Archive for the ‘Others’ Category

Designing for Different Cultures: Cultural Considerations in Global Design

September 21st, 2023 No comments

When it comes to design, culture matters. A color, symbol, or layout that works in one place may not work in another. A one-size-fits-all approach is ineffective when we talk about global design. 

For instance, take the color white. It signifies purity and peace in Western countries. On the other hand, it symbolizes death and mourning in some Asian cultures. So, a single color can send mixed messages. Understanding these cultural distinctions is vital, especially in the world of design. 

In this blog, we’ll explore cultural considerations in global design. You’ll learn how to adapt your designs for different cultures. This will ensure your work resonates with your audience. 

Let’s start with the basics. 

What is Cross-Cultural Design?

Cross-cultural design is about making products that people from various cultures can easily use and understand. 

Imagine that you create a website. If it’s only suited for one culture, you limit who can benefit from it. Cross-cultural design expands that reach. It considers things like language, color, symbols, and customs. 

For example, English readers scan a page from left to right. Arabic readers scan from right to left. So, you may need to adjust the layout based on the culture. 

The goal is to make your design feel welcoming and intuitive for your target audience. This strategy helps increase user satisfaction and can even lead to higher sales or more engagement. It’s a way to be inclusive and effective in the global market.

Why does Cross-Cultural Design Matter?

Cross-cultural design is crucial because of the massive and diverse global audience accessing the internet today. According to a Dataportal’s report, there were 4.66 billion active internet users worldwide as of January 2021. This number keeps growing, and these users are not confined to one country or culture.

Consider smartphones, people from various cultural backgrounds hold these devices, speaking different languages, and having diverse customs.

With such an expansive reach, one design won’t fit all. Cross-cultural design helps create products that resonate with a broader, more diverse audience. This inclusion can boost the user experience, increase engagement, and drive up sales.

Cultural Relativism

Designers often create based on what’s familiar. This works well for local audiences who share the same cultural norms. However, it can be a hurdle when designing for global users. Thus, it becomes essential to recognize and set aside this design bias. 

Text layouts offer a clear example. Space needs can vary by language. German or Italian words require more room as they are generally longer than English ones. 

Beyond text, every design element carries cultural weight. Colors, fonts, layouts, and images mean different things in different places. Translating languages and changing currencies won’t make a design globally effective. You must adapt each element to meet diverse cultural expectations.

Cultural UI/UX

Cultural factors affect the UX/UI of a product. In the West, minimalist design is popular. It aims for easy readability and quick information processing. In the East, dense designs are common. They deliver a lot of information. What the West sees as clutter, the East might find rich and informative. What the East views as lacking, the West may see as clean and efficient.

The key is a user-first design approach. This means making design choices that serve the target user best. Extensive user research is the path to getting there. Thus, understanding the preferences and habits of different cultural groups can create a more appealing and effective UX/UI.

Top Tips for Cross-Cultural Design 

We’ve established above – your design must cater to the varied tastes, traditions, and taboos across cultures to resonate with a global audience. 

So, let’s look at some top tips that can guide you on this exciting yet challenging journey. 

  1. Understand Your Audience

The first step is knowing who you’re designing for. Research the countries or cultures you aim to reach. Look into social norms, taboos, values, and customs. This information helps you avoid false steps and make informed design decisions. 

Let’s consider designing a website for a financial services company. If your audience mainly resides in Japan, consider the significance of colors and numbers in Japanese culture. Blue symbolizes trust and reliability there. On the other hand, the number four, or “shi,” is considered unlucky because it sounds like the word for death. So, you may avoid using it in your design elements or pricing.

Being aware of these cultural nuances can make or break user engagement. It shows you’ve done your homework and respect the users’ traditions.

  1. Localization, not just Translation

Localization goes beyond converting text into another language. It’s about adapting the content and interface so that they resonate with the local audience. Consider date formats, currency, and even humor for this. 

In the United States, the date format is MM/DD/YYYY, while it’s DD/MM/YYYY in the United Kingdom. Small differences like this matter.

  1. Color Sensitivity

Colors carry deep cultural meanings. As mentioned earlier, white is linked to purity in the West but can symbolize death in some Asian cultures. 

Research the symbolism of colors in the cultures you’re targeting. Select a color scheme that aligns well with those interpretations to prevent misunderstandings.

  1. Directionality in Design

Directionality in design refers to the flow and layout of elements based on reading patterns. In countries where people speak English, the reading direction is from left to right. Design layouts often follow this pattern. Menus are usually on the left, and the most critical information appears in the top-left corner.

However, in Middle Eastern countries where Arabic is the primary language, people read from right to left. A design for this audience would flip the layout. Menus might appear on the right, and the most crucial information would be at the top-right.

  1. Icons and Symbols

Simple icons like an envelope for email or a house for home may seem universal but aren’t always understood globally. The same goes for gestures; a thumbs-up is a positive sign in some cultures but can be offensive in others. 

Choose icons, images, and symbols that are culturally neutral or adapt them based on the target culture.

  1. Consider Local Competitors

Analyzing local competitors can provide valuable insights into what works and what doesn’t in a specific cultural market. You might find popular design elements in that culture and incorporate them into your product.

  1. Test and Get Feedback

Don’t rely solely on research. Conduct usability tests involving individuals from your target culture. Collect feedback using a website feedback tool like ruttl and make the necessary adjustments. Real-world testing can reveal overlooked cultural nuances.

  1. Keep Updating

Cultures evolve, and your design should too. Regularly update your product based on cultural trends and feedback. Also, stay informed about global events that could affect public sentiment and how your design is received.

  1. Legal and Ethical Considerations

Know the laws of each country you operate in. For example, Europe has strict data protection rules under the GDPR. You need a clear privacy policy if you have a website that collects user data. You also have to ask for consent before tracking user behavior. Failing to do so can result in heavy fines.

Following local laws shows you’re a responsible business. It also helps avoid legal problems and keeps customer trust high.

Bridging the Gap Between Culture and Design

Creating designs based on the complexities between culture and design is an ongoing journey. As designers, embracing cross-cultural considerations is crucial for global success. These tips offer a roadmap to create designs that respect cultural nuances and encourage global engagement.

Giving due attention to culture and design helps you make your products more accessible and more universally appealing. It’s about creating a world where design serves as a global unifying force and enriches the user experience. 

With thoughtful research, localization, and continuous updating, your design can resonate across diverse cultures and set the stage for global impact.

Photo by Navneet Shanu on Pexels

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Navigating the Post-Cookie Era: Digital Marketing Strategies for Privacy-First Times

September 21st, 2023 No comments

In an age where privacy concerns loom large in the minds of internet users, we all stand united in valuing the protection of our digital identities. Yet, the intricate dance between user privacy and personalized marketing has taken center stage, raising a fundamental question: Can we still deliver targeted marketing without compromising user privacy?

As we usher in the post-cookie era, a new landscape emerges for marketers—one filled with challenges, opportunities, and the quest for a harmonious balance between respecting user privacy and achieving marketing effectiveness. This blog delves into the heart of this matter, exploring the innovative strategies that forward-thinking marketers have embraced long before the demise of third-party cookies.

