Our Favorite Brand VR Experiences

A woman wearing a VR headset. In our last blog post, Where Will Marketing Be In Five Years?, we predicted VR experiences will be big by 2024. Some big-name brands have already developed some amazing VR experiences, so to give you some inspiration and a jump start, here are our favorite branded VR experiences.

Google Earth VR

This is an incredible app to download if you’d love to travel the world, but don’t have the means to do it right now. In Google Earth VR, you are able to go anywhere in the world in just a click.

Google Presents Inside Abbey Road Studios

Who wouldn’t love to step inside the world’s most famous recording studio? The record studio that has not only recorded every single Beatles’ albums, but the music from Queen, U2, Lady Gaga, and more. Go on a guided tour of Abbey Road from Giles Martin, son of the Beatles’ late music producer, Sir George Martin.

Netflix VR

Did you know you can now watch your favorite streaming service in VR? In Netflix VR, users can choose between two modes: a living room viewing experience or Void mode.

When you watch through the living room mode, you are planted in a living room that has a TV above the fireplace and a view of the mountain range. You are able to watch your shows on the TV.

Void mode removes the living room but allows users to watch a show in whatever position they’d like, even sitting down, which isn’t something you can do in the living room mode.

It is possible Netflix will offer VR programming in the future.

The New York Times VR

The New York Times VR app immerses users into some of the publication’s biggest news stories. Users can stand alongside Iraqi forces during a battle against ISIS or walk on a planet 3 billion miles from the sun! 

Volvo XC90 Test Drive VR

The car brand, Volvo, has created a VR app to give consumers a feel for its XC90. This VR experience puts you behind the wheel as you take the scenic route through an idyllic area with a mountain range. Forget a car dealer, when you can download the app for your headset.

IKEA Virtual Store

With IKEA Virtual Store, IKEA has created a store that never closes. IKEA was one of the first retail companies to launch a VR site that has e-commerce. If you are up at night thinking about your new home project, you can pop into the store without leaving your house.

TOMS Virtual Giving Trip

TOMS isn’t just a fashionable shoe brand, but a charitable one too. For every new pair of TOMS purchased, TOMS gives a pair of new shoes to a child in need. In TOMS Virtual Giving Trip, consumers get to watch TOMS employees give away shoes to the underserved in Peru. It has nooks in its stores where potential customers can view the VR experience.

Savannah College of Art and Design

In 2015, the Savannah College of Art and Design mailed 5,000 branded VR headsets to students who were accepted into the school but hadn’t yet enrolled. The VR experience immersed users into the college’s campus.

Do you have an inkling for an app idea for your company? Let us know. We love taking our clients’ ideas and developing them into reality.

Where Will Marketing Be In Five Years?

Girl working on a laptop with a soda can next to the laptop.Before the technology revolution in the twenty-first century, marketing was mostly done through print advertising, direct mail, and traditional media (e.g. TV, radio, and publications). Now, most businesses are only marketing on the Internet. Technology has shown marketing is one industry that isn’t going to stay constant. SEO is one sub-section of digital marketing that changes every day! With that, it can make you wonder just where marketing will be in five years time? So today we’re going to give you our predictions for where we think marketing will be in 2024.

Voice Search

People love using their smartphone’s voice assistant, be it Siri, Alexa, or Cortana. Our phones’ voice assistants make it easy for us to go about our day while still obtaining information from the Internet. Many leading digital marketers are expecting a rise in voice search over the next five years. Some estimate that by 2020, more than half of searches will be conducted using voice search.

There is a difference in keywords when we type a search versus using a voice assistant. People use more keywords when they use their voice, so those types of searches tend to be more conversational. In the future, businesses will have to create specific web pages geared toward the questions people ask their voice assistant in order to rank well in search engines.

Ethical Brands

We believe in the next five years people will still support brands that are ethical. Millennials and Generation Z are two generations that are conscious about they who buy from. They are passionate about issues such as climate change, income equality, and diversity. To cater to these buyers, companies will need to make sure they are contributing to improving society.

TV Ads

In the campaigns we run for our clients, we’ve noticed amongst the devices used are TVs. We speculate in the next five years popular streaming services will start utilizing advertisement, but instead of commercials like on cable TV, they will mirror the ads you see on social media. Most people aren’t fans of commercials, except for maybe during the Super Bowl, so with that in mind, streaming services will have to do quick video ads or interactive ads that users can click out of if they don’t meet their needs.

