The Super-Simple Way to Create Your Own Google Forms Templates

Whether you need to collect employees’ take-out orders for a team dinner or create a feedback form for customers, Google Forms is undoubtedly one of the most useful free tools at your disposal.

Google Forms provides 17 pre-made templates, varying in subject from “Party Invite” to “Time Off Request”. However, if you’ve never made a Google Form before, the process can seem complicated.

To ensure you know about all the nifty features on a Google Form and have the knowledge necessary to create your own Google Form in minutes, take a look at our quick tutorial.

Want 5 free customer satisfaction survey templates you can implement  immediately? Click here.

How to Create Your Own Google Form

Let’s say you’re in charge of a new social media project and want your team’s feedback on it.

To create a form for collecting feedback (although you can follow these steps to create a form for almost anything), go to Google Forms and click “Template Gallery” to see the full display.

For our purposes, I chose the “Contact Information” template, under the “Personal” category.

Once you choose a template, follow these steps:

1. Rename your form by clicking “Contact Information” and typing your desired title. Additionally, you have the option to input text in the “Form description” space — this is a good section to include a description of what you’re hoping to get out of this form, and why you’re requiring recipients to fill it out in the first place.

2. There are different features incorporated into each module, or section of the form. For instance, you can click the scroll-down bar on the top right to choose how you want to style each module — including short or long answer, multiple choice, grid, or file upload.

3. Additionally, there’s an icon at the top of each module (six grey dots) — if you click it, you can drag the module to another area of the form.

At the bottom of the module, there’s a “Required” button, with a drag tool beside it. If the tool is dragged to the right (and green), you’re making it a requirement for form applicants to fill out this module. If you drag the circle to the left (and make it grey), it’s no longer required.

4. It’s important to note, you also have a toolbar on the right side of your screen. At the top, the “+” icon allows you to add a question. Below, the “Tt” icon lets you create another Title and description — if you have a longer form with multiple sections, you might use that tool to separate the sections.

The remaining three icons allow you to add an image, video, or section (respectively).

5. Once you’ve renamed and configured your modules on the form to ensure you’re asking all the questions you want to ask, you can work on the design of the form itself.

To do this, click the “Customize Theme” paint icon at the top right.

6. Here, you can change the color theme of your entire form, and add an image for the header — you can upload your own image, or use one of Google Form’s header images, found in their library. You can also change the font.

Screen Shot 2019-01-09 at 2.10.05 PM
7. When you’re finished, you can “Preview” your form by clicking the eye icon in the top right.
 

8. When you’re happy with your form, click the “Send” button at the top right.

9. Here, you’ll want to type the email addresses to which you want to send the form. You also have the option to embed the form in the email itself (or provide a link), add collaborators, and include a message. When you’re ready, press “Send” in the bottom right.

And there you have it! In nine easy steps, you’re able to create a personalized, unique form, and send it to recipients. However, this only scratches the surface of what you’re able to do with different Google Form Templates. To learn more about Google Forms’ features, tools, and functions, take a look at our “Ultimate Guide to Google Forms“.

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How to Get Into Google News – Whiteboard Friday

Posted by Polemic

Today we’re tackling a question that many of us have asked over the years: how do you increase your chances of getting your content into Google News? We’re delighted to welcome renowned SEO specialist Barry Adams to share the framework you need to have in place in order to have a chance of appearing in that much-coveted Google News carousel.

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Click on the whiteboard image above to open a high-resolution version in a new tab!

Video Transcription

Hi, everyone. I’m Barry Adams. I’m a technical SEO consultant at Polemic Digital and a specialist in news SEO. Today we’re going to be talking about how to get into Google News. I get a lot of questions from a lot of people about Google News and specifically how you get a website into Google News, because it’s a really great source of traffic for websites. Once you’re in the Google News Index, you can appear in the top stories carousel in Google search results, and that can send a lot of traffic your way.

How do you get into Google News’ manually curated index?

So how do you get into Google News? How do you go about getting your website to be a part of Google News’ manual index so that you can get that top stories traffic for yourself? Well, it’s not always as easy as it makes it appear. You have to jump through quite a few hoops before you get into Google News.

1. Have a dedicated news website

First of all, you have to have a dedicated news website. You have to keep in mind when you apply to be included in Google News, there’s a team of Googlers who will manually review your website to decide whether or not you’re worthy of being in the News index. That is a manual process, and your website has to be a dedicated news website.

I get a lot of questions from people asking if they have a news section or a blog on their site and if that could be included in Google News. The answer tends to be no. Google doesn’t want news websites in there that aren’t entirely about news, that are commercial websites that have a news section. They don’t really want that. They want dedicated news websites, websites whose sole purpose is to provide news and content on specific topics and specific niches.

So that’s the first hurdle and probably the most important one. If you can’t clear that hurdle, you shouldn’t even try getting into Google News.

2. Meet technical requirements

There are also a lot of other aspects that go into Google News. You have to jump through, like I said, quite a few hoops. Some technical requirements are very important to know as well.

Have static, unique URLs.

Google wants your articles and your section pages to have static, unique URLs so that an article or a section is always on the same URL and Google can crawl it and recrawl it on that URL without having to work with any redirects or other things. If you have content with dynamically generated URLs, that does not tend to work with Google News very well. So you have to keep that in mind and make sure that your content, both your articles and your static section pages are on fixed URLs that tend not to change over time.

Have your content in plain HTML.

It also helps to have all your content in plain HTML. Google News, when it indexes your content, it’s all about speed. It tries to index articles as fast as possible. So any content that requires like client-side JavaScript or other sort of scripting languages tends not to work for Google News. Google has a two-stage indexing process, where the first stage is based on the HTML source code and the second stage is based on a complete render of the page, including executing JavaScript.

