Archive for the ‘Usability tips’ Category
Recently I had someone request we completely change a platform for a site. They minimized the effort required to change, feeling there would be zero negative impact on the site. It would change both the host and the underlying technology, which is no small task at all. In the auto world, most companies hire a firm to build and manage the site. Some of those companies are part of the factory co-op. The co-op is a system set up by corporations that helps get their dealers access to advertising resources that the corporation pays part or all of the fees. The company pays the vendor and the factory co-op reimburses the company. Now the issue here is that the request was based on two factors, the infamous “someone” said they didn’t like the current website and there was a co-op deal available. From those two items they reached the conclusion that a 6 month old site should be thrown out and started over.
We know in our gut that isn’t really a good enough reason, especially if the site is performing well. It’s easy to mutter, “Dunning-Kruger Effect” and move on, but sometimes you need to unplug your ego and look deeper.
No matter what, a site change will always create new problems, new needs and take a large amount of work to achieve. Even with a switch to a co-op site, you will still have a lot of work and out of pocket expenses to get it running. With several vendors working on the project you will have the inevitable buck passing and finger pointing. Let’s dig into some common reasons people want the change and when a tipping point is hit.
“Someone doesn’t like it”
“Someone doesn’t like it”
Ask for specifics. I’ve had people passionately argue against a standing site just because it wasn’t in their favorite color. Once you have valid feedback, compare yourself against your competition, look at how you stack up in your industry and then how you stack up against sites facing similar problems. If you find something lacking; determine what you can do about it.
I had a customer tell me that he hated our camping web site. He was 6’ 6” tall and his gripe was that he couldn’t find a sleeping bag that fit him without looking at every single product. This lead to a new custom tool that helped people find a bag from hundreds that fit exactly what they wanted. We had the customer try it out and he loved it. Just because there is a problem, doesn’t mean everything needs to go. Presentation can be altered to fit a new found need. How do you tell when the look of the site is costing you money? Your first clues aren’t bounce rate and the constant emails with jokes that start with; “Your site’s so ugly…” I use a multiple metrics to analyze the site. First, check your depth of visit. Look for a decrease in visitors going past three or four pages. Second, on ecommerce sites I like to look at cart size. If your orders have a drop in the number of products in the cart or dollars in the cart, you have an excellent indicator you need to change. People aren’t shopping as usual. These early warning signs can give you a head start on changing over before a huge drop in conversions becomes impossible to ignore.
“Someone else can pay for it”
“Someone else can pay for it”
Websites can be expensive to own, but a necessary cost of business. Using price as your only deciding factor can cause as many issues as opening shop in the cheapest real estate in town. Check out Google ZMOT for a great dissertation on what people expect from companies online. The inherent problem with someone else writing the check is that they have the power over the vendor. You have very little say in what they will do for you.
Car companies love a level playing field. Two Toyota dealers on the same platform in the same town cannot possibly have an advantage over each other organically. Often, the websites will be bland designs with just a logo change. It’s often a case of a nondesigner trying to build a site in a system they don’t understand. The unfortunate result is a person getting the logo in place after a huge struggle and hitting the default button for everything else. Once you are on a co-op site it becomes very difficult to leave. If factories were really interested in a natural landscape they would simply have a list of requirements and audit the dealership websites from time to time. The co-op money would flow where the dealer wanted it, not where the factory wants. When I look at top sites, the best often run their own web site on custom code. I’m not sure going to that extreme is required; however there is a need for control over your content.
Most of the about pages on the web can be summed up in what I call the Three Bs of Corporate Copywriting:
Here’s a fine example from the real world:
As a socially-responsible, global leader in design, manufacturing, distribution and aftermarket services, Flextronics is unique in its ability to provide end-to-end solutions through its innovative and proprietary systems—all to enhance customer competitiveness and success.
SEO Consult are the specialist search engine optimisation division of Click Consult, who are a leading provider of search engine marketing solutions in the UK. Through a range of innovative, organic and ethical techniques, SEO Consult have helped their 325+ clients reach highly targeted traffic, delivering a healthy ROI for both niche businesses and highly recognisable brands.
Notice the sort of language being used: leader, unique, solutions, innovative, proprietary, leading. Puffery. The purpose of these sorts of words is simply to make the company sound as good as possible. In other words, to boast.
