A New Hub Formatting Option: Topic Templates

screen-shot-2013-05-22-at-10-15-06-am1 (1)Many of the ideas and new features on HubPages are suggested by our fabulous authors.  Topic Templates is another fantastic Hubber-driven feature.  In a Forum post, janderson99 suggested that since HubPages is becoming more and more focused on quality, we should provide our authors with a foundation for creating Stellar, QAP-friendly Hubs!

Our answer to this fabulous request is a group of Templates that are created with a specific topic in mind.  For example, photos are extremely important in recipe Hubs, so we’ve included more Photo Capsules in the Food and Cooking Template as well as Ingredients, Instructions, Cook Time, Ratings, and Nutrition Capsules.  While we feel that the Templates are a great foundation, they are also easily edited; moving around, deleting, or adding capsules is the same as it always has been.

As an added bonus, we have added tips and lessons about online writing within each capsule.  The tips will be shown each time you choose the Template format but are automatically deleted when you edit each capsule.  To see all of the Templates or go back to read the tips and suggestions, you can visit our Learning Center entry on Topic Templates where we have provided links to each Topic Template.

Here are a few of the benefits that we see when using a Topic Template:

  • Your Hub is automatically broken up into multiple capsules in a format that is more reader friendly
  • New Hubbers will get an idea of what a Hub is suppose to look like so they are more likely to pass our Quality Assessment Process
  • You may try a capsule that you haven’t before and improve the look of your Hub
  • It takes the guess work out of creating an appealing layout
  • If you haven’t read our Hubs in the Learning Center, we are giving you tips directly in the HubTool

Ultimately, HubPages is about writing high-quality, long format content and the team at HubPages hope that the Topic Templates will help our new and veteran Hubbers start off with a good foundation.  Now that you have your layout, fill those capsules with informative, rich, grammatically correct content; original or legally used and attributed photos; and other engaging media!  Thanks janderson for the suggestion!

Happy Hubbing!

Robin

 

 

 

Need Some Goals? Visit Your HubTool This Week!

Back in January we released some improvements to the HubTool that included visual tweaks and a more conveniently-located summary box. At the same time, we also introduced a feature that was only rolled out to 10% of Hubbers. Though still in beta form, we will be making this feature available to the community as a whole this week.

What is it? A new box to the right of the HubTool titled “Need Some Goals?”

The Need Some Goals box responds to the content of your Hub in real time, providing helpful feedback and giving you some insights into how you might add more depth and media to your Hub. As you add more words, photos, and other capsules to your Hub, various icons in the box get checked off. The box also features written tips, quick links to Learning Center guides, and a display of your Hub’s current word count (something many, many Hubbers have been asking for).

The numbers of words, images, and capsules we recommend are based on data we have regarding our top performing Hubs. You can learn more about how our research drove the design of this feature in the Learning Center.

Once it rolls out, please let us know what you think of the feature, and feel free to suggest better titles for it as well! Somehow, “The Need Some Goals Box” doesn’t run off the tongue very nicely. 😉

HubTool is Getting Its Hair Did

It has been a while since the HubTool has gotten some TLC, so we decided to spend a little time giving it a makeover, which will go live next week. We have made no big changes to the way things work, just a few cosmetic tweaks to clean things up and take advantage of some of the new capabilities of modern web browsers.

The first change you may notice next week is that the summary field has been moved and is now located under the title. Summaries are used on the HubPages Topic Pages and, if you write one, included in the meta description tag that search engines may show in search results. We haven’t changed how the summary is used on the site or in search engines; only its placement in the HubTool has been adjusted. We hope the box’s new placement makes it a bit easier to find for our new (and long-time) Hubbers.

Another change we have made is that capsules’ edit buttons now only appear when you move your mouse over the capsule in question. This provides cleaner view of the Hub and more effectively indicates which buttons act on which capsule. What’s more, alerts and messages have been reorganized, the tips that used to appear have gone away (perhaps to resurface in a different form in the future), and the buttons have taken on a fresh new look that makes it easier to tell when you can use them.

