Foliovision Making the web work for you 2018-02-20T15:35:36Z https://foliovision.com/feed/atom WordPress Alec Kinnear http://foliovision.com <![CDATA[Bad UX: How Medium’s comment system kills engagement]]> https://foliovision.com/?p=63440 2018-02-19T11:40:20Z 2018-02-13T21:16:22Z Medium's non-existent login

Let's start with Medium Login. What user hating, social media centric tool ever dreamed up temporary sign in via email? If you want to log in to Medium via your email, you can't do it with email and password. You have to send a new email to yourself (which takes somewhere between 30 seconds and two minutes to arrive) and click on the link within 15 minutes.

So instead of being able to fast track a response to a story I've opened up from Medium's digest email to me, I'm bogged down in a cycle of five minutes of failed login (no login possible), email send, checking email for a login link (which sometimes doesn't come). Could any process be less rewarding of engagement?

Insane.

Nested Comments

Medium's idea of automatically allowing comments to become self-sufficient stories is extremely cool. The way it works is that when you start commenting, your comment becomes its own story that others can comment in. Something like nested comments into infinity.

So far so good. The issue is the number of clicks it takes to see comments let alone nested comments.

Example. When I start with DHH's story "You don’t have to take every handout or jump through every loophole" I'm presented with a story with no comments underneath it. There's an option to Write a response or to Show all responses. It's absurd that I have to click now just to see comments. What happens later is worse though:

I'm shown half a comment. To see it all I have to click read more. I'm distracted by options to clap and a tally of existing responses. Clicking that number of responses strangely does not take me to the response but instead to the comment itself where the whole nightmare begins again with a Show All Responses button. I've just shown I'm interested in the responses.

So what's my payoff for all this three clicks to see DHH's response to a thoughtful comment?

 

A stupid throwaway comment from a guy who thinks he's funny. Is it worth chasing down comment threads on Medium? Based on this experience definitely not.

Page Impressions vs Usability

I'm not sure if Medium is running banners and living on page impressions. There's at least three or four page impressions per nested comment which shouldn't happen. Might be great for short term advertising revenue (if you advertise on Medium you should immediately ask for steep discounts as you are getting angry eyeballs who have no interest in your or any other products at this point) but it's terrible for users. Medium started off by trying to be more usable, than say for instance, WordPress. To the point Matt Mullenweg started to have nightmares about Medium. In response, Mullenweg has decided to dynamite WordPress's editor to try to emulate the Medium writing experience (Project Gutenberg).

Top Users

Medium was kind enough to send me congratulations on being one of the top contributors (stories and comments) of 2016. I didn't win one of these awards in 2017 as I've grown exasperated with trying to read and comment on Medium.

What I do now is just read the story. Sometimes I'll drop a top level comment. I'll never reply to another commenter again (even though I'd like to). The Medium comment system is simply broken as it is.

Curiously enough, the number of my comments in 2017 was 10% higher than 2016 with similar read and engagement numbers. No congratulations.

Pattern of Medium use: Medium Subscription

But I've noticed that every time I start to engage deeper in Medium I become so frustrated within a few weeks that I disengage again. How many more frustrated would-be Medium contributors have been driven away by the incredibly poor community interaction (comment system)?

Medium would already have my money as a subscriber but I hate the idea of spending more time on Medium due to the horrors of the commenting system so my money is still in my pocket. So not only is Medium's poor commenting workflow costing them engagement and content, it's directly costing Medium money. Money Medium desperately needs.

How to fix Medium Commenting

It's pretty simple. If Medium is really intent on keeping the stories clean without comment on first review, that's liveable. But at the point where I hit "Show All Responses" I want to see those responses, at decent length (not half a paragraph or the first sixty words as now). That should include nested responses when I click read more.

A comment author should later have the option to upgrade a comment to a story with its own title (can then become "originally in response to"). But there's no reason for every comment to be its own story. It's a very utopian perspective (stories and comments are equal) which doesn't correspond to human thought. An original story or essay is an block stone of content while a comment is exactly that - a direct response to the original work.

At the very least when I click through to the URL of the self-standing comment I should see not just the full comment but responses to it. It should probably be impossible to make a comment to a comment its own self-standing story. This would avoid the Russian boxes of comments and stories.

Sure there are some essays which offer far less than some comments. That is not a reason to equate the two. It's more a reflection on poor writing or thinking of the weak essayist.

Across the internet, I have many comments which are worth building into an original essay. I plan to start doing so. Medium taking the individual pieces of what should become essays and equating them with a finished essay helps no-one, neither writer nor reader. There is no solution to the hard work of writing except time and hard work and a focused mind.

Conclusion and Competitors

It's so incredibly frustrating to see new media creators come so close to creating a tool of lasting value and then fall down in sight of the finish line. It's happened to both Tumblr and Del.icio.us. Not accidentally both Yahoo properties. How have some other platforms succeeded?

Medium vs Twitter

Twitter has gotten worse rather than better over time, more concerned with placating Democrat friends of its founder and the US Deep State than fostering open dialogue. There is a general retreat from Twitter as Twitter becomes a less reliable and neutral publishing partner.

Medium vs Facebook

Facebook has lasted this long as much as I loathe the national security aspect (a more complete database of the personal lives of the world's population than the KGB had of dissidents in the Soviet Union), Facebook makes it easier and easier for users to share more and more. Facebook has been true to its platform and ease of use, albeit more or less ignoring privacy issues.

Facebook's own involvement in censoring the news is creating some of the the same issues for Facebook as Twitter. As Facebook has a strong personal aspect, outside of a news republisher or promotional tool (unlike Twitter), censorship is less of an issue than Twitter.

Medium vs WordPress

WordPress is lost in its war with Wix and Squarespace to the point where Matt Mullenweg would like to raise more funding to spend it on advertising. He's ignoring that the WordPress community was built on word-of-mouth. Making WordPress better (fewer updates, more stability, less security issues, more security, performance and functionality basics built-in). WordPress does allow a funded organisation to build a better weblog than Medium, albeit without the built-in community. Without fundamentally changing its character (one size fits all publishing), Medium should ignore WordPress and stick to what it does well: a no headaches weblog system. That means improving usability.

