Captchas, confirmation emails, account activation, and credit card details — let’s face it, user registration can be a headache. When your goal is to convert visitors to users and get as many sign-ups as possible, the last thing you want is for your registration page to act as a barrier.

Unfortunately, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. Different markets and different services all require different treatments when it comes to signing up.

We’ve rounded up 9 samples of great user registration pages, some simple, some complex. We’ll take a look at each one and give you some ideas about what they did right to help you streamline your process or find some inspiration.

1. Convore

Project estimation web app, Ballpark, has a nice approach to user registration. While they collect a little more information than Convore, it’s still kept to the essentials. The structure of the form here is great. Everything is presented in a very neat and tidy manner with some nice iconography to denote the different types of data being collected. Though it looks simple, a lot of attention has been paid to the details like the soft colors, subtle gradients, light borders and 3D elements that give the signup form a polished, elegant feel.

3. Fourteen Dayz

Time tracking app Fourteen Dayz takes a similar approach to user registration, using a soft color palette with boxes for each step of the registration process. However, the form is minimal and flatter, lacking gradients and drop shadows. Nonetheless, the overall effect is still that of a clean, easy to read, logically organized registration form. The text and font treatment on this form is quite nice, with large headings, plenty of descriptive text and clear, organized labels. Instructions are clear and readily available without having to hunt for them.

4. Spreedly

Culinary Colture, a social site for foodies, doesn’t even bother to move their registration onto a separate page. Like Convore, the signup is right on the landing page. It’s a little further down the page, just below the fold, and beside the activity feed, but the treatment on the form here is really nice. The site saves space by eliminating labels for form elements and placing the prompt directly inside the form field itself. Simple, stylish icons inside each input box also help to illustrate what types of data belong in the fields. Finally, the subtle details on the borders and button gradient gives the form a finished look.

6. Launch List

Launch List’s registration page starts out with a pricing table at the top and a FAQ below. Select a plan and the FAQ fades away to load a user registration form complete with instructions. The whole visual identity for Launch List is vintage cool. On the pricing table, the teal background, fat icons and the Buck Rogers style rocket of the Launch List logo give everything a clean sort of retro feeling. We like the use of subtle changes in value in this form, from the contrast of light grey text verses white headings to the subtle boxes behind sections of the registration form.

7. Freckle

Email marketing service, Litmus, is another example of a web app that collects a fairly large amount of data upon signup. Like Freckle, Litmus keeps it organized by breaking the form up into logical chunks and providing helpful information where needed. We find the mix of top-aligned labels in the beginning of the form versues left-aligned labels in the payment section to be an unusual choice but overall the form is visually simple enough that this doesn’t cause too much confusion.

9.

Ember is a web app for sharing design ideas and inspiration with other designers. The signup process itself is simple but there’s a lot more to this registration page than just a couple of form fields. All the form’s instructions are clearly listed down the right-hand side of the page while the top left contains fields for personal details like name, email and password. We find the layout interesting in that the pricing table is below where the actual registration details are entered. It’s not something you see often but with only two plans to choose from, it works well: Enter your information, pick a plan, and you’re done.


More About: business, dev & design, registration, registration pages, social media, web

For more Dev & Design coverage:

Single-page websites have been commonplace on the web for a few years now. First made popular by designers seeking a clean, simple way to showcase portfolios, the one-page website now has a number of uses, including advertising software and promoting events. It’s a great way to have a large impact with a small amount of content.

Below, we’ll take a look at 9 great one-page websites, explore how they’re used and what makes them so awesome. Get ready to be inspired!

1. Blacktie

Corpus is a content management system that’s a little more “cerebral.” Type, color and illustrations combine to set a mood that feels more suited to academia than web development. However, that’s just the feeling that Corpus is aiming for. Its web app is focused on inspiring creativity and freedom of expression without the limitations of a content management system. The site offers just enough information to pique one’s interest: There’s just a brief introduction, a short list of features, logos of existing clients, and a large, centrally located email for further inquiries.

3. Think Green Meeting

Think Green Meeting is a conferencing service for the environmentally conscious. It’s a unique and accurate look at the benefits of digitizing your workplace. The site has some great interactive components like the grid of automobiles and airplanes that vanish when moused-over. It’s a cool metaphor for the reduction in cost and emissions which the company stands for. Other great elements include the earthy, natural color palette and large, tightly-spaced headings juxtaposed by spacious body copy to give the site a very clean, modern and sophisticated feel.

