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June 2013

Characteristics of a User-Friendly Website

Laptop on a desk

Sometimes, companies ignore or forget how user friendly their website needs to be. Usability is crucial for the achievements of any web page and should never be neglected. Good functionality can enhance the performance of your web page and improve your possibilities of success. It can also improve sales and income for your business.

For your website to be successful, not only should it look professional, but it should also provide the visitor with an easy user experience. If you want your website to be effective, it has to be user friendly. This is why efficient functionality is essential. This will help your website stand out against your competitors.

A good website with user-friendly usability is about making it easy for visitors to find the information they need quickly and effortlessly and including a design that appeals to your customer.

There are many ways to improve the usability of your website. These characteristics can make your site more appealing and help with your online success. Below are a few essential characteristics of a user-friendly website.

1. Accessible for Anyone

Having a user-friendly website means that it should be accessible to anyone. There are simple web design techniques that can be applied to make sure your website can be accessed easily on-screen readers, making your website available to a larger audience.

2. Mobile Friendly

Today, more and more people use their mobile phones to access the Internet, so creating a mobile optimized website has become a necessity.

The first step is to check how your existing website appears on mobile. If your website cannot currently be accessed on mobile, then it is important to invest in finding a way to do this, especially with the number of people who use their mobile devices to access websites.

3. Well Planned Layout

How information is organized and presented on your website is vital for good usability. However, it is often neglected. It has become even more important today as websites offer a wide range of information and resources to attract their target market. Plan your website sections and categories carefully and present information in a way that it is easy for users to find. Thinking from the perspective of your users will help. This is particularly important if you offer a lot of content on your company’s website.

It has become even more important these days as sites provide a variety of details, content, and resources to attract the focus of their target audience. Plan your web page segments and categories properly in a way that it is easy for customers to find.

4.  Fast Load Times

If a website takes too long to load then chances are most people will not stick around to wait. Nothing is more annoying for website visitors than a website that takes long to load. Slow speed is one of the main reasons visitors leave a website.

It is important to make sure that your backgrounds, plug-ins, and widgets are all used correctly to ensure fast load times. These factors are just a few that affect website speed. Try to limit their use and only use the ones that are absolutely necessary.

People are becoming less patient, especially nowadays with the advanced technology. A typical customer will only wait for a few seconds for your page to load, after which they will most likely navigate away to a competitor’s site never to visit again. You want to make sure that your backgrounds, plug-ins, and widgets are all used correctly to ensure fast load times. These factors are just a few that affect website speed. Try to limit their use and only use the ones that are absolutely necessary.

5. Browser Consistency

Browser compatibility can be easily overlooked. This is bad for branding and has a negative effect on website usability.

Although modern browsers have evolved and become more efficient, some inconsistencies may still exist in how a website looks in different browsers. It is important to ensure your website appears and behaves consistently across all major browsers such as Chrome, Internet Explorer, Firefox, and Safari.

6. Effective Navigation

Good navigation is one of the most important aspects of website usability. It is important for the navigation to be organized, simple to use, and clutter-free. Try to limit the number of menu items as much as possible. A drop-down menu or sub-navigation may work better on large site with many sections and pages.

7. Good Color Scheme

The right contrast between the background of the website and content is one of the most basic yet most important web design principles that should never be overlooked. Good contrast between background and text color makes your content easy to read and lack of contrast, makes it very difficult for visitors to read your content. Make sure it is also a color that appeals to your visitors. If it does not work to flatter your business, or is a color that makes no sense then it can create a significant first impression, and not a good one.

The success of your website depends on its user friendly capabilities. This is one factor that will set you apart from your competitors. Good usability helps to provide a seamless experience for visitors and improves your chances of success.

How is Your Web Presence?

Bird flying in sunrise

Nowadays if you’re not on the web than to some it is basically like you don’t exist. In today’s world, having an online presence is just as important as having an address and a phone number. The internet has become the main source people use to search for providers of goods and services. Without online exposure, your business may be completely neglected.

