What Does Gutenberg Change In WordPress?

What Does Gutenberg Change In WordPress?

If you are looking to learn about Gutenberg in advance of the WordPress 5.0 release date, the best thing you can do is install the Gutenberg Ramp Plugin and give it a try for yourself. There are plenty of WordPress Gutenberg tutorials out there, but until WP 5.0 drops, we don’t really know what the effects will be. But so far, it seems to be mostly positive.

“For most casual users, it will, after some growing pains, bring a more flexible content creation experience.

Non-developers will be able to intuitively craft more complex layouts with extra elements like buttons, content embeds, and lots more. And that will, hopefully, help WordPress to continue to grow.”

Colin Newcomer on CodeinWP

WordPress Gutenberg Introduction

The new editor is clean, sleek, and simple. As I said in my first-ever Gutenberg post on my personal blog, “If Medium and the WordPress WYSIWYG had a baby, it would be named Gutenberg.” It’s a much more intuitive user interface that will enable newer bloggers to create content easily and fluidly.

“Gutenberg is an obvious reaction to competitors of WordPress; the writing experience of Medium, the quick and easy site builds using Wix and Squarespace.”

Iain Poulson on Delicious Brains

Gutenberg was revealed in mid-2017 by Matt Mullenweg during an interview with Om Malik, and ever since then, there has been a lot of anticipation for this new editor. Because WordPress is open source, none of this has been secret, and friendly geeks have been investigating the ins and outs of the software as it develops. Some of the links below have detailed tutorials on how to use Gutenberg for your WordPress website, with some tutorials in text, some in video, and a few in gifs.

How do I install Gutenberg on my website?

First off, let’s determine whether or not you have WordPress 5.0 or not.

How to install Gutenberg on your WordPress 5.0 Website

Step 1: Install WordPress.

That’s it. The WordPress core will have Gutenberg standard on every WordPress installation.

How to install Gutenberg on your WordPress 4.X site

  • Go to Plugins → Add New
  • Search for “Gutenberg” (I used Gutenberg Ramp plugin, it worked fine)
  • Click Install Now
  • Wait – Install Now button will change to Activate
  • Click Activate

Installing Gutenberg early will give you the chance to see what it does with your website; if things will break, if things will go smoothly, or if it’s way above your head.

Gutenberg FAQ

What will Gutenberg change in my WordPress site?

After WordPress 5.0, Gutenberg will change the Post Editor (and Page Editor) that you use to create new posts and pages. All the remaining WordPress functionality will be unchanged.

Can I use my page builder with Gutenberg?

Yes and no. Yes, on the website, but no, not on the page.

Yes, you can use a page builder on a WordPress 5.0 website that uses Gutenberg as the core editor. No, you cannot use the Gutenberg editor and your Page Builder editor on the same page.

This website is built in the Divi theme, and uses the Visual Builder as the page builder for many pages (and even some posts). If I compose a post in Gutenberg, and then try to transition that post to the Visual Builder, it used to remove all coding in the easiest way possible: it will delete all the content in the post.

I tried a Gutenberg-to-Visual Builder conversion, and it refused to convert, I couldn’t even access the Visual Builder. But it did preserve the Visual Builder shortcodes.

wordpress gutenberg tutorials screenshot

I tried a Visual Builder-to-Gutenberg conversion, and this is what the screen looks like when you try to go to the Classic Editor:

wordpress gutenberg tutorials classic editor

If you try to return to Default Editor, or get to Gutenberg, you’ll lose it all:

gutenberg tutorials divi builder visual builder

Will Gutenberg change my eCommerce Store?

Since Products are a Custom Post Type, they will not (currently) be able to use Gutenberg without extra enhancement.

However, since I use WooCommerce on as the shopping cart on this website, I did see a neat little notice on here after I installed Gutenberg:

gutenberg tutorials woocommerce integratione

I did this to get one of my basic page-builder functions in Gutenberg, and it is something I can already do with WooCommerce shortcodes, but this is what a Product Block looks like in Gutenberg:

Can I keep the old version of WordPress instead of using Gutenberg?

I am quite sure there will be a plugin to attempt doing that, as there is always a plugin to handle any feature the user base wants; but since the old Tiny MCE editor is embedded in the core, it would take quite a hefty piece of code to transition it back.

