THE DISAPPEARANCE OF THE INSTRUCTION MANUAL Thursday, Jan 29 2015 

INSTRUCTIONS NOT INCLUDED: WHAT THE VANISHING MANUAL SAYS ABOUT US

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Instructional diagrams, like this one from the Voigtlander Vito II camera, have been going the way of the dinosaurs.

In the late 17th century, the printer Joseph Moxon published Mechanick Exercises, the first guide to printing in any language. It had been nearly 240 years since the debut of Gutenberg’s press, and books had proliferated. There were Bibles, of course, along with lots of schlocky literature, some porn, and guides to everyday topics—how to polish jewels, how to cast a spell against your enemy. But Moxon’s manual was subtly different. It rang with a decidedly DIY tone and suggested that readers could learn a new trade, at home, in their spare time.

To someone in 17th-century Europe, this was a deeply subversive notion. From the fall of the Roman Empire to the dawn of the Renaissance, age-old social hierarchies held firm. You were born into a station, whether peasantry or trade work or aristocracy, and you and your family remained there for generations. But then came science and technology, and with them new trades and opportunities. With no established guild system in place for many of these new professions (printer, navigator, and so on), readers could, with the help of a manual, circumvent years of apprenticeship and change the course of their lives, at least in theory.

These books, filled with ingenious methods, offered something new and relatively democratic: agency, skill, and command for anyone who could read.

Mechanick Exercises was not the first manual. Vitruvius’s Ten Books on Architecture is one of the only true manuals to survive from antiquity. It offers clear and concise instructions for how and where to construct a house (not in a dell, for instance), where to orient your summer and winter rooms, and many other useful matters. Scribes in the Middle Ages produced their shared guides too. One of the most consistently produced titles in the entire history of writing, the 15th-century Aristotle’s Masterpiece, is a sex manual. But where those early books served as compendia of sorts—the compiled wisdom on any given subject—Moxon’s manual and others like it promised something more: systematic treatments for solving complex problems, such as how to lift a horse with your little pinkie (and a pulley system), how to survey land and on building a fortification. These were books filled with ingenious methods, and they offered something new and relatively democratic: agency, skill, and command for anyone who could read.

Feats of Science

Anderson Newton Design

Moxon’s manual explained how to lift a horse with your pinkie (and a pulley system).

And so it went. As manuals explained more complex systems, they grew in size, developing into the heavy, barely penetrable and largely unread books that most people think of today. But then in the 1980s, the manual began to change. Instead of growing, it began to shrink and even disappear. Instead of mastery, it promised competence. My new iPhone, for instance, came with a “manual” that was about as brief as a Christmas card (and I did not read it). A recent rental car did not come with a manual at all, making its nonreading a snap (but finding out how to pop the trunk rather difficult).

The manuals of old, it turns out, have shape-shifted inward, into the devices themselves. That, or their information has been off-loaded to help-desk support or a parallel, Internet FAQ universe: a searchable realm often filled with answers to almost every question but the one you are asking. Change is the way of the universe, but what does it say that most of us now live our lives using tools that are, practically speaking, beyond our understanding or ability to fix? Have we traded away something important, perhaps even defining, about ourselves—a sense of our own autonomy and control over our tools—for the dubious benefit of convenience?

The Man Who Killed The Manual

If the era of minimalist manual design in which we live could be traced back to one person, it would be John Carroll. In 1976, Carroll, a linguistic psychologist, was finishing his Ph.D. at Columbia University and took a job at IBM’s Watson Research Center in Yorktown Heights, New York. His job was to help make computer programmers more efficient, but that quickly changed to a new focus—making computers more usable for average people. That was a big shift in thinking. “You have to remember,” Carroll says, “IBM was probably the richest computer research facility in the world, but at the time, the idea of focusing on the average everyday user was sort of off the radar.”

Carroll was doing, in essence, dissident research. He set up a lab, gave secretaries computers and manuals, and then studied them as they tried to accomplish regular office tasks. He tracked “frustration episodes,” observing as subjects became progressively more flummoxed by their manuals. “People would look at me, shaking, and they’d say, ‘I can’t do this.’ And then they’d get up and put their coat on. One person literally had to flee the building,” he says.

