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Archive for the ‘Web Design’ Category

10 Design Tips for Improving Your Web Site

September 19th, 2006
Author: Prashanth

1. Keep Your Pages Fast-Loading 

Web users are impatient. Don’t force visitors to wait through JavaScript-enabled introductions or QuickTime movies before they can enter your site. Always provide a “Skip” or “Stop” button when using these elements. 

2. Avoid Dead-End Pages 

Always offer your customers a way out of a page. This could mean including a link to the main page on every page. Users are becoming increasingly accustomed to a navigation bar that links to all the sections of a site, and company logos that act as a navigation link to the home page. You can also offer text links on each page for going to “Top of page” or “Back.” 

3. Facilitate Scanning 

Study after study shows that most people don’t read on the Web. They scan content for information that is relevant. Facilitate this process by breaking up text with headings and subheadings. Use text links that allow readers to jump from section to section. Don’t expect people to scroll to find information on your site. 

4. Avoid Overusing Graphics, Animation, and Multimedia 

If they don’t add functionality, don’t use graphics, animation, movies, sounds, and so on. Only use these features if they enhance your customers’ experience. Product photos are often valuable additions to your site, but you might want to minimize the delays they could cause in load times by using thumbnail (small) images. You can link these thumbnail images to larger, more detailed images for customers who are interested in having a closer look. You can even include technology that allows viewers to zoom in on features or rotate the view of the product. 

Limit the number of images on each page for faster load times. If pages or files will take some time to download, it’s best to forewarn your customers by noting the file size next to the link to them. If anything, users have less patience for state-of-the-art technology these days as the Web becomes dominated by new users, and the upgrade speeds for new browsers and plug-ins decline. 

5. Don’t Assume That Everyone Uses the Same Browser 

Avoid designing for a certain browser or trying to force a certain look. Some Web authors make extensive use of elaborate formatting tricks in a determined effort to coerce a client program into creating a specific visual rendering. These pages look good when viewed with the author’s browser of choice, but look bad in most or all other browsers. 

6. Provide a Text Option 

Browser preferences allow users to turn off graphics if they choose, and those who are using older browsers may not have the ability to view all images. So provide text links or alternative text tags in addition to graphics, including navigational buttons or bars. 

7. Delay Registration 

There are many reasons for asking visitors to register at your Web site, but don’t put your registration form on the first page. Show your content first; demonstrate that registration has its rewards before you ask visitors to spend their time on it. 

8. Make Your Forms Flexible 

Online forms are often necessary and useful for placing an order or setting up accounts. But try to make your forms flexible by limiting the number of required fields. Also, make errors easy to find and correct. If users have incorrectly entered a phone number, they shouldn’t need to complete the entire form again. Just have them correct the portion with the error, which should be highlighted to make the mistake obvious. Include a “Help” link in case customers run into problems while filling out a form. It’s just not worthwhile to people to take time to figure out how to make something work on your site when there are 5 million other sites to visit. 

9. Avoid “Under Construction” Signs 

By definition, Web documents change over time. Either your pages are useful to people (in which case you need not apologize for them) or they’re not — in which case, you aren’t ready to show them to the world and shouldn’t be making them public. 

10. Provide a Clear Path for Customers to Make a Purchase 

Display your products, descriptions, and prices prominently. If you’re going to talk about a product your company sells, explain how to order it. Many Web sites are guilty of not fully disclosing product and pricing information or making it clear how to buy their products. Even if you are not yet prepared to process transactions online, you can let customers know how to buy your products by including a telephone number or retail location where they can complete a purchase, or a date when the product will become available online. 

Why Your Site Should Be Running A Wordpress Blog

September 13th, 2006
Author: Kyle

Wordpress is an exciting blog utility which provides an extremely easy to use interface making the process of getting your message out on the net quick and simple. With WordPress you can set up static pages so you don’t have to just blog. In fact, whole sites revolve around its code base and it can be maintain all yourself without being a professional webmaster.

Wordpress has been coded to be search engine friendly and conforms to W3 standards. You can easily set it up so the urls make use of your keyword rich title instead of all the dynamic parameters. Just having a blog is good for ranking well within the search engines. Writing content-rich articles and posts often creates pages that can be spidered and indexed. The pages the blog produces bring traffic and as you write more pages the search visitors will just keep coming. The more you write on the same topic over and over and assuming you’re writing quality posts, the more other sites will naturally begin to link to you and further increasing your search engine presence. Writing about the same subject matter will give the impression of you and your site as an authority within the search engines as well as with potential customers and clients.

