Responsive & Intuitive Design

Changing Web Design
Sites designed and coded some years ago now necessitate rebuilding — or at least refreshing — to deal with hand-held devices, particularly cellphones as that is how the world is being viewed. Some “designerly” sites, albeit initially expensive to develop, are outdated and will NOT display on a cell phone. If your audience is between ages 8 and, oh, 50, cross-platform designs are mandatory. In addition to a redesign, many considerations remain:

Concerns

  • Indexing: You have less than 3 seconds to grab your visitors. Indexing on the bottom of the page (“below the fold” in newspaper jargon) is inadvisable. This can’t be seen on a mobile device, which is how many younger executives view the Web, and, generally people will not scroll down to the bottom of a page in any case.
  • Graphics must be top notch and compliment the layout and site. If they are poor quality, viewers will assume that you and/or your Web designer does not know what they are doing.

Updating Your Knowledge Base:

More on the F-Shaped Pattern (F Means FAST)

According to Jakob Nielson, who recorded how 232 users view thousands of Web pages with their Web Content
Eyetracking visualization heat-reading software, users often read Web pages in an F-shaped pattern: two horizontal stripes followed by a vertical stripe.  In a few seconds, your visitors eyes move at amazing speeds across your website’s words in a pattern that’s very different from what you learned in school.
f_pattern_heat_map

Basically, they found that the reading pattern resembles an “F”:

  • Users first read in a horizontal movement, usually across the upper part of the content area. This initial element forms the F’s top bar.
  • Next, users move down the page a bit and then read across in a second horizontal movement that typically covers a shorter area than the previous movement. This additional element forms the F’s lower bar.
  • Finally, users scan the content’s left side in a vertical movement. Sometimes this is a fairly slow and systematic scan that appears as a solid stripe on an eyetracking heatmap. Other times users move faster, creating a spottier heatmap. This last element forms the F’s stem.
    Obviously, users’ scan patterns are not always comprised of exactly three parts. Sometimes users will read across a third part of the content, making the pattern look more like an E than an F. Other times they’ll only read across once, making the pattern look like an inverted L (with the crossbar at the top).
Heatmaps from user eyetracking studies of three websites.

The areas where users looked the most are colored red; the yellow areas indicate fewer views, followed by the least-viewed blue areas. Gray areas didn’t attract any fixations.

Heat-maps illustrate how users read three different types of Web pages:

  • an article in the “about us” section of a corporate website (far left)
  • a product page on an e-commerce site (center)
  • a search engine results page (SERP; far right).
    If you squint and focus on the red (most-viewed) areas, all three heatmaps show the expected F pattern. Of course, there are some differences.

The F viewing pattern is a general shape.
On the e-commerce page (middle example), the second crossbar of the F is lower than usual because of the intervening product image. Users also allocated significant time to a box in the upper right where the price and “add to cart” button are found.

On the SERP (right example), the second crossbar of the F is longer than the top crossbar, mainly because the second headline is longer than the first.

  • Users won’t read your text in a word-by-word manner.
  • The first two paragraphs must state the most important information. This is consistent with classic newspaper style — an inverted triangle is generally used to describe this.
  • Start subheads, paragraphs, and bullet points with information-carrying words that users will notice when scanning down the left side of your content.

Posted by DALSF2011 on September 26th, 2014

Filed under For Writers | No Comments »

Read for Success

Train Your Brain For Success
Read Smarter, Remember More, and Break Your Own Records

Roger Seip

Train your mind to achieve new levels of success!

Professionals and entrepreneurs do a great job of keeping up appearances. But if they’re honest with themselves, they’re short on living the life they really want. Train Your Brain For Success provides the perspective to analyze how you got where you are and, more importantly, learn the skills to get where you truly desire to be. Train Your Brain for Success.

Train Your Brain For Success explains specific ways of thinking and acting that will get anyone where they want to go, fast.

Learn to condition your mind to move towards success automatically, by discovering greater memory power and fundamental techniques for boosting reading speed and comprehension.

Get a proven strategy for succeeding and becoming a record-breaking performer.

  • Learn to live in the moment
  • Become brilliant with the basics
  • Aggressively take care of your mind

Train your mind for new levels of success by boosting memory power, reading speed and comprehension.

