Shopify app challenge
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Introducing the Shopify App Challenge


Whether you’re a small business owner yourself, or you rely on one of the small businesses in your community, by now you’ve seen how COVID-19 is creating challenges for businesses everywhere, and posing a particularly large threat to merchants who previously relied on in-person sales. 

We’re working as fast as we can to create new resources for merchants facing tough times, but we also believe that app developers like you can play a big part in helping local merchants acclimate and find new ways of doing business.

That’s why we’re inviting all skilled app developers to lend their technical and problem solving skills to build solutions for merchants whose businesses are affected the most by COVID-19.

Introducing the Shopify App Challenge: Commerce and COVID-19.

What is the Shopify App Challenge?

Shopify app developers have always been skilled at finding new and innovative solutions to problems faced by merchants. Right now, more than ever, we need your help to address our merchants’ needs by building or improving apps for this new world, which is why we’ve introduced the Shopify App Challenge.

We’re inviting app developers to build unique, creative, and impactful solutions that help merchants, right now. 

Registration is now open. This competition requires a Shopify Partner ID, so sign up as a partner today if you haven’t already. Eligible apps must be created in your Partner Dashboard after 9:30AM EST on April 13, 2020.

All registrants will receive support and access to special workshops through the Shopify Community forums. Our expert panel of judges will then review and choose the winners. We’ll help winners grow their app businesses by:

  • Providing winning apps a share of a $100,000 USD prize pool, to a max of $20,000 USD per app
  • Awarding $1,000 USD in ad credits for the Shopify App Store, and a feature on the app store
  • Granting access to mentorship from the Shopify product and engineering team

While all developers are welcome to participate and we’ll be highlighting as many participants as we can, in order to be eligible to claim prizes you must be a legal resident of any one of: The United States (excluding Arizona, Florida, Maryland, Vermont, Delaware, Louisiana and Montana), the District of Columbia, Canada (excluding Quebec), The United Kingdom, New Zealand, or Denmark.

Learn more about the Shopify App Challenge by following the link below!

Register for the challenge

Need some ideas to get started?

In this article, we’ll take you through four key areas where we’ve witnessed increased merchant demand over recent weeks:

  • Shifting offline businesses online
  • Creating new ways to sell more
  • Creating and maintaining relationships with customers
  • Providing more delivery and pick up options

These are the areas where you can have the biggest impact right now as a Shopify app developer.

1. Shifting offline businesses online

Shopify app challenge: person holding credit card at computer

The mom and pop shop that’s been a staple in your neighborhood, the coffee shop you used to visit every morning, the bookstore with staff who knew every new release and underrated classic—these businesses are all now in danger of not only closing their doors today, but potentially being forced to close permanently because of decreased cash flow during COVID-19.

Fortunately, while these shops may have to close their physical stores for a while, they can still live on by generating business-critical sales with an online version of their store. If you’ve ever created an online store, however, you know that the process of setting up one can feel new and overwhelming, especially at a time when merchants already have so many new challenges on their plate. 

This is where apps come in.

We need your help to guide merchants to set up faster, and allow them to replicate online the things that make their brick and mortar stores so special. Here are some ideas to consider.

Store migration and inventory syncing

Existing stores are information-rich, with product SKUs, inventory counts, customer data, and sales information. Migration and other syncing apps already exist, but given that a more overwhelmed and potentially less technically-savvy audience may be turning to these apps soon, this is an opportunity to create simpler solutions, and a more turnkey approach to syncing store data.

Banners and page builders

Just as these merchants spent time on creating beautiful in-store experiences, they’ll be looking to add the same unique customization to their online store. Any apps that bring some of their offline shop’s personality online—even simple page builder or banner tools—can go a long way to help merchants recreate their store online. 

Product pages and imagery 

It’s time for window displays and well-arranged shelves to move online. Any apps that help merchants create beautiful and effective product pages (including things like detailed product descriptions, proper SEO keywords, and stunning product imagery) will translate that well-lit shelf display to the online world. 

You might also like: How to Move Your Client’s Brick and Mortar Business Online.

2. Creating new ways to sell more

Shopify app challenge: row of shopping carts against brown wall

Most offline retailers coming online already have inventory ready to sell. Some of these products may have a limited shelf life and need to be sold quickly. Other products may be high-touch, and require a lot of merchant explanation or customer support to get set up, like custom or customizable products. 

Merchants may also need to boost sales even more than usual right now, to create additional cash flow that will keep their business running for the long term. Here are some types of apps that can help.

