3 Reasons not to Waste a 404 Page

Considering nearly every web platform has the ability to produce a useful 404 page, It is amazing how many web designers simply do not understand how to properly utilize a 404 page on their sites.

For those who do not know what a 404 page is, it is what a website displays when you attempt to go to a page or post that either does not exist or has a broken link.

Here is an example of a poorly designed 404 page.

And here is an example of a well designed 404 page.

Typically, when finding themselves on a 404 page most will leave the site and attempt to find the information they were looking for elsewhere. This is why the 404 page is so important. In this post, I will briefly go over a few reasons why everyone needs to be utilizing the 404 pages on their websites.

A good 404 will create a better UX

One of the best and easiest ways to begin building a 404 page is by giving it a look that is consistent with the branding on the rest of the site. The best way to determine if you have done this correctly is by ensuring that those using it would be aware of what website they are on even if they have found themselves on a 404 page. This can be done by adding the main parts they would see on the rest of the site like the logo, menus, and sidebars. Additionally, you could also build on this by giving them options on the 404 page to help them find information relevant to what they were originally searching for.

A good 404 will reduce bounce rate

A byproduct of building a 404 page that is congruent with the rest of the website is that it will decrease the website’s bounce rate which is an extremely important part of Google’s ranking algorithm. Pages that have higher bounce rates and lower times on-site will appear lower on search results. This is because the search engine has determined that the information found on the site may be less relevant to the user than similar content displayed on another website.

A 404 page can be a useful tool

Lastly, another great way to utilize a 404  page is by using it to examine how frequently users find themselves on it. Often times web designers will set up a page redirect to send all 404 traffic to a working page. This does eliminate all 404 status codes but it will also make it far more difficult to find broken internal as well as inbound links. For example, If you happen to see a vast increase in the amount of 404 codes over a short period of time it could be a sign of broken links on the site that need to be addressed.

Ultimately, if a 404 page is built correctly it can be another useful asset to a site that will positively increase overall user experience, help the site rank higher on search engines and can be used to help find issues that need to be addressed. There are more ways to enhance a 404 page but just implementing these 3 easy steps will go a long way in terms of beginning to understand how useful it truly can be.

Life, It’s a Relatable Thing

Written By: Kaelyn Binder

As we look around at one another it is easy to make assumptions about the individuals we are seeing. No matter where we go, we are surrounded by people that may seem similar to us, yet far from what we view ourselves to be. Surface level assumptions that lead to biased opinions about people we don’t even know. From what they are wearing, to how they walk, or who someone is associating themselves with, we as humans create surface level opinions about the individuals we are surrounded by. However, have you ever considered how you may personally relate to those people who you are so ungraciously depicting? Have you ever attempted to view them past their surface level appearance or general demographics? Although it may be hard to realize at times, every person that walks this earth is more than just the skin they show or the clothes they wear on their backs. We are compiled with stress and worry, we have learned from beautiful mistakes, and we were all created from similar life experiences that in turn molded us into who we are today. Throughout the remainder of this blog post, I would like to ask each of you to dig a little deeper and consider whether or not you can personally relate to these ordinary circumstances and practices that we as humans experience each and every day. Go ahead and make yourselves comfortable, grab some coffee or a beer; because let me tell you something, those two surface level beverages are definitely something that I can relate to.

Stress, It’s a Relatable Thing

    Have you ever been in a public library or a coffee shop and seen an individual who appeared to be on the verge of a mental breakdown? Yeah, that’s called stress, and that is something that we can all relate to. Stress is a mental and physical emotion that every person around you has felt at some point in their lives. Take it from a true college student working two jobs and going to school full time for the past five years. Yes, I said it, FIVE. Not only do I stress about money, school work, and getting things done in a timely manner, I also personally stress about much more minor things that I know each and every one of you can relate to. Even the simplest things in life are easy to stress about. For example, have you ever stressed over waking up late and realizing you snoozed your alarm for the fourth or fifth time? All you can think to yourself “S@*#!  I did it again!” Yep, that is something I can definitely relate to. Or maybe you are stressed because the toast you just made for breakfast is overly burnt and is now inedible.  As a result you end up hangry, leaving the house irritable and agitated. What about when you are in a hurry in the mornings and can’t find the shoes you are wanting to wear even though you have seven other perfectly wearable pairs of shoes waiting to be worn in your closet? As crazy as all of that may seem, the majority of us have all stressed about and can relate to minor instances such as these. So, the next time you see someone who appears to be in distress at your local coffee shop down the road, realize that this stress may have been caused by an instance much more minor that it may appear. Instead of assuming the worst, consider creating a bit of random small talk to simply let the individual know that “Hey, I can relate”.

