News dév web

Digitizing Your Healthcare Processes: Top Issues to Consider

Noupe.com - 3 avril, 2020 - 16:23

The healthcare industry is focused on saving people’s lives and maintaining our well-being so it’s critical to empower it with the latest technologies. From electronic health records to AI-powered virtual nurses, healthcare is now undergoing a massive technological transformation.

It can be rather tempting to rush into digitization, especially considering all the benefits that it brings. However, there are certain issues that need to be considered in order to implement a really valuable and suitable solution.

Security of the data

The healthcare industry processes incredibly massive amounts of sensitive patients’ data on a daily basis. At the same time, statistics reveal that this industry is the most affected by the data breaches and in 2019, over 60% of the personal data breaches were caused by a human error, including response to phishing emails and loss of paper records.

Thus, if you think about digitizing your processes and patients’ records management, the first thing to pay attention to is data security. Once you transfer the data from paper records into digital format, you will expose it to both external and internal threats. Here are a few recommendations on safeguarding the data.

Implement automation 

One of the primary causes of the data leak is incorrect data management like sending a patient’s record to a wrong receiver. To prevent such mistakes and mitigate the possible risks, it is highly recommended to automate all possible data-related processes such as data input in the system and data exchange processes. As well, automation of data retrieval and input will contribute to better data quality, which, in turn, will impact the incorrect decisions that are based on this data.

Secure the data exchange process

When the data is being exchanged online, there is always a possibility of a hacker’s attack. To minimize the chances of data theft and to keep your channels secure, consider implementing the following practices:

  • Use VPN,
  • Use SSL/TLS protocols,
  • Use two-factor authentication,
  • Encrypt the data and store all the passwords in an encrypted format,
  • Use REST API for API protection,
  • Use authentication for the APIs.

These are the most common ways to protect the process of data transmission. As well, pay extreme attention to the database security and user roles and their level of access.

Big Data management

Big Data means an incredibly large volume of data that a business proceeds on a daily basis. Big Data includes data from all possible sources such as medical records, social media, wearables, and contains information in different sizes and formats.

One cannot underestimate the role of Big Data in modern healthcare. Some of the most significant applications of Big Data are:

  • Predictive analytics and prevention of diseases (i.e. cancer prevention),
  • Faster and more accurate research of new treatments,
  • More accurate diagnosis,
  • Computer vision for disease detection.

And don’t forget that Big Data serves as a cornerstone for Machine Learning, which, in turn, is used to design highly personalized virtual assistants for the patients and the doctors and is deployed in multiple ways.

So what are the biggest challenges in Big Data implementation and management? 

First, you need to decide how you are going to collect the data and which sources you will be using. It is preferable to automate the process of data collection in order to save time and resources. Second, all the collected data needs to be “cleaned”: meaning, it has to be in one format, has no missing values, etc. As well, you will have to choose the suitable tools for data collection, cleaning, parsing, and analysis. 

In order to overcome these challenges, you need to carefully evaluate the available resources (such as finances and IT infrastructure) and craft a thorough plan on implementing Big Data management.

Choice of the needed platform

Digitization means turning your healthcare processes into digital format and that means, you will need a suitable platform to manage them. It can be a CRM platform, an EHR platform, online consultation platforms, and much more – the choice is really big. So once you decide to adopt such a platform, here are the questions that you will need to answer:

  • What is the primary goal of using this platform?
  • What exact functions does it have to have?
  • What are the requirements for the platform?
  • Who will be using the platform?

As well, you will need to choose between a ready product or a custom solution. The biggest advantage of a readymade product is its affordable cost and immediate availability but the product might lack some features that are critical for you. A custom solution, on the other hand, will be tailored precisely to your needs but will cost much more and will also take a significant amount of time to be developed.

Employee training

Healthcare is a rather conservative industry and many healthcare institutions and companies are still not ready for a change. One of the reasons for that lies in the mindset of the people who work in these facilities so one of the primary issues to address during digitization is training and education.

You will need to determine who will be involved in the digital transformation and what roles and responsibilities each user will have. As well, you will need to organize sufficient training to ensure that everyone understands how new technology functions. This is an absolute must in order to prevent human errors and technology malfunction.

Last but not least is informing everyone across the organization about the upcoming change and emphasizing the value and importance of this new adoption. When people do not fully understand a certain concept, they tend to neglect it and that means, the adoption of new technology will bring zero change to your processes.

Focus on the value

The biggest temptation for any company or organization is to rush into adopting an innovative technology without fully comprehending the value behind it. So the big question here: do you really need to digitize your processes?

In most cases, it would be a definite yes since digitization helps healthcare become more accurate, efficient, and value-centric. At the same time, many companies do not really need to adopt Machine Learning, Big Data processing tools, or AI-powered devices. What they need most of the time is facilitating and speeding up their processes by simply transforming the paper records into electronic ones or adopting a system that would keep all the data and facilitate communication between the medical specialists.

So before planning the next big step, outline the value that your patients and your employees will receive from this implementation. Only after that, you will be able to come up with a solid strategy for the next steps and will remain within the budget and set deadlines.

Catégories: News dév web

What is the best time to run surveys in your organization?

Noupe.com - 3 avril, 2020 - 12:33

Timing is everything. Not just in movies but everywhere. 

An employee survey is a powerful tool for employers and management. Transforming the company culture and enhancing employee experience is now taking the centre stage in the business world. The only way to nurture a good organizational culture is adapting with the rapid changes and constantly improving it. And like they say, the first step to improvement is measurement. 

If you conduct employee surveys effectively it can do wonders for your organization. It can give you deep insights about the culture, track improvement and reveal problem areas of an organization. Focusing on the right area makes the surveys much more efficient, so it’s vital for you to know how to create a survey.

But it is equally crucial to tap the insights from your employees in the right time and right manner. 

To get the timing right, here are 5 important factors that you should consider before circulating an Employee Survey:

1. Purpose of the Survey

Every employee survey should have a well defined and specific purpose. When you establish the purpose, it will help you in narrowing down the best time when the particular survey will be able to gauge most honest and meaningful responses. For example, you may wish to run the survey to track employee engagement, learn about the work environment, ask about the onboarding process and so on. If you want to make changes to the work environment, running a survey 2-3 weeks ahead of planning to understand your employees’ needs and preferences would be a great idea.

2. The types of Survey

Traditionally employee surveys are run once in two years or annually. These are long-form surveys that consist of over 50 Questions from all areas of the organization.  Annual or Bi-annual surveys are circulated towards the end of the year. Although this particular form of survey offers some useful insights there is often a huge gap in the timeline between employee needs and action by the management. 

Presently most employee surveys are pulse surveys. These are short-form, frequent and fast surveys that typically ask targeted questions to uncover specific company concerns. As the name suggests, pulse surveys try to grab the pulse of the workplace.  

There is no right time for running pulse surveys, they should be run frequently typically once a week, to keep a continuous check on your employees attitude. 

A combination of an annual long-form survey and frequent pulse survey can give the best results. 

3. The Key junctures in Employee Lifecycle

Apart from running regular and annual surveys, there are certain stages in the employee lifecycle where a survey can give you insightful and extremely important information about the company and its culture. 

Four most important junctures are:
  1. Employee Onboarding:  New employees in the workplace are like new kids in school. They are nervous, excited and full of positive energy. They naturally have high expectations from the employer and the company. When you run a survey among them they bring a fresh perspective to the table. Their outlook reflects how the company is perceived on the outside of the organization. Their answers can also act like baseline data to track their engagement and commitment to the company in the long run. 
  2. Work Anniversaries: Another important point in the employee journey that you can’t miss out on is the work anniversaries. Work anniversaries are significant milestones for your employees, they are the equivalent of birthdays in our personal lives. When employees cross the threshold of a year in the organization they get a well-rounded idea about the strengths and weak points. They gain a deeper understanding of the company goals and values, the work environment and the overall culture of the company. Also, work anniversaries are a great opportunity to understand what makes employees stay in the company. So next time you have a work anniversary coming up, make sure to conduct a survey. 
  3. Employee Review Processes:  Next thing that I like to mention is posting an employee review. Every organization has its own employee review processes and most often than not these are hard to get right. Feedback is crucial in performance management, both from the employer and employees. Once the review process is over, employees should be asked to answer a set of questions regarding the process. Employees can either be happy about a promotion or appraisal or they may feel that their promotion was long overdue. Either way, the responses will give a good idea about the effectiveness of your performance management structure. It will throw the light of possible shortcomings and help in further improving the evaluation process. 
  4. Exit Interviews: Letting good employees go is hard for any organization. Often an employee’s decision to leave a company is due to multiple reasons. While some reasons are inevitable, most of the time the reasons are avoidable. Instead of turning your back on your outgoing employees, you should try to understand the factors that led to this. Although it might sound unnecessary, these surveys often are good sources to uncover lesser-known problems in the company. It can add value immensely to your employee retention strategies.
4. Understanding employee psychology

At different times of the year your employees’ psychology will differ and they might have different responses to the questions asked in the survey. As much as possible avoid running a survey during these touch-points. If they are too stressed at a certain point maybe before big project launch, it’s probably not the best time to collect responses. Similarly, if they are too relaxed and overjoyed maybe after an office team party, it is again not a great time to seek answers. The reason is simple, the purpose of running a survey is to gather honest and actionable responses that can be helpful in the betterment of the organization. You don’t want to collect too harsh or too satisfied responses just for the sake of it. 

5. Outcomes and Action Plan

The final and most important when it comes to circulating a survey is having an action plan in hand. The management should only run a survey when they are willing and absolutely committed to acting on the results. Simply running a survey or collecting responses is not enough. Keep note that the time period between running a survey and taking a necessary action should be minimum. This is crucial to make the most of the survey process. 

Final Words

Running well-designed employee surveys is a scientific way to gauge employee engagement and employee satisfaction. Being mindful about what you are asking, how you are asking and when you’re asking can be detrimental to the success of the survey. Additionally, try to keep the survey questions simple, short and anonymous. The survey shouldn’t cause fatigue among employees. The above are a few suggestions from my personal experiences, feel free to share your thoughts on the comment section below.

Catégories: News dév web

Better safe than sorry: precautions to take before changing your website

Noupe.com - 1 avril, 2020 - 10:53

When introducing any changes to your website, you do it with the best intention. Be it a regular update, a slight code adjustment, or even complete redesign, all of these modifications are aimed at improvement.

But sometimes,things go wrong and everything turns into a complete disaster. Instead of making better, you end up with non-working pages and errors everywhere. For sure that’s not the result you have expected. 

How to avoid these mistakes? 

Following the precautions below, you will be safe to make updates anytime. So let’s have a closer look at them:

Apply changes on Sandbox first

No matter how big your temptation is just to change one string of code on production, even when it does not seem important, please refrain from doing it on the live website. Back to the time, when you just started your CSS training, learning HTML or other basics, you learned that you cannot just write code in the notepad and need some special tools such as Visual Studio Code, or any similar tool to be able to preview how your code looks. You might even set up a local server environment on your computer to test the settings before publishing it. That’s a good move! 

Still, you need to check how your code feels in real-life conditions i.e. introducing the functional when you use shared hosting may bring it down. So it’s better to have a Sandbox possessing approximately the same server specs where you will be able to test it. Sometimes this process is called Website staging (you can even have a separate hosting account at your local provider for such purposes).

When in doubt, make backups

Just have a copy of your website, better two. That’s a golden rule when you plan to touch anything related to your website. Even when you don’t have such plans, you never know when there is a hacking attempt or unexpected CMS automatic updates that can bring your website down. There exist many backup solutions to any taste. Starting from features inbuilt in your hosting control panel to some external tools such as R1 Soft Backup or Codeguard.

If you use WordPress, Magento, OpenCart or any other popular CMS, you may take a look at different plugins offering automatic updates before any change is made. You can even do it manually by compressing all the files in your website directory and downloading them to your PC. 

In case your website contains databases, you may wish to download database backups separately. The majority of hosting providers use PHPMyAdmin plugin to manage databases, so you can log in to it and export the database in question.

You can find the database name assigned to the website in the configuration files. Usually, they bear the ‘conf’ or ‘config’ part in the file name. If that’s a custom-coded website, you probably know the exact name. In this article, we will illustrate the database modifications on the example of WordPress since it’s the most popular CMS on the market. For WordPress, the config file is called wp-config.php and looks as follows:

Note: For the other  popular CMS the config files bear the following names: 

Joomla-  configuration.php

OpenCart – config.php

Magento – env.php (newer version) and local.xml at /app/etc for the installation directory (older version) 

 Here’s how to export the database when you know the name: 

1. Log in to PHPMyAdmin interface and locate your database: 2. Click on it. Once the database opens, press ‘Export’ 3. When you press it, you will be prompted with options regarding the Export method and Format and select ‘Go’. 

Here we leave the default options and press go so that the database is exported to your PC and ready to work in the local environment.

Don’t mess with SEO 

If you plan massive updates related to the website structure that take several days, make sure that your SEO is not affected. Once you tested everything on the Sandbox, make sure there are no broken links that can result in 404 errors on your website that are extremely bad for SEO.

Also, it’s necessary to make sure that all the links that were available in the old version but will not be present in the new one, are properly redirecting. In addition, before going live, check all the subpages once again so that you can re-assure that everything will be fine. In addition, you may also want to discourage the website from crawling during the updates.

If you are playing with Sandbox on a live hosting, you will definitely need to close the page from public accessibility as when Google detects duplicate content, it will be hard to bring back the previous SEO results. If your hosting uses the Apache server, you may do it via modifying your .htaccess file. Add there the following string: 

Make sure that you replace 123.123.123.123 with your actual IP address to work on the website.

Take care of security

Security is the main pillar of your website. Everything is based on security: your website accessibility, chances to fall victim to malicious attackers and reliability of the system. It’s no less important when you are planning the updates to your website. Even if a vulnerability in software is detected, you will have time to roll back to the previous version without being affected provided that other parts of the system are protected. 

Among the key security measures are server-based: installing and configuring the Firewalls, taking care of anti-malware software and keeping logs monitoring, automatic security updates. When we talk about website-based security these are restricting access to the admin side of your pages such as blocking login links, security plugins and keeping the latest version of the software you use. 

Apart from the server and website, there are some ground rules neglected by the majority of people such as strong passwords, using official and licensed software only and avoiding opening any suspicious emails. Security measures are crucial when making changes to your website as MySQL injections or cross-website scripting and other not pleasant attempts to hack a website occur when you introduce the updates such as installing a new template on your website or upload some files.

Some of these tips may seem obvious and simple, still, due to that, they are not taken seriously that is why the cases when websites going down after the updates are introduced are still widespread. Unfortunately, in most cases, people start following these rules only after they had a bad experience during making changes or after them. However, it’s much easier in terms of time and effort to prevent the catastrophe than to deal with the consequences. 

Now when you know what things are crucial during the updates, it will be easier to have a checklist of things to do before introducing updates. Moreover, to keep your website safe and sound! 

Catégories: News dév web

30 Wireframe Examples That Will Stir Your Creative Juices

Noupe.com - 31 mars, 2020 - 15:01

So you’re preparing for your next design project. You did your research, have a few ideas in mind and you’re ready to work your magic. The next step would be creating mockups of the website’s UX to visualize the flow.

What is Wireframing and Why Do You Need it?

You may think of wireframing as the fundamental part of the design process. Wireframing is not only the first step of your creation, but it’s also a clever measure to minimize the risk of confusion by involving your client in the process early on. While you’re proving your expertise in UX with well-designed wireframes at the very beginning, you would also pave the way for the actual design. This classification between design and user journey empowers creative decision making as well as well-thought-of functional specifications.

In a nutshell, wireframes paint a picture of final deliverables and establish a structure of content and functionality of a page. Even though it may sound like a smooth process because it doesn’t require any effort on the aesthetics part, the process can be quite a struggle.

Even the most experienced designers have difficulty finding their creative muse from time to time. In times like this, it’s always a good idea to get inspired by someone else’s creation. Whenever you find yourself looking blankly at your screen for hours and moving your cursor for no reason, try glancing at some successful examples, even if it’s your own previous work.

So let us save you some trouble. We’ve compiled a list of some of the best wireframe examples that will inspire you. Now dive into our wireframe example picks to spark some creativity.

30 Best Wireframe Examples by Alex Sailer for Focus Lab in TedTodd by Filippo Chiumiento for NEVERBLAND by Dmytro Prudnikov for Yalantis by Andrey Rybin for Manrim by Michael Pons for Crown & Mane by Focus Lab in Udacity by Autumn Mariano for Underbelly by Agnieszka Korber for Setapp by Daniel Thomas by Mohammad Adineh by Masudur Rahman

by Madalin Duca by Christos by Dumnoi Ikechukwu by Ryszard Cz by Sergey Pikin by Stelian Subotin by Pawel Kwasnik by Janna Hagan by Movade by Madalin Duca  by Kazi Sayed for UIKings by Anoop Kumar  by Daniel Maldonado by Mallik Cheripally
by Edijs By Zuhaib Ashfaq By Victor Gonzalez By Tina Karapetian By Volodymyr Melnyk

Hopefully, these wireframe examples would help you start the initial phase of your future design projects. On a final note, don’t forget to choose a wireframe tool that plays along with your workflow and assists you in creating well-structured wireframes by minimizing the number of revisions you would have to do.

Catégories: News dév web

Productivity: The Ultimate Guide

Noupe.com - 31 mars, 2020 - 13:24

Productivity is a hot-button issue for just about every business. If your organization isn’t productive, how can you realistically expect to grow?

But determining the best way to evaluate productivity and make positive changes is, by no means, simple. In fact, the factors that contribute to productivity are often varied and spread across disparate parts of a business and the world, for that matter.

2017 report by Gallup found that only 15 percent of adults with full-time jobs in 155 countries are highly involved in and enthusiastic about their work and their workplace. Two-thirds of working adults with full-time jobs reported that they were putting time into their jobs but not energy or passion because they weren’t engaged.

As the Gallup report pointed out, this consistent disengagement among full-time workers worldwide “is a barrier to creating high-performing cultures” and generally “implies a stunning amount of wasted potential.”

This is particularly evident when comparing divisions, departments, or teams with the highest levels of employee engagement against those with the lowest levels in an organization.

Among the companies Gallup analyzed, the businesses units that scored in the top 25 percent for employee engagement generally saw a number of improvements when compared to their counterparts at the opposite end of the spectrum:

  • 21 percent higher profitability
  • 17 percent higher productivity
  • 20 percent higher sales
  • 10 percent higher customer metrics
  • 41 percent lower absenteeism
  • 59 percent lower turnover in companies with low turnover
  • 24 percent lower turnover in companies with high turnover
  • 70 percent fewer employee safety incidents
  • 58 percent fewer patient safety incidents

Though the percentage of engaged full-time workers varied by region — 6 percent in East Asia, 10 percent in Western Europe, and 33 percent in the United States — the Gallup report identified some common barriers and challenges across the world:

  • Businesses won’t tap into the full potential of their employees unless performance evaluation systems account for the human need for psychological engagement, such as positive workplace relationships, recognition, personal growth opportunities, and regular, constructive talks about performance.
  • Business can “dramatically improve workforce productivity” if they have strategies in place that allow employees to develop their innate talents, use these talents on the job, and eventually transform those talents into strengths.
  • Businesses should have talented managers who can build strong, positive relationships with employees, as well as tap into the talents and goals that keep each person focused.
  • If businesses want to maximize the strengths of their workers, employers must provide their employees with more input and autonomy to use those strengths.
  • The potential for increased productivity is often contingent on a business’s ability — or willingness — to tackle existing obstacles and adapt to changes.
  • Rather than working to achieve higher employee engagement rates, businesses should focus more on carrying out initiatives that will eventually yield the results they want.

On a deeper level, the Gallup report also identified a common yet fundamental issue for companies around the world: an underlying aversion to change.

“In particular, organizations and institutions have often been slow to adapt to the rapid changes produced by the spread of information technology, the globalization of markets for products and labor, the rise of the gig economy, and younger workers’ unique expectations.”

The big-picture path to productivity is fairly straightforward. Improve operations, position employees to work at their best, and leverage modern technologies to eliminate long-standing productivity pain points and automate repetitive tasks.

But the specific pathways toward productivity are much more complicated.

In this guide, we dig into major ideas about productivity and provide tips to help you become more productive. From there, we explore major productivity apps and software to help you get a sense of the technologies that can help your teams get more done.

Improving productivity can help you scale your business and sustain growth over time. But productivity gains are never simple. They require a blend of new ideas, habits, and technologies that come together to change how workers function and help them be more productive.

What is productivity?

In its most basic form, productivity is simply a measurement of a business’s output. This varies from one organization to another as different companies produce different types of assets.

Some companies produce real goods. Others measure productivity by the number of clients they support with their services. Because productivity is a highly varied concept depending on what a business creates, small business owners have to seriously assess their core value points.

In many cases, the final value may just be revenue. In that case, you should measure metrics like revenue generated per employee per hour. Total the number of employees for a given period of time, such as a month. Then add up how many hours they put in during that month and compare it to the revenue generated. By tracking this metric on a month-to-month or quarter-to-quarter basis, you can measure productivity in a consistent, empirical way.

But when considering the question, “What is productivity?” you may have to think about more measurements than hours worked and assets generated. An employee’s ability to produce can be impacted by the following:

  • Level of focus while working
  • Time spent on non-productive tasks, such as clerical work done by an employee with a production-focused job 
  • Breaks, travel (even within a large business campus), or natural social interactions within the work environment
  • Expected productivity during the time worked
  • Uncontrollable factors — emergencies, client-related interruptions, equipment failure, etc. — that can derail productivity 

In theory, all of these factors can be measured. Businesses can use modern digital tools to track operations data, employee time spent on different tasks, and similar types of information to get a more nuanced perspective on productivity.

As you explore more sophisticated ways to look at productivity, here are a few options to consider, all of which are highlighted in an Investopedia report:

  • 360-degree feedback. This productivity measurement tool uses direct feedback from an employee’s coworkers to evaluate that person’s productivity. While this is commonly used as an employee assessment strategy, it can also provide vital insights into productivity by providing you with peer-based analyses of workers that enable you to understand the factors that may influence a person’s productivity.
  • Sales-focused analysis. Though revenue is most commonly used to assess feedback, you can also use net sales relative to hours worked to evaluate productivity. This can be a great option for organizations with a heavy emphasis on sales as a path to growth.
  • Time tracking. Tools that track user activity, such as visiting social media sites or using a specific business application, can be extremely informative in helping you understand productivity. They can provide clear measurements of what your workers are spending their time doing over the course of the day, making it easier to not only understand the big picture of how much you produce as a business, but also the details that contribute to variance in productivity between workers.

These productivity measurement tools can play a key role in deepening your understanding of productivity, something that’s especially critical in today’s workplace.

The growing focus on productivity

Developing a strategy to measure productivity in your business is critical. If you can’t keep up with your competitors, you run the risk of not only falling behind, but ending up in a situation where catching up feels impossible because you’re consistently outproduced by others in the marketplace.

In a HubSpot survey, nearly 74 percent of respondents said they believe productivity has a direct relationship to an organization’s growth, impacting both scaling and revenue creation. Furthermore, 75 percent of those polled said they intend to increase their use of productivity tools over the course of the next year.

This data points to a growing emphasis on productivity as a key growth enabler for businesses. But using productivity to scale your organization often depends on distinguishing between productivity and efficiency, as each delivers value in its own way.

Productivity vs efficiency

The debate of productivity vs efficiency is often an ongoing point of discussion for businesses. Productivity refers to generating more of whatever your business creates. You need to be productive in order to create revenue.

Efficiency measures the resources you use to create that productivity. In many cases, improving efficiency is a path to sustaining — and sometimes improving — productivity while using fewer resources. Technologies and operational strategies that improve efficiency can fuel productivity gains, but they may not always do so.

In some business processes, an organization can run into an efficiency wall, meaning that they’ve optimized a task to such a degree that there’s no more room to make significant improvements in how they get the work done. However, their productivity may remain low because many of the systems surrounding that process aren’t equipped to keep up with productivity demands. Efficiency is important, but productivity often needs to be the point of emphasis as businesses try to grow.

This isn’t to say that efficiency isn’t important. Instead, it’s vital to understand that there’s a ceiling on any efficiency-related investment, and that ceiling is your level of productivity. If you can’t produce more, then getting more efficient doesn’t matter. If getting more efficient helps unlock resources that you can use to produce more, then the efforts can pay off by helping you scale your organization.

Of course, for any small business owner, expanding the business often means taking on a greater personal burden of leadership and work to keep up with everyday operational demands. It isn’t just your business that needs to get more productive; you may need to ramp up your capabilities as an individual. With this in mind, here’s a look at top productivity tips that can not only apply to you but also your employees.

Top productivity tips to achieve more

Improving business productivity starts at the individual level. Finding ways to produce more yourself can help you model positive behaviors for your employees. It also lets you try different productivity strategies that you can then pass on to workers through training programs. Whether you need to get organized through better scheduling or simply declutter your space, following these productivity tips can help you gain an edge.

Here’s a look at some common productivity strategies and guidance on how you can take full advantage of them.

