Category Archives: Daily post

HTML Versions

HTML Versions

The World Wide Web Consortium (http://www.w3.org) develops the various standards and protocols used throughout the web. One of their key jobs is to develop new and updated standards for the HTML markup language.

There have been many different version of HTML over the years. The table below highlights some of the versions of HTML and brief descriptions of each version.

 

5 ways to get more sales on your

5 ways to get more sales on your ecommerce website

Let’s get going with 5 simple ways to increase your conversion rate, and get more sales from your website:

1. Keep it Simple

This is the number one rule of all e-commerce websites and cannot be stressed enough. Complicated or confusing checkout processes with lots of options or lack of clear navigation put off more customers than anything else. You should try your checkout yourself, or better still watch someone who has never used your site try it out. How do they get on? Is it always clear to them what to do next?

2. Clear Pricing & Costs

The second biggest loss of customers comes about when a checkout starts to add on costs. Of course dellivery costs are often added on during a checkout. Keep these costs as low and as SIMPLE as possible. Don’t try to hide your delivery costs, the later on in the process the customer becomes aware of them the more likely they are to drop out. The best way of handling delivery costs is to integrate them into the cost of the product and then offer apparently “free delivery”.

3. Don’t Oversell

Some sites lose business because they try too hard to up-sell or cross-sell. In many ways this goes back to point 1, keeping the entire process simple. But to some visitors aggressive cross-selling is an even bigger put-off. Sometimes you can lose a visitor simply because they move away from the checkout to look at something else you are offering them – and then lose interest and don’t buy at all. Always remember you want to get your customer from product page to payment page as quickly and with as little distraction as possible.

4. Be Careful With Offers

I know we said use discount codes to get customers to visit your website! And yes, we stand by that! But it’s important to present the opportunity to use a discount code carefully and discretely in the checkout. If a customer has a code chances are they are going to be looking for where to use it, so you don’t need to push the fact you accept codes in every visitor’s face. The problem is if a customer doesn’t have a discount code they may feel they are getting a poor deal. They may try going to Google to search for a discount code, and then they are gone, off your site – probably never to return.

5. Offer a Guest Checkout

We all have far too many accounts nowadays. Don’t force your customer to register and setup yet another password just to buy something. Of course offer the feature for those that want it – but every site needs to have a guest checkout route – or you’re just throwing business away.

pop-imap

The difference between POP and IMAP

When you download your email to your local devices (desktop/mobile phone) you will almost always be using one of two ancient email protocols. Either POP (aka POP3) or IMAP. The way you choose to download your email, which protocol you pick, has important consequences for how your email works.

POP

In simple terms when you connect with POP you are downloading a copy of all your email to your local device. Every device you connect to your email server will get its own copy of the email. So for example if you delete an email on your desktop it is deleted only on the desktop, it is not also deleted on your mobile phone.

Similarly if you create a folder on your PC and move emails into it, this move is happening on your PC only, not across all devices. This is because all the emails, and folders, just exist on your local device.

It’s important when downloading emails via POP that you leave a copy of the email on the server for some time (e.g. 10 days). You can ask the server to delete emails immediately after download but if you do this then you will not be able to download emails to more than one device. For example if you download the email on your PC first it will then be deleted on the server and your mobile phone will never get a chance to download it.

It’s also important that you do delete emails on the server eventually rather than leave them on the server forever – as otherwise your email server will eventually fill up all available space and you won’t be able to receive new emails. Even though Webfuel email accounts offer a very generous 25GB of storage, this will eventually fill up given the volume and size of modern email.

IMAP

When you connect to an email server via IMAP your local device is showing you what is on the server, rather than downloading the emails locally. So any changes you make are happening on the server. If you delete an email it is deleting it on the server. If you move an email into a folder this is happening on the server.

Because of this all your devices always see the same emails, and the same folders. Also the act of keeping your mailbox clean on your device (e.g. deleting old / irrelevant emails) should also keep the amount of storage you are using on the server under control.

POP or IMAP?

