Tag Archives: Website

Should My Business Consider Accepting Cryptocurrencies? An Overview

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Recently, Bitcoin has flooded the news cycle, rising in value from about 1,000 per bitcoin on January 1st 2017 to upwards of $16,000 as of December 7th 2017. Square, a prominent payment app, recently announced they will pilot a program that allows for Bitcoin trade. With Bitcoin on the rise, the all-important question becomes: Should your app or website accept cryptocurrencies?

Over the next several weeks, we will endeavor on a series of blogs to answer all of the questions necessary to make that decision, including:

  1. What cryptocurrencies are, how they work, and why they are important.
  2. The pros and cons of accepting cryptocurrencies on your app or website
  3. Choosing your cryptocurrency wallet.
  4. What Blockchain is, how it’s important to cryptocurrencies and its other revolutionary applications.
  5. An exploration of why Bitcoin is the most popular cryptocurrency and of  other prominent cryptocurrencies.

In order to explore cryptocurrencies, we must start at the beginning. The first successful cryptocurrency was Bitcoin, created in 2008 by the still unknown inventor Satoshi Nakamoto. While Nakamoto’s identity is still a mystery, the significance of their invention is not. They initially announced it as a “Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System”. Past attempts at creating digital currency involved a decentralized system, however, Nakamoto attempted to decentralize the currency by mimicking the technique of Peer-to-Peer file sharing networks.

In order for a payment network to function, there must be a ledger to prevent fraudulent double spending—forged transactions. In the physical world, banks function as the central entity which keeps records about balances. With Bitcoin, Nakamoto created an alternate system. Since the network is decentralized, every entity on the network must have a list with all transactions to check if future transactions are valid. Not only that, there must be an absolute consensus about the records in order for them to become a part of an immutable record of historical transactions known as the “Blockchain”.

Nakamoto set in place a rule that only “miners” can confirm transactions. Miners take transactions, verify them in exchange for a token of cryptocurrency, validate them, and spread them in the network so that every node adds them to the database and the transaction becomes a part of the blockchain. The only way to create a valid Bitcoin is for a miner to complete this function.

Technically, anyone can be a miner. Since there is no central authority to regulate mining and prevent a ruling party from abusing it, Nakamoto set a rule that miners need to invest some of their computing power to the solving of a cryptographic puzzle using the SHA 256 Hash algorithm, in order to verify transactions. Without getting too technical, the miner must complete a cryptographic puzzle in order to build a block and add it to the blockchain, the reward for which is a specific number of Bitcoins depending on the difficulty of the puzzle. Miners compete to solve these problems and the first to solve it and validate the transaction receives the reward. This is part of the consensus that no peer can break.

While the system is complex, the use of the currency is ultimately quite simple. As outlined in BlockGeeks overview, 5 properties separate Bitcoin transactions from other transactions:

  • Bitcoin transactions are irreversible.
  • They are not tied to real-world identities but to pseudonymous addresses. This is one of the reasons Bitcoins are frequently used on the black market.
  • Transactions are enacted instantly and are global.
  • Cryptocurrencies are secured by a cryptography, making them extremely secure.
  • Without a central authority, cryptocurrencies are permissionless to use.

Cryptocurrencies often limit the supply of tokens, which is true of Bitcoin. The token supply of Bitcoin decreases in time and will reach its final number sometime around 2140. The monetary supply is controlled by a schedule written in code—in other words, purely through mathematics.

Whereas the statement on your bank account represents a debt owed to you by the bank, Bitcoins are not indicative of debts, they are literal currency with inherent value like a diamond. And the value of that currency has skyrocketed in the past year. Only 10 years after its creation, Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies are currently in an inchoate stage, making it all the more important for intelligent citizens to track their progress and global impact.

Next week, we will review the pros and cons of accepting cryptocurrencies through your app or website. Stay tuned!

SEO Pro Tips: Best Practices for Meta Descriptions

Last week, we explored the art of perfecting title tags for SEO dominance. This week, we’ll explore another vital meta tag: the meta description.

