Google has been busy updating “Google Maps” and revealing new features for its desk top and mobile versions.  Among the innovations to Google Maps for smartphones and tablets is a new feature called Explore, a tool that is part of Google’s efforts to gradually make the map app more interactive and social.

Explore is designed to bring real-time information to directions, particularly in the map features that help users navigate around traffic. Users will now be able to get incident reports on chosen routes, which that will help them assess traffic conditions. They will also receive alerts with a new route if a new route means a faster travel time.

To make it more social there are also new features geared towards discovering new places to visit. Explore is a highly visual part of Google Maps that gives you a quick survey of the best options around you across five categories: Eat, Drink, Shop, Play, Sleep. The app’s Explore feature enables users to browse for new restaurants and stores as well as places of interest.  The app’s new 5-star rating system offers a summary of how friends and like-minded individuals feel about local places. Every place that has a Zagat rating will have it displayed next to the place’s address.

The features work great on tablets because they have enough screen space to display all the information Explore offers. On smartphones you can only view a limited amount on the screen at once.

Explore is Google’s next big move towards overtaking its rivals. It is only the first of many Google Maps innovations that should give sites such as YELP pause for concern.

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Fixed header bar is becoming more popular in web design. It refers to the name given to any top navigation that stays at the top of your web browser at all times, even while scrolling down the page. By having the bar stick to the top, this means that the user does not have to scroll to the top when they want to change page.

Although fixed header bars have been around for awhile they are being used by more and more websites today as they are both aesthetically pleasing and provide a better user experience for those navigating a site.

For fixed headers to be effective type of navigation there are some considerations that should be taken into account.

The weight and prominence of your navigation bar needs to be balanced to avoid distraction. If the bar is too large and/or dark it will take attention away from the content — directing it to the navigation bar instead. You don’t want the bar to be overpowering or take up too much space. The navigation should add value to the site and not detract from it.

The best sites to use fixed navigation on are the ones with heavy content and a few main areas of navigation that are frequently used. If a user is ever lost they can quickly reference the navigation. Fixed navigation also works well for websites of companies that are trying to sell  products.  These sites often have a cart and potential for a user to be logged in. The fixed navigation allows the users to access the cart as well as any product or category in the shop at any time.  One page sites with long vertically scrolling content can also benefit from a fixed navigation bar so that the user can easily navigate to desired areas of the site without scrolling through data that might not interest them.

Fixed headers are found on many kinds of sites today including blogs, companies, social networks and portfolios.  Some people might not even realize how many sites they use everyday utilize this type of navigation. Some popular sites that use this navigation are Facebook, Gmail and Pinterest.

Keeping these points in mind when creating fixed navigation will enhance both the design and user experience.

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Facebook is a great social media place to promote your brand, products and business.  In order to do so it is important to grow your fans, engage your fan base and make sure your audience sees your posts. With this in mind here are some tips to marketing on Facebook.

Offer value.  Everyone likes and appreciates useful information.  You need to give people timely and helpful information. Add your own take and insight into third party resources.

Use Images and Highlights. Images are the most effective way to drive engagement on a page.  Posts that include a picture can generate two times more engagement than other post types. Images, both on desktop and mobile devices show prominently in Facebook users’ news feeds.
Highlight your best posts so that you will have opportunity to make certain things stand out more than others on your Facebook pages.

Monitor posts and be Responsive.  Pay attention to what others post on your page and answer fan posts. Be sure to do so in a timely manner. There are all sorts of monitoring tools and third-party tools to alert you to comments and messages that can send you email alerts. A timely response will help increase engagement.

Time Your Posts. Your “best times to post” are going to be driven by your industry and by your audience. Determine who your fan base is and when your fan base is most likely to be on Facebook and most likely to engage and post then. Facebook insights allows you to see interaction patterns for your pages over time.

Custom tabs.  Utilize apps that offer something of value to your fans and that have social sharing built-in capabilities. Offer contests, sweepstakes, coupons on the tab.These deals can be big booster of fan engagement, return fan activity, and reach for your page.

Make the most out of Facebook by following this tips and help build your business.  Using social media such as Facebook with active and enlightened information will help you to be more successful.

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