Simplicity in Web Site Design

Simplicity in Web Site Design

Tell me, if you saw this image as a home page for a website, how compelled are you to press something. Maybe you aren’t, but I bet millions of people would. It raises a question, answers a question, and stimulates curiosity. What more could you ask of a home page?

Necessities often breed a trend. Websites started out pretty simple in the early days when we hand coded everything. The introduction of shopping systems, forums, blogs, directories, calendars, custom forms, all started to complicate websites by increasing their capabilities. I can still find websites with more than 100 links on the home page. Why would anyone want to wade through and decide from 100 choices. The chances are good that the person is there at your website for a few possible reasons.

We are starting to learn this, because we are forced to simplify for phones and headsets and small tablets. You can’t fit 100 readable buttons on a page of a phone or a small tablet. Incidentally, the line between a phone size and a tablet size screen is beginning to blur. Now picture the day when millions of people are walking down the street surfing the web and making phone calls with only the use of their computerized sunglasses. What then?

When you consider all this while designing a website, you have to imagine how to deliver the information in a very simple format. Fewer words. Fewer buttons. Clearer imagery. Some sound or narrative. Video is a great idea. Make it easy for the customer to get a hold of your message, then lead them into your world. Simplicity is comforting, smooth, obvious, direct, efficient. However, simplicity is NOT easy to achieve. But you have to simplify, because customers and users generally want to make a decision quickly. They might want to read deeper, but they will tire of you early if making the decision takes a lot of work.

Websites are expected to work well on a mobile device. Sometimes a separate website is built for the phones. My smaller clients are pleased when I use a WordPress Framework Theme that is compatible with laptops and mobile devices at the same time. However, what this means is that we are designing for two, radically different devices. The website design works the same way on both, but the dominant device is the one with the most restrictions, which happens to be very small tablets, like phones. So, the ultimate test of a website design is if it works well on the cell phone. This alters the way we think of website design on laptops. It has forced me to simplify the navigation and the scope of the website. Instead of providing all the options possible on the home page, it compels me to channel the user down a custom designed, somewhat linear, path. There might be only on option on the home page, three options on the next page, and that might open up into a list of more in depth options. This approach lightens the load of effort for the user when they make decisions. Lead the customer where you want them to go instead of giving them every possible option up front, then reveal other options when it will benefit you and them.

If you approach a building with 70 floors and 300 offices, but there is a spacious and attractive lobby just inside the door, with a courteous desk clerk, you would calmly ask the clerk to guide you to your destination. Otherwise, you would need to study a huge, complicated map of offices and labels to get there. It is up to us to be the desk clerk of our company website. Treat the customer like you would in real life. Simplify your approach at the front door, and as deep in as you can. Don’t just throw the user into the deep end of the pool from the start, and remember to try it all out on your smart phone.

A Website Designed for Mobile Devices

A Website Designed for Mobile Devices

When a website is “responsive”, it means that it passes particular tests that make it work well on a mobile device like a smartphone or small tablet. Here are some enlightening statistics that illustrate the environment and suggest why you need your website to be responsive.

1. 15 percent of all websites look good on a smart phone or tablet. (not good)
2. 42% of American adults own a tablet computer.
3. As of May 2013, 34% of cell internet users go online mostly using their phones.
4. Decide whether to visit a business, 30% have used their phone to do this in the past 30 days.
5. Mobile commerce will account for 24.4% of overall ecommerce revenues by the end of 2017.
6. 78% of smartphone users access a retail site via a mobile app.
7. People now spend 2.8 hours using a mobile device, while only 2.4 hours on a computer.
8. Vertical viewing accounts for 29% of view time, up from 5% in 2010.
9. Gartner Says: by 2018, More than 50 percent will use a tablet or smart phone FIRST for online activities.

A recent announcement from Google made the news. Soon, if your website does not pass certain technical tests for “responsiveness” on mobile devices, it will rank lower in searches. All websites designed by AquaJazz qualify as responsive as a rule. I see the need everywhere I look in Portland Oregon. People are out doors a lot, and using their cell phones on the street and in restaurants and stores. This one reason is good enough to make the investment for the sake of your business.

