Posts tagged starting

Starting Over, Part 1: A Pre-Launch Checklist

<p>Posted by <a href=\”http://moz.com/community/users/22897\”>Dr-Pete</a></p><p>
Writing about marketing can be a full-time job, and there comes a point when you risk losing touch with the day-to-day challenges of actually being a marketer. A while back, I had an idea – what if I started over? What if I launched a new blog completely from scratch and told that story? No best practices, no wisdom from on high, but a blow-by-blow account of having to be a content marketer all over again.</p><p>
Everyone agreed that this was a perfectly interesting idea, except for the part about building and maintaining an entire site just to write a few posts about the experience. So, I kept putting the idea on the back burner, until there was something that I wanted to write about enough to make the project worthwhile.</p><p>
This is a story of beginning again. This will not be a polished, Photoshopped portrait of best practices – it’s going to be an honest account of my choices and mistakes. I’m not going to tell you what you should do, but why I made the choices I did and what happened when I made those choices. Welcome to part 1: pre-launch.</p><hr>
<h2><img src=”http://d1avok0lzls2w.cloudfront.net/uploads/blog/534357fc7bd466.65871257.jpg” style=”font-size: 14px; color: rgb(97, 97, 97);”></h2><h2>
<hr>
</h2><h2>Table of Contents</h2><h4>
<strong><a href=”#section1″>(0)&nbsp;Concepts & Choices</a><br>
<a href=”#section2″>(1) Domains & Branding</a><br>
<a href=”#section3″>(2) Hosting & Platforms</a><br>
<a href=”#section4″>(3) Social & Plug-ins</a><br>
<a href=”#section5″>(4) Analytics & Tools</a>
</strong></h4><p>
<a name=”section1″></a></p><hr>
<h2>(0) Concept & Choices</h2><p>
<strong><em>TL;DR </em>–</strong><em> It all starts with a choice, so choose something. You can spend a year making up your mind (I did), or you can start building and see what happens. If the risk is low, then get moving.</em></p><p>
Before you actually build anything, you have to make the choice to build something. It’s sound obvious, but that choice may be the hardest part of starting any new venture, whether it’s a blog or a business. I can’t tell you what to build or even how to make that choice, but I can tell you how I made this particular choice.</p><p>
Honestly, this project sat on the shelf for too long, a victim of perfectionism. I wanted the perfect idea, that I was passionate about, that would make great content, that would tell an amazing story, and that would all somehow magically be easy to do. No pressure. Simply deciding to move forward probably took over a year.</p><p>
The core problem is that the idea was just too vague – I wanted to start a new blog so that I could blog about that blog. Even that sentence bored me. I needed to connect to the project. I’m not going to throw out a bunch of clichés about passion, but the simple reality is that I couldn’t just write a blog for the sake of blogging, or I’d hate this project in record time.</p><p>
For a while, I’ve wanted to dig deeper into minimalist design, but design isn’t something I have a lot of time for and I’ve worked with enough great designers to know that I’m not one. Finally it occurred to me – why not just embrace that and write a blog about being a lousy designer? I may not be a great designer, but I am good at making fun of myself.</p><p>
I finally landed on the idea of a parody blog about branding. I would redesign big company logos in the minimalist style, even though they never asked me to, and I’d suck at with style. It was concrete, it had a repeatable theme, and it would be fun.</p><p>
<a name=”section2″></a></p><hr>
<h2>(1) Domains & Branding</h2><p>
<strong><em>TL;DR </em>–</strong><em> Don’t get hung up on a domain. Find something that clearly reflects your concept, make sure it’s available (of course), and then do a little background research to not step into anything embarrassing. Once you’ve registered something, lock down how you’ll represent your brand and URL.</em></p><h3>1A. Register a domain</h3><p>
Most marketers could spend a lifetime picking the right domain, only to find that the domain was registered 75 years ago and the internet was now accessed by drinking a series of pulsating purple tubes. Throw in trying to optimizing your domain for SEO, and your great, great moon-children may be able to enjoy your perfect domain as a grape-flavored cocktail.</p><p>
This was a personal blog, so I decided to keep it simple and riff off of the initial concept. The basic idea was that I would do unsolicited, minimalist redesigns of big brands, exploring (and mocking) corporate branding along the way. Ultimately, I tossed around dozens of domain names, but I’m going to narrow it down to five that represent the journey pretty well. I started with the overly literal…</p><p>
<strong>(1) MininimalLogos.com<br>
(2) MinimalistLogos.com
</strong></p><p>
