12. January 2017 · Comments Off on Most Costly Mistakes in Website Design · Categories: Web Design · Tags: , ,

The secret to securing your success in our digital realm isn’t much of a secret. The overall success rate of your website boils down to three primary elements: design, content, and speed. The visual design and layout of your website determines whether or not a visitor will continue to explore its pages while the content is used to solidify visitor interest. However, if you have a terrible website design, then it doesn’t matter how eloquent or breathtaking your content may be. In all likelihood, no one will go past the front page.

Throughout this article we’re going to delve into the various design elements that are considered not only the most common, but also the most costly, mistakes. If you’re serious about creating an effective and powerful website, then you must spend as much time working to avoid these mistakes as you do working to create a new and vibrant website.

Mistake #1 – Overused PDF Files

The majority of website visitors loathe PDF files to gain access to standard information. The primary reason for this is because PDF files disrupt their reading flow. The last thing you want to do is implement a design strategy that inhibits easy reading. The disconnected navigation and irregular formatting of PDF files is among the quickest way you can ruin user engagement.

Mistake #2 – Walls of Text

This is considered one of the most erroneous mistakes within the website design world. When was the last time you came across a giant wall of text and thoroughly read it? The answer is likely never. The average internet user simply scans content to grab bits of information they find useful. However, if the information is lost within a wall of text, this level of interaction is inhibited. More times than not, a user will simply exit a website before attempting to read a block of text. Break your text up into smaller paragraphs and utilize sub-headings and bullet lists.

Mistake #3 – Unwavering Font Size

Perhaps the most annoying encounter a website visitor will experience is font size that doesn’t adjust based upon the device they’re using or their browser settings. If you choose to utilize static font sizes, you’re putting the needs of your visitors in the background. One of the pillars of effective website design is respect. Therefore, you must respect visitor preferences when it comes to text size and allow them to resize text to fit their specific needs. Actively specify font size not in a fixed number of pixels, but rather in relative terms.

Mistake #4 – Bulky Unoptimized Design

Whether you use a generic third party template from a company like ThemeForest or you build something from scratch, a very common mistake we see in web design is unoptimized design. This can include bulky CSS that isn’t minified, too many JS calls, or even redirect strings within the site’s own code. Unless you have the world’s fastest web hosting then you’re most likely bogging down your website. To test the speed of your website, consider a tool like Pingdom to run one-off tests. Then you can adjust your code, install a caching plugin and make server tweaks, then re-test and see how your site’s speed has improved.

12. December 2016 · Comments Off on How You Can Effectively Improve Website Usability · Categories: SEO, Web Design, Web Hosting · Tags: , ,

If you’ve done any research regarding ways to enhance user engagement, then you’ve likely come across the topic of enhancing your website usability. In the most fundamental sense, website usability is defined as the ease of use experienced by visitors. Throughout our modern digital landscape, the overall usability of a website plays an essential role when it comes to attracting and retaining website visitors. Although there are many ways you can enhance your website usability, there are several universal tips many top professional feel are the most effective way to boost your overall usability score.

Throughout this article, we’ll discuss the most effective methods you can engage with to boost your overall website usability in the most efficient manner. Although your digital enterprise may have unique variables, if you follow the advice in this article, you’ll be well on your way to establishing a powerful and user-friendly website.

Before Usability and UX Testing – Get Faster Hosting

Selecting the right web host that can properly server your pages is essential to good usability and positive user feedback. If you’re just starting out developing your website, look into WordPress. Not only is WordPress very user friendly, but it is also infinitely customizable. The platform is so popular, in fact, that is accounts for roughly 27.4% of all websites across the internet (according to several recent surveys). Then you’ll want to select the best wordpress hosting for beginners to get up and running. Then launch a marketing strategy to gain new users and drive traffic to your website. Once you have a web performance baseline with your host and a pool of user data large enough to form a control, you may begin user testing.

The Core of Improving Usability – User Testing

Perhaps one of the biggest mistakes you can make when it comes to improving your website usability is trying to tackle this feat on your own. It’s almost impossible for you to truly understand how user-friendly your website is. The reason? You built the website and hold an intimate knowledge when it comes to navigating the site and accessing its various pages and features.

Therefore, the most effective way to improve your website usability is to engage in third-party user testing. There are three primary components when it comes to establishing an effective user test. These include:

1.) Similar Users – It’s important that the users you select to test the usability of your website are those who actually visit your website. For example, you wouldn’t want to call upon users who primarily surf e-commerce websites for a content-heavy informational website. It’s important to call upon users within your target demographic to perform the actual test.

