Archive for the 'Website Design' Category

10 Extremely Important Tips in Building a Website

An often neglected aspect of many Internet marketing strategies is ‘website optimization’. Your website receives your visitors and determines whether they will stay or leave.

To support your Internet marketing strategies in 2011, below are 10 extremely important tips for optimizing your website:

1. Have a Great Website ‘First Impression’ – The ‘Look & Feel’

While your website should not be filled with unnecessary gadgets, ensure its design appears updated. If your website appears outdated, fresh information will sound stale.

So, have a simple but tidy design to augment your overall Internet marketing strategies.

2. Consider Your User Interface

Your user interface largely contributes to the ‘user experience’ on your website, which is an important aspect of your Internet marketing strategies. Important buttons must be easy to locate, and correct representation should be used for links.

Additionally, make sure you include all the important sections that will boost a surfer’s confidence in your credibility. These include testimonials, about page, contact information etc. More so, the information on these pages should be well thought out and updated.

3. Place Your Major Navigation Buttons Strategically

Very importantly, you need to use standard navigation system in order not to confuse your visitors. For the major navigation buttons, it’s better to have them at the top of the webpage, below the header. Then, you can repeat the navigation links on the page footer. Important buttons to consider are home, about, services, contact etc. Other links (sublinks can be placed on the side bar).

Remember to include other information like ‘terms of service’ at the footer. Not having them may water down your Internet marketing strategies.

4. Always Have Lots of Useful Information

The Internet is known to be a source of free, cheap information. To distinguish yourself, you need to provide lots of quality information. Internet users are often looking for three major things – entertainment, inspiration and information. You need to provide one or more of these (in the right way) to capture their interest.

5. Include a Really Noticeable Search Button

You are aware that Internet users are usually in a hurry. It is really frustrating to be unable to find exactly what you hope to see on a webpage. A conspicuous search button will help your visitors easily search for more information.

6. Include Social Media Gadgets

2011 can be called the year of Social Media after 2010. This is because Social Media plays a vital part of most Internet marketing strategies in 2011. Therefore, a smart Internet marketer cannot neglect its use on a blog or website.

Allow your visitors to ‘like’ or ‘share’ your posts or website on Facebook; instantly bookmark your contents; tweet your articles etc. This is the crux of where Internet marketing has greatly changed in 2011.

7. Include Email Subscription Box

How do you capture and retain the tons of visitors you receive through search engines, Social Media or other traffic sources? What if search algorithms suddenly change and affect you negatively? What if Social Media quickly loses its thrill?

A sure way to make all your efforts count is by capturing the email information of your visitors and bringing them back regularly. In addition to this, you can add an RSS for those who may be unwilling to leave their email addresses.

8. Ensure Your Website Has a Sitemap

In Internet marketing, this is very important for many reasons: Search engine spiders will be able to index your webpage correctly, and your visitors will be able to trace whatever they are looking for.

9. Consider Your Website Compatibility across Browsers and Screens

Always bear in mind that different people use different browsers, and those who use the same browsers may be using different versions. While you are building your site, ensure your web pages appear correctly on other browsers and screens.

10. Incorporate Web Analytics into Your Website

The centre of all Internet marketing strategies is ‘monitoring’. Thus, the use of web analytics (e.g Google Analytics) is indispensable if you intend to compete successfully on the web space. You need to know who visits your site and from where plus what they are looking for.

Finally, ensure the contents of your site (articles, images, URLs etc) are all optimized for search engine. Any good website today takes search engine into consideration, because a website is of no use without traffic. After all, getting traffic is often the aim of most Internet marketing strategies.

Optimizing Your Drupal — a Few Important Points You Must Know!

How to optimize Drupal is one of the most common questions in the mind of every website owner. Drupal is no doubt one of the most admired and well accepted CMS (Content Management System) applications in the online world today. Literally, with so many CMS applications these days in the marketplace it is really tough to maintain the position. Almost daily we hear some new templates and new add-ons to make them unique and apart from the crowd.

Not only this but they have to prove themselves as efficient and as user-friendly as possible. They literally have to show why they have an edge over their competitors. What are the features their competitors won’t have and so much. When it comes to Drupal it has enjoyed a great privilege in the marketplace by offering unprecedented stability and performance for almost every kind of site; general or business purpose, technical for the techno savvies or simple enough for newbies.

