dark·​room | \ ˈdärk-ˌrüm  , -ˌru̇m \

noun

 

: A darkroom refers to a space where art and science come together to create something complete before premiering to the public. It’s where process and creativity combine to form a final product.

 

This is why we’ve chosen it as our name.

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Earth Day 2020: Climate Action

Participate in Earth Day 2020 by supporting an environmental charity.

Three Fifty

350.org is dedicated to combating climate change by reducing the atmosphere’s carbon dioxide concentration to the safe level of 350 parts per million.

Amazon Conservation Association

The Amazon Conservation Association works to conserve the biological diversity of the Amazon.

Earthjustice

With the most experienced legal team in the world, Earthjustice is the premier nonprofit environmental law organization.

Seacology

In the last 500 years, 80% of all recorded extinctions occurred on islands. Seacology preserves the endangered biodiversity of islands throughout the world.

Pure Earth

Pure Earth works to solve pollution problems in lower income countries such as Guinea and Peru.

These charities aren’t alone in the battle against climate change. Many companies are making strides towards bettering the environment. Here are five companies that are leading the sustainability charge.

Dandelion

Dandelion builds technology that harnesses the difference in temperature between the ground and the outside air to heat and cool your home.

Prometheus

Prometheus built a solution to pull carbon dioxide out of the air, and combine it with molecules to create gasoline.

Project Vesta

Project Vesta harnesses the power of waves to accelerate the removal of CO2.

Ocean-based

Ocean-based has created a device that reduces CO2 emissions by promoting the growth of phytoplankton

in the ocean. 

Bowery Farming

Bowery Farming uses proprietary computer software, LED lighting, and robotics to grow leafy greens without pesticides and with 95% less water than traditional agriculture.

With all of these companies and organizations moving towards a better future for our planet, it is clear why the theme of Earth Day 2020 is Climate Action— it is time to take action. We only have one earth, let’s take care of it.

The Benefits of Outsourced Software Development Far Outweigh the Perceived Difficulties

It used to be that companies would try to do everything in-house. You’d have several departments (and even more employees) all working on separate tasks that would in some way contribute to the business’s bottom line. 

Nowadays, however, this isn’t always the case …

Many of the most successful startups are trying to keep themselves lean by limiting their in-house team to people whose services are required every day.

The rest of the work? It’s outsourced.

Time For Some ‘Mythbusting’

Now, outsourcing has often received a bad rap over the years. It’s often associated with offshoring — sending jobs to other countries in an effort that reduces business expenses while often lowering the quality of delivered products or services.

This is far from the reality of today’s outsourcing environment. Outsourcing doesn’t mean that work is getting shifted to an overseas call center. These days, it means providing expert, specialized work that the company can’t manage in-house.

I should know …

Before starting Darkroom, I worked for a company that was winning in the outsourcing space by providing top-notch outsourcing services to big-brand clients. The truth is, companies like Airbnb, Tinder and Twitter are all flocking to outsourcing companies — particularly when it comes to software development.

Silicon Valley startups are looking for “gold standard” outsourcers — and for good reason. The end result for their software development can be far better than what they might achieve on their own.

Creating the Perfect Product

In the world of product development, outsourcing is, more than anything else, a way of ensuring that you get high-quality results. Consider startup founders, for example …

Most would-be entrepreneurs have a great idea for a product or service. They may have a strong background in marketing or business management. But this doesn’t mean they know how to create software.

Statistics behind startup failure rates shed additional light on why enlisting expert help for software development matters. In one comprehensive analysis of startup failures, 24 percent of founders cited “technical/product issues” as a contributor to their failure, while an additional 11 percent cited “inexperience/skills gap.”

This isn’t to say that each of these failures was caused by attempts at in-house software development — but it’s easy to see how inexperienced developers could see these results.

When you outsource to an expert team, you can have greater confidence in receiving a technically sound software program. Quality engineers provide efficient, reliable work that leverages resources you likely wouldn’t have access to in-house. 

As a result, you’re more likely to achieve a technically sound software program that helps you deliver on the promises made to your customers.

Greater Flexibility Becomes a Reality

Another great advantage of outsourcing software development is the increased flexibility it provides your business. Trying to do everything in-house requires hiring part-time or full-time employees. It may require the purchase of expensive equipment or programs.

These can prove to be significant investments in a startup’s early stages — especially if you don’t have a permanent need for such staff members or equipment.

