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Simple Techniques to Maximize Web Conversions

Posted Wed, April 3, 2013 by Julie Short

The conversion rate measures the number of potential customers that result in sales. On your website, it’s the number of visitors that result in sales. Some people focus solely on driving people to a website, either organically or through search engine traffic, but it’s important to go that extra step to ensure you’re getting a return on your website investment. Here are some simple techniques to improve a website’s conversion rate. 

You should strive not to prevent anyone from purchasing your products or services. It should be unacceptable for one person to be turned away because of an inaccessible site. The more complicated the website, the more opportunity you have to confuse or lose your customer. Users should be able to find the information they need. If you’ve got information your visitors want, it should be on your website. If visitors are disappointed by a lack of information, they’ll go elsewhere. 

If you’re selling products, pay close attention to how a user adds products to the shopping cart. I have a big problem with online stores that force users to proceed to a shopping cart page every time they add a product. This action slows down the shopping process and the inconvenience alone can deter customers from purchasing multiple items. Sites with one-click “Add To Cart” buttons give customers a clear call to action.

Dispose of Lengthy Forms
Don’t waste people’s time. Refrain from requiring an email address before accessing most of the information. In most cases, if your request is premature you will drive users away. Be clear and concise when you’re requesting information from a user. The user should understand the reasoning behind sharing information and know they can trust you with their private details. If you only plan to email your customers, you might not need a phone number. The more information you request, the better the chance of driving away the cautious customer. 

Focus on providing a positive user experience. This will translate into a positive view of the brand. Utilize compelling headlines and subheads. Visitors can scan for information easier with good headlines. 

Regular Updates
Regularly updating content fosters trust with the customer. Updates lets them know you still exist and are operating. It also gives them the best decision-making information possible. If you’ve got specials or sales, don’t keep them a secret from your website. Keeping the user informed through every step of the sale process is a great idea. A company that shows it cares about their customers, even after they've finished shopping, will make a user far happier and far more likely to return.

Offer Payment Options
This may sound obvious, but offer a reasonable selection of payment methods. Not everybody has a credit card, and those that do don't always want to use them. Consider alternatives to the usual methods. Options like PayPal and payment upon pickup may endear you to the online customer. Make the user's life easy and give them what they want.

Give Visitors Value
This may be the last listed, but it is an important suggestion. Understand why your brand and website is special. Give important content the best placement. Great customer service, low price guarantees and free delivery are all examples of factors that endear your website to customers over your competition. Be the authority in your field. If your website is branded into a user’s mind, they’re more likely to think of you when they need that certain product or service. Make your digital customers a special offer they can’t refuse. 

Are people looking for something, not finding it and then leaving the site? Analytics and surveys are the best tools to really understand why visitors are leaving. Use an analytics tool to remove obsolete pages and build on content pages with high traffic. Select “The Biggest Loser” within your website. This is a page that is receiving a lot of traffic and has a high bounce rate, but contains important content with the potential for improvement. 

After working on all these different areas, be sure to test, analyze, adjust and repeat.

Posted in : Websites , Website Content | 
Tags : web conversion

Understanding the Features of Good and Bad Web Design

Posted Mon, April 1, 2013 by Julie Short

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

The difference between a good website and a bad one is often amateurish designer mistakes. Eliminating bad and ugly design mistakes won’t guarantee pages will be more attractive, but it generally enables more effective communication. Features of web design can be divided into categories: the good, the bad and the ugly. Bad design missteps aren’t the end of the world, but can make pages look unprofessional and awkward. Ugly mistakes can often render a website ineffective and sometimes harmful to the reputation of a person, business or brand. After all, every website is a direct reflection of a brand’s professional digital image. 

The Good
A good web experience puts users in control and empowers them to be engaged. Utilizing Content Management Systems (CMS), clients update content themselves without assistance. CMS empowers the client to communicate quickly on their website, generally without needing help. 

In a solid design, consistency is crucial. From colors to messaging, branding should be clear and consistent with the offline presence. Every website should accomplish a clear goal. Users should easily understand the call to action. Good designs are organized in a way that engages visitors. Text should be easily readable and links will stand out. Links are often considered a website’s call to action. Using different colors or underlines for links will help them stand out. 

The Bad
It’s important to remember that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. There are design qualities that distinguish a designer’s competency to execute a good website. Starting with a basic principle, images on the website should be crisp and clear. Using a grainy image smaller than the standard browser size (1024x768) as a page background is an amateur designer’s first giveaway. Poor color scheme choices and a lack of contrasting colors are other amateur mistakes. 

Most designers agree, the most crucial component of web design is typography. Typography and font choice impact a lot of website components. For example, overused, plain fonts like Times New Roman aren’t distinctive and can be hard to read. Typography is important because it’s the messenger carrying the main message. Don’t overlook its importance. 