The New Era: A Closer Look at the Shift

Before we delve into strategies for this new era, it’s crucial to grasp the significance of the post-cookie landscape. Third-party cookies, those tiny data fragments tracking user behavior across websites, have long been the backbone of digital advertising. In a 2021 survey of senior U.S. marketers, 51% regarded third-party cookies as pivotal for their marketing strategies, enabling the delivery of personalized ads and the acquisition of valuable insights into consumer behavior. However, in 2023, the tides of privacy and data security concerns have gradually ushered in their decline.

Major web browsers like Safari, Firefox, and Chrome have blocked third-party cookies or announced plans to phase them out. This change reflects a growing awareness of privacy rights and regulations, such as GDPR and CCPA. As a result, marketers must adapt to a world where these tracking mechanisms are no longer reliable.

Navigating the Privacy-First Digital Marketing Landscape

In today’s digital marketing realm, privacy regulations like GDPR and CCPA have ushered in a privacy-first paradigm that all digital marketers must heed when formulating strategies. Embracing this ethos involves several key principles:

Data Transparency: 

Transparency is paramount. Clearly communicate how you collect, utilize, and safeguard data. Keep your privacy policy up-to-date, reflecting these practices, and ensure it’s easily accessible on your website.

Data Protection: 

Prioritize robust data protection measures. Invest in encryption, secure storage, and regularly audit data-handling processes to guarantee compliance with stringent data protection regulations.

User Rights:

Respect and uphold user rights. Provide mechanisms for users to access, rectify, or delete their data upon request. Implement efficient systems to handle data subject requests promptly and effectively.

Consent Management:

Implement a robust consent management platform. Capture and manage user consent diligently, allowing users the flexibility to withdraw their consent easily if they choose to do so. This approach fosters trust and complies with evolving privacy standards, ensuring a responsible and respectful approach to digital marketing.

Tried-and-True Strategies for the Post-Cookie Era

In the post-cookie era, respecting user privacy is not just a legal requirement but also a competitive advantage. Consumers are becoming increasingly aware of how their data is used and are demanding more control over their online experiences. To navigate this new landscape successfully, marketers need to adopt a privacy-first mindset. Here’s how:

1. Consent-Based Marketing

Obtain clear and informed consent: Seek explicit permission from users before collecting their data. Implement robust consent management platforms to ensure compliance with data protection laws.

2. First-Party Data

Leverage first-party data: Focus on the data you collect directly from your audience, such as website analytics, CRM data, and email subscribers. This data is not affected by cookie restrictions and is a valuable resource for personalization.

4. Contextual Advertising

Contextual advertising involves placing ads based on the content of the webpage. This strategy respects user privacy while ensuring that ads are relevant to the context. Work closely with publishers and use advanced keyword targeting to maximize effectiveness.

4. Advanced Analytics

Invest in advanced analytics: Embrace technologies like machine learning and artificial intelligence to gain insights from limited data. Predictive modeling can help you understand user behavior without relying on cookies.

5. Diversify Your Marketing Mix

Explore alternative channels: Beyond digital advertising, consider diversifying your marketing mix. Invest in email marketing, social media, influencer partnerships, and content marketing to reach your audience without invasive tracking.

Maximizing the Use of Contextual Advertising

Among the strategies we’ve covered, Contextual Advertising shines as a top choice for precise and effective marketing. This approach involves using keywords to tailor advertisements to users’ interests, creating a more relevant and personalized experience. 

For instance, if a user searches for “hiking boots,” an opportunity arises to display ads not just for boots but also for related items like outdoor gear, camping equipment, and adventure travel packages. By aligning advertisements with user interests in real-time, contextual advertising respects user privacy while delivering targeted content.

Let’s dive into why this method is so powerful and how it can elevate your marketing efforts in the post-cookie era.

Utilizing Zero-Party Data: The Power of Preferences

Zero-party data takes center stage as a valuable asset in the absence of third-party cookies. Gathering zero-party data involves requesting user preferences through various engagement channels, such as email marketing preference settings, website registration questionnaires, and even interactive polls. 

Promotional surveys are an effective tool for gathering this invaluable data. When users invest their time in answering questions, it’s paramount to reciprocate with high-quality content tailored to their preferences. Building an email list with user consent remains a cornerstone strategy in maximizing zero-party data, and forming a direct and trustworthy line of communication.

Leveraging Browser APIs: A Window into User Interests

In the privacy-conscious post-cookie era, Browser APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) become invaluable for marketers. These interfaces offer profound insights into user behavior, preferences, and visited websites. 

Browser APIs empower marketers to analyze user interests, create preference profiles, deliver contextually relevant advertisements, provide behavior-based recommendations, and enhance the overall user experience. However, ethical data practices, privacy considerations, and user consent remain paramount when utilizing Browser APIs, ensuring responsible and compliant data collection.

Cohort Marketing: Targeting Similar Behavior Patterns

Cohort marketing emerges as another powerful Digital Marketing Strategy in the post-cookie era. Cohorts refer to small groups of users who exhibit similar behavior patterns. By categorizing users based on their shared decision-making behaviors, marketers can create highly targeted campaigns that resonate with specific audience segments. 

Data Clean Rooms: Collaborative Data-Driven Marketing

Data clean rooms are transforming digital marketing by ensuring privacy remains paramount. These software platforms enable secure data sharing among stakeholders, protecting personal information through anonymization. 

They offer a secure space for collaborative insights without sharing raw, identifiable data. Data clean rooms, following privacy regulations and principles, build trust in an era of heightened privacy awareness. While challenges exist, their emergence shows the industry’s commitment to responsible and privacy-centric practices.

Universal IDs (UID): Streamlined and Privacy-Conscious Engagement

Universal IDs (UIDs) play a pivotal role in recognizing users across different digital platforms, offering a streamlined and privacy-conscious way to engage with audiences. These single identifiers are utilized by the advertising industry to deliver targeted advertisements without compromising user privacy. 

Universal IDs prioritize user consent and provide a secure means of sharing information only with approved partners for Digital Marketing requirements. This approach ensures personalized and effective marketing while respecting privacy regulations and user preferences across various channels.

The Future of Digital Marketing

The post-cookie era may seem like a daunting challenge, but it’s also an opportunity for marketers to evolve and innovate in Kleinbott. software development company. By adopting a privacy-first mindset, leveraging first-party data, and exploring alternative marketing channels, you can continue to deliver effective campaigns while respecting user privacy.

As technology continues to advance, the future of digital marketing will likely be shaped by user-centric approaches that prioritize privacy and personalization. 

In conclusion, the post-cookie era heralds a new era of digital marketing, where privacy and personalization go hand in hand. By embracing a privacy-first mindset, diversifying your marketing strategies, and adhering to privacy regulations, you can navigate this landscape with confidence. Remember, the key to success in the privacy-first times is not just adapting to change but also embracing it as an opportunity for growth and innovation.

Featured image by freepik

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Nurturing Leads through Strategic Email Segmentation

September 20th, 2023 No comments

Are you a business owner who has yet to get new leads or prospects even after so many email marketing campaign efforts?

