Articles in The 'design' Tag

March 29 2011

When was the last time you looked at your website from a user’s perspective?

by Marni Weinberg

I sometimes feel as though we’re all so focused on a website being search engine friendly that we easily lose site of the importance of it being user friendly, as well. It can be a difficult balance to cater to both the user and to the search engines (namely Google and Bing ). The perfect scenario is to have a website that is both visually appealing to the user, while simultaneously being SEO friendly. Sounds like it would be an easy thing to accomplish, right? Unfortunately, it’s not. Far too many websites have one and not the other.

So how do you end up with a website that has both? The best way is to start from the ground up. You’ll want to ensure that you have a qualified SEO Engineer working in conjunction with a skilled Web Designer. I have seen many instances where a client hired a snazzy design firm that built a beautiful looking website with bells and whistles galore, only to find that it could not be any less SEO Friendly if it tried. Typically what happens next is the client then has to “backtrack” and do their best of optimizing the site after the fact, since their finished product was not designed with the search engines in mind. In hindsight, it would have been very helpful to have an SEO Agency involved from the beginning and throughout the development of the new site. This approach can also help you save time and money by combining SEO with design rather than tackling afterwards, which can be a frustrating and more expensive way to go.

If you are in the process of a website redesign or designing one from scratch, I strongly encourage you to consider both the user and the search engines from the onset. This will negate any obstacles of the search engines not being able to effectively crawl through your site and/or the end user not having a satisfactory experience. Think about it this way: If your site shows up well organically, but when a user gets there he has trouble with the navigation and can’t find what he wants…then your SEO friendly efforts are, in a sense, a waste.  

All of the websites we design are completely optimized for the search engines, while still taking into account the user’s perspective, as well. If you’d like to peruse some of our previous work, please visit our Design Portfolio Page.

August 26 2009

Lorem Ipsum – “Say What?”

by Shawn Escott

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 12 2009

Usability Basics for Every Website

by Emily Creech

Within the Internet Marketing industry, it seems that many people have one area where they excel or focus their efforts. Whether yours is primarily SEO, SEM, Design or Analytics, there is one common theme among all of these – conversions.   To go a bit further, there is another common theme – user experience.   After all, is a visitor to a website going to convert if they have a bad experience?   Not likely.   A better user experience can help keep visitors on your site longer, which can lead to more conversions.   Here are a few usability basics to take into consideration:

  1. Clean design.   Take a look at your website, or better yet, have someone else take a look at your website. Is it cluttered?   Does the design augment the call(s) to action? Are there background images that are distracting?
  2. Consistent navigation.   Your website should have an intuitive navigation that is consistent throughout the website.   Most visitors expect to find the navigation menu at the top or left side of the page.   A consistent footer navigation on every page as well as breadcrumb trails that help the visitors to identify where they are on the website, are also important components of a website’s usability.
  3. Focused, quality content. Two metrics that are often evaluated, as they should be, are a) the amount of time visitors spend on a website and b) the bounce rate.   Are the visitors finding what they’re looking for on your site?   To improve these two metrics, make sure that your site’s content is worthy of the visitors’ attention.   If you have a blog, this can be a great way to create new and interesting content for your visitors.
  4. Engaging content. Is there a way for visitors to engage with your website and brand? Do you have comments enabled on your blog? Are photos, videos and/or digital magazines appropriate for your website?   Is there a way for users to share this type of information within social networks?   With the growth of social networks, this is something that you may want to consider.
  5. Eliminate dead ends. Even if the user has found what they are looking for, never leave them at a dead end. Always offer something else that may be of interest. If you have an ecommerce website, this can be an opportunity for them to make another purchase or research other products.   If your site features PDF documents, consider having them open in a new tab or window so you don’t take the visitor completely off of the website. Most PDF documents do not have navigation manus, so users may abandon the site after reading the information if they are not sure how to get back to the main website.
  6. Give them a reason to return.   Repeat visitors are a good indication that they found that they were looking for the first time, or the information on the website was valuable to them.   With a bad user experience, you are certainly not going to be able to capitalize on repeat visitors and additional conversions or revenue that they could bring.  

The user experience of any website is critical to the conversion process.   Each website should meet the needs of the user, and there are many things that users simply expect to find.   If your website lacks a few of these essentials, it is likely that you’ll see the impact in your conversion rates.   So, take this opportunity to think about your website.   Are there areas that could be improved upon?

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