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That statement is partially true. Most people don’t ready ALL of your content, in fact, most people will not read MOST of your content. However, the content they do read is going to be crucial to your website’s success. That statement along can send chills down your spine. If you have ever been given the responsibility of writing content for a website, or been responsible for integrating it into a website, then you too have gotten that feeling in the pit of your stomach. What is it about content that can bring a business savvy CEO to his knees? Content is king, just ask Google. It’s important to the success of your site, and should not be taken lightly. And the very thought of that can turn a veteran web designer into a crying girl scout.
Ok, that was a pretty extreme intro (forgive me, it’s Monday.) The real fact is that the content that you put on your site is a lot more important than you might realize. While nobody will stress the importance of good web design, graphic design and functionality more than I, content really counts, and if you don’t include solid information on your site, the rest of your efforts into design, usability and conversion could be wasted. There are several areas that need to be considered when creating content for your website.
Search engine optimization (SEO) is highly influenced by the content on your website. Keywords and topic focused content will make your website much more attractive to the search engines. There used to be a lot of “tips and tricks” to help increase your rankings that weren’t based on content, but those days are long gone. Google wants to provide its customers with the best information possible, to your best chance of being one of those top placements is to provide good, topic focused content. This is a subject that is far too detailed for a single paragraph, so please contact us if you have further questions.
Website users are looking for quick, concise information. Your content needs to be organized is a way that is easy to scan, and easy to read. Don’t bombard people with lengthy paragraphs and bloated information. Make use of scanable headlines and break up the information often. Make sure that you get the facts out, get your point across, and be done with it.
Website users are looking for answers. Providing those answers will be the key to keeping visitors on your site, and giving them valuable information will often be the difference between creating a new client or adding a stat to your bounce rate. Make sure the information you provide establishes you or your company as an expert, and make sure your answers are presented in a way that is easy to read by the “commoners”. Providing the service of helping your site users will be the first step in establishing a relationship with them.
The last thing that people want online is to visit a website where they feel like they’re being talked down to. Therefore, you have to make sure that your content is friendly and simple, not overly professional and ‘better than thou’ in its tone and style.
So highlighting the importance of content might make writing it seem like an impossible task. The reality is, for many business owners, it is. For the same reason that you hire a professional to fix your car, tile your floors, or design your website, it makes sense to hire a professional to write your content. You should still be actively involved in the content creation, but the actual writing, formatting and styling, that should be done by a professional. We recommend that all of our clients utilize the services of a content writer, it will ultimately lead to a better website experience, better site rankings, and better business.]]>
When you hear the term “Web Design”, what’s the first thing that comes to your mind? You’re probably thinking about attractive colors, a cool logo, and maybe some snazzy social media icons. It’s all about making a website look good, right? In actuality, web design is much more than the right color palette and nifty photoshop skills.
To effectively design a website, you need to consider site structure, technology, usability, functionality, conversion, and compatibility with browsers and search engines, as well as the way the site looks. The real issue with the misconception of the term “web design” is that we automatically attribute the word “design” to art. What you are really doing when you build a website is design (the visual aspects) and development (everything else).
Before we dive into all the nuts and bolts involved in a website build, I must stress that design is very important. The way your website looks can have a direct affect on how well it converts site users into potential customers. You need to present the right image, whether that be corporate, professional, boutique or relaxed. Coming across the wrong way to your site users can damage any future relationship with them. Colors have subliminal affects on our brains, and so does layout. I will save the details on this topic for another article, but it’s important to remember that a good website is the result of a multitude of elements done right, including design.
We will skip the really techy talk here, I don’t want this to read like a textbook. While it won’t have a huge impact on the user experience, the type of programming language that you choose will dictate what you can and can’t do with your website, and who will be able to work on it. While all of the programming languages out there have their own pros and cons, it is important to choose something that will expand and grow with your site, and that is widely supported so you aren’t locked into something proprietary. Your web design team will have an influence in this choice, but it’s always wise to educate yourself.
