How AI & Automation Are Changing Mobile Marketing | AccuraCast
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How AI & Automation Are Changing Mobile Marketing | AccuraCast



Delivered at MGS Europe 19 by Farhad Divecha, Managing Director, AccuraCast.

Get a first-hand account of how Artificial Intelligence and automation are changing the way digitally mature brands and agencies work. The session will cover the benefits and obstacles businesses face when adopting AI, and case studies of successful AI implementation in cross-device marketing campaigns.

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Web Development and Digital Marketing Agency in London - UK
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Web Development and Digital Marketing Agency in London – UK



DeDevelopers LTD is a Web Development and Design Company in London, UK. We provide a complete range of IT services including web development, web design, Graphic Design, SEO and digital marketing. Our aim is to provide incomparable levels of services to our clients without doing compromise on quality. Our unmatched presence in the market of web services, records of achievements combined with the satisfaction of clients will always help you to take the most satisfying decision while choosing the company
www.dedevelopers.com

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Product Development and Growth Strategies
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Product Development and Growth Strategies



There are different ways to enter a market (start a business), you could introduce a completely new product or introduce an enhanced produced to an already existing market, or you take an already existing product to a new a market or you could simply enter an existing market with your own version of an existing product. There are different level of risks for each strategy but they all WORK. The key is knowing what growth strategies work for different market entry strategies. In this video, I and Debola Ajayi do a deep dive into market entry and product development/growth strategies for new businesses.

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2020 Top Web Development Trends
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2020 Top Web Development Trends



My top 7 web development trends for 2020. What’s hot in web development in 2020? What should you learn, which technologies should you not miss out on?
Join the full “JavaScript – The Complete Guide” course: https://acad.link/js

Join our Academind Community on Discord: https://discord.gg/gxvEWGU

Also check out the article: https://www.academind.com/learn/web-dev/trends-2020

Check out all our other courses: https://academind.com/learn/our-courses

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Academind is your source for online education in the areas of web development, frontend web development, backend web development, programming, coding and data science! No matter if you are looking for a tutorial, a course, a crash course, an introduction, an online tutorial or any related video, we try our best to offer you the content you are looking for. Our topics include Angular, React, Vue, Html, CSS, JavaScript, TypeScript, Redux, Nuxt.js, RxJs, Bootstrap, Laravel, Node.js, Progressive Web Apps (PWA), Ionic, React Native, Regular Expressions (RegEx), Stencil, Power BI, Amazon Web Services (AWS), Firebase or other topics, make sure to have a look at this channel or at academind.com to find the learning resource of your choice!

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The Impact of Coronavirus on Mobile App Development
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The Impact of Coronavirus on Mobile App Development


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7 Easy and Stress-free Website Redesign Ideas
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7 Easy and Stress-free Website Redesign Ideas


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developer resources
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30 Developer Resources to Diversify Your Skill Set — Front End Development


During uncertain times, it’s more important than ever to know when to pivot your business, search for new developer resources, and expand your skill set. As a web developer, you need to examine the current landscape and identify the most important, high-impact skills that will help your business remain relevant and suit your clients’ changing needs. Enhancing your marketable skills will allow you to add extra value to new projects and empower you to support your clients throughout COVID-19 and beyond. 

You may also find that you have more time on your hands than you scheduled for. Why not make the best of this situation by learning a new skill, or branching out in a new direction?

With all this in mind, I spent some time polling staff here at Shopify and took suggestions from our partner community on their top educational recommendations. The result is a list of 30 helpful resources to diversify your skill set and expand your technical abilities.

To make things a bit easier, I’ve arranged the resources into the following categories:

Running webinars and digital meetups

developer resources: man running webinar at laptop

1. Setting Up Webinars for Learner Engagement

In this two-part series, Shopify’s own Kerry O’Brien outlines various techniques to create a professional atmosphere for your digital event, and a list of what to prepare ahead of time. Once you’ve located the perfect space and assembled the right equipment, you can consider extra flourishes like music or a waiting room. From testing audio to arranging screens, Kerry’s recommendations cover everything you need to know to get started running webinars. You can catch the second part of the series on LinkedIn

2. How to Create a Webinar to Teach, Connect, and Grow Your Audience

This guide from ConvertKit is a comprehensive collection of articles exploring different formats to fit your audience and goals, as well as promotional ideas for attracting the right audience. One (often overlooked) aspect that’s highlighted is the specific metrics you should track when running webinars, including registrant-to-attendee rate, registration page conversion, and replay view rates.

3. How to Host a Successful Virtual Event: Tips and Best Practices

In this blog post by the team at Hootsuite, Katie Sehl looks at not only webinars, but also Ask Me Anything sessions (AMAs) as a tool to quickly broadcast to an existing audience using platforms like Twitter and Facebook. Leveraging experts to share their knowledge in a live question-and-answer session is a great option, as are including interactive trivia games and contests to keep livestream events engaging. 

4. Tips on Running Online Meetings and Events

Based in the UK, the Digital Curation Centre focuses on skills for research data management. Their guide is full of insights they’ve learned about the functionality of different video sharing platforms. As the report notes, “technology has improved vastly in recent years and is making it far more feasible to work remotely and run virtual events. The potential benefits of this are huge, not least for sustainability and global connections.”

5. How to Host a Virtual Company Hackathon

Larger agencies should consider internal digital events to keep the team aligned—and hackathons are a great way to gather staff together for cross-team collaboration on short-term projects. With so many companies turning to remote working, virtual hackathons can be a great way to enhance employee culture. This article from Built In discusses how to position a hackathon to make the most of the opportunity, as well as formulating guidelines and accommodating for different time zones. 

