The Lean Entrepreneur is here

Last May, I shared the news that long-time Lean Startup advocates Brant Cooper and Patrick Vlaskovits were working on a new book called The Lean Entrepreneur featuring illustrations by FAKEGRIMLOCK. That new book is about to hit bookstores everywhere.

I was honored that they asked me to write the foreword, and with their permission I’m posting an excerpt below. After the 2012 conference I viewed it as an opportunity to reflect on the growth and evolution of the movement as a whole.

One of the things that I love about what Brant and Patrick have done with The Lean Entrepreneur are the numerous case studies of how entrepreneurs are tackling new ventures, minimizing risk and learning their way to success – these case studies will speak to garage startups and corporate
entrepreneurs alike.

A few of the detailed case studies include:

  • Tech legend Bill Gross building an MVP in 1999 to test demand for online car sales, which grew into
  • LitMotors approach to using Lean Startup to create a new vehicle category.
  • AppFog creating “high-hurdle” experiments to surface authentic early adopters with real pain.
  • The Embrace infant warmer was developed – by getting out of the country — and how Rob Emrich learned and scaled his non-profit, Road of Life. (Social
    entrepreneurs take note!)
  • BetaBrand building apparel MVPs and testing them quickly with targeted customer communities.
  • Telecom O2 learning to move at the speed of the internet
  • 500 Startups and their accelerated feedback loops on what works, and what doesn’t work in early-stage investing.
  • Scott Summitt iteratively leveraging the emerging technologies of digital fabrication and 3d-scanning to change people’s lives.
  • PayPal, under the leadership of David Marcus and Bill Scott, re-defining and re-engineering itself by embracing Lean Startup to improve the product
  • KISSmetrics building and empowering cross-functional teams to attack problems in their sales funnels via hypothesis testing.
  • Intuit showing large organizations how to combine Lean Startup with horizon planning to nurture internal innovation and startup experiments.
  • Berkeley Pizza: from pizza in the farmer’s market to a sit-down restaurant.

Another thing I love about The Lean Entrepreneur is how Brant and Patrick are treating their book like a startup. One example is in their marketing, which
in today’s environment requires providing value. This doesn’t mean pointing to the product and describing the product’s value, but rather the marketing provides value itself.

As part of their book campaign, Brant and Patrick have teamed up with General Assembly to offer 4 free online video classes, including:

Lean UX Research Techniques – Rapid Prototyping – How to Hire Developers – Growth Hacking

Every book pre-order get access to all of these classes – and quite a bit more. You can pre-order on their site until February 10th
2013, and after that on Amazon.

Lastly, I wanted to share with you the foreword I wrote for The Lean Entrepreneur. As we head into 2013, it’s a good time to reflect on how far the Lean Startup movement has come:

When I first started blogging in August of 2008, I had no idea what to expect. Startup blogging was hardly “cool” back then. Plenty of venture capitalists
advised me against it. 

My personal background was as an engineer and my companies had been Web-based startups, so that is what I wrote about. Struggling to explain the successes
and failures of those companies, I discussed principles like continuous deployment, customer development, and a hyper-accelerated form of agile. When I
delved into lean manufacturing, I discovered the concepts and terminology dovetailed. The result: a new idea I called The Lean Startup. 

I started with some basic theory: that a startup is an institution designed to thrive in the soil of extreme uncertainty; that traditional management
techniques rooted in forecasting and planning would not work well in the face of that uncertainty. Therefore, we needed a new management toolkit designed
explicitly for iteration, scientific learning, and rapid experimentation. 

At the time, I viewed it as incidental that the theory might be tied to a particular industry, such as high-tech startups or web-based environments. Lean,
after all, emerged from Toyota, a huge automobile manufacturing company. I simply stated my belief that Lean Startup principles would work in other types
of startups and in other areas of business where uncertainty reigned. 

Boy, was I unprepared for what happened next. I was hopeful that we would change the way startups are built – but I didn’t know.Fast-forward more than 4 years and I’m astounded by what has emerged. A nascent community has blossomed into a full-fledged movement. Entrepreneurs, both
new and experienced, proudly share their Lean Startup learning in case studies, conferences, and many, many blogs. Books, workshops and courses authored by
passionate practitioners relate experience, share insight, and create tools to teach students ways to make Lean Startup principles their own. Many
investors, advisors, mentors and even celebrity entrepreneur icons speak the Lean Startup language. 

It’s a big tent. We stand on the shoulders of giants: customer development, the theory of disruptive innovation, the technology life-cycle adoption theory,
and agile development. Complementary lines of thinking, such as that of user experience professionals, design thinking practitioners and the functional
disciplines of sales, marketing, operations and even accounting, come together to share practices that lift us all. 

Lean Startup has gone mainstream. I wish I could say that this was all part of some master plan, that I knew all along that companies of all sizes – far
outside the high-technology world – would embrace Lean Startup. I wish I had foreseen that within a year of publishing The Lean Startup: How Today’s Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Achieve Radically Successful Businesses, many large organizations,
including such monsters as the United States Federal government (!) would have recognized that to cope with today’s world -faster, more competitive, and
inundated with data – new methods are needed to keep up. The truth is that all of this change has happened faster and more thoroughly than any of us
imagined. And – as you’re about to see – we’re just getting started. 

That’s why I am so excited by the volume you hold in your hands. The Lean Entrepreneur is about those new methods. Brant Cooper and Patrick
Vlaskovits are among the earliest adopters of new ideas such as Lean Startup and customer development. Their new work turns their lens on three primary
focal points: how to interact with customers, run experiments, and use actionable data to move the needle of any uncertain business endeavor. 

As with all of their work, theirs is not just a book of theory. Brant and Patrick provide great tactical depth in each of these areas. 

They endeavor to answer the question: No matter where you are as an organization, how do you know where to focus your Lean Startup activities? The Lean
Entrepreneur offers new thinking, tools and activities that help organizations identify and act upon business model challenges in a waste-eliminating
manner. Following the precepts of traditional lean thinking, Brant and Patrick introduce the value stream discovery process, which helps organizations
hypothesize what they must do, including product development, marketing, and sales in order to create value. These business model assumptions are then ripe
for testing, measuring and iterating upon. 

Further, the value you create is meaningless without a customer who needs, wants, desires and ultimately, determines the final value of your creation.
Brant and Patrick spend considerable time helping you think through your customer segments. Cleverly and in the spirit of the scientific method, they even
help you discover where your customer theory is wrong. 

Everyone likes a good story; Brant and Patrick interviewed dozens of entrepreneurs and documented numerous case studies both inside and outside of
high-tech, in both startups and large enterprises. There’s even a classic Wizard of Oz minimum viable product that dates back to 1998! 

Make no mistake, Brant and Patrick have been here since the beginning. They self-published The Entrepreneur’s Guide to Customer Development in
April of 2010
From the outset, they were both practitioners and mentors, urging entrepreneurs not to follow a paint-by-numbers approach, but rather to think lean: fast,
agile and continuously learning. Over the last two years they’ve traveled around the world speaking, advising, and teaching Lean Startup. 