4. Owl Concept

Owl Concept is an example of a one-page site that takes advantage of the screen real estate afforded it. Upon visiting the site you see a large photographic backgorund in cool colors with a subtle grid overlay in bold colors. It’s visually impressive. Click on the portfolio link to the far right, however, and distractions slide away and you are presented with two carousels of featured works on a white background (hover effects complement the rollover effect on the navigation menu), with the header, navigation and footer remaining in place for consistency.

5. Captain Wallace

Here’s an idea – how about designing your website to directly mirror the UI and illustrative style of the application it’s promoting? That’s exactly what the designers of the Captain Wallance iPhone/iPad application have done. The site is fun and immediately draws you in with its soft color palette, large, friendly type and cheery illustrations. It’s almost impossible to look at this site without wanting to at least try out the touch app for preschoolers. You get an immediate feel for the application, its straightforward interface, and the lovely illustrations of animals you’ll encounter while adventuring with the Captain.

6. Head 2 Heart

Single-page sites aren’t just for iOS apps and portfolios. A number of non-profit organizations are starting to utilize these high-impact, user-friendly sites as brochures for a number of causes and programs. Head 2 Heart is a fundraising campaign by newly-forned NGO Collyde, which aims to raise money for programs dedicated to providing clean water, medical care, and promoting a safe environment for young girls in developing countries. Head 2 Heart takes you on a cleverly illustrated journey as you step through the side-scrolling website via the bottom navigation. It presents factoids and talking points along the way, explaining the goals of the organization and eventually bringing you to a donation page and list of additional ways you can support the cause.

7. Kickoff App

Kickoff App is collaboration software for Macs. The site developers do a great job capturing that App
le feel in everything from the typography, the icons, the arrangement of the screenshots and the grid that makes up the underlying structure. Sometimes innovation in design isn’t necessary. Sometimes what you really need is a just a solid layout that’s easily recognizable for what it is. This gives users a sense of familiarity and clearly promotes your product with minimal distraction. Kickoff App’s website does a great job doing just that.

8. Garbageman

Until recently, doing sophisticated typography on the web was over-complicated at best. But as web font technogies and delivery services improve, more and more designers are getting creative with text. Italian designer Enzo Li Volti lets layout and typography do all of the talking on his personal website. Breaking from the traditional thumbnail and screenshot portfolio with just a series of links, Li Volti creates his work of art with letters and font faces. We love the bold simplicity of this site, which would look just as great as a poster on the wall.


More About: case study, landing page, one page site, social media, web

For more Dev & Design coverage:

facebook image

Jonathan Goldford is a partner at JG Visual, an Internet strategy company that works with organizations to develop and implement their online presence. You can connect with Jonathan on the JG Visual Facebook Page.

Right now Facebook Pages and custom landing pages are bigger than bottled water was on December 31, 1999. Michael Jackson, Lady Gaga, Starbucks, and the TV show House each have more than fifteen million “Likes” and are growing rapidly.

While there are an enormous number of articles that talk vaguely about how to create a custom landing page, very few discuss the nuances of actually designing and programming one. Here we will discuss the subtleties of designing a Facebook landing page and FBML programming. To make this discussion more concrete, we’ll use the creation of our own JG Visual landing page as an example.


Designing Your Company’s Facebook Page


Actually designing a Facebook Page is very similar to designing any website, except for a few considerations:

  • Design for a 520px Width — Facebook Pages must fit within a width of 520px. Since we can’t use a body tag in our Facebook Page, we’re going build our entire page in a container div set to a width of 520px.
  • Design for Any Height — We can make our Facebook Page any height, but we have to remember that most people interact above the fold and at the time of writing this, our Facebook landing page will start 135px from the top if the person viewing is logged in. If they aren’t logged in to Facebook, that increases to roughly 250px from the top of the page to allow space to log in or sign up.
  • Account for the Width of the Company’s Name — Since we’re interested in creating a call to action for our Like button, we must take into account our company’s name. The Like button appears just right of the company name at the top of the landing page. If we’re going to point to the Like button, we need to figure out the pixel width from the left of our landing page to the start of our Facebook Like button.

To take into account the 520px width and the distance for your Like button, you may want to take a screenshot. Once you take a screenshot of your Facebook Page, pull it into a design program like Photoshop and design over it. Here is a look at a piece of our final Facebook Page design.

landing page


Programming Your Company’s Facebook Page


Now that we have a design we’ll walk through how to program our landing page to use on Facebook.

