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What Is Web Usability?

huge consumer electronics storeHuge Consumer Electronic StoreWeb Usability. It sounds very simple. "It’s just how to use the Web, right? I already know how to do that." That’s not exactly right. In fact, Web Usability is the layout, construction, structure and navigation of your website. Does that sound simple now?

Web Usability - A Real World Comparison

You can compare a website to an actual store. Let’s say you walk into one of those big retailers, looking for a new baseball glove. Now, you’ve never been there before. So, you first need to find the Sporting Goods section. This store is huge. And with all the shelves and displays up front, you can’t see the layout of the remaining 80% of the space.

The store might have a guide/map up front for you to check out. Then again, if it’s the chain I have in mind, they probably don’t. Instead, you’re going to wander around looking for signs. You also might use past experience in stores to make an educated guess. For example, you probably would look for the Pharmacy in the same area as the medicine and vitamins. That’s where they usually put it.

 store guide mapStore Guide MapNotice I didn’t say anything about asking someone who works there? That’s because it wouldn’t fit our example. Websites don’t have disgruntled slackers or underpaid clerks roaming around. Your sense of where you are and where what you want to go is dependent on the web designer. The hierarchy and site layout is created by them – and used by you.

Easy To Use = Easy To Profit

The ease of site use by your visitors is the same as the visitors to our store. How easy is it to find different sections of the site? Is there an easily located sitemap for them to consult? Do they have a sense of where they are in the site and how to go back to a page they visited before? Without using the browser ‘Back’ arrow?

example sitemapExample SitemapA frustrated customer might keep going back to the ‘real’ store in our example just because they’re the only game in town. Or they have the best price. But those advantages are few and far between on the Web. Chances are there is a viable competitor ready to take your frustrated visitors only a click or 2 away. And people do leave web sites when the get frustrated.

In a nutshell, Web Usability is making your site easily navigable, understandable and intuitive. It’s marketing, whether you realize it or not. Why? Because it’s a part of your image, your presentation, your place in the mind of the prospect. That’s why it is so crucial to success. Especially online, where you face a world of competition. Keep your visitors on your site and you’ll keep their business there, too. Now, that is as simple as that.

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Why Have An Article Website?

Article submission website listArticle Posting WebsiteKnow the fact

Presumably, you already know what internet is all about. It’s all about content. With free quality content, you can easily attract the masses. Some may consider this an investment while some may treat it as a hobby.

If you are wondering why some may treat it as an investment, what is there to invest in? Well, basically, having your own article website can often be the most powerful marketing weapon. You can increase your product sales or even attract many advertisers to place advertisements (Banners, text links) on your website should the site grow. Visitors will stay on your web site longer, because there are lots of articles to read. This gives you additional opportunities at getting more clickthrough’s to your affiliate programs. You could feature links to your affiliate programs on each page you have articles.

While for hobby purpose, some just want to share their knowledge.

free Article Submission WebsiteArticle Submission WebsiteIn either case, you as the writer, will be treated as a professional by the public within your article categories range.

Now you have a brief idea of the benefits in having an article website. So how do you go about creating one? Let's imagine in the case where you have established a very popular article resource site, consisting of some excellent graphic designers and some award-winning writers. How can you make sure each of the individuals does their job well, and focuses on only their section of professionalism? For example, most designers ensure that your article website content looks great. This is what they do best. Writers on the other hand, write excellent articles but can't draw well or build websites.

Hence, you need to allow everyone to concentrate on what they are best at, and bring their output together to provide the website as a pleasant place for your visitors. The answer? Vezine Content Management application software is what you need.

Brief introduction to Vezine

As you may already have referred to Vezine's website, it is an online content management software that helps you create a full article website easily. Vezine allows you, the owner or administrator (as you call it) manage not only articles, but also allows you to handle your writers, designers and files or images uploaded for any individual articles as well.

search engine friendly optimizationSearch Engine Friendly OptimizationIn addition, Vezine recognizes that Search Engine Friendly Optimization is especially important. Without optimization, your listing in the search engine will not be in a good position.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) can be easily enhanced within your Vezine's administrator panel. The most common optimizing options are friendly URL and meta keywords and descriptions for each individual articles. You can already see an example here in this site.

So, as earlier on, we are talking about having individual professionals to each handle their own job well. For this, Vezine allows you to create multiple Groups. For example, you may want to create a Writer group. Allow this group to access only the Articles Management section and throw all writer's account into this group and have them login into the admin panel. Once logged in, they will be restricted with a limited access. Allowing them to only create articles but not tamper with the website templates and designs.