The Lean Entrepreneur is an important addition to the growing library of principles and practices designed to improve how we tackle innovation and
uncertainty, be it in tech startups, Fortune 100, non-profits or government. 

I consider myself lucky to count Brant and Patrick as friends and colleagues. It is my hope that from this book you will gain valuable insights, make Lean
Startup your own, and – much more importantly – that you are successful in changing the world for the better. 

Eric Ries,
San Francisco, December 2012

If you want to read more, you can find an excerpt of Chapter 6, Viability Experiments here.

via Lessons Learned


Measuring Social Media: How to Determine Your ROI

Are you trying to measure your social media return on investment (ROI)?

Do you need to measure the social performance of your business?

To learn how to determine the ROI for social media marketing, I interview Nichole Kelly for this episode of the Social Media Marketing podcast.

More About This Show

Social Media Marketing Podcast w/ Michael Stelzner

The Social Media Marketing podcast is a show from Social Media Examiner.

It’s designed to help busy marketers and business owners discover what works with social media marketing.

The show format is on-demand talk radio (also known as podcasting).

In this episode, I interview Nichole Kelly, author of How to Measure Social Media and the CEO of Social Media Explorer and SME Digital.

Nichole shares why so many businesses struggle to determine the ROI of their social media activities and what’s really important in your social media measurement.

You’ll learn the most important steps that all marketers should take when thinking about social ROI.

Share your feedback, read the show notes and get the links mentioned in this episode below!

Listen Now

You can also subscribe via iTunes, RSS, Stitcher or Blackberry.

Here are some of the things you’ll discover in this show:

Social Media Return on Investment (ROI)

Why so many marketers struggle with measuring social ROI

Nichole believes one of the reasons social ROI is a challenge is because marketers have redefined the metrics used to measure social media. Words such as mentions and retweets are similar to what was measured before. But now people have decided that social media is special, and therefore needs to be measured in a special way.

stock photo 17323056 measuring tapes

Marketers have redefined metrics to try to measure social media. Image source: iStockphoto

Nichole believes this has set us up for failure. When you try to 1) justify what you are doing and 2) measure the return, you can’t compare these two things. It then becomes difficult to compare and optimize whatever the return is.

People have played with the return on investment phrase in the social realm. For example, you’ve likely heard of return on influence, return on engagement and return on conversation. The problem with this approach is that at the end of the day, ROI is a financial return. And whether it is the best measure for success of social media doesn’t really matter, because it’s the measure of success for business.

Listen to the show to find out why you need to translate social media into a positive ROI.

The backstory that led Nichole to social media ROI

Nichole explains how she spent most of her career in corporate marketing and grew up in the boardroom.

In June 2011, there was a study that came out from the Fournaise Report that said 73% of CEOs think marketers lack business credibility. The #1 stated reason was because we talk about trends like social media.

fournaise report

In June 2011, the Fournaise Report said 73% of CEOs think marketers lack business credibility.

Whether you agree with this or not, Nichole noticed that marketers were caught in a trap of trying to measure social media differently. And measuring social media ROI isn’t as hard as everyone was making it out to be.

So she set out to provide how-to information with step-by-step instructions on translating social media into something that can be compared across channels.

Nichole wrote ROI-related articles for Social Media Examiner and discovered there was a never-ending appetite for help figuring out social media ROI.

Nichole thinks people are still trying to understand it completely, but they are actually ready to measure now.

When Nichole first started, a lot of people were talking about measurement in philosophical terms. We are starting to see companies, and marketers in particular, understand that with social media, it doesn’t matter how many fans or followers they have.

At the end of the day, if you can compare social media to what you spend on pay-per-click advertising and start measuring it with something simple like cost per click on all of the web traffic you are sending to your site, you have something that justifies a budget.

Listen to the show to find out why Nichole feels measuring social media ROI hasn’t come full circle yet.

The most important first step for marketers when thinking about social ROI

The first step is never use a social media metric. You should never talk in terms of fans, followers, likes and retweets. You should dispose of all of this social media lingo and start thinking in terms of other marketing channels and what you measure there.

For example, if you focus on pay-per-click advertising, you should measure cost per impression, cost per click and sometimes cost per conversion. If you focus on public relations, you should measure cost per impression and sometimes cost per mention. The one thing that you can measure right now is how much you spend on content, agency fees and total spend on social media marketing.

If you start comparing all of that with the cost of whatever is brought to your website or whatever the conversions are from social media, then it’s easy for people to understand social media ROI. You want to use the terminology that executives are familiar with.

Listen to the show to learn why it’s important to use the terminology that executives are familiar with.

The main types of objectives marketers measure

Nichole sees many companies measuring reach and engagement. As marketers, we want to optimize what we are doing and the only way to do that is to measure how often people engage and whether a piece of content is performing. These are good metrics.

For business it comes down to three things: sales volume, revenue and cost.

Nichole feels that we haven’t quite connected social media with the bottom of the funnel where the actual conversion, sale or customer retention process happen. And because we haven’t connected these things, we have executives with misaligned expectations about where social media fits into the sales funnel.

crm funnel chart

Nichole feels social media hasn’t quite connected with the bottom of the funnel. Image source: iStockphoto

Although you may be generating interest in the social channels, likely you still are converting customers using email marketing, having them come through organically or by using pay-per-click advertising. You need to align expectations accordingly, or you could set yourself up for failure. This can kill your ability to get any kind of budget for the social media marketing your company needs.

There are two different types of leads. A soft lead is someone who’s exchanged his/her email address in return for something, and a hard lead is someone who is already a customer or a qualified prospect.

Nichole recommends you generate the soft leads with social media and then use email marketing to convert them into hard leads.

The biggest call to action that Nichole sees is “Sign up for our newsletter.” She finds this funny. How many people really sign up for a newsletter anymore? Today the word newsletter is almost the clean word for spam. People really don’t want a newsletter. They want something of value.

Delivering a newsletter is not the best call to action to get that email address so that you can do additional marketing.

Nichole likes to focus on content-based marketing, where you give people something they value in return for their email address, and tell them what kind of emails they can expect after that.

Are you trying to gain leads with your social media efforts? Then you need to measure the cost per lead. Most companies that spend money on marketing are measuring what the cost per lead is today. The second piece to measure is cost per acquisition. How much did you spend to get an actual customer? You can measure these two metrics across channels.

One of the biggest challenges with social media is that we are trying to measure social media in the social channel, when in fact the business value tends to happen on the website or through the email list. You have to stop thinking in terms of one silo and look at social media as one part of the story.

Listen to the show to find out how to measure every touch along the buying cycle.