Posted by DALSF2011 on May 10th, 2014

Filed under For Writers | No Comments »

Build Your Audience

If you are in business, you need a Web presence. Web sites are actually somewhat difficult to build and manage; however, blogs are relatively easy after the initial learning curve. You might find it worthwhile to hire a professional (or trade services) to have it set up, but most people can take it from there and add new content every week or two to increase your Internet visibility.

Overview of Setting up a WordPress Blog

WordPress gets the public vote for being easiest to use and currently it is the most popular

Fortunately, you will not need new software, which is necessary to build a Websites. Blogs are a perfect example of “cloud computing,” which simply means using the internet to access software running on someone else’s hardware.

WordPress.com vs wordpress.org:

WordPress.com is free. However, you end up with a clumsy url, i.e. yourname.wordpress.com. If future employees (or your family/friends) forget the wordpress portion of the name, they will not find you.

WordPress.org requires that you have your own url and hosted web site. At GoDaddy.com, for $10-$14 per year you can register your name (or if your own name is gone, a clear and memorable name). YourName.com is the best name as most people automatically type in .com; however if .com is gone for you, consider the newest .co.

Hosting at GoDaddy.com runs around $5 per month . . . Initially you will not need add-ons, so don’t worry about them. BIG TIP: No “dots,” “dashes,” or “underscores” in your chosen name. Absolutely no one remembers them.

Setting Up WordPress

Instructions follow, and I’m on the other end of eMail, but it might be easier for you to go to one of the following:

Online textual Instructions: www.wordpress.org or www.wordpress.com

How-to Video: http://www.problogger.net/archives/2006/08/21/how-to-set-up-wordpress-step-by-step-video-tutorial/

Or: If you do use GoDaddy:

  1. Go to Hosting Control Center
  2. Setup your account: GoDaddy is in Arizona, always there, and can help with this if you get confused (which is easy to do initially): 480 505 8877.
  3. Click on “Manage Account” to the right of your new account
  4. Click Your Applications on top.
  5. Click on Blogs on the Left.
  6. Click on WordPress.
  7. Click the INSTALL NOW orange button.
  8. You will have to unzip this file: If you do not have Unzip software, there is a free 30-day trial from WinZip: http://www.winzip.com/index.htm. Download that and then unzip the file.

Your Blog

There is a lot of information to wade through.

Once that is done, go to http://codex.wordpress.org/WordPress_Lessons where you will find WordPress for Beginners. Again, it looks overwhelming, but you won’t need to read all of it, you don’t need to know any of the complicated coding, etc.

Mainly you will need to go to: http://codex.wordpress.org/First_Steps_With_WordPress for an overview of setting up your site. This page has everything you will need starting with a free Theme which you will download from: http://wordpress.org/extend/themes/ Then to: http://codex.wordpress.org/Writing_Posts for information on writing posts and to write your first post.

REFERENCES

Blogs/Webs

Register a Domain, Low Yearly Fee

Posted by DALSF2011 on April 11th, 2014

Filed under Blogs | No Comments »

Content = Still King

SITE TRAFFIC

Google Analytics continues to validate that “content is king.”

A growing number of information providers are online, and as a result being able to produce copy that is suitable for an online readership is of increasing importance. In this text the basic principles of copywriting are covered, along with more specific guidance on writing for online sources. The differences between writing for online and offline are highlighted to enable the reader to distinguish between the two and consequently write the best form of copy for the end source.

Different sources of online content require different approaches, and therefore the author takes a structured approach, taking each of these channels in turn. By approaching each topic individually, specific guidance is provided enabling the reader to be properly equipped with the tools required to write the most appropriate copy for the task in hand.

The Internet has more than 1 billion Websites, yet fewer than 20% are visible; most receive a dozen or so visitors each month

Many of the Web sites you are up against have teams of writers, editors, photographers, artists, and programmers feeding their sites (i.e. SFGate.com is owned by Hearst Corporation and fed by San Francisco Chronicle media professionals).

