest of us…

 
 

The goal: re-gaining control

 
 

Re-gaining control is by far the most important thing on my list for 2014, and I think it should play a role just as strong on yours.

Please don’t get me wrong. I’ve been doing okay, but I feel that taking this to the mysterious next level won’t happen if I’m not in control of my projects and my actions entirely.

So here’s my plan and the approach I’m taking to make it happen. A big part of this is mindset-related, so proceed with caution if you’re more about the direct go-do advice.

 

clock

Taming time

 

Working in the computer era is very confusing and very difficult, even though we don’t have to deal with hard physical labor all day. But maybe that’s exactly the problem…

 

Here’s the deal. If you’re a construction worker then your work and relaxation environments are very separate and distinguishable. Basically, if you’re at a construction site, you’re at work. If you’re sitting in your chair at home, you’re relaxing.

I know this sounds drop-dead basic so far, but bear with me.

Now, when you’re working on a computer, or even worse, the internet is your main work tool then you’re pretty screwed. That’s because distinguishing work from relaxation is virtually impossible.

construction
For example, picture the following two scenarios:

  1. Work. You’re sitting at your desk, looking at your screen, browsing through the admin panel of yourdomain.com and typing a message.
  2. Relaxation. You’re sitting at your desk, looking at your screen, browsing though someone’s profile at facebook.com and typing a message.

These are essentially the same environments. I mean, the difference for your conscious brain is obvious, but for your primal brain, it’s not obvious at all. This small change – the specific website you’re on, makes it really confusing for your brain to determine if you’re at work or trying to relax.

For ages, we’ve only been doing physical work, and our brains got used to that concept. That’s why physical workers have no problems at all relaxing after a day’s worth of hard work. They can switch in a matter of seconds due to the environment change. We cannot.

 

This whole probably a bit boring story brings me to one conclusion. And it’s this:

If we want to tame our work time entirely, which is the first step to re-gaining control, we need to start using our main work tool (our PC or Mac) for work only.
 

This means no relaxation time by your computer. No YouTube, no Facebook, no video games, etc.

And I don’t only mean the obvious, which is avoiding distraction during your work time. I actually mean not using them at all for relaxation purposes.

Once this habit is set for good, our brains will learn, adapt, and eventually let us be in control when we’re working.

So, the big question is what to do when you want to relax with some internet entertainment by your side? Considering my strict rules regarding your work-PC, the only solution I can see is using an entirely different device for relaxation.

For example, if you want to relax, you can take your iPad, or your spouse’s tablet and sit in this nice chair by the window, instead of remaining at your desk.

 

plan

Planning long term

 

The other building block to re-gain control in your online business is getting into the habit of long term planning.

We all know the basics of constructing a plan. What you do is pick a goal, write an outline on how you’re going to achieve it, and then start executing it. But short term planning doesn’t protect you from falling victim to those one-off techniques and methods that you’ll stumble upon on the web almost every day.

 

It’s just that even despite having a good plan, you are likely to find yourself in a situation where you’re chasing after the new cool method that someone has described on a blog somewhere. So the solution I advise for this is practicing the art of long term planning.
Here’s what you do:

  • Focus on handling the tasks that you’ve planned for first, before going after anything new and exciting.
  • Whenever you do come across something interesting, ask yourself if it has the potential to make the execution of your main plan better or faster. If not, then don’t even bother testing the thing out.
  • In general, focus 80% of your time on executing your core plan and handling the tasks specified in it, and only 20% of your time testing new things.

Being on the top of the mountain and knowing every new technique out there is very trendy these days, but try looking at it from an old-school perspective… Let’s take Nike as our example. Do you think that the overall man-hours spent in that huge company is on new technique and idea development, or on simple sneakers-assembly? Since we do have Nike sneakers in the stores all over the world, I guess it’s the latter.

So there you have it. These are my two main methods for re-gaining control. And I really do intend to implement them as soon as possible.

The benefits can be huge. I’m sure of it. No one has ever gotten to the next level by just going through the motions and dealing with their business on a day-to-day reactive basis. The real success is about being in control of your business and your career as a whole.

If you like the stuff, just enter your name and email below to sign up to my newsletter,
where you’ll get more resources just like this one.



Hey You! You’ve Lost Control in Your Business. Here’s Why, and What to Do About It | newInternetOrder.com

Over the last couple of weeks I have been dealing with the fine art of CSS. Although that is not my daily business anymore – because I lead the website review team here at Yoast – I really enjoyed mastering SCSS and using that for an actual design. During this field trip, I encountered several front end discussions about responsive web design that intrigued me. They actually fascinated me enough to write this post and invite you to share your thoughts about these issues in the comments. We will all benefit by sharing experience, right?