If you really need to keep the old editor and refuse to use Gutenberg, your best bet is to stick with WordPress 4.9 and manually install any security updates, keeping your website increasingly obsolete. I’m sure this will be an appealing option for many to begin with, but I suspect that most people will upgrade in due course. 

How hard is it to learn Gutenberg?

Try one of the Gutenberg tutorials linked in this post, you’ll see how easy it is. Like any learning curve, though, it depends on your aptitude and your interest.

Writing a blog post in Gutenberg won’t be much different than writing a blog post in Medium, but it will have a lot of the core WordPress functionality and integration. Getting all of the new features to sync up will take a little study, but it’s not very difficult. I’ve found it to be very user-friendly – read the first post I wrote in Gutenberg, with glitches, here: https://caelanhuntress.com/2018/08/12/gutenberg-is-coming-to-wordpress/

How long does it take to learn Gutenberg?

It’s not long. After 3-4 posts, a novice blogger should have the hang of it; experienced bloggers will only need 1-2 blog posts to pick up all the differences.

Are there Gutenberg tutorials?

One of the best Gutenberg tutorials I’ve found is the WP Engine Gutenberg for Beginners tutorial.  – This comprehensive tutorial is full of gifs and is very useful.

If you like video, the Yoast team put out a great video series of Gutenberg tutorials for free on YouTube:

Will my old WordPress posts be affected by Gutenberg blocks?
Will Gutenberg affect the SEO of my WordPress website?

What’s New: Gutenberg Blocks

The Blocks are the most fundamental change to the editor. The Gutenberg tutorials linked above go into them in some detail.

Users of Medium will recognize the interface intuitively; but because it’s WordPress, you have much more flexibility and control than with a typical Medium post.

When you pop the hood and look at the the code, the Blocks code is pretty simple. It looks like this:

<!– wp:core/text –> <!– /wp:core/text –> makes a text block. Everything within those bracket pairs can be moved around, drag-and-drop, within the Gutenberg editor.

“Previously, your content lived inside one big HTML file and for every enhancement there had to be something new: shortcodes, custom post types, embeds, widgets and the like. All with their quirky interfaces and weird behavior. Now, you can build your content precisely like you make a LEGO set: all from one box, following a standardized and straightforward set of instructions.”

–  Edwin Toonen on Yoast

This sounds great, on the surface, if you’re starting from scratch. But what if you have an older website?

If you use a lot of shortcodes in your theme, this could present some problems.

“Currently, shortcodes cannot be executed in text columns or paragraph blocks. They must be placed in the shortcode block in order to work. This can cause some problems if your shortcodes produce inline content like the year or an inline call to action.”

– Nathan Ingram on iThemes

Gutenberg Glitches

These are the glitches I noticed while composing my first post in Gutenberg:

  • Making links doesn’t always work. The Link editor doesn’t always take my text, and I often can’t add a link easily.
  • Sometimes when I mean to backspace a word, it deletes the entire text block.
  • There is no undo when this happens; the text block I am working on is just gone.
  • The Fixed Background option to make images parallax often masks the image entirely in the editor
  • Sometimes deleting blocks is problematic, and I have to convert to HTML and manually kill it in the code
  • The images don’t display in the Editor the way they do in preview

An easy caveat: I created this post using the Gutenberg Ramp plugin, on a WordPress core that is still made to support previous versions of WordPress. This is also the early stages of rollout, and I made this post without reading any Gutenberg tutorials, so I am quite sure these glitches will improve over time.

Others have noticed some glitches and hazards too:

“Doesn’t support responsive columns yet. We really hope this is coming. A lot of times this is a reason people install visual builder plugins or shortcode plugins, is to get the column feature alone. It is definitely time for columns to be in core!”

– Brian Jackson on Kinsta

“Backward compatibility is going to be a primary concern for most developers. It will destroy current plugins and themes, especially ones that require integration with TinyMCE.”

– Manish Dudharejia

Gutenberg Plugin Compatibility

“Since announcing the database on March 1st, 70 people have been granted testing status. However, of 5000 total plugins, we’re still at 4139 untested plugins. No companies have stepped up to contribute a significant amount of person-hours.”

