Story + Cool Hunting: Pitch Night 2014: Join us in-person to present your big breakthrough idea for the chance to be included in our online gift guide and at the Chelsea concept shop

Story + Cool Hunting: Pitch Night 2014

If you are a designer or maker able to spend an evening in NYC and have a product ready to sell, we at Cool Hunting want to see it. After two successful iterations, Rachel Shechtman of editorial concept shop recordOutboundLink(this,…

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Music labels get huge victory in quest to sue Grooveshark out of business

It appears Grooveshark’s days are just about numbered. The music sharing service has been dealt what could easily amount to a death blow by a US District Court judge, which found that Grooveshark’s own employees personally (and willfully) violated and profited from copyright infringement. It’s been a long saga; Grooveshark has faced lawsuit after lawsuit in recent years. It’s managed to overcome some by striking deals with publishers, but vengeful music labels haven’t given up on sinking the company.

Most recently, Grooveshark had tried to seek protection under the “safe harbour” provision of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. It took on a Google-like approach when responding to takedown notices by taking down unauthorized files…

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Critical Mistakes a Business Owner Should Avoid During Web Store Development

Launching a web store usually requires plenty of efforts and initial expenses. Every single day online business owners and developers make the same mistakes, which should be thoroughly analyzed and investigated as their prevention will help to make overall ecommerce development process much more effective, yet ignoring them can throw a business off and result in spending a fortune on fixing related issues in future.

Critical Mistakes a Business Owner Should Avoid During Web Store Development

It is not just enough to build a website (now almost everyone can do that!) and wait for someone who will come and buy your products and services.

Any web store owner needs to have a high quality ecommerce project with the clear marketing strategy for its growth. Remember, you create a website not for yourself, but for prospective customers, so take into consideration all their preferences. Many customers don’t want to spend their precious time on understanding how to use a website, so they will probably go somewhere else rather than investigating your sophisticated ecommerce functionality. If you still think over building an online store, my critical online business mistakes overview below can be of a great benefit.

Poor Design & Functionality

The importance of having memorable and modern design is a significant element of any web store, as customers can make aesthetic judgments about the company itself from the very first glance. The main aspect you have to notice is a website layout that should contain necessary text and graphic materials and stay rather informative at the same time to make the first impression. With good and responsive design you can be sure that pages of your store will load quickly what is really important for customers who don’t wish to wait for a while.

Moreover, any website owner has to do everything in order to provide some particular information their customers actually need. First of all, it’s quite essential to offer them an effective and reliable on-site search. The lack of speed and poor search results usually frustrate people. For more convenience, don’t forget to make a drop-down menu what will reduce time on choosing an appropriate product category. Provide customers with an opportunity to get back to previous pages which have been viewed. If to speak about poor design and functionality, please take a look at the High Noon Holsters. Major text data is messed up and uncomfortable usability won’t allow you to make a purchase even if you’re actually willing to make the one!

Poor Design & Functionality
High Noon Holsters

Standard Content

The other common mistake is using standard content without regular updates. A website shouldn’t make an impression of a desolate house that doesn’t contain any valuable and unique information. Some online stores don’t possess actual information about products offered and as a rule you can find product descriptions taken from manufacturer websites, like thousands of competitor projects. Use all possible and impossible descriptive methods to outline product features and specifications in your own way to attract prospective clients. For example, let’s assume that you’re selling tablet PCs among which you’re featuring Samsung Galaxy Tabs. Do you wonder, how many online stores use the same standard content from the manufacturer’s page Samsung Galaxy Tab® 4 7.0? Thousands! Stand out from the crowd with your unique content and you’ll make a real difference with your website performance and increase conversions and sales dramatically.

Standard Content
Samsung Galaxy Tab® 4 7.0

Sometimes online store owners do their best and add very extensive volume of information. Don’t overload your customers with the large articles to read or long video data to review. A lot of vendors think that most of their customers know what they actually want, but this is a substantial mistake: only well-structured and inducing descriptions can sometimes stimulate prospects to make a purchase.

Lack of Payment and Shipping Information

One of the most important questions for any customer is the product’s total price and delivery costs. This information should be given to customers in the first turn, as no one likes to be surprised by the final invoice, so if you can’t provide your customers with some specific options (like free delivery, for example), it’s better to let them know beforehand about this. The same thing concerns terms and ways of delivery which must be clearly explained to end users telling them how long they will be waiting for the purchased items and what shipping services are available.