Medium should think less about page views and more about making it easy for its community to interact with each other's stories. Hopefully Medium can go back to working for the long term benefit of its contributors sometime soon.

Bad UX: How Medium’s comment system kills engagement

Post from: Foliovision

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Dia Takacsova <![CDATA[Portraits at the Edge of the World: Ny-Alesund]]> https://foliovision.com/?p=63095 2018-02-03T17:12:34Z 2018-02-03T17:07:04Z

Ny-Alesund is a scientific place. It's a town made for science, designed for science; so there are no children around, there are no retired people around. Everybody is working in science or related to science.

Ny-Alesund is a research town on the island of Spitsbergen in Svalbard. If you are wondering where is Svalbard, just look at the map: you may be surprised to find out that the archipelago is located between continental Norway and the North Pole. This is a place where the population is only about 2,600 people while about 3,000 polar bears live here; where one can't be born or buried; and where the rhythm of life is very different from the rest of the world. The magic of Svalbard was already featured in one of our previous Video of the Week posts. Additionally, this remote part of the world is so fascinating that learning more about it inspired me to embark on my very own Arctic adventure.

While Longyearbyen is the main centre of the island, there are several other settlements scattered throughout Svalbard, one of them being Ny-Alesund, the world's northernmost functional civil settlement. Ny-Alesund has an all-year permanent population of 30 to 35 in the summer reaching the number of 120, and is host to sixteen permanent research stations run by agencies from ten countries. The "last town before the North Pole" is home to 40-50 buildings, one main street and, most importantly, the world's northernmost post office.

Who are the scientists living in Ny-Alesund and on what can you work 79 degrees north? The team behind Goroka, an agency specialising in creating and producing creative content found the answers.

Goroka's team consists of about 50 people passionate about storytelling ranging from film-makers, editors and journalists to producents. While the company is based in Barcelona, its creatives are often on the road visiting remote places, overcoming nature, fate and themselves and discovering the unknown - all of this to tell stories from their perspective.

In Portraits at the Edge of the World: Ny-Alesund, German engineer Moritz Sieber discusses his work with one of the largest radio telescopes in the world, where he "observes space in order to understand the Earth". Moritz provides background of his scientific work but also his feelings about life in the unusual setting of the northernmost human settlement on the planet:

It's a very remote place, very far away from home where I come from, but still, Ny-Alesund is home as well. (...) The other aspect is people; so, there are people that you like, people that like you - and I don't think you need much more than that to feel at home.

The short film is part of 'Portraits at the Edge of the World', a series dedicated to the stories of the lives in the most remote and isolated places on Earth. The series was directed for Eldorado and released on Nowness. The execution is a result of the cooperation of directors Santi Baró and Guille Cascante, photography by Anna Huix and design by Folch. It was filmed in Greenland and the Norwegian Arctic.

Two more chapters have been released: The Ghost of Pyramiden', starring Kirill Shepelev, a Russian man who lives six months a year in an abandoned mining town on Svalbard, and who speaks of loneliness and his memories of a small, utopian society, and a portrait of Inuit hunter Anda Kuitse who lives in the isolated settlement of Kulusuk in southeastern Greenland, carrying on the customs started by his ancestors, supplying the town’s 300 inhabitants with food.

See how life (and research) at the edge of the world looks like - we are sure you will add Svalbard to your travel bucket list!

[This post contains video, click to play]

Follow GOROKA on their Vimeo channel | Facebook | TwitterInstagram | website.

Do you have a video you think we should feature, or is one of your friends a talented filmmaker? Submit your work at marketing@foliovision.com for a chance to be featured in our Video of the Week series!

DT00SK

Portraits at the Edge of the World: Ny-Alesund

Post from: Foliovision

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Alec Kinnear http://foliovision.com <![CDATA[SoundCloud’s Path to profitability]]> https://foliovision.com/?p=63133 2018-02-01T03:05:55Z 2018-02-01T02:18:28Z SoundCloud's Shrinking Revenue, Real Estate and Headcount

SoundCloud had way too many staff members for what is a fairly simple website. Their headcount was 422 out of which 173 have been given their walking papers.

SoundCloud was also maintaining offices in Berlin, New York, San Francisco and London. For expensive real estate they only needed to add Paris and Tokyo for a perfect score. Fortunately, SoundCloud will cut back to Berlin and New York now. Someone needs to negotiate with the Americans (New York) while production and code and IT can all be done in Berlin.

There's a need for some kind of design and marketing input from New York as Germans can be really clueless about marketing to anyone except Germans. Germans in a way don't really believe in marketing, they believe in the product. I'm a German at heart that way myself. Heaven knows I could do a better job with the FV Player marketing1 while with Martin we've done a great job on the software architecture. While Mercedes no longer makes cars which run 400,000 km without major service (I owned one), many German products remain very high quality.

Americans just love marketing. Americans will gleefully sell you a useless broken app which will do nothing for you if not aspire to ruin your life. Given the low quality of many American products and their crazy pricing (example: >$1000 consumer phones), their salespeople must be the most inventive in the world. So keeping the New York office was clever.

Still there's no excuse for such a successful website which has contributed so much to musicians and music lovers and the productive web going hungry.

Bad Business Model: Going after creators

It's SoundCloud's lousy business model and marketing which has brought about this bout of sober thinking in terms of headcounts and offices. The original business model was to charge creators for access to additional features. Creators are the people SoundCloud should be paying for their content, not the people whom SoundCloud should be charging to provide content for free.


The only subscription offers are to content creators

Listeners can't even sign up

I wanted my own SoundCloud account. To get it, I was forced to sign up as a creator and not as a listener. While I'm a photographer and videographer, I'm not much of an audio creator. There's hope yet. I do have a pleasant reading voice and a taste for poetry. Perhaps I'll post some reading of poetry to take advantage of that content. Still what I wanted at the time was a listener account!