How marketers can measure performance

Most companies have a variety of different website analytic tools; however, the majority use Google Analytics. Nichole explains how you first need to have a goal set up for your conversion page with a thank-you page. So you set up the goal on the thank-you page. Then with every link that you share, you add “custom URL parameters.”

There are three parameters you can append to the end of a URL to tell Google Analytics the campaign, the medium and the source of where that link was posted. Nichole uses these parameters and keeps track of them in a database. This tells her exactly which status update generates a specific conversion because she has numbered each status update and has it in a database.

Listen to the show to hear how to track your conversions.

How marketers should convey their data to management

Nichole describes two different types of metrics. First of all, there are the metrics that marketing managers care about. These are the metrics you need to optimize your results. For example, which tweet led to the most conversions that month and should we do more tweets like that?

Once you start getting into executive management, you have to distill it down to three things. These are cost per impression, cost per engagement and cost per lead. Sometimes you need to add in cost per customer acquisition. If you can get to revenue and there’s an integration with CRM, you start adding things like average revenue per customer and revenue metrics, etc.

The big three are the ones that have historical presence in companies. They are benchmarks for success and a known acceptable cost for each one of these things. This is all the executive team cares about.

Social media is one line item on a budget of many marketing channels. Executive management really doesn’t pay attention to the nitty-gritty. And Nichole believes that if the executive team pays too much attention to these small details, it probably means that the marketer has not positioned social media to show proper integration. This is why they are scrutinizing it so much.

Nichole always works on getting this information into that one line item on the overall marketing report. People are scared to measure and marketers are scared to be held accountable. If you start delivering these kinds of metrics and your data shows that social media is not working, then your job is on the line. And the pressure isn’t just about social media, it’s coming for the entire marketing channel.


People are scared to measure and marketers are scared to be held accountable. Image source: iStockphoto

It’s now time for marketers to get serious. Is it going to be something you integrate into your marketing plans and into your business, internally and externally, or is it something you are going to fiddle around with on the side?

Should companies measure engagement in answering questions on their Facebook wall as a public service? Should they measure engagement with “thank-you’s” on Twitter? Nichole believes that it isn’t that these activities don’t lead to ROI. The intent is different.

There’s the question of being a good steward in social media and then there’s also the question of finding a way to impact business. It’s a combination of both of these things that work on social media.

You’ll discover what happened when Nichole did a test for her book on Facebook. When she first posted a status update simply with a link to her book, there was no engagement at all. Then she took a picture of herself in Barnes and Noble with the book, and she received tons of feedback. People loved it. Nichole hasn’t got the numbers yet to see if this generated sales. But it was the one thing that people could connect with because it made Nichole human.

Nichole explains how measuring ROI is important, and why you should also continue to be human and provide value, while tracking your sales funnel.

Listen to the show to hear why Nichole is 100% sure that your ROI is negative when you start to measure.

Economical tools Nichole recommends

The one tool most people have is Google Analytics. Nichole’s advice is look at the goal conversions that are set up on your site.

Next is to do a search for Google Analytics URL Builder, which allows you to put in the three parameters mentioned earlier. This generates a long URL that has them all appended. You can shorten it in your social channels.

url builder

Google Analytics URL Builder.

Once you have tested it, you can now connect this to sales data. This means plugging into a marketing automation system that attaches to a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tool like Marketo or Pardot.

Listen to the show to hear how the Google custom URL Builder works for social channels.

This Week’s Social Question

Ben Adam Smith from House Planning Help asks, “How long should you spend managing your social media?”

house planning help

Ben Adam Smith of House Planning Help sent in today’s social media question.

Ben, here is what you need to do.

Here’s a statistic from our 2012 Social Media Marketing Industry Report, where we surveyed about 3,800 marketers and asked them how much time they spend on social media. About 64% are spending between 1 to 10 hours a week on social media.

If you look at 10 hours spread over a 5-day workweek, that’s a maximum of about 2 hours a day. This shows that people are investing a fair amount of time in their social media efforts.

To help you figure out how you can spend less time and still get great results, here’s a very simple plan.

You can use scheduling tools like HootSuite and Buffer to schedule some of your activities (but not all of them).

At Social Media Examiner, we use SocialOomph to schedule our tweets and our LinkedIn updates only. The reason for this, to the best of our knowledge, is Twitter and LinkedIn are the two networks that don’t penalize you for using their tools. But we’ve heard mixed reports over time as to whether Facebook penalizes you or not.

With regards to Facebook, we have found the best thing to do is to manually update your news feed.

On Twitter, I suggest you write down a number of interesting things that you can schedule into one of these tools. Find some interesting content that’s been written about your industry by others. Add a few tweets with links to your own content. Consider adding an occasional tweet about an activity or an event you’re going to be participating in or attending. Then spend an hour and schedule these tweets throughout an entire week.

If you also want to schedule updates on Facebook, there’s a built-in scheduler for Facebook Pages. So you can actually go into Facebook and schedule your updates using the Facebook built-in scheduler at the same time. The only downside to this is that I’ve had mixed reports on results. To learn more, visit here and do a search for Facebook Schedule or Scheduling.

The next step is to track what is working. You’ll learn in today’s podcast how to do this. When you begin to see that some things are working better than others, consider scaling back on what’s not working, or experiment. And increase your activity on what is working.

Listen to the show to gain more insights into how we do this at Social Media Examiner.

Call in and leave your social media–related questions for us and we may include them in a future show.

Other Show Mentions

content success summit 2013

In just a few short days, we are kicking off Content Success Summit 2013—an online conference designed for marketers and business owners who want to expand their platforms.

This conference will reveal everything from strategy to content creation techniques you can put to use immediately.

Content Success Summit starts February 5, 2013, and is spread over four weeks to improve learning and accommodate your schedule. Plus you’ll get recordings and transcripts of all live sessions. Be sure to check it out.

We have 22 speakers including Joe Pulizzi, Ann Handley, Michael Hyatt, Michael Stelzner, Mark Schaefer, Amy Porterfield, Gini Dietrich, Marcus Sheridan, DJ Waldow, David Siteman Garland, Pat Flynn and Derek Halpern.

Social Media Marketing World is Social Media Examiner’s latest mega-conference—taking place at the waterfront San Diego Marriott Marquis & Marina in San Diego, California on April 7-9, 2013.

As you’d expect, Social Media Examiner recruited the biggest and best names in the world of social media marketing for this conference. Only the best for you! Be sure to check it out.

If you have been thinking about attending but you need to convince the boss, you’ll be happy to know we have a section called Convincing the Boss.

Key takeaways mentioned in this episode:

Help Us Spread the Word!

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If you enjoyed this episode of the Social Media Marketing podcast, please head over to iTunes, leave a rating, write a review and subscribe.

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What do you think? What are your thoughts on measuring social media ROI? Please leave your comments below.