You CAN play with the Big Boys and keep your service/company on top of searches by adding frequent content relevant to your business. That is what feeds search engines.&

Check your site by visiting Google Analytics. (Because of continuous updates and refreshing of Google’s ranking algorithm, pages will often fluctuate. Also, rankings will come back based on location (i.e. zip code) to give users the most meaningful returns. Google’s algorithm is designed to work without internet marketers giving it a helpful push. If you have a website that provides value to its visitors, you’ll naturally rank well in Google. Google wants these types of websites to be on page #1. When someone searches a specific keyword, Google wants to provide them with the most valuable website possible.&

What we monitor on each site developed

  • Bounce Rates – When you type a search term into Google, you likely click a link to one of the websites displayed on the first page of results. If the page you visit doesn’t give you the information you’re looking for, you’ll probably instantly “bounce” off the website back to the results page. This is what “bounce rate” means. If you have a high bounce rate (50%+), you know people are looking at your website briefly then returning to the search results page because they didn’t find what they were looking for.
  • Average Time on Site – Conversely, if your website provides value, visitors from the search engine results will stay awhile and take the time to read the content on your various pages of your site. In Google Analytics, the “average time on site” indicates how long visitors stayed once they landed on your site.
  • Number of Pages Visited – Lastly, when you find a particularly valuable website, you probably don’t just read the first page. You click on different links and visit several of the site’s pages. This is what the “number of pages visited” metric tracks, which is a great indicator of the depth of valuable content on a website.

Ranking factors include:
• Keyword usage
• Site structure
• Site speed
• Time spent on site
• Number of inbound links (i.e. backlinks)
• Quality of inbound links (i.e. backlinks)

Comparisons and
~Client Sites

Online

Backlinks

%
New
Visits

Time on Site

Ranking
1 (low)
10 (max)

Google.com

1998

10

Yahoo.com

1984

9

BankOfAmerica.com

1998

329,000

8

SFGate.com   (Chronicle/Hearst)

1994

1,210,000

8

StateFarm.com

1995

195,000

7

MarinIJ.com (newspaper

1996

339,000

6

~MaritimeHeritage.org   (International: 400+ links in)

1998

910

92.31

1:10

5

LegalAidMarin.org   (San Rafael)

2002

802

4

Jared Huffman.com (Assemblyman)

2005

385

4

MarinMarket.com

1997

2290

4

~ SpudPointCrab.com (Bodega   Bay Seafood)

2006

228

4

~AmazonAnimalOrphanage.org
(Non profit: Peru)

2008

373

3

~CWCMarinWriters.com

1999

1420

3

~PriscillaRoyal.com   (Author)

2005

254

3

~HewettLandscaping.com   (Contractor)

2009

71

31

.41

3

~InternationalHarbors.com   (Personal Travel)

1970

265

140

.56

3

~Luck101.com

2012

143

73.33

8:57

3

~TerraPublishingHouse.com

2002

133

146

6:50

3

~ProsperInPajamas.com

2012

114

10:01

2

~WisdomToChange.com

2010

209

37

5:56

2

~DianneLevy.com
(World Images)

2012

213

100

1:07

1

~PaulMcHugh.net   (Author)

2009

167

1

~TheHealingWing.com

2009/2013

21

445

2:03

1

HennessyAdvisors.com,   Marin County Firm

2001

432

2

MooreCPA.com   (MarinMarket) (Ranked 3 in 2011)

1999

116

0

FinishesUnlimited.net:   California Firm

2003

301

2

ProMortgage:   National Firm

1997

411

0

~ Sites developed by MarinEStudios.

Register a Domain, Low Yearly Fee

Posted by DALSF2011 on January 10th, 2014

Filed under For Writers | No Comments »

