27 search results for “Ross Beyeler”

The Power of Community: How Business Networking Can Nurture Your Growth

The Power of Community: How Business Networking Can Nurture Your Growth

business networking

Some of the greatest potential opportunities for growing your business can stem from finding time to step out of the weeds of your day-to-day, and joining a community of peers.

In this article, we'll show you how viewing community as part of your growth strategy will:

  • Help you increase referrals.
  • Establish thought leadership.
  • Gain insights on key business challenges.

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20 Insightful Business Lessons My Agency Learned in 2016

20 Insightful Business Lessons My Agency Learned in 2016

20 insightful business lessons my agency learned in 2016: Email

Ross Beyeler gathers his team at Growth Spark for weekly meetings to discuss the progress and challenges faced that week – noting any lessons learned along the way. To help other web design and development agencies refocus in 2017, Ross Beyeler outlines Growth Spark's top 20 lessons learned over the course of 2016.

In this article you will learn:

  • Tips to better manage your projects.
  • How to work with clients in ways that are mutually beneficial.
  • Ways to tweak your business processes to become a more efficient agency.

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A Guide to Growing Your Agency by Upselling Clients

A Guide to Growing Your Agency by Upselling Clients

Upselling Clients: Email

In the client services world, it's easier to sell an existing client than a new one. This is an important idea to embrace, because it means upselling existing clients should be as much of a priority as closing a deal with a new one.

In today's article, you'll learn:

  • How to upsell existing clients
  • Why to consider the idea of on-going optimization
  • The range of services you can pitch for an upsell
  • How to structure those services

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6 Questions to Help You Gauge Client Fit

6 Questions to Help You Gauge Client Fit

6 Questions to Determine Client Fit: Puzzle

Many of us get so excited over the prospect of signing a new deal that we often overlook whether that client is the 'right' fit for our firm. But how exactly do you determine whether a client is qualified beyond just your gut instinct?

Here are six questions to help you figure out whether a lead is worth pursuing.

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3 Strategies for Improving User Experience in Your Ecommerce Designs

3 Strategies for Improving User Experience in Your Ecommerce Designs

UX in Ecommerce: 2016As the last remnants of winter melt away, spring brings a whole new season of fashion trends, recreation opportunities, and a desire to get back outside. This month we focus on strategies and tactics that can inform both the on-site user experience, as well as content used to appeal to customers.

The first strategy outlined below, regarding the 'buying journey', is something we've found particularly helpful in working with our clients, and in helping determine what is and what isn't essential on their website.

You might also like: The Seven Deadly Sins of User Experience Design

1. Catering to the three steps in the buying journey

UX in Ecommerce: Buying JourneyWhen designing an ecommerce website, many designers take into consideration the different target audiences their clients might have. Although the typical means of differentiating your users based on demographics can be helpful, another perspective to take is to differentiate users by which stage in the buying journey they're in.

To keep things simple, you can think of the buying journey in three main stages: inspiration, information, and intention. Let's say your client is a retailer who sells a variety of clothing from a few different brands on their website. Below, we’ll examine how each of these three personas might require a different user experience.

The inspiration stage

Customers in the inspiration stage, which we sometimes also refer to as discoverers, are early in the buying process and are coming to your client’s website more out of curiosity than for a specific reason.

In our aforementioned example, this might include someone who loves fashion but does not have any particular product in mind that they currently need. This customer is likely to arrive on-site via a blog article, or through social content from an influencer in the fashion industry, given that they are likely to keep up with general trends.

Since they're on your client’s website to explore, we need to tailor their user experience around elements that will inspire them to take action down the line. This type of experience could be driven by editorial content such as lookbooks, blog articles, buying guides, curated collections, and any other story-driven method of showcasing products.

In terms of the conversion goal for those in the inspiration stage, you might find more success focusing on secondary goals, such as getting them to follow you on social media or joining your mailing list. This will give you the opportunity to capture these leads in your client’s marketing funnel and continue to nurture them until they are ready to make a specific purchase.

The information stage

Those in the information stage, which we can be referred to as browsers, are in the middle of their buying process and are coming to your client’s website to see what product options you have for a given buying criteria.