6. Online Networking for Shopify Partners is at its Peak: Are You Joining In?

This article from the Partner League challenges us to think beyond webinar-style presentations and consider creating smaller group discussions that can encourage better interaction. These intimate, invitation-based meetups have the potential to grow business networks and spark conversations that lead to professional partnerships. These online meetups or roundtables can be centered around a specific topic, and the article links out to various online Shopify communities that you can join to be part of these conversations.

You might also like: Handshakes to Headsets: A Guide to Running Virtual Events.

Learning GraphQL

developer resources: open laptop learning GraphQL

7. The Guide to Learn GraphQL I Wish I Found a Few Months Ago

When learning any new language, it can be a daunting task to find a starting point. This Medium article is a suggested learning guide for GraphQL, curated by a developer who found himself struggling to understand its fundamental concepts. Starting with some introductory videos to get you motivated, Kalin lists the sequence of topics that he considers the most important. From learning how to get to grips with syntax to using Apollo, this guide shows a recommended learning flow from someone who’s recently learned themselves. 

8. How to GraphQL

How to GraphQL describes itself as “the free and open-source tutorial to learn all around GraphQL to go from zero to production”, which makes it an essential resource for working with this language. The tutorial takes the form of a series of videos alongside supporting documentation and code examples, with fun short quizzes to unlock new chapters. There’s also a practical aspect to this course, with tutorials that show you how to create simple apps using GraphQL clients, as well as running queries and writing mutations. 

You might also like: The Shopify GraphQL Learning Kit.

9. GraphQL Full Course—Novice to Expert

This YouTube video is a four-hour crash course in GraphQL. It links out to course files on a GitHub repo that you can download and use. By the end, you’ll have built a full-stack application from scratch using a GraphQL server on Node.js, with a React front-end, and storing data on MongoDB. In the words of one commenter, “I had watched several videos for GraphQL, I have to say this is so far the best … actually best of the best.”

10. Shopify’s GraphQL Learning Resources

For a more Shopify-specific approach to working with GraphQL, our own developer documentation provides guidance for using GraphQL in your Shopify apps. You can install the Shopify GraphQL app to explore the GraphQL Admin API and run queries and mutations against one of your development stores, or follow a tutorial to build a Shopify app with Node and React.

Headless commerce

developer resources: person taking notes beside a laptop

11. Headless Commerce is Flexible Commerce

One of the major trends we noted earlier this year, headless commerce involves freeing the front and back-ends of sites from each other so that merchants can have more control over storefront customization. This article from our Plus blog is a deep dive into the benefits of going headless, along with some case studies of Shopify brands who’ve explored this path. Primarily aimed at enterprise-level merchants, this article is the perfect primer for learning what the headless approach involves, and even includes a handy checklist to determine if it’s the right fit for your clients.

12. Optimizing Ecommerce with Gatsby 

This recorded webinar from the team at Gatsby sets out the business case for headless commerce and demonstrates how to use Shopify as the back-end of an ecommerce store that’s integrated with Gatsby. Shopify’s Storefront API along with its range of apps and secure checkout make it a perfect fit for Gatsby, and this webinar shows practical examples of how both platforms are used in tandem. This video is especially helpful to developers who want a view under the hood: Thomas Slade, VP of Engineering at Shopify Partner Agency Elevar, outlines their project plan when integrating and deploying a Shopify store with Gatsby. 

13. Headless Shopify Introduction with Examples of Headless Shopify and Shopify Plus Implementations

Paul Rodgers was an early adopter of the headless approach, and here he showcases a range of different brands using Shopify in the headless context. As Paul himself puts it, ‘This article is designed to provide an introduction into how Shopify can be used in a headless manner, as well as answer some top-level questions around the impact and good use cases.” In addition to running through the pros and cons of headless, Paul presents a wide range of headless stores, operating in different industries and at different scales, so you can see for yourself what this could look like for your clients.

Applying accessibility 

developer resources: face-to-face meeting with laptop open

14. Hacking Digital Style Guides for Accessibility: Type, Colour, Imagery

Designer Tatiana Mac has kindly made her accessibility course available for free on YouTube, so you can learn how to consider accessibility in your style guides and design systems from the outset of your projects. During the 42 minutes of this class, Tatiana explores the basics of accessibility, linking out to helpful resources as well as providing a primer to accessible design and how it impacts businesses. 

15. Creating Accessible Themes 

In case you missed it the first time around, now’s a great time to watch Tiffany Tse and Nathan Ferguson discuss how Shopify’s Themes Team approaches accessibility. This recording from Unite 2018 looks at common ecommerce tasks, like selecting product options or modifying a cart, and explains how they can be challenging for buyers with disabilities. Ultimately, this talk proves that an accessible web is for everyone. As developers and designers, we share a collective responsibility to build with accessibility in mind. 

16. Deque Accessibility Training

Billing themselves as “the most comprehensive digital accessibility training on the web”, Deque provides instructor-led education as well as online, self-paced training. Their modules address all aspects of accessibility for websites and apps, beginning with the fundamentals and ramping all the way up to more advanced techniques for designing user interfaces. They also offer certification to prove your expertise. 

17. 24 Accessibility

It may not be Christmas anymore, but that doesn’t mean we can’t celebrate accessibility with 24 Accessibility, which showers readers with digital accessibility gifts during the holiday season of giving and sharing. Each entry has strong practical value from working with and testing color ratios, to ensuring project documentation is accessible. Every article is written by a different expert in web design and development, including a contribution from Shopify’s own Devon Persing. You can also travel back in time to previous years and learn tips and tricks from the archive. 