There’s still work to do and we’re not stopping with these changes alone. Some of you may also notice a few other changes as we begin being beta testing some new ideas. If you spot one of these features, we’re looking for feedback so please feel free to provide it through the link provided.

The HubPages Cookbook Contest

Can you believe it’s May already? With the weather getting warmer and a variety of fresh foods in season, we’ve decided to celebrate with a new contest: the HubPages Cookbook Contest!

This June contest will revolve around use of our new Recipe Capsules which include dedicated capsules for recipe ratings, yields and cook time, ingredients, instructions, and nutrition. The Recipe Capsules help to make your Hubs easier to read, plus more attractive search engines (we posted a special blog post with more thorough explanation of how that works)

To enter, all you have to do is publish a recipe Hub using at least the Ratings Capsule (set for recipes) between June 1st at noon (Pacific Time) and June 28th at 11:59 am. By entering, you’ll have a chance to win one (or more!) of 62 prizes worth $3,600.

14 prizes will be awarded each week during the contest, and six prizes will be awarded at the end:

  • $1400 in $50 Daily Drawing Prizes awarded to one randomly-selected recipe entry every day of the contest
  • $1400 in $50 Weekly Prizes awarded to the seven best recipe Hubs each week
  • $100 Best Dessert Recipe Prize for the best dessert recipe Hub
  • $100 Best Drink Recipe Prize for the best drink recipe Hub
  • $100 Best Family Recipe Prize for the best family meal recipe Hub
  • $100 Best Healthy Recipe Prize for the best healthy recipe Hub
  • $100 Best Budget-Friendly Recipe Prize for the best budget-friendly recipe Hub
  • $300 Grand Prize for the best overall recipe Hub

To qualify for these prizes…

While there is a good chance that you might win one of our 28 Daily Drawing prizes randomly, you’ll be able to boost your chances of winning a Weekly or Final Prize if you consider our judging criteria while crafting your entries. Our judges – experts in the culinary writing field – will be looking carefully for:

  • How well the Recipe Capsules are used (see our Learning Center guide to Recipe Capsules)
  • The usefulness of the recipe (summarized steps followed up by detailed instructions with step-by-step photos, variations, demonstrations) (see our Learning Center guide to writing successful Recipe Hubs)
  • The overall value of the recipe (additional background or history associated with the dish or recipe, use of the Recipe Capsules to share detailed nutritional information and ingredient information, etc.)
  • The presence and quality of original photos and/or video
  • Whether the entry is on a long-tail, niche recipe that has not been extensively covered online
  • Whether the entry has a search-friendly title (mirrors common search terms)
  • Excellent writing (proper use of grammar, capitalization, etc.)
  • Uniqueness of the entry (that it is not copied or paraphrased from elsewhere online, full of details, examples, names, and figures)
  • Attractive formatting (avoidance of excessive link, eBay, or Amazon capsule clutter, excessive bolding or italics, and all-caps)
  • Judicious use of other relevant Capsules

We’ll be announcing our special judges as the contest launch approaches. In the meantime, get cooking! You can always start drafts of your entries now and publish them throughout the month of June.

Introducing Special Layout Options for Reviews and Recipes

One big perk associated with publishing Videos as opposed to traditional Hubs is that your Videos get special treatment in search engine results: next to Videos’ titles and summaries, online searchers see an enticing thumbnail image that makes them more likely to select your work over that of the thumbnail-less competition.

We are now rolling out an additional feature on HubPages that applies this same search-friendly principle to recipes and reviews. In the HubTool, you will soon see several new Capsules organized under Special Layout Options.

  • These Capsules include:
  • The Ratings Capsule
  • The Cook Time Capsule
  • The Ingredients Capsule
  • The Instructions Capsule
  • The Nutrition Capsule

You will also see an option to add all of the Recipe Capsules in bulk.

By using the Ratings Capsule when reviewing products, places, and services, and by using the Recipe Capsules in your recipe Hubs, you will be adding cool features such as star ratings, thumbnail images, cook time to Hubs presented in search engine results.

You can see what these special search results like by Googling a recipe. Aren’t you more interested in the recipes that are presented with star ratings and attractive photos? By using our Special Layout Options, you’ll be able to give your Hubs the competitive edge enjoyed by those other review and recipe-optimized search results.