Begin Programming Outside of Facebook

There are a number of reasons why we should start programming our Facebook landing page outside of Facebook.

  • Facebook Offers No Coding Support — Facebook provides only a small box for you to code in, and provides no syntax coloring or syntax checking.
  • Facebook Caches External Files — Facebook caches every external file causing changes to external CSS, images, Flash, or other external files to not show up without changing the version query string on the end of each file.
  • You’ll Publish Untested Code — Once you save changes, those changes will be live on your Facebook Page. You probably don’t want users seeing an unfinished or broken landing page.

Program the Page Without FBML

Since we aren’t going to be using Facebook to start programming, we can’t use Facebook’s Markup Language (FBML). In order to account for how Facebook will handle our code, we will adjust our code to follow these rules as we build our page.

  • Use Plain Old HTML and CSS — Program your Facebook Page like you would any page using HTML and CSS. 90% of the code will act exactly the same way. The rest you can adjust when you move the code onto Facebook.
  • Load CSS Externally — CSS should be loaded using an external style sheet file instead of using an internal style sheet. Internet Explorer 6, 7, and 8 can’t read internal style sheets on Facebook Pages.
  • Host Files on Another Server — Every image, CSS file, Flash video, or other external file needs to be hosted elsewhere. Facebook will not host any files for you.
  • Make All Paths Absolute — All paths to external files must be absolute. Write an image link like http://www.example.com/images/picture.jpg. Don’t write images/pictures.jpg.
  • Remove Firefox’s 1 Pixel Gap — Mozilla Firefox creates a 1-pixel space between images on Facebook landing pages. Use a class with the style display:block to remove the space. In our code, we use the class “nospace” to implement this style.

To start, create one HTML and one CSS file. The HTML file will hold the HTML and eventually the FBML. The CSS file will hold all of your styles. We’ll call them facebook.html and facebook-styles.css.

Start by linking to the CSS file and creating a div with an ID of container. Give the container a width of 520px in the CSS. Also, if you want to brand your landing page a little better, you can choose a font. To override Facebook’s default paragraph style, we added a font-family style for #container p. Finally, Facebook uses a default font size of 11px and a font color of #333. To best imitate Facebook while testing, we included the 11px font size and also set the container text color to black to match our company colors.


facebook.html

facebook-styles.css

Create the remaining HTML and CSS for your Facebook landing page. Here is the code we have after finishing our page. At this point our landing page should look exactly how we presented it in the design instructions before.

facebook.html

facebook-styles.css

Test the landing page in all the browsers at this point to make sure it appears correctly. You really should test the page throughout building, but this serves as a good reminder.


Add in the Necessary FBML


The page looks exactly as we expected it to, but right now if someone already Likes our page, they will still see the call to action for them to Like at the top. Let’s put in a conditional statement using FBML that only shows the action image when you aren’t logged in or haven’t Liked the page. This way, once someone Likes the page, they won’t be prompted to do so again.

Regular HTML

HTML with the FBML Conditional Statement

Let me explain the code:

  • fb:visible-connection — This code checks to see if the user has Liked the page before. If the user has Liked the page then the content inside will appear.
  • fb:else — In this case fb:else will display only to users who haven’t Liked the page. That is why we put the call to action inside the else statement. Also, unlike typical else statements, fb:else is placed inside the other conditional.
  • In case you want to add something else besides a call to action for your Like button, below are some examples of other commonly used FBML items.

    Adding the User’s Name — fb:name

    Fb:name will display the full name of the logged in user. For example, if a user named John Smith comes to your page the code below will display “John Smith”. This can be used to greet a user by name when they come to your landing page.

    Adding the User’s Profile Picture — fb:profile-pic

    Fb:profile-pic will display a user’s profile picture if they come to your landing page. For example, the code below will display the current user’s profile picture at 64px by 64px.

    Adding a Share Button — fb:share-button

    Fb:share-button will display a share button that allows users to share a link on their own profiles. For example, the code below will display a basic share button for Mashable.

    Adding a YouTube Video or SWF File — fb:swf

    Fb:swf will display an image that when clicked will show a video. For example, the code below will display the thumbnail used for The Social Network movie trailer. When that image is clicked, the trailer’s YouTube video will automatically play.

    Unfortunately, Facebook requires that the image be clicked before the video will play. You can create your own image to show through the imgsrc parameter. We wrapped the FBML in a container div to allow us to style it and added ?autoplay=1 to the end of swfsrc so the user won’t have to click twice to play the video.

