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Design Matters & Marketing Leverage Blog

18

Aug
2014

In Leverage

By Adrian Arroyos

Google Pigeon Update

On 18, Aug 2014 | In Leverage | By Adrian Arroyos

On July 24, Google released what the folks at SearchEngineLand later dubbed the Pigeon update. This algorithm change was aimed square at refining local search, for example any search with terms such as “auto lube,” “coffee shop” or “hardware store” – where Google determines there is a local intent.

Pigeon Update – local pack

If you’ve paid attention, you know that Google will show what’s called a “local pack” in these types of searches. This is a set of up to 7 local business listings that Google deems relevant enough to plot on a small map right on the SERP. Aside from the mapping function, these listings also stand apart from normal organic listings by providing other actionable information within the listing: Name, Address and Phone number (NAP), and if applicable, a Google+ link and ratings and/or review.

What the Pigeon Update Did…

As a result of the Pigeon update, businesses have seen changes to the types of searches displaying (or no longer displaying) local packs, as well as a shift in the makeup of the local businesses being presented in these searches. One notable example is that searches in the Real Estate space (i.e. “real estate” or “realtors”) appear to be entirely devoid of local packs, at least as of this point in time.

…And What You Can Do Now

Has your business been affected by the Pigeon update? If you’ve seen improvements in your local search profile, this is a good time to continue building your online marketing strategy. If, on the other hand, you took a hit, there are a few things we’re recommending:

  1. If your business was previously in a local pack, but is no longer included after the Pigeon update, you are probably seeing a drop in calls and visits…and potentially revenue. If the drop is significant enough, you may want to start a limited, local Google AdWords campaign to make up for the difference in exposure. This will enable you to get back onto the SERP quickly, even if you have to use paid placement to achieve this in the short term.
  2. In addition to PPC ads, we are also advising clients to take control over their local business listings on sites such as Yelp, CitySearch, etc., since local directories appear to be factoring more favorably in the post-Pigeon world. In the quest for Local SEO, you want to make sure that these local listing sources are all consistent and optimized to help customers find important info for your business. This means making sure your NAP information matches across all platforms, and that you’re attracting customer reviews. If you haven’t claimed your Google My Business page yet (and a presence on Google+), you’re missing an opportunity as well.

As a Google Partner, Catalyst Studio helps clients leverage Google AdWords campaigns to meet their most important goals, whether it’s building brand awareness, increasing traffic and engagement, or driving sales (conversions). We also support clients with Local SEO services that simplify the process of claiming, managing and optimizing third-party local directory listings and establishing a social media strategy. Let us fix your Google ranking issues – contact us for a free estimate.

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04

Mar
2014

In Leverage

By Adrian Arroyos

Be Your Own Hero

On 04, Mar 2014 | In Leverage | By Adrian Arroyos

Matthew McConaughey accepts Academy Award for Best ActorAt Sunday night’s Academy Awards presentation, Matthew McConaughey delivered a great acceptance speech for Best Actor. After sharing that he looks up to God in gratitude for the many opportunities he’s had, and that he looks forward to his family, he told an anecdote about being asked who his hero was.

In the story, he reminisces about being asked that question as a teenager. Not sure at first what to say, it takes him some thinking to realize that it’s “myself in ten years.”

Ten years later, he’s asked by the same friend if he’s realized the goal of being his hero, and after a moment of reflection, he says no – his hero is the person he will be in another ten years.

If you tend to be cynical about Hollywood or the narcissism that plagues a lot of public figures, you might think that this means that he’s got delusions of grandeur that keep appearing like an oasis in his not-too-distant future. In other words, if you think he’s all that now…just wait to see what his life will be like in ten years.

You’d be wrong.

The point of the that story was to get to the heart of what he’s chasing. And the reality is that we’ve ALL got to be chasing something. Like Matthew, shouldn’t we ALL be chasing the best version of ourselves? The one that we’ll never be, because a life well-lived is a work in progress?

If you believe in the power of big goals, visualization, or just living life to its fullest, you already know that the person you are at this moment must grow and transform in order to become the person that realizes those dreams. Like Matthew, you’re banking on a future self that isn’t quite here yet…but it’s all just a matter of time. Entrepreneurs, athletes, parents…it doesn’t matter what label fits you, the bottom line is that we’re always in ‘beta.’