Of course, do the same by creating a Designer group, whereby you should only allow them to access the Templates Management section of the administrator panel. This is how and what you should consider if you want to create a successful article resource website.

There is more to it than meets the eye for this application, hence it is out of the scope for this article to provide a detailed explanation for each feature. Check out: http://www.vezine.com/features.php for more information that may surprise you.

Having a successful article website

Now, if you have decided, or have already run an article resource website, you will most likely want to stand out among other popular sites within your categories.

articlewritingArticle WritingThe most obvious point you should bear in mind. is to keep your article content fresh and updated. Using free content available in the market is not advisable. Try to come up with something unique and perhaps do some comparison, like what interesting or popular topics your competitors do not have, which you can consider creating for your site. You can easily know this by doing some market research in various community forums. Just remember, quality content is king!

Another point to note is to spice up some interesting RSS feeds to the public. RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication. It is an XML-based format for content distribution that contains a list of items, each of which is identified by a link. Each item can have any amount of metadata associated with it. RSS allows the user or their traffic to see your site topics without going out of their way to visit it. While this seems bad at first glance, it actually improves your site's visibility; by making it easier for your users to keep up to date with your site - allowing them to see it the way they want to - it's more likely that they'll know when something that interests them is available on your site.

RSS feedRSS FeedsYou can easily do so with Vezine, create as many feeds as you want to. An example can be found here in this site, located at your right hand side (Latest News). Once someone clicks on the topic title, she/he will be redirected to the site where the original content is (Full Story).

Of course, in order to attract an audience to use your feeds on their website, you will need to convince them with fresh and updated content often as mentioned above. Hence, whenever new articles are being published by you or your writers, your audience's websites who are using your feeds, will also have the latest articles topic listed. This is one of the benefit of RSS.

Optionally, have designers to design a nice professional looking theme for your Vezine. Navigation usability do play a big role in this, so choose someone whom you are sure have knowledge in this. Refer to The Art Of Vezine for an idea on how to design themes for your Vezine.

Conclusion

Now that you have a brief idea on what the benefits are of running an article resource site, and an overview of Vezine, you can start right away. Get yourself a Vezine license and pick up experience as you go and be patient.

content article writingContent Article WritingTry to focus more on the quality of your article content, instead of giving too much attention to your SEO. Remember, word of mouth by the public is also another way to boost your web site's reputation.

If writing articles is not within your professionalism, try and get a few writers to help. Perhaps even pay them (Remember I said investment?). Or, you can take this chance as a challenge and write a few articles about what you know or do best.

No matter what,if you have or decided to run an article resource site, do remember the points stated in this article. There are lots of great articles or tutorials here in Vezine.net, supplying you with various tips on using Vezine and how to do the job faster.

Read them up and best of luck!

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When To Let Go Of Your Website Designing Ideas

let goTime To Let GoAs hard as it may be, but letting go of your website designing ideas and listening to the customer may actually be of benefit in the long run.

I know what you are saying, you’ve been in the web designing business long enough to know what works and wont doesn’t, what would my customer know? Well after approaching web design in the same manner, I’ve unfortunately had no other choice but to give in to my best laid plans and comply with the wishes of my customers.

Construction of good websites usually means that it has to be appealing to the eye, as well as being fully functioning for Search Engine benefits, but ultimately it must display professionalism for the business represented.

Complying with W3C Standards (W3C Markup Validation Service) for both HTML and CSS validation is paramount to good design and programming (but not necessary for good Google PR, I will discuss in later posts), so when designing we like to use base HTML formatting and CSS text font like Tahoma 11pt, to make neat easy to read text and nice page image layouts.

I will list some cases of where letting go has benefits for both parties involved and how in some circumstances actually resulted in little or no web traffic for the website.

architectural businessArtchitectural BusinessCase Study 1. Architectural Firm flash and font matters

Our customer wanted the use of Flash elements to display several architecture images with a nice fade between images and changes to original CSS Font used Tahoma 11pt font and replaced with Century Gothic 11pt, which is used in all their logos and architecture design work.

As most would know embedding Flash files into your website results in W3C Validation undefined source failure, thus rendering the site Invalid Markup. After explaining this, the customer felt the need to have a nice graphical flash style image far outweighed the importance of quality valid HTML Transitional Markup. To them the appearance and perception of their website to their customers was far more advantageous than complying with the W3C.