Online Business 2014

Ideas

  1. Blogging – Blog your passion and expertise until you earn a wide audience or loyal readers online. Make money online from advertising on your blog and other blog monetization schemes.
  2. eBook writing – If you are already a reputable writer or blogger, you can write an eBook and promote it on your blog. We started Terra Publishing House to see how this goes, and were pleased to learn the process and watch our books sell.
  3. Social media marketing services will help promote your idea via social media, such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. This is important; lots of people don’t have the time or desire to “chat” on social media sites, but the effort can bring excellent returns via developing audiences and selling product.
  4. Website design and development: Create and design corporate websites to help them build their Internet presence. There is a steep learning curve to building excellent blogs and websites for today’s market. However, it pays well and if you like design, it’s a great way to spend your life. You can Prosper in Pajamas
  5. Content writing: Create quality content and articles for businesses on their websites. If you are a writer, this is a splendid way to work . . . you set your own pay, hours, goals and can work from anywhere in the world.
  6. Website flipping: Buy undeveloped websites or develop your own websites, then sell advertising space, or sell the site for profit. Associates have done quite well.
  7. SEO (Search Engine Optimization) services help companies and businesses rank their web pages higher on the search engines, like Google, Yahoo, and Bing. However, those services along will not grow your audience. You need to “feed” your market frequently, or they will find new pastures.
  8. Social media management services – Help businesses maintain their social media presence (ex. Facebook pages, Twitter profiles, Google+ pages, and YouTube channels) alive and engaging.
  9. ORM (Online Reputation Management) services: Help companies manage what people are saying about their brand and products online. A cautionary note: We know of a timeshare company in Hawaii that got into trouble by hiring a company to keep them up in the charts by pretending to be timeshare purchasers and by pretending to be happy with their purchase. If you hire someone, such management should be honest and ethical.
  10. Web application development – Develop Facebook apps and other web applications for business and marketing purposes.
  11. Online trading/auction – Sell merchandise and other items on Amazon, eBay, and other online marketplaces.
  12. Online webinars – Train people and share your expertise through online webinars. You may also create a membership site and charge people for premium membership fee.
  13. Create online directories and other money making websites. Develop online yellow pages and charge companies for their business listings. You many also create online classified ads, forums, and other community sites.

Your Business Plan


Before you start any of the above, PLEASE develop a business plan to determine if it’s worth your time, what’s the competition, will you stick with it?

  1. Is this a great idea? Research as many aspects of your business as you can before you start it – for example; is there a market for your product/service? Who are your competitors? Do you have the financial capacity to start a business?
  2. Will the time invested in developing your product produce sufficient returns so that you can recover your investment? Seriously, we had a client that wanted to go into a “cupcake design” business — each cupcake cost something like $2.10 to make and could not sell for enough to cover that cost, the cost of labor, delivery, etc. The idea got scratched.
  3. Have 20/20 vision – your vision statement, included in your business plan, should be a solid basis for all your business activities.
  4. What’s in a name? A good business name not only identifies you to your customers, but has the potential to make you stand out from your competitors.
  5. Licence and registration: Be sure to have the right licences and permits for your business activities.
  6. Own your product rights: Do you have a great business name? Or perhaps a unique design or patent? Protect your intellectual property (IP) rights by registering for the right IP.
  7. Insurance is vital to guard you against events that may not be within your control.
  8. Advertising on the cheap. There are many ways to market your business, regardless of your financial budget. Ensure that your advertising efforts are rewarded by doing research on your market and request audience numbers from any media you are considering, i.e. who watches, how many people, ages, etc.
  9. Having an online presence has been quite important for a few years now and it is becoming more and more important as people switch to online searches for just about anything. There are many upsides to developing an online following, including the ability to talk about your business with experts around the world.
Register a Domain, Low Yearly Fee

Posted by DALSF2011 on October 25th, 2013

Filed under WebWork | No Comments »

User Experience Team

Leah Buley’s The User Experience Team of One prescribes a range of approaches that have big impact and take less time and fewer resources than the standard lineup of UX deliverables. Whether you want to cross over into user experience or you’re a seasoned practitioner trying to drag your organization forward, this book gives you tools and insight for doing more with less.

Google remains our favorite search engine . . . and has been since we came across it in a newsroom about 20 years ago.

Since its inception, Google has employed a “User Experience Team” to create designs that are useful, fast, simple, engaging, innovative, universal, profitable, beautiful, trustworthy, and personable. We first posted their guidelines a couple of years ago. Following is updated from their Corporate Philosophy. Their rules are excellent guidelines for anyone planning their business/Web presence.

They suggest that a Flexible Web Design product that gets the following principles right is “Googley” – and will satisfy and delight people all over the world. The following is excerpted from their site and, if you haven’t already done so, their site IS worth a visit for anyone in business; they are the world’s top search engine and they make many of the rules.
The following is generously excerpted from their site.

  1. Focus on the user and all else will follow.

    Since the beginning, we’ve focused on providing the best user experience possible. Whether we’re designing a new Internet browser or a new tweak to the look of the homepage, we take great care to ensure that they will ultimately serve you, rather than our own internal goal or bottom line . . . our homepage interface is clear and simple, and pages load instantly . . . advertising is clearly marked and offers relevant content . . .

  2. It’s best to do one thing really, really well.

    We do search. With one of the world’s largest research groups focused exclusively on solving search problems, we know what we do well, and how we could do it better . . . Our hope is to bring the power of search to previously unexplored areas, and to help people access and use even more of the ever-expanding information in their lives.