    If you want to add your own YouTube video, replace the text in the parameters swfsrc and imgsrc where it says “1B95KLmpLR4” with the ID of the YouTube video you want. You can find the ID in the URL of any YouTube video after the text http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=.

    Adding an FLV file — fb:flv

    Fb:flv will display a video player for FLV files. For example, the code below will display a play button that you click to play the FLV video. fb:flv provides the player and all the controls. All you need is the FLV file.

    Adding an MP3 File — fb:mp3

    Fb:mp3 will display and play an MP3 music file. For example, the code below will display a music player that users can click to play. The player will then rotate through a display of the song title, song artist, and the album name.

    Adding a Form

    While adding a form is not FBML, people are often curious to learn how to place them on their Facebook landing pages. To do this, copy and paste your form code into the FBML submission box. Make sure you use the following code to start your form:

    Adding target="_blank" will open a new window when the form is submitted so the user isn’t taken away from Facebook.

    If you want to add a newsletter signup form to Facebook, both MailChimp and CampaignMonitor have tutorials that explain the process. If you don’t use one of those services, you can usually drop in the code from your e-mail marketing company to make this work.

    Adding JavaScript

    Adding JavaScript is outside the scope of this article, but you can learn more about Facebook JavaScript at developers.facebook.com/docs/fbjs. As of right now, you should remember that JavaScript will not be activated on your landing page until the user has taken action.

    If you haven’t found the FBML you’re looking for, visit Facebook’s Official FBML page.


    Publishing Your Company’s New Facebook Page


    After adding all of our FBML, we’re ready to add those final touches and publish our finished Facebook landing page.

    Uploading External Content, Adjusting Links, and Adding a Version Query String

    Once we’re done adding all the necessary FBML we need to move all the CSS, images, videos, and other external files to a server. To host your files, we recommend using your website’s server if possible.

    Once all of our files are located on a public server, we need to adjust our HTML to make all of our paths absolute and add a version query string. Previously I mentioned that Facebook caches all of your external files. This means that once you publish your Facebook Page, any changes you make to external files will not show on your landing page. This happens because Facebook doesn’t know the file has changed and is loading its older saved version. To trick Facebook, we use a query string at the end of our filenames and increase the number whenever we make a change to that external file. Facebook then thinks we’re using a different file and loads it up.

    Old Relative Path with No Version Query String

    New Absolute Path with the Version Query String


    Test Your Page Using the JavaScript Test Console


    One of the biggest disadvantages of Facebook landing pag
    es is that Facebook provides no place for you to test your code. We have to use the Facebook JavaScript Test Console.

    Copy and paste your HTML into the JavaScript Test Console and click “Run Code.” You’ll get to see your code in action. If everything looks good, you’re ready to publish your finished Facebook landing page. If not, make sure to check the links to your external content. Also, I noticed that the Facebook JavaScript Test Console has trouble loading videos, so you may be forced to test that code directly on your landing page.


    Publish Your Finished Facebook Landing Page


    Finally, you are ready to publish your HTML file to the Edit FBML screen. Follow these steps:

    • Click “Edit Page” on your Facebook Page.
    • Click “Apps” on the left side of the page.
    • Under the FBML section click “Go to App.” If you don’t see this, please add the “Static FBML” application to your Facebook Page.
    • Copy and paste your HTML code into the FBML box.
    • Title your FBML. This will show up in the tab at the top of the landing page. While you may want to use “Welcome,” remember that those who Like you will not land on this tab. Instead they will land on your wall and will see another tab that says “Welcome” at the top. We used “Who We Are.” Hopefully you can think of something more creative.
    • Click “Save Changes.”
    • Go view your Facebook landing page.

    • Make Your New Landing Page the Default Landing Tab


      Now that you’ve put in all of this time programming your custom landing page, you probably want to make it your default landing page. This way, when someone that has not Liked your page comes to it, they will be taken to your custom landing page instead of your wall. Here’s how to do it:

      • Click “Edit Page” on your Facebook Page.
      • Click “Manage Permissions” on the left side of the page.
      • Beside “Default Landing Tab,” use the drop-down menu to select the title of your new landing page.
      • Click “Save Changes.”

      Note that as an admin you will always see the content that you only want shown to those who haven’t Liked your page. Check with someone who has Liked your page and is not an admin to make sure they only see the content that’s meant for them.


      Congrats, You’re Finished!