Consumers Will Want Control Of Their Data

From the GRPR to the Cambridge Analytica scandal, 2018 was a year consumers really came concerned with the usage of their data. Now more than ever, people are cautious with who they give their information to. We believe in the next five years consumers will take more action to seek control over their personal data in an effort to avoid breaches, phishing, and hacking.

Virtual Reality

Did you think virtual reality (VR) is just for video games? Think again!  In the next five years, VR will become the next big form of content marketing. It’ll be a new way for companies to offer value to their audience, but businesses that do decide to utilize VR should get creative and come at VR from a storytelling angle. Give your target audience an experience they will treasure that also fits with your brand. A great example is when North Face developed a VR experience of California’s Yosemite National Park and the Moab Desert in Utah. This worked well for North Face as their cozy apparel is popular amongst nature enthusiasts.

Storytelling Marketing

To piggyback off the last point, storytelling is a major theme you will find in marketing in 2024. Marketing will always change as technology does, but one constant will be content that people can resonate with and enjoy.

Struggling with new ways to boost your marketing? At Sperling Interactive, we love collaborating with our clients to create marketing strategies that support their goals. Call us today at (978) 304-1730.

Habits of Creative People

A person using a drawing tablet and laptop. All organizations need creativity to prosper. When you’re being creative, you’re able to come up with new ways to improve your business and differentiate yourself from your competition. According to findings from an Adobe/Forrester Research study, companies that encourage creativity are 3.5 times more likely to achieve 10% revenue growth goals and are 50% more likely to report a commanding market leadership over competitors. If you’re someone who’s never dabbled in creative endeavors before, here are some of the most common habits of creative people to get you going.

Creative People Take Breaks From The Internet

There’s no denying the Internet is amazing. It enables you to gather information on anything you fancy, shop from the comfort of home, meet new people, and correspond with friends and families with just a few clicks. But the Internet can also suck up our time, be noisy, and become a big echo-chamber since algorithms feed us content based on what we’ve looked at. As a result, the Internet has made it harder for us to prioritize our creativity and truly listen to ourselves. Say no to the Internet when you wake up and an hour or two before you go to bed. Take that time to daydream or work on a creative project and not interact with a screen. By doing this, you’re able to re-connect better with yourself and have more creative thoughts.

Creative People People Watch

Creative people see the world as their oyster. They know creativity can come from anywhere. Writer Joan Didion kept a notebook with her at all times. She wrote down her observations as a better way to understand the world around her.

Creative People Keep A Journal

What do Albert Einstein, Marie Curie, Mark Twain, and Thomas Edison all have in common? Besides being brilliant innovators, they all kept journals.

Journaling has countless benefits. It’s cathartic, helps the brain regulate emotions, brings forth clarity, and can help people process and generate new ideas. Remember, journaling is just for you. There is no right or wrong way to journal. When you write about whatever you want, you’ll be surprised by the ideas that come to you. Creativity is all about connecting the dots.

Creative People Embrace Being A Beginner

When you started your business, did you expect yourself to be Steve Jobs, Richard Branson, or Elon Musk right away? No. If you’re trying out a new creative project to foster your creative muscles, you can’t expect yourself to become an expert overnight either. You’re not going to become the creator you desire by placing high expectations on yourself. Creativity should be fun. Embrace being a beginner and enjoy the process.

Creative People Talk About Their Ideas With Others

Talking to other creative people about your projects/ideas gets your energized. Another awesome thing that comes from talking with other creative people is they can serve as your sound board and unofficial accountability buddies. Don’t have a creative friend? Join a creative MeetUp group, go to a networking event, or strike up a conversation whenever you see someone doing something creative be it a person painting a mural in your community or a person playing music at an open mic night.

Creative People Know When They Work Best

Creative people know the hours when they work best and stick to it. They recognize having a schedule supports their creativity. If you’re a morning person, carve out time in the morning. If you’re a night owl, utilize night time. It doesn’t matter what time of day you work best, just as long as you stick to it and work towards recreating the same routine every time. Try to work in the same environment with the same simulations around you, be it coffee, calming music, alongside other people, etc.  

Does your company encourage a creative culture? What are some ways you foster your creativity to improve your business?

Travel & Tourism Marketing Tips

A picture of the Boston skyline. At Sperling Interactive, one of our largest specialized markets is the travel and tourism industry. Some of our clients include the Salem Witch Museum, the House of the Seven Gables, Hawthorne Hotel, Destination Salem, and the North of Boston Convention & Visitors Bureau. The travel and tourism industry is one of our favorite industries to serve as we love traveling and are proud that we get to promote some of Massachusetts’ gems.