Images from iStockPhoto.

via Social Media Examiner

19 Apps for Managing Your Business in the Cloud

Apps for Managing a BusinessAs a relatively new web-centric team, we look to cloud based web applications to operate virtually every area of our business.  The great news is that most of the apps we use are free, or have a free trial option and all really help to save time, improve productivity, and generally help you do more of what you are best at – running your business.

I’ve written case studies before comparing the software we utilize for many areas of our business – so this roundup covers the best from each sector.  Whether you operate a one person business or an SME there will be value in some, if not all of these web apps.

1. FreeAgent

It’s widely accepted by most entrepreneurs and startup businesses that book-keeping and general tax red tape are a real time-sink.

It’s a familiar story; an increasingly unwieldy excel spread sheet and an overflowing filing cabinet which collectively comprise your accounting system.

If I could recommend one app for new and growing (UK based) businesses it’d be this. Don’t tell them I said this but if it was 3x the cost we’d still be customers, such is the pain this software remedies.

Note: This is the best for UK businesses, but Freshbooks runs it close for US businesses!

Use it for: Good old accounting.It’s really robust (it hasn’t fallen down on us yet) and gobbles up otherwise daunting day-to-day book-keeping and dreaded tax issues.

2. SEOMoz

I’ve been in and around SEO and digital marketing since late 2006-07. Around that time SEOmoz operated mainly as a consultancy but over time have morphed into an inspiring software company. It was a seemingly organic pivot but the end result is a piece of kick-ass software.

A post from me without link/mention of Rand/SEOmoz is a rarity such is my fanboy adoration, but taking it back on point it is a great tool for measuring and improving for online presence.

I am awaiting the big reveal on which for my money is a more all-encompassing iteration of the software looking holistically at search/social/engagement.

Use it for [Businesses in general]: Understanding how you currently perform for the phrases in your niche and for a more noob-digestible explanation of how to improve.

Use it for [Agencies]: Great client intelligence and a solid reporting framework

3. SnapEngage

Such an under-rated visitor nurturing tool. Depending on which side of the fence you are on, live chat consoles are either a waste of pixels or a great way to engage with otherwise passive web visitors.

I can directly attribute new business wins to the presence of SnapEngage and if you operate in B2C (ie your target audience is not in a position to pick up the phone 9-5 and they can easily pass off their live chat as important email typing stuff) you can win big by rolling out this software.

 Use it for: Live chat – get a friendly (real) face on there you’ll be surprised by the uptake, right now around 1% of our visitors are engaging in a chat – I would estimate those may otherwise have passed through. Oh and you can experience full functionality on the free plan.

4. Unbounce

I’ve written before about Unbounce, another great story I’ve watched develop as they close an investment round, the fruits of which being a facelift and lots of great new features.

Use it for: Landing pages. If you are using PPC you can improve the chances of making it pay by utilising, and split testing landing pages.

5. Salesforce

The giant of this pack, so no heartfelt monologue but their platform is unrivalled and we’ve got it threaded into our full suite of lead nurturing activity.

Use it for: Tracking your sales and keeping tabs on the leads in your pipeline.

6. Clicktale

I slap myself on the wrists weekly for under-using Clicktale – it’s great value and provides a gold mine of insight on your visitors.

Use it for: Understanding web visitor mouse movements, it’s a killer feature of a feature-rich platform that comprehends mouse movement (closely correlated with eye movement) is the key to improving your product message and ultimately your user journey and goal completions.

 7. AdInsight

This tool is super-innovative and so useful. Another nice story which lead to big investment, AdInsight enables you to join up web and telephone enquiries by attributing John Smith’s call (and subsequent widget purchase) to a Google search for “blue widgets” last Thursday.

Use it for: Finally proving that your website and digital marketing is the source of your telephone calls and the clunky telephone directory can go straight into the paper recycling bin.

8. Google Analytics

Yep the wise granddaddy of web analytics software – let’s hope it remains free.

Use it for: Understanding volume and breakdown of website visits [basic] … everything [agencies]

9. WordPress

Open source still counts and WP is the lord of the open source dance.

Use it for: Managing your site content- it’s a great CMS platform and a criminally overqualified blog platform.

10. Adobe CreativeCloud

Wow, this must have been some sell-in to old school board members “hey I have an idea, instead of charging a one off license of £700 for each of our 10 best products why don’t we just give them all as a bundle for £27 a month”

I can almost hear the gasps. It’s what they did though, and you can now grab ALL of Adobe’s software including a paid Typekit account for that one all-in amount.

Use it for: Doing everything web/creative. From video editing to Photoshop for that introductory rate it’s almost a shame not to.


It’s a really powerful and (for now) completely free project management app.

The UI is beautiful and the whole thing has an emphasis on social to get things done.

Use it for: Managing a remote team or conducting your internal projects to completion.

12. Wunderlist

This is a personal one to me – I couldn’t live without it. The iPhone app is particularly triumphant.

Use it for: Your always-available to-do list. It’s really sleek and just works!

 13. Tweetdeck

This is a pinned tab on every machine in our team and although strictly speaking its now a Twitter entity we feel it’s a great implementation of the medium.

Use it for: Scheduling your tweets (or saving a few up to post intermittently) and for managing multiple Twitter accounts.

14. Trello

Another task management system of sorts, which has varying levels of uptake here and works really well.

Use it for: Keeping on top of tasks in hand, it uses a post it / wallboard style interface which contributes to a great user experience.

15. Campaign Monitor

Boasting one of the best company “vibes” in the tech world, Campaign Monitor have a solid product to boot.

It’s our weapon of choice for email marketing.

Use it for: Autoresponders for a nice, staggered approach to lead nurturing once you’ve been able to grab that all-important prospect email info.

16. Zapier

I wrote about this powerful tool in a post for Koozai last year.

It’s a secret weapon for tying together the various apps we have running at any one time.

Use it for: Creating a symphony of automation for your marketing.

17. Balsamiq

Another unsung hero of web design software, Balsamiq is a joy for client meetings and it’s the only time when Comic Sans is acceptable.

It’s a wireframing tool for designers to quickly draft up web/app page structures.

Use it for: Impressing clients (in person) with rapid construction of their ideas. I’ve found it doesn’t translate too well to email as the required imagination sometimes just doesn’t happen.

18. Skype

The pre-eminent web cam communication tool is equally strong in its IM guise.

It’s an obvious one but in use throughout everyone at Tone.

Use if for: Sharing your screen to collaborate well on projects struggling to bear fruit.

19. Google Drive

We used to have a physical internal server for storing networked files – but we’ve fully moved to the cloud utilising Google Drive.  In a similar way to Dropbox and other similar services, Google Drive has a desktop client so for your team(s) the folder appears as just another folder – ensuring a seamless experience.

The obvious advantage to this is cross-platform compatibility – you can grab documents from your internal network from your phone!

Use it for: A really cost-effective way to store files and collaborate with your team members.

On reflection we use lots of web apps on a daily basis, with no nasty surprises in terms of one-off licenses, costly installations and the general headaches we’d have had to incur to roll-out so many software applications even 10 years ago, if you have technical knowledge you could probably set up accounts and have all of these tools working for you in a day!