Simple Listener Driven Subscription Solution: Sound Quality

SoundCloud could solve their revenue issues with a single simple step. Simply restricting the quality of free listening. If you want higher than 128 KHz stream quality, you have to sign up and pay a little something every year. Even $12/year would get SoundCloud a long way as unlike the other music streaming services, SoundCloud has zero licensing costs. For the higher quality streaming, SoundCloud could decide to spread 30% or even 50% of that revenue around depending on listening quantities.2

There's nothing to stop SoundCloud from taking $20/year for better streaming quality. SoundCloud should figure out where that ideal price point is in each market which would maximise revenue (subscribers x rate). I'd like to see them put an emphasis on more subscribers than less.

Bringing the artists firmly on board

Another benefit of these listener subscription revenue streams is that it would motivate more pro artists to maintain and improve their SoundCloud offerings. This in turn would bring more listeners in a virtuous circle.

If the listener subscription revenue streams are high enough, SoundCloud should seriously consider improving the free offer to artists. The paid offer to artists should really only go after artists who are already making good money on the platform. Prices could be higher for these very special features.

SoundCloud Different Creator Account Privileges
Different Creator Account Privileges

More radically, SoundCloud could consider eliminating any charges to artists at all. This is a decision only to consider much later after the listener subscriber revenue has been established along with the consequences of the free royalties on the artists community.

Just paying their artists for streaming will already be an incredible win for the SoundCloud platform.

Alternate Methods to Monetize: Ads

There's an attempt to irritate free users à la Spotify with ads on free streaming. If SoundCloud is making good money on those ads, that might be worthwhile. With SoundCloud's non-profit, creator-driven environment, lots of ads will diminish the quality of their brand and potentially drive listeners away from the platform. If the revenue is good enough based on very limited ads (not enough to drive listeners elsewhere), it's worth it. The ads should be high quality with strict guidelines on volume levels and style. Just a couple of screechy or sleazy ads would turn a listener off the platform just as most of us avoid radio these days.

Places to Improve: Curation

Another problem at SoundCloud is editorial. It's very hard to find good music on SoundCloud. There is an infinite amount of good music but when you try to browse by genre or related or just start listening, you end up listening to mainly amateur crap. It's depressing. SoundCloud has to find a way to separate the high quality and low quality creators.

Other streaming services like Spotify, Deezer and Tidal do it by only really including catalog artists. I.e. the basic editorial is done by the labels. After that the services add their own editorial on top, whether AI (Spotify, Pandora), manual curation by prolific and tasteful curators (Deezer) or very poor and genre driven (Tidal: try finding something to listen to besides Urban over on JayC's service by browsing and not direct search).

The only way to find a path through SoundCloud is to individually check out the profile of fans of artists you like checking their likes (as their playlists and albums are unlikely to be sufficient). You can get there but it's hard uphill work and it shouldn't be.

Path to Nowhere: Typical Empty SoundCloud User Profile
Path to Nowhere: Typical Empty Active SoundCloud Listener Profile

I'm a huge fan of alternative and indie artists and even experimental music. SoundCloud has what I want but I can't get to it via SoundCloud. Huge loss. SoundCloud could pull me in for dozens more hours per month if they would fix their curation.

Just compare SoundCloud listener profiles with Last.fm user profiles. Feel the difference. SoundCloud doesn't have to go far out of their way. Just copy Last.fm

A path forward to instant profitability

Combined with an inexpensive subscription to access higher quality streams and downloads, I'd be instantly hooked. While I like to think I'm unique and precious, there are millions of very serious music listeners like me out there who really care about quality (the best sound quality kept me on Tidal for years even after the editorial function has been hijacked vs Deezer/Spotify's horrific streaming quality which fortunately seems to have improved).

With no ads coming with a subscription I'd sign up even faster. I'm waiting for that listener offer to show up in my SoundCloud account.

Some Background: I'm an active subscriber of Pandora, Deezer, past subscriber of WIMP later Tidal, Last.fm and Spotify. I'm an avid paying user of Soundiiz which lets me freely move all my playlists around the different services, enjoying my music wherever I go.


  1. Hey we're looking for help, if you'd like to help market the world's most powerful hosting agnostic video player, give us a shout. ↩︎

  2. Watch out for the bots: SoundCloud would have to make sure it's not profitable for an indie label to set up a bunch of paid bot accounts and just stream their artists day and night. ↩︎

SoundCloud’s Path to profitability

Post from: Foliovision

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Sanela Kurtek http://foliovision.com <![CDATA[Alec Kinnear Interviewed about Running a WordPress Business and FV Player]]> https://foliovision.com/?p=63029 2018-02-19T12:37:09Z 2018-01-30T12:18:58Z Last week, Alec was interviewed by John Overall of WP Plugins A to Z for their podcast, where they talked about WordPress, the ups and downs of running a WordPress business and our products—FV Player and BusinessPress.

If you're interested in learning more about FV Player and hearing what it's like to run a software company, listen to the whole podcast below. 

And WP Plugins A to Z is running a contest where you can win one FV Player Pro licence. Sign up for the contest here. 

[This post contains video, click to play]

Alec Kinnear Interviewed about Running a WordPress Business and FV Player

Post from: Foliovision

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Eduard <![CDATA[The Ups and Downs of Using YouTube’s Auto-captions]]> https://foliovision.com/?p=62251 2018-02-19T12:39:20Z 2018-01-29T12:37:27Z Adding subtitles to your videos is always a great idea. They can let the viewers watch it without sound (which is important for the silent autoplay, that is making it's way to the new versions of iOS and Android), make it easier to understand what has been said if the audio is too noisy or lower quality, and help non-native speakers better understand the spoken word. It's also necessary for people with hearing impairment.

YouTube understands that and they encourage the content creators to add subtitles to their videos. They offer a great way to easily create transcripts, which is usually a time-consuming process, or requires a specific and expensive software. It offers two options: creating an automatic transcript and putting in your own text and have it synced automatically with the video.