You might also like: Universal Design: 11 Practical Tips to Make Your Sites and Apps More Accessible.

Marketing your business

developer resources: marketing your business, person writing on a whiteboard

18. How Podcasting Will Help Connect You With More Agency Clients

Recommended by Ash Ome from Shopify Partner Agency Motif, this podcast on podcasting (so meta!) runs through how to connect with and convert new clients, using engaging content and avoiding ‘salesy’ techniques. This specific podcast features Mark Lipsky, founder of The Radio Agency, who has a lifetime of experience working with audio in a marketing context. Learn how to stand out from the crowd, and connect with the right audience.

19. The Complete A/B Testing Kit

This ebook from HubSpot is a comprehensive guide to using A/B testing for marketing optimization. Of particular interest to the Shopify Partner community is its practical advice on how to use split tests to optimize landing pages, email marketing, and calls-to-action. Some of the great lessons here will help you improve the validity of your tests by focusing on one variable at a time, choosing the best visuals for your client’s brand, and analyzing your data effectively. 

20. Take Charge, Be a Voice of Reason and Keep Publishing

The team at Animalz ask the question: should you continue publishing content during the COVID-19 crisis? And the answer is a resounding yes. In this considerate and encouraging blog post, marketers are encouraged to approach their work with empathy and authenticity. You can provide your audience with a lot of value in times of uncertainty, and Animalz suggests focusing on content that helps, rather than content optimized for keywords. 

21. The Ecommerce Playbook: Numbers, Struggles & Growth

With a strong focus on ecommerce, podcast host Andrew Faris details the ups and downs of marketing. His recent podcast episodes have looked at how brands are responding to COVID-19, and how sometimes constraints can generate creativity. With over 150 episodes that touch on all the various aspects of ecommerce marketing in a transparent and original way, there’s a lot to dive into here. 

22. Blogging for Business

Recommended to me by Ciarán Oglesby, the Blogging for Business video guide from Ahrefs Academy explores how to match business value with content ideas, how to promote your blog, and much more. Over five hours and 10 videos, you’ll learn all you need to know about building a robust content marketing strategy for you or your client’s new blog. Of particular interest is the science behind ranking keywords and how to test your article ideas for “search demand”. 

Improving storefront performance

developer resources: improving performance, cars moving fast on the highway

23. How Browsers Work: Behind the Scenes of Modern Web Browsers

If you’ve ever been interested in learning the internal workings of browser operations, this comprehensive and detailed guide recommended by Helen Lin, Web Development Manager at Shopify, is for you. By examining the individual components of web browsers, we’re given a rare view into the engines that power our online experiences. Understanding how browsers work is a huge asset when trying to improve website performance, so diving into this guide is well worth it!

24. How to Debug Liquid Render Performance with Shopify Theme Inspector for Chrome

If you haven’t started using Shopify’s Theme Inspector for Chrome, now’s the perfect time to get this up and running to test your theme code. This blog post shows you how to get started using this developer tool, and identifies specific areas where your themes may be causing slow loading times. Once installed, you can run tests and see reports of total time to render Liquid as well as which elements contribute the most to the total page render time. 

25. Fast Load Times

This free online course from Google Developers collects 41 different learning resources that will teach you all you need to know about website performance. From introductory lessons on how to measure site speed to setting performance budgets and asset optimization, this course covers all the aspects of performance in an easy-to-digest format.

You might also like: How to Refactor a Shopify Site for Javascript Performance.

General front-end development resources

developer resources: woman speaking into a mic

26. Syntax

We’re huge fans of Wes Bos here at Shopify. His podcast, co-hosted with Scott Tolinski, is a firm favorite with our devs. Their combined experience not only in front-end development but also in creating learning resources makes this a super insightful podcast, and covers a variety of topics including security, headless websites, developer tooling, and more. A recommended listen for sure!

27. Code Ecommerce

Created by design agency Up at Five, this set of two video tutorials are currently free to access (for a limited time), and cover essential topics around theme customization and app development for Shopify. The theme tutorial demonstrates how to integrate React.js with Shopify’s Storefront API to create a simple Product page and cart pop-out. But if app development is more your thing, you can learn how to create a ‘Lookbook’ app that allows merchants to choose from photos and add text using Rails, the Shopify App Gem, and Polaris.

28. Developer Tea

Developer Tea is a podcast with bite-sized episodes, designed to fit into your tea break. Recommended by Christopher Marlow, Senior Web Developer at Shopify, he says, “one of the reasons I really like the podcast is because the episodes are short and concise at 8—12 minutes each. It covers a lot of developer topics without talking directly about code, like productivity, career goals, mentoring, and pairing.” 

29. How Should Designers Learn to Code?

This two-part guide from the brilliant folks at Smashing answers the age-old question of how designers should learn to code, with an accessible entry point that fans of Helvetica can use to get up and running quickly. The guide gives a great overview on terminal commands, regular expressions, and how to work with text editors, so it’s bound to be an essential resource to any designers who’d like to gain some programming skills.

30. The Default Podcast

Last, but by no means least, the Default podcast is a great way to keep up to date with Shopify developer news from veterans Keir Whitaker and Keiran Masterton. In each episode, both experts examine API changes and feature rollouts, and bring you insights from agency owners, app developers, and Shopify team members. Always engaging, these two gentlemen have their fingers on the pulse, making this an unmissable podcast. 

You might also like: A CSS Grid Framework for Shopify Collection Pages.