In addition they wanted the use of the Century Gothic font rather than Tahoma. By design Century Gothic has a much larger font height than Tahoma and when used increased the page height larger than when using Tahoma thus resulting in the site displaying with scroll bars when view under 1024 x 768 resolution, where previously it fitted in the whole page perfectly.

In the end the customer achieved the desired affects they wanted and ultimately it is the customer who ‘always’ knows best.

Case Study 2. Box supplier becomes boxed in

Our customer had started a new business supplying cardboard boxes for moving and packing. They wanted a

simple site with heavy graphical image elements and little or no text on the home page.

cardboard boxesCardboard BoxesExplaining to the customer the role of text based search engines results and that having no ‘readable text’ on the home page would limit their visibility, they choose design over results.

Why you may ask would a company limit their possibilities of being found on search engines? Well the question still burns with us too, but as mentioned earlier the ‘customer always knows best’ and the decision was solely theirs to make.

Their philosophy was simple, their website was purely to be used as a reference guide and not the source of extra business, as their marketing strategies would be enough to garner constant business.

To this day I still wonder why they limited their marketability and in particular their website which is always online and can be searched at all times of the day.

So in summary the best laid plans of mice and men (well in this case web designers) can be a utter waste of good management as what I have stated all along that the ‘customer always knows best’ and ultimately they are the ones paying for your service so sometimes its best to lay down your guns and concede defeat.

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Fastest Way to Ruin a New Web Site?

planning websitePlanning WebsiteI’ve been asked, “How do I design a successful Website?”

I often respond, “Do you know the fastest way to ruin a new Web site design?” As you might suspect, the answer is, “Lack of proper planning beforehand.”

Let's put it another way. In programming, there's an old axiom, which states: "The sooner you start your coding the longer it takes to finish."

Planning out your Website before you build it is essential. To borrow a technique from the film industry, I recommend that you create a storyboard, which is a type of a flow chart of your new Web site design. You don’t have to be an accomplished artist to draw out your idea, but it’s essential to create it on paper first.

On each piece of paper, the goal is to have room for an image at the top, plus space underneath for writing down information. As you might suspect, the first page to start with is your home (or welcome) page, which will typically have the most information as it will contain the page the people visit before they enter your site and as people go through your site, the will encounter more information (in tiers) as they go down.web design planningWeb Design PlanningTypically, the home page links to 5-15 pages below that, which we could refer to as Tier 2. Each of those pages links to another 5-15 pages, which you could call Tier 3

If you use all of these pages, you’ll wind up with an extensive Web site design, of at least 226 pages (including the home page).

It's during this process that all sorts of problems will crop up. But it's much easier to solve them on paper than in the middle of coding rather than when you are finished.. If you don’t, you might run into a major problem along the way that would require a “back to the drawing board” complete site re-design.

Working things out on paper will give you a much better idea of how things will work and how to fix problems. And, if you have knowledgeable friends, get a second opinion.

Once you've completed the on-paper process, and you or your web designer is satisfied with the results, you’re ready to translate it into code. Unless you or your programmer is a pro, I would recommend using a “template”. These are ready-made Web site design formats. You can choose from several templates by typing “template source” in most search engines. Many of them are free.

Commonly Asked Questions

Q: For a Website, do I have to employ a pro, or can I call the guidance counselor at my local high school and ask for the names of some computer whiz kids that I could call to help me out (for a fee)?

A: It really depends on what you want to do. If all you want is 1-2 pages , you can learn how to build the Web site yourself. If it’s an intensive site with many pages, I’d recommend student or a pro (if you have the budget).

website planningWebsite PlanningQ: I see a lot of photo-oriented web sites that have a black background. Is this the best color to use?

A: Not necessarily. It’s a matter of opinion and personal taste. White can work just as well. I don’t recommend the use of other colors as they can compete with your images.

Q: Is “Flash” or audio acceptable?

A: If you absolutely need Flash to demonstrate an animation, then by all means use it. If it’s for a fancy trick, I recommend leaving it out. It’s similar with sound. Unless it adds to your site, don’t use it. And if you do use sound, give users an option to turn it off. If you don’t, you’re likely to lose visitors.

If you would like a free quotation, or more information, please do not hesitate to contact us.