      Nice work. You’re done. In case you need it, here are the final HTML, FBML, and CSS we used for our Facebook landing page.

      HTML and FBML

      CSS

      Since there is no one correct way to program a landing page, we would love to hear what you think. Have you ever designed or programmed a Facebook landing page? How did it go? Did you run into any issues? Do you have any additional tips we didn’t cover here? Let us know in the comments.


      More Dev & Design Resources from Mashable:


      How App-Like Design Can Turn Your Site Visitors Into Customers
      4 Predictions for Web Design in 2011
      HOW TO: Get the Most From Crowdsourced Design Competitions
      HOW TO: Get More Out of Your Fonts
      10 Predictions for Web Development in 2011

      Image courtesy of Flickr, smemon87

      More About: business, design, facebook, landing page how to, marketing lists, web design, Web Development

      For more Dev & Design coverage:




icons image

It’s been another busy week at Mashable. We’ve hired a San Francisco Bureau Chief and sent our own Pete Cashmore to Davos. Still, the team was able to turn out another lineup of tools and resources from the past week or so for your reading pleasure.

Scroll down for infographics on the size of the web and an illustrated history of social media. We’ve also got some hands on demos and a look at some nifty LinkedIn features to help your company.

Looking for even more social media resources? This guide appears every weekend, and you can check out all the lists-gone-by here any time.


Social Media


For more social media news and resources, you can follow Mashable’s social media channel on Twitter and become a fan on Facebook.


Tech & Mobile


For more tech news and resources, you can follow Mashable’s tech channel on Twitter and become a fan on Facebook.


Business


For more business news and resources, you can follow Mashable’s business channel on Twitter and become a fan on Facebook.

Image courtesy of Webtreats

More About: business, Features Week In Review, gadgets, List, Lists, Mobile 2.0, social media, tech

It’s clear that there are many, many ways to hack your Facebook profile. New profiles began appearing in December and here at Mashable we rounded up some of the best initial ones and then 10 more creative profiles from readers. Now, here are another 10 that illustrate the open-ended nature of Facebook profile page designs.

Do you have a good one? Please send it our way.

1. Arto Remes




Remes, a Finnish ad exec, offers a somewhat melancholy portrait of himself driving.

2. Chris Monroe

Professional photographer Monroe uses his profile to strut his stuff.

3. Nasir Jumani

Jumani, a Pakistani engineer, shows himself doing what we’re likely doing when we visit his page.

4. Suzi George

George’s is one of those profiles that just makes you want to go “awww.”

5. Luke Brown

Angry young man Luke Brown appears to be coming through the page.

6. Isaac M. Vicci

Watch what you say on Isaac’s wall. He’s watching.

7. Paolo Villanueva

Villanueva’s page explores the outer limits of cuteness.

8. Amy Priscilla Kim

Kim’s profile hints at what Jackson Pollack might have done with a Facebook profile.

9. Kibar Al-Uqab

Al-Uqab is obviously a big fan of Nikon.

10. Niki Atanasov

Atanasov, of Bulgaria, shows how effective a full-bleed profile shot can be.


More Social Media Resources from Mashable:


10 More Creative Uses of the New Facebook Profile [PICS]
10 Cool Facebook Status Tips and Tricks
6 Reasons Why Social Games Are the Next Advertising Frontier
3 Things Brands Must Do to Reach Millennials Online
How Social Media Can Help With Your Long Distance Job Search

More About: facebook, facebook profile, hack, pics, social media, trending




Twitter Chart Image

This week offers a mixed bag of Twitter trends, and the surprising absence of one item we thought would certainly make the list.

As we’ve seen in the past, international sports usually drive a huge chunk of the Twitter discussion. This week’s number one trend was focused on a particular incident: the suspension of Scottish soccer commentator Andy Gray after he reportedly made sexist remarks off the air. A media frenzy, combined with plenty of public outcry, sent the story straight up to the number one slot.

In the entertainment realm, Bieber and Gaga fought it out for the number two slot, with the boy wonder just edging out the fame monster. Bieber has a 3-D movie coming out soon, and Gaga has a new album on the way.

Surprisingly, the State of the Union address, given by President Obama this past Tuesday, was nowhere to be found in the top 10, despite the onslaught of tweets during and after the speech. Our friends at What the Trend, who compiled the data below, told us that this topic peaked at around number 20.

For the full list of top trends, check out the chart below. Because this is a topical list, hashtag memes and games have been omitted from the chart.