Developer resources: expand your skills, improve yourself, and win more clients

There’s no shortage of developer-focused learning resources when you’re looking to diversify your skillset. This list is just the beginning—let us know what we missed!

Taking up a new skill or growing your knowledge in a specific area is never easy, and it’s even more difficult while dealing with a global pandemic. But hopefully, this article will help you find guidance and inspiration when navigating these unpredictable waters. Consider which areas you can improve in that will provide the greatest benefit for both you and your clients as you review the list of developer resources.

In the words of author Louisa May Alcott, “I am not afraid of storms for I am learning how to sail my ship.”

Have fun learning!





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Coronavirus Business Impact: A Startup Disaster or a Big Opportunity to Innovate?
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Coronavirus Business Impact: A Startup Disaster or a Big Opportunity to Innovate?


black swan of 2020” can be not only a big business disaster but also a big opportunity? We’re going to try to answer these questions here.

The Influence of The 2020 Economic Crisis on Businesses

All of us understand that it’s not an easy time ahead, and we’re here to cheer you up, highlighting not only the negative influences of the coronavirus outbreak but also some new opportunities that will arise for creative businesses. However, to be able to go through the best scenarios we should also be ready for all the worst ones that may play out soon. That’s why we are going to consider several current negative impacts of the global issue that have already touched industries.

The decrease in business activity

Since the virus is rippling wider, companies in the USA, China, and Europe have experienced a significant drop in business activity and are at risk of missing their plans set for 2020. It may make a tangible impact on the global economy this year.

Supply chain disruptions

The unprecedented lockdown in China has caused many issues and disruptions in the supply chains of many companies. Hardware companies, as well as direct-to-consumer ventures, are suffering now from the problem of losing their main supplier. Startups that have started producing their products in China are at risk of experiencing considerable damages or disappear at all. Enterprises are actively thinking about how to find alternative suppliers.

Cancelled meetings

Many partnerships that have seemed to be certain aren’t closed, many meetings are canceled due to the prohibition of flights and travels between the cities and countries. Many in-person meetings have been postponed indefinitely, and a lot of sales haven’t happened. Of course, all this has been reflected in business. 

Changes in fundraising

Entrepreneurs expect to see private financing decreased, at least slightly, as it happened during economic downturns in 2001 and 2009. Many angels and seed investors say that the risks are now higher and they need to put even more analysis in their investment cases. Consequently, it may cause a slight decrease in investing startups and initiatives pitched by medium-sized companies.

However, as we could see it during the global economic crisis in 2008-2009, the numbers of angel investors may not go down but remain the same or even increase. What will decrease indeed is the size of investments.

It is quite a surprising phenomenon of crisis times. It is caused by the fact that economic downturns are often characterized by appearing new customer needs, new products, new niches, and new startups that are bold enough to implement these risky yet intelligent and timely innovations. Many investors willingly fund such companies.

How to Turn The COVID-19 Crisis Into a Big Opportunity for Business?

Many of today’s unicorns have been founded or built during recessions or downturns – resource scarcity can be a source of creativity and pivoting”Inka Vemo, Founder & Managing Partner at Voima Ventures.

The crisis is not only the time for business damages and failures. It may be the fertile period for forward-thinking companies and startups with an incredible ability to adapt to changes and inject business models and strategies with immediate innovations. It’s high time for those who are ready to give up the old patterns and move forward to the new era of innovation

Businesses that are ready to timely optimise business models, marketing, product design and development for changes in the modern market will take advantage in 2020. It’s also essential to strengthen your business potential hiring the right product development company that can grab your visions and is ready to innovate too.

All the entrepreneurial masterminds may admit that it’s the time of turbulence for most of the businesses ahead. However, it’s also the right moment to listen to your target audience as diligently as never before because it is ready to tell you about its new needs and wants that have arisen under conditions of the economic downturn. 

Your old, current, and potential customers will provide you with those incredible hints to brilliant ideas that can boost your business even during crisis times. You can try to get these insights discovering the power of social media listening with new AI-driven SMM tools or simply conduct surveys and interviews for your customers. You can also ask your sales managers to start pitches with an a-few-question survey about what is the subject of the most significant anxiety for your potential customers right now.

The skills of listening and adapting to changes are the most valuable and demanded today. They allow businesses to find out what really matters for people in the current conditions and deliver the solutions that satisfy the needs that have become of vital importance today.

The Time of Innovators Is Now and Ahead

This time is challenging for all of us. Many people and businesses suffer from the negative consequences of the virus. However, we should be ready to be highly adaptable to changes and revive our lives, our businesses, and even the whole industries. The upcoming downturn is especially threatening to those who are affected by the massive fear and panic. Let’s optimise ourselves for new conditions and innovate.





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User centered design
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How to Use PWA and AMP for User Centered Design — Front End Development


In our previous post on creating user centered design flows, we saw how you can build a user centered design strategy for your clients and why it’s so impactful. A lot of what we covered in that article comes down on common sense: it makes sense to design user flows in a way that helps the user in their purchase journey. 

But if it’s so logical, why then is this not the standard way of doing things? Why aren’t all brands doing it? The answer lies in how software has evolved and how brands use technology. In this post, we will dive deeper into the technical challenges involved in putting the end customer at the center of design. Given how critical it is to the shopper purchase journey, we will also discuss building the mobile experience, from the perspective of the new technologies that are now at your disposal for implementing user centered design: PWA and AMP.

The technical challenges of a user centered design strategy

As important as it is, the challenges of building a user centered design strategy can deter brands and the designers, developers, and marketers who work with them. There are two main technical roadblocks they come up against.

