Here’s a special Thursday edition of RTO this week. Sorry for the delay, but we’ve put together a good list of articles for you to check out. Two of our choices are two-parters – one on the impacts of the no-code revolution and building programs with visual designers, the other on improving your landing page conversion rates. Besides those, we’ve got recommendations for doing good data visualization, why design mentorship is a good practice, and some suggestions for how to tackle a website redesign project.
- Is coding becoming obsolete? (Part I)
- 10 Data Visualization Best Practices for the Web
- How we improved our landing page conversion rate by 500%
- 12 Reasons Why You Need a Design Mentor
- How to Tackle a Redesign
A girl and her father went for a hike one sunny afternoon. As they reached a clearing, that sat down for a snack and a drink of water. As they sat there, the girl points to the sky and asks: “Daddy, what are clouds made of?”
The dad stops and considers his daughter’s question for a moment, drawing on his knowledge and experience from years gone past. Finally, he turns to her and answers: “Linux servers, mostly.”
This is Real Time Overview for July 26th, 2018, and I’m your host Michael Fienen. Just a reminder that this past Monday was episode 15 of The Drunken UX Podcast, and Aaron and I talked about how to manage updates across lots of WordPress sites all at once, in particular how to do it using a plugin called MainWP. If you spend a lot of time working in WordPress, definitely make sure you go back and check out that episode. And for today, on to the round up!
Over at zeroqode.com, Levon Terteryan takes us on a trip through the upcoming no-code revolution. “But, what is the no-code revolution, Michael?” I can hear you asking. Good question.
Levon has been working on a platform called Zeroqode that is attempting to take advantage of what he sees as the inescapable trend of people working to simplify and automate their processes. He starts by explaining an analogy that compares software developers of today to the telegraph operators of the 19th century. People with important skillsets in the moment that were ultimately replaced by advances in technology.
From there, he explains how visual development platforms have already been working to chip away at the need for the average person to know code to accomplish a specialized task. If you need a good reference point for that, think about a tool like If-This-Then-That. It was created explicitly with that goal in mind. The tool abstracts all the work away of writing API integrations and needing a server to run them on, and the user just clicks a few buttons to tie together actions. This is, of course, a simple version, but one that demonstrates the evolution all the same.
In a similar way, we’ve seen offerings like Wix, SquareSpace, and recently WebFlow producing platforms that are more capable than ever at allowing non-web-developers to create functional websites that are “good enough.”
What do you think, will we see continuous march towards no-code development? Will front-end developers become largely obsolete. What do you think the future looks like with respect to coding, leave us a comment in the shownotes at drunkenux.com.
Can we talk about data visualization for just a minute? Whether you’ve worked with D3, ChartJS, or the Google Chart API, you know the challenge that comes with conveying data to a site visitor. It’s hard, because it resists design influence and largely boils down to lots and lots of math problems. I have a lot of respect for good dataviz designers, because that’s really hard work. Watching someone dynamically manipulate SVGs with math might as well be wizardry to a lot of people
For the rest of us, we have Midori Nediger’s article that reviews 10 Data Visualization Best Practices for the Web at Web Designer Depot. One of my favorite tips early in the piece is one that encourages you to not focus heavily on interactivity to show the information. Charts are complicated and inconsistent from site to site. User’s don’t have a good reference point for what interactions to expect necessarily, so engagement in the visualization can be low. I like this tip, because reduced interactivity can dramatically reduce code complexity to achieve what you need to make your chart convey information successfully.
In a similar way, several other points revolve around making sure information is clear, available, labeled, and useful. Clarity is more valuable than complexity, and she pushes designers to find the balance. All of these tips apply regardless of your preferred library. Knowing you should label displayed data points is as applicable to HighCharts as it is D3.
Stop by Twitter later and let us know what your favorite practices are for ensuring you create good data visualization. Or, if it feels better, let us know how much you hate trying to work with the libraries. We won’t judge.
Here’s one for anybody working with a marketing team to bring in more leads. Nathan Kontny has written an article that outlines how he updated the landing pages at Rockstar Coders to increase form conversions by 500%.