Auto-failtitles

The first option is the one you probably know very well. YouTube can generate the text of the subtitles from the audio track of a video. The service is far from perfect, but it's free, fast and easy to use. The best way to describe it is "better than nothing". Take a look at these two extracts from subtitles from this YouTube video - Top 10 Ways To Take Your Mountain Bike To The Next Level:

  • This is part of the manually entered subtitles
    1
    00:00:00,010 --> 00:00:04,168
    - [Neil] So here's our Top 10 ways of
    really taking your bike to the next level
    
    2
    00:00:04,168 --> 00:00:06,878
    so it's as cool as a pro bike.
    
    3
    00:00:06,878 --> 00:00:09,813
    Sort out your cables.
    Cables should be just
  • This is the same part, only from the auto-generated subtitles
    1
    00:00:00,120 --> 00:00:02,520
    so here's our top ten ways of really
    
    2
    00:00:02,520 --> 00:00:04,440
    taking your bite to the next level so
    
    3
    00:00:04,440 --> 00:00:07,109
    it's as cool as a pro bite sawed 80
    
    4
    00:00:07,109 --> 00:00:09,840
    cables cables should be just

As you can see, the software recognized the word "bike" as "bite" and "sort out your" came out as "sawed 80". This is partially given by Neil's cool British accent, but the longer the video is, the more fails like this you will encounter.

YouTube auto-generated subtitles are far from perfect

Fixing the damaged captions

As you can see in the example above, the auto-generated transcript is usually just a good placeholder. The best way is of course creating the subtitles manually.

There are plenty of ways of doing this, including using another YouTube's tool, that is described in detail in our article How to create video subtitles using Youtube. That can, however, be only used when you uploaded the video yourself.

But what if you want to use a video uploaded by another user and still want to create quality subtitles?

There are couple of tools that can help you to download the auto-generated subtitle track. Our favourite is DIYCaptions. It's a free online tool in which you put the URL of the video and the software will immediately load the auto-generated track (if available) into it's editing interface and let you edit the text line-by-line, thus allowing you to correct all the inevitable errors. 

DIYCaptions
DIYCaptions editing interface

The interface works in a similar way as our Interactive Transcript - the text is shown in full and clicking on a single line will make the video playback jump to the point where the line starts, so you can check with audio if the transcription is correct and fix it if necessary.

The software can then export the files in .txt and .srt formats, which is great, as FV Player supports .srt. The only downside is, that when a YouTube video has other subtitles, the software will load those, like in the example above.

How to use it with FV Player

As said, FV Player supports the SRT format along with WebVTT, so the workflow you could possibly use and we recommend is to not rely on the auto-generated transcript and instead edit it to a usable text with DIYCaptions. The text then can be exported and used as regular subtitles. Using subtitles in FV Player is explained in more detail in this guide - How to Create Subtitles.

The Ups and Downs of Using YouTube’s Auto-captions

Post from: Foliovision

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Katerina Ivanova <![CDATA[10 Best WordPress Podcasts You Should Start Listening to]]> https://foliovision.com/?p=60878 2018-02-19T12:41:14Z 2018-01-15T12:52:47Z

The podcasts are slowly but steadily winning over the global audience. According to a research conducted in 2017, 67 million Americans listen to podcasts monthly (14% up in just one year) and spend on average about 5 hours per week listening to podcasts. Impressive, right? With our love for multitasking, no wonder podcasts are getting so popular: listening to a podcast can make the time spent cleaning your apartment or commuting much more worthwhile.

The statistics say that most of the podcast listeners are young, educated, affluent active social media users - basically a portrait of a WordPress developer or a digital business owner, which explains the fact that there is such a great variety of WordPress podcasts to choose from. 

With podcasting being on the rise, we found it quite surprising that most of the lists of top WordPress podcasts are outdated and include the podcasts that are not going live anymore. That's why we decided to create our own list of the WP podcasts that rock!

Check out the top 10 best WordPress Podcasts you should be listening to! #WordPress #podcastClick To Tweet

1. The WordPress Chick

wp chick wordpress podcast

Topics: Content Marketing, Social Media Campaigns, SEO, sales, finding your niche, how to deal with difficult clients, etc.

Duration: 1 hour

Frequency: 3-4 podcasts per month

Kim Doyal, also known as the WP Chick, covers the topics of building and running an online business. She is committed to help WordPress entrepreneurs #FtheHustle, which means showing up in business and life as you are and doing what feels right to you rather than dulling your shine by doing what you 'should' do. As you might understand from this description, The WP Chick is a bit more personal than the rest of the podcasts on this list.

Kim Doyal is funny, genuine, enthusiastic and really great to listen to. Her podcast isn't only about WordPress tools or plugins, but also about being successful as an entrepreneur and building the business you are passionate about. So if you are not that tech-savvy, the podcast won't bore you with the scary words like PHP and coding, just the WordPress fun! Among her guests are mostly WordPress entrepreneurs like Ross Brand of Livestream Universe, Troy Dean of WP Elevation, the guys behind WP Shout and more.

Tune in: Content As Equity & An Update on Life WPCP: 169

2. KitchensinkWPkitchensink wp podcast

Topics: WordPress news and events, clients, tips, tool of the week picks, solopreneurship, Listener Q&A, WordPress tools, Web Design.

Duration: 10-15 minutes

Frequency: Once a week (every Monday)

This podcast is hosted by Adam Silver who came to WordPress from photography when he needed a new website for his business. After some time, he noticed that the people are coming to him for WordPress advice and started a WordPress course for adults. His educational style of communication certainly helps to make his podcast articulate and easy to understand.

Kitchensink WP podcast is a great way to stay updated with the WordPress news and events and get some great tips without having to spend too much time on it. The podcast is around 10-15 minutes long which is great for a short but productive break from your work. A real time-saver if you want to stay updated with the WordPress news!

Tune in: Podcast E196 – WordPress 4.9 review

3. WP Elevation

WP elevation podcast

Topics: success stories and advice on growing a WordPress business, clients, marketing and business growth.

Duration: 40-50 minutes

Frequency: Once a week (every Wednesday)

WP Elevation is a WordPress business podcast, which comes from the same team as the WP Wednesday newsletter that we reviewed before. Each episode is hosted by one of the 5 presenters from WP elevation team: Troy Dean, Kristina Romero, Cath Hughes, Michael Killen, Gin McInneny. The WPE podcast covers several categories - balance and fulfilment in day to day life, getting clients, growth, processes, recurring revenue and tech.