Use planners to boost productivity

You can do more than optimize your schedule with a planner. You can personalize your planner based on your needs and use it to

  • Jot down reminders about things you meant to do 
  • Log times for meetings, events within your day, or milestones you need to think about
  • Take notes about plans and expectations for your day, essentially treating the planner as a miniature, low-maintenance journal where you reflect on your schedule and plan ahead
  • Record key bits of information that may help you remember an important detail heading into a meeting or start your day in a positive way 

Paper planners can help boost productivity by helping you mentally declutter. Stepping away from screens and manually writing details down can help you remember those key points. This, in turn, can help you focus on the most important parts of your day, letting you prioritize what matters and get more done.

Alternatively, digital planners can be incredible organizational tools, integrating with your email application or similar solution so you can get notifications when you need to do something. Plan your day in most digital calendar apps, and the solution will send you alerts in advance of meetings. This means you don’t have to worry about scheduling details, which makes it easier for you to focus on the task at hand and be more productive.

As you use these tools, you may find it helpful to scale them for your business. For example, the G Suite software that we’ll talk about later in this guide lets you create a calendar for your work email account and share it with colleagues. You can then see one another’s events and get alerts about each other’s schedules. These types of tools extend personal productivity benefits to the organizational level.

Create block schedules to eliminate distractions

Have you ever felt like your days are so filled with distractions that you can never actually sit down and get things done? You’re not alone. Business leaders with this problem often borrow an idea from academia — block scheduling — to help them get rid of distractions that limit productivity.

Block scheduling eliminates many frequent activities and replaces them with a fewer tasks that you spend longer on. In schools, this might mean moving away from students taking each course for an hour every day and instead rotating courses throughout the week, each with multihour sessions, to balance things out.

Giving individuals a large block of time to work on a single task or set of related tasks can make it easier for them to focus and get more done. It not only reduces the distraction and waste of constantly switching between tasks, but it also empowers you to focus on one thing.

Finding ways to control your focus in the workplace is critical. Small business owners wear many hats, and they can’t afford to jump between tasks over and over again in a day, constantly reorienting themselves each time. Block scheduling addresses this problem.

While you probably won’t get to a point where you can block out entire days for specific tasks, you can cordon off parts of your day — such as a block of three hours every Tuesday and Thursday for future planning — for a distinct purpose, helping you to be more productive during those times.

Leverage voice-to-text to simplify your day

Stopping to take note of an idea or remind yourself to do something later in the day is not only annoying, but it can also break your chain of thought and impede your productivity. What’s more, if you’re preoccupied with a bunch of disconnected ideas, this will limit your focus because you’re thinking about everything else you have to get done that day.

Voice-to-text software and apps let you take a quick note, update your calendar, or even send a message to a coworker without having to stop, find a pen, get a piece of paper, log the note, and hope you don’t lose track of it before you get to use it.

With voice-to-text apps, you can speak into your mobile phone’s microphone, and your phone will convert it into text. Simple voice-to-text solutions are great if you need to take a quick note. However, digital assistants, such as Apple’s Siri or Google’s Alexa, take this functionality to another level. These applications integrate with your calendars, contacts, internet search engines, and similar tools to let you interact with data in various ways, all with your voice.

If you run into a business contact and want to remind yourself to set up a meeting, you don’t have to write down their name or hope you remember to do it later. Just tell your phone to remind you. You can even specify a time when you’d like to receive the message or have the alert trigger based on your location. This kind of voice-to-text functionality can increase your productivity simply by reducing the amount of time you spend trying to remember things or write them down so you can spend more time getting work done.

Listen to music to create calm

A sense of urgency, and even haste, can help you complete certain tasks. Imagine that mindless task that you dread and try to power through at the end of the day, using the chance to go home afterward to motivate you. Since the task doesn’t require thought, you can just focus on doing it quickly. Music can help energize you for this type of mindless work. Turn on your favorite high-energy playlist and let the beat push you through the work.

But what happens when you need to slow down, take your time, and really think about what you’re doing? Certain types of music, particularly instrumental songs, can help the brain to focus. This makes them a natural fit when you’re trying to zero in on an abstract task that requires thought and creativity. The music can slip into the background, providing a degree of white noise while also stoking creativity.

Ultimately, music has a huge impact on how we think. It can calm us, help us focus, give us an energy boost, and distract us from negative thoughts. Strategically incorporating music into your routine — ensuring that what you listen to matches your personal tendencies — is a great way to bolster productivity in a fun, intuitive way.

Consider monotasking to drive efficiency

There’s a fundamental flaw with multitasking: It’s almost impossible for one person to do multiple things at the same time and do them well. There are times where the half effort that comes with splitting attention between multiple things is fine — such as when you’re completing mindless paperwork. But as a small business owner, chances are you aren’t just busy, you’re constantly facing important decisions that require careful thought and focus. Enter monotasking.

Monotasking, like block scheduling, is designed to help remove clutter so you can focus on the task at hand. The practice involves homing in on a single task you need to complete, handling that process, then moving onto the next thing. Sometimes, blocking off times in your schedule for monotasking is necessary to can save you from constant interruptions that force you to multitask.

The idea here is fairly straightforward: Focusing on a specific task, doing it well, and moving on ensures that you do the work well because your mind is clear. Instead of jumping around frantically between multiple tasks, you focus on the issue in front of you. This can bring out the best results, helping you work well enough that you make fewer mistakes and end up more productive in the long run.

Focus on important tasks to strengthen production

We’ve all had the kind of day when it seems like we can’t get anything done due to constant distractions. You try to get a good workout in, but a minor crisis at home cuts your gym time in half, and you scramble into work, stressed and running late. Then you try to finish a key report but keep getting phone calls from a colleague who needs help on a less important task that happens to be urgent.

Over the course of the day, it seems like everything important gets pushed aside for something trivial, and you leave work feeling strained and behind schedule.

This kind of productivity problem is common for many businesses, and the person in charge has to model prioritization for the culture to trickle down across the business. Identify the most important tasks for your day and give them the attention they deserve. Don’t let urgency create a false sense of importance. By setting clear goals and boundaries, you can more easily prioritize what’s most valuable and know when you can adjust.

As you master prioritization, start employing it across the business, helping employees focus on the most vital operations. This drives productivity, in large part by ensuring your employees spend most of their time on the most valuable operations, positioning them to generate more for your business.

Set goals to get ahead

Prioritization is a natural entry point into setting goals. You can’t prioritize effectively if you don’t have a clear sense of your goals as an individual and as a business. Taking time each morning to set goals — maybe in your planner — can help you prepare for the day ahead and ensure you stay laser-focused on what needs to get done.

Monthly, quarterly, and annual goals can provide more of a big-picture focus, giving you consistency so you can prioritize effectively each day without getting bogged down trying to figure out what’s most important. If you have clear goals in place, they can serve as measuring sticks for other tasks. You can use your goals to assess whether something is worth your time, which helps maximize productivity.

Doing this on a personal level can help you avoid stagnation and power through your days more smoothly. Employing the practice across your business can strengthen culture, bring employees together toward common ideas, and help everybody get more of the most important tasks done on a day-to-day basis.

Prevent burnout

Burnout is the enemy of productivity. People experience burnout when extended periods of overwork — or work on tasks that don’t seem valuable — create significant fatigue. Tiredness, whether physical, emotional, or intellectual, can derail productivity. It doesn’t just slow people down; it also leaves them more prone to mistakes. Taking time to identify mistakes, correct them, and return to normal work can have significant negative effects on productivity.

Preventing burnout is much more effective than trying to deal with it. Some strategies you can take to prevent burnout, either for yourself or for your employees, include

  • Creating clear boundaries around work so you and your employees don’t feel the need to be constantly connected and available. Having to continually keep work in the back of your mind can quickly lead to burnout as fixating on work can limit your ability to get meaningful rest.
  • Organizing job roles — or your personal work schedule — in such a way that a variety of tasks are completed over the course of a day or two. While blocking out chunks of time for specific processes or areas of operations is great, trying to do the same thing over and over again creates monotony. This, in turn, promotes burnout as fatigue builds, and employees can feel disconnected from what they’re doing due to repetition.
  • Taking extended vacations when possible. Have you ever dreaded going back to the office after taking a week off, but after a two-week break, found yourself thinking creatively about work and excited to get back? You aren’t alone. Burnout rises when you don’t take significant breaks, because fatigue can build slowly over time. Getting away for a meaningful amount of time helps you break habits and thought patterns that fuel burnout and hold you, or your employees, back. You don’t even need to go away. Devoting time to hobbies or rest can be key in providing the variety you need. Besides taking time off yourself, ensuring employees receive sufficient paid time off and feel like they can use it is important to limiting burnout.

These are just a few tips to help you tackle burnout, but the themes are common across most advice. Keeping burnout at bay is a matter of variety and rest.

Avoid productivity killers

Just about every working professional has done it. You hop onto a non-work website to quickly check on something, then go down a rabbit hole and next thing you know an hour has passed, you’re late for a meeting, and you’re distracted by the great things you’ve been looking at. The internet is a productivity killer, but it’s also a productivity enabler.

Tools like social media, online media sites, and internal employee communication tools can all be great places to get key information that supports work and helps you be more productive. They can also be places where you start looking at work-related information and get distracted by a chain of content that leaves you wasting time.

Finding ways to avoid these productivity killers is key. Here are some tips to help you stay focused:

  • Create a personal set of boundaries for how and when you’ll use online tools for nonwork purposes, and enforce them strictly.
  • Don’t even have communication apps open unless you actively need to engage a colleague or customer. Most apps can run in the background and notify you if an important message comes in.
  • Establish a work environment that makes it difficult to get distracted. For example, keeping office toys off your desk can eliminate the temptation to go astray when you need a mental break.

There are plenty of distractions that can kill productivity, and everybody responds to different activities in their own ways. Take the time to identify what you find particularly distracting and focus on blocking those things out whenever possible.

Declutter your desk

Those office toys that help you destress when you need to think are great within those boundaries. Decorative items that help you personalize your space can make you comfortable so you can feel at ease and focus. Office supplies — staplers, rolls of tape, your phone, paper, trays, pens, etc. — put tools you need at your disposal. Used in the right way, all of these things can help you be more productive.

The problem is that the line between a useful, productive work space and a cluttered, distracting desk can be very thin. It’s also a very personal boundary. Give one person a minimalist desk with an all-in-one PC and everything else neatly in drawers, and they’ll be comforted by the empty space. Give that same desk to another worker, and he or she may find it stark, institutional, and intimidating. What works for you?

Experimenting with your desk space to find the right balance is key, but regardless of your personal taste, it’s important to declutter your space to eliminate wasteful stuff. Every item that you don’t benefit from is just an object to catch your eye and distract you. Constant stimulus is stressful. Find the right blend of cozy clutter and organized peace for your needs, so you can boost productivity.

Of course, this is much easier if you have a dedicated office space. You may need to set some boundaries for employees in an open office or semi-open cubicle setup. One person’s comfortable mess may be a colleague’s organizational nightmare.

Think about your company’s culture around employee expression and personalization in the workplace and use that as a starting point to create some guidelines around how much freedom employees have. This will allow them to do what they want with their desks while maintaining an appropriate degree of cleanliness and organization.

Take practical steps to increase productivity

These tips may be simple, straightforward ways to adjust your habits to improve productivity. But, taken together, they can transform how you approach work each day. Taking strides toward greater productivity is often about removing many small barriers that hold you back.

Following these tips can help you increase your own productivity and promote stronger practices across your business. They’re a starting point. Read on to learn about tools that can help you and your organization be even more productive.

The best productivity apps

Improving productivity is easier when you have the right tools. Imagine trying to sweep a large kitchen floor with a dustpan and brush. You can get the job done, but it would take twice as long than if you had a vacuum.

With a good vacuum cleaner, you’ll work more efficiently. That efficiency can be turned into productivity if you use the time you saved to get more work done in another part of your home. Use a robot-vacuum to automatically clean the floor, and your productivity can double as you use all of the time you save for other tasks.

This is what modern digital apps can do for your business. They give you better tools for key tasks that often serve as productivity roadblocks. Here’s a look at a few major productivity apps that can help you and your employees get more done:

Trello

Trello is a project management and collaboration app that gives users the ability to organize their work in more intuitive ways and easily share updates with one another.

The solution is so user-friendly that you could just as easily use it to plan your next vacation as you can a complex, multimonth project that requires input from a dozen stakeholders within your business.

Trello has a board, list, and card structure. A board displays the project name and serves as a central dashboard for KPIs and key updates that apply to all team members. The board is essentially a hub that tracks all the items that need to get done, tasks that are in progress, and issues that have been taken care of.

A tier below the board is a list. The list compiles a group of related items that need to be completed, allowing you to easily view what needs to happen within a specific category. You can use a list to describe a complex process that needs to be completed, for example, or to document materials that need to be purchased, sorted by date. This kind of flexibility lets you create an easily scannable group of related tasks that users can access and get updates on within the platform.

Cards are even more specific, acting as individual items in a list. Cards describe the specific task that needs to be completed and provide relevant metadata or project information impacting that task.

A Trello user can log in and quickly view a board describing the primary work that needs to be done, whether it’s in progress or is complete. From there, you can jump into specific project lists to learn more about progress and prioritize what needs to be completed. The actual cards within the list provide the details necessary to handle a specific task.

Trello makes it easier to maintain productivity by helping you get and stay organized, both as an individual and as a team. JotForm’s Trello integration increases your productivity even more. You can use our custom form creation tools to gather and manage key project data, and set up form submissions to automatically send the info to lists or cards within Trello.

Zapier

How much time do you typically spend each day moving a piece of information from one application to another? Imagine a client sends you an attachment with an update to an ongoing project. You have to download the attachment, move it into your file sharing application, open your file sharing app, and use that to send it to a user’s account in the app where they actually get the work done.

Doing this every once in a while isn’t really a problem. But performing these tasks at the scale that many businesses have to in order to communicate relevant data to different stakeholders across a variety of apps is a huge time waster. You’ll also get more done when you spend less time on these types of clerical tasks and more time and energy on the work that actually creates value for your business. Zapier solves this problem.

Zapier lets you set triggers for automated workflows that “Zap” information between apps. In the example mentioned above, Zapier would recognize a new email with an attachment as a trigger, copy the attachment to a file sharing app, and alert you of the process in a collaboration app. This moves the data to the right place while keeping you in the loop and helping you avoid unnecessary clerical work.

Automation doesn’t always have to be a complex, technically overwhelming process. Zapier gives you the tools to create simple, streamlined automation workflows that don’t require development expertise and let you automate a task in just a few minutes. The solution integrates with more than 1,500 apps, including JotForm.

When working alongside JotForm, Zapier can automatically move data from forms to the applications your users leverage. For example, if you’re running a major customer survey to get a better understanding of how end users perceive one of your products, you can use Zapier to grab data updates from JotForm and automatically move that data into the spreadsheet or reporting tool you’re using to track results.

Today, productivity is often a matter of giving people access to the right data at the right time. When users have to log data manually, re-enter information in multiple places, or switch between apps to get the information they need, they end up working more slowly and getting distracted more easily. Accuracy and data quality issues can also arise in this situation.

Tools like Zapier help you eliminate these concerns through straightforward automation that allows you to share data with ease.

Slack

If getting data to the right people at the right time is an essential part of bolstering productivity, then developing strategies for clearer communication and information-sharing across a wide range of process and file types is similarly critical.

You can’t automate everything. Employees often need to have conversations about the work they’re doing. But in the old days of entry-level digital tools, people would often use an app to get on a conference call, open their own version of the file, and talk about edits while trying to keep up with one another. Everybody would be making changes in their version of the file — or have one note-taker handle that — and scramble to keep up with a natural conversation.

Disparate data and file management systems make it difficult to connect different files to specific projects and tasks, adding complexity to collaboration and damaging productivity. Slack takes aim at this problem, giving businesses a centralized social hub where employees can

  • Engage in text chats to discuss key issues or provide updates on projects
  • Create internal forums to discuss what’s going on in the workplace (from a forum that discusses the best snacks for the office to a serious place to discuss ideas for product development, forums can provide intuitive and fully searchable places to communicate)
  • Attach files to projects, conversations, or forum entries to ensure people get the data they need to collaborate 
  • Control authorizations and access to conversations, shared files, and even parts of forums to ensure only authorized employees can access the data being shared, while making it easy for those with access to get information
  • Move between various communications methods — text chat, forums, voice call, video call, screen share, etc. — all within the same app

Collaboration gaps are often productivity roadblocks. When your employees can’t share information effectively or connect with one another, they’ll work on their own. This can lead to poor information sharing and create operational silos that leave people working on the same tasks but in different ways. This wasted time and effort can result in financial losses or worse.

Modern collaboration apps are designed to make it easier for people to communicate in ways that align with their day-to-day workflows. Instead of having to open separate apps or jump between interfaces, everything is in the same place, simplifying collaboration and driving productivity gains.

The idea of “working smarter, not harder” is often about improving efficiency. But it also impacts your ability to produce, as employees who avoid easy mistakes caused by lack of communication can get more done because they spend less time troubleshooting and trying to figure out how to prevent mistakes down the line.

Doist

In many cases, productivity is about simplification. Block scheduling simplifies work by helping you focus on specific areas of work during an extended period of your time. Decluttering your desk eliminates unnecessary stuff, allowing you to focus and keeping you from getting distracted by messes or gadgets. Data integration between apps lets you simplify operations by ensuring information gets to users where they are so they don’t have to move between a bunch of different services.

Simplicity is often a path to productivity because it helps users focus on the task at hand and get it done quickly. Doist is a brand devoted to simplicity, and it helps businesses simplify work primarily through two solutions:

Todoist

In its simplest form, Todoist is a digital to-do list. It builds on that functionality through messaging, project management, and file sharing tools, ensuring that you can track what you need to do and simplify planning, task assignments, and progress tracking, all in real time.

Twist

If Todoist takes the idea of a to-do list and simplifies it so you can focus on primary tasks, then Twist brings that same philosophy to communication. Many enterprise collaboration tools make it easier for colleagues to get together in one place and work on a common project. But that scale of operations can often lead to a degree of chaos as everybody tries to keep up with all the tasks happening at the same time.

Twist provides a streamlined, minimalist collaboration platform that lets you put conversations in one place, organized by topic or subject, to keep everything coordinated and cohesive.

While Doist focuses on simplicity, they don’t do so to the detriment of sophistication and functionality.

Doist’s focus on productivity isn’t just about their solutions either. They work to model digital productivity in their own operations, and they’ve used a combination of JotForm and Zapier to help streamline the application process for their nonprofit discount program. Check it out to see how mixing and matching productivity apps can help you solve key operational pain points and promote better operations at your business.

Using apps to take real productivity strides

There’s only so much you can do to improve productivity through process optimization, scheduling, and similar strategies. At some point, your employees will run into a situation where they could get more done faster, but your technologies limit them. Whether your employees can’t share data easily or have to deal with cumbersome legacy apps for key tasks, the result is diminished productivity.

Investing strategically in new productivity apps can help you make real progress toward sustainable productivity gains. The right solutions can bring data to users in more intuitive ways and equip them to work in a more flexible, natural manner. This creates a greater sense of freedom for employees, further helping them become more productive.

The best productivity software

Productivity apps are great for solving specific problems. They give users tools they can pick up and put away as their daily needs shift.

Productivity software presents a different opportunity. It often serves as a central hub for work. Email platforms provide communications, messaging, and collaboration tools. Word processors, spreadsheets, and database tools enable users to create, edit, and manage information within the business.

Productivity software is instrumental to helping your employees get more done, and finding the right solution for your price point and needs is key. The good news is that cloud technologies are making powerful tools more accessible than ever, bringing enterprise-class functionality to small businesses. Here are some of the most noteworthy tools that deliver on this promise:

Office 365

Just about every professional has worked with Microsoft Office. Many used Word and PowerPoint in school, and Excel was their first major exposure to spreadsheets. In the past, businesses had to purchase an expensive software license for each user, in many cases paying for access to specific Office-based productivity apps that their employees may not have even needed.

The cost of Office for Business led many organizations to seek alternative options, even different packages of Office, that provided key functionality at a lower cost. But in the old days of individual Office installations on end-user machines, businesses also needed solutions like Sharepoint to help them share files and collaborate. The result was a complex, technologically specialized productivity ecosystem that many small businesses simply couldn’t justify.

Office 365 changed all of this. It’s delivered as a subscription service. You don’t need to purchase office licenses in bulk. Instead, you can pay a small monthly fee for each user on the system. This lets you keep entry costs low while accessing some of the best productivity solutions on the market. Office 365 for Business includes

  • Outlook: a powerful email application with robust collaboration and schedule management features
  • OneDrive: an industry-leading file sharing solution
  • Word: perhaps the definitive mainstream word processing application
  • Excel: a powerful, sophisticated spreadsheet solution
  • PowerPoint: a presentation creation tool that has become so prominent that digital presentations are often referred to as “PowerPoints” by default, even if they aren’t built in PowerPoint
  • Publisher: an advanced publishing platform that builds on Word with specialized publishing capabilities for businesses seeking to create visually striking print or digital assets 
  • Access: a database solution that can be used to easily create custom databases without coding

These apps form the foundation of Microsoft Office 365 for business, but more solutions are available at higher subscription levels. The flexible subscription option lets businesses use powerful tools in a more accessible way. Microsoft also offers one-time purchase options for those who prefer to get Office that way.

All of these details aside, Office 365 can be a great productivity solution in large part because it provides the power, functionality, and interface of Microsoft’s tools while allowing for easier data sharing and integration with modern collaboration tools. Office 365 enables users to

  • Access apps and files across multiple devices without having to manually share files; work is associated with the user, not the device
  • Share information easily within application interfaces, as all of Office 365 is integrated, and apps within the platform let teams view and access shared files with ease
  • Take advantage of robust security tools in the backend to manage and share data without having to worry about onerous security protocols

Microsoft Office has long been an industry leader in driving productivity in the workplace. While emerging solutions are starting to challenge this industry giant, the growing prominence of Office 365 highlights how the company has successfully moved into the cloud age and remained a powerful player in today’s productivity space.

G Suite

G Suite is Google’s answer to Microsoft Office 365. It emerged in the early days of the cloud as a simple way for businesses to access productivity apps through a central web interface. It made word processing, spreadsheets, calendars, email, and presentation solutions available in one place. Google Drive provides a central data and file storage hub, while apps like Google Docs, Google Slides, Gmail, and Google Sheets provide tools comparable to Office 365.

We won’t dive into the subtle feature differences between G Suite and Office 365, as the apps are often similar and the distinctions, while sometimes significant, are frequently a matter of preference. Ultimately, both solutions can boost productivity through access to intuitive, user-friendly productivity apps that let your employees create content efficiently.

Whereas Office 365 stands out because of its legacy — users are familiar with its interface, and it offers a wide range of particularly powerful tools due, in part, to its longstanding role as the industry leader — G Suite is noteworthy because it’s built from the ground up for today’s cloud-focused world.

In some cases, this results in more streamlined feature sets in G Suite apps, where some solutions sacrifice more sophisticated capabilities in favor of making the most important functions easier for users to access. But the most prominent result of Google’s cloud-first approach to G Suite is its integration within the larger Google Cloud Platform.

Google provides a wide range of solutions for everything from specialized mapping applications to big data and artificial intelligence tools. These technologies rely on access to accurate data from all parts of a business in a centralized platform. The Google Cloud Platform fully integrates with G Suite — any Google apps you use in one part of your business can typically share data, at least in some format, with another app. This makes it much easier to share information across lines of business.

The Google Cloud Platform is emerging as a powerful productivity tool because of how easy it makes data sharing, including allowing multiple users to interact with files in real time.

Productivity often depends on digital transformation. The easier it is for your employees to share information and collaborate, the more productive they will be. G Suite is built to support this kind of end-to-end digital innovation.

Airtable

Many traditional software systems left a lot to be desired when it came to flexibility. If you’ve been running a business for a while, you can probably remember the days of purchasing software, spending time installing it on machines, training your users to use it, and then aligning your business processes with what the software let you do.

Many professionals have been in situations where they know they can improve a process or ramp up productivity, but their technology prevents them from getting the right data to the right people or slows them down because they can’t collaborate effectively. Working within the confines of prebuilt software that may be tailored to your industry, but not to your business, can put a ceiling on your productivity. Airtable helps businesses break through that ceiling by blending the capabilities of common productivity solutions into a fully customizable productivity and project management solution.

Airtable brings together spreadsheet and database capabilities to help users organize their operations in a way that aligns with how they work. At the business level, you can create custom processes and workflows and document them in the software. Airtable houses relevant data, files, and tools to help users interact with the process. From there, team members can create new tasks and projects in a variety of formats, including

  • Grids that show work based on project status
  • Calendars that detail project time lines and provide immediate visibility into progress
  • Kanban boards that organize projects into various stages and make it easier to quickly identify tasks that need to be completed or issues that must be resolved
  • Forms that provide essential data and give users tools to update projects and share information with others

Airtable provides flexibility and customization so your teams can organize projects and data in the way that’s most efficient for their needs. This, in turn, drives productivity. 

JotForm can add even more to your Airtable project, as you can integrate our forms to send data to different components of Airtable’s interface. This eliminates the need for manual data entry and pulls information directly from digital form submissions — such as surveys or field service inspections — into Airtable.

Data keeps us operating at full capacity when we have access to it. But when the data we need isn’t available, our work slows to a crawl. With JotForm and Airtable working together, you can get users the data they need in a format that fits the projects they’re working on.

Asana

Like Airtable, Asana is a project management tool that helps users track the progress of key tasks and share data in real time. But where Airtable is built around the philosophy of promoting flexibility and customization, Asana focuses on teamwork.

