As a small business owner driven by big marketing goals, you are probably striving to come up with new methods to reach a larger audience. You know you can do better. You can make your website rank higher in search engine results, turn more prospects into devoted clients and target new markets that would welcome your products or services with open arms.
So the question is this: can translating your content support these bold objectives?
The simplest answer to this question is “yes.” Just think about it: regardless of their nationality, cultural background and personal preferences, all your buyers have one thing in common: their large appetite for palatable, understandable and relevant content. As Smashing Magazine points out, in this case translation is not everything; nonetheless, it does represent a solid bridge that you can build to develop and deepen your bond with different audiences on a global level.
Could a Multilingual Website Help You Tackle the Whole World?
In his book, entitled Beyond Borders: Web Globalization Strategies, John Yunker affirms that a multilingual website is now seen as a necessity, not a luxury. A few years ago, during the inception phase of the Internet, web users were forced to stick to English-language websites simply because they didn’t have too many other options at hand. Nonetheless, times have changed and today savvy business owners bend over backwards to demolish linguistic and cultural barriers and adapt their message to the language of their clients and prospects.
If you still think that proper website localization is no big deal, now would be a good time to reconsider. According to the data provided by IDC, the prominent research firm, online visitors are up to four times more likely to spend their money on a product or service offered by a company that goes to the trouble to speak in their own language. Whether you see content translation as an act of courtesy or a clever marketing strategy set in place to consolidate your position in a new market, one thing’s certain: website localization can enable you to gain and maintain a solid competitive advantage, sell more and take brand recognition to a whole new level.
5 Simple Tips on How Translate Your Web Content
Now you know just how important it really is to tailor your writing based on the needs and demands of your audience; so you want to make sure that you and your prospects speak the same language (literally!). In this particular context, here are a few tips on how to translate your web content faultlessly to help your website rank and convert better.
- Identify and Explore Your Core Markets. What countries are you targeting? Who are the people who would be more inclined to buy your products, where do they live and what language(s) do they speak? Conduct in-depth research to discover the most accurate answers to these questions. This is the simplest way to identify your new core markets and their most important particularities.
- Turn the Cultural Context into Your Main Focal Point. Here’s an important aspect that you should take into consideration from the start: there is no such thing as a simple formula that one can use to automatically translate an entire English-language website to Mandarin. According to an article published by Entrepreneur, a world-class multilingual web presence has different nuances that any small business owner should be familiar with before making a first step towards conquering new markets via content translation. In other words, you should always focus on the cultural context.
Brand blunders are not as uncommon as you may be inclined to think. These slips are fueled by an incorrect understanding of consumer attitude, culture and language associated with a new market that a company may wish to penetrate. While getting acquainted with the good, the bad, the hilarious and the dangers of content translation, you may want to look at Pepsi’s epic failure recorded while trying to bond with its Chinese consumers. Its slogan (“Come Alive”) was mistranslated in Cantonese and Mandarin. This otherwise catchy slogan ended up reading “Pepsi Brings Your Ancestors Back from the Dead.” This is the type of cross-language advertising error that can wipe a small business off the face of the earth, so choose your words wisely and settle for no less than professional content translation services.
- Employ the Right Search Engine Optimization Tactics. While all your competitors are employing different tactics to land on the first page in the search engine results, a cohesive SEO plan remains a necessity. In this case, you should keep optimization strategies in mind for every single language that you wish to rely on to convey your message. Here’s the problem that may arise while trying to optimize your translated content: just because several keywords are extremely popular in your language (English), this doesn’t mean that their translated versions would automatically represent preferred keywords in other languages. Finding the most popular keywords in the new languages that you will be using is an essential part of the job. The bad news is that you would have to match words in English against their high-ranking translated equivalents that you could identify via Google Trends. The good news is that consistency and perseverance will eventually get you where you want to be, in terms of keyword research and successful optimization.
- Hire the Best Team of Translators. Assuming that you wish to count on website localization to become visible on a global scale, you should know that technology can support your goal. Google Translate is only one aid that can help you speak the language of your prospects; software such as Trados also does a good job at assisting small business owners and translators. However, when your good name and profitability are on the line, you shouldn’t settle for less than professional content translation services. Why? The answer is simple: only a professional will give you the chance to preserve the tone and nuances of the original text that you wish to translate, while helping you avoid awkward structures based on word-for-word translation, which could easily impact the structure and meaning of your sentences.