If possible, I was shooting for a .com. I came up with option #2 because I was concerned about two l’s in a row in #1 – I still remember having to spell unruly domains over the phone, and so I try to limit confusion. Ultimately, both options felt too literal, a bit restrictive, and like they wouldn’t be much fun. So, I came up with…</p><p>
<strong>(3) HeresYourNewLogo.com</strong></p><p>
The idea was simple. Each post would be titled something like “Here’s Your New Logo, Yahoo!”, and it would be a sort of running joke. While the overall concept might have worked for a while, the domain itself seemed too generic and hard to brand. Plus, I’d be tied into that one, very narrow concept forever. Up next was…</p><p>
<strong>(4) MinimalEffort.com</strong></p><p>
It had a shout-out to minimalism, it wasn’t too restrictive, and it was in the self-mocking style that comes naturally to me. Only one problem – yep, it was already taken. I should say that I like to brainstorm first, before I look up availability. It just feels more natural. I liked this direction, though, so I kept working at it until I found one:</p><p>
<strong>(5) MinimalTalent.com</strong></p><p>
It had minimalism, it made fun of my abilities (and set expectations low about my design skills, which I considered to be critically important), and it was unique enough to brand. Don’t spend weeks sending your domain to friends and getting all of your third cousin’s opinions, especially for small projects – it’ll drive you crazy and just delays getting your project off the ground.</p><h3>1B. Double-check your name</h3><p>
My choice was more about branding than keyword research, buy I don’t want to give the impression that I think keyword research is unimportant.. If you want to see an in-depth keyword research process in action, I highly recommend
<a href=”http://moz.com/blog/the-8step-seo-strategy-step-1-define-your-target-audience-and-their-needs”>Laura Lippay’s 8-part series</a> – yes, all 8 parts. I’d also recommend Todd Malicoat’s comprehensive post on <a href=”http://moz.com/blog/the-exact-match-domain-playbook-a-guide-and-best-practices-for-emds”>choosing an exact-match domain</a>.</p><p>
Bare minimum, you need to make sure that your new name doesn’t have unexpected connotations or an embarrassing history. A quick Google search revealed that most references to “minimal talent” were about a musician named Matt Minimal, and his track called “Talent”:</p><p style=”text-align: center;”>
<img src=”http://d1avok0lzls2w.cloudfront.net/uploads/blog/5329fe7cde5529.94205038.jpg”></p><p>
Just as a sanity check, I also fed the brand through Moz’s
<a href=”https://moz.com/researchtools/keyword-difficulty”>Keyword Difficulty Tool</a>, and got back the following (note: this is a paid tool, and I’m only showing partial data):</p><p>
<img src=”http://d1avok0lzls2w.cloudfront.net/uploads/blog/5329fe9209f531.89579239.jpg”></p><p>
So, the search volume was hardly exciting, but the difficulty level (39%) was promising. The bottom graph shows that, after a few average pages on high-authority domains (like YouTube), the competition fell off pretty quickly. I should be able to rank for my brand phrase.</p><p>
I probably should’ve thought a bit more about trying to displace an artist with an actual album, but, hey, mistakes and all, right? The important thing is that I made a choice and the closet seemed skeleton-free. My domain was new, so I didn’t have to worry about domain history. If you’re buying a domain, I highly recommend checking the
<a href=”http://archive.org/web/”>Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine</a> and digging into the domain’s link profile.</p><h3>1C. Pin down your brand</h3><p>
As I was finishing graduate school, my advisor gave me a good piece of advice – decide how you want your name to read and use it consistently. Part of that was just practical, a result of early academic search engines and their poor matching abilities. Ultimately, though, this piece of advice made me choose to use Dr. Peter J. Meyers consistently for years, and that serendipitously led to being called “Dr. Pete”, one of my better accidental branding decisions.</p><p>
There are many way to represent a brand online – spaces, no spaces, all caps, all lower case, etc. I decided to go old school and just use “Minimal Talent”. Make this decision early, because it’s going to impact your design templates, your copy, your social profiles, your anchor text, and on and on. If you start changing it around 6 months later, you’ll make a mess.</p><h3>1D. Pick a canonical URL</h3><p>
This is also a good time to decide on a canonical version of your URL. I opted to drop the “www” and just go with “minimaltalent.com”. I don’t have strong opinions about whether or not to use “www”, but consistency is absolutely essential. Make a conscious decision, set up canonicalization and redirects early (“www” to non-www or vise-versa), and use one format every time you link, display, tweet, email, print, or in any way share your URL.</p><p>