The old saying, “Teamwork makes the dream work,” is a cliche for a reason — and not just because it’s incredibly corny. Businesses increasingly depend on processes that are too complex and specialized for any individual to handle on their own. A single production run in a small manufacturing plant may require individuals with expertise in materials sourcing, warehouse management, production scheduling, machine programming, quality assurance testing, and packaging and shipping. And that only covers the actual creation of a good, not the market research, sales, marketing, and branding work behind it.

Complexity puts a major strain on productivity because teams, by their nature, are less efficient than individuals. A single person can put their head down, tune out distractions, and power through a task. A team needs to listen to input from stakeholders, coordinate activities to avoid duplicate work, share updates on progress, and pass tasks between multiple users.

Software that focuses on project management functionality can help teams be more productive, in turn helping your business get more done. Asana is a prime example of this trend, as the software is built explicitly for teams handling complex projects with multiple stakeholders.

Asana’s interface is highly visual. Its design makes it easy to see the way different tasks relate to one another and how those relationships impact deadlines. Managers can easily view progress at any given time, identify which employees are holding a project back, and troubleshoot any issues before they escalate.

Asana is particularly well suited for creative teams or work environments with similar demands — sharing large amounts of information and relying on multiple stakeholders to perform various portions of projects to create a final product or campaign. Asana also features

  • Built-in automation tools to eliminate tedious tasks
  • Calendar-based interface displays to keep everybody on schedule
  • Objective tracking solutions that make it easier to prioritize work and oversee operations at a high level
  • Real-time data reporting to stay on top of workloads and ensure employees are properly equipped to get the job done 
  • Integrations with a variety of solutions, including tools from Microsoft, Google, and JotForm

The JotForm integration with Asana automatically sends information from form submissions to team members as either a task, project, or conversation within the app, depending on which format is the best fit. JotForm lets you gather data from employees, contractors, or customers in a wide range of formats, including both templates and custom forms. The integration with Asana lets you take the data created in these forms and deliver it to users in an intuitive way that helps them work together by ensuring nobody is left in the dark.

Teamwork is essential to doing quality work in today’s complex business world. But bringing together individuals with specialized skills to collaborate is rarely easy. Tools like Asana help your teams to work together, eliminating key pain points that limit productivity.

monday.com

Like Airtable and Asana, monday.com is a project management solution that gives employees and managers insight into day-to-day work. The solution has a fairly minimalist interface, which makes it easier to quickly see projects across the business. By getting the most important information to the right team members, monday.com boosts productivity.

In many ways, improving productivity in the digital age is a matter of eliminating data clutter. Many people are bombarded with information, leaving them feeling overwhelmed and limiting their productivity. monday.com aims to ease this burden by making it easier to plan work, track it, and collaborate with team members without creating too much clutter.

You can customize the interface for your business. It features a wide range of reporting tools and integrates with common productivity apps, including solutions from Microsoft, Google, Slack, Trello, and Zapier.

Driving productivity in the era of digital transformation

Digital transformation is changing how businesses approach productivity. When widespread use of personal computers made digital technology accessible, businesses tended to use software and apps to meet specific operational demands, blending a variety of solutions. Since only certain parts of the business depended on digital tools, and many still relied on manual, paper-based processes, this worked. But widespread access to broadband, cloud computing, and mobile devices has changed how consumers interact with brands and how businesses engage one another.

In this new era of digital work, isolated technologies that don’t talk to one another become problematic from a productivity perspective. When users are constantly shifting between solutions to get the data they need for major work tasks, they’re often overwhelmed by the number of things they need to do and the systems they have to use to complete the work.

Digital transformation is about bringing solutions together, providing anytime, anywhere access to critical data. JotForm does this by capturing data through online forms. By integrating with various productivity apps and services, we make that data accessible. This same kind of data sharing is happening across the digital landscape, fueling productivity gains that help businesses get more done.

Of course, digital apps and software don’t solve all of your problems, but business leaders today need to blend tried-and-true personal organization strategies with digital technologies to maximize productivity. Whether you’re looking to get more done yourself or empower your teams to be more productive, you have lots of options at your disposal.

Ultimately, finding the key to productivity is a highly personal, organization-specific matter. Different teams in different industries all face unique challenges and work dynamics that impact their ability to complete work. By blending creative productivity strategies with apps and software, you can find a mix of solutions that will help you and your employees be as productive as possible. 
JotForm can help you on this journey, with customizable digital forms that help you collect data and share information. If you want to learn more about how we make this possible, we’d love to talk. Contact us today or check out our collection of prebuilt templates to get a better idea of how our digital forms work.

Catégories: News dév web

Why is Containerization So Critical For Running Apps With Micro-Architecture?

Noupe.com - 31 mars, 2020 - 08:27

Historically, mobile app development has been based on monolithic architectures that are rigid in nature. In such an architecture, the different functionalities and components of an app are in a single instance.

Today, this trend is shifting and changing the mobile app development landscape. Mobile app developers and mobile app development companies are leveraging microservices and containers to deploy much more flexible app architectures, known as microservices.

These apps have a micro-architecture that provides a wide range of benefits to the developers, though it does have its negatives as well.

But before we jump into the nuances of the relationship between containers and apps with micro-architecture, let’s first understand “what are microservices and containers?”

Defining microservices and containers?

Microservices is a modern approach to mobile app development in which the architecture of an app is split into multiple services with a dedicated micro-function within the app. 

Each microservice has its own logical function and is a deviance from the old-school style of monolithic app structures, in which, as we discussed, all components are in a single instance. 

Containers are like boxes or packages used to store everything that an app needs to function, such as code, libraries, binaries, and dependencies. It is a self-contained unit that helps with the development, shipment, and deployment (even on the cloud) of an app, alongside the hardware requirements.

Today, the two most famous containers in the industry are Dockers and Kubernetes. They are used to build and run containers, though it is fair to say that Kubernetes is rising as an industry standard, with its ability to run multiple containers in different computing environments.

So what’s the relationship between microservices and containers? Essentially, you put your microservices in containers. Though it is possible to use Virtual Machines for this purpose, containers take up less space and are faster to boot.

Benefits of Using Microservice architecture In Mobile App Development?

The development of microservices or apps with micro-architecture is the answer to the problems associated with monolithic application development. 

I will be explaining these problems and how they are solved in apps with the benefits of containerizing apps with micro-architecture.

Working With A Smaller Codebase

Since each component or service within an application has its own container, developers have a smaller codebase to work with. This helps boost development speed by simplifying individual tasks.

There are bound to be fewer complexities and dependencies of functions in apps with micro-architecture that are developed in containers than monolithic apps.

The application’s technology stack can differ through microservices. 

Developers can leverage a wide range of technologies, be it language or library. This is because there is no monolithic dependency in the mobile app development process like there is in monolithic app development.

Scalability will be independent of each microservices. 

Developers have the ability to scale different components of the app, depending on the resources. Unlike in monolithic apps, containerized microservices eliminate the need for making multiple instances of every component during the scaling process. It saves you from making multiple copies of the whole app and makes the process much more efficient.

Isolate failures. 

As each microservice within an app with micro-architecture are in their own containers, a bug in one of those services is unlikely to malfunction the entire system or disturb any other microservice or component of the app, since there’s limited dependency. 

In monolithic apps, one bug, if not caught properly, can bring down your whole app’s process and system, setting back the work you’ve done.

Drawbacks Of Using Containerized Microservices

Though it’s true that micro-architecture apps came into existence as an answer to the problems of monolithic app architecture, they came with their own set of drawbacks and limitations.

From splitting monolithic structured apps into microservices to managing apps with micro-architecture, these are some of the problems that arise in the process.

Some problems with a containerized micro-architecture app are:

Keeping Track of Microservices is Harder 

As the number of microservices grows, especially for enterprise mobile app development, it can become hard to keep track of all of them.  Setting up continuous delivery and continuous integration can become a hassle when you’re dealing with the complexity of managing multiple microservices.

Increased project complexity

Microservice-based mobile apps require an increased number of network calls when there’s an interaction between two different microservices. This is one kind of problem that doesn’t exist within monolithic app structures.

How you handle this inter-services communication, deal with errors, and increase test cases for each service can be a challenging notion for developers, which is much simpler when you have to only deploy one instance of an app in monolithic apps.

Tracing bugs can take a lot of time

While bugs in one microservice are isolated to its own container, in the cases where there are different routes that your microservice uses to communicate with other microservices, it becomes harder to identify and locate faulty code or bugs and can take up a lot of time.

Tools That Can Help You Execute Apps With A Micro-Architecture Kubernetes

Kubernetes is a container orchestration platform that allows developers to develop, deploy, and scale all of their containers. It offers them the ability to automate the deployment process of a containerized microservice, making it.

Istio

Istio is an open-source service mesh designed to mitigate some of the drawbacks that come with micro-architecture apps. It helps you manage a distributed microservice architecture by providing a robust mechanism for tracing, monitoring, and securing your microservices.

It provides security within the microservice while allowing you the ability to manage the traffic of your microservice.

Istio can be integrated on top of Kubernetes, making it extremely useful and incredibly accessible for developers to use.

Is Containerization Essential For Running Apps With Mico-Architecture?

I think while it’s not necessary to use containers, it’s the ideal choice for mobile app development. Kubernetes is an open-source container orchestration platform, which means that building your app with a micro-architecture using it will not be a huge challenge, but will ensure that your app is ready to scale and grow.

The decision between using a microservice architecture vs. a monolithic architecture should be based on scalability and long-term sustainable usability.

While you can start your mobile app development project using a monolithic structure if you scale it as such, then containerizing it as a micro-service architecture later can be an incredibly challenging task. So if you’re planning for the future, it’s ideal to initiate your mobile app development project as a containerized micro-architecture app.

This helps you leverage rapid development and production, giving you the ability to develop enterprise-level mobile apps.

Catégories: News dév web

How Travel Chatbots are Helping City Tourism

Noupe.com - 30 mars, 2020 - 11:13

Worldwide tourism has immense potential for growth, and this sector has evolved drastically in the last few decades. Now travel, and tourism is becoming one of the mainstays of the world economy.

According to The United Nations World Tourism Organization report, International tourist arrivals worldwide have grown from 25 million in 1950 to 1.4 billion tourists per year, to present times. Similarly, international tourism revenues worldwide have grown from 2 billion US dollars in 1950 to 1.3 trillion in 2017. This sector contributes 10.4% to the world’s GDP and generates 319 million jobs in 2018 globally.”

Technological advancements, like big data, artificial intelligence, and machine learning, are offering great opportunities for the travel and tourism industry to grow and sustain. The new age travellers’ planning begins with googling and ends with online agencies. Technology is transforming the traveller experience. For example, What does perfect travel consist of? Before enjoying a sunset on the beach, you need to spend time finding budget-friendly accommodation, book a flight ticket, and spend at least a couple of hours to check-in. That’s how this was going before chatbots were formally introduced in the travel industry. Now, with the help of a chatbot and your smartphone, you can instantly book and pay for hotels, flights, and even do hassle-free check-in in the hotel too.

 What is Chatbot?

A chatbot is a computer software interface that conducts human-like communication with the website visitor. It communicates via text or voice-based commands. Chatbots are enabled with Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning and use Natural Language Processing(NLP) to process user queries. This tool instantly answers your questions anytime and anywhere. It scans your keywords search and responds with pre-set answers available in the database. Chatbots make the customer experience more responsive, accurate, and intelligent.

Facts About Chatbot
  • The first chatbot, ELIZA, was created by Joseph Weizenbaum in 1966.
  • According to a survey, US is home to the most significant portion of the world’s chatbot users (36%), followed by India (11%). Germany comes in the third place (4%) 
  • Experts predict 90% of customer interaction will be automated by 2022. 
  • Companies will save 2.5 billion customer service hours using chatbots by the end of 2023.

(Data Source)

How does chatbot benefit the travel industry?

Chatbots software provides unbeaten experience to businesses and their customers. Nowadays most people are eternally dependent on the internet to plan their trip. That’s the reason chatbot has a significant influence on the travel industry. This software answers your frequently asked questions without human interaction and saves money as well as time. In this way, Chatbot can manage multiple customers concurrently and even handle your complex issues and give a proper solution to what you are seeking. It has aligned the process to improve traveller experience and hospitality business to decrease customer churn, boost sales and revenues.

The chatbot market is growing swiftly. We already have millions of chatbots activated in different industries, which is why investing in chatbots could give you a decisive edge over the competition. 

1) Reduce Operational Cost and Workload

Chatbots are an extremely cost-effective solution. Artificial intelligence-enabled bots assist travel agencies in solving routine customer queries. This means businesses no longer depend on third party customer care centers. Additionally, new travel startups can directly shift to chatbots instead of developing a mobile app to save resources. The technology and algorithm used behind the development are sophisticated enough to create a complex solution with ease. Chatbot has the potential to reduce both the workload on your employees, and customer support costs up to 30%. According to the reports, The average cost of building a chatbot from scratch is around $10,000 — $15,000. 

2) Save Time and Efforts

Chatbot can handle multiple customer queries and save productive time. This will enable management to engage their workforce in other complex managerial activities. For instance, If your bot is intelligent enough to handle frequently asked customer queries, then it will reduce pressure on the many airline employees; from ground staff to cabin crew. Also, it will save customers’ time that is spent reaching out to service representatives and listening to that annoying 30 min long solo music on the helpline!

3) Enhance personalization and Customer Engagement

Travel chatbots work tirelessly to serve customers 24×7, 365 days a year. This continuous accessibility enhances customer engagement in the travel sector. Where customers seek their problems to be resolved immediately, even as they travel across time-zones.

Chatbot can serve as a local tour guide as they can tell you about nearby hotels, restaurants, and other attractions. For example, Foursquare’s chatbot, Marsbot, allows travelers to find restaurants, cafes, and bars wherever they go, based on their preferences and their location.

Of course, travel chatbots can ensure maximum customer personalization too.

4) Give More Revenue Opportunity

Travel agencies can use chatbot as a lead capturing tool. This tool can take the customer from awareness stage to conversion stage within minutes. Research shows that 65% of the holiday tourists and 69% of business travelers find online booking more convenient, and 92% of millennials find live chat engaging. In this way, you can add offers, coupons, and even a payment gateway in your chatbots to grab more customers online and make them lifelong subscribers of the platform. All these things bring the possibilities of increasing revenue growth through chatbots.

Popular Travel Chatbot Examples 1) Ana: Copa Airlines’ virtual Assistant

Copa Airlines comes with Ana- web-based chatbot. It uses natural language processing to answer simple FAQs, such as what destinations Copa Airlines flies to or How many bags can one bring with them? And she will respond instantly within your browser. Most of the answers she offers are available elsewhere on the website.

2) Goibibo’s chatbot Gia

Goibibo’s chatbot reduces human intervention in the ticket-booking and seat-selection process, as well as post-booking inquiries, by 25%. Gia chatbot seamlessly delivers hotel vouchers on the customer’s choice messaging app. Goibibo coined the term ‘Human Interactions Saved’ to measure Gia’s efficiency. Currently, Gia solves 60% of all customer queries. 

3) Expedia Facebook Messenger Bot

Expedia unveiled its Facebook chatbot on June 8, 2016. it allows users to search and book a hotel through chatbot. Users simply need to open Facebook Messenger and type in Expedia, and then you come across with their chatbot, which asks you a bit about your travel plans, and some related questions. Once the bot has enough information to process, it will show you the most popular hotel options for your location. 

4) Julie: Virtual assistant for Amtrak

Amtrak integrates virtual assistant Julie on their site. This chatbot works on NLP protocols to process the question asked by the customer. Julie redirects you to the most relevant webpage on-site and gives you a specific answer to your question or keyword inquiry. It operates in a separate pop-up box so that you can easily navigate the Amtrak site. Julie can help you with booking reservations, learning about the train stations. While she doesn’t fill out travel information for you, she can vocalize and advise her answers, so that you can do it correctly.

5) Hello Hipmunk

Hipmunk is an online platform founded in 2010. It offers a variety of services that help users to plan a trip and book reservations. It also can classify through booking emails and calendar items to build personalized itineraries.

Hipmunk’s chatbot Software, Hello Hipmunk, is a chatting interface that allows a user to send their questions or comments like, “Can you find me a hotel for June?” or “Send me flights to Boston for this weekend.” The Hello Hipmunk then processes these queries and will respond with recommendations that it has pulled from the various airline, hotel, or other travel sites. 

Final Verdict

Sustainability is the biggest issue, and staying ahead of the competition is the biggest challenge in the travel and tourism industry. If you want to provide high-quality customer experience and keep them engaged with your platform, your business needs a travel chatbot. 

With many successful use cases, you can develop a chatbot to meet the needs of a travel business of any size. 

Catégories: News dév web

61 Best Web Developer Portfolio Examples

Noupe.com - 30 mars, 2020 - 10:13

Web development, especially freelance web development has been steadily growing as businesses are increasingly going online. Many talented developers offer freelance web development in addition to their day jobs or some of them have fully embraced the freelance life.

Nevertheless, every web developer that wants to be successful needs to have their web developer portfolio on the internet where it can be accessed easily. 

If you’re just getting started with web development or are looking for ways to improve your own web developer portfolio, you can check the list of examples of our favorite web developer portfolio websites.

Or you might be just looking for a web developer to make your website. Anyway, before we delve into our web developer portfolio examples first, let’s look at what constitutes a good web developer portfolio.

Include an “About Me” Page

Your portfolio website is essentially like your business card where it’s the initial point of contact your potential customers make contact with you and your work. So, it’s always a good practice to include an about page where you communicate important information about yourself, your work, your experience, your approach, and skills. 

Sample Websites

Especially if the clients browsing your website aren’t that tech-savvy, it’s important for them to see your previous work. In most cases, you won’t probably be able to share projects that you’ve done for clients directly on your website so you can include 1-2 personal projects that reflect the quality and style of your work and provide links to the websites you’ve built. You can get creative here. Some web developers include both their wildest projects and their more practical projects in their portfolio.

Showing a balanced portfolio can ease the process of the client trusting you as they can see how creative you can get but also how you can deliver results that the client expects. Sometimes, things that are too flashy might scare away clients as some have the prejudice of “I don’t need an artist, I need a developer”. 

Testimonials

Adding testimonials, if you have them, is probably the best way to provide social proof about your work. These can be quotes from clients, instructors, friends, etc. but also you can provide just the names of the brands that you had worked with.

If you can demonstrate that you have worked with some reputable clients, and share their experiences about how it was to work with you, that can help potential clients to have a better idea about working with you.

Contact Information

It’s also important to leave your contact information on your website such as your email address, social media accounts. But, it’s equally important to provide your visitors with an alternative way to reach you. For example, having a contact form on your website will be a great way to do so. 

These should be a good place to start building your web developer portfolio, but to help these sink in, let’s first go over the examples we’ve chosen for you.

Top 61 Web Developer Portfolio Examples #1 Robby Leonardi Web Development – Illustrative Design #2 Matthew Williams Web Development – UI  #3 Dries Van Broeck Web Development – Motion Design #4 Malte Gruhl Web Development – Design #5 Ben Bate  Product Design – Product Analysis – Web Development  #6 Lounge Lizard Web Development – Marketing – Branding #7 Wokine Web Development – Development – Marketing – Design #8 Daniel Spatzek Web Development – Concept Design – Branding #9 Sean Halpin  Web Development – Design – Content #10 Y78 Web Desing – Design – Illustration – Concept – Motion Design #11 Rezo Zero  Web Development – Design – UX #12 My Poor Brain Web Development – Design – UX/UI #13 STRV Web Development – Development – Software Design #14 Steven Mengin Web Development – Design  #15 Patrick David Web Development – UI Designer – UX Designer #16 Stink Studios Web Development – Content – Branding – Design #17 Tobias Sahlin Web Development – Design #18 Femme Fatale Web Development – Interactive Experience – Design #19 Josue Espinosa Web Development – Software Development #20 Yevgeniy Brikman Web Development – Product Design – Software Development #21 Rafael Caferati  Web Development – Software Developer – UI/UX  #22 Jack Tomaszewski Web Development – Software Development #23 Adham Dannaway Web Development – UI/UX Design #24 Kyle Ledbetter Web Development – UI Design  #25 Pavel Huza Web Development – Web Design #26 Cher-Ami Web Development – Creative Production – Digital Experience #27 Olivier Guilleux  Web Development #28 Alex Coven Web Development – Graphic Design #29 Rafael Kfouri Web Development – Graphic Design #30 Heather Shaw Web Design – Graphic Design #31 Built by Buffalo  Web Development – Branding #32 Creative Mints Web Development – UI – Graphic Design #33 Buzzworthy Web Development #34 Mixd Web Development – Web Design #35 We make. Web Development – Web Design #36 together Web Development – Web Design #37 Naum Web Development – Design – Branding #38 More Yum Web Development – Design #39 Ian Lunn Web Development #40 Pierre Nel Web Development #41 Timmy O’Mahony Web Development – Software Development #42  Emily Ridge Web Development – Web Design #43 Matt Farley Web Development – Design #44 Dejan Works Web Development – Design – UI/UX #45 Seb Kay Web Development #46 Kathryn McClintock Web Development – Web Design #47 Narrow Design Web Development – Web Design #48 Agence Belle-Epoque Web Development – Web Design #49 Taylor Ho Web Development #50 Qode Interactive Web Development – Web Design #51 Eien Web Development – Web Design #52 Raoul Gillard Web Development – Web Design #53 Colin Simpson Web Development – Web Design – UI/UX #54 Contemplate Web Development – Design #55 Riccardo Zanutta Web Development #56 Simon Evans Web Development – UI #57 Marc Thomas  Web Development – Digital Design #58 Vito Salvatore Web Development – Web Design #59 Juan Ferreras Web Development – Web Design #60 jonny.me Web Development #61 Robin Mastromarino Web Development – UI/UX Design

If you’ve read this far, first of all, thank you! And secondly, we hope that our list of portfolios were helpful. As you might have realized, every developer has their own style and they have most probably sunk dozens of hours to create their own websites. Out of all of the examples we gathered, none of them had any issues and all ran smoothly. For now, we’ve only included screenshots but most of these portfolio websites are interactive and quite vivid. Visit their websites and see for yourself.

Please let us know if we have missed any or if you believe that you have your own portfolio website that should be listed here.

Catégories: News dév web

Best Work From Home Tools During Covid-19

Noupe.com - 27 mars, 2020 - 13:37

According to the WHO, there are  416,686 confirmed cases worldwide for now. People are losing their lives. Healthcare professionals are working incredibly hard to deal with the situation, and we need to do our part, and stay in our homes.

Due to the recent epidemic of Coronavirus, the economy has also taken a huge hit. Most businesses are closed or having hard times. Some of us, the lucky ones, can work from home and use the tools that have been provided to us to get the most out of our work and minimize the damage. 

Here are some of the remote work tools that you can use:

Zoom

Zoom is a video conferencing tool that allows you to connect with your team easily. It’s a great tool to connect to your team and have meetings. It’s now free for K-12 schools.

JotForm

Data collection tool with many widgets, integrations, payment processing and ability to assign forms to your teammates. If you are fighting against the Coronavirus, you get a free, unlimited and HIPAA compliant account.

Slack

Communicate with your team easily. If you are working on coronavirus pandemic research mitigation or response, the upgrades are free.

Airtable

Airtable is a cloud collaboration service that is widely used. And now, the Airtable Pro plan is completely free without a time limit for any non-political humanitarian groups working on COVID-19 relief efforts.

Salesforce

Free Covid-19 Care Response solution for Healthcare systems. It’s for emergency response teams, call centers, and care management teams who are affected by Covid-19.

Calendly

Online work scheduling tool to help remote workers stay connected. Zoom and GoToMeeting integrations used to be paid, but now they are free until June 30. Also, premium plans are now free for teams working directly on Covid-19.

Wrike

Collaborative work management platform. They offer 6 months free access to Professional Edition for the new customers. Also, if you are a current customer, you can add unlimited collaborators.

Google

Advanced Hangouts Meet video-conferencing is free now to all G suite and G Suite Education users.

Support.com

They offer free tech support for remote students and workers.

Zoho

Remotely apps are free until July 1, 2020. There are 11 apps in total, which includes apps for storage, project management, online meetings, and presentations.

PandaDoc

Free e-sign plan with unlimited users, document uploads and payment processing.

Comcast

Free Xfinity WiFi, the hotspots are available to everyone for COVID-19, not just the Xfinity subscribers. Network name is: “xfinity wifi”. You can find a hotspot near you on their website. 

Box

Secure file-sharing and collaboration platform for 3 months. You’ll get the Business plan which has unlimited storage, advanced user and security reporting.

Dropbox

Free DropBox Business and HelloSign subscriptions for nonprofits and NGOs that are fighting COVID-19. The subscription plans are for 3 months.

Hootsuite

Free access to their professional social media management plan for small businesses and nonprofits  to help them stay connected to their customers.

Discord

Enhanced Go-Live streaming service limit is upped to 50 from 10. Go Live is free to use and enables you to screen share apps from your computer or privately stream while your team can watch from any device.

Carto

Free visualization software for organizations fighting COVID-19.

There are many more solutions that can help you during these hard times. Make sure to check out HelpWithCovid and Deals for businesses in the time of COVID-19.

If you are trying to help fight against COVID-19 through your service or product, please fill out the form below so we can add you to the list.