The meta description is the text that appears below the link in SERPs, as below:

Meta descriptions should be about 135 – 160 characters long, although Google has tested longer snippets. Any time quotes are used in the meta description, Google cuts the text off. To prevent meta descriptions from being cut off, it’s best to remove all non-alphanumeric characters.

Google uses meta descriptions to pull preview snippets on SERPs and return results when searchers use advanced search operators to match meta tag content, but unlike title tags, meta descriptions do not directly influence Google’s ranking algorithms for normal web search since meta description keywords are not ranked.

While meta descriptions do not directly affect SEO, they do indirectly impact it. The prominence of meta descriptions in SERPs makes them a very valuable UX component and a tool for enticing searchers. While keywords do not affect ranking, they are bolded in the meta-description, which attracts the eye and can help influence a searcher’s decision to click. Thus the use of keywords in meta descriptions can be beneficial to increasing Click Through Rate (CTR). The Click-Through-Rate is the ratio of searchers who click on a page compared to how many searchers see it. CTR is highly valued in search rankings. Since meta descriptions are one of the first things that a searcher will see, they can influence them to click, increasing CTR and boosting SEO.

The ideal meta description articulates the value proposition which a company or web page offers in a precise way while taking into consideration the competition that the page is up against in SERPs. It assumes an active voice and includes a call to action. Web developers can enrich a meta description by using schema markups like star ratings, customer ratings, or product information, to increase the appeal. See below for example:

Image via Google Support

Sometimes meta descriptions are unnecessary. Moz advises if a page is targeting between one and three high volume search terms or phrases, it’s best to write a meta description targeting users performing those searches. If the web page is targeting long-tail traffic (three or more keywords, like a blog with hundreds of entries), it may be best to let the search engines extract the relevant text from the site since they will pull text specifically targeting the user’s search. A blog might be targeting one audience in their keywords, but have content on so many topics, they can be found through any number of search terms. A meta description specified for a page with a lot of content may detract from the relevance that the search engine can create organically by pulling a text description from the page which is relevant to the specific search.

Like title tags, repeating meta descriptions or making them incomprehensible will result in penalization from Google. Meta descriptions can be tricky since they are longer and a bad meta description can be worse than none at all. With the right title tags and website content, meta descriptions can be a major UX tool to drive traffic to a web page.

SEO Pro Tips: Perfecting the Title Tag

Over 100 billion searches per month are made on Google worldwide. Search Engine Optimization (or SEO) has become one of the top marketing disciplines for anyone trying to drive web page traffic and digital revenue.

Title tags are one of the most important facets of SEO. Title tags are the titles of web pages that display in search engine results pages (SERPs) and as the clickable headline for a given result. They are the most obvious element in a search result and are pulled to the forefront of SERPs (Search Engine Result Pages). They display as below:

Social networks use title tags to determine what to display in the link preview when you share a page:

Title tags are extremely important for SEO, social sharing, and UX. They are one of the major on-page SEO elements. Keywords in title tags will factor heavily into a web page’s rank in any keyword-based search query.

Below find some of the best practices for crafting the perfect title tag.

KEYWORD EFFECTIVELY: Since title tags have a direct affect on SEO, effective keywording is crucial. Putting important keywords in the front of the title tag will increase SEO rankings, while keywords and search phrases at the end of the title tag will be less of a factor. For this very reason, it is best to put a company or website name at the end of the title tag, unless that name is an important keyword phrase. Keyword stuffing, or overloading keywords without making sense, will result in penalization. Ultimately, keywording effectively means writing clearly to an intended audience while factoring in important search phrases.

OPTIMIZING LENGTH: Title tags are not measured by length, but by a 600-pixel limit. Pixels do not equate to characters since certain letters require more pixels to compose than others. 600 pixels generally equate to about 50-60 characters. Measuring pixels can be made easy with this pixel length measurement tool by Search Wilderness.

RESEARCH, RESEARCH, RESEARCH: Statistics show 48% of marketers worldwide identified keyword/phrase research as the most effective SEO tactic. Effective research means honing in on your audience and enacting relevant keyword searches to observe the organic search competition. It is also important to note the inorganic competition: promoted ads for web pages that are boosted to the top of searches by Google AdWords.