<a name=”section3″></a></p><hr>
<h2>(2) Hosting & Platforms</h2><p>
<em><strong>TL;DR – </strong>If you ask 12 people what the best hosting and CMS are, you’ll get 13 opinions. Try to narrow down to a few choices quickly and then go with what fits your project requirements and budget. The same goes for themes. If it’s a personal project, make the final choice yourself.</em></p><h3>2A. Decide on a platform</h3><p>
It was time to actually start building something. I’m not going to dive deep into my choice of platforms – I decided early on to go with WordPress. Put simply, I was overdue to dive into WordPress and I knew many of our customers still use it, so that choice just fit the project.</p><h3>2B. Pick a hosting company</h3><p>
I went to Twitter for advice on hosting companies, which is always an adventure, but managed to narrow the choice down to a few candidates. I’m not endorsing these companies or making a list of best choices – again, I’m just walking you through my own decision process:</p><h4><strong>(1) Web Faction (<a href=”https://www.webfaction.com/”>https://www.webfaction.com/</a>)</strong></h4><p>
Web faction is focused on hosting for developers, and their pricing seemed pretty good for what you get. I wanted this story to be accessible, though, and so the technical focus was actually a downside for me this time around. Web Faction was a good fit for me on a normal day, but just not a match for this project.</p><h4><strong>(2) Web Synthesis (</strong><a href=”http://websynthesis.com/”>http://websynthesis.com/</a><strong>)</strong></h4><p>
Web Synthesis is about as close as I’ve seen to an enterprise WordPress hosting company. They seem to have serious firepower, but they also have the price-tag to match. Their suggested (“Professional”) plan was $97/month (to be fair, they have a “Starter” plan for $27/month), and that just didn’t fit the scope of Minimal Talent.</p><h4><strong>(3) DreamPress (<a href=”http://www.dreamhost.com/dreampress/”>http://www.dreamhost.com/dreampress/</a>)</strong></h4><p>
DreamHost is a large, discount host, and I’ve used them for a couple of projects with relatively decent results. Like any big host, they have good and bad reviews. They were a known quantity, though, and I was intrigued by their DreamPress offering.</p><p>
So, ultimately, I went with the company I knew and tried DreamPress. I opted to spend $19.95/month and go with a packaged WordPress solution, even though basic hosting can be had for cheaper rates. I tend to believe that you get what you pay for, and if a project is worth doing, it’s worth some investment. You have to do what’s right for you.</p><h3>2C. Choose a theme</h3><p>
Next up was theme-shopping. One of the things I like about using a themed platform (like WordPress) is that you can narrow down what you like and use that to inform your design decisions. Personally, I find that a lot less intimidating than staring at an empty page waiting for inspiration. I’m not a designer by trade, so I need a starting-off point. Put simply, I don’t always know what I like until I see it.</p><p>
I hit Twitter and Google, looking for minimalist themes. Theme shopping is a bit like choosing a toothpaste, and it’s easy to get overloaded. Do you want cavity preventing, tartar control, extra whitening, or cavity reducing, tartar fighting, extreme whitening? Sometimes, you lose track of the difference.</p><p>
The best I can say is cast a wide net, find a few themes you like, bookmark them, and come back later with a clear head. After a couple of days, I narrowed down my choices to three:</p><h4><strong>1. Hipster (hat-tip to </strong><a href=”https://twitter.com/brandondud”>@brandondud</a><strong>)</strong></h4><p>
I was looking for something clean, but ultimately decided that
<a href=”http://themejug.com/theme/hipster/”>Hipster</a> was probably a bit too minimalist for my tastes. Here’s a screenshot, just to give you an idea of what I was looking for:</p><p style=”text-align: center;”>
<img src=”http://d1avok0lzls2w.cloudfront.net/uploads/blog/5329ff6d41eac3.67299602.jpg”></p><h4><strong>2. Centita (hat-tip to </strong><a href=”https://twitter.com/Charles_SEO”>@Charles_SEO</a><strong>)</strong></h4><p>
<strong></strong></p><p>
The
<a href=”http://wp-demo.indonez.com/?theme=Centita”>Centita theme</a> gave me a bit more options, but I ultimately felt that it was more geared toward a company site. I was really aiming for something more blogging-focused.</p><p style=”text-align: center;”>
<img src=”http://d1avok0lzls2w.cloudfront.net/uploads/blog/5329ff828770a6.38838777.jpg”></p><h4><strong>3. Sixteen Nine (hat-top to </strong><a href=”https://twitter.com/meinck”>@meinck</a><strong>)</strong></h4><p>
I was familiar with StudioPress and had actually wandered across the
