Paper View:  Why SETI Hears Only a “Great Silence”

first_imgEnrico Fermi posed a curious question in 1950: “Where is everybody?”  If life emerges on planets as a consequence of evolution, there should be other intelligent civilizations out there, and some of them must have colonized other worlds.  He thought there must have been plenty of time for galactic colonizers to achieve technologies far beyond our own by billions of years, and therefore to have reached every corner of the Galaxy by now, including Earth.  Where are they?  This innocuous question, named “Fermi’s Paradox” (though others had asked it, too) has troubled advocates of the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) ever since.  Though SETI technicians patiently eavesdrop on more and more stars each year in the half-century since SETI began, the Great Silence seems ominous.     Milan M. Cirkovic and Robert J. Bradbury think they know why.  Their ideas, published in New Astronomy July 2006,1 call for nothing less than a complete overhaul of SETI thinking: Hereby, we would like to propose a novel solution, based on the astrophysical properties of our Galactic environment on large scales, as well as some economic and informational aspects of the presumed advanced technological civilizations (henceforth ATCs).  In doing so, we will suggest a radically new perspective on the entire SETI endeavor. Traditional SETI, listening for radio signals from biological life, is “fundamentally flawed,” they claim.  Think post-biological.  Life will not remain content with the limitations of flesh, they reason.  Borrowing from the speculations of science historian Steven J. Dick, they believe biology will eventually give way to technology.  Advanced technical civilizations will be composed of machines.  They quote Dick: In sorting priorities, I adopt what I term the central principle of cultural evolution, which I refer to as the Intelligence Principle: the maintenance, improvement and perpetuation of knowledge and intelligence is the central driving force of cultural evolution, and that to the extent intelligence can be improved, it will be improved. Not “whatever can go wrong, will go wrong,” in other words.  At least until the universe runs down, the Intelligence Principle will triumph over Murphy’s Law.  This is the foundational principle of their proposal.  Life will gravitate toward maximum information processing, subject to the constraints of physical laws. A natural extension of the Intelligence Principle is what can be called the digital perspective on astrobiology: After a particular threshold complexity is reached, the relevant relations between existent entities are characterized by requirements of computation and information processing.  It is related to the emergent computational concepts not only in biology, but in other fields such as fundamental physics, cosmology, neuroscience, and social sciences. Here’s a brief synopsis of their scenario.  Life emerges on a planet, evolves to a state of intelligence, then gravitates toward more efficient information processing and computation, till it transcends the biological and becomes strictly technological.  A machine civilization is not going to care about communicating with beings like us.  Its priority will be to maximize information processing.  To do this, the entities will have to have to migrate from the places where they first evolved as biological life forms.  This is due to simple constraints of physics.  The warmth of a summer sun may be valuable to biological organisms like us, but heat is an enemy of computation.  Galaxies have a galactic temperature gradient: hot at the center, cooler at the edges.  It’s at the outskirts of the galaxy, therefore, where a machine civilization would migrate.  That, however, is not where traditional SETI is looking, and that is the reason for the Great Silence.     In their scenario, we need to drastically modify our search strategy.  Whether artifacts of technology would be detectable at the edges of the Milky Way or external galaxies, they are not sure.  Perhaps aliens would send inscriptions (see 09/01/2004).  They are quite certain, though, that radio is not on the broadcast schedule: We conclude that the conventional radio SETI assuming beamed broadcasts from targets – selected exclusively on the basis of the old-fashioned biological paradigm – within the vicinity of our Solar System … is ill-founded and has minuscule chances of success on the present hypothesis.  It is a clear and testable prediction of the present hypothesis that the undergoing SETI experiments using this conservative approach will yield only negative results. (Italics theirs.)  How can their prediction indeed be tested?  If conventional SETI does get a radio signal, the prediction might fail; otherwise, how long would they have to wait in silence to feel vindicated?  Traditional SETI researchers would probably argue this point.  But Cirkovic and Bradley also put forth a falsification test: look for evidence of technological artifacts at the outer fringes of nearby galaxies.  That, unfortunately, will probably be very difficult without more advanced technology.  Nonetheless, they are quite adamant that traditional SETI thinking is parochial.  It’s oblivious to the physical constraints that would drive life toward information processing.  “In a sense the problem has nothing to do with the universe itself, and everything to do with our ignorance and prejudices,” they state accusingly.  “In this special sense, the flaws in the currently prevailing views on SETI are much less excusable.”     In their paper, the authors acknowledged the contribution of Guillermo Gonzalez (along with Peter Ward and Donald Brownlee) to the extension of ideas about planetary “habitable zones” to galactic scales: the Galactic Habitable Zone (GHZ).2  They extended this concept further to a Galactic Technological Zone (GTZ), where machines could optimize their computational power.  This zone would be the outer reaches of a spiral galaxy – but not so far out that heavy elements would be lacking.  They were also honest about their assumptions: There is no meaningful scientific hypothesis for resolving Fermi’s Paradox – or, indeed, any problem of importance in science – without a set of assumptions.  In building of the migrational solution to Fermi’s puzzle, we have relied on the following set of assumptions: The Copernican principle continues to hold in astrobiology, i.e. there is nothing special about the Earth and the Solar System when considerations of life, intelligent observers or ATCs are made.2 Laws of physics (as applied to the classical computation theory and astrophysics) are universally valid. Naturalistic explanations for the origin of life, intelligence and ATCs are valid. The Milky Way galaxy exhibits well-established gradients of both baryonic matter density and equilibrium radiation field temperature. Habitable planets occur naturally only within the GHZ (which evolves in a manner roughly understood), but ATCs are not in any way limited to this region. We assume local influences both of and on ATCs.  Thus, we disregard overly speculative ideas about such concepts as cosmic wormholes or “basement universes”.  Interstellar travel is feasible, but it is bound to be slow and expensive (for anything larger than nanomachines) at all epochs. Astroengineering on the scales significantly larger than the scale of a typical planetary system (on the pc-scale and above) will remain difficult and expensive at all epochs and for all ATCs. ATCs will tend to maximize the efficiency of information-processing, no matter how heterogeneous their biological and cultural structures and evolutionary pathways are. These assumptions are naturally of varying validity and importance.  Items 1 through 3 are essential methodological guidelines of the entire scientific endeavor.  Although item 1 has recently become controversial with “rare Earth” theorists, there is still no compelling reasons for relinquishing it.  Assumption 4 is an empirical fact, and 5 is quite close to it.  Assumptions 6 and 7 are conservative extrapolations of our limited scientific and technological perspective, but in our view should be retained until the contrary positions can be verified.  In particular, absence of the Galaxy-size astroengineering effects in external galaxies … strongly supports the assumption 7. The most speculative assumption was #8, they acknowledged, but they reasoned this way: whether a civilization evolves toward hedonism (like the Romans) or toward accomplishment (like the Greeks), both would need to maximize their information processing.  “In either situation,” they rationalized, “they will seek the greatest computational capacity and efficiency possible to support these activities.”     So there you have it.  The drive toward the ultimate CPU governs the fate of life and intelligence.  Geeks will someday rule the universe. 1Milan M. Cirkovic and Robert J. Bradbury, “Galactic gradients, postbiological evolution and the apparent failure of SETI,” New Astronomy, Volume 11, Issue 8, July 2006, Pages 628-639, doi:10.1016/j.newast.2006.04.003. 2See also the film The Privileged Planet.  In this film Gonzales discusses the GHZ, and Brownlee gives reasons for his “rare earth” hypothesis.  The film also argues against the assumed Copernican Principle. Interesting paper.  Heavily sci-fi, profoundly speculative, politically incorrect, and somewhat amusing, perhaps, but thought-provoking.  Is it scientific?  Does its presence in a scientific journal indicate it is worthy of more serious consideration by rational truth-seekers than if it appeared in a theological journal or in Mad Magazine?  After all, they made predictions and provided a falsification criterion.  They talked about baryons and physical laws and thermodynamics.  And look – they even had equations!  Surely no one could accuse this kind of sober, rigorous analysis as being equivalent to religion.  What do you think?     Religion is a misleading word in this context.  It conjures up images of candles, robes, icons and prayer wheels.  World view is a more appropriate term: a way of looking at the world, of answering the big questions: who are we?  Where did we come from?  Why are we here?  Where are we going?  Science cannot answer these questions, yet world-view issues loom big in this article.  They have attempted to give their opinion about the origin and ultimate fate of the universe, dress it in a lab coat and pass it off as science.  Yet by any measure of scientific criteria, they always left a way out.     Their prediction is hollow, because it would require proving a universal negative.  Their falsification test is hollow, because we could all be dead before anyone finds a way to detect an unknown kind of technology at intergalactic distances, and even if someone did, another would find a natural explanation for it.  Predictions and falsifiability are not necessary components of science anyway, according to some philosophers of science.  And equations – well, nice, but the ones in the paper describe observable physical properties of temperature distribution in galaxies and have nothing to do with the social habits of intelligent beings.  Sentient beings are notoriously resistant to obeying equations about what they should do or will do.  In short, the scientific props of this article are distractions from the fact this is nothing more than a world view paper.     Their entire thesis breaks down on one of their assumptions.  It was nice of them to list their assumptions, but not so nice to glibly claim that the least plausible is one of “essential methodological guidelines of the entire scientific endeavor,” namely, “Naturalistic explanations for the origin of life, intelligence and ATCs are valid.”  Did you catch it?  They just attempted to baptize naturalism in the waters of science as if we wouldn’t notice.  (Only Cirkovic has a PhD, but they both attempted to doctor a philosophy.)     Why should this tactic be allowed for sci-fi speculation, but not for other kinds of scholarly investigation?  After all, theologians can make testable predictions.  A conservative Bible scholar, for instance, could predict that evidence for King David will be found, even point to the Tel Dan inscription as confirming evidence.  Some preachers argue that the equation “nothing times nobody equals everything.” has been falsified.  Should sufficiently scholarly sermons be allowed in scientific journals, then?  Not a few theologians are well trained in mathematical physics, and not a few scientists doubt the assumptions listed by these two speculators.  They should have no privilege in this game.  The quality of the reasoning and the support of evidence, not the scientific trappings and venue, need to carry weight in evaluating world view claims.  Cirkovic and Bradbury may wish to believe that life and intelligence are emergent properties of matter in motion, but they cannot support this world view with scientific evidence.  In fact, the tide of evidence is overwhelmingly against it (06/12/2006, 04/17/2006, online book).     These sci-fi speculators pulled off a shifty sidestep.  They merely assumed that “naturalistic explanations” for these things are “valid,” and then hid behind an arbitrary rule that naturalism is an essential methodological guideline for the entire scientific endeavor.  Oh yeah?  It wasn’t for many of the greatest scientists in history (see online book).  This claim is only made now by the Eugenie Scotts and Ken Millers of the world who want to shield their philosophical speculations from critical scrutiny.  It’s a tactic not unlike the childhood ploy “King’s X” that allows them to evade rules of the game to which the others are bound.     Cirkovic and Bradbury are as free as anyone to speculate, but need to take their speculations out of New Astronomy and argue them before philosophers and theologians, not claim special privilege for things that cannot be observed or known – indeed, things that run contrary to what we do know about the propensities of matter in motion.  What they wrote, though, is bound to make the SETI Institute angry.  A lot of investment capital is bound up in traditional SETI strategies.  These two warring parties may make any further comments superfluous; they may end up falsifying each other.(Visited 53 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