Though Carroll had worked at IBM for more than a decade, his quiet revolution—a culture-wide shift not just in the shape of manuals but in how we learn to use technology—didn’t coalesce until one day while he was on a vacation in Germany. He had just finished a manuscript that would become his groundbreaking minimalist opus, but he had no title for it. Then, in the basement of a castle in Nurnberg, he saw a postcard of a painting depicting an old German folktale: two professorial-looking gentlemen in a library standing over a young student who had a funnel affixed to the top of his head. The teachers are busily choosing potions from the library shelves and pouring knowledge down the funnel and into the boy. For Carroll, the image clearly represented the dominant paradigm in most scientific fields—the “systems approach,” a way of dividing the world into taxonomic orders and protocols of action. In computer science, that meant learning an arcane and exacting “command language” and typing directives precisely as prescribed by the system. Carroll’s book, The Nurnberg Funnel, outlined a new philosophy. Instead of focusing on the needs and values of the system designers, it shifted attention onto the end-user, the secretary in the office who needs to hyphenate a compound word.

Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, among others, quickly adopted a similar approach and more would soon follow. Writing a manual from a minimalist point of view, Carroll says, proved enormously successful because it harnessed the true source of all learning—active engagement. Short, succinct manuals allow the user to dive into many different tasks and to accomplish them quickly, thereby gaining a sense of control and autonomy that inspires further learning. “Skeptics would say we weren’t providing the user with any theoretical foundation,” Carroll says, “but we found that people got through their initial learning faster, and that later on, when they needed to learn more complex tasks, the users were also better at doing that, too.”

Manual As Mirror

So manuals began to slip from view. They still exist, sure. Highly complex things, like jet planes or nuclear plants, rely on big integrated enterprise resource planning systems, into which an army of sensors and engineers log the status and service history of every part in order to maintain standards. Many think that BP’s failure, in effect, to update the manual of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig led to the spill in the Gulf. But for most consumer products, the manual has become less an object or a thing and more a verb, a service, a response to the statement most likely uttered (or yelled at the top of one’s lungs) by someone stymied by a gadget: Help.

According to Carroll, the help we once sought from a manual is now mostly embedded into the apps we use every day. It could also be crowdsourced, with users contributing Q&As or uploading how-to videos to YouTube, or it could programmed into a weak artificial intelligence such as Siri or Cortana. Help can even be predictive, tracking our keystrokes or vocal cues to steer us away from trouble before we find it. Xerox is already using predictive analytics to manage calls from Medicare and Medicaid recipients more effectively. And IBM’s Watson Engagement Advisor, part of a new generation of cognitive assistants, can analyze large sets of customer service problems to more efficiently answer (or even anticipate) problems during a purchase. Help may soon arrive in the form of augmented reality. Carroll suggests that technology like Google Glass might one day offer a “task intelligence” visual overlay to help users figure out objects in their field of view.

Google Glass

Anderson Newton Design

Augmented reality devices like Google Glass could introduce a new form of interactive manual into the world.

For most of us, the transition from physical manuals to embedded help has been slow, steady, and apparently benign, like the proverbial tide that lifts all boats—who would argue against help after all? The disappearance of the manual-as-book coincides, moreover, with documented realities about how people actually learn to use new tools and devices. Studies published by the Society for Technical Communication, which regularly reports on “human-machine interaction,” suggest that even when manuals are available, people tend not to read or use them.

Yet even as we gladly cede more and more control of our tools, a growing chorus is calling attention to the costs. In his book Who Owns the Future?, computer scientist and virtual reality pioneer Jaron Lanier uses the analogy of the Sirens from Homer’s Odyssey. The creatures would lull sailors into complacency with their beautiful songs, only to have their boats wreck on the rocks. Lured by the convenience of the Internet, search engines, and all that they promise, most consumers are, in Lanier’s estimation, similar to those doomed sailors: a little too ready to give “the sirens control of the interaction.” Kimberly Nasief, president and co-founder of Measure Consumer Perspectives, a consumer monitoring and customer service consultancy based in Louisville, Kentucky, wrote about how Apple’s ease-of-use might be making her a dumber user. She tried out an Android tablet, and the greater complexity of the operating system actually forced her to learn more: “It made me develop some critical thinking on how the system I was using worked. With Apple, I don’t have to do that. It does it for me. And that just might be dangerous. Dangerous in that if I no longer am learning, or if it’s done for me, then I might just get technologically left behind,” she wrote.

