The Fetch Blog

Curated reads and events for professionals

Web performance is everyone’s problem: why it matters and how to help fix it — August 28, 2015

Web performance is everyone’s problem: why it matters and how to help fix it

Not long ago, websites were usually simple affairs. Some text, a few images, a little interaction, the odd form and some quick audio or video. Over the last five years, however, even the simplest site has become bigger. A lot bigger. According to the HTTP Archive, which has been tracking this sort of thing for half a decade or more, the average ‘page’ at a major website is now heading towards 2MB. And well-known websites can have pages weighing in as much as 14MB in size.

As a bit of background, page load performance isn’t just about how many bytes a browser needs to download, it’s also about how many individual files go into making up that page. As the typical high profile website approaches 200 individual files, this has become a particularly costly problem over even the shiniest 4G mobile network. 

More than a developer’s dilemma

While there are things that developers and DevOps professionals are doing to tackle page load times, this problem is more than a developer’s dilemma. Reason being that it’s often the strategic and design decisions as team makes that contribute to increased load time.

Think of it like this: just as building new roads increases the amount of traffic on them (ironically increasing overall trip times), increased network performance has encouraged bigger, slower sites.

Why is this a problem? In addition to providing a poor user experience on any large site, research shows that slow page load can be incredibly costly for retailers. Walmart, for instance, has seen the impact of a page that loads a second slower at 2% of their total e-commerce sales. Additionally, other e-tailers have measured and reported far worse outcomes. With these learnings, we’ve proven that even the slightest page load increase can contribute to a noticeable decrease in earnings, along with other key engagement metrics.

However, there’s a surprising upside to such great losses. A company’s ability to decrease page load time not only offers a very competitive advantage, but isn’t as difficult to execute as one may think.

You are part of the solution

To begin solving today’s page load problem, we need to first stop ignoring our role as designers and decision makers. We must make a mental shift to begin seeing performance as everyone’s problem. 

As a new rule, remember that every single image, font and font weight will incur a performance cost. Social media buttons can add 10 seconds or more per page load. Third party ads, analytics, and user trackers will also incur considerable costs, depending on how they’re implemented. 

Moving forward, take a few extra minutes to choose the right format and optimize images before handing them in. Make it a point to help your developers to the best of your ability. Invest in learning about what different aspects of a web page cost in terms of performance. Talk with members of the Development and DevOps teams to decide what’s necessary and what’s extraneous. Together, be mindful of all costs.

Website performance is one area where there are clear, measurable returns on investment, and where most sites really aren’t yet paying enough attention. But that will change — so you can get onboard now and get ahead of your competitors, or wait and play catch up.

Recommended reading

  • While more for designers and developers, Etsy’s Lara Hogan has literally written the book on designing for performance.
  • The performance team at Etsy also brought together some thoughts on performance for that company, with some good rules of thumb.
  • Some real world numbers to convince your client, team or boss about the real cost of website performance that focuses on the bigger picture.

About our writer // John Allsopp, co-founder of the Web Directions conferences, is widely recognized as the originator of the concepts behind Responsive Web Design, and his ideas helped form the foundations for Typekit. Find him on Twitter @johnallsopp.

10 incredible Instagram accounts to follow right now — August 7, 2015

10 incredible Instagram accounts to follow right now

65% percent of people are visual learners, so it’s no surprise that brands, companies, and communities have taken to Instagram to share inspiration and information in engaging visual formats.

Eye candy with a bit of brain food is hard to resist, so we’re sharing ten incredible Instagram accounts that offer both. Follow along to fill your feed with new learnings and beautiful imagery daily:

  1. NASA

    NASAA feed that’s literally out of this world, NASA showcases planets, new technology, and all things celestial. Explore the universe through incredible videos and photographs while learning about each item shown.

  2. I Have This Thing With Floors

    ihavethisthingwithfloorsThoughtful design is everywhere — even under your feet! This insanely popular account features photos tagged with the signature hashtag, #ihavethisthingwithfloors. Photos of the gorgeous surfaces serve as a reminder to stop overlooking beauty (no matter how small) around you.