Catégories: News dév web

Top 6 Mobile Marketing Channels to Increase Brand Awareness in 2020

Noupe.com - 26 mars, 2020 - 15:37

Mobile marketing is currently (boosting/rising) as one of the strongest directions of digital marketing. Smartphones are an inseparable part of people’s daily routine. This serves as an advantage for companies to promote their services through mobile devices by any possible means. 

Mobile marketing is everywhere in the mobile platform, from applications all the way through the news that users read. Mobile marketing tools develop hand in hand with the advancement of mobile devices and their applications. Hence, newer trends come with each new innovation that mobile devices bring about.

Some of the mobile marketing trends in 2020 are video ads, voice searching tools, in-app ads as well as augmented reality and artificial intelligence. These tools showed higher demand in the previous years, therefore, mobile marketing is likely to lean on them this year. However, there are more proven and trusted tools than just those. Here are seven of them. 

Influencer Marketing

Influencer marketing is much like celebrity endorsement in marketing. It includes an influential person—whether it is a critic or just a well-known blogger—teaming up with a company to promote their products/services. 

The influential person may be a celebrity, an athlete, a social media blogger, etc. The latest example is Keanu Reeves appearing as a video game character in Cyberpunk 2077, which was a pretty hot topic for the last couple of weeks.

The most common way of influencer marketing is cooperating with a social media blogger. There are thousands of social media personalities that run blogs of different niches. One way or another, they have a reputation among their audience and can help increase your brand awareness. 

SEO (Search Engine Optimization)

It is a well-known fact that most people doing a Google search don’t bother going further than the first page of search results. Thus, it is crucial to do a proper SEO so that your company appears in the first page of search engine results. 

SEO is developing quite rapidly, which means that you always need to keep an eye on the trends not to fall back from your competition. Your SEO endeavour needs to include each and every word combination and keyword that the user may logically search for. Hence, always do your keyword research thoroughly so that you don’t miss a spot.

With the advancement of technologies, there are simple programs like SEMRush or Yoast Seo, which automate the process for the SEO specialists. Those applications filter the keywords used in search results and simply report how the viewers search for information.

Social Media

Social media now combines everything together, whether it is news, games, connection with friends and pop-culture. With this, it is a place where people spend a lot of time. Therefore, it is a very solid platform to advertise anything the company needs through any means of social media. 

Since most people are on social media just for fun, it is important for the advertisement to be short and catchy. In that way, it will smoothly go with the social media content flow and reach the target audience. 

Besides, social media ads are now so sophisticated with AI personalization tools that they target a specific audience very precisely. Hence, the ad messages reach the users that actually need the product. They work based on the preferences of people, what they like, share, comment on, and so on. 

Google Ads

Google ads is one of the most effective ways to promote a product or service through YouTube, Facebook, Instagram or simply any other website. It even allows the advertisers to set a target audience demographically or just by the preference of content. 

Just like social media ads, Google Ads are also equipped with sophisticated targeting tools. They tend to show the advertising messages only for the users who have shown any interest in the product. 

Google ads show decent growth and it definitely is one of the most practical ways for mobile marketing. Google ads spread short advertisements in the middle of blog posts, Instagram stories, YouTube videos and it is nearly impossible to miss.

Email Marketing

Nearly all smartphones have default mail applications, which makes email more accessible and easier to use. Of course, this is something that marketing specialists would never ignore. There are dozens of email software to help you reach your target audience. To choose the best one for you, you can just do a quick email marketing software comparison. At the end of the day, most of them will benefit you one way or another. 

Mail subscriptions are pretty handy both for the customer and for the seller. It is easy to filter customers with groups and send them whatever marketing messages the companies need for their customers. 

Another alternative for email is SMS marketing, again, if you want to create a more personal connection with your customers. SMS marketing providers like SendSMS.Global can help you here to achieve what you want with their services. 

Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing is just what its term presumes. A mutually beneficial affiliation with a partner for a commission from each sale. One of the most common ways of affiliate marketing is having an agreement with a famous blogger to advertise a product in their blog. This refers back to the influencer marketing tactic as well. An example of this may be promo codes that users can use to get a discount for following the blogger.

Affiliate marketing is a commonly practiced promotional channel that works great. Just a simple google search can show hundreds of affiliate marketing companies that are worth cooperating with. Besides, there are many affiliate conferences that you can use to make new connections and productive cooperations. 

Final Thoughts

Getting to stand out among the competition is a critical task for any business. Indeed, there is almost no industry where competition is not a problem. One of the best ways to do so is being able to utilize the most practical tools to stand out in the pack.

Catégories: News dév web

Impact of Abuse Emails on your Business Reputation

Noupe.com - 26 mars, 2020 - 09:50

A typical day at work starts with a cup of your favourite beverage as you check your emails. You scan the emails quickly and notice many spam emails.

Your way to handle them is to delete them instantly, but some people take it a step further and mark them as spam. While marking emails as spam is a great tool for the recipients, from the sender’s perspective, it can have serious repercussions. 

According to Statista, the number of emails sent and received each day in 2020 is 306.4 and this number is likely to increase to 347.3 by 2023. 

This does more than just overcrowd inboxes; it becomes a source of constant stress. In an attempt to save time, people mark some emails as spam. This has a serious impact on your deliverability, which ultimately tarnishes your reputation.

Now that’s a conundrum! As a business, you have to send out emails to prospective clients to inform them of the services your business has to offer. You probably have an email template that you circulate in your prospective client pool for convenience. However, once your emails and newsletters are marked as spam, inbox providers are informed that your business isn’t following the best practices of email marketing.

If your emails keep landing in the spam folder, the inbox providers will take strict action against you. If it happens, all your hard work will prove to be in vain. Your emails will automatically land in the spam folder of the recipient or even worse, never reach the subscribers.

So what should be your next course of action?

There are two major strategies you can follow to ensure your meticulously designed HTML emails don’t land in the spam folder and your subscribers find your content valuable. Let’s take a look at the tried and tested methods that can ensure your words reach the recipients.  

Stop Email Abuse

As a sender, the first step is to figure out who the complainer is and the best course of action is to remove the abuse emails and complainers from your list. You’ll have to use an email validation tool, which will scan your contacts to help identify the abuse emails. When you use such a system, you gain the upper hand. The tool will help you identify the email addresses that have marked several emails as spam and will likely do the same to yours. 

Here’s an image explaining how the tool works. You just have to mention the email address in the box and the tool will let you know whether the subscriber is a valid user or has marked several emails as spam. 

In case the result shows the status as “abuse”, you should immediately remove the subscriber from your list.

The industry standard for the average complaint rate of a sender should be below 0.1 percent. If you don’t want to face the repercussions of being reported, it’s the safest bet to check your email list with a validator and remove the trouble seekers as soon as possible.

You must also use this opportunity to take a look at your email hygiene. The complaint rate gives you insight into the quality of your content, too. Pay heed to the feedback and use it to devise your next plan of action.

Take Preventive Measures

The previous section talked about damage control and how you can recover from it. Here, we are going to discuss some preventive measures so your business’s reputation doesn’t take a hit. The process takes time, so you’ll need to be patient. If you follow the steps carefully, you’ll be able to avoid being in this situation ever again.        

  • Purge your email list and make sure no invalid emails or non-responders escape the cleanup. Do this at regular intervals so that your reputation score can remain high.
  • When you go for an opt-in policy, you ask the recipients how they want to receive your emails and what content they expect from your business. It is a great idea to have a double opt-in method that urges your subscribers to confirm the email address before subscribing. Doing so ensures that the user is genuinely interested in hearing from you. 

Here’s a nice example of a double opt-in email that thanks the user for signing up and asks them to verify their email address. 

  • Refrain from purchasing an email list because it’ll set you down the wrong path and can completely ruin your sender reputation.
  • Keep an eye on your bounce rate. If you ever get a hard bounce, all you need to do is add the email to your suppression list. You can even get tools that can do the job automatically for you. 
  • Give up your aggressive marketing ways and the recipients will be kind to you. Take a moment to put yourself in the recipients’ shoes and focus on how you would expect a business to approach you. Take inspiration from this experience and instead of pushing your ideas across with a salesy pitch, try and convince the subscribers with meaningful content. 
  • Make it an exciting experience for the subscribers to read your emails, by incorporating visuals. However, make sure you maintain the text to image ratio at 80:20. Sending an image-only email is a strict no-no, when it comes to bypassing spam filters. 
  • Businesses make it hard for people to leave the subscription list, which is why they resort to marking the emails as spam. In order to avoid tarnishing your reputation, make sure it’s easy for the subscribers to opt-out whenever they want. The best approach is to include the unsubscribe link in every email.   
Conclusion

These strategies can help save the reputation of your business and also ensure you stay on good terms with the inbox provider. As long as you work to keep the average rate within the set standard, your business will do just fine. If you’re still having issues with your email abuse and its recurring implications, it’s best to get external help. An email marketing agency would have all the tools and resources that are required to validate the status of your emails.   

Catégories: News dév web

5 Tips for Marketing your First WordPress Product

Noupe.com - 26 mars, 2020 - 09:34

WordPress is one of the most widely used tools on the internet. Initially, when the open-source project started, WordPress was mostly used for blogs. It is free and open-source for content management.

WordPress is opened up to a huge audience because of its sturdy and strong plugin structure and the ability to virtually create any kind of theme you could imagine. WordPress now is so large that around 32 percent of websites are run by WordPress.

There are many different types of plugins and templates in WordPress and the most important thing is that it does not ask the user for prior authorization to make changes to the theme. One of the main features of WordPress is customization. That’s what makes all business owners make WordPress the perfect CMS For My Business. 

WordPress is preferred by many for creating a product based website. There are many ways by which you can market your first WordPress product. The following are the different ways of marketing your first WordPress product:

1. Offer premium and free versions

The users are always afraid to buy new products. They have the fear of the unknown and are sceptical about the features and usability of the new product. Offering free trials is one of the best ways to market your new product. If you are selling a service or software, giving a free or trial version of your product is a great way to give a huge number of customers a feel of your product. It usually happens that the purchased product does not match the specifications mentioned in it, that’s the reason customers don’t want to take risks with new products. 

Giving free trials acts as a gateway to attract your prospective customers to your website. Through the free trial, you can not only promote the premium version of your product but you can also advertise the upcoming software releases. 

Make sure that the free trial is at the forefront of your website so that it is the first thing in sight as the customers visit your website. This will ensure the maximum number of downloads of the free trial. The conversion rate from the free version to the premium version is very high. This strategy will help to increase the conversion rate to 90 percent. It is one of the best WordPress Development tools available!

2. Try split testing

Also known as A/B testing, it involves testing the product in different ways. The main goal is to conduct controlled experiments or tests. This is to improve a website’s metrics such as clicks, visits, form completion and purchases. It involves risk, but you will not achieve higher sales if you are not willing to take risks.

Split testing works by creating two different pages, advertisements or platforms where your product can be found. The main idea is to split the leads and demographic list on social media and let the advertisement work its way into their social media. Then with the help of google analytics or any other data monitoring software, you can track the results of your split test. The result will help you to understand which advertisement outperformed the other.

You will have to do multiple split tests throughout the year and select the advertisements that do well with the customer base. After completing a number of split tests, you will find an advertisement that’s the best and most popular amongst the customers.

3. Try to create connected products

While it is important for you to optimize your plugins so that they work in accordance with all themes, it will be beneficial if you also make a special theme that can complement the products you are selling. Your idea over here is to create a new product which also showcases all the additional functionalities that are not available anywhere online. 

To make this happen, you can also create WordPress plugins which are linked with one another. Take this for instance: you can easily attach a standalone plugin that you can download from the WordPress plugin directory. In fact, you can also use it as an add-on for that particular plugin.

Here’s an example you can follow:

The Profile Builder plugin will allow you to create several different user profiles and user registration protocols in a consistent and streamlined way. If you want to take this process a notch ahead, you can also incorporate the Client Portal – Private User Pages and Login plugin. This is an add-on portal for the Profile Builder, which allows the users to create private pages for all their website users.

4. Use SEO and link building techniques

Search engine optimization is the king when it comes to getting more traffic to your website. No matter what product or service you are offering, SEO is the best way to make your product visible to your customers. SEO is used to rank your website to the top of the various search engines. Well placed links and proper SEO can help you build a reputable and strong face in the market. 

The best way to develop your SEO is to identify your keywords with the help of tools like Google keyword planner. Once the keywords are ready, you can begin with developing and writing content which gives the customer information about your products and also includes the keywords. The best way to distinguish your product or service is to make customers aware and provide them information about how your product will make their life easier. Just talking about your product won’t help you, you also need to talk about how your product is different from the competition and what added benefits it is going to provide. 

Your website will get a better response if you are doing proper quality link building. Link building strategy plays a very important role. Link building is the process of getting your links to other websites which helps in getting more traffic. It does not mean that you link to any website, it is very important to link to reputed sources. This will eventually increase your domain authority and your reputation. 

5. You can advertise your products and your websites using the WordPress newsletter 

Although the online market has various different options to get this process started, we strongly recommend you to take a look at the wpMail.me. We are suggesting this because it is a free weekly newsletter. The best part about it is that since it is a weekly, it focuses on fresh WordPress news. It also mentions information on different WordPress-related blog posts that can be helpful. 

What’s particularly interesting about this option is that it allows the user to advertise their products on it as well. Not just this, as an entrepreneur, you also have the option to sponsor an entire edition. If you sponsor the entire edition, you will have more space in your newsletter to feature your products prominently to the audience. An add on is that you can also have a banner of your own.

This is a distinguished approach to take because other similar kinds of newsletters do not really allow this kind of promotion. You have the option to reach out to them via email. Then, you can ask if they are willing to feature your latest blog. You can also ask if they would like to feature your plugin or theme that you have recently launched.

The only thing you need to consider is that your newsletter should be relevant to your industry. This way you will ensure you both are targeting the same set of viewers.

Catégories: News dév web

Advantages of Big Data for Businesses in 2020 and Beyond

Noupe.com - 25 mars, 2020 - 13:24

Living in 2020, we can proudly say that we live in the age of information. Data is the ruler of the world right now, and those who can utilize it to the max will stay ahead of the competitors.

It is important for every company and organization, size doesn’t really matter here – everyone needs timely insights derived from the information to achieve their goals, that’s where Big Data comes into play. 

What is Big Data?

To put it simply, Big Data is the name of all processes, software, and tools that are accomplishing managing big sets of data. This idea was born out of necessity to understand patterns in the gigantic databases generated when customers interact with various systems and each other. Without a shadow of a doubt, Big Data is an important factor in creating new products, services, and experiences.

Why Big Data is important? 

This can be a defining advantage for new innovative companies to compete with the leaders of the market, who haven’t utilize it yet. The size of the business or even the industry doesn’t really matter, because everybody has some kind of information, and that means that valuable insights could be derived from it. 

Talking about the global revenue of the technology, the usage of Big Data is expected to generate 274.3 billion in 2022 worldwide, with the USA being the largest country on the market generating approximately the third of that sum. No wonder, because in the last few years more data was generated than in entire human history. In fact, every human right now is generating 1.7 megabytes of information in second. Can it be used for business advantage? Absolutely!

How does Big Data benefit a business?  Boosting revenue

Probably the most important reason to use Big Data for companies, as more than half of the organizations giving a chance to this technology solely for this, according to surveys. That’s because information by itself can transform into another income generator. Take a look at American Express, which takes over a quarter of credit card transactions in the United States of America, interacting with both businesses and their clients. Amex introduced the service for businesses that provide tools for online trend analysis and comparison among competitors. This functionality brings even more clients to the company, which results in the increased bottom line. 

Big Data can also help companies save money. Speaking of American Express – their fraud-detection technology helped to save billions of dollars on securing credit card transactions. According to surveys by NewVantage and Syncsort, Big Data Analytics helped almost 60% of respondent-companies to save money in various areas and cases. 

Better business decisions

It’s time to get rid of assumptions or feelings – Big Data provides facts you can take rely on, of course, if you have access to the information. Data must be accessible not only for BA’s and IT teams but for every business executive in the entire organization, so they can answer the most important questions fast. This approach with accessible information in the company is known as data democratization. Walmart is a great example of this strategy in action, providing their non-tech coworkers with the information-driven insights with a Walmart’s Data Café analytics hub. With this solution, employees can quickly identify mistakes in pricing and stock, as well as other issues. 

36.2% of companies, that had been interviewed by NewVantage, claimed that the sole reason they invest in Big Data Analytics is improved decision-making, while 59% of already confirm it to be successful.  

Improving customer experience

You constantly heard that Google knows everything about you, that’s what helps the company to show relevant ads that will target the right audience. It is possible thanks to a large amount of available information and the right analytics of it. This is a perfect example of technology in action. Another great case is a MagicBand at Disney’s theme parks. This device is a wrist band, used as an ID, keys and even devices for payment. They gather the information and help to personalize the experience, like personnel and Disney characters calling you and your family by the name

Smarter products and services

Being aware of the actions and habits of your customers will undoubtedly drive you to offer better services and products. Royal Bank of Scotland, shortly RBS, is a prime example of harnessing the knowledge about its client base to help them save time and money. The system is making sure that the client won’t pay for the insurance, for example, that was already included in other financial products, doing it in real-time and providing additional tips on every operation based on data. This approach may not seem like an instant income booster, however, it builds customer loyalty which will result in a great future for the organization in the long run. 

More precise business operations

For the manufacturing industry automation is far from a fresh concept, however with the rising popularity of Big Data is taking this concept to other industries as well. Chatbots are already in the full force in the Retail industry, and of course banking and Finance. Powered by real-time access to data, they could adjust their performance and provide better results. Leveraging Robotic Process Automation (RPA), routine and simple tasks could be easily delegated to machines, freeing up time for interesting and sophisticated tasks to human experts. Big Data-based automation will definitely improve the quality and pace of business operations, giving machines a chance to do things they can do better than humans. 

What exactly Big Data could bring to specific industries? 

Everybody from influencers to researchers agrees that big data is set to make a big impact in almost every industry, extracting even more value in the coming years. Let’s examine the best examples. 

Banking & Finance

Modern banking is driven by personalization, and 81% of executives surveyed by Oracle, believing that it’s possible to improve it by IT cloud development. Large banks and financial institutions are using Big Data for trade analytics, including sentiment measurement and Predictive Analytics. Personalization and improvements in internal processes lead to up to 18% of revenue increase for these industries annually!

Healthcare

According to McKinsey, Big Data can save up to 17% of Healthcare costs. Hospitals and healthcare services are already implementing technology in various ways across the globe. The University of Florida used free public health information and Google Maps to visualize the spread of chronic diseases. 

Manufacturing

While this industry is one of the leaders in automation it still has enormous volumes of unprocessed information that could be used for the improvement of product quality, savings on energy, and better revenue. One precious-metal manufacturer investigated sensor information using Big Data solution to identify what caused ore grade decline. It turned out to be an oxygen level, the manufacturer solved this issue and earn $10-20 million more each year. 

Retail

E-commerce traders, wholesalers and good old brick and mortar stores have one thing in common – an impressive amount of information that is being constantly collected. The retail industry could benefit using Big Data by optimizing staffing through information from shopping patterns, significantly reduce fraudulent transactions and provide accurate analysis of inventory. Adjusting social media marketing campaigns is another great way to implement it, which will boost customer loyalty and brand awareness. 

What you can achieve by combining Big Data and Machine Learning?

Machine Learning is one of the best technologies to get the most out of Big Data. ML, a subdivision of Artificial Intelligence, is a data analysis process which uses algorithms to iteratively learn from information and find insights without even being specifically programmed to do it. Here is what Big Data powered by Machine Learning could bring to companies: 

  • Simplified product marketing – ML could provide more accurate sales forecasts, based on the obtained information, predicting the demand based on past customer behavior.   
  • Simplified documentation – inaccuracy and duplication are the two biggest barriers for data automation, which could both be dealt with ML algorithms. 
  • Precise and secure financial models – ML can improve portfolio management, provide secure credit card transactions, loan underwriting and probably the most important for financial institutions – fraud detection. All anomalies could be detected fast and dealt with right on the spot. 
  • Predictive Maintenance – ML can offer cheaper and effective Predictive and Preventive Maintenance solutions for companies in the Manufacturing industry.

Of course, there are way more benefits than these, depending on a business case. SPD Group is a company with impressive Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning expertise that can provide you a consultation on specific advantages your business can get using ML and Big Data, as well as developing solutions for your company. 

Why Legacy Systems are the biggest bottleneck to Big Data implementation? 

That’s simple! Legacy Systems lack the functionality to connect all of your assets and implement necessary technological solutions to get the max out of your information. So, the first thing you should do to implement Big Data is to consider replacing your obsolete systems!

Conclusion

The future for Big Data for business looks very bright. As of right now 99,5% of collected information never gets used, meaning that we had only scratched the surface of what is yet to come, with the advancements in analytics. 

Catégories: News dév web

How to Boost Your SEO Using Query-based Keywords?

Noupe.com - 25 mars, 2020 - 09:37

Google receives 2 trillion searches per year. Out of these, 8% of searches are query/question-based, which roughly converts to a whopping 160 billion!

160 billion searches is a huge number and it can improve our SEO significantly. Optimizing your content with query-based keywords can help your website:

  • Boost organic rankings and traffic.
  • Reduce the bounce rate.
  • Improve engagement and conversions.
  • Acquire a featured snippet.

However, query-based keyword optimization requires impeccable execution and planning. In this post, you’ll learn EXACTLY how to do that.

What are query-based keywords?

Query-based keywords constitute a significant part of long-tail keywords that describe the exact search intent of the user. The types of keywords that are longer and conversational fall into the long-tail keyword category. However, if the keyword phrase ends with a question mark (?), then Google determines it as query-based keywords.

Apart from that, Google also considers specific search terms as query-based if they begin with words such as:

  • Who
  • Why
  • When
  • Where
  • Which
  • What
  • How

So, if you were to search for ‘how to make tea?’ on Google. Here’s what you’ll find:

This is called a featured snippet, and they mostly appear for long-tail keywords, which include query-based search terms as well. Plus, a study has shown that featured snippets receive more impressions and clicks than other organic results.

While using query-based keywords help with featured snippet optimization, there are several other ways to optimize your site for these SERP dominating results. You can learn about those ways and increase the chances of your website acquiring a featured snippet.

After learning about the basics, let’s discuss in detail about the types of query-based keywords and how to optimize for them.

What are the types of query-based keywords?

Every Google update aimed to improve the search quality and to provide the most relevant answer to the searcher. With each update, Google learned more about the user’s intent behind the search. 

Based on that data, Google answers several queries. Of which, some receive direct answers, some receive short answers (requiring little details), and the rest receive long answers (with comprehensive information).

Let’s discuss each query type separately, followed by how to optimize for them.

Type 1: Direct Answer Questions (DAQ)

Perform a search on Google using terms such as, ‘what’, ‘where’, ‘who’, ‘which’, ‘when’ etc. And you’ll notice that the search engine returns a direct answer.

When searched for What is the capital of Australia?’, Google returns a direct answer in a single word with a brief description.

For queries like Where is Australia?’, Google fetches data from Google Maps and provides you with the continent’s location.

If you want to learn about a particular person, for example: Who is the prime minister of Australia?’. Results such as these will appear with details fetched from sites like Wikipedia.

When it comes to learning about a particular day, Which day is Australia Day?’. The results are as such:

Similarly, if you search for When was Australia discovered?’. Here’s what you’ll get:

These are the different forms in which direct answers appear in the SERPs. Google analyzes several Q&A websites like Quora, AskReddit, etc. and authoritative sources like Wikipedia, CIA factbook, etc. to present you with the most accurate answers. Plus, the search engine understands your intent that you want a direct response. Therefore, it provides you with that only (with a little brief).

How to optimize for direct answer questions (DAQ)?

If you want your site to rank for direct answers, ensure that you follow these tricks:

  • Start by answering the question in the beginning. It would be better if you do so in the first sentence.
  • Follow a structure. First, write the question and then the answer. This will help Google in discovering your content. Also, connect the question with your answer. For example: 

Question: Who is the prime minister of Australia?

Answer: The prime minister of Australia is Scott Morrison.

  • After answering the question, dive deeper and provide more details on the subject.
  • Write detailed quality content with no plagiarism and a quality backlink profile.
Short Answer Questions (SAQ)

When you perform a Google search using terms such as why, can, will, etc. the results you receive are short answers. This is how they appear:

Why is inflation bad?’

Can inflation and recession occur together?’

Will inflation go up in 2020?’

Google provides you with the best available explanation to your query. Since these snippets resolve the question briefly, they are termed as short answer questions.

How to optimize for short answer questions (SAQ)?

To rank your website for short answers, you must structure your content in a Q&A format. Pick a topic, form a question, and answer it in a way that it establishes the need for another question. For example, look at how Resbank leads to ‘Why is Inflation bad?


Source: https://www.resbank.co.za/AboutUs/Documents/Why%20is%20Inflation%20Bad.pdf

It begins by answering what is inflation, then talks about how it is measured and finally addresses ‘why is inflation bad?’

Furthermore, remember to write comprehensive answers and explain complex concepts in a simple way for a better understanding. Use simpler language and write easy-to-read answers.

Long Answer Questions (LAQ)

The most prominent query that demands to be answered in detail starts with ‘how’. When you use the term how Google knows that you want every major and minor detail on the connected subject.

So, if you want to learn how to make tea, just head to Google and search for ‘how to make tea?’.

Generally, these are step-by-step guides that tell you EXACTLY how to proceed and do something.