I’m really excited for what the future may bring.

Liam Veitch writes about startup culture, entrepreneurialism and digital marketing.  Liam is the founder and Managing Director of Tone Agency – specialists in lead generation and web designs that convert. 

Image Credit:

via Under30CEO

Top 20 Social Media Marketing Articles From 2012

social media reviewsHave you kept up to date with the best social media marketing practices?

Are you looking for actionable tips you can apply to your business?

Here are our most popular articles from 2012.

7 New Facebook Changes Impacting Businesses

Did you follow all of the changes on Facebook in 2012?

Facebook made many changes that impact anyone with a Facebook Page.


The new timeline cover photo for Macy’s.

Several of these changes emerged from Facebook’s fMC 2012 Conference.

The overall message was that Facebook is looking at Pages as a “mission control” point (which is where the MC comes from in the conference title).

Read more for an overview of the changes and how brands can take advantage of some of the new features.

26 Tips for Using Pinterest for Business

To say there’s been a lot of buzz about Pinterest in 2012 would be putting it mildly! Pinterest’s ease of use for visually bookmarking, organizing and sharing things you love made it a hit among individuals and businesses alike.

Whether you have a Pinterest business account or not, follow these tips to get more exposure for your business on Pinterest.

sme pins

Check out what’s already been shared from your business.

Read more for an overview of how your business could use Pinterest.

30 Social Media Predictions for 2012 From the Pros

Did you follow the evolution in social media practices this year?

Here’s a look at what marketers were talking about at the beginning of 2012.

smartphone apps

The convergence of social and mobile. Image source: iStockphoto

Read more to find out what social media experts predicted.

22 Top Blogging Tools Loved by the Pros

Is blogging an essential component of your content marketing?

Here are the blogging tools you need for successful business blogging.

wordpress app ipad tool

The WordPress app for iPad allows you to use your time on the go.

Read more to discover the new tools the pros love.

24 Must-Have Social Media Marketing Tools

Do you keep track of all of the new social media tools coming out? Do you follow the useful updates of existing tools?

Social media pros shared their favorites to help you choose the best tools to use to improve your social media marketing.

step by step social toaster

You can use SocialToaster to amplify your message.

Read more to discover the 24 must-have tools.

3 Steps to an Effective Social Media Strategy

According to the 2011 Social Media Marketing Industry Report, 78% of marketers saw increased traffic with just 6 hours a week invested in social media.

Keep your social media strategy simple and give it a chance to be more effective.


How will you measure your strategy’s success?

Read more to discover a three-step plan designed to help you develop an effective, streamlined roadmap for social media success.

13 Tools to Simplify Your Social Media Marketing

Are you a small business marketer struggling to keep up?

Here are the tools you need to simplify your social media marketing.


Use Disqus to expand your blog community.

Read more to discover 13 tools to help you execute your social media strategy effectively.

9 Tips for Running Successful Facebook Contests

Are you like the increasing number of business owners who recognize the value of Facebook contests for their business?

Here’s what you need to know to make your Facebook contests successful.

go pro

Fans can enter GoPro’s contest once a day, every day, for a chance to win a GoPro accessory.

Read more to learn 9 tips for making Facebook contests more successful.

26 Tips for Writing Great Blog Posts

Bloggers are always looking for ideas to simplify their content creation process. They sometimes feel like they’re trying to reinvent the wheel time and again.

You’ll discover everything from being Anatomically Correct to being in the Zone for Writing.

anatomical 1

Parts of the blog anatomy.

Read more to find out the 26 tips, from A-Z, to help you create optimal blog posts every time you sit down to write.

5 Twitter Tools to Enhance Your Marketing

Here are 5 lesser-known tools that your business should be using. Each of these tools has unique capabilities to help your business get an edge over your competitors.

tweriod timing

Tweriod analysis shows you the best time to tweet.

Read more to discover these 5 free tools.

How to Track Social Media Traffic With Google Analytics

Would you like to discover where visitors to your site come from, how engaged they are with your website or if they have converted as a reader, subscriber or customer?

Google Analytics is an awesome free tool. It can give you the information you need to use social media more effectively.

google analytics traffic1

Use Google Analytics to identify the main 3 social media sites that send you traffic.

Read more to know how to track social media traffic.

5 Ways to Enhance Your Facebook Timeline Page With Images

With each new overhaul of Facebook Pages, there have been increased opportunities for brands to use imagery to better promote their offerings and create visual interest, and timeline for Pages is no different.

virgin america profile pic

Timeline Page masthead: The cover photo, profile picture and custom tab images.

Timeline for Pages provides significantly more opportunities to create a visually compelling Page, starting with the masthead.

Read more to explore 5 ways to enhance your timeline Page with images.

10 Creative Ways to Use Instagram for Business

Instagram was acquired by Facebook in April 2012. Clearly, Instagram is a photo-focused social platform not to be ignored.


Zappos shares a glimpse of its colorful workspace.

Here’s how to give your business extra visibility and better engage with the Instagram community.

Read more to discover 10 creative ways to use Instagram for your business.

6 Tips for Using LinkedIn’s New Endorsements

LinkedIn recently made the endorsement process super-easy with just a simple click.

In addition to providing some credibility, this new Endorsement feature can also be considered a networking tool for savvy online marketers, because a LinkedIn endorsement is an easy way to get on someone’s radar.

endorse others

Endorse others easily by clicking the Endorse button.

Read more to find out how LinkedIn Endorsements can help you.

3 Successful Google+ Pages and Why They Work

How are brands finding the most success with Google+ business pages?

Here’s a close look at the strategies employed by the top brands on Google+. Use these insights to help you mount your own Google+ campaigns.

nasa masthaead

NASA’s Google+ page engages followers with almost 15 posts daily.

Read more to discover examples of great Google+ pages.

9 Businesses Using Pinterest Contests to Drive Traffic and Exposure

Running contests on Pinterest is a great way to expose your brand to a large audience, attract new followers and engage with your existing follower base.

well designed teaser

Well-designed teaser for the HuHot Grill Meal contest.

It gives your brand the opportunity to engage with customers in a personal and cost-effective way.

Read more about why you should consider Pinterest contests for your business.

5 Ways to Increase Your Facebook Fan Engagement

A great way to increase your Facebook fan engagement is to have a call to action on your Facebook Page’s wall. This encourages or even incentivizes fans’ responses to your content, and it can be as simple as a status update.


Neutrogena’s Welcome tab is perfect: it’s fan-gated, incentivizes liking the Page and includes lots of information for non-fans who may not want to click Like.

Fans enjoy interacting with your Facebook Page and your Page will benefit the most with increased visibility, traffic and marketing opportunities.

Read more to discover 5 effective ways to call your fans to action.

5 Ways to Grow Your Exposure With Instagram

In the last year, photo sharing has become an increasingly popular method of social interaction.

