Designing Your Site with Users in Mind

We do a lot of web site redesigns. Often the goal is to spiffen up the image of the site with engaging colors and graphics. But we also end up making the site more usable as well. And it is amazing how many of us (yes, we’ve made some of these mistakes as well) don’t design usable sites. Here are a few tips to make your site usable (easy for your visitors to use):

Keep all information within 3 clicks – 1 click away is even better. Our newsletter used to be buried down a few clicks to actually see the current newsletter. Guess what? We didn’t get too many people looking at our newsletter. Since we made the newsletter accessible from every menu, readership has gone up dramatically. And that is a priority for us.

Tell your visitors what they get, not what you do. Instead of a “We’ve been in business for over 10 years serving this region. We strive to serve our customers with the best service.” the first page should tell visitors how they will benefit from your goods or services like this “Need more customers? Need a web site that sells your goods? Would you like to spend less time on the phone and more time in front of  your customers? EduCyber can help.” The goal is to phrase your offerings as benefit statements – how will your customers benefit from what you’re offering?

Include a call to action on EVERY PAGE. Simple yes. But take a look at your existing web site. Does every page has some kind of call to action? One of the first questions I ask is what do you want people to do on this page? Frequently the answer is “I want them to call me.” “So where’s your phone number?” I ask. Don’t make your visitor have to look for ways to contact you. Provide your phone number or email address or, if you’re in retail, an address with a link to a map.

Adhere to the KIS principal (Keep It Simple) by avoiding technical terms or, if you must use them, providing definitions or explanations. The world of web site design and marketing for example, is filled with terms like SEO and Meta-tags and cpanels but we avoid those terms or explain that Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a process used to get your site ranked high in search engines like Google.

So if you have questions or would like more information on how to make your web site more usable, contact Brian at 720-275-4646 or at info@educyber.com.

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The Three Requirements for a Great Site

There are three requirements for a web site to really shine:

  1. Usable. A good web site is usable. This means that a visitor to your site can easily and intuitively do what you want them to do. If they have to really think about what your intention is, you will lose them. Say, for example that you want someone to purchase your gizmo in the online store. If they don’t see gizmos on the front page, they likely get their gizmos elsewhere. If they see the gizmo they want right on the front page but can’t add it to their shopping cart from there, they’ll go looking for a site that makes it easy to buy gizmos. If they have to give up all kinds of personal information just to buy your gizmo, they’ll find a gizmo site that isn’t so invasive. So the key is to make the site usable, whether you’re selling something or whether your goal is to get them to call or email or whatever, it has to be easy for the visitor to do so.
  2. A great site is searchable. In this case it doesn’t mean that you have a search feature on your site. Instead it means that I can go to Google or Yahoo or Live and do a search for gizmos and end up at your site. You would be surprised at the number of web site owners who haven’t carefully thought this one through. If you want to be ranked for “funky gizmos” you need to use the phrase “funky gizmos” on your web site. Attaining and maintaining high ranking in the search engines is an art and science. If you’ve got the time or someone on staff has the time, great. If not, outsource it (yes, that’s a plug for EduCyber).
  3. Lookable. OK, that’s not really a word but it fits with the first and second requirements. What we mean is that your site ought to look nice. And yes, these requirements are listed in order of priority. Often a web site owner will spend the most time on number three and not much if any attention to one and two. Statistics show that if a site is usable and listed in the search engines, it can be very successful even if it doesn’t look pleasant. Myspace has some of the gaudiest looking pages possible but as it fills a need (for people to share and connect), it has been wildly successful. We believe that a good looking site is a requirement however. That’s because your site will be your marketing message. This is what your customers and prospects will see when they encounter your company. You need to present a good public face to them and that is why it is required.
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Three Tips to Improve Your Ranking

Getting your web site ranked high in the search engines should be the goal of every site owner. And if you have carefully defined the niche that your business and web site serve, then it is that much easier to get that high ranking.

First you need to make sure the key words you want to be ranked for are actually used on your site. Sounds simple, right? Take a minute to consider the words your site should be ranked for and then look at your site. Have you used them?

Next it is a good idea to use those key words in the links on your site. For example, a store that rents tuxedos might have a page that explains how to rent a tux for prom. Rather than saying “Click here for prom tuxedos” link the actual text for prom and tuxedo like this “Need a tuxedo for prom?”

Third you should think about naming or renaming the pages on your site to match your key words. Instead of calling a page home.htm or page3.htm, give it a meaningful name like prom-tuxedo.htm. That will not only help you understand what page it is but it will also help the search engines identify what the page is about and what your site is about.

