Archive for the ‘Website Development’ Category

2 Design Techniques that Look Good on PC’s, but not Mobile Phones

Wednesday, March 9th, 2011

Having a website that displays well on a mobile device and your PC is becoming increasingly more important.  According to http://www.nonprofitmarketingguide.com by 2013, more visitors will be using mobile devices to access websites than will be using PC’s.

The big difference is both simple and profound.  A typical desktop and larger laptop can easily hold a design that is 1024 pixels (14 inches) wide.  A large cell phone has a maximum screen width of about 6 inches.   When a mobile phone displays a website design it has two choices, make the display smaller or smash the design.

When the design uses fixed widths, as was common a few years ago and is common in many free templates, the phone has to make the text smaller to fit on the screen.  If the reading are of the site is too wide, then the user may have zoom in to read the site.  Then they have to use the scroll bars constantly to read the page.

A better design divides the content into floating sections labeled as “div tags.”  These content areas can change their width according to the screen width.  However, if the design uses many color transition effects that are designed to be a set height or specific background images, the graphic design can get distorted on a smaller screen.

The best website designs of the future will focus on one of two choices.

  • Use a very simple and clean look that can flexibly change sizes
  • Develop a different design for mobile devices.  (The site would be programmed to automatically choose the right site based on the browser coming to the site.)

Two Very Common Website Features that Many Mobile Devices Cannot Display

Wednesday, February 9th, 2011

Many websites use flash animations to ad interactivity to their website and drop down menus to help people navigate their website.  While these make great website strategies for a browser on a desktop or larger laptop, many mobile devices will either not display this website content or will take a very long time to load.

Apple iPhones, iPads, many Blackberry devices, and older Android phones cannot display flash content.  However, just because a phone can display flash, does not mean it is a good choice.  Most mobile devices use a much smaller processor and have much more limited bandwidth.  That means that all content, especially large flash files, takes much longer download and appear on the screen.  If the flash file  takes too long to load, you will lose the audience.

Some of the touch screen phones, such as my older Blackberry Storm, do not display drop down menus.  These systems do not fully support what graphic designers call “rollover effects,” basically anything that happens when a mouse is over an object.  By extension this problem could affect certain types of maps and forms in which information displays when the person rolls over a place on the screen.  (Clicking the spot still seems to work.)

Solutions:

One alternative for both of these options is to develop the site using jQuery or another JavaScript library.  Unfortunately, there are a few people who turn off JavaScript in their browsers.  So you may need to provide alternatives for those people.

The most fool proof way to handle the drop-down navigation issue would be to create a sub-menu that duplicates the drop down menu.  Each page in the drop down menu should have the same sub-menu.

For other roll-over effects on your website, you should probably ensure there are other ways to get to the information.

What Is Flash?

Flash is a very nice tool for creating on-screen animations.  Occasionally you will still see entire sites built in flash.  You have probably seen links that bounce or move, pictures that move or fade in or out, or banner ads with moving objects.  Some of these are built in Flash.  Simpler ones are often done in JavaScript.

How a Slideshow Can Increase or Decrease Traffic to Your Website.

Wednesday, March 31st, 2010

One way to take a website from a stale page to one that it is more engaging is add something that moves such as a slide show.  It makes the message more memorable.  Billboard companies often promote this principle on their rotating boards and have studies about their effectiveness.

Traditional web developers create slideshows in flash because it is very reliable, looks great, and almost everyone has the flash player.

However, people who specialize in how to make sites that rank well in the search engines tell that the search engines do not reliably find content in flash files, in spite of eager announcements by Google and Adobe.  So the captions on your website and the words in the pictures will not necessarily be read and catalogued by search engines like Google, Yahoo, Bing, etc.  So the content could actually hurt your search engine rankings.

The solution is to use a javascript library like JQuery to produce the slide show.  The individual pictures and any key word rich captions that you want to use will be in the regular text flow of the page, which means there will be no confusion about whether the search engines will find the information.

Another advantage of using a library like JQuery is that it is designed to work across multiple browsers, unlike hand-coded javascript, which may not work in all browsers unless you include a lot of “hacks” for individual browsers.