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2 Huge Mistakes by 2008 Presidential Candidates

first_img Originally published Oct 31, 2007 9:30:00 AM, updated October 01 2019 Today we released a 2008 Presidential Candidates Internet Marketing Report, which analyzes how the major candidates in the upcoming election are using Internet marketing to promote themselves. Nothing in this report or post is meant to be a political statement, so please keep the comments on marketing related issues. Below are some of the findings from the report that I thought were surprising.2008 Presidential Candidates Internet Marketing Report – 2 Mistakes the Candidates are Making Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack Blogging – Most of the candidates websites have blogs, usually written by staffers who talk about the campaign in general terms. But blogging is a lot more about a personal connection and discussion than preaching from the safety of an ivory tower. Only Mitt Romney uses blogging to create a personal connection with the audience. Mitt’s wife and sons frequently post to the blog, and Mitt himself even writes some entires. John Edwards and his wife and daughter do have “diaries” but the posts are very infrequent. All the other candidates are missing out on a huge opportunity to personally connect with voters – which is important.SEO – The search engine optimization performance of the candidates is pretty weak if you ask me. They have tons of inbound links, lots of people in the blogosphere who love them, and they are just not doing the things they should do to get qualified traffic from search engines. How cool of a PR stunt would it be for one of the candidates to dominate the first page of google for “President” or “Best President”. Plus, if someone is researching “war in Iraq new policy” and I were running for president, I would be pretty pissed if I was not mentioned in the search results.If you want to see an older post I wrote that inspired some of this analysis, you can read Presidential Internet Marketing – Data Comparing Obama, Clinton, Edwards, Romney, Giuliani and McCain. And again, here is a link to the full Presidential Candidate Internet Marketing Report and the Press Release about the Internet Marketing Report announcing the report and results. Did you like what you read? Want more? Get automatic updates by subscribing to our RSS Feed or Email List (top right hand side of this page). last_img read more

