Articles in the Optimized Website Design & UX Category

What are the best practices for optimized website design and user experience? How can you design an attractive, user-friendly website that maximizes your ability to be found in the Search Engine Results Pages and drives conversions? Read our expert tips for optimized design and user experience, compelling aesthetic design, website architecture, usability and more.

August 26 2009

Lorem Ipsum – “Say What?”

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What is Lorem Ipsum? Lorem Ipsum, also known as “greeking” in the design industry, is simply dummy text that is used as a placeholder for the actual text that will fill a certain area of a design.

Blocks of text are essentially visual elements in a design. They are groupings of smaller shapes that make up larger ones visually. It is extremely important to keep this in mind when designing, because you may run into a problem when the Lorem Ipsum you’re using does not match the word count of the actual text that is coming from the client. You might have a beautiful design in the beginning and in the end have to redesign entire areas to fit your content.

Think of page layout being similar to putting a puzzle together. If you are missing pieces of the puzzle, it is much harder to put together and can be quite a headache for the designer and later, the client. If there are spaces that are detrimental to the design, then it is all important to acquire the actual text that will be used before starting the layout process. In some cases, the client may be working on the content and can only give an idea of the word count that will be used. That’s when Lorem Ipsum comes in handy!

Another useful attribute of Lorem Ipsum for designers is that clients won’t get hung-up on whether or not you spelled “the” correctly. They may have the urge to read and make comments that are not directly related to the design. Lorem Ipsum keeps everyone on the same page and allows the creativity of a design to be noticed.

March 6 2009

Taking your Website Mobile

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More and more people are using mobile devices to access the internet.   With the advent of the Blackberry, iPhone and iPod touch, surfing the web on the go has become better and easier.   As technology improves and prices of these devices become even more affordable, there is no doubt that more people will be search the mobile web for information.   The mobile web is extremely beneficial to search for store hours, price comparisons and other information that is needed when on the go.      

I personally have noticed that when searching from a Blackberry or other phones that are internet ready,   some websites do not even show up.   Searching from an iPhone is a little better, but websites that are flash are still not compatible.   You would make sure that your website can be accessed from any device.

A mobile website does not have to be a complete website with all of your information available.   Create your mobile website to include the most relevant information for the traveling user.   Here are a couple of examples of some mobile sites, giving only the info that someone on the go might need.

Movietickets.com offers information and online ticket sales for the latest movies.   Their mobile site allows users to explore show times, get news and buy tickets.   This is great for someone who is out and about and only needs the basic info.   What time is the movie?   Where is it playing? And, how can I get tickets so that I don’t have to stand in line?   You can get all of that from their mobile website.   Mobile.movietickets.com

movietickets

Over the past weekend, I had to pick up some friends at one airport and my wife at another.   Unfortunately for me, their plans were landing at the same time.   Like most people, I was checking their flight status from home waiting to see which flight was delayed and who was going to land first.   When the time came that I had to pick them up, I grabbed my iPhone.   Waiting in the cell phone area, I was able to access AirTran’s iPhone ready website.   This version was exactly what I needed.   The options were limited so I didn’t have to do a lot of searching.   They incorporated only the most important features of their website.   It made my mobile searching experience easy.   Below is a side by side comparison of the mobile website compared to their main website.

mobileairtran2  

The important thing to remember when creating your mobile site to is incorporate the information that will benefit your user the most.   For some sites, just having the phone number and an address will be sufficient, while others might need multiple store locations, and increased functionality.

There is no doubt that the number of mobile users is increasing, so you will want to make sure that your website is functional, no matter where they are searching from.

February 26 2009

Search Engines Love Sitemaps

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The main benefit of a good site map is that the search engines can traverse a site in a timely and logical manner and so the user can figure out where they are. A sitemap is a page with a list of links to all the most important documents on the site and is linked to from every page. However, it’s always surprising to see how many websites are unable to implement a decent sitemap correctly. How hard can it possibly be?

Generally, a sitemap should have no more than 100 links and contain some really keyword targeted anchor text. You see, any more than about 100 links could serve in decreasing the importance of some of the more important page links on the site. Sitemaps are also effective in aiding in the crawlability of the site for the search engines. Anything a webmaster can do to facilitate the crawling process for a search engine, the better.

So, what else goes into an effective sitemap? Ensure that the general design is consistent with the rest of the site and include a brief description of the page underneath its link for the top level pages. A good sitemap is also beneficial in giving the search engines an extra place to find a text link to an important page if some links on the site are created using un-friendly SEO technology, such as Flash or JavaScript.

There is a lot of work that goes into implementing an effective sitemap. Once you think you have it ready to upload to the site, be sure it makes sense to the user and that, of course, all of the links are functional. It is imperative that if a webmaster wants any chance of a search engine indexing the entire site, a well designed sitemap is a critical first step.

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