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Did You Know About These SEO Quirks?

In a post that wins our prize for the most technically detailed advice ever, Search Engine Land shares these discoveries about punctuation quirks.

Honestly never heard of most of these. Dashes vs. underscores, pipe characters, using only lowercase… How did it take this long to be discovered?

To explain about the underscores part regarding “Google was written for nerds by nerds” – Computers have always had a problem with the space character in the name of anything, because the space is how we tell the computer that a new name is starting. This is especially a problem in the early days of computing, in programming languages, and general file system tinkering. So there evolved work-arounds to keep it human-readable: One of them was called “camel case” where you write all one word using interspersed capitals (WordWideWeb), another was alternating upper-and-lower case (worldWIDEweb), one was using underscores for spaces (world_wide_web) and so on. Underscores became the dominant convention, so you’d want to avoid underscores unless you want them taken literally. Now memorize all that and bewilder your bar mates with this trivia!

Web Design Changes to Expect in 2013

You could say web design has its own ‘fashion statement,’ because each year things come and go. Let’s look at web design changes you can expect to see in 2013.

  1. Large Visual Impact Created with Large Images
    While there is a focus on typography over images throughout the website, on the home page it seems big just might be better, as many websites are placing large images on the home page for a visual impact. Web designers are being conscious of data usage and bandwidth by providing these large images only to those with large screens.
  2. More White Space Please!
    Over the past year or so, we have been seeing a move towards more white space, and this trend is going to continue in 2013. Finally, web designers are recognizing that white space creates a clean design aesthetic and a much easier read for the surfer.
  3. It’s All About Social Network Sharing
    There will be more integration with social media on websites. We’re not talking about ‘sharing buttons,’ as that’s old news already. This is going to be much more in-depth and include things like ‘pay by status,’ ‘single sign on,’ ‘Instagram,’ and other new types of social media content.
  4. Colour Schemes Calm Down
    It’s no secret – online colour schemes change faster than ‘fashion trends,’ but this year colours schemes are becoming calmer, and therefore easier to view. PayPal is one of the first to jump on board with its new home page design. It’s not so much about what colour as it is about the subdued hues.
  5. Mobile Apps to Replace Mobile Browsing
    There has been a focus to make websites so that they work on all the various mobile devices. However, many sites actually work better as an app such as Facebook or Twitter, and so 2013 is going to see a switch from mobile browsing to apps for some sites.
  6. Content is King

Content will remain as important as it has been. This is great news, and what’s even better is that content is going to go to presenting high-quality content.

Why You Should Include Easy Navigation in Your Web Design

Web design – there’s all kinds of discussion about what that should look like, but the one thing that seems to ring true across this discussion is that it should include easy navigation. In fact, professional web designers will confirm that your website navigation is a key element in determining your sites effectiveness. Let’s look at the important elements in website navigation.

For your site’s navigation to work it needs, to make sense to your visitors – remember that’s the average person. That doesn’t mean creativity needs to go out the window. There are all kinds of examples of creative, well designed websites that include an easy to use navigation layout in their web design.

Consider the purpose of your website and who your audience is when determining your navigation in your web design. Generally, it is to sell a product or service, other times it’s to inform visitors about a product or service, and many times, it is a combination of both.

Always remember the ‘three click rule.’ This is used by almost all pro web designers. What it means is that your visitor should never be more than three clicks away from getting the information they seek.

You should not use flash movies or other splash pages on your site. It’s better to keep your web design simple but attractive. It will load faster and keep your visitors happier. However, should you decide you must have Flash then make sure you use the Meta Refresh tag, which will automatically take the visitors to your home page after a couple of seconds.

Navigation Elements

  • Top Menus – Located below the page header graphic where your logo generally is. The menu items can be single links, expanding menus, or drop down menus.
  • Right Side Navigation – Not used that often, but when you do use it implement as a column on the top right side of the page. This is generally where ads are placed.
  • Left Side Navigation – Generally implemented as either a text or column area on the left top portion of the page. Often used for navigation menus.
  • Bottom Menus – Can be used as a menu bar or footer.
  • Internal Page Links – Every page on the site should be within three clicks from your home page. The important pages should be one click away.
  • Shopping Carts – Every page should prominently display a view cart button.