Summer is coming up, and it is the busiest time of year for most businesses in the travel industry. Below you will find the best travel & tourism marketing tips to boost engagement and increase awareness” or something like that.

Create A Travel Guide

Put together a travel guide, be it print or electronic, of your favorite things to do in your area. Nearly every traveler loves receiving recommendations from locals. You could do two guides: one guide about the area and the other about your business.

We draft and design travel guides right now for Destination Salem and the North of Boston CVB. The guides are downloadable and we have found running them through Google Ads, Facebook ads, and display ads to be quite successful.

Write a Travel & Tourism Blog 

We always advise our clients to blog as it’s one of the pillars for SEO, but it’s always a way to engage your audience and pursue them to come to your location.

If you’re an agency or hotel, you could always feature a customer. You could have a customer write a guest post or you could start a series where you interview customers.

Schedule Social Posts

Scheduling social media posts is something we always encourage our clients to do, but it is especially important for travel companies expecting to be busy this summer. Jot down some photo ideas and on the first nice day of the year, go out and take some photos. Try scheduling posts 2 weeks to one month in advance.

Creating meaningful and interesting blog topics, and then sharing them on your social profiles is essential. In addition, sharing other blogs or articles from businesses you highlight helps boost engagement. 

Utilize Influencers

Are there content creators who create content about your area or fit well with your brand? While influencer marketing is on the rise and has been found to work, you want to find someone who caters to your industry or is in your target audience and set up an exchange. A good example would be having some food bloggers come to a new restaurant and/or brewery opening and giving them a behind-the-scenes. Or having a travel YouTube vlogger stay at your hotel or inn.

Produce Local Community Videos

With video marketing continuing to rise, you can’t go wrong with shooting a video. By going out and taking 1-2 days to shoot some content, you can end up with a few videos’ worth of footage. If you don’t have one already, you could have a video for the homepage of your website to capture travelers’ attention. The other videos that come out of the footage could be videos you post on social media and YouTube that primarily promote your city. These videos could provide fun facts, recommendations to other businesses, and tips.

Run Location-Based Ads

Combining Google Search, Google Display Ads, and Facebook Ads, build awareness around your target audience, whether it be local or areas where you see a lot of travelers come from. Run an ad driving people to a specific blog post or a free guide. 

There are many avenues to pursue. Geo-targeting with user-input targets specific ads to the user based on what kind of ads they want to receive. In geo-fencing, you target potential customers within a certain radius of your business. And then there are geo conquest ads, which is when companies lure perspectives from competitors.

Want some tailored advice for your travel business? Call us today at (978) 304-1730 to schedule a free consultation.

How To Make Your Instagram More Accessible

The Instagram logo.

Toward the end of 2018, Instagram made strides to make their platform more accessible for those who are visually impaired. This is important as more than 285 million people in the world have a visual impairment, and Instagram is one of the biggest platforms in the world.

Instagram has added two new ways for screen readers to read photos. They’ve added an automatic alternative text, which enables people to hear descriptions through their screen reader when a person uses their Instagram. The automatic alternative text uses object recognition technology to generate a description of the photo. Instagram has also introduced custom alternative text where you can go in and add your own description to your photos.

How To Add Alt Text When Uploading:

Alt text can be added to photos during the publishing step.

  1. After you select your filter, click on ‘Next.’
  2. Tap on Advanced Settings at the bottom of the screen.
  3. Tap ‘Write Alt Text’ and input a description of your photo. 

A screenshot of how to get to the Advanced Settings on Instagram.

A screenshot showing where to click, 'Write Alt Text,' on Instagram.

 

A screenshot showing a user where to write their alt text.

 

 

 

 

 

 

How To Add Alt Text To Existing Photos:

Alt text can also be added to existing photos in these easy steps.

  1. Go to a photo and select the three-dot menu icon and click on ‘Edit.’
  2. On the corner of your photo will be the words, ‘Alt Text.’ Click on it and then write your description

A screenshot of how to find 'Alt Text' on a Instagram photo you've published.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A screenshot that shows readers how to add alt text to their existing photos on Instagram.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


All and all, we believe it’s better to write your own text than rely on the automatic alt text, as your own written descriptions will likely be more accurate. 