So which protocol should you use? Well really it depends on how you want to work, and what you are used to. The important thing is to understand there is a distinction, and what the implications of each option are.

POP in general is simpler to understand because you will only every see changes on the device you make those changes on. But for people who regularly use multiple devices IMAP can be less work to maintain, for example you only ever need to delete an irrelevant email once.

One of the common issues we see with email is customers not understanding there is a difference in these protocols, and often using both across different devices. It is possible to mix protocols but doing so makes it even harder to reason about what your mailbox is doing, and harder to keep mailbox sizes under control. Unless you really understand what you are doing connecting one device with POP and another with IMAP is almost always a mistake.

content-king

What Great SEO Content Looks Like

We are always being told that ‘content is king’, but what qualifies as good SEO content? How can you create content that is good for your website, good for users, and good for search engines? Here are some key characteristics of great SEO content –  use these guidelines to help you ignite your site’s content.

Why do you need content?

We can all agree that content has now become part of the SEO basics, but what makes it so compelling for your business?

  • Content increases on-site engagement metrics by getting people to stick around on your website for longer, as well as click around more whilst they are there. An engaging website that fares well with users is more likely to rank (and convert).
  • Content can be used for lead-generation as part of your sales funnel. Downloadable PDFs and guides have become a popular (and perhaps an overdone) content marketing tactic. Here is how to integrate your content strategy with your sales funnel.
  • Great content that spans your niche will increase your search engine relevancy. Publishing frequent content that is filled with diverse keywords will keep your site fresh and relevant.
  • Content can also help increase your domain authority. Content is the cornerstone of many SEO link building tactics like the Skyscraper Method – without great content you will struggle to establish yourself as a viable player in your vertical.

Don’t fall into the SEO trap of chasing after volume and neglecting quality – the SEO gains achieved by an in-depth piece are better than those made from lower quality content.

Audience-led & targeted

Content is made for consumption and must be based on audience & market research.

Good content comes from your audience. It uses their language, answers their questions; and speaks to their hopes, fears, and desires.

  • Audience led content relies on an intimate relationship with your readership. You need a thorough understanding of who you are talking to – don’t start typing until you’ve done researching. Spend time on social media, online forums, and talking to people to get a real feel for your audience. Capture your research insights to help you align your content with your audience.
  • The next stage is developing fleshed-out buyer personas that will help you target your content at a real human being. Buyer personas stop your content from being stale and generic – you’ve got someone real to talk to.
  • Interviewing experts is a fantastic way to share valuable data with your audience without having to spend loads of time and money on research. Just make sure you get the right experts in (and use incentives like free promotion to entice interviewees).
Intelligently keyword-led

You need to intimately know your keywords. Keyword research in 2017 is not about two or three letter phrases, but about broadening your search out to wider content themes, semantic SEO variants, and user questions.

  • Use a keyword research tool like Ubersuggest to find out what searchers are looking for when they are in the market for your products or services. Plan out editorial content that addresses these key concerns.
  • Make sure that you have covered all bases, and that you’ve been genuine and specific in your sales copy – bland sales copy won’t impress anyone.
  • Use your keywords intelligently and incorporate a wide vocabulary of synonyms into your website copy.
Purposeful

Great content doesn’t stop and meander aimlessly – it flows. That’s why it’s good for SEO – it has a clear purpose. Trying to do too many things at once will make your content messy and unclear.

  • Don’t just panic and throw up content without a proper strategy – be clear on what you are trying to achieve with each piece you publish. It’s worth spending more time on content planning to make sure your content is meeting its target.
  • Set out a detailed optimisation and promotional strategy for each bit of content that you create, so that you can be sure that it will find a broad search audience.
  • Don’t target more than one keyword theme on one page – try to separate content out into discrete pieces to avoid overlap or confusion.
Integrated

Good content sits at the heart of an organisation and is aligned with its goals and internal resources. Don’t make the mistake of assigning content to just the SEO team – it needs to be everyone’s responsibility.