If manuals began as great equalizers, then their disappearance should at least give us pause.

Today the hazards of being left behind seem ever more real. Even Carroll notes that research has suggested an unforeseen consequence of the minimalist approach. Furnished only with a manual of one or two pages, users soon reach a comfort zone, a knowledge plateau from which they tend not to wander. The aggregate effect, culturally, may be that less is less. The less we’re inclined to know about our devices, the more beholden we are to the manufacturers that make them, and the more we offer control to those who, for good or for ill, know more than we do. If manuals began as great equalizers, then their disappearance should at least give us pause. By dispensing with them, we could, consciously or no, be setting the stage for something few would relish: a society divided.

This article was originally published in the February 2015 issue of Popular Science, under the title “Instructions Not Included”.

What is MySQL? Class Assignment Friday, Jan 23 2015 

The challenge is go to ” http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2009/03/25/mysql-admin-and-development-tools-round-up/ ” and answer the following questions:

1. What is MySQL?
1. MySQL is the most popular open source database currently on the market. It has a short response time (fast), easy to use and doesn’t crash often. MySQL will run on almost all operating systems (cross platform support).

2. Which of the MySQL Admin and Development Tools explained in the article you recommend? Why?

1. Sequel Pro is advertised (http://www.sequelpro.com/) to be fast, easy to use MAC database management application for working with MySQL databases. It claims direct access to MySQL databases on both local and remote servers.

2. Couchbase claims to provide the world’s most complete scalable and best performing NoSQL database. They claim always-available, always responsive applications on phones, tablets and devices. This app is advertised to work equally well on Ubuntu, Red Hat, Windows and Mac operating systems.

Since I have never used any of these database applications I feel that I have to qualify my answers with phrases like “they claim” and the “product is advertised”. Given that Couchbase is claimed to work on four different operating systems and Sequel Pro is exclusively Mac, I would say Couchbase would be my recommendation.

18 Non-Toy Gifts for Children Friday, Jan 23 2015 

July 16, 2014 by

http://nourishingminimalism.com/2014/07/18-non-toy-gifts-for-children.html

All of us that have children, have too many toys. No matter how diligent we are at keeping them at bay, it seems to be a constant fight. It’s especially hard when special days come and we want to give gifts to our children, or grandparents want to give gifts.

Gifts are good things!

But, too much of anything isn’t good.

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A great way to combat too many toys, is to shift all the gifts to non-toy items.

18 Non-Toy Gifts for Children

  1. Classes. Music, dance, riding, drawing, classes are a great way to encourage children in their interests and let them know that you pay attention to them and what they enjoy.
  2. Memberships. Zoo, science museum, children’s museum, YMCA membership, etc. These are particularly great for family gifts! Many young families want to enjoy day outings, but affording them can be a challenge, so give them the gift of a yearly membership.
  3. Subscriptions. Kids enjoy getting things int he mail. Why not encourage their reading by getting them a magazine subscription for something they are interested in!
  4. Events. Movie tickets, tickets to a play, concert or sports event are really exciting! Having an event to look forward to makes the rest of life more enjoyable.
  5. Activities. Mini golf, bowling, skating rink. These are so much fun! And a big part of the fun is going together. Children love spending time with the adults in their lives, they want to see you enjoying your time as well as enjoying them.
  6. Recipe and Ingredients. Kids love cooking with their parents. Baking something special or cooking dinner is an ideal time to spend together and learn life skills. Print out a recipe, purchase all the ingredients and set a date for cooking together.
  7. Crafting Date. Our daughter loves making crafts. I do to, I really do enjoy the creative aspect. But I rarely take time out to do it with her. These crafting dates mean the world to our creative little girl. Keep a basket of craft supplies and get out a book for inspiration. We like this book.
  8. Arts and Craft supplies. If your craft box is running low, stock up a little on things you need. Add in something fun the kids haven’t used before. A gift of art and craft supplies often brings on the imagination and kids can’t wait to get to work!
  9. Coupons. An envelope of coupons that they can “spend” at any time: I’ll do one chore- no questions asked, movie and popcorn night, you pick the movie!, 1:1 game of cards or basketball (whatever the child’s interest is in), sit and read a book with me, Stay up 1/2 hour past bedtime
  10. Restaurant Gift Card. Dinner, ice cream, coffee, cupcake- whatever suits their fancy! Give them the freedom of inviting whoever they wish: it may be mom or dad, it may be a grandparent, aunt or even teacher that they would like to spend more time with.
  11. Dress Up Clothes. These do need to be limited, but  2 dresses and couple play silks can get hours and hours of play!
  12. Books. We get a lot of books from the library, but there are some that I just can’t find there, or it takes us longer to read through. We have read through the entire Little House series, Narnia and are working our way through Shel Silverstein’s books. Be sure to pass the books on when you are done, so they don’t clutter up your home.
  13. Clothes. When kids only have a certain amount of clothes, they often enjoy getting clothes. Make it a point to get something that fits their style. That may mean western clothes, super-hero, fancy dresses, etc.