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Five Web Publishing Secrets to Learn From the Supermarket Checkout Line

first_img “Don’t Miss Out!” Redbook says bluntly below the happiness blurb, while the 7 Secrets and Superfood teasers intone a more subtle message: if you don’t pick up this magazine you’re going to miss something important. Gotcha! Flipping through the pages (people read from front to back, but they usually flip from back to front), you’ll notice that everything is compartmentalized into bite-sized nuggets. Women’s magazine editors worked in units of single pages and 100-words sound bites. Wherever possible, articles are deconstructed into chunks, which are given their own headlines or dressed up with images. Editors call these “points of entry,” and they’re a valuable tool to snag readers and keep them on the page. The longer a reader stays, the more likely it is she’ll buy the magazine. 2. Create Points of Entry. Originally published Dec 22, 2008 9:50:00 AM, updated March 21 2013 1. Hit readers in the gut. The Superfood You Shouldn’t Skip Download the free webinar Webinar: Blogging for Business Secrets of Social Media Marketing Ronald Reagan demonstrated, to the chagrin of his critics, that a single anecdote can overwhelm mountains of statistics. TV stations know that the video clip of the grieving parent or joyous lottery winner is better than all the economic analysis in the world. When seeking to make a point, find an anecdote that crystallizes the message. Let it set the scene for you. Live Well On Less With the possible exception of the recipe and home sections, nearly every spread in Redbook features at least one face. And these are happy people. The women, along with a few gorgeous men, are all smiling, gazing contentedly into the distance or glancing seductively at the reader. These are people you want to meet. It’s no surprise that humans respond strongly to the faces of other humans. We do this from birth. So when you take a photo for your website, forget about the background and zoom in on the person’s expression.  and the newly-published  Pick up any women’s magazine and you’ll find the words “I,” “me,” “you,” “our” and “us” spread all over it, particularly in headlines. Should I Ditch This Friend? asks one Redbook Q&A. Find your Power at Work advises another. Even Redbook’s sections — Your Pretty Life, Your Healthy Life, Your Love Life, Your Home Life, Just for You, etc. — reinforce the fact that these articles deliver the content to the reader’s front door. People don’t just want information; they want to know how information affects them. Headlines like these are the publishing equivalent of looking someone in the eye. Speaking to people in personal terms makes the content more conversational, personal and relevant. It works. 5. Tell stories.  to learn how to create a thriving inbound marketing blog. How Do Ditch Your Debt For Good , an author, speaker and writer who advises businesses on online marketing. He is the author of  This article is a guest post by  A Profile Of Cover Girl Tricia Yearwoodcenter_img Now let’s have a look inside. Paul Gillin What Happy Women Know These same tactics can work online. Callouts, sidebars, pull-quotes, Q&As and other visual tools break up rivers of text and give readers more starting points to engage with the content. Note: this isn’t about sprinkling random icons into your copy. It’s about segmenting content and signposting it with relevant words and images that attract attention. The New Influencers: A Marketer’s Guide to Social Media This cover has another subtle incentive to draw in readers: fear. Fear is one of the most potent tools publishers use to sell content: fear of failing, fear of rejection and fear of not knowing. 4. Show faces, not scenes. Publishers of women’s magazines have wrestled for years with the same problems that Web publishers confront today: how to grab the attention of a distracted audience in just a few seconds and convince them to become regular readers. Fall’s Best Love-Your-Body Looks Cover stories are everything to women’s publishers. The choice of what to feature on the cover of each month’s issue is the product of years of reader research, and it’s intended to stop passersby in their tracks. Here are Redbook’s September choices: These selections span the issues that matter to Redbook’s audience: diet, money, relationships, personal happiness and fashion. Three of the cover blurbs are meant to tantalize (Seven Secrets, Superfood and What Happy Women Know) and three others to appeal to the get-my-life-in-order instinct (Live Well, Love Your Body and Ditch Your Debt). The cover practically shouts at you that the September Redbook will make you happier, thinner, richer and better in bed. Is it any surprise that variations of these same topics adorn the covers of nearly every women’s magazine? Want to learn more about publishing a blog on your business website? While the media may be different, a lot of the tactics that the women’s magazines use to entice people in checkout lines also work online. So I stole a recent copy of Redbook from my gym (you don’t think I pay for this material, do you?) and scanned it for ideas. Here are five lessons we can learn from the September, 2008 issue. There’s one other tactic magazine publishers use that you won’t ever have to worry about: those dumb subscription cards that fall out of the middle of the magazine and land on the floor. They’re called blow-in cards, and everybody hates them, even the publishers who use them. Unfortunately, they’re also one of the most effective circulation tools ever invented. Sometimes annoyance sells, too. The Seven Secrets to Lasting Love 3. Speak directly to the reader. Have you ever noticed that nearly every feature article in the lifestyle magazines begins with an anecdote? Half the time, the tales are even fictitious. It doesn’t matter. People respond to stories about other people. Stories are the most powerful way to communicate a message, particularly when combined with the other four secrets I’ve mentioned. Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlacklast_img read more

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5 Tips for Using Free Content to Promote Paid Content

first_img whose product is their content ‘s did for their Digital Marketing Mixer in Chicago. By allowing people who did not attend the conference to view some of the talks, it increased awareness for their conference and perhaps will even help registration for 2010. For authors, your offering might be an eBook. For HubSpot’s 1) Consider your blog articles “free samples.” Here are a few ideas: . Many folks will download the Kindle version, spread the word about your product, and write reviews. Meanwhile, others will buy the physical book, too!  If an individual actually learns something from a blog post that you’ve created, you’ve already earned their respect and potentially their curiosity about your other offerings. They’ll get to know your writing style and start seeing you as a resource they can trust. This is what the folks at Webinar: Advanced Business Blogging Learn how to build your business blog into an inbound marketing machine. kalandrakas This is an easy one, but often forgotten. Make sure you build something on your website or blog to aggregate what people are saying about your paid content. For example, we created a ” . This gave people a flavor for what they could learn from the book, but also provided them with something fun that they could share with their entire network. 3) Livestream conferences in real-time to widen your net for your next show. By making your book available as a free Kindle download, people will link and promote your Amazon page. David Meerman Scott did this with his book MarketingProfs How on earth can a person or business make money selling their content if they’re giving it away for free? 4) Feature the content that to learn how to create a thriving blog. Inbound Marketing World Wide Rave Originally published Nov 18, 2009 8:30:00 AM, updated March 21 2013 ” for Inbound Marketing University that features the blog posts of IMU students.   other — use free content to sell more books, get butts in conference seats, and earn speaking engagements? Student Bulletin Board people are producing about your content. Flickr Credit: 5) Give away your book for free on Kindle for a few days. book, we made an Inbound marketing is a no-brainer for folks selling a product online, but how can authors, speakers and event producers — Download the free webinar eBook of inbound marketing cartoons 2) Repackage your content in a different way. Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlacklast_img read more

