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Almost Timely News: A Simple Way To Test Your Design (2022-11-06) :: View in Browser

Almost Timely News

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Almost Timely News: The End of the Public Watercooler (2022-10-30)

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What’s On My Mind: A Simple Way To Test Your Design

I just got back from delivering the opening keynote at Heapcon, a developer conference in Belgrade, Serbia. I enjoy traveling (well, to be clear, I enjoy visiting new places. I don’t love the actual traveling portion a ton) and I leapt at the chance to visit a new nation I hadn’t been to before. As much as I love machines and technology, it’s people who power marketing, and the best way to learn about people is… to be with people and observe them.

Serbia, if you’re unfamiliar, is a country in the Balkans. If you’re looking at a map of Europe, go to the right of Italy, across the Adriatic Sea, and you’ll run into Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia, Herzegovina, Montenegro, and Kosovo. If you slept through social studies in the 1990s, this collection of nations used to be called Yugoslavia.

What’s unique about Serbia is that unlike its neighbors, it retained the use of Cyrillic as the primary alphabet for normal usage. Most of its neighbors use the Latin alphabet (aka what you’re reading right now). Thus, Serbians write their country name as Србија, while in transliterated Latin characters, the same characters are written Srbija.

So what? I’m not especially good at reading Cyrillic. I’m better than I used to be, because I’ve consumed a lot of news this year about Ukraine and much of it from the source – Ukrainians – which means having to struggle through reading Cyrillic characters to at least sound out the words I’m seeing, especially on media that doesn’t have translation. What that means is that when I visited Serbia, reading all the signs and content was not second nature. When I visited Montenegro earlier this year, I could tell that a shop labeled Apoteka was a pharmacy. Seeing the same sign written апотека was an additional hurdle.

This gave me a rare opportunity, an opportunity to rely on design cues for navigation rather than literal words. Take a look at this city street:

City street in Serbia

Without a word of the language understood, can you understand the basics? You can see the speed. What direction traffic is supposed to go. Where there’s parking. What to look out for. There are so many cues embedded in the context of daily life that are the same in many nations that if you were dropped onto this street with no translation software, you could still figure out what’s what for the most part. You might not be able to communicate with people, but you could navigate.

Here’s the interior of a store. Do you understand the general idea of the store? What it sells? How much Serbian do you need to know to understand what you’re looking at?

Women's Secret Store in Usce Shopping Center

I would assume not. It’s fairly apparent what the store is, what they sell, and that lots of stuff is on a 30% off sale. You could probably shop there, successfully buy something, and not have to speak at all.

There are only so many ways to do things like commerce, navigation, etc. in daily life that are rational and will help people accomplish the tasks in front of them. Even with language as a barrier, those commonalities make life easier to navigate. (and create shared cultural connections, too!)

Next, take a look at this:

Novosti website homepage

What kind of website is this? Without understanding a word of the language, can you tell? It is, of course, a news site, Novosti. How did you know what it was, if you don’t read Cyrillic characters or the Serbian language? Because there are enough design and layout cues you’ve seen from other news sites that makes determining what the site is apparent.

That’s the power of good design. Good design is fresh and unique but also invokes enough cues and commonalities that someone with little to no idea of the context of language at least knows what they’re looking at.

So here’s the big question when it comes to your marketing: how good is your marketing if it was in another language, a language you didn’t speak? Could someone still navigate the important parts? Do you have enough familiar design cues that make your marketing content intuitive?

Suppose my newsletter looked like this:

Almost Timely in Serbian

Without being able to read Cyrillic (or Serbian), can you tell in general what you’re supposed to do? You can see the YouTube video in the middle. You can see the yellow calls to action. And what really stands out to me?

The emoji. The emoji are symbols, miniature images that convey meaning without language needed. There’s a little TV in the YouTube link. There’s a pair of headphones in the MP3 link. It’s apparent what those are.

Try this test on your own content, on your own website. Google Translate allows you to put in any URL and have it translated. Translate to a language you don’t understand at all, and see how much your design still helps someone navigate and get a sense of what the site is, what it’s about, and what they could do. Is it apparent what business you’re in, what’s for sale, what someone should do just from the design?

By the way, this isn’t just important for international audiences. This also helps anyone who’s neurodivergent, dyslexic, or just not a strong processor of language. If you have the right design cues, you will help them do business with you more easily without overreliance on text alone.

Got a Question? Hit Reply

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ICYMI: In Case You Missed it

Besides the new Google Analytics 4 course I’m relentlessly promoting (sorry not sorry), I would recommend giving a watch/listen/read to the bit on trusting thought leaders.

Skill Up With Classes

These are just a few of the classes I have available over at the Trust Insights website that you can take.

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Get Back to Work!

Folks who post jobs in the free Analytics for Marketers Slack community may have those jobs shared here, too. If you’re looking for work, check out these five most recent open positions, and check out the Slack group for the comprehensive list.

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What I’m Reading: Your Stuff

Let’s look at the most interesting content from around the web on topics you care about, some of which you might have even written.

Social Media Marketing

Media and Content

SEO, Google, and Paid Media

Advertisement: Google Analytics 4 for Marketers

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What makes this different than other training courses?

  • You’ll learn how Google Tag Manager and Google Data Studio form the essential companion pieces to Google Analytics 4, and how to use them all together
  • You’ll learn how marketers specifically should use Google Analytics 4, including the new Explore Hub with real world applications and use cases
  • You’ll learn how to determine if a migration was done correctly, and especially what things are likely to go wrong
  • You’ll even learn how to hire (or be hired) for Google Analytics 4 talent specifically, not just general Google Analytics
  • And finally, you’ll learn how to rearrange Google Analytics 4’s menus to be a lot more sensible because that bothers everyone

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Tools, Machine Learning, and AI

Analytics, Stats, and Data Science

All Things IBM

Dealer’s Choice : Random Stuff

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Events I’ll Be At

Here’s where I’m speaking and attending. Say hi if you’re at an event also:

  • SMPS, November 2022, Las Vegas

Events marked with a physical location may become virtual if conditions and safety warrant it.

If you’re an event organizer, let me help your event shine. Visit my speaking page for more details.

Can’t be at an event? Stop by my private Slack group instead, Analytics for Marketers.

How to Stay in Touch

Let’s make sure we’re connected in the places it suits you best. Here’s where you can find different content:

Required Disclosures

Events with links have purchased sponsorships in this newsletter and as a result, I receive direct financial compensation for promoting them.

Advertisements in this newsletter have paid to be promoted, and as a result, I receive direct financial compensation for promoting them.

My company, Trust Insights, maintains business partnerships with companies including, but not limited to, IBM, Cisco Systems, Amazon, Talkwalker, MarketingProfs, MarketMuse, Agorapulse, Hubspot, Informa, Demandbase, The Marketing AI Institute, and others. While links shared from partners are not explicit endorsements, nor do they directly financially benefit Trust Insights, a commercial relationship exists for which Trust Insights may receive indirect financial benefit, and thus I may receive indirect financial benefit from them as well.

Thank You!

Thanks for subscribing and reading this far. I appreciate it. As always, thank you for your support, your attention, and your kindness.

See you next week,

Christopher S. Penn


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