Get all the different departments involved when creating flagship content. Your content will be much more authentic and successful if experts have been consulted. Here is how to create a culture of content within your organisation.

Be clever about how you use internal resources – integrate SEO and content activities with the wider marketing calendar.

Goes above and beyond

What is the point of rehashing the same old topics that have already been covered by your search competitors? Go above and beyond by finding new content avenues to explore.

  • Research your search competitors to see what’s already been done. Find new angles and ways to cover the same topics – try to offer more value and insight than they did. Focus on improving subject matter as well as formatting.
  • Focus your efforts on super long mega lists and guides – they get referred to and shared more, and are more likely to rank. Find illuminating images (not stock photos), and focus on quality writing and analysis.
Shareable

You need content that is going to get people talking and sharing. This takes a lot more than just adding a “share now” button – you need factor in shareability from day one.

  • Research tools like Buzzsumo can help you gauge what content topics and titles have been popular recently.
  • Observe how big news sites like Buzzfeed break down complex topics into shareable sound bites and photo stories – can you do the same? Include audience questions and opinions as much as you can – reddit roundup posts are a great formula to emulate.
  • Making shareable content isn’t just about being funny – serious and helpful stuff gets shared too. Focus on creating tools and guides rather than opinion pieces.
Diverse

Use different formats, new angles, and multiple author voices. Don’t keep pushing out the same stuff over and over again.

  • Got a great content idea? Publish it in different formats and see how they fare. Think outside the traditional blog post format to a series of live tweets, a live video, an interactive microsite and any other formats you think your audience would like! Here are some interesting branded content examples to get your creative juices flowing.
  • Focus your content efforts on the channels where you get the most return. Experiment with content length and format until you get the right balance between investment and engagement.

Waterfall and Agile: An Infographic Comparison of Two Development Methodologies

If you are new to Software Development, it is important to know that there are different schools of thought on the best way to turn your application idea into a reality. In an ideal sense, different methodologies align with different project characteristics that are usually defined by the person or organization paying for the work. However, Segue has found that it is rare that a methodology can be followed in its ideal form, and it takes a hybrid approach and some real-world sensibilities to ensure that your development team can bring the customer’s application to life: within budget, timeline, and meeting or exceeding their expectations.

As a customer of software development services, the following infographic highlights some common project characteristics and how two well-known software methodologies align with them. It would be wrong to promise that you could “Frankenstein” together a development plan by picking from the below list, but this could help you determine what project aspects are most important to you, and which methodology better aligns with your needs.

Connecting to Users Through Emotional Web Design

The foundation of a strong, emotional connection stems from being able to relate to a certain subject. This same principle can be used for making an emotional connection with users on a website. To create a more personal user experience, web designers can use specific design components to engage emotional connections. These components should be refined specifically to the type of brand and their target audience. The components typically associated with emotional web design are imagery, colors, and tone of voice.

Imagery

During an initial first glance, users will quickly decide if a website is visually appealing. Websites with large photo banners can quickly engage a user. In order to ensure that this first encounter is a positive one, brands need to use images that are relatable to their users. People feel more empathic during face-to-face interactions and this applies to photos as well. Users are drawn to faces and connect more when they are able to recognize themselves within a photo, creating an emotional connection.

Colors

Colors play into emotions psychologically and play an important role in setting the tone for a website. Picking the appropriate colors for a website can help elicit a desired response from users. For instance, colors like red and yellow can make users feel anxious or in a hurry and they wouldn’t be suitable colors for a site whose target is to draw users to read content. Blues and greens seem to be a safe bet when appealing to users globally, but even shades of these colors has specific notions tied to them. For example, light and dark blue are considered calming, but dark blue is also a good color to showcase strength and security. Keeping in mind the specific emotional connections users have with colors will help you design a site that better connects more with your target users.

Tone of Voice

Words deliver a message, but tone of voice dictates how that message is received. The simple wording of a header title can form the personality of a website. What tone of voice should a brand’s website communicate to users– professional, empathetic, comedic? The answer should be directly related to what the users are coming to the site for.