Discounts, bundling, and upselling 

Consider building or improving an app that provides easy ways to discount or bundle products, or provide smart recommendations on “things you might also like.” This type of app can help merchants move inventory, and also make the buyer experience better by helping them find more of what they need all in one order. This is especially useful for merchants who need to move inventory quickly because of limited shelf life or storage space. 

Subscriptions and pre-orders

Especially during uncertain times, merchants may need some certainty and predictability around their revenue. Subscription packages and pre-orders are two examples of apps that help lock in sales now. Anything that encourages buyers to place future purchases will be a gift to merchants who are looking for recurring or guaranteed cash flow in the coming months.

Digital downloads

For service-based businesses or businesses selling services alongside their products, being able to sell digital products may be crucial for their business. Finding simple and beautiful ways to enable a great digital download experience for a buyer could be just the solution a merchant needs to stay afloat right now. 

3. Creating and maintaining relationships with customers

Shopify app challenge: smiling man wearing headphones

Daily habits, like purchasing a coffee from your favorite shop up the street, are being railroaded as COVID-19 requires those businesses to close up shop. As time passes, people develop new routines and purchasing habits, and it can be hard to reignite their old purchasing behavior. But customer love and loyalty doesn’t have to stop when a shop closes its doors.

Even if a shop is still open, there may be other issues weighing on relationships with customers and preventing purchases—variations in stock, shipping delays, and complex delivery arrangements, just to name a few. 

The old adage that “communication is key” still applies, but when you’re used to face-to-face conversations being your primary mode of messaging, how do you create new communication channels in light of today’s logistical challenges? Below are some different solutions.

Customer chat channels

From email to chat apps to SMS, different people have different preferred channels for staying in touch. Looking at ways to help merchants take advantage of every type of channel for marketing and support can be a huge opportunity for you. 

Smart alerts

There’s a lot of information overload happening right now. If a merchant has a really important update about a product that they need to convey, it’s important that they can find a way to push that message through to their customers in an effective and convenient way that encourages sales. 

You might also like: Important Product Updates for Shopify Partners.

4. Providing more delivery and pick up options

Shopify app challenge: woman holding a package on her doorstep

For offline retailers who primarily make sales through their cash register, delivery used to be as simple as passing the product from hand to hand in the store.

Now, many of those retailers are trying to navigate shipping and delivery for the very first time. This is a challenging task at the best of times, but COVID-19 is making it even harder. With people socially isolating and different condo and apartment buildings instituting new rules around couriers and deliveries, new custom delivery options are becoming necessary. Here are some apps that could help.

Store and pickup location finders

Healthy and able buyers may choose pickup as their preferred option to receive their goods. Apps that help merchants choose and communicate pickup points, timing, and additional instructions, are table stakes for optimizing these types of arrangements. 

Appointments for delivery and curb-side pickups

With new and inconsistent rules in different areas and types of residences around delivery, merchants and buyers need clear ways to establish how, when, and where items are to be dropped off or picked up.

Unboxing experiences

When a merchant can no longer rely on the charm of their offline store experience, they need to get creative to translate that personality to their online store. We need apps that make sure merchants’ brand and store experiences carry on while they sell and deliver in new ways. 

From custom packaging to freebie add-on selectors, packing and package customization apps can allow merchants to create an unboxing experience that’s consistent with their brand, and that will delight buyers as they unwrap their new purchases at home. Bonus points if the experience is so good that they can’t help but share with their social networks.

New challenges mean new opportunities for developers

We hope these four key areas inspire you to build new and improved solutions for merchants, but we know this list only scratches the surface. What are we missing? We welcome our developer community to continue challenging the status quo and improving the way merchants do business online. 

We believe that through the extensibility of Shopify’s platform, apps can be the very solution we need to help merchants around the world adapt, grow, and find new ways to thrive during these changing, challenging times. As always, and more than ever, we can’t do it without you. Register for the Shopify App Challenge, and help merchants face this challenging time.

Register for the challenge



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Introducing 15 Best New Portfolios, March 2020
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Introducing 15 Best New Portfolios, March 2020


Are you trapped in a fourth floor apartment listening to the guy next door serenade the block from his balcony with a saxophone he made from a length of rubber tubing and an old boot?

While people the world over very sensibly self-isolate, it’s still possible to be productive, why not work on your portfolio? Strap on your noise-cancelling headphones, turn on some white noise, and grab some inspiration from our monthly roundup of the best portfolios launched in the previous four weeks.

This month we see several previous trends still going strong. There’s a whole heap of color, masses of glitch effects, and the re-return of that old favorite, big bold typography. Enjoy!