– Daniel Bachhuber on his blog

Of the 861 tested plugins that Daniel tested in April of 2018:

  • 219 (25.44%) are compatible.
  • 518 (60.16%) are likely compatible.
  • 25 (2.9%) are likely not compatible.
  • 39 (4.53%) are not compatible.
  • 60 (6.97%) are in “testing”, which means someone started test and abandoned the process.

That’s a decent spread, and the numbers may have improved. But as Igor notes below, this could cause big difficulties for Custom Post Types:

“If your plugin has a custom post type, then you may want to disable Gutenberg for that particular post type. To disable Gutenberg for your custom post type, you can just change your post type configuration.”

– Igor Benić on Tuts Plus

When will Gutenberg be a part of my WordPress website?

The answer to that question is very personal.

When WordPress 5.0 is released, every WordPress website that upgrades is going to have Gutenberg installed as its core editor by default. If you want it earlier, you can install a plugin, as described above. If you don’t want to upgrade to 5.0, you can probably coast on WordPress 4.9 for a number of months without facing any serious issues.

So, you will have Gutenberg on your WordPress website when you want it. Get ready, because it’s coming. Read some Gutenberg tutorials, or better yet, give it a spin.

If you want to talk about what Gutenberg could do to your WordPress website, schedule a consultation.

Social Media Marketing for Small Businesses

Social Media Marketing for Small Businesses

Social media marketing can be done well, or done badly. No matter how good you’re doing, it could be really easy for you, or really hard. The easiest way to make sure your social media marketing is both easy and good is to follow the advice of people who have mastered the mediums.

6 Small Business Social Media Marketing Tips

#1 – Say something valuable.

Seth Godin talks about ‘the trap of social media noise.’ Just because we can say things in so many places, to so many people, it doesn’t mean we should.

“Prune your message and your list and build a reputation that’s worth owning and an audience that cares.”

– Seth Godin

#2 – Don’t spread too thin.

Every account you set up will cost you, in time, energy, and mental overhead. Ask yourself which accounts are really necessary, and if you should skip one, then do it.

Ashley Kemper wrote a comprehensive overview at Marketing Land comparing each social media platform, with specific guidelines on when these different platforms make sense. Her recommendations are very detailed, so read her article if you have any questions about a specific platform. Her guidelines were:

  • Use Facebook if you want to reach a massive audience with a diverse array of content types.
  • Use Twitter if you have frequent updates or content with a “timeliness” factor.
  • Use YouTube if your business could benefit from product demos, testimonials, or putting a human face to your brand.
  • Use Google+ if you have a physical location and want to appear in local search results.
  • Use LinkedIn if you are in a B2B space, or you want to speak to a more professionally-oriented audience.
  • Use Pinterest if you want to target a female audience and have great visual content.
  • Use Instagram if you can create interesting visual content on a regular basis.
  • Use Foursquare if you have a brick-and-mortar location.

Read her article for more depth on each platform, if you’re not sure whether or not one of them is a good match for you.

#3 – Variety is the spice of social media.

Posting the same thing, all the time, isn’t giong to keep your audience engaged or interested. On the 8Days blog, Jimdo recommends a 70-20-10 formula.

“Don’t be overly promotional: Nobody likes someone who just talks about themselves all the time. 70% of your content should add value for your followers (such as sharing blog posts, coupons, etc.), 20% should be sharing other people’s content (posts from other businesses or highlighting customers), and only 10% should be directly promoting your business (such as “come by our store we have a new shipment of handbags!”).”

Social Media Marketing Formula:

  • 70% adding value
  • 20% sharing other people’s content
  • 10% direct promotion

For every promotional tweet you write, prepare to publish 10x that much content that is for connection and relationship-building.

#4 – Show Them The Wizard Behind the Curtain

Social media marketing is your opportunity to be seen by your audience, really seen. They don’t want to see your products; they want to see you, working at your craft. Share the stories of what it’s like to do what you do.

Ramsay at Blog Tyrant recommends being open on social media to create customer loyalty:

“Social media is a fantastic way to break down the barriers of facelessness. By showing your potential customers the people behind the business you are giving yourself a chance to be different from all the other competition. They will become loyal to you.”

– Ramsay

#5 – Get Popular To Get Seen

Popularity snowballs. The more that people like you, the more they like you, and it’s not just momentum; it’s math.