What is Life?

    Growing up into who I am today I was sent through a series of ‘phases’ that weren’t all that pretty. From my initial tomboy image that I rocked until highshcool to learning how to acquire more lady-like attributes, I still find myself in an awkward phase in life learning how to “adult”. However, aren’t we all struggling with the concept of what ‘adulting’ actually means? I mean, we are sent through a long and drawn out educational career where we are faced with so called core curriculum that is supposed to aid us in our future paths in life. But then again, how are we supposed to relate those core curriculum courses to what we all struggle with today?  I am now a college level student who is about to graduate in May, 2019 and am still struggling to find an understanding of how the Pythagorean Theorem or how learning a song to remember the capital of all fifty states relates to the everyday knowledge that we are all supposed to be familiar with. Individuals my age (stinkin’ millennials) can almost all relate that we don’t have any sort of understanding of how to properly file our tax returns, how to understand the basic car troubles that we all undergo, or how to appropriately treat any health issues we may be experiencing. Call me crazy, however WebMD is still my go-to medical symptom site, and I know my parents are tired of receiving phone calls from me worrying that I may be experiencing a potential stroke. Don’t lie, the majority of you can relate, we all tend to self-diagnose thanks to WebMD. The point that I am trying to make is that no matter what age you are, or where you find yourself at in life, we can all relate that learning how to ‘adult’ is a never ending phase.

(Relat)ionships and Friendships

One thing that I can personally appreciate is that the friendships and relationships I have been a part of are what helped me grow through each of those so called phases. It wasn’t until I graduated high school that I was able to fully understand just how important some of those connections that I made truly were. The people we associate ourselves with directly impact what we are going through at that point in time. They are a reflection of not only our tough times, but some of our most prosperous moments as well. Have you ever been apart of a friendship that you thought was fun and adventurous but turns out was damaging and toxic? I know I have, and it was an experience that I have both learned and grown from. What about being a part of a relationship or friendship where you were their emotional support blanket? Although it may be difficult at times, in these circumstances we must understand that we are someone who that specific individual personally felt they could relate to and confide in. Lastly, there are going to be certain people within your life where you feel an instant connection with them. They are the ones who share similar interests and odd habits, such as eating a pickle and peanut butter sandwich; not many people can relate to you on that, but the ones who can are the ones worth waiting for. What I am trying to get you to see is that we make connections to people in life based on what we are going through at that current time. It doesn’t matter if you were able to relate to someone on a deeper level or through the discussion of your sandwich, what truly matters is that at that exact moment, you found a level where you could both relate.

Technology, it’s how we relate.

As our world has become more advanced, technology has created a new avenue that allows us all to connect and relate to other people around the world. For individuals my age, as well as those who are younger than me, it is easy to get caught up in the technology that is quickly shaping our lives. Through the use of social media platforms we are able to connect with people who may have once seemed unimaginable. Whether it be famous actors or athletes, health and fitness enthusiasts, or the numerous array of influencers that fill our social media feed, there is always someone who we are living vicariously through each and every day. We are now given the accessibility to make connections through Instagram or Facebook, Snapchat or Twitter, or perhaps through other blog posts with individuals and groups who we never thought we could connect with before. At times we may get caught up in our overly obsessive scrolling, I too am guilty of that, however we are generally viewing our social media as a way to visually connect and relate to different people. It is crazy to me that through the use of technology and social media we all have a particular individual or group who we have never met, yet we feel we can relate to.

I relate to you, and you relate to me.

    I feel like it is safe to say that there are numerous other ways that I could discuss with you about how we all relate to one another. Whether it be surface level relatability, or deeper internal relations there is always something you can relate about with the person sitting next to you.  If you like Macaroni & Cheese, we can relate. If you wear mixed-matched socks, we can relate. If your family isn’t perfect, we can relate. If you are secretly upset with your body image, trust me we can relate. The list goes on. As this blog post comes to a close and I am writing to you, I keep thinking to myself how and or why I chose to write about relatability. What I have decided, is that not only am I an individual who has told myself numerous times that only I would understand, but I am also an individual who appreciates being the person that others turn to when they feel they are alone. What I would like you all to remember, is that we all are connected to one another in some shape or form. Simply breath, stay calm, and always remember that everyone around you can relate.