The end use for any CMS site is to make their content popular and reach the target audience to generate business. There are many technical issues which only CMS sites can handle. So the main issue is to optimize the Drupal website to make it popular between human visitors as well as search engines, most of the times the things that seem to work on human visitors don’t seem to work on the search engines and visa-versa. So perhaps there is no short cut when it comes to optimization; however, a few things can surely go a long way.

We are discussing a few important tips to optimize a Drupal website here. The first and foremost tip is to enable the caching for your Drupal website, next much importance should be given to optimizing Drupal database. No doubt, when it comes to optimizing Drupal database, it is easier said than done. There can be many ways to optimize tables in Drupal database but mainly there are two ways:

The first one is to install the Data Base Maintenance (DBM) module. This is already given on your Drupal; you can do that by enabling/disabling “Drupal Modules” from the “Drupal Administration” area. Then go to “Administer” then to “Site building” and finally “Modules” section. Upon the module is successfully installed and activated, you can access it from your “Drupal admin” area. Then go to “Administer” and then to “Site configuration” and finally go to “DB maintenance”. All you need to do is to select the tables that you want to optimize and click “Optimize now”.

There is another method of optimizing your Drupal database. Perhaps this can be a little tricky than the previous one which requires some technical knowledge of PHP and SQL query. However the entire code is very simple to understand and implement instantly. The code should be like that:

Once you have included this code you should then log in to your Drupal “admin” area and go to “Site Configuration” area, after that go to “Performance”. Here you should remember that apart from just enabling cache, you must also enable “Page compression”, “Optimize CSS” files and “Optimize JavaScript” files. Please note that for better performance and speed you should modify the global MySQL settings on a VPS/Dedicated server. Lastly, don’t forget to disable/remove all modules/blocks you are not using, as they further add up in the due course of time.

Optimizing Your Joomla Website—Is It Easier Said Than Done Or What?

The Joomla, as we all know, is a very popular and user-friendly CMS application available in the market these days with never seen before ease and flexibility. Perhaps Joomla has changed the meaning of a CMS application with so many useful features and options. Though, practically Joomla is a very light application (unlike other heavy CMS applications) by architecture but over a period of time when we use and publish so many documents it may become heavy and in turn a relatively slow when we don’t maintain it properly.

Heavy applications take time in opening and loading, which is a big no in today’s fast changing world where no one has patience especially online clients. Moreover, a heavy application also has several other disadvantages which we think we should discuss later somewhere down the line, but not now. So let’s move on to the main parts and how to do them.

Unlike, other CMS applications and website Joomla runs on a well planned and well though out structure. Therefore it gives a perfect platform for every website owner who wants traffic to get his or her keyword clusters together. Not only this, but it also helps in boosting their website into the search engine ranking for their main keyword. However the term keyword is a relative term that means a lot such as Metatag keywords, Search keywords, Targeted keywords and some other keywords. All this can’t be done without optimizing the overall site structure.

You must do a through research when it comes to find keywords based on the overall theme of your site. Once you have done that, you must understand your exact site structure to reflect those changes. Not just the exact keywords but other popular search terms which are related in some way or other. Remember, the main beauty of Joomla is that it actually forces you to structure your site in a right way. That’s because in Joomla you have to set up a structure in Section, Categories and Items which can be quite simple and fun provided you follow the instructions rightly.

No doubt, once you have done all this almost half of the battle is already won.

Apart from that there are several other points which are often overlooked. As a general habit, we all stuff our main front page with so much information, which is a very bad habit. If you really wish to optimize your Joomla website then try to reduce the overall content like articles, postings on the front page of your site. Next, you must enable caching for your Joomla along with a serious attention should be paid to disabling or removing any unwanted components, modules, plugins which you don’t use frequently. This is just like putting all unnecessary items in your household which may make your life messy and difficult to manage and handle.

