Posts by "JR Farr"

Let’s not make Google Material the next Twitter Bootstrap

I’ve been having some passionate conversations about “floating action buttons” which were introduced with Google material design.

New MOJO services dashboard

Partly because the past 7-8 months we’ve been working towards launching what we’re calling V2 of MOJO Marketplace. With our existing product being more of an integration we haven’t focused as much as we wanted on our actual brand and product – MOJOMarketplace.com. My mind has been focused on crafting the perfect product for our users. Being a two-sided marketplaces where you’re trying to please both buyers & sellers, the task is even harder.

In my opinion, our creative team has found the perfect balance in utilizing material design into our new interface but that didn’t come without some heated conversations about design direction. More sneak peeks at Dribbble.

Google Material isn’t one size fits all.

I cringe at the site of floating action buttons being used in all types of applications and use cases. Over the past 2 years after the Google introduced material design, it’s definitely been a breath of fresh air but this has to stop before it turns into a hot mess.

Don’t get me wrong. I love material design. In fact, it’s amazing. It’s perfectly executed and thought through by it’s creators. It’s because of how much I love what material design is doing for the web that I would hate to see it become the next Twitter Bootstrap.

 

The FAB is FAB, just not all the time.

Let me explain. I’m not here to preach design principles, I’m here to make sure we’re designing responsibly if you will. I want to challenge the makers, the designers and the doers to think before your FAB. Just because we let Google do all the hard work and layout some beautiful design guide doesn’t give us the right to misuse it. Take time to read through the goals of material design.

For starters lets not have more than one FAB per screen. Again, if you take time to read through it all, it’s very well documented.

Usage: Only one floating action button is recommended per screen to represent the most common action.

FAB’s for days

Consumption vs. Action

Lately I’ve been talking more about this concept a lot with my product & creative teams. I would argue with all the other 80/20 rules out there that same ratio has to be relevant when it comes to your users interacting with your product. 80% of the time users are consuming something while 20% of the time their taking action. Honestly, as I’m writing this, it could be 90/10.

When you’re designing your product or application think about the behavior on the screen. What is the user REALLY going to be doing inside your product? I’d bet they’re consuming more than they’re taking action.

Mobile vs. Web

This is where I feel like things are really starting to get out of hand. We’re taking these design principles from Google Material and polluting them into everyday web application.

Seriously why? I don’t get it.

Unless you’re InVision where you’re primary users are the designers pushing the web forward you have no business messing with FAB’s all over your web product.

Let’s just talk about Google themselves for second while we’re on this subject.

Let’s take one of their most popular products, Gmail.

I use Gmail everyday. While I’m working on my laptop I opt to use the web interface from Gmail. On my phone I use the Gmail app as well. With that being said, the experience from the web to mobile is drastically different.

Gmail web interface

Web app for Gmail

Gmail mobile interface

Mobile App for Gmail

I’m sure you can instantly see the difference. There’s no need to add a FAB on their web application because they understand the context of their users. If you’re using Gmail on the web,  you’re using the product a lot differently compared to when you’re using it on the go.

But what about Inbox by Gmail

Inbox by Gmail

Inbox by Gmail

Why the difference?

To recap, now we’re comparing Gmail Web App, Gmail Mobile App and Inbox by Gmail.

Could it be that they haven’t gotten around to implementing material design into their Gmail web app interface? I highly doubt it. Could it be that they don’t want to mess up a good thing they’ve got going on already? Not the case most likely.

My gut tells me Google created Inbox as a way to test everything they’ve learned from Gmail for their personal power users. It’s not all about Google Material design. It’s a whole concept on cleaning up the noise that email brings to each of us every day.

I truly think a company like Google understands their users, how they are consuming vs. taking action and they understand the context of users intentions.

Design responsibly & harness design trends

You know how marketers ruin everything? They ruined email, they ruined SEO, they ruined paid search, they ruined social media and will most likely ruin the next thing. Let’s try to not ruin these design trends by using them without context, without understanding their purpose or why they were created.

Think before you FAB and design responsibly.

The MOJO on MOJO – 2016 Edition

I

can’t really explain why but I’m suddenly back to a time where I was so into blogging and telling my journey online. Sharing where I was going professionally. I miss the story telling. I miss those keyboard warriors telling me how hard everything is going to be. I miss the haters. I miss the support from friends all over the globe. With everything I’ve had going on, I haven’t had a desire to write openly for quite some time. Plus, since my company MOJO was acquired almost 4 years ago, me and the team have been head down building on top of what we started. Lately, however, I’ve been doing a lot of work on the vision & strategy on where I take MOJO next and maybe that’s why there’s this sudden desire.