Emotional Web Design in Action

Recently, the design team at Segue Technologies has been working on a new project for a company called Caring Village, which is a new, wholly owned subsidiary of Segue Technologies. The Caring Village brand aims to make it easier for caregivers to communicate, collaborate, and coordinate care for their loved one. The website is a collection of resources (including articles and product reviews), while the app is a communication tool that connects family members and friends caring for a loved one. In building the Caring Village website from the ground up, we started with colors and branding, which flowed into the design of the website and apps. Knowing that this is already an emotional subject, our goal as a team has been to put a lot of effort into gaining user connections and maintaining user’s trust with an emotional web design. Here’s how these elements came into play for Caring Village.

Imagery

Throughout caringvillage.com, we use large photo banners with people who emulate our users. This is especially important for the article pages because we want users to value and trust the information we are giving them. By showcasing photos that are relatable, we hope to grasp user’s empathy and personally connect with them. We want the imagery to show that we understand, we care, and we are here to help.

Color

The colors chosen for Caring Village are green, blue, and purple.

  • Green: symbolizes health, new beginnings, and wealth. Green is the easiest on the eyes and should be used to relax and create balance in a design. It is a great color to use if a company wants to depict growth and security, or to inspire possibility.
  • Blue: evokes feelings of calmness and spirituality as well as security and trust. Seeing the color blue causes the body to create chemicals that are calming. Light blues give a more relaxing, friendly feel.
  • Purple: associated with creativity, royalty, and wealth. Purple is often used to soothe or calm a viewer.

 Tone of Voice

We wanted Caring Village’s tone to sound empathetic, knowledgeable, encouraging, and innovative. Some of the information on the Caring Village site discusses subjects that can be very sensitive to people who are caring for a sick loved one. In writing our content, we try hard to maintain a tone of voice that expresses to our users that we understand and value their needs.

At the end of the day our main goal is to make a connection between the user and the website. When taking into consideration images, colors, and tone of voice on a website, always put the users first.

Web Design trends in 2016

2 distinct and somewhat opposite web design trends we’ll be seeing more of in 2016 are the use of rich illustrations and animation.

Rich Illustrations

In the past web site designers have relied heavily on stock photography and image libraries to provide the visual elements of their designs. Something that has become more prevalent in 2015 and that will carry on into 2016 and beyond is the use of original art work either created using traditional or computer based art tools.

With consumers becoming immune to the stock photography that is often overused and repeated across web sites hand-drawn imagery offers warmth, authenticity and originality.

Some brands will soon be associated not just with their logo and colours but also with the art style that they contain. The integration of handmade artwork in web design may well become something of a branding calling card.

Richer Animations

The web went through a period of embracing animation with the use of Flash, however once this lost its appeal due to cross platform, seo and usability issues the web became increasingly static for a good few years. However we are now again embracing rich animations, the web has never been more dynamic with so much use of animated elements within design, and it’s only going to get better.

Animation if used well can engage the user and enhance storytelling. It can make a website feel more interactive and engage the user with an experience that is more than a basic portal to source information on a business, product or service.

As with any design tool it’s important not to go over the top  Overuse will distract the user and become irritating rather than enhancing. Animations should be kept simple and thematically consistent. By “thematically consistent” I just mean that the animations are used in a similar way throughout the website revealing important details and guiding users through a path. Animations should be used selectively within the site to illustrate important points or to indicate a required action.

how much Page Speed Matters in web design

The speed with which your website loads matters for two reasons. Firstly a fast loading website results in a better user experience and secondly it is one of the factors that Google measures when determining search engine rankings.

There are many factors that can contribute to a slower loading website. One of the first things to do if you’re worried that your site may not be quite up-to-speed is to use the Goole PageSpeed Insights tool.  This is an online tool which can measure your page load speed, provide an overall ranking for technical aspects and user experience, and provide help on how to improve the speed of your site. You can access this online tool by clicking here.

