Mobile Web Design

Mobile web browsing is expected to turn into the next major Internet platform. It is now easy to browse the net from nearly anywhere utilizing mobile devices that fit in a hand because of technology. Being short in good usability implementation in mobile web design makes it difficult browsing your way around various popular mobile websites. Designing for mobile devices needs to be simpler than its standard website and more task-based to get the job done because users look for something specific and urgent.

mobile web design

You should take into account on how to use the barest minimum of the available space for your major contents and remain interesting for mobile users. Avoid large images and flash animation as it will slow down your site. Remember that functionality is more important than style for mobile websites. If your website is not coded and design properly, it could look better on one phone, worst on another or worse, not displaying at all. Test, validate, and check if it’s compatible with all mobile devices.

To aid you in creating website that is accessible not just on desktop or laptop computers but also mobile devices, here are some of the things to consider on mobile web design with sample images together with the mobile website version’s direct link.

1. Decide on the screen resolution

The mobile world contains a rich variation of design considerations from different screen sizes and resolution to a variety of shapes. Aim to strike a balance between sufficient screen width and audience size. Find out the specs of current mobile devices and use your best judgement. What’s challenging for mobile developers is the way to get one to display appropriately across a range of screen sizes without having to recreate pages for different platforms.

Here is a list of web resolutions popular on mobile devices as of February 2011 presented by Uxbooth.com with their published article, Considerations for Mobile Web Design (Part 2): Dimensions, by David Leggett. The author explains a few points about display dimensions and solutions for layout design.

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2. Break up web pages into small portions

Lengthy sections of text can be hard to read so placing them on several pages limits the scrolling to one direction. Get rid of low priority content. Stick to a single column of text that wraps so there’s no horizontal scrolling.

For the example below, CBS News mobile website version shows only the major news section and breaks the news articles into small portions. While Treehugger presents itself with their recent articles and latest tweets with some of the features of the full website. Both sites have the user click a text link to view the rest of the article.

CBS News

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Treehugger

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3. Simplify the design

Simplicity equates to usability. Let them move around the site with no difficulty. Avoid the inclusion of tables, frames and other formatting. If you use padding, remember to keep it to an absolute minimum far less than you’d use for a normal web page. Compared to desktop computers, the more you click the links on mobile websites, the more you wait because of loading time. With that, you need to strip down and simplify your website with balance between content and navigation.

For our example, the mobile version website of Best Buy list only the most essential product categories trimming down the level of hierarchy for content. While YouTube mobile home page shows only the four latest spotlight videos.

Best Buy

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YouTube

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4. Option to view the full website

Provide a link for your mobile visitors to switch back to your full website for the user to find and view the other content and features that’s only accessible to the desktop version of the site. Your viewers will surely be doing a lot of vertical scrolling, so help them out with ‘Back To Top’ links so that they can jump to the top of the page.

As an example, Ars Technica have their link button to the standard website placed on the heading. While the Shangri-La have their full website link placed on the footer.

Ars Technica

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Shangri-La

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5. Navigation placement

Get to know your audience and be aware of what they are looking for. Find out how they will want to navigate your site. Position your navigation menu below the content if your targeted mobile users want to see changing content quickly. The content and headline needs to be visible first to not get in the way of viewing the page content. For users who want to navigate on a particular category right away, place the navigation at the top of the page. Below are various samples of navigation placement used in mobile web design.

D&G

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Politico

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Daily Horoscope

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6. Use text links

Your main website may employ whizzy fly-out menus, rollovers or other fancy gadgetry, but a mobile browser will likely not. Be aware that dynamic page elements and graphical links consume resources, so opt for well-labelled text links.

A List Apart

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Reddit

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7. Make a distinction between the selected link

Moving the cursor down will scroll the page and highlights the links all at once. So, it’s important to clearly advice the user what item is in focus. This can be done by changing the font and background colour of links and buttons or by simply adding some padding around links to make the clickable area larger about 44px by 44px. Geek Squad and Diesel made use of large fonts for clickable text.

Geek Squad

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Diesel

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8. Balance links

Each page download consumes time and system resources, the latter of which are in short supply, so try not to force the site visitor to digg through a multitude of pages in order to access the information sought. Strike a balance between the number of links on each page and the depth of the site.

Flickr

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Twitter

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9. Reduce user text entry

It is hard to input text in mobile versions of web sites. Replace with radio buttons or list instead so they can opt from what they need with ease. Remember that mobiles users don’t have access to conventional keyboard and mouse. The shorter the URL , the better because it’s monotonous to type in long URLs.

For our sample below, Fedex made use of checklist and drop down menus. While Tumblr made you choose your language using the drop down menu.

Fedex

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Tumblr

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10. No pops or refreshes

Mobile browsers do not normally support pop-ups. And if they did, they’d have very narrow space to pop into. Stay away from using them to avoid unpredictable results. Also, don’t have pages refreshing periodically to avoid filling the device limited memory. Let the user refresh the content.