I’m excited. I’m terrified. I’m eager. I’m all the above for the future.

Over the past 7 years of running MOJO, I have experienced ups & downs. I hope by recapping and writing the next phase of that journey it may help me process my thoughts. Hopefully along the way I bring value to someone in the same boat.*For all those entrepreneurs looking for some motivation

Before we talk about the future, let’s recap.

I referenced the last 4 years but there’s so much more to the story than the last 4 years when it comes to MOJO. Here’s a quick overview of what I’ve been doing with MOJO since it all began.

2008

It all started when I registered WordPressThemeMarketplace.com. The concept was more of “Etsy for WordPress”. Along with this idea, my brother Clayton and I thought it would be cool to register WebHostingReviews.com, among others.

How did that end? We let them expire. Oops, big mistake. Haha.

After a little under two years of playing around with concepts it turns into MOJO Themes as a project to sell premium WordPress themes.

2009

Towards the end of the year MOJO Themes pivots for the third time into a buy & sell marketplace for themes.

Why a marketplace instead? I didn’t feel like I had the chops to design & develop the best themes. The last 5 years had been spent working at an ad agency where all I did was work with Google, learning adwords, SEO, affiliate marketing, conversion testing, etc. and I was damn good at it. I knew using those skills I could help other talented creative professionals sell their work on the marketplace.

I pitched Brady Nord at coffee shop about the idea. He joins as co-founder of MOJO, the glorious little green monster comes to life and the entire marketplace starts being built from the ground up.

2010

MOJO Themes finally launches to the world. Little did I know, I just entered the internet with the worlds hardest business model and we were tasked with building a two-sided marketplace.

How do we solve the chicken or the egg problem?Oh shit moment…

It was a long, drawn out process and the formula was simple. Wake up, work hard, sell potential designers & developers on why MOJO, wash, rinse, repeat.

One thing we did before launching in March 2010 was we developed a marketing campaign around the new and upcoming Apple product we all now know as the iPad. We called the campaign “March Padness” and put together enough cash to buy 3 brand new, shiny iPads. The top 3 sellers who uploaded the most items for the launch of the marketplace would win a brand spankin’ new iPad. Within just a month, we had close to 30 items on the marketplace and we were ready to open the doors.

In 2010, we launched, built the first designer and developer collaboration system called Joint Forces, released an affiliate program and we were close to hitting our first 10,000 users. We also had Isaac, Nick, Mike and Will join as an integral part of the team who are still with MOJO today. 😉

2011

Swinging into the new year and fresh off our very first annual Cyber Bundle we were feeling pretty confident about what we had already accomplished in the last year. We decided to take the money from the previous years bundle and use it to hire Brian Hoff to redesign the entire marketplace. Boy oh boy, was the final design gorgeous.

In 2011 we grew by 612% year over year.We were doing something right

It’s one of those decisions where if I were asked 100 times to do it, the answer would always be yes. It created a lot of buzz for us and we finally launched V2 of MOJO Themes in April 2011 along with our first Anniversary Bundle. The next 10,000 users came on board within just another 4 months. We of course ended with our second annual Cyber Bundle and capped off another great year.

2012

Like the year before, we hit the ground running. By the middle of the year we had already hit close to 50,000+ users on the marketplace and things were moving along as we planned. As good as this year ended there was a hard lesson we also learned.

LESSON #1: In short, stay focused on what your “north star” is. Don’t get distracted.

Understand your ultimate goal and make every decision based off that. It doesn’t mean you can’t pivot but stay focused. Here’s what happened to us.

For starters, the team had decided to explore building some SaaS and application based WordPress products. We built one of the first drag and drop builders, we launched a theme for affiliate marketers that ended up selling over 5,000+ times in 7 days (oops), we were signing up beta users on our first version of Managed WordPress Hosting for marketers, we bought ProPhoto Theme from 8bit, we were building an event based WordPress theme, we launched a few content/tutorial sites around WordPress & Magento. Oh and we launched our second marketplace, MOJO Code. Meanwhile, we were running one of the largest WordPress theme marketplaces along the way. I say all of this, not because it’s some great accomplishment but I think if everyone on the team could go back, we would choose to stay focused on initial vision. We got sucked into a lot of other product launches and ideas that took us away from our core.

With all that being said, this was also the same year we were approached by GoDaddy and Endurance International Group about an acquisition. By the end of the year, we had tripled revenue year over year and went through a full acquisition with EIG and signed News Year Eve. It was an exciting time for all of us and we were eager to get started on the next phase of the company.