You can check past Twitter trends in our Top Twitter Topics section, and read more about this past week’s trends on What The Trend.


Top Twitter Trends This Week: 1/22 – 1/28



Image courtesy of iStockphoto, 123render

More About: justin bieber, Lady Gaga, List, Lists, obama, social media, state of the union, Top Twitter Topics, twitter, Twitter Lists




twitter republic image

Scott Gerber is a serial entrepreneur, angel investor, public speaker and author of Never Get a “Real” Job: How to Dump Your Boss, Build a Business and Not Go Broke. The content for this post was sourced from the Young Entrepreneur Council, a group of successful Gen Y business owners. You can submit your questions to this group on NeverGetaRealJob.com.

To tweet or not to tweet. That is the question on many business owners’ minds.

For some, Twitter has proven to be a powerful way to engage customers and build a community. For others, tweeting has been nothing but a useless time suck. The fact is, most small business owners have no concept about how to use Twitter effectively. Many entrepreneurs simply produce and promote useless spam, while others over extend and over engage.

In order to teach business owners how to benefit from this tool, I asked a panel of successful young entrepreneurs how their entrepreneurial brethren can utilize Twitter to their advantage rather than to their dismay.


1. It’s A Social Tool


ashleyTwitter is an amazing tool to market and really interact with fans and customers. It gives you real-time conversation with them, but if you don’t interact and answer questions people have, it’s a complete turn off. There is a reason that it’s a ‘social media’ tool and the key word is ‘social.’ Don’t constantly shove information down their throats. Be social and see what your customers want or need.

– Ashley Bodi

Company URL: Business Beware

Twitter: @businessbeware


2. Avoid Insecurity Work


Ryan“Insecurity Work” is when you compulsively check your e-mail, website traffic, blog comments, etc., and it’s poison. Twitter is one of the most common causes of insecurity work that I see among young entrepreneurs. I suggest that you limit the time you spend on Twitter each day to less than a half hour. Remember: You don’t need to @Reply every single person that mentions your brand.

– Ryan Paugh

Company URL: www.ryanpaugh.com

Twitter: @paughginney


3. Engage With Your Followers


KrisAfter running Ruby Media Group, a social media and personal branding agency for over a year now, my best tip for using Twitter to market to customers and fans is to not market! This sounds contrary to everything traditional marketers know, but the best companies on Twitter create conversations with fans and become “followers” of their lives, making their product embedded into their daily lives.

– Kris Ruby

Company URL: Ruby Media Group

Twitter: @sparklingruby


4. Autoresponder


ElizabethI have an automatic responder using socialoomph.com set up so that when people “follow” me on Twitter they get a direct message regarding my website. For Schedule Makeover(TM) time coaching and training, the goal is to drive traffic to my newsletter signup.

– Elizabeth Saunders

Company URL: Schedule Makeover

Twitter: @RealLifeE

Facebook: Time Coaching


5. Provide Value and Get Software to Help


LucasThere are two goals you should have when using Twitter to market to customers: Establish yourself as an expert and deliver relevant valuable content. Post tips, advice and guidance that will help your potential customers. Once you get the content down on what you want to post, I recommend using software like Tweet Adder to help you manage your account and stay active with your followers.

– Lucas Sommer

Company URL: Audimated

Twitter: @audimated


6. Provide Relevant Information


AndersonTwitter is a brilliant tool to push information out to your customers and fans, but it is important to remember that Twitter is not about self-promotion. Be sure you’re engaging your customer base and starting a dialogue. Create genuine interaction and work to distribute information relevant to your customers. Using this approach will help you harness the power of Twitter.

– Anderson Schoenrock

Company URL: Scan Digital

Twitter: Scan Digital


7. Be Personal and Interesting


MattSeventy to eighty percent of your tweets should be informational, fun or personal in nature, and only 20 to 30% should be commercial. Retweet interesting links, useful articles and photos taken from your cell phone. For example, at SitePoint we recently tweeted about Movember mustaches, posted photos of 10 staff members who grew mustaches, and asked our Twitter followers and Facebook fans to vote on the best one.

– Matt Mickiewicz

Company URL: 99designs

Twitter: @sitepointmatt


8. Twitter Etiquette


HeatherFirst, understand that quality always trumps quantity when it comes to social media. One hundred evangelists far outweigh 100,000 mere “followers.” Second, follow Twitter etiquette: listen, be relevant, mind your brand, engage, and give more than you get.