Another consideration for technology is choosing a platform to build your site on. Content Management Systems (CMS) are very popular, and extremely useful in managing your website. We don’t recommend you build a site without one. Choosing the right platform is important, both from the usability of the admin side and the way it affects the user side. WordPress is always a fantastic platform, unless you are building a large ecommerce or social networking site.
The last, and argueably most important consideration is the WAY the code is used. Poorly coded websites can cause some serious performance issues, such as slowly loading pages, incompatibly with multiple browsers, and a lack of support as technologies advance. This can result in a poor user experience and difficulties with search engine optimization. Search engines tend to favor faster loading websites, so this can affect your SEO rankings.
Usability needs to be a top priority when building a website. If a site visitor can’t figure out how to do what they want or need to do on your site in about 4 seconds, they will hit the infamous back button, and they’re gone forever. One of the biggest mistakes you can make is to try and re-invent the wheel. “Let’s put the navigation menu over here on the right, our site will be unique and cutting edge!” Good idea, and while you’re at it, put the front door to your bakery in the back alley and see how many marbled rye loaves you sell.
Ok, that was a bit harsh, but the idea is that you don’t want people to have to learn how to use your website. You want them to already know how to use it based on their experience using hundreds of other sites that follow good usability practices. Sure, your unique website might stick out from all the others, but trust me, you don’t want to end up on someone’s top 10 list for the worst website designs.
Navigating your website shouldn’t require a degree. It shouldn’t require a manual, in fact, it shouldn’t require much use of brain synapses at all. Finding the content that your users want to find, and more importantly, the content that you want them to find, should be the easiest thing to do on your website. We can assume your site user’s are there for a reason; get in their way, and they will be gone before you can even track them in Analytics. The navigation should be easy to use, and be structured in a way that makes sense.
FACT: people do not read the text on a web site. Ok, that’s not entirely true, but website users read by scanning. Who has the time to read through all the text on a single web page, let only the entire site? (Of course, you’re readying every word of THIS web page, right?) Your content needs to be laid out and designed in a way that makes scanning easy. When your website visitor finds that headline that catches their attention, they will stop to read your content.
Why is functionality so important? Because your website needs to DO something for you, and for your site users. Whether it be gathering a new lead, obtaining a newsletter subscription, or selling a product, your website needs to be an integral part of generate business. For your site users, reaping some sort of reward for visiting and exploring your site should be the ultimate outcome. This reward could be a free download, valuable information, or the ability to buy something. Whatever the end goal, a beautiful website won’t do much goodif it’s not giving something to your site visitors and generate new business for you.]]>
It all boils down to branding. At some point, you decided to design a website, because you realized that everyone with a pulse was accessing the internet, and if you didn’t jump on the band wagon, you were going to be left behind. And, hopefully not to long after you made that leap of faith, you realized that you needed to redesign your website to represent the professional image and quality of service that you provide. (If you haven’t designed an incredible website, or worse, don’t have one, you need to call us – like, yesterday.)
Newsflash: Facebook is one of the largest and continually fastest growing entities on the web. How do I know? Besides the fact that even my grandparents are on Facebook twelve times a day, the stats don’t lie. Check out the info, taken straight from facebook.com.
Facebook does a good job of giving you the option to stick out from the crowd, but there’s only so much you can do before your profile starts to look a lot like everybody else’s. A custom tab is, in the Facebook realm, an app. On the front end, it’s a custom designed “page” on your facebook profile that will be completely unique from anybody else’s pages. It’s the equivalent of having a custom designed website. It not only shows your company as being professional, modern, and current, but it also makes it memorable. Your facebook page will be branded to match your business.
I don’t blame you, so check this out. According to All Facebook Jeff Widman of BrandGlue did some A/B testing. He discovered…
“We ran an A/B test just four weeks ago to guesstimate the efficacy of a landing tab. We drove visitors to the fan page of a major brand using ads. Those ad-driven visitors converted to fans at a rate of approximately 47% WITH a landing tab. When we turned off the landing tab, those same ad-driven visitors converted to fans at approximately 23%. A VERY noticeable loss in conversions over the course of the campaign.”