This might be someone who knows they need a new jacket, but are not entirely sure of the style, label, or color they want yet. They're likely to arrive on-site after reading content about recent trends, or while searching for brands they like in Google. Given the right product and offer, there is a chance that they could make a purchase when they arrive at your client’s site, but they're more likely to be searching for different product options and general information about your company.

Since they're looking to be educated, we need to tailor their user experience around elements that will help them find the right product for them. This type of experience could be driven by product browsing features such as filtering, sorting, and comparison tools, or by educating them on your shipping policies, return policies, and promotions.

In terms of the conversion goal for those in the information stage, you certainly want to push them towards a purchase, but you might want to also focus on getting them to simply add a product to a wish list, share it with a friend for feedback, or join your mailing list in exchange for a discount code. This will give you the opportunity to start building a profile around this user and utilize follow-up marketing tactics, such as retargeting ads or email campaigns to push them along the funnel.

The intention stage

Those in the intention stage, which we sometimes refer to as searchers, are at the end of their buying process and are coming to your client’s website to make a final purchasing decision.

This might be someone who knows they want a medium, black, canvas jacket for example. They're likely to arrive on-site because they searched for that product specifically in Google, or saw a retargeting ad of yours after visiting your client’s website in the past. Their goal is to be confident in their buying decision and to pull the trigger on the purchase.

Since they're looking to take an action, we need to tailor their experience towards getting them to the right product as quickly as possible. This type of experience could be driven by advanced search tools, making it easy for them to find the right product, and helping remove any 'barriers' to making a purchase decision, such as try-on-at-home options, clear return policies, bulk purchase discounts, first time customer incentives, and loyalty programs.

In terms of the conversion goal for those in the intention stage, it's all about the sale. Should that sale not go through, the second thing to focus on is abandoned cart management and continuing to incentivize the customer to make that purchase.

You might also like: 8 Things My Mom Taught Me About UX

2. Adding social proof

UX in Ecommerce: Adding social proofHumans are social creatures by nature. We love interacting with other people and often many of our beliefs, tastes, and decisions are based on the influence of others. In the world of ecommerce, this resonates in a strategy referred to as 'social proof'.

The idea of social proof is that consumers are more likely to make a purchasing decision when they see other people making that same purchase or believing in that same brand. When designing a website, there are a number of specific tactics that can be explored to lay down the groundwork of social proof.

Reviews and coverage

One of the most common methods for creating social proof in ecommerce is the use of product reviews and testimonials. This could be in the form of traditional five star rankings, quotes from customers, or reviews sourced from third-party websites.

The overall goal is to build trust with the customer by showcasing how many other people have trusted the product or brand in the past. Tools such as YOTPO make adding these sorts of reviews easy. Another spin on this would be to showcase press coverage or awards received. They're similar, in a way, to product reviews, but are simply coming from more authoritative sources, lending even more credibility to their claims.

User generated content

In addition to reviews and coverage, incorporating other forms of customer-generated content can be highly effective for creating social proof. This might include personal anecdotes, or visual media submitted by customers that are showcased in a blog or dedicated section of the website. It could also include social media content contributed by customers, such as brand mentions on Twitter or Youtube.

One of my favorite forms of user-generated content includes customer-submitted photos of themselves with a product or brand, posted on Facebook or Instagram. Including this sort of content on specific and related product pages can provide a strong context of social proof while someone is evaluating a product. Platforms such as Olapic, TagTray, and Candid make this sort of functionality easy to implement on a website.

3. Creating a touch-responsive experience

UX in Ecommerce: Touch Responsive ExperienceWith mobile traffic now representing 50% of site visitors for most ecommerce stores, there is no doubt that having a mobile responsive website is essential. Many ecommerce brands, however, only skim the basics of possibilities when it comes to that experience.

Resizing images, collapsing navigation, and stacking content are all best practices that should be utilized, but responsive design does not have to stop there. We've begun experimenting with a few touch-responsive design tactics that seem to be working well for our clients.

Navigation

When it comes to navigation, most designers default to collapsed menus. These work great on mobile devices, but might leave the experience for tablet users feeling a bit lackluster. If you're interested in maintaining an expanded navigation on larger mobile and tablet devices, it's important to give thought to how dropdowns might function.

Osvaldas Valutis has a great article on creating touch-friendly drop-down navigation that addresses the issue of having to double click links while on tablet devices.