When you outsource with a qualified partner, you maintain a level of flexibility that also allows you to keep your finances in the black. You only pay for services when you need them. You don’t have to make costly investments or undergo a lengthy hiring search to build a programming team.

IT outsourcing serves as a worthwhile comparison to software development. Researchers have noted that IT outsourcing doesn’t just improve efficiencies and minimize costs in IT.

In these situations, outsourcing also reduces significant expenses in administration, sales and other areas. In a world where many startups fail because they run out of money, this benefit is particularly noteworthy.

By only paying for software development when you truly need it, you can maintain a higher level of control over your startup’s expenses, reducing waste and putting yourself in a better position to adapt to an ever-changing marketplace.

Outsourcing is also more easily scalable than hiring an in-house team.

Getting a software product ready for market won’t be limited based on the in-house resources you can afford at the time. Instead, the third-party team can scale operations to ensure that deadlines are met.

All the Time In the World

Starting a successful business requires a lot of time and effort.

In fact, many of the most successful businessmen in the world cite working 12 hours each day as one of the biggest contributors to their financial prosperity.

Of course, not every startup founder has that kind of time. But regardless of how many hours you have available to work, what ultimately matters most is whether you are using that time to the best of your ability.

Software development is a complex and time-consuming process — and when you already have countless other business responsibilities, managing these projects can take you away from other important tasks that will allow you to grow your business.

It shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, then, that one of the biggest advantages of outsourcing your software development needs is that it will give you more time to focus on your areas of expertise.

Your outsourcing partners will handle all the “nitty-gritty” of development, from overseeing the progress of the work and supplying staff members with needed resources to checking for programming errors and ensuring that the final product is delivered on time.

When you leave these complex tasks to an expert, you can focus on other crucial activities that drive the success of your business. You’ll suddenly have more time to meet with investors, to finetune a marketing campaign or further develop your business strategy.

Outsourcing For the Win

At the end of the day, choosing to outsource software development is all about achieving the desired outcomes for your business. This is something we take very seriously here at Darkroom — it is why we have international teams set to scale products at affordable prices.

We know that outsourcing works — and that it will work for you.

Today’s fast-paced business environment requires flexibility, collaboration and expert insights. Rather than go through the costly and time-consuming process of building an in-house development team, outsourcing this work will get you the results you need, when you need them.

That’s a sure-fire recipe for success.

*Image Credit:

-Featured Image, Pexels

Launching a New Site? These Simple SEO Tips Will Make a World of Difference

Launching a new website is a lot of work. Whether you’re launching for the first time or the fifth, there’s a lot of planning, creating and editing that goes into the process. 

As soon as your site launches, you might be tempted to ease your foot off the throttle. Although a live website may feel like the end of a task, it’s where new work begins. 

Domain Matching 

All websites need domains. When it comes to creating a domain, there are two main strategies you can follow. The first is to create an exact match domain (EMD). An EMD simply means your website’s domain includes your targeted keywords, key phrases and/or location. 

For example, if you’re trying to rank for the search phrase “online dating in San Diego,” an exact match domain would be www.onlinedatinginsandiego.com. There is also something called a partial match domain, which includes part of the search phrase of interest.

If you don’t have a finalized business name and are a niche company, it can be advantageous to establish a domain that includes your company’s offering and location. 

The other option is to make the brand’s name your domain name, which leaves room for expansion and diversification. In the example above, the company is tied to San Diego; if the group wants to expand out of the city of San Diego, their domain name will no longer serve them.

Conversely, if they leave out the “San Diego” portion, they have the option to take their company national or even global. Having a memorable domain might cause you to fight for more traffic at first, but it can pay off in the long run. 

Content Creation

Every Google search runs through the Hummingbird search algorithm. Although the algorithm is complex, there’s a few known tricks to appeasing the system. First, you need to offer comprehensive content on a specific topic. In other words, you don’t want your topic coverage to be a mile wide and an inch deep.

To do really well in terms of SEO, your site’s content should be an inch wide and a mile deep. You need to offer robust content about a specific topic. You want your website to be the go-to place for answers. If someone wants to know about your industry, he or she should feel confident visiting your website will provide all needed information. 

After your site is optimized for Google, it needs to be refined for visitors.

Photos and images are shared five times more than text on Facebook, showing that many people respond better to visual information. After Google sends people to your site, you need to keep their attention. Infographics, photos and videos should all be included to grab your customer’s attention. 