  3. Fast is better than slow.

    We know your time is valuable . . .  We may be the only people in the world who can say our goal is to have people leave our website as quickly as possible. By shaving excess bits and bytes from our pages and increasing the efficiency of our serving environment, we’ve broken our own speed records many times over . . . And we continue to work on making it all go even faster.

  4. Democracy on the web works.

    Google search works because it relies on the millions of individuals posting links on websites to help determine which other sites offer content of value. We assess the importance of every web page using more than 200 signals and a variety of techniques, including our patented PageRank™ algorithm, which analyzes which sites have been “voted” to be the best sources of information by other pages across the web . . .

  5. You don’t need to be at your desk to need an answer.

    People want access to information wherever they are, whenever they need it. We’re pioneering new technologies and offering new solutions for mobile services to do any number of tasks on their phone, from checking email and calendar events to watching videos . . .

  6. You can make money without doing evil.

    Google is a business. The revenue we generate is derived from offering search technology to companies and from the sale of advertising displayed on our site and on other sites across the web. Hundreds of thousands of advertisers worldwide use AdWords and Adsense to promote their products . . . To ensure that we’re ultimately serving all our users, we have a set of guiding principles for our advertising programs and practices:

    • We don’t allow ads to be displayed on our results pages unless they are relevant where they are shown. And we firmly believe that ads can provide useful information if, and only if, they are relevant to what you wish to find . . .
    • Advertising can be effective without being flashy. We don’t accept pop-up advertising . . . text ads that are relevant to the person reading them draw much higher click-through rates . . .
    • Advertising on Google is always clearly identified as a “Sponsored Link.” We never manipulate rankings to put our partners higher in our search results and no one can buy better PageRank.
  7. There’s always more information out there.

    Once we’d indexed more of the HTML pages on the Internet than any other search service, our engineers turned their attention to information that was not as readily accessible. Sometimes it was just a matter of integrating new databases into search, such as adding a phone number and address lookup and a business directory. Other efforts required a bit more creativity, like adding the ability to search news archives, patents, academic journals, billions of images and millions of books. And our researchers continue looking into ways to bring all the world’s information to people seeking answers.

  8. The need for information crosses all borders.

    Our company was founded in California, but our mission is to facilitate access to information for the entire world, and in every language. To that end, we have offices in more than 60 countries, maintain more than 180 Internet domains, and serve more than half of our results to people living outside the United States. We offer Google’s search interface in more than 130 languages, offer people the ability to restrict results to content written in their own language, and aim to provide the rest of our applications and products in as many languages and accessible formats as possible. Using our translation tools, people can discover content written on the other side of the world in languages they don’t speak. With these tools and the help of volunteer translators, we have been able to greatly improve both the variety and quality of services we can offer in even the most far–flung corners of the globe.

  9. You can be serious without a suit.

    Our founders built Google around the idea that work should be challenging, and the challenge should be fun. We believe that great, creative things are more likely to happen with the right company culture–and that doesn’t just mean lava lamps and rubber balls. There is an emphasis on team achievements and pride in individual accomplishments that contribute to our overall success. We put great stock in our employees–energetic, passionate people from diverse backgrounds with creative approaches to work, play and life. Our atmosphere may be casual, but as new ideas emerge in a café line, at a team meeting or at the gym, they are traded, tested and put into practice with dizzying speed–and they may be the launch pad for a new project destined for worldwide use.

  10. Great just isn’t good enough.

    We see being great at something as a starting point, not an endpoint. We set ourselves goals we know we can’t reach yet, because we know that by stretching to meet them we can get further than we expected. For example, when one of our engineers saw that search worked well for properly spelled words, he wondered about how it handled typos. That led him to create an intuitive and more helpful spell checker.

    Even if you don’t know exactly what you’re looking for, finding an answer on the web is our problem, not yours. We try to anticipate needs not yet articulated by our global audience, and meet them with products and services that set new standards . . .  Ultimately, our constant dissatisfaction with the way things are becomes the driving force behind everything we do.

Posted by DALSF2011 on September 26th, 2013

Filed under For Writers | No Comments »

Can People Find Your Site?

Search engine optimization (SEO) is actually a marketing term created for the Internet. Newspapers used to encourage single copy sales by placing crucial information “above the fold,” as that is what passersby saw in the newsstand.

