I’m back again with another case study on my technology news blog. I can’t believe I made it to 3 months of these.
It has been 3 months now since I officially launched my news website – time flies when your having fun! Over the past month, the main focus has been improving the SEO of the site and writing even more content to entertain our engaged reader-base.
The earnings, analytics and search console results this month are actually quite staggering too!
You can see the results and the rest of the case study here:
Our application got rejected by amazon due to the site is not original. I tried to also reach out to them to get more specific example to improve our content, but we haven't heard anything yet, so I was wondering if anyone who's more familiar with this can help give us some suggestions.
We are running a platform that allows merchants to setup their online store with google sheets and a range of customization options. Currently we are only offering it for free and since we are getting good traffic (4-5000 hits per week), we decided to try to monetize by recommending amazon products along side w/ merchant's products.
Somehow we've found this to help increase the engagement since most of our merchants offers very limited set of products – and quite surprisingly people are actually buying directly the amazon products we are recommending. We really want to keep this working if we could. I would really appreciate any suggestion/hint on how we could improve our display our content to make this more likely to be approved.
I can provide more merchant page for example, it's helpful !! Thanks so much !!
Data can seem dry and tedious, but with some creativity it’s hard not to take notice, be impressed, and learn something new all at the same time. Three Whiskey’s Viral Mistry offers some tips for data visualisation.
Good data visualisation is a bit like good CGI: when it’s done well, you don’t actually notice it. When it’s done poorly, however, it sticks out like a sore thumb – or claws, in this case (bad CGI is quite popular on YouTube – this has over 4 million views!).
Today there’s a bustling community of people who create visualisations for fun, turning it into a kind of a geeky art-form.
Take a quick foray into this community and you might run into websites like The Pudding, a data journalism website producing stunning pieces like this Population Mountain. Then there are people like Joshua Jenkins who’s created a data-driven comic, set a hundred years from now. It’s hard to miss Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight, whose chart designs have inspired the same charts in this article.
I have to also mention Reddit’s /r/dataisbeautiful, a community 15-million strong. Sort by top and you’ll see some of the best visualisations you can find on the internet – some are quite flashy, others have been painstakingly animated and others are barebones but get their point across elegantly.
I mention all of this because data can seem dry and tedious, but with some creativity it’s hard not to take notice, be impressed, and learn something new all at the same time. While some of these creations are a far cry from an Excel chart, it takes just a few tweaks to bring even something apparently mundane to life.
1. Remove the clutter
A lot of us begrudgingly use Excel every day but underneath the technicalities is a powerful visualisation tool, and unlike other tools like R/Python, Google Data Studio and to some extent Tableau, Excel is almost all click-based, making it the most approachable visualisation tool.
Let’s go through a transformation of the default line chart that Excel produces to the one next to it:
Before we get into how to produce the second chart, what exactly makes the second chart better?
One of the first things you might notice with the default chart is simply the clutter. There’s a lot going on, there are a lot of numbers and some of them are slanted, making it a bit harder to read. The axis labels are very granular, ultimately stealing the focus away from the message the chart is trying to convey.
So, the first thing to do with any visualisation is to strip out any clutter. In this case we don’t need to see the data in such small increments, nor do we need to see each year, or eight mediums all in one chart. Five is plenty, a $5B increment is not too little or too far spaced apart, and a 5-year interval means the labels aren’t slanted anymore.
Something a bit more subtle is the separation of the various elements on the chart – the title, chart area, legend – Excel creates charts with these all close together. We can forgive Excel for trying to maximise the space available, but it has the effect of making everything blend together. Keeping in mind that we are trying to reduce clutter, shrinking the chart area slightly creates a more obvious separation between the elements, making the data a bit easier to process.
2. Communicate efficiently
Below are four charts containing the same data about channel traffic. Which one is the most helpful?
You might be thinking that it depends on what I mean by “helpful”, and you’d be right. To really answer this question you instead need to know your audience.
Pie charts get a bad rap but they are effective at communicating simple facts about the data. For one, it’s the best at informing us that Direct traffic makes up just over a half of all traffic – it’s not as easy to get to the same information from the other three charts. Where the pie chart falls short is in communicating what the smaller segments represent. Squeezing in data labels can quickly make the pie chart cluttered, which we want to avoid. So the pie chart is great for an audience that doesn’t care too much about the details and wants a quick snapshot.
The tree map, while oddly satisfying to look at, doesn’t actually tell us much – it’s hard to figure out the proportion that each square represents. The smallest segments are so small that their labels are cut-off, and the tree map in general takes up the most space too. The area chart, on the other hand, is just misplaced: it’s more suited for time series charts. It seems like these two don’t serve any audience that well.