- Be Ready to Prevent and Address Potential Market-Specific Issues. In Japan, sarcasm is seen as a meaningless concept. The U.S. has a relaxed business style that gives you the highest level of freedom when it comes to selecting your tone of copy. On the other hand, in Poland, your clients and partners would expect a higher level of formality from you. How can you bridge these gaps and prevent potentially awkward situations? If you count on a big budget for your expansion, consider hiring a local consultant who could help you understand how your new public thinks and responds to marketing messages similar to the ones that you’re getting ready to launch.
Make Sure Your Content Gets Understood
At the end of the day, remember that it is vital to make sure that your message is heard, understood and assimilated by the new audiences that you wish to target. If you are determined to turn website localization into one of your main priorities, follow all the right steps to make sure that your translated content will be appreciated by both human visitors and search engines. Done right, SEO-friendly content translation can help you occupy a privileged position in the SERPs and increase your profit margins with minimal effort. Translating your content may involve certain expenses, but in the long run it can become a smart investment that will help you overcome barriers set in place by distance and cultural and linguistic differences and bond with a larger public that is dying to hear about you and your products- in their own language.
Curious what Google is looking for these days? It isn’t rocket science to decipher. Speed, responsiveness, unique and relevant content; these are some of the criteria demanded by the search engine giant for anyone to win the ranking wars.
For most companies, the go to resource for all diagnostics, results, and overall website performance reports is Google Webmaster Tools. This free service helps webmasters maintain a website’s SEO presence and helps them to better understand how to optimize a site for increased visibility, traffic, and ultimately ROI. Following the ranking guidelines laid out by Google is always a good strategy.
Earlier this month, Webmasters across the world rejoiced as Google announced several updates to these prestigious tools along with a brand new report to help businesses better understand how a website is being seen and essentially how to increase SEO rankings. These updates can help unlock massive amounts of optimization potential for companies, assuming that time is taken to study the results and make the necessary improvements to a site.
Here are the hot new reports and updates from Google Webmaster Tools:
Brand New: Blocked Sources Report
By viewing and understanding this report a company can eliminate these damaging blocks which will then allow Google-bots to crawl a website in its entirety. If there is one thing in recent years that Google has taught businesses, it is that if a site cannot be crawled by the bots, it will not rank well (or at all, really), which could spell disaster for some smaller organizations. The blocked sources report will assist business owners and marketers in the following four ways:
- The landing page of the report compiles a comprehensive list of hosts that provide a resource on a site which is blocked by robots.txt rules.
- A simple click on a given host will allow one to see a list of resources that are blocked from that host. This will include the number of pages on a site that are affected by the blocked sources.
- Blocked resources can then be clicked within the table to reveal a full list of pages that load the particular resource.
- Click on any page in the table holding the blocked sources to obtain guidance on how to rid the page of the blocked resource which will help optimize the site.
Updated and Improved: Fetch & Render
Google’s Webmaster Fetch & Render tool is a diagnostics platform which allows users to simulate how Google renders a URL on specific websites. Google updated this tool back in May of 2014 to have the ability to fetch & render by device. Now, webmasters can dive even deeper into the analytics of a site with the added feature to view the URL as Google sees it side by side with how visitors will view the same page. These snapshot images will allow operators of a site to definitively detect even subtle differences in how Google-bots see a page versus how a browser renders it.
This update, although not exactly announced by Google, again goes back to blocked resources and how much of an impact they can truly make on a site. Apply this updated tool to see how blocked content alters what is seen of a site by Google and potential visitors. It may seem like a slight alteration, but the benefits of this comparison view can be significant.
It is critical for organizations to understand the resources on a business website that hold the company back. Clear out all unnecessary resources that do not serve a website’s purpose and increased rankings and traffic are sure to follow. Take the time to evaluate your site and the benefits could prove to be dramatic.
The updates give business owners, marketers, and website operators a leg up in understanding how to optimize a website for increased efficiency and SEO ranking. It is important for organizations to utilize the tools handed out by Google because they are often the gatekeepers to complete success or utter failure.
If you have already used these updates on your website, provide your insights and comments below on how useful you found them to be.