If it is a Yes from your end, then you must go through the article below about how to nurture your leads and make them paying customers. Once you attract any potential customer or a lead towards your business, you must nurture them to make them stay with you, as research proves that 96% of the visitors who visit your business websites have yet to be entirely ready to buy your products or services. So you have to come forward and entertain them to buy the same. The most effective and efficient strategy that can help you nurture your leads and pass them through the email marketing funnel is email segmentation. So let us move ahead and learn a lot more about this.

What is Email Segmentation?

Email segmentation is a simple technique that helps business owners categorize their email contacts into several groups based on different criteria. 

This technique lets you keep your customers with the same characteristics and interests in one group, making it easy to contact and share information with them. During email marketing campaigns, it becomes easier for you to personalize the marketing emails per the leads’ interest. Emailing them by understanding their interests and pain areas helps boost your engagement with your prospects. 

Therefore, this is the best strategy to nurture your leads. Research shows that when email campaigns are conducted with this segmented approach, they yield a 90.7% higher click-through rate of emails. 

Below mentioned are the four simple ways based on which you can segment your contact lists:

  • Segmentation based on geographic location

This is the most common one. This means you can sort out your email contacts as per their geographic location provided. For example, your business is hosting an email marketing campaign in one specific area so that you can share the event details with only the contacts of that location as per your segmented list.

  • Segmentation based on the B2B businesses and their specialization

You might be selling your products or services with several other businesses. You can segment based on that by sending sales or marketing emails to your vendors. They need their messages. 

  • Segmentation based on the content being shared

You must appropriately study the data collected through your leads for this kind of segmentation. For example, what are there interested in? What kind of websites do they usually visit? What do they download from the same? What kind of purchases do they make?

  • Segmentation based on the behavior of your leads

This is one of the deeper categories of this technique. This takes to understand the leads much better, like, what pages they visit daily. Are they impulsive buyers? Do they see like 4-5 times on a website before buying anything from that? Are they nervous buyers?

How Does Email Segmentation Helps in Lead Nurturing?

Unlike all other ways of communication, email communication is the most unique one. It can convert any regular visiting lead on your website to go through your email marketing funnel and become the paying customer of your business. Additionally, when businesses share emails to their segmented lists, that adds a cherry on the cake. Below mentioned are some of the benefits of email segmentation that work wonders when you are looking to nurture your leads:

  • Increase in the email open rate.

Consider yourself as a recipient of an email marketing campaign; hundreds of email landing in our mailboxes, which we don’t even open. Therefore, when you share marketing emails with your leads as per the segmented list, the email will be relevant to them. So relevant emails with more concise and helpful subject lines should be opened, though increasing your email opening rate.

  • Increase in the email click-through rate.

Once potential customers read relevant emails, they likely wish to interact with the business. So they tend to click on the “CTA” buttons or share their email addresses or other details with the business.

  • Increase in the conversion rate.

Step-by-step, your business is simply moving towards nurturing the leads and passing them through the email marketing funnel. When more and more customers are opening up the emails and clicking through the CTA, that shows they are interested in the products or services you are selling. 

  • Decrease in the number of unsubscribers.

Being a business owner, you would never want that the customer should unsubscribe through your marketing emails. So when you share relevant content to your segmented email contact list, the list of unsubscribers is automatically reduced. 

  • Avoids getting into the spam filters

When the leads do not wish to unsubscribe, they will not mark your marketing emails to spam filters. Therefore it is rightly said that email segmentation also helps improve email deliverability.


Email segmentation is just one part of email marketing, but it holds much more place in the campaign. This helps in going above to step up the marketing game. Research has proven that the campaigns being run with email segmentation in them help increase almost 760% of the revenue for a business. So you can make the best use of this strategy and generate more paying customers for your business. 

Featured Image by vectorjuice on Freepik

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Facilitating Inclusive Online Workshops (Part 2)

September 20th, 2023 No comments

Earlier in the first part of the series, we defined inclusivity and how it contributes to enriching the workshop experience. We established that inclusivity is about ensuring everyone has an equal opportunity to participate and contribute, regardless of their background or identity. It goes beyond merely having diversity in attendance. It’s about creating an environment where different perspectives are valued and used to drive innovative outcomes.

In the second part, I will introduce you to the principle of the inclusive workshop through the acronym P.A.R.T.S. (which stands for Promote, Acknowledge, Respect, Transparency, and Share). After the principle is explained, we will dive into what you can do during and after the workshop to implement this principle.

The P.A.R.T.S. Principle

Often, we fall into the trap of thinking, “I’ve got a mixed group of folks here. My inclusivity job is done!”

Yes, having a diverse set of individuals is often an essential first step. But it’s just that — a first step. It’s like opening the door and inviting people in. However, the real task begins after the guests have arrived. That’s when you need to ensure they feel welcome, heard, and valued.

As a facilitator, how can you make sure that people feel safe to express their ideas and participate actively during the workshop? Here’s where the P.A.R.T.S. principle comes in.

The P.A.R.T.S. principle is an acronym that encapsulates five key principles that can form the foundation of any inclusive workshop: Promote, Acknowledge, Respect, Transparency, and Share.

P — Promote

Promote active participation from all attendees.

This begins with creating an environment where participants feel at ease sharing their ideas, opinions, and experiences. As a facilitator, your role is to set this tone from the beginning. One practical way to promote participation is by establishing some ground rules that encourage everyone to contribute. Another approach is to use different facilitation techniques to draw out quieter participants, such as having a quiet brainstorming session where participants can spend more time on their own to contribute their ideas or having round-robin techniques where everyone gets a turn to speak.

A — Acknowledge

Acknowledging participants’ contributions validates their input and makes them feel heard and valued.

This can be as simple as saying, “Thank you for sharing,” or “That’s an interesting perspective.” It’s also about demonstrating that you’ve understood their input by summarizing or paraphrasing what they’ve said. By doing this, you not only confirm their feelings of being heard but also model listening behavior for other participants.

R — Respect

Respect for all ideas, experiences, and perspectives is fundamental to an inclusive workshop.

This starts with setting expectations that all ideas are welcome, no matter how outside-the-box they may seem. It also means respecting the varied communication styles, personalities, and cultural backgrounds of the participants. As a facilitator, you should encourage respect by addressing any inappropriate comments or behaviors immediately and decisively.

T — Transparency

Transparency involves clear and open communication.

As a facilitator, it’s essential to articulate the workshop’s goals and processes clearly, address questions and concerns promptly, and keep channels for feedback open and responsive. This can be done by stating the agenda upfront, explaining the purpose of each activity, and regularly checking in with participants to ensure they’re following along.

S — Share

Share the workshop’s objectives, expectations, and agenda with all participants.

This shared understanding guides the workshop process and provides a sense of direction. It also empowers participants to take ownership of their contributions and the workshop outcomes.

The P.A.R.T.S. principle is a high-level principle you can try to implement in your workshop to make sure that all voices are heard, but to guide you further into how the principle can be used, here are some practical steps you can follow before, during, and after the workshop.