<a href=”http://my.studiopress.com/themes/minimum/”>Minimum theme</a> first, but then dug around a bit more until I discovered <a href=”http://my.studiopress.com/themes/sixteen-nine/”>Sixteen Nine</a>. This had just the right amount of flexibility for me, while still being clearly focused on blogging:</p><p style=”text-align: center;”>
<img src=”http://d1avok0lzls2w.cloudfront.net/uploads/blog/5329ff9277c285.65569875.jpg”></p><p>
This led to another decision, though. The Sixteen Nine theme was part of the Genesis framework. The price tag ($99.95) wasn’t a big stumbling block for me, but it would mean committing to that framework.</p><p>
Luckily, I was familiar with some of the folks at StudioPress (the makers of Genesis) and had heard a lot of good things from the SEO community. Since this was my first WordPress effort, I felt that a framework would help me overcome some of the early pains of customizing WordPress. Of course, it would also mean learning the ins and outs of the platform.</p><h3>2D. Tweak your design</h3><p>
Once again, perfectionism reared its ugly head. While I’ve had good experiences with Genesis so far, there’s a learning curve even to WordPress. I wanted to tweak things that first-timers probably shouldn’t tweak, and sometimes even just finding the right page of code or style sheet took hours. The first couple of weeks were a frustrating experience.</p><p>
I decided not to go too crazy (70% of the way toward going crazy) – I left the layout and dark color scheme alone, and made fairly small changes to font choices. I wanted to replace the author photo with my logo, which meant some resizing – this turned out to be much more of a challenge than I expected and actually took a few days of part-time messing around. It took me about a day just to figure out how to flush the built-in Varnish cache, but I’ll leave out the gory details.</p><p>
My launch design ended up looking like this (
<a href=”http://minimaltalent.com/”>yes, the site is live</a>) – not earth shattering, but it got the job done:</p><p style=”text-align: center;”>
<img src=”http://d1avok0lzls2w.cloudfront.net/uploads/blog/5329ffd9676d88.50064882.jpg”></p><p>
I’m not going to dig deep into logo design. Branding is a personal and sometimes perilous journey, and there are many options. I’ll just say this – don’t let logo design keep you from launching forever. Yes, a professional brand image is important, but a logo isn’t imbued with magical powers. Ultimately, you have to build a brand, and the sooner you start the sooner you’ll get established.</p><p>
I decided that having someone else design a logo for a blog about designing logos seemed like cheating, so I tackled that project myself. The theme gave me guidance, and I stuck with a mostly gray scheme. I ended up with this:</p><p style=”text-align: center;”>
<img src=”http://d1avok0lzls2w.cloudfront.net/uploads/blog/532a000de424d5.48790210.jpg”></p><p>
It’s designed for a dark background, but it fares reasonably well on white (make sure your logo works on a variety of backgrounds and at a variety of sizes). The left of the lower-case “m” forms a pencil. The only stroke of color is the red eraser, which I meant as a subtle way of saying that my design efforts require frequent editing and occasional creative destruction.</p><p>
<a name=”section4″></a></p><hr>
<h2>(3) Social & Plug-ins</h2><p>
<em><strong>TL;DR –</strong> Register and protect your social accounts ASAP and set up authorship via Google+. Pin down your social links and SEO plug-ins prior to launch.</em></p><h3>3A. Register social accounts</h3><p>
One of the dangers of platforms like WordPress, in my opinion, is that you can get plug-in fever, launching with every possible function imaginable. This includes social networks – it only takes minutes to enable sharing on hundreds of networks.</p><p>
The reality is that you’ll quickly dilute your efforts and you’ll never be able to spend time building those networks. So, I decided to focus on just three: Google+, Twitter, and Pinterest. Choosing the right networks is well beyond the scope of this post, but I’m already active on Twitter, I feel that Google+ has some SEO advantages (even if they’re indirect), and the design focus of Minimal Talent made Pinterest a natural choice. I’d also been meaning to dig into Pinterest for a long time.</p><p>
I chose to use my personal accounts, but I also decided to claim the Twitter account @MinimalTalent. I don’t think you have to register everything under the sun, but protecting assets you might use later is often a good idea. While I chose to do this manually, I recommend
<a href=”http://knowem.com/”>KnowEm</a> for checking and claiming a large number of social accounts.</p><p>
I also connected my Google+ and Pinterest accounts to the site. Connecting your Google+ account to establish authorship varies with the platform, but here’s a good guide to
<a href=”http://www.copyblogger.com/wordpress-google-authorship/”>setting up authorship with WordPress</a>.</p><h3>3B. Set up an RSS feed</h3><p>
