Reasons to blog

I saw this article today on the benefits of blogging:

  1. Blogs refine your thoughts
  2. Blogs reward the creator
  3. Blogs amplify your humanity
  4. Blogs connect us to our tribes
  5. Blogs give introverts a voice
  6. Blogs reward the “new age” publishers
  7. Blogs embrace the experimenters
  8. Blogs accelerate discovery
  9. Blogs open up a world without borders

I’ve written about the reflective power of writing. E.g. here.

I bet, there were similar articles about writing ever since writing was invented.

It’s quite difficult to carve out a space in our multimedia world to sit down and write and reflect and create. Many times I just feel like I am part of the echo chamber. Not adding any value. Not going deep enough.

One reason to keep your blog going is digital memories.

The weather was beautiful today. Sunny and warm. I tried to capture the day and hold onto the moment with these snapshots.

Walking down the stairs:


Crossing the river Rhein at the Kraftwerk:

hello basel

This bicycle colour is cool:


Looking down:


Just like in San Francisco, the fog moved in at around 5 pm:

der nebel kommt

Autumn colours:


I am continuing my Vine experiment. Here’s the new water fountain in Riehen Dorf:

Video isn’t easy. At all. This Coschedule blog post mentions some tools to explore:

  • Video Hance (iPhone)
  • QuickCast (iPhone)
  • ScreenFlow (desktop tool)

Always a good resource, Hubspot lists video ideas to try out for your business.

What tools or apps can you recommend? I’m on Android.

By chance, I learnt that there is an edit function in Vine.

A vine a day

I’ve started using Vine on my 2nd generation Moto G. I haven’t bought a tripod or started editing vines. Some recent shots:

Everyday typography:

Chiperoni ku Basel (drizzle rain in Basel):

Velo culture:


Referral traffic from social media has dropped

I saw this Bufferapp article on declining social media traffic.

We’ve lost nearly half our social referral traffic in the last year

I say. No wonder. Everybody is online, creating tonnes of content. Most people are too busy to read, let alone follow so many data streams.

Many web pages don’t get any traffic at all. A few sites get all the traffic.

Interesting read. I recommend reading it.

My tip: don’t share or comment on articles that you haven’t read. Even bots can do that. Be human.

And. If you do like an article? Comment, share and write a blog post on it.

If you’re on Facebook and want to see better content, I recommend following Robert Scoble’s advice. The filtering is improving. And this week’s announcement on Facebook Search means we may have a viable alternative to Google Search. At some point in the future.

Lucky It doesn’t need to grow traffic.

Have a look at my photos on Flickr.

walk this way

Handheld shapshot taken along the river banks of the Rhein

Here is a handheld shapshot taken along the river banks of the Rhein during dusk yesterday evening:

Basel hat keinen See

When I moved to Basel many years ago, some of my conversations went like this:

Nchenga at I really like Basel. It’s got a lot of cultural events, museums, cinemas for a city of this size. It’s well-connected, has a great public transport system, just the right size, etc.

Swiss counterpart: Basel doesn’t have a lake.

I heard the same comment several times. Until it occurred to me.
Many Swiss cities are located near a lake. Zürich, Geneva, Lausanne, Luzern, Lugano, Locarno. A sizeable city needs a lake.

The future of blogging is … plogging

I found this Wired article discussing Facebook’s recent Notes update for long-form content and Medium.

Apparently, “plogging” stands for platform-based blogging.

Related link: What Andrew Sullivan’s exit says about the future of blogging

Riehen – Brombach – Schopfheim – Haagen – Riehen bicycle tour

I cycled to Schopfheim. An easy tour about 20 km one way. Going I went via Brombach. Coming back I cycled on the other side of the Wiese river via Lörrach-Haagen.

Riehen – Brombach – Steinen – Maulburg – Schopfheim – Haagen – Riehen

There’s one stretch between Steinen and Höllstein where the bicycle route follows the busy main road, B317. Loud and lots of fuel fumes and particulates.

I missed one turn-off between Maulburg and Schopfheim and cycled the path up to Wiechs instead.

Category: easy
Length: about 40 km

Some snapshots:


#rasenmäh #sheep grazing



frischer apfelsaft

You are not the user

Via the #confluencecon hashtag, I found some good background articles (thank you @ruthburr, @danlovejoy for tweeting).

Take the time to understand your user. It will decrease the risk of creating an an unfavorable experience and give you an opportunity to turn them into your greatest advocate.

A reminder of research tools that I can use to learn more about the people that will use a website or app is provided in this article.

Above all else, there is no excuse for designing based off assumptions—in the immortal words of Jakob Nielsen: “Leaving the user out is not an option.”

Some new marketing tools mentioned in this slide deck by @ipullrank and a call to understand marketing technology:

Some new tools mentioned in the slides above:







Recommended article: “The Guide To Strategic Writing”

I read this article on writing:
The Guide To Strategic Writing.

