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Archive for the ‘SEO’ Category

So where is the mobile version of your site?

November 10th, 2008
Author: Andrew

As we are continuing with our work in developing both CelleCast.com and EchoLearn.com for mobile, we can now say that we have full expertise in not only making your mobile site work, but work very elegantly with your current web strategy. There is no need for companies to build a different site and manage the content separately, as long as you have a development partner who knows what we know: auto-detect browsers, cross-link versions based on cookies, use dynamic header/footer file includes, mobile SEO, and customize site based on handset type.

When you are serious about developing your web-app to work on the go, contact us. There are 40 million active mobile internet users in the US alone, waiting for you to catch on. :-)

Here are the key takeaways from Nielsen Mobile’s July 2008 report on the Mobile Web:
Key Takeaways
• The US, UK and Italy are leaders in mobile Internet
penetration. 15.6 percent of mobile subscribers in
the US, 12.9 percent of subscribers in the UK and
11.9 percent in Italy actively use the mobile Internet
• We believe mobile Internet has reached a critical
mass as an advertising medium in the US. As of
May 2008, there were 40 million active users of the
mobile Internet in the US, with individual sites that
attract millions of unique users. This provides
scalable marketing potential with demographic
• Unlimited data packages are an important part of
the growth of the mobile Internet and are
increasingly popular with US consumers. Today 14
percent of US wireless subscribers have unlimited
data packages, and 50 percent of data users say
they would prefer to have such a package.
• 3G networks are greatly improving the quality of the
mobile Internet experience and will help drive
customer satisfaction with mobile Internet. 3G
networks perform up to six times faster on data
throughputs used for mobile Internet than 2G and
2.5G networks.
• Yahoo! Mail is the most popular mobile website in
the US, with 14 million unique visitors per month, as
of May 2008
• Mobile Internet provides audience “lift”—added
reach over home PC traffic, at an average of 13%
for leading mobile websites in the US
• As mobile Internet publishers build out an
advertising inventory, advertising is becoming a
common part of the mobile Internet experience: 26
percent of mobile Internet users recall seeing some
form of advertising while using the mobile Internet.
Mobile Internet users are 60% more likely to be
open to mobile advertising than the average mobile
data user.

CGIpro, more than just code-writers. We do design, SEO and marketing too…

November 30th, 2007
Author: Kyle Wukawitz

It has been brought up recently in our staff meetings that many of our clients aren’t aware of, or haven’t been informed that CGIpro isn’t just about writing code, that we actually can offer a broad range of design, usability or SEO solutions. My hope with this post is to provide you, as perspective and current clients a better understanding of what we can do to help you make better decisions in regards to your long-term goals in working with CGIpro.

As the primary graphics person here at CGIpro, it’s my job to provide not only the design support for new and existing projects (print, marketing, web and motion), but work closely with the programmers in developing the architecture and specification(s) of applications, the HTML/Template generation (from provided designs) and provide feedback when examining site usability and standards adherence (which is discussed in greater detail in this post).

To give you a short history of our SOP, we’ve adopted a standard procedure for design work in that we provide three or more designs based on initial discussions that we have with the client, myself and other employees. We try to define specifics like what works/doesn’t with past iterations, your competitors, color schemes, page weight(s), dynamic part interaction, etc., just to name a few. The next step is to discuss the designs internally before being sent to the client where we try to cover all the issues and items brought up in the initial meeting(s) and make edits to those designs so they represent our company holistically. We then share the designs with the client and being a dialog about each comp covering the likes and dislikes and where changes, edits and improvements could and should occur. A quick turn-around for this process can happen when decisions are made with emphasis put into the aesthetics and the usability equally and not just personal opinion. We take the usability and functionality just as seriously as we do the form, function and design aesthetic of each project we work on. Whether it’s a design we created, or one provided by the client, a successful and positive end-user experience is what governs the success or failure of a site, application or design.

The following list address common usability issues when design aesthetic takes priority over usability. When this occurs, end-users can become dissatisfied with their experience and either leave and not return or not trust the information being presented.

#1. Flash on home pages.
The large flash display of images and text to drive traffic to specific areas is not the best approach to presenting content. Effective information displays can be done with a combination of AJAX/DHTML/PHP with better SEO results than flash while presenting the same information as done in flash. Yes the DHTML methods are slightly less “flashy” in motion, but that has little impact on SEO or usability which is more important to the success of a site. I’m less impressed with than how an image transitions in a flash movie (blinking, wiping, trotting into the visible frame, etc.) than treating text in a visually appealing method. This approach in turn will add more value to the users click. If they (users) are given more information up front, they can make a better value judgment on where and how to spend their time on a site.