Why did we stay after getting acquired? It hadn’t even been a full 3 years since launching our brand. We had reached a lot of our goals but now being part of a company like EIG, we were more than excited to take the brand to whole new level and we were of course incentivized to do so.

2013

Entering our first year post-acquisition, MOJO Themes becomes the first and only recommended WordPress Theme Marketplace on the homepage of WordPress.org.

At this point MOJO Themes is well over 100,000+ users but our focus quickly turned to how we figure out how to navigate EIG’s house of brands and how we integrate our platform and community into it. We would ultimately launch the new brand of MOJO, now known as MOJO Marketplace. The new name allowed us to expand to more than just themes and would be the name to take us into the future of the brand and platform.

Within the first year, we integrate with Bluehost and various cPanel brands.

2014

By year two, our next goal was to integrate into the second phase of the brands by launching MOJO Marketplace across another set of brands. We would eventually launch across another 30+ brands including iPage, FatCow, Domain.com and more.

We also launched a new product line with WordPress services for our customers. These would include basic setup services to complicated site migrations for WordPress customers. We also started the first version of the MOJO Marketplace WordPress plugin in preparation of launching the marketplace natively inside WordPress itself.

2015

Now onto our third year, we had another challenge of further integration. This years being none other than HostGator.

We would also kick off the future of development of the platform API’s in preparation for improved integrations into the brands. We would see the WordPress micro services explode into a big part of the MOJO business this same year.

2016

Ah yes, year number four. We’re actually getting pretty close to the time of this post at this point which is October 20th, 2016.

At this point, we’ve integrated into all the brands, we’re managing all of the 1-click installs, installing close to 200k+ WordPress installs a month, over 1M+ monthly active users on our WordPress marketplace, what was the plan for this year?

Along with all the success, it has come at a price and another hard lesson learned. With all of our efforts focused on integrating into to other brands, we let the MOJO brand sit by the way side.

LESSON #2: Looking back, I wish we would have continued our work with the MOJO brand in parallel with our internal integrations.

All in all though, 2016 was the final year of head down work in preparation for everyone to see what MOJO has grown to be. We may not have talked a lot about what we’ve been working on or invested as much as we should have in the MOJO brand itself but we needed to lay the foundation. We still have a lot to show for it and now we’re coming into 2017 like a Mike Tyson punch.

Today, MOJO Marketplace is a leading marketplace with 5.5 million users. The platform connects buyers to 7,500+ digital goods and services from designers and developers across the globe.

2017

So to recap the recap, we’ve gone from little green monsters, “oh shit” moments, Mike Tyson, and now we’ve entered the future. I can’t even begin to explain how excited I am to start sharing what we have in store for MOJO Marketplace.

We have had so much focus inside of the EIG brands and let the MOJO direct brand become almost stale. That’s enough of that. There’s so much we’re wrapping up as we head into 2017 and I’m so excited for the team to see all the hard work and patience payoff.

SIDE NOTE I gotta be honest though, it feels good to finally have something to point to when people ask “what have you been up to?”.

Anyway, who’s got their MOJO back after reading this post? I know I do.

 

Keep going.

It’s been said, the best things happen right before you feel like giving up. Whether it relates to life, business, school or whatever you’re dealing with. For me personally, I’ve dealt with all the above.

Recently, I was at a business conference and I gave a presentation on what I’ve learned since having my latest business acquired. Once I got off stage, I had so many new friends to connect with and asking further questions. It was humbling and caused me to reflect on how I had got to where I am today.

I thought a lot about the struggle. The late nights. The second guessing. The this way or that way. The excitement. The hard things we had to face that no one on the outside would ever know.

But what I remember most was thinking about giving up right before everything came together.

When you’re in your late twenties, have a mortgage, 3 kids to take care of, you can only go so long (years) before the pressure starts to become too much. Luckily, I never doubted what I was set out to do and fought through the desire to get another job or raise more money. We took on the hard things head first and came out stronger.

The rest is history. Keep going.

Balance of being Inconsistently Consistent.

HEADS UP This is actually a post I originally wrote on the PressNomics blog. I decided to re-purpose it because I think even after a few years, there is still a lot of value in the post and decided I should share it.

As I look back at what we’ve built with our business and community within MOJO, I see our successes come from just putting our heads down and staying focused on what we originally set out to accomplish. There’s no doubt this clear path and vision led us to be where we are today.