The new capsules will be available soon, so get your recipes ready for publication- and consider which recipe Hubs you might like to update!

New Feature: The Tips Box

Tip and Warning

Happy Tuesday! We decided to celebrate this beautiful second day of the working week by rolling out a new feature.

When you create and edit Hubs, you will now see the occasional tip to the right of your screen – right below the Add a Capsule box and right above the box where you reorder capsules and change settings.

The tips in this box are shown to you based on your HubPages experience level, the sorts of capsules you are using, and topics on which you are writing.  To get more information from each tip, simply click on the question mark to the right and a lightbox filled with helpful information will pop up over your capsules.

Also rolling out with the tip box are occasional warnings, which, if triggered, will appear below the tip box as you are editing things in the HubTool.  These warnings exist to help you steer clear of any problems with publication (e.g. they’

 

ll help to point out banned links and pixelated images).  Think of them as a rather advanced evolution of spell-check 😀

With occasional help from Paul Deeds, Edward Zhang built this awesome new feature, and has generously agreed to take some time to chat with us about the work he has done:

HubPages: Where did the idea for adding a tips box come from?

Edward Zhang: The original plan was to create some sort of message about the Summary box in edit mode. We wanted to bring attention to the summary box so that Hubbers know to write their own original summaries to better promote their Hubs (as opposed to relying on the auto summary option that we used to have).

From that idea, Paul Deeds then suggested that we can turn this idea into a more broad tips box, which we could potentially use to provide some neat tips and advice for Hubbers, as well as show the current warnings in the Hubs. As a result, we ended up building the two boxes, Tips and Warning.

What is your favorite feature of the tips box?

Personally I think that (and hope that) the Warnings box will a tremendous help for Hubbers, as it aims to provide real-time warnings as they edit their Hubs. I hope that it would be much easier for Hubbers to see their Warnings before they finish editing, rather than having to go back into their Hub to re-edit after they finish making all their changes.

What was the hardest detail to build?

It’s funny how this project started out as such a simple idea, and expanded to be such a huge project. The hardest part of the Tips design would probably be the coordination that was needed in order to refine the details of the design. In order to brainstorm tips, we needed to plan out a meeting with Jason, Ren, and our dear Simone. For the design of the tips box, I had to seek advice James (our genius Graphics Designer) and Paul Deeds, where our design of the box(es) evolved over the course of 2 weeks. All in all, although I was the one who coded the Tips, this project turned out to be a collaborative effort of a huge part of the HP team.

Can people hide tips?

Hubbers can choose to minimize their tips box by clicking on the little arrow next to the heading Tips.

Warnings however, cannot be removed, as we believe that it’s important to let our Hubbers know what kind of warnings they are receiving. We hope this will save hubbers the time and effort having to go back and re-edit their hubs after they have finished making their changes.

What sorts of warnings might people see?

The warnings that show up are the exact same warnings that the Hubbers will see in the black box sitting on top of their Hubs. We basically took those warning messages and made them more real-time during edit mode.

screen-shot-2011-05-03-at-11-18-39-am1What are some cool things about the tip boxes that people might not notice?

A lot of Hubbers may neglect to click on the ? next to each tip, as it can be easily ignored. I strongly encourage Hubbers to click on these ? because it provides more in-depth details about each tip, and can be very helpful to know.

.     .    .

A big thanks to Edward and Paul for this feature.  Now it is easier than ever to write really great Hubs from the get-go!

The Updated Text Capsule

Late last week, Paul Deeds pointed out in the forums that we’re introducing and testing some updates to the HubTool’s text capsule- and if you would like to have a look at it, you’re free to try it out!

In case you didn’t see the forum thread, here’s a full description of the Text Capsule changes:

General

  • Resizable edit area – After clicking “edit” on a text capsule, you can hold your mouse down when it is over the lower right corner of the edit box and drag the corner in order to size the edit window comfortably for your screen.
  • Word count – the number of words in your text will appear at the top of the edit dialog, while you are editing a text capsule.