The main idea, as proposed in the article, is to research and find a proven idea. Then, write an article that improves on this idea.

Make sure the problem is real and your readers can relate to it

The article provides a good overview what content marketers will suggest and recommend in 2015.

The challenge that I see is trying to implement this in a small or medium sized business. You’ll need access to subject matter experts and time for research. Both are scarce.

Good times to be a writer.

WordPress-y clean-up

I just deleted over 20 WordPress themes that had accumulated in my wp-content folder. Feeling de-cluttered. I’ve kept Syntax and Underline.

I’ve also been unlinking tonnes of broken links.

Next, I need to figure out why comments are not getting thru.

BTW, there’s a WordPress conf in Zurigo on 19 September.

I’ve been using WordPress since 2004. 11 years. It’s served me well.

Is it slow? Is it bloated? Maybe, but you can always work on improving that.

Helmet hair

One of my favourite jokes is to walk into the office and complain about helmet hair. I keep saying that I’ll write a confessional book how bicycle helmets ruined my hairdo and life.

I found some stats that show helmet hair is an issue for some bicycle commuters:

Body image issues and appearance accounted for a huge percentage of women who are reluctant to cycle to work. 28% said they didn’t want to arrive at the office sweaty, 19% said they were too self-conscious while 25% in total cited unmanageable hair and helmet hair as the main barrier.

I enjoy my bicycle commute too much to worry about my hair.

velo helm

The reasons to wear a bicycle helmet outweigh the disadvantages by far:

  1. It offers some protection of your brain in case of a bicycle accident.
  2. If you ever have a bicycle accident, you can answer the most common question with “Yes, I was wearing a bicycle helmet”.
  3. Today’s helmets are lightweight and look sporty.
  4. You can have endless conversations on helmet models, which model is the best, and how to wear the helmet correctly.
  5. You can make jokes about helmet hair.

Complimentary link:
I found a link on the history of bicycle helmets. And wearing a helmet is quite a recent development.

velohelm oder beten

Email Growth Hacks

I read this Forbes article on email subscription growth:

5 Email Growth Hacks From Someone Who Amassed A List of 750,000

  1. Optimize your top pages
  2. Rock the bonus content
  3. Create email-based courses and recycle content
  4. If you don’t ask, you won’t get
  5. Have one core goal, and reverse engineer it.


Two sites that I read regularly – Moz and Hubspot – analyzed and wrote about their own blog post frequency.

Quality vs. Quantity: A 6-Month Analysis of the Age-Old Blogging Debate

Raising the Bar: A Publishing Volume Experiment on the Moz Blog

I am stunned. Flabbergasted.

How will small and medium-sized enterprises thrive in such a content marketing world?

High quality and high frequency.

My prediction has always been that we will return to media empires with gatekeepers guarding the entrances.

Citizen journalists and bloggers will only get a voice when the gatekeepers choose to let them.

Sursee – Schenkon – Sempach – Nottwil – Sursee bicycle tour

Some snapshots from my Lake Sempach bicycle tour on Sunday:

das leben ist besser wenn du lachst

am see entlang

boat house

sempacher see


das tool parkiert im schatten


sempacher see

The tour is about 20 kilometers. If you have an all-terrain bicycle, try to follow the path closest to the lake. That’s more enjoyable than the busy road.

I managed to miss the turn-off to Sursee SBB train station. And so I saw Schenkon twice.

Category: easy
Length: 20 km

What will an SEO audit be like in 10 years?

A couple of months ago, I went thru an SEO audit. I wanted to write a blog post to reflect on what I learned. This is my feeble attempt to collect my thoughts and jot down some notes. Where available, I’ve tried to list my source links.

bagger statt strasse

What is an SEO audit? In an audit, your website is analyzed and checked (often by an external SEO specialist) to be sure that it complies with SEO best practises.

football crazy

12 items to consider:

  1. GWT is your best friend.
    I spent a lot of time working my way thru Google Webmaster Tools, cleaning duplicate title and meta description tags. Duplicate title tags are a negative quality feature for Google. Sources of duplicate title tags are
    • non-translated title tags,
    • content management software settings, e.g. showing the same mono-lingual Drupal view in several website languages.

    GWT is the place to find these. Same for missing title tags. Or meta descriptions that are too short. Or the index status, which shows you how many pages are indexed.