You know that you need to write excellent, engaging content to help bring in more clients and clicks, but did you know that accurate content is just as important, if not more so?
It is incredibly vital to your site, and can help set you up as a great, trustworthy source within your industry. It is also going to be part of a new Google algorithm, and you need to make sure you are already creating accurate content before it hits. I am going to look at why you need it, as well as how you can achieve excellent, accurate content.
Why is it Important to be Accurate in Your Content?
When you write your content, you always want to make sure you write something that is accurate to help set your company up as a trusted source. Accurate content is a great way to create something that reflects your company in a great light while also helping you create engaging content. However, there is something new coming down from Google, which means that accurate content won’t just be something you want to create for your clients when it comes to engagement; you’ll want to be trustworthy for Google, as well.
It hasn’t happened yet, but it is being reported that Google is aiming to create an algorithm to judge the trustworthiness of a website by how accurate the content is. Their goal is to match content to others around the web to see if the subject is truthful. You should always create accurate content no matter what, but if you do think about fudging the details every now and then, this should stop you in your tracks. You want to start or continue creating accurate content to be well ahead of the Google game before the new algorithm is implemented.
Top Nine Ways to Make Sure Your Content is Accurate
Since you now know why it is important to create accurate content, I am going to take a look at a few ways you can achieve this. These tips are great to help you start creating accurate content or they can help you rest assured that your content is definitely truthful. Let’s take a look at these tips to see which ones can benefit you and your site.
1. Always Verify Your Research. Verifying research is something that can take quite a bit of time, but is well worth it in the end. This helps you make sure you are reporting on something that is factual, instead of something that sounds right, but didn’t happen. You can see this regularly in the media when reporters will discuss something they overheard and it later turns out to be false, putting the reporter and news source in the Spotlight of Shame. While major news sources can easily get out of it through various methods, a small business will have a harder time, and you might have a permanent mark of being untrustworthy, which is something you don’t want. A great way to verify is to find out if the source you are using is reputable, and to follow their research links to see if their resources are high quality and reputable, as well. Just take time, and cross-reference everything to help you verify your research.
2. Make Sure to Confirm the Claims You’ve Read or Heard Before Writing. Did you hear a claim about something in your industry? Does it sound likely, but you don’t have any research to back it up yet? Then you need to make sure you confirm before writing and publishing it. The best way to do this is to follow step one and verify your claim and cross-reference it with other research. Make sure you not only confirm it for your blog and web content, but that you don’t send it out on your social media profiles either! Just be patient, research, and then state what you’ve learned if there is enough to back it up.
3. Back Up Your Claims With Legitimate Resources. Earlier, I mentioned that, along with confirming your claims, you need to make sure you back them up with legitimate resources. This will help set your site up as trustworthy, and those legitimate resources are what Google will look at to compare your statements to deem if they are factual or not. Some examples of legitimate resources are Moz, Huffington Post, Hubspot, and Buffer. It is also a good idea to look at the domain authority of a website to know if it is high quality or not. I love suggesting the MozBar because it really does help me find great resources to share with you!
4. Write Naturally, Avoiding Sales-Speech. Writing naturally is another great way to create accurate content. How is it great? Because, when you write on a topic you truly know about, with excellent resources to back you up, you start to write your content naturally. If you don’t know much about a topic, it comes out stilted and forced, and it can even come out sounding sales-like. I’ve read a few blogs where people try to write on a specific topic, but in the end it just comes out sounding way too sales-dominated with little to no information on the topic. Write naturally, and you will not only create accurate content but you will also help bump your site up on the SERPs.
5. Have Someone Read Over Your Content. Another set of eyes never hurt anyone when it comes to writing accurate content. First of all, another reader can spot simple errors you may have missed. Second, if you have an expert in your field read over the material, he or she will be able to tell you if they think you need more resources or if your claim isn’t valid. Be prepared to take the criticism you need to know if your content is accurate or not. A great way to have someone look over your content for basic errors as well as to check for accuracy is to hire a copyeditor to go over you work.