Sliders

Large banners with high resolution imagery are still quite prominent in the world of ecommerce design, especially on many fashion websites. For mobile and tablet users, those banners can become increasingly more interesting by enabling 'touch' functionality. This functionality allows users to easily swipe back-and-forth from one slider to the next.

Extending this interaction beyond the ominous homepage slider, you could apply the same concept to navigating products, blog posts, and much more. A great option for adding this functionality is Swiper, a free and modern mobile touch slider with hardware accelerated transitions and amazing native behavior.

Layers

With limited screen space on mobile, it's important to get creative with how content is displayed. Rather than just thinking vertically or horizontally, expand your canvas by adding depth and use layers to add/manage additional content on a page.

An increasingly common practice is to use sliding navigation and carts that pull from the left and right of the screen. These elements sit on top of the website as another layer that can slide in as the user swipes.

Web Designer Depot has a great tutorial on adding mobile style slide-in navigation, which can be repurposed for the same effect with a cart.

These are just a few ways to improve user experiences in your ecommerce designs. What strategies do you use? Tell us in the comments section below. 

You might also like: 10 Things I Learned About UX By Being Drunk

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Top Ecommerce Web Design Trends for March

Top Ecommerce Web Design Trends for March

Web Design Trends: March 2016

As designers and developers we bring a wealth of expertise to client work, but it remains essential that we keep an open mind, and allow clients to expose us to new and better practices.

Some of the web design trends I've observed this month at Growth Spark, are strategies we place significant emphasis on.

Hopefully, you'll find these ideas intriguing and consider exploring them within your own client work.

You might also like: 15 Unmissable Web Design Podcasts

Building a customer hub

Web Design Trends: Building a Customer Hub

Your client's growth comes from creating a great experience for their customers, which can in turn lead them to referrals, increased conversion, and repeat purchases. This experience extends beyond just their website, and spans the entire 'lifecycle' of your client's relationship with their customer. 

A lifecycle consists of all the touch-points customers have with a company; it's the buying journey of discovering a product, making a purchase, receiving the product, and beyond. The best way to create a great experience for customers across this lifecycle is to first better understand them. This can be achieved by building a profile of your client's customers by looking at all the data touch-points can provide.

Ideally, you have a single tool that is building this centralized profile, something we like to generally refer to as the Customer Hub.

By sourcing data from every touch-point, such as on-site behavior, purchase history, email marketing, support tickets, etc., you begin to form a holistic profile of your client's customer. As you begin to form these profiles, you can look at them in aggregate and start identifying interesting patterns and groups. These groups – based on factors such as purchase volume, location, and demographics – are often referred to as Segments. 

Once established, you can use these Segments to create more personalized marketing and a better customer experience. Suddenly, you can identify which products sell best to which Segments, and create specific offers and messaging to appeal to those unique audiences. The result is a highly personalized customer experience driven entirely by the data you've captured in your Customer Hub. I highly recommend looking at Klaviyo, Lumiary, or Sauce as potential Customer Hubs that enable this sort of analysis.

In addition to an aggregate categorization of customers based on Segments, creating a Customer Hub allows for improved one-to-one customer support. Rather than your client handling customer support issues with only the context of a single order, using the enriched profiles created in a Customer Hub allows a more holistic understanding of the customers they're helping.

Your client will have a better sense of how long they've been a customer, their entire order history, how engaged they are with marketing, and whether or not they're even profitable (someone on their sixth support ticket might not be worth the trouble). 

Once extended into a physical retail environment, the power of a Customer Hub grows exponentially, as service representatives are able to both utilize and capture heaps of data on customers. Over time, as more data sources are pulled into a Customer Hub, your client's understanding will only continue to grow and improve their customer's experience.

Merchandizing over cataloging

Web Design Trends: Merchandizing over catalogingRoughly a year ago, I walked into the retail store of a client. We were kicking off the design of their new Shopify website and I figured it would make sense to spend an afternoon at one of their physical locations. What struck me almost immediately was the emphasis on themed displays, located at the entrance of the store. There were several tables set up with products all inspired by similar themes, whether movie-related, season-related, meme-related, etc. 