Meme Marketing

How Companies Are Using Memes and Sarcasm to Market to Millennials

By: Schuyler Swanson

In today’s world, technology is king, and the rapid ways in which it has transformed society and life as we know it can be seen everywhere. From self-driving cars to online shopping to electronic toothbrushes, just about every aspect of our lives seems to have been made easier thanks to technology. However, it’s not all sunshine and roses. Changes brought on by this new technological age have in some ways made things easier for marketers and in other ways made things much more difficult. While reaching consumers has perhaps never been easier in the history of mankind, getting people’s attention on the other hand, is proving to be much harder. The ease of getting information to the consumer has led to consumer’s getting bombarded with so much information they don’t know what to do with it, let alone are able to hardly process it all. According to a 2017 article on Forbes by Jon Simpson, Americans see an average of anywhere between 4,000 to 10,000 ads a day. After reading that number, think to yourself, what was the last 10 ads you saw? Most people probably won’t be able to remember, and that is why attention is so valuable for marketers today. Another problem marketers have been experiencing in this new age is marketing to millennials. A generation who grew up with technology and online advertisements, marketers have had to evolve to adapt to this new generation. There is a great infographic on the USC Dornsife website that breaks down a lot of the ways in which millennials differ from previous generations. A couple of stats that stand out are that when compared to Generation X and the Baby Boomers, millennials make up the smallest percentage of radio listeners, spend the least amount of time watching television, and make up the smallest percentage of magazine and newspaper readers. On the flip side, almost 90 percent of millennials spend time on social media and 82 percent of them interact with brands or retailers on social media. Additionally, nearly 50 percent of millennials follow their favorite brands or retailers on social media and another 38 percent discover brands or retailers on social media. If these numbers are any indicator, the key to reaching millennials may very well be through social media, but it can be a tricky path to take. Appealing to and garnering the attention of millennials on social media platforms while not coming off as robotic, out of touch, or ‘trying too hard’ takes careful balance and a solid understanding of millennial culture, millennial humor, and how millennials think. There have been a few big brands recently, most notably fast food restaurants such as Wendy’s and Burger King, who have been able to pull this off on Twitter using memes, trending jokes, and lots of sarcasm with tremendous amounts of success. Below I have a few of my recent favorite tweets from brands that were able to put up some pretty big numbers.

One of the advantages of brands using social media is the ability and ease it gives them to interact with consumers, customers, or fans almost instantly. This allows them to hear more customer complaints, answer more questions, and as we see here, have fun joking with fans. What’s amazing here is a two word response from SunnyD racked up over 78,000 retweets and 346,000 likes, bringing a lot of traffic and looks to the brand for little to no cost while making people laugh at the same time.

Social media can be a crazy place, and sometimes some of the things we see on there literally make absolutely no sense at all. That’s the humor in it though, it doesn’t have to make sense. Sometimes the more random the better, and Burger King fully embraced that with this tweet.

Another example of this is yet another SunnyD tweet seen above. Something else that is becoming more and more common in this sphere is big brands having regular conversations with other big brands. Not only is it comical to see Pop-Tarts and MoonPie having a random conversation with SunnyD, but it makes the brands appear more friendly, down to Earth, and human to the public.

      Perhaps no one has perfected using social media as a way to better reach millennials as Wendy’s has. They have steadily build up a reputation for roasting people, whether it be an ordinary customer or Mr. Peanut. Some of their tweets may appear to be pushing the boundaries of what we would normally consider is acceptable for a big brand to say in public but we are in a new age. Pushing the boundaries and breaking out of that stereotypical corporate mold helps brands stand out and appear rebellious, something that is very attractive to the younger aged millennials.

In conclusion, social media is likely to continue to play an important part in how brands market towards millennials. It is cheap, efficient, and a lot of the times you don’t even have to actually be promoting or advertising a specific product of yours to grab the attention of consumers. It is not always easy though, as one mishap can lead to a PR nightmare, so while it can be lighthearted and fun, marketing on social media still always needs to be taken as seriously as marketing on any other medium would. Additionally, social media, like technology in general, is always rapidly changing and evolving, so in order to keep the consumers attention on this platform, brands have to be in a constant state of change and development to keep up with the platform and target audiences.