The WP Elevation is not so much for keeping up with the WordPress news as for getting advice on your WordPress business from successful entrepreneurs and learning the best practices. The list of their guests includes Seth Godin, Guy Kawasaki, Jeff Bullas, Kim Doyal and others. If you prefer visual content, you can also check out each episode in video format.

Tune in: Episode #148: Generate Leads and Sales Using Online Quizzes with Josh Haynam

4. Matt Report

matt report podcast

Topics: WordPress world updates, digital entrepreneurship, marketing WordPress tools, Web Design.

Duration: 40-50 minutes

Frequency: Once a week

The Matt Report is a podcast for freelancers, agency owners and WordPress product creators, hosted by Matt Medeiros, an entrepreneur and a co-founder of Slocum Studios. It is by far one of the most respected and listened to podcasts, that often sets an agenda in the WordPress world. The 5th season of the podcast is currently running, with more than 200 episodes recorded.

The main goal of Matt Report podcast is to help digital businesses by teaching entrepreneurs about the WordPress ecosystem and strategies they can use to grow their businesses. The podcast's guests are web professionals, founders, investors, WordPress product creators, marketing consultants and entrepreneurs. Tom McFarlin, David Hayes and Daan Tol are some of his guests on the podcast.

Tune in: How Tom McFarlin manages a product & services business

5. WP watercooler

WP watercooler podcast

Topics: blogging, web-development, plugins and themes, Wordcamps, WordPress community, web-design, digital business development.

Duration: 30 minutes

Frequency: Once a week

The WP Watercooler has recently celebrated 5th birthday and 250 episodes recorded. As many other podcasts, the Watercooler has transformed from an audio podcast to a regular video show. The WPwatercooler podcast is hosted by Jason Tucker and covers a variety of topics connected with doing the WordPress business.

The concept of WP Watercooler, just like a regular watercooler in an office, is to provide a gathering place for those interested in WordPress to discuss their ideas and build a community. The creators of the show say that entertainment is its main function, and education comes second. The recent shows were devoted to the topics of selling digital products, speaking at WordPress meetups and business growth. Jason Tucker of Watercooler also co-hosts the interview show WPblab every Thursday together with Bridget Willard.

Tune in: EP255 – Freedom Isn’t Free The Cost of Running a WordPress Website and Why It’s Worth It

6. The Mastermind

Topics: WordPress business development, marketing, best practices and success stories, issues and problems of WordPress businesses.

Duration: 30-35 minutes

Frequency: Once a week

The mastermind podcast is hosted by Jean Galea, the founder of WP Mayor, and James Laws, the co-founder of Ninja Forms. The Mastermind podcast was created to provide a space for the WordPress entrepreneurs to share their experience.

Each episode includes an interview with a successful digital WordPress entrepreneur and tips on building and growing the WordPress business. It is relatively new (less than one year old), but has already earned the respect of the audience. The list of their guests includes social guru Dustin Stout, Donnacha MacGloinn of WordSkill, Dmitry Dragilev of Just Reach Out and others.

Tune in: Episode 83 – Dumitru Brinzan on $200 WordPress Themes

7. WP Plugins A to Z

wp plugins a to z podcast

Topics: WordPress plugins.

Duration: 20-30 minutes

Frequency: Once a week

The WP Plugins A to Z is a show dedicated to plugin reviews by the two permanent hosts - John Overall and Marcus Couch. It is the longest running WP podcast about plugins and it has more than 300 episodes. The main purpose of this podcast is, like the hosts say, to "separate the junk from the gems" in the world of WordPress plugins. They also run a video version of the show where you see the reviewed plugin in action.

Tune in: Episode 334 Anti-Spam, Hosting with WordPress

8. WordPress Weekly

wordpress weekly podcast

Topics: WordPress news, WordPress community, Wordcamps, WP Tavern main stories throughout the week.

Duration: 1 hour

Frequency: Once a week (every Wednesday)

The WordPress Weekly is a podcast brought to you by WP Tavern and hosted by Jeff Chandler and John James Jacoby. It goes live on YouTube every Wednesday at 3 PM Eastern. This podcast usually involves the review of the week and and the WordPress news that appeared on WP Tavern during the past week: WordPress events and updates, news from Automattic and more.

The WP Weekly is a good way to stay updated about the news in WordPress world and if you did not manage to join the live broadcast, there is always a way to listen to it later. Among WP Weekly guests are some famous people in the WordPress community, including Matt Mullenweg, Scott Bolinger, Brad Williams and others.

Tune in: WPWeekly Episode 296 – Gutenberg, Telemetry, Calypso, and More With Matt Mullenweg

9. WP-Tonic

Topics: WordPress business, online marketing, business development.

Duration: about 50 minutes

Frequency: twice a week

The WP-Tonic is a regular WordPress podcast for business owners. The podcast is focused on WordPress business development and online marketing. The show is hosted by Jonathan Denwood and Kim Shivler. What is great about this podcast is that it's really down-to-earth and simply put, so you don't need to be a WP professional to understand it, any business owner should be able to use the information WP-Tonic provides.

They host a round table discussion every Friday and an interview with some of the leading personalities in WordPress on Wednesdays. Among their latest guests are the founder of Beaver Builder Justin Busa and the founder of National Association of Podcasters Bill Conrad.

Tune in: #244: WP Tonic Show: We Interview Adam Fout. We Discuss The World of Online Content Marketing. Does It Really Work?

10. Your Website Engineer

Your WordPress engineer podcast

Topics: creating a quality WordPress website, WP interviews, tips, reviews and news.

Duration: 20 minutes

Frequency: once a week (every Wednesday)

The podcast is hosted by Dustin Hartzler and it answers various questions about running your website on WordPress and provides solutions for problems you might encounter. You can also contact Dustin with a question and he might answer it in the next episode. He also shares weekly updates and news from WordPress every week. In every episode there is a section "Is there a plugin for that?" where Dustin shares his recommendations on WordPress plugins.