For Google News, that doesn’t work. If your content relies on JavaScript execution, it will never be seen by Google News. Google News only uses the first stage of indexing, based purely on the HTML source code. So keep your JavaScript to a minimum and make sure that the content of your articles is present in the HTML source code and does not require any JavaScript to be seen to be present.

Have clean code.

It also helps to have clean code. By clean code, I mean that the article content in the HTML source code should be one continuous block of code from the headline all the way to the end. That tends to result in the best and most efficient indexing in Google News, because I’ve seen many examples where websites put things in the middle of the article code, like related articles or video carousels, photo galleries, and that can really mess up how Google News indexes the content. So having clean code and make sure the article code is in one continuous block of easily understood HTML code tends to work the best for Google News.

3. Optional (but more or less mandatory) technical considerations

There’s also quite a few other things that are technically optional, but I see them as pretty much mandatory because it really helps with getting your content picked up in Google News very fast and also makes sure you get that top stories carousel position as fast as possible, which is where you will get most of your news traffic from.

Have a news-specific XML sitemap.

Primarily the news XML sitemap, Google says this is optional but recommended, and I agree with them on that. Having a news-specific XML sitemap that lists articles that you’ve published in the last 48 hours, up to a maximum of 1,000 articles, is absolutely necessary. For me, I think this is Google News’ primary discovery mechanism when they crawl your website and try to find new articles.

So that news-specific XML sitemap is absolutely crucial, and you want to make sure you have that in place before you submit your site to Google News.

Mark up articles with NewsArticle structured data.

I also think it’s very important to mark up your articles with news article structured data. It can be just article structured data or even more specific structured data segments that Google is introducing, like news article analysis and news article opinion for specific types of articles.

But article or news article markup on your article pages is pretty much mandatory. I see your likelihood of getting into the top stories carousel much improved if you have that markup implemented on your article pages.

Helpful-to-have extras:

Also, like I said, this is a manually curated index. So there are a few extra hoops that you want to jump through to make sure that when a Googler looks at your website and reviews it, it ticks all the boxes and it appears like a trustworthy, genuine news website.

A. Multiple authors

Having multiple authors contribute to your website is hugely valuable, hugely important, and it does tend to elevate you above all the other blogs and small sites that are out there and makes it a bit more likely that the Googler reviewing your site will press that Approve button.

B. Daily updates

Having daily updates definitely is necessary. You don’t want just one news post every couple of days. Ideally, multiple new articles every single day that also should be unique. You can have some sort of syndicated content on there, like from feeds, from AP or Reuters or whatever, but the majority of your content needs to be your own unique content. You don’t want to rely too much on syndicated articles to fill your website with news content.

C. Mostly unique content

Try to write as much unique content as you possibly can. There isn’t really a clear ratio for that. Generally speaking, I recommend my clients to have at least 70% of the content as unique stuff that they write themselves and publish themselves and only 30% maximum syndicated content from external sources.

D. Specialized niche/topic

It really helps to have a specialized niche or a specialized topic that you focus on as a news website. There are plenty of news sites out there that are general news and try to do everything, and Google News doesn’t really need many more of those. What Google is interested in is niche websites on specific topics, specific areas that can provide in-depth reporting on those specific industries or topics. So if you have a very niche topic or a niche industry that you cover with your news, it does tend to improve your chances of getting into that News Index and getting that top stories carousel traffic.

So that, in a nutshell, is how you get into Google News. It might appear to be quite simple, but, like I said, quite a few hoops for you to jump through, a few technical things you have to implement on your website as well. But if you tick all those boxes, you can get so much traffic from the top stories carousel, and the rest is profit. Thank you very much.

This has been my Whiteboard Friday.

Further resources:

Video transcription by Speechpad.com

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10 Cover Letter Templates to Perfect Your Next Job Application

No one seems to agree on cover letters. How much time do you need to spend perfecting them? Do hiring managers even read them? Is it better to just send in your resume and call it a day?

I’m not in HR, but I’ve been approached by applicants who wondered whether their cover letter would actually be read. My answer is one not many of them wanted to hear: “sometimes.” Sometimes it will be read. Other times, you can get away with just sending in your resume — like when you network your way into applying for a position.

Use these free cover letter templates to save time.

The truth is, you can’t really predict on a case-by-case basis — and you’re better safe than sorry. For the most part, having a cover letter will give you an upper hand in ways your resume doesn’t. It allows you to show off your writing skills, provide details that you couldn’t fit on your resume, demonstrate your passion, and show your willingness to put in as much time and effort as possible.

Seems fairly basic, right? Cover letters can hold different levels of importance to an employer depending on the industry you’re in and the job you’re applying for. If you do plan to write a cover letter, keep in mind there are certain qualities it should have that are not included in the definition above.

What to Include in a Cover Letter

So, what should you include? We’ll let the 10 templates below this list do most of the talking. No matter which one you download, pay attention to the following elements — all of which should shine through in the letter you send to your future manager.

Contact Information

Cover letters shouldn’t just carry your contact information, but also that of the company to which you’re applying. Contact info includes your phone number, email address, and any social media accounts you’re willing to share and receive connections to.

Home addresses aren’t required, but they can be a helpful reassurance to the employer that you already live nearby and would have no trouble coming into the office.

Avoid offering phone numbers, email addresses, or actual addresses that belong to your current employer. Using your personal Gmail address over your work email, for example, ensures your correspondence with recruiters remains separate from all of your current work communication.

A Personal Address Line

For as often as you see “to whom it may concern” at the top of cover letters today, do your best to avoid writing this exhausted line.