Instagram is a free application for iPhone or Android that lets people take photos, apply filters to change the look of the photos and then share them on Instagram or Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Foursquare.

twitter tumblr foursquare facebook

Instagram photos (from left to right) on Twitter, Tumblr, Foursquare and Facebook.

This represents a great opportunity for businesses to participate in this thriving community.

Read more to find out how to successfully use Instagram.

10 Ways to Grow Your Facebook Following

Are you are looking to grow your Facebook community? Now is a great time to examine your Facebook activities, cut out what isn’t working and expand what works.

original content

Your Facebook Page name and original comments will travel with shared photos.

Read more to learn 10 tips to help grow your community.

5 Ways to Use Google+ to Improve Your Search Engine Optimization

Do you want to improve your search engine optimization? Google+ should be on your short list of activities. Google+ is making its presence known in Google search results now.

google+ page website search results

Toyota’s Google+ page activity dominates the top spot.

Read more to learn some ways you can ensure that your Google+ usage will help with your search rankings.

What do you think? Which article did you most enjoy on Social Media Examiner? Please share it in the comment section below.

Image from iStockPhoto.

via Social Media Examiner

Talks To Help You Become A Better Front-End Engineer In 2013


Many of us care deeply about developing our craft. But staying up to date can be a true challenge, because the quantity of fresh information we’re regularly exposed to can be a lot to take in. 2012 has been no exception, with a wealth of evolution and refinement going on in the front end.

Great strides have been made in how we approach workflow, use abstractions, appreciate code quality and tackle the measurement and betterment of performance. If you’ve been busy and haven’t had time to catch up on the latest developments in these areas, don’t worry.

With the holiday season upon us and a little more time on our hands, I thought it would be useful to share a carefully curated list of the most relevant front-end talks I’ve found helpful this year. You certainly don’t have to read through them all, but the advice shared in them will equip you with the knowledge needed to go into the new year as a better front-end engineer.

Image credit: Jacob Bøtter


Have a Strategy for Staying Up to Date

How to Stay Up to Date on Web Stuff, Chris Coyier

Part of continually developing your craft is staying up to date. Doing this is important for all professionals, and in this talk you’ll learn strategies for staying updated even when the ideas that surround the technologies we use are constantly evolving.


Make Sure Your Baseline for Development Is Current

A New Baseline for Front-End Developers, Rebecca Murphey

There was a time when editing files, testing them locally and simply FTP’ing them was the common workflow for a front-end developer. We would measure our abilities based on how well we could harass IE 6 into rendering pages correctly, and we generally lacked strong skills in HTML, CSS and JavaScript.

This has greatly changed over the past few years, with improvements in workflow and tooling. Front-end development is now taken more seriously, and this talk sheds light on the new baseline process for developing on the front end.


Understand How Browsers Work Behind the Scenes

So, You Want to Be a Front-End Engineer, David Mosher (Video)

Some would say that the browser is the most volatile development platform the world has ever known. If you’re a client-side developer, understanding how browser internals work can help you both make better decisions and appreciate the justifications behind many development best practices. In one of the best talks this year, David Mosher takes you through how browsers parse and render your pages.


Know What the Web Platform Now Has to Offer

The Web Can Do That!?, Eric Bidelman (Video)

The Web is constantly evolving, and keeping up with what’s new on the platform can be hard. HTML5’s new capabilities enable us to build an entirely new suite of applications with features that were simply impossible to achieve before (at least, not without the use of plugins) but are now a reality.

In this talk, my teammate Eric guides you through the bleeding edge of HTML5, focusing on solving many real-world problems. You’ll learn about media streaming, device input, modern CSS design, media capture, file I/O and more.



For Web App Developers

Tooling for the Modern Web App Developer, Addy Osmani

Whether you’re using JavaScript or CoffeeScript, LESS or Sass, building an awesome Web application these days usually requires a plethora of boilerplates, frameworks and tools and a lot of glue to get them to work together. In short, you need a kick-ass utility belt.

In this talk, you’ll get an overview of the current tooling eco-system for the front-end and learn about a new tool that tries to bring together all of the pieces of this eco-system for you, called Yeoman.


An extended version of this talk is also available.

For Web Designers

A Modern Web Designer’s Workflow, Chris Coyier (Video)

A lot is expected from today’s Web designers. If this role defines what you do, then it’s now not just about visual design, but increasingly about building interactions. Designs need to work across different devices of varying shapes, sizes and connections, and they also need to be accessible.

As a designer, you often need to communicate and share code across teams and be familiar with many different technologies. In this talk, Chris Coyier discusses many of the amazing tools that can help things along, discussing what does what and giving a high-level view of a modern workflow.


For Mobile Web Developers

Mobile Web Developers Toolbelt, Pete Le Page (Video)

Building for the mobile Web requires a different mindset to the one we use when developing for desktop, and a different set of tools. Thankfully, a number of great options are available. From remote debugging to emulation, mobile browsers are offering more and more tools to make our lives easier.

In this talk, Pete Le Page takes you through a couple of tools that you can use today to make cross-platform mobile Web development easier, and then he peers into the crystal ball to see what tools the future may bring.


For Debugging

Secrets of the Chrome DevTools, Patrick Dubroy (Video)

Google Chrome Developer Tools provide powerful ways to understand, debug and profile Web applications. Most developers are familiar with Chrome’s basic inspection and debugging tools, but some of its most valuable features, like the Timeline and memory analysis tools, are less known.

In his demo-based walkthrough, Patrick Dubroy provides an overview of Chrome Developer Tools and an in-depth demonstration of some lesser-known features.


The Future


The CSS of Tomorrow, Peter Gasston

In this talk, Peter looks briefly at the state of CSS3: what you can do right now, and what you’ll be able to do in the very near future. He then looks into the long-term future, to a time when CSS3 will make possible page layouts far richer and more dynamic than we’d thought possible, and when CSS3 has taken on aspects of programming languages. This is effectively what CSS developers will be learning years from now.



The Future of JavaScript, Dave Herman

The Web platform is growing, and JavaScript is growing along with it. EcmaScript 6, the next edition of the JavaScript standard, is gearing up to be a huge step forward for Web programming. In this talk, Dave Herman discusses the exciting new features being worked on for EcmaScript 6 and how they can be used.


Web Applications

Web Components and the Future of Web App Development, Eric Bidelman

Web components are going to fundamentally change the way we think, build and consume Web apps. ShadowDOM, Mutation Observers, custom elements, MDV, Object.observe(), CSS — how do they all fit together?

This talk prepares you for the future of the Web platform by discussing the fundamentals of Web components and how we can use them today with frameworks such as AngularJS.



State of the Art

All the New CSS Hawtness, Darcy Clarke

This talk dives into some of the latest CSS implementations and specifications floating around. You’ll learn what’s here and what’s around the corner, and you’ll gain insight into why these new features will change our development workflow.