This client certainly was not the first to set up these sort of displays, in fact, it's an age-old retail technique known as merchandising. Companies such as Macy's became famous for their themed window displays, spawning an entire industry of agencies that specialized in creating highly-decorative displays. In thinking how we could apply elements of our client's in-store experience, we gave more thought to this concept of merchandising and its role in ecommerce. Specifically, we started with thinking through their site structure and navigation.

When discussing strategies for site navigation with our clients, the bulk of folks focus on a catalog approach to their structure. This entails attribute-driven navigation, which allows users to browse and filter products by basic attributes, such as gender, type, color, and size. Attribute-driven navigation is effective for users who want an experience focused on finding a specific product, but leaves something to be desired for customers interested in a discovery-driven experience. It doesn't provide a curated display table that might inspire a wandering customer to dig a little deeper. This is where we saw an opportunity to apply merchandising to the ecommerce world.

Using Shopify's Collection feature, it's easy to manually curate groups of products based on any sort of shared theme. Paired with unique imagery and content related to that collection's theme as a whole, we can create our own  online display table. The key is to use this additional imagery and content to build as much of a story around the theme as possible. Customers often purchase products for the story they tell, rather than for its attributes or features. Merchandising allows you to craft this story around products and provide a unique means for customers to discover products they might not have initially searched for.

You might also like: Shopify Tutorial: The product.liquid template

Designing for accessibility

Web Design Trends: Designing for AccessibilityThe concept of optimization is often brought up during the process of designing and developing an ecommerce website. Search Engine Optimization, Load Speed Optimization, and Conversion Optimization are all commonly-discussed strategies in such a project. 

One area of optimization that doesn't get discussed as much is Accessibility Optimization. According to the National Federation of the Blind, it's estimated that there are more than seven million people affected by blindness within the U.S. alone. This fairly significant population should also get a great website experience, and has money to spend like anyone else visiting your site.

Recently, one of our clients requested we improve the accessibility of their website, and ever since we've been paying more attention to this often over-looked aspect of web design.

If you're open to introducing this practice into your design standards, there are tools and tactics readily available for anyone willing to spend the time improving the accessibility of their websites. The United States Access Board has put together detailed guidelines for ensuring accessibility. 

For those looking for a more abridged version, Tech Republic has put together a great article summarizing many of the key points within these standards. In addition, screen reader tools such as Apple VoiceOver and JAWS make the process of testing and optimizing for accessibility easier.

Frankly, many of the tactics suggested for Accessibility Optimization are good practices in general. Many relate directly to Search Engine Optimization, and as new devices and technologies emerge that might rely on accurate text reading, these practices could help the future proofing of your work. Some of these best-practices include adding alt tags and title tags to images, ensuring form fields are properly labeled and tab-ordered, and adding external links to embedded content

In general, taking a little extra time to make your website more accessible not only opens up your market to a demographic of seven million plus consumers, but also ensures you're building good technology.

You might also like: 9 Tools for Website Accessibility Testing

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Top Ecommerce Web Design Trends from January

Top Ecommerce Web Design Trends from January

Ecommerce web design trends 2016As we all know, the world of ecommerce is constantly evolving. New technologies, tools and tactics are emerging every day that help merchants expand their businesses. Given our role as their partners, it's our job to remain current and often drive these emerging trends.

With the New Year upon us, I'm restructuring my monthly contribution to the Shopify Web Design and Development Blog to focus less on generalized resources and more on the thoughts running through our minds and where we see things going in the world of ecommerce.

Expect to see a bit more 'behind the scenes' thinking and some topics that are just conversation starters, things we're still exploring that this community can discuss collectively. I'd like to share a few of those things with you, hoping that it might help expand your own practices and benefit the merchants you serve.

1. Designing what matters

Ecommerce web design trends: 80/20 rule

At our firm, Growth Spark, we tend to take a data-driven approach to our design strategy, at least when that data is available. Other the years, we've observed something rather interesting across all of our clients. We all know that the main driver behind the design requirements for any ecommerce website primarily stem from the number of unique templates that need to be designed and coded. Your client can have 10,000 products, but if they're all using the same template, it only needs to be designed once.

If you dig into the analytics of most ecommerce websites, you find that a majority of time spent on the website is on a minority of templates. Add up the total page views over whatever period you'd like and you'll often find the bulk of time is spent on the Homepage, Products Overview and/or Products Detail. Why then, do we fuss around with the myriad of other templates that don't represent a bulk of the user experience? Why spend significant time and money designing these templates beyond ensuring they meet standard best practices and work properly?