Linking

Screen Shot 2015-01-13 at 3.27.41 PM

  • Hub search – search for Hubs that are relevant to your selected word, or phrase. This search takes into account the category of your Hub. So, the results should be both more convenient and more relevant while you edit your capsule, than opening another browser window to search for Hubs to link to.
  • Search your own Hubs – the link tool allows you to search your own Hubs. This should be more convenient for creating links to your own Hubs, especially if you have a lot of them.
  • Amazon links – the link tool will now allow you to search for Amazon products appropriate to your Hub and create links to them. Links entered in this way are subject to revenue sharing splits, and you are still bound by our rules on affiliate linking (no more than 2 per Hub).
  • Keyboard short-cut – While typing text into a text capsule, you can strike ctrl-e. This will automatically select the nearest word an launch the link dialog. From there you can hit enter to search for relevant Hubs and use keyboard navigation to select the Hub you want to link to. This allows you to add links to your text without taking your hands away from the keyboard.

The man behind these exciting updates is none other than Mark Painter.  Props to him for the improvements!  Mark took a break from his work to tell us a bit more about the changed capsule:

What inspired these cool updates?

Well, we wanted to upgrade tinyMCE, the open source software package we use for our text editor. It is an important piece of HubPages. So, it is a little risky. For that reason, we wanted a phased roll out where Hubbers could try it if they wanted and back off, it there were problems. It seemed kind of lame to ask people to test the same old features. So, I asked for feedback among HubPages staff, about what they wanted, or had heard of Hubbers wanting in the way of changes to the text capsule. The features I ended up implementing are mixture of various people’s suggestions.

When did you get started with making these changes to the text capsule?

That would have been three or four weeks ago, right after I hacked the old version of tinyMCE to work with IE9; the chore that inspired wanting to upgrade.

Which is your favorite new feature?

I like re-sizing the edit module to fit my netbook’s screen, and being able to conveniently link to other Hubs. That’s two favorites, but, oh well. (I write some Hubs under a pseudonym, and those were my personal pain points.)

Where should people report any bugs they encounter?

I’ll be checking the forums for bug reports.

[Thanks, Mark!]

If you would like to start using the new and improved Text Capsule, visit your profile settings page to enable it.  If you see any bugs, follow Mark’s advice and report them in the Report a Problem or Suggest a New Feature forum 😀

Introducing the Map Capsule

The Map CapsuleExciting news!  Today, a new capsule has been added to the HubTool: the map capsule!  The map capsule will allow you to embed a map (or multiple maps) into your Hubs.  On your map, you can mark and describe multiple locations of interest.

The capsule itself has some really amazing features.  For example, you can choose how your map is initially presented to readers- either in map, terrain, or satellite form.  Readers can then switch settings up when visiting your Hub.  Viewers can also (depending on the location) can click to view your location in Google Street View, meaning that they can walk along the very streets that you describe in your Hub.  What’s more, readers can expand a drop-down set of directions to your listed locations via bicycle, walking, or driving.  Pretty nifty, no?

All sorts of Hubs can benefit from an added map capsule thanks to its versatility.  You can, for example…

  • Map out historical routes for past marches and wars
  • Design the perfect vacation route though a foreign country
  • Map bird migrations
  • Plot out an excellent hike
  • Direct readers to your favorite childhood hangouts
  • Map pub crawls
  • Map out excellent hotels
  • Design a lovely city tour
  • Cover a the best restaurants in your local neighborhood
  • Create a map of great resources for your kids
  • Augment your HubTrails creations

Honestly, the options for using it are endless!

To learn how to use the map capsule and all of its lovely features, visit the Learning Center and read our guide.  Then, take the capsule for a spin!  You can go back and improve your old Hubs by adding this capsule, and perhaps this new feature has inspired you to write something entirely new.

One final note: The map capsule was created by the brilliant Fawntia, who has utilized both her brilliance and endless patience (when dealing with our endless questions and development feedback) to create this fabulous tool.  Fawntia, in my opinion, deserves a ginormous round of applause- and once you start playing with the map capsule, I’m sure you’ll agree!