Notice also that these words are very vague—there is no clear meaning. What the heck are innovative, organic and ethical techniques? What are end-to-end solutions? Rather than telling us with simple nouns and verbs what they actually do, these companies have strung together buzzwords into a kind of bureaucratic boilerplate. It sounds impressive (see: boastful)—but to paraphrase Elihu in the book of Job, it is empty talk, multiplying words without knowledge. You could paste this rubbish onto any competitor’s website, swap out the company name, and no one would be the wiser. It is banal.
As a result, it is also supremely, eye-glazingly, mind-numbingly boring. Since it conveys no clear information, it tells the reader nothing interesting. And since it tells the reader nothing interesting, he stops reading long before he gets to the end.
Why People Really Read Your About Page
It is not to know whether you are a leading provider of solutions, or an innovative distributer of systems. (Neither is it to learn the unabridged history of your company, as some businesses seem to believe.)
It is actually for the same reason people want to know more about anyone they’re thinking of giving money to, or forming a relationship with.
There hasn’t been much focus on the art of designing e-mail newsletter layouts. The process does not require as much intensive work as building an entire webpage or CMS theme. You can make a single-page email template and copy out the styles to work in a myriad of situations.
For this tutorial I want to present a demo newsletter for Template Monster and explain some of the techniques we can use. The codes are more focused around rendering properly within e-mail clients such as Outlook, GMail, Hotmail, and Yahoo! Mail. This means we are building on top of HTML tables because the other methods for constructing layouts just do not work.
From Humble Beginnings
I like to start email projects by looking over the HTML Email Boilerplate template. This provides a lot of helpful CSS styles and basic table structures for making your own template. There are so many odd browser quirks for rendering e-mails that you could spend weeks studying them.
I try to be reasonable and only keep the CSS classes that I am going to use. This boilerplate is full of code comments which explain why you should be using certain properties or elements. If you are unfamiliar with email design then this is definitely a good place to start. My own demo will use the same XHTML Strict doctype which is also used by Google Mail.
Get more business through your website – this is ultimately the goal of SEO. A large amount of the effort put into SEO work is to have the site rank higher in Google’s search results. After all, being on the first page of search results means more people will see your site and are more likely to click through to it. But in reality, ranking highly is just the result of numerous factors working in tandem – ranking at number one in a search result is great, but without having what the user needs on the page you direct them to, they won’t continue any further – and won’t return to your site should the information never be what they need.
History Lessons & Discovering Your Audience
History Lessons & Discovering Your Audience
When a SEO campaign starts, it’s easy to run ahead of yourself and get into linking strategies, social media integration and goal tracking. But the most sensible thing to do is always start from the beginning. Or better yet, from before the beginning – look through the history of a business and/or website and find out its strengths and weaknesses and crucially, who the audience is. Understand your audience (who they are, what they want and how they get information) and you’ll understand what keywords you need to be targeting. With SEO, finding the right keywords to target is usually a trade off between search volume and competition. If everyone is fighting for the same keyword, it is going to be very difficult to be seen among the crowd. Similarly, if very few people search for a given term every month, you will restrict the site’s visibility.
Keywords – Be Relevant, Be Precise
Keywords – Be Relevant, Be Precise
Find out what your target audience searches for, then make sure your keywords are relevant to the content you provide. As an example, if I were to search for “Hi-Fi amplifier” and was presented with a result for that search term, I would not want to find myself on a page for guitar amplifiers, or car stereo amplifiers. Target your niche, your domain – not those of others. Being vague might get you general visibility, but if people don’t want it, what’s the point? Target your keywords to relevant content and you’ve made a very positive start.
While crafting a website design, one must pay equal importance to all elements including form aesthetics. Log-in or sign up forms, were till now, one of the most ignored elements in a web page design. It is only recently that site owners have started realizing how crucial a log-in form is! Paying attention to the knitty-gritties of its design can actually pay off well in the long term. A well-designed log-in form has the power to persuade more visitors to become subscribers, members and even permanent customers.
Research has proven that ignoring the log-in form design can actually lead to reduced conversion rates, dissatisfied customers and rock-bottom sales. Well, whether you are an internet merchant or a forum owner, it is advisable to design log-in forms with extra care! Many website owners have started exploring different ways to design a log-in form. So, let’s take you through an interesting journey into the world of designing log-in forms. Discussed below are some modern approaches adopted by designers to craft engaging and innovative log-in forms.
jQuery Based Log-in Forms
jQuery Based Log-in Forms
Third Party Sign In
Third Party Sign In
With social media platforms becoming dominant with every passing day, most of the websites, today, offer their visitors to sign-in using Facebook ID & password, Twitter details etc with just a click! Further, you can also sign-in to a website using your email account information.