Darcy Clarke touches on modules such as paged-media, multi-columns, flex-box, filters, regions, box-sizing, masking and 3D.



Your CSS Is a Mess, Jonathan Snook

We all think that CSS is easy. Take some selectors, add some properties, maybe a dash of media queries, and — presto! — you have a beautiful website. And yet, as the project changes and the team grows, we see the frustration build, with increasingly complex selectors and overuse of !important.

In this talk, Jonathan looks at common problems and solutions that will make your CSS (and your projects) easier to manage and easier to scale.



CSS Pre-Processors, Bermon Painter

If you haven’t jumped on the pre-processor train this year, you’re missing out. In this helpful overview of (current) popular pre-processors, Bermon Painter takes you through Stylus, LESS and Sass, with features subdivided into easy-to-learn sections of beginner, intermediate and advanced. I’ve been using mixins quite heavily this year, and I simply wouldn’t have been able to if it weren’t for projects like Sass.



A Better Future With KSS, Kyle Neath

Writing maintainable CSS within a team is one of those problems that a lot of people think can be solved by writing CSS in a particular style. But in Kyle’s experience, that never works out.

In this talk, he introduces you to his latest creation, KSS. It’s a documentation and style guide format. He’ll show you why he built KSS and how it’s been helping him at GitHub to refactor its four-and-a-half year old CSS, and he’ll give you a glimpse into the future of KSS.



The Importance of Code Style

Maintainable JavaScript, Nicholas Zakas

Some say that good code is its own documentation, and the fact is that the more readable our code is, the easier it is to maintain.

Writing JavaScript for fun and writing it professionally are two different things, and in this talk by Zakas, you’ll learn practices to make JavaScript maintainable over the long run, to reduce errors and to make your code easily adaptable to future changes. It’s highly recommended reading.


A Modern Large-Scale App Stack

SoundCloud’s Stack, Nick Fisher

I’ve talked a lot about large-scale development in the past. It’s a non-trivial problem that’s difficult to get right, and so it’s exciting when someone working on such challenges shares their experience.

In this talk, Nick Fisher of SoundCloud discusses the company’s story of developing large-scale applications with JavaScript, not only at runtime, but also its steps to make development and deployment easier. In particular, he looks at RequireJS and Backbone, talking about how SoundCloud has used and abused each to suit its needs, sometimes in uncommon ways.


Rethinking Application Structure

Re-Imagining the Browser With AngularJS, Igor Minar

What if you could a write modern Web app with dramatically fewer lines of code and improve its readability and expressiveness at the same time? In case you’re wondering: no, there’s no new language to learn, just familiar old HTML and JavaScript. As a matter of fact, there are concepts for you to unlearn.

AngularJS is a client-side JavaScript Web development framework whose authors believe they’ve done something special. Instead of asking what kind of functions they could provide to make writing apps smoother, they asked, “What if the browser worked differently in a way that eliminates code and gives structure to apps?”

In this talk, you’ll get a tour of how to get the power of tomorrow’s Web platform in today’s Web applications.


Internationalization and i18n

Entschuldigen you, parlez vouz JavaScript, Sebastian Golasch (Video)

While JavaScript applications grow in size and complexity, there are still some white spots on the big map of Web applications: internationalization and globalization! If you´re still thinking that switching strings in and out is the way to go, you are definitely headed in the wrong direction.

In this talk, Sebastian takes you through how to spot real-world internationalization problems and how to solve them in the most elegant way.


I couldn’t cover internationalization without mentioning Alex Sexton, who has also spoken a great deal on this topic. His JSConf talk on client-side internationalization is available in video form if you’re interested in checking it out.

Patterns and Principles

The Plight of Pinocchio, Brandon Keepers

JavaScript is no longer a toy language, and many of our Web applications can’t function without it. Brandon states that if we are going to use JavaScript to do real things, then we need to treat it like a real language, adopting the same practices that we use with real languages. I completely agree with him.

This framework-agnostic talk takes a serious look at how we develop JavaScript applications in the real world. Despite their prototypical nature, good object-oriented programming principles are still relevant. The design patterns that we’ve grown to know and love work just as well in JavaScript as they do in any other language.


When to Lazy Load Scripts

How Late Is Later?, Massimiliano Marcon

Reducing the loading time of a Web application is a well-known challenge. Developers need to make sure that the browser downloads only the code that is strictly necessary to bootstrap the application, and leave the rest for later. This is what we commonly call “lazy loading.”

But when is “later”? When is the right time to lazy load? This talk shows how JavaScript code — functions and objects — can be delivered to the browser on demand, thus reducing the perceived loading time of a Web application.



Building Touch-Based Interfaces

Creating Responsive HTML5 Touch Interfaces, Stephen Woods (Video | Audio)

Flickr front-end engineer Stephen Woods shares some hard-learned lessons about building responsive touch-based interfaces using HTML5 and CSS. Because our users are demanding better instant feedback from touch-based UIs, understanding how to approach this problem and avoid the pitfalls will be critical for many application developers in the future.


The Challenge With Scrolling

Embracing Touch: Cross-Platform Scrolling, Mark Dalgleish (Video)

Scrolling effects are a popular way to add personality to the simple act of moving down the page. Unfortunately, these effects don’t work natively on mobile devices, where the touch interaction would make these techniques more effective. In this talk, Mark looks at some ways to implement these effects within the limitations of mobile browsers.


Native, HTML5 and Hybrid Apps

Native, HTML5 and Hybrid Mobile Development, Eran Zinman

One of the toughest decisions every mobile developer faces is choosing a development strategy: “Should I develop a native, HTML5 or hybrid mobile app?” Over the past two years, Eran has led Conduit’s mobile client development efforts, experimenting with cross-platform development in various flavors: from complete HTML5 solutions (using PhoneGap and other technologies) to hybrid solutions to semi-hybrid solutions to fully native solutions.

In this talk, Eran shares some real-life experiences in cross-platform development, describing changes that Conduit has implemented along the way, and sharing what some of the “big players” (such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter) are doing in their mobile app development.


Performance, Distribution and Facebook on HTML5

On the Future of Mobile Web Apps, Simon Cross

Simon looks at Facebook’s experience with and investment in the mobile Web, the issues affecting mobile Web developers and what Facebook and the industry are doing to push the mobile Web forward. Mark Zuckerberg’s comments on HTML5 were undoubtedly one of the most discussed topics in mobile this year, and I personally found these slides a good summary of Facebook’s current take on what works and what still requires improvement.


Tools for Mobile Debugging

Mobile Debugging, Remy Sharp

Debugging Web apps on mobile devices can be a genuine pain. Luckily, a number of tools are available today to ease the process. From remote debuggers to cross-device consoles, this talk summarizes the current state of debugging for mobile, going into more depth on debugging than Pete’s talk from earlier in the post.