How to optimize for long answer questions (LAQ)?

If you want your site to rank for long answer queries, follow these techniques to increase your chances substantially:

  • Create a YouTube video as well as content on a topic. For some ‘how-to’ terms, YouTube videos appear in the SERPs. For example, if you search for ‘how to roller skate?’ a YouTube video is ranked on Google.

In this scenario, you should create an article and a video and link them with each other. This way, Google will discover your content as well as the video, which can increase your chances of ranking for long answer queries. Also, optimize your YouTube videos to rank on Google for a higher success rate.

  • Dividing your content into steps and structuring it using appropriate heading tags gives you an upper hand.
  • Remember not to stray from the topic and maintain the relevancy of your content.
  • Break the monotony of textual information with helpful images related to the topic.
  • Focus more on quality than quantity. 
How to do query-based keyword research?

You can find numerous free keyword research tools online. Some of the popular query-based keyword research tools include:

You can perform Google searches for query-based keyword research as well. Search for a query on Google, like ‘What is inflation?’ and focus on three sections:

  • People also ask…
  • Searches related to…
  • Google Predictions
Conclusion

Optimizing for query-based keywords can improve your SEO, help you acquire the featured snippets, outrank your competitors, and dominate the top SERP rankings. Query-based keyword optimization makes your content a link magnet as well. However, you must not follow any blackhat SEO techniques and only focus on creating helpful, valuable, and accurate content for the audience.

Did I miss anything? Let me know in the comment section below.

Catégories: News dév web

Why Companies Need to Rethink Their Communication Strategy for Remote Teams – [Infographic]

Noupe.com - 25 mars, 2020 - 08:03

The conventional paradigms of workplaces are rapidly changing. New and new challenges have compelled organizations to build and extend infrastructure for remote working.

Remote working in times of turmoil is especially a win-win; employees can work from the comfort of their home and organizations can ensure that there’s no loss of business. In this infographic, you can walk through the changing dynamics of team communication in an organization and learn why it is important for companies to realign their strategy, especially for the remote teams.


[Inforgraphic] Why Companies Need to Rethink Their Communication Strategy for Remote Teams by Team Communication App
Catégories: News dév web

What Is Cloud Storage?

Noupe.com - 24 mars, 2020 - 11:43

It’s hard to run a business these days without hearing about cloud services. You can do your books in the cloud, find employees in the cloud, sell your services in the cloud, and store your files in the cloud.

Cloud storage has boomed over the last decade, and now almost three-quarters of all businesses either use cloud storage or plan to migrate to it soon. Cloud storage seems to be everywhere, but what is it?

With the popularity of cloud storage, it might shock you to learn that few people really understand what it means. Even more shocking, cloud storage was born as an accidental byproduct and not as some brilliant business idea somewhere in a Silicon Valley garage.

An unlikely start

To understand cloud storage, it’s important to know a little bit about what the internet is. Don’t worry, we’re not going to bore you with all the gory details — in fact, we promise that there won’t be a single flowchart or technical diagram in this piece.

The internet is just a lot of computers that are linked together. Many of these computers are personal devices — laptops, phones, desktops, even smart thermostats and the like. But many more of these computers are servers — devices in the background that store websites, control internet traffic, and power all of the cool apps that make life (and business) easier.

These servers were put in place by companies like Google, Microsoft, and Amazon while they were busy taking over the internet. But they found that they had more space than they needed. A lot more. Rather than let this unused capacity just sit, these companies decided to rent this space to customers and other companies very cheaply, giving birth to the cloud-storage industry.

Your files everywhere

Knowing how the cloud-storage industry started is interesting, but it still doesn’t tell us exactly what cloud storage is. For cloud-storage users, it might seem to be no different than the hard drive inside your computer. More advanced users might think it’s similar to a backup server you could use in your business for archived documents. Both of those are good ways to think about cloud storage, but they don’t tell the whole story.

The most important difference between cloud storage and a regular hard drive, or even a backup server, is how the files are stored. Instead of your documents residing on a single hard drive, your files are stored across a lot of different servers. The reason for this is simple: Companies with a lot of servers had a lot of extra space, but it was spread out in small blocks across thousands of computers.

Think about it like filing cabinets: If you have a thousand cabinets each with enough space for 10 pages, you have 10,000 pages worth of space, but you couldn’t stick a 10,000-page file into a single cabinet. You’d have to spread it out across all of your cabinets. That’s exactly what cloud-storage providers do.

One of the benefits of this approach is that it makes your files incredibly safe. If a single computer dies, you don’t lose your documents. Another benefit is the ability to access your documents from anywhere through the internet. This makes cloud storage incredibly powerful and useful for companies and individuals alike.

In this guide, we’ll help you navigate the complex world of cloud storage and figure out if cloud storage may be right for your business. We’ll give you a more in-depth explanation of how cloud storage works in Chapter 1, give you an overview of must-have cloud-storage features in Chapter 2, identify the different types of cloud storage in Chapter 3, teach you how to use cloud storage in Chapter 4, and guide you through the differences between personal and enterprise cloud storage in Chapters 5 and 6.

How does cloud storage work?

In the last section, we talked about how cloud storage came to be. In this section, we’ll go a little more in depth into how cloud storage works. We’ll also cover the benefits of cloud storage, some advantages compared to traditional storage options, and an overview of the biggest cloud-storage providers.

How cloud storage really works

We mentioned in the last section that cloud storage was born when large internet companies had more server space than they needed. We also talked a little bit about how the available space was broken down into small chunks rather than large blocks.

That’s all most people need to know about cloud storage to start using it for their business. For anyone who is curious about how the whole thing works, however, we’re going to explain it in greater detail here.

Imagine for a second that you have a large library in your home. It’s mostly full, but you have a couple of open spaces on multiple shelves. You want to add a new book, but there’s a problem — the book is too big to fit in any single available space.

For a personal library, the solution is pretty obvious: Just move some books over and rearrange things until one of the spots is big enough to hold the new book. For cloud storage, however, things aren’t as simple.

A lot of the “books” (the files already on servers managing important apps) can’t be easily moved. Sometimes important services rely on certain files to be in a certain place at a certain time. Other times, the files are simply too big to be rearranged. And moving important pieces of something like Google Search or Amazon Shop can cause problems for people using those services.

Long story short, rearranging is usually not an option. So how do cloud-storage providers find room for your files?

Since there’s not enough space on your imaginary bookshelves for a whole book, what you could do is break the book into pieces — maybe by chapter — and put each chapter on a shelf separately. This is exactly how cloud-storage providers find space for the file you’re trying to store.

To make finding these “chapters” easier, each file piece is labeled with the name of the file it belongs to. Finally, a record is created that points to where all of these chapters are stored so they can all be put back together when you need to access a file. Best of all, this is done completely in the background with absolutely no action required from users. For you and other businesses, cloud storage just seems to work like any other hard drive.

The benefits of cloud storage

Even though cloud storage seems to work like any other storage solution, it definitely has benefits that make it stand out from traditional options. These benefits can largely be broken down into three categories: ease of use, compliance, and archiving.

Ease of use

Ease of use is, not surprisingly, how easy a system is for everyday users. Ease of use can cover a couple different things. It can be very literal and only deal with how easy it is to use the interface. This definition answers the following questions:

  • Does this solution require a lot of training? 
  • Do things work the way you expect them to in this solution? 
  • Can someone sit down and figure out what they need to do just from looking at the interface?

Ease of use can also refer to a more high-level idea — how easy is it to fit the solution into your workflow? This definition answers these questions:

  • Does this solution make it easier to accomplish my tasks?
  • Is this solution faster/easier/more convenient than what I’m currently doing?
  • Will this solution require effort to implement, or will people want to use it?

Thankfully, cloud storage ticks off both of these boxes. The interfaces and integrations for most cloud-storage services are very simple and intuitive. Because these services are all very similar in what they offer, they all try to stand out from the crowd by making things as easy as possible. In many ways, they are almost easier to learn and use than the folders on a standard computer.

They also offer a lot of ease of use in your workflow. Being able to access your files from anywhere and on any device using only an internet connection means you can get more done quicker.

A lot of cloud-storage providers offer integrations with popular apps and programs to make working with them even easier. Most cloud-storage providers also make it easy to share files, allowing you to collaborate with people anywhere in the world with the click of a mouse.

Compliance

Compliance simply means following applicable laws and security best practices. You are, in short, compliant with all relevant rules. Compliance may seem like it only matters to highly regulated industries, like healthcare or finance, but it should be an important consideration for just about any business. That’s because being compliant helps keep your documents secure.

Lately, it may seem like there’s a new story every week about how a popular internet service was hacked and its user information exposed to thieves. Despite all of this seeming doom and gloom, you might be surprised to learn that there hasn’t been a single large hack on a cloud-storage provider. That kind of security is invaluable to individuals and businesses and makes a strong case for using cloud storage.

On the other side of the compliance definition, many popular cloud-storage platforms go out of their way to get certified for specific industries. There are cloud-storage providers that meet all requirements for many industries, from law to healthcare to finance, and have the certifications to prove it. Getting certified can be a lengthy and expensive process, so letting someone else do it on your behalf is a major selling point.

Archiving

When you archive a file, you don’t have to worry about its location or whether it will still be there in a month or a year or a decade. When we talk about archiving, what we’re really talking about is the safety and integrity of documents.

Archiving and data integrity are some of the biggest benefits of cloud storage. Cloud-storage providers do several things that traditional storage options can’t when it comes to the integrity of your files.

One obvious example is the fact that cloud-storage solutions store your files in a different location than the one where you’re located. This keeps your files safe from physical damage — things like fires, natural disasters, or electrical issues that might affect your home or office. This functionality makes cloud storage especially useful for people living in disaster-prone areas.

Another advantage is that files are kept on multiple computers, often with several backups of each file piece. Even if the cloud-storage provider has a catastrophic failure, your file is backed up across enough servers that your files are unlikely to suffer damage or get lost.

Advantages of cloud storage

If the benefits of cloud storage are ease of use, compliance, and archiving, how does cloud storage compare to other storage options? What are the pros and cons of cloud storage?

Ease of use

Local storage is obviously the easiest option for users to learn. Most people have used a computer and understand how files and folders work. Even networked storage has become relatively commonplace in offices, and most people have some idea of how the N: drive (or Z:, or F:, or whatever letter your IT department has settled on) works. Cloud storage can often be set up to work just like a local drive, drive letter and all, but takes a bit of work to set up.

Where cloud storage wins by a mile is the ease with which large files can be shared and the ability to access files from anywhere on any device. Local storage is only available from the computer it’s attached to.

Network storage can be set up for outside access, but getting to it is much harder than just typing in a web address. And opening up the network to the outside reveals potentially huge security holes. Also, you can’t really share files with anyone outside of your organization.

Compliance

Network and local storage can be compliant, but you have to bear the cost and complexity of setting up these systems to be compliant. Likewise with security, it’s possible to make your local or network storage very secure, but it’s up to you to do so.

If you use cloud storage, on the other hand, compliance and security are the responsibility of the cloud-storage provider. If you’re using a well-known, reputable provider, this should be no problem. For smaller or lesser-known providers, you may need to do some research to make sure they’re certified and able to meet your needs.

One con for cloud storage is that bigger companies make bigger targets than smaller companies, so there is some chance of your data being caught up in a large attack on the provider. However, there haven’t been any records of an attack like this happening yet.

Archiving

Local storage is limited by the size of your hard drive. If you want to store more files, you have to remove your old hard drive and install a new one — a potentially complicated procedure. For cloud storage, all you have to do is buy more space. In fact, most providers will automatically increase your available space so you never run out.

Cloud storage also has the advantage of redundancy and an off-site location. As we mentioned earlier, if something happens to your office or home, your files may be lost. Even network storage is limited to being in a single place and only existing as one copy. Cloud storage creates multiple copies of your files and stores them across multiple computers in different locations, so even natural disasters don’t affect your documents.

Overview of cloud-storage providers

It would be impossible to list every single cloud-storage provider available, especially the niche ones that cater to specific industries. Instead, this section will briefly cover some of the biggest and most well-known cloud-storage providers.

  • Google Drive. Google started providing storage not too long after they started providing email. Since their start, they have added additional services like a cloud office suite and business services. Best of all, they offer free cloud storage (with limited space) on personal accounts.
  • DropboxOne of the most well-known and popular services, Dropbox was an early web 2.0 success story and technology darling. They also offer an incredibly simple-to-use and very popular service.
  • Amazon Drive. Even though Amazon is one of the best known companies in the world, few people are familiar with their cloud-storage offering, Amazon Drive. Some storage is available free with Prime membership.
  • Box. Box has been around for a very long time, and has changed their services to fit the latest technology and customer needs. They are well regarded, and free trials of their services are often bundled with new laptops.
  • OneDrive. The cloud-storage offering from Microsoft comes packaged with Windows 10 and seamlessly integrates with most Microsoft programs like Office. Its ease of use and integration makes it ideal for Office-heavy use cases.
  • Apple iCloud. Like OneDrive, Apple provides cloud storage that is seamlessly built into all of their apps. In fact, if you use an iPhone or other Apple mobile device, chances are you’re already using iCloud.

Now that you know what cloud storage is and the benefits it offers, it’s time to start looking for a cloud-storage provider. In the next section, we’ll review what you should look for in a cloud-service provider and how to pick the best one for your business or personal needs.

Must-have cloud-storage features

There are hundreds of cloud-storage providers, ranging from massive world-famous companies to small niche providers that only work with certain industries. With so many choices, it can be difficult to pick a cloud-storage provider that’s right for you. In this section, we’ll look at the features cloud-service providers offer and help you navigate the jargon to find what you really need.

In previous sections, we broke down the benefits of cloud storage into three categories: ease of use, compliance, and archiving. To make things easier, we’ll continue using these categories and group features into one of them. So what are the must-have features of cloud storage?

Ease of use

Ease of use covers things like how easy it is to use the cloud-storage provider and how easy it is to integrate the cloud-storage provider into your workflow. It also covers how easy it is to get to your files.

Interface

It seems like it should go without saying that a good cloud-storage provider should have an easy-to-use interface. Unfortunately, some companies still use designs that are difficult to use and make finding and storing your files more cumbersome than it has to be.

Desktop integrations

One of the biggest ease-of-use features a cloud-storage service may provide is a desktop integration. This allows you to store files in the cloud the same way you would store a file on your computer, using the same folder structure you currently use.

File sharing

One of the biggest benefits of cloud storage is the ability to easily share your files. You should make sure that whatever cloud-storage provider you choose can share files both with people who use that provider and with guests or people outside of your plan. Additionally, some cloud-storage providers set limits on the size of the files that can be shared, so you should verify that your large documents won’t get stuck.

Web access

Does the cloud-storage provider allow you to access your files from any device through a web connection? Do you have to install specialized software? Does the service only function on a  supported connection? Being able to get to your documents with just a browser will make a cloud-storage provider a lot more useful and easier to use.

Bandwidth

Bandwidth refers to the amount of information you can send to or receive from a cloud-storage provider, and how much of that information can be sent at once. Most cloud-storage providers don’t have data transfer limits, but it’s still important to check. It’s just as important to check that the provider will be able to handle all of your transfer needs without significant slowdown.

Compliance

As you may recall, compliance is how well a cloud-storage provider handles applicable laws, regulations, and best practices. This covers things like being HIPAA compliant if you handle patient information, for example. It also covers security features, validations, and certifications.

Regulatory compliance

Working in a regulated industry like healthcare, law, or finance means that the systems you use typically have to meet or exceed some legal standards. Regulatory compliance ensures that you aren’t opening yourself up to liability by storing your files in the cloud.

Different industries have different compliance needs, so it’s important to make sure that the cloud-service provider you’re looking at has the compliance features you need. This may be easier for some industries than others. For example, most modern cloud-service providers meet basic compliance requirements for the medical industry.

Smaller, more niche industries will have to either turn to specialized providers that have the cloud-storage features they need or do a little more homework on the features offered by large providers. It’s also important to note that most cloud-storage providers will offer compliance certification only on their paid business plans.

Security

Security can be a very broad category of cloud-service features, so we’ll try to break it down as much as possible. There are two main components to security: user account security and data security. Both are equally important to keeping your documents safe. Secure cloud storage is critical, so don’t hesitate to take some extra time to evaluate these features.

User account security

User account security deals with the security of how you interact with the cloud-storage provider. Secure cloud-storage providers will make sure that

  • Your password is long and complex enough to be secure, often requiring special characters, lower- and uppercase letters, and numerals
  • All of their pages are encrypted with the latest standard and transmitted over “https” rather than “http,” including the pages you visit before you sign in
  • User account information is securely stored in an encrypted format
  • User account information isn’t shared with anyone, especially anyone outside of the cloud-storage provider

Data security

Data security deals with the security of how your files are stored and who has access to them. A secure cloud-storage provider should ensure that

  • You have the ability to set permissions and access levels for anyone who has access to your storage space, so you can control who has access to what files
  • All pages are properly encrypted using the latest SSL/TLS protocol, and all pages are served over “https,” not “http”
  • Your private files aren’t accessible by employees or other third parties, whether affiliated with the cloud-storage provider or not
  • Files are shared securely, and file sharing doesn’t allow either the shared file or other files to be accessed by anyone except the people you give permission. This includes things like making sure that shared files don’t have to be made public to be shared with people outside of your account.
Archiving

Cloud-storage archiving features focus on the ability to safely store all of your documents in the cloud for a long time. The biggest features to look for are cloud-storage capacity and cloud-storage redundancy.

Capacity

Cloud-storage capacity simply means how much space is available to store documents. The good news is that this is much less of a concern than it once was. Storage space has gotten incredibly cheap, and most cloud-storage providers offer a lot of it for free.

Dropbox, for example, offers two gigabytes for free. Microsoft OneDrive offers five gigabytes. Google Drive does even better with 15 free gigabytes. For most users, space is rarely an issue.

For those who need more cloud-storage capacity, however, most cloud-storage providers offer significantly more storage capacity with their paid plans. In most cases, increasing capacity is seamless, and you can do it on the fly as you fill up your existing storage.

Backup and restore

Some cloud-storage providers offer backup and restore features, allowing you to access an earlier version of a file. This is particularly useful if you edit your cloud files often. Sometimes a mistake can be easily undone by simply restoring a file to an earlier point. Most cloud-storage providers offer some restore and backup features, but the length of time ranges from a few hours to a month or more.

Redundancy and uptime

The last cloud-storage features you should check are redundancy and uptime. Redundancy covers how well the cloud-storage provider copies your files to make sure you always have access to your documents.

Most cloud-storage providers will make backups of your files across multiple servers in different locations, ensuring that they’re always safe and accessible even if one server is damaged or goes offline.

Uptime is a measure of how available your file is. Most cloud-storage providers don’t make any promises of uptime for their free plans, but business plans typically offer 99.9 percent uptime in their service level agreements (SLA). That means that your cloud storage will be available 99.9 percent of the time. To put it another way, your files will be unavailable for no more than 43 minutes per month.

Knowing which features are important to you and your business can help you narrow down your search for a cloud-service provider. Most providers will be very similar but will offer enough differences to either move them up the list or rule them out. Knowing the different types of cloud storage available can help narrow down that list even further, and that’s the next section of our guide.

Types of cloud storage

When we explained how cloud storage works in Chapter 1, we gave a very high-level overview that glossed over an important fact: There are different types of cloud storage, and they don’t all act exactly the same.

Don’t worry; if you aren’t interested in the nitty-gritty details about how cloud storage works or the types of cloud storage, our original explanation is good enough. But if you’re considering more advanced use of cloud storage, then the different types of cloud storage become important.

There are three main types of cloud storage, and they all function a little differently. This makes some cloud-storage types better for some applications than others. 

  • Cloud object storage stores your data as objects composed of a unique identifier, the data itself, and metadata, or data that describes the object. The data is unstructured and has a flat hierarchy.
  • Cloud file storage stores your data as files inside a standard file structure. This type of storage is the most similar in appearance to the way personal computers store files, and it’s often found on networked file servers.
  • Cloud block storage keeps files in specific places on the storage server in small chunks, or blocks. This is most similar in operation to a traditional computer hard drive, and is often considered identical to direct-attached storage (DAS) systems.
Cloud object storage

Cloud object storage is the most modern of the three types of cloud storage, and in general offers the most benefits. Instead of building a structured file system, object file storage makes all files the same. Each object that’s uploaded is assigned a unique file ID and is made up of three parts — the file ID, the data itself, and some metadata about the file.

The file ID is simply a way for the cloud object storage system to keep track of every file. The IDs are stored in a directory in a centralized location (or, more often, in several directories for redundancy) for easy file location.

The data stored in the object is whatever data you actually upload. This could be a document, a movie, a picture, or some other information. Because cloud object storage is unstructured, it can easily store any kind of data without any modifications.

Finally, the metadata is a set of labels or descriptions of the data being stored. Typically, this will include things like the name of the file, the type of file or file extension, and often the date the file was uploaded. The metadata is also unstructured, so there are almost no limits to what it can contain. Many cloud object storage providers use metadata to keep track of who uploaded a file, when it was accessed and by whom, the version of the file, and more.

Files in cloud object storage are stored in a flat hierarchy. This means that there is no real “file structure” the way there is on your hard drive — there are no folders or levels of files. Every file in a cloud object storage system is on the same level. This seems like it would make finding files difficult. However, thanks to a combination of the file ID, the file directory, and the file metadata, clever cloud-storage providers can actually build the appearance of a hierarchy without having to rely on a prebuilt system. This in turn makes it easy to customize user interfaces.

The big advantage of cloud object storage is the freedom that it offers both users and developers. Objects can be stored on any server, in any format, containing any kind of data. This makes it very easy to build systems that can scale — grow to be as big as or shrink to be as small as users need them to be. They are also incredibly robust, because it’s easy to duplicate and back up files. Most modern consumer cloud-storage solutions use cloud object storage.

The biggest disadvantage is that because the files are unstructured and scattered, it can take longer to find them and retrieve them. It also requires more work to organize files since they aren’t organized by default.

Cloud file storage

Cloud file storage is most similar in use to a standard personal computer hard drive. In fact, many cloud file storage systems have been in use since long before people started using the term “cloud.”

Most workplace file servers are built on the same technology as cloud file storage. Often, this type of cloud storage is referred to as network attached storage, because it is in essence just a storage device attached to your computer via network instead of plugged in inside your computer.

Cloud file storage is hierarchical and structured. That means files are stored in a predetermined file structure, with a specified set of descriptors. Just like files on your computer, files in this type of cloud-storage system have a file name, file size, file type, and other labels.

Unlike cloud object storage, this version of metadata is limited to whatever fields were programmed in from the beginning. Cloud file storage users and developers can’t add metadata unless it fits one of the predetermined fields.

Cloud file storage also typically has a very basic operating system or interface incorporated into it to allow it to operate as an independent file system without relying on users’ computers to provide an interface.

Besides being used for document and file storage, cloud file storage is often used in another common application: web pages. Because the files exist in a specific structure, it’s easytofind and reach them through a standard browser. This makes cloud storage invaluable for storing web pages, which are just special files written in HTML and accessed through web browsers.

The advantages of a cloud file storage system are ease of use and integration. Often, once a server is attached to a network, it’s immediately ready to use. It also looks familiar to many users.

The structured nature of the storage makes it useful for applications where specific files need to be accessed using a file address through a web browser. This makes it ideal for web pages, content management systems, and similar applications.

The biggest disadvantage is that it combines the flaws of cloud object storage with some unique problems. It isn’t the fastest way to access files stored in the cloud and therefore isn’t suitable for applications that require a lot of speed.

It’s also a lot more rigid than an object-based cloud-storage system, making it difficult to modify, customize, and extend. And finally, it’s a lot less flexible and robust because the files typically have to be located on the same server or server cluster to work well.

Cloud block storage

Cloud block storage is actually the most similar in the way it works to a traditional hard drive. In fact, a “block” in a cloud block system is little more than a virtual hard drive with a set size. These blocks are considered “raw” storage space because they don’t have any kind of interface or even a rudimentary operating system and rely entirely on users’ computers to provide a human-to-machine interface.

In cloud block storage, data is broken down into sequential blocks of equal size and stored in a set order. If a specific file is larger than the predetermined block, it might be split across multiple blocks. Alternatively, the block sizes might need to be adjusted to fit files, depending on the setup used. Sometimes this adjustment can be made automatically, but sometimes it must be made manually.

In addition, each block acts as its own hard drive that has to be “attached” to a user’s system independently. This creates some limitations — for example, in a cloud-block storage system, multiple users can’t use the same block at the same time.

This can also create problems if you’re trying to access files on different blocks at the same time, since you’ll have to attach one block, get the files you need, unattach it, and attach a second block (or multiple blocks as multiple drives simultaneously), etc. Since these blocks are formatted as traditional file systems with no interface, they may not work with all computers if they use a file system your computer can’t read.

Where cloud block storage shines is in the speed that it can deliver to users. Because each block is essentially an independent hard drive that is “mounted,” or attached, just like a regular hard drive, reading and writing files is much faster than the other two types of cloud-storage systems.

This benefit makes it incredibly useful for applications where reading and writing large data sets is important. Cloud block storage is often implemented in large enterprise database systems, in which the system knows where certain kinds of data is located.