Those are pretty convincing numbers. It’s pretty clear, you’re missing alot of exposure and opportunities if you aren’t utilizing the custom facebook tabs on your profile. This article just cracks the surface on the power of Facebook and custom tabs. If you want to learn more, or find out what we can do to help you increase your business identity on Facebook, give us a call. We’re pretty friendly.]]>
Don’t worry, it’s easy! Google Analytics is a full-service suite of website traffic statistics that showcases a pretty expansive arsenal of tools and components that will outline the performance of a website. It’s provided by Google, the world’s most widely used search engine, and the best part is, it’s totally free.
No, but we encourage you to finish your education! You will need a Google Analytics account to use their service, but if you have a gmail account, signing up for Analytics is a simple process. If you are using Adwords, you already have access to Analytics. Once you sign up, you will need to add the custom Analytics tracking code to your site, give it a few hours, and let the fun begin.
We all do! Every website owner is curious about how many people are visiting their site. Of course, we hope there are hundreds of thousands of people accessing our site every day. Imagine being able to not only see how many visitors your site is getting each day, but also how they got there, where they are located, and what they are looking for. Exciting, but Analytics can do so much more.
If you were paying a salesman to sell cars, you would want to keep track of his sales and how successful he was. If he wasn’t selling any cars, you would want to investigate the reason. Is he a poor salesman? Is he great at getting people in the door, but can’t close the deal? Maybe he doesn’t shower. Analyzing his interactions with clients and their reactions will help you identify the issue and make improvements, which will in turn, increase your sales.
With Google Analytics, you can effectively track visitors interactions with your website. If website visitors aren’t staying, or aren’t taking the desired actions, we can use that data to identify issues with your site and make improvements. Google Analytics allows you to track the success of everything from affiliate campaigns to how well your keywords are performing on Google and other search engines. All companies, from the smallest, one-man business to the world’s largest conglomerations can equally experience the benefits of its unique capabilities.
1. Track individual clicks
By default, Google Analytics will track user data on a page per page basis on a website. However, using some unique coding attached to individual links, you can track user data based on their click on a single link. This can be a great way to identify the success or failures of Call To Action buttons, and figuring out sizes, colors, and text that converts website visitors to leads or customers.
2. Setting Goals
Goals are Analytics way of tracking conversions. A conversion can be measured by click-through from one page to another, signing up for something, or submitting a web form. Setting a goal will allow you to track the progress of a site visitor, from the start of your conversion process, to the end. This is a great way to identify areas of strength and weakness in your site conversion procress.
3. Use Filters
Imagine this. You just added Analytics to your website, and you realize that you are getting hundreds of site visits per day! However, as you investigate further, you realize most of these visits are coming from the same IP address, and it looks oddly like the IP address from your home or office. Filtering will allow you to filter out visitors based on a number of options, to make sure you tracking results are as accurate as possible.
You should expect to pay for a professional service as well as a professional product. The cost for web design should be relative to the experience and expertise of the design and development team, as well as the time it takes to provide a quality product. The amount you choose to spend on a website will ultimately depend on the value you place in your brand and its online presence.
A company that is capable of handling all aspects of your project, from start to finish, is going to be a better choice than outsourcing to multiple companies or individuals. A well established company with a large array of services will be not only more cost effective and time effective, but will have more experience in making sure everything functions properly together.
Our opinion is that a quality website needs to be custom designed to suit the needs and image of your company. If cost is an issue, a template based website will suffice, but we believe that money spent on a custom website that is unique to you and your business is well worth the investment.
A content management system (CMS) is a web-based interface that allows the administrator (you) to easily update and manage your website without having to access the coding directly. We highly recommend using some of the highly successful and widely supported 3rd party systems, such as WordPress, Drupal, or Joomla. Some web design firms will suggest using their custom-built CMS’s, but this can limit the expansion of your site in the future, as you will be dependent on that company to manage any changes moving forward.
A quality web design firm will have a team of skilled professionals working on your project. An important aspect of every project is management, ensuring that things are done correctly, accurately, and on time.