There you have it – always remember your web design should include easy navigation.

Is Your Web Design Annoying?

You designed your website, and never really thought any more about it; but have you considered whether your web design is annoying? Visitors arrive at websites and when there are things they dislike, they simply don’t come back again, and you are blissfully unaware. However, those lost visitors are potential customers that you’ve lost. Let’s look at 5 things you should exclude in your web design so as not to annoy your visitors.

1. Huge Font Size – When you use huge fonts, you are in essence yelling at your visitors. The same applies when you use all caps. People don’t like to be yelled at so use a font that’s no bigger than 14.
2. Small Font Size – Just like huge fonts are annoying, small fonts are just as annoying. You want your message heard so don’t whisper. Speaking in a normal volume by using a font size between 10 and 14 points.
3. Background Music – Unless your website is related to music, perhaps sells mp3 files or CDs, maybe is an online radio station, etc. playing music in the background on a website. Not only does it becoming annoying, it’s extremely frustrating for anyone surfing later at night to suddenly have music blaring through their computer. If you want to keep the visitor on your site, eliminate music from your web design.
4. Popup Windows – Popups are annoying, because you can actually land up missing information that you should know, when popup blockers block the popup from your visitor. Make sure you put your important messages on your main page so your visitors don’t miss out.
5. Overlapping Layers – There are times when overlapping layers are useful but they are few. Don’t try to force your message down your visitors throat, they’ll just become annoyed faster and leave sooner.

Of course, there are other annoying web designs but this will certainly get you on the right track with web design that keeps visitors on your site and coming back.

Pointing Out That The Landing Page Isn’t Everything

In the film Blazing Saddles, there’s a scene where the bad guys are coming to destroy a western town – so the townsfolk build a big cardboard replica of the town a little ways away and direct the bad guys to that one. The houses are all fronts, the townspeople are wooden cut-outs with bobble-heads, and so on.

That may fool movie bad guys, but it won’t fool your customers. SEMblog brings up this point in talking about best UX practices for SEO. If you have traffic coming in from organic searches, chances are good they’re going to hit a post on your blog or a sub-directory further down on your site map, rather than the first page. Lots of other good user-experience tips there too.

Cross Browser Web Design Compatibility

There are hundreds of web browsers in use around the world, each making use of W3C document standards in a slightly different way. As a result, web designers fight with making their websites work properly in the various browsers.

Of course, it is impossible to make your web page design work properly in all the different browsers because they all implement W3C document standards differently. But it’s a good idea to make your web design work properly in the top browsers like Firefox, Internet Explorer, Safari, and Opera.

Each browser implements JavaScript, HTML, and CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) slightly differently. Some of the differences are just cosmetic but other difference can actually break the page so that it does not load.

So what can you do in your web design process to make your site most accessible on the most number of browsers. Of course, you can’t be 100% compatible but it is possible for you to design your site so it works properly on the top browsers that we already mentioned. Conforming is a real challenge and will stop you from using some of the neater functionality and effects. Take advantage of online code validators to validate your HTML code, CSS, and also your links. It will check your code based on your web page doctype.

There are some problems with compatibility unless you actually hand code your HTML. The best choice is Dreamweaver for the highest compatibility; however, you won’t be able to use layers. FrontPage earns the distinction of being the worst choice because it uses Microsoft so it codes to Internet Explorer.

Many web designers find the combination of tables and style sheets works best to ensure web pages look good in the most number of browsers. It’s a good idea to always test your web pages in the most popular browsers before you go live. After all, you want the largest number of visitors to be able to view your site in the manner your web design was meant to view it.