So how do you know if your website is responsive to mobile devices? You could run it through the Google Mobile-Friendly Test: If the result is a big analysis chart, you have work to do.

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Basic Website Design Components

Basic Website Design Components

Every website design is a different assignment with something original required that sets apart that client from everyone else in services, products, branding, messages, information and other elements. However, most websites also contain the same core list of components in the content and pages and navigation. The arrangement and placement of these components will also vary, but you should usually find all these components somewhere on the website.

Page | Home

  • The Logo
  • The Name of the Company or Organization
  • The Core Message to Visitors
  • Less than a Handful of Calls to Action for Visitors

Page | About

  • The Story of the Company and its Objective
  • Perhaps Profiles of the Company Staff when Appropriate
  • Purchase and Pricing Policies and Disclaimers
  • Testimonials

Page | Contact

  • A Mail Form with which to Write to the Company
  • The Telephone Number which must be Hot Linked to Dial
  • The Geographical Mailing and Office Address of the Company
  • Directions to that Location on Gmap or MapQuest

Today’s current fashion includes lot of high quality, large format photography and graphics throughout the website. Without graphics, you will look like a pure information website, company with marketable products and services.

The final ingredient in a smart website design is the Blog. You can call it a Journal, or “News” or any particular topical title that suits your cause, but blog post articles are the primary tools for improving your search ranking and spreading the word that you are a well informed, open minded company, creating a relationship with members, fans, customers and visitors.

Portland Oregon

Search Engine Optimization SEO

Search Engine Optimization SEO

Definition of SEO

SEO stands for “Search Engine Optimization.” It is a buzz phrase for the process involved in making a website easy to find for search engines and making the website rise in ranking in the search results when someone types a particular phrase into the search engine. The most important thing to determine is what key words or phrase will someone type into Google to find information just like yours.

General Rule

Anywhere from 300 to 300,000 websites might be competing for that same key word. To rise above them, you have to offer them the best information for that topic. You have to include that search phrase in several places across your website. The best place to put that phrase is in headers and titles. But it is also important to include it in all the text of all your information, and your information should continue to grow.

What Google Sees

A search engine only sees and considers the words in your website. The images won’t help you, with one exception; if you name your image files with relevant search phrases, you might appear in “image searches” which will then link back to your website. So that can help too.

Think Local

If most of your customers are going to be local to you, then don’t target the entire country or the world. Include your location in your text. Let the search engines know where you are located. Embrace your location. If you want to go national, leave out your specific location and emphasize your country. If you want to go global, leave off the location altogether, but be aware that the larger the region you are targeting, the larger the competition for that search phrase.

How to use the Tag.

When you use a key search phrase in a Post or Blog Article, consider also applying Tag Phrases to that article that match the search phrases you included in the article. If the phrase is not in the article, using it for a Tag will not help you. Search engines like Google have gotten very good at discriminating between well written information and bogus ramblings with too many occurrences of the same phrase. Write well, write often, and write a lot.

The Journal is your SEO Power Factor

These tips are your best strategy for achieving high search rankings. Your website design should include a journal, or blog, to give you the tools to grow and improve your SEO. Your blog is your SEO power factory. Nurture it, grow it, be helpful and informative in all you write. The basic rules of good SEO are pretty simple to understand. However, putting them into practice requires a good writer and a lot of good writing.

Guidelines for Optimal SEO in Website Design

  1. Include your primary key word in page titles.
  2. Use key words in your writings.
  3. Use key words properly, not excessively.
  4. Write more and more content relevant to your field.
  5. Link to other websites with relevant content.
  6. Include relevant content of every media you can.
  7. Use only perfect grammar and clear language.
  8. Write a relevant meta description.
  9. Making sure your website is properly compatible in mobile devices.
  10. Build pages that load fairly quickly.

If you follow these guidelines, with all the regular effort it requires, your website will rise in the search rankings over time.

Marketing with Social Networks

Marketing with Social Networks

Of course, your website design is the most important feature of your marketing plan. Your website is the intended destination for all your customers, and it is where they decide whether nor not to buy from you. What is the second most important marketing venue. What are the options?