Apart from this as you know there are many in-built optimization components on the Joomla site itself, so you must install some of them. Finally, over a period of time as we post our own stuff or people or sometimes bots do postings, as a result queries are generated on your website. As a rule of thumb, more the number of queries the slower your application will run eventually. Practically, anything more than 50-60 queries can be a big problem. If this is the case, then disable the extension which is generating most queries. Lastly, links (inbound and outbound) play a very crucial role in overall site optimization and performance. Don’t forget to remove the dead links, unwanted links and the links which aren’t of much use for you. Just leave only links which are important ones, and remove all unwanted links from the list.

Promoting customer sales and loyalty through web design

What is the primary goal that online proprietors should have?

Getting the attention of the many Internet users surfing the web is not the only goal of any website. In fact, this is just the tip of the iceberg. The promotion of customer sales and loyalty is the ultimate goal to keep in mind here. This should be the primary aim webmasters should have in mind.

Why should I consider putting up an online store instead of the traditional type of store?

If you think about it, e-commerce has certainly picked up its pace for several years now. More and more people are actually discovering the convenience that comes with online shopping. With reliable Internet connection, people no longer have to leave the comforts of their own home, just to buy groceries or that particular shirt or bag on sale. This saves gas as well, with the price of oil incessantly rising over the last several years. Thus, if you are considering a business venture, then you should go over the prospect of opening an online store.

What are some things I should keep in mind when putting up an online store?

There are actually several factors that align the success of any store, both online and physical. Here are some tips that you should keep handy.

  • Think like your customers. Now, this is a very important tip to keep in mind. You have to place yourself in the shoes of your customers since these are the very people in need of your products and services. Just what would it take for a particular online store to satisfy you, as a customer? Answer this question and then incorporate these into your own online store.
  • Build relationships with your customers. This can be tricky since you are operating a virtual store. Just how do you forge relations with people you cannot physically see? Valuable substitutes should then be determined. One thing you can do is give your customers something that they are very familiar and that they can appreciate. You can also provide 24/7 support for your online customers, to make them feel that they are personally being served.
  • First impressions do last. This is precisely why you have to make a long and lasting first impression. When visitors drop by your site, they actually expect to see things that they will like. You have to think like a customer once more when establishing your first impression. After all, your store’s first impression is the first step towards building trust.
  • Provide assurance as needed. Customers will surely have their own sets of questions about the items they wish to purchase. You have to be ready with such information. Prepare detailed product descriptions and FAQ pages. Do not forget to include pictures of the items you are selling. Visual assurance is still a must here.
  • Provide a secure sales atmosphere in your store. Financial transactions over the Internet can be quite risky, which is why customers are wary about giving sensitive information, such as credit card details. Today’s financial transactions are actually carried out over a 128-bit encryption system. Make sure you have this for your online store as well.

What else can I do to foster customer sales and loyalty?

The best way to do this is to take care of your customers. Go the extra limb, take care of their needs, and you will surely foster customer loyalty very easily.

Navigation design to improve website usability

With the many websites on different topics all over the Internet, website usability becomes quite important. Just what website should you go with when you are faced with so many choices? It would make sense to go with the website that is easy to use, right? Thus, navigation can really improve the usability of your website.

What is usability and how does it affect the performance of my website?

Usability actually pertains to how easy a website is to use, in terms of navigation and its features. It can also refer to the overall design and layout of the website, its features, links, and such, in an organized design for the effective presentation of information to Internet users. If your website is not “usable” in terms of convenience, then users would not be interested in visiting your site, let alone reading the information that you have to offer them.

Why has the issue of usability become so important on the web?

It is a sad reality that there are so many disabled people all over the world. However, just because these people have disabilities does not mean they can no longer use the Internet to its fullest. This is precisely why websites are designed to be more usable, to cater to the needs of both the able-bodied and the disabled.

What can I do to make my website more usable?

There are several factors at play in making a website usable. These are:

  • Accessibility
  • Content quality
  • Readability
  • Overall presentation
  • Navigation

Of the five, navigation is the most important factor at play. In fact, by making navigation easy for your website, you can easily make your website ten times more usable than it was before making the necessary changes to its layout and design.

What specific tips can help me make navigating my website easier and more convenient?

