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Four Critical Web Design Rules

  • By Brad Poirier
  • 11 Jan, 2016

"Content is King!" they say, but there are some other rules to consider

Four Critical Web Design Rules
Four Critical Web Design Rules

"Content is King! If you want a website to generate back-links and have quality content the search engines love, be sure to make it readable by both people and search engines. Search engines are working to give people quality results. Thus, they are looking for sites with quality content. So - by building site content for people, not only are you getting back to basics (information dissemination to people via the Internet), you are creating a site search engines will love. So, build sites for people - and the search engines will come.

When creating a new website or redesigning an existing site, there are four critical rules which should be followed to make the site effective, functional, loved by search engines - and successful.

1. Easy to Read

When building a website, the first thing you need to be sure of is that your website is easy to read. When you write content, remember that most web site visitors don't read every word of a page - in fact, they only scan pages to find what they want.

Break up Your Content

Break up your pages and use headers between major ideas so people scanning your site can find what they want quickly. Use meaningful headers between each paragraph or major idea - this helps with SEO. Headers should be created with the H1 through H4 tags for SEO. Always use good writing structure. Additionally, avoid long paragraphs that run on. You should break up any long paragraphs.

Color and Fonts

To help readability, use high contrast colors between font and background. Black text against a white background may seem stark, but it is very readable. To make a website easy on the eyes, try an off-white background and a dark gray (almost black) text color.

Things to avoid with content color:

    • Avoid vibrant background colors like purple or yellow. Such back colors make text difficult to read.
    • Avoid using an image behind your text.
    • Avoid using bright text colors on bright backgrounds.

Fonts Matter

One simple statement covers the font issue:

Simple fonts are the best; the more fancy the font, the harder it is to read.

Since many browsers only have the standard font set, use standard fonts. In reality, there is no "standard", but there are certain fonts that are installed on most browsers. These include Arial, Verdana, Tahoma and Times New Roman. Your readers will see something different than you see if you use other fonts.

Standard Compliant Browser for Development

When developing and testing your site, use a Standards compliant browser like FireFox. If you develop your site to be standards compliant, it will work in most browsers, including MS Internet Explorer (IE). It is recommended that you test your site using the latest and last browser versions of IE (IE6 and IE7). To run multiple versions of IE on the same machine, TredoSoft.com has a free installer that will install multiple versions of IE. It works great!

Keywords in Content

Of course, when writing content, not only should it be formatted to be readable, but it must also be consumable by not only people, but by search engines. One way to make the subject of the content known to search engines is to use the keywords that people use to search for your site in your content. Be sure to use keywords in your header tags, your first paragraph and throughout your text. The keyword density should be between 4% and 7% - but any more than that could 1) be hard to read and still make sense and 2) be considered spam by search engines and banned. Keywords should also be used in your TITLE tags and your Meta description.

2. Simplify Navigation

The menus and links make up the navigation that the visitor uses to get from page to page in a site. Always plan a site around how people will get from page to page. A visitor to your site should be able to get to what they want within three clicks of their mouse.

Multiple navigation points makes it easy to find things. Repeat the top menu and at the bottom. Also create a left or right menu.

Using links within your text to other areas on your site. You can create links so that they are good for search engine optimization (SEO). There are generally two ways to create links within your text:

    1. The wrong way: "For search engine optimization techniques, click here."
    1. The right way: "Good techniques for search engine optimization are important to use."

Using link text (anchor text) that describes what the link is about is the best way. Search engine web crawlers (programs that automatically index the contents of websites) visit your site, they "read" links. Spiders can index descriptive links into a subject or keyword category. Spiders have nothing to work with when reading a "click here" until it reaches the linked page.

This is Cross Linking - use it as much as possible when it makes sense to do so when writing your content.

3. Consistent Design

At most, one or two layouts should be used in your site design. As a reader browses your site, they should be able to get used to looking in the same place for your navigation, for your sub-navigation and for your content. That's all there is to say about that.

4. Lower Page Weight is Better

Page weight is the total size of a page on your site in bytes - code, text and images. Your site's page weight makes a big difference to your viewers. Lighter page weight is better for your readers because the page will download faster. The faster a page downloads, the faster they will get to the content.

What is Means to be Light

    • No large images.
    • Fewer images are better.
    • Optimize images for the web at no more than 72 dpi
    • Use as small an image dimension as possible for the given design.
    • Use a table td bgcolor attribute or a background-color style attribute for solid color backgrounds.
    • Make gradients horizontal or vertical (not diagonal) so that you can use a small image "strip" and repeat it.