Want more? Check out:

  1. Snacks. If your child is a foodie, they will love this! Some homemade granola or cookies made just for them, is a special treat!
  2. Outdoor Supplies. If you are an outdoorsy family, giving kids their own fishing tackle or gardening equipment can be a big deal. It’s also something that gets left on the shelf in the garage, so you always know right where to find it.
  3. Telling Time. The average child these days doesn’t know how to read analog, or finds it takes too long to think about it, so they search for a digital watch. Getting them a cool watch makes them want to be able to tell time on it. Boys, girls, and even teenagers can be excited about this.
  4. Games and Puzzles. Games and puzzles are great activities for when kids have to be indoors. It’s a good practice to have individual quiet times during the day, and having a puzzle to sit and work on by themselves helps brain development and problem solving skills. Games teach a lot too! My kids talk about how they passed geography, just because we played Risk when they were little. Monopoly and PayDay have been popular and help cement math skills. Memory games are great for younger children.
  5. Calendar. Many children like to know what is going on, what day it is, how many days until ____. These kids are the ones that want to know what the plan is for the day, in what order things will happen, what time friends are expected over, etc. They struggle with spur-of-the-moment and can be frustrating if you are a spontaneous parent. But celebrate it! These children have many strengths and make our world run smoother. :-) Embrace their inner schedule and get them their own calendar. They can write down their own classes, appointments, play dates, etc. And if they ask you, send them to their calendar so they can get used to being in control of their own schedule. You can even schedule “spontaneous days”, so they know that something different will happen that day. Trust me, it will help them enjoy the spontaneous outings!

Focusing on What’s Important Thursday, Jan 22 2015 

By Quin McDonald

https://quinncreative.wordpress.com/2015/01/21/focusing-on-whats-important/

Posted on

If you own your business or are starting up a business, you need a plan. Not a formal business plan (unless you are planning on forming a partnership or need to borrow money from a bank). But you do need a plan. A plan that uses your skills and what is important to you. Normally, I call what is important to you, “values,” and what I mean by that is heart. Your power to run or improve a business depends on your strength of heart.

Heart is talent. It’s what you believe in. It’s what you are good at and don’t mind putting in long hours to improve.

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The biggest mistake you can make is get distracted. Decide that someone else is stronger, better, or smarter than you and follow them. Hope their light shines on you. Ask them to include you in their plan. Think they will mentor you.

Successful people have plans. They keep their eyes on working on their plan, making choices that benefit their plan. That is what you should be doing, too.

The American businessman Jim Rohn said it wonderfully: “If you don’t design your own life plan, chances are you’ll fall into someone else’s plan. And guess what they have planned for you? Not much.”

Of course you can ask for help, advice, or suggestions. But tend your own plan. Know what it is. Watch your business decisions to keep them filled with your heart. That’s where your power is. That’s where your strength is. That is how you will build a business that is all yours and clear to you.

-Quinn McDonald owns her own business and helps others work on their plans.

Net Neutrality Thursday, Jan 15 2015 

On Jan. 14, 2014, a federal court of appeals struck down the Federal Communications Commission’s Open Internet Order, which was designed to prevent Internet service providers from blocking or slowing users’ connections to online content. The court did not comment on the validity of these rules but simply said that the FCC had used the wrong legal foundation to justify them.

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In response, on May 15 FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler released flawed Internet rules that would let ISPs charge content companies for priority treatment — relegating all other content to a slower tier of service.