Having a solid understanding of what a web page is up against in search engines helps web developers optimize their pages to stand out in the face of the competition. Since the competition and search rankings are constantly changing, research is an ongoing process. 34% of marketers cite frequent website updates as a key to their success.

PIPES “|”: Pipes can be used to punctuate and divide sentiments while minimizing punctuation and word count. See below for an example:

As with any copywriting, writing for an audience is crucial. Since the Title Tag is often the first thing a search user will see about your website, it is ultimately very important that it clearly communicates the subject of the web page and entices the intended searcher. Effective title tags are the first step on the way to SEO dominance.

Stay tuned for next time when we explore how to write an effective meta description!

5 Trendy Web Design Techniques to Modernize Your Website

In the age of digital commerce, it’s vital to have a spiffy website. Even if a business does sell its products online, the first impression customers have of a brand often stems from the website. A messy website brings to mind a messy product. In this post, we will examine how 2015’s upcoming web design trends present ways in which to improve websites to make them look modern.

1.    Nail Your Landing Page

The landing page is the first impression a visitor has of a website, thus it’s a great opportunity to dazzle the viewer. Many websites have landing pages which are not only physically big, with imagery and design taking up most of the screen, but also large in metaphorical scale. Check out the website of Born Group, a creative media company with an extremely ambitious landing page.

Born sells something intangible—creative services. Their product is the ability to provoke emotion. As a creative agency, it’s vital for them to establish that they produce emotionally riveting content. The image of the ape is not only beautifully photographed, it’s powerful. If a prospective customer were on the verge of hiring Born Group, they would indubitably be swayed in the right direction from the moment they hit the landing page.

2.    Video Rules

For some companies, going for a message as big as Born would come off as overly self-involved. Born has an intangible product and sells B2B (Business-to-Business). They need to sell an idea and if they bring in a single project, it will pay for a big-budget investment in their site.

For smaller companies with tangible products, it’s important to put the product itself front-and-center. One way of doing this is to embed a video on the landing page of your site. For example, check out the salivating video on the landing page of Dunwell Donuts, a vegan Brooklyn donut shop.

The video succeeds on nearly every level. It makes the viewer crave donuts, artfully portrays the product, and tells the story of the founders of the business in an extremely intimate manner.

3.    Tell Your Story

The primary accomplishment of the Dunwell video is in the arena of storytelling. The Dunwell video tells the story of the company brand in an intimate way. By the end of the video, the viewer feels like they have a good sense of who runs Dunwell Donuts and what donuts mean to them.

A video is a cost-effective way of telling the personal story of a brand. Storytelling is a powerful medium because it creates an emotional connection between the viewer and the subject when executed effectively. For a business (especially a small business), this translates directly to brand loyalty. We’ve detailed other ways in which one can tell the personal story of a brand in our Parallax Scrolling article.

4.    Flat Design

Minimal web design is in. Apple’s design technique, flat design, is defined as “a style of interface design which removes any stylistic choices that give the illusion of three-dimensions (such as drop shadows, gradients, textures, or other tools that add depth) and is focused on a minimalist use of simple elements, typography and flat colors.”

Flat design is visually sleek and virtually inexpensive way of displaying one’s brand in a modern way. Check out some of the best flat design websites on the internet here.

5.    KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid)

A really well-designed landing page with minimal content looks much better than a lot of redundant, visually lacking pages. For an alternate approach to the donut vertical, check out the site for Elsie’s Donut Shop. It’s flat, minimal, sleek and to the point, stressing the products.

With the internet working more and more as a gatekeeper for customers to select which businesses they choose to solicit, modern aesthetics have a direct impact on business. Equipping a business with a sleek, modernized website puts them in the best position to excel in the marketplace.

Mystic Media is a web design and application development company based in Salt Lake City, Utah. For more information, click here or contact us by phone at 801.994.6815.

Parallax Scrolling: How the Latest Cutting Edge Web Design Can Increase Business

Web design trends are constantly changing. The latest and greatest today is Parallax Scrolling.