  3.  From Where I Drone

    From Where I DroneThis drone photography and cinematography offer striking, unseen perspectives of beaches, buildings, and people around the world. Are you a digital nomad or remote freelancer? Use these extraordinary images as inspiration for a future global work location.

  4.  Adventure Patch

    Adventure PatchGo to some of the best-known parks and places (with patches of each destination, held up ‘Dear Photograph’ style) with Keegan Jones, a talented Product Designer and adventurer who curates tagged images from the community.

  5.  Hand Drawn San Francisco

    Handdrawn San FranciscoA global tech community and adored travel destination, this brilliant account features drawings of some of the city by the bay’s most popular sights. Additionally, discover lesser-known places and hidden gems, as loved and sketched by artist Thomas Leach.

  6.  Folk Magazine

    Folk MagazineFolk Magazine inspires followers to live an authentic life. See beautiful environments as shown by the people who call them home, including ‘story-telling ramblers’ and millennial wanderers.

  7.  Coffee Cups of the World

    Coffee Cups of the WorldFolks around the world love coffee, as evidenced by the massive presence of the caffeinated beverage on Instagram. More than the lattes and cappuccinos, however, are the eye-catching cups the coffee is served in. Don’t miss the quotes, puns, brilliant business logos, and a medley of day-brightening patterns and colors.

  8.  Escape Your Desk

    Escape Your DeskYou’ll never want to break free of your office more than after looking through images posted by this account. Captures include creative workspaces, coffee shops, parks equipped with Wi-Fi and more. Get out there!

  9.  Breakfast in Sydney

    Breakfast in SydneySnapshots of Sydney’s best breakfasts may inspire you to prepare a delicious plate of your own. Arguably the most important meal of the day, breakfast will provide you with all of the energy you need to knock tasks off of your to-do list.

  10.  Passion Passport

    Passion PassportFollow some of the globe’s most active adventurers who capture breathtaking shots daily. Your next project may be your Everest, but you’re sure to find inspiration for accomplishing whatever you set your mind to after scoping out these photos.

10 online/offline communities taking the globe by storm — July 17, 2015

10 online/offline communities taking the globe by storm

Digital communities can be just as powerful as real-life ones, bringing together like-minded people to share knowledge and create change. Today’s brightest communities make use of all channels to be exceptionally engaging:

  1. TED
    Renown for TED Talks, this nonprofit is dedicated to sharing ideas and sparking conversation. From science to global issues, community members can reap the benefits of powerful ideas in more than 100 languages.
  2. Creative Mornings
    People in 117 ‘creative cities’ participate in a monthly breakfast with a short lecture, covering topics like music, design, and new technology. The offline meetups offer members a chance to learn something new while meeting like-minded peers.
  3. Travel Massive
    Travel Massive counts travel industry insiders, leaders and innovators in more than 95 global cities, hoping to connect insiders and empower change in travel. Community members meet, learn and collaborate at events all over the world, helping move the mission forward.
  4. Responsive Org
    In-person meetups take place from Brussels to Brisbane, bringing together those interested in creating a fundamental shift in the way we work and organize in the 21st century. Examples of Responsive Organizations that fit the Community’s manifesto include Google and Tesla.
  5. Social Media Club
    Founded nearly ten years ago, Social Media Club remains one of the world’s most digitally connected communities with a mission to expand digital media literacy and promote standard technologies. Knowledge transfer happens at meetups, which take place at events that range from ‘Content and Coffee’ to ‘Happy Hour with Chipotle.’ Membership levels range from educational to professional, offering flexibility for anyone interested in joining the Club.
  6. Girl Geek Dinners
    Breaking down “old fashioned stereotypes” is no easy feat, but Geek Girl Dinners is intent to do so by empowering women (and men) to talk about their experience and knowledge in the technology industry — over a fun dinner! Founded in the UK, Geek Girl Dinners hopes to make technology accessible for anyone, ditching outdated myths about women and young people in the field along the way.
  7. Startup Grind
    More than 200,000 entrepreneurs take part in shaping this incredible global community, which counts local chapters in 175 countries. Designed to educate, inspire and connect founders and creators through events and discussions, Startup Grind continues to grow and thrive by attracting the best and brightest.
  8. Product Hunt
    Product enthusiasts around the world delight in reading about the latest and greatest gadgets and innovations, surfaced daily by Product Hunt. Hailed as a ‘must read’ for those in technology and startups, the site has amassed a cult-like following in a few short years.
  9. PassionPassport
    Writers and photographers make up this passionate traveling community, created for sharing tales of completed trips and sights seen. An impressive Instagram feed boasts more than a quarter million followers, with photos garnering tens of thousands of likes along with countless comments. Contests encourage friendly competition, but members remain consistently supportive and inspired by one another.
  10. SoulCycle
    Sweating it out is serious business for SoulCycle riders who attend class in more than 30 global cities. The philosophy in each location is the same, inspiring riders to be strong and give them confidence and courage for personal and professional endeavors. Community is at the heart of what SoulCycle does, and its rides are at the center of many friendships.