Wheeler’s plan would let telecom giants like AT&T, Comcast and Verizon pick winners and losers online and discriminate against online content and applications. And it would destroy the open Internet.

Without Net Neutrality, ISPs would be able to devise new schemes to charge users more for access and services, making it harder for us to communicate online — and easier for companies to censor our speech. The Internet could come to resemble cable TV, where gatekeepers exert control over where you go and what you see.

Without Net Neutrality, ISPs would be able to block content and speech they don’t like, reject apps that compete with their own offerings, and prioritize Web traffic (reserving the fastest loading speeds for the highest bidders and sticking everyone else with the slowest).

The tools ISPs use to block and control our communications aren’t different from the ones the NSA uses to watch us. Whether it’s a government or a corporation wielding these tools or the two working together, this behavior breaks the Internet as we know it and makes it less open and secure.

We must fight to ensure the Internet we love doesn’t become a platform for corporate speech or another tool for government spying. We must protect the Internet that lets us connect and create, that rejects censorship and values our right to privacy.

The Internet should remain a forum for innovation and free expression. Open, affordable, fast and universal communications networks are essential to our individual, economic and political futures.

For our 101 on Net Neutrality, click here.

Get Rid of Clutter by Throwing Things Away “By Default” Tuesday, Jan 13 2015 

By Herbert Lui

http://lifehacker.com/get-rid-of-clutter-by-throwing-things-away-by-default-1678754198

Keeping your objects as long as possible is easier on your budget, but also leads to a lot of clutter. Instead of trying to keep your stuff for as long as possible, make your default decision one to throw it out.

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Most of us don’t throw stuff out unless we can think of a good reason to. Organizing consultant Marie Kondo has a different opinion. Author Tim Harford explains the lesson he learned from Kondo’s book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying:

Kondo turns things around. For her, the status quo is that every item you own will be thrown away unless you can think of a compelling reason why it should stay. This mental reversal turns status quo bias, paradoxically, into a force for change.

Even though it sounds like a small mental change, you can eliminate your status quo bias by reversing the situation. If you have a clutter problem and can’t find a compelling reason to keep an object, considering throwing it out. When you’re making a decision to declutter and are sitting on the fence, change the question from “Why throw it out?” to “Why keep it?

The 4 Most Important Pages on Your Website (& How to Optimize Them) Monday, Jan 12 2015 

WRITTEN BY NEIL PATEL ON JAN 9, 2015 4:20:00 PM4waysphoto-01

This post originally appeared on the Inbound Hub Marketing section.

Some of the pages on your website are more important than others. Okay, many of you probably find that fairly obvious — but I’m surprised how few people actually apply this knowledge to their websites to improve conversions.

I’m all about low hanging fruit; about undertaking the easiest tasks that will have the biggest results. What I’m about to describe in this article has the potential to improve your site dramatically with just a few, critical changes.

Let’s get right into it. Every website is different, but generally speaking, here are the four most important (and most-visited) pages on a website:

  1. Home Page
  2. About Page
  3. Blog
  4. Contact Us Page

In this post, I’ll explain how to optimize each one of these pages. (And if your most-visited pages are different than the ones listed above, you’ll still learn a framework for optimizing any of the important pages on your website.)

What do I mean by “optimize” a webpage?

You’ve probably heard the word “optimize” most commonly used in phrases like “search engine optimization” (SEO) and “conversion rate optimization” (CRO). I’m actually referring to something broader here, but the advice that I’m delivering will help to enhance both of those.

The optimization I’m going to explain will create user optimized pages. In the pursuit of SEO and CRO, it’s easy to overlook the broader, big-picture idea. First and foremost, a site must be optimized for the user. Here’s how you can do that.

How to Optimize Each Page

The broad framework for optimizing these pages the same across your home page, About page, blog, and Contact Us page. There are two simple questions to ask of every page, and the specifics of optimizing those pages will flow from the answers to those two questions. The first question is all about the user, and the second question is all about you. Here we go:

Question 1:  What is the user looking for?