The Ugly
Inferior web design is a curse. As we tell our clients, your website is often your first impression in an age where we are dependent on Internet information. A bad website can be very damaging to branding and reputation. One of the worst things a designer can do is prioritize style over substance. Users are impatient and expect pages to load quick. With this attitude, designers must stop incorporating elaborate animation and visuals that delay pages from loading. An extensive use of flash will slow down pages for web users and completely exclude mobile users from certain content. 

Some of the worst features are truly ugly design choices. Busy pages with large blocks of content, that lack a reasonable use of whitespace, leave visitors confused and annoyed. Problematic sites lack imaginative, well-planned navigation. Navigation and organization are crucial components of a website’s success or failure. Designers have to accurately anticipate what topics visitors will be looking for when they come to the site. Visitors shouldn’t have to click multiple links and buttons to find information. Designers have got to organize the data to be discoverable. Sounds like an easy task, but it’s not for the lazy designer. 

Posted in : Websites | 
Tags : web design

8 Common Website Blunders Costing You Money

Posted Wed, March 27, 2013 by Julie Short

Search around the web and you’ll find a lot of non-functional, ineffective websites. You don’t want to put a site out there that will do more harm than good. Avoid common pitfalls of web design by understanding the most basic mistakes a designer can make.  

1. Too much flash
Flash was once used in cutting edge design, but now it’s mainly just a headache. Flash isn’t functional on most mobile devices. Designers are replacing Flash with JavaScript, CSS and HTML to relay dynamic content. Modern web design shouldn’t include elaborate hover effects and animation on content-based websites. Your design strategy should be less about impressing people and more about enabling people to access your website’s content effectively.

2. Text is hard to read
If you’re still relying on fonts like Times New Roman or Tahoma, your web design won’t stand out. Customized typography is abundantly available. There are many specialized fonts that will help your design pop and make content easier for visitors to read. There’s a fine line though. Choosing a font that’s too bizarre could make reading difficult. Use a sans-serif font. This font type is often best for readability. Text should be scannable. Utilize subheads, highlighted keywords and short paragraphs. Also, give users the option to resize the text if they need to.    

3. Too much clutter
Everything is best in moderation. Including too much content can drive traffic away from a site and increase the bounce rate. Readers will tire of excessive information and probably stop reading. Keep content concise and relevant. Avoid including large chunks of information. Bulleted lists can help you break up information. Also, too many links congested in one area are ineffective.

4. Unattractive screen resolution and contrast
If a site’s overall color scheme hurts a user’s eyes, the content will be ineffective. What looks best from a design perspective isn’t always the most functional. There has to be an adequate amount of contrast for text to be readable. The optimized layout for websites is 1024 x 768 pixels. In modern design, users should never have to scroll horizontally to view a page. It’s difficult to design around every resolution and device people will access your site on, but use analytics tool to determine what people are using most often to view the site when planning an update.

5. Site doesn’t function on mobile.
Mobile functionality is necessary for every site. Is your site responsive and adjusts to a mobile screen? A complicated website design won’t translate well onto mobile. The existence of mobile shouldn’t deter you from designing cool things for computer users, but you need to have a mobile site. It’s an easy fix and will allow mobile users to access a simpler, more concise site viewable on smaller devices.

6. No clear direction
An effective website is easy to use. Common website navigation issues can be avoided with some effort. Provide your visitors direction. Assume your visitor is going to make mistakes and won’t understand jargon. Put yourself in the user’s shoes and look at how the site functions objectively. Organize content in a subtle way that provides a roadmap for visitors to easily discover what they’re looking for. Links shouldn’t be too small and should change color once they’re clicked on for easier user navigation.

7. Changing archived page URLs
Some change URLs of outdated pages when they are moved off the main page into archives. This can make it difficult to maximize good search engine placement because page links to your site become broken. When a site’s created, it should allow content to be moved into archives without having to change the URL. If URLs change every few days, promoting your content will be nearly impossible.

8. Image overload
Many of the mistakes designers make revolve around excessiveness. Finding the right balance between imagery and type can be difficult, but it’s crucial. Talented designers often want to overload users with cool imagery, but in most cases simple designs are more effective. Don’t give the reasonable user a chance to be confused or annoyed by elements on the site. Animations can be cool, but often slow page loading. Use animations sparingly and tastefully. Never underestimate the power of whitespace in web design.

Posted in : Websites | 
Tags : website mistakes

Your Business Needs a Mobile App and Here's 5 Reasons Why

Posted Mon, March 25, 2013 by Julie Short

40 billion apps have been downloaded since Apple’s iOS App Store launched. 20 billion of those were downloaded in 2012. Over 1 million apps have been submitted to iOS App Store. There are several potential payoffs for businesses that choose to adapt to their mobile audience. 

