Current category: eBusiness Articles
Web usability expert Steve Krug starts off his popular book on the topic with these words:
People often ask me: “What’s the most important thing I should do if I want to make sure my Web site is easy to use?” The answer is simple. It’s not “Nothing important should ever be more than two clicks away,” or “Speak the user’s language,” or even “Be consistent.” It’s “Don’t make me think!”
This exposes a common problem. YOU, the person that designed or contributed to or commissioned and approved the site don’t have to think when YOU use the site because YOU know what everything means, how everything is supposed to work, where everything is located and where every click is supposed to go. The problem is that your site users don’t know any of those things when they arrive on your site. Therefore, they are trying to interpret things that you already know the interpretation for. It’s easy to use a map when you’ve already traveled all the roads and arrived at all the destinations, right?
You might use a map that is as difficult to understand as the one above if there is something REALLY valuable at the destination, and it’s the only map you have available to you to get there. If either of those is missing, you’re likely to find something else to do. On the web, there are typically countless options for sites that your customers can go to for the solution to their problem–and they’re most likely going to choose the easiest option with the best value (just like you’d choose the easiest map to get you to where you wanted to go).
Make Life Easier for Users
With that in mind, you can see how important it is that your site is ultra-easy to use. After all, you don’t just want traffic do you? You want a long-lasting, profit-generating relationship don’t you? In business, those only happen when you make life easier for your customers, not harder. Plus, how easy your site is to use psychologically reflects on how easy your company will be to deal with (huge!).
Now that I know you’ve just had a deeper revelation of how important good usability is to a website, let me present to you what Mr. Krug is talking about when he tells us not to make our users think.
Get Inside Their Thoughts and Emotions
If you could get inside the heads of your users, what would their thoughts and emotions be filled with as they make the journey to completing the task they came for on your site? Would they have any confusion over where to click on the page they landed on to get to the next step? Would they have any trouble understanding the labels you’ve used for their navigation options? Would they miss the correct path for their task completion because they assumed another option was more appropriate? Do they feel like your site is trying to get them to do what you want them to do instead of do what they want to do? The answers to these types of questions and many more contribute heavily to the fate of a business’s bottom line.
Again, it’s understandable that YOU don’t have any trouble with these questions. But of course, you’re not the customer.
The truth is, every time your visitors have trouble using your site, it contributes to their propensity to leave the site and reject you as the vendor of choice to solve their problem. Might a user still develop a long-term relationship with you if they experienced difficulty and frustration on your site? Of course some will. I suppose it depends on the person. But, you can be sure that site difficulty and conversion rate are inversely proportional. The more difficult your site is to use, the lower your conversion rate will be. The easier your site is to use, the higher your conversion rate will be.
Make Everything Obvious
Every element of your site is on a continuum somewhere between obvious and obscure. One of the most important things you can do for your bottom line is to make everything on your site as close to obvious as it can possibly get.
Author: Mike Fleming
We keep hearing the words ‘content is king’ – we hear it so often now that we’re actually starting to twitch at the mention of it. Some journalists have wrote posts stating that they’re in fear that online newspapers and reputable websites will soon be flooded by content that is secretly written for SEO purposes. So let’s get this clear, when we moved to content marketing we didn’t mean ‘start writing good articles and then link build with them’ we meant write something engaging, thoughtful, industry relevant and unique. Think like you are writing your own magazine, not an advertorial or keyword post. Remember, Google has always been telling us that we need to write for the reader, NOT for the Google bots.
Clever content will draw links naturally sure, but the primary purpose of excellent content is to draw in your target market, to engage them and have them share your articles and talk about your brand. Bloggers won’t always link to what you’ve wrote, but what is one link compared to a piece of content that brings you thousands of social shares, new fans and new blog readers. Great content should leave people thinking about your brand, not because you pushed your products in your content, but because you’re trustworthy, authoritive, interesting and helpful.
So with that said, here are 10 unique content ideas that will take you out of the comfort zone of advertorial articles, and in to the wonderful world of excellent content marketing:
1. A Day in the Life of…
Find someone interesting. It might be your managing director, a blogger, a designer or perhaps a model or an influencer. Choose a day when they’re doing something particularly interesting (or send them off on a tailor made interesting day) such as going to an event, a photoshoot, or meeting. Then, simply have them record the best and most interesting parts of their day either by video, Vine or Instagram. Post the photos or video on your blog with a sort of day diary entry written up.
You could even follow a day in the life of an animal or company mascot!
Just make sure you pick someone charasmatic and choose particullarly engaging bits of the day to highlight. (p.s. no-one really wants to watch your boss in an accounts meeting.)
2. Year / Month / Week in Review
If your company is up to a lot of interesting things make sure you take a photographic or video record of them, so you can combine all the content into one exciting post. Many fashion bloggers do posts featuring all their outfits from the past year or month. Perhaps if you’re a fashion company you could nominate one employee to do this, or if you’re a web development company you could record various stages of a website coming together.
3. Photo Tutorial
Forget a step by step write up – what good is a tutorial if you can’t see the different stages of progress? Take inspiration from sites like P.S I Made This and make a beautiful, shareable tutorial image or video.