He leads in by talking about maintaining focus on your landing page, keeping it’s goal singular, and avoiding what he refers to as “leaky buckets” like site navigation. I’ve ran into this myself, where you have a landing page design that includes your site’s top nav bar. But, because it’s warehoused in a totally separate system for a lot of people, that means the HTML is just copy/pasted over. Given enough time, that means the navigation will be prone to going out of date. Secondarily, it means, to steal Nathan’s phrase, you risk leaking users out of your funnel. You want them to become a lead, not go off to your about page.
And that might seem counter-intuitive. If they’re on your site, after all, isn’t that a good thing? If you keep them there a long time, that must be great. But that’s not necessarily true. Nathan mentions that the longer someone reads about your product or company, the more confused they are likely to get. Good content should perform and convert quickly. Jeffrey Zeldman calls this the Content Performance Quotient, and I’ll leave a link to his explanation of that in the shownotes along with this.
Landing page performance is all about friction and engagement. Keeping yourself honest to that goal, and not allowing your scope to creep on them is the best way to keep a user focused on the goal you want the to achieve. If you like his introduction, there’s a part two to this article that covers more of the tactics they used to improve their pages, and it’s worth running by to check out. You can find the article at his blog on Medium.
This next piece goes out to those of you getting started in the design world. I’ve always been a fan of the idea of having mentorships and apprenticeships in design and development, so I wanted to share an article at UX Collective by Pavithra Aravindan that gives you 12 Reasons Why You Need a Design Mentor.
And I should clarify, I think this article is good for people starting out, but I think it’s also good for skilled designers to read to understand the value you can bring to someone who is coming up in the industry. You can have a very real impact on the people you work with, and Pavi’s article does a good job outlining why that can make a difference.
Professionally, good mentors can be an important connection in the industry, helping to open doors for you, connect with other opportunities as they come up, or serving as a reference. When it comes to skills, they can use their experience to ensure you make the right mistakes at the right time – and yes, I meant to say it that way – and they can give you lots of feedback on the work you’re doing to ensure you have a constructive environment to learn in.
Tactically, they can also be a huge shortcut for finding good tools, or getting introduced to learning resources or programs.
In a world where we’re quick to give the “Let Me Google That For You” answer, we can’t shortchange how impactful it is to have a trusted voice in your corner to go ask a question from time to time. People trust their peers and colleagues, and that input is often far more valuable and useful to them, not to mention it can be significantly more reactive.
Stop by UX Collective and read Pavi’s article, then take some time and think about what you can be doing to help make sure your younger colleagues have good guidance.
And finally this week we stop by an article by Suzanne Scacca that dives into the hairy topic of how to tackle a redesign. If you’ve never been involved in a full redesign project for a large scale website, let me tell you, you’re missing out. The panic, the fear, the anger… oh yes, it’s the emotional fuel that gets me through the day.
But seriously, pretty much everyone coming in to web development now will inevitably be involved in working in a space that’s already created. That means at some scale, you’re likely to be involved in a redesign. Having a plan for when that happens can save you a lot of stress and headache.
Suzanne starts with the obvious question: ask why. Has your company updated their brand, or are they trying to introduce new features or technology? Why a redesign is happening impacts the entire strategy you’ll use and who’s likely to be involved.
After that, you need to ask about content and data. And trust me on this, ask early, and ask often. Nothing creates more friction in a project than trying to plan design and development around content and data models that don’t yet exist, or that are in constant motion.
There’s more to it than that, but I won’t spoil Suzanne’s article. Instead, take a swing by Web Designer Depot and give it a read. Let us know what you think, too. Have you done a redesign? And what helped it succeed or caused you troubles? Feel free to let us know at facebook.com/drunkenux
Thanks for clicking into Real Time Overview this week and as always, we hope you found one of these selections helpful for what you’re doing. As always, I am Michael Fienen and if you want to track me down, just look up @fienen on Twitter. If you want links to any of the stories in today’s episode, be sure to swing by our website at drunkenux.com, they’ll all be linked in the shownotes there. And if you have any articles to suggest for a future episode of Real-Time Overview, you we have a form on our site that you can use to submit a link to us, or just shoot us a message on social media, we’d love to see what you’re reading!
Until next time my friends, keep your personas close, and your users closer.