Your Website Engineer is a great solution for busy folks, it only lasts about 20 minutes and every episode is also summarized in a short note that you can read below the recording. The podcast is running for quite a long time already and it has more than 350 episodes.

Tune in: Episode 365 – Trying Out New Software and Services

What WordPress podcasts are you listening to? Please, share in the comments. We would love to hear your suggestions!

KI00KI

10 Best WordPress Podcasts You Should Start Listening to

Post from: Foliovision

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Dia Takacsova <![CDATA[SEATREKKING – Trekking the Ocean]]> https://foliovision.com/?p=62272 2018-02-19T12:43:00Z 2018-01-08T00:10:30Z

We travel along the coastline for several days. All we need fits in our waterproof and floatable backpacks. We set out to explore nature and what we carry with us is reduced to a minimum. We dive deep into the ocean and swim along wild cliffs, discovering untouched beaches where we spend our nights under the clear sky.

- Bernhard Wache, Founder of Seatrekking.

It's highly possible that you never heard about seatrekking: the sport was created more than 12 years ago by German designer and free-diver Bernhard Wache who successfully combined diving and hiking, allowing adventurers to discover land and water without limits. This was made possible by a unique watertight rucksack, a result of years of experiments with different materials and technology. “We wanted to escape everyday life. We were looking for a way to feel what’s essential again", he says about his inspiration. 

The new outdoor adventure became more than a sport: it changed to a philosophy - especially for filmmaker Cedric Schanze.

In 2015 Bernhard contacted me if I would like to become part of the film that he were planning to produce. I trained my free-diving skills (almost 5 minutes on a single breath) and we started shooting in Italy, travelled on towards Croatia, Tenerife, South Africa, Brazil and Egypt.

Cedric is a German filmmaker, photographer and director who creates "to learn, to feel, share and connect". His cinematic work appeared in commercials for clients such as Adidas, Mercedes Benz and Porsche, but he most of all believes in the power of personal projects and constantly seeks new ideas and collaborations.  

SEATREKKING - Trekking the Ocean is a captivating combination of a dark tonality, cinematic moments and a great rhythm in the story. You don't have to be passionate about extreme adventures to fall in love with this film: it's full of beautiful shots and reveals a truly life-changing experience this sport meant for the filmmaker. 

What is it about? Hiking, climbing, swimming and diving along coastlines, reaching and exploring places that are difficult to access in any other way, walking in a rugged terrain and finishing the days sleeping under the stars. The combination of underwater shots and the dramatic scenery are especially unusual: how often do you get to see the stunning underwater world, feeling almost as weightless as the film's protagonists? The viewer can even wonder while watching some of the transitions: is this an underwater scene? Or is this a landscape?

The film is not only a collection of outdoor shots: one of its strengths is the strong narrative. The phone call, a text written by Linda Moers is perfectly incorporated in the story and invites the viewer to become part of it: it's all about us and for us. Watch this short film, a perfect capture of what's the essence of this new concept of nature adventuring!

[This post contains video, click to play]

Follow Cedric Schanze on his Vimeo channelInstagram | website.

Do you have a video you think we should feature, or is one of your friends a talented filmmaker? Submit your work at marketing@foliovision.com for a chance to be featured in our Video of the Week series!

DT00SK

SEATREKKING – Trekking the Ocean

Post from: Foliovision

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Alec Kinnear http://foliovision.com <![CDATA[How to write an ideal service notification]]> https://foliovision.com/?p=62230 2018-02-19T12:44:03Z 2018-01-04T23:43:11Z Editor's note: Service interruption notifications are the unloved sibling of newsletters and welcome emails. They just don't get enough love—and for the most part are fairly terrible, anonymous, vague and menacing messages, often from a no-reply address. There is a better way.

While software is our main business now, we have some hosting clients for special services. Every once in a while of course there is either expected or unexpected downtime. We strive to let our clients know about these issues in advance (planned) and in real time (unplanned). We don't try the tricky move that many hosts do of just trying to hide downtime.

Particularly bad for this trick was WiredTree (who don't exist any more). WiredTree had tight service agreements which they didn't want to honour. Solution: WiredTree should have relaxed their service agreements and informed customers about downtime pro-actively instead of actively trying to deny documented downtime (from our own monitors).

Hi {NAME TAG},

There will be a planned server maintenance on {DATE}. You may experience some short downtime on your website {WEBSITE TAG} during that period. Feel free to contact us for any questions you have.

Thank you for your understanding.

Making the web work for you,

Foliovision

Let's start with the good: it will arrive with the client's own name and even his or her website name. Awesome. At least the client will feel like an individual and not a nameless entity among thousands.

What's wrong with this apparently polite and professional message?

  1. First, the note talks about "planned server maintenance". That won't cover emergency services very well. It's terribly vague.
  2. Next, the period is covered by a whole date. I don't know about you, but I'd much rather know about a two or three hour maintenance window than wonder about a whole day.
  3. Natalia asks for questions. The note is going out to avoid questions. So this is just creating a bunch of noise for everyone. The client will have to write us to find out what is going on. Awful.
  4. There is no precision. The note should tell the clients exactly what maintenance we are doing and why. People like to be treated like adults.
  5. It includes an arrogant generic message about understanding. As we haven't share any information with the client why on god's green earth should s/he offer us any understanding at all.
  6. There's no real signature. We never sign any communications with this anonymous corporate style "Foliovision" or "Foliovision Team". Every communication is signed by a member of our team. If Natalia is on point, she should be signing it. If I'm on point, I should be signing it. If Martin is on point, he should be signing it.

Yes the soulless lawyers at Adobe, Microsoft and Apple are trying to make it common practice to treat users like a pack of dummies who don't deserve to know anything about what is happening to their computers or applications. But surely we don't aspire to pollute the world further with bad practices at Foliovision?

Isn't our goal the opposite:

  • to be personable
  • to be precise
  • to be open
  • to treat clients as adults and as friends

Hopefully yes.