There is no need to know how to code html, css, or any other scripting language. Creating and updating your Wordpress “site” is as easy as sending email in Hotmail. All the coding is done for you. Simply type and click submit, and your information is out on the internet for people to find. The Wordpress blog offers an easy way to create a fun, first rate website and maintain it with little to no fuss. We highly recommend one for anyone who has a hobby, a business, or simply wants to share their feelings. With Wordpress, you get your message out to the world.

Ten Secrets for Successful Web-Based Customer Service

September 7th, 2006
Author: Prashanth

As it is getting proved, effective web-based customer service is a very achievable goal with significant potential rewards. It simply requires the right principles, practices and tools. By surveying today’s most effective practitioners, it can be distilled to ten basic attributes that make web-based customer support work:

  1. Make sure your web site can “listen” to customers
    Every successful salesperson knows the most important part of their job is listening to the customer—for both explicit and implicit messages. Web sites should do the same. Explicit messages are clear requests for specific information. Implicit messages are patterns of queries or usage that provide clues about customer needs and interests. Effective online service requires mechanisms and/or practices that give an attentive ear to both types of messages.
  2. Give customers what they want—quickly
    once you’ve “heard” what kind of information customers want, you have to give it to them—quickly. The web is all about immediacy. So whether it’s getting new information posted onto your site or making the information that’s already on there easier to understand, you must optimize your ability to respond to your customers’ needs with online content. Don’t confuse this with the rapid posting of the information that marketers want to put on your site. Quality customer service requires the rapid posting of content that is completely customer-driven.
  3. Make customer service resources easy to find and easy to use
    Great content isn’t much use if customers can’t find it easily. That’s why it’s essential to provide customers with highly intuitive search tool that let them pinpoint the answers they need with a minimum number of steps. It’s also smart to maintain a “Top 20″ list of current hot topics that customers can view as soon as they come to your main self-service page.
  4. Integrate all your communications channels
    Different customers will use different communications channels at different times. You don’t want them to get different answers depending on which channel they happen to use. So it’s important to leverage your knowledge base across all channels. Ideally, the information you provide on the web should be exactly the same as what you provide via your live operators, voice self-service, email and chat.
  5. The “80/20″ rule
    To be successful at web-based customer service, you don’t have to be able to answer every conceivable customer question online. More than 80% of all customer questions are usually answered by just 20% of a support knowledge base. And many companies achieve 97-plus percent self-service rates with relatively limited—but highly customer-driven—content that they’ve developed over time by learning what customers need. That’s why it’s more important to get started with web-based customer service than it is to first develop the “perfect” knowledge base. Smart companies get the most important information up right away, and then refine their content over time.
  6. Let your customers rate you
    You can’t improve what you don’t measure. So the companies that are most successful with web self-service provide customers with a way to rate the quality of the answers they find online. Using this feedback, content that isn’t useful can be quickly weeded out—thereby improving the overall effectiveness of the site.
  7. Use rich content wherever appropriate
    A picture is often worth a thousand words. Photographs, diagrams, and animations can therefore be very useful in helping customers solve their most common problems. Creating these types of graphics can help further improve the effectiveness of your online customer service system.
  8. Connect the online world to the real world
    For retailers, banks, and many others types of companies, it’s important to link online operations with real-world facilities. After all, many customers come to a web site specifically to find a local store, branch office or service center. One of the best ways to do this is to provide a searchable database of real-world locations on your web site. It’s also a good idea to supplement street addresses with maps and driving directions to ensure that your customers can get where they want to go without getting lost.
  9. Consider a hosted, on demand solution
    Many successful web-based service implementers are taking advantage of hosted on demand solutions in order to eliminate capital costs and ongoing infrastructure management hassles. Hosted systems accelerate time-to-benefit and offload ownership burdens from corporate IT organizations that already have their hands full. Hosted systems also offer advantages when it comes to performance, reliability, scalability and security.
  10. Buy experience along with your technology
    Online customer service technologies can be very powerful. But you have to know what you’re doing to get the most out of them. That’s why the smart buyers look for a source of substantial customer service experience to complement the technologies they acquire. Best practices like those listed here are extraordinarily valuable. So it makes sense to partner with a vendor who can help you apply those best practices to your company’s online customer service initiatives. It’s even better when that vendor can help you optimize the rest of your CRM processes as well.