Address lines that specify a person or company grab your reader’s attention much more quickly, and show the employer that you’ve taken the time to tailor your application letter to them. Don’t have the name of the hiring manager? “Employers at [company name]” will do just fine.

A Hook

A “hook” is a clever introduction that “hooks” your reader into wanting to learn more. Think about yourself as a job candidate — what makes you unique? What about your career might a recruiter be intrigued by that you can package into an interesting first sentence?

Why You’re Qualified

It’s a no-brainer that you should summarize your professional experience in your cover letter. However, today’s best applications describe why this experience qualifies the applicant for the job they’re applying for. For example, don’t just state that you spent three years writing for a company blog. Explain that this type of work lends itself to managing your new potential employer’s content calendar every week.

General Knowledge of the Business

Grammatical errors could mean your application is thrown in the trash, but that’s not the only thing that could get your letter tossed aside. Using a generic “one-size-fits-all” cover letter — especially if you forget to change the name of the company — will also hurt your chances of landing an interview.

So, if you take the time to write a cover letter, take the time to comment on the business itself. Why are you applying to this company? What about their business stuck out to you as a professional?

Now, let’s take a look at an example cover letter template, what makes it effective, along with nine more cover letters you can download or draw inspiration from.

10 Free Cover Letter Templates for Your Next Job Application

Template 1: Basic


Basic cover letter template with 7 qualities to learn from

The example above is a basic (but great) cover letter. The numbered sections are explained in more detail below.

Why This Cover Letter Works

1. Header

The level of formality your header has will depend on the company to which you apply. If you’re applying to a formal business, it’s important to use a formal header to open your cover letter, like in the sample above. Put your address, the date, and the company’s address. But if you’re applying to a company that isn’t as formal, you don’t need to include yours and the company’s addresses. You can still include the date, though.

2. Greeting

Using “To Whom It May Concern” is okay, but you may want to take the time to research the name of the recruiter or hiring manager online. If you do your research and aren’t confident you found the right name, then you should definitely use the generic greeting — but if you are sure, then it shows you put in the effort to find their name and it will catch the recruiter’s eye.

If you have the recruiter’s name, do you greet them by their full name, or by their courtesy title (i.e. Mr., Ms., or Mrs.)? Similar to the header, it depends on the company’s level of formality. If you’re applying to a corporate business, you may want to consider using “Mr. Snaper” instead of “Jon Snaper.” If you’re applying to a start-up or a business with a more casual culture, you can use “Jon Snaper,” as shown in the example.

3. Introduction

Your opening paragraph should, in 1-3 sentences, state why you’re excited to apply and what makes you the perfect candidate. Get right to the point, and don’t worry about explaining where you found the posting or who you know at the company. This isn’t a place to go into detail about why you’re a great candidate — that’s for the second paragraph. Here, simply list a few key reasons in one sentence to set up the rest of your letter. Keep in mind that the recruiter may cross-reference your cover letter with your resume, so make sure the two sync up.

4. Paragraph 2: Why You’re a Great Fit for the Job

Next, sell yourself and your experience by choosing one or two concrete examples that show why you’re a great fit for the position. What did you do at a previous company that gave you relevant experience? Which projects have you worked on that would benefit the new company? How will your prior experience help this company grow? Stay humble in your explanation of credentials while still showing that you would be an asset to the team. Use this paragraph to show you’re genuinely excited and interested in the position.

5. Third Paragraph: Why the Company Is a Great Fit for You

While it’s certainly important you’re a good fit for the job, it’s also important that the company is a good fit for you. “A cover letter typically describes why you’re great for a company — but how will you benefit from getting hired?” asks Emily MacIntyre, a Team Development Manager at HubSpot. “We want to know why our company appeals to you, and how it will be a mutually beneficial working relationship.”

In the third paragraph, show you’re serious about growing and developing your career at this new company. What impresses and excites you about the company? Is there something that you feel strongly about that aligns with the company’s goals? For example, the candidate in the sample letter used this space to show his personal commitment to environmental causes aligns with the company’s green initiatives.

6. Strong Closer and Signature

Don’t get lazy in the final few sentences of your cover letter — it’s important to finish strong. Be straightforward about your interest and enthusiasm about the new position, and tell them you’re available to talk about the opportunity at any time. Be sure to include your phone number and email address. At this point, the ball is (rightly) in the recruiter’s court to decide how to follow up.

Last but certainly not least, thank them for their time and consideration. Use a formal sign-off like “Best,” “All the best,” or “Sincerely,” and finish by typing out your full name. You don’t need to sign it with a pen.

Template 2. Data-Driven Marketing Cover Letter

Get it here.

Data-driven marketing cover letter template

When applying to a data-driven position, it might be tempting to inject your cover letter with, well, the data to describe what you’ve done for other employers. But in an application letter — particularly for the marketing industry — how you convey this data is just as important as the data itself.

The cover letter template above, which we created here at HubSpot, can help you present the data that’s most important to you as a candidate such that it’ll matter to your future employer.

Notice the three bullet points near the center of the letter above, preceded by the statement: “… I’ve developed a strategy that has helped the company achieve …” This setup is important, because while you can add as many statistics as you want to this template, your data points should describe how your current/former business benefited from your work, rather than how you, yourself, benefited.

Template 3. Straight-to-the-Point Cover Letter

Get it here.

Straight-to-the-point cover letter template

Harvard Business Review contributor David Silverman hailed the above cover letter example as “The Best Cover Letter I Ever Received.” For context, Silverman believes there are only a handful of times when writing a cover letter is actually necessary:

  1. When you know the name of the hiring manager.
  2. When you know something about what the job requires.
  3. When you’ve been referred to the job personally.