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How to Be a Better Community Manager w/ @DJWaldow [@InboundNow #30]

first_img . He’s launched Project Awesome, a social media experiment to find a new job opportunity. *photo credit to EmailStatCenter.com Topics: In this episode, we chat about: Email marketing takeaways he has gained over the years A community manager needs to know how to communicate Tips on Growing your email list Community managers also have to be able to respond well to a crisis and be comfortable being on the front lines. his blog DJ is the former Director of Community at Blue Sky Factory. He’s also worked at Bronto, an email service provider. He’s a professional speaker in the social media and email marketing industry and an all around nice guy. Enjoy this episode? Check out the other 29 here. If you’re making the commitment to have an active Twitter account, Facebook page, LinkedIn company profile, etc, then it’s time to hire someone to manage those things because you need to be all-in when it comes to social media. People can tell when you’re not making the effort (e.g., haven’t tweeted in a month). Growing Your Email list and Community Management Tips with DJ Waldow For the full transcript of the show head here: Connect With DJ Online Project Awesome Also consider how relevant your emails are to subscribers, and the timeliness of those emails. Always keep in mind what is valuable to subscribers (not just what you think is valuable). It should be a mix of marketing and educational content. . Project Awesome! There are two big things that drive the open of an email. The first is an appealing email subject (something to catch the eye of the person who’s scanning their inbox), and the second is knowing and trusting the sender. The response has been impressive, with over 6,000 views of his resume, over 600 views of the video, and over 60 people who have gotten in touch with DJ. ! A good email open rate depends on a lot of factors – if your list is segmented and targeted, if the email was just sent to the whole list, etc. The further out the person is on the purchase cycle (e.g., they haven’t bought from you in a year), the lower the email open rate. Improving Email Open Rates Only ask for essential information (email address, name, etc) from people. After people sign up, send them to a page that confirms their sign-up. Also, send them a confirmation email so they know they’re signed up. You can follow DJ on Twitter “I knew that I wanted to do write a blog post and say, ‘I’m available.’ I’ve seen people do that before. It’s interesting, but if you’re not hiring, who cares?” . Don’t hide your subscription form on your website. Make it plainly visible.center_img his interactive resume social media and inbound marketing podcast currently on the job hunt “You want to know the number one way to grow your list? It’s to put it on your website.” – whether that’s via writing, speaking, tweeting, blog posts, webinars, etc. You need to be able to hold intelligent conversations on a variety of platforms. Email Marketing Takeaways A good place to get email marketing statistics is “If your title has social media or community in it, you have to know how to communicate.” Growing Your Email List DJ is You should only send emails to people who want to receive them. These are people who have opted in and volunteered to engage with you this way, and who are excited about it. What it takes to manage a community DJ Waldow joins us for another exciting episode of Inbound Now, HubSpot’s “The number that we bat around a lot is 20% as an average open rate. If you’re above 20%, you’re probably doing better than average. Below, you may want to think about it.” How to improve email open rates Email Open Rates “I think the key really is to send timely, targeted, valuable emails to people who want them. It’s easy to say. It’s not necessarily easy to do.” CSpenn “The first thing is a subject line. The second thing is trust and knowing the sender.” @djwaldow What to think about when hiring a community manager and on He put together a video montage of recommendations from heavy-hitters (like Chris Brogan, Jason Falls, and Peter Shankman). He created an interactive resume. He also created a voiceover of his resume and talked people through it. Being and Hiring a Community Manager Originally published Jul 21, 2011 11:00:00 AM, updated July 03 2013 . Also, check out Inbound Marketing Don’t forget to share this post!last_img read more

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10 Epic Sports Pep Talks to Motivate Your Team [Videos]

first_img Topics: Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack The first game my father ever played in professional baseball, the coach walked him to the mound, slapped him on the back, and said, “We have two men on base — you get them out, I won’t put you back on a plane tonight. Throw the ball. Throw hard, Chip.” He was 18 years old. His name is Skip. Possibly the least motivating speech EVER. I’ve personally never experienced that level of pressure, but as an athlete all my life, I’ve always been fascinated by how people pump themselves up for their next big challenge. Sitting next to my bed in the morning is the quote from Aristotle, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”I believe in that. Really. In my little universe, that’s how I think about creating great content that stands the test of time. It’s something that you get up every day and just … do. But that kind of commitment isn’t always easy. While I love creating something for a living, just like everyone else, sometimes I get writer’s block. Sometimes my team falls behind our goals. Sometimes I work long hours. If anything like that happens to you (come on — don’t deny it), I’ve put together a compilation of the best sports pep talks ever — videos I turn to when I need a little pick-me-up to inspire different parts of my job.When it’s the middle of the month and we don’t have enough leads …Al Pacino’s epic speech in Any Given Sunday: “We can climb our way outta hell … one inch at a time.” (0:47) Note: This video contains strong language.When I’m trying to plan a new A/B test variation …From Friday Night Lights: “To me, being perfect is not about that scoreboard out there. It’s about you and your relationship with yourself … It’s about being able to look your friends in the eye, and know that you didn’t let them down because you told them the truth.” (0:27)When I’m trying to convince myself to copy edit my work …From Vince Lombardi: “You don’t do things right once in a while, you do them right all the time … I’ve never known a man worth his salt who deep down in his heart didn’t appreciate the grind and the discipline.” (0:16)When I try to convince my team we should spend the time to create lovable content …From Hoosiers: “Focus on the fundamentals that we’ve gone over time and time again … If you put your effort and concentration into playing to your potential, to be the best that you can be, I don’t care what the scoreboard says at the end of the game. In my book, we’re gonna be winners!” (0:49)When I’m getting ready to write a new, big-hit blog post …Knute Rockney: “Don’t forget, today is the day that we are going to win.” (1:58)When a new competitor enters our market — and they make me nervous …From the movie, Miracle:”Great moments are born from great opportunity. And that’s what you have here tonight, boys. That’s what you’ve earned here, tonight. One game. If we played ’em 10 times, they might win nine. But not this game. Not tonight. Tonight, we skate with ’em. Tonight, we stay with ’em, and we shut them down because we can!” (0:22)When I’m working on a late night project with the rest of my team …From the great Mighty Ducks, the ultimate kiddie hockey movie, “Ducks fly together! … And when everyone says it can’t be done .. ducks fly together.” (Oh it’s only 58-seconds long. Just watch the whole thing. It’s totally worth it.)When I’m editing a partner’s blog post …After Assistant Coach Yoast from Remember the Titans decides to do the right thing, he announces to his team, “You want to act like a star, you better give me a star effort.” (1:41)When my new ebook just isn’t generating a good conversion rate …There are some days when no one seems to be downloading your work. Those days, don’t you just want to yell, “Are you not entertained?!” like Russell Crowe did in Gladiator? When I’m just having an overall bad month …And finally, my favorite sports video clip EVER about the unlikely hero, Jason McElway, who is the autistic team water boy who came off his high school basketball bench and changed his fate — and makes me realize that sometimes it’s okay to be a little different …Despite the lackluster speech, my aforementioned dad managed to get out of that inning, make the team, and manage a respectable career. But I always wonder what would’ve happened if his coach had been a bit more like the inspirational leaders above. Image Credit: D.Clow – Maryland Video Marketing Originally published Jun 6, 2013 9:00:00 AM, updated February 01 2017last_img read more