On the Buffer blog, Alfred Lua gives 10 social media tips, and describes the importance of popularity:

“Social media platform algorithms, such as those on Facebook and Instagram, are prioritizing posts with higher engagement on their feeds due to the belief that users will be more interested in seeing highly engaging content.”

– Alfred Lua

Collect likes, retweets, and shares, and you will rank higher ion the algorithm of social media platforms, and get seen more often.

#6 – Stay Authentic

Most people can sniff a sell-out, and it stinks. A genuine, long-term relationship can be completely derailed by staying in sales mode all the time.

Everybody needs to sell. It is, most often, why we get on a soapbox in the first place. But the only way to keep authenticity is by staying authentic, regularly.

As Timothy Skyes says in 8 Tips On How To Grow Your Social Media on Enterepreneur.com:

“You need to find that balance between popularity and business. You need to have a little bit of both and mix the more fun side that wants popularity with the serious and informative side that boosts the reputation of your business.”

– Timothy Sykes

 

Social Media Setup – Done For You, or DIY

If you need to get your new brand up and running on social media, you can hire Stellar Platforms to do it for you, or you can buy our DIY kit for a tenth of the price, and do it yourself.

 

Social Media Setup for Brand New Brands

Social Media Setup for Brand New Brands

There are so many social media platforms out there, it can be a challenge to launch your brand-new-brand everywhere across the internet at once. Social Media Setup can be difficult without an easy map. What’s the difference between all these social media platforms? Mark Chandler was good enough to describe the difference – using donuts.

Getting a donut onto all of these platforms can seem like a real chore. But don’t worry – you can set up social media accounts for your business in an afternoon, if you have a good social media checklist, your logo files, a pre-written bio, and a good tutorial.

How To Set Up Social Media Accounts for a Business

Social Media Setup Tip 1:

Use the same login credentials for all of your social media accounts.

Using the same email address and password for all of your new accounts will make it easy to set up (and manage) your social media accounts.

If you create a new email address just for this purpose, like yourbusiness.social@gmail.com, then you can even hand off logins for these accounts to someone else securely in the future.

Social Media Setup Tip 2:

Set up all social media accounts in one sitting.

Set aside an hour or two with this tutorial, and give yourself the time and space to do it right, and do it once.

Having multiple browser tabs will make this easy. To use multiple tabs, Ctrl + Click on a link and it will open in a new tab. If you press Cmd + T on a Mac, or Ctrl + T on a PC, you will open a new tab where you can manually type your URL.

Social Media Setup Tip 3:

Use an Incognito browser for setting up your business social media accounts.

If you already have other social media accounts, or a gmail address, then do yourself a favor and use an incognito browser to start fresh. This way, you won’t accidentally login to the wrong account, and connect them in a confusing way.

Using an incognito browser doesn’t make your activity invisible, however. As Heather Parry writes, “Chrome’s ‘Incognito’ might stop Chrome itself from logging your browsing data, but it doesn’t stop your operating system, your router, or the websites themselves from logging that you’re there. When streaming content, whether you’re in ‘Incognito’ mode or not, you open yourself up to data storing, and this mode does not hide your IP address, meaning that information such as your location, your browser, your operating system and even your physical address might still be seen.”

This means that going Incognito does not completely shield your activity, but it does give you the same browsing experience as if you were signed out of all your accounts.

How To Go Into Incognito Mode In Your Browser:

Press Cmd + Shift + N on a Mac, or Ctrl + Shift + N on a PC.

Use our Social Media Checklist to set up your new social media accounts

If you’d like Stellar Platforms to set up your social media accounts for you, we can do that. If you want to do it yourself, we can give you a video tutorial and a step-by-step guide to handle it yourself in an afternoon.

Read the Social Media Setup Checklist

 

 

170 Best Email Subject Lines of 2017

170 Best Email Subject Lines of 2017

I subscribe to a lot of email newsletters. (As of this writing, I have 256,918 unread emails in my inbox.) While I don’t read all of these emails, I do scan them all, so I can find the best email subject lines. As a digital marketer, it is really useful to listen to what the masters of content marketing are doing, en masse. Every day as I sift through my email, I notice what grabs my attention. When an email subject line stands out in my inbox, I know there is something that it can teach me.

All year, I have been tagging the best email subject lines that catch my attention, and below is a list of the 170 best email subject lines that I saved. The author of the subject line is linked next to each one, so if you like, you can subscribe to their email newsletters, and follow the masters that I follow.