This post is not about design, marketing or trends, but about the journey that each of us is going to take over a lifetime. At some point or another, we’re going to dream what seem like impossible dreams, and face what seem like insurmountable odds – in both our personal and work lives. And we’ll look outside of ourselves for answers time and again, as we’ve always done. But when we do, we should always try to keep in mind that future self that we strive to be, because that person should only keep getting better.

What are you chasing?

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05

Nov
2013

In Leverage

By Adrian Arroyos

Automatic Updates Come to WordPress

On 05, Nov 2013 | In Leverage | By Adrian Arroyos

It’s no secret that we love the WordPress platform around here. When you have a CMS that is so easy to manage – with tons of functionality being added every day – it’s not difficult to see why 19% of the world’s sites run on WordPress. Add in their famous 5-minute install, and how relatively easy it is to poke around “under the hood”, it’s all good right?

Well, maybe not entirely… Read more…

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13

Jun
2013

In Design Matters

By Adrian Arroyos

Refresh v reboot: Apple is at it again

On 13, Jun 2013 | In Design Matters | By Adrian Arroyos

What does it mean to design in a world where countless competitors, ideas and solutions are available? Where differentiation is sometimes reduced to a matter of dollars or features? Apple has an answer to that question….

Design is a Business Asset

Since 1997, Apple Inc has reminded us to “Think different.” It was a clever slogan, encouraging consumers to consider Apple’s computers at a time when the struggling company was only holding on to a tiny slice of the PC market. But there was unimaginable power behind those words, and the culture of creativity at Apple was shifting to realize that potential. First came the reintroduction of Steve Jobs as CEO in 1998. That was followed by the original line of iMacs that put the world on notice that computers weren’t really destined to be big, beige desktop boxes.
The original iMac, ca. 1998

Sure… we can look back at those translucent, colorful CRT-screened iMacs and giggle at their “bubble” form factor, but their existence and success paved the way for greater things.

If you’re reading this on your current-generation iMac or similar all-in-one PC, or if you’ve pulled it up on your smartphone, the DNA of your device owes more than a few chromosomes to Apple’s “comeback” product line.

Apple Goes Outside the Box

In the first decade of the new millennium, Apple would redefine so much more:

  • Sony Walkmans and early, unintuitive MP3 players gave way to the simple, elegant iPod
  • Ripping store-bought CDs went out the window with digital music downloads from the iTunes Store
  • The mobile phone and PDA were beautifully merged into a compact, powerful and easy-to-use handheld computer in the iPhone
  • A world of apps was born of this new mobile-based iOS ecosystem

With new concepts come new players (here’s looking at you, Google/Android) who have helped breathe new life into these concepts, and have created their own new, innovative products.

But this is a post about Apple, after all, and though fan-boys and haters alike have been let down with Tim Cook’s direction (“He’s no Steve Jobs”) in the last two years, their new product announcements from the Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) are indicating a change in industrial and user interface design that may prove to be more than skin deep.

The Invisible Workstation

First, comes the new Mac Pro. For a decade, we’ve been seeing the same silver, brushed aluminum case design. It’s been here since the introduction of the PowerMac G5 in June 2003. And, of course, we’ve got a nice collection of these powerhouses at each of our design and production workstations.

Yes, the creative workhorse of the Apple family is getting a new look…
Apple Mac Pro - 2013 Reboot

“We didn’t just want to make another version of the same old desktop idea that everyone’s had. What would be a new…form factor for the next 10 years?”
– Phil Schiller

In a video reveal (jump to 55:10) that takes cues from luxury sports car shots (low key lighting, quick cut edits that accentuate the curves and glossy finish) the Mac Pro redesign stands out for turning it’s back on workstation design conventions. All expansion is external and the inner guts feature a bleeding edge architecture and components. Built in capabilities include support for four streaming 4K displays (that’s a lot of pixels out of the box!). All this in a stunning black cylinder that is approximately 10″ tall and 6″ wide, and assembled in the USA. Pricing and ship date to be announced later.