Parallax Scrolling websites are generally large one-page sites. As one scrolls down, the background images move by the camera slower than the foreground images, creating the illusion of depth. Oftentimes different animations are launched during the course of scrolling which generally cover different topics. It’s like having multiple pages in one stream-of-consciousness scroll.

Here’s a basic example of a Parallax Scrolling website.

There are many benefits to Parallax Scrolling websites. For one, they are aesthetically pleasing. The user experience is no doubt greater than any other common form of web design. Instead of forcing the user to explore the site, they need only scroll down to take in the information at the pace the web designers desire.  When creating a website for a single product, Parallax Scrolling sites can be very useful because they allow the designer to show off all the different features of the product without having to create separate pages.

Here’s a great example of a parallax website utilized to display all the different angles and functions of a single product.

Parallax Scrolling also allows the web designer to create a story and control the way in which the user experiences the narrative. Parallax Scrolling gives the designer unparalleled control over the pace at which the user takes in information. Again, the user only has to scroll down, they are much more likely to see the animations created by scrolling down than to have to click around different pages and explore to find information.

Check out this awesome example of how to tell the story of your brand through a Parallax Scrolling website.

Parallax Scrolling can also have a positive effect on Search Engine Optimization. Having a one-page-site means a reduced the bounce rate, the number of visitors who move to another page without exploring, which is beneficial for SEO.

Another benefit is the increased mobile and tablet user experience. Traditional websites involve several pages which all need to be customized for mobile and tablet devices. The time it takes to redirect on a mobile or tablet device can be tedious. Parallax Scrolling utilizes one-page, reducing the redirection time for smartphone and tablet users. If created with responsive HTML (Check out our post Responsive Web Design Is the New Web Design), you’re guaranteed good mobile and tablet user experience, so long as the user’s device isn’t outdated.

Due to the emphasis on cool, crisp visual presentation, Parallax Scrolling sites are more likely to attract social sharing, and thus will attract greater traffic. If the design is crisp enough, a parallax scrolling site could land itself on one of these best of lists.

Parallax Scrolling websites are generally created using HTML5 and CSS3. Although they are high-tech, they also come with their share of cons. For one, due to the heavy use of animations, Parallax Scrolling sites can take longer to load. They also may not function smoothly across all web browsers. Because the designer is in control of the pace of the scrolling, it can also be frustrating to users who want to consume information faster, or confounding to less tech-saavy users who are confused by the set-up.

Overall, Parallax Scrolling is the most visually-pleasing, high-tech aesthetic one can choose for their website. Although it’s pricey and complicated to create, it’s the most dynamic form of web design used today, and, when designed effectively, the most engaging way to lure traffic to a web page.

Mystic Media is a web design and application development company based in Salt Lake City, Utah. For more information, click here or contact us by phone at 801.994.6815.

A Guide to Promotional Writing Part 4: Attract Traffic With Compelling Website Copy

The Mystic Media Blog will be devoting our expertise into a five-part series of articles detailing the ins and outs of Promotional Writing. The series will cover several topics, including general techniques, suggested processespress releases, , website copy writing, and social media. Last week, we covered how to generate publicity by writing an effective press release.

Website copywriting is perhaps the most common form of promotional writing. The internet is an international hub for both information and e-commerce. Websites are created everyday to advertise and offer services, products, and information. They can be created for businesses, blogs, applications, social media, contests, specific products, and more. All websites share one common goal: attract the target audience. Whether a website is attempting to sell something or simply relay valuable information, the goal is to attract as many relevant viewers to the site as possible and entice them with effective copy writing. In this article, we will detail techniques for achieving this goal.

Know the Ideal Reader

As with any piece of promotional writing, it’s crucial to know the target audience before starting. The ideal reader should feel the copywriting was crafted specifically for them. Make an outline describing the ideal reader. Will the content of the site appeal specifically to men or women? What industry might this person work in? What is their socio-economic class? What degree of education did they receive? What brought them to the site?

Once all these questions are answered, elaborate on the relevance. A person’s line of business would affect the type of humor you’d consider writing into the copy. Their level of education would affect whether the writing is designed to appease a standard for intelligent writing, or to simply be clear and understandable to the common man.