First impressions are Extremely Important

With the right tools, you can have an effective website in no time. The look and functionality of a website is essential to its success, as first impressions are a crucial element in keeping people interested in your site.

Typically, you have only a few seconds to capture a visitor’s attention until they decide if they will stay on your site or not. It’s vital to have the context and message of your site on point. Brief, direct text should communicate not only what your business does but also incorporate who you are to show how reputable your business is.  Most people like to research your business before they make the decision to use it or purchase anything from it, so providing a good design and informative content can personalize your site while also bringing it credibility.

Find a Good Host

Before the initial design, you will have to acquire a web host. Web hosts provide online services designed to help all different types of businesses like property management companies to make their mark in the virtual world. The first step to creating an online space for your practice is to choose a web host.

Your host is in charge of handling online space for your website, and the bandwidth for managing traffic to your site, so it is important that you trust your host.  Take comfort in knowing that your site will always have the technical support it needs.

Reliability should also be a concern when deciding on a host. Feel confident in knowing that your website will never fall victim to the server being down, which could potentially lead to a loss in clientele.

The Web Address

A business domain name can be just as important as the actual name of the company. Some people have even begun referring to companies by their websites and domain names. When choosing a domain name, it is best to select something short, simple, and easy to remember. Try and include the name of your company in the domain name as well. If there are several words, numbers, or symbols are used in a domain name, it makes it hard for visitors to find your site.

If possible, consider purchasing multiple domains to eliminate the possibility of cyber-squatters using a similar website address for fraudulent activities.

Easy navigation

Visitors have a limited amount of time they are willing to spend on a website. If they go on a site and find that it is too confusing, a webpage isn’t working properly ,links are directing users to the wrong location, menu tabs are misleading, or the site’s content is too busy, potential clients will be inclined to look elsewhere.

Also, in order for the visitor to not feel overwhelmed try and limit the number of tabs.  This helps keep a site organized and provides visitors with easy navigation. Remember, the more clicks required for a visitor to find what they are looking for, the greater the chance he or she will leave the site.

By having a professional track and use analytics tools they can help you determine trends associated with online activity, such as which of your webpages guests are investing the most or least time on and what causes them to leave the website, among other factors. These details can be used to enhance and create your website to match the needs and wants of customers.

 Increase credibility

Although having a nice web design, information and details about you or the company, consider providing videos, tutorials, and testimonials on your website. These will show people that not only are you a property management company, but that you also have the knowledge and clients to back it up.

The value in proofreading website content often gets overlooked. Creating and publishing a site that has spelling and grammar mistakes throughout will give a negative impression on visitors. It calls into question one’s authenticity as a trustworthy professional.

Keep it Updated

Once you have a website, in order to uphold a positive image to new and current clients, updates and improvements should be made to your website on a regular basis. Maintaining your website ensures that accurate information is being provided and visitors are not being misinformed with outdated content.

Providing new content regularly and updating your site either through a blog or posts will also help search engines like Google and Yahoo recognize you, boosting you higher in search results.

An organized website with updated, relevant information will display the right image you are looking for to people who come to your site.

Having a solid, reliable web presence will bring you more customers and visitors to your business. It is important to be aware of how you are perceived online. Make sure you look at all of the details to see if there is a way you can improve your web presence.

Techniques to Improve Your Web Conversion

night sky

If you have a website for your business you probably are interested in two things, increasing targeted traffic and increasing conversions. For some business owner’s the problem arises when you get traffic on your website but for some reason that traffic does not lead to a sale.

Your conversion rates measure the number of possible customers that go on to your site and buy. In the context of a website, it is usually the percentage of visitors that make a purchase. Most people tend to only focus on increasing the number of visitors, when in reality is they don’t realize the problems that their site may have for customers wanting to buy something, thus, do not get any of those visitors to make a purchase. Often times these simple problems with their site, if solved, would make a huge difference on their conversion rate.