At first, this new venture we were building was not pretty, wasn’t flipping out cash and the community was just our small, humble team. Brady (my co-founder) and myself would give ourselves constant reminders, “We just have to stay focused and be consistent with this and it will pay off.” And it did.

We stuck to it and were determined to stay focused.

On the flip side, looking back over the last three years I’ve seen plenty of directions moved, forks in the road, twists and turns we took to stay aggressive and innovative. We took risks to keep us at the forefront. This approach has led to our success as well. We weren’t afraid to add something new and unknown to what we were building. These decisions were uncomfortable, risky and some of them were complete failures but we learned from these experiences.

If that new or old idea we were trying didn’t work, we weren’t afraid to leave it behind.

Stay on Track but be Agile.

The point I’m trying to make is it’s not a bad thing to change the course of your original plan. At the time you were creating your new idea or your new business, there were a lot of unknowns.

Once you enter the market and introduce your product, you will see your business start to take shape. It’s important to listen to your community/customers and have the ability to look further into the future. More importantly, make sure you take quick action on what you learn. It will bring innovation to your business and you will find out what makes your business work.

There are more times than I can count when we had a tough time staying focused and when we change directions. Hopefully, as I share a few examples, you can see how having this philosophy can help you in the long run.

A few Real World Examples.

I’ll give you two. Two big ones. I think both of these examples are the same ones everyone faces so I thought these would be most helpful.

Redesign & Rebrand.

EXAMPLE #1: Shows how we made a choice to adapt and go a different direction.

When we first launched MOJO, the designs were playful, colorful and heavily illustrated. We took the same approach with the copy on our site and kept the welcoming feel throughout the content. We found that first time users loved the look of the site but there were some issues that we could slowly see developing. The biggest and most important issue was our conversion rate.

We religiously ran conversion tests and started seeing results, even months where we were doubling our revenues. Yet, we knew we could do better. It wasn’t some easy decision to move away from our original brand because even though our site conversion rate was slowly increasing with conversion testing, we knew that if we could take a fresh approach to our brand and site design it would help us in the long run.

We were about to hit our 1 year anniversary and release our Anniversary Bundle all while growing at an incredible rate. With that, we chose to take a leap and also re-brand and re-design the marketplace. I found this side by side comparison on WP Candy (screenshot). It was a huge risk for us because you really shouldn’t fix what isn’t broken.

We immediately saw a huge impact with the new look and all of our metrics from new sign ups, new sales, new uploads, etc. increased. In fact, as we approached the summer, a slow season, we experienced month over month growth at the same rate from the first and second quarters.

At the time, this decision was extremely delicate, uncomfortable and risky but ultimately moved us into a better position that we are in today.

Web Application Platform.

EXAMPLE #2: Originally choosing WordPress to build this has had it ups and downs but we stuck to it.

From the start, Brady and I wanted to build our marketplace on top of WordPress not just because of our passion for WordPress but more to show everyone what you can do with WordPress. Remember, this was in 2009 when we started working on this and WordPress was not being used for what it is today, 3 years later.

For the first year or so, the MOJO application did the job for the most part and we built quite a bit of custom functionality on top of WordPress to make it do what we wanted. At the same time, the growth we were experiencing was really impacting the efficiency of the site. Not only speed and performance issues but sellers we’re requesting new features and we knew it wasn’t the best idea to just hack something up. Even admin tasks we’re getting out of control. At this point, for us, MOJO Themes was too big to handle the setup we had. Load times we’re hitting record highs and it was really hurting the overall experience on the marketplace for everyone.

We had a tough choice to make. Do we really try to re-build everything we had done on a new platform like Ruby? Or do we stick with WordPress and make it work?

In the end, we decided it was best to get back to the core of WordPress. We needed to take our hacks, re-think them and utilize WordPress for what it does best and then optimize it for things it doesn’t do best. Part of our decision to stay with WordPress was to help us launch our new marketplaces more efficiently. We use the same application (framework) for all our marketplaces, like the new MOJO-Code.com. After four months of work, we finally released version 3.0 of the marketplace.

Looking back at the last two months since we launched, sticking with WordPress was undeniably the best choice we could have made.

Learn to Know the Difference

Don’t get me wrong. I believe staying focused, being consistent with your business and sticking to what you do best plays a huge role in creating a successful business. But taking risks can also pay off big time.

As time goes on, it’s important to learn the difference between staying focused on something that has potential and bouncing the same ball against the same wall and expecting a different result. Listen to what is happening within your market, customers and product to make sure you’re moving in the right direction.

If there’s potential, put 100% of your focus on that and you’ll find success.