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What a Website Needs to Succeed!

designing websiteA Proven Formula for All Websites Designing a WebsiteEvery business needs a website. It is an absolute MUST! Nowadays, it’s like not being in the phone book. The In//ternet is a digitally-indexed database that is searchable. Whenever anyone wants to know more about anything, they look it up on the Internet, in their own time, 24/7, without the pressure of a sales person. With search engines, such as Gogle.com or Yahoo.com, the information they are looking for can be f/ound in seconds.

If you aren’t where people are looking, you CAN’T get the sale.

Even if you aren’t planning on selling anything online, you still need to have an Internet presence, telling your story and being a 24/7 sales person for you. The Internet is information. So, even if you just have an informational website, people can find out more about you, your company, what you have to offer, and why they should choose you over your competition. A website gives you the opportunity to get all of that across to your potential customer.

Following, are proven components of a website and why you will need them in yours.

A Home Page is the window into your website and should be short, sweat, and to the point. Statistically, it has been proven that you get about 3 seconds, once a person arrives at your website, to get them interested enough to click for more information. If you can get them to click, then you have them! If you try to give them all of the information at once, then you will lose them.

website pagesWebsite PagesSome websites try to give you their inventory on the home page, or write a story that scrolls forever. This is not good. A home page should not scroll. This is a big “No No”. When people get to a home page and see paragraphs, trust me, they go on to the next website. It needs graphics that represent the services, happy pictures, happy customers, and a quick sales pitch. Remember, people are lazy and won’t read large amounts of text, unless they have a need to. And included on the home page, needs to be quickly gotten across, why someone should use you over your competitor.

The About Us page sometimes gets left off, in favor of making the home page the About Us page. You will want to have an About Us page that explains in detail what you have to offer, your history, your mission statement, and a good reason that a potential customer should use buy from you over your competitor. This can be seen as the detailed version of the home page. However, it is a mistake to forgo the About Us page in exchange for a detailed home page. Again, this will just push people away who do not want to read all of the details to find out who you are and what you have to offer. This information should be available for those who wish to see more information after they are intrigued by the home page.

Design rules. For uniformity and good design, websites (any marketing piece) should have rules for graphic elements and text. For example, all headings should be the same size/style/color, etc. All subheads should have their own size/style/color, etc. This helps the eye make sense of what it is looking at. Guide your visitor with well-placed graphics and text.

navigation buttonsNavigation ButtonsMake sure that your website has good navigation, with buttons/links for all main sections of your website. And be sure to keep these navigation buttons/links visible on ANY page. There is nothing more frustrating than to not be able to find your way while browsing a website. People will leave before becoming too frustrated. Don’t let this happen on your website!

The constant, flashing email (or other) button/advertisement is a "No No" these days. In the old days, flashing and blinking graphics were used. As websites became more graphically sophisticated, these types of elements were not used any more. It can be annoying to see something flashing just off your vision, when you are trying to read the web page.

Text links at the bottom are rarely used any more. They were implemented back in the day of the text-based websites, when they were just starting out. This was for the dial-up users who had the option to turn off graphics for faster web page loading. When this happened, there were no links for navigation, unless a webmaster placed text links at the bottom. Nowadays, most people have broadband connections, and this just isn't necessary any more.

The biggest problem I see with websites these days is that a person has to read quite a bit to see what, exactly, a website is selling. When people show up at your website, you get about 3 seconds to peak their interest. Get it across very quickly, with icons/graphics/bullet points that are easy to understand. Tell them why they should choose you over your competition. And then tell them where to go to get started.

customer testimonialsCustomer TestimonialsAnother very important element is testimonials. More important than telling them why a potential customer should use your services over your competitions’, is a customer of yours saying the same thing. Not only is a testimonial someone who used your services, but they can say "how" you were able to help them. This gives new potential customers ideas on how your services will help “them”. Testimonials are also sales pitches from your happy customers, people just like them. They are people who were in the same position as they are right now and they got through it, so they can too. They also build credibility. When you are endorsed by other people, you have credibility and that you can do what you say you can do. And even though they may be saying the same thing that you are saying, it is coming from someone just like them, and not someone who is trying to sell them anything. They have nothing to gain by saying this. You do. So they need to hear from them. You absolutely MUST have endorsements for your business; otherwise, you are just blowing your own horn!