Applying The P.A.R.T.S. Principle: Before And During The Workshop

Step 1. Set The Stage

Setting the stage for your workshop goes beyond just a simple introduction. This is the point at which you establish the environment and set the tone for the entire event. For example, you can set rules like: “One person speaks at a time,” “Respect all ideas,” “Challenge the idea, not the person,” and so on. Clearly stating these rules before you start will help create an environment conducive to open and productive discussions.

It’s important to let participants know that every workshop has its “highs” and “lows.” Make it clear at the outset that these fluctuations in pace and energy are normal and are part of the process. Encourage participants to be patient and stay engaged through the lows, as these can often lead to breakthroughs and moments of high productivity later, during the highs.

Step 2. Observe The Participants

As a facilitator, it’s essential for you to observe and understand the dynamics of the group — to ensure everyone is engaged and participating effectively. Below, I’ve outlined a simpler approach to participant observation that involves looking for non-verbal cues, tracking participation levels, and paying attention to reactions to the content.

Here are a few things you should be paying attention to:

  • Non-verbal cues
    Non-verbal cues can be quite telling and often communicate more than words. Pay attention to participants’ body language as captured by their cameras, such as their posture, facial expressions, and eye contact. This also applies to in-person workshops where it is, in fact, much easier to keep track of the body language of participants. For instance, leaning back or crossing arms might suggest disengagement, while constant eye contact and active note-taking might indicate interest and engagement. When you’re facilitating a remote workshop (and there is no video connection, so you won’t have access to the usual body language indicators), pay attention to the use of emojis, reactions, and the frequency of chat activity. Also, look for signals that people want to speak; they might be unmuting themselves, using the “raise hand” button, or physically raising their hands.
  • Participation levels
    Keep track of how often and who is contributing to the discussion. If you notice a participant hasn’t contributed in a while, you might want to encourage them to share their thoughts. You could ask, “We haven’t heard from you yet. Would you like to add something to the discussion?”. Conversely, if someone seems to be dominating the conversation, you could say, “Let’s hear from someone who hasn’t had a chance to speak yet.” It’s all about ensuring a balanced participation where every voice is heard.
  • Reactions to content
    Observe participants’ reactions to the topics which are being discussed. Nods of agreement, looks of surprise, or expressions of confusion can all be very revealing. If you notice a reaction that suggests confusion or disagreement, don’t hesitate to pause and address it. You could ask the participant to share their thoughts or provide further explanations to clarify any possible misunderstandings.
  • Managing conflict
    At times, disagreements or conflicts may arise during the workshop. As a facilitator, it’s your role to manage these situations and ensure a safe and respectful environment. If a conflict arises, acknowledge it openly and encourage constructive dialogue. Remind participants of the ground rules, focusing on the importance of respecting each others’ opinions and perspectives. If necessary, you could use conflict resolution techniques, such as active listening and meditating or even taking a short break to cool down the tension.

Another helpful tip is to have a space for extra ideas. This could be a whiteboard in a physical setting or a shared digital document in a virtual one. Encourage participants to write down any thoughts or ideas that come up, even if they are not immediately relevant to the current discussion. These can be revisited later and may spur new insights or discussions.

Another tip is to use workshop-specific tools such as Butter, where participants can express their emotions through the emoji reaction features and be queued to ask their questions without interrupting the speakers. Lastly, if you have a group larger than 5-6 people, consider dividing them into sub-groups and using co-facilitators to assist in managing these sub-groups. This will make the workshop experience much better for individual participants.

Observing others through laptop cameras can be difficult when there are more than 5-6 people in the virtual room. That’s a big reason why you’ll need to set the stage and establish a few ground rules at the beginning. Rules such as “Speak one person at a time,” “Use the ‘Raise Hand’ button to speak,” and “Leave questions in the chat space” can really improve the experience.

Remote workshops might not be able to replace the full experience of in-person workshops, where we can clearly see people’s body language and interact with each other more easily. However, with the right combination of tools and facilitation tips, remote workshops can probably match very closely the in-person experience and make the participants happy.

Step 3. Respect Your Schedule

As you go about your workshop, respecting your agenda is essential. This is all about sticking to your plan, staying on track, and communicating clearly with the participants about what stage you’re at and what’s coming next.

Scheduled breaks are equally as important. Let’s say you’ve planned for a 10-minute break every 45 minutes, then stick to this plan. It offers participants time to rest, grab a quick snack (or coffee/tea), refresh their minds, and prepare for the next part. This is particularly significant during online workshops where screen fatigue is a common problem.

We know workshops don’t always go as planned — disruptions are often part of the package. These could range from a technical glitch during a virtual workshop, a sudden question sparking a lengthy discussion, or just starting a bit late due to late arrivals. This is where your “buffer time” will come in handy!

Respecting the buffer time allows you to handle any disruption that may come up without compromising on the workshop content or rushing through sections to recover the lost time. If there are no disruptions, this time can be used for additional discussions or exercises or even finishing the workshop earlier — something that participants usually appreciate.

Remember to stay focused. As the facilitator, you should keep discussions on track and aligned with the workshop’s goals. If the conversation veers off-topic, gently guide it back to the main point.

Applying The P.A.R.T.S. Principle: After The Workshop

Step 1. Follow Up

A critical part of concluding your workshop is following up with participants. This not only helps solidify the decisions and actions that were agreed upon but also maintains the collaborative momentum even after the workshop ends.

  • Meeting Minutes
    Send out a concise summary of the workshop, including the key points of discussion, decisions made, and next steps. This serves as a reference document for participants and ensures everyone is on the same page.
  • Action Plan
    Detail the agreed-upon action items, the person responsible for each, and the deadlines. This provides clarity on the tasks to be accomplished post-workshop.
  • Next Steps
    Clearly communicate the next steps, whether that’s a follow-up meeting, a deadline for tasks, or further resources to explore. This ensures that the momentum from the workshop continues.

Step 2. Celebrate

Completing a workshop is no small feat. It takes dedication, focus, and collaborative effort from all participants. So, don’t let this moment pass uncelebrated. Recognizing everyone’s contributions and celebrating the completion of the workshop is an essential concluding step.

This not only serves as a token of gratitude for the participant’s time and effort but also reinforces the sense of achievement, promoting a positive and inclusive culture. Reflect on the journey you all undertook together, emphasizing the progress made, the skills developed, and the insights gained.

In your closing remarks or a follow-up communication, highlight specific achievements or breakthrough moments from the workshop. You might also share key takeaways or outcomes that align with the workshop’s objectives. This helps to not only recap the learning but also underscore the value each participant brought to the workshop.

Consider personalized gestures to commemorate the workshop — certificates of completion, digital badges, or even just a special mention can make participants feel recognized and appreciated. Celebrations, no matter how small, can build camaraderie, boost morale, and leave everyone looking forward to the next workshop.


Let me conclude Part 2 by quoting Simon Raybould, who wonderfully encapsulates the art of facilitation, by saying:

“The secret of facilitating is to make it easy for people to learn. If you’re not making it easy, you’re not doing it right.”
— Simon Raybould

I couldn’t agree more. The inclusive workshop is not just about getting things done; it represents the symphony of diverse voices coming together, the exploration of ideas, and the collective journey toward shared objectives. Embracing this essence of inclusivity and embedding it into your workshop design and delivery makes for an environment where everyone feels respected, collaboration is enhanced, and innovative thinking flourishes.