1. Understanding the user

As we’ve said previously, the best brands have a deep understanding of how their customers interact with them, down to the last detail. In an ideal world, a brand wanting to implement user centered design would have all their customer data in one place, to better inform their design decisions. All their data from retail stores and online storefronts would feed a single data source. All business activities such as logistics, inventory management, fulfillment, customer support, and post-delivery experience would be controlled by a single source of truth. That way, building a coherent picture of the user journey would be straightforward. This, however, is far from what businesses really get, and the reason is quite fundamental.

“In an ideal world, a brand wanting to implement user centered design would have all their customer data in one place.”

Software is hard to build, and software companies consequently spend a large amount of time developing expertise in just one area. There are dozens of software providers each solving a unique problem. A business owner looking to understand their user now has to work with all these different providers for their data. Data is the new gold, and so software providers try to find all the ways possible to lock people into their ecosystem. This makes bringing data together a nightmare for business owners. 

Thankfully, things have changed significantly now. Software providers have realized that integration is a fundamental software need. Excellent silos are silos nonetheless. 

2. Finding the right solution for the problem

Once a potential point of friction is discovered in the user journey, the next step is to identify potential solutions. For example, if you find out that shoppers are dropping off during the checkout flow, you then need to think of ways in which that flow can be smoothed out. 

Given how ubiquitous software is today, it’s generally not hard to find solutions to a problem. The challenge instead is often in getting the new solution to play well with the rest of the infrastructure. The new solution has to push relevant data into the existing CMS, has to ingest data and events from the rest of the system, has to maintain the overall branding and positioning of the business, and has to abide by the legal requirements. Finding solutions that do all of these is hard. 

You might also like: Creating User Centered Flows in Ecommerce Design.

The main principles of support user centered design

Now that we understand why implementing user centered design is hard for brands, let’s go over the principles that you should follow while designing technical solutions to help change that. 

1. Build a headless/API-first product

Competitive advantage is necessary for businesses. However, if natural forces demand a different approach to building software, you should be willing to tweak what constitutes your competitive advantage. More and more, it makes sense to give the business owner complete control over their data. This means that right from the beginning, there should be an emphasis on building a generic layer of software that allows third-party software to consume your data, given that’s what merchants want today.

At Swym, we call this our eventstream. As events such as adding products to a wishlist, adding products to a cart, or purchasing products happen on a store, we push these events to the eventstream. Now, other pieces of software can subscribe to this eventstream and consume the data that they are interested in. This generic implementation allows us to extend our integrations with several different providers effortlessly. Whenever a merchant request comes in, all we need to do is subscribe to our eventstream and push the data that the merchant is interested in into the provider’s APIs.

The UI layer should also build on the same guidelines. Merchants using your software should have complete control over the UI manifestation of the software. When a merchant is implementing a user centered design strategy, they will have a very clear picture of the user flows they need. Like we discussed in the last post, these flows are unique. Software we build should have the flexibility to accommodate these custom flows. At Swym, we have an extensive JavaScript API that allows merchants to dictate the complete user experience of our apps. Additionally, our UI layer is built using modular components, each of which can be overridden both with respect to the look and feel and with respect to the business logic.

2. Surface usable data

To help merchants build a user centered design strategy, it’s important for you to think about what data points the merchant might need to get the complete picture of what the user did. For example, whenever we push data about a wishlist event on the eventstream, we also add baseline product data to the event. This is important because the merchant might want to know what price the customer saw when they wishlisted a product. 

“The best way to surface usable data is to understand what the merchant intends to do with the data downstream.”

We have iterated with merchants several times on the data they need, and we have seen that the best way to surface usable data is to understand what the merchant intends to do with the data downstream. We have seen some very interesting use-cases come up during such discussions.

You might also like: Research 101: How to Conduct Market Research for Your App.

3. Document your API

An undocumented API is as good as no API at all. For a third party software provider, your software should be easy to integrate into. We have seen time and again that APIs that are well documented and that are available to go look at and play with tend to be loved by developers. 

4. Aid with buyer education

In our experience, helping buyers understand how to use your product is very important if your product is buyer-facing. At Swym, we saw this first hand when we built a feature that allows buyers to create collections in wishlists. With this feature, buyers can create sublists within the wishlist and organize their wishlisted items in whichever way they like. 

Most of the merchants who used this product wrote help text or sent an email to their shoppers to tell them that this new feature had come up. Our educational material helps buyers better understand how to take advantage of this feature.

Without thinking deliberately about shopper education, even great features can underperform. There are several ways of tackling this problem, including creating short onboarding flows, adding help text to icons, providing helpful error messages, creating short video tutorials, etc.

You might also like: 10 Ecommerce Trends That Will Set Your Client’s Brand Apart in 2020.

Technical implementation of user centered design

Now that we have talked about the general challenges of implementing a user centered design strategy and how you can help merchants create one, let’s look at a specific example: building a mobile experience for a merchant through the lens of user centered design. This example will highlight the methodology and the technical details of how technologies need to interplay to give that wow experience to shoppers.

Understanding the problems today

Let’s start with the extremely overused but the most accurate representation of any ecommerce business’s audience: a typical sales funnel.

The sales funnel follows this path:

  • Acquisition: Users discover a site from a Facebook or Instagram ad, or a blog post the merchant published, or a video the merchant uploaded on YouTube. 
  • Conversion: If they like what they see, they make a purchase or agree to give the merchant their contact information. Once they do, we know they are interested in the offering, so we try to market more products to them. 
  • Retention: If the buyer had a positive experience, they might even become the brand’s ambassadors and talk about it on social media. They might suggest products the merchant should add to the inventory, features they should add to the site, or report bugs that they encounter.