Some of the biggest disadvantages include the lack of sharing resources and multiple access, as mentioned earlier. Another big disadvantage for smaller businesses is the inefficient use of space. Since all of the blocks have to be the same size, some blocks may be almost full while others may be mostly empty. And since resizing the blocks can be difficult, companies might need to purchase more space than they need today in anticipation of future use.

Each type of cloud-storage system has advantages and disadvantages, and none works for every kind of business. Selecting the right kind of system, for advanced users, requires understanding how it’s going to be used and matching the advantages of the system to those needs.

Hopefully you now have the tools you need to evaluate cloud-storage providers. In the next section, we’ll put some of this theory into practice by explaining how to use cloud storage, and we’ll move closer to helping you identify the best cloud-storage provider for your business.

How to use cloud storage

There are probably as many different ways to use cloud storage as there are people using cloud storage. Still, most of the basic use cases fall into a couple of major categories:

  • Cloud file sharing 
  • Cloud hosting
  • Cloud backup
  • Cloud data storage 
  • Cloud photo storage

In this section, we’ll dig a little deeper into these categories and show you how to use cloud storage for your business or personal needs. 

How is cloud storage used for file hosting?

One of the most common ways to use cloud storage is for sharing large files with friends, clients, and coworkers. Cloud file sharing was one of the main reasons cloud storage managed to grow so quickly in popularity.

For security reasons, many email clients severely limit the size of attachments that users can send. So even though inboxes keep growing, the size of files you can transfer has stayed consistently small, limiting users’ ability to quickly distribute important documents — whether they be large sales presentations or home movies of your nephew’s first birthday.

Cloud file sharing became a way to work around these limits. With a cloud file sharing solution, instead of trying to send a too-large file, users could upload the file and then simply send a link. As common as cloud file sharing is now, it’s hard to understand just how revolutionary the ability to easily send large files was even a decade ago.

Cloud file sharing has a lot of advantages going for it. It’s incredibly simple to use, both for sharers and the people they’re sharing with. It’s much faster than mailing flash drives or other traditional ways of sending large files. Cloud file sharing also offers the ability to restrict who you share files with or to share them with anyone who wants access and has a link to your file.

Of special note to businesses in regulated industries, many cloud file sharing services offer compliance options to help track and manage who has access to a shared file, as well as any changes they may have made to that file. These kinds of audit trails and privacy controls are essential for companies working in health care, law, and several other fields.

How is cloud storage used for file hosting?

File hosting can mean different things depending on the specific business need being addressed. The simplest form is using a cloud hosting server to make files available from any location to a select group of people. However, cloud hosting can also be used to host public files and even whole websites.

Cloud file hosting gives companies the ability to store many kinds of files on a server that’s accessible through the internet. Along with the ability to share files, cloud file hosting gives businesses a way for multiple employees in remote locations to access the same pool of documents and work together collaboratively. It also allows team members who are traveling to access document repositories, which is especially useful for sales teams that have a lot of materials or other employees who are on the road a lot.

For more advanced users, cloud file hosting can be used to host publicly available files. This can mean hosting your entire website in the cloud or just the files you need to share outside of your company, like marketing collateral or public presentations.

How is cloud storage used for photo hosting?

Speaking of marketing collateral, this is a good time to talk about cloud photo storage. Most people with a cell phone are already familiar with cloud photo storage. iCloud and Google Photos are two of the most common cloud photo storage options and come baked into almost every modern cell phone.

These consumer-grade cloud photo hosting options help users free up storage on their phones and make their photos available to friends and family members. Companies can also take advantage of these technologies to share photos and other media with employees, clients, and prospective clients.

Of course, using cloud photo storage for business requires more sophisticated tools than consumer-grade software like iCloud or Google Photos. Fortunately, all of the business-grade cloud-storage tools we mentioned earlier can easily handle photo storage.

It’s also important to remember that photo cloud storage doesn’t have to end with photos ? it can include any media. Photos, movies, audio, and the like can be stored in the cloud. Cloud storage can give your business a powerful platform to share, distribute, or simply store all of your media files.

How is cloud storage used for data storage?

It’s possible to store more than photos, movies, and work files in the cloud. Many companies find that they generate a lot of data in the typical course of operations. From customer databases to manufacturing data to account files ? this data can also be stored in the cloud. In fact, moving databases to the cloud is one of the most popular business uses of the technology among more tech-savvy users.

The advantages of moving data to the cloud are similar to the advantages of using cloud storage for more traditional files. The biggest ones are safety, redundancy, and access. Data stored in the cloud can be backed up multiple times automatically and can be backed up to multiple servers so that an outage in one place doesn’t interrupt your business.

Cloud data storage also allows you to access and work with your data from anywhere, often simultaneously from multiple locations. Moving business data to the cloud allows you to decentralize your company’s work.

Instead of requiring information to be stored on the same server, it can be safely located in a large server offsite while multiple machines use it from anywhere on earth. As work becomes increasingly remote, this ability to spread your work globally is incredibly powerful.

How is cloud storage used for backup?

Finally, cloud storage is a great option for storage and backup of your files and data. Companies like Carbonite, Backblaze, and iDrive allow you to easily create automatic backups of your files to the cloud. This, in turn, leaves you far less vulnerable to data loss and outages.

Data security researchers have a saying: “If your file doesn’t exist in three places, it doesn’t exist.” That might be a bit of an overstatement, but it has more than a grain of truth. It’s incredibly easy to lose data.

Almost everyone has experienced some form of data loss at one point or another ? maybe a laptop hard drive crashed, or they damaged their phone beyond repair. Businesses have suffered similar problems, including flooding, fires, and other disasters.

Cloud storage gives you a way to back up data to a second location. Better yet, many cloud backup services let you back up your data to multiple locations, spreading it out for increased security.

You can also store multiple backups, which gives you options of where to revert in a worst-case scenario. This is becoming important as a way to protect your company against increasingly common attacks from hackers, especially “cryptolocker” style attacks that hijack your data and hold it hostage until you pay a ransom ? something that recently happened to a city in Florida. Had the city made use of offsite backups, they could have simply reverted their systems to an earlier backup point.

Cloud storage offers a tremendous number of possibilities and use cases. The ability to safely and securely store your files on a remote server gives companies and individuals freedom like never before.

However, with so much power comes responsibility: Cloud-storage users need to make sure that the solution they choose is right for their specific application. This can include checking for features, as we mentioned earlier. It can also mean verifying that whatever solution you pick has been validated and certified as compliant with the laws that govern your industry.

In the next two chapters, we’ll help you identify the best solutions both for your personal use and for enterprise use.

What is personal cloud storage?

One option for cloud storage we’ve briefly mentioned is personal cloud storage. This might sound like cloud storage for individuals rather than businesses, and some people do refer to individual cloud-storage solutions as “personal,” but that isn’t what we mean here.

Instead, personal cloud storage refers to running and maintaining your own local cloud-storage server. In addition to “personal cloud storage,” this kind of configuration is also sometimes referred to as home or private cloud storage.

Besides purchasing space from a large-scale, public cloud-storage provider, some companies choose to run their own cloud-storage servers so they can keep full control over their information. Running your own personal cloud keeps everything inside your organization, giving you many of the benefits of a traditional public cloud while avoiding some of the concerns.

Personal cloud storage usually takes the form of a hard drive or hard drives with a server built in, though it can also be software that you set up on your own server hardware.

Getting started with personal cloud storage requires connecting the device to your network and setting it up to function the way you want it to. This could be as simple as plugging in a box and setting a password or as complicated as doing intense configuration for both hardware and software, depending on your needs and your provider.

Like a traditional cloud-storage provider, personal cloud storage allows you to store and share files over the internet. Unlike a traditional cloud-storage solution, personal cloud storage doesn’t upload your files to servers controlled by a third party. Home cloud storage has a few major advantages:

  • The personal cloud-storage service doesn’t store your files on public servers. You maintain full control of how and where your files are stored. They aren’t placed on servers outside your control.
  • The personal cloud-storage service gives you full control. You get to decide where the server is located, who has physical and network access to it, how it’s configured, and what kind of server is used.

Of course, no solution is perfect, and personal cloud storage is no exception — otherwise there would be no reason for companies to use the public cloud. There are a couple of potential pitfalls that companies need to be aware of before jumping into managing their own home cloud-storage network:

  • The personal cloud-storage service isn’t really the cloud. Unlike traditional/public cloud storage, home cloud storage doesn’t move your files to an external server.
  • The personal cloud-storage service doesn’t have the same redundancy. Instead of storing your files across multiple redundant servers, they are instead stored in one single location, removing some of the security of a public cloud.
  • The personal cloud-storage service isn’t responsible for certification and validation. You are responsible for making sure that your personal cloud storage meets all the certifications your business requires.
  • The personal cloud-storage service can open you up to network vulnerabilities. Being able to access your personal cloud-storage solution from anywhere opens up your network to the world. Unfortunately, it can be tricky to make sure only authorized users can walk through that door.

For businesses that need more control over their files, a personal cloud-storage device can be the perfect solution. It puts a lot of responsibility on the shoulders of users, but it also offers those users a tremendous amount of control.

Common personal cloud-storage devices

Personal cloud-storage devices have been around for many years now, and the industry is mature enough that it’s difficult to find truly bad options. However, some companies and devices stand head and shoulders above the pack. These are our recommendations for the best devices for personal cloud storage in 2019.

  • QNAP TS-451. The QNAP TS-451 is one of the more complicated offerings on the market, but it also includes a lot of configuration options. It has four front-mounted hard drive bays, meaning it can store up to 48 Terabytes (TB) of data — more than most midsize offices will ever need, and the drives can be swapped out quickly and easily for backup or to upgrade the system.

 It also comes with options for upgrading the amount of RAM (random access memory) used, from 1 Gigabyte (GB) all the way up to 8 GB if you need more powerful hardware. The system starts at about $400 but doesn’t include hard drives.

  • Synology DS1618+. The Synology DS218+ is a more powerful storage solution that features six hard drive bays for up to 72 TB of data. Like the QNAP system, they can be swapped out for backup or for upgrades. It also comes with a suite of helpful apps, data-protection options, and the ability to easily stream media. As for RAM, it comes with 4 GB but is expandable up to 32 GB. 

The system starts at around $750, but there are both less and more powerful models available depending on your needs and budget. For example, the DS2415+ variant provides 12 hard drive bays for up to 144 TB of storage, for around $1,400.

  • WD My Cloud EX4. The WD My Cloud EX4, as its name suggests, includes four swappable hard drive bays for up to 8, 12, or 16 TB of data storage. Like most WD (Western Design) products, the hardware and software are user-friendly, easy to plug and play, and come with several convenient options. For example, this model features two power ports in the back, which protects you if one plug is pulled out accidentally. 

There are also USB 3.0 ports and two Ethernet ports for extra storage capacity and protection against disconnections. The model without internal hard drive storage goes for about $400.

  • WD My Cloud PR4100. The WD DL4100 comes with four swappable hard drive bays for up to 8, 16, and 24 TB of data storage. There’s also the standard model without built-in hard drives. What makes this device stand out is its ease of use, small form factor, portability, and a web-based dashboard where you can customize permissions, set users, enable sharing, and manage backups. 

Like the other WD device on this list, it provides multiple power and Ethernet ports so you can ensure redundancy. You can also set up text and SMS alerts in case there any system failures. The version without any hard drives starts at $450.

  • Buffalo LinkStation LS220D. The Buffalo LinkStation LS220D is a cloud-storage solution with two hard drive bays. By far the most affordable device on this list, it comes in 2, 4, and 8 TB configurations for about $180, $250, and $350 respectively. There is also a version without hard drives for around $100. 

As you can imagine, this is a no-frills device. But it’s easy to set up, simple to manage via desktop and mobile apps, and offers speedy file backups and transfers over the internet, which is really the main point of devices like this. If you need a simple, inexpensive cloud-storage device, consider this one.

Enterprise cloud storage solutions

There are virtually no companies that couldn’t benefit from some form of cloud storage. Whether you need to store data securely offsite, share files over the internet, or transfer data between multiple servers, there’s a business cloud-storage use case that fits just about any situation.

One important business cloud-storage advantage we haven’t discussed yet is the ability to extend functionality with apps, plugins, and integrations. As versatile as business cloud storage is out of the box, many companies get even more out of it by connecting it to third-party services that allow them to improve their workflows and do more with less.

Business cloud-storage integrations

Cloud-storage integrations are apps that work together with your enterprise cloud-storage solution to do more than just store, share, and archive files. Integrations come in many flavors. Some are built by cloud-storage providers themselves, while others are third-party apps. Some work with all major cloud-storage providers, while others may work only with a single specific service. Some are extensions for your browser, some are desktop apps, and some live in the cloud themselves.

The range of functionality offered by integrations is equally broad. Some allow data to be automatically backed up or shared, while others can notify you of file changes, automatically email file shortcuts, or even change file names dynamically to better fit a naming structure. In short, whatever you need, there’s a good chance someone has thought of it and built a business cloud-storage integration to accomplish it. Some of our favorite business cloud-storage integrations include the following.

JotForm

We built JotForm to be one of the best cloud-storage integrations out there. Using JotForm’s cloud integrations, business owners can quickly and easily build forms into their cloud workflow. You can seamlessly send data to any number of cloud-storage providers, and our compliance certification means that you can do so without violating HIPAA or disclosing protected health information (PHI) and personally identifiable information (PII).

Zapier

Zapier is a workflow automation tool that helps companies connect different apps, services, and integrations. For example, if someone fills out a JotForm intake form that’s uploaded to your company’s Google Drive, Zapier can parse the results, add the information to your company’s CRM, and send notification emails to the right member of your sales team based on one of the fields, such as region or industry.

Slack

Slack has become the quintessential business messaging platform. If you aren’t familiar with it, Slack allows you to keep in contact with your team by setting up chat rooms for individual teams, projects, functions, and whatever else you can imagine. It also allows you to share and manage files directly from a chat interface.

Integrating Slack with cloud storage gives you a quick way to update project teams and share task-related documents. For some cloud-storage providers, it also allows you to manage permissions and access, track changes, and monitor and notify users of updates.

Asana

Asana is a project management tool for people who don’t like project management. It allows you to create tracked tasks in the form of a to-do list, then combine those lists into projects. Because of its lightweight design, it makes managing projects much simpler than using a more robust tool. It also allows you to link cloud-storage files to specific projects and tasks, giving you the ability to easily manage who does what with which document.

These integrations are just a small sample of the hundreds of apps available for use with enterprise cloud-storage solutions. It’s no exaggeration to say that there’s probably a business cloud-storage integration available to fit any need you can come up with. Most large, well-known cloud-storage providers have integrations with dozens of apps and tools, and most well-known integrations tend to work with almost all business cloud-storage providers.

All of this leaves us with just one question, and it’s a big one: Which cloud-storage solution is right for your business? We can’t answer that question for you, but hopefully we’ve given you the tools you need to decide for yourself.

Not all cloud-storage providers are right for every business, so we’ve provided a couple of suggestions below. They’re broken down into small business cloud providers and enterprise cloud providers. While most well-known providers will work for either application, some are easier to use for large companies and others for small ones. Combined with everything you’ve learned so far, this should get you well on your way to selecting and using a business cloud-storage provider that’s perfect for you.

Small business cloud-storage providers Dropbox Business

For small to midsize businesses, Dropbox Business should be an adequate file-storage solution. It’s easy to use, provides unlimited storage space (with some plans), and offers a plethora of options, including unlimited file recovery and versioning, the ability to set user files and permissions, password-protected links for sharing, and integrations with multiple third-party apps like Microsoft Office 365. It starts at $15 per month.

Google Drive for Work

Besides file storage, Google Drive works extremely well as a platform for collaborating with coworkers on documents and other important files. It allows users to edit, comment, and make suggestions in the same document, makes backups and keeps histories of different versions of files, and send email notifications when documents are changed. It also lets users edit documents offline and upload them to the cloud.

For business users, Google Drive provides unlimited storage space, and it integrates well with other Google products and services, such as Calendar, Gmail, and Google Hangouts. It starts at $12 per user per month. 

Microsoft OneDrive for Business

Like Google Drive for Work, Microsoft OneDrive for Business offers a collaboration platform where coworkers can comment, edit, and work together on the same documents — and some plans provide unlimited storage space.

If you already use Microsoft products, like Word, integration is incredibly easy thanks to built-in features that allow you to upload files to your OneDrive account. It even lets you access files from your Xbox. OneDrive for Business starts at $5 per user per month.

Enterprise cloud-storage solutions Box

Box provides many essential features for enterprise companies, including the ability to set users and permissions, project management tools, and workflow automation. Most notable, however, are its security and compliance bonafides, which should cover many industry regulations.

Box offers 256-bit AES encryption, which means files will be very difficult to crack. And it meets numerous regulatory requirements, including ISO 27001 and ISO 27018; plus it’s HIPAA compliant. Box starts at $15 per user per month for business customers.

Egnyte

Egnyte offers similar options as Box, including 256-bit AES encryption for files in transit and at rest, and ISO 27001 and HIPAA compliance. It also provides a key management service, which means business owners have greater control over who gets access to their data.

Egnyte has numerous third-party integrations with apps like Microsoft Office 365, Salesforce, and Slack. Egnyte starts at $20 per user per month for business customers. 

Amazon S3

Like Box and Egnyte, Amazon’s cloud-storage solution provides top-of-the-line encryption and meets ISO 27001 and HIPAA-compliance standards. Interestingly, you can choose where in the world your files are stored in Amazon’s Web Services (AWS) cloud, which is great in case you need to meet (or avoid) region-specific regulations.

You also get integrations with multiple third-party apps. However, due to its high degree of flexibility, Amazon S3 can be very confusing to use unless you have skilled IT professionals on board to set up and manage day-to-day operations. The pricing structure is also confusing — there’s a pricing calculator, but S3 is free to start so you can decide whether it’s right for your business or not.

Business cloud storage is a mature field, with a lot of fantastic options for any kind of business and any kind of need. In fact, as long as you choose a well-known and well-established provider, it’s hard to make a bad decision. If you’ve followed this guide all the way through, you should know how to select the right provider. Remember to look for the right kind of cloud storage, the right compliance and validation, and the right integrations.

After that, the best option is to try out a few business cloud-storage providers and see which ones you and your team prefer. Remember that the best system in the world doesn’t help much if no one likes using it! And if you find yourself stuck, look back through our cloud-storage guide to find inspiration for making the best selection.

Catégories: News dév web

Bad Logos: 31 Worst Logos Ever

Noupe.com - 23 mars, 2020 - 10:10

We can all use a good laugh these days, that’s why we prepared you a list of what not to do while designing a logo while working from home. Hopefully, these logos will put a smile on your faces.

Bad logos might be quite bad for your brand. Your logo is what the people remember you with after all.

There are many different ways you can go with your logo. you have probably identified a business by looking at its logo before, even if their name isn’t on the logo. There are some business logos that when you see them, you can immediately guess what that company does. 

Your logo is a huge part of your brand’s identity, it’s probably the first impact on public perception and having a bad logo design could affect your business. World’s multinational companies can spend millions of dollars on their logos – like UK-based oil group BP. They’ve spent £136m back in 2000 when they introduced their current sunflower design.

You probably have come across people posting a logo design job for incredibly low prices on freelancing websites or graphic design communities, and yes, there are people who will design your logo for those prices. It shouldn’t be too much of a shock to those people when they end up with bad logos. 

Okay, we understand that there are people who don’t have enough budget, and they are just starting out. You want to get the most out of your business, and logos play an important role, especially if you are just starting and trying to get your name out there. Before having your logo designed, it’s important to learn about the dos and don’t of logo design so you know more about what you are getting into.

Anyway, without further ado, let’s see the worst logos.

Top 31 Bad Logos Locum

A Swedish property management company. You do you, Locum, no judgment here.

Bing

Typography masters at work, we see you Bing.

Megaflicks

This logo is self-explanatory. At least they know what’s up.

Mont-Sat

Your satellite will be working extra smooth in the mornings.

NYC Taxi

NYC is known as the cultural hub of the world, and it has a great design and art community. NYC Taxi is not.

A Style

We’ve never seen the “A” like this before. Freudians might have things to say to these guys.

MSN

Look, mom! There is a butterfly!

Arlington Pediatric Center

It doesn’t give the most trustable vibes for sure.

Kraft Foods

No comment.

Kudawara Pharmacy

What kind of an operation are you running here, sir? Sir?

2012 London Olympics Logo

You might remember the Lisa Simpson memes, can’t be unseen.

The Computer Doctors

They specialize in cooling systems, with their exclusive thermal paste.

Comprehensive Health Care

Isn’t that Channing Tatum posting up right before the dance-off?

The Bureau of Health Promotion, Taiwan

You gotta do what you gotta do to promote, I guess.

Catwear

Something is up with the “A”. We’re starting to see a pattern. 

Enron

This is a design by the legendary Paul Rand. Even though we like most of his work, we’re not sure about this one.

Dough Boys

They are definitely all about that dough, boy.

Kids Exchange

The importance of using space. Not the kind of “change” we are looking for, thank you.

Catholic Church’s Archdiocesan Youth Commission

No comment on this one…

Brazilian Institute of Oriental Studies

Uhm, sure oriental studies and the struggle for “power”.

Clinica Dental

They say how important it is to take care of your teeth. After your teeth are done, you’ll be taking.

Office of Government Commerce

Commerce is getting hard day by day folks.

Cleveland Browns

This is one of the creative ones, a football helmet for a football team. God, what’s next, just a football as a logo?

Hilton

That alignment though.

SafePlace

You’ll always be safe.

Pepsi

This can not be unseen either. Must. stop. drinking.

HASC Center

I’ll show you mine if you show me yours.

Kostelecké Uzeniny Sausages

This one seems like it’s straight out of a 80’s flick.

Vermont Maple Syrup

Canadians love their maple syrup. We didn’t know it was in their system though.

Fully Erect Tents

Your tent won’t ever go flaccid.

Mama’s Baking

That mama is definitely baking something!

So these are the 31 bad logos we’ve got. Now you probably fully understand the importance of logo design and how a bad logo design might affect your business now you’ve seen the worst logos.

Let us know about the other bad logos you’ve seen out there!

Cover image: Background vector created by rawpixel.com – www.freepik.com

Catégories: News dév web

How to Manage Customer Feedback on Social Media

Noupe.com - 23 mars, 2020 - 08:03

People expect brands to match their level of engagement on social media.

Though managing feedback on social media is a challenge, businesses should approach this as a brand-building opportunity.

Every interaction on social media helps you differentiate your company from competitors. Each success, in turn, can be leveraged to further bolster your company’s social presence.

When engaging with customers on social media, companies must:

  • Acknowledge comments promptly
  • Respond to negative feedback
  • Provide excellent customer service 
  • Humanize their brand

This article discusses how social media management, when approached as PR, helps businesses grow their brand and audience at once.

Acknowledge Feedback Promptly

When people speak out about your company online, they expect brands to respond.

For businesses, this means if someone leaves you a review on Google or a comment on Facebook, acknowledge and respond to their concerns.  

Responding directly to customer feedback demonstrates empathy: It validates their experience shows customers that you care. This helps to reinforce brand loyalty and reduces any feelings of anger or frustration.

Thus, listening to your audience can help develop customer relationships by defusing any ill-will before it gets out of hand.

Respond Substantively to Constructive Feedback

People want brands to be honest and genuine, and this includes how they react to negative comments.

Customers would view a brand more positively if it responded to negative comments on social media.

When responding to negative comments, the goal is to acknowledge the person’s concerns. A proactive response to a negative comment signals your company’s willingness to fix the problem. 

People often just want to be heard, and a personalized response can be enough to defuse the negativity and prevent any further action.

By contrast, criticism that goes unanswered can be perceived as valid and gain traction in the community as a result.

Research shows that people perceive your interactions with other customers to reflect how you’d treat them. 

For best results, your brand must be honest, quick, and thorough in handling criticism on social media.

Use Social Media to Strengthen  Customer Service

People expect to resolve many of their customer service needs on social media. 

As web-based communications become the norm for consumers, social media has eased the process of receiving customer service from a company.

Businesses may find it easier to provide customer service on social media, but they’re also being held to a higher standard. 

It’s no secret that unhappy customers are very vocal about receiving poor customer service, especially on social media.

What’s more, when they do use social media to express feedback, they generally expect businesses to both comment and resolve their issue usually within a day.

With every inconsistency or shortcoming on record, service teams must be unfailingly pleasant and diligent when they address the needs of customers. 

The potential benefit of customer service on social media, though, is that positive feedback can be just as visible as negative feedback. 

If your business receives a positive service experience, make sure to encourage customers to leave a positive review.

Generating and then leveraging good feedback helps you sustain the image of a trustworthy company that values its customers.

Humanize Your Brand

Despite the challenges of upkeep, every interaction on social media is an opportunity to improve your brand.

Businesses must use social media as a PR tool that can make their company more relatable. Doing so can increase brand visibility, brand equity, and sparks community engagement.

This means using a fun, friendly tone in your communications and perhaps emojis. It also means generating meaningful customer interactions that create goodwill for your company. 

For example, you could share a glowing testimonial left by a customer in need. Or, as S.D. Strong Distilling did, you can share a run-in you had with a customer wearing your brand’s t-shirt at the airport.

When a company gets excited about meeting a fan, it reminds onlookers that a company is actually a group of people who like to connect with one another.

Managing Customer Feedback on Social Media

Social media is integral to peoples’ lives, meaning companies must take a PR-driven approach to community engagement. 

Respect your audience by responding to their every comment, and promptly. Remember that companies that respond well to criticism are viewed as more trustworthy. 