How Are People Responding?

The alt text feature is still not present in Instagram Stories. The Royal National Institute of Blind People, a British nonprofit, tweeted congrats when the news broke on Twitter, but advised Instagram to make the feature work in Stories. Instagram Stories is just as popular as scrolling and exploring the platform. About 40% of the platform’s 1 billion users post to their Story every day

In the same article, a software engineer at the BBC, Louise Taylor, said they wished finding the alt text option was easier.

The other thing we wish could be changed is the number of characters you’re allowed to use. Right now, users have a 100 character limit on alt text. Maybe one day it will expand – until recently, Twitter had a 140 character limit. But now you can type up to 280 characters.

What Does Alt Text Mean For Businesses?

It is unclear for how long object identification has been around on Instagram, but there’s no denying it will be useful for advertising if it isn’t already.

Instagram’s parent company, Facebook, has had artificial intelligence-generated alternative text since April 2016.

When reporters asked an Instagram spokesperson why accessibility has taken so long, they replied the features have been “an ongoing project for some time.” They also added, “the challenge was ensuring that we could provide valuable descriptions at scale.” What this means is that while advanced artificial intelligence can recognize what’s in a photo, it has a hard time understanding what’s important. The spokesperson also addressed because Instagram is a very visual platform, this is why it took two and a half years longer than Facebook to roll out accessibility features.

Do you need help making your business’ online presence more accessible to those who are visually impaired? At Sperling Interactive, we build websites that are ADA compliant. Call us today to learn more about our company. 

The Different Types of Facebook Ads

A blog graphic for the different types of Facebook Ads.
Facebook is one of the premier places on the Internet to promote your business. Facebook offers a variety of ways to advertise. No matter what type of business you run, you are sure to have a way to reach to your targeted audience in the way they consume content. Read along to learn about the different types of ads you can run on Facebook.

Link Ads

Link ads are the most common type of ads. They are the ads most people think of when they think of Facebook ads. When you click on a link ad, you are brought to either a website or a curated landing page. This type of ad generally performs well and can help generate likes for your business Facebook page.

According to Facebook, “whether you want people to learn about your product, buy a ticket, or download an eBook, Facebook link ads are a great way to get people clicking to your website and visiting the pages you’d like them to see.”

Video Ads

As we’ve touched upon before here on the blog, video is the future of digital marketing. Video content can really bring your business to life. With this form of advertising, you don’t have to write a blurb or upload a photo. Video ads are a powerful way to tell your story, fuel engagement, bring visitors to your website, and increase leads.

Boosted Posts

Everytime you post content to your Facebook page, Facebook gives you the option to boost that post. When you boost a post, you pay to get more people to see that content. Your post essentially becomes an ad and you get to control the audience who sees it.

We recommend boosting your content every now and then as there is a decline in organic reach on Facebook. We suggest boosting content that you want to get in front of a large group of people, such as a testimonial, an upcoming event your company is hosting, or a special offer.   

Carousel Ads

The carousel ad allows you to showcase up to 10 images or videos within a single ad, and each image or video has its own link. This form of advertising works especially well for e-commerce stores, or if you’d like to promote several different offers for your business as it gives people a chance to see an array of your products.  

Dynamic Product Ads

These type of ads involve re-targeting people who have previously checked out your business. An example of this Facebook ad would be targeting a person who has been to your website before but hasn’t made an action yet, such as completing a form, signing up for your newsletter, buying a product, etc. You need to install Facebook Pixel to use this form of advertising.

Facebook Lead Ads

This type of ad is designed to help you get, you guessed it, more leads. What’s great about Facebook Lead Ads is it can get people to complete a call-to-action (sign up for an offer or download a piece of content) all without having to leave the Facebook app or website. Lead Ads gives you access to information about your leads. Once you have someone’s information, you can then sync them into your CRM system (customer relationship management system). This will allow you to follow up with them.  

Canvas Ads   

Canvas Ads are only available on mobile devices. With Canvas Ad, your target audience can swipe through a carousel of images, tilt the image in different directions, and zoom in or zoom out of the images. Canvas Ads load 10 times faster than standard mobile web applications. This is a great ad to use if yours is a product-based business or a visual business like a marketing agency or a lifestyle brand.

Collection Ads

This ad is only available for mobile devices and allows you to showcase multiple products that are being sold on your website. Collection Ads have become quite popular because more and more people are browsing Facebook through their mobile devices and it offers a seamless browsing experience.