Under those three circumstances, a straight-to-the-point cover letter like the one above could be your best bet. Because it’s so concise, however, make a point to add your own letterhead above the message itself. It might be easy for a recruiter to sift through a short and sweet cover letter like the one above, but it’s just as easy for it to get lost in the shuffle of their application list without a unique design or format.

Template 4. Referral Cover Letter

Get it here.

Referral cover letter template

Just because a friend or colleague recommended you for a job doesn’t mean the company is all set to hire you. Therefore, the cover letter template above is written specifically for referrals. We made this one here at HubSpot. Download it here (it comes with four other cover letter templates, too).

As you can see in the picture above, the first paragraph of the cover letter is dedicated entirely to acknowledging the circumstances of your applying: You know someone who works there — no harm in that. But there might be harm in not mentioning it to the hiring manager. Telling the reader about your connection at the company shows you’re aware and confident of the actions you take to get the opportunities you’re interested it.

Ultimately, it’s better than the recruiter hearing about your employee connection from somebody else.

As for the rest of the cover letter, treat your message the same way you would if you had applied with no connection from within. Your skills and successes are no less important because of your internal referral.

Template 5. Photo Letterhead Cover Letter

Get it here.

Photo letterhead cover letter by Microsoft Office

The cover letter template above was designed by Microsoft Office, and as comprehensive as it looks, it’s completely free to download and modify.

As it looks right now, this cover letter contains about half photo, half text. Feel free to shrink (and change) the image to give yourself more room to tell your story. Of course, a nice washed-out image that expresses who you are can be part of that story …

Template 6. Social Media Marketing Cover Letter

Get it here.

Social media cover letter template

This fourth template gets even more specific within the marketing industry: It’s a cover letter just for social media professionals.

As you personalize this letter with your own experience, make note of the social networks and industry software included in this template. You’ll see that Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram are all mentioned the letter for your reference, making it easy to write about your focus and expertise in each one.

The fourth paragraph in the above template allows you to express the value that your social media expertise delivers to the larger organization: “It’s the key to developing relationships with consumers.” Businesses use social media in diverse ways, and remarks like the one above help your potential employer imagine how you’ll benefit their marketing campaigns.

Template 7. Marketing Manager Cover Letter

Get it here.

Marketing-specific cover letter template

Our fourth cover letter comes from Monster.com. This cover letter, shown above, is focused specifically on a marketing role.

Notice how the writer includes references to important marketing metrics and terminology. If you’re applying to a data-driven role, you might not want to fill the page with a story of your experience in paragraph form, like Template 1 does at the beginning of this article. Instead, consider highlighting three (or four, or five) of your successes that you believe the hiring manager would resonate most with, in bulleted form.

As a marketing professional, breaking up your letter with bulleted details like the ones above shows a respect for the hiring manager’s limited time — a mentality that all marketers must understand when communicating with a brand’s audience.

Template 8: Career Day Follow-Up Cover Letter

Get it here.

Career day follow-up cover letter template

This is a unique kind of cover letter from Princeton University.

CareerBuilder, Monster, and Indeed might take the lion’s share of your job searches online, but still some employment opportunities come out of a trade show, job fair, or similar networking event. For those occurrences, you have the follow-up cover letter template above.

This cover letter has everything you need to help an employer recall a conversation you had with him/her at a career fair. As you can see in the second paragraph, the letter is particularly useful to people who are about to graduate college.

Template 9. Logo and Watermarked Cover Letter

Get it here.

Logo and watermarked cover letter template by Microsoft Office

Here’s another cover letter template from Microsoft Office. This one has a light touch of color in the design just above the letterhead, but make no mistake — the template caters to any professional looking to make a good first impression on their future employer.

Don’t let the logo space on the top-right of the page confuse you. This can be the logo of the company to which you’re applying — to quickly get the attention of the recruiter — or your own logo. Perhaps you freelance on the side or simply like branding yourself. This cover letter template is meant for customization.

Template 10. Marketing Assistant Cover Letter

Get it here.

Marketing assistant cover letter templateOffered by ResumeGenius, the cover letter template above is perfect for entry- and mid-level marketers who want to show a little extra professionalism in their opening note to a potential employer.

The orange header (you can change the color if you wish) can go quite well with a resume of the same style. If you don’t have enough experience to fill the entire page, don’t worry. Feel free to write to a length you think is representative of who you are and what the hiring manager wants to see.

No matter how long your final cover letter is, the above template is your opportunity to show your attention to detail — from your contact information in the top header, to the personalized address line where you can include the name of the hiring manager. Like we said, “to whom it may concern” is pretty outdated, anyway.

Writing a cover letter is easier said than done. Don’t hesitate to spend a lot of time writing and editing it. Or, ask a friend or family member to read it over and give you feedback. If the recruiter does end up reading it, you’ll be thankful you did.

Free Template Social Media Content Calendar

How to Properly Appeal to Emotions in Your Digital Marketing

Digital marketingHow do you get someone to do something? You make an appeal to their emotions. If you can evoke a feeling or emotion in a person, that’s a powerful thing, and they’re much more likely to listen to you. If you can do this in your business’s digital marketing, your target audience may be like putty in your hands.

Creating a marketing or advertising campaign that appeals to your audience’s emotions is much easier said than done. Let’s walk through a few emotions that make people want to buy, and how you can work to evoke those emotions in your marketing.

1. Happy

If something makes someone feel overwhelmingly happy, he or she wants more of that feeling. Studies have shown that positive posts are shared and engaged with much more often than negative ones, proving that people enjoy feel-good content.

