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Dispelling the Testimonial Pages are No Longer Important Myth

In an article on Search Engine Land published early this year, Greg Gifford tears down testimonial pages, noting that: “Your testimonials page does nothing for you”.

Gifford has a point. Most testimonial pages do miss the mark, but this is simply because they are poorly constructed.

Testimonial pages are different than other pages. For most pages, whether it’s a homepage, contact, or about us page, you can just write pretty much anything you can think of. Just sit back and spew words, and it will be legit.

For testimonial pages, you actually need to do some leg work, and get other people, your users, to write about your product.

In this post I’ll show you how you can go about creating a successful testimonial page, and I’ll also talk about different testimonial page variations.

Testimonials – In or Out?

First of all I want to tackle the question: are testimonial pages a thing of the past?

Greg Gifford is not the only one badmouthing testimonial pages. These pages have been getting a bad rap lately, and some bloggers have suggested tossing them aside and using reviews on other platforms like Google Places, Facebook or Linkedin instead.

I believe having a testimonial page, or at least a testimonial section, is important, because it delivers the social proof at the most important stage, when the visitor is already on your site.

Beyond the Technical Side

In order to help make your testimonial page work, we are going to have to go beyond the mere technical creation of the page.

Basically, Gifford’s correct, your visitors don’t care much about what a bunch of strangers said about your site. This is because those strangers recommending you are not picked randomly, and do not constitute a random sample group.

You chose them, and therefore it is seen by your visitor that you have probably picked and chose only the positive reviews to put on your page.

Luckily, there’s a way to reaffirm the relevance of the testimonial, by placing testimonials that produce higher trust for the visitor.

Gaining this trust is a process. It includes different steps, from the choosing of the right people who will give the testimonial, to deciding where to place the testimonial on the page. Even though this post is about testimonial pages, we will also show the use of testimonials in homepages and in other variations, because these are also widely used.

Lets first examine which types of testimonial pages generate the most trust.

1. Placing Known Influencer Testimonials

Influencer testimonials are perhaps the most widely used testimonial variation. The reasons for its popularity is because these sort of testimonials are fairly easy to obtain, and they have great potential for making an impact on your visitors.

An influencer is an individual who has above-average impact on a specific niche process. Influencers are normal people, who are often connected to key roles of media outlets, consumer groups, industry associations or community tribes.

testimonial pages

Chances are you have already created some sort of relationship with one or another of your industry’s influencers (and if you haven’t, you should). All you have to do is reconnect with them and ask them politely to send you a testimonial. More on how to write such an email later on.

If you can’t quite reach a known influencer you can also place a testimonial of someone less known, but who works for a known company. It doesn’t have quite the same effect, but still carries more trust.

Examples:

2. Create a Story or Case Study Section

Stories and case study testimonials are very effective, but the downside is that they take a lot of time and money to produce, and thus are more widely used on bigger brand websites. This type of testimonial can span to a whole website section.

For each person or company that recommends a service or product, you need to create an in-depth article that will share the entire journey of your client, and how they benefited from working with you.

testimonial pages

Because these testimonials don’t only focus on the final review of the client, and shows the entire working process, they are much more convincing than regular testimonials.

Examples:

3. The Testimonial Video Page

This is a variation of the stories testimonials that I just mentioned, and it takes even more effort to create, because it also involves scripting, filming and editing the video testimonial, including on-location interviews with your recommending clients.

testimonial pages

Examples:

4. Video Testimonial – the Amateur Uncut Way

There is another option, to create simple video testimonials of real customers, without doing to much video editing, but I don’t think this type of testimonial is effective. I haven’t seen a good example of this kind of videos.

The video and audio quality is usually bad, and the person recommending the product or service usually fumbles to find words and doesn’t come across as genuine, even if they are sincere.

5. Fit the Testimonial with Your Marketing Message

This is a testimonial I started seeing more and more of. The idea is either to couple each feature with a testimonial, or arrange a number of testimonials to fit the advantages you want to convey to the potential client.

testimonial pages

Examples:

6. Updated and Long List of Testimonials (with date/category)

For a broad service like 99 Designs, field specific testimonials can go a long way in showing the user the brand’s trustworthiness.

Their category and industry filter options lets you easily sift through hundreds of reviews, and find the one most relevant for your business vertical.

testimonial pages

Examples:

7. Include a Social Embed

Because social platforms like Google and Facebook also have review systems, embedding a review feed on your site from these platforms can convince the user that the reviews are more reliable.

While I have not seen many examples of this testimonial page, there is a plugin that I found by SlickRemix that enables you to embed your reviews feed from Facebook. Haven’t tried it myself, but it looks promising.

testimonial pages

A free plugin that does that is Kudobux, that pulls testimonials from Facebook, Twitter, Yelp, G+, Instagram and emails.

Examples:

One site that uses social testimonials exactly in the right time is WP-Rocket, that places a Twitter review right in the order page.

8. Testimonials with Rich Snippets

If you still want to go with the regular anonymous testimonials, make sure you include an image next to each quote. Having anonymous testimonials is bad enough, and the image serves to add some sort of trust to the page.