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The Complete Guide to Updating and Republishing Outdated Blog Content

first_img Originally published Sep 9, 2013 11:00:00 AM, updated February 01 2017 Blog Optimization   Add any new best practices that have emerged (and remove “best practices” that are no longer so). Every once in a while, things need to be updated. Your mailing address, your wardrobe, your hairstyle, your media collection. Things get outdated, stale, and irrelevant — it’s just the way of our constantly changing world.Unfortunately, your marketing content is no exception. Over time, what once was an accurate, fresh piece of content becomes, well … not so much.Luckily, just like it’s easy enough to change your address, go shopping for stylish new clothes, get a brand new haircut, or buy new music, it’s also pretty easy to update your content. And doing so can help you extend the life of your popular, high-performing content as well as save you the time and resources from creating content from scratch. Not too shabby, huh?So sit back, read on, and learn all about how you should approach and execute the process of updating and republishing your outdated blog content. Your blog readers will thank you for it.Updating Old Content? Why Bother?If you’ve been blogging for a while, I’m willing to bet you’ve got some old, stale content lurking in the shadows of your blog. But why should you care? That stuff is buried deep in the depths of your blog, and no one is going to see it anyway. Right?Wrong.As you probably know, one of the main benefits of blogging is the search engine optimization (SEO) value it provides. In fact, earlier this month, I analyzed traffic to this very blog and found that in July 2013, 69% of the blog post visits we received in July were to blog posts published prior to July. That’s a lot of traffic. And it makes sense considering that 45% of the traffic to our blog in July came from organic search. This means that any given moment, someone could stumble upon a blog post you wrote months (even years) ago that ranks well in search. This is one of the biggest advantages of blogging — content that continues to drive results in terms of traffic and leads over time. But if that searcher doesn’t bother to check the date/time stamp on that blog post, they might have no idea they’re reading outdated and possibly inaccurate information. Yikes. Okay, that’s one good reason. The other reason is that not everyone who is reading your blog now, was reading your blog months and years ago. And even if they were, it also doesn’t mean they read every single article you published. By updating and resurfacing some of your older yet high-performing evergreen posts, you can extend the life of your best blog content as well as increase the results it continues to achieve over time.Finally, it’s often much easier and quicker to update and republish an old post than it is to write a new post from scratch. While I wouldn’t recommend you do this for every post you publish — you should still be publishing lots of new, original content — this is a great way to shave some valuable time off your content creation efforts while still maintaining a consistent publishing frequency. How to Choose Which Posts to UpdateOkay, hopefully now I’ve convinced you of the value of updating and republishing updated blog content. But what’s your plan of attack? How should you decide which posts are worth it to resurface? Here are some important variables to consider:1) Identify your top-performing posts.Let your analytics be your guide here. In general, focus on posts that are backed by some good-looking metrics, such as:Inbound Links: According to our resident SEO expert Rebecca Churt, this is the most important metric to look at, since it is most indicative of search authority. Which of your posts have a lot of inbound links?Traffic: My recommendation is to look at your blog analytics, and specify the last full month as your time frame. (HubSpot Customers: Look in Page Performance.) Which old posts are still generating a lot of traffic for you? Social Shares: The number of social shares a post has generated is also a good indicator of a high-performing post — particularly since social shares factor into search rankings, too. To determine how many social shares a post has, enter its URL into LinkTally.com, a free tool created by HubSpot Social Media Scientist Dan Zarrella that tells you how many times a URL has been shares on Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, and Twitter. Keywords: Use updating and republishing content as a way to support your keyword strategy. Are there certain keywords you’re trying to rank better in search for? Use a keyword (like HubSpot’s Keywords tool or Google Analytics) to identify keyword ranking opportunities. Do you have any posts that already rank for these keywords? Could you improve their ranking positions?2) Consider content relevancy and trending topics.In addition to a metrics-driven selection approach, you should also consider content relevancy and trending topics. In fact, depending on your content strategy and marketing goals, updating content for the sake of these two variables may actually trump a metrics-driven approach from time to time. For instance, we recently found that a lot of our prospects and customers were asking questions about local search. While we’d already published a post about this very topic, it had become a little outdated (and buried on our blog). Rather than create a new post from scratch (and risk rubbing Google the wrong way with duplicate content), we decided to update and republish that original post — even thought our metrics may not have indicated it was a good target for updating.Best Practices for Updating and Republishing PostsOkay, once you’ve identified the posts you want to update, it’s time to actually update them! Here are some best practices to consider.1) Use the same post, and keep URL the same.Rather than publishing an additional article on your blog — which could result in a ding from search engines for duplicate content — modify the original article. Because this article is live, I usually copy/paste the post into a new draft, make my changes there, and then copy/paste the HTML back into the original post when I’m ready to re-publish the original article (more on that in just a minute). While you may be tempted to update the post’s URL slug, it’s important to keep the URL the same, even if your software automatically creates a redirect. Redirects will remove some of the link value, so it’s best to just keep it as is.2) If you change the title, keep keywords.If you feel compelled to update the post’s title, try to avoid changing it drastically from the original. While the URL is more important to keep the same than the title, if you really need to change the title, do your best to keep your keywords in there.3) Add an editor’s note for transparency.It’s a great idea to add a little editor’s note at the bottom of your updated post — if for no other reason, then for transparency’s sake. This is particularly a good idea if your post has accumulated a lot of comments; your readers will be confused if the publish date is current, but there are comments from months or years ago. Here’s an example of what we typically include at the end of our republished posts:4) Update the content for accuracy.Yup. The name of the game here is accuracy. Over time, there are quite a few things about a piece of content that can get stale and out of date. Evaluate the post for accuracy and determine what needs to be modified, added, or removed. The first thing I usually do is delete any parts of a post that are no longer relevant, and add headers for new sections that need to be added or replaced. Then I go through the post in its entirety to fill in the blanks and make my changes. Here is a checklist of things you should keep in mind as you’re updating your content: Topics:   Update the post’s call-to-action (CTA). Evaluate whether your CTA’s offer is still the best option for this post. Do you have a better article? Is the CTA’s creative out-of-date?5) Optimize the post’s meta description.Review the post’s meta description. Is it still accurate? Can you update it to make it a little catchier? Remember, meta descriptions don’t affect the ranking of your content, but they can impact its clickthrough rate from search. Make sure your meta description is both an accurate reflection of what’s within the post, and enticing enough to get searchers to click through to your content from search results.6) Republish it! Yay! By now, you should have an awesomely updated piece of content that’s ready for publishing. While the process of actually publishing your content will vary depending on the blogging software you use, I’m going to share some tips for doing it using HubSpot’s Blogging tool.Replace the old content with new content. This will probably be the same no matter what software you use. Like I mentioned, I usually copy/paste the HTML from my new draft to replace the copy in my original article.Wait until you want to publish the “new” post to update its date/time. If you’re using HubSpot’s new Blog COS, you’ll want to wait until the specific date/time you want the post to appear on your blog homepage to click “update.” Changing it to a date/time in the future will result in a 404 error for those who stumble upon the article in search before the newly designated publish date/time (not a good thing if your article already ranks well in search results).Send a manual email to instant subscribers. If your blogging software is (or is like) HubSpot, it will only trigger the automatic email notification to subscribers for a post once. This means that if you’re just changing the publish date/time on an already-live article, the email will not get triggered again. However, if you’re using HubSpot’s new Blog COS, there’s no stopping you from creating a manual notification email in HubSpot’s Email tool and sending it to your instant subscriber list. If you use the same template you use for your automatic emails, your subscribers won’t even be able to tell the difference. Plus, you can use the opportunity to run an A/B test!7) Track the before/after performance.Okay — maybe I got a little bit ahead of myself. Before you publish your new post, it’s a good idea to create a record of the post’s “before” stats. That way, you can compare it to the post’s performance after you’ve republished it to understand how your update affected its overall performance. Over time, this might also give you a better idea about which posts are worth targeting for updates. The following are the data and stats I keep track of before and after I republish:Post’s Title (in case I tweak it for the republished version)Post’s URL (just so I have the information in one place)Before/After Publish DatesBefore/After Number of Comments Before/After Number of Inbound Links Before/After Number of Social Shares (e.g. Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+, etc.)Before/After Post Views (use the month before and the month after as a proxy)Before/After New Contacts/Leads Generated (use the month before and the month after as a proxy)Before/After Keyword Rankings Are you incorporating updated blog posts into your blogging strategy? Share your tips and experiences in the comments below.   Remove content that is no longer relevant.   Update outdated copy.   Check and replace internal links (particularly if there are now better resources or lead gen offers for you to link to).   Update screenshots if things have changed (this is particularly important for step-by-step guides, etc.).   Replace outdated data/stats with fresher, more timely ones. Add new, fresh examples or replace outdated ones. Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlacklast_img read more