I’m not Will Hunting, I’m not the only one being able to solve this issue, so I will just write down the steps I took in styling a responsive website for all devices. And am looking forward to your thoughts on this.

First tracks

The first thing I wanted to overcome was the issue of relative font sizes. What would be the best practice and why? As rem seems to be the standard these days, that decision was quickly made. First declare pixels for older browsers, than rem for current browsers.

Being old school, I have been scaling down the browser base font (16 pixels in most cases) to 62.5% for a couple of years now. It is just so much easier calculating up and down from 10 pixels, right? Of course that would mean using a font size of 16 pixels for paragraphs would lead to this CSS:

p {
  font-size: 16px;
  font-size: 1.6rem;
}

Oh the simple things. But this actually made my browser (Chrome for Mac) show a 1.6 * 16 = 25,6 pixel font before showing the 16 pixels I intended it to be. I wouldn’t put my finger on why this was happening, so I just decided to see how Jeremy Keith was doing this. Ever since Reboot 8 (Copenhagen) I have been following this man from a distance, as he seems to be the no-nonsense guy that just does things the right way. His website does not use the 62.5% ‘hack’, but simply calculates rem font sizes from the 16 pixels standard. The simplest things are usually the best. And yes, I did change my entire stylesheet to match that method. Luckily for me I used a separate SCSS file for font sizes, so this really was a ten minute change ;)

Padding and margin

Second stop was padding and margin. I have been going over this a couple of times, trying to decide on what to use for this: px, em or rem. I must have read a dozen articles on the topic. Of course there are always purists that tell you to always use em for this, but my conclusion was that, as for now, it really does not matter. You just want your white space to look right on all screen sizes. I decided to stick with pixels, as it is just the clearest, most easy way to do this.

There is just one exception in my book: padding-bottom for things like paragraphs and list, perhaps even headings. I use em for that. That might be a personal legacy, or something I an used to, but it seems to make sense to relatively calculate the whitespace below relatively sized elements, as a factor of that element (so using em).

Design your mobile website

With all element dimensions set, I took up the almost impossible task to decide where my design was going to change into the mobile design it should be. I think that is actually step one in responsive design: design the mobile version of your website. Don’t just take the website, reduce browser width to 320 pixels and see how you can make that look good.

Seriously, sit down and try to paint the mobile picture for your website. And all elements in it you can think of. Using Genesis and building plugins ourselves, this meant adding a gazillion (OK, perhaps a little less than that) widgets to a sidebar, scratch that, to all sidebars and styling these one by one.

It will make sure you forget as little as possible. Even writing this post made me realize I forgot one or two widgets, so keep in mind that this is of course also an ongoing process.

With the mobile and regular site designed, it is time to decide where to break your design for different devices.

Breaking up is hard to do

There are two ways to go:

  1. Breaking up the design using em’s
  2. Breaking up the design using pixels

Now note that this is not an exact science. As designs differ, these breaking points differ. Again, in my book. Looking forwards to your thoughts and ideas.

Relative breakpoints

The main idea behind using em’s is pixel independency. At the moment, that usually means 1024 pixels is replaced by 1024/16 = 64em. Vasilis van Gemert did an interesting article on Smashing Magazine on these breaking points earlier this year. It also deals with questions like what we should call them (I really don’t care about how we call them, to be honest) and how we could add columns to a layout using responsive design.

Responsive does not always mean showing one TwixRegarding that last one: that is a really nice extra, but I’m dealing with a blog design here. There is no left Twix, there is just the entire two-piece Raider inside the wrapper: main content and sidebar.

I’m under the impression we have been given tools and feel the need to use all. But when hammering one piece of wood to another for a client, you just need a hammer and nails. In most cases, you do not need a power drill. Your client probably has not even thought of doing things this way. Adding extras should not be a billable hour filler without an actual purpose.

In the article, I especially like the sentence: “If the user prefers a bigger font, then the layout would always be optimized in a way that’s relative to the font size.” I like it because I partly agree. And mainly because it is food for thought. It’s a starting point for nice projects like Marko Dugonjić. But would that work in my real world?

I want a design to look nice and readable on all devices. Vasilis also makes a great, valid point about the length of a sentence, that I wanted to take in account. It simply should be an easy read. The eye can’t cope with long lines, in most cases. I don’t agree with the mentioned conclusion “If you start with a small screen and you grow it, every time the width of the main content grows wider than either 75 characters or 10 words, something should happen. Simply said, these are your breakpoints.” I have been thinking about this when styling a full width page and just decided, after a quick word with our designer, not to make that full width actually full width, but just limited the width of an inner <div> within the main content <div>. But this really is your call. This is simply how we decided to do it.