You should also build the testimonial page with rich snippets, so your page will be seen with the star rating on Google search results. The Schema themeis an example of this, showing 233 reviews that are also seen on Google.

eMail to Get the Testimonial

OK, so you’ve decided on the testimonial page you want. Now you need to get the actual testimonials. Make a list of friends, colleagues, acquaintances, clients, anyone that knows you and that can give a recommendation.

Now contact them, in a polite email that asks for the recommendation. Here is an example for a letter to an influencer that you spoke to in the past:

"Hi Paul,

It been a month now since you last published your review of Elementor. You were so kind to publish it, and I am very pleased it reached 200 shares on Facebook.

I wonder if I could ask you to write a few words about Elementor, to use on our testimonial page. If you could include what you think about the user interface that would be great.

You are considered a highly professional authority in the WordPress community, so the review can really help us gain a larger userbase.

I really appreciate your help,

Thanks."

Summary

We’ve seen that there are various options to create testimonial pages. Some options, like the stories testimonial page, take longer to create. This however, is an effort well worth making, as your visitors are much more likely to convert into clients, leads or subscribers if they trust your brand.

The post Dispelling the Testimonial Pages are No Longer Important Myth appeared first on Speckyboy Design Magazine.

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Lazy Loading for Optimal Performance

Who doesn’t love some striking imagery to drive your point home? Whether you’re selling a product or service, trying to communicate complex ideas, or simply captivate the emotions of your users, pictures can do that. Everyone knows they work, and everyone loves them.

Well, everyone except the actual web servers. Thankfully, they have not yet gained sentience, so we don’t have to worry about their feelings. Even so, there is a cost to having images take up around 70% of all bandwidth.

It costs us in terms of storage space, sure. More importantly, it cost both servers and users in terms of bandwidth and data caps.

A long time ago (in Internet Years) browser developers figured out that they could load and render pages faster if they started loading more than one external resource at a time. So they did. Now, while scripts and CSS are still downloading, your browser will usually try to grab all of the images, too.

That way, in theory, it’s all ready to go as soon as the CSS and JS tell the browser what to do with all of those images. Well, it’s ready to go sooner, in any case.

But what if the user doesn’t scroll all the way down the page? What if they never see many or most of those images? That’s wasted data on both ends.

This is where we turn to lazy loading.

loading-spinner-lazy-load-small
Designed by Dan Gold.

How This Works

For the uninitiated, lazy loading is simply waiting to load the images until the user gets to them. Only the necessary images are ever loaded, saving potential gigabytes upon gigabytes of bandwidth. The more users your site has, the more you save.

On a high traffic site, say 2 million of 5 million users visit a blog post with a lot of images on it, but never scroll down. Below the fold, there is 750k of images. That’s going to save you a boatload of bandwidth (1.5 million megabytes…)

But even that is just a quote, though it comes from a pretty smart guy. If you want a real-world example, look at this post-mortem by NYStudio+107. They used lazy loading (and a few other important techniques, but we’re focused on lazy loading right now) to drop from a page load time of 107.8 seconds to 2.8 seconds.

It’s not a proof-of-concept either. It’s a real-world site they built. Incidentally, the blog post itself uses lazy-loading, so there’s another example.

Ok, that’s awesome! Let’s do it!

Okay, but there are a few things to think about:

  • This is only useful if you have a lot of images below the fold. If you just have a hero image and then a bunch of text… it’s not worth it. Consider your content.
  • Lazy loading is not a built-in browser feature. It has to be done with JavaScript. Adding lazy loading will increase the overall complexity of any project. THis will cost in terms of development time and testing.
  • Doing it wrong may result in users not seeing images at all.

Now, if you have all of that covered, and you still want to do this, here are a couple of tips:

  • Load images just before they enter the viewport whenever possible. It won’t always work, but it’s the ideal.
  • Since the above tip won’t always work, you’re going to need to reserve space for the images. If you don’t, you may see the rest of the layout jumping around, and that’s never cool.
  • You can use background colors, loading animations, or even tiny image previews to let users know that something will be loading in that extra space.
  • Have a fallback solution. Always have a fallback solution.

Again, it would be better if they never saw it, but these things happen.

Tools

We would never end an article like this without telling you where to start. The library I’d recommend is called lazysizes. It supports both responsive and normal images, and can also work with other elements like iframes. There’s also a WordPress plugin available.

Even better, it can automatically generate the appropriate “sizes” attribute for your responsive images on the fly. So you’ll never have to set those manually again.

It’s designed to be fast, extendable, and play nice with other JS libraries. It’s also designed to never hide content from search engines, so it shouldn’t impact your SEO.

Conclusion

It’s time to get lazy, people! (I couldn’t resist.)

The only real downside is the JavaScript dependency. In the future, you may be able to skip the JS, once the IntersectionObserver API is implemented in all browsers. Right now, only Chrome and Opera support it fully, and out of the box.

That small issue aside, this technique could save you, and your site, a lot of data. Data is money, for both you and your users.

The post Lazy Loading for Optimal Performance appeared first on Speckyboy Design Magazine.

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