As a facilitator, you have the power to make the workshop experience memorable and inspiring. The influence of your efforts can extend beyond the workshop, cultivating an atmosphere of respect, diversity, and inclusivity that spills over into all collaborative activities. This is the true impact and potential of well-executed, inclusive workshops.

Further Reading & References

Here are a few additional resources on the topic of workshops. I hope you will find something useful there, too.

  • Gamestorming: A Playbook for Innovators, Rulebreakers, and Changemakers, by Dave Gray, Sunni Brown, and James Macanufo
    This well-known playbook provides a wide range of strategies and activities for designing workshops that encourage a creative, productive thinking environment. If you’re leading workshops and wish to encourage more out-of-the-box thinking, this book is a perfect source of inspiration.
  • Sprint, by Jake Knapp, John Zeratsky, and Braden Kowitz
    This is another well-known book in the workshop space. The book focuses on mastering the facilitation of Design Sprint, a workshop method by Google aimed at solving business problems and fostering collaboration. If you’re keen on leading tech teams or startups, this book is a great pick.
  • The Workshop Survival Guide, by Devin Hunt and Rob Fitzpatrick
    This guide navigates you through the end-to-end process of designing and conducting successful workshops. Whether you’re a newbie or an experienced facilitator, this resource gives comprehensive support to facilitate workshops confidently.
  • Invent To Learn: Making, Tinkering, and Engineering in the Classroom, by Sylvia Libow Martinez and Gary S. Stager
    Even though it is primarily for school educators, the book shares a wide range of methods and techniques that you can adapt to any workshop setting to create inclusive, creative, and hands-on learning environments. Highly recommended for those interested in creating an inclusive environment in any setting.
  • No Hard Feelings: The Secret Power of Embracing Emotions at Work, by Liz Fosslien and Mollie West Duffy
    Although it doesn’t focus on workshops specifically, the book gives useful insights on managing emotions at work from both participant and facilitator perspectives. It offers a broad overview of different personalities at work and how to foster emotional inclusivity, which can be valuable when facilitating workshops.
  • A Comprehensive Checklist For Running Design Workshops,” by Slava Shestopalov
    Slava’s article is a thorough guide to designing and conducting a successful workshop. This is a highly recommended read for designers, product managers, or even engineers looking to understand the nuances of running a design-centric workshop.
  • The Workshopper Playbook — A Summary” (AJ&Smart)
    The summary of “The Workshop Playbook” discusses the 4C technique that AJ&Smart developed for constructing any workshop. The 4C’s — Collect, Choose, Create, and Commit — form an exceptional workshop framework that adheres to the double-diamond method of workshop creation. If you’re interested in gaining a more profound understanding of the 4C framework, consider reading the full book by AJ&Smart.
  • The Secret To Healthy Remote Work: Fewer Meetings, More Workshops,” by Mehdi En-Naizi
    The article promotes the shift from traditional meetings to workshops in remote work settings to boost productivity and decrease stress. It highlights the workshops’ effectiveness, enhanced focus, and their role in promoting team unity and social interactions.
  • 10 Tips On Running An Online Meeting Your Team Won’t Hate (And Free Templates To Try!),” Anamaria Dorgo and Cheska Teresa
    This guide provides a detailed approach to overcoming the fatigue and frustration often associated with online meetings. The tips include clearly defining the meeting’s purpose, sticking to an agenda, creating an inclusive space for active participation, scheduling regular breaks, and using breakout rooms for more focused discussions.
  • How Silent Brainstorming Easily Engages Introverts On The Project Team,” by Annie MacLeod (DPM)
    Try out this brainstorming technique next time you need to get the team’s input on a problem or solution or if you’re working on a team with a lot of introverts.
  • Dot Voting: A Simple Decision-Making and Prioritizing Technique in UX,” Sarah Gibbons (NN/g Nielsen Norman Group)
    A few UX workshop activities work well in any situation, and dot voting is one of them. Dot voting is a simple tool used to democratically prioritize items or make decisions in a group setting. It is an easy, straightforward way to narrow down alternatives and converge on a set of concepts or ideas.
  • How Do You Encourage Introverts And Quiet Participants To Share Their Ideas In A Meeting?” (LinkedIn — Meeting Facilitation)
    Meetings are essential for collaboration, creativity, and innovation. But not everyone feels comfortable speaking up in a group setting. Some people may be introverted, shy, or simply prefer to listen and process information before sharing their thoughts. How do you encourage these quiet participants to contribute their valuable ideas in a meeting?
  • Teacher Toolkit: Think-Pair-Share” — YouTube, (Think-Pair-Share webpage)
    This versatile tool can be used in any classroom. The discussion technique gives students the opportunity to respond to questions in written form before engaging in meaningful conversation with other students. Asking students to write and discuss ideas with a partner before sharing with the larger group builds confidence, encourages greater participation, and results in more thoughtful discussions.
    (Editor’s Note: The Teacher Toolkit webpage is temporarily down. Until their server is restored, you can use a full webpage copy preserved by the WayBack Machine. — MB)
  • Fishbowl Conversation
    Fishbowl Conversation is great for keeping a focused conversation when you have a large group of people. At any time, only a few people have a conversation (the fish in the fishbowl). The remaining people are listeners (the ones watching the fishbowl). The caveat is that the listeners can join the discussion at any moment.
  • Lightning Talks” (Design sprints by Google)
    Lightning Talks are a core Design Sprint method and a powerful opportunity to build ownership in the Design Sprint challenge. Plan and set up Lightning Talks before your Design Sprint begins. After all the Lightning Talks are finished, hold an HMW sharing session to capture and share all the opportunities your team has come up with.
  • AJ&Smart’s Remote Design Sprint
    The lightning demo activity from Design Sprint is a perfect example of the “Idea Gallery” type of activity. Participants work individually to create a visual or written representation of their ideas (like a poster), and then everyone walks around to view the “gallery” and people discuss the ideas.
  • Poster Session” (Gamestorming)
    The goal of a poster session is to create a set of compelling images that summarize a challenge or topic for further discussion. Creating this set might be an “opening act,” which then sets the stage for choosing an idea to pursue, or it might be a way to get indexed on a large topic.
  • Jigsaw Activities” (The Bell Foundation)
    Jigsaw activities are a specific type of information gap activity that works best when used with the whole class. The class is first divided into groups of four to six learners who are then given some information on a particular aspect of the topic, which they later become experts in.
  • Disney Brainstorming Method
    The Disney method was developed in 1994 by Robert Dilts based on Walt Disney’s creative approach. It’s a good mix of creativity and concreteness as it’s not only about generating ideas but also looking at them with a critical eye and, eventually, having a few of them ready to be further explored and implemented.
  • Support Extroverted Students in Remote Environment — Group Discussions
    Several video platforms have options for small group discussions. If you’re using one of these, breaking into small groups can be a great opportunity to help your extroverted students feel fulfilled (and for your more introverted students to “warm up” for group discussion).
  • 37 brainstorming techniques to unlock team creativity,” by James Smart (SessionLab)
    It’s important to find a framework and idea-generation process that empowers your group to generate meaningful results, as finding new and innovative ideas is a vital part of the growth and success of any team or organization. In this article, several effective brainstorming techniques are explored in detail in categories such as creative exercises and visual idea-generation games.
  • Round-Robin Brainstorming” (MindTools blog)
    It’s all too easy to start a brainstorming session with good intentions but then overlook or miss potentially great ideas simply because one assertive person sets the tone for the entire meeting. This is why a tool like Round-Robin Brainstorming is so valuable. This method allows team members to generate ideas without being influenced by any one person, and you can then take these ideas into the next stages of the problem-solving process.
  • Eysenck’s Personality Theory” (TutorialsPoint)
    What is Eysenck’s Personality Theory? This theory has been influential in personality psychology and used to explain various phenomena, including individual differences in behavior and mental health.
  • Meeting Design: For Managers, Makers, and Everyone, a book by Kevin Hoffman
    Meetings don’t have to be painfully inefficient “snoozefests” — if you design them well. Meeting Design will teach you the design principles and innovative approaches you’ll need to transform meetings from boring to creative, from wasteful to productive.
  • State of Meetings Report 2021
    How did meetings actually change in 2020? What will the long-term impact of this change be? And could 2020 have changed the way we meet for good? These are questions that will be answered in this detailed report.
  • Social Identity Theory (Science Direct)
    Social identity theory defines a group as a collection of people who categorize themselves as belonging to the same social category and internalize the category’s social identity-defining attributes to define and evaluate themselves — attributes that capture and accentuate intragroup similarities and intergroup differences.
  • Clarizen Survey Pins Falling Productivity Levels on Communication Overload” (Bloomberg)
    A new survey by Clarizen, the global leader in collaborative work management, finds that companies’ efforts to improve collaboration among employees by opening new lines of communication can have the opposite effect.
  • Conflict Resolution Skills: What They Are and How to Use Them” (Coursera)
    Handling conflict in any context is never fun. Often, issues become more complicated than needed if the people involved need more conflict resolution and general communication skills. In this article, you’ll learn more about conflict resolution and, more specifically, how different conflict resolution skills may be useful in various situations.
  • Meeting Parking Lot” (The Facilitator’s School)
    A free template for handling off-topic questions, topics, and discussions. Available in Miro Template and Mural Template format.
  • SmashingConf Online Workshops
    Finally, do meet the friendly Smashing Magazine front-end & UX workshops! These remote workshops aim to give the same experience and access to experts that you would have in an in-person workshop without needing to leave your desk or couch. You can follow along with practical examples and interactive exercises, ask questions during the Q&A sessions, and use workshop recordings and materials to study at your own pace, at your own time.
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Cultivating Successful Hiring Practices: Best Strategies for Harnessing ChatGPT’s Power