Associating your brand with smiling people having a good time or people using your product/service to create an improvement in their lives is a great way to make people happy when seeing your content. Happiness is also associated with instant gratification. If your content and your marketing campaigns are making people happy, they want that feeling to continue. They don’t want those endorphins to go away.

So they’re going to click the purchase button to keep their happiness going and be excited about your product making its way to them, so they can be happy just like the people in your marketing.

2. Sad

There aren’t a lot of times that you want to make someone feel sad. However, for non-profits and companies that work to make a social difference, evoking the feeling of sadness in people is a great way to get them to take action. Content and ads that are inspirational or moving are increasingly popular, and they work.

If you’re looking to make a real connection with your audience and get them to take action that can make a difference in someone’s life, creating content that shows sadness is another’s life or creating a cinematic tragic video can really help with your campaign.

3. Fear

Fear is another emotion that can cause someone to take action now. This also works well for non-profits and businesses trying to create change. Showing people what can happen in the future if they don’t take action now can be frightening, and a lot of companies take advantage of this type of marketing ploy.

This type of tactic is used by many non-profits, like ones who are trying to get you to stop smoking, trying to prevent drunk driving, working to prevent climate change, protecting endangered species, and much more. People are afraid of a future that is different than their present, so a fear tactic can certainly work in your business’s favor.

Another newer way to evoke this emotion is with “FOMO,” or “fear of missing out.” This has gained popularity with Millennials and Gen Z who care more about experiences than things. They never want to miss an invite to something cool. If you can create a FOMO effect with your audience, you’ll be able to generate even more sales and event attendees.

4. Belonging

Everyone wants to feel like they belong to something, whether it’s a movement, a group of friends, or some type of community. If you create a feeling of belonging when someone uses your product or service, it can be really powerful for your audience. Creating a community feel surrounding your business can seriously improve the overall feeling and emotion toward your business/brand.

You can use your marketing or advertising campaigns to create the feel of a community, or you can use online resources to create an actual community surrounding your business. By creating a Facebook Group or Slack Community, you can cultivate a place where your customers can actually communicate with other customers and with your business directly.

Digital marketing5. Anger

Anger is another negative emotion that many businesses tend to want to stay away from. However, like sadness and fear, it can also evoke the actions you want, if done correctly. For example, it makes us angry to see an injustice happen to someone, and it makes us want to do something to stop it. Humans want to share something that makes them angry.

So how do you go about inserting scenes and messages that strike a chord with your audience’s emotions in a way that makes sense for your business, and doesn’t turn people off from your product/service?

Start with a customer profile.

To make sure you correctly identify with the emotions of your target audience, you need to know with absolute certainty who your audience is. If done incorrectly, you can evoke the wrong emotion, causing mistrust and negative feelings about your business.

Focus on your audience’s pain points.

What is it that makes your audience feel things? What do they care about most? What do they want to change? What makes them smile? Who do they want to help in life? Focus on these pain points when pinning down your marketing messaging. You need to find something that your audience genuinely cares about, but you also need to make sure it makes sense with your product/service.

For example, a tampon company creates a #LikeAGirl campaign to focus on how misleading that phrase has become, and how to rewrite it in a way that focuses on female empowerment. An environmental company creates frightening and disturbing images and graphics of what the world could look like if we don’t take action on climate change. A company that targets moms shares a campaign focusing on children’s emotions.

Find something that your audience cares about that still relates to your business and use that in your marketing messaging to appeal to emotions. Contact us to learn more about how to improve your overall messaging in your digital marketing.

 

Form Layouts: 6 Best Practices and Great Examples to Follow

Have you ever tried completing a form on a website and felt confused or lost while doing so? Did the placement of the form field labels and the fields themselves not make any sense? Were the form’s title and submission button not in locations that were easy for you to spot?

These factors, among several others, are major aspects of a web form’s layout that have the potential to either enhance or diminish its user experience (UX). By implementing a successful layout, you’ll create a great experience for your visitors as well as initiate a positive — and hopefully long-lasting — relationship between them and your brand. 

In this guide, we’ll review six best web form layout practices as well as examples of each practice to help you get started. But first, let’s review what web form layout actually is and why it’s so important.

 

Why does web form layout matter?

Almost every website has a web form of some kind. Your web form layout plays a large role in how well your form converts. That’s because a great form layout leads to seamless form completion and improves the submission process for your visitors. Visitors will easily convert since you’ve created a web form that’s hassle-free and feels both professional and thoughtful. 

In contrast, a poorly planned layout will lead to a confusing and difficult-to-work-through form that may frustrate your visitors and even cause them to abandon your site entirely, diminishing your conversions.

Now that we understand why getting your web form’s layout right is so important, let’s dive into how to create an optimal layout for your web form. Below are six best practices to follow when arranging your content.

Form Layouts: 6 Best Practices and Great Examples to Follow

We’ve curated this list of best practices, to apply to virtually every type of web form. We’ve also included great examples of each practice to help you better apply the concepts to your own forms.

1. Use a single-column layout

When it comes to your layout, you should keep the location and order of all your fields as straightforward as possible. This means you should use a single-column layout. By organizing your fields this way, your visitors won’t miss a field, they’ll complete the fields in the order that makes the most sense, and they’ll be able to submit your form faster than they would if you used a multi-column form.

Great example:

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This example shows you what a single-column format should look like. The layout is just about as streamlined, straightforward, and minimalist as it could possibly be, which is exactly what you want. This way, you decrease the amount of time your visitors need to work through your form and there’s no possible cause for error or confusion.

2. Align copy to the left

Align all of your form fields to the left side of the web page. This is the most natural way to lay out your form because it’s how the vast majority of people learn to read content — by moving from right to left. If you aren’t using inline form field labels (which are located directly in the form fields themselves), you should also align your labels to the left. Again, this natural flow will help your visitors complete your form more efficiently without feeling confused about which label belongs to which field.