The first bottleneck of a site’s loading speed is the server itself. There isn’t necessarily a huge amount you can do here other than move to a different server. Shared hosting servers offered by the large hosting companies tend to be slower because the hosting companies put a lot of sites onto each server. On the other hand private servers (such as the server Webfuel use for their own clients) are usually faster.

The design and more importantly the HTML build of a site is the next factor to consider. There are many technical aspects to the setup of a site which can impact the page load speed. Below we look at a few of the more important aspects.

Top of the list is caching. Caching means that results from website requests are stored so that they can be served even faster the next time. This speeds up page load and reduces the overall demand on the server, again improving performance. There are two types of caching, client side and server side.

With client side caching the site tells visitors to not check back for updates to pages, images or documents for a certain length of time. As a visitor moves back and forth between pages their browser will not need to keep reloading content and so the overall experience will be much faster. Returning to a previously visited page should be more or less instant.

Server side caching happens, as you’d expect, on the server. With a content management system there is often a reasonable amount of work required to render a page. The CMS will use templates to generate pages, which combine aspects of the site design, the navigation and user input content. Once all this information is brought together into a finished page it’s important that the server stores the results so that the next time someone asks for the page it doesn’t have to be regenerated. Of course if you make changes to your site the cached results on the server are no longer valid so should be forgotten.

Another feature of the build that can impact performance is the way in which scripts are added to a page. This is quite a technical subject, but basically the order and location of scripts within a page can significantly delay a page load. If you commonly see your page start to load, freeze and then continue this may be due to the browser having to wait to load and run scripts which are too high up in the page content. Generally scripts should be loaded as late as possible as they always block any further processing of the page until they have loaded and run.

Finally the images of a page should always be optimised for the necessary resolution and quality. Far too often we see sites which are loading huge images only to then display them in a tiny size on the page. This slows down the page load dramatically. Images should whever possible be resized close to, if not exactly, the size they will be displayed on the site. Some content management systems (including our own) offer the feature to automatically resize the image on the server before delivering it to the client which can help reduce the burden on maintaining image sizes yourself.

 

Animation: CSS vs. Javascript

animation-css_versus_javascript

Animation is a design tool which does not directly impact content but instead is used for visual cues and transitions from one UI element to another. For web design, animation is used to polish an already completed product. CSS and Javascript are two animation tools and both have pros and cons when it comes to functionality, overhead, and performance.

Functionality

In terms of functionality, CSS and Javascript are fairly similar. Both are able to do very impressive animations but it becomes more of a question of what exactly the animation needs to do. Animating using CSS is known as a declarative approach while Javascript is imperative. What this means is in CSS you must specify specifically what has to happen, while in Javascript you are able to programmatically define the animation.This means you have more control over an animation when using Javascript. For example, playing a complicated animation in reverse would be difficult in CSS as you would need to specify additional transition properties on every piece of the animation.

Overhead

Javascript and CSS have a key difference, which is overhead. CSS is the same in every development environment and it is simple to learn and fairly straightforward. Javascript, on the other hand, is almost the opposite. Although basic Javascript has animation functionality, most animation is done through an additional library such as GSAP or velocity.js. Developers who are familiar with one library may not be familiar with another, meaning much development time must be spent on training. Additionally, many development environments may be using another Javascript library such as JQuery for non-animation development, which will lead to conflicts as many Javascript libraries are not compatible. Therefore, when developing it is important to consider the overhead cost of Javascript libraries.

Performance

Performance is another important consideration, especially if developing on mobile platforms. CSS has fairly good performance as it offloads animation logic onto the browser itself. This lets the browser optimize DOM interaction and memory consumption and most importantly, uses the GPU to improve performance. On the other hand, Javascript performance can range from reasonably faster to much slower than CSS. Javascript performance depends on the library used and puts the burden on the developer to optimize. For example, JQuery is a commonly used library but is notorious for slow animation performance because it is not designed with animation in mind. Also, adding Javascript libraries creates more overhead and can increase page load times especially for mobile devices. There are lightweight libraries out there specifically for this issue, but lightweight libraries also have less functionality. As mentioned before, you may have to optimize performance which is completely dependent on the library being used. Using CSS or Javascript for animation is highly dependent on what you are trying to do. Javascript can be very powerful but is completely unnecessary if all you are doing is something like fading in a pop up window. Most of the time just using CSS is enough, but complicated animations can be difficult to do without using Javascript. If you decide to use Javascript, make sure to pick a suitable library which does not conflict with other libraries you may already be using.