Make your customer shopping experience more pleasing with modern options such as a one-click checkout, helping them to make purchases on the go, without complex registration forms and advanced verification. Furthermore, different customers have different payment preferences, so a person can pay using his bank account or electronic check and the other one wants to use a credit card or PayPal. Whatever customer needs are, you have to meet them to the fullest in order to succeed online.


Complicated Checkout

Many customers are tired or even hate filling long online application forms, that’s why try not to bother them with unnecessary information. Allow your prospects to modify their order if they made a mistake and want to remove wrong products from their shopping cart, instead of starting their ordering process once again. The checkout process, which is divided into many steps, can confuse your clients as well and make them leave online shopping cart abandoned without completing an order. For example, such well-known online stores as Sephora or Peapod have a checkout process of more than 5 steps, so guess their ecommerce experts should definitely think over how to improve their clients’ shopping experience.

Complicated Checkout

Try to avoid mandatory registration. Remember, customers came to you for an easy and hassle-free shopping experience, so if a web store requires an account to order something, lots of them can eventually switch to another, more flexible your competitor. Give your clients the freedom to choose between fast purchases and special deals for return and registered users.

Insufficient Photo and Video Data

While visiting online shopping malls, customers can’t touch or try products as in brick-and-mortar retail stores, so they need at least to know how these items look like before making a purchasing decision. For example, tiny, poor quality images will never convince customers of buying something in your web store. Only large professional photos from different perspectives can make a real difference to your conversions. For example, I really like how data is presented at Focal Price (if to take the computer/electronics field) or Bathtubs Plus and Chopping Blocks (if to take general home products/accessories). They have essential specifications available, user reviews, photo materials and other necessary information to make a deliberate purchasing decision.

Focal Price
Focal Price

Chopping Blocks
Chopping Blocks

Some huge virtual shopping malls like Amazon are a bit oversaturated with the text and visual content (because of their enormous size and business concept), though provide their customers with pleasant shopping experience as well.


Video content can also be an essential part of a successful ecommerce strategy. Using product review videos of your own production will help your grab prospect’s attention and allow them making the most deliberate choice. I personally upload them to YouTube as well and this works for me as an additional advertising channel.


Did you face some other critical mistakes while launching your brand new web project? Glad to hear about your personal experience in the comments below.

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A collection of creepy cupcakes for Halloween


Halloween is around the corner, so why not find some inspiration for some scary cupcakes?









The post A collection of creepy cupcakes for Halloween appeared first on Design daily news.

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Chilli Beans x YACHT Collaborate on Fun Eyewear: The creative duo have designed sunglasses and optical frames to make you smile

Chilli Beans x YACHT Collaborate on Fun Eyewear

Earlier this year, casual Brazilian eyewear brand Chilli Beans collaborated with bounce music artist Big Freedia on a collection of sunglasses and optical frames. They’ve hit a home run again working with ,…

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10 Massively Successful Minimum Viable Products

Today, lean startups and tech titans alike are increasingly using the minimum viable product (MVP) as a starting point for building successful software products. In the article 4 Reasons MVPs Fail we looked at the major risks you face in getting your product to market and how to overcome them. A successful minimum viable product helps you start the learning process as soon as possible, and not just to answer the technical questions of “how” but also to eliminate the business uncertainty of “why.”

In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the companies that got their MVP right and what they did to go on and launch some of the hottest products in the market today.

1. Dropbox

In his book The Lean Startup, Eric Ries, cofounder/CTO of IMVU talks about how Dropbox tackled the question of market viability by demonstrating their product in a video.

To answer the question of whether customers would want to use and pay for their file-sync solution and to justify the market to investors, Houston and his team had to “get out of the building” and put their proposed user experience in front of actual users to get feedback. Instead of digging into servers and building a high-availability, low-latency, always-on network even before they had any clue people would use it, the team decided to try something else.

how Dropbox tackled the question of market viability by demonstrating their product in a video
Image Source: Dropbox.

They made an explainer video and started sharing it with their network to see how people would react. If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a video demonstrating your products user experience is worth a million. The 3-minute video demonstrated Dropbox’s intended functionality and resulted in signups increasing from 5,000 people to 75,000 overnight — all of this in absence of a real product.