6. If You State an Opinion, Make Sure Your Readers Know. Opinion pieces are a great form of content, but these can sometimes come across as being inaccurate because they might not fit with research. When you are writing an opinion piece, make sure you first state what it is you are writing about, any research involved with it, and then make sure your audience knows you are now writing your opinion. A basic example is writing a book review – you want people to know what the book is about, so you give them a brief overview. Once that is complete, you want to tell them what you think. If you thought the book was boring and way too easy to read, others might not agree, and it isn’t a fact, just your opinion. Make sure you always state “in my opinion” to help clear the air so people know you aren’t about to say something they might deem as factual.
7. Learn How to Search Google Well to Find Excellent Resources. Regardless of all of their changes, I do still love Google, and I am sure you do, too. We love Google because we can work to get our sites noticed, and it really helps small businesses succeed in the Internet-age. Google is also an excellent resource for you to mine for information and you might not realize just how much you are missing. Take the chance to use Google and learn how to search well for amazing resources. How can you learn to become an expert Google searcher? Well, Hubspot wants to help and they offered an excellent guide; take a look!
8. Hire Industry Copywriters to Create Accurate Content. One of the best ways to ensure your content is completely accurate is to hire an industry copywriter. Industry copywriters can focus on niche markets, and they are skilled in researching and verifying said research. You can also find industry copywriters that know your specific industry that can provide excellent, accurate content for your site, setting you up as a trusted source within your industry. This also helps you get excellent content that is written well and flows naturally, which is definitely something you will want with your content.
9. Get a Content Audit. Writing new, accurate content can be easy, but what about your existing content? Is it accurate? Did you back up your claims and verify your research? A great way to start making sure your old content is accurate and to make any changes is to hire a content auditor to look it over and find what needs to be changed. This will be great because it will not only help check the accuracy of your content, but will help give you more tips and ideas on how to tweak your content and make any changes to improve your ranking on the SERPs.
Start Creating Excellent, Accurate Content!
Now that you know a few ways to write accurate content, you need to start writing! You can also go through your existing content to ensure it is accurate with research backing up claims throughout the pieces.
If you find that you are having a hard time creating excellent, accurate content, then you should consider hiring an industry or niche copywriter. Industry writers can match your exact business need (for example, real estate writers, a strong technical writer) and write terminology that’s friendly to your readers.
Bluegreen Getaways is a kiosk concept set up at NASCAR races, PGA tournaments and other events across the country that are operated by the talented individuals of our Retail Marketing team. The Sales Manager is responsible for the development of new and existing sales representatives and ensuring event attendees are provided with outstanding service through both sales and marketing efforts – such as generating leads, offering vacation getaways and selling vacation getaways to event attendees. The manager is also responsible for boosting overall production. All responsibilities are to be accomplished while upholding and exhibiting our values of care, trust, passion and humility. Be a part of the fast pace and energetic environment that thrives on teamwork and allows you to use all of your skills and talents to share happiness with others.
You deserve a successful and rewarding career – we have one for you!
Join Bluegreen Vacation's Retail Marketing team.
- Attractive compensation plan: competitive base salary + uncapped commissions (no draw – ALL paid bi-weekly)
- Fantastic benefit package - eligible after only 90 days of employment including generous paid time off plans, medical, dental, 401(k) with company match, Education Assistance Program and an Associate Use of Resorts Program
- Opportunity for rapid career advancement throughout the country
- Travel to exciting events across the country
- Paid training
- Fun, friendly work environment
While promoting our sales and marketing programs:
- Provide excellent service by fulfilling the vacation and travel needs of every customer.
- Responsible for the work performance of the staff.
- Recruit, hire and train staff.
- Maintain appropriate staffing levels at all times and in accordance with operating hours.
- Maintain all standards including, but not limited to, lead collection and package sales.
- Display positive, courteous and respectful behavior towards the company, fellow associates, our customers and business partners.
- Positively represent our company’s purpose and core values through all actions and behaviors to ensure a high level of integrity and customer service.
- Maintain standards of lead collection and package sales as well as other assigned sales or marketing promotions.
- Responsible for set-up, take-down, packing of kiosk and equipment in a safe and timely manner.
- Attend and actively participate in trainings and meetings.
- Maintain a professional appearance and demeanor at all times.
- Follow policies and procedures of company.
- Use only company approved collateral material and documents.
- Accurately track and process payroll.
- Take-over sales for associates in an effort to close and train the rep on how to handle objections and close sales.