SEO is simply a process of implementing strategies through words and phrases designed to increase your website’s position in organic search results . . . “organic” meaning an unpaid position, which is important as organic results are more trusted than are paid-for positions.

A “search engine friendly” website is one that has been built on elements appealing to search engines including, but not limited to, quality content, diverse external links, optimized on-page HTML code such as title tags, meta descriptions, redirects, etc. Most important, once people find you, you provide information that is of use to your audience. While many “experts” profess to be able to position you on top of the charts, this doesn’t always prove true.

Most search engines, and most importantly Google (ranked first in search engine use in America with a 64% market share according to 2009 Nielsen ratings) use web crawlers to track potential growth in traffic, unique content, as well as a multitude of other factors to position page rankings. Using the right terms is a way for businesses to promote their brand as well as increase exposure through online, industry specific content.

Optimizing for search engines – the most direct way for consumers to find you online – is a growing practice for established businesses, as well as start-ups and entrepreneurs to meet the demands for instant access to information.

Web sites I have built that are on top of organic searches are on top specifically because of content; the text is relevant to readers, easily searchable, and delivers.

There are quite a few considerations, but the following are most important — in my opinion — and will get you started with positioning your Website:

SEO: Search Engine Optimization is the “Science” of publishing information and marketing in a manner that helps search engines to determine if your site is relevant to specific search queries; this should include copyrighting in a manner that provides relevant information to anyone who reaches your site.(Note: In my opinion, they only reason someone labelled this a “science” is ’cause they could then charge more money for it. Good and relevant content on your Web site will bring your audience.)
Link Building: Provide only quality links to your readers, meaning keep links to a minimum and deliver at the end of each link. You will have 2-3 clicks and 2-5 seconds at most to “deliver the goods” before you lose your readers
Google Google is still the world’s leading search engine in terms of reach. They started search ranking by analyzing linkage data via page rank. It’s worthwhile to keep up on what Google is doing; for example, they have been changing their methods of ranking sites; make a few searches, check out the layout and watch it change through the months.
Home Page, Landing Page(s): This is your main page on your Web site. If someone types in your url (your Web page name), say from a business card, this is where they will land. This page will establish your professionalism (or lack thereof) to your visitors. Keep in mind though, that because of search engines, it is quite possible that people will come into your site on a totally different page based on the topic of a given page; THAT speaks to the importance of a strong content and property navigation with contact information on every page of your site.
Spiders (Web Crawlers), such as those from Google — which is called a Google Bot — crawl through your site to find relevant content for their index. Example, if you type “maritime heritage ports” into Google, odds are good that you will find the following listings, each of which goes to a different page on The Maritime Heritage Project (a site I have been building for 14 years):

  • Ships in the Port of San Francisco 1849: The Maritime Heritage …The Maritime Heritage Project is a U.S. registered 501(c)(3) tax exempt …
    www.maritimeheritage.org/inport.htm
  • Sandwich Island Ports 1800s: The Maritime Heritage Project with …Atlas of World Ports · CIA World Factbook. The Maritime Heritage Project …
    www.maritimeheritage.org/ports/usHawaii.html
  • World Ports in the 1800s: The Maritime Heritage Project with News …Atlas of World Ports · CIA World Factbook. The Maritime Heritage Project …
    www.maritimeheritage.org/ports/england.html
Register Your Site Name(s): If you don’t have your site name(s) registered already, you definitely will need to do so. I maintain that if you don’t have a Web site, you are not in business. Prequalification by shoppers via Internet research has been growing dramatically through the years. Additionally 85% of net surfers are also Internet shoppers (ecommercetimes.com). Reserve every version of your name and your company name. I didn’t do that when I started MaritimeHeritage.org and I regret it just about every day. Now, when I register a site, it includes .com (of course — this is the main choice and if you can’t get that, rethink your business name as people automatically type in .com), .net, .org, .us, .co, (the newest), .me (it’s an ego thing).
Fresh Content: This is the key to keeping your site on top of the charts. For a nominal fee, through the addition of a simple “helpful hint” each month, your site can be kept on the top of search pages. If you don’t want to hire someone to do this for you, consider having your site built as a WordPress Blog or having a Blog added to your site so that you can maintain it if you have any facility for typing and developing information.