September 19th, 2023 No comments

Welcome to the intersection where cutting-edge tech meets the age-old challenge of finding the perfect hire. 

Yes, we’re talking about spicing up your recruitment game with ChatGPT. Quick to gauge, precise to pinpoint. 

Still skeptical? Hang tight because we’re about to debunk myths, slice through the jargon, and give you the 411 on turning ChatGPT into your secret hiring weapon.

Let’s dive in. 

What is ChatGPT?

ChatGPT. It’s the talk of the town. But what is this buzzword? And how will it impact hiring across industries? 

Born from OpenAI’s labs, ChatGPT is an advanced language model that can understand and generate human-like text based on the prompts you feed it.

It’s through the power of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning that ChatGPT can simulate human-like conversions. For instance, you ask it a question. And it gives you an answer. Neat, huh?

Screenshot of ChatGPT

Screenshot by Brandon Lee. Source: ChatGPT

But today, industry leaders are leaning into ChatGPT to create text for all kinds of situations, including:

That’s right. ChatGPT opens the door to using AI-powered tools to transform the hiring process and management through project management workflow software. And who doesn’t love to work smarter (instead of harder)?

By incorporating ChatGPT into your recruitment efforts, you can streamline the tedious hiring tasks that eat away at your precious time and resources. And for the cherry on top, business process automation reduces human bias and provides a consistent and fair evaluation of all candidates.

Integrating ChatGPT into your hiring workflow enhances efficiency, accuracy, and scalability. In other words, it allows your HR teams to focus on higher-value tasks and build a more agile and competitive recruitment process. 

What’s not to love? 

5 Ways to Leverage ChatGPT to ?Cultivate Successful Hiring Practices

Here are five simple ways you can use ChatGPT to improve your hiring process. 

1. Write job descriptions that attract the right candidates

One of the most time-consuming aspects of hiring personnel is writing compelling job descriptions that stand out from the rest. 

Oh, and don’t get us started on the different requirements for each platform. Job posting websites like Indeed and Monster all have different requirements. Sigh.

Using ChatGPT, you can tailor-make custom job postings for different websites. For example, if Indeed requires companies to create 1500-character job descriptions, you can write a prompt to match their requirements.

“Write a 1500-character job description for a marketing manager position that includes bullet points and a summary.”

ChatGPT output for marketing manager job description

Screenshot by Brandon Lee. Source: ChatGPT

If you want to post a job on Upwork aimed more toward freelancers, you can write a ChatGPT prompt that reflects your preferences.

“Write a job description for a freelancer writer that has experience in B2B SaaS”

ChatGPT output for freelance job description

Screenshot by Brandon Lee. Source: ChatGPT

You can even translate your job descriptions into different languages if you’re hiring for a global (or remote) position. 

“Translate the job description into Spanish”

Job description translated into Spanish.

Screenshot by Brandon Lee. Source: ChatGPT

2. Create a list of engaging interview questions

Beyond candidate experience and rehearsed answers, the right interview questions unlock genuine insights, dreams, and ambitions from your potential candidates.  

Finding a qualified candidate on paper is one thing. But making sure they vibe with your company culture is another. Dive deeper, ask right, and gauge their true fit.

Engaging questions steer the dialogue, fostering a relaxed environment where the candidate feels more open to sharing.

So if you ??need a spur-of-the-moment question, or a twist on a classic, ChatGPT can deliver dozens of ideas in a matter of seconds.

And the best part? ChatGPT isn’t bound by personal biases or experiences. It’s a melting pot of perspectives, offering a diverse range of questions you might never have considered. Genius. 

Here’s how to do it: 

  1. Set your criteria. Let ChatGPT know what you’re looking for. Whether it’s a creative role, a leadership position, or a technical job, the more specific you are with the input, the better the output..
  2. Ask away. Prompt ChatGPT with something like, “Suggest some engaging questions for a software engineer interview.” And voila. 
  3. Refine and review. ChatGPT will spit out a bunch of questions. Always review them to confirm they align with your company values and the specific role requirements.
  4. Feedback loop. The beauty of AI is its iterative nature. Tell ChatGPT which suggestions you loved and which missed the mark. Over time, this feedback can make your AI-enhanced brainstorming even sharper.