Next, I connected my RSS feed (for WordPress, it conveniently exists at
<a href=”http://example.com/feed”>http://example.com/feed</a>) to Feedburner. I know RSS is probably dying, and Feedburner is a hot mess, but the reality is that nothing viable has really replaced either one. So, for now, I decided to include an RSS feed.</p><h3>3C. Pick your plug-ins</h3><p>
Finally, I set up social and RSS icons on the site itself. I used
<a href=”http://wordpress.org/plugins/simple-social-icons/”>Simple Social Icons</a> for the logos on the left column and used JetPack’s built-in tools to display social icons on my individual posts. There are a mountain of social plug-ins, and I barely scaled the foothills.</p><p>
Since I was using the Genesis framework, a lot of my core SEO needs were already integrated. If you’re going with straight WordPress, though, I’d recommend
<a href=”https://yoast.com/wordpress/plugins/seo/”>Joost de Valk’s WordPress plug-in</a>. Many CMS systems have a bad tendency to create duplicate content and spin out ugly URLs and META data (or generic data, including titles). Solve this problem before you launch, or it could bite you later.</p><p>
<a name=”section5″></a></p><hr>
<h2>(4) Analytics & Tools</h2><p>
<em><strong>TL;DR –</strong> Set up your analytics and monitoring tools before you launch. You can’t recreate lost historical data. Use Google Webmaster Tools to help get crawled and indexed quickly.</em></p><h3>4A. Set up Google Analytics</h3><p>
Since my needs were basic and my budget was tight, I went ahead and stuck to
<a href=”http://www.google.com/analytics/”>Google Analytics</a>. Whatever complaints I have about Google, it’s hard to beat GA’s feature set for absolutely free. Don’t put this off – if you luck out and your blog takes off, you can’t back-fill the data. I’m not going to dive deep into GA, but I’d recommend opting for the new, universal analytics. It’s going to give you more options going forward.</p><h3>4B. Set up Google Webmaster Tools</h3><p>
I’d also set up Google Webmaster Tools right away, since one thing it does very well is help with discovery and getting your initial site indexed. I’ll get into that topic a bit more in the next post (which will be focused on the launch itself).</p><h3>4C. Create an XML sitemap</h3><p>
Create and link up your XML sitemap. I used a plug-in called
<a href=”http://wordpress.org/plugins/google-sitemap-generator/”>Google XML Sitemaps</a>, and it seems to be working well enough. In Google Webmaster Tools, go to “Crawl &gt; Sitemaps”, and you can submit your sitemap URL. If you’re working on a large site, I’m a big fan of <a href=”https://www.distilled.net/blog/seo/indexation-problems-diagnosis-using-google-webmaster-tools/”>tiered sitemaps</a>. For this project, I really only needed the basics.</p><h3>4D. Set up Moz Analytics</h3><p>
Part of the point of this project is to get back in the trenches with our customers and do a better job understanding our product as a marketer. So, I set up a new campaign in Moz Analytics, and I connected my Google Analytics account right away (which is an option during campaign creation):</p><p style=”text-align: center;”>
<img src=”http://d1avok0lzls2w.cloudfront.net/uploads/blog/5339a2e1ad3647.99815389.jpg”></p><p>
You’ll also want to set up at least a few initial keywords, especially branded keywords, so that you can quickly see if and when you’re getting established. I decided to set up a small list that covered a range, from essential to aspirational:</p><ul>
<li>site:minimaltalent.com</li> <li>minimal talent</li> <li>misadventures in minimalism</li> <li>minimalism 101</li> <li>minimalist logos</li> <li>yahoo logo</li> <li>minimalism</li></ul><p>
I decided to set up a “site:” operator as a keyword, just to tracking that the site site is being indexed. After that, I went with the brand name and my tagline. My tagline is pretty specific, so if I’m not ranking for that fairly soon, something may be wrong. After that, I cast a wider net, just to have something to shoot for over time.</p><hr>
<h2>Next Time: Launch</h2><p>
I’m going to be telling this story over a series of posts, as the blog itself unfolds. Up next, I’ll be talking about the mechanics of actually launching, promoting your launch, and initially getting indexed and (hopefully) ranking. If there’s anything in particular you’d like to hear about this process along the way, please let me know in the comments.</p><p>
<em>Special thanks to&nbsp;<a href=”http://moz.com/about/team/abeschmidt”>Abe Schmidt</a> for putting together the pre-launch graphic, and thanks to everyone who’s supported the Minimal Talent blog so far. It’s been a lot of fun.</em></p><br /><p><a href=”http://moz.com/moztop10″>Sign up for The Moz Top 10</a>, a semimonthly mailer updating you on the top ten hottest pieces of SEO news, tips, and rad links uncovered by the Moz team. Think of it as your exclusive digest of stuff you don’t have time to hunt down but want to read!</p>