People want to like their favorite brands, so humanize your company with genuine communications and authentic displays of caring.

Catégories: News dév web

The Advantages & Challenges of Conversational User Interfaces

Noupe.com - 20 mars, 2020 - 08:42

Conversational User Interfaces aren’t a new concept. It has widely gained acceptance over the past few years and more and more websites are willing to have conversational user interfaces on their websites. We’re finally at a point where everyone can use it irrespective of their skill level. In this article, we throw light on the advantages and challenges of conversational user interfaces. 

For a long time, we’ve visualized interfaces in the form of buttons, lists, drop-down lists, etc. But now we have entered a future composed of not just visual interfaces but conversational interfaces as well. Microsoft has reported that every week, three thousand bots are created using their bot framework

A well-known advancement enabling conversational user interfaces is Natural Language Processing, a branch of artificial intelligence that deals with analyzing, understanding and generating the languages that humans use naturally to interface with computers in both written and spoken form using human languages.

Have a look at the below video where Google assistant calls a Salon (in the background) to book an appointment for Lisa.

There’s a business side to design and there’s a psychological one. CUIs incorporate both of these. Some well-known examples of conversational interfaces include chatbots and voice assistants. In order for CUIs to be effective, you must follow best practices and core principles involving creating conversational experiences that feel natural and frictionless.

Let’s dive deep into the advantages and challenges of conversational user interfaces. 

Advantages of Conversational User Interfaces Easy To Learn & Use

It is easy for users to learn how to interact with conversational interfaces. The various chat apps and voice assistants have paved the way for the adoption of conversational user interfaces. You can just speak to a device and you will get the information you require.

Non-Procedural Approach Saves Time

The human language is non-procedural. While speaking or chatting, users can provide all the necessary information in one go which is not the case with graphical user interfaces where we have sequential steps. Conversational UI allows users to provide all information in one go thereby saving time. Here’s a sample non-procedural query to a voice assistant – Find flights from San Francisco to Berlin on Tuesday or Thursday next week.

Enable Multitasking

Voice interfaces really excel at hands-free and multitasking situations where the use of our hands is not optimal or simply not possible. With voice user interfaces, one can multitask without significant context switching reducing the risk of accidents. For example, you can be driving and still talking to your voice assistant.

Better Engagement With End-Users 

By asking the right questions at appropriate times, we can significantly have better engagement with the users. Live chat applications maximize website conversions. Conversational interfaces are smart, and they help in keeping the customers engaged for prolonged periods. Better engagement results in more leads which eventually leads to higher revenue for the brands. Hence, using conversational interfaces not only increases the revenue of the company but also improves the engagement with its users. Interactive voice systems are a more natural means of interaction than visual interfaces as it removes a visible interface replacing it with voice.

Cross-Platform Integration & Compatibility

Conversational interfaces allow companies to extend their services to platforms where their customers are: on Facebook Messenger, Slack, Telegram, Skype, and WhatsApp. Users can interact with the same service across various devices: TVs, set-top boxes, virtual assistants, phones, tablets, desktop computers, cars, and even watches. Any platform that supports conversational user interfaces can be integrated with the same chatbot – an extremely cost-effective way for businesses to have a multi-channel presence.

You can use Dialogflow’s cross-platform functionality to seamlessly integrate your conversational interface on leading platforms such as Amazon Alexa, Microsoft Azure’s framework for Crotona or Skype, and more.

Source – https://i.ibb.co/vZ4n63J/1-nu7rkp-D-dsms-Wnl2-Hie-LJg.png Tailor-Made Personalized Experiences

Conversational interfaces have the ability to take the customer through the exact journey they are looking for. The progress in natural language processing and machine learning has made it possible to provide tailor-made personalized experiences to users via conversational interfaces in order to establish a deeper personal connection. 

Now, we can have targeted questions with clear call-to-action for every interaction making the end-user experience more personalized. We can now deliver the same content or ask the same question to two different users in different ways based on their preferences like gender, tone, accent, and pace. Conversational interfaces can also leverage customer contexts like previous live chat transcripts, purchasing history, and recommended products or services for personalized experiences.

Superior Frictionless User Experience

Everybody knows the importance of user experience these days which largely depends on the interface between the user and the service or product. Traditional user interfaces present many elements like side panels, buttons, and menus – which usually turns the focus away from what they are looking for. Conversational Interfaces make the human-computer interaction more efficient thereby providing users with a superior experience. Having interfaces that don’t require their end-users to spend valuable time learning it creates an effortless and frictionless experience for them. 

With voice user interfaces, users don’t need to install multiple apps or create separate accounts for services they use. Why download an app for booking a flight or ordering food when a single chat or voice interface can do it? 

Conversational interfaces can be useful for multi-step complex operations. For example: returning a product or claiming a refund. In such cases, the system will collect all required information and create appropriate requests with less friction via a simple conversation.

Challenges Involving Conversational User Interfaces

Conversational UI is fairly new. Here are a few challenges involving conversational user interfaces that prevent it from reaching its full potential

High Expectation from Users

Users expect a lot from chatbots and voice assistants. Users expect conversational interfaces to exactly know what they want, the solutions to their problems, and more. Some even want them to be their companion and sort out their life problems. According to the Uncanny Valley theory, the more the conversation sounds human, the more unrealistic user expectations may become. 

We must understand that a conversational interface is still a bot (at the end of the day). The companies must explicitly state that their bot is what it is – and not a human. The companies should also mention that their bot may not have answers to all user queries and if that’s the case – the user must interact with their customer support. 

Low Discoverability & Understanding of System Scope

According to Don Norman’s “How to design everyday things”, discoverability and understanding are the two basic characteristics of good design. If a web page has 3 buttons, it probably means that it can do 3 things and you probably know what those are. Chatbots lack both these characteristics. Users are not sure about the capabilities of the chatbot. This leads to the users having unrealistic expectations from the chatbots. Chatbots must try to overcome this challenge by literally telling users what their capabilities are.

Inefficient For Complex Processes

According to research by Nielson Norman Group, chatbots and voice assistants work well only for limited and simple queries having fairly simple and short answers. CUIs only work well when the users know what to ask and how. When the user needs to compare multiple options (consider the case of flight or hotel booking), using CUIs does not really help. Designing complex processes in a conversation format makes them inefficient and frustrating for the users. Buttons, menus, etc now appear in chatbots making them fully-fledged apps.

Technology Is Expensive

While natural language processing and machine learning have been around the corner for some time now, the technology is still expensive and is yet to become fully “human-proof”. According to a solutions engineer from Salesforce – one needs to consider 50k$-100k$ to build an NLP-based voice assistant along with training the system for 3-6 months with human agents which incurs additional costs.

Machine Learning Model Training

Machine learning is not required for every conversational interface but if you want to provide personalized experiences, it is essential to set the right patterns. The bot must be trained to recognize the input and deliver relevant output. Moreover, the bot must adapt to a particular user profile to increase the personalization and relevancy of outputs. In order to overcome this challenge, time and effort are required but once you have passed that stage – it’s all good.

Configuring The NLP

In order for the bot to not show “Sorry, I didn’t understand that” response, there should be a coherent system that processes inputs. It includes cleaning up of the input (removal of punctuation and stop words, and word tokenization), word stemming, and a decision-making component that integrates with outside services to commit requested actions. 

Non-Implicit Contextual Conversations

Conversational interfaces do not have a mind of their own. CUIs need implicit context in order to process your requests. Users directly need to mention the tasks that need to be done. If you tell your travel agent that your birthday is on the 15th of next month, they will implicitly understand that vacation needs to be booked & they will come up with their research. Even though you didn’t explicitly ask your travel agent to plan and book the vacation, they implicitly understood.

Security & Privacy

Are chatbots and voice assistants really secure? Is your privacy at risk? Do you know that the various chatbot and voice-bot platforms are owned by the leading corporates and all our data and information are their assets? These big corporations “listen to us” outside of the web/app environment. In one particular case, Amazon’s Alexa recorded a private conversation and sent it to a random contact. Such cases really hamper the trust between the users and CUIs.

Third-Party Integrations

No doubt that CUIs support cross-platform integration and are compatible with multiple devices, the challenge is to integrate with third-party services like the ones used for integrating with the companies’ customer data. 

Conclusion

We briefly touched upon conversational user interfaces, their advantages, and the challenges involving them. CUIs are easy to learn and use, enable multitasking, follow a non-procedural approach to save time, facilitate better engagement with end-users, provide tailor-made personalized frictionless experiences. 

On the other hand, CUIs have low discoverability and understanding of system scope, the technology is expensive and inefficient for complex processes, users expect a lot from chatbots and voice assistants, requires a lot of time and effort for creating personalized experiences, need implicit context to process your request, difficult to integrate with third-party services, and there are concerns over security and user privacy.

Catégories: News dév web

Technology in the Classroom

Noupe.com - 19 mars, 2020 - 13:47

If you’re a teacher, you’ve likely heard about all the ways technology can support you in the classroom. Whether it’s tablets and smart boards or the internet and social media, technology influences the modern classroom in too many ways to count. But most teachers don’t get a manual that shows them how to effectively use and implement this kind of technology in the classroom.

This guide will help you understand how technology can empower you and your students. We’ll explore how digital tools can help teachers and students succeed, and how you can use that tech in a safe, professional way. Learning how technology is shaping the world of learning will help you see how it fits into your specific needs and your goals as an educator.

This guide will cover

  • The benefits of technology in the classroom. Learn how technology improves tasks like attendance-taking and standards-based lesson planning while preparing students for the future.
  • How to use technology in the classroom. Discover the power of devices for more engaging, interactive lessons for students of all ages.
  • Technology grants. How to find, apply for, and obtain grants for using technology in the classroom.
  • Assistive technology in the classroom. See how technology can expand access to learning for special-needs students.
  • Using technology for differentiated instruction. Leverage classroom data to create personalized learning experiences for each student.
  • The pros and cons of classroom technology. What are the main arguments against using classroom tech, and what benefits outweigh these challenges?
  • The current state of classroom technology. Find out how technology has shaped contemporary education — and where we’re headed.

Technology can be overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. We’ll show you how to get started with the right tools for you and your students.

Benefits of technology in the classroom

There are a multitude of tools, devices, and apps specifically designed to help teachers do what they do best. Most teachers who use technology in the classroom will agree: It makes their lives easier.

Unsurprisingly, one of the fastest-growing education trends is the increasing use of laptops, tablets, and other mobile devices for learning, says Steelcase. Smartphones in particular are becoming an increasingly common tool in the classroom, and more students expect to have essential information available on mobile.

6 ways classroom technology helps teachers

It’s clear that both teachers and students are taking advantage of all that technology has to offer. But how exactly can technology support teachers?

Automating everyday tasks. One of the greatest benefits of using technology in the classroom is that it saves time.

A number of apps are designed to help teachers take attendance so the task doesn’t take time out of their day. Students can mark their names on a tablet when they enter the door, even if the teacher is busy preparing for class.

Other tasks can be eliminated completely: Photocopying and stapling is no longer necessary when students can access their assignments online.

Simplified grading. Grading is a breeze with online tools that instantly interpret test answers on a mass scale. Many apps give teachers status reports so they can gain a bird’s-eye view of each student’s progress. These reports also pinpoint areas of improvement, allowing teachers to identify learning struggles earlier in the year. In addition to making grading easier for teachers, technology helps students get the help and attention they need.

Online lesson planning and storage. The internet is full of inspiration and ideas from other teachers. Instead of creating a new lesson plan from scratch every day, teachers can repurpose and reuse great ideas from other educators.

Storing and sharing lessons in the cloud lets teachers access lessons anytime, from anywhere. Digital lesson planning also allows teachers to quickly access and apply their own lessons from past years — no filing cabinets required.

Fast feedback and workflows. Teachers can use Google Drive and other cloud applications for faster editing and grading. When students submit their work online, teachers can easily access it without having to juggle papers. This creates a more meaningful revision workflow between teachers and students because teachers can see exactly what students changed. The cloud enables students to collaborate with each other on assignments and projects too.

Meeting state standards. More lesson planning tools are equipped with Common Core standards, making it easier to check all the boxes for standardized tests. Teachers can also find lesson plan ideas and templates that meet specific standards for grades and states on the internet and in lesson planning apps.

School safety. An unexpected benefit of classroom technology is school safety. Teachers and administrators have the power to lock all school doors and send emergency announcements at the click of a button.

Teachers can also use automated email and text alerts to communicate with a large number of parents in an instant. And information about weather delays and school closings can be sent out quickly and efficiently with technology.

Preparing children for the future

There’s no denying that we’re moving toward a technology-driven society. Knowing how to use technology — everything from digital menus to self-driving cars — prepares students for the future. Technology skills learned early can support the growth of students both in their careers and personal lives.

Career preparedness. Internet skills are essential for success in higher education. College students will have to use a variety of apps beyond word processing. They’ll also use tablets and share digital information. Students can explore potential careers online and through career workshops. Finding inspirational professionals on social media can help students network and connect with mentors.

Digital citizenship. Learning to present yourself on the internet is an increasingly important skill. When students grasp digital citizenship at an early age, they’re more likely to present themselves accurately and safely. This increases students’ professional opportunities because it ensures they won’t be dismissed outright as a result of inappropriate online content.

Another part of digital citizenship is learning how to stay safe by using tools like password managers and multifactor authentication, plus learning to identify scams.

Life skills. Searching for jobs, writing cover letters, and sending emails are all crucial skills for twenty-first century success. Students who know how to express themselves well online are much better equipped for a competitive job market. Learning to create a basic website or implement a social media strategy also makes students more desirable candidates in a competitive job market.

Supporting collaboration and connection

Technology enables students to connect with people in the classroom and around the globe. Learning how to use digital tools to collaborate on projects prepares students for nearly any career.

Connecting to students in other parts of the world fosters cultural learning and teaches students how to work with people who are different from them. While the internet can sometimes be an ugly place full of hate, it offers an immense sense of community and support when used wisely.

Classroom websites. Students of any age can benefit from classroom websites. They often foster connections between students and create a place for them to collaborate on group projects.

They also benefit students by creating a shared sense of belonging and community. Websites, which are usually filled with student work, classroom updates, and assignments, mimic what it’s like to be part of an online forum or group. Students can gain experience designing and editing the site as well as uploading files to the site.

Global citizens. Technology connects students to other classrooms in different countries across the globe. Learning how other students live promotes cultural understanding and reduces fear of those who are different. It also helps students develop interests in travel, other cultures, and different career paths.

Historical context. Theinternet connects students to archives from around the world. Students can learn about their world through images, videos, and text archives. The internet can also illuminate the past: Accessing historical archives makes history lessons more relevant and tangible.

How do you actually use technology in the classroom?

Whether it’s gamification, online quizzes, or group collaboration, there are a near-infinite number of ways to use technology in the classroom.

The most effective educational technology applications use digital tools to meet specific learning objectives. Here are some of the most common ways teachers can enhance everyday lessons through strategies and lesson plans involving technology.

Passive vs active learning

Technology can be used for two different types of learning: active and passive. Both are important, so let’s explore how technology plays a role in each.

Active learning. Active learning engages the student through activities and discussions that reinforce concepts, says Classcraft. The benefit of active learning is that it helps students draw connections to real life. In turn, this gives them a better understanding of their place in the world and facilitates important skills such as analysis, evaluation, and collaboration.

Active learning may also improve student attention while fostering meaningful discussions and divergent learning, in which there is more than one correct answer to a question. Many educators think of active learning as activities and lessons that don’t involve digital tools. However, online games and tools that foster real-time collaboration can facilitate active learning.

Passive learning. With passive learning, students are responsible for absorbing and retaining information at their own pace. Passive learning fosters skills such as reading, analyzing, listening, and writing.

This method primarily relies on convergent learning, meaning there’s a single answer to the question at hand. Traditional tests and quizzes evaluate students’ understanding of concepts learned through passive methods.

Passive learning lessons give teachers a stronger grasp of how class time is spent and what’s learned each day. They also offer a standardized presentation of learning material, which some students may benefit from. Reading something on a tablet, viewing an educational video, or watching an online lesson are all ways that technology can facilitate passive learning.

Gamification

One of the greatest benefits of technology in the classroom is that it can be used to foster fun, engaging learning through games. Games use the processes that students already know from video and computer games to create fun lessons that promote active learning. Almost any lesson can be turned into a game.

Points and badges. There are myriad classroom apps that allow students to earn points or badges instead of grades. In fact, points can be accumulated throughout a unit to determine a grade once the project or lesson is finished. Badges can symbolize different levels of mastery and can include small rewards or titles, like “reading rockstar” or “algebra expert,” to help students feel proud of their accomplishments.

Progress visualization. Instructional video games or gamified lesson plans can also help students visualize their progress. As they earn points with every success, students can begin to clearly see the roadmap toward a long-term learning goal. This may make them more excited about working hard and staying focused. Seeing other students’ roadmaps promotes healthy competition and creates a culture of collaboration, community, and respect.

Instant feedback

Online tools facilitate a meaningful exchange between students and teachers. When students can easily see teacher feedback, they internalize changes privately and safely. Teachers can use feedback from students to shape a learning program that’s optimized for the specific needs of their class. This is possible through the use of the following:

The cloud. Cloud-based tools allow educators to view student work, and make comments and suggestions for improvement, from anywhere. Students can see these edits instantly and make quick changes to their work. This is helpful both for individual and group work.

Online polls and quizzes. The use of online polls and quizzes ensures that students gain instant feedback on their work. Teachers can also poll students on specific aspects of a lesson to gauge how well they understood it. Digital quizzes provide teachers with analytics so they can identify areas where multiple students are struggling.

Distance learning. Even if you teach in a traditional classroom environment, you may still benefit from the ability to record and share lessons with students. If you have a snow day, for example, a recorded lesson can keep students from falling behind in the curriculum. A student who has to miss school due to a medical or family emergency can also stay up to date through such recordings.

Flipped learning. Digital tools give teachers the opportunity to test a flipped classroom model, which can optimize class time to answer questions and facilitate discussion. As certified educator Elizabeth Trach points out, a flipped classroom allows students to explore new concepts in their own way, at their own pace, which provides more differentiation in learning.

Integrating technology in the classroom

Choosing the right technology for your classroom can be overwhelming. But as we mentioned before, getting clear on your learning objectives can help you determine which tools will be best.

Device-to-student ratios. Not all schools have the luxury of a one-to-one device ratio in the classroom. If you can’t offer a device to each student, how can you use them strategically so that each student has an equal chance to learn from them?

One idea is to use devices to offset high teacher-to-student ratios, says Emily Levitt, vice president of education at Sylvan Learning. In environments where there are many more students than teachers, digital tools help provide personalized instruction for every student. Personalized digital applications can ensure that, while teachers are meeting privately with other students, the rest of the class is using devices to work on their specific areas of improvement.

If you do have a one-to-one device ratio in your school, it’s still important to consider how devices will support learning. Having access to technology doesn’t mean devices should be used in every single lesson. In fact, being strategic about device use makes technology more effective.

Setting healthy boundaries. Whether you have one device in your classroom or 100, you’ll need to set healthy boundaries around use. Technology should only be used when it can enhance learning and make lessons more engaging and effective.

You may choose to use technology only in the morning, for example. Or you may have one day a week where technology isn’t a basis for any lesson plan. Regardless of technology’s prevalence in our daily lives, educators should strive to strike a balance between manual and digital activities.

Technology for different age groups

Technology is used differently in the classroom depending on what grade you’re teaching. For example, elementary school teachers tend to use technology to keep students engaged in and excited about what they’re learning. In contrast, middle-school or high-school students may use technology as a means of connecting to the outside world and learning career skills.

Technology in the elementary classroom. Tablets are a great way to provide each elementary student with equal access to learning material. If a student is falling behind, the teacher can quickly see who is struggling and what the problem is.

Elementary teachers also use technology to give young students more ownership over their learning. Gamification, for example, often allows students to make an avatar for themselves and control how they collaborate and participate.

Many teachers also use technology to involve parents and families in the learning process. Teachers can provide parents with access to project reports, grades, and classroom calendars to demonstrate what students are learning — and what they may need to work on at home.

Technology in the middle-school and high-school classroom. As with elementary students, middle and high schoolers benefit from the engaging nature of technology. However, more advanced learners may also profit from using tech tools to digitally collaborate with other students.

Digital study guides and test prep quizzes can help students prepare for standardized tests. Online databases allow students to explore history and find primary sources for research projects. This can facilitate discussion about how to find reputable sources online, which also ties into important conversations about how to keep data safe and private.

Moreover, middle- and high-school students benefit from the real-world exchanges offered by the internet. Whether communicating with a classroom abroad or watching video clips from another country, devices connect today’s students to new people and places to foster cultural exchange and understanding.

Grants for technology in the classroom

Budget constraints are one of the main obstacles preventing teachers from implementing technology in their classrooms. Whether it’s switching to a smartboard or buying some Chromebooks, even small device adoptions can feel unattainable without proper funding.

This is problematic because learning how to use technology is essential for student success. Being unable to access the right hardware and software can limit a student’s personal, academic, and professional growth.

Fortunately, there are many grants available. Local, state, federal, and nonprofit grants can all help teachers acquire educational devices and pursue technology-driven projects. Here’s what you need to know about finding and applying for grants that can improve access to technology and promote learning equity for students of all backgrounds.

What do you need an educational technology grant for?

Educational technology grants can fund the purchase of specific hardware and software needed to fulfill a learning objective. Grants are often given to schools or teachers pursuing a certain initiative, such as improving device equity in a low-income school or teaching STEM skills.

Grants can be applied to small-scale projects that further a certain unit or lesson in a classroom. They can also be on a larger scale, advancing technology access across an entire school or district. If you feel that technology would give your students more opportunities to learn, chances are you could benefit from a grant. The next step is understanding where such funding could be applied and how it could make a difference for your class.

Evaluate technology access at your school. Before you make any major requests or send any applications, it’s important to assess the technology currently available at your school. Consider resources like computer labs, personal student devices, and internet access.

What educational technology is already furthering learning at your school? Where are there opportunities to expand access? Give grant donors a clear picture of what the students at your school are working with. This will make it easier to for you to articulate how their funds can complement existing resources.

Clarify your project. It’s important to have a clear focus when applying for a grant. This makes the impact of technology access more measurable over time. When you know what goal the technology is meant to help achieve, you can better quantify the impacts of those devices.

Getting clear on your goal early can also make the application process easier. Most grant applications will ask for details about how you’ll use the technology. The more specific you can be, the more likely a grant will be awarded.

Many donors, especially those in the private sector, will also want to see how their funding made an impact. Keep tabs on student growth before, during, and after the grant money was applied. When you can clearly articulate how the grant advanced student learning, you boost the chances of your classroom or school receiving a grant again in the future.

Applying for classroom technology grants

When writing a grant proposal, it’s best to keep your options open to numerous funding sources. Your list of potential resources should span both public and private donors. Each of the entities you apply to will have different requirements, notes Gregory Firn, Ed.D., a former school administrator and current executive at RoboKind.

“The way grants are structured, the amounts available, the specific deadlines, the time it takes to be notified of an award after application, and the number of people on grant application review committees vary widely, which is why it’s important to explore many different sources and to apply to multiple agencies.”

Grants tend to have specific requirements about who is granted funds and why. Not every available grant is going to work for your classroom, your students, and/or your school. Diversifying your grant applications can increase the chances that you’ll find the right funding fit for your project.

Keep it simple. It’s easy to get caught up in jargon when talking about technology. Don’t fall into the trap that so many teachers do when writing grants.

You’re talking to people who care about advancing education equity. Use data and details to illustrate how your students can benefit from technology, but don’t be afraid to use emotion and storytelling to explain why your students deserve the grant. Strike this balance, and your grant application will be both well-rounded and relatable.

State measurable, actionable goals. Clarifying your project’s goals and intentions early on will make your grant application more powerful. Break down your goals into measurable learning outcomes within the proposal, but remember to keep it simple.

What technology do you need to meet your goals? How long will it take to execute these projects? What will success look like for your classroom? The reviewers will likely be looking at hundreds of applications, and keeping things direct will help your application stand out.

Ask for help. Your district likely offers many resources for helping write your grant application. There may be other teachers in your school who have successfully applied for a grant in the past. Similarly, administrators at your school may have insight into funding sources or proposal writing tips. You may also have a district grants coordinator, whose sole job it is to help teachers like you secure essential grant funding.

Finding state and federal grant resources

You may investigate government-sponsored programs, such as The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), which helps each state create its own plan for improving access to technology, among other initiatives. Depending on your state, there may be ESSA funds available for expanding technology access in your classroom.

New ESSA changes have expanded the availability of technology funds, which can be used for “purchasing devices, equipment, and software applications in order to address readiness shortfalls.” ESSA also grants funds to provide educators with professional learning tools, implement school-wide technology instruction, execute blended learning projects, and expand technology access to students in rural environments.

You can find state funding sources by looking at your state’s education website too. For example, The New York State Department of Education offers a list of funding resources for schools and districts across the state. The Office of Educational Technology also has information and resources to support the advancement of technology in the classroom. The U.S. Department of Energy provides grants to classrooms pursuing STEM initiatives as well.

Foundations, associations, and unions. In addition to looking at state and federal grants, it’s a good idea to explore national and private foundations, associations, and unions. For example, the Corning Foundation provides technology grants to teachers with a specific plan for learning advancement in STEAM. The Captain Planet Foundation provides technology grants to projects with a sustainability focus.