Remember, we’re focusing on the user. Why are they on the page to begin with? There are a few things you need to know:

  • Where did they come from? The idea here is to understand the origins of the user, so you can deliver relevant content.
    • Did they come from a search engine? (If so, which query?)
    • An email? (What kind of email?)
    • A navigation menu? (What option on the menu?)
  • What do they need to know? A single page can deliver a limited amount of information, so you need to determine what that information is going to be. You want them to know something so that they will then dosomething (which is addressed in the next question). Remember: Less is more. The more information you load up on your main pages, the less likely the user is to remember any of it. Give them less, and they’re more likely to remember — and do — what you want them to.

Pro Tip: Use visuals such as explainer videos, diagrams, hero shots, and so on to help compact a lot of information to a single page. To get the most out of your visuals, make sure you correctly optimize your images and videos. 

Once you answer the question of what the user’s looking for, you’re halfway there. That brings us to question two.

Question 2:  What is my goal for the user?

Now, you need to ask the user to do something. This is where most pages fall short. One of the critical components of a web page is its call-to-action (CTA), and many website owners don’t realize that every single page of a website should contain at least one CTA.

The point of a home page isn’t for the user to see and depart. The point of a product page isn’t for the user to look and leave. The point of content marketing isn’t for user intake, but rather, for user marketing. If you retain only one thing from this article, let it be that every webpage needs a CTA.

Why am I so insistent? Because every shred of knowledge demands some response: A web page imparts knowledge, and that knowledge requires a response. So, what is it that you want the user to do? This is your goal for the user, and it must be clearly and starkly defined as you face the big optimization question.

The question is then, more specifically, what do I want the user to do? Knowledge alone is not enough. What is the application point for the page? Let’s look at some examples of webpages that do it well.

HubSpot’s Home Page

HubSpot’s home page is well laid-out and hosts a clear CTA, front and center. A user is on the HubSpot home page for a reason, and perhaps that reason is to grow their business. The headline speaks to the “what am I looking for?” And the CTA buttons tell me, the user, what I’m supposed to next. (The white annotations are my own, not Hubspot’s.)

hubspot-home-page-1

Now, let’s see what HubSpot has going on on the About page.

HubSpot’s About Page

A user might click on the About page for a variety of reasons. A few might be:

  • They want to figure out exactly what the business does.
  • They want to work for the business.
  • They want to make sure the business is legit.
  • They want to see if the business serves their niche or location.
  • They want to analyze the business’s success.

I could go on and on. There are a ton of reasons that could bring a user here, but they all boil down to the desire for information. Let’s see what HubSpot does. Here is their About page:

hubspot-mission-statement

The user likely wants to know the information about the company, and in response, he or she can click “sales inquiries” to take action. That persistent sidebar button hangs on to the entire page, all the way to the very bottom.

Along the way, however, there are deeper levels of both information and action. The more granular and detailed the information, the more correspondingly detailed the CTA becomes. Halfway down the page, I see information about how great the company is along with an invitation to join their team:

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There’s more. I can download information about highlights and awesomeness:

hubspot-year-in-review

Finally, I can start following them if I’d like to:

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This is an example of an About page optimized to drive engagement, increase conversions, and enhance the brand. They made it as much about the user as about the company itself, because along the way, the user is getting value — applying for a job, downloading a free report, and connecting with a trusted brand for even more valuable content.

Tips for Optimizing Each Page

Now that I’ve given you a framework and a couple examples, here are a few, more specific tips to help you on your way to optimizing each of the four most important pages.

1) Home Page

  • Use a big headline, and place the most important information front and center.
  • Provide flow. Make it obvious where the user is supposed to go and what they are supposed to do next.
  • Make your CTA as big and obvious as possible. A home page may allow for several different CTAs — make it easy for the user to choose by making CTA buttons large and easy to click. Oftentimes, a user uses the home page as a way of finding where on the site she wants to go. For this reason, you should make the navigation menu very clear.

2) About Page

  • Deliver the most important and relevant information above the fold. The user is on your About page for a reason — answer their question(s) without making them scroll.
  • Include at least one CTA. Remember, most people aren’t just looking for more informatio; they’re seeking a deeper level of engagement.