Your web design firm should be familiar with HTML and CSS standards set forth by the W3 Consortium (W3C) and know how to test for syntax errors, cross-browser validation and future compatibility. This is important because your website visitors use different browsers (Explorer, Firefox, etc.) and different platforms (Mac, Windows, etc.) to view your site, and you want to ensure that your site displays and functions the same way for everyone.
Coding is an important part of any Search Engine Optimization campaign. A quality web design firm should account for this when building your website, even if you are not currently engaged in an SEO campaign. You may choose to market your website in the future, and an improperly coded site might mean more work in the future.
Every web design firm should be able to provide a portfolio of their work, and most will make it a highlight of their own website. Look for quality sites and designs that impress you, or are similar and/or in line with the type of website you are looking for. A large portfolio will indicate a firm that is experienced and will be around for a long time.
Make sure that you are truly buying a website design, and not renting one. There are many web design firms that will custom build a website for you, but will require the site be hosted on their servers, locking you into an ongoing relationship with them to keep your website live and properly functioning. We recommend hiring a firm that will charge you a one time fee to build your site, and then deliver you the completed site once the project is completed.
You can plan on needing additional work done on your website at some point, either to maintain the site as technologies and browsers change, or to update the content on your site as your company changes. Ensure that your chosen web design firm will be available to provide any additional work on your site when needed.
Your customers have cell phones, you can assume they will use them to access your website, and it’s up to you to give them a useable presentation. The average screen resolution on a smart phone or cell phone is considerably smaller than the typical desktop or laptop. This means that your website, which you spent hours designing to look amazing on a those larger screens, will undoubtedly not translate to these smaller screens. At best, mobile viewers of your site will constantly be zooming in and out, scrolling left and right, and ultimately become frustrated and leave. You need to present them with a quality experience, giving them a site that is designed for their mobile device, present them with useable and accessible content, and provide data that downloads quickly. Ignoring this population of your site users will alienate a rapidly growing community.
A mobile website goes far beyond a “mini” version of your website. Design is certainly a big aspect of the mobile website, the considerations go far beyond that. Mobile browsers are a different type of user, typically with a short attention span than their desktop counter-parts. In fact, a Neilson Net Rating study showed that the average web browsing session lasted 56 minutes, while the average mobile browsing session was less than 5 minutes. Why such a dramatic difference? Most mobile users are on the go (hence the “mobile” part of mobile users), so they don’t have the luxury of sitting down for an hour of browsing. Secondly, and probably a bigger factor, is that there is still a large number of website that are not optimized for mobile users, thus making it much more difficult for mobile users to browse. If statistics have shown us anything about website users, we know their attention span is limited. Add to that a difficult user experience, and you can count on losing that site user.
Designing a mobile website consists of 3 important aspects. First, the design of the site needs to be streamlined and designed to work on the much smaller screens of mobile devices. This is important because a poorly adapted mobile site, or the lack thereof, can be the driving factor for a mobile user to bail. Secondly, the content of the site needs to be organized and restructured for a quicker browsing session, especially for a user on the go who may need quick answers. Contact info should always be very prominent, as this is often a target for mobile browsers. Lastly, there are tools and functionality that should be added to a mobile site, as well as functionality that should never exist on a mobile website.
The technology is constantly changing, and new devices are coming out every day. You might be thinking that the mobile browsers will eventually converge with traditional web browsers and this will become a mute point. While the newest devices are starting to bridge some of the gaps, there is still a significant difference between the two, and most people don’t and won’t have the newest technologies. At least not until they are old technologies.
Statistics don’t lie, mobile browsing is growing at an astounding rate. Predictions call for mobile browsing to take over traditional internet browsing by 2015. The fact is that you now have a new audience that wants access to your website, your content, and your brand, and that audience is recruiting at a rapid rate. If you ignore the mobile community, the best case will be that site users will have a difficult time using your site, and will most likely abandon the process. Worst case, they will feel ignored and disregarded, and they will abandon you.]]>