The humble bar chart is usually the safest bet: every channel gets an equal piece of real estate and adding data labels doesn’t make it cluttered. There’s nothing fancy here but it tells us the most information – probably best if your audience is more technical.
Speaking more broadly, this is part of the bigger problem of “analytics theatre”. FullStory, an analytics platform like Google Analytics, succinctly describes analytics theatre as ‘a show of signals that seem like insights—but are more like noise.’
It’s tempting sometimes to cram in as many cool visualisations into your deck, report or dashboard, but ultimately how useful is that? Instead of squeezing in all four of the visualisations above into a dashboard, one or two will tell the audience most of what they want to know.
3. Try to tell stories
Hans Rosling was a Swedish professor of International Health, you might have heard of him given that his TED Talks have racked up over 15 million views and in 2018, Bill Gates handed out 4 million copies of his book to every graduating student.
The reason Hans became so popular is not because of his data visualisations (though they’re very impressive), but because he told amazing stories with that data. Hans took your preconceived notions about the world and turned them upside down and did so in a way that was enjoyable:
While most of us aren’t telling epic stories like Hans’ through animated charts, data can still tell us interesting stories all the time, albeit short ones. This chart seems to be telling us something quite positive, and we get that sense even without any numbers or labels:
There are lot of signals or visual cues that we all recognise as either being positive or negative, large or small, important and not-so-important. Take this Google Maps data:
Even without knowing much about what’s being communicated here, it’s easy to tell that the US plays some important role in it, followed by China and perhaps the UK to some extent.
More subtle is the quantity and distribution of data. This map contains a lot of dots spaced quite evenly throughout the world, suggesting a global market, however those dots are also mostly quite small – so we can read this as being a mostly American market with lots of smaller, budding markets across the world. If we add in some colour coding, a lot of these subtleties suddenly become more apparent:
Image via Google Maps
So when you have the opportunity, consider using colour, sizing, and if you have the skills, animations, to turn your data into engaging stories that audiences will care about.
As we’ve seen there are some simple ideas that can breathe new life into even the most boring of datasets, but you might be thinking there’s a limit to how far some datasets can go, and you’d be right. Often, however, you may just need to think outside of the box:
If the truck driver above gave you a spreadsheet with the dates and locations of where he’s been to, no one would bat an eyelid. By visualising the journeys this way, suddenly we see a tale of someone that has travelled coast-to-coast, southern border to northern border and everywhere in between. He has probably seen more of the American plains that most of us ever will.
This supposedly boring data is currently the 14th most popular post of all time on Reddit’s /r/dataisbeautiful.
This is all a long way of saying: get inspired! Think laterally. There is a monumental amount of data out there, and an already large, friendly community of people and projects to draw insights from. If you’re looking for somewhere to get started, a great place is Makeover Monday. Every week they provide a dataset for you to visualise, see what others have created, and if you want to, share your own work.
Whichever way you choose to start, remember: reduce clutter, be efficient with your visualisations, and tell a story.
Our mission since 2005 is to publish articles, webinars, and podcasts to help ecommerce merchants. What follows are the 10 most popular articles that we published in September 2020. Articles from early in the month are more likely to make the list than later ones.
Google Ads scripts automate routine tasks. Last fall, I shared three such scripts that are helpful to me. In this post, I’ll address four additional Google Ads scripts that automate tasks and save time. Read more…
Despite strong increases in the past several months, predicting this year’s holiday ecommerce sales made me feel a bit like Ebenezer Scrooge. I wanted to be optimistic about the Christmas sales, but three of my five predictions are negative overall. The other two, click-and-collect ecommerce and gig-economy delivery, are generally positive. Read more…
Category pages target the keywords that consumers search for most frequently. But optimizing category pages for organic search rankings can be difficult, as default category templates on ecommerce platforms tend to hold less text than other pages. What follows are seven category-page elements that improve rankings on highly competitive keywords. Read more…
The elements of an ecommerce product detail page should work together to help shoppers make sound buying decisions. Each element — prose description, a list of features, product photos, videos — should tell part of an item’s story. Read more…
Free resources from the design community can add value to an ecommerce site. Here is a list of new web tools and design elements from summer 2020. There are designer and developer apps, coding resources, color tools, fonts, and more. All of these tools are free, though some also offer premium versions. Read more…
Content marketing can help connect with new customers or deepen relationships with existing ones. But some businesses struggle to find topics to address. The good news is that opportunities abound in October 2020, when a company could cover National Taco Day, raise cybersecurity awareness, profile customers, provide a brief history of products, or identify Halloween do-it-yourself projects. Read more…
Here’s a batch of new ecommerce books for your autumn reading list. There are titles on buying and selling a business, producing and fostering creative work, monetizing your podcast, live video marketing, Amazon, and the blockchain. Read more…
Selling during the upcoming holiday shopping season will not be normal. For the first time in its history, the United States Postal Service is imposing a holiday surcharge on commercial packages. The price increases will begin on October 18 and run through December 27, 2020, and range from $0.24 to $1.50 per package. Read more…
The upcoming holiday shopping season is bound to shake the ecommerce sector. If you haven’t yet finalized your holiday sales schedule, now’s the time to get it done. But you may want to rethink your strategy for November and December. Read more…
The coronavirus pandemic has accelerated the pace of digital transformation in retail, prompting some brands to focus on direct-to-consumer channels. The retail and wholesale industries have long been undergoing an evolution toward ecommerce, digital brands, and DTC sales. But Covid-19 changed retail abruptly. Read more…
The ongoing global pandemic has accelerated retail and B2B trends that make it relatively more difficult for some businesses to survive while upping the competitive bar for the entire ecommerce industry.