  • Avoid using irrelevant links. Although your original intentions are good, placing so many links on your site would just end up confusing your visitors. Having too many links on your site would just make navigation harder, especially for the visitors who are not too savvy with the computer and the Internet. Thus, do away with the unnecessary links and just stick with the relevant ones.
  • Use standard icons in establishing your links to your pages. Yes, standard icons might be a bit boring and random icons might make your website more interesting. However, random icons would just confuse your visitors all the more. For instance, the standard icon that leads to the homepage of a website is the house. A dog-shaped icon would be too ambiguous if you want this for your homepage. Thus, stick with standard icons.
  • Provide a sitemap for your visitors. This way, you can give a skeletal structure of your website and its pages, making navigation easier.
  • Use breadcrumbs. These are links to major pages of your website. Make sure to have breadcrumbs on your site for easy access to the webpages that hold relevant information on your site.
  • Do no bury your information. It is really irritating when you have to click on so many links prior to accessing the information you really need. Make sure all information is available in just three clicks.

These are great tips to keep in mind as a web designer. Remember that the utmost comfort of your visitors is needed in making your website more usable.

How to Make a Website More Appealing to International Users

It just cannot be denied how the Internet has become the ultimate source people turn to for information. This is precisely why it is a must for websites to be as appealing as they possibly can.

Why should I make my website more appealing to international users?

More and more people all over the world are now discovering the benefits and convenience that come with the technology of the Internet. If you want to know something about Siberia, then all you have to do is perform a search on the many search engines that you can use on the web. It does not really matter whether or not you know a lot of things about Siberia because there will certainly be websites that can help you gather as much information as you need on the topic. But as the webmaster of a site that has Siberia for its niche, then you should make your website more inviting to international users. Incorporate features that will make it easier for any user from any country to navigate your site.

So, how exactly do I do this?

There are actually a number of issues that you just might come across when designing your website. These include the availability of your site’s basic features, the appearance of your web pages, the performance of your site, and the occurrence of bugs every now and then.

How can I make my site’s basic features more available to international users?

  • Browser Compatibility. Firstly, you have to make sure your website’s design is compatible with any browser. There are several browsers Internet users prefer today, and these include Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, and Opera. Make sure your design caters to these browsers.
  • Accessibility for Disabled. There are also disabled users who use the Internet and your website’s features should be accessible to them as well. Just pay attention to established web standard, and you will do fine.

How should I design my web pages?

Color, fonts, graphics, and content, all of these should be considered in designing your web pages. What is important here is choosing styles that make browsing easier for the reader. Arial is actually the recommended font. For color, make sure there is enough contrast between foreground and background. For graphics, avoid overloading your website with just too much. Just go for graphics that can support your content. content, meanwhile, should be short and direct.

What can I do to improve my site’s performance?

  • Speed. Avoid using a design that takes up much bandwidth. Not everyone has high-speed Internet to begin with.
  • Tables. Do not place a whole webpage inside just one table. Divide the page into various tables to avoid longer download periods.
  • Connection. Do not fill your page with too many items. Each time needs an individual browser for downloading. Thus, just go for the important items so that your whole website can download faster.

How can I avoid bugs on my site?

No one wants to have a website filled with bugs at all. As a web designer, you should avoid this because this can thwart visitors from your site very fast.

Make sure your URLs are short and simple. They should not contain spaces or punctuation marks so that it would not be wrapped in multiple lines. Avoid dead links as well by establishing redirects as needed. Also, make sure all features of the website are accessible no matter what size window users prefer.

Accesibility and website usability

The nature of website development

Website development is not a field that any web designer can master over just a few days, weeks, months, or even years. There are many concepts that come with this particular field that you have to master, should you want to succeed in this particular field.

What exactly are the concepts that I should keep in mind?

To maximize your potential in website development, you should know the following aspects by heart.

  • Usability. This is actually one of the very important aspects that you need to master in website development. But what exactly is this? This actually pertains to that particular characteristic of a website that makes it user-friendly and simple to use. What Internet user would want to visit a website that is difficult to navigate, right? Thus, as a web developer, you should make your website usable for your visitors.
  • Accessibility. This concept is also associated with usability. How else can a website be usable if it is not accessible in the first place? Thus, you should take the certain measures to provide your website fresh content that is readily available to all sorts of people visiting.

How can these aspects help the American society today?