- Work while standing on feet throughout shift.
Skills / Requirements
- Bachelor's degree or equivalent experience required.
- Previous management experience is preferred.
- Sales management experience is a plus
- Knowledge and understanding of the timeshare industry, OPC marketing or telemarketing sales is helpful.
- Basic computer skills. Strong communication skills.
- Must be articulate and speak effectively, demonstrating openness and honesty.
- Strong listening skills.
- Requires weekday and weekend commitment attending scheduled events.
Bluegreen Corporation is an equal opportunity employer and drug-free workplace.
If offered employment, applicant must be willing to submit to a background check and drug test.
Please apply here.
Email marketing is a crapshoot.
You send mass emails hoping that some small percentage of people will open, click and convert. The bigger your list, the less you know and the more you're forced to guess about what to say and when to send.
But what if you flipped the paradigm by sending email as a result of behavior? Instead of begging uninterested users to take action, you're moving already-interested people through a buying cycle.
Promotional email isn't dead, but data-driven behavioral email is proving to be more effective. In this new world of email marketing, personalization, dynamic segmentation and data reign supreme.
That future is here, it's just not evenly distributed. And that is a huge opportunity for you. Here are five ways any business can take advantage of behavioral email.
1. Send the best welcome email in town
In the time it takes to create and send one promotional email, you could craft the perfect welcome email. Welcome emails are an essential part of the onboarding process for every business. A great welcome email will impact on your activation rate, helping you turn subscribers into avid readers, free trial users into raving fans and new customers into lifelong partners.
The goal of a welcome email is to guide users to the next step. Ask yourself, "How can I show the value of my product/service/information as quickly as possible?"
If you're Twitter, that means encouraging users to complete their profile. If you're Amazon, it means driving new customers to your most profitable products. And if you're Basecamp, it means getting people logged in so the product can sell itself.
Figure out which action gets people hooked, and build your welcome email around it.
2. Don't let anyone leave without asking, 'Why?'
Imagine someone walks into a store, picks up an item off the shelf to check it out but leaves without buying anything. A good salesperson would never let this opportunity slip away without at least asking a few questions.
Whether you have an e-commerce store, a SaaS product or a mobile app, people are kicking the tires all the time without converting. Don't let them leave without 1) incentivizing them and 2) asking for feedback. Here are a few ideas:
- Send abandoned shopping cart emails. According to Baymard, 68.07 percent of all carts are abandoned. Collect email addresses early in the checkout process so you can ping people who abandon
- Send "Are you still interested?" emails. Airbnb is great at this. When you a view a listing but don't book, you get an email the next day asking if you're still interested
- Send inactivity emails. If someone has signed up for your product or service, most of the really hard work is done. If a user is inactive, send them a little reminder. RunKeeper and Mint.com have this down pat
- Ask for feedback when people are really done. This information will be incredibly valuable for your business development
3. Renew, renew, renew
Email is the perfect way to turn expected problems into simple solutions.
For example, if you sell dog food, trigger an email reminding customers to replenish their supply at a regular interval. Try to time the arrival of the email with the customer's realization that it's time to buy more dog food. It's a problem you can easily solve over and over again.
If you have a subscription-based product, renewal emails are the lifeblood of your residual sales. Remind users how much of a pain it will be to switch to another product and provide an easy path to renewal.
Timeliness will drive more revenue than a catchy subject line or a beautifully designed email. Be there when you're needed.
4. Kill it with email receipts
Transactional emails are opened at up to eight times the rate of promotional email according to Experian. Considering that most transactional emails lack any marketing value, this is a massive opportunity.
Receipts are a great place to start. If you're sending someone a receipt, it means the customer has already made a purchase. You've overcome a number of challenges to complete a sale. The receipt is an opportunity to strengthen your relationship with the customer.
You can't sell directly in a receipt, but here are few ways to make them more valuable:
- Include a referral code
- Offer a discount on the next purchase
- Ask customers to follow you on Twitter, Facebook or your blog
Email marketing can drive real revenue for your business, but you've got to think bigger than blasts. Behavioral email is key to unlocking the hidden value in your customers and users.