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6 Flaws Your Nonprofit’s Mobile Website Should Never Have

first_imgSolution: Even if your site is mobile responsive, which means it adjusts itself to fit the screen of any mobile device or tablet, communicating what you do to your visitors should be a top priority. Having a captivating image and a short text overlay of your mission statement is a great idea for space above the fold (what you see first without scrolling down) of your website. The text should be short and sweet (i.e. the length of a tweet).Just because your current consitutents and your staff know what your organization does, doesn’t mean you should ignore stating the obvious for your new visitors.Problem #2: I can’t easily find how my donation will impact the mission. Soluton: Make sure your content is easy to scan. Blocks of paragraphs turn visitors off and are usually never read in full, anyway. Make the content on your homepage short, sweet, digestible, and even visual (with images or videos). Try to break down the important points into bullets to engage vistiors faster.Has your organization taken the next step to optimize your website for mobile?Image credit: mikecogh Solution: Whether your website is mobile responsive or not, make sure your text is big enough to read. There are a number of products that allow you to adapt your current website to fit all mobile devices to minimize this problem. If visitors can’t read about your mission, how are they going to be able to understand what you do and how they can impact your mission?Problem #6: When you do give me information, you’re overloading me with text. Topics: Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack Originally published Sep 14, 2013 3:00:00 PM, updated February 01 2017 Solution: Below your mission statement on your homepage, or at least as one of the first tabs in your navigation, should be an explanation of what a donation would do for your mission. This could be as simple as equating a dollar amount to something tangible.Or, you can show highlights of your impact from previous years. If you have fundraisers or volunteers, share their stories, or record one for a video, and feature it on the homepage. Make sure to include how that individual’s contribution impacted something specific. If you have project sites across the country or the world, use Google Earth Outreach, which allows you to create a map of your project locations with Google Maps and embed it on your website. This is a great way to show physical proof of your organization’s work.Problem #3: You’re asking me to donate before you tell me what your organization does. Solution: You wouldn’t ask someone to marry you on the first date, so why ask someone to donate before giving them more information about your organization? Priming your new audience with content about you and even your supporters is a great way to break the ice. Feature stories from your blog on your homepage to keep your content up to date. Keep your donate button in the top navigation or under a tab called “Ways to Give.” But don’t have it be the first thing people see when they view your site on a mobile device.Problem #4: I can’t find your About Us page easily. The smartphone revolution is here and your organization cannot ignore it. 83% of Generation Y respondents to a recent study said they have smartphones. And according to StatCounter Global Stats, global mobile traffic represents 13% of internet traffic, up from just 1% in 2009.You do not want to ignore this channel of increasing traffic.When thinking about your nonprofit’s website and how these Millennials are interacting with your organization, do not forget the mobile experience. Try to avoid these six problems when redesigning or updating your nonprofit’s website.Problem #1: I don’t understand what your organization does. Mobile Optimization Solution: Have your About Us page be the first tab in your navigation. Remember, not all of your visitors know about you. What if they’re coming from a link on, say, your friend’s social media profile? For any new traffic, it’s the first place your new visitors want to go to learn more about your organization, staff, and board members.Problem #5: The information you do provide about your organization isn’t legible.last_img read more