– Heather Huhman

Company URL: Come Recommended

Twitter: @heatherhuhman



More Business Resources from Mashable:


5 Masterminds Redefining Social Media Marketing
24 Professional Events & Organizations for Social Media Strategists
The Future of the Social Media Strategist
7 Tips for Succeeding as a Social Media Strategist
HOW TO: Define the Role of Your Social Media Team

Image courtesy of Scott Beale / Laughing Squid

More About: business, entrepreneurs, small business, social media, startups, tips, twitter




food image

Dave Sloan is CEO of Treehouse Logic, which offers a hosted design tool solution that enables customer co-creation. You can reach Dave at dave@treehouselogic.com and follow him on Twitter.

Do you like to conjure up our own creations in the kitchen? When you eat out are you picky like Sally in When Harry Met Sally?

Food marketers are finding new ways to let you take control of your eats on the Internet. Examples include social media contests, ordering take-out, and shopping online for personalized (and edible) gifts.

Here are three new ways you can customize food via a computer or mobile device.


1. Virtual Food Customization


donut image

Dunkin Donuts offers an interactive donut designer where you can “make a donut for fun.” Choose a shape, dough, filling, frosting, and topping. When finished, you can name and share your creation. Dunkin Donuts hosts design contests featuring their online design tool. The first design contest in 2009 generated nearly 130,000 donut submissions.

Starbucks offers a create-your-own drink experience at Frapuccino.com. Visitors can customize a Frappucino drink and post it to a gallery or to their Facebook profile. In addition to ingredient selections, visitors can swap out lifestyle images and graphics with a virtual scrapbooking tool. Over 72,000 customer creations have been posted to the Frappucino.com gallery so far.

Many brands offer virtual food creation experiences simply to invite you to interact with their brand. The goal of these web tools is to allow the consumer to get creative and share their handiwork –- spreading brand awareness.


2. Customize and Eat Now


dominos image

Domino’s pizza offers a visual product configurator that allows you to build your own pizza during the online ordering process. As you select toppings, they are virtually sprinkled across the pizza. Once your order is complete, your pizza is prepared at a local franchise and delivered to your door.

Specialty’s Café and Bakery operates 30 stores, mostly in Northern California. As you peruse their online menu you are presented with a visual stacking order of ingredients. Salads and sandwiches can be edited by adding and removing components. Your price dynamically updates as you make changes, and you can order your food for pickup or delivery. Specialty’s also offers in-store kiosks.

Other pioneers in online self-service include Papa John’s Pizza, Chipotle Mexican Grill and the 4Food hamburger restaurant in New York City. The customization process is visual, fun, and instantly gratifying — you can even eat your sandwich, pizza, or burrito shortly after designing it.


3. Send Personalized Gifts


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The Chocri chocolate website allows you to customize your own chocolate bar. Users can choose a base chocolate type and add exotic toppings to spruce up their treat. Available ingredients include everything from chili powder to coconut flakes.

Other create-your-own-flavor websites in the novelty food category include eCreamery for ice cream, Slantshack Jerky, and Design a Tea. For energy bars, try Element Bars and Youbar. For cereals, try Mix My Granola, MojaMix and MeandGoji. Some of these vendors allow you to upload an image and write custom text on the packaging.

These food co-creation sites are perfect for gift giving. (Note: If you’re inspired to order from these vendors for Valentine’s day, orders should be received before January 31st to ensure that they arrive on time.)

Restaurants and food vendors are experts at catering to individual tastes. Your local taqueria and Starbucks are perfect examples of mass customization -– you select the components that match your tastes and they prepare your taco or coffee while you wait.

The Internet takes food customization to the next level. Whether you want to design food for fun, order take-out or send a gift, there are plenty of innovative food websites and mobile apps ready to serve you. Bon appétit!


More Foodie Resources from Mashable:


How Professional Foodies Are Using Tech to Transform the Restaurant Business
Why Chocolate Companies Are So Sweet on Social Media
7 Great Mobile Apps for Environmentally Friendly Eating
For Restaurants, Social Media Is About More Than Just Marketing
10 iPhone Apps for Wine Enthusiasts

Image courtesy of PetitPlat Food Art – Stephanie Kilgast

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The cold snap may not have “snapped,” but all that winter chill hasn’t prevented Mashable from churning out another set of social media tools and resources.

Have a read through resources below for a perspective on Wikipedia’s short life and it’s prospective future, or how videos games are helping social good. Tech & Mobile has some tips for Ruby and some odd Apple patents. Business offers up some case studies and how marketers can optimize crowdsourcing.