Improving a website conversion rate can be relatively simple. Here are a few techniques you can use in order to improve your conversion rates:

Be Consistent

When it comes to the look and feel of your site be sure to make the site aesthetically pleasing to the customer. The website should be simple yet professional, and the transitions from page to page should be uniform and easy to maneuver throughout.

Visitors shouldn’t have to adjust to each individual page; they should be comfortable with the layout on every page they visit. If you can keep the redirection and different templates on each page to a minimum, then more people will likely want to stay longer on your website.

Having consistency will make it easier for visitors to compare products, possibly leading to a sale. You need to make it stand out with a clean, user-friendly layout. Your website should give visitors the feeling that you are a reputable, trustworthy company. Make sure the color schemes are consistent along with any fonts and other styling details.  If you ensure that it does, you will see an increase in overall conversions.

Have Easy to Find Contact Information

Questions and concerns often arise during the decision making process. The contact information should be easy to access and find. If a customer can’t find that information then they may get frustrated and take their business elsewhere.

If the customer has a specific question that gets answered by a customer service representative they are more likely to purchase from that website. If however no contact information is displayed, this makes you look like you are trying to hide something and will possibly affects your credibility.

Use High-Quality Images

Your product image has to be eye-catching, producing interest in the viewer. Make sure that the picture is a high- quality image that appeals to the eye.

Adding images that have different colors and angles can really boost your conversion rate. For some, they relate more and interpret more visually as opposed to reading text. Especially in a page dominated primarily by text, an image or two is a great way to break up content and keep visitors engaged. You want to please both types of people with quality images and clear text.

Create Detailed Product Descriptions

Don’t fill the description and pages of your site with useless information. The product description is a crucial part in the customer’s decision making process. Use this section to highlight the features of your product in an easy-to-understand way.

Be sure that your description leaves nothing out, and is as detailed as possible, without being too overwhelming. You don’t want your visitor to have any unanswered questions when they go to purchase that item.

Consider Pricing

One of the most significant contributors to conversions is the price of the item. Pricing can be very tricky for almost any industry. If you price yourself to high you may lose customers to the cheaper competitor, and if you price to low you may come off as cheap. The best thing to do is to make sure that you do your research and come up with an industry competitive offer that makes you profitable and covers your expenses. Also, make it easy for yours customers to buy from your site. Include a variety of different methods to pay online, which will help increase online orders.

Be Honest

Do not try to trick your customers. Display the prices and extra charges clearly for the customer to see, avoid using any gimmicks they will lead you down a path of refunds and angry customers. If a customer goes to pay for their item and realizes that shipping is way too much, then most likely they will leave that item in the shopping cart and go look somewhere else for the product.

If you take all of these techniques and apply them to your website, then there is no doubt that you will see a positive increase in your web conversions. Take action now, and those visitors won’t just be going to your site just to look, but will in return actually make a purchase.




4 Reasons Why You Need a Responsive Web Design

neon flowers

Having a responsive website design has become more and more necessary in the digital world than ever before. Many people are still on the fence about taking the plunge and redesigning their site so that it can be accessed on different technology platforms. Rather than building separate sites for each device, responsive design uses a single website that intelligently adjusts its layout and features based on how it is being viewed.

For some businesses however this change does not need to be, but how does a person know if it is right for their business? Below are the top 4 reason for someone to build a responsive site.

1. Flexibility

Two interesting things are happening with web browsing.  Phones are becoming smaller and more useful for web browsing, and desktops and TV screens are getting larger and it seems to be happening at a rapid pace. With a responsive design this will allow you to easily adapt to changing screen sizes. People are even using TV screens to browse the web and this will help adapt to the ever evolving screen sizes that you see whether it be on a tablet, TV, desktop, or phone.

With responsive design it’s much easier to go in and change what is shown on different screen sizes. Without responsive design, when a new screen size comes out, you have to go and build a new site. That means new design, new production chances are more money as well.