Table of Contents

22 Webinar Invitation Subject Lines

These subject lines ask your email subscriber to register for an upcoming webinar. Webinars are fantastic for creating rapport and delivering mini-campaigns that increase engagement.

8 Best Customer Survey Email Subject Line Examples

Getting feedback from your customers gives you invaluable marketing intelligence. (If you’ve got a website, btw, I’d love to know your thoughts in this 2-minute survey.) Getting your list to open the survey request is step 1, and a few different techniques are shown below. Coupons work well.

12 Good Email Subject Lines for Lead Magnets

These are the best email subject lines for getting opt-ins for a new list. If you want to develop a segment of your existing list, or clean your list so you can identify the people who are willing to re-subscribe, these subject lines will get your existing subscribers to opt-in again.

9 Re-Engagement Email Subject Lines

Sometimes, your open rate lies to you. Open rates are notoriously inaccurate, but they are still used to determine the level of engagement of your list – which can be factored into the likelihood you will land in Gmail’s Propmotions tab, or in the Spam folder. To keep your list engaged, you need to both produce compelling content, and check in with your subscribers regularly to see if they still want to be on your list.

21 Best Email Subject Lines for Sales

Email is for selling. Out of every method of selling things on the Internet, email is still the #1 driver of sales. Improving your open rate on your sales emails through a good subject line is probably the most granular thing you could improve to increase your revenue. Pay special attention to how people are selling with the best email subject lines, and you can increase your own sales as a result.

16 Post-Product Launch Email Subject Lines

These emails are sent after a product launch. If your product launch has a sales funnel, with a lead magnet at the top of it, or if you had a waitlist, then you have an additional group of people to market your product to during launch.  After launching your product, it’s good to keep communicating to this hot list with all the benefits of your product – the extra bonuses, the expiring offer, and the testimonials of people whose lives have been changed because of what you’re launching. The best email subject lines will help get those emails opened.

10 Subject Lines For Affiliate Offers

These emails were sent to promote another person’s product (or lead magnet) and they do a good job of creating interest, offering solutions to a pressing problem, and standing out in the inbox.

9 Great Blog Post Announcements

Announcing a blog post can get very pedestrian – or it could be an opportunity to showcase your great headline writing skills.

  • New post: 47 Resources for People Who Love to Write but Can Never Find the Time – Jon Morrow
  • What my vacation face-plant can teach you about success  – Marie Forleo
  • Are successful people crazy? Benji Bruce – Speaking Lifestyle
  • ✪ The Cardinal Sin of Self-publishing ✪ – Derek Murphy
  • 7 Questions You Have About RE-Launching a Product – Answered! – Bailey Richert
  • Did you miss this episode? Tim Ferriss
  • 5 Unusual Ways to Get Paid Doing What You Love (Even If You’re Not an Expert Yet!) – Live Your Legend Team
  • New Episode: Do you want to hear a joke? – Dr. Fab Mancini
  • My podcast launches today! – Noah Kagan

38 Email Subject Lines That Intrigue

The best emails in a crowded inbox can create a ‘pattern interrupt’ – something that makes you curious enough to stop what you are doing and actually pay attention. The best pattern interrupts are usually shocking in some way, making them stand out from the noise. These are the ones that caught my attention this year.

16 Email Marketing Subject Lines for Email Marketers

Many of the lists I subscribe to are about email marketing, since I spend a lot of my time marketing through email. These are the best email subject lines that don’t fit in the other categories on this page, but are of particular interest to people who work with email as their craft.

9 Welcome Email Subject Lines For New Customers

When engaging new clients on your list, getting them involved immediately is a great way to increase retention. A good onboarding sequence starts with an introductory email that gets opened.

Bonus Tip: Subscribe to Email Newsletters in ALL CAPS

You may have noticed that some of the best email subject lines listed above address the name CAELAN in all caps.

This is because I make it a practice to always subscribe for newsletters with CAELAN as my first name. I can easily pick out who is using a first-name parameter in their email, and who is actually addressing me personally, by the capitalization of my first name in the email.

Some people have a specific email address they use for email subscriptions, so they can corral them all into one inbox, and only check it when they want to. Personally, I like having everyone’s email newsletters crowding my personal inbox. I even disabled the ‘Promotions’ tab in Gmail so I can get an unfiltered firehose of communication anytime I check my inbox.