2.) Specific Tasks – One of the biggest mistakes you can make when it comes to establishing an effective user test is to not instruct users on what to perform or what to accomplish. Of course, you shouldn’t provide step-by-step instructions. Rather, you should ask them to locate a specific product within a specific category. Or to perform a basic task, such as going to the blog and browsing several articles before returning to a specific product page. You shouldn’t over-instruct users as this defeats the purpose of understanding your organic website usability.

3.) Observation – Finally, you must sit back and observe your test users. Take note of how they interact with your website. Where did they go? Were they confused or frustrated while trying to find a specific product or page? Allow the users to communicate their experience with you in order to gain a full understanding of your website strengths and weaknesses.

12. November 2016 · Comments Off on How Your Website Hosting Provider Effects Your SEO Standing · Categories: SEO, Web Hosting · Tags: ,

It should come as no surprise to anyone who’s created a website that Google consistently changes their algorithms, which are an ever-evolving list of factors that determine how your site ranks within search results. Although these algorithms are constantly changing, the best way to stay ahead of the curve is to engage in white-hate SEO practices. While many of these practices are universally important, such as keywords and content quality, did you know that your website hosting provider plays a direct role in determining your overall ranking?

The website hosting provider you choose isn’t necessarily going to directly enhancing your search engine rankings. You won’t suddenly go from the 10th page within your keyword to the first page by switching hosting providers. However, if you choose a distrustful and flawed hosting provider you’ll soon find your SEO efforts aren’t enough to gain the coveted first page results.

The majority of new website owners select a hosting provider based upon their price. All these people see are dollar signs while they fail to understand that their provider does have a direct and indirect impact on your marketing efforts.

Perhaps the most important element when it comes to the connection of your web host and your search engine rankings is server security. The security of your website is vital when it comes to how Google and other search engines rank your website. If you choose a hosting provider with limited or basic-level security services, then Google will actually penalize your site ranking. Along with search engines deeming your site unsafe, visitors who have a questionable experience within your site will likely never return. This also hurts your overall ranking in search engine results.

Another essential element that search engines use to determine your ranking is the location of your website servers. Google determines on this location-based information even when users aren’t doing a location-based search. For example, if an American internet user is performing a search, Google will show priority to websites that are hosted on American-based servers instead of transferring information from an overseas server. The most important factor that goes into selecting a website hosting provider is ensuring their primary servers are located within the country where the bulk of your visitors will come form.

Finally, and probably the most important element within this article, is the performance of your servers. The speed and downtime ratio of a server plays a direct role in determining your overall search engine rankings. To increase your website’s speed, the most important variable is selecting the fastest web hosting service you can. From there the site’s structure, design and optimization is the next most crucial element to maintaining acceptable load times. It’s common for Google to penalize websites that feature slow loading/response times as well as those that experience frequent downtime. For further tips on website speed optimization, see Google’s developer tools here.

12. October 2016 · Comments Off on Reading Web Content – The F-Shaped Pattern · Categories: SEO, Web Design · Tags: ,

In the quest to cultivate a high-performing website, there are many elements that must be considered. Of course, the key to sustaining visitors and retaining their attention is based in the design of each page. While there are numerous categories and design tips you can follow, the most effective tip – especially for those who feature content heavy websites – is laying out content according to how the majority of Internet users read.

According to the latest eyetracking studies, where researchers monitored the areas of a website the majority of visitors look when the page first loads, the typical user reads content in an “F-pattern.” This is to suggest that when your website loads, their eyes move along two horizontal lines immediately followed by a vertical column. This F-pattern holds the key of enhancing user engagement while simultaneously stimulating your conversions as you’re able to customize the information laid out based upon their natural reading style.

The Three Components of F-Pattern Reading

This dominant reading pattern exists across all industries and demographics. As mentioned earlier, the typical user consumes written content and all accompanying visuals within an F-Shape. This unique reading pattern can be broken down into three primary components:

1.) First Horizontal Movement – When the website loads, the user typically scans across the upper portion of the primary content area. This is where you should place the most imperative words and information as this sets the stage regarding your authority and whether or not the user believes their questions/needs will be satisfied.

2.) Second Horizontal Movement – This area is typically found immediately beneath the first horizontal movement, but it generally doesn’t extend as long to the side. The overall website “real estate” covered in this second movement is shorter, much like the lower horizontal line in the capital letter “F”. This is where you should place supporting information that further intrigues readers; however, you should not be too obtuse regarding the phrasing. The most successful implementation of this design pattern are websites that utilize the second horizontal line as a means of providing further details to satisfy the primary question/need of a website visitor.

3.) Vertical Movement – Finally, after satisfying the first two movements, users will briefly scan the left side of the content. Typically, users are searching for bulleted lists that contain keywords and key phrases. Within this section, you must maximize their vertical scanning by avoiding pictures and other media and providing an easily readable list of essential pieces of information.