Dropbox’s explainer video served as a brilliant validation of the market before the founders ever had to invest in the infrastructure and development needed for a high-tech product like theirs to reach a functional level in the real world. It walked potential customers through what the product is and clearly demonstrated how it would help them, eventually leading to why they would want to pay you for it.

When it comes to product development, it’s easier said than done but when you’re building an MVPs, that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

2. Airbnb

In 2007, Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia wanted to start a business, but also couldn’t afford the rent of their San Francisco apartment. There was a design conference coming to town, and they decided to open up their loft as cheap accommodation for conference attendees who had lucked out on the hotels nearby. They took pictures of their apartment, put it up on a simple website, and soon they had 3 paying guests for the duration of the conference, a woman from Boston, a father from Utah, and another man originally from India.

people would be willing to pay to stay in someone else's home rather than a hotel and that not just recent college grads would sign up they started Airbnb
Image Source: TechCrunch.

The up-close interaction gave Chesky and Gebbia valuable insight into what potential customers would want. This concierge MVP helped validate the market and prove people would be willing to buy the experience. With their initial assumptions answered, that people would be willing to pay to stay in someone else’s home rather than a hotel and that not just recent college grads would sign up, they started Airbnb (then called AirbedAndBreakfast).

3. Groupon

Andrew Mason started with a website called The Point, a platform to bring people together to accomplish things they couldn’t do alone, like fundraising or boycotting a retailer. But the site wasn’t gaining much momentum, so they decided to try out something else.

The Daily Groupon and began posting deals each day manually
Image Source:

Using the same domain, they set up a customized WordPress blog called The Daily Groupon and began posting deals each day manually. When someone signed up for a particular deal, the team would generate a PDF document and email it using Apple Mail. This simple website they “cobbled together” showed the team this was a market worth looking at with just a manual-first (“Wizard of Oz”) MVP that helped them pivot their offering from what they had been doing previously.

They didn’t invest any time into developing a coupon system and designing a new website. Instead, they took what resources they had and made a piecemeal MVP out of them to test the hypothesis of whether people would be interested in what they were offering. Starting from a customized WordPress website and manually emailing PDF documents to a mailing list isn’t exactly what you’d call scaleable, but Groupon’s MVP was successful in answering that question for them.

4. Buffer

Buffer is a simple app that lets you schedule your posts across your social network, essentially letting you space out your updates so that you don’t flood your friends’ newsfeeds at one point in the day with interesting stuff you want to share. When starting out, Joel Gascoigne, Buffer’s founder, didn’t want to get stuck building a product no one wanted to use. So he began with a simple test.

Buffer is a simple app that lets you schedule your posts across your social network
Image Source: Buffer.

Buffer’s first minimum viable product was just a simple landing page. It explained what Buffer was and how it would work, encouraged people to sign up and offered a plans and pricing button for people to click on if they were interested. When they did, however, they were shown a short message explaining they weren’t quite ready yet and that people should sign up for updates. Joel used the email addresses received from the signup form to start conversations with the potential users of the app, gaining valuable feedback and insight into what they would want.

Next, they tested the hypothesis that people would want to pay for this by adding the prices table in between the landing page and the signup form. When someone clicked on the pricing plans button, they were shown the plans to see whether they would be interested in paying for something like Buffer. This showed Joel how many of the visitors to the site could potentially become paying customers. This zero-risk MVP helped Buffer identify the market and shape their product features in the coming development as well.

5. Zappos

Today, we know that people are comfortable with buying shoes online when Zappos had annual sales of more than $ 1 billion and was acquired by Amazon for $ 1.2 billion in 2009. But in 1999, when co-founder Nick Swinmurn wanted to build an online retail store that stocked a great selection of shoes, the assumption that other people would use it needed to be tested.

Swinmurn began by putting up photos of shoes from local shoe stores on a website to gauge demand for an online store
Image Source:

Swinmurn began by putting up photos of shoes from local shoe stores on a website to gauge demand for an online store. When someone ordered the shoe online, he would come back to the store and buy it. Instead of first investing in infrastructure and inventory, this gave Zappos a chance to answer the question of whether their product would be accepted by the market.