Great example: 

left-side-web-form-alignment

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This photo depicts left side alignment for both the form’s fields and labels. The form is organized in a way that makes it clear for visitors and therefore allows for speedy completion and submission processes. There’s no question about which labels belong with which fields and working right to left through the form is both natural and hassle-free.

3. Use a one-page layout

When creating your forms, you should use a one-page layout so there’s only one form located on each page. If you have a short form, everything should easily fit on a single page, making this an easy layout to implement. 

If you have a lot of form fields, you should break up them up into a multi-step form. When you do this, there will be multiple web pages with separate portions of the form, making the amount of work your visitor needs to complete appear more manageable. (If you do have a multi-step form, you can also add a progress bar at the top of the page so your visitors know how much longer they’re going to be working through it.)

Great example:

one-page-web-form-layout

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Due to the large number of form fields that visitors are required to complete, this is a multi-step form spread across three separate web pages. By organizing the form this way, reviewing and completing it doesn’t feel like it’ll be a long, tedious process.

Rather than looking at a long list of form fields that need to be completed, seeing only a few fields at a time makes the form feel less overwhelming. (The progress bar at the top of the page also helps with this, especially since it clearly labels the names of the web pages the visitor needs to work through.)

4. Create a mobile-friendly layout

These days nearly everyone carries some type of mobile device with them at all times. No matter if they’re on-the-go, traveling, commuting, or simply sitting in the comfort of their own home, it’s no secret that people are signing up for your newsletter, registering for an account, and buying your products via their smartphones and tablets. That’s why it’s critical your site includes mobile-friendly forms.

Great example:

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This example displays many important aspects of a successful mobile form layout. The form has a clear title at the top of the small screen, a clear and simplified option to add (or scan) credit card information so a visitor doesn’t have to type our the series of numbers on such a tiny keyboard, a straightforward, single-column, and multi-step layout, minimalist design, and more. This form is laid out in a way that allows users to easily understand and complete it via a mobile device.

5. Add inline form field labels

Inline field labels and text make it exceptionally easy for visitors to understand where they should be placing their responses in your forms. They take the guesswork out of which label belongs to which field, making it simple for visitors to move through the form without hesitation. They also keep your form looking clean, minimalist, clutter-free, and sleek.

Great example:

inline-form-fields-web-form

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Since these field labels are inline, the form looks simplistic and shorter than it would if the labels were located outside of the entry fields. Visitors will have no issue determining where they need to input their information. Sometimes when the field labels are located above, below, or to the side of the fields, it’s hard to determine which label belongs to which field.

6. Use inline error messages

Using inline error messages in web forms is an effective way to ensure someone understands there’s an issue with a field they tried completing. They also direct that visitor to the exact location of the error so there’s no time wasted determining where the problem is.

Once you create your inline messages, be sure to add some context about why the error exists and how your visitors can correct it. This not only saves your visitors time when fixing the error(s), but it also saves you and your fellow employees from having to work through invalid responses once the form’s submitted.

Great example:

In this form, the error message appears inline, meaning the invalid field is highlighted red. The form includes an error symbol next to the field to further highlight the fact there’s an issue and where the issue is located. Lastly, the message explains why the error exists and how to fix it.

Back To You

With a successful web form layout, you’ll create a great user experience for your visitors that’ll leave a positive, lasting impression on them. Your layout should streamline the form completion and submission processes for your visitors so there isn’t any confusion or uncertainty regarding the form itself. Get started improving your form’s layout today by thinking about these practices and how you can incorporate them into your own forms to enhance UX and boost your conversions.

The Ultimate Guide to Making Your Own App

In 2018, US adults spent an average of three and a half hours on their phone every single day. What were they doing on their phones for nearly half the work day? While texting, surfing the web, and checking email are the top three mobile activities, using apps is the next on the list.

Whether it’s a social media, music, or ride hailing app, apps are specifically tailored for mobile devices, making it easier to connect, work, and stay informed. And the convenience of having access to all your loved ones and endless entertainment and information in your pocket drove more than 200 billion app downloads last year.

Needless to say, as people become more reliant on their mobile devices, developing a well thought-out app can compel your potential customers to interact with your brand more, rocketing you up to the top of their minds. To help you make a thoroughly designed and developed app, check out our ultimate guide to creating one today.

1. Research your market.

Odds are, your competitors will all have an app, or the app market you want to penetrate already has a lot players in it. But don’t get discouraged by your market’s competitiveness. You have the last mover advantage, which means you can research each of your competitor’s apps and pinpoint their strengths and weaknesses. This information can potentially enable you to make the best app in your market.

To conduct a full analysis on each of your competitor’s apps, consider downloading and examining each one. You should also read each app’s reviews and uncover what your potential customers like and dislike about them and use this information to drive your app’s design and functionality.

2. Determine the challenge your app solves.

If your app is a solution looking for a problem, it’ll never catch on. So make sure you have a clear understanding of your customers’ challenges and make a concerted effort to develop an app that solves them. These pain and pleasure points should inform exactly what your app does.

To fully grasp your customers’ problems and, in turn, the solutions they need, sit down with some of your most loyal customers and ask them what features would truly differentiate your app from the rest of the crowd.

3. Build your app’s wireframe.

A wireframe is like your app’s blueprint. It’ll display your app’s design and functionality, and help you understand what your app will look like and how it’ll work.