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Google’s Smartwatch Is Starting To Look Like A Reality

Google smartwatch patent

Google smartwatch patent

The probability that Google is working on a smartwatch in conjunction with LG is now fairly high. New leaks revealed its alleged specifications and the presumed timing of its announcement—which, as previously noted, is likely to be at the Google I/O developer conference late June in San Francisco.

Notorious gadget leaker @Evleaks tweeted today partial Google smartwatch specs. It will sport a 1.65-inch LDC display with 280×280 resolution, 512MB of RAM and 4 GB of internal storage. Unknowns at the moment include the processor and battery size. Both the processor and the battery will be key to how the smartwatch performs, what capabilities it entails and how long it lasts.

By comparison, the actually announced Gear 2 smartwatch from Samsung will feature a 1.63-inch screen with 320×320 resolution, a 1 GHz dual-core processor and a 300 mAh battery that will purportedly last three days without a charge. Like the Google watch, the Gear 2 will have 512MB of RAM and 4GB of storage.

Beyond The Specs

What really remains to be seen are the practical uses to which these tiny, wrist-bound computers can be put. Roughly speaking, the current wearables market consists of fitness devices on the one hand—er, wrist—and notification/communications devices on the other.

A few companies like Samsung are trying to bridge the gap, so far without much success. Emerging rumors from Apple suggest that it’s been meeting with the FDA, possibly about some type of health application for its iPhones and a wearable device.

Google has a couple of items up its sleeves to help define wearable computing on its terms. First, it has Android, recently reconfigured to fit on devices with limited memory and battery life with the 4.4 KitKat update. Second, Google has reportedly been working on a fitness application programming interface that will help people track and organize their daily activity; that interface could be spread throughout the Android app developer ecosystem for smartphone fitness apps and presumably smartwatches as well.

Sundar Pichai, the Google executive in charge of Android, Chrome and apps, recently said the company will release a wearables software developer kit within the next two weeks. Pichai said that Google is only “scratching the surface” of wearables at this point.

The implication is that Google will push Android for wearable devices in the same way that it has done so with smartphones, tablets and televisions (with varying degrees of success in each market). Google has all of the tools ready for a smartwatch. In the end it is just the specific hardware, features, apps and performance that will decide whether Google has a real future in the smartwatch Arm Race.

