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Category: Web Designing
The Internet; people worldwide use it to socialise, shop, bank, plan events, research - you name it you can do it all on the web. So, as you can imagine the Internet has thousands if not hundreds of thousands of websites; some good and some bad. More importantly the internet has now become a competitive marketing environment.
Gone are the days when you took your company brochure and simply transposed it on to the internet in the hope of potential clients stumbling on to your website brochure. The advent of search engines made the internet more accessible and as something becomes more accessible it becomes more user friendly.
The ‘more user friendly' internet meant that anyone could have their own website and pursue their own business, personal and even spiritual goals in a virtual environment.
The virtual world is now reaching an information overload and websites needs to be closely monitored by companies in order to take advantage of the benefits a successful web presence has to offer.
In order to maximise the benefits of the internet we need to acknowledge that there are a number of key elements to look at when developing websites for our clients. There are four key factors that should be considered when creating website concepts for clients. These factors satisfy your clients needs and expectations; which ultimately means they will come back to you with more business in the future. These four key factors are discussed in a series of articles found at http://www.sesalos.com/web/southafricanadvertisingindustyarticles. This article will however attempt to provide an overview of the topics discussed.
The four key success factors are outlined as:
- Embracing New Web Development Trends
- Designing for your Target Audience
- Search Engine Optimisation
- Making Research Easy
Embracing New Web Development Trends
Web development in its simplest definition is software development for the internet. The use of software on the internet has meant that there are new platforms that businesses and business processes can be run from. This has ultimately meant that web clients are now able to manage the content on their website themselves, manage company projects online, oversee all marketing communications and e-commerce is now becoming more accessible and less complicated.
The list could go on forever. Embracing web development trends and keeping in touch with a strong web development company can mean that you have the ability to provide your client with top class internet services that could transform the way your business is managed.
Designing for Your Target Audience
Web Design is often seen as the process of creating a website that will win the ‘best looking website competition'. During the design process it's easy to lose site of the main reason the website is being designed.
Good web design needs to have a balance between aesthetics and functionality. The functionality of the website needs to be apparent from the start or else the web user will surf past your website clueless about the benefits you have to offer them.
Web users can spend up to eight seconds on your website and then decide whether your website is what they need to solve their problem. If the user decides your website looks great but they cannot find the information they are looking for then - presto - they move on.
The point is to make sure that the website has easy to use navigational structures that are easy to use.
However, let's throw another spanner into the design works. Search Engines (SE) send people to places of relevant content. The user types in their keywords into the SE and the SE recommends a bunch of websites that are relevant to those keywords. Have you ever wondered why your website is not showing up in the SE's? There may be a few design rules you could be breaking:
1. Don't use flash to display your content. Flash is a video file on the internet. If you use flash to display your content Search Engines will not know what your website is about.
2. Label your graphics in line with keywords in your website. This will give you an edge because you have just given the SE eyes to see what your images are on the website.
So think about these aspects when selecting your web design company in the future. Ask them a few key questions to see if they understand how to design for all your audiences, including Search Engines.
Search Engine Optimisation
Search Engines have become the one-stop-shop of the internet. Internet users have chosen their favourite Search Engines and look to them to find the information they are interested in.
A Search Engine is only interested in providing relevant information to its users. By achieving relevant results to a user's search they provide a positive search environment and therefore develop a good reputation for being a great Search Engine.
So how does this affect us? How do we prove to the Search Engines that our website is relevant for the user? This is a very complex and time consuming process that a few web companies offer. However there are a few things to keep in mind when designing, developing and marketing your website that will put you on the front foot rather than the back foot with your internet presence.
1. Pay special attention to the title of the page (including URL) as this gives search engines the biggest clue to what content is on your website
2. Label Graphics because Search Engines can't view a picture but they can read the title of an image. Use the title of the image to show the Search Engine what the image is on your website.
3. Support Link Exchanges. Every website that links to your website is a vote of confidence that the content on your website is relevant to your keywords.
4. Consistently tweak web content making sure that your website is continually growing and up to date. If a Search Engine visits your website twice and doesn't notice any changes then it decides that your content is not as relevant as before, simply because part of being relevant is being up to date.
5. Keep content logical and relevant to website keywords. This allows Search Engines opportunities to confirm what the Keywords of your website are and by default increase the relevancy and consistency of your pages.
Making Research Easy
Research on the internet is probably one of the easiest platforms to work on. With a bit of creative thinking it is possible to find ways of measuring online and offline campaigns through your website.
The simplicity comes in that almost everything is measurable online. Every time something is clicked on a website it can be measured. This long list of ones and zeros can turn your website into a research machine.
Think of it like this. If you know how many people visit your site you know that X amount of people have been drawn to your website. Most of the people are probably on your site because of some marketing campaign you are running. However, most of the time you are running more than one campaign. How can we distinguish which campaigns are working?
One way is to separate the campaigns on to different pages of the website. Send a campaign to a page specifically designed for that campaign. This then saves the consumer time and entrenches your marketing message even further into their heads. They don't have to spend time on your website finding the campaign that sent them to your website.
Now that each campaign has been posted on different pages, you can measure the campaign response by simply measuring the page visits during the time of the campaign. This should give you a good idea of which campaigns are developing good responses from your consumers.
Another measurement tool on the internet allows you to view where the web user came from. Using this measurement tool will save you a lot of time in the future.
An example of time saved: we sponsored a client a website in return for our logo presentation at the bottom of each page. We also added a products page onto the sponsored website that advertised a variety of customised products for that target market.
Immediately after the sponsorship we noticed an increase of users on our company website. The increase in users was due to direct referrals from the sponsored website. Our customised campaign was working; so we thought. However, after further research we discovered that all the users referred to our website came off the most popular page on the sponsored website. Therefore the users were clicking on the company logo and not visiting the customised product page.
We learnt a valuable lesson; sponsorship campaigns online should revolve more around visibility on the more popular website pages rather than trying to drive traffic to particular pages on a website. Seems like a simple theory - go where the people are - but it was made all the more evident through the online research conducted on the campaign. Now we won't spend days working on customised campaigns to maximise on our sponsorship campaigns.
At the end of the day, measuring the success of a campaign can only be achieved through research. Fortunately we can now access these valuable research reports online. Only after measuring a campaign can we learn from those experiences.