 

Mees Verberne

Mees Verberne describes himself as a creative front-end developer and designer. He makes full use of the popular glitch trend to give his site some character, but what it really does well is obscure the banding in his gradients, giving him a nice sophisticated lighting effect.

mees-verberne

 

Sing-Sing

Adi Goodrich and Sean Pecknold founded Sing-Sing five years ago. Their award-winning work has a wonderful sense of color, with some genuinely original schemes in their design and film projects. The only criticism I would have is their hamburger menu, which isn’t immediately clear.

sing-sing

 

David Polonia

If you’re a fan of glitch effects, you’ll love David Polonia’s site. Normally I advise everyone to avoid sound on websites, but David’s portfolio benefits from the uplifting energy that it provides. There’s so much to explore here, it’s less a portfolio, and more of a showreel.

david-polonia

 

Mad River

Mad River’s work is the epitome of those hipster-lumberjack designs that have been popular for a few years. So naturally, for a British design agency, its site uses an illustration straight out of a US National Park guidebook. It is very beautiful though, and the site is a pleasure to browse round.

mad-river

 

Jamhot

Tank fly boss walk jam nitty gritty you’re listening to the boy from the big bad city — ahem. Clearly someone else has a fondness for 90s-era dance music. Jamhot exudes confidence, but why not when you have that animation on your site’s landing page. Seriously, I could look at this beauty for hours.

jamhot

 

Halbstark

I love the mountains, so Halbstark’s blend of big bold type, and eye onto a mountain scene grabbed me immediately. The zoom effect when your scroll down is sublime, and it leads to a very simple, carefully ordered portfolio that showcases everything you want to see in a reliable agency.

halbstark

 

Kota

I said there were plenty of glitch effects this month, and my favorite of them is Kota. Run your cursor over the screen and the large type, with the gradient, will distort and glitch in a liquid style. How’s that for packing in every single current design trend into one graphic?

kota

 

Mango Media

Some of the best sites this month combine several design trends, and Mango Media is one of them. Cursor over the blob and you’ll get bold gradients combined with the ever-popular glitch effect. And kudos for that hamburger menu icon that’s both original and perfectly clear.

mago-media

 

Deadwater

With a name like Deadwater, it’s no surprise that this French design agency has employed the liquid effect trend that’s been popular for the last few months. I love the way it’s been combined with a glitch effect to create the sense of being under water.

deadwater

 

Works

There’s a long-standing tradition in this series of selecting portfolios that make good use of the color yellow. Works certainly does that with an acid-toned site, that once you scroll uses a ticker-style band of the same color to indicate a selection. It ties everything together perfectly.

works

 

Electric Red

So, you think you’ve seen big type? Think again, you’ve not seen anything until you’ve seen Electric Red’s giant, 3D-rendered ring of spinning red text. The graphic grabs you as soon as you see it, but it’s also interactive, and it needs to be if you want to see enough to work out what it says.

electric-red

 

Studio Dot

Studio Dot obviously had to use a big dot on its site, behind which you’ll see a ton of glitchy graphics. What I really love are the links at the bottom of the homepage, which open without clicks when you hover over them for a while — usability aside I love that they tried to innovate in this area.

studio-dot

 

Vitali Zahharov

More animated gradients, this time curtesy of Vitali Zahharov. And yet more big bold typography, which is a trend that’s going to last throughout 2020 and beyond. Vitali’s a freelance designer based in Spain, and he’s worked for some really exceptional clients, scroll down to see selected work.

vitali-zahharov

 

Tubik Studio

Tubik Studio’s site devoted to its staff has tons of personality on display, from its juggling balls load bar, to the eccentric sound effects when you cursor over a thumbnail. Its main site is very goal-orientated, so showing off some personality contrasts well and makes it approachable.

tubik-studio

 

Superlab

If you read this series regularly you’ll know that I’m a sucker for animated abstract shapes. I guess I must have loved building blocks as a kid. Superlab’s are great because they tie everything together, without imposing themselves on the design. Nice bold, confident colors too.

superlab



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Introducing 15 Best New Portfolios, February 2020
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Introducing 15 Best New Portfolios, February 2020


Each month we publish a roundup of the best new portfolios, launched in the previous four weeks, by freelancers, agencies, and other creative professionals.

This month’s edition is packed with color and animation. Almost every site in this list animates some part of its interface, and many are dependent on animation entirely. You’ll find tons of great interaction design, but the real trend in 2020 is that personality is making its way back into our sites.