Bank of the West and Harris Interactive conducted an online national survey on how small businesses were embracing technology in 2012. Among small business owners who use mobile technology, 2 out of 3 (68%) agree that it has increased efficiency for their businesses, and 3 out of 5 (61%) say it serves functions in their businesses that cannot be completed as efficiently through other means.

Developing an app is another channel to connect with your customer and an additional resource to influence purchasing decisions. There are some exceptions, but most businesses can find benefits in developing a mobile application by providing customers amenities they desire. 

Your customer wants a 24/7 resource
There are around 1 billion smartphone users in the world and 115 million in the US alone. The mobile web grew faster than many could imagine in the last few years. Information on the go evolved to the average customer’s norm. Mobile is the latest frontier. If a customer wants information on a business or product, they want it NOW. More and more customers avoid calling for information and the average business can’t employ workers to provide information 24/7 anyways.

Increase branding awareness
What’s important for your customer to know about a business or product? Digital competition is fierce right now. Having an angle helps brand yourself to consumers. When I say angle, I mean a useful reason for your app to exist. Carpe Diem Private Preschool, a private preschool in Dallas, created an app that allows parents to observe their children on a classroom webcam. You can make action-oriented content from your website easy to access on smartphones and foster brand loyalty by going that extra step.  

A unique and helpful mobile experience will help you be competitive
Are you trying to reach the most people possible? Apps often eliminate clicks and extra work on the part of your customer. Making a sale easier on yourself and the customer is what every business wants to accomplish. Your app doesn’t have to be complicated, just efficient and useful. Your app could provide store hours, driving directions, quick pricing, product/services information, menu and exclusive deals to encourage loyal customers. 

Magic Beans, a Boston retailer specializing in toys and baby accessories, launched a mobile app in 2010. Magic Beans launched an app that allowed customers to skip cash registers and check themselves out on their mobile. After checking out, the app recommends two products and additional offers that applied to the customer based upon their purchase. Customers could also scan a product’s information for more information. This app resulted in an 8% sales increase for those who used the app. 

Deliver news and speedy offers to your customers
Smartphones are now an extension of their owner and no longer an accessory. Next time you’re in a public place, just stop and take in the sights around you. Notice how many people are on their mobile or smartphone. The smartphone is your direct communication link to your customer. 

The death of paper coupons is one of the great amenities of an app. If you provide coupons, forgetting them at home will no longer prohibit your customer from shopping with you and you can track which customers are using coupons easier.  

Anyone can have an app
Apps aren’t exclusive to major brands. Small and medium-sized businesses have launched successful apps. A Nashville realtor, Zeitlin & Company, launched an app last year that take’s a user’s location and shows all available listings in their immediate vicinity on a map. Also, the app includes information on each listing, price, local schools, restaurants and grocery stores. With the click of a button, homebuyers have a lot of the information they want when researching a home. 

WebRevelation has extensive experience developing custom web applications so you can go that extra step for your customer to communicate and operate more efficiently. Our apps are nearly maintenance free and extremely scalable. Contact us for more information on a custom web application. 

Posted in : Mobile Apps | 
Tags : mobile app

Predicting the Web of the Future

Posted Wed, March 20, 2013 by Julie Short

Technology trends are moving toward every device being handsfree. At the start of the year, Google unveiled plans for developing voice command and hands free glass technology. Microsoft recently released a video where researchers showed developments they’ve made in gesture technology. More on those developments later in the blog, but that leads me to the main question. Where is web browsing headed and how will these changes impact website design?     

Technology companies and developers are constantly competing to enable us to accomplish more while actually doing less. Here a couple of the different approaches tech giants are taking in web and product development.

Voice Recognition
Google’s hoping to offer speech recognition as a feature on its popular web browser. Google Chrome’s latest beta version added preliminary support for voice commands. In the near future, users should browse the web, compose emails or tweet thoughts by speaking. They’ll eliminate the need to touch your computer’s screen or mouse. The complications with this technology are pretty obvious. Voice recognition technology is not perfect and mistakes are inevitable. This technology won’t make all computers completely hands free because it makes mistakes, but the real-time transcription they’re displaying is fast. Many think this’ll be a timesaver because most people can speak faster than they type. However, unless improvements are made, you have to speak very slowly to be heard clearly by Google’s transcriber. 