In today’s challenging job market, gaining new qualifications is one of the most effective ways to add momentum to your career. Professionally accredited courses are ideal because they add instant credibility to your CV, plugging skill gaps and demonstrating your capabilities and ambition. Another benefit is that professional study can often be completed in a matter of months, so it won’t be long before you start seeing the benefits of your hard work.
Nowadays, it’s possible to gain a wide range of professional qualifications via distance learning, allowing you to go back to school without ever setting foot in a traditional classroom. Instead, you study at the time and place that suit you best, with tutorial support delivered over the phone or by email. Many courses also offer virtual classes and contact with fellow students via an online learning platform, so you can enjoy all the benefits of being part of a wider community.
If you're still unsure whether further study is for you, here are five sign that it's time to make a positive change and enrol on a new course:
You lack confidence in the workplace
Do you compare yourself to others, convinced that everyone knows more than you? If you get intimidated in meetings, or are scared of using the wrong jargon and making yourself look silly then professional study will give you the knowledge and the lingo you need to have faith in your own ability.
You’re not fulfilling your true potential
If you’ve reached a plateau in your career and are struggling to progress further then working towards a new professional qualification could show your boss that you’re capable of greater things. Alternatively, it might give you the confidence to hunt out new opportunities that make better use of your particular talents.
You’re bored in your current role
Money and promotions aside, boredom is a common reason for seeking a new job. If you’re in need of a fresh challenge then enrolling on a course will get your brain ticking and give you something positive to focus on, while preparing you for better things.
You have practical experience but no qualifications
You might have been doing your job for years but if the education section of your CV is thin on the ground then you could lose out to more qualified candidates. Don't let a lack of achievement at school hold you back from further study as an adult. Many of the things that held you back in years gone by simply don’t apply when learning as an adult.
- You want to change career but don’t have relevant experience
It’s the classic chicken and egg scenario: you can’t get a job without experience but you can’t get experience without a job. Except, you can! Many employers are happy to consider professional qualifications when recruiting for entry level positions – after that it’s up to you how far you progress up the ladder.
If any of that sounds familiar then why not take a look at the extensive range of distance learning courses available from the Fitzwilliam Institute Group and see how professional study could boost your career?
Code savvy users will demand a customized user experience like never before
Software development is unrecognizable from what it was 20 years ago, and in 10 years it will be completely different again. Soon all new hires, regardless of their role, will know how to code, and as we all know, robots are capable of increasingly complex functions that threaten jobs in previously unheard of ways.
But, against this doom-and-gloom outlook, I'm here to tell you software developers everywhere: don't worry. Our craft and our jobs are going to be OK. Here's why.
First, a bit of background: the U.K. has introduced coding into the national school curriculum, the first G20 country to take this step. This means that in 10 years, all school graduates in the U.K. will know how to code. In the U.S., organizations like Code.Org are trying to encourage the same results through programs like the Hour of Code. I believe that more and more countries will adopt these programs, which will forever change the software development industry.
The fact that, in the future, all new hires will know how to code, is important. But does this mean they will all be software developers? Of course not. What this means is that the user of the future will be more educated in software technologies, and thus will expect (or demand) more from the software they use everyday at home or at work.
The user of the future will demand customization, and they will increasingly be able to do the customization themselves. This isn't just about changing the color of a button or the font of the text. I'm talking about adding new fields to a form, validations, changing or adding new workflow routing rules, or even integrating with other applications. The coding knowledge of the future generation will be mostly used to code configuration of the software applications of the future, as opposed to the development of new software applications by everyone.
If an application is not customizable, future users will quickly look for alternatives, or for hacks that may compromise the integrity and security of an app that is too rigidly built.
Fellow software developers, if we want our craft to flourish we need to provide the future generation with applications that will benefit from a user that knows how to code. Why should adding a new field to a form in a business application involve so much custom code and database changes? Why can't a user just add a new field without having to involve IT or change a business rule without the need of BPEL? Why can't a user decide how to validate a field? After all, the user usually knows more about the business needs and requirements than the software developer.
This is an opportunity for the development of new frameworks and tools that allow software developers to easily incorporate customization into their applications. The most successful applications of the future will be the ones that offer configuration and customization to its users. There will be no market for rigid applications.
Software developers: the software development industry will not die because everyone knows how to code. A lot of people know how to cook and I don't see the restaurant industry disappearing anytime soon.