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Design Disruptors: The Story Behind One Startup’s Decision to Produce a Feature-Length Documentary

first_imgMany a marketing team, big and small, has gathered around a conference table to brainstorm a list of crazy ideas. You know what I’m talking about — those “big, hairy, audacious goals” discussed so often that they’ve earned a place in the business lexicon.Much more rarely, though, do teams actually execute on these crazy ideas.David Malpass and the folks at InVision are the exception. Not only did the small marketing team from the growing startup take on the challenge of creating a feature-length documentary, but they managed to release a trailer in less than a year’s time. A trailer that has garnered international attention, might we add. Why take on something so ambitious? Quite simply, they have a story to tell that they want to get out to as many people as humanly possible. Their documentary, Design Disruptors, will be released for free in early 2016. And as for the story they’re so keen on telling? Well, spoiler alert: It’s about design. With no forced connection to the InVision brand, the documentary will explore how design has risen to become one of the most important roles in modern business. So much so that companies like Facebook, Twitter, Netflix, AirBNB, Spotify have all prevailed in a world rife with pop-up competitors — all because they’ve placed an emphasis on a top-notch user experience and great aesthetics from the very beginning.To uncover more about idea’s inception, the company’s intentions, and how this project has taken shape over the past year, we took some time to chat about the upcoming documentary with Mallpass, InVision’s VP of Marketing. Planting the SeedWhen Malpass joined InVision as their VP of Marketing in July 2014, it became instantly apparent that, across the company, InVision innovates by doing the unexpected.For the InVision team, the film was a powerful, long-term project that could happen in the background. In other words, they’d outsource the filming, editing, and so on, while focusing their efforts on constructing the narrative and planning promotion for the release.”Our content is the backbone of our marketing,” Malpass told me.”We’re always ambitious and innovative with the content we’re putting out there — whether it’s blog content, ebooks, webinars, and so on. We never sacrifice quality for quantity, so this [documentary] is the ultimate example of the team going big, doing something very ambitious, and setting the tone for the content we put out in the future,” he went on to explain. InVision has always encouraged these big ideas. Companies may not do big things like this because there’s risk involved — but if you’re comfortable with introducing a bit of risk into the equation, you can often achieve exponentially greater results.Image Credit: Design DisruptorsIs This a Marketing Play?Going into the conversation with Malpass, I was fascinated with the concept of creating a documentary to market your company and your product. How was the film was connected with the InVision brand? How are they using it to sell their product? Where are all the calls-to-action going to be?I quickly found out that the film isn’t actually connected with InVision in any overt way. Nothing in the film or the trailer or the website directly promotes the InVision brand. It lives on its own URL, where the only clues that it’s linked to InVision are a subtle mention on the page and the shortened URL in the click-to-tweet buttons. The Design Disruptors URL isn’t linked to anywhere on the InVision website, either. In fact, the company isn’t even mentioned in the film itself.Why did the folks at InVision choose to spend so much time and so many resources on a documentary if they weren’t going to use it to market their company? Why wouldn’t they just write an ebook or something?”We’re not trying to sell our product. We’re trying to bring attention to the increased importance of design in a company’s success,” Malpass explained. “A lot of our work is based on doing things that’ll create a positive effect on the design community and that will elevate the role of the designer within their organization.”They are, after all, giving this documentary away for free. When it’s released in early 2016, it’ll be shown for free online at the Design Disruptors website, at movie theatres, and on Netflix.That’s not to say the documentary won’t benefit InVision in any way. Given that their community is comprised of smart, passionate designers, this documentary serves as a great opportunity for them to educate their audience by showcasing some of the industry’s most talented minds. He added it’s also positive for InVision because they’re the platform that most of the companies in the film go to for their design process, of course.As for why they didn’t write an ebook instead, Malpass says the goal is to get this story in front of an audience that expands beyond designers and businesspeople. While an ebook or a webinar would reach InVision’s target audience, they wanted to break out of those limits to reach people who wouldn’t otherwise be exposed to that content.”A designer came to me and said, ‘My mom saw the trailer and she called me and asked me if that’s what I do,'” Malpass told me.In other words, Design Disruptor’s target audience includes designers and their moms.Measuring SuccessThe great thing about ebooks and webinars is that people sign up to see the content, so marketers can collect email addresses and capture leads. When you’re giving away a film for free, how do you measure its success?Since releasing the trailer in early October, InVision’s growing marketing team — which has gone from three to twenty-five since Malpass joined — has already seen an overwhelmingly positive response.”Design Disruptors” was trending on Twitter for three days, and at one point, it was the fourth most tweeted thing in the world. However, other than social shares, site visits, and articles written about the film, most of the film’s success is intangible.”We want designers to feel empowered to share this film with their organization, and for non-designers to recognize their success and elevate them,” explained Malpass.”Oh, and it’s got to have a good score on IMDB,” he joked. “No one wants to look back in ten years and have made a bad film.”For a sneak peek at the documentary, you can watch the trailer here.  Entrepreneurship Topics: Design Trendscenter_img Don’t forget to share this post! Originally published Oct 21, 2015 6:00:00 AM, updated July 28 2017last_img read more