We've heavily adopted this mindset, which is largely related to the Pareto Principle or 80/20 Rule. Applying the principle in this case shows that 80 per cent of the user experience is represented by only 20 per cent of their time spent (i.e. templates) on the website.

In practical terms, we've used this idea in scoping out our projects to differentiate between what we call 'Core Templates' and 'Non-Core Templates'. Core Templates are those that drive the user experience and thus should be thoughtfully and uniquely designed. Non-Core Templates are those that need to work properly, but don't require any unique structure or functionality.

When it comes to designing a Shopify website specifically, we utilize the Timber Theme Framework as the base for all of our themes. Out-of-the-box, it provides the necessary structure and functionality for all of our Non-Core Templates. These leaves us only having to design a handful of custom templates that will truly impact the customer experience.

Timber is a great framework to use for Shopify, but other frameworks, such as Bootstrap and Foundation, can also be utilized for both Shopify and non-Shopify projects alike. In the end, it's simply a matter of finding a theme framework that your team is comfortable with and modifying your design process to focus exclusively on designing what matters.

You might also like: 6 Tips for Building a Web Design Process That Boosts Your Team’s Efficiency

2. Designing the little things

Ecommerce web design trends: custom experience

In having adopted this approach of Core Templates vs Non-Core Templates, we've gained another major insight into the design process. Users are generally quite comfortable with standardization when it comes to the experience of an ecommerce website.

They like knowing that the cart is accessible in the top-right, that product images are on the left, and that 'buy now' buttons are generally under the product description. As consumers, we've all been conditioned by major retailers, such as Amazon, to have certain expectations of our online buying experience. Adhering to these standards ensures customers are happy and comfortable across our client's website. It doesn't, however, WOW them!

The insight we've actually gained is that the 'little things' really matter in the customer experience. They want the structure and navigation of an ecommerce website to be familiar, but they don't want the experience to be mundane. This is why we've turned our attention to finding minute details where creativity and uniqueness can be expressed. Paying attention to these smaller elements really allow our client's brand to come across to the user, even if the 'structure' of the site is fairly standard.

One of our favorite examples of the 'little things' is in creating unique SVG animations that personalize the often tedious loading process of a website. Rather than your standard moving circle, we play around with using custom SVA elements that truly embody the client's brand.

One example is the loading graphic we created for Johnny Cupcakes. It's fun, simple and speaks directly to their brand. It only appears for a second or two, but it's enough to let the customer know that they're in for a fun buying experience. Libraries such as Snap.svg make this sort of thing easy to implement. Other 'little' things we pay attention to that are worth some embellishing include: product badges, 'buy now' buttons, 404 error pages, 'add to cart' animation, image hover effects, etc. Consider adding any one of these, or some of your own embellishments, on your next project.

3. Making search an experience

Ecommerce web design trends: Make search an experience

When it comes to on-site search, many ecommerce companies treat it like the black sheep of website functionality. They'll utilize the default searching capabilities of their shopping cart or perhaps drop-in a Google search form. We've evolved our thinking on the role of on-site search plays and have found it to be a hugely under-utilized opportunity for merchants to increase conversion.

Users that have entered a website knowing exactly what they're looking for have a higher likelihood to purchase than someone who is casually browsing. By not catering to this 'purchase-ready' user, we're basically throwing away money.

Luckily, upgrading your client's on-site search functionality can be fairly straight-forward, as a number of third-party platforms have emerged offering it off-the-shelf. A few examples include Nextopia, Swiftype, and Algolia. Naturally, there are differences between these platforms, but the core features are fairly consistent. The features that have us and our clients most excited are Real-Time Search Results, Search Filtering, Featured Search Results, and Search Analytics.

Real-Time Search Results are becoming increasingly common on major retail websites. It's where a list of results appear underneath the search bar just as the user is typing out their query. Those results might be purely text or include entire summaries of product information.

Search Filtering allows users to filter through the results they see after submitting a query to help narrow-down the list of options. By default, many ecommerce platforms will show any content (product or otherwise) as part of the results with minimal differentiation or relevancy. One of these third-party tools provides additional filtering capabilities that allows the user to personalize the results they see.