Page Like Ads

Page Like Ads are the go-to ads for increasing the number of likes on your Facebook page. You may have seen a page like ad before. It’s an ad that shows pages your friends have liked. The ad encourages users to check out the page.

Page Post Photo Ads

This is another ad that can drive up likes and engagement on your Facebook Page. It’s your chance to give Facebook users information about you. According to Facebook, page post photo ads are a chance to “share updates and stories, connect with your followers and a new audience, and build your brand and customer base.”

Page Post Text Ads

This ad is the worst type of ad as it’s just text. As a result, it doesn’t get much engagement, likes, or leads. It underperforms because it doesn’t have much of an engaging element to it like a photo, video, or link based ad.

Mobile App Ads

If you have a mobile app and would like to grow it, Mobile App Ad is the type of ad to use. It gives people the opportunity to install your app from Facebook. You can get really specific with targeting. You can choose which iOS/Android version you want the user to have and if you want the target audience to be on a tablet or a smartphone.

Events Ads

This ad helps event organizers attract more visitors/attendees to their upcoming event(s). Depending on the size and/or relevance of your event, you may want to limit the geographical reach of the ad. The ad, after all, is pay-per-click and you wouldn’t want somebody who doesn’t live near the event to click on it and waste your marketing dollars.

Offer Ads

This ad works well for brick and mortar stores when they have any discounts coming up. When a user clicks on the button “Get Offer” next to the ad, they will redeem the offer and receive an email containing the details and terms of use.  

Local Awareness Ads

Local awareness ads work best when it comes to location-based targeting. These ads pop up for users when they are near your business. The call-to-action buttons you can use on this ad can include “Call Now” or “Get Directions.”

Facebook Stories Ads

We announced the newest form of Facebook advertising last month on the blog. Businesses are now able to advertise through Facebook Stories. Facebook Stories are photos or videos that users can click past, similar to slides on a presentation. Your story can have stickers, text, and filters. In an article earlier this year from TechCrunch, they shared Stories are about to surpass feed sharing.

Interested in setting up a Facebook Ad for your business? Contact Sperling Interactive today. We’d love to help you determine which ad to run and how to select a target audience.

How To Revive Your Neglected Blog

A picture of an open laptop and open notebook.

So… you neglected your business blog.

Don’t worry. Your blog is not over for good. You can still win back your readers. Here’s how to revive your neglected blog.

Be Kind To Yourself.

Blogging is hard. To those who haven’t attempted it before, blogging can seem like something a monkey can do. Little do those people know that you always have to be coming up with relevant and interesting content people want to read, doing research, engaging with your audience, linking to old posts, promoting your posts, etc.

Even the most prolific business bloggers have neglected their blogs. Don’t let your ego stop you from creating new blog posts. Your audience wants to hear from you.

Refresh Old Content.

If you have blog posts that are still relevant to both your business and readers, rewrite them. Add in new pictures, new updates, and swap out the old title for a new one. This can get you back into the swing of things and will bring readers back into enjoying your content.

Write Short Blog Posts.

If you’re finding it hard to get back in the saddle, aim to write short blog posts. By writing short blog posts, you’re at least getting into the habit of writing posts again. And by doing that, you’re making blogging a routine again.  

Writing is very similar to working out – it’s a muscle. And when you’ve haven’t done either in a while, sometimes the best option is to not put too much pressure on yourself to do a lot. You will write longer blog posts when you’re used to doing it consistently.

Write Blog Posts Around Your Keywords.

Google Analytics is an immensely invaluable tool that every business should have. It can help you see how online campaigns are performing, where your visitors are located, it can reveal your top content and worst performing pages, and much more. On top of that, Google Analytics can help you see what keywords people are searching when they come across your business. This is beneficial as now you know which keywords to write around in future posts.

Ask Your Readers What They Want.

There’s a chance you’ve stopped blogging because you ran out of ideas. To prevent this, ask your readers what kind of content they want to read on social media. You could create a social media post where you ask for suggestions or use Instagram Stories. On Stories, there is a question sticker where followers can type their responses to you.

Create An Editorial Calendar.

An editorial calendar is a calendar specifically for your content marketing strategies. An editorial calendar keeps you accountable and your content organized. They’re also great because they enable you to order your posts in the best and most logical way. The posts, and when they go live, will no longer be random.

Show Off Client Projects.