 

Sarah Drasner

Sarah Drasner’s personal portfolio site is wonderful because it conveys the simple joy she feels in technology. It opens with large type stating, “I Make Things.” But hover over it and you’ll find that she also says, “I Break Things”. The coded flowers that burst open for the break animation are delightfully rebellious. The whole site is packed with personality.

sarah_drasner

 

Six N. Five

The interaction design, especially the light-dark transition on Six N. Five’s portfolio site is something to behold. Cursor to the left, or right, to switch from studio work to films. Scroll through some exceptional work, and hover over thumbnails to see a preview. What we really love is the simplest of touches: when you scroll past the bottom of a case study, it automatically returns you to the home screen.

six_n_five

 

Franc

We have two agencies called Franc/Frank this month. This time, it’s an animation studio with a uniquely engaging, linear style. Franc’s work includes cell animation, which appears to be increasingly rare these days. The contemporary edge is provided by the very 2020 color palette, with bold hues cutting into softer, ice-cream pastels.

franc

 

Special Offer, Inc.

The portfolio for Special Offer, Inc. could be a prototype for the colorful brutalism trend that we’ve carried over from 2019. The red on orange typography is by most measures, a real no-no, but as a way of searing the site into your eyeballs it does an awesome job. The overwhelming amount of content is part of the confident attitude, a minimalist site just isn’t right for many agencies, and it’s great we have so many options in 2020.

special_offer

 

Sandy Dauneau

Sandy Dauneau’s portfolio is centered around her beautifully emotive animation, with a slider that offers various projects to enjoy. It features some really expressive typography, but nothing here outshines her delicate, and expertly observed animation. Make sure you check out her showreel, which really convey’s the best of her current work.

sandy_dauneau

 

David William Baum

It’s difficult for photographers to come up with new ways of presenting their work. There’s only so many ways you can present a grid of thumbnails. The portfolio of David William Baum does an excellent job of solving this, with a moving grid of photos that responds to your cursor, then a stack of images to scroll through when you click a set, which feels a lot like flicking through a collection of printed hand-held photos.

david_william_baum

 

Frank

When we’re designing portfolios, it’s easy to get carried away with all kinds of different effects like liquid effects and hover states. Fancy effects help get you noticed by design agencies, but if you’re a design agency selling to business, what works is simplicity. Frank has done an amazing job of keeping its portfolio simple, not because simplicity like this is difficult, but because it’s brave.

frank

 

Corey Haggard

Corey Haggard has taken more of a traditional single-pager approach to his portfolio. He’s hopped on the out-sized typography trend, and if you click on any of the thumbnails on his site you’ll be rewarded with a flag-style enlarge effect, but basically this is a no-nonsense portfolio that shows off some inspiring work, and is well-worth a few minutes browsing.

corey_haggard

 

Victor Costa

Victor Work 20’ is the 2020 portfolio of Victor Costa, a Brazilian designer/developer based in Toronto. Scroll through and you’ll find some nice flag effects on the portfolio thumbnails. What we really like is the cool wavy line transitions as you scroll from one area of the site to the next — it’s an awesome way to section sites, without subjecting us to hard, horizontal lines.

victor_costa

 

Davide Baratta

Davide Baratta’s site is one of the new breed of portfolio sites that really only work well on touch screens. If you check it out on a tablet, or a large-screen mobile device, it’s awesome. The simple slide back and forth, with taps for further exploration, feels like a native experience. A lot of time and effort has gone into making this site feel effortless. There’s also some great lettering in there.

davide_baratta

 

Pierre Mouchan

It’s all about generative art these days, and Pierre Mouchan’s site is no exception. With a nod towards out-sized typography, what really grabs your attention is the giant pulsing blob in the center of the screen; it’s enough to trouble Steve McQueen. Each blob on the site represents a project and you can click on each for more info. It even works surprisingly well on mobile.

pierre_mouchan

 

A Color Bright

It’s all very well presenting beautiful animation if that’s your focus, but what if your focus is on user experience? A Color Bright is a Berlin-based design agency that provides UX/UI design, product development, brand growth, and other digital design. Its portfolio is all about the potential of the user, with a focus on the dynamics of the team you’ll be working with if you hire them.

a_color_bright

 

The Mill

The Mill’s site is a visual overload of motion design, VR, animation, and video. It works as a collection precisely because the lack of hierarchy allows you to delve in on a whim. Each video thumbnail links through to a case study, and the quality of the clients (Nike, Jeep, HBO, Spotify…) means that wherever you click you’ll be rewarded with a high-profile project.

the_mill

 

Oxana Bayra

Oxana Bayra’s portfolio opens with glitch-effect artwork that’s growing increasingly popular. Cursor over one of the crystalline objects — each of which features expertly coded artwork — and the glitch-effect grows stronger. Bayra’s won dozens of awards for her generative art and design work, and much of it is on display in her portfolio.

oxana_bayra

 

Kevin van der Wijst

Kevin van der Wijst is a digital designer based in Valencia, and you can feel the influence of that sunny Spanish city in his site. In recent decades Valencia has become known for some of the most extraordinary public architecture in the world, and the geometric shapes of van der Wijst’s portfolio echo the shapes of sunlight on buildings. If you cursor over it, you’ll see there’s a liquid mouse trail effect, as if the buildings were reflected in pooled water.

kevin_van_der_wijst



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Introducing The New BuzzSumo YouTube Analyzer
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Introducing The New BuzzSumo YouTube Analyzer


BuzzSumo has been synonymous with content marketing insights for over five years and in that time content marketing has evolved.