Focus On Tagging

According to Moz, “Title tags are the second most important on-page factor for SEO, after content.” Overall, there are four types of meta tags—meta keyword attributes, title tags, robot attributes and description attributes. Out of these categories, some are more important than others in terms of SEO. 

Title tags have a measurable impact on search rankings. A title tag is a clickable headline that’s displayed on search engine result pages. The title tag often specifies the title of a webpage. A good title tag tells search engines and internet users what to expect from a website. 

Another important tag is your meta description. Somewhat similar to a title tag, a meta description tells search engines and viewers what your selected page discusses. A great meta description can convince someone to click on your site instead of another Google search result. 

Boost SEO Using Google Search Console

If you’re not using Google Search Console, you’re not an SEO expert. As soon as your website is live, you can sign into Search Console for free. Under the “Search Traffic” drop-down menu, click “Search Analytics.” Here, you can see the way Google views your traffic. 

Under the “Pages” section, there’s a list of the pages that drive traffic to your site. The top of the list will display the pages that are bringing in the most viewers. You can click on any of the pages—although you should start with one of the first listings—for more information. 

After you select a page, go to “Queries.” Scroll down to see a list of keywords that are driving traffic to this page. With this information in mind, you can go back and modify your page to optimize them for traffic.

You can also create new content that caters to your highly-searched topics. As a side note, while you do this, avoid keyword stuffing at all costs. It can be tempting to quickly add keywords to pages and blog posts, but you need to do so tactfully to truly succeed. 

As soon as you’ve updated your pages, let Google know. Within Search Console, you can add the updated page’s URL. Google will then go through and review the updated information. If you’ve done your job right, your search rankings will improve after Google reviews your updated information. 

Guest Posting

A new site needs all the traffic it can get to be successful. One trusted way to get motivated customers to your new website is through guest blogging. Start by reaching out to established websites with viewers that reflect your target market. In your guest post, only include a backlink to your website if it provides genuine value. 

Google can detect guest posts that are crafted to only drive traffic. Posts that don’t provide value can damage your website’s SEO in the long run. So, before you commit to this technique, make sure you have the time and skill it takes to create top-notch content.

Craft must-read headlines, break up your text with images and headings, know your audience and optimize your posts as much as possible. This way, guest blogging can only help your name and your brand’s image. 

Simple to Start

SEO seems daunting, overwhelming and even out of reach until it’s broken down into manageable tasks. Although the tips above aren’t exhaustive, they are enough to get you started. After you’ve mastered the aforementioned strategies, you’ll be able to diversify and add more skills to your SEO repertoire.

*Image Credit:

-Featured Image, Unsplash

How 5G Is Changing E-Commerce for a More Vivid Buyer Experience

Fifth generation (5G) wireless technology connects many modern devices, from smart appliances to smartphones, to the internet. The technology is currently available to some mobile users in various countries, such as the United States, China and Turkey, with more countries adopting at a rapid rate.

Faster data speeds, decreased latency, higher connection density and many more upsides accompany 5G, which will impact a lot of industries, especially e-commerce. In the next two years alone, 5G will help drive $12 billion to mobile commerce, boosting sales and opportunities for growth in the space. So, with all of this in mind, let’s take a closer look at why 5G is having such a huge impact on the e-commerce space:

Mobile Commerce

One of the biggest and most obvious trends since the rise of smartphones has been the increase in mobile browsing and purchasing within the e-commerce sector (and beyond). As of January of 2019, according to CIO Dive, upwards of 70 percent of all internet traffic comes from a mobile device — an impressive number, to say the least.

Because of this, merchants have moved towards optimizing their online storefronts and checkout experiences for mobile devices — making them as quick (and frictionless) as possible. Yes, taking things to a “frictionless” level is of the utmost importance, but 5G has taken things to a new, never-before-seen level …

With 5G, mobile load times are virtually instantaneous — up to 100 times faster than 4G, in fact — meaning that short attention spans and instant-gratification users can find (and buy) what they want, when they want it from websites and Instagram ads without having to worry about lengthy (and annoying) load times.

Interestingly enough, a 2018 study found that 60.9 percent of digital shoppers in the U.S. regularly abandon their carts due to site errors or untimely e-store crashes. Because of this and a host of other reasons, with 5G a realistic option for all, e-commerce entrepreneurs must optimize their websites for mobile use, faster, more reliable load times and buyer conversion.