8 things for website redesign

With all the experience and knowledge gained from your previous websites a website redesign should be an opportunity to turn your web presence into a success. However due to a lack of proper thought and planning many redesigns can still fail to meet a business’s needs. Things to consider and discuss with your web team prior to any redesign work commencing include the following:

1. Identify the purpose of the website

Decide what the website is actually required to do. This may have been something that you looked at when you first had your website built, but has your business changed?

  • Is the website there to provide basic information?
  • Are you looking to get sales or enquiries?
  • Does the website need to support existing clients or employees?
  • Do you want to build a full community around the brand and encourage reviews making the website more social?

Knowing what you want to accomplish through the website will help to determine its design, structure and the platform/software that the website will be built in.

2. Analyze your existing website’s metrics

If search engine positions are important for your website then you should have a full review of your website metrics prior to planning your redesign. Evaluate your current site’s performance to help analyze your current positioning and attainment. Metrics to consider include –

  • number of visitors,
  • click-thru-rate,
  • bounce rate,
  • time on site,
  • and current SEO rankings.

Come armed with this information to your first meeting with your web designer (or at least with access to your analytics so you can review it together) to ensure weak points are addressedand strong areas are not lost in the redesign, which could then negatively impact your seo or user experience.

3. What’s working on your current website and what isn’t

With your marketing team make a list of everything that you like about your current website. It could be the navigation, certain pages or functionality, or parts of the design. Identify what is currently “working” so that you know what you want to keep with the next iteration. Then do the reverse, working through the areas of the website which you want to change, which customers have problems with or search engines don’t pick up on.

It may also be worth asking a loyal customer or someone not directly associated with your website what they like (or don’t like). Giving you an unbiased view. It could be that an area of the website of which you are fond, such as a Flash navigation, actually annoys your customers and acts as a deterrent in getting people through your website.

4. Can the new website save you time and money?

When looking at a website redesign it is worth having a quick review of your business and it’s day to day processes. Is there a particular question clients are always asking or a process you spend lots of time on, which could be automated. Talk to your website designer about ‘painful’ or time consuming areas of your business to see whether the website can be used to better support your client base or even automate some of your internal processes.

5. What’s the most important part of the website?

Every website has a focal point, an area you want to draw people to, to promote your business or a call to action. For some it’s the contact form, for others it’s a blog or an ebook, maybe it’s your case studies or services section, or it could be your client testimonials. Your new design should emphasize these areas and help them to get more attention. Put teasers on the home page with a call-to-action drawing them in. Make sure they’re accessible from every page on your website. Provide incentives for visitors who make it to these pages and take a desired action. Your website should be set up to funnel people to these pages so that you’re sure they’re seeing them.

6. Look at the competition

While it isn’t wise to obsess about what your competitors are doing, it can be very helpful to understand where they may be out selling and out foxing you. Look at how they are marketing themselves and their services. Don’t copy your competition but instead use it as an opportunity to learn where you can improve your website.

7. Develop your USP

Before you begin developing content for your new website, be sure you identify what makes you unique and be sure that this messaging is consistent across your entire website. It’s important you immediately answer why someone should contact you or otherwise stay on your website rather than look at your competitors.

8. Have an ongoing content development strategy

A consistent stream of valuable, informative content not only supports your customers and ensures you look knowledgeable and experienced in your industry, but it also helps you gain good positions in the search engines. Develop a strategy for building this content on the new website, assigning roles and specifying targets for ongoing content production.