Current v New Mac Pro comparison

Yup, it’s that small…..

iOS User Interface-lift

iOS7 Screens
Next, while we have yet to see a definitive new iPhone 6 hardware design, the new version of the operating system software (iOS 7) has been revealed. You may have heard about a flatter design, similar to either Android or Windows OS. It’s true. “Flat design” refers to a design approach that is less “skeuomorphic.” A skeuomorph is a design element that has been treated to call to mind a corresponding physical object. An example is the “bookshelf” look of the iBooks app, or the polished, glassy “Web 2.0” icon style that’s been a part of iOS since 2007.

While this won’t make iOS any faster or “better” it introduces a modern approach to the interface that is less anchored in outdated concepts. Other UI improvements include multitasking, browser tab switching, AirDrop content sharing and more… Read more about Apple’s iOS 7 features.

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23

May
2013

In Announcements

By Adrian Arroyos

Responsive Website for Accredo Packaging

On 23, May 2013 | In Announcements | By Adrian Arroyos

We’re proud to announce that our website redesign for Accredo Packaging, Inc, a sustainable flexible packaging manufacturer, is now online.

Responsive Design

Accredo Packaging, Inc Homepage
Accredo Packaging made a huge splash in the packaging industry by building the first LEED® Silver Certified production facility of its kind in the United States. They also stuck to their vision of developing innovative technology at every step of the way in bringing their plant online… From a never-before-seen color management system to new ways of creating film structures, including compostable films and films made of renewable resins sourced from sugar cane.

Our redesign takes those qualities of innovation as a core concept. We started by creating a responsive website design framework. This means the website uses CSS media queries to display beautifully on large computer displays, as well as tablets and smartphones (no need to pinch and squeeze the mobile screen to zoom in or out). This is a design method we’ve employed consistently since early 2012 to deliver website designs that work on any device. Since then, we’ve seen that responsive design helps clients achieve higher page view counts and conversions from mobile customers.

We took that further by enhancing the homepage with a slider animation that builds elegantly and provide deep links…no Flash tricks, just standards-based HTML5, CSS and jQuery.

Photography Showcase

Accredo Pouches Photography
We also photographed the product packaging samples in order to give visitors a sense of the color rendition and detail across brands. If you want to know why certain products “jump off the shelves” when you stroll down an aisle, it usually comes down to package design. Accredo’s customers get this, and they get the added bonus of being able to work with a manufacturer that can provide solutions that meet WalMart’s strict standards for sustainable packaging.

You can learn more about Accredo Packaging’s offerings at: AccredoPackaging.com.

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23

Apr
2013

In Announcements

By Adrian Arroyos

hairEcape.com Site Launch

On 23, Apr 2013 | In Announcements | By Adrian Arroyos

We just got word that our clients at NxtIdea have just flipped the switch on hairEcape.com… meaning that hair stylists, barbers and makeup artists now have a new way to upgrade their salons.

What is hairEcape?

hairEcape Home page

As you can see from the pic and video in this post, the hairEcape is a new style of cape with a full-view window that allows salon clients to keep on reading, texting, playing or watching on the device of their choice all throughout their appointment. It cuts down interruptions at the salon since the user doesn’t have to yank a phone or tablet out to see who’s calling, nor do they have to worry about jets of spray or falling hair on their gadgets.

This may turn out to be a game-changer…what do you think? Learn more about this innovative hair cape.

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Facebook Status Update Scheduling

On 29, Jun 2012 | No Comments | In Leverage | By Adrian Arroyos

Though it’s been out for a couple of weeks, not all Facebook Business page admins have noticed that they got a new, built-in scheduling feature when creating status updates online. Previously, status updates were published immediately, which forced users to look for a workaround (primarily by using extended-feature third party apps or services like TweetDeck, HootSuite or LaterBro).
Read more…

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Google AdWords Update Impacts Ad Testing

On 04, Jun 2012 | No Comments | In Leverage | By Adrian Arroyos

If you’re a Google Advertiser who understands the power of split testing and using this platform to continually improve your ad campaigns, you need to be aware of a campaign-level feature that has recently changed.

Read more…

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31

May
2012

In Design Matters

By Adrian Arroyos

Welcome

On 31, May 2012 | In Design Matters | By Adrian Arroyos

We love design, technology and taking on communications challenges. That makes us the perfect creative partner for any entrepreneur or organization looking to get results from their marketing efforts.

Read more…