Using these three tips will help get you started on the road to getting your site ranked well. As always, give us a call if you’d like some help in this. We’re at 303-268-2245. Ask for Brian or Maki

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Local Search Takes Off

Do you ever search for local things – a restaurant or other business – online? A lot of folks are. A whole lotta folks. In fact, you might be missing out on local searches if you haven’t prepared for it.

How big is it? Well, simply by the fact that every major search engine has a special vehicle for local search should tell you something. For Yahoo! you can visit local.yahoo.com. For Google it’s local.google.com and for Microsoft it’s maps.live.com.

It was easy to sign up for Yahoo and Google (register my business so that it would be listed) but even though I have a Microsoft Live account I spent about 20 minutes searching for a way to register my business so it would show up. That search proved fruitless. Both Yahoo and Google allow you to sign up for free. Yahoo offers additional services for additional cost. Google offers additional services at no extra cost. You can add coupons, upload images, and add as many services as you like.

The Google local search wants to make sure that you really are at the address you list so they send a letter with a code that you have to respond to. The process takes a week or two. Yahoo reviews your info in four to five days and then posts your listing.

We recommend getting listed in all three of these local search engines. Local search is only going to continue to grow in importance and popularity. Get in now and continue to monitor your progress. Need help getting listed or benefitting from your listing? Call EduCyber at 720 275-4646

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Are You an Expert?

Everyone is an expert at something. You might be the expert on shoes. You know all about fixing shoes, trends in shoes, how to protect shoes in different climates or seasons, etc. If you’re in the shoe business, then you should be sharing your expertise.

Perhaps you are the ultimate hair care specialist. You know what styles will be popular in the season ahead. You know what the latest hair care products, from shampoos and conditioners to color products are. You should be sharing your expertise.

Perhaps you are the premier storage specialist. You provide onsite and offsite storage. You help families reclaim their garages and help businesses add storage without having to build. You know all kinds of details about how your customers can maximize the use of their storage. You should be sharing your expertise.

Why should you share your expertise? And why am I asking you to share that expertise for free? Because your customers will love you and you’ll get more of them. The easiest way to share your expertise is with a blog. This newsletter can be found on our blog at https://educyber.com/edunotes-blog. I share what I know about technology.

While the newsletter has been around since 1998, we’ve only been blogging for a short time but already we are getting more traffic to our site and more interest in our services. Taking 15 to 30 minutes two to three times a week to put your expertise into writing for your blog can pay off big as a marketing tool.

If you try to write just ad copy, it probably won’t work. What does work is sharing information that helps to inform consumers. Tell your hair care clients how to keep their hair looking its best between visits. Tell your shoe buying clients how to protect their shoes in our four season climate. Tell your storage clients how to figure out how much storage they need. Tell your clients about whatever your expertise is in. And they’ll love you for it.

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Losing at Search

I’ve spoken with several clients and colleagues about Search Engine Optimization lately. I am amazed at the wild misunderstandings at how to go about getting ranked well in the search engines.

One business owner I spoke with was quite excited about the concept of cross-linking (having two different web sites link to each other to help each of them improve their rankings). Done correctly, this is indeed a good way to improve your rank. But then he proceeded to describe what was little more than a link farm. If your site is linked to from a link farm, the search engines will toss you from their rankings completely. I tried to dissuade him from that path but don’t know if I was successful or not.

I spoke with another client who knew that he needed to have text on his web site because the search engines like text. The only problem is that his text was actually a part of a graphic (image file) so the search engines didn’t see any of his text. This meant he was not ranked for any words having to do with his business. When he learned that over 40% of all search is local, he was dismayed to realize the piece of the pie that he was missing.

Search engine optimization is a little bit science and a little bit art. To succeed (to get your site ranked well for key words) takes time. It takes time to understand the latest trends and technologies. It takes time to craft your site so that the content is in align with what the search engines look for. It takes time to build good links from other sites to yours.

So as you prepare your site for the search engines, give us a call to discuss your options.

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Online Marketing

We’ve been getting a lot of calls lately about SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and CPC (Cost Per Click) campaigns. Just today I had a gentleman ask about our rates for a CPC campaign. After I told him he said “I see that you also provide training, how much would it cost to train me to do the click campaign?” I told him and he changed the subject. A lot of businesses are spending big bucks are their web sites and then not going the extra mile to make the site successful. It doesn’t have to break the bank. THE single most important thing you can do on your web site is make sure that you actually use the terms you want to be ranked for.

I can’t tell you how often I have evaluated someone’s web site, we’ve discussed their key words and phrases and then I’ve asked, “Where did you incorporate these terms on your site?” and been met with a blank stare. I’m not talking about just posting a list of the key words. I’m talking about weaving the phrases into the content of your web site. I’m talking about wordsmithing your content so that it both reflects what goods and or services you offer AND uses your key phrases in such a way that visitors to your site can see that you do indeed offer what they were searching for.

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