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Design & Development Marketing and Link Building Case Studies

20 example(s) in this category

I Can Only Hope of Ever Building Something As Creative as GoodUI.org

43,000 Facebook Shares, 11,800 Backlinks

As soon as I set eyes on this website I knew it would have impressive numbers to go with it, even if it only consists of a single page.

I wasn’t wrong.

With over 43,100 shares on Facebook and links from 1,570 different websites, GoodUI.org is the epitome of what it takes to create something remarkable and be rewarded for your efforts.

What I’m even more impressed by is that they’ve elegantly integrated an opt-in form into the header and footer of the website, which assuming is their only form of lead generation, has brought them over 44,000 subscribers.

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This Simple Side-Project Averages 300,000 Pageviews Per Month

300,000 Monthly Pageviews, 333 Referring Domains

There are a few things that surprise me about today’s case study.

The first is that the site receives a lot of traffic for having links from a (relatively) small number of sites, and the second is that 67% of their traffic comes from search, when I thought direct would be the dominant source of visitors.

FontsinUse.com is the descriptive domain for a daily gallery of fonts being used in the real world.

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This Side Project for “Lazy” People Has Over 40,000 Backlinks

40,400 Backlinks / 1,860 Referring Domains

If Detailed isn’t your first introducing to my writing, you may be familiar with Gaps, where I once did a challenge to build a profitable startup in 28 days.

In my article revealing the niche I was tackling, I went into quite a lot of detail on the topic of ‘condensed learning‘ and the companies that were making a lot of money from it.

Today’s example – TOSDR.org (the DR stands for “Didn’t read”) – gives you something else in a more consensed format: The Terms of Service forms you agree to when you sign-up to popular websites.

While this side-project has no doubt succeeded because it provides a genuinely useful offering, in my last link I’ve shown they’re not the only site to have became hugely successful from condensing longer information.

  • Philosophers Notes condenses the best business books and reaches millions of people per month
  • BBC’s two-minute daily podcast recapping the news is one of their most popular
  • Blinkist is generating millions of dollars by making it easier for people to get the main points of a book
  • Youtube channels around animated book summaries are exploding in popularity

What is often produced in long-form content that you could condense for other people?

Books are a bit of a saturated market, and we know Terms of Service’s aren’t an option either.

I truly expect you to have better ideas than me of other ways to implement this, but a few thoughts off the top of my head:

  • 5-minute summaries of the best podcasts in your space (that typically go on for one hour or more)
  • 300 word briefs of the best political articles (e.g. New York Times 5,000+ word articles, summarised)
  • The key points of the best free eBooks in your niche
  • Rate restaurants by the first sentence of every single critics’ review

This one is a little more tricky for me as I remember struggling with it back when I started the case study. Funnily, my own version of summarising content proved to be a little too popular.

Hopefully in the niche you’re working in there’s some ‘obvious’ long-form content (whether that’s text, audio or video) that you think your audience would love to see produced in a more digestible way.

If so, you may be on to something special.

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The Best Newsletter I’ve Seen in a Really Long Time

7,900 'Claps' on Medium

Today my friend Jesse shared on Twitter one of the best newsletters I’ve seen in a really long-time. The site barely has 30 words on it yet I signed-up instantly.

While his recommendation no doubt holds a lot of weight to me, I honestly believe I would have signed up just as fast without it.

The site is barely 100 words but their focus is clear: They’ll show you before and after case studies of how some of the world’s biggest websites could look with just a few simple UI changes.

The graphic on the homepage (shown above) really sold me on the concept.

What’s really smart is that their newsletter updates send you straight to Medium, which tends to boost post which pick up external traffic, helping the Refactoring UI developers reach more of the tens of millions of people who find themselves on Medium each month.

Here’s the first article they’ll send you after joining which went viral on Medium.

Not long ago I shared one the best articles I’ve read in a whole – primarily because it broke down concepts in a really smart way – and this almost seems to be the newsletter equivalent of that.

I already know how powerful offering reviews and feedback are (I’ve raised over $2,500 for charity with mine) but I never thought of turning those reviews into documented guides that anyone can follow and learn from.

I didn’t sign-up to the newsletter to become some kind of design god that can charge clients thousands of dollars (I would hate to offer web design as a service) but instead to pick up simple tips to improve my own website.

Is there some angle in here that you could use to offer your own readers?

If you have a running blog, could you analyse people’s running styles on video and recommend changes?

If you’re a top photographer, could you offer critiques of how people could have framed or composed their shots better?

If you’re a great copywriter, could you break down some of the best articles in any niche and show how they could have been ‘tidied up’?

The most popular posts on Detailed tend to be the ones that make me the most excited to replicate them for my own projects, so I hope you have a few sparks firing in your brain over the weekend, because I know I’m going to be taking action with this one.

P.S. We’ve just had our plugin approved by WordPress (after two disapprovals) so I’m happy to say that Gaps will be coming back really soon. Thank you for your patience!

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Why Your Links Should Never Say “Click Here”

472 LinkedIn Shares, 129 Referring Domains

I think this is the first time in the history of Detailed updates where I have used the same headline for my article as the case study that I’m discussing.

When I first read the headline I thought “This guy is trying too hard to be controversial” but when I dug deeper, the author – Anthony – actually makes a number of great points in his few hundred word article.

Though the post was published back in 2012, it’s still picking up links today, primarily because it still challenges a common habit that we all have.

And that’s really the key to today’s case study: Can you point out something that a lot of people in your industry do that they probably shouldn’t be doing?

Don’t just try to point something out that couldn’t be improved, but if you constantly find people making the same “mistake” over and over again, it could become the basis for an article that gets people talking.