How "Heavy" Should a Web Page be?

Certain studies show that 64K is a good maximum webpage size. 64K is a maximum, however it is still, in my opinion, really big! The smaller the page, the better. 25K is good, 15K is even better. There is a balance between design and function. It is a good idea to focus more on function.

Try putting pages on your web host server as you build your site so you can test it as you go. For pages online, you can test the page weight at www.quasarcr.com/pageweight/ to be sure you are on track.

Ways to make pages lighter:

    • Use linked style sheets
    • Use DIVs instead of TABLEs where possible
    • Use simple repeating backgrounds for effect

Summary

Visitors to your website should be able to find what they are looking for within about three clicks. Search engines should be able to navigate easily through your site. Making a site easy to read with consistent page design, and easy to navigate will make it easy to find information. When people can find information, they are more likely to refer your site or link to it - which is exactly what you want to encourage. You will be on the way to building a readable and hopefully successful website that is loved by search engines if you follow these principals.

 

Article Source:   http://www.ArticleGeek.com - Free Website Content


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By Brad Poirier 07 Mar, 2017
Did you know that the average consumer checks your website at least two times from two different devices before they journey into your location? Over 60% of searches start  from a smartphone device , but there is still a great amount of desktop and tablet traffic coming in. Why is that? Some of that desktop traffic is the original, organic traffic yes. However, a lot of it is a returning customer. Perhaps you're a kitchen remodeler , someone searches for "kitchen remodeling" and they find your website from their smartphone. They're not ready to buy yet though. So they bookmark or they email their significant other the web address. When they get home, they venture to their desktop or start using their tablet to continue the research.

Most (amateur) web designers only pay attention to the desktop view. Sad face: many web designers still build websites that are desktop only, they're not building responsive websites that are mobile-optimized. The worst part is they're often designing this on a 20" or larger monitor. Of course it's easy to design a great site when you have 20" of a digital canvas to work with. The real Picasso comes out when you can take that same great experience and display that on a 4" screen, AND to optimize it for as slow as a 3G connection. There's a big difference between your site being mobile-friendly and mobile-optimized. Mobile-friendly usually just means making sure the content is formatted to scroll up and down and no content stretches beyond the width of the smartphone screen. Mobile-optimized is taking the same content from your desktop and optimizing it for a mobile experience. This is important now more than ever, as Google has started to ONLY SEO Index your mobile site and not your desktop site.

So that's the why I design websites using four screens. You might interested in knowing what are the screens I design with, and how I use each one of them to turn your website from blah to Yahhh! I only build websites that are responsive. I check how the content looks and how the content interacts along the way. Below are the screens that I use to check this with and more importantly, the order in which I do this.

Screen #1 - Smartphone
You might be shocked to think that the first screen I check my work on is a mobile device. If you were a bakery and 60% of your revenue came from donuts, would you start your morning by prepping the cookies and pastries? You start with your money maker! Well, since over 60% of all Google searches start from a mobile device, why would you start with the device that people aren't using as much? I'll tell you why, it's because you're working with an amateur designer. Or perhaps you're working with a legacy designer who won't budge. When I design in a mobile-first environment, I can truly focus on that experience and maximizing it's potential. We focus on getting the most important information right away. For most businesses this means placing a "TAP-TO-CALL" style button at the top of the page. Nothing is more frustrating than having to remember the number in your head and quickly double-tap-your-home-button to get to the phone dialer and attempt to get every number in there correctly. If location visits are important we also make sure there are easy-to-find buttons for loading your bulit-in GPS navigation.

What do you think the next screen is going to be?

Screen #2 - Tablet
Did you guess that correctly? It's only natural to work my way up the screen size. Now that I've mastered the experience for mobile, I can open up canvas a little here and work on the tablet view. Tablets today range from about 7"-10" and yes there are those two outliers that are around 13" , but they're still a tablet, at least according to the internet browser being used. A growing trend for the tablet view is using what we call the "hamburger" menu. That's the 3-line menu button you might see in the upper right or left hand corner of the screen. We layout the navigation in both the hamburger format and the traditional horizontal navigation. It all depends on the business and the goal of your website. That's why we custom design all of our sites starting with a 1-on-1 consultation . Since a tablet is still inherently a mobile device where the user interacts using only a touchscreen, we still are focusing on easy, tappable buttons. Consumers are used to tapping on items with their tablets, we make it super easy for that to happen. Gone are the days of only making links available from within the text. Consumers need clear call-to-action buttons to guide them along their buying journey.