Whenever something stands out from that noise, I know that it matters.

About The Author

Caelan Huntress is the father of 3 kids, and in his spare time serves as creative director of Stellar Platforms. He is also a writer, digital marketer, multimedia producer, and a retired superhero. He blogs about his adventures on https://caelanhuntress.com.

List Building with Lead Magnets

List Building with Lead Magnets

Well-designed lead magnets are great for building your email list, and they also serve as tangible examples of how you can solve the problems of your customer avatars. When I took Fizzle’s 7-day Build Your List Challenge recently, I knew that designing a good lead magnet was going to be a core component of the course. I thought it would give me a new lead magnet for list building, but I was wrong. What I did not expect was how easy this process would make inviting new clients into working with me.

Even if you don’t know precisely what a lead magnet is, you’ve probably seen them before. ‘Subscribe to get my free PDF workbook!’ is a standard call-to-action, to encourage people to sign up for your email newsletter list. The PDF workbook is the lead magnet – it is the free incentive that you offer your new subscribers.

My previous lead magnet was way off base. I was using the Sales Funnel Workbook, which is an awesome piece of content, but it’s way too advanced for the type of person who usually hires me. I love geeking out on sales funnels, but my clients, they hire me because they do NOT love doing this. They want me to do it, and deliver them the results.

I’m really glad I signed up for Fizzle’s 7-Day Challenge, because I knew my lead magnet needed an overhaul, and even though I’ve got really well targeted customer avatars (you can see them here) I wasn’t offering them something that they wanted.

By doing the foundational work, thinking and strategizing about what my customer avatar really wanted, I became flooded with new potential clients, and I was also able to show off some of the digital skills that I rarely get to showcase.

Here’s how it happened:

Step 1: Sign up for Fizzle’s 7-Day Grow your List Challenge

This is an excellent email course – and I say that as somebody who produces autoresponder courses for a living. There was plenty of content delivered to my inbox every day, but it was scannable, and focused on simple outcomes and tangible wins.

Step 2: Do the work for list building

I must confess, I started this course three times before I actually got all the way through. The final time, I doubled back when I had a better idea. All in all, it took me 10 days for this final run (and a combined total of 5.75 hours), but the extra time spent was worth it. When you’re digging, you never know how far it is until you strike riches; sometimes you just have to keep at it.

Step 3: Make the right thing for clients, not for list building

To give myself accountability, I liveblogged my homework for this course every day on YouTube. You can see it here:

When I was finished, I was surprised to find myself with a Homepage Audit. This was a 48-question self-assessment that anyone with a website could use to improve their website design, functionality, and loading time.

I started making this into a Homepage Grader instead, assigning a score to every question, but then I realised, once again, I had made the wrong thing for my audience.

Step 4: Iterate, again – just not for list building

The kinds of people who hire me are not going to sit through a 16-step fillable form, learning all about their website flaws along the way. The types of people that hire me, they don’t want to do all that stuff – they want to pay somebody like me to give them customised, specific recommendations, and then to implement those recommendations.

So I offered the first part for free.

Step 5: Gateway Product instead of list building

I’ve been trying to pin down a gateway product for years, and I didn’t figure it out until I went through this experience.

All I did was offer free homepage reviews to my personal network. Anyone who has a website (those are my kinds of customers) and filled out a simple form would get a free 5-10 minute video screencast review of their homepage, where I would discuss the 4 things I liked about their homepage, and listed 4 things I would improve.

Here’s what I made:

These quickly became very popular. Nearly half the people that I did this for asked me, “How much would you charge for doing those 4 fixes?”

It worked like a charm.

By providing my services for free to people who matched my customer avatars, I was able to do a lot of things at once:

  • Demonstrate my expertise
  • Provide some actionable advice that they can use right away
  • Open a conversation about improving their website
  • Build credibility, trust, and rapport

As a client generation tool, this has worked really well. I became so swamped with new work that I had to set up a paywall; instead of offering my homepage reviews for free, now they cost a few bucks. It’s still a great value, but having a paywall filters out the people who wouldn’t want to pay for my services, and preserves my time and energy for people who are already willing to pay for the work that I do.