Posted by DALSF2011 on April 11th, 2013

Filed under Blogs | No Comments »

Time To Build a Site?

First, PLEASE don’t use “free accounts” from companies offering you a “free Website.”

Sites offered free have to cover costs somehow, which may mean they drop ads on your site and those ads could be competitive, which I ‘ve seen often in the real estate industry.

“Free” comes with a high price if your goal is to draw clients for your company; the host site gets the traffic, not your site. If it’s an all-Flash site such as Wix.com offers, search engines have trouble reading Flash, meaning you build the site and no one knows where you are. I’ve just rebuilt a client’s site that had been on Wix for one year getting nowhere. It was rebuilt/switched a few weeks ago and it is already climbing the Google and Alexa.com charts!

Sites built correctly with your own solid content may get you into Google’s top ten. 90% of the sites I build show up in Google’s page ranking system. One of my sites is ABOVE the Marin Independent Journal’s online publication; the newspaper has a team of people working on that site. I’m a one-person operation and I’m right there with them, so it can be done!

In case you’re curious about my stats: Content IS King

That said, if you’ve decided to “do it yourself,” then do yourself a favor and pick up any of the following Peachpit Press books by Elizabeth Castro. I learned just about everything I know about Web design, Illustrator, PhotoShop, etc. from Peachpit Press’ books, especially from Castro’s books.

An earlier version of this particular book is LITERALLY how I learned to build Web sites. HTML (HyperText Markup Language) is the lingua franca of the Web, and like any language, it’s constantly evolving. So Elizabeth Castro has written HTML 4 for the World Wide Web, Fourth Edition: Visual QuickStart Guide, an update to her blockbuster guide to HTML 4. She also includes links to her site so you can check updates to the book as you go/grow.

Many of us at the outset are tempted to sign up for a low-cost or free Web package that proposes to have an “easy point-and-click” setup. Unless you are simply setting up a family album, “point-and-clicks” just don’t work that well, you give up lots of control, you may give up value such as Web site positioning and, again, competitors ads may be dropped on your site. Also, it isn’t only or necessarily the Web site that draws your clients; it is the content, which has nothing to do with point-and-click site building.

If you decide to go point-and-click anyway, at least pick up one book that will help you Create a Web Page with HTML: Visual QuickProject Guide so that you have a sense of what it’s all about.

HTML guides.These books help you create beautifully coded HTML Web pages that perform predictably and consistently across all browsers and platforms. If you decide you want to change a font color or size, you just go to that page. It can be, and probably will be daunting initially, but Elizabeth Castro, who is a best-selling author in this realm, knows that most readers don’t need an encyclopedic reference, just simple instructions for creating their first Web page. This compact guide gives just that: Rather than explaining every tag and option, she demonstrates the quickest, easiest, smartest route to creating that first Web page.

IF you are just starting out, consider a blog. They are much much easier to set up and manage, in part because of all of the exceptional templates offered through WordPress and other blogging sites. Castro has written Publishing a Blog with Blogger: Visual QuickProject Guide for this. Because I learned so much about HTML, CSS, etc. from her earlier works, when I got around to blogs it was easy . . . and, again, blogs are easier in general.

Lastly, and this is SO important: Select your Web/Blog hosting company carefully. Your friendly neighborhood host company may not have the services necessary to your success as you grow. You NEED a company that has a solid track record, is available 24/7, charges reasonable fees, has a friendly/knowledgable staff, can fix things within minutes NOT days and has all the latest widgets should you need more widgets! I know all this first-hand ’cause that is the type of service I have gotten from GoDaddy.com for many years.

Posted by DALSF2011 on April 11th, 2013

Filed under Blogs | No Comments »

Your Heat Lamp

Artisteer - Web Design GeneratorWell, not yours exactly . . . but that of your web site. I recently completed a site based on a client’s wishes. This person is a top-notch print designer, but hasn’t completely embraced reader habits of people visiting Web sites. So I don’t think the site will work based on that design and recommended reviewing some of the following.

Concerns:

  • Indexing: You have less than 3 seconds to grab your visitors. Indexing on the bottom of the page (“below the fold” in newspaper jargon) is inadvisable. This can’t be seen on a mobile device, which is how many younger executives view the Web, and, generally people will not scroll down to the bottom of a page in any case.
  • Graphics must be top notch and compliment the layout and site. If they are poor quality, viewers will assume that you and/or your Web designer does not know what they are doing.