Absolute breakpoints

As there does not seem to be a fixed set for relative breakpoints, I decided to go with absolute breakpoints instead. Using pixels, you can easily determine where you want the design to break. No calculating, just simple measuring and responding to what the design does.

Most designs are not that complex, column wise, so styling them nicely towards a mobile version is not that hard, just make sure to check every variation possible in your page layout.

iOS Resolution Reference by Ben Lew

iOS Resolution Reference by Ben Lew – see iosres.com for more details

I decided on three screen widths to start with:

  • 1024 pixels
  • 640 pixels
  • 320 pixels

That’s a regular iPad (landscape), an iPhone 5 and up (landscape) and an iPhone (not retina, portrait). Yes, we like Apple here at Yoast. But we also test on other devices, don’t worry ;) I just needed some starting points, on which I would check what design changes where necessary.

The rest is pretty simple. Set your browser to that width, add a media query like this to your stylesheet:

@media (max-width:1024px) {
  div.content {
    width:67%;
  }
  div.sidebar {
    width:25%;
  }

No, these are not exact numbers. Of course the percentages make sure the <div>s are more flexible. Of course you also play with your browser width when styling your responsive website. It’s just easier like that. But let’s not go into those details. Let’s discuss these breakpoints some more.

Now this might be a personal issue, but I think there is nothing wrong with adding multiple media queries to a stylesheet. If you have read or written an article on how adding multiple media queries affects site speed, I’d love to read that, please drop a link in the comments below.

For me, these three breakpoints work like a charm. I have to make a sidenote though: the design has a max width of 1280 pixels, which spreads the breakpoints nicely over the range desktop to mobile.

I do think that, apart from the three breakpoints I mentioned, you should be specific about what width you are targetting, so using a media query like @media (min-width:855px) AND (max-width:1024px) { ... } is totally alright. There will always be gaps to fill in between these breakpoints, and as mentioned earlier, I want a design to look nice and readable on all devices. Now it does.

In conclusion

So, taking all things in consideration, these are the outcomes of me building a responsive template:

  • Use rem for font sizes and calculate these from the browser default, usually 16px,
  • use whatever seems appropriate for padding and margin, which in my case is usually pixels for most block elements and em for whitespace related to text, and
  • use pixels to set breakpoints.

Regarding these breakpoints: you should test that. See what works for your design. That brings me to my final question:

What are your experiences with responsive design? At what width have you set your breakpoints and more important: are these fixed sizes for all designs or do you set them again for each new website?

Please add your experiences in the comments below.

This post first appeared on Yoast. Whoopity Doo!

Version 3.8 of WordPress, named “Parker” in honor of Charlie Parker, bebop innovator, is available for download or update in your WordPress dashboard. We hope you’ll think this is the most beautiful update yet.

Introducing a modern new design

overview

WordPress has gotten a facelift. 3.8 brings a fresh new look to the entire admin dashboard. Gone are overbearing gradients and dozens of shades of grey — bring on a bigger, bolder, more colorful design!

about-modern-wordpress

Modern aesthetic

The new WordPress dashboard has a fresh, uncluttered design that embraces clarity and simplicity.

Clean typography

The Open Sans typeface provides simple, friendly text that is optimized for both desktop and mobile viewing. It’s even open source, just like WordPress.

Refined contrast

We think beautiful design should never sacrifice legibility. With superior contrast and large, comfortable type, the new design is easy to read and a pleasure to navigate.


WordPress on every device

responsiveWe all access the internet in different ways. Smartphone, tablet, notebook, desktop — no matter what you use, WordPress will adapt and you’ll feel right at home.

High definition at high speed

WordPress is sharper than ever with new vector-based icons that scale to your screen. By ditching pixels, pages load significantly faster, too.


Admin color schemes to match your personality

colors

WordPress just got a colorful new update. We’ve included eight new admin color schemes so you can pick the one that suits you best.

Color schemes can be previewed and changed from your Profile page.


Refined theme management

themesThe new themes screen lets you survey your themes at a glance. Or want more information? Click to discover more. Then sit back and use your keyboard’s navigation arrows to flip through every theme you’ve got.

Smoother widget experience

Drag-drag-drag. Scroll-scroll-scroll. Widget management can be complicated. With the new design, we’ve worked to streamline the widgets screen.

Have a large monitor? Multiple widget areas stack side-by-side to use the available space. Using a tablet? Just tap a widget to add it.