Augmented Reality Glasses
This week, the crowd at South by Southwest has been buzzing since Google revealed new details about its Google Glass technology. Google’s latest product, expected to be available for purchase by the end of the year, is described as an augmented-reality headset. This headset resembles a normal pair of glasses with thin glass lenses. Google’s describes it as being able to project images directly into a person’s eye. Google glass should feature apps, access to the web, a camera and voice recognition. The user will able to operate the glasses with voice commands. For example, if a user is in Oklahoma City and hungry, they could say “restaurants nearby” and they’d quickly see the restaurants around inside the glasses. Recently, Google announced that eventually Google Glass could feature prescription lenses. Essentially, if Google Glass catches on, people will wear their computer on their faces everywhere they go.  

Gesture Technology
Microsoft wants to change how we interact with our computers in a very different way. If Microsoft researchers are successful, touchscreens will be a dying trend. Microsoft has been working to expand technology that is utilized in the Xbox Kinect. Kinect allows gamers to actively play through a sensor that reads body motion. Researchers have worked to harness this innovation to read more deliberate hand gestures, such as the movements of a closed fist. This development would allow users to motion a hand in front of a screen and those gestures would register as actual actions made on the computer. 

The Impact on Web Design
There’s one really popular concept in web design right now. Developers keep talking about designing for the future. In the web of the future, all content will be expected to load instantly. Consumers today are less tolerable of delays than ever. Web content will have to be optimized to operate quickly or you’ll lose visitors. All the developments above should expedite Internet searching. Expect to design for evolving app needs and new platforms. Google Glass isn’t even released yet and they’ve already announced that Gmail, the New York Times, Path and Evernote all have functioning apps that will work with Project Glass. 

In a decade, humans and the technology they’re using may be almost indistinguishable. Almost every facet of life will probably be available online. Traditional computer interfaces will disappear and become touchless objects embedded in a room. Users will expect web content to function seamlessly with each new device, whether it features voice recognition or gesture technology. Responsive web design and customer management systems will probably thrive as we understand them now, but continue to improve functionality as platforms and user expectations change. 

What do you think about some of the new technology developments? Are they exciting or daunting innovations? 

Posted in : Tips and Tricks | 
Tags : reality glasses , voice recognition , gesture technology

Importance of Digital Marketing for Manufacturers

Posted Thu, March 14, 2013 by The HVAC Girl

Buyer behaviors and expectations are constantly evolving in this technology revolution. Sales is crucial to your manufacturing business. You might only work a certain amount of hours a day, but your website can be an available salesperson 24/7. The thought, effort and importance placed upon your physical salespersons should be applied to your website as well. Applying your business digitally is crucial to success.

Connecting Effectively with Your Audience
Just as technology is evolving, how we connect to our audience and target market changes all the time. For that reason, you can’t view your website as a finished product. Just the way a product is constantly improved for quality, cost and effectiveness, your website must be a consistent effort to improve how you reach your audience.

Prospects don’t call for information as often as they used to. The average prospect uses the Internet to research products and vendors. If your brand doesn’t already have a direct connection with a customer, the average consumer will turn to a search engine to find what they need. For this reason, it’s key to work with a web developer that builds a site optimized for search engines. Buyers expect to find a site with adequate, relevant information necessary to their purchasing decision. If you don’t meet meet a prospect’s expectations, they’ll just move on to your competitor.

Key Components of Digital Marketing to Buyers
A manufacturers website should effectively market to your economic, technical and user buyers. Economic buyers have veto power and are decision makers in companies involved in B2B sales. Technical buyers screen out vendors and brands to judge products on technical features. User buyers will personally or supervise use of the product. How do buyers interact digitally through the purchasing process? According to an Enquiro Research study, here’s the amount average buyers uses the Internet in the different phases of the purchasing process:

  • 95% of buyers use the Internet for awareness about a company or product.
  • 92% of buyers use the Internet to research a company or product.
  • 70% of technical buyers consult various online influencers during the negotiation phase of a sale.
  • 88.9% of technical buyers surveyed would go online for information during a purchasing decision.

Return on Your Investment
You can view your website as a machine. You should expect it to drive traffic, assist in converting prospects and measure results effectively. Search engine optimization (SEO) will help promote your site on search engines and drive traffic to it. An effective web developer will optimize your site for optimal search engine placement. When consumers search for keywords related to your business, they should be able to find your business.

Website functionality and content will help you retain business. In April 2010, Google started factoring in site speed into its web search ranking. Slow, poorly designed sites lead to a high bounce rate. To engage prospects, provide what they’re searching for. Provide online catalogs, product descriptions, searchable technical content, technical support and contact information. Be the first to easily answer their questions and you have a better chance to win their business.

Your website collects comprehensive analytics that enable you to better serve prospective customers. Your site analytics will measure sales and conversions, as well as how visitors arrived at and used your site. Understanding this information will help you continually work with your web developer to improve your site’s user experience. Find out how your website is marketing your manufacturing business by getting it evaluated.

Posted in : Websites | 
Tags : manufacturer websites

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