This Wizard of Oz, man-behind-the-curtain technique is used to test market hypotheses. It comes from the idea of putting on the impression of full functionality, essentially faking it until you make it. Customers believe they are experiencing the actual product, but in reality the work behind the scenes is being done manually. In the case of Zappos, by Swinmurn.

The Wizard of Oz approach is great because it also allows for greater interaction with customers at this crucial stage when you’re designing the product. The expedited learning, albeit at a small-scale, provides opportunities to test many assumptions you might be making about the product or the marketplace.

6. Twitter

Twitter traces its origins to the podcasting platform Odeo. When Odeo found the ground underneath slipping away after Apple stepped into the podcasting game with iTunes, the company started running hackathons to come up with ideas of where to head next. One result of this was an idea for sharing updates with a group of people via text messages, codenamed “twttr”.

Twitter traces its origins to the podcasting platform Odeo
Image Source: One Month Rails.

The first prototype was used as an internal service for Odeo employees, who eventually became so obsessed with it that they began racking up “monthly SMS bills totaling hundreds of dollars”.  This gave the team the push they needed to release Twitter to the public, but it was only at the SXSW festival in 2007 that their user base exploded when they showed off members’ tweets about the event on TV screens across the venue.

7. Zynga

Zynga is a game studio that builds social games, popularized by the likes of Farmville, which surpassed $ 1 billion in revenue from in-game purchases in 2013. For their game development process, the company follows a mix of landing pages and adword MVP tests to gauge interest in a planned game or particular aspect of the game.

Zynga is a game studio that builds social games
Image Source: TechCrunch.

By running short ads in existing games and online that pitch potential game ideas and features, the company is able to gather data about which direction to steer development towards, preventing them from wasting any resources on building a game that people don’t end up playing.

8. Foursquare

Foursquare is a location-based social network that lets users check-in with their location to share with friends and family. After their first such network, SMS-based Dodgeball, was acquired by Google, founders Dennis Crowley and Naveen Selvadurai set out to work on a mobile app based network they called Foursquare.

Foursquare is a location-based social network
Image Source: TechCrunch.

Backed by VC funding, they didn’t let development time slow them down, however, and launched with a single-featured MVP that didn’t bog them down in design and unnecessary features. They began with check-ins and the gamification rewards and focused on improving that side of the user experience, using feedback to mould their product.

Once they were comfortable with the basic functionality, they began adding extra features like Recommendations and City Guides years later. Additionally, they used existing services to help manage the service, for example using Google Docs to gather feedback and requests from users, which goes to show that you don’t need to do everything yourself when you start in order to build a scalable business.

9. Spotify

According to Henrik Kniberg, Agile and Lean Startup consultant and author, Spotify uses a 4-stage iterative product cycle (Think It, Build It, Ship It, Tweak It). When they launched in 2009 with a landing page, they focused on the single feature that mattered most: music streaming experience. With the desktop apps, they were able to test the market in the limited beta run, giving them time to build momentum to tackle the music industry licensing concerns that were sure to come as they planned on expanding to the US.

Spotify uses a 4-stage iterative product cycle
Image Source: Wired.

They follow the same agile process today to help scale. Each one of Spotify’s four stages are Lean since small teams are always working smartly to test assumptions. The “Think It” stage tests the merit of conceptual MVPs while the “Build It” stage releases a physical MVP only after it’s been tested for quality. The “Ship It” and “Tweak It” phases ensure long-term quality and customer alignment by releasing the MVP gradually, learning from feedback, and iterating tirelessly. We go into detail about the process they follow in our article on Building Minimum Viable Products at Spotify.

10. Pebble

Pebble is an e-paper smartwatch, arguably the one that brought the “wearables” market to the mainstream today. After investor funding dried up, founder Eric Migicovsky turned to crowdfunding site Kickstarter for fundraising and ended up becoming the most successful project there, raising more than $ 10 million from interested customers looking to support development.

Pebble is an e-paper smartwatch
Image Source: Pebble’s Kickstarter page.

Migicovsky recorded an explainer video to demonstrate the prototype and asked interested customers to contribute. They reached the original goal of $ 100,000 in 2 hours and by the end of the week had raised $ 600,000. When the funding round on Kickstarter ended, more than 60,000 people had pledged $ 10.2 million to the project and Pebble went on to develop the watch for consumers. As of March 20, 2014, Pebble has sold over 400,000 units.