Twenty Fourteen, a sleek new magazine theme

The new Twenty Fourteen theme displayed on a laptop. tablet and phone

Turn your blog into a magazine

Create a beautiful magazine-style site with WordPress and Twenty Fourteen. Choose a grid or a slider to display featured content on your homepage. Customize your site with three widget areas or change your layout with two page templates.

With a striking design that does not compromise our trademark simplicity, Twenty Fourteen is our most intrepid default theme yet.


Beginning of a new era

This release was led by Matt Mullenweg. This is our second release using the new plugin-first development process, with a much shorter timeframe than in the past. We think it’s been going great. You can check out the features currently in production on the make/core blog.

There are 188 contributors with props in this release:

Aaron Holbrook, Aaron Jorbin, adamsilverstein, admiralthrawn, Alexander Hoereth, Allan Collins, Amy Hendrix (sabreuse), Andrew Nacin, Andrew Ozz, Andrey Kabakchiev, Andy Keith, Andy Peatling, Ankit Gade, Anton Timmermans, Arkadiusz Rzadkowolski, Aubrey Portwood, bassgang, Ben Dunkle, Billy Schneider, binarymoon, Brady Vercher, bramd, Brandon Kraft, Brian Richards, Bryan Petty, Calin Don, Carl Danley, Caroline Moore, Caspie, Chris Jean, Clinton Montague, Connor Jennings, Corphi, Dan Bernardic, Daniel Dudzic, Daryl Koopersmith, datafeedr, Dave Martin, Dave Whitley, designsimply, Dion Hulse, Dominik Schilling, Doug Wollison, Drew Jaynes, dziudek, edik, Eric Andrew Lewis, Eric Mann, Erick Hitter, Evan Solomon, Faison, fboender, Frank Klein, Gary Jones, Gary Pendergast, Gennady Kovshenin, George Stephanis, gnarf37, Gregory Karpinsky (@tivnet), hanni, Helen Hou-Sandi, Ian Dunn, Ipstenu (Mika Epstein), Isaac Keyet, J.D. Grimes, Jack Lenox, janhenckens, Janneke Van Dorpe, janrenn, Jeff Bowen, Jeff Chandler, Jen Mylo, Jeremy Buller, Jeremy Felt, Jeremy Herve, Jeremy Pry, Jesper Johansen (jayjdk), jhned, jim912, Joan Artes, Joe Dolson, Joen Asmussen, John Blackbourn, John Fish, John James Jacoby, Jon Cave, Joost de Valk, Joshua Abenazer, Junko Nukaga, Justin de Vesine, Justin Sainton, K. Adam White, Kailey (trepmal), Kat Hagan, Kate Whitley, Kelly Dwan, Kim Parsell, Kirk Wight, Konstantin Dankov, Konstantin Kovshenin, Konstantin Obenland, Krzysiek Drozdz, Lance Willett, Lee Willis, lite3, Luc Princen, Lutz Schroer, Mako, Mark Jaquith, Mark McWilliams, Marko Heijnen, Matt Mullenweg, Matt Thomas, Matt Wiebe, Matthew Denton, Matthew Haines-Young, mattonomics, Matías Ventura, megane9988, Mel Choyce, micahwave, Michael Cain, Michael Erlewine, Michel - xiligroup dev, Michelle Langston, Mike Burns, Mike Hansen, Mike Little, Mike Schroder, Milan Dinic, Mohammad Jangda, Morgan Estes, moto hachi, Naoko Takano, Neil Pie, Nick Daugherty, Nick Halsey, Nikolay Bachiyski, ninio, ninnypants, Nivi Jah, nofearinc, Nowell VanHoesen, odyssey, OriginalEXE, Pascal Birchler, Paul de Wouters, pavelevap, Peter Westwood, Piet, Ptah Dunbar, Raam Dev, Rachel Carden, rachelbaker, Radices, Ram Ratan Maurya, Remkus de Vries, Rescuework Support, Ricky Lee Whittemore, Robert Dall, Robert Wetzlmayr, PHP-Programmierer, Rodrigo Primo, Ryan Boren, Samuel Wood, sanchothefat, sboisvert, Scott Basgaard, Scott Reilly, Scott Taylor, scribu, Sean Hayes, Sergey Biryukov, Shaun Andrews, ShinichiN, Simon Wheatley, Siobhan, Siobhan Bamber (siobhyb), sirbrillig, solarissmoke, Stephen Edgar, Stephen Harris, Steven Word, Takashi Irie, Takayuki Miyauchi, Takuma Morikawa, tellyworth, Thomas Guillot, tierra, Till Krüss, TLA Media, TobiasBg, tomdxw, tommcfarlin, Torsten Landsiedel, Tracy Rotton, trishasalas, Tyler Smith, Ulrich, undergroundnetwork, Vladimir, Weston Ruter, Yoav Farhi, yonasy, Yuri Victor, and Zack Tollman. Also thanks to Ben Morrison and Christine Webb for help with the video.