What, if any, other communities belong on the list? We’d love to learn about them in the comments.

How to connect with top players in your industry while working from home — July 7, 2015

How to connect with top players in your industry while working from home

Working from home comes with a plethora of benefits including low to no overhead, the convenience of creating your own schedule, and working in a space where you can best focus on a project. However, there are also some relatively large drawbacks when you work in isolation, including a lack of effective networking opportunities. Having a hard time creating relationships with thought leaders and influencers in your industry? Here are some fool-proof ways that you can connect with important people in your field while managing your workload remotely:

1) Find relevant online groups

One of the greatest benefits of the Internet is its capacity to bring like-minded people together. The hard part isn’t necessarily finding a group; it’s deciding which ones to follow! On Linkedin, search in the “Interests” category to determine which group best suits what you’re looking for. If you can’t find one that fits, you might consider starting your own. Another good resource for finding relevant groups and influencers is Twitter. Click on a category of interest and follow leading players. From there, comment on their tweets or start a chat of your own. You may also consider following some blogs written by successful people in your field. Many times, they’ll share great tips and advice to follow. Leave a comment at the end of their blog and it’s likely they’ll respond. The possibilities are endless when it comes to the online communities that are available.

2) Attend events

It’s nice to chat online and join in discussions, but let’s face it: nothing makes as big an impression as face-to-face meetings. Websites like The Fetch gather important events in major cities around the world so that you can meet with others in your industry. If you don’t live near one of these metropolises, don’t worry. You still can attend chamber mixers, conferences, or special interest clubs in your own demographic through meetups that highlight events within a certain radius of your specific city.

3) Connect with friends (and their friends)

Whether you realize it or not, every friend you have on Facebook and every person you chat with at a party is part of your networking strategy. Think of it like this: if you have 300 friends on Facebook and each of those friends has 300 friends, you are just two steps away from thousands of people who could potentially impact your career. So make your dreams and what you do for a living known! Who knows if your high school buddy has a friend at Lucas Films or a cousin at Amazon that would be willing to give you a few pointers as to how to enter their companies.

4) Leave an online trail

Another way to meet professionals in your field is to leave a strong paper trail on the Internet. Publish your works on Articlebase, Tumblr, Google+, or LinkedIn. Create a blog to shares your professional tips and insights, and share your posts on Twitter or Facebook. Get your name out there and let others in your field find you while they’re scanning through search engine results. (Another benefit to this: you will establish credibility in your field by the knowledge you share.)

It can be difficult to connect with others in your industry when working from home, but reaching your professional potential and creating success are both tied to the business relationships that you create. Keeping up to date in your field and finding future job opportunities will depend on the people that you know or reach out to. It may take a little extra time, but the benefits will far outweigh the sacrifice.