#2. Differentiation in text links color and presentation. It’s a well documented fact for any site to have successful usability, that consistency and standardization are key. Specifically in page to page navigation (top, side or bottom), content to content and dynamic style navigation. This applies equally for every level and type of user. I have found that on some large-scale commercial websites, home pages alone can have five or more ways of displaying text links. This is too many variations on the same concept for users to get a clear understanding on what and or where to click on for text links. Yes some of it’s obvious to users, but when you change the color, underline in one spot but not another as well as size and bold/unbold, it’s confusing to just about everyone and creates unnecessary page clutter. Since link colors can be any color or shade of the same color (depending on location and purpose), we recommend that for first tier navigation (navgiation bar) and all secondary navigation text colors be the same color or only vary once. These types of navigation include but are not limited too: sub page breadcrumbs, top right login/bookmark/faq, footer links/text, right/left column sidebars. We also recommend that all either be underlined or not initially or when variations exist with each navigation type or consistency is lost.

Links within content areas should be consistent as well in following the same ideas with navigation. Color of text links (which used to be standardized as blue, red, dark purple) can and often does vary on sites depending on their color palette, but variation doesn’t grant designers carte-blanche when it comes to usability.

#3 Header consistency. There is something to be said about page weight and information hierarchy on home pages and sub pages. The size, color and location of the page headings are not only important to leading the user to information gracefully, but giving them as users a sense of flow and ease of use on a site (helping them attain their goal, whatever it is). If page headings are not consistent across a site (page to page), then confusion arises and visual clutter happens. Designers and coders should consider making a consistent size or size variation (larger to smaller) and be consistent about supportive visual elements (horizontal rules, curved lines/borders, background colors/gradients, etc.).
#4 Form Buttons. It’s become common practice for form buttons to be stylized as graphics (search or login boxes, save buttons, etc.) and not just defaulted to how the browser displays it. By using CSS formating with background images or types=”image”, designers have gone hog-wild in their designing of this key part to interactivity. Consistency across a site in the presentation of form buttons is important for not only allowing the site user to know what they are clicking on, but helps them in picking up visual cues to site architecture quickly and easily. Picking clean colors (not pink or lime green), reversing text (light color on top of dark) and shading with border colors, buttons can be clean and element.

#5 Site architecture. This is a difficult topic to pinpoint from a visual standpoint, but it’s important to take the “50,000 foot” approach at least once when designing, coding and examining the usability of a site. If you don’t have the goals of your site usability available in written format (in your boss or clients head is not a good place for them if you’re doing coding, testing and design), then this discussion will go nowhere fast. You truly must have things such as your page definitions, site architecture (flow charts) and use cases defined somewhat (even if briefly) to get a clear picture of what and why you are building or designing a site.

If you are trying to sell a product or service, your overall goal is to drive traffic to the “sales” portion of your site. This can be done through promotional or categorically listing all products (or a brief list thereof). If you’re providing information or data as a service, then searching, browsing and ease of acquisition are goals through easily defined areas to help the user drill down to their objectives. Granted there are countless iterations of each of these which encompass every type of site on the Internet, but you as clients, designers and coders should be able to figure out without much difficulty, where your project or site lands in this range. The point being, the quality and quantity of information presented up front to users (home, splash or flash pages) is the most important part to gaining the trust of end-users. If you have too much visual clutter (first time users will spend on average 15 seconds on a site before clicking off or back button or search for something else) then you will loose the user. If you have a good balance of visual cues, “design prettiness” and valuable content, users will spend time on your site and your goals will be reached.

If you have suggestions, ideas or thoughts to share with CGIpro, please post a comment or email us. If you want to use the information above in any way, please site the source or link to it.

Drive Traffic To Your Blog

October 19th, 2006
Author: Kyle

So you have a brand new blog, have been posting like crazy and still not seeing the results that you desire. Fear not, the below recommendations will jump start your blog and getting it rolling.

1. Set up a Bloglet subscription form on your blog and invite everyone in your network to subscribe: family, friends, colleagues, clients, associates.

2. Set up a feed on MyYahoo.com so your site gets regularly spidered by the Yahoo search engine.

3. Read and comment on other blogs that are in your target niche. Don’t write things like “nice blog” or “great post.” Write intelligent, useful comments with a link to your blog.

4. Use Ping-0-Matic to ping blog directories. Do this every time you publish.

5. Submit your blog to traditional search engines by hand.

6. Submit your blog to blog directories.

7. Put a link to your blog on every page of your website.

8. If you publish a newsletter, make sure you have a link to your blog in every issue.

9. Include a link to your blog as a standard part of all outgoing correspondence such as autoresponder sequences, sales letters, reports, white papers, etc.

10. Make sure you have an RSS feed URL that people can subscribe to.

11. Post often to keep attracting your subscribers to come back and refer you to others in their networks; include links to other blogs, articles and websites in your posts

12. Use Trackback links when you quote or refer to other blog posts. What is TrackBack? Essentially what this does is send a message from one server to another server letting it know you have posted a reference to their post. The beauty is that a link to your blog is now included on their site.

13. Write articles to post around the web in article directories. Include a link to your blog in the author info box.

14. Make a commitment to blog everyday. 10 minutes a day can help increase your traffic as new content attracts search engine spiders. Put it on your calendar as a task every day at the same time.