Upon becoming familiar with the Ideal Reader, outline the Desired Action Response. Would the ideal response be an immediate purchase? Would it be to inquire more about the services outlined in the copy? Is the copy intended to lead the reader elsewhere on the site, perhaps to the services section or pricing?

Every sentence should be contribute to generating the Desired Action Response. At the end of any given page should be a Call-to-Action making the Desired Action Response one click away.

Detail Features and Translate to Benefits

If the copy is advertising a product or service, the main purpose of the piece will be to accurately detail the features of the product or service and translate them into benefits. Before writing, finalize the research and create a full list of features and specifications regarding the product or service.

We touched upon the process of translating features to benefits in Part 2 of our Promotional Writing Series: Perfecting the Method, but it’s too important to skip over in this article. Once you’ve written out the features, it’s vital to translate them into benefits.

Readers are selfish. People don’t read web pages out of consideration for the writer, they read things they think will be relevant to them. Instead of simply listing the features of a product or service, explicitly link them to benefits which make it easy for the reader to imagine how the product or service could enrich their lives.

The research is often the meat and bones of the piece. Once all necessary information is detailed, the rest is easy.

Avoid Hyperbolic Description

One of the most commonly made mistakes in copywriting is overselling. Copywriters will dress up the product or service they are representing with an abundance of hyperbolic adjectives. Writers are eager to refer to a product as “innovative,” “cutting-edge,” or a “breakthrough” because it makes their job easier. Readers today are too smart to be persuaded by hyperbolic description. They want the facts. If you save them time by giving it to them straight, they are more likely to believe in what is written about the product.

Check out this great article on avoiding meaningless marketing jargon.

Optimize for Google

Google is a direct path to information. On average, Google processes over 40,000 search queries every second, 3.5 billion searches per day, and 1.2 trillion searches per year. Optimizing copy for Google is vital to attracting visitors searching for the product, solution, or information offered on your website.

The first step toward SEO is to identify keywords pertaining to the subject of the copy. The best way to find keywords is to rely on your intuition and search what anyone would search if they were looking for the subject of your copy. Through Google searching, anyone can also find the top competitors and identify what keywords they are using to attract visitors. Once the key search terms have been identified, ensure they are sprinkled in throughout the copy. Remember, it’s not worth it to sacrifice the integrity of the copy with keyword stacking. As with most aspects of life, a healthy balance is crucial.

Keywords aren’t the only factor which goes into SEO. It’s also important to write an attention-grabbing headline and effective meta data. More than anything, the writer must ensure that the content itself is relevant and informative to the ideal reader.

For more on SEO, check out this great informative article.

Presentation Is King

Short, concise paragraphs with direct points entice readers. Consider ways of spacing out copy to make writing as consumable as possible. Readers love lists and paragraph headings because they allow them the privilege of deciphering what is relevant to them and choosing what to read.

Next week, we’ll conclude our Promotional Writing series with an entry on writing for Social Media. Stay tuned!

At Mystic Media, our vast experience in strategic marketing and application development has given us expertise on all formats of promotional writing: from copy writing, search engine optimization, social media marketing, web design, and more. Learn more by clicking here or contacting us by phone at 801.994.6815

A Guide to Promotional Writing Part 1: Representing Your Business

The Mystic Media Blog will be devoting our expertise into a five-part series of articles detailing the ins and outs of Promotional Writing. The series will cover several topics, including general techniques, suggested processes, press releases, website copy, and social media.

Promotional writing is any type of writing designed to sell or promote a product or service. It can be informational, such as a blog or newsletter, or direct as an advertisement. It can be the “About Us” section of a website, a description of a service, or a press release. Promotional writing is key to marketing any business. All writing  associated with your brand must adhere to a quality consistent with your company or it runs the risk of deteriorating your name. Although certain techniques apply across the board for promotional writing, the medium spans several formats to which the writer must cater. For our first article on the topic, we will cover the general principles and goals of promotional writing to help you represent your business.