You can see samples of projects coded by A Site that Works using JQuery at http://arenalawfirm.com, http://factoryatfranklin.com, http://asitethatworks.com/design-samples-2/

3 Core Competencies and Your Website

Tuesday, November 24th, 2009

Every business primarily focuses on one of three positions in the marketplace

  • Low Cost Provider (i.e. Walmart, Amazon)
  • Brand Leader (i.e. Bose, BMW)
  • Service Provider (i.e. Disney, Nordstrom)

The Low Cost Provider is someone who competes primarily on price for a particular level of quality. The Brand Leader is the company that delivers the latest innovations in their market space first. The customers may be buying the “latest and greatest” or a brand that gives them status. The Service Provider understands their customers’ needs and desires before the customer does and treats them appropriately. The customers of this type of company are willing to invest their money in someone who will truly take care of them or guide them in their selection.

Your website copy should reflect your primary business style. Otherwise, it may confuse visitors or attract the wrong customers to you. For instance,

  • A Low Cost Provider could have price and product comparisons and statements on the home page as well as featured product specials.
  • The Brand Leader may want to use the best graphics and special effects throughout their site. The look must speak to their core audience. Does it explain what the “latest and greatest” is?
  • The Service Provider may want to include a blog about what they do for their clients on a regular basis. Great site navigation and ease of use should be paramount.

Does your website reflect one of these core competencies?

What You Should Do if Someone Else Maintains Your Domain Registration

Friday, November 20th, 2009

In the past year or so, several people have come to me saying that they needed to move their site to a new web-host because they were extremely upset with their current hosting provider. However, the web host also controlled the domain name. Therefore, the old webhost could lock out the client from any information.

These situations are not pretty.

As I mentioned in the last blog entry, it can make good sense to have someone handle your domain name registration. If this situation represents you, then do the next best thing. Make sure you are listed as the official the owner of all your domains.

Your first step is to do a “whois” lookup. One good way to do this is to go to http://whois.domaintools.com/.

whois_Lookup

As of 11/11/09 there was a single text box on the page for you to enter the domain name you are interested in. Enter a domain name in that box; then press the “Lookup” Button.

The page that comes up has several tabs. You are most interested in the “Whois Record” tab.

As you scroll down you will see a line that says “Registrant” followed by a name and an address. (Not to be confused with the “Registrant Search” line above.) This section shows the owner. The email address of the admin or technical contact receives important emails regarding changes to the account. For instance, transferring the domain name to a new registrar is a multi-step process that involves a series of emails to the email address of the administrative or technical contacts for purposes of approving or disapproving certain steps.

If you are not listed as the domain owner, then work with your webhost while you are still on good terms to ensure that you are listed as the owner of the domain name.

Looking into More Web 2.0 Stuff

Wednesday, February 25th, 2009

A client of mine wanted to know how to efficiently blog and do social networking.  As I look for tools, I can certainly see how all of this can be confusing. 

This post is an experiment using a new browser called flock.  After setting up my personal blog to accept “desktop publishing,”  I am using Flock to write this post.  The picture below was dropped in using flock’s “web clipboard,” which means I could have gotten it from anywhere.   However, it appears that it needs to be on the web somewher, not the local file system.  However, if you use a picture from a website, if they change the location or remove the picture in the original website, you would lose your picture.

Anyway it is a cool experiment.

Do You Know What Your Bounce Rate Is?

Monday, February 9th, 2009

It is not how many of your checks have rubberized and are getting returned for insufficient funds.

It is the number that tells you how many people came to your site and looked at only one page–Meaning they probably did not find anything terribly useful or interesting there (or they saw your number on the homepage and made an immediate call).  A good bounce rate is probably less than 30 percent on a homepage.

If you install Google Analytics on your site you will have this information.  (We install Analytics on all of the site that we do.)  Some of the other tools probably also create these statistics.

Generally speaking, people have to get comfortable with you, before they pick up the phone and call you or buy a product.  Therefore, you want people to explore your site and get to know you. Once you start watching your bounce rate, you can adjust your content and improve your relationship building through the website.

Tips on Creating Great Content–To Make the Funnel Work

Thursday, February 5th, 2009

Here are some tips to help you create better content.