Let’s dissect what the shopper expects at each of these phases with respect to user experience. 

1. When the shopper is just jumping in

When the user is just jumping off from social media, the top priorities are the following:

  • Show the landing page quickly. This is a user who was interrupted in the midst of a social media session and might be interacting up-close with your client’s brand for the first time. First impressions matter. Making sure that first page loads fast is critical. If it doesn’t, it is highly likely that you’ll lose the shopper even before they saw the merchant’s offerings.
  • Show them what they came for. It’s important to match the shopper’s intent based on what they clicked on with what you show them when they land on the site. This is easier said than done. You might be running several different campaigns concurrently, targeted at different audiences and with different CTAs. One campaign might be to help the merchant’s email contact list, another to promote a new product, and some other might be trying to drive traffic to a recently published blog. With such diversity of campaigns being run, it’s very difficult to present the right copy to the right user, especially when the merchant is running on a tight performance budget. Despite these challenges, it’s important. Landing site copy that matches the shopper’s intent is shown to convert much better than general landing pages.

2. When the shopper is learning more

This is the stage when the user returns to your client’s site to view more products. Sometimes they are pulled back to the site through an email marketing campaign, Google search, or direct lookup. In these situations, the following are top priorities:

  • Show the page fast. This remains a priority, given that 53 percent of traffic will bounce if nothing shows up for 3 seconds. This time though, the loading challenge is quite different from the last time. As the user is flowing deeper into the sales funnel, they are looking to explore everything on offer, including all the collections, offers, rewards programs, shipping times, etc.
  • Make shopping easy. What this means to the user comes in two forms:
      • Extensive personalization: Repeat visitors to a site expect extensive personalization: they want shipping address autofills on their future purchases, they would like recommendations based on their browsing activity, they want to be notified when an out-of-stock product back in stock, and they would like this context to flow into whichever medium they are on.
      • Make browsing easy: Users expect tools that aid their exploration, such as search, wishlists, recently-viewed, social feeds (eg. Instagram), reviews, and even Q&A widgets. 

Now that we have seen what the user’s expectations are, the next question is to determine how far along we are, and whether shoppers are getting the experience they expect.

The danger of a one size fits all approach

We have been working with ecommerce merchants for more than four years now, and time and again, we have seen one single culprit for lousy user experiences.

“From a user centered design perspective, user experience should be dictated by where the user is in the sales funnel.”

All too often, sites are optimized for a single type of user. Most commonly, for a repeat visitor. Ad campaigns drive traffic to a product page that has all the features available on the site. This leads to unnecessary loading of assets that the user is just not ready for. Users are left struggling through pages that take forever to respond, when all they really wanted was see the product images real quick. There is no gatekeeper that dictates what should load and what shouldn’t, and the result is a user experience that suffers from bloat. From a user centered design perspective, user experience should be dictated by where the user is in the sales funnel.

AMP and PWA: A path forward

In the front end development stack, two technologies are making the rounds for revolutionizing user experience. They are Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) and Progessive Web Apps (PWA). 

AMP was written off when it came out as “mostly static” and was adopted mainly by media outlets, while PWA was crowned as the next leap in the pursuit of a better UX for interactive experiences. However, PWA wasn’t seen as a replacement for a mobile app. Many wrote it off as a Google thing that would only work on Android and even then, only with limited use-cases.

Over time, it has emerged that both these technologies have a lot more personality to them than anticipated and their boundaries aren’t written in stone. When they were originally launched, each had a specific purpose that it was intended for. The understanding of the use cases that they each help address has evolved, and these technologies have refined themselves to adapt to those needs. The initial judgements passed on their inadequacy for certain types of applications are therefore no longer accurate. Let’s take a fresh look at both AMP and PWA and ask ourselves how they can help us build that ideal experience we talked about in the first part of this blog series.

AMP thought experiment

Assume we were tasked with making an ecommerce site fast for a first-time visitor. What would we do? 

We would probably start stripping things down. We’ll ask “do we really need this” for every script on the site, every stylesheet, every image, and every API call. We might even throw everything away and start from scratch to try and build the same facade as before, with as little as possible. We will try to optimize along two dimensions:

  1. Minimize time taken to perform the first contentful paint
  2. Minimize time to interactive by reducing the JavaScript evaluation that needs to happen on page load

To keep the process focused, we might set a budget and set the threshold time-to-load to 3 seconds or less. This budgeting will force us to make some tough calls—our fancy animations might have to go, all the analytics widgets we had added to the site might have to go, and most of our script tags might have to go.

This is exactly what AMP does. The optimizations we stated above are in line with the two biggest architectural decisions AMP takes:

  1. Custom CSS has to be below 50 kilobytes. This allows AMP to quickly calculate the position and size of elements to be rendered on the page, leading to a faster first contentful paint.
  2. AMP pages can have no script tags. Script tags lead to slower page loads since the browser has to spend a lot of time evaluating the JavaScript. Also, if the rendering of DOM elements is controlled by JavaScript, the user has to wait until all the script tags are fetched and evaluated. This is the primary contributor to lousy experiences. 

It’s funny that this is where the web started—mostly static pages with very little or no JavaScript. As the web began to unravel interaction, JavaScript began to do more and more work until we got to where we are today, where most websites simply fall flat in the absence of JavaScript. 

Coming back to AMP, coupled with a Google-backed cache, AMP helps websites gain near-instant load times (<1 second). In less than a year, you will find almost all media publications running an AMP site. Why then, has ecommerce not jumped on AMP?