These are aptly referred to as single sign-on solutions. When one log-ins using Facebook, Twitter or OpenID information, the time to register on a site is reduced considerably. But of course, you need to be logged in to your Facebook account to benefit from the one-click feature.
eCommerce is a lucrative yet a tricky business for online retailers. It offers better options for cross-selling and up-selling whereas on the other hand, it can drive you nuts with a variety of customer grievances. eCommerce web design must therefore be thoughtful of their customers of their preferences and about what will drive them to make purchases.
Let’s take a look at the 6 crucial elements to keep in mind for building reliable eCommerce web design:
Elaborate on Product Details
Elaborate on Product Details
With an eCommerce site it becomes almost impossible to touch or feel the actual product. Online retailers must always provide descriptive yet interesting information about the product on their web pages. Offer competitive descriptions about the range, color, shape, size, weight and the value that the particular product can provide to its users. Though this sounds extra work for the product writers, there is a simple way to achieve this. Use product demos like videos or include 3D imagery to emphasize on the dimensions of the products especially for apparel.
Instead of one add four or five images of the same product with different colors, background or models. Offering multiple views will allow your customers to get a taste of the product beforehand. Put up 1024 x 768 pixels size images as smaller than this will withdraw user attention from your product.
It is a known fact that readers only scan through the web pages while looking for products. Thus make the descriptions more vivid by using better quality images and other graphics. Present your content in an active voice just like the way you would talk to your friends or colleagues. Do not over burden the page with unnecessary details like historical background of the product or an elaborate manufacturing process. It will simply bore your users to death! Use descriptive words rather than confusing adjectives. The best way is to place the information about several products in the form of a comparison chart. This will appear more professional and will be quick to scan through.
Eh? Security? Yes! All this fuss about WordPress security. Having a WordPress site is great, blogging at it makes you feel like you own an Empire. But somehow, it never remains safe when intruders get in. When they try to dethrone you. No matter what happens, you got to do what is necessary for your rule. This is a funny way to put our common life words in analogy with WordPress.
Securing your WordPress blog from the bad guys is the goal of every blogger these days. That is an issue with ultimate importance as well. But, most of the bloggers do it wrong way. They are not quite sure about choosing the best WordPress template or a plugin, where they end up with messed up blogging career with screwed up blog.
Certainly, leaving these issues behind is not an option for us anymore. So, getting to point, in this WordPress tutorial you will be learning a lot about WordPress security, how to DO IT YOURSELF and harden it to the core. Let’s kick in Yay? Nay?
Step#1 – LOG IN HACKS
Step #1 is all about how to save your blog from being hacked, by notorious login hacks.
Admin username is your doomsday
One should never have Admin or admin as the username of Administrator account. Change it while you install the WordPress. If you don’t change your username from Admin to anything else while installing, then there is a little trick that will do just good. Make a new user with different username and set its role as Administrator, then log out. Log in with the new user, you just created, go to Users >> All Users and delete the user Admin.
Some Plugins that help
In case of login hacks there are several plugins that help a lot.
With a lot of other stuff this plugin takes care of removing login notice.
The add to cart rate has a lot in common with the cause of the cart abandonment rate as in both cases the percentage shows the amount of carts that were filled with some products and for some reason were then abandoned.
Add to Cart percentage is one of a “metrics trinity” that help define the overall success rate of the store. The other two are Bounce Rate and Cart Completion.
This is the next episode of the “Optimizing Your Store” series, here are the themes we’ve already covered:
What every shop owner wants is to make the user add products to the cart, and later tell success stories about himself, his awesome store and what an ideal conversion rate he has etc.
One of my friends has got an online store and sells iPhone cases. He was so mad about the products dropped in the cart that he said, “if I wanted more add to carts, I would simply remove all other elements or trick them into clicking, but it will not result in more revenue…”
In case you care, and you think your cart needs to be optimized the answer is: yes, add-to-cart improvements can make a significant impact to conversion rates, contingent on whether the higher performance was a result of overcoming an issue on the website; like difficulty locating a product or lower hierarchical placement of add-to-cart on shopping pages.