If you are a visual business and have clients, writing a blog post showing a before and after is a fantastic way to show your target audience what you could possibly do for them. Give the people you want to work with another case study!

If you’re still finding blogging hard after reading this article, call us at (978) 304-1730 for a meeting with us. We do strategic blog posts for an array of clients from a wedding venue to a backdrop theatre company to a general contractor. We have strong writers on staff and they’d love to help you.

What is WordPress 5?

A laptop with WordPress on it and colored lights on in the background.

WordPress 5.0 arrived in early December, and since it’s arrival it’s really shaken things up! We can’t remember a version of WordPress that has had as many new features as WordPress 5!

WordPress updates its content management system multiple times every year and nearly every time, the changes are fairly small. A lot of users usually don’t notice the new changes. This  can’t be said about WordPress 5.

Gutenberg

The biggest thing to come from WordPress 5 is the visual editor, Gutenberg. Gutenberg is a block based editor and it’s changing the way people now create posts and new web pages.

We believe the biggest reasons WordPress created WordPress 5 is to stay relevant, meet users’ needs, and to risk losing market share. With WordPress 5, WordPress is trying to channel Squarespace and Wix’s intuitive building experience. Like Squarespace and Wix, Gutenberg is a drag and drop editor that uses content blocks. You click on the plus button ‘+’ to add things like text blocks, image blocks, gallery blocks, and layout elements to your posts and pages. The only way one can opt out of Gutenberg when downloading WordPress 5 is to install the Classic Editor plugin.

A screenshot of Gutenberg's interface.

Adding a post using Gutenberg.

A screenshot showing how to use the block editor in Gutenberg.

The ‘+’ allows you to add content.

On December 6th, 1.3 million sites opted into either Gutenberg or the Classic Editor plugin. According to WordPress founder and CEO, Matt Mullenweg, this number is more than any single version of WordPress prior to version 4.7.

Important Things To Know About Gutenberg

Gutenberg will affect themes and plugins. Some plugins were created to interact with the Classic Editor and as such will not be compatible with Gutenberg.

We advise downloading Gutenberg before you make the update to see what features on your site will be impacted by Gutenberg.  

How To Perform An Update

To update your website, go to Dashboard>Updates. Click on Update WordPress and don’t leave the page until the update is complete. The update shouldn’t take long.

Why We Use WordPress

A big factor that has made WordPress the most popular website and blog creation tool (it powers 30% of the world’s website) is it’s free and open-source. This means you have total freedom over the websites and blogs you can create. You don’t have to host your website with WordPress’s server either.

At Sperling Interactive, we build our clients’ websites in WordPress because it’s flexibility cannot be beat. No other content management system is as customizable as WordPress. Every single WordPress website comes with a GPL 2.0 license, which means you can change the code as much as you’d like, including the functionalities of plugins and themes.

Squarespace and Wix don’t have a GPL 2.0 license and come with templates, which can be limiting when you have a lot of ideas for your website. Shopify is another website-building tool that is popular these days but it is limiting as you can only make ecommerce websites with it. You can read more about why we love WordPress over on this blog post.

It’s important to note WordPress 5 is still in the early days. Developers at WordPress are still working out the kinks, and Gutenberg does not affect content you have already published.

Conclusion

You may be feeling overwhelmed about such a major change coming to WordPress’ user interface, but we don’t recommend you skip the latest version. Along with the new features, WordPress updates and adds new security features and other important elements to your website when it builds out new versions. You should note that WordPress 5 is going to make WordPress more compatible with the latest version of PHP. Staying up to date is one of the only ways to keep your site running safely and smoothly.

As the web development blog, A2 Hosting, writes “as long as you take a few precautions, such as testing Gutenberg on a staging site and doing a recent backup in place, the risks of not updating WordPress will outweigh the risks of updating it.”

All and all, we believe WordPress 5 is going to make it easier for our clients to update their websites and add more content. It may be a learning curve in the beginning, but we find most people will like the drag and drop features as they’re instinctive.

Have you switched to WordPress 5 yet? What do you think of it? If not, are you looking forward to using a block-based editor now? Or will you be downloading the classic editor? Let us know. At Sperling Interactive, we’re more than happy to help you update to WordPress 5 and make the transition for your business as smooth as possible.

How To Understand Your Developer

Web development code. Are you working with a developer on a new site and don’t know what certain words they keep saying mean? Web development comes with a lot of confusing jargon, and today on the blog we’re going to be defining the most used development terms to help you understand your developer at every step of the process.