About our writer // Christina Morales is a freelance writer specializing in creating online marketing content. Her dream is to one day rule the world with just an iPad, a case of Cherry Coke, Twizzlers, and a glue gun.

Personal brand it up: mastering the art of self branding when freelancing — June 25, 2015

Personal brand it up: mastering the art of self branding when freelancing

This is a guest post by Christina Morales from the CloudPeeps blog.

Businesses spend billions of dollars on marketing to build their brand. It’s brand recognition and a unique identity that sets them apart, bringing customers through their doors and keeping them coming back. But large companies with big budgets aren’t the only ones who need customers coming through the door.

How are you branding yourself as a freelancer?

Okay, so we don’t usually tend to have logos, slogans, or even a brick and mortar building for customers to visit, but the image and knowledge that we convey will show our credibility, which in turn builds trust and leads to loyal clients.

While we are not actually selling a tangible product in most cases, we are selling our talent and our potential to become an important asset to a would-be client. Here are three tips to brand yourself better as an asset that your client customers need.

1) Get specific when communicating your expertise

You may be an incredible writer, but just providing a blanket statement like “I’m a writer” won’t get you very far. Are you a technical writer, creator of marketing content, or grant writer?

Let’s get more specific: are you a technical writer for the usage of smart phones and mobile devices? Do you create online marketing content across social media channels? Do you specialize in writing grants pertaining to education?

The more detailed you get, the more likely you’ll be to find those clients who are searching for a writer with your expertise. Better yet, you can join communities and discussions with like-minded professionals or follow industry leaders (like on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, etc.) and stay up-to-date on important information and get your name out there to those who may be hiring.

Starting out and not sure how to title your expertise? Check out job sites like CloudPeeps, Upwork, or Guru to see how employers are advertising for the jobs that you are qualified for.

2) Customize your portfolio for the clients you want

You’re only as good as your resume, work examples, and references, so make them all standout. Career expert Alison Doyle writes on about.com that you should, “Focus on accomplishments rather than duties or responsibilities. A list of what you did isn’t going to help you get interviews. What you achieved will.”

What part of your resume makes you stand out from the crowd? Consider customizing your application to appeal to each potential job opportunity. Directly address the qualities they desire on the posting and explain why you’re the best person for it.

Freelancers Union has a great article on “How to Write a Killer Freelance Resume” that you may want to look into for step-by-step details on constructing a great resume. They have a ton of do’s and don’ts that are really helpful if you’re just starting out or if you find that you’re not getting as many callbacks as you’d like.

3) Formulate your voice to appeal to the clients you want

It seems like every profession or field has its own personality. For example, computer programmers tend to be quirky with a unique sense of humor, startup employees are often more laid back workaholics, and non-profit workers are more personable and outgoing.

Depending on your expertise, you’ll need to formulate your own voice that appeals to the clients you want to attract and the audience that they are trying to appeal to. Confused? Lindsay Shoemake who works in the social media and digital marketing space for a luxury brand and also runs the popular blog That Working Girl has great advice for branding yourself. She says:

“When strategizing for That Working Girl, I knew that I wanted the blog to become the go-to resource for smart, savvy women in the PR, marketing and advertising industries. I wasn’t for posting in a Valley Girl voice at all, but I didn’t want the blog’s verbiage to come across as too uptight either. After a few weeks of posting I fell into my groove and haven’t looked back.”

Wrapping it up: you are your brand

Finally, you are your brand and your first order of business is to think of yourself as a product. Since I knew most of my jobs and networking would come from online resources when I first started freelancing, I polished my resume, got professional headshots, and continually posted my latest work on various social media sites (like Facebook, Tumblr, Google+, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc.).

I’m also careful when it comes to blurring my online personal and professional life since my brand covers both (you may find pictures of me with my kids at the park, but you won’t find political commentaries or anything that I would be embarrassed to show my mom).

Social media specialist Simon Mainwaring has said, The keys to brand success are self-definition, transparency, authenticity and accountability. If you pass the test on these four points, then you’re well on your way to taking the freelancing world by storm.

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