How to Find a Good Web Designer

If you want to launch a website but don’t want to do the web design yourself, you’ll want to find a good website designer that’s affordable. This can be a wise decision, especially if you don’t have web design skills and are not sure what is needed to build a successful website. However, you also need to make sure that you get a good web designer that knows how to build a site that will do well.

To begin with, you should sit down and create an outline of what your business is, what products you sell, how you sell them, the various price points you have, your logo, colour schemes, etc. You need to have a clear picture of what it is you want to bring to your website and a collection of this information will make it easier for your web designer too.

Take some time to look at other websites. Note what you like and what you don’t like. Look at the layouts, the navigation, etc. and make notes of what you would like to see on your site. It’s a great way to get ideas that you can then pass on to your web designer for your quote.

Get at least three quotes from web designers. Make sure that your quote is for exactly the same thing so that you are comparing like services. The more quotes the better. In addition, check references and work that the web designer has already done to make sure you are getting what the web designer claims to be able to produce. And remember the cheapest price isn’t always your best bet. If the price sounds too good to be true it likely is.

There is no shortage of web designers online and so it is important that you take some time to go through the services they offer and the skill set they bring to web design. Not all web designers are created equal so make sure you match your needs to the right web designer for the best outcome. Your website is an important part of your business success, so get what you want from your web design. Settle for nothing less!

Web Design 101 – What You Should Know

If this is your first shot at web development, there are some things you should know before you proceed. First impressions are always the best impressions, and so it’s important for you to know how to make the most from your first impression. Let’s look at some basics to get you started.

#1 Make Full Use of the Space You Have
Your website shouldn’t be cluttered and should have white space, but it also shouldn’t look bare, and it certainly shouldn’t have more whitespace than content. Make use of images, text, and videos to bring your visitors the best experience. If you design your site right it will not look cluttered.

#2 Watch for Broken Links
It’s an easy mistake and it can cost you in the search engines and frustrate your visitors when links don’t work. Always take the time to check all of your links to make sure they do work and that you don’t get 404 errors as this can harm your website.

#3 Streamlined Navigation
Your website’s navigation needs to look good and be streamlined so that it is easy to use. There are numerous ways you can do this. Choose what works best with your web layout.

#4 Site Search
This is a very important component on your website and one that is often overlooked by rookie web designers. You need this feature available to your visitors as lots of people will use it and it will make it more likely they remain on your site if they can easily find what it is they are looking for.

#5 Responsive Web Design Required
You must ensure that your site web design is responsive so that no matter what the screen size the viewer has, it will look good. If you don’t want responsive web design, then you have to create special mobile versions for mobile devices.

There you have five important things you need to know if this is your first attempt at web design. Before long you will be a pro at creating a highly functional website. So why wait? Why not start now?

Build a Strong Brand in Your Web Design

Building a strong brand is important to your business and web page design is where it all starts. Your brand is much more than just having a website online. Your corporate brand reflects the values of your company and when done right consumers clearly understand what that brand is. A website that focuses on establishing brand is one element in creating your brand perception.

Before you start to create your branding in your web design, you have to know our brand inside out. How is it you want your brand to be perceived by visitors to your site? Where do you want your brand in 5 or 10 years? What impression do you want to leave your visitors with? Once you know every detail about your brand, you can start to work on an effective web design.

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Two Companies Tried Facebook Promotion – Both Succeed, But In Different Ways

Here’s what we like to see more of in web marketing news: Case studies of giant retail corporations’ strategies and what their results were. Forbes analyzes Walmart and Starbucks on Facebook, examining the ways in which their strategies differ. It’s an informative read for every web entrepreneur.

Here’s one more element to consider: Both companies have radically different customer cultures. Walmart markets to the lower-class, being the super-cheap super-store, as proletariat as a sidewalk. Of course they get more traffic volume. Starbucks, the elite coffee hangout, markets to people like web marketers – tech-savvy (Wi-Fi comes with your frappuccino), smart, upwardly-mobile, and of course, ambitious. Naturally, their customer base is smaller, but more passionate (it must be the caffeine buzz).

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