4. Inspire Your Readers
The fact is, people come on the internet looking for ideas they can’t think of themselves sometimes, so get together in the office, brainstorm and come up with some creative ideas you can give to your readers. These might be unique date ideas for valentines, creative things to do on rainy days, or even blog post ideas like these!
5. Create Something
Whether it’s a recipe or a DIY craft, get out this weekend and create something exciting and photo document the process. Show readers of your blog what you did, and how you did it, and get some particularly pretty photos edited ready to share on Pinterest.
6. Document Something Offline
Online marketing isn’t exclusively online – sometimes something needs to happen in the real world and be documented online, and that makes it very shareable. Think about the Harlem Shake and how successful that was – or consider putting together a Flash Mob or a funny publicity stunt. Recently a charity let a man dressed as a superhero loose on a city centre to do good deeds, but they didn’t reveal it was their publicity stunt until it received plenty of online coverage and buzz. Ingenious.
7. Document an Event or Day Out
Similar to a day in the life, but less focused on one person. Get out and go to an event or place that interests and excites your target market and readers. Record as much as you can, take photos and interview people at the events or places, offer your own insight or response to an event or talk. Fun for you, and fun for everyone watching too.
8. Q+A or Live Interview
Thanks to the likes of Google Plus you can now offer your fans a live interview with someone. You could invite a blogger, celebrity or someone influential, or simply offer someone knowledgeable from your company. Set the agenda, and have people send in questions. If you offer something like law or financial services, you might offer an advice session where you share your expertise. This can later be embedded and transcribed on your site.
9. Write about Something Controversial
It’s a scary thought, because having the less popular opinion on the internet can invite a torrent of abuse – but if you can carefully turn people’s responses into a discussion instead of an argument, then you’re well on your way to an extremely popular post that will draw people in like a magnet.
10. Crowdsource your Posts
If you have a few readers or social followers then maybe you should consider asking them what they want to read. Give them options, for example, ask them to choose between three possible tutorials and vote for their favourite. You could even start a discussion on a topical issue through social media, then ask some of the responders if they’d like to contribute to a blog post.
It’s the age of tablets and smartphones.
People are going mobile; they’re researching on the go, shopping on the go, looking things up on the go and looking for your website on the go. So why haven’t you got a suitable mobile website yet?
The fact is, standard desktop websites are just too difficult to use on a mobile device imagine clicking all those tiny links on your mobile, or trying to scroll through huge quantities of content on your tablet. It’s just not user friendly, and many people will be put off.
If you’re to move into 2014 with the best possible advantages for your site, now is the time to get developing a mobile device optimised site, and you have two choices: a mobile site, or a responsive site.
Many have debated the pros and cons of each, as 2013 was recently declared the year of the responsive site, with many major brands updating their sites to a responsive version. So here’s everything you need to know about both options:
Not so long ago, everyone was talking about mobile websites, but recently they’ve been in the shadow of responsive templates. A mobile website is a site specifically designed for mobile devices it is a separate site to your main site, and might be hosted at ‘m.website.com’ rather than your main domain.
- Mobile sites are specifically optimised for mobile users, so you can tailor what content you display so it is relevant to mobile users. For example, a large site like Amazon might focus on promoting apps on it’s mobile store front page, but on the desktop version, they may focus on something else popular, like books.
- Mobile sites take into consideration the constraints of mobile devices, like the fact the user has to use a touch screen; so, as opposed to text links, a mobile site might use buttons.
The varied sizes of android device resolutions, showing why it’s difficult to optimise for all devices with mobile.
- Since a mobile site is completely separate to your main site, you are basically developing a whole new site; which takes a lot of time and money and you’ll also need to hire a developer who has skills in mobile, as mobile is not coded in the same way as a standard website.
- The screen resolution differences between all the different mobile devices differ hugely. an iPad has a different resolution to an iPad mini, which has a different resolution to a Samsung tablet, which has a different resolution to a Galaxy smart phone, and so on! That means your mobile site is going to appear differently on each device.
- Having a mobile site alongside your main desktop sites means you need to maintain and develop two separate sites, costing time and money.
Responsive websites are the latest trend in web development, and it looks like they’re here to stay. Major names like Starbucks and Wired have adopted responsive design, and many have tweeted noting revenue and conversion rate increases that are almost instant when moving to responsive.
A responsive site is one site that automatically detects screen resolution and adjusts the layout and size of the site to match. That means it’s always perfectly sized no matter what device you are using to view the site.
- Responsive sites automatically adjust, which makes them usable on devices such as phones, tablets, desktops, widescreens, T.Vs and more.
- If SEO is important to you, you’ll be pleased to know Google loves responsive sites.
- If correctly optimised, responsive sites can be just as quick and efficient as mobile sites.
- Responsive sites often look more beautiful than mobile sites, as they allow you to use plenty of images, but automatically adjust the sizes for smaller resolutions.
- It’s just one site to maintain and develop, and responsive sites also adjust for different computer sites, so it’s even beneficial to have one if most of your users don’t use mobile.
- The main disadvantage initially of responsive sites was that they had a long load time, luckily thanks to advancements in browsers, this isn’t really a major issue anymore.