These trends include everything from an increase in online sales and the growth of click-and-collect shopping to how software is built and integrated.
“We’ve got two products in the market,” said Peter Sheldon, senior director of commerce strategy at Adobe. “We’ve got Magento Commerce and Adobe Analytics. Between the install base of those two, we collect a huge amount of aggregated data around online behaviors, online retail spend, and so forth.
“And every month we publish what we call our ‘Adobe Digital Economy Index.’ This is our finger on the pulse of what happens with online sales, and it has been really interesting since March versus our forecasts. We were always very accurate on our forecasts. Coming into 2020, we knew exactly what was going to happen under normal circumstances. But what we’ve seen so far since March [is that] online spend in the U.S. has resulted in an extra $107 billion.”
To further make Sheldon’s point, consider recent headlines on Practical Ecommerce.
A Time Machine
Many industry insiders see the explosive ecommerce growth as something of a time machine transporting the industry to some future date in terms of technology and business practices.
“If we ask, ‘What has Covid done over the last 12 months?’ — it has put us in a time machine. Meaning, it has accelerated [ecommerce]. The forecasted growth we had for the shift of retail spend from brick-and-mortar to digital was going to happen anyway. But two-to-three years of forecasted online channel shift and increased spending online was effectively compressed into six months,” said Sheldon. “We’ve just moved forward the inevitable. This was always going to happen; it’s just happened way, way faster.”
The speed of this transition has impacted the entire ecommerce industry.
“Call it a slow hunch,” said Brian Walker, chief strategy officer at Bloomreach, who spoke in early August 2020. “I think many of us expected that digital commerce — the digital experience — was going to continue to grow in importance, and it certainly has. But since Covid began, it went from important to urgent for many companies.”
Not every business or industry segment was ready to make these sorts of changes.
At-risk companies, if you will, had financial or structural challenges before the pandemic began. These challenges made it relatively more difficult for them to pivot, expand their ecommerce operations, or take on new software projects.
As a result, longstanding retailers such as J.C. Penney, Neiman Marcus, J.Crew, and Lord & Taylor have filed for bankruptcy.
Some of these retailers will emerge from bankruptcy. J.C. Penney, for example, was purchased by its landlords, mall operators Simon Property Group and Brookfield Property Group. Other businesses will not survive. Lord & Taylor was in full liquidation mode at the time of writing.
Lord & Taylor is one of many businesses that will close because of Covid-driven market pressures.
The problem, in part, is investment. “Time traveling” to three years in the future meant that businesses must spend digital-transition funds in just one summer that would have otherwise taken 36 months.
A retailer that had planned to build click-and-collect capabilities over a couple of years had to execute, instead, in a few weeks.
Those companies that were able to invest tended to gain a competitive advantage.
Walmart, which benefited from the types of products it carries and its strong infrastructure, enjoyed a 97-percent increase in ecommerce sales during the fiscal quarter ended June 30, 2020. And, on September 23, the company announced that it would hire 20,000 seasonal workers to help with holiday sales.
Similarly, Target, which has fewer total sales than Walmart, saw a 200-percent increase in ecommerce sales in the second quarter and plans to hire about 130,000 temporary workers for the holidays.
Smaller businesses that were able to invest may have seen similar results.
When they make significant improvements in such a short period, already strong B2B brands and retailers raise the bar for everyone.
For example, a new online retailer must compete not just with enterprise ecommerce sellers, but also with newly aggressive in-store merchants that offer click-and-collect, curbside pickup, and home deliveries via Uber or DoorDash. Thus, the pandemic-driven “time machine” might elevate the entire ecommerce industry.
I feel that if you create a website on let's say health, that's a very dishonest industry to make money out of. Firstly, your advertising a product you don't know is good or not. Secondly, your most likely talking about something you have no idea about. Isn't that a bit dishonest?