Your wireframe will be tremendously helpful when you actually need to design and develop your app because it will serve as your reference. If you need help building your app’s wireframe, check out the following wireframe tools:

4. Design your app.

Unless you’re a graphic designer, designing an app by yourself isn’t a good idea. Humans are visual beings, so striking the right balance between your app’s colors, fonts, and other design elements can be the difference between creating something that is everyone’s go-to-app and an app people delete within 10 minutes of their download.

Fortunately, there are two common options for working with professional designers:

Hire a freelancer.

Working directly with a designer can help you develop an app that can exceed even your own expectations. You have a vision for your app, and a freelancer has the skills to turn it into a reality. But they also know what’s feasible and what’s not, so they can collaborate with you to develop an app that’s rooted in reality and more user-friendly.

If you need help hiring a freelancer, check out a designer marketplace that connects brands with talent, like 99designs or Dribbble.

Hire an agency.

If your app is complex and needs a lot of expertise to develop, your best option is to hire an agency — they’ll build your app entirely from scratch. Out of all the ways you can develop an app, hiring an agency is the most expensive choice, but they can take care of every step of the app development process, from initial design to launch, which is incredibly convenient.

However, don’t just hand your agency your plans, disappear into the ether, and finally check back in on launch day. Make sure you’re involved in every step of development to ensure the agency is following your direction. Otherwise, they could spend all your resources building an app you don’t even recognize.

5. Test your design.

Before you spend a ton of time and money developing your app, you need to make sure your mockup design is actually usable. Identifying and fixing any early issues gives you the advantage of not having to overhaul the code of a poorly designed app that’s already built. It also allows you to release your app on schedule. If you bypass this step and move straight into development, you’ll most likely waste all your resources on building an app nobody likes.

To determine if your app is user-friendly, recruit colleagues to participate in a usability test. During a usability study, you’ll ask participants to complete a series of tasks while your teammates observes and takes notes. By watching actual users navigate your app and listening to their praises and concerns about it, you can see if people are actually able to complete your intended tasks as well as what they’re enjoying about your app’s user experience, what they don’t like about it, and what confuses them.

6. Develop your app.

After your app design passes a usability test, it’s time to develop it. At this stage of the app development process, you’ll hand over your design to your development team or a freelance developer.

From here, they’ll collaborate with your design team or freelance designer to solve any problems they run into during the development process and keep your app’s intended functionality and design on track.

7. Test your app.

Now that you have a fully functional and visually appealing app, it’s time to conduct a final usability test with another group of colleagues. By discovering any bugs you might have overlooked or some new ways to enhance your app, you’ll be able to make the crucial last tweaks to your final product.

8. Launch a beta version of your app.

Launching a beta version of your app attracts early adopters, which is a crucial step in the taking your app mainstream. Early adopters can provide a lot of helpful feedback about your app’s pros and cons, and their experience with and pending endorsement of your app is vital for determining whether or not the majority of your market will accept it. This potential support and word-of-mouth marketing for your app will bolster its reputation and help you acquire even more users.

9. Launch your app.

You’ve designed, tested, and developed your app. Now it’s time to launch it. If you want to launch your app in Google Play Store, they don’t require any review of new apps, so all you have to do is upload your app file into the store. IOS reviews every new app before they offer it to iPhone users in the app store, but if you follow their guidelines, your app should get accepted.

After you launch your app, the next step is marketing it. If no one knows what your app is, no one will download it. To spread the word about your app and convince people to download it, consider creating videos of your app’s functionality and advertise them on social media with a link to your app. This’ll give people a glimpse of what your app actually does and how it can benefit their lives.

How to Use a Winner’s Mindset to Become a Champion in the Workplace

Welcome to The Science Behind Success — a new blog series that explores the best ways to help our brains perform better at work. With psychological research and interviews with leaders in the field, we’re showing you how psychology can help you overcome workplace obstacles and excel in your career. Because a little mindset change could go a long way.

When you take a look at the major champions of any industry — including sports (LeBron James), music (Taylor Swift), or technology (Elon Musk) — you might have one of two thoughts.

First, you might think, “They are so lucky.”

Alternatively, perhaps you think, “They are so talented.”

To some respect, you’d be right — they are lucky, and talented. But I’m willing to bet you almost never believe their level of success can be cultivated through certain strategies.

What if it could, though? What if, rather than pointing to genetics or favorable circumstances, we questioned the very mindset that brought such stars to the top? While it’s undoubtedly not mindset alone (Taylor Swift can’t just tell herself she’s a good singer — that skill needs to be inherent), it’s also not skill alone — if it was, plenty of singers of similar talent would be headlining global tours.

Undoubtedly, there’s something else at play here — and if we’re able to acquire access to the same “winning” mindset that helps champions become champions, we just might find strategies to perform better at work.

To dig into this theory, I spoke with Simon Hazeldine, a professional speaker, consultant in the areas of leadership, sales performance and applied neuroscience, and bestselling author of five books, including the one I spoke with him about — “The Inner Winner: Performance Psychology Tactics That Give You An Unfair Advantage“.

Hazeldine, who has a Master’s Degree in Psychology, spoke with me about the core elements of a “winner” in any industry, how employees can use performance psychology to perform better in their roles (or, seek new ones), and how you can cultivate an environment in which you’re able to reach your best professional self.

To learn how you can reach the same peak performance that accelerated LeBron James’ career, keep reading.

The Core Elements of a Winner

There are four particular elements of a winner Hazeldine was quick to point out. These are:

  • High levels of self-confidence and belief in themselves
  • Great goal clarity
  • Ability to take personal responsibility (rather than blaming circumstances or other people) for both successes and failures
  • A high level of resilience, and a tendency to use techniques to manage their state of mind during challenging situations

I asked Hazeldine which element he believes employees should tackle first to perform better in their roles. He told me, “The thing to tackle first is goal clarity. A comprehensive review of over 100 psychological studies on goal-setting concluded that the beneficial effect of goal-setting on task performance is one of the most robust and replicable findings in the psychological literature.”