Sources

https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbesagencycouncil/2017/08/25/finding-brand-success-in-the-digital-world/#40b964e9626e

Modern Dating Is Kind Of The Worst

Modern dating is kind of the worst. I’ve been catfished by someone I thought was a hot British journalist, been ghosted so hard I question these guys existed to begin with, and recently discovered that I’ve also been a victim of “breadcrumbing.” Don’t know what these terms mean? You’re one of the lucky ones.

Now I’ll be the first one to say that I’m at fault for getting myself into these situations. At one time I had three dating apps on my phone and I would rely on them for the majority of my interactions with the opposite sex. It’s easy. It’s fun. It’s addicting.

But what I’ve learned from my friends, and through stories from friends of friends is that we resort to these apps to connect because people simply don’t interact with each other in the same way anymore. We’re so used to hiding behind our screens that the simple act of going up to someone and introducing yourself in person is not only petrifying, it’s unthinkable.

If there’s one belief modern dating has instilled in me is that I am replaceable. You better be absolutely perfect because one wrong move and you’re out of here. You’re left swiped, ghosted, unmatched. You better not seem too interested because then you’re desperate, weird, even crazy. But if you seem too hard to get, he’ll get bored, honey. He can find someone to take your place with the swipe of a finger so you better not mess things up for yourself.

If I sound bitter, it’s because I am. We normalize the concept of spending time with someone, getting to know each other, giving the impression that we’re interested, and then vanishing without a trace. It’s rude and unfair, but the worst thing about it is I’ve done it right back. Last week I was walking to class when I simultaneously crossed paths with a guy I had ghosted and a guy who had ghosted me. It’s a weird and shitty thing to do, but we continue to do it because we’re scared.

When did we get so scared that ignoring someone until they get the hint has become the norm?

Listen, I’m not here to tell you that romance is dead. I strongly believe that it is alive and out there for those who seek it. Although dating apps have certainly twisted the concept of dating, they are not the issue. The issue is letting our own fear compromise the standard for how we treat others.

Modern dating is exhausting. It can be infuriating to keep up with the games and the new technology created to find your next boyfriend, next hookup or next person you text for a while only to end up constantly making awkward eye contact for the rest of your college career. But modern dating is still dating. It was weird and awkward and scary back in the “good ol’ days” and it’s weird and awkward and scary now. There’s just a few more pixels involved.

 

Written by Michelle Dufflocq Williams

Photography by Adrian Sava

The Forgotten Middle Child – 90’s Kids and Why We Aren’t Millennials

 

We all know the story. Some of us have even lived it. Forgotten, overshadowed, and pushed aside. Being the middle child was the worst. The oldest sibling received all the accolades and rewards, the youngest received all the attention. And there we were, waving our hands in the air trying to say, “Hey! I’m right here and I’m not like them!” And here we are, still waving our hands, still trying to push our way past the shoulders of our surrounding siblings. A little older, a little wiser, but still just as frustrated. Being a 90’s kid is tough.

 

 

Damn Millennials.” Many times have these words been uttered through the lips of baby boomers and Gen X’s. “All they care about is social media! They don’t know how to work hard!” We hear it. And we take it. But it’s a load of bulls**t. Sorry, I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s go back. The definition of a Millennial is someone who was born between around 1980 and around the early 2000’s. While the characteristics of a Millennial can vary depending on the source, the gist is relatively the same. Lazy, narcissistic, coddled, materialistic, disengaged. Positive isn’t it? However in reality, the term “Millennial” isn’t as generalizable as many make it out to be.

People born in the 1980’s are currently aged anywhere between 26 and 35 years old. Having been in the working world for around four or five years, this decade of people are usually seen as responsible employees and entrepreneurs, creating a name for themselves and making short work of corporate ladders all around the world (sounds like the eldest sibling doesn’t it?). Racking up accomplishments and higher salaries, they’re already integrated with Gen X and often aren’t thought of when someone mentions Millennials. People born in the latter half of the term “Millennial” are currently in the height of their teenage years, and because of their youth, are usually grouped in with the rest of the post-century birth crowd. This is where the stereotypes of being a Millennial stem from. But I’ll come back to that later. Right smack in the middle, as always, are 90s kids. Currently aged 16 to 25, we are forced to be grouped into this almost derogatory term, “Millennial”. However we couldn’t be more different than our two surrounding siblings.