Encompassing new techniques and strategies, we built out influencer identification functionality to help you collaborate with important members of your target communities, we added more analysis for platforms such as Facebook as more content became hosted natively, and as the content floodgates opened we built tools that helped you uncover content ideas to stand out from the crowd and bring value to your audience.

In that time another trend was bubbling away. A trend that we are addressing today.

The explosion of video.

The stats back this up. Data from Wyzowl’s Stat of Video Marketing Survey suggests 85% of businesses use video as a marketing tool, with YouTube being the most popular platform for marketers with 85% of them using it, followed by Facebook video at 79%.

Impressive numbers, almost sounds a little saturated, right?

Exactly the same problem our users have been tackling with BuzzSumo for years in their written content marketing efforts.

Competition doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take part, it just means you’ll have to be a little more thoughtful in your approach. Video content is expensive and time consuming to create and difficult to adapt or change later on in its life, meaning getting your strategy right upfront is even more important than ever.



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Introducing Marketing Insight: fast feedback that enables marketers to put customers first
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Introducing Marketing Insight: fast feedback that enables marketers to put customers first


Marketing Insight empowers marketers with the on-demand customer feedback they need to drive revenue and ensure their brands are making an emotional connection with customers.


Marketers play a central role in the success of modern companies—connecting products and services to customers. At the same time, they must balance business priorities like improving brand reputation, increasing customer loyalty, generating demand, driving revenue, and much more. Not to mention, the scope of responsibilities marketers face has only expanded as organizations attempt to keep up with the ever-evolving needs of the customer in this Experience Economy.

This leaves marketers little time to make decisions, often forcing them to rely on hunches gleaned from historical data and trends. Although analytics can help, they can’t explain what customers are thinking, let alone what they need. That’s important information. To capture these actionable customer insights, marketers turn to traditional market research that typically takes far too long to fit within the already tight timelines marketing organizations are challenged with.

So how can we empower marketers to be the driving force behind a customer-centric (even obsessed) organizational mindset with what little extra time they have?

Introducing Marketing Insight

Marketing Insight, currently in private beta, is designed for marketers to generate customer feedback and actionable insights for the most pressing strategic, creative, and analytical marketing questions. Built on top of our powerful research platform, and a continuation of our Insight Apps strategy—first announced with the launch of Product Insight—Marketing Insight empowers marketers with the on-demand customer feedback they need to drive revenue and ensure their brands are making an emotional connection with customers.

The best part? Our Insight Apps are designed for anyone to use (not just trained researchers), so businesses can scale insights throughout their organization to put the voice of the customer in the hands of anyone focused on delivering better customer experiences.

Marketing Insight Dashboard

How Marketing Insight helps marketing teams

Marketing Insight helps marketers learn directly from their customers at every stage of their journey, enabling them to fine-tune awareness, conversion, or loyalty campaigns based on a richer understanding of their target audience.

Through pre-defined tests that can be launched in moments, and pre-formatted reports that immediately identify key insights, marketing teams have the information they need—in hours instead of weeks—to build segmentation strategies, campaign designs, brand messaging, ad creatives, and more without the need to watch hours of video.

Built around two breakthrough features

Like Product Insight before it, Marketing Insight will leverage Quick Answers and Live Conversation as the two mechanisms for capturing customer feedback.

  • Quick Answers: tests designed and written by research professionals, to collect customer feedback and provide guidance to the most common marketing problems. The tests launch in minutes, with just a few inputs from marketers, and a highlight reel of customer feedback is automatically generated.
  • Live Conversation: UserTesting recruits and schedules live video interviews with target customers—usually in under a day. Marketers also have the option of interviewing their own customers.

Research can seem intimidating, time-consuming, and costly, but these hurdles are easily addressed with the Marketing Insight platform. Now, marketing teams are able to move away from making hunch-based decisions as they deliver brand experiences customers want to engage with time and time again.

For marketers interested in participating in our Beta, please sign up and our product team will reach out to you.



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