We win our fair share of awards around here but today we're giving one out. 2012 marked the inaugural season of the iMarc Fantasy Football League. 14 people participated, some more than others. There was plenty of fun trash talking, weekly recaps, and statistical analysis but when it was all said and done there was one team that stood above all others.
Our fearless leader had a so-so regular season record but when the playoffs arrived he crushed the competition. Congrats Nils, your trophy will be westward bound soon!
To those who participated this year I hope you had a good time. We'll see you at the banquet soon and hopefully at next season's draft! Kevin, you're on the clock!
- The Best Westerns - Nils Menten
- BailMonsters - Kerri Gertz
- Patrick McFail - Dan Collins
- Brady's Baby Goat - Dave Tufts
- The Jerky Boys - Paul Kelley
- The Generators - Marcel Moreau
- Draftbot's Revenge - Patrick McPhail
- Make It Reign - Nick Grant
- Warriors - Bill Bushee
- Trojans - Kim Jackson
- Delta House - Peter Beardsley
- The Fisherman - Katie Desmond
- Mack Attack - Katie Mack
- #kevininyogapants - Kevin Hamer
The Guardian, a daily newspaper in the UK, recently published stats on the size of their online community. Martin Belam took a closer look…
498,600 users leaving comments out of a total audience of 70.5 million is 0.7%…
Half a million users have left at least one comment. Not bad. But the traditional rule of thumb on internet community participation rates says that 1 in 10 users will participate. The Guardian has found that the rule of thumb is off by at least a factor of 10.
And it gets worse. Just 2,600 of the Guardian's users left at least 40 comments — in other words, they participated every day. 2,600 out of 70.5 million.
That's a rate of 0.0037%.
If we applied that to a fairly typical mid-sized B2B site that gets five to ten thousand unique visitors per month, then we get 0.37 heavy commenters (tops). That, of course, assumes that this hypothetical B2B site publishes new articles every day so that it attracts loyal daily visitors like The Guardian.
We might, if lucky, also get 70 people to leave one comment each; that may look okay in a few blogs, but probably not when spread over the dozens needed to draw daily visits.
If you want a thriving comment community, you need at least 50,000 unique visitors per month and frequent new content to draw them. Then you could reasonably hope for 350 comments per month, across all your articles, and expect one or two heavy contributors to comment every day.
But if you don't have at least 50,000 unique visitors per month, you're likely to create the impression of a ghost town.
The astute reader will note I've made sweeping generalizations to simplify, such as assuming traffic is evenly distributed, that B2B site visitors are like news site visitors (definitely not true), and that the B2B blog content encourages people to share their opinions. Your mileage may vary.
And also, my colleague Patrick offered some food for thought:
Your numbers are compelling... but they don't answer the the question: "What % of the 70 million users of the site find value in the comments from the 0.7%?"
If you have an opinion, share it where conversations happen: instead of commenting, tweet your response @imarcllc or @imarcllc on app.net.
iMarc has a long history of debating semantics. In the oldest article I found from 2006, Dave picks on "A List Apart" for trying to use list elements to markup a form. Perhaps it was a little bit of backlash, as table elements were vilified so badly at the time. These days, its rare to find table elements even when they're appropriate.
Five years have gone by, and we have (finally) been able to think beyond some of the older, less compliant browsers:
With mobile on the rise (StatCounter puts iPad traffic at nearly 3%, more than IE6, IE7, and Opera combined) focusing on these browsers isn't the best bang for your buck these days.
Still, table elements had some desirable quirks. Tables will never wrap a cell onto a new row. Tables are much better at equal width columns, which made them great for layouts. Unfortunately table elements are not semantic. Especially on our older sites, you'll see non-semantic class names sneaking back in, like "one_of_three" or "one_two_of_five". Even Twitter Bootstrap has non-semantic class names to indicate the number of columns to span, etc.
A Columns Class
Throw it on a div to make its child div elements act as columns. It supports nesting (as long as a columns div isn't a direct child of another columns div) Lastly, it works in IE8, IE9, IE10, and the versions of Firefox and Chrome I have tested. You can also explicitly set a pixel (or percentage) width on a column, and the rest continue to behave properly.
Should we use it?
