Something is Rotten in Online Advertising [SparkToro]

Rand Fishkin, ex-CEO of Moz, analyzes what’s wrong with online advertising. Turns out, a lot. The situation persists for years because it’s in everyone involved’s interest to keep it that way. The incentives are all wrong and pushing the industry further in the wrong direction.

Rand gives many examples of how much waste there is in online advertising and tries to predict what happens next.

Find related subreddits [Tool]

When researching your industry, it’s important to understand not just what’s inside it, but also what’s around it and how it’s related to other similar industries and topics.

One of the best tools is a tool to find related subreddits. Just enter an industry, interest topic, or your main keyword and see a list of related communities. Some will be obvious but I’m sure many will be surprising for you.

Armed with this data, you can then start researching these related communities or advertising where your target audience hangs out. In any case, you’ll definitely learn more about your potential customers.

Here’s a sample for “ecommerce”. But ‘ecommerce’ is too generic, you can go much deeper than that. That’s where you start finding gold.


Sadly, ecommerce nowadays is mainly “chinabuyers” and “FulfillmentByAmazon”.

On-Page SEO: Complete Beginner’s Guide [Ahrefs]

While on-page optimization is less straightforward than it once was, it’s still arguably the easiest part of SEO. It’s one of the few things you have full control over and doesn’t require much technical prowess. With this guide (targeted more at beginners rather than SEO pros) you can do it well.

Don’t offer a Free Plan [No Free Plan]

If you are building a SaaS product it might not make sense to have an always-free offering.

There are real costs associated with a free plan, and not just hosting costs.

This website outlines the considerations and proposes alternatives to always-free plans.

Alternatives presented:

  • Trial periods are great
  • Be picky about your free users
  • Offer a lifetime try-out plan

10 Usability Heuristics for User Interface Design [Nielsen Norman Group]

Jakob Nielsen’s 10 general principles for interaction design. They are called “heuristics” because they are broad rules of thumb and not specific usability guidelines.

This is a classic but it was recently refreshed so worth a visit to remind yourself of some of the good practices.

There’s even a summary poster available for download at the end of the article.


#1: Visibility of system status

The design should always keep users informed about what is going on, through appropriate feedback within a reasonable amount of time.

#2: Match between system and the real world

The design should speak the users’ language. Use words, phrases, and concepts familiar to the user, rather than internal jargon. Follow real-world conventions, making information appear in a natural and logical order.

#3: User control and freedom

Users often perform actions by mistake. They need a clearly marked “emergency exit” to leave the unwanted action without having to go through an extended process.

#4: Consistency and standards

Users should not have to wonder whether different words, situations, or actions mean the same thing. Follow platform and industry conventions.


#5: Error prevention

Good error messages are important, but the best designs carefully prevent problems from occurring in the first place. Either eliminate error-prone conditions, or check for them and present users with a confirmation option before they commit to the action.

#6: Recognition rather than recall

Minimize the user’s memory load by making elements, actions, and options visible. The user should not have to remember information from one part of the interface to another. Information required to use the design (e.g. field labels or menu items) should be visible or easily retrievable when needed.

#7: Flexibility and efficiency of use

Shortcuts — hidden from novice users — may speed up the interaction for the expert user such that the design can cater to both inexperienced and experienced users. Allow users to tailor frequent actions.

#8: Aesthetic and minimalist design

Interfaces should not contain information which is irrelevant or rarely needed. Every extra unit of information in an interface competes with the relevant units of information and diminishes their relative visibility.

#9: Help users recognize, diagnose, and recover from errors

Error messages should be expressed in plain language (no error codes), precisely indicate the problem, and constructively suggest a solution.

#10: Help and documentation

It’s best if the system doesn’t need any additional explanation. However, it may be necessary to provide documentation to help users understand how to complete their tasks.


Until next Thursday!

Radek Sienkiewicz

PS. John Wanamaker (1838-1922), considered by some to be a “pioneer in marketing”, coined the phrase “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half”. It was true for almost a century. Now, it’s closer to 90%/10% rather than 50/50, and 90% is wasted. We’re going in the wrong direction.