A good hosting notification should feel like going to a really good doctor. A good doctor tells you what s/he's doing and why so when you leave his or her office you enjoy a feeling of both respect and being well-informed. There's nothing worse than a mysterious doctor who hides his or her charts and gives you minimal information in a brusque manner.

So what does a good hosting service interruption notification look like:

Hi {NAME TAG},

We are [updating PHP] on your server in the afternoon of {DATE} between 14:00 and 16:00 GMT. Your site {WEBSITE TAG} will go offline for a [few minutes] during that period. If you notice any performance or functionality issues after the update, please let us know right away.

Thanks for being part of Foliovision!

Making the web work for you, Natalia

What's better this time?

  1. Personalised.
  2. Exact reason.
  3. Precise time.
  4. Site named.
  5. Downtime specified.
  6. Pleasant and explicit request for help isolating any post-update issues. This helps the host as it means there are extra testing eyes and makes the client feel more comfortable as they are invited to participate.
  7. No condescending demand for understanding. An expression of gratitude instead.
  8. A person on the other end. Natalia - here she is. She could consider linking to her profile from her name but that might come across as attention-getting rather than helpful.

Final crucial bonus point: reply address

Make sure you use a working reply address which is actually monitored. Do not use a no-reply address under any circumstances. Sure the beancounters will tell not allowing customers to respond to support messages will reduce support costs. It will also deeply frustrate and anger customers. Just don't do it.

I hope this helps you write better form notifications for your own business. We can only improve technical notifications one service at a time. If you have any tips or ideas, I'd love to hear them.

How to write an ideal service notification

Post from: Foliovision

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Katerina Ivanova <![CDATA[2017 Year in Review: a Look Back And New Year’s Resolutions.]]> https://foliovision.com/?p=61459 2018-01-08T13:03:31Z 2017-12-28T11:50:17Z

2017 was a great deal for us in Foliovision! We've worked a lot on polishing our products and services as well as on getting more visibility on the market.

This year, we had our first Black Friday sale and got listed in about 20 different Black Friday sales roundups, yay! It was a great experience, but we still have so much to learn. Many thanks to all of you who decided to partner up with us, especially to MasterWP, WP Mayor, Winwar.uk,  WPulsar, WP Newsify, PressAvenue, you guys rock!

This year was also pretty awesome for us on social media. Alec's post on Markdown editors and Sanela's post on free stock video resources got shared more than 590 times each!

But the most important thing for us, of course, is that our beloved child, FV Player, grew so much in the past year! We welcome so many new pro users of FV Player Pro in addition to the 30,000 active sites using the free player. We've received 15 new reviews of our player on WordPress.org, and all of them were 5-stars!

The FV Player got lots of new tweaks and features and became the most feature-rich video plugin for WordPress on the market. Here is how it happened:

January 

We had quite a kickstart in the beginning of 2017 as we introduced a new featured image option. The new "Add featured image automatically" setting allows you to set the automatically set the splash screen of your video as a featured image unless specified otherwise. Great time saving trick! One more cool addition to our FV Player was the added option for SDH (Subtitles for the deaf and hard-of-hearing) for your videos.

February

February brought a great deal of changes for the FV Player this year. Most importantly, there was an FV Player Pro 0.8 update that included a lot of amazing features, previously available only in beta mode. The player got a new welcome screen, encrypted HLS support that helps users secure their videos, we also managed to make Vimeo videos load faster on FV Player and added a Vimeo MPEG-DASH support. For those who have ExoClick licenses, February also brought some good news: FV Player Pro now supports ExoClick ads.

In February the FV Player Pro also learnt to automatically add a splash screen and captions to the videos embedded from Vimeo and YouTube. You can still choose the splash screen manually, of course, but this feature might save you a lot of time. 

Interactive video transcript is another fantastic thing that happened to the FV Player Pro in February. The interactive transcript below the video highlights currently spoken text and allows the viewers to jump on any moment on the video by navigating the transcript text. A real gem for the e-learning websites and video courses! See how it works:

[This post contains video, click to play]

March

Those who use our FV Player know that it's fully brandable, but in March it got even more adjustable design features! With the new skin settings you can now not only choose the player's skins colours but also change the font and the size of the subtitles and see all your tweaks in the preview! This is how it looks like:

In 2017 we added a new hosting option - KeyCDN, which allows you to serve your video content at a relatively low price via content delivery network, while protecting it from hotlinking and downloading with a secure token. Pretty great, right? 

Another great thing that happened to the FV Player in March was an announcement of a new amazing feature - DRM text. The DRM text is a small box that appears in the video for a fraction of a second to help you secure your videos from pirates. It won't prevent people from downloading it, but it will definitely make it much easier to prove that the video is yours. Here's how it looks in action:

April

April marked a great change in the way people share videos with FV Player! From April on, you could generate a link from any second of your video and let the people jump to that exact second by following your link. And all with just one click on the 'Link' button!

A new video download feature was a great new addition to our FV Player. This was an especially good news for the membership sites because it allows to show the download link on the video to those users who are logged in (perhaps, those people who paid a fee). After the video was downloaded, you can track which user downloaded it, what other videos he downloaded, etc.

May

In May, the free version of FV Player got an update and a new version number 6.1. The new updates were mostly in the backend and might not look that shiny and exciting at a first sight, but they did make a big difference for the users.  For example, it reduced the pages' loading time, since the CSS will only load if FV Player is found on the page.

The FV Player also enhanced your SEO by starting to use Schema.org that improves the way your page looks in SERPs (Search Engine Results Page), since it can provide information about the nature of any part of your content (e.g. video).  

June

The greatest memory of this June for us was the WordCamp in Paris that we attended. We enjoyed some great talks and, of course, Paris itself!

Fired up by the Wordcamp, we were really productive in June. We managed to improve keyboard controls for our FV Player, letting the users start and stop the video, mute it, and change the volume or speed of the playback using the keyboard shortcuts. We've also perfected our interactive transcript feature and playlist subtitles and implemented new mobile settings for FV Player. In June, we also added Amazon Drive support on our video player, which means that you can now host your videos basically everywhere and use FV Player.