Featured Search Results allows merchants to customize how they'd like search results to function on a per-query basis. This allows merchants to ensure certain products are always promoted, useful when trying to liquidate inventory, highlight a sale, or test new product offerings. In addition, merchants can customize the results for any search terms that might lead to the dreaded 'no results found' message. Rather than leading your user to a dead-end, provide a useful 'other suggestions' list of results for common searches.

Finally, Search Analytics provides merchants with in-depth information on what users are searching for and their behavior within those search results. They shed light on products customers might be looking for that aren't in stock, terms used to describe products that might not be included in product descriptions and much more. These analytics can serve as a major source of insight for exactly what your client's customers want and tailor future marketing or design decisions.

Have something to add to the discussion? We want to hear what you think! Join the conversation below...

You might also like: 2 Real-Time Features That Every Developer Should Include in Their Ecommerce Sites

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Top Ecommerce Resources for December

Top Ecommerce Resources for December

best ecommerce resources

The last few weeks of December, once the fires are put out, are a great time to rest, reflect, and rally. Rest after the intense last three months of helping your clients prepare for and manage the holiday rush. Reflect on the amazing things your team has been able to accomplish this past year. Rally your spirits for the New Year that is upon us and start laying out your master plan for growth! This month's roundup features a few articles and resources that should help you accomplish all three.

Ecommerce Articles

The State of UX in 2015 / 2016

In their own effort of reflecting, the team at uxdesign.cc have compiled an amazing overview of the trends they're seeing in the UX world as we transition from 2015 to 2016. Some definitely challenge the status quo, such as the end of apps (as we know it) and designing around time. They've put together a great collection of resources and thought-provoking ideas to consider for your own design practices going into the New Year.

The Ultimate Guide to SEO for Ecommerce Websites

The world of SEO has changed significantly, especially in April of this year as Google bestowed "Mobilegeddon" upon all of those whose websites were not mobile-friendly. Although some feel that the push towards mobile-driven search results means traditional SEO practices are becoming less relevant, it's highly unlikely Google will begin favoring those who start killing their sitemaps and dropping meta information. If you're looking to bone up on the best practices for ecommerce SEO, take a look at this guide that the folks at Kissmetrics have put together.

How to Write a Content Marketing Strategy Step-by-Step

The team at Buffer have released a very comprehensive guide on how to approach writing a content marketing strategy. With the folks at uxdesign.cc predicting that "Content Strategy [will be] the New Information Architecture," this sort of resource is quite timely. It's a long study, but covers everything from 'creating audience personas' to 'creating content workflows for your team.' Consider this a prerequisite to planning out any of your 2016 content marketing efforts.

The Blueprint to Agency Growth at Every Stage, From Start-Up to Powerhouse

If you read the content marketing guide above, then you might find yourself longing for something short and visual! Hubspot's agency-focused blog put together a great infographic on growing your agency. In it, they break out culture, recruiting, marketing, and operational tactics for what they consider the three types of agencies: "The Startup Agency," "The Established Agency," and "The Powerhouse Agency."

Ecommerce Apps

Nosto

ecommerce resources december: nosto

Clients with a fair number of products are great candidates for utilizing cross-selling and up-selling strategies with their customers. Marketing Automation tools that help segment customers and provide targeted and sequenced email marketing can be incredibly powerful. Taking that one step further are companies such as Nosto, who've built a 'personalization engine' for ecommerce companies. Pulling in a variety of data sources, their tool builds a unique profile at the customer-level, allowing your clients to make highly personalized product recommendations on both their websites and in their emails. Download the Nosto Shopify app from The App Store and start personalizing your client's stores today.

Agency-Ipsum

ecommerce resources december: Agency Ipsum

Since no one wants to end on a serious note when there are holiday parties to enjoy and New Years plans to make, we figured we'd share this little nugget for your future ipsum needs. Agency Ipsum features the ridiculous jargon and ideas you'd expect to fly out of the mouth of your favorite Creative Director. Rather than filling your next client website with Pig Latin, drop them a good old "Lean Dev Environment Synergy" or "Responsive Behavior Proximity"! Also, if you're looking for something even more creative, check out our curated list of other great lorem ipsum generators.

What ecommerce resources did you find useful this month? Tell us in the comments below!

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