What will happen is that the next generation of users will be the most demanding in the history of software. Regular users will now understand how software applications are built and will demand a quality user experience, and customization that have never been expected before.
The user reality of the future will demand a new breed of software developer: one that can design to the requirements of the uber user, the user that can code.
Tech professionals are netting slightly bigger paychecks in 2015
With the hot job market for technology professionals, it is not surprising that salaries are up, too – though only a bit.
Technology jobs site Dice.com reported late last week that technology pay was up again last year, with IT professionals earning an average annual salary of $89,450, an increase of 2 percent over 2013. More than half of these professionals – 61 percent – earned higher salaries in 2014, mainly though merit raises. Another 25 percent said they received higher pay by changing employers. Thirty-seven percent of tech professionals polled said they received a bonus last year, slightly more than the 34 percent in 2013.
Technical recruiters salaries jumped as well, by 19 percent to an average of $81,966, demonstrating the importance of identifying and bringing on technical professionals, Dice.com said.
Dice gathered its data by surveying 23,470 technology professionals online between late September and late November.
“As demand for technology professionals rises and highly skilled talent is harder to find, the pressure is being reflected where it counts: paychecks,” said Shravan Goli, president of Dice.com said in a statement released by the company. “Still, tech pros are less happy with their earnings, signaling to companies that in order to recruit and retain the best candidates, offering more will be necessary."
Despite the news on salary increases, satisfaction with wages declined. Fifty-two percent of professionals were satisfied with their compensation last year, down from 54 percent the prior year. Satisfaction with wages has dipped annually since 2012, Dice.com said.
Dice also said tech professionals are more confident that they can find a new position; 37 percent anticipate changing employers this year for improvements in pay or conditions. But with pay rising, professionals are slightly less likely to relocate to a new job in 2015.
Big data and cloud computing professionals earn the highest paychecks, Dice.com said. “Cloud is not new to the tech world but as more companies — large and small — adopt the technology, tech professionals with this experience will enjoy opportunities,” said Goli. “Big data made a big showing last year and we’re seeing it this year, too."
Regionally, the Pacific region has the highest salaries, with professionals in Silicon Valley earning an average of $112,610, a 4 percent climb year-to-year. The second-highest-paid region is Seattle, with average salaries of $99,423, an increase of 5 percent in 2014. Sacramento technology salaries rose 14 percent to $96,788, while salaries in Portland were $91,556 – an uptick of 9 percent. In San Diego, tech salaries ascended 4 percent to $94,121.
Other markets with above-average pay increases included Boston and Chicago, with salaries rising 3 percent year-to-year to $97,288 and $88,866 respectively. In Dallas and New York, average pay increased 2 percent respectively to $91,674 and $95,586. Washington, DC, salaries in technology rose only 1 percent, to $98,323.
Dice.com’s findings were similar to those by Janco Associates and eJobdescription.com, whose recently released 2015 Salary Survey found hiring and salaries have improved for IT in most North American metropolitan areas. “For the first time in over six years salaries for IT pros have moved up almost across the board,” Janco CEO Victor Janulaitis said. “We believe that this is due to the fact that over 112,000 new IT jobs were created in the last 12 months and that the economy seems to be in a recovery mode.”
Linux creator says kernel developers tend to go from volunteer to professional status in a hurry
Now more than ever, the development of the Linux kernel is a matter for the professionals, as unpaid volunteer contributions to the project reached their lowest recorded levels in the latest "Who Writes Linux report," which was released today.
According to the report, which is compiled by the Linux Foundation, just 11.8% of kernel development last year was done by unpaid volunteers – a 19% downturn from the 2012 figure of 14.6%. The foundation says that the downward trend in volunteer contributions has been present for years.
Even so, unpaid contributors were still the single biggest source of commits in the latest Who Writes Linux, at 11,968 total changes – good for 12.4% of the whole. However, corporate contributors collectively account for much, much more. The Linux Foundation said that more than 80% of all work on the kernel is done by paid professional developers.
According to Linus Torvalds, the shift towards paid developers hasn’t changed much about kernel development on its own.
“I think one reason it hasn't changed things all that much is that it's not so much ‘unpaid volunteers are going away’ as ‘people who start writing kernel code get hired really quickly,’” he told Network World.