You might also like: Indexable PWAs: Making Progressive Web Apps Perform for Users and Search Engines.

Reconsidering AMP for ecommerce

Some of ecommerce’s core scenarios depend largely on interaction. For example, a user will want to scroll through product images, pick a variant, add it to cart, etc. Also, ecommerce relies heavily on analytics—merchants measure every aspect of the user experience. This data is then used to fine tune the audience, build a personalization suite, and ultimately sell more. 

When AMP came out, pulling off these use-cases was simply not possible. Over time, AMP has added a thin layer of interaction controlled by the core library that allows developers to build image carousels and variant selectors, load data from remote sources, maintain application state, and add analytics. The rules are still quite stringent—building a truly interactive experience is well out of reach, and that’s exactly the point. It is a tool optimized for first-time visitors. As of today, all the use-cases that make sense for first-time visitors are supported by AMP.

PWA thought experiment

A shopper using a mobile app to browse a shopping site is three times as likely to convert as a shopper using the mobile website.

User centered design: conversions for mobile versus app
Conversion rates on a mobile browser versus an app (image from a Branch and Criteo webinar).

Clearly, mobile apps are able to provide an experience that’s superior to mobile sites. This can be credited to the following features of mobile apps:

  1. Superior performance supported by smart caching
  2. Offline browsing 
  3. Notifications support
  4. Ability to create richer experiences, such as an augmented-reality based try-on tool for glasses 

Unfortunately, apps as we know them suffer from three major shortcomings: 

    1. User has to download it from an app store. Apps live in their own ecosystem, which has very little to do with your mobile site. Even if a user lands on the mobile site, you are forced to redirect them to the app store to download the app. This is friction that many of your users won’t tolerate. 
    2. Users have a threshold for the number of apps on their phone. An average smartphone user installs close to 40 apps on their phone. This means thousands of apps compete to be one of those 40 spots. With apps like Uber and WhatsApp that have become a part of the daily lives of users, even fewer spots remain.
    3. Making apps is expensive. Building apps is fraught with platform-specific details and quirks. Supportability and version updates are a nightmare. For an ecommerce business to build and maintain a native app is a huge investment.

Let us take a step back and ask an important question: What is there today that ONLY mobile apps can do, and sites cannot?

Truth is, very little remains in that category. There are two advancements in the state-of-affairs of web development that has bridged the gap between native apps and websites. Firstly, with the service workers API, sites can run scripts in the background that are independent of a web page. This means push notifications, background data syncing, and offline support are all possible with the web today. Secondly, the Web App Manifest file provides one place for developers to add metadata about a web application. Pulling a few lines from the W3 spec:

“Using this metadata, user agents can provide developers with means to create user experiences that are more comparable to that of a native application.”

This means websites have everything they need to become installable, offline-friendly, fast, and interactive. If that’s the case, why can’t mobile sites become the new apps? Why can’t they unravel the rich experiences we until now have associated only with native apps? 

As you might have guessed, that is exactly what a Progressive Web App is. With a PWA, you can write native app-like user experiences with web technologies. No platform specific code, no browser quirks. Additionally, PWAs don’t have to go through an app store review process. Users can discover your PWA right from your site.

User centered design: how PWA's are installed
How PWAs are installed.

PWAs for ecommerce

PWAs aim to make repeat visits great. They are optimized for engagement and interaction. This fits nicely with any ecommerce business’s most loyal user-base: the users who have interacted with your client’s business before and are looking for more. From the lens of giving the best experience to the user wherever they are in the funnel, PWAs open the doors to everything you might need to create wow experiences for repeat visitors. You can allow users to discover your client’s site right on their home screen, browse offline, receive notifications about products of interest, and even interact in the next generation of experiences such as trying out products in augmented reality.

PWAs and AMPs as the future

I hope this exercise brought some clarity around the thought process that goes into implementing a user centered design strategy. In the context of an entire ecommerce business operating across various channels, this becomes a far more complicated exercise with many more variables and technology options. With the next generation of software solutions that are API-first, it should become a lot easier to bring data together and build custom experiences for audiences. 

In the near future, user centered design is going to become the default way of building user experiences and when that happens, technology solutions have to reach a state where they are like Lego blocks: modular and flexible.

What are your thoughts on using these technologies to build user centered design experiences? Share your thoughts below.



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A CSS Grid Framework for Shopify Collection Pages — Shopify Theme Development


CSS Grid has become an increasingly popular technique for applying a layout to pages amongst other CSS frameworks. Developers can take advantage of this system to reduce complexity and define clear style rules. As we saw previously with our article on getting started with a CSS grid layout, a CSS Grid framework can be easily implemented on Shopify themes to design responsive page layouts based on rows and columns.

All pages of a Shopify online store can adopt CSS Grid, but one obvious touchpoint of any ecommerce site that can benefit from a robust and clean grid layout is the collection page. On collection pages, it feels natural that products are organized in a grid format, with rows and columns. So, if an option for creating a robust grid arrangement with a simple set of rules is possible, it’s worth exploring for your custom theme projects.

In this article, we’ll be looking at how to set up a grid layout for products on your collection pages, and how to use Shopify’s section settings to create customizable options in the online store editor. To get an idea of how this could look for your clients and so you can follow along with this CSS Grid tutorial, I’ve set up a test store which you can use to see the approach I’ve outlined in this tutorial. 