Responsive Design Techniques

Responsive Web Design: Clever Tips and Techniques, Vitaly Friedman

Responsive Web design challenges designers to apply a new mindset to their design processes and to the techniques they use in design and coding. This talk (by Smashing Magazine’s own Vitaly Friedman) provides an overview of various practical techniques, tips and tricks that you might want to be aware of when working on a new responsive design project.


Web Apps

Offline Web Apps

Offline Rules, Andrew Betts (Video)

In the last couple of years, a deluge of new offline storage technologies have appeared. In this talk, Andrew looks at why they are all excellent and rubbish at the same time and why you need to use all of them, and he walks through techniques to consider when building a Web application that can load and function with no network connectivity.

But making use of client-side storage is necessary not only in order to make an app that works offline, but it can also hugely improve the experience of your website when the user actually does have connectivity.


State of the Art

Building Web Apps of the Future: Tomorrow, Today and Yesterday, Paul Kinlan (Audio)

The browser is an amazing runtime that can already deliver amazing apps. Paul dives into the technologies that will help you deliver Web apps that will blow your users’ socks off now and in the future.


Client-Side Storage

Storage in the Browser, Andrew Betts

Installed native applications can use all the space they want, but in the browser we’re much more limited. This talk explores how to make the best use of the storage technologies available to Web apps, comparing the virtues of different packaging and encoding techniques, and covering simple forms of in-browser compression that can yield surprising results.

As more apps are developed to surf over network turbulence, and to work even when completely disconnected from the network, local storage becomes ever more important.


Application Cache

Application Cache: Douchebag, Jake Archibald (Video)

The Application Cache is one of the cool bits of HTML5. It allows websites to work without a network connection, and it brings us much closer to native app-like behavior. However, from roundup articles and talks about HTML5, you might be left with the impression that it’s a magic bullet. Unfortunately, it isn’t; the Application Cache is, as Jake famously puts it, a douchebag.

In this talk, he looks at how to use the features of Application Cache without the horrible side effects, comparing techniques that you’d use for both a simple client-side app and a large content-driven website. He explores the many gotchas left out of most articles about Application Cache and discusses how to build your website to survive them.




High-Performance CSS, Paul Irish

Paul dives into the tools available in and outside of the browser to assess the performance of your CSS. Find out what’s slow (is box-shadow causing paints to be 70 milliseconds longer?) and how to fix it. Learn about about:tracing, CSS profiling and speed tracer, and get a better understanding of the browser’s internals in the process.


There’s also Jon Rohan’s talk about some problems related to CSS performance that were solved at GitHub. Recommended reading.

GitHub’s CSS Performance, Jon Rohan


Avoiding Jank

Jank-Free: In Pursuit of Smooth Web Apps, Tom Wiltzius

Building beautiful experiences on the mobile Web takes more than a good designer and fancy CSS: performance is critical for a Web app to feel fluid. Smooth animation that never drops a frame can give your app a native feel. But when animations stutter, effects lag or pages scroll slowly, we call that “jank.” This talk is about identifying jank and getting rid of it.



Building Faster Websites, Ilya Grigorik

In this comprehensive crash course, Ilya Grigorik shares some really juicy tips on how to make the Web faster, including Google’s findings on what slows down people’s Web experience and how Chrome and other services have improved it. If you’re an engineer looking to improve the performance of your websites or apps, this talk comes highly recommended.



Breaking the JavaScript Speed Limit With V8, Daniel Clifford

Are you interested in making JavaScript run blazingly fast? If so, this talk looks at V8 under the hood to help you identify how to optimize your JavaScript. Daniel shows you how to leverage V8’s sampling profiler to eliminate performance bottlenecks and optimize JavaScript programs. He also exposes how V8 uses hidden classes and runtime-type feedback to generate efficient JIT code. A very interesting talk for performance junkies.


Note: Some of the optimizations mentioned in this talk are specific to V8 and may not apply to other JavaScript engines. I wrote about how to write memory-efficient JavaScript on Smashing Magazine recently, in case you’re interested in exploring the topic further.


Understanding Code Smells

Why Our Code Smells, Brandon Keepers (Video)

Odors exist for a reason, and they are usually trying to tell us something. If our code smells, it might be trying to tell us what is wrong.

Does a test case require an abundance of setting up? Maybe the code being tested is doing too much, or it is not isolated enough for the test? Does an object have an abundance of instance variables? Maybe it should be split into multiple objects? Is a view brittle? Maybe it is too tightly coupled to a model, or maybe the logic needs to be abstracted into an object that can be tested?

In this talk, Brandon walks through code from projects that he works on every day, looking for smells that indicate problems, understanding why the smells are there, what the smells are trying to tell us, and how to refactor them.


Current State of the Art

JavaScript Testing: The Holy Grail, Adam Hawkins (Video)

Adam talks about this Holy Grail for JavaScript developers: getting a test suite up and running fast and having multiple browsers execute the tests. Getting the Holy Grail is difficult, though, even though several tools have been created in the past in attempts to solve this problem.

Barriers to entries are everywhere. How easy is it to get going testing small parts of JavaScript functionality? What happens as your become bigger and more complex? What about headless testing? Does this process scale up to CI? Can you even do this stuff locally?

A myriad of testing tools and solutions are available, and Adam shows what’s out there and what we as a community need to do next to get the Holy Grail, to ensure a better Web experience for everyone.


Tip: One tool for testing that I’m loving at the moment is Testling-CI, which runs browser tests on every push.

Improving the Testability of Your Code

Writing Testable JavaScript, Rebecca Murphey (Audio)

It’s one thing to write the code that you need to write to get something working; quite another to write the code that you need to write to prove that it works — and to prove that it will continue to work as you refactor and add new features.

In her talk, Rebecca looks at what it means to write testable JavaScript code.



Time spent thinking about (and developing) your craft is time well spent. The more honed your skills are, the more opportunity you will have to become an efficient engineer.

While this list doesn’t cover every excellent talk presented this year, it hopefully offers some direction for you to accentuate your skills. Do consider reading through a few of them. Focused reading in this way will add to your value as a craftsperson and hopefully improve your daily development workflow.

With that, do enjoy the holiday season and have a fantastic new year.


© Addy Osmani for Smashing Magazine, 2012.

via Smashing Magazine Feed

How Bad Do You Want It? (Success) HD by Matthew Howell

“When you want to succeed as bad as you want to breathe, then you’ll be successful”

You can download the mp3 version of this speech for your iPods/iPhones here:

Inspirational video featuring Giavanni Ruffin (running back for East Carolina).
Speech by Eric Thomas (AKA The Hip Hop Preacher).

Greyskale Multimedia:


Both background songs are by Explosions in the Sky. The first song is called Home ( The second song is called Your Hand in Mine (

I do not own this video, nor am I in any way affiliated with Greyskale Multimedia. All credit goes to them. I originally saw this video in vimeo, I just wanted to share it with YouTube. Matthew Howell