Screens #3 & #4 - Laptop & Large Monitor
Technically I'm designing and coding everything on my large monitor, but the testing is being done on multiple screens. However, when I start to design for the desktop, I'm using my laptop which dual outputs to a 21" cinema display. This allows me to have the freedom of design but to see how it will interact on a 13" monitor (which is about the average monitor size for a small laptop). The most important content is "above the fold". So if it's not designed right, some of the content that looks good on 21" would normally get cut off on a smaller screen. We make sure that doesn't happen. The desktop design is where it does get a lot more fun, and more roomy. It's like trying to pack a bunch of moving boxes into a cargo van when you've been using your 1988 Corolla earlier that day. Ahh, you can breathe a little. However, use this space carefully. Remember, with great space comes great responsibility. I've seen many web designers who came from a graphic design background. It is honestly a natural progression, but it's an entirely different approach. Use a white space or negative space is critical here. So if you're used to working with that graphic designer who loves using tons of colors and turning text into metal like beveled art and everything else that came with cheap Photoshop work from 10 years ago, they're in the wrong arena. You have about 5 seconds to capture someone's attention before they'll decide to leave the website. Now, a lot of that comes from excellent copywriting and headline writing , but bad design choices will confuse the consumer and cause them to leave and go to the next result in line.

So there you have it. The method to my madness. Some people look at website design and say why not , I look at website design and say why ? Rule of thumb: Just because you can do something, doesn't mean you should. I'm on the web all day long. I can easily spot a badly performing website, in terms of conversion. Today, you're website is all about conversion . Your business can't afford to run a wiki-pedia website. It needs to be a lean, mean, lead-generating machine. This applies to all business websites.

What are some examples of good and bad website design that you have seen?
By Brad Poirier 20 Feb, 2017
BONUS: See how your website stacks up with your competition. Get a free website audit .
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The great Don Draper once said "If you don't like what is being said, then change the conversation." So while it may be super frustrating to see one of those pesky millennials leaving you a bad review because their Valentine's dinner didn't go as planned, this presents a great opportunity to turn lemons into lemonade. Negative reviews are just as important as positive reviews. How could that be?

Google loves reviews. The more Google loves you, the better chance you have of another Taco.. or three.. four. A bad review isn't always a bad reflection on your business, it's just consumers way of giving you feedback or reaching out for a listening ear to make a wrong, right. In all the years I've been on Yelp and Facebook, what I've seen that most people want when leaving a review, is just to have a voice. When I go out to a restaurant or to any retail business these days, if there's a problem and I muster up the courage to speak to a manager, I have no idea how that manager is going to take that feedback. They might be too busy to pay attention or just lack the customer service skills required to actually care.

That's where online reviews come in. Some may think that it's a case of anonymous bravery behind a computer screen, but when someone is leaving a negative review, they might just want to get in touch - on their own terms. You have to be prepared to communicate with them on those terms.

Below are some general do's and dont's on how to respond to negative reviews. By the way, this could apply to positive reviews in many ways. You should respond to every online review, both positive and negative. Yes, it require a little bit of time, but you would never ignore a customer that's right in front of you. It can be a daunting task, however, to scour the internet for every review out there. That's why there is Online Reputation Management available. Reputation Management involves software that automatically finds any mention of your business on the internet and provides an alert and a tool to respond to them, regardless of which social media directory they left the review on. Learn more about Online Reputation Management here .
By Brad Poirier 28 Dec, 2016
Quick Question: What's the first thing you did this morning when you woke up. I'm willing to bet it involved picking up your smartphone and performing some sort of mobile action, wether it's checking email or scrolling through Facebook or Instagram. We are in a mobile-first world. If you're still trying to figure out how to get ahead in this "digital world", this article is well beyond that. The world is (rapidly) shifting to a mobile world. You need to provide an incredible experience on a 4" display as you would on a large display. That's the trick and the problem SMB's have faced. You're not paying attention to your mobile experience.

You might be immediately saying: "Well my website is already mobile." Great, you're (slightly) ahead of the game. It is very likely though, that your website only uses a "mobile site" and not a responsive website design. Mobile-sites are simply optimized for viewing on a phone, they're not optimized for the user experience. Starting pretty soon, you're website's traffic will get killed for it. Listen up.
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The website for hearthsidehouse.org utilized old web standards and was not mobile optimized. The website could not be edited by the museum stewards and thus was a tedious process to get new content.

Breeze Digital Media created a responsive website for Hearthside House and implemented an easy to use Content Management System so the stewards can make regular calendar and event updates on their own.
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