Quite a large portion of the American society actually possesses some form of disability, which makes Internet usage for these people even harder. In a group of five Americans, there is actually one who is disable, and the total figure can sum up to roughly 30 million. Moreover, you just cannot expect this figure to start decreasing anytime soon because many people are entering their senior so this figure will inevitably increase still.

What features should I add to make my website more usable by everyone?

So many people all over the world are calling for website development to adopt a universal design approach. This way, web developers would have a universal method of producing web content that can accommodate all sorts of users. This scheme would include the following features:

  • Access for disabled citizens
  • Localization
  • Customization
  • Provision of applications that are inter-operable

What can I do to enhance the accessibility of my website?

There are actually recommendations prepared by the Web Accessibility Initiative of W3C towards the improvement of a website’s accessibility when it comes to web content. The following are the recommendations, as included in the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0.

  • Present options to audio-visual content.
  • Not all Internet users are equipped with the same browsers and programs needed to access audio-visual content. Thus, you should provide alternatives.

  • Website developers should not base their designs on just color.
  • There are people who are afflicted with color differentiation impairment, so color should not be the basis of website development. Make color coded charts easier to understand and decipher, and implement the needed contrast between colors.

  • Clarify your use of the natural language.
  • It is important to identify the language deemed dominant so that changes in the natural language can be marked accordingly.

  • Be wary of using time-sensitive content.
  • Marquee texts can be pleasing to the eye, but for people who have cognitive and visual impairments, this can be troubling. Thus, it is better to avoid this type of content.

  • Make sure embedded user interfaces are accessible.
  • It is fine for your website to contain objects that have their own interfaces. Just make sure all of these are accessible to the users.

  • Provide apt context information and orientation.

As a web developer, you should guide your visitors on how they can access information from your website. This way, you make your information more accessible to all of your visitors, even those who have cognitive impairments.

Website usability tips

The Importance of Website Usability

If there is one quality that any website should have, it should be the quality of usability. What purpose can any website fulfill if it is not usable enough to grab the attention of Internet users? Thus, more attention should be placed in website usability.

What would happen if my website is not usable?

This is a very simple question to answer. If a visitor does not find your website easy to navigate, then he or she would simply look for another website to browse. And if visitors do this at first bat, even when they are still a few clicks away from your homepage, then all the information you place on your website will be in vain. No visitor would waste his or her time on a website that is hard to navigate simply because there are other websites that offer more usable features very easily.

What can I do to make my website more usable?

The first thing to do is to put yourself in your customers’ shoes. What can make navigating a website easier for you, as a customer? Is it all about graphics? Or does the color of the website play a significant role? What about the icons that you use? And the fonts, do they even matter? All of these and more should actually be considered so that you can make your website more usable.

  • Graphics. No one wants to use a website that is very slow. Thus, do not overload your website with too many graphic images for these take time to download. Just use the necessary ones.
  • Color. Use shades that are contrasting so that these can grab the attention of your visitors. Stay away from colors associated with certain disabilities, like color blindness. There are indeed many Internet surfers who suffer from these disabilities.
  • Icons. Just stick with the standard icons used in all sorts of websites today. If you operate a tennis online store, then stick with the traditional HOUSE icon that leads to your homepage, rather than going for the more radical icon of a tennis ball. This radical icon can be misleading, making it ineffective.
  • Fonts. The recommended font style is Arial because it is soothing to the eye. Comfort should be kept in mind when choosing font styles.

What are the reasons visitors visit websites over and over again?

By keeping these reasons in mind, you can adjust the design of your website accordingly.

  • Convenient navigation
  • Fast download time
  • Fresh and updated content
  • Content organization
  • Content quality
  • Content quantity
  • Quality customer service
  • Homepage layout
  • Website appearance
  • Website search tools
  • Animated graphics

When should I test my website for usability?

Many web designers make the mistake of waiting until their websites are already up and running to test for usability. This should not be the case at all. while the website is still being developed, you should already perform tests for usability so that problems can be determined early on, and the appropriate solutions can be implemented.

How can my visitors help me in improving my website?

Do not be afraid to ask feedback from your customers. They are the ones navigating your website in the first place, so they are the frontliners here. Surely they have comments and suggestions that you can find useful. Thus, offer feedback forms that they can fill out online.