3. Draft emails and offer letters to potential candidates

Most hiring communication takes place over email. And you want to make a good first impression. 

Why? Hiring is a two-way street. At the end of the day, you need to say yes to the potential hire. And the candidate needs to say yes to you. That’s why, when reaching out to potential candidates or crafting the perfect offer letter (or email templates), striking the right tone is key.

That’s where ChatGPT saved the day.

  • Find the perfect tone. Whether you’re looking for a professional demeanor or a touch of friendly enthusiasm, ChatGPT can help you nail the tone. Every. Time. 
  • Customization at scale. Are you sending out multiple emails per day? ChatGPT can help you give each one a personal feel (even if it’s the hundredth you’re sending that day). 
  • Reduce human errors. Beyond grammar, ChatGPT adds clarity, relevance, and precision to your communication.

Here’s a simple prompt to show you what ChatGPT can do:

“Write an enthusiastic response to a candidate who sends a thank you email after an interview”

Example of an email for after a candidate interview.

Screenshot by Brandon Lee. Source: ChatGPT

4. Generate simple code to create an HR chatbot assistant

Are you sick and tired of answering the same question every day? Or spending hours on tedious to-dos that you dislike? 

Imagine cutting through piles of repetitive tasks with an efficient chatbot assistant. Sounds too technical and out of reach, right? 

Think again. With ChatGPT, you don’t need to be a coding wizard to create a custom chatbot for your HR needs. All you require is a sprinkle of imagination and the right prompt. 

Automated chatbot assistance means faster responses to frequent inquiries, guaranteeing a smoother HR workflow. And that’s right, there’s no coding experience required. Rather, you’re instructing, not coding (read: guiding AI with the right input). 

Whether it’s onboarding, benefits queries, creating boolean search strings, or interview scheduling, you can craft your chatbot to align with your specific HR challenges.

Here’s an example prompt:

“I’d like to create a simple chatbot script for HR. Its main tasks should include answering frequently asked questions about leave policies, helping schedule interviews, and guiding new hires through initial paperwork.”

And voila. ChatGPT will churn out a basic framework or script to meet your specific requests.

Example code for HR chatbot.

Screenshot by Brandon Lee. Source: ChatGPT

While this won’t fully replace full-blown chatbot development platforms, it’s an excellent starting point. In other words, this solution is ideal for HR teams that are ready to open the door to what business process automation can bring to the table.

And spoiler alert. It’s plentiful. It’s free. And it can help you with screening candidates. What else could you ask for? 

5. Integrate ChatGPT into your payroll software

Using ChatGPT for hiring presents a compelling perspective on how AI-powered tools can also revolutionize the payroll software landscape. 

Integrating ChatGPT into your existing payroll software can significantly enhance user experience and operational efficiency. Even the “Big Four” accounting behemoth Ernst & Young acknowledges the benefits of modernization of payroll employee care

For instance, you can provide real-time support to employees when they have questions about their payroll, tax deductions, and other related matters. No more employee confusion over the very complicated payroll system.  

The result? Your HR team can focus on the bigger picture. Plus, with ChatGPT handling data entry and wage calculations, your payroll process becomes sleeker, more accurate, and downright efficient.

Talk about modern problems, meet modern solutions. 

Best Practices: Make Sure You Verify Your ChatGPT Outputs

As you can already tell, ChatGPT is an incredible technology. Yet, it does come with its share of drawbacks. If you plan on using ChatGPT for hiring, here are some things to be aware of:

  • Make sure you verify all of your ChatGPT outputs. This tool can generate false and misleading information. Measure twice before going all in. 
  • Refine and revise your responses. Giving follow-up responses to ChatGPT makes it smarter and will generate more precise outputs. 
  • Make sure your AI outputs align with your diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) standards. It’s wise to check your outputs against bias before moving on in the candidate screening process.
  • Never use ChatGPT to make final decisions. Keeping the human element in decision-making is key to minimizing mistakes in the hiring process. 
  • Don’t reveal any confidential information. Protecting your data is paramount to avoiding a cyberattack or data breach.

Follow ChatGPT Influencers for More Inspiration

It may take some time to get used to ChatGPT. In the meantime, you can follow popular ChatGPT influencers to take advantage of new ideas and methods for using the tool for hiring. 

You can usually find ChatGPT influencers on LinkedIn. They actively share ChatGPT prompts that’ll help take your hiring game to the next level.

Here’s an awesome example from Destiny Lalane:

ChatGPT influencer on LinkedIn for recruiting.

Image Source

Wrapping Up

We’ve debunked the myths, sifted through the jargon, and handed you the secret recipes to unlock your hiring potential.

Whether it’s crafting perfect emails, vetting resumes, or adding that dash of automation to your payroll, ChatGPT is here. And it’s ready to streamline your recruiting process once and for all.

Happy hiring!

Featured Image by Brooke Cagle on Unsplash

The post Cultivating Successful Hiring Practices: Best Strategies for Harnessing ChatGPT’s Power appeared first on noupe.

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How Smashing Magazine Uses TinaCMS To Manage An Editorial Workflow

September 18th, 2023 No comments

Smashing Magazine is drastically different today than it was just a few years ago, and you may not have even noticed. That’s how it often is with back-end development — the complete architecture changes, yet the front end you see is still very much the same.

You may recall this site was powered by WordPress up until 2019 when the team migrated our large archive of articles, guides, and tutorials to a Jamstack setup. The change was less of a mission than it was an experiment that stuck around. Sure, WordPress is still an incredibly viable CMS, especially for a site like Smashing Magazine that focuses on long-form content. But after seeing a blazing 6× improvement in page speed performance, Jamstack was something we couldn’t dismiss because the faster experience was a clear win for readers like you.

What we may not have expected was how the migration from WordPress to Jamstack would improve our developer experience in the process. We knew for sure that users benefitted from the change, but it wound up making our lives easier as well, as it opened up even more possibilities for what we can accomplish on the site — a real win-win outcome!

It took work to get to where we are today. We went from authoring in WordPress to authoring in Markdown files, so it’s not like we started reaping benefits right away. It is only now that we have integrated TinaCMS to our stack that our entire team is reaping the full benefits of our Jamstack architecture.

That’s really what I want to share in this article: a peek behind Smashing Magazine’s curtains at how we manage content. TinaCMS is not WordPress, so it has influenced the way we work. We think it’s pretty cool because TinaCMS is all about the developer experience in a CMS context, so, of course, the inner developers in us have nerded out over the sorts of things that we are now able to do.

Tina Who?

TinaCMS is not a household name in the CMS space. I’d say that’s likely by design, as its niche is clearly in the developer community rather than a “low-code” offering like WordPress or a completely “no-code” solution like Squarespace. TinaCMS has a clear audience, and the team here at Smashing Magazine just so happens to fit that profile in spades. Not everyone on the team is a developer, but most, if not all, of us are comfortable working in Git and the command line.