July

July brought some major updates for FV Player as the version 6.2 came out. One important step for adjusting the FV Player for your marketing needs was the integration with MailChimp, the most popular e-mail marketing tool. Starting from July the users of FV Player can add a subscription form at the end of the video asking the visitors to subscribe to their newsletter.

One more great feature that we added in July was the tracking of broken YouTube videos with FV Player and Google Analytics. You will now see immediately if the video you posted is unavailable (it was made private or removed or the uploader didn't make it available in your country):

August

August was scorching hot in Bratislava and many of us used this time to have enjoy relaxing holidays somewhere close to water.

Despite the heat, we've managed to release a new add-on - the FV Player Pay Per View. The pay per view additional plugin will restrict the access to your video only for those who payed to see it. The rest of the website visitors will see only a preview video of your choice, those who paid will have an open access to the video for 48 hours, which is a great way to monetize your video content.


Ice cream breaks are important during summer!

September

FV Player 6.3 was out in September with lots of new features and updates, including redesigned playlists and a text playlist option.

[This post contains video, click to play]



You can see three other playlist styles here.

The page builders are getting more and more popular these days, as they allow the non-techies to create good-looking sites without any special programming skills. The FV Player already had integration with some editors like Divi Builder and Pootle Page Builder, and in September we added a support for one of the most popular editors - Visual Composer

September is usually an active month for our team at Foliovision but this year it was very special because our the founder of PianoGroove Hayden Hill visited our office in Bratislava to work on his new site. We don't often get a chance to meet our clients face-to-face, so we really enjoyed meeting Hayden: personal contact is indeed priceless. These were a couple of very productive days for us, but we've also managed enjoy an afterwork beer with Hayden and to have a gourmet lunch at Zylinder restaurant, where Hayden surprised us with an improvised piano concert.


Hayden Hill, Pianogroove founder playing lunchtime Jazz
in Zylinder Restaurant Bratislava September 2017

October

There is time to make mistakes and time to correct them. October was this kind of time for us, so we spent this month fixing minor issues and bugs without adding any new bells and whistles to our plugin. In the end of October we managed to move 16 new features from Beta version to the main release.

November

In November we've added a new great hosting option - BunnyCDN - one of the fastest and cheapest solutions available, with the prices starting at $0.005 per GB for the global distribution. It is also very user-friendly and offers a secure token option to protect your videos. Using FV Player Pro with BunnyCDN can be a great solution for video streaming sites.

Another great addition to FV Player was a new Limit ad playback feature now available for Video ads. When activated, this new feature will limit the playback of your video ads for only one time a day in each browser, making sure that you won't annoy the users with the same ads appearing too often in the videos.

December

We've added loads of cool features towards the end of 2017! First of all, the Sticky video feature that allows you watch the video in a small box while you scroll. Here is the Sticky video feature in action:

[This post contains video, click to play]

Secondly, we've added a Splash text option that will make your video caption appear on a stripe on a video, before the user clicks 'play'. 

Goals for 2018

As you see, 2017 was a very productive year for us and we are proud of how FV Player's evolved. That's why we are not afraid to set even more ambitious goals for 2018. First of all, we will update the Flowplayer core engine to version 7. We are planning to redesign the structure of the playlist code and the overlay ads settings, add the mid-roll option to custom video ads and remembering the playback position.

We would also like to update the scroll autoplay to pause the video when out of sight. In terms of integration, at the moment we are planning to add the Google Tag Manager support. Another important update will be adding the auto-splash screens for all videos, not only Vimeo and YouTube (you won't need to set them manually anymore). We are excited about the upcoming year and what it will bring to our FV Player!

Wishing everyone a great year from our Foliovision team!

KI00KI

2017 Year in Review: a Look Back And New Year’s Resolutions.

Post from: Foliovision

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Dia Takacsova <![CDATA[Portrait of a Dancer: Steven McRae]]> https://foliovision.com/?p=61644 2017-12-18T07:37:04Z 2017-12-18T07:37:04Z What is the common point between ballet and motor racing? They may seem completely different but Royal Ballet Principal dancer Steven McRae is passionate about both. 

The Apiary is an Australian-born, Berlin-based directing duo working across fashion, advertising and arts. Lily Coates and Gavin Youngs are known for their eye for detail and visual imagery. Starting with almost no funds but with a dream of creating conceptual films in collaboration with musicians or artists, the duo also successfully carved out its niche, projecting their own style to short films for both cultural organisations and brands: their clientele includes Vice, The Australian Ballet, STVDIO, Calvin Klein, Ikea and more. 

The Apiary's mission is to transfer their vision to the work they create: the viewer can see the hours spent filming in the studio and editing every detail:

We work pretty crazy hours, so it’s not so much only wanting to make films about art as realising that if we’re going to be channeling all our crazy energies into something, it should be something we care about,

they said in an interview for The Design Files. The duo works closely with an animator an cinematographers, and all their videos have originally composed music. 

Steven McRae's portrait reveals a (at the first moment) surprising connection of dance and motorsport. If we look closer, we may discover that these two things have much in common: adrenaline, speed, the attention to detail and the risk are the elements that connect them. McRae explains more in the video:

I think my love for the dance world and the world of motor sport is equal. I grew up in the Western suburbs of Sydney — very far away from a ballet company and happened to be around the corner from Sydney's top race track. I can smell the burning rubber and oil. That's what I knew as a normal childhood.

The two worlds have still equal importance in the dancer's life, who was "thrown" at the stage at the age of seven and, according to him, became addicted to it. Both worlds come with adrenaline and a slight sense of anxiety. McRae believes that without these it's almost impossible to dance as a soloist - and he lives those moments before each performance. 

The result is a portrait that has a very interesting concept that combines dance and smoke billows from a spinning tire. Each image is a visual perfection with carefully crafted light and composition. The film is part of the Portrait of a Dancer series that captures ballet dancers in an unusual way. The series was commissioned for NOWNESS. Other short films feature Lauren Cuthbertson or Sarah Lamb.

Follow The Apiary on their Vimeo channelwebsite.

[This post contains video, click to play]

DT00SK

 

Portrait of a Dancer: Steven McRae

Post from: Foliovision

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