From time to time a company will release research or a survey considering the most obvious themes. For example a study by PayPal and ComScore revealed 45% of US online shoppers abandoned shopping carts several times in just three weeks. Duh! But the worst thing is that the average cost of abandoned goods in those shopping carts was $109. “Not much”, some would say…but, if you then consider there are more than 200 million online shoppers,(200*45%*109=9.810) that’s $9.810m left unspent every week!!!
One of the possible reasons why $100 carts are abandoned is simply the psychological impact of a triple-digit sum: $100 is not perceived as $99 or as $99.9 or less.
The same study showed that for 46% of online shoppers high shipping charges were a “very important reason” for emptying carts.
In business, choosing a web hosting account can be a time-consuming process, but if you’re setting up a website, it’s just the beginning of the journey. Once you begin to develop your website and add content, your hosting account becomes a valuable business asset – one that is worth defending against malicious attacks and intrusion.
Here are five easy, practical ways to keep your hosting account secure as your website grows.
1. Keep all software updated
Most small business owners use software like WordPress or Drupal to publish content and manage their website. If you run an ecommerce store, you might use an application such as osCommerce or Magento.
Over time, these scripts and applications are updated and revised by their developers. Often, these updates offer vital protection against bugs and security vulnerabilities. Keeping your software updated takes just minutes, but remember: repairing a hacked website could take far longer – or could be completely impossible, depending on the severity of the attack.
- To keep your data secure and ensure your website isn’t compromised by hackers, install security patches and updates as soon as they’re made available.
- Regularly check your plugins and add-ons for updates and install those too.
- Always back up databases before installing new updates – just in case something goes wrong.
2. Clean up your accounts
When you first set up your web hosting account, you’ll probably need to create multiple logins for things like FTP, email and database access.
Over time, as your website matures, your needs will change. Some of the accounts you created will become redundant. You may have provided co-workers or freelancers with accounts, then stopped working with those people, leaving their login details in limbo.
- Regularly review all of the user permissions and accounts in your web hosting control panel.
- Remove any users that are redundant to reduce the risk of someone hacking into your hosting account, or misusing a login that has been long forgotten.
- Remove any generic accounts that are no longer required.
The term “Marketing” derived from the market itself, the aim of which is to sell something to somebody. In much wider sense marketing is activity of the market. As an economic category marketing has much broader content.
At the turn of the XIX and XX centuries, this notion appeared in economic literature, especially in US’. It which was dictated by the need to improve the existing system of management of market activities. The marketing philosophy of business was given the task to provide higher level of sales management of individual business structures.
Credit: business man by Shutterstock.
The result of practical implementation of marketing theory was the “birth” of market research departments and commercial organizations that provide marketing services. In late 50-s of XX-th century marketing was finally formed as a system of production and activities, though some of its major elements appeared much earlier. Having a theoretical origin marketing study evolves year after year, even today.
Modern definitions of marketing, usually having much wider range of functions:
- Marketing is… the process of planning and implementation of design, pricing, promotion of ideas, goods and services through the exchange, thus satisfying the goals of individuals and organizations.
- …the anticipation, management and fulfilling the demand for goods, services, organizations, people, territory through the exchange of ideas.
- …a set of techniques that companies apply to satisfy consumer’s demand in order to increase sales of their products.
- …a set of planned organizational and technical actions for market research, producing products based on market demand and the movement of goods to the consumer in order to maximize profits.
- …a business activity related to the direction of the flow of goods and services from producer to consumer.
- …the aim is to identify, predict and meet consumer demand thus making the profit for a specific company or organization.
- …a process of harmonization of the company and consumer demands.
This theoretical abundance leads to significant differences regarding marketing. Thus, many experts believe that these concept should include noncommercial activity. Their opponents have focused on traditional areas of application, i.e. the ratio of purchase – sales and believes, that marketing should be limited to the study of economic needs and desires, and what’s more important marketing principles can not be applied to all situations.
But let’s have a down-to-earth look at marking and especially at marketers. What’s the most important activity these guys have? Of course that’s the research. One cannot live without googling (or yahooing or whatever you do) in XXI century no matter what occupation you have, even if you are going to track the actions of your EX, you’ll have to make a research).
In our souls we are all marketers, from time to time we need to make some actions aimed at presenting ourselves in the best possible way, either it’s a new date or an interview for a new job (though these examples do not differ much).
So let’s look at some tools that can help marketers cut a path through the jungle of demand, supply, bounce and other nightmares and pleasant moments.
If you’re looking to announce exciting news about your business, MarketWire provides you with top-notch distribution channels to maximize exposure. They also offer an extensive array of specialty niche channels.