Thanks for choosing WordPress. See you soon for version 3.9!

Over the last couple of months I’ve been working on my new book. I haven’t talked much about it until today, purely because it’s a project that’s not wholly related to online business.

The title of the book is “WordPress 3.7 Complete,” and it’s been released with Packt Publishing just a couple of days ago (available on Amazon and in all major bookstores).

In short, it teaches how to build a site on WordPress and get it online in minutes (without losing your shirt along the way). Suitable for both beginners to site building, as well as folks with some experience under their belts already.

wp

Now, the reason I’m mentioning the book today is because I do believe that you can still benefit from it a lot if you’re using or planning to use WordPress as the platform running your online business sites (something I’ve been advising for years).

More details about the book

The book goes step-by-step through things such as:

  • how to install WordPress in minutes,
  • how to create content that’s optimized for the web and then publish it,
  • picking the best plugins that your site really needs,
  • picking the ideal theme,
  • how to build your own plugins and themes,
  • how podcasting with WordPress works,
  • how to launch non-blog websites with WordPress.

I really did my best to make it as comprehensive as possible, with tons of illustrations and examples.

Available in all major bookstores, and on Amazon (both print and Kindle).

title-tag

Moving on to the good stuff…

The Holiday Giveaway

UPDATE: Sorry, this giveaway isn’t available any more. But I can still offer you one chapter – chapter 2 – on basically the same rules as described below.

I am not one of those people who would pitch you on a product just for the sake of it, so instead, I will give you a big part of the book free of charge. This way you can get familiar with the message of the book, get some value right upfront and then maybe decide to buy the complete version if you think it’s worth your dollar.

In short, here’s the deal:

I am willing to give away 1/3 of the whole book – 4 full chapters out of 12 – for free.

The only thing I’m asking in return is for you to kindly submit a customer review on the book’s Amazon page (link). The review can be as short or as long as you wish. Amazon doesn’t have any regulations about this as far as I know.

And I’m going to be right up front with you on this one. Amazon reviews help to spread the word out. They help a lot. The more reviews there are, the more Amazon will do to promote my book to people browsing through various related categories. But above all, I do appreciate your honest opinion about the parts of the book you’ll read. If you don’t think that it’s worth 5 stars, or 4 stars, that’s completely okay. As long as you’re honest when writing your short review.

The chapters that are part of the giveaway:

  • Chapter 2, Getting Started, explains how to install WordPress on a remote server, change the basic default settings of your blog, write posts, and comment on those posts. It also shows how to work with sites hosted on WordPress.com, which is one of the branches of the WordPress world.
  • Chapter 5, Plugins and Widgets, discusses everything there is to know about finding the best plugins for WordPress and then using them effectively. Plugins are an integral part of every WordPress site’s lifespan, so it’s more than hard to imagine a successful site that isn’t using any of them.
  • Chapter 6, Choosing and Installing Themes, describes how to manage the basic look of your WordPress website. You also learn where to find themes, why they are useful, and how to implement new themes on your WordPress website.
  • Chapter 12, Creating a Non-Blog Website Part Two – Community Websites and Custom Content Elements, explores the endless possibilities of WordPress when it comes to using it to launch various types of websites. The chapter presents the second batch of our non-blog websites and explains in detail how to build them on top of a standard WordPress installation.

How to Participate

Just go to the contact page on this site and shoot me a message saying something like “Hey, I want the book now!” … or you can be more descriptive if that’s your thing. I will send you the chapters via email.

Oh, and please tweet about this if you think some of your followers could benefit from this giveaway too. Many thanks.

My New WordPress Book Available | newInternetOrder.com

Release candidate 2 of WordPress 3.8 is now available for download. This is the last pre-release, and we expect it to be effectively identical to what’s officially released to the public on Thursday.

This means if you are a plugin or theme developer, start your engines! (If they’re not going already.) Lots of admin code has changed so it’s especially important to see if your plugin works well within the new admin design and layout, and update the “Tested up to:” part of your plugin readme.txt.

If there is something in your plugin that you’re unable to fix, or if you think you’ve found a bug, join us in #wordpress-dev in IRC, especially if you’re able to join during the dev chat on Wednesday, or post in the alpha/beta forum. The developers and designers who worked on this release are happy to help anyone update their code before the 3.8 release.

Happy hacking, everybody!