Friday, October 24, 2008

15 Best Practices in Web Design

In a recent client meeting, I presented recommendations for a new website design and navigation approach to a group of technicians who were being asked to proofread the new site for technical accuracy. I began the meeting by presenting these fifteen best practice tips to give them a quick education on our thought process. It didn't totally eliminate their design suggestions (as I had hoped), but it did give me a reference point to discuss why we chose to do, or not do, certain things.

1. Know who is visiting your site, and why they came. Most sites have multiple audiences. Make sure your site speaks to all potential users.
2. Using separate landing pages to make each audiences feel that the site is specifically designed and suited for their individual needs.
3. Make it easy to find what they are looking for by using intuitive logic.
4. Use language that your audience understands and identifies with.
5. Get to the point. People can get very impatient on the web.
6. Avoid heavy graphic elements that take time to download.
7. Simplify your homepage to reduce elements and make it easy for site visitors to know what you offer to whom.
8. Make your Search function easy to find and use.
9. Shorter copy, bold graphics and more white space make a page more inviting to read.
10. People read the sections they want to read, not the entire site. Don't hesitate to duplicate copy in the most logical place that audience might look for it.
11. Make it readable for all ages. Avoid odd type fonts and too small type.
12. Avoid scrolling whenever possible. Adding a page is better than run-on copy.
13. Optimize the site with title tags, keywords, and other programming content to improve PageRank.
14. Provide links to important sites to improve PageRank.
15. Keep it fresh, I may come back tomorrow.

Monday, October 20, 2008

technorati claim

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Brand Content vs. Peer-to-Peer Content: Which is better?

Here's an interesting tidbit from a new Forrester study on Social Marketing -- brand-generated content still matters to socially connected consumers. Despite all of the marketing buzz that would have you believe that brand marketing has no future, here is a refreshing new report from analyst Lisa Bradner that brand content can actually have more value than peer-generated content. This is especially true for higher-priced products in highly competitive categories, but can be true for all products if the brand has established the right level of trust with their customer base.

The question then becomes "how do you build trust?" Well, it starts with being honest and avoiding the hyperbole of advertisingese that too many marketers still think is the way to get ahead. If the marketing lessons of TIVO fast forwarding haven't sunk in yet, it's time to wake up and realize that the customer is in charge, not the marketer. Today's customer has the wherewithal to select when, where and what content they want to consume. Take a look at this excellent presentation on today's consumer and the value of social marketing engagement by Eric Weaver of Edelman

So if you've been asking yourself (or your CMO) if your company should have a social media program the answer is an unequivocal "yes". You cannot deny the fact that traditional outbound tools are becoming less relevant. Old school tactics of shouting and interrupting have been replaced by a new school of engagement. This is an era for marketing of being found, not being heard. Today's successful marketers need to build strong connections between customers and the brand, and increasing the use of social media in your marketing mix is a way to raise brand relevance, affinity, and loyalty.