  2. Follow a holistic approach. If you think you’re all set ‘cos you have had your new web design and navigation tested for usability by a user experience expert… Think again. You need to involve SEO early on in your design project. Ask for SEO guidance once you’ve gone thru the card sorting/information architecture steps. Check your designs from an SEO perspective. Write content in close collaboration with your SEO analyst.
  3. Question the SEO impact of new website features.
    Ask your web developers about the SEO side-effects of adding new features and changes. I learnt that website changes to make a website responsive and mobile-friendly may add unintended SEO problems, e.g. ‘cos the changes added a second hidden navigation which Google cannot identify yet.
  4. Ignore SEO noise.
    A lot of the SEO advice that you read on the web is blabla. Avoid link-bait. Hearsay. Look for reputable sources and SEO specialists that really know their field.
  5. Use the hreflang tag on multilingual websites.
    Add rel="alternate" hreflang=x on all web pages.
  6. Check the correct usage of heading tags.
    Use only one h1 per page. Keep the order h2, h3, or h4. Don’t jump to an h3 after using an h1.
    Check thru the design elements (e.g. navigation, footer, search button, contact form heading, teaser text blocks, or similar for hidden h1s or h2s).
  7. Improve h1 content.
    A heading 1 should provide a good summary of what to expect on the web page. Include keywords.
  8. Internal linking.
    Add relevant internal links. Add an on-page sitemap. Use footer links for important landing pages, not to repeat the navigation. Never use any hidden sub-page menus. Make sure you use dropdown menus that can be parsed by Google.
  9. Clean up any 302 redirects that may have been added by the content management system.
  10. Repair or replace all internal broken links. Tool tip: I used Integrity for Mac.
  11. Page speed matters.
    Check Google Page Speed Insight to improve the loading time of your site.
  12. Check the XML sitemap.
    The XML sitemap should only include pages with status code 200. Use the real, final URL in the XML sitemap, not the CMS page ID.

10 years plugin

What will an SEO audit look like in 10 years? That is an intriguing question. I have no idea which way SEO will go. My guess is as good as yours. I do know that SEO is getting quite complex. And may even be replaced by *something* entirely new. If you are a website manager, my advice is to dig in and ask lots of questions.

Look at all aspects. Take a holistic approach. Try to form a cross-functional team (designer, ux researcher, web developer, SEO expert, content writer).

ready mix for mandasi

If you do search on Google, remember the search engine result on page 1 is not necessarily the best content, but the best optimized content. Use Google search operators to get you off the beaten track. And there are alternatives like DuckDuckGo and Wolfram Alpha, which we should support more to avoid monopoly and manipulation.

Related links

GWT resources:

On-page factors:

Duplicate content:

How to carry out a content audit:

Technical Site Audit Checklist: 2015 Edition:

All mistakes are my own. Please let me know if I got something really wrong. I’m here to learn. These notes help me to reflect and learn.

Notes and photos from #UXcampch

Some notes and photos from Saturday’s UX camp in Zürich:

Adrian Sameli took us thru the process of building infographics. His tip on tools to use: Excel and Adobe Illustrator. He tried one or two infographic tools but didn’t like them much. In the discussion we looked at data-driven documents

Next, I attended a session on atomic design. Design systems not pages.
Developers need to agree early on with designers on the semantics of the smallest, small and medium building blocks. These then are used in templates to build pages.

Brad. Frost. Who?

Background reading: Atomic design by Brad Frost.

The discussion after the presentation got straight to the daily challenges. Questions like

  • How do you get developers to use the existing pattern? Nobody reads documentation. In an ideal world, developer and designer sit in the same room and discuss the initial elements and define the markup. In real life the UX team may be much smaller than the developer team and might be geographically distributed, etc.
  • Is anybody using Pattern Lab in real-life projects? Very few projects get paid to build a pattern library. Pattern Lab is really more for larger projects due to the effort involved. How can this be improved?

Next, I listened to Simone Reichlin talk about the RITE method vs traditional user tests.

Main idea: Often you see some obvious problems in your UX design after your first or second test person. Instead of going thru the whole test with the remaining test participants, change the prototype with your improvement between tests. And then continue testing your changed prototype.
Main requirement: Designer needs to watch the user test. This shortens discussion time afterwards.
Tools used: Sketch and inVision.

Don’t change too much. Follow Medlock’s classification.

Want to try RITE? Start with the traditional method first. Only use RITE after you have gained some experience in carrying out user tests.

A very good session by Vincent van der Lubbe on creating space in conversations. And we even got a reference sheet to take home. The hard part is putting this into practise.

listening to Vincent at @uxcampch

Fidel Thomet presented his B.A. project, It’s a Chrome extension to capture digital findings in form of text fragments gathered while browsing the web.

Information Flaneur = Flanieren in grossen Datenmengen

We briefly looked at Marian Dörk’s PivotPaths. This podcast by was recommended.

Unknown, useless fact about me:
Once upon a time, I had to write a uni term paper on Walter Benjamin and Paris in the 19th Century.

My snapshots are on Flickr.

All mistakes are my own. Please let me know if I got something really wrong. I’m here to learn. These notes help me to reflect and learn.