There’s certainly truth behind his point — Googling “task performance and goal setting” will produce an abundance of psychological studies and theories, many dating back to the 1940’s and 50’s, when the concept of “goal setting” began gaining substantial credence in the scientific field.

One study, conducted by Mento, Klein, & Locke (1992), assigned three goals of varying degrees (from easy to difficult) to 114 students in undergraduate business courses. There was a fourth group, who were told “do your best.” Then, each participant was asked to list uses (either four, seven, or 12) for common objects in one minute.

Interestingly, as the difficulty of the goal increased, so did task performance. This is likely similar to what happens to your work performance when you’ve set specific, difficult-to-achieve goals that, once achieved, might enable you to get that promotion.

The difficulty of the specific goal doesn’t make you give up — it makes you try harder.

More interesting to note, however, is what happened to the “do your best” group. This group, in comparison to the specific, difficult goals group, performed significantly less well. As Locke and Latham (2002) put it, “When people are trying to do their best, they do not do so. Do-your-best goals have no external referent, and thus are defined idiosyncratically. This allows for a wide range of acceptable performance levels, which is not the case when a specific goal level is specified.”

Mento, Klein, & Locke’s study suggests goal setting in-and-of-itself is not the only important element of a “winner” — additionally, those goals must be strategic, specific, and personally significant.

As an employee, perhaps your first step to performing better is setting more specific and difficult goals — rather than “I want to create a compelling video campaign,” perhaps you can narrow your goal to be, “I want to create a video campaign that gets 10,000 views and has a conversion rate of five percent.”

Additionally, Hazeldine suggests your goal setting must answer three important questions — “First, why do you want to achieve your goal? Second, what is your goal (the more specific and clear your goals are, the more likely you are to achieve them)? And, third, how you are going to achieve your goal?”

The American Society for Training and Development conducted a study and found people are 65% more likely to complete their goals when they commit to someone else. To further ensure you’ll succeed at setting and reaching your workplace goals, it’s important you vocalize them to a manager or mentor.

How You Can Reach Peak Performance at Work

Now that we’ve examined goal-setting and other essential elements of a winner, let’s consider how you might use other aspects of performance psychology to reach higher levels of success in the workplace.

I asked Hazeldine whether people should use performance psychology to help them succeed in roles they already enjoy and at which they want to excel, or as a tool to help them choose a career path in which they’d be most successful. In short, his answer was — both.

“Performance psychology can help people to perform to a higher standard and use more of their potential in any situation or role,” he told me. “However, if people give some in-depth consideration to their strengths, interests and passions, this should allow them to select a role for which they are best suited.”

“When you occupy a role that plays to your strengths and passions, you are far more likely to accelerate your success.”

This makes sense — certainly, Elon Musk excels in his role in part because it’s a role that plays to his strengths. While he might’ve found success elsewhere using similar cognitive methods, he likely wouldn’t have found success to this magnitude.

Alternatively, it’s difficult to perform to your peak performance if you’re simply uninterested in your role.

However, let’s say you’re passionate about your role, and it’s a role that plays to your strengths. Regardless, you’ll still experience stress and other negative emotions in the workplace, which leaves you with an inability to perform at peak levels at all times.

Fortunately, Hazeldine notes, “Performance psychology can [also] help people build stronger levels of resilience or mental toughness, which will support them in coping with the stresses of the modern workplace. Stress management techniques, which are used extensively by elite athletes to cope with the pressures of competition, allow people to change and control how they are thinking and feeling … and can most definitely be used in the workplace.”

Stress management techniques, or techniques used to help control and alleviate negative emotions to improve performance, might include some of the following:

  • Positive thinking or self-talk
  • Mental rehearsal of a situation before the actual performance (in which you visualize success)
  • The practice of developing self-confidence before and during the event

Let’s say you’re anxious before a big marketing presentation, in much the same way an NFL player might get anxious before a big game. You could use positive thinking or self-talk to put yourself in a confident mindset.

For instance (though it might feel silly or unnatural at first), perhaps before the presentation you think, “I am strong. I am brave. I know what I’m doing. I am smart,” or any other variation of motivational phrases. You might need to practice a few to see which feels most true to you.

It’s important to note, you don’t want to use any self-talk that feels dishonest. If you tell yourself “I am relaxed”, when you’re not, this tactic won’t be effective. Instead, replace “relaxed” with “excited” to appropriately re-name the anxiety you’re experiencing.

Another strategy you might use to become less stressed in the workplace is visualization. This strategy involves creating a specific, detailed image when you’re in a peaceful environment, and are relaxed. Oftentimes, you’d pair this initial visualization with physical relaxation techniques — like when you’re getting a massage or doing yoga.

Then, before a big work presentation, imagine the same scene you’ve practiced envisioning in relaxing settings. This tactic can help you in three ways — first, it provides a helpful distraction from the present moment. Second, imagining a peaceful scene can remind your unconscious mind it’s okay to be relaxed. And third, scenes can eventually become a trigger for your body to recall the same sensations it felt when you first imagined the scene.

For instance, if you typically imagine the scene in yoga, when your body is relaxed, and then you visualize it during a presentation, your body might take cues to settle into the sensations it felt during yoga.

Ultimately, there’s no one right tactic that will work for everyone. However, finding strategies to help you build mental toughness, self-efficacy, and a level of confidence in the workplace will undoubtedly bring you closer to experiencing the same “winning” mindset that skyrocketed other champions to the top of their industries.