3) Blog

  • Organize information on your blog clearly, and make sure that information satisfies the reasons users might be on your blog. Most users will want to read the most recent articles, so provide these. You may also want to organize categories on the blog home page, such as “most recent,” “most popular,” or other forms of categorization.
  • Include CTAs that make it easy for the user to subscribe to the blog, download a free resource, and so on. Even though the user came to get information, you want them to get engaged and connected. (Click here for 8 types of CTAs you can try on your blog.)
  • Provide CTAs in the core design of your blog so they appear on each individual blog post. In my experience,most blog visitors land on individual blog articles through organic search, instead of landing on your blog’s “home” page. To get these users engaged, put CTAs on the sidebars, in the footer, and other places. (Learn how to pick the perfect CTA for each blog post here.)

 4) Contact Us Page

  • Put the information they’re looking for above the fold — an email address, phone number, contact form, map, mailing address, and so on. Of all four of these webpages, the Contact Us page implies the most detailed level of intent on the part of the user.
  • Use CTAs that allow the user to contact you easily (since, presumably, that’s why they came to your Contact Us page). Make the CTA really obvious, and engage them by gratifying their intent instantly, using CTA copy like ”Chat now!” “Email now!”.

In conclusion, here’s how to optimize pages like a pro: Look at your most visited pages, figure out why users are there, give them what they want, and ask them for an action in return. Regardless of your most-visited pages or even the nature of your website, you can create more engaged users.

You’re in the business of not just dissemination information, but demanding a response. The knowledge you impart requires that users response. Ask for it.

Neil_PatelNeil Patel     Patel is the co-founder of Crazy Egg, Hello Bar, Stride, and KISSmetrics, and a columnist for HubSpot. He helps companies like Amazon, NBC, GM, HP and Viacom grow their revenue.  

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9 tips to make your WordPress blog more secure Thursday, Jan 8 2015 

anirban_banerjee

by Anirban Banerjee

Jun 5, 2014

Easily one of the most popular blogging platforms preferred by the amateur and professional alike, WordPress has many advantages over its competitors. However, its relative ease of use and many attractive themes and capabilities must be enhanced by WordPress security and protection, so that your website doesn’t fall victim to malware attacks that exploit weaknesses in coding – or anything.

In the spirit of WordPress security, then, consider these nine tips to keeping your site up-and-running well:

1. The first tip is to take a proactive approach regarding unused plugins, themes and other additions stored in your WordPress content directory; they are almost certainly outdated, which makes them susceptible to hackers and their bots. Software makers update their programs precisely because updates eliminate holes that can be exploited. Basically; discard your old unused stuff and get the latest versions of the new ones.

2. The second tip for better WordPress security is quite general for anything you do online requiring your personal details; this doesn’t make it any less significant, however. Use a maximally strong password. This means alternate capital letters, numbers and special characters. Furthermore, if you have multiple websites up, make sure you use a different password for each one; in fact, there are powerful password-generation plugins available for WordPress protection.

3. Research forums and other reputable online communities for information on the best anti-spam plugins for WordPress security. Make sure you understand how well-written the code is for any plugin you do end up installing.676494_fbi_costume_pin_badge

4. Avoid doing things that used to be standard, such as keeping the “admin” name as your default. Updated WordPress themes and directories don’t usually have this for a reason – they were a common target for website exploitation. Similarly, don’t start the name of any of your directories with the wp prefix.

5. Connecting to your WordPress sites via public WiFi access can give any snoopers access to your username and password. Avoid doing this unless you have your own secure SSL connection socket for added protection.

6. If you’re not very web-savvy, and find yourself overwhelmed by the prospect of trying to decipher the signs of a blog compromise, there is affordable professional help available. Web security solutions are provided by robust malware monitoring and removal products likeStoptheHacker, which is a 24-hour sentinel that protects your systems.

7. While not exactly in the category of security, backing up your WordPress site is definitely in the realm of protection from future attacks. If all goes wrong, this copy can save you invaluable time and money in getting back up to speed, or moving your operation to another web host.

8. Hackers want to get into your private details more than anything else, because this will allow them to take over your website for their own personal gain. One useful way to impede this is to erase information regarding the version of WordPress you’re using, which can be done by deleting the appropriate meta tag description.

9. A simple but powerful WordPress security measure comes in the login section. If you have multiple users contributing to your site; or even if it’s just you, implement a lock-down plugin that stops multiple login attempts, which may signal a bot trying to gain access by trying many passwords.

http://www.dreamhost.com/dreamscape/2014/06/05/9-tips-to-make-your-wordpress-blog-more-secure/

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