Category: Usability Tutorials

Search Engine Marketing Strategies – Panel Recap

Editor’s note: Below is a recap of the “Small Business Technology Summit – Search Engine Marketing Strategies” panel at the Small Business Technology Summit held in NYC.

Speaker: Harry Brooks, Network Solutions

Providing guidance to the community about how to use SEM.

Five basic steps:

  1. Build Content – SEO
  2. Build Backlinks – SEO
  3. Launch Your Pay-per-Click Campaign
  4. Analyze Your Results
  5. Repeat

YellowPages is right where they want, when the customer wants it. Very successful ROI.

Build Content – Identify Profitable Keywords

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User Interviews – Analysis Simplified

You’ve conducted the interviews – enlightening weren’t they? It’s now time to put all that information that’s in your head down on paper, and pull it all together into a complete picture.

This article follows on from our previous article which gave tips on how to conduct the interviews themselves. Here we give you some possible techniques to use whilst analysing your interviews, helping mould your results into something tangible.

Form your findings into a narration

After interviews you’ll find that you’ve lots of interesting thoughts and ideas bouncing around your head, but probably in no clear structure. The results will be much easier to understand and convey to others if they are ordered into a clear narration.

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Customizable Websites – The Definitive Guide

Several popular websites have let their homepages be customised by users. New web technologies have made it possible to add slicker customisation interfaces so more sites are allowing users to customise their pages. But, should you do the same? Will it make your website better for users or will it make it unnecessarily complicated? Will users even want this feature on your site?

Types of customisation

Currently websites offer a variety of customisation methods, allowing users to:

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Online videos: Engaging your users

Online video is big business nowadays. Websites dedicated to video like Youtube, BBC iPlayer and 4oD have taken off in a big way, and an increasing number of websites are introducing video content to keep users engaged. This spread of online videos is in no small part due to the ever improving connection speeds – 90% of internet connections in the UK are through broadband (source: UK Statistics Authority). However, if you’re considering introducing video content to your site or looking to make the best of your existing video content, you must put the user experience at the forefront of your proposition. Here are some guidelines to enhance the usability of online video:

It’s a video…

The first step to getting your users to play the video is letting them know that it is in fact a video and not an image or text. Obvious as this may seem, it’s particularly important on websites where users aren’t expecting to see video content. When using a still as a thumbnail, provide a big, clear play button in the middle of it to show that it’s a video. If it’s a link, you can still use a play button in line with the link text to differentiate it from a regular link.

The MSN video site has an unmissable play button in the middle of the still.

The BBC effectively indicates links that lead to videos or audio files.

Descriptive title & summary

Set users’ expectations as to what’s in the video, what its purpose is and why they should spend their time watching it. Convey the essence by providing videos with descriptive titles that contain keywords. You must use relevant keywords which are good for search engine optimisation (SEO) as well as usability, as these are likely to be the terms people are typing in searches. Offer a summary of selling points to persuade users to watch it. This summary should be no more than a couple of lines or bullet points so it’s quick and easy for the eye to scan.

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The Importance of Good Grammar

Recently, I have found myself more and more frustrated and dumbfounded by the sheer lack of attention people seem to pay to their own writing. There are certainly circumstances under which I can understand using poor grammar.

However, over the last few months, I have encountered poor grammar in almost all situations from almost all types of people. I have seen sloppy, unedited writing in commercial marketing. I have seen and heard poor spelling and speech in professional situations and official communiques from various white-collar managers.

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Notifying Google of a Major Site Overhaul

In a few weeks, my organization will be removing our old Web site from our Web server and replacing it with a completely new site. The new site includes completely new content and a radically different structure.

We will be using a Google Custom Search Engine as our internal search engine on the Web site.

I am curious if anybody has any advice on how we should handle this situation.

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An Interesting Tidbit About W3C’s Validators

I found out something interesting about the W3C validator services yesterday while working on some code. I wanted to find a way to dynamically validate my pages, so that I didn’t put a validity notice on the page if it wasn’t valid.

While validating one of my pages, I decided to check the response headers returned by the W3C validator engine, just on a whim, to see if there was anything in there that might tell me whether or not my page was valid.

What do you know? Not only is it spelled out in very plain English, the header also tells you how many errors and warnings were returned by the engine if the page wasn’t valid.

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Is Your Site User Friendly?

Molly at DemoGirl has created a video that takes a look at several sites and their usability. On her Twitter piece, I could add a million items but one I would absolutely add is a way to do a multiple delete on the direct messages. Deleting one at a time is time consuming and my bet is that by adding a mass/select delete option, they could reduce by millions of messages.

Check out our 30+ usability tutorials.

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Why Accessibility is Important to You

What is Accessibility?

Accessibility is a term that is more associated with architectural thought, rather than web site design. There is legislation which determines the minimum standards for new buildings. As a result, new buildings today have wheelchair ramps, accessible lifts and disability parking spaces, allowing anyone with disabilities to gain access to a building, use the provided services, buy the products, and chat with the people inside.

With web sites, the term traditionally refers to the development of sites that are accessible to “all” users who may want to access them — in other words, “Universal Web Sites.”

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Web Accessibility Basics

What is web accessibility & why is it important?

Web accessibility is about making your website accessible to all Internet users (both disabled and non-disabled), regardless of what browsing technology they’re using. In addition to complying with the law, an accessible website can reap huge benefits on to your website and your business.

Please read the articles, Benefits of an accessible website – part 1 and Benefits of an accessible website – part 2 for more about the importance of web accessibility.

Your website must be able to function with all different browsing technologies

The first and perhaps the most important rule of web accessibility. Not everyone is using the latest version of Internet Explorer, with all the plug-ins and programs that you may require them to have for your website. Different browsing technologies can include:

  • Lynx browser – Text-only browser with no support for tables, CSS, images, JavaScript, Flash or audio and video content
  • WebTV – 560px in width with horizontal scrolling not available
  • Screen reader – Page content read aloud in the order it appears in the HTML document
  • Handheld device – Very small screen with limited support for JavaScript and large images
  • Screen magnifier – As few as three to four words may be able to appear on the screen at any one time
  • Slow connection (below 56kb) – Users may turn off images to enable a faster download time
  • 1600px screen width – Very wide screen
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