Testing the Riskiest Assumptions

In his book, The Lean Startup, Eric Ries writes about how to choose what to test when designing an MVP:

“When one is choosing among the many assumptions in a business plan, it makes sense to test the riskiest assumptions first. If you can’t find a way to mitigate these risks toward the ideal that is required for a sustainable business, there is no point in testing the others.”

For most startups, the riskiest assumption is the existence of the market. For Dropbox, that assumption was that people wanted to use a file synchronization service. For Zappos, it was that people would buy shoes online. For Airbnb, it was that they would be willing to live at a stranger’s house as opposed to in a hotel. And in each of these cases, they designed their minimum viable product to answer those questions.

The post 10 Massively Successful Minimum Viable Products appeared first on Speckyboy Web Design Magazine.

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The biggest personalities in design

Read more about The biggest personalities in design at

Some designers let the work do all the talking, but others leave the world feeling like they know them personally – sometimes a little too intimately… 01. Stefan Sagmeister Sagmeister is a man who’s never afraid to speak his mind

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15 Amazing Free WordPress Google Maps Plugins

If you are wondering where to get free WordPress Google Maps Plugins from, then stop looking any further. As, here in this compilation we are listing down top 15 and most amazing WordPress Google Maps Plugins that are free to use. We all know how much useful and handy service Google Maps is. It needs really no introduction. Many organizations always incorporate Google Maps in their corporate website so as to let their customers or clients find them. Google Maps gives your customers a detailed and easy to understand map view and tell them where they can find you.

In this collection, we are listing top 15 free plugins for incorporating Google Maps to your website. Do have a look at this collection and feel free to download them and use them in your website or blog. We hope that you will like this collection. Enjoy!

WP Flexible Map

Embed Google Maps in pages and posts, either by centre coordinates or street address, or by URL to a Google Earth KML file.

Comprehensive Google Map Plugin

A simple and intuitive, yet elegant and fully documented Google map plugin that installs as a widget and a short code.

Leaflet Maps Marker

Maps Marker allows you to pin, organize and share your favorite places & tracks through your WordPress powered site easily.

MapPress Easy Google Maps

MapPress is the most popular and easiest way to create great-looking Google Maps and driving directions in your blog.

SimpleMap Store Locator

SimpleMap is an easy-to-use international store locator plugin that uses Google Maps to display information directly on your WordPress site.


The easiest tool available for creating custom & great-looking Google Maps. Add multiple pins and customize maps with drag-and-drop simplicity.

NextGEN Gallery Geo

NextGEN Gallery geo is a flexibe plugin, displaying beautiful maps with your photos by using EXIF Data or geocoding.

Pronamic Google Maps

This plugin makes it easy to add Google Maps to your WordPress post, pages or other custom post types.

CP Google Maps

CP Google Maps allows to associate geolocation information to your posts and to integrate your blog with Google Maps in an easy and natural way.

WP Geo

Adds location maps to your posts, pages and custom post types.


Draws a gpx track with altitude graph. You can also display your nextgen gallery images in the map.

XML Google Maps

This plugin allows you to easily insert Google Map or Google Earth Plugin Maps into your blog. You just have to add a link to your self defined Map from My Google Maps, Picasa Webalbum Picture Map, any geoRSS Feed (like Flickr), your uploaded Google Earth file (kmz, kml) or any other dynamic or static Google Earth file (,, etc.).

Feedgeorge WordPress Plugin

Feedgeorge WordPress Plugin is a geoblogging, geotagging and geocurating tool.

Google Routeplanner

Allows you to add one or more route planners based on Google Maps to help your users to find a specific place.

Basic Google Maps Placemarks

Embeds a Google Map into your site and lets you add map markers with custom icons and information windows.

How to Implement Rich Social Snippets for Social Media (Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest)…

Social media are important for every business. Here you will find how to optimize your sharable content and increase your number of followers with social snippets.

DreamQii’s Plexidrone for Filmmakers : Swarm control, autonomous flight and more from the brand’s latest drone

DreamQii's Plexidrone for Filmmakers

Drones have been a hot topic recently—and rightfully so. Outside of the dialogue surrounding the legality of buzzing around New York City or National Parks, the new generation of affordable and feature-packed quad-copters are enormously powerful tools for filmmakers. We recently used…

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