Know Exactly Who Is Likely to Buy Your Services

No, it is never, ever “everybody.”  Everyone may do taxes or need a plumber, etc, but not everyone you meet is going to pay to have someone do their taxes or want you to be their plumber.  What is their income? Where do they live? How old are they?  Do they have a family?  What ages are the family members?

Define Exactly What types of Audiences Are Likely to Visit Your Site

For example the Billboard Company that wants to sell to end advertisers like the local resteraunt and the billboard company that wants to sell to advertising agencies.
The property management company that talks with Investors versus the property management company that wants to manage your PUD and wants to interact with PUD residents via the website

What is your intended audience looking for when they get to your site?

For example a person doing closings may make more money off of the Title Insurance, but the buyers and sellers are just looking for a reliable place to handle the paperwork.  (Title Insurance—oh that’s required, Ok slap it on there.)
Is a person looking for vending supplies looking for low cost vending or are they looking to enhance company moral with excellent choices in the break room that taste great and happen the same way each time.

How much of the sales process can you accomplish on your website

Are you making a complete sale, providing general company information, creating a sense that you are knowledgeable, providing important details about the services you offer.

Define what actions you want them to take

Call for a proposal, call for information, buy a subscription, buy a product?

Get some Testimonials

What are your good clients saying about you!

What Is More Important–Content or Visibility?

Monday, February 2nd, 2009

That is actually a trick question.

Content without Visibility Does not Create Many Leads

That is, if no one finds you, then no one can respond to the great calls to action that you have created.  However, good content improves your rankings in the search engines, so that people can find you easier.

Visibility without Content is Costly

Many of the things that you can do to drive traffic to your website costs you time or money.  It costs a lot of money to optimize a page for search engines.  Link campaigns to improve your search engine rankings are also costly.  Pay per click campaigns usually start at around $400/month.  (Google AdWords is an example of a Pay Per Click campaign.  These are advertisements that get displayed whenever someone does a search.)

Every time someone comes to your site because of a program you paid for to get them their has a cost.  Every person that leaves your site without taking the action you want drives the cost of converting that traffic into sales up.

Example 1:  You spend $100 to get 10 visitors and 9 of them “bounce” and you get one sales call.  Then you have spent $100 per sales call from your website.

Example 2: You spend $100 to get 10 visitors and only 5 of them bounce and 5 of them call you.  Then you you have spent only $20 per sales call.

What Do We Recommend?

We suggest you work on your content first, then on your visibility.  It is the more cost effective solution.  Good content will get ranked well in Google and Yahoo eventually.  So it does a better job of accomplishing both objectives if you are short on money.

Our Next Post will have some suggestions to improve your content.

Barriers and Facilitators to a Successful Site

Monday, January 26th, 2009

In our last post, we showed a funnel to represent the transformation of potential visitors into potential clients.  Here are some things that can hurt or help you gain potential clients.

Barriers to a Successful Site

(Things that Constrict the Funnel)

Facilitators to a Successful Site

(Things that Widen the Funnel)

Why?

No Call to Action

A Defined and Visible Call To Action

Without a Call to Action, people will visit but they will not do anything.

To much Sales Talk

  • A Striking Headline Backed up with excellent Informational Content
  • Articles/White Papers
  • Blogs
  • Surveys

Most people immediately bounce from a site when they see too much sales talk.  They usually come to a site looking for information.  Create a headline that grabs their attention and speaks to them and follow it up with substantive content.

No Visibility

  • Link Campaigns
  • Pay per click advertising
  • E-Mail Marketing
  • Blogs
  • High Listing in Search Engines
  • Business Cards/ Stationary/ Envelopes/ Proposals/ Word of Mouth

If people do not know about your site, they cannot find it.  Many of the techniques used to create visibility can also be used to generate a sense that you are sharing information and that therefore, your website is valuable.

Poor Site Organization

Site Clearly organized according to Your Client’s Needs.

Don’t make people look around to find something simple, there are plenty of other fish in your pond.


Things that enhance your customer relationships such as :

  • Dealer Login
  • Current Properties for Sale
  • Options to view and select customizations on a house or job
  • Ability to report complaints
  • Ability to make specific business requests

You are efficiently conducting business 24/7


Our next post this week will cover whether content or visibility is more important.

    Please come back when we have finished our re-branding and have republished this site