I was born in 1994. A great year if I allow myself to say so. Nelson Mandela, Netscape, Rwanda massacre, World Trade Center Bombing…Kurt Cobain…O.J. Simpson… Okay so maybe it wasn’t that great of a year. My point though is that all this happened in one year. Look at what 90’s kids have been through over the course of their short lives: Y2K, 9/11, the dot com boom and bust, the Gulf War, the War in Afghanistan, and the War in Iraq, Apple’s rise to power, the Great Recession, the first black president, the legalization of gay marriage. And those are just a few off the top of my head. We’ve been left to solve the energy crisis and are the last generation that can reduce climate change and global warming before it’s too late. The world has changed immensely in the past 25 years. It’s led to one of the greatest qualities that 90’s kids possess. Nostalgia. And a whole lot of it. We grew up in a time that was almost entirely analog and the biggest fear was Y2K instead of war and the economy. We came of age in a time of great turmoil both domestic and abroad. We became adults in an entirely digital age and a slowly recovering economy. We are incredibly young, and yet possess the nostalgia of an old man.

We yearn for the simpler times, when the TV was turned on only after finishing family dinners and calling our friend’s home phone was the only way to reach them (other than AIM). And now I’m currently sitting in front of two computer screens as my phone sits within an arm’s reach dinging with updates of text messages, emails, and social media updates (perhaps this nostalgia is why hipsters came about). This dichotomy in ways of life leaves us 90’s kids wishing we were kids again. And that age was only 15 years ago! This isn’t a bad thing though. Growing up through all of this change has allowed us to adapt to all of the new tech and be very proficient with it. But we also see the value in writing a handwritten note to an employer after a job interview and enjoy relaxing with a good book. In a way, we are the most tech savvy analog people out there. Yes, I know what a tape deck is and watched VHS movies. I also owned a CD player. 90’s kids learned on Gateway computers but can do programming on any Mac book or PC no problem. I could go on and on but my point is that in our eyes, technology doesn’t seem to be advancing that fast. See, we grew up at the same time Apple did. At the same rate Google and Microsoft did. The pace of new technological advancements is about as routine as our birthday coming around every year. And it’s allowed us to be a pretty rare breed. Yes, we are different. But don’t you dare tell me I’m a Millennial.

As I mentioned before, I believe the term Millennial comes from the stereotypes derived from the post-turn of the century kids. All these kids know is digital. This group of kids was seven years old when the first iPhone came out. Is it their fault? Not to me it isn’t. It’s the result of being thrust into a rapidly advancing, tech dependent world and having a cell phone in their hands since 1st grade (that’s not an exaggeration, see the link at the bottom**). Look, our society is convenience oriented. Everything is about what makes things easier and faster. Is it any surprise that it has rubbed off on the very kids that are in their peak of susceptibility? Call it lazy if you want, I call it the effects of their environment. And everything is faster and easier. My cell phone (or mini-computer, however you look at it) has the capability to do anything I want and more. It houses the ability to connect with anyone I know in about 30 different ways. It’s no wonder these kids live and breathe social media. When everyone is connected to everyone else at all times, it’s easy to want to keep attention on yourself (after all, they are the youngest sibling; attention is everything). Has it implanted an entitled “me, me, me” loop track in these kids heads? Gen X seems to think so. And I’m inclined to agree. This is what is scaring employers and causing feelings of regurgitation every time they encounter a so called Millennial.

Sure, call me bitter. I think all of us 90s kids are. We are sick of being grouped into all these Millennials stereotypes. But it is not us. I suppose it’s our fault we’re included in this. We’ve had our heads down, working hard to build a name for ourselves. Haven’t heard of us? Well you’re about to. We are the kids from the 90’s. And we’re about to step out from behind our siblings and shake up the world.

*This article expresses the opinions of a possibly bias student born in the 90’s.

** http://abc7chicago.com/technology/study-53%-of-kids-get-a-cell-phone-at-age-6/637197/

Written by Devon Dietrich, senior at the University of Montana majoring in Marketing, Management, and Psychology.

Sources:

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/the-millennials-are-coming/

http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2014/03/here-is-when-each-generation-begins-and-ends-according-to-facts/359589/

https://www.google.com/search?tbm=isch&q=90s+collage&imgrc=pxdfMx4kof5G_M%3A&ei=ZC4wVu3EDIiojwO0wr7oDw&emsg=NCSR&noj=1#emsg=NCSR&imgrc=pxdfMx4kof5G_M%3A

http://theodysseyonline.com/ole-miss/middle-child-syndrome-it-is-real/93262

http://www.partyfeverltd.co.uk/party-supplies/birthday-party-themes/60s-70s-disco-80s-party.html

Social Media and the Internet: A Retrospective