Something like "columns" certainly isn't semantic (but "clearfix" or "group" isn't either), and the CSS is short enough (four attributes, 2 selectors) that it's really not that necessary. Still, this approach seems like a much cleaner way to handle horizontal alignment than a grid system, and we can still save table elements for true tables.
So, at least use the markup; it validates, it works on all modern browsers back through IE8 (which is available even on Windows XP.) Then, consider the class, and if it makes sense, try it. In five years, who knows.
It’s amazing how quickly the past year has flown by and it’s hard to believe that 2013 is here. As we look ahead it’s important to note the lessons we learned in 2012 and how we can apply this knowledge to the coming year. Besides, what do they always say about history repeating itself?
Here at iMarc, 2012 was a banner year! We had a lot of growth; we expanded the team, refined our offerings, launched a new website, and even opened a new office in California! We worked on many great projects and these are some of the first-hand lessons we learned along the way.
- Content is absolutely king! We have been on this band wagon for the past few years, in fact we might even be driving it; but without a doubt this truly resonates with our clients. You need to give your users great quality content, position yourself as a thought leader, and update it frequently. Those key elements will drive your success, improve your organic search results, and engage users for the long haul.
- Mobile must be part of the equation. Each day we become more and more addicted to our smartphones. We always have them with us and use these devices as a tool to find information quickly. We simply can’t say it enough, make sure your site is optimized for desktops, tablets, and smartphones. By using Responsive Design Techniques you can easily create one version of your website to perform across multiple platforms.
- Video is growing and it’s a great way to communicate your value proposition, boost sales, and educate users. In 2012 PR Web found that video, increased business calls by 18%, increased website visits by 55%, increased physical store visits by 30%, and increased incidence of purchase by 24%.
- Social media is a great tool to reach your audience and grow awareness. You know that your audience is already on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn; be sure to join the conversation. If you are concerned about the amount of time you have to contribute to social media select one platform to get started with. According to Jeff Bullas’ marketing blog; LinkedIn generates more leads for B2B companies than Facebook, Twitter or blogs. Yet only 47% of B2B marketers say they are actively using LinkedIn vs. 90% on Facebook.
Apply these lessons to your marketing initiatives for 2013 and have an amazing year!
What a year! Our blog captured many exciting events from 2012, including our new West Coast office, new website, new iMarcians, new clients, and new site launches. We had a lot to share, and I expect even more activity on our blog in the New Year as we gear up for another incredible year at iMarc.
With 5 days left until the New Year, here is a round up of the top five most viewed posts in 2012 that touch upon our year and insights on user experience, mobile, and tech solutions. See you in 2013!
March 7, 2012 | Dave Tufts, VP, Director of Technology
In this top-ranked post, Dave argues that scrolling is the path of least resistance to keep users engaged with your site’s content. Clearly, we need to keep Dave writing in 2013 as he snagged the top two spots on our list.
October 4, 2012 | Dave Tufts, VP, Director of Technology
This year we launched a new website for ourselves! In his post, Dave summarizes the techniques we used to redesign our site to optimize for varying screen sizes.
August 31, 2012 | Robert Mohns, Lead Strategist
What’s your most backwards mobile web experience? Robert shares one of his in this post from the end of summer.
September 14, 2012 | Kevin Hamer, Lead Web Engineer
Kevin loves keyboards, as evidenced in his top post from 2012. He also drew distinct parallels between researching for a new keyboard and assessing the best solution for a new website.
May 17, 2012 | Katie Mack, New Business Specialist
iMarc was thrilled to be honored this spring with five Communicator Awards from the International Academy of Visual Arts. It was a banner year for us in many ways, and we value the recognition.
iMarc creates its site maps and wireframes in a program called OmniGraffle. Part of why it’s so easy to make rapid iterations in OmniGraffle is due to reusable stencils. A popular stencil I have in my toolbox is dedicated to social media icons – these get represented in web site user interfaces all the time. I repeatedly came across a few limitations with the stencil I was using:
- there was no grayscale version available
- the icons did not scale gracefully
- some of the logos were outdated (looking at Twitter, here)
So here’s an OmniGraffle stencil I created with the five “big guns”: Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google Plus, and YouTube. Enjoy.