Market Confluence

Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) have been in the news for some time now, and for good reason. VR and AR are revolutionizing the way many things are done. When it comes to e-commerce, both technologies can help transform the online buying process

Have you ever wanted to buy something online, but hesitated without seeing or touching the product in person? With VR and AR, you can easily see products in 3D, rotate their position, enlarge or shrink them and more. In other words, these technologies put you in a virtual space with the item you’re considering.

Further strengthening the point, I was recently at Shopify Unite. There, I learned for myself that the general consensus from Shopify employees was that merchants — depending upon the niche, of course — could experience upwards of two-and-a-half times the conversion rates when deploying 3D-interactive technology. 

With 5G, VR and AR will experience so little latency and lag time it’ll likely be undetectable by a human. Seemingly instantaneously, a shopper with 5G can use a platform, like Amazon, to shop for furniture, while simultaneously seeing what the pieces would look like in his or her own space.

Almost seems a bit futuristic, doesn’t it? Believe it or not, Shopify has already launched their own AR toolkit for small, product-pushing businesses. Thankfully, with 5G, these kinds of technologies will only be further enhanced for the benefit of both the buyer and merchant.

AI Assistance

In addition to AI changing the customer’s shopping experience, it can also greatly improve customer satisfaction. With the speed of 5G and the power of AI, it’s become increasingly easier for e-commerce businesses to serve their customers with online intelligence.

One company that’s been doing this really well is H&M. The online clothing retailer has a chatbot that can answer common questions and even suggest apparel for customers. In some ways, the algorithm is even better than using a personal shopper.

Large Applications

5G will make phones faster, but it’ll also increase the speed of many other devices.

For example, wearables will be able to obtain high-speed data faster than ever before. Wearable users have high engagement levels. The people who buy these devices are interested in other products and are open to new advancements.

From an e-commerce perspective, the rising number of wearables sold, the openness of wearable users and the speed at which the technology can function with 5G means online sellers can reach more engaged people more quickly than previously possible.

Other than phones and wearables, many other systems will impact e-commerce when they transition to 5G. With the rise in smart gadgets, people can now do things like shop and purchase groceries on a smart fridge’s display.

Customers can also order products through smart assistants, such as Google Home, without even using an interface. As 5G connects smart home devices, smart cars and other advanced technologies, it’ll be easier for people to make purchases online through various devices, supporting e-commerce sales.

Unknown Glitches

4G allowed customers to have the same shopping experience on a phone as on a laptop. Still, there was one big issue … It’s not uncommon for a 4G device to dip or slow when a customer is trying to pay or check out of an e-commerce store.

As you might imagine, this lag decreases a customer’s trust in the website he or she is using and can lead them to question the whole purchase — ultimately leading to increased bounce rates and abandoned carts. With the improved speed that 5G offers, users should literally experience zero friction when shopping, in theory, resulting in much better user experiences for e-commerce merchants.

With 5G, there should not be the dip in service that’s associated with 4G. Still, 5G will come with its own unique quirks that will change the way e-commerce is done. Smart online sellers need to constantly optimize for the pros and cons that will present hand in hand with 5G.

Improved Media

Did you know that 90 percent of information that travels to the human brain makes its way there through visual means? In other words, the eyes. To cater to this occurrence, brands have become increasingly more visual.

Although high-resolution photos and videos help companies succeed, offering these types of media can be difficult. Creating a great video is hard, and making sure it plays quickly and seamlessly enough to have the desired impact is even harder.

With 5G, e-commerce brands can offer an unparalleled video, image and high-resolution media viewing experience, ultimately boosting their bottom line. 

The Switch Is Underway

Change is inevitable, and those who fail to adapt will perish. Albeit a bit melodramatic, it’s true … 5G is changing e-commerce whether the industry is ready or not. Leaders in the space need to begin preparing for all of their customers to shift from 4G to 5G.

The start of better mobile connectivity can (and will) mean great things for online sales. However, “making it big” won’t be easy, and along the way, things are likely to not be as clear-cut or straightforward as once predicted …

That being said, great opportunities are on the horizon for those willing to put in the work. E-commerce will shift, and anyone who learns to capitalize on these technological innovations will be along for what should be a long and prosperous ride.

* Article Originally posted on Hacker Noon