20 Minute Setup + 20,000 Visits = 136% Lift. High Five Optimizely.

Optimizely Review

I ran my first conversion test back in 2007 and was instantly hooked with the idea of it. Since then I’ve gone through plenty of trial & error testing ideas while learning from some of the industries best like Bryan Eisenberg and Tim Ash. Along the way I’ve used a wide range of conversion testing platforms from Vertster, Optimost, SiteSpect, Google WebSite Optimizer with a dash of Test & Target.

It wasn’t until August 2010 I stumbled upon Optimizely thanks to Sacca. I noticed it was a company he had invested in and that was enough to want to give Optimizely a closer look.

High Five #1. This is a testing platform you’ll actually use.

For both first time testers and advanced conversion testers, I can honestly say you’ll use this platform. Especially if you’re not too savvy on the technical side of things. I think the biggest selling point of Optimizely is really anyone can do it.

When you first start your experiment, you can LITERALLY start taking elements from your site and drag and drop them where you want. It’s like you take complete control of your site from a visual standpoint and instead of editing the code, you move elements as you see fit while they take care of the backend styling and coding. Here’s a quick look at the interface you’ll use when setting up a test.

Click to view larger…

Bad ass Optimizely Testing

Although, if you need more control you can easily edit the code straight up. It’s truly the best of both worlds.

When I setup our first test for MOJO Themes, I literally had my first test setup within 20-30 minutes inside Optimizely, then Willzum added a tiny script to the head tag of our site and we were ready to roll.

High Five #2. Analytics in Real Time.

Unlike other conversion testing platforms, Optimizely has real time analytics tracking the moment you start your tests. I feel like this is a huge feature they offer and shouldn’t be taken for granted.

I must admit though, I am obsessed with analytics and combing through my sites metrics to see how things are being effected by one another. It’s something I do on a daily basis and while others could care less as long as their traffic is growing I spend hours digging through all types of metrics seeing where we can improve.

Again, analytics are important and allow you to make the correct decisions. Optimizely understands that and that’s reason in and of itself to use them for your conversion testing.

High Five #3. Track Multiple Conversion Goals.

In my opinion, 2010 was FINALLY a breakout year for conversion testing among mainstream users and it sucks I didn’t find Optimizely until now. Quite a few tools were being released last year, and more and more people were getting familiar with newer tools like Google Website Optimizer.

With that being said, I think Optimziely really did a good job on a number fronts. Easily one of my most favorite parts of Optimizely, is the ability to add multiple conversion goals. You can start your test and add conversion goals to track sales, multiple conversion funnels, etc.

Let me explain why this is important.

QUICK EXAMPLE: Say you have a test that starts on your homepage but there’s several steps a customer has to take to complete a sale. They follow a number of paths on the way to checking out. Rather than ONLY analyzing the final conversion goal (most likely the Thank You page) you can see how each variation affects the user along the way. From the homepage, how is variation #1, #2 and #3 converting the next step in the conversion funnel? Optimizely makes it’s easy to track this and gives you the best data to make educated decisions with your tests.

High Five #4. Real Results.
(So many high fives your hand should be hurting).

Here’s a quick Optimizely Case Study which is from my very first test. Oh and the results of this test are just unheard of.

If you don’t know by now, I’m the co-founder of MOJO-Themes. In short, it’s a leading buy and sell marketplace for themes and templates. Designers can upload themes for platforms like WordPress and sell them across the marketplace. We’ve been growing like a weed and there’s NO slowing down for us especially since we started using Optimizely.

Seeing that our marketplace has to cater to two audiences (Buyers & Sellers) it’s damn hard to test variations and even harder to choose how we layout clear calls to action. This is what we tested.

Since we launched the marketplace in April 2010, we’ve tried to always focus heavily on conversion testing in an effort to raise our conversion rate and keep our exponential growth rate climbing each month. Thanks to testing with Optimizely we’ve been able to grow even faster than we expected.

20 Minute Setup + 20,000 Visitors = 136% Lift. The results of this test further prove the power of conversion testing.

After setting up our first test and letting it run for quite a long time we found a big ass winner. Yep, our marketplace saw a 136% lift overall. In other words, nearly doubling our revenue for the month.

Optimizely Test Results

Final High Five. Good game, now hit the showers Optimizely.

I recommend Optimizely with 100% confidence. You should ABSOLUTELY use Optimizely for your conversion testing. They found a way to cater to beginner and advanced users and they’ve made conversion testing fun and exciting for me.

If your conversion rate is suffering, stop wasting time and go sign up.

You’ll come back and thank me later.

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