Torvalds said that, while Linux development has changed for plenty of other reasons – and that, naturally, new contributors pop up all the time – many of the original developers, with decades of experience, have simply been snapped up by companies with an interest in Linux.
“We may have started as volunteers, but we're happily employed doing Linux these days,” he said.
Torvalds’ own role in development has become increasingly hands-off, according to the report – he has personally signed off on 329 patches since version 3.10 of kernel was released, or 0.4%. Increasingly, subsystem maintainers do their own reviews and merges of code.
One of the biggest ways that people could leverage technologies more effectively is to use unit testing correctly. Most teams either don't utilize unit testing at all or use it far too much -- it's tough to find that "sweet spot" where the tests increase quality without hindering productivity. But if you're able to achieve that balance, you should be able to enjoy higher quality software with a lower cost of creation.
What is unit testing?
Before I go too much further, I feel like I should explain what "unit testing" actually is, because the term is misused quite frequently. Unit testing is the act of testing a small component, or unit, of your software application. Because the scope of each individual unit test is so limited, the only way to achieve it is to write code that tests your code, usually using a framework like NUnit or the Microsoft Testing Framework. A detailed description of how it works is out of the scope of today's post, but in a nutshell, unit testing is when a developer writes a test method that calls "real" code and lets him or her know when the actual results don't match the expected results.
Confusingly, many developers who are unfamiliar with these testing frameworks refer to the manual testing they do as "unit testing." That isn't "unit testing" -- that's just "testing".
Why in the world would I write code to test code?
To someone who isn't a software developer, the idea of writing code to test code may seem rather silly. But for those of us who actually do it, the benefits are easy to see:
- During a typical test of a system, you have to log in and perform a specific set of actions in order to test particular functionality. This is incredibly inefficient and time consuming. Unit testing allows the developer to perform specific, targeted testing on the area in question.
- When something does go wrong, the development team doesn't need to look in the entire system for the source of the bug. They can run all of the previously-created unit tests and narrow down their search.
- Finally, as I mentioned last week, rewriting/refactoring code periodically is vitally important for the long-term health of your system. Rerunning all of the unit tests is a great way to help ensure that you didn't break anything in the rewrite.
When unit testing can be taken too far
Most of my experience with software developers is that they tend to think of things in terms of right or wrong. If it's right to write unit tests, then you must write unit tests for everything you do, right? Here are two unit testing beliefs that can cause your project more harm than good.
The idea behind Test Driven Development is that you write your unit test before you write your product code. You then write product code to make the test pass. If you need to add or change the functionality, you change the tests first and continue making fixes until all of your tests pass. This is a nice idea, but a good chunk of the typical developer's code just doesn't need to be unit tested. Complex business logic absolutely needs to have corresponding unit tests. But writing unit tests for simple logic will require the developer to spend more time writing tests than delivering value to the business.
100% Code Coverage
One common metric that software teams track is code coverage, i.e. what percentage of the code written for the product is tested by a unit test. Many software development managers believe that 100% code coverage is necessary to ensure that the code is tested adequately. Code that is very highly tested is very tough to change. If unit tests are used excessively, software teams will find themselves considering the costs of changing the existing unit tests when changing the code, and these costs can spiral out of control.
So what is the right balance?
Unfortunately there are no hard-and-fast rules to know what unit tests should be written, but here are some guidelines that I follow.
Consider writing unit tests:
- When the logic behind the method is complex enough that you feel you need to test extensively to verify that it works.
- When a particular code function breaks and it takes longer than a minute or so to fix it.
- Whenever it takes less time to write a unit test to verify that code works than to start up the system, log in, recreate your scenario, etc.
Consider avoiding unit tests:
- When elaborate frameworks need to be created or installed (such as mock objects and dependency injection) just to get the tests to work.
- When the tests are applied to code that, if broken, has very little bearing whatsoever on the overall software quality.
- When the costs of maintaining the set of tests are higher than the costs of maintaining the actual product code.
To summarize, unit tests are intended to help development teams reduce costs by reducing testing time, reducing the need for regression tests, and making much-needed maintenance easier. Writing unit tests is absolutely the right thing to do if you want your software project to be a success. However, development teams that find themselves maintaining large libraries of tests are actually causing many of the problems that unit testing was meant to solve.