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How to Build a Website Style Guide: Lessons from Working on HubSpot.com

first_img Branding Originally published Oct 16, 2015 6:00:00 AM, updated February 01 2017 Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack Topics: I’d been working on the HubSpot website for several months when the déjà vu struck.My team and I were going over the initial wireframes for a new page. As always, we’d started the project with the noble goals of better branding, an improved user experience, and sleeker designs. And, as always, we had ended up debating the most minute details.Do we use sentence case or title case for our headers? Did we decide to round the corners of our buttons? Which version of the logo did we want on landing pages? Hadn’t we had these conversations before?We all knew we needed to improve our process, but it seemed easier to put it off until after the next project. That is, until we reached a breaking point.It was time to make our process more manageable, scalable, and regulated. It was time to build our own website style guide. Here’s how it all played out. What’s a Style Guide?First off, we needed to define what was going into our style guide (or “pattern library”).Basically, a website style guide is a resource that defines all elements that go into the website: code snippets, design assets, guidelines for copywriting, etc. Some style guides focus more on design; others on development. Many style guides also formalize the best practices and processes for how the team should work together.The goal is to create a centralized hub of information that should allow anyone to understand and replicate the process of designing and building for your site. Building Our Designs From ScratchWith so many different designers and developers working on the website, we found ourselves with a hodgepodge collection of templates, style sheets, and modules on our hands. This was troubling, as there was no unified design that could be retrofitted into a cohesive style guide. Though this project was getting bigger by the second, we decided it would be better in the long run to start afresh and design brand-new styles for the site. We also wanted to incorporate some completely new elements, like adding a new font and reworking our form styles. And so we began the process of formalizing our designs. We decided to start with typography: choosing and updating font styles seemed relatively straightforward. Yet this seemingly simple update yielded some telling roadblocks.First, when I started testing out our approved font styles on existing pages, they didn’t always look as good as we’d imagined. It became clear that the font styles needed to be adjusted to be compatible with many different parts of the site; even then, some of our custom-designed pages needed to be reworked to fit the new styles.After typography, we backed up a little. We combed through our existing website, looking for patterns. Most pages were built with similar skeletons: some sort of photo header, various subheaders, blocks of copy or photos, and rows with one or two CTAs. We decided to make a list of the most important, repeated elements, and build those elements as reusable custom modules. We envisioned a set of full-width modules that could stack together to build any page.Making it ModularWhile the purpose of this style guide was to streamline our design and development process, it was also important that we created something non-designers and non-developers could leverage. The decision to make it modular was rooted in just that. By designing all the modules at the same time, we were ensuring that the style was cohesive, and we could mock up how pages would look with various combinations of modules. And even though we’d figured out an effective way to modularize our website, we still encountered some serious challenges.As we started to make final design decisions, I realized we’d all had slightly different ideas about how our site was going to look. Since the style guide touched so much of the website, we wanted to involve everyone who worked on design, development, or branding, however, it’s impossible to accommodate the insight and opinions of so many people. That said, we ended up making decisions that we deemed best for the website users, while building something flexible enough to allow easy updates.Preparing for the LaunchFinally, after months of designing, building, testing, and rebuilding, we had developed a set of modules for use across the HubSpot site. But how to display them?We wanted anyone using the modules to be able to understand the design principles that went into their creation. Furthermore, we wanted to create a reference for future designers on our team and anyone else who might need to iterate on our styles.After some discussion, we built out two pages to house our finished style guide: Foundations and Components. The Foundations page goes over our design and branding principles, including specific details regarding our typography, iconography, colors, logos, and imagery. The Components page shows those design elements in action: we use this page as a library of all our customizable modules used for website development. We then set up recurring trainings with the marketing team so that everyone could use the guide for their projects.And with that, the style guide had launched.Life After the Style GuideWhen we finished the style guide, I quickly realized that it wasn’t just a major revamp of our site styles; the style guide had totally changed how my team tackles new projects and interfaces with the rest of the marketing team.Now, all of our projects reference the style guide in some form or another. As soon as we receive a new project request, we check to see if it might be something that can be built solely through our style guide components. If not, we’re conscious of creating and building new elements that fit with our guide. When we receive a project that requires a more custom or novel approach, we’re cognizant of how we might be “breaking” our style guidelines; sometimes this opens the door to iterating on our current styles.The style guide has improved so many parts of our workflow, but I think these are some of the most important benefits:Design and development work together more efficiently. Before the style guide conversations, we didn’t have a shared vocabulary between design, development, and other stakeholders. Now, we all have a common reference point for our current and future designs.We get to work with cleaner, more scalable code. On the development side, our code base is now far cleaner and easier to maintain. Whenever I start a new project, I immediately reference the global styles and variables from the style guide. Furthermore, I can now make changes that will be reflected across all parts of the website. Our onboarding process has become more standardized. Getting new team members up to speed is so much easier when we can point to an interactive document to illustrate our design and development philosophies. The style guide also serves as an inventory of all our approved, polished design elements and their accompanying code, so there’s no need to track down old files or question whether or not something is out-of-date.Of course, it wasn’t just my team that benefited from the style guide: other members of the marketing team could now make their own pages without needing to wait for design or development resources. One of my coworkers was telling me how she was rebuilding a significant part of the website, a task which would have taken at least six weeks at her last company. The style guide allowed her to finish in about a day. How crazy is that?4 Tips for Building Your Own Style GuideA style guide can feel like it carries more weight than smaller projects, like one-off page builds or small-scale custom apps. And in many ways, it does: it’s a huge undertaking that will theoretically affect every page on your website. To build it properly, you need to make choices about countless creative details. To implement those changes, you’ll need to refactor or replace thousands of lines of existing code. It can be grueling. It helped me to remember that this is a one-time process that helps avoid those repetitive conversations in the future. Here are a few tips that I learned from the process: Before you start, designate the project leaders. I’d recommend starting with clear decision-makers on both the design and development sides so that you don’t get stuck waiting for your team to come to a consensus on any one detail.Look at other companies’ guides for inspiration. If you’re not sure where to start, go through other companies’ guides and pull out the parts that seem most important to your process. For starters, I’d recommend taking a look at Starbucks, GitHub, and MailChimp.Remember that your guide will change over time. It’s important to not get too caught up in nitpicky details. As long as you’re building your style guide to be easily maintained and updated, you can refine and iterate your styles over time. Make sure you DO change your guide. A style guide means that you don’t have to redesign your entire site to experiment with little changes, so try to make sure that your guide doesn’t sit stagnant post-launch. Start A/B testing, get user feedback, and observe how your team is working together.Ultimately, if your website is anything like ours — somewhat large, always changing, worked on by multiple designers and developers — a style guide becomes more than a nice-to-have. It’s a necessity. And it’s worth it, I promise. Want to check out the finished product? Our finished style guide consists of two pages, Foundations and Components. Both sections of the style guide were designed by Anna Faber-Hammond and built by me (Annabeth). We’d love to hear what you think in the comments section below. last_img read more

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