Creating a basic collection page layout 

Working with CSS Grid on a Shopify collection page will operate in very much the same way as how Grid works on a custom section—something we explored in CSS grid blog article. Thankfully, Shopify has excellent CSS grid support. The biggest difference when implementing a grid system on a collection page is that you won’t need to assign a class to each individual item. Note that if you aren’t extremely advanced with CSS, we recommend you read over our intro to CSS guide before going further.

Now, since products are automatically outputted in a loop as repeatable content items, it’s possible to apply the same class to all products that are associated with a collection. But first, let’s look at an example of a collection page with no styling. 

If you start off with a basic collection page setup, you’d likely have markup that looks like the following:

This will output the collection name as a header, and display the collection’s associated products with their image, name, and price. Without any styling, these products will appear in a vertical row by default. The size of the product images will be 300 pixels, as defined by the img_url filter.

To apply a CSS Grid framework to this group of products, you’ll first want to wrap the collection for loop in one main grid container, which is considered the parent container. Next, you can wrap the code for each individual product (the children) within its own individual container. 

Once these containers are added, the markup would appear as:

You might also like: A Beginner’s Guide to Sass with Shopify.

Applying the CSS Grid framework styling to the collection page 

Now that we have a basic collection page with a hierarchy of containers, you can divide the products into a grid layout by applying styles to the classes you’ve created. In the themes stylesheet file, you can add the following: 

Now, when you navigate to the collection page, you should see the products appearing in a grid, fitting into the available space on the screen. 

CSS grid framework: product grid example

As well as adding display: grid, you’ll notice we’re also using the grid-template-columns property, which can be used to define how many columns appear within the grid. Instead of defining a fixed value, we can use the repeat notation to create a rule that our products should appear as many times as they can fit inside the Grid.

Within the functional notation, auto-fit is displaying as many items on the line as possible, so on a full screen, we will see as many products appearing as there is space on the buyers screen. Finally, with minmax, we set up a rule that each cell should be a minimum of 300 pixels, and a maximum of one fraction of the grid-container.

When using this property, we need to ensure that the size defined in the minmax function matches, or is larger than, the size defined by the img_url Liquid filter in our markup. If the minmax function contains a smaller pixel size, you’ll see that product images become cut off as they won’t have enough space within the defined cell. 

Once our basic grid is appearing as expected, we can add additional CSS to tidy up the layout by adding margin space and positioning the products on the center of the page. If you’d like the gap between your columns and rows to be the same, you can define both with the grid-gap property, rather than defining each separately.

Once this is all set up, your stylesheet will look like this: 

While this is a simple example of how a CSS Grid framework can be applied to a collection page, I’d recommend that you experiment with different parameters to suit your client’s images and existing brand imagery. You can also use this approach to create grids on other pages, like the cart and adjust based on its unique characteristics. 

You might also like: How to Add a Social Media Marketing Icon to Your Theme.

Adding customizable grid options

The above approach works well for a grid that will display columns of products based on the size of the screen. But, what if you want to give the merchant some control over how the grid is represented?

In some cases your clients may want to customize the product page, and dictate how many products appear.

If your markup is contained in a section file, you can create section settings that will allow clients to customize the grid from the online store editor. A configuration of settings that allows your client to select a number of products on a row could look like this:

You can see here that the setting has a type of select which will output a drop down option on the online store editor. There is also a label property to describe the setting. 

The id property will not be visible on the editor, but we can reference this to create a variable. A common use-case for variables created with section objects is to reference them within the markup to change class names based on what settings are selected. 

To achieve this effect, we can use Liquid to output the value that is selected on the online store editor, as an attribute of the section object. This object will be expressed as {{ section.settings.product_number }}, and will output whichever value is the selected option.

One way of looking at it is that the id we assigned in the section setting becomes a “placeholder” for the value in the selected option. 

Then, we can take this object and append it to the class name of the collection. This will allow the class name to change based on the selected option, and you can create different CSS rules for each class name. 

When we append the variable to the existing collection class name it will look like:

<div class="grid-collection-{{ section.settings.product_number }}">

Here you can see that the section object references the id of the section setting. The value that is outputted by this section object is determined by the value selected on the online store editor. For example, if “three” is selected on our drop down box, this would cause the markup to output as:

<div class="grid-collection-three">

Now we can move back to our stylesheet and set up different CSS rules for grid-collection-two, grid-collection-three, and grid-collection-four. These would look like:

The grid-template-columns property determines how many columns will appear within the grid, and as a result, how many products will appear in a row on the collection page. So, each class will have a different value for the grid-template-columns property, that corresponds with its unique class name.

Now when a client navigates to the online store editor and selects an option for “Number of products per row”, the grid will adjust to reflect this:

CSS grid framework: grid edit gif

Finally, we can add media queries so that there are different CSS Grid rules for smaller screens. This will avoid the grid appearing with too many columns of products on smaller devices, which would result in products appearing off-screen. 

Each variation of the collection-grid class can be assigned different rules where the grid will drop to two or one columns. When this is set up on your stylesheet, it could look like this:

It’s likely that you’ll need to adjust the pixel sizes and values for the img_url filter based on the specific requirements of your client and the images they’re using. However, this method will show you how to get started using a CSS Grid system for collection pages on your own custom theme builds. 

You might also like: An Overview of Liquid: Shopify’s Templating Language.

Expanding the Grid

Once you’ve applied a CSS Grid to your collection pages, you can start to consider other areas on your Shopify themes where robust website layouts may apply. As an example, it’s possible to create image gallery sections in a grid, and add irregular shaped cells for variety. 

There are a range of opportunities when using CSS Grid on Shopify, and each one potentially adds further value to your theme projects. With the help of this article, you can expand the CSS Grid framework to all of your theme projects.



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