Lead image via Shutterstock; patent image from a Google on a smartwatch concept

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Google Announces New Analytics Academy Class Starting Next Week by @mattsouthern

In an effort to help digital marketers become more data savvy, Google launched the Analytics Academy in October of last year. The first course Google offered attracted 145,000 students. with more than 30,000 earning a certificate of completion. Google recently announced they’re launching the next course in the Analytics Academy, called “Google Analytics Platform Principles.” Their […]

Author information

Matt Southern

Matt Southern is a marketing, communications and public relations professional. He provides strategic digital marketing services at an agency called Bureau in Ontario, Canada. He has a bachelors degree in communication and an unparalleled passion for helping businesses get their message out.

The post Google Announces New Analytics Academy Class Starting Next Week by @mattsouthern appeared first on Search Engine Journal.

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Apple’s Smartwatch Is Starting To Look A Lot More Like A Fitness Tracker

If and when Apple ever comes out with a wearable computer, the term “watch” may not necessarily apply.

According to reports, Apple is going whole hog into health and fitness for its long-rumored wearable device. This morning, a new job listing on Apple’s website called for a “User Studies Exercise Physiologist” who would design, test and run user studies of fitness tracking, including calories burned, metabolic rate, cardiovascular fitness and “measurement/tracking and other key physiological measurements.” That job listing subsequently vanished, although Mark Gurman from 9to5Mac posted a screenshot.

Such physiologists and related sensor and health experts are expected to contribute to an app in the forthcoming version of iOS 8 called “Healthbook,” Gurman reported last week. Apple already has fitness tracking capabilities built into the iPhone 5S via its M7 motion co-processor, and Healthbook will be the software manifestation of Apple’s fitness hardware.

Apple has met with the Food and Drug Administration to discuss mobile medical applications, according to a report in the New York Times. That makes sense if Apple is working on applications that may touch on healthcare issues, as federal laws concerning the gathering, storage and sharing of health information are quite strict. Moving into a field like healthcare is not something a company like Apple would do haphazardly.

It does look like Apple may be acknowledging that smartwatches are not going to recapitulate the capabilities of smartphones any time soon. Today’s smartwatches are generally falling into one of two distinctive categories: communication devices like Pebble, Samsung’s Galaxy Gear and the Qualcomm Toq and fitness devices like FitBit and the Nike FuelBand. From the reports so far, it appears that Apple is focusing on the latter category.

U.S. healthcare is a $2.8 trillion industry, counting everything from insurance to pharmaceuticals to doctor and hospital fees and so on. Technologists have long considered health and fitness ripe for “disruption” by lower-cost, information-centric approaches, but most attempts so far have run into the shoals of federal regulations and heavily entrenched, bureaucratic incumbents that have proven amazingly resistant to change.

Apple’s Wearable Challenges

The technology for the all-on-one smartwatch is not really mature enough for Apple to create a device that is both smartphone and wearable fitness tracker. So, Apple has to establish priorities.

First, it needs to uphold the software and hardware design principles that have made it the most profitable computer company in the world. That may mean a curved display that demonstrates Apple’s usual flair. It will certainly mean packing a device with enough power to collect relevant data and deliver simple but intuitive functions. At a minimum, that means Bluetooth, GPS, a variant of the M7 motion processor (likely an ARM-based Cortex processor of some type) and an accelerometer.

Battery life will be crucial; almost certainly, so will wireless charging. 

Second will be a platform for developers to build on, the same way they do on iOS in the smartphone and tablet world. Apple will likely have several launch partner apps for its fitness band, with Nike a likely suspect (Apple CEO Tim Cook sits on Nike’s board) as well as apps like RunKeeper (one of the first fitness trackers in the App Store). If Apple makes its fitness tracker a platform to build on top of—like it did with the iPhone—it could go a long way into creating interest for the product.

The third challenge may be the most difficult: getting the American health system to adopt an Apple-made fitness device as a go-to source for health monitoring. Imagine a doctor prescribing a health tracker to a patient to monitor cardiovascular health with all of that information directly shipped back to the doctor’s computer. This is the sort of idea that would lead Apple straight into discussions with the FDA.

Apple hasn’t rushed into the wearable market the way companies like Samsung and Sony have. Apple is taking a classic, pragmatic approach that could ultimately yield not just a consumer-grade fitness tracker, but a life companion device designed to keep you healthy.

View full post on ReadWrite

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