My email list? It’s growing, but not very fast. Everybody who got a homepage review became a subscriber. But I can’t use this as a lead magnet; it’s too time intensive for me to offer a 10-minute customised video for every new email subscriber.

Besides, what’s better for me right now: a subscriber that might buy from me one day, or a new client that will buy one of my services, right now?

Moral of the story: New clients are more valuable than email subscribers.

I’ll keep working on the lead magnet, because I do want a good passive way to build my list.

The big lesson I learned here is to follow your creative impulses, even if you’re going off track. If you know what you’re aiming for, sometimes going off track can give you a much better shot at reaching your goal.

About The Author

Caelan Huntress is the father of 3 kids, and in his spare time serves as creative director of Stellar Platforms. He is also a writer, digital marketer, multimedia producer, and a retired superhero. He blogs about his adventures on https://caelanhuntress.com.

9 Reasons Homepage Sliders Suck

9 Reasons Homepage Sliders Suck

Like many website designers, I have a negative opinion about website sliders. At least half of my web design clients come to me with detailed ideas about all the slides they want on their homepage, and most of the time, I can talk them out of it. It’s not that sliders are hard to create; any web designer knows how to add a slider in a WordPress homepage.

The problem is that on your website homepage, sliders are just a bad idea.

Here are 9 reasons homepage sliders suck:

1. Website sliders slow down your website.

A website slider is a hefty piece of code. Unlike a text box with an image, a slider is a fancy section that can replace its own content with an animated transition. That transition takes some time to load, and your browser has to do it.

Each slide is a big image, and that takes some time to load, too. In a typical slider, the browser has to load multiple images, animated transitions, and the controls for navigating the slider – all above the fold.

2. A slider above the fold is not a lazy load.

‘Above the fold’ is a newspaper term, defining the content that is above the fold bisecting the first page of the newspaper. This is where you put your most important content, because it is the first thing that someone sees when they are deciding if they want to read further.

On a website, ‘above the fold’ content is what is in the browser window, without scrolling, when the page first loads. Ideally, this should be your fastest content, because you want to give your user something to see right away.

Many websites use ‘lazy load,’ or asynchronous loading, so they do not download (or display) images from further down the page until the user scrolls to that section. This is good for website usability, because if you have to wait for the entire long web page to download before you read what is on the top, you are sitting and twiddling your thumbs, waiting for the entire page to be delivered to your browser, instead of reading the top and waiting for the bottom at the same time. Sliders that are at the top of the homepage (above the fold) have to load first, and your user has to wait as soon as they arrive.

Pro tip: Put your website URL in GTmetrix.com to measure how fast your website loads, and see how big it is. You should aim for under 1MB and 5 seconds.

3. Your first page load looks bad.

At this point (maybe now is good) you may be heading over to your website in a new tab to take a look at your own website slider, to see if it’s doing some of the things I’ve mentioned. Keep in mind, you have seen your website slider before. This means that that your slider images are cached.

Your browser has already downloaded the big images in your slider before, and your browser, helpful servant that it is, has stored those images in the browser cache. This is great for you, as the user, because it means you don’t have to re-download the images every time you visit your website.

But that’s just you.

New visitors to your website will have to load your slider images from scratch, because they have never downloaded these images before. What they see may be different than what you see.

Pro tip: Clear your browser’s cache, and visit your website homepage. How long does it take the slider to load?

“Every second it takes to load a page past two seconds hurts the user experience, and has an impact on search performance.” Harrison Jones

4. Slider images are big and take time to load.

Your slider images should be big, anyway. If you’re using a 300px wide image in a full-width slider, it’s going to be pixellated and look really fuzzy.

While I do love the look of full-width images in web browsers, they need to be optimised for the web. If your image is 1.4MB, you are already way beyond the recommended 1MB threshold for total page size that you want to aim for, with just one image.

Using a tool like optimizilla.com, you can easily and quickly optimize your images, reducing their filesize dramatically. As a practice, I always run my images through optimizilla before uploading them to the WordPress media library. Watch me do it here:

Pro tip: Replace some of your biggest homepage images by running them through optimizilla. This free tool reduces the filesize of your image without sacrificing quality. Re-run GTMetrix after this, and you can measure precisely how much your images have been slowing your sitespeed down.