Looking for even more social media resources? This guide appears every weekend, and you can check out all the lists-gone-by here any time.


Social Media


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Tech & Mobile


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Business


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More About: business, facebook, Features Week In Review, List, Lists, Mobile 2.0, small business, social media, tech, technology, twitter

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Lisa Wehr is the founder and CEO of Oneupweb, a leading digital marketing agency representing some of the nation’s most recognized brands for more than 15 years.

We’ve all heard the expression “The customer is always right,” but what about making the customer experience on your website so thoughtful that they don’t ever feel unappreciated, forgotten or neglected?

According to AnnoyingDesign.org, the average time a user spends on a site is only 56 seconds. You have just 56 seconds to turn your site visitors into customers. Is it possible? Certainly, and app design shows us the way.

What’s the cornerstone of app-influenced design? Action-oriented design components, which create immediate functionality. It’s the purposeful construction of obvious pathways that creates user friendly navigation. Focusing on visuals, placement and interaction can transform your site and your business.


Visuals: Symbols and Icons and Pictograms, Oh My!


Take a look at the two major printing sites shown here. The first site’s homepage is heavy in text and provides only its logo as imagery. The company’s product selection is displayed in a simple column on the left-hand side of the page, providing some sense of organization, but is it user friendly? Unfortunately, it’s not. The content-dense site may be highly visible to search engines, but it’s time-consuming to navigate, which is likely costing them business.

The second company’s site follows the same structure — listing its popular products in the left navigation — however it outdoes the first company by having a much more accommodating design. The site offers visual icons (very similar to apps) for each of their services. The main navigation consists of miniature color-coded pictograms (images used in place of concepts, objects and actions), which also provides app-like usability.

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Apps are all about pleasing the user by making navigation easier so people can achieve results faster. It’s more engaging and effective for a user to view primary navigation and action paths with supporting pictograms, as opposed to those that only contain text. For instance, the pictogram of a shopping cart on a navigation menu translates to “view order,” which resonates with users instantly. Not only are pictograms instantaneous, they’re also usually independent from language, allowing a global audience to confidently carry out tasks.

Below, Domino’s Pizza illustrates exactly this notion of making a task more enjoyable and better yet, faster (even speed readers combine symbols with text). Dominos.com requires specific user information from individuals as they complete online orders. The pizza company focused on the pragmatics (relations between the meaning of symbols and their users) as they made the often tedious task of filling out location information more visually appealing and less time consuming for users.

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Placement: Laying Down the Obvious Pathways


“Location, location, location” is key real estate, and should also be the golden rule of your homepage. As soon as your site appears on a user’s screen, they’re ready to go… but where?

Make all key actions on your site clearly accessible from the homepage. Unlike an app, your website is larger and has more room to fill. The main navigation of your homepage should be an ultimate go-to zone, so visitors don’t have to scroll down to find what they are looking for. The American Red Cross illustrates this tactic below. In the upper right-hand side of AmericanRedCross.org, users are provided with a search field [Figure 1], donation button [Figure 2], location finder [Figure 3], and various primary navigation items directing them to popular motives (in this case: “Give Blood,” “Volunteers,” “Take Classes” and more) for visiting the site.

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Interaction: Give the User a Bit of Control


Apps give users a feel of piloting — whether it is customization or creative routes of gathering desired info. Biggby Coffee offers customization by letting users choose the background skin of Biggby.com. Look to Adidas.com as an example of letting users run with their curiosity while still providing fast results.

Adidas’s homepage is filled with imagery, which visitors can scroll over to view multiple options [Figures 1 and 2], like voting on favorite sports players, connecting to Adidas’s social channels and shopping Adidas sportswear. And for visitors who have a precise agenda and aren’t in the mood to gallivant on Adidas.com, the company has wisely created a main navigation with pictograms for users with straightforward missions.

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Looking Ahead


Good websites in 2011 will be all about task-accommodating design, just like apps. Get ready to see revamped websites that are more visual, easier to utilize and more accessible. Here’s to a happy and user-centric year in design.


More Dev & Design Resources from Mashable:


4 Predictions for Web Design in 2011
HOW TO: Get the Most From Crowdsourced Design Competitions
HOW TO: Get More Out of Your Fonts
10 Predictions for Web Development in 2011
5 Free Annotation and Collaboration Tools for Web Projects

Disclosure: Oneupweb is a Mashable sponsor.

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