You will know when flexibility is beginning to become important to your business by looking at the amount of traffic you have coming in. When mobile or tablet traffic reaches more than 40% of your site’s traffic, it’s time to flexible.

2. Regularity

With responsive designs the look and feel of your desktop site is the same throughout each platform, particularly your mobile device. That means the header and other content on the sites are the same fonts, the color scheme matches, and all of the other minor details are the exact same throughout, no matter what device your customer decides to use.

3. Search Engine Optimization

Google is obviously a very reliable source and one of the top search engines on the web. Google stated recently, “Google recommends webmasters follow the industry best practice of using responsive web design, namely serving the same HTML for all devices and using only CSS media queries to decide the rendering on each device.” If Google is saying it, then it must be important.

It’s hard to argue with the company that provides most of the search traffic to your site. From this information we can assume that in the future, responsive sites will be easier to optimize for Google. Plus it’s less work than attempting to optimize a desktop site, a mobile site, and a tablet site.

4. Fast Changes

As the internet constantly is undergoing new changes, so should your site. It is important to evolve with the internet and technology and test your website with the different developments in order to make your site the best it can be, regardless of what the goal of your site is. That being said, would you rather have to make those changes once or multiple times?  It is much less work to make those changes once and have them reflect on multiple different devices, rather than having to make a the changes separately from your site on a desktop, then update your mobile site, then go back and update your tablet. And let’s not forget about the future, as screen sizes change rapidly, it’s easy to think you could have 3 or 4 different sites out there, or to make it easier you could just have site that responds to all devices.

Considering getting a responsive web design is important and can help your business attract more viewers to your site, even while on the go. Make sure you look at advantages of having a website that can respond across all platforms and understand how effective it just may be.


One Twitter Trick Every User Should Know


33 billion Tweets are sent each day, making Twitter the most efficient global information network in existence. Though initially the twitterverse may seem overwhelming to new users, as you spend more time on the social network you’ll pick up best practices and slowly learn how to navigate the world of 140- characters. However, while mastering hashtags, re-Tweets and @ mentions may separate the experienced Twitterers from the novice, there’s one technical tip that separates the pros from the experienced.

When you have a conversation with someone on Twitter, it only displays in the feeds of people who follow both you and the person you are having the conversation with (since Twitter doesn’t want to bother everyone who follows you with your personal conversations). Twitter considers a conversation any tweet that begins with a username, or an @reply.

For example, if I were to say: “@Boiseskier Will you pick me up a coffee if you stop?” – that tweet would only appear in the feeds of people who follow me and @Boiseskier. I would consider that a good thing, since the majority of my followers probably wouldn’t care to see my personal conversation with @Boiseskier about coffee. However, there can be some instances in which Twitter limiting conversations to mutual followers is actually a bad thing.

What if I want to start a tweet with a username and it’s not a conversation – it’s something I want everyone to see? For instance:

“@Briansolis is talking about “the end of business as usual” in #nd of business as usual”t see?ne to see my tweet, regardless iy a bad thing. versation with.  SMSS12. Has anyone read it?”

Even though I’m trying to update all my Twitter followers on what’s happening in #SMSS12, and involve them by asking questions, Twitter doesn’t discriminate the difference between this update and my earlier conversation with @Boiseskier. Twitter sees this tweet as a conversation with @BrianSolis, and it will treat it as such; thus only showing my tweet to people who follow us both. Therefore, the majority of my followers won’t see it. #Fail

However, there is a way around this. If you want to start a tweet with a username, but want all of your followers to see it, you have to trick Twitter’s algorithms into thinking it’s a regular tweet – rather than a conversation. How? By putting something before the username! Perhaps you’ve seen tweets that begin with a period? Now you know why: it tricks Twitter.  Here’s an example:

[email protected] is talking about “the end of business as usual” in #SMSS12. Has anyone read it?

While my first Tweet would only get pushed to my followers who also follow @BrianSolis, this tweet will get pushed to everyone following me (even if they don’t follow @BrianSolis).