To give a few examples of how this could be used:

  • Why You Should Never Start Keyword Research With Software
  • Why You Should Never Learn a Language By Purchasing a Dictionary
  • Why Teenage Sprinters Should Never Use Starting Blocks
  • Why You Should Never Tour a Country by Following a Travel Guidebook
  • Why Beginner Programmers Should Never Start with C++

Again, you really have to believe in what you’re saying rather than just saying it for the sake of controversy, but I’m sure you hold an unpopular belief that most people in your space wouldn’t agree with (at least on the surface).

Who knows, maybe you’ll even truly educate people with your content. I know I won’t just be writing ‘click here’ in my links anytime soon.

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Hey Designer Shows How Even The Simplest Ideas Can Pick Up Links

966 Backlinks

Though I’ve shared a number of content curation success stories on this site, it still surprises me how well it can work.

Hey Designer put together a separate blog-like page on their website which simply curates the best resources related to Flexbox — a framework for web designers.

Despite its simplicity, the page has picked up 966 links from some of the biggest sites in their niche like WebPageFX.com, Speckyboy.com and even the official site, CSSFlexbox.com.

If you’re in a niche that is saturated with content on the same topic, this could be your chance to not only add value, but stand out in your space as well.

The best part is that you can reach out to everyone you’ve linked to and let them know about the page as well.

Some other examples of how you could replicate this idea include:

  • A curated collection of the best keyword research resources (SEO)
  • A curated collection of the best guides on where to go in Japan (Travel / Tourism)
  • A curated collection of the best homebrewing beer guides (Drink / Lifestyle)
  • A curated collection of the best curated collections (Internet Marketing)

OK I’m joking with the last one. Maybe.

Keep the design clean and simple and be sure to include a solid number of sources so that your offering has more value and you have a greater number of webmasters to tell about it.

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How to Combine This Idea + Your Niche to Pick Up Thousands of Backlinks

4,370 Backlinks / 1,450 Referring Domains

As you’ve likely seen time and time again with my updates here at Detailed, some of the most successful content marketing case studies are incredibly simple.

That rule rings true with todays example from Canva.com, who provide a tool that gives you suggestions on which fonts go well with any other font that you input.

If you don’t trust your own creative eye when it comes to web design, Canva help make sure your site has a clean look throughout.

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How to Copy the Success of The Best Article I Read Last Month

Hundreds of Tweets from 'Influencers'

The post is so new that I don’t have any impressive statistics to share, but I’ve saw a number of ‘big names’ posting this on Twitter (as did I) that I had to share it here.

The article is so good that I’m going to link to it right now so you don’t have to click that little grey external link icon if you so please.

It’s fair to say that the premise is simple, but not fair to say that writing the post was easy. Author, Will Hoekenga, put together an in-depth post highlighting the copy and design lessons you can learn from 13 years of Basecamp.com homepages.

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Here’s Why You Should Be the First to Build a ‘Pocket Guide’ For Your Niche

200 Referring Domains / 3,000 Facebook Shares

If you’ve been involved in your niche online for even just a few weeks, it’s likely you’ve found a few common questions that pop-up, or even the most commonly referenced sources for answering them.

Today’s example shows how you could build a side-project to create a resource for your industry that people might not know they need…until you make it for them.

When Benedikt Lehnert created A Pocket Guide To Master Every Day’s Typographic Adventure it started gaining traction overnight and has since received 3,000 Facebook shares and links from over 200 different websites.

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I Couldn’t Copy McSweeney’s Before, But I Possibly Could Now

4,800 Facebook Likes in One Week

A few weeks ago I wrote about how satire has the potential to make your site go viral, but you have to be careful when pulling it off.

One of the examples I used in the post was from McSweeney’s, who wrote a satirical article about only hiring employees who are twenty-three years old.

This month they’re at it again, with a different approach.

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This Opportunity to Be an Industry Leader Didn’t Exist 12 Months Ago

18,789 members

If you want to build a community online, what do you do? Start a Facebook group? Create a forum? Maybe start a weekly discussion around a Twitter hashtag?

But there is another option: Create the Slack channel for your niche.

Slack wasn’t really a ‘thing’ a few years ago, and the idea to create a Slack channel for a community was barely possible a year ago, so this is a fresh opportunity to put yourself front and center of a growing trend.

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My One-Page Website That Reached 9,000 People On Its First Day of Launch

9,000 uniques / homepage of hacker news

A few days ago I wrote about someone who created the world’s pinkest pink and went viral by refusing to sell it to the rights holder of the world’s blackest black.

If you can take advantage of something that other people will get behind – lots of artists didn’t like just one person owning the blackest black – then you too have a chance of going viral.

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When Pigs Fly: A Bacon Fueled Text-Generator With Over 9,500 Backlinks

9,000 backlinks / 1,200 referring domains

If you’ve ever built a website before, you may be familiar with something called Lorem Ipsum. It’s best thought of as placeholder text to put in different areas of a site before the real copy is finished.

There are a number of generators of this text which let you select how many words or paragraphs you’re looking for, but there’s also some pretty funny competition.

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An Incredible Story of Filling a Gap in the Market: The Pinkest Pink

Links from Wired.com, Vice.com and thousands of orders.

Have you ever heard of Vantablack? It’s said to be the blackest black there can possibly be.

In scientific terms, “Vantablack is composed of a series of microscopic vertical tubes. When light strikes Vantablack, it becomes trapped instead of bouncing off and is continually deflected between the tubes.”

There’s more to the Vantablack story than an impressive scientific breakthrough however…

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