5. Website sliders are vulnerable to hackers.

The popular Revolution Slider, which has some amazing animation features, is often a target for hackers, precisely because it is so popular. Unlike the WordPress core, this slider plugin is not nearly as secure, and not updated as frequently.

This makes it a tempting target for hackers, because if they can exploit a vulnerability in a popular slider plugin, they can gain access to many websites quickly, before a repair patch is issued and installed.

Pro tip: Install the free WordFence plugin to check your site for malware and clean up after attacks.

6. Website visitors scroll down for more information, they do not wait for a slideshow.

How often do you land on a new homepage, and wait for the pretty slideshow to finish its carousel?

Do you find yourself hovering over the navigation dropdowns, obscuring the slideshow?

Or do you scroll down to search for information, ignoring the slides entirely?

“The primary purpose of your home page should be to create a high-level map of the world for your visitors so they can understand the range of available products that you carry. The giant banner will take up all of the prime real estate on the home page and push this navigation off the visible top of the page – sabotaging the page’s primary purpose.”   Tim Ash

7. Multiple Slider CTAs split the user’s attention

One of the golden rules of landing pages is: give the user one option.

If you are sending a user to a landing page, through paid traffic (like a Facebook ad), you want this new user to do one thing, and only one thing. That is your Call-to-Action. Distracting them with other options (like your navigation bar or footer menu) will decrease conversions. In most cases, your homepage is not a landing page, but the same principle still holds true:

If you give your user too many options, they will select none of them.

[clicktotweet]

On your homepage, you’ve already got your entire navigation menu, maybe a sidebar, and (hopefully) a Call-to-Action to subscribe to your newsletter.

If you distribute some of these CTAs through your slider buttons, you are diluting the effectiveness of ALL of your Calls-to-Action. According to KissMetrics, “of users’ first three eye-fixations on a page, only about 22% are on graphics; 78% are on text (headlines, article summaries, captions). In fact, people often ignore images entirely until the second or third visit to a page. So taking up the majority of your page’s real estate with images is ass-backwards.”

8. Information in sliders looks better in columns.

Most times, if you are expressing separate ideas in separate slides, they would be easier for the user to view all at once, in columns. Take a look at these two options below, and ask yourself which is more effective for you, as a user:

Here is a Slider:

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At its core, the purpose of your website is to help strangers become customers. The transaction where this formally happens on the Internet is usually in eCommerce shopping carts. The moment a new customer pays you for the first time, that is when they are putting...

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Here is the same information, in columns:

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Which do you like better, when you are scrolling down a webpage? I’m guessing the columns were easier for you to scan and digest.

If you don’t have a website theme that makes columns super easy, then consider a simple Hero Image. As the Altos Agency suggests, “A well-executed hero image serves as the very first glimpse of your site most visitors encounter, and should combine everything from your unique personality to a laser-focused look at just what you offer and why users might want to learn more. Pair that with a powerful CTA and you’ve got a static header image that actually attracts more clicks than any slider.”

9. Sliders are not that important.

If there was really something you wanted your user to see, as soon as they land on your homepage, you would show them that one thing. (Identifying that one thing is extremely difficult – that’s why it’s so important to work on your Customer Avatars.)

As Michiel Hiejman says on Yoast, “What you’re saying with a slider is basically: ‘I really don’t know which product or picture I should put on display on my homepage, so I’ll just grab 10 of them!’ In that case, you really need to add focus. If you don’t know what to choose, how would your visitors or clients?”

With every lukewarm offering you have sprayed across your slider, your website visitor gets more distracted.

“Unless the image slider is the only thing on your website (bad idea!), it’s not a good thing. It means it takes away attention from everything else – the stuff that actually matters. Like your value proposition. Products. Content.”

homepage sliders peep laja

– Peep Laja 

Do we need to talk about your homepage?

If you have a website slider that is dragging down your sitespeed, I can design a multi-column section that conveys all the same visual and text information as your slider, but loads your website much faster.

We can have a complimentary 30-minute consultation, and I can answer any questions you have about your website or digital marketing. Schedule a time here.

Or, I can provide you with a free 10 minute video review of your homepage. Sign up here.

About The Author

Caelan Huntress is the father of 3 kids, and in his spare time serves as creative director of Stellar Platforms. He is also a writer, digital marketer, multimedia producer, and a retired superhero. He blogs about his adventures on https://caelanhuntress.com.

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