The next best thing to a testimonial page is an FAQ page. An FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) page answers questions for your company 24/7, when you can't be at the phone to answer, and for people who would rather look over your information than speak to someone who might try to sell them something. FAQs also help to give scenarios of how they can be helped, by answering questions that other potential customers have asked, and they might not have thought of themselves. This gets them thinking and gives them answers in a risk-free environment. It is VERY important to have an FAQ working for you 24/7. It's like having a free sales person working for you around the clock, fielding all questions that might come up! It's a MUST-have for ANY website!

call to action iconsCall to Action IconsYour website should also have a clear "call to action". A lot of websites say that “we are here and we do this”, but You should sprinkle testimonials throughout, as well, leading them back to the full testimonials and then to the call to action, which should be placed on the testimonials page, as well. You could offer a FREE Consultation by calling right now… or click HERE now to email us 24/7 for a FREE Consultation… something that tells them where to go from here and a reason to get started right now and how.

There also needs to be graphics to help tell the story; high-end icons that help draw the eye to the item of interest, to get them to read it. Having a text-only page usually does not get read. People are lazy and will not usually read paragraphs of information in hopes of getting the information they are looking for. They would have to first be extremely interested before reading the “fine print”. And to get them interested, it should be broken up with graphics that represent each section. They will see the related graphic first, and then move to that area if interested. But to give them a page of information usually doesn't work.

You also need meta tags. This is very important to search engines. These are hidden key words and phrases that describe what you offer, but also your location, etc. Search engines rely heavily on key words and phrases in order to give your website as a result in a search done for your type of business. In fact, it is also good to have misspelled keywords that people might type in order to find you. Obviously, you won’t want to have misspelled words or phrases on your page, since this will give the wrong impression of who you are. With meta tags, misspelled words are hidden in the code of the website, but can be used to bring people to your website who may not be able to correctly spell some your services. Even putting your competitions’ names and products in your meta tags can help get traffic to your site, so that they can compare your products and services to your competitors’.

website articlesWebsite ArticlesAnother item that puts you high on the search engine results listing is having articles about your type of business, both on your website, and other websites that link back to yours for more information on the subject. Offering free information makes you an authority on the subject, not just someone trying to sell their wares. This plays heavily in search results, along with one-way links back to your website. When you get one-way links back to your site for more information, this gives you much credibility and definitely helps to make you an authority that other sites rely on. So when someone looks up your type of product or service for more information, obviously the search engine will give a site that has the most helpful and free information (and one that other sites rely on for more information on this subject) a higher rating and puts them higher on the search results list.

A FREE Tips & Tricks or Hints page is also a good way to get relevant traffic. People are always looking for How-To's and DIY information on all types of subjects. On my site I have FREE Tech Tips that get hits all the time, which pertain to my services. Again, a percentage of these hits click on my services. And the only way I got them there was because of the FREE How-To's that I offer. So, you have to entice people to your site, by offering more than your competitor's website. This is where these types of pages come in handy.

It is also good to have a Privacy Policy page. This shows integrity and also builds credibility and a higher ranking in the search engines. This is one item that search engines look for, in particular. Websites with a page dedicated to a Privacy Policy get a higher ranking and your site will show up higher in the search results.

more info buttonMore Info ButtonA Guarantee page is also a good idea. Again, this gives credibility and will give you an edge over your competitor, who may not offer a guarantee. A website that has a guarantee, but is hard to find, makes a potential customer feel like they have something to hide and may not purchase from that website. However, if you have an easy-to-find Guarantee that you put right in their face (whether you dedicate a page to it, or you put it right on the Home page), it eases potential customers into a buying position.

You may want to have a form that allows a customer to request more information about your product or service, and which also lets the customer type in their personal information and what they are looking for. This not only helps you by getting their contact information, it also helps by prompting the potential customer into thinking about other aspects. By doing it this way, you will also get all of the information needed to correctly quote a product or service more effectively, without having to make additional phone calls to the customer. The more common way of requesting information is just by posting an INFO email address and hope that the person requesting the info knows enough about what he is looking for to provide all of the info to get a good quote. This is not usually the case. Most of the time they need a form to fill out. In most cases, there is info that is left out. A form ensures that you get everything needed to quote the product or service accurately. And, also, by offering a form to request more info, leads will be generating 24-7 for you. All you have to do is the quote and give them a call. This reduces the need for cold-calling, and gives you an excuse to call and close the deal.

search engine optimizationSearch Engine OptimizationIf you incorporate all of the above pages, along with the “way” these pages should be shown, your website will have a higher ranking in the search engines, which puts your website higher in the search results, thus significantly increasing the traffic to your website!

The above categories aren't the only things you can do to increase traffic to your website. SEO (Search Engine Optimization) should also be done, as well as swapping links with relevant websites, and posting articles and links back to your website from online article and content websites.

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