Homework:

More on the F-Shaped Pattern (F Means FAST)

According to Jakob Nielson, who recorded how 232 users view thousands of Web pages with their Web Content

Eyetracking visualization heat-reading software, users often read Web pages in an F-shaped pattern: two horizontal stripes followed by a vertical stripe.
In a few seconds, your visitors eyes move at amazing speeds across your website’s words in a pattern that’s very different from what you learned in school.

Basically, they found that the reading pattern resembles an “F”:

  • Users first read in a horizontal movement, usually across the upper part of the content area. This initial element forms the F’s top bar.
  • Next, users move down the page a bit and then read across in a second horizontal movement that typically covers a shorter area than the previous movement. This additional element forms the F’s lower bar.
  • Finally, users scan the content’s left side in a vertical movement. Sometimes this is a fairly slow and systematic scan that appears as a solid stripe on an eyetracking heatmap. Other times users move faster, creating a spottier heatmap. This last element forms the F’s stem.
    Obviously, users’ scan patterns are not always comprised of exactly three parts. Sometimes users will read across a third part of the content, making the pattern look more like an E than an F. Other times they’ll only read across once, making the pattern look like an inverted L (with the crossbar at the top).
Heatmaps from user eyetracking studies of three websites.

The areas where users looked the most are colored red; the yellow areas indicate fewer views, followed by the least-viewed blue areas. Gray areas didn’t attract any fixations.

The above heatmaps show how users read three different types of Web pages:

  • an article in the “about us” section of a corporate website (far left)
  • a product page on an e-commerce site (center)
  • a search engine results page (SERP; far right).
    If you squint and focus on the red (most-viewed) areas, all three heatmaps show the expected F pattern. Of course, there are some differences.

The F viewing pattern is a general shape.
On the e-commerce page (middle example), the second crossbar of the F is lower than usual because of the intervening product image. Users also allocated significant time to a box in the upper right where the price and “add to cart” button are found.

On the SERP (right example), the second crossbar of the F is longer than the top crossbar, mainly because the second headline is longer than the first.

  • Users won’t read your text in a word-by-word manner.
  • The first two paragraphs must state the most important information. This is consistent with classic newspaper style — an inverted triangle is generally used to describe this.
  • Start subheads, paragraphs, and bullet points with information-carrying words that users will notice when scanning down the left side of your content.
  • If you “MUST” build your own site, please consider using a package from the #1 Automated Web Design Software for Blogs, CMS and Portals. Generate templates for WordPress, Joomla and Drupal. I actually use DreamWeaver for my sites, but I also often combine my skills with templates from companies that are known for using “best practices.”

Posted by DALSF2011 on April 11th, 2013

Filed under WebWork | No Comments »

Content IS King

Google Analytics validates that “content is king.”

The Internet has more than 1 billion Websites, yet fewer than 20% are visible; most receive a dozen or so visitors each month.

Many of the Web sites you are up against have teams of writers, editors, photographers, artists, and programmers feeding their sites (i.e. SFGate.com is owned by Hearst Corporation and fed by San Francisco Chronicle media professionals).

You CAN play with the Big Boys and keep your service/company on top of searches by adding frequent content relevant to your business. That is what feeds search engines.

Check your site by visiting Google Analytics:

Web Site Online Ranking
Google.com 1998 10
Yahoo.com 1984 9
BankOfAmerica.com 1998 8
SFGate.com (Chronicle/Hearst) 1994 7
StateFarm.com 1995 7
1998 6
LegalAidMarin.org 2002 5
NorthbayFamilyHomes (NFH.org) (New design) 2000 5
2008 4
2009 4
MarinIJ.com (newspaper) 1996 4
2009 4
2005 4
2008 4
MarinMarket.com 1997 4
HaleyProductions.com (MarinMarket) 1998 4
HennessyAdvisors.com 2001 3
2009 3
2010 3
MooreCPA.com (MarinMarket) 1999 3
2009 3
2010 3
FinishesUnlimited.net 2003 2
Hydrex.info 2001 2
JaredHuffman.com (Assemblyman) 2005 2
Pro Mortgage: National Firm 1997 1
  • Sites developed by D.A. Levy, MarinEStudios

Report as of May 17, 2011

Posted by DALSF2011 on February 19th, 2013

Filed under Blogs, WebWork | No Comments »