EXECUTE YOUR GOAL

The goal of promotional writing is to connect with your target audience. Whether or not they ultimately choose to act upon the impulse you desire to impart is beyond your control. If you succeed in clearly communicating the benefits of the product or service you are promoting, readers in the market for whatever is being sold are likely to follow-through. So long as the message you intend to impart is effective and precisely conveyed to the audience, you will have done your job. Thus, it’s vital to consider the audience’s perspective in crafting any piece.

KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE

A consumer stumbles upon a piece of writing dedicated to promoting a product or service. They have the choice of reading it or not. Even if it applies to them, it doesn’t guarantee they are going to follow-through and closely examine the piece. As a promotional writer, you have to make your writing as easy to consume as possible. You must consider your target audience’s perspective and structure your piece based on how you expect your readers to consume it.

Is the piece something you can imagine someone reading at work, or is it something more dense they would read when researching a topic? How long do they have to read it? What parts would they skim? Is the piece geared more toward neophytes to the topic, or veterans seeking to enrich their knowledge? Each of these questions must be answered before you write, for they dictate the audience with which your writing must connect.

PERFECT THE STYLE

While there’s no formula for good promotional writing, there are certain generally accepted principles which apply across formats.

Direct, Concise, Targeted: Good promotional writing directly addresses a target audience with a clear, concise message. The message should be defined from the outset: this is a superior product or service. It’s important to be direct by getting to the “What” before the “Why”. The writer must target a specific audience. They must know who would read the piece and what they would be looking for. Every sentence must contribute directly to your message. The minute a reader senses something was written for the sake of taking up space, they will stop reading. Be considerate of their time. Do as much as you can with the attention they give you.

Accurate, Appealing, Persuasive: Good promotional writing accurately depicts the appeal of a product or service in a persuasive manner. Rather than resort to hyperbole, effective promotional writing allows the product to sell itself by presenting accurate, benefit-led facts. You must understand how the product or service appeals to your target audience before you sit down and write. Once the appeal is established, elaborate upon both the positive effects the product or service creates, as well as the negative effects it averts to craft a persuasive argument of why they must go out and obtain this specific product or service.

Smooth, Purposeful, Structured: Good promotional writing adheres to smooth, purposeful structure designed with the objective of creating the most efficient, enjoyable reading experience for the target audience. There are infinite ways to structure any given piece, but good structure plays into an audience’s expectation to clearly communicate points. Every sentence should directly follow the line of thinking preceding it and set-up the next point. General information and the overarching message should be front-loaded so readers who only have time for the first paragraph still understand the point of the piece.

IDENTIFY APPROPRIATE VOCABULARY

Identifying proper vocabulary for promotional writing can be a bit tricky. You don’t want to overload the reader with words they may not understand, but you also must assert your intelligence and don’t want to sound too colloquial. Acceptable vocabulary depends greatly on the target audience. Your word selection will be different if your target audience is a consumer of technology products versus if your piece was targeting professional application developers.

If you follow the guidelines above pertaining to promotional writing style, the flow of your writing should exude the intelligence you desire more than an elaborate vocabulary, which can sound pretentious when overdone.

For more techniques on vocabulary selection, check out this handy article by Writers & Artists.

CALL TO ACTION

A call to action is a statement which presents an opportunity for the audience to continue the dialogue regarding the topic, product, or company. A call to action could encourage the reader to contact the company by phone, click a link to the company’s website, follow the company on social media, share, comment, or link to another article where they can read more. A call to action is anything which feeds the audience’s desire to either continue the conversation, or take action and follow-through with whatever your desired action response is in writing the article. The goal of any promotional piece is to drive traffic to the product or service, thus a call to action is perhaps the most vital statement in the piece.

Learn more about call to action techniques by checking out this great article on the topic: How To Create a Successful Social Media Call to Action.

In our next Promotional Writing entry, we will help you out big time by creating a process with tips and tricks on structuring and revising your promotional writing.

At Mystic Media, our vast experience in strategic marketing  and application development has given us expertise on the all formats of promotional writing: from copy writing, search engine optimization, social media marketing, web design, and more. Learn more by clicking here or by contacting us by phone at 801.994.6815