Cross-Browser Compatible

This is the ability for a website or an app to be supported on all browsers and to degrade beautifully when features are present or lacking. Cross-browser compatibility is important because there are hundreds of web browsers around the globe and you’ll always want your website to look nice in whatever browser a person is on, be that Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome, Safari, etc.

Responsiveness

A responsive website is a website that responds to and/or resizes itself so it can fit nicely on all devices and window sizes. That could be a desktop monitor, a laptop, a tablet, or a smartphone. Responsive web design make web pages on all devices easy to read and navigate.

Front-End


There are two areas a developer works in. The first one we’ll explore is the front-end. The front-end of a website is the part users interact with. Front-end development controls a website’s fonts, colors, and menus. So essentially everything you see when you type a URL in was conducted by a front-end developer.

Back-End


Behind every website is a server, an application, and a database. A back-end developer builds and maintains those features so the site can work properly.  

Full Stack Developer


A full stack developer is a developer that has both front-end and back-end skills. You have to know different coding languages to do front-end development and back-end development.

SSL Certificate

SSL stands for Secure Socket Layer. It provides a secure connection between a client and the server through which your website’s information is delivered. You can tell if your website has an SSL certificate by looking at your website on Google Chrome. If it reads ‘non secure’ next to your URL, then you don’t have an SSL certificate. An SSL certificate prevents anyone from tampering with your website. When your website is secure, no one can tamper with the traffic or spy on what your visitors are doing. People can also not access your router and Internet service provider and inject malware.

Data Validation


Data validation deals with validating sensitive information you receive through your site. Sensitive information for a doctor’s office would be HIPAA information. Sensitive information for an ecommerce site would be credit card information. You have to validate sensitive information so it can be processed. Data validation is important because it prevents people from hacking into your site.

Wireframe


Wireframe deals more with design, but when you hear the person making your website refer to ‘wireframe,’ they’re talking about your website’s skeleton. It’s essentially an outline of the finished product. It should be the first thing a developer comes to you with after you agree to work with them.

What else do you find confusing about web development? We will try to answer your question in a future blog post.

Our Favorite Things To Do In Salem During October

The exterior of the Salem Witch Museum in Salem, Massachusetts.It’s October and, as a Salem-based business, we couldn’t be more excited. October in Salem is such a magical time and today we’d like to share with you our favorite things to do in the witch city during the month of October.

Go To Far From The Tree for Cider.

 
Nothing screams fall quite like apples. We’re so lucky to have a cidery here in Salem and Far From The Tree is an exceptional one. What we love about this place is they aren’t afraid to experiment with their ciders. They make unique ciders that have featured jalapeños, black tea, and maple syrup in them! Far From The Tree has a cozy taproom, delicious pop ups on the weekends, and they host regular events such as trivia, movie nights, and local bands.

Visit the Salem Witch Museum.


We had the pleasure of creating a new website for this iconic museum this year. The Salem Witch Museum is the museum to go to if you want to learn all about the 1692 Salem Witch Trials and witchcraft today. The first part of the tour is presented through thirteen life-size stage sets, figures, lighting, and stirring narration. The second part is a guided tour that explores paganism, how Hollywood has shaped our perception of witches, and Wicca.

Go to the Hawthorne Hotel Annual Halloween Party.


On October 27th, the Hawthorne Hotel is throwing its 20th Annual Halloween party. If you haven’t been, you haven’t properly experienced Halloween. Their annual party includes three floors of food, fine costumes, live music, DJs, physics, and a costume contest. This year’s theme is “Happily Never After.”

Visit the Hocus Pocus filming sites.


Who doesn’t love the Halloween classic, Hocus Pocus?! The film takes place here and, as such, was filmed here. Old Salem Village was filmed at Pioneer Village, Max’s house is 4 Ocean Street, Allison’s house is the Ropes Mansion, and the Halloween party that Max’s parents attended took place right across from our office at Old Town Hall.

Watch Cry Innocent: The People vs. Bridget Bishop.


The best way to understand the Salem Witch Trials is to attend Cry Innocent: The People Vs. Bridget Bishop. In this live action play, Bridget Bishop is convicted of being a witch and you are put on the Puritan jury. You get to cross-examine the witnesses and make the final verdict. Cry Innocent is the longest continuously-running show north of Boston.

Have you come to Salem for Halloween before? If so, what’s your favorite thing to do? Let us know in the comments.