  1. Direct Mail | USPS Mail & Email Coupons and Invitations to past customers.
  2. Google Adwords | Buy Advertising Space on Google Search with Click Through Fees.
  3. FaceBook Advertising | Also with Click Through Fees.
  4. Social Networking | Creating Free Advertising by Networking with Friends and Associates.

Your past and present customers will always be your greatest resource for improving business. If you don’t have many customers yet, then it is time to reach out to your local community. If you don’t have one, then it is time to start building one. Bring your local community into your Social Network profiles as friends. Start with real friends. People need to connect on a human level, not digital only. But if someone is a friend of one of your real friends, you have a better chance to build trust and a new relationship.

Active Social Networking is Guerrilla Marketing. Your investment is time, the composition of well planned information, publishing to the network, and providing a good reason and a measurably result. Thanks to the internet, there are no barriers to global publication. The social network websites that are regarded as the most widely traveled and used in the USA are:

If you are wildly ambitious, or well funded, you will engage all 5 of these at once. If you are lean and practical, you will choose one to start and do a good job.

Everyone loves video. It has many applications. YouTube is a social networking venue. People collect videos and subscribe to your profile when they like you. You can communicate to them with comments and new videos. When you provide real entertainment or real information, people come back. They will learn what you sell. By setting goals of creating a series of interesting videos, you will be gathering valuable content to use on FaceBook and Google+. This exciting content will attract new people to join your network. The most advantageous creative content is video, usually accompanied by a title and synopsis in words. 

LinkedIn, Google+, FaceBook, Twitter, can all be managed in one tool such as HootSuite. In a different way, it can be managed from your website if it is built in WordPress with the right plugin. I is certainly important that you fuse your social networks with your website. They are all supposed to be supporting your website by bringing you more traffic.

Seriously, your present and past customers and friends are your most important social network. If you can’t reach them on FaceBook or YouTube, then find a way to reach them. You best goal should be to meet face to face or talk on the phone with happy customers and ask for referrals. This is basically all that you are doing on FaceBook with a growing collection of strangers. Let them get to know you. Send them video that you have collected on YouTube or Vimeo. Give them a personal touch. Just because they follow your FaceBook page, doesn’t mean you have met them and that you are friends yet. Make and effort to make friends. That is social networking.

 

 

Should I use a Website Builder?

Should I use a Website Builder?

First of all, it is not free. The free trial is limited in functions and designed to make you want to pay the fee and get more tools. The cost is similar to a shared hosting service. Weebly, Squarespace, Wix, they are hosting companies. The difference between them and other hosting companies is that customers must use a website builder tool to build websites. Godaddy has a website builder too while also offering shared and dedicated hosting alternatives. Eventually, more hosting companies will provide website builders.

Here is a chart comparing the features of the top six companies:

Review Chart on Website Builder Hosts

Not all templates on website builders are fully compatible with mobile devices, and I find that the choices for templates are usually limited, and these themes have limited features too. There is a good chance that many other websites look a lot like yours. You will often get halfway into designing a website to find that a design feature that you wanted doesn’t exist in that template, and there isn’t much you can do about it. If you ever want to move your website from one of these site building hosts to another hosting company, it is not going to be as easy as it would if you had built your website with your own customer WordPress installation and a top of the line theme.

The real question is this? Do you want to build your website yourself, or hire someone else to help you?

You can also hire a website designer with experience in marketing design, information presentation and copy writing to build a better website for you than you could alone. A good designer doesn’t need a builder tool. He/she will have his own custom collection of tools and his own set of standards for how a website should behave. A good website designer can offer you many features that you won’t be offered on a builder tool and help you with photography and copy writing and overall presentation.

If you are a business, you must have a website. Websites are the primary form of advertisement on planet Earth in 2016. It should be important to you that your website is as good or better than your competitors. It will make a difference. It is hard to achieve the quality you deserve if you have no experience building websites. The way the information is presented is important. Can you write marketing copy well? Can you make interesting graphic representations of your information? Do you know what people expect to see on a website?

If you can reach your goals on your own, that’s good. If you want help, hire a website designer who can write market copy and design information and knows the rest of the online marketing world, and work together. You will get a better product with better ideas and land more customers.
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