 Technology companies. Many international technology companies have educational foundations specifically designed to help low-income schools obtain devices. The Toshiba America Foundation provides K–12 teachers with grants to put toward classroom materials. The Verizon Foundation provides schools with technologies that support educational STEM projects. Another corporate source is the Oracle Foundation, which seeks to close the technology gender gap by providing technology access to young girls.

Assistive technology in the classroom

The number of American students enrolled in special education programs has risen 30 percent in the past 10 years, according to the National Education Association. And nearly every classroom across the country has students with special needs.

This rise is in part due to increasing awareness and understanding of the many types of learning challenges that exist. Instead of focusing just on students with visual or auditory impairments, for example, schools and teachers now better recognize the signs of dyslexia, dysgraphia, ADHD, and intellectual disabilities.

Modern research and technology have made us more adept at understanding learning challenges and supporting students living with disabilities. That has led to more personalized education programs to suit the varying needs of these students.

Assistive technology already plays a pivotal role in expanding learning opportunities. Text-to-speech tools, for example, can help students with visual impairments and dyslexia, as well as those with ADHD. Understanding the many opportunities for using assistive technology allows educators to create equitable learning environments for all students.

Personalizing learning with assistive technology

Assistive technology in the classroom takes into account the fact that students learn in different ways. It allows all students in a classroom to work at their own pace using tools that support their specific needs. This is especially beneficial in schools with larger class sizes, where it can be harder to cater to each student in a personalized and meaningful way.

Assistive technology also empowers teachers with a deeper understanding of each student’s needs. This is because many assistive technology tools offer data on how each student is performing. Such data arms teachers with greater insight into which students need special attention in specific areas. It also tells teachers which topics might be challenging for all students — and where a classroom-wide review could support everyone.

Some teachers may think that adding technology will complicate lesson planning and increase their workloads. However, integrating technology into the classroom doesn’t have to involve any extra planning. Special education teacher Morgan Tigert explains that she doesn’t offer an alternative curriculum for special-needs students in her class. Instead, she creates one curriculum and provides students many different options for learning the same information.

Using this model, teachers can create one lesson plan designed to be taught across a variety of assistive technologies and mediums. Tigert’s approach allows students to work at their own pace and demonstrate aptitude in their own way. Special-needs students in this classroom model may feel more included when using assistive technology, as everyone is using individual tools. This may reduce the stigma on students who use assistive technology in a classroom where others don’t. It can also provide all students with more agency over the learning process, which can boost motivation, reliability, and self-advocacy.

Since students in the classroom are all learning the same material, albeit in different ways, they can collaborate during meaningful discussions. This ensures that special-needs students of all levels have the opportunity to learn real-world communication and teamwork skills.

In this way, assistive technology can promote learning equity, unlike traditional special-needs teaching. Different students in those more traditional special-needs classrooms are presented with varying levels of material, which can actually widen the achievement gap.

Assistive technology for special needs

From simple timers to complex voice recognition tools, there are a variety of assistive technologies available to the modern classroom. Different tools, apps, and devices can support nearly all learning challenges and abilities. Here’s an overview of the most common assistive technology in the classroom.

Assistive technology tools don’t have to be advanced or complicated to make a difference in student learning. For example, audio players and recorders can record what’s taught in class so that students can replay the files at home when they do homework. Timers are a visual aid that can help students who struggle with time management and self-pacing.

Large-display and talking calculators can help students who have visual or auditory impairments with their math assignments. Students with dyscalculia may also benefit from talking calculators, which help them perform equations and read numbers correctly.

Digital assignments can also be helpful for students with challenges like dyslexia. Electronic worksheets can guide students through the proper alignment of words, equations, and numbers. Similarly, audiobooks can help students follow along with written textbooks both in class and after school. An audio version of the day’s lesson allows students to replay the lecture so that they don’t lose or forget information.

Advanced assistive technology tools

More advanced technologies can also support students with visual, auditory, and motor skill challenges. The benefit of advanced technology tools is that many of them can be incorporated with laptops and tablets, meaning all students can learn from the same devices, yet in different ways.

Text-to-speech (TTS) tools support students with blindness, dyslexia, ADHD, autism, and other issues that cause visual or concentration impairment. These can be integrated with a Braille translator. Text-to-speech tools scan textbooks, assignments, and other materials, then read the text aloud to the student.

This shows students not only what material is presented, but also how to properly pace their words and how to pronounce them correctly. This can be especially helpful in subjects where new vocabulary and concepts are presented.

Screen readers are another TTS tool that teachers can incorporate into lessons that use e-readers, tablets, and laptops. A screen reader can be hooked up to headphones for a student in a large class so that it doesn’t disrupt or distract other students.

Speech-to-text assistive tools. In contrast with text-to-speech tools, speech-to-text tools can help students transform spoken words into written text. Also called dictation technology, these tools are ideal for students who struggle with writing challenges such as dyslexia, dysgraphia, poor penmanship, or poor spelling.

Students with attention issues like ADHD and ADD may also benefit from speech-to-text tools, as they can help them record their thoughts more efficiently. Students can use these tools to write, edit, and revise their work using just their voice. These tools can also be used to record the teacher so that lessons can be transcribed into notes for the student to review later.

Alternative keyboards. Alternative keyboards assist students with a variety of learning challenges. For example, some keyboards have extra-large buttons and colors, making it easier for those with visual impairments to see each key.

Students with dyslexia might also benefit from a keyboard that reads from A to Z, rather than the standard QWERTY keyboard. These keyboards can be connected to the laptops or tablets that other students are using so that everyone can view and complete the same work at once.

Onscreen keyboards can also help students with limited physical ability because they can be used with alternative microphones and switches, as well as eye gazes.

FM listening systems. Frequency modulation (FM) systems help students with impaired hearing better understand the teacher. FM tools require that the teacher wear a microphone, which directs information either through classroom-wide speakers or directly into students’ earphones. They reduce background noise so students with auditory impairments, attention deficits, language processing issues, and autism can better hear what the teacher is saying.

Virtual and augmented reality. Virtual reality is an emerging education tool that holds a lot of promise for special-needs students. For example, mixed reality headsets can support students who struggle with reading by walking them through a text step-by-step, adding highlights and notes along the way.

Teachers can also join students in virtual reality scenarios to walk students through specific instructions or lessons. Mixed reality headsets can provide students with a more personalized learning experience, even in a large class where other students are progressing at a different pace.

Apps and software for assistive technology. Many apps and software tools bring the functionality of assistive technology straight to your student’s device. The following are few common assistive technology apps:

  • Voice4U is an interactive communication app that helps English language learners and students with autism express their feelings. 
  • Dragon is a speech-to-text app that brings dictation to any device, without an additional tool. 
  • Notability helps students with motor skill and processing challenges take more effective notes.
  • ClaroRead is a robust text-to-speech tool that helps students with visual and attention impairments in reading, writing, studying, and test-taking.
  • Co:Writer helps students write not only through speech recognition and translation, but also through intuitive word prediction.
How classroom technology enables differentiated instruction

Differentiated instruction can be an intimidating concept for many teachers. When there are already so many units to plan and papers to grade, creating a personalized plan for each student sounds like a big job.

Contrary to popular belief, differentiated instruction doesn’t require that you create a unique plan for each student. Rather, a differentiated instruction strategy helps you understand each student’s unique learning style. It helps teachers cater to these strengths to make teaching and learning easier and more efficient.

For example, differentiated instruction might mean organizing your class into groups based on students’ interests or skills. It could also mean giving each student access to a device, then using their recent history to tailor their course of study.

Technology offers an infinite number of possibilities when it comes to learning personalization. With the right strategies, technology can differentiate instruction and improve learning outcomes — all while making life easier for the teacher.

What is differentiated instruction?

Students enter the school system with a wide range of learning styles, skills, and knowledge levels. Usually, as students advance through each grade, these differences deepen due to minimal differentiation in instruction.

Imagine two students who are equally capable of mastering a lesson, but only one of them receives instruction in their preferred learning style throughout the year. The other student will likely fall behind because they don’t have an opportunity to learn according to their skill set. This widening achievement gap is perhaps the biggest reason why differentiated instruction is a growing trend.

Casting a wide net when teaching to different learning styles helps meet each student’s needs more effectively. For teachers, this means greater flexibility around how students learn and how they demonstrate knowledge. It also ensures that students aren’t left behind just because they have a different learning style.

Understanding the fundamentals of differentiated learning can ensure you personalize lesson plans effectively, without feeling overwhelmed. 

Leveraging personalized learning strategies

There are many ways to differentiate learning in the classroom. When you’re first getting started with differentiated instruction, it can be helpful to learn the basic strategies that other teachers follow for success. These include creating student groups, curating content, and leveraging student performance data.

Create dynamic student groups. To improve lesson planning for differentiated instruction, plan to separate students into different groups. You may start the year with two groups, then differentiate further as you get to know students’ strengths. Each group can have one or two captains, students who have demonstrated mastery of the material. These captains can support the other students who need further help with a lesson.

Another idea is to break students up into pairs. Students should only be paired if they demonstrate a similar skill level. Students can also be grouped or paired by interest, preparedness, or choice.

Regardless of how you create groups, be sure to rotate them often. This ensures students have continual opportunities to learn and grow alongside students with different learning styles. You can also switch back and forth between larger groups and pairs to ensure no two students get too accustomed to working together.

Curate content, tools, and resources. When getting started with differentiated instruction in the classroom, you’ll want to give students a variety of learning options. Gathering a list of content, tools, and resources ensures you always have a reliable library of content available.

The internet connects teachers to an endless number of online tools and resources. Since it can be daunting to sort through all the content available online, consider a website that aggregates educational content.

For example, Epic! is an educational digital library for children under 12. Teachers can use Epic! to search for books, learning videos, and quizzes based on age range and content type.

Another tool for finding and curating content resources is Edcite. Their online library contains assignments crafted by other English language arts teachers. This free teaching tool also makes it easy to change or pivot lesson plans based on where students are at the moment.

Tap into student data. One of the greatest benefits of differentiated instruction is that it gives teachers insight into student comprehension. It shows not only where students may be struggling, but also what tools and techniques will help them best.

To better help students succeed, teachers need to expand the possibilities of how a single lesson can be learned. Then, they can leverage tools that provide data on student progress and learning outcomes.

There are a number of tools that can evaluate learning aptitudes across different projects. Edji, for example, is a reading tool that tracks student progress within a given text and provides them with prompts based on their skill level. Since all student interactions with the app are monitored, teachers can glean insights, such as how long students read, when they were engaged in a text, and what passage was most engaging.

Allow students to choose their own methods of assessment. The next step in differentiated education is giving students more say in how they demonstrate aptitude. This is beneficial because it ensures students are learning and presenting knowledge to the best of their ability with the tools and resources available. It recognizes the unique needs of each student and prevents them from falling behind or getting bored. Plus, students are much more motivated and engaged in assessment projects when they have a voice in their own learning.

Instead of assigning everyone a unit test, for example, you can give students options. Technology can help facilitate each one of these assessments.

Students who feel more comfortable using a keyboard to type out their thoughts can stick with an essay. Other students may prefer to give a presentation and use video to record it. Whether students make a video, create an art project, or record an audio presentation, technology allows teachers to assess student comprehension.

Another idea is to provide students with surveys to see which methods of learning and knowledge demonstration they enjoy most. Try asking

  • What projects they’ve enjoyed in the past
  • What projects they might want to try
  • What you can do as a teacher to provide these opportunities 

Surveys are great because they let you solicit student opinions anonymously, which helps many students open up and share opinions they otherwise might not.

Modern, adaptable learning environments

Flexibility is another core benefit of differentiated instruction.

Teachers in traditional classroom environments create one lesson plan with the same assignments and projects for each student. This doesn’t allow much room for flexibility. If one student is struggling and asking questions, the rest of the class is brought down to that level. Likewise, if a student is excelling and moving forward, they may finish early and get bored because there isn’t enough content to support their needs.

The goal of differentiated technology is to cater to each unique skill level. Closing this gap early helps students realize what their learning styles are and where they excel — something that can serve them throughout their schooling.

Flipped classroom models

Flipped classroom models encourage both differentiated learning and flexibility. A flipped classroom is when teachers film themselves lecturing (or providing another instructional method), and students learn at home. Classroom time is spent discussing what students learned from the video lesson, answering questions, and engaging in collaborative group work.

Two of the most common teacher tools for flipped classroom models are

  • Hippo Video. Teachers can use Hippo Video to record lessons, explainer videos, screencasts, or interviews. Students can then engage with this content at their own pace. Teachers can also use this tool to give feedback on student work. The addition of facial cues and voice intonation can help certain students better understand their feedback.
  • Edpuzzle. With Edpuzzle, teachers can create their own video or upload one from a library of educational content that includes resources like YouTube and Khan Academy. They can then incorporate the videos into at-home assignments. Teachers can see viewing data for each student and add assessment questions to gauge understanding.

A flipped classroom transforms how classroom time is used by creating more flexibility around what students do in class. It provides opportunity for differentiated instruction, as some students can advance to supplemental texts and materials while others can review lessons.

Throughout this personalized learning process, the teacher is there to support and oversee students as they progress. This also redefines homework entirely. Instead of asking students to demonstrate aptitude at home on their own, flipped classroom models provide a safe and supportive atmosphere at school for questions, collaboration, and advancement.

The pros and cons of technology in the classroom

From making learning more accessible to advancing personalized instruction, it’s clear that  technology has many benefits for the classroom. But these pros don’t come without their cons, and technology can be just as challenging as it is beneficial.

For example, teachers, parents, and community members who oppose technology in the classroom may feel that it’s too distracting. And students may use tools in unethical ways to cheat or bully other students.

Many parents are also concerned that technology use may contribute to additional screen time in a world where students are already bombarded by cell phones, televisions, and tablets.

While tech does have the ability to boost equality among students, it can also widen equality gaps between students of different socioeconomic levels. Another common complaint against technology in the classroom is that it can lead to hyperactivity and attention disorders, which is one of the leading learning challenges students face today.

These arguments against technology in the classroom are both important and valid. However, it’s also true that most innovations in the world come with both benefits and drawbacks. Diving into technology without information isn’t a good idea, just as avoiding technology can cause your students to fall behind. Understanding the many pros and cons of technology in the classroom can help ensure that you know how to deploy these tools correctly.

To help you make more informed choices when using technology in the classroom, here’s a breakdown of how digital tools benefit students and how they can be a detriment.

Personalized education vs unequal learning

As discussed earlier, technology can support individualized instruction for students at varying skill levels. This is especially true for classrooms with students of different abilities.

Students who are already further along can use technology to access higher-level instruction, while students who need extra support can get it when and how they need it. Best of all, teachers can use technology to see where students are in the learning process and how they’re progressing. This offers more insight into each student’s learning journey, which allows for individualized instruction that wouldn’t otherwise be possible.

If students in a classroom work at many different levels, this can pose challenges. This could make it hard for students to collaborate on group work. If one student is much further ahead than another student in the unit, their group collaboration time may be spent educating and answering questions rather than collaborating.

Since communication and collaboration are essential skills for students to develop, this could put the development of these traits at risk. It may also make it hard for teachers to provide equal support to each student, as more resources may be spent on the students who need additional help.

Future preparation vs widening the achievement gap

It’s true that technology prepares students for the future in an increasingly digital world. Students who learn how to type, research, and use social media will be much more equipped to succeed both personally and professionally than those who don’t learn these skills.

And students who are comfortable using technology are more likely to excel in high school, which can help them be more prepared for a university setting. Teachers who make technology an everyday aspect of the classroom ensure that their students are ready and equipped to succeed in the world.

While access to technology helps certain students advance, lack of access can make students fall behind. Students in low-income schools may not have the same opportunities as students in high-income schools.

More privileged students may have a one-to-one device ratio in the classroom, while less privileged students may have just one computer to share. Expense is the greatest barrier to accessibility in technology, and some people feel that this cost is widening the achievement gap in more ways than one.

Expanding worldview vs a tool for cheating

Teachers often appreciate the many ways technology can expand students’ worldviews. From Google Maps to virtual museum exhibits to primary source films, technology connects students to other places and times in ways that wouldn’t otherwise be possible.

Students can access any information they want — which may not always be a good thing. Many parents worry that increased technology use in schools will enable students to cheat. If students use technology to cheat now (and get away with it), it could cause them to create unethical habits for the future. This can become a serious problem in college, where getting caught cheating can be grounds for expulsion.

Teachers and students worried about cheating should consider creating a standard of ethics for technology use. This can help educate students about what’s allowed and what isn’t. Creating clear ramifications for plagiarism and cheating can also prevent students from using technology to cheat on tests and assignments. These ethical codes can also outline rules for online communication and interactions, which can prevent cyberbullying and other harmful online behavior.

Beneficial tool vs unnecessary distraction

One of the leading arguments against technology in the classroom is that it’s distracting and deters from learning. If students have become intelligent citizens without technology in schools for decades, why do we need the tools now?

The truth is, today’s students are accustomed to using screens in every aspect of their lives, so using technology in the classroom is often easy for both teachers and students. Since most children already know how to use tablets and computers, there isn’t a steep learning curve.

It makes sense for students to learn these tools in the classroom, as they’ll likely use them in the future. Students need to be exposed to technology early on in order to succeed at work and life.

Beyond being familiar with technology, students need to learn how to perform important functions like writing, researching, communicating, and creating an online identity. These skills can’t be developed by simply using a laptop once in awhile. They need to be incorporated into specific lesson plans designed to help students become technology literate.

On the other hand, the technology used in schools can be distracting. The downside of technology literate students is that they know how to use digital tools for fun and games. When your classroom is full of students on devices, it can be challenging to keep tabs on everyone. This can exacerbate distractions and, in turn, widen achievement gaps among students.

Setting healthy boundaries

Today’s children already have more attention deficit disorders than in the past. This could be linked to overstimulation caused by screens. Setting boundaries for technology can limit screen time to a certain number of minutes or hours per day. Teachers can also take time to instill these boundaries, helping students create healthy relationships with technology for the rest of their lives.

In addition, setting healthy boundaries for technology use in the classroom can ensure that students aren’t constantly checking social media or falling down a research rabbit hole. Technology should be used at the teacher’s discretion. When it can enhance and improve learning, it should be included. But not all lessons will be more engaging and memorable by simply adding a computer.

Teachers can also do their part to limit screen time in the classroom. Many people oppose classroom technology because it can lead to behavioral disruptions, sleep disorders, and social challenges. It’s too early to determine the long-term effects of this kind of technology on young children, but many people would rather take the safe route and impose healthy limits on these tools.

Whether you’re totally new to technology or you’re hoping to create healthier boundaries for screens, it’s important to be clear on the most prominent benefits and drawbacks of using technology in the classroom.

Technology in the classroom: The current situation

Technology has played an increasingly important role in the classroom since formal education began in the United States. Whether it was chalkboards and paper or computers and the internet, each invention has brought new opportunities for learning. Understanding how technology has evolved sheds light not only on where we are in today’s classroom, but where educational technology can take us in the future.

The history and evolution of technology in the classroom

From the schoolhouse to the computer lab, school environments have changed drastically over the past three centuries. Technology has been perhaps the biggest driver of educational transformation, changing the way students interpret information and demonstrate their knowledge.

Here’s a look back at how technology has changed education over the years.

1700s: Students often didn’t have access to paper and textbooks. Instead, they used what were called hornbooks — wooden paddles with lessons printed on them. Most lessons revolved around the Bible, and students were instructed to read passages and memorize verses. Students were also taught basic math, reading, writing, and poetry. Girls and boys were taught separate lessons; boys studied more advanced subjects, while girls were taught to take care of the home.

1800s: By the 1800s, pencils and paper were more popular in classrooms, as were textbooks and printed works of literature and poetry. The chalkboard was invented in Scotland during this century. Originally made from natural black or grey slate, it gave teachers a way of sharing information with a larger range of students. The slide rule was also invented during this century, enabling students to perform basic and complex math problems in a more organized format. The end of the century saw the invention of magic lanterns, which used lanterns and oil lamps to give presentations.

1920s–1950s: Filmstrip projectors were invented in the 1920s, taking the place of magic lanterns. These projectors allowed teachers to show multiple images on a large scale. Filmstrips were usually accompanied by prerecorded audio. This coincides with the increasing role of radio and recorded audio in the classroom, which added to the teacher’s toolkit.

“Audio cues let teachers know when to advance to the next image; later models performed this function automatically,” says educator Laura Gray. Filmstrip projectors were used until the 1980s, when videocassettes became more popular and eliminated the need for projectors. Ballpoint pens also became an important tool during this time, and students began recording their own homework on paper and in notebooks.

1960s–1980s: Overhead projectors were an important invention in the ’60s. Projectors allowed teachers to demonstrate workflows in real time. This supported visual learners, especially with math and science problems. In this sense, the overhead projector was one of the first technologies that offered differentiated instruction and made lessons more accessible to students with different learning styles.

Educational videos also became more popular during the ’70s and ’80s, helping to present material in a more dynamic and compelling way that captured students’ attention. Scantrons were another major invention of this period. They enabled more efficient and accurate test-taking and better evaluation of results. The computer began to find its way into classrooms, but it was still emerging as a personal technology and not universally accessible by teachers, students, and schools due to the high price.

1990s–2000: The 1990s saw two of the biggest technology changes in history: the rise of personal computers and the invention of the World Wide Web. During this time, typing became an important skill for all students, and more lessons incorporated computers and the internet. Word processing tools also became a major part of assignments, and typed and printed lessons were growing in popularity.

Computers enabled teachers to access, create, and print their own worksheets, and students were also empowered to create and print assignments from home. With more access to information than ever before, students had more opportunities to research information on the internet.

2000–2010: This was the decade when specific websites were incorporated into the classroom. Cloud storage allowed students to complete and share documents online, and YouTube became a destination for educational video content. Most classrooms in the United States had multiple computers available, either in the classroom or in a school computer lab.

Tools like Moodle allowed teachers to create and share lessons with students. The open-source nature of this tool also introduced the idea of teachers being able to share lesson plans with other teachers from around the world. This expanded teacher knowledge and promoted the sharing of lessons across states and countries. Clickers also became popular during this time, allowing students a more interactive way to answer questions.

2010–present: So far, this has been the most explosive decade of classroom technology transformation. The tablet is, in itself, a major transformation, with the development of apps bringing personalized education and gamification to everyday classroom learning. Digital whiteboards also created a more interactive experience that allowed students to immerse more deeply in subjects like math, English, and science. Mobile phones are also important pieces of classroom technology.

As more students began to acquire their own digital devices, including smartphones, laptops, and tablets, lessons and learning tools became accessible at all times, from anywhere. This is also the decade when social media became a major learning tool. Learning to ethically use social media and create a digital presence online became a core part of learning to navigate the digital environment.

Technology in the classroom statistics

Technology has come far from the days of Scantrons and projectors. But how exactly has technology changed? What relationship do today’s students have with technology? Classroom technology statistics offer insight into what technology means for today’s students.

How do teachers use technology in the classroom?

Larry Bernstein at EdTech magazine, citing a survey by Cambridge International, says many students today rely on a variety of tech tools:

  • 48 percent of students say they use desktop computers in the classroom.
  • 42 percent say they use smartphones.
  • 33 percent say the use interactive whiteboards.
  • 20 percent say they use tablets.
What is the state of technology access and disparity in the United States?

A study by MidAmerica Nazarene University shows that 86 percent of classrooms have Wi-Fi, and 62 percent of students use their own technology tools in the classroom. In fact, nearly three-quarters of teachers say they use a laptop or a tablet every day in the classroom.

The main reason teachers don’t have more technology in the classroom is a lack of funding.

How do teachers feel about technology?

The MidAmerica Nazarene University survey found that 66 percent of teachers think technology makes students more productive. That said, most teachers say access to cell phones can cause distractions. In fact, 93 percent of classrooms have some kind of policy about limiting the use of smartphones and the internet.

What does the future hold for technology in the classroom?

Moving forward, technology will continue to transform the ways students learn. For example, augmented reality is poised to elevate the learning experience by helping students see the world in new ways. For instance, Google Cardboard and AR experiences designed for education will help students learn in a way that feels more personalized and private.

Apps continue to change how students communicate with teachers as well. They facilitate a flipped classroom model, for example, which encourages more one-on-one teacher and student time in the classroom. This kind of tech also allows students to access lessons remotely.

The power of technology in the classroom

We live in a world that is inextricably connected to technology. The way we find information, share our lives, and connect with others is becoming increasingly digital. Likewise, more classrooms rely on technology to deliver personalized experiences that engage students and elevate learning. Tech tools give teachers the ability to differentiate instruction, which caters to different learning types and supports students with special needs and learning challenges.

Technology also holds the power to transform not only what we learn but how. Teachers can bring immersive, global experiences to their students. Whether you’re a parent, a teacher, or an administrator, it’s crucial to understand how technology is used in the classroom today.

Catégories: News dév web

Pages

S'abonner à ybresson.com agrégateur - News dév web

Contact

Une question, une remarque ?
Une demande de devis ?

Contactez-moi

A propos...

Yves Bresson, ingénieur en informatique, consultant freelance, spécialisé dans le développement web (CMS, PHP, Laravel, Ajax, jQuery, Bootstrap, HTML5, CSS3) et d'applications mobiles (iPhone, Android). Voir le profil de Yves Bresson sur LinkedIn