TinaCMS can be broadly characterized in two ways: an open-source Git-based CMS that supports Markdown files. In fact, TinaCMS saves content to Markdown, MDX, YML, and JSON, allowing a team like us to query data on top of our static assets. It also creates a GraphQL API for that content, allowing a team like us to query data from our files. And since it’s all connected to a GitHub repo, we own and control everything. That’s an enticing value proposition for a company whose business is content. A self-hosted WordPress instance is similar in that regard, but having all of our content in a centralized repo that contains hard files makes “owning” our content more tangible than it is to store it in an SQL database on some server.

That’s a bit about TinaCMS. It’s designed for Jamstack the same way that you might think of Sanity, Storyblok, or Netlify CMS, but it goes further than what we’ve seen, offering everything from a content API (in GraphQL) and visual editing to an integrated local development workflow that serves us quite well here at Smashing Magazine.

The Current Writing Process

Before we look at TinaCMS’s UI and specific features, I think it’s worth sharing how content is written before it’s published on the site. It’s far from perfect and still a work in progress, but it will give you an idea of how we work and why TinaCMS fits our needs.

There are two paths we follow for writing articles: write in a Markdown file connected to a GitHub repo, or write in a collaborative space, like Dropbox Paper or Google Docs. The path we take is whichever one a contributing author is most comfortable using because both have pros and cons.

To be honest, the process is pretty much the same, no matter which path we use. The author writes something, and an editor on the team reads and edits it. Dropbox Paper exports to Markdown, so it’s really a matter of whether the author prefers a GUI or a code editor for writing. Dropbox Paper might be a little more work because it requires the extra step of exporting content and then cleaning up the file (because export is never perfect).

Once an article reaches its final draft, it is given additional formatting for things like pull quotes and related articles before it is committed to a pull request that, when merged, triggers the site to rebuild itself and deploy the changes.

The New Writing Process

Our new writing process abstracts the old process of having to work in either Markdown or a third-party service. Instead, we get to write directly in the TinaCMS editor, preview our work, hit Publish, and voilà, an article is born.

Tina’s light touch is a big reason why it works for our team. Not everyone is forced to use TinaCMS. For example, Vitaly prefers to write Markdown in his code editor on a local Git branch. No problem. That article can be viewed in TinaCMS once he pushes it to GitHub.

You’re unimpressed, right? If so, that’s good because it’s the ease of this new process that we love so much. There’s nothing inherently impressive about our new process because it sports features we were already using in WordPress before the transition took place. What’s impressive is not the features but that the features are available in our Jamstack architecture.

That’s the third “win” for our team in all of this:

  1. The site’s faster performance is a win for you,
  2. Owning hard files of our content is a win for us, and
  3. The fact that we get to write, edit, and collaborate in a CMS that supports the new architecture is a win for us and authors alike.

It’s truly unique that TinaCMS offers the sorts of features we love about WordPress and has ported them into a Jamstack experience. Other CMSs designed for the Jamstack might offer one or two of the features we wanted, but TinaCMS covers them all. I’ll give you a look at those specific features.

The Editing UI

First off, I think it’s pretty cool that we are essentially creating Markdown files in a CMS editor.

It looks like (classic) WordPress, smells like (classic) WordPress, but produces hard files that get committed directly to our repo.

Like many full-fledged CMSs, Tina supports custom fields. That way, we have an easy way to ensure we’re inputting all the correct content in the correct places. Those fields are mapped in the content API, allowing us to query them to populate the front end. It’s true visual editing in the Jamstack.

Branch Switching & Live Previews

This is a killer feature because it doesn’t require us to deploy anything to generate a preview of an article that we can share with authors for a final editing pass before publishing the article.

How does that work? It’s clever, really. Notice the button in the screenshot indicates we’re on the master branch of our repo. That’s right: we’re fully integrated with GitHub to the extent that we can switch branches. Tina’s preview button integrates with branch deployments offered by services like Netlify, Vercel, and others. For us, that means we can work on a branch and click preview to visit the Netlify preview for that branch. That’s how we’re able to work on an article without it winding up in front of hundreds of thousands of readers.

Working Locally

Another neat thing? We can actually log into the Smashing Magazine admin and choose whether we want to work locally or directly in production.

As long as we have a local version of the site running, we can work in a sandboxed environment that prevents us from publishing accidental changes. Plus, it’s a nice — and safe — way to collaborate with others on the team to get an article prepped in advance of a live preview.

From there, we create a new branch and write to it before putting the content through the editing process, getting a live preview ready, and then merging the branch. That triggers a fresh site build, and everything gets deployed for your reading pleasure.

It’s also worth mentioning that TinaCMS automatically protects the repo’s main branch to prevent us (or, most likely, yours truly) from accidentally writing to it.

The Media Manager

What’s a CMS without a media manager?!

It’s funny, but having a flexible option in a Jamstack-based CMS is harder to find than you might think.

Tina can commit media assets to your repository, but for a site of our scale, that would make our repository unmanageable. Instead, we use Tina’s DigitalOcean Spaces integration. Again, we like the idea of owning all of our content, and integrating it with our media storage solution is important.

Uploading a file, like an image, places it on our DigitalOcean Spaces account. Once the site re-builds itself, the images are optimized and sent off to Cloudinary, which converts the image into several different formats and sizes, serving the most optimal version for the reader based on their device, location, network connection, or whatever.

The Editorial Workflow

All of the features I’ve been writing about are part of the TinaCMS “Editor Workflow” that is new as of July 10 — a mere couple of weeks before I started drafting this article. That’s how fresh all of this is for us, and TinaCMS, for that matter. You might expect a brand-new set of robust features to be a little bumpy at first, but it’s incredibly smooth.

I think a video from the TinaCMS site does a better job illustrating the flow from writing to review, from review to approval, and subsequent post-publish updates.

The Editor Workflow is available but currently implemented as a plugin for Business plans and up rather than having it baked right into TinaCMS. Coming from the WordPress world, I love the concept of keeping the CMS light and extending it with specific functionalities, if needed.

Hope You Enjoyed The Tour

Well, that’s a look at how the sausage is made here at Smashing Magazine. I personally enjoy seeing how things work at different organizations because no two projects are ever identical. What ends up in a stack and how work happens is largely based on specific needs that are unique to a certain team.

What works for us might seem crazy to you — or awesome. I don’t know. But we’re excited about it because it accommodates how we work and has already delivered a number of big wins for everyone.

TinaCMS is in active development, too, so it is very possible we may see new features and functionality that we decide to adopt. For example, there’s now a self-hosted version of the CMS. And looking at the roadmap, we also have more things to look forward to in the next three months.

Further Reading On SmashingMag

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15 Best New Fonts, September 2023

September 18th, 2023 No comments

Nothing upgrades your designs like selecting the right font. It’s all too easy to fall into the trap of using the same typeface over and over, so every month, we publish this roundup to freshen up your font menu.

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Weekly Design News #1

September 16th, 2023 No comments
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Weekly Design News #1

September 16th, 2023 No comments
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The 20 Most Controversial Logos of All Time (Ranked)

September 15th, 2023 No comments

When you hire graphic designers to create your company’s logo, what do you expect? Professional designs, culturally sensitive icons, creativity, and originality don’t sound like too big an ask. Unfortunately, these brands got more than they bargained for.

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