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In A Nutshell

Get creative and apply your mobile web design in a new way. Make your content compelling enough and usable. Give your users what they want, when they want it. Users don’t want to dig deeper to the site just to find what they are looking for in the mobile web.

Do you have any preferred mobile sites that really inspired you? Can you share some of your mobile web design tips? Let us know!By

Online Marketing

Internet marketing, or online marketing, refers to advertising and marketing efforts that use the Web and email to drive direct sales via electronic commerce, in addition to sales leads from Web sites or emails. Internet marketing and online advertising efforts are typically used in conjunction with traditional types of advertising like radio, television, newspapers and magazines.

Specialized Areas of Internet Marketing

Internet marketing can also be broken down into more specialized areas such as Web marketing, email marketing and social media marketing:

1) Web marketing includes e-commerce Web sites, affiliate marketing Web sites, promotional or informative Web sites, online advertising on search engines, and organic search engine results via search engine optimization (SEO).

Business Web application design

By

Business Web application design is too often neglected. I see a lot of applications that don’t meet the needs of either businesses or users and thus contribute to a loss of profit and poor user experience. It even happens that designers are not involved in the process of creating applications at all, putting all of the responsibility on the shoulders of developers.

This is a tough task for developers, who may have plenty of back-end and front-end development experience but limited knowledge of design. This results in unsatisfied customers, frustrated users and failed projects.

So, we will cover the basics of user interface design for business Web applications. While one could apply many approaches, techniques and principles to UI design in general, our focus here will be on business Web applications.

Websites vs. Web Applications

Confusing Web applications and websites is easy, as is confusing user interface design and website design. But they are different both in essence and in so many other ways, which we’ll explore in this article.

A website is a collection of pages consisting mostly of static content, images and video, with limited interactive functionality (i.e. except for the contact form and search functionality). The primary role of a website is to inform. Some websites use content management systems to render dynamic content, but their nature is still informational.

Website vs. web application
CampaignMonitor is powerful email marketing software, while Jeff Sarimento’s website is intended to inform readers about his life and work.

Web applications, on the other hand, are dynamic, interactive systems that help businesses perform business critical tasks and that increase and measure their productivity. Thus, the primary role of a Web application is to perform a function that serves the user’s tasks and according to defined business rules.

Web applications require a higher level of involvement and knowledge of the system on the part of the user. They don’t just stumble upon the application, do their work and bounce off. They use it as a tool to perform critical business tasks in their daily work. In the end, they cannot easily discontinue using the application and switch to another if they don’t like how it’s working, as is the case with websites.

Different Types of Web Applications

Business applications range in type from invoicing for freelancers to content management systems to document management systems to banking and financial systems.

We can distinguish between open and closed applications. Open systems are online applications that are easily accessible to anyone who opens an account. Users can access such applications via the Web and can open an account for free or by paying a fee. Closed systems (or line-of-business applications) are usually not accessible outside the company that uses it, and they can be considered “offline” applications (though many systems expose their functionality to business partners via either services or specialized interfaces). Such systems usually run on the company’s local network and are available only to employees.

I don’t know who coined it, but one term I like especially is weblication, which describes what a Web application is in general. This doesn’t mean, though that a Web application is a half-website half-application hybrid. It is far more complex that that.

First, Know Your Users

You’ve probably heard this a thousand times, and for good reason. A successful user interface focuses on users and their tasks. This is key, and too many developers have failed to create a good user experience. As Steve Krug said, “Developers like complexity; they enjoy discovering how something works.”

users

When identifying your users, keep in mind that clients are not users, and you are not a user1. Although a client’s management team will usually be interested in the project and try to influence decisions, remember that they won’t be sitting in front of the computer several hours a day (unless the application is specifically for them).

How to Identify Users?

Identifying users can be done using several techniques, such as user interviews, business stakeholder interviews and the “shadowing” method of observation. Interviews can give you answers to questions about the users’ knowledge of the system and computers in general, while shadowing can yield more detailed information about how users perform tasks and what errors they make. The method is called shadowing because the observer is like a shadow, watching and noting the steps a user takes.

If you don’t have access to real users—either because you don’t have permission or are designing for open application—you can use personas, a tool to help identify users. Personas are a representation of real users, including their habits, goals and motivation. Because certain information about users is often identified through business analysis, you can make use of it to create personas. If you are not familiar with the tool, a comic by Brad Colbow2 will help.

personas3

Task analysis4 helps identify what tasks users perform in their jobs, how they do them, how long they take and what errors they make. Sometimes clients will be using an old version of the application that you are designing to replace. Make use of that old system and watch how users use it. Understanding their tasks and challenges will be easier that way.

Regardless of who your users are, one thing is certain: in most cases, you will have to consider both novices and experts. Novice users should be enabled to learn as fast as possible, while expert users should be enabled to perform their tasks extremely efficiently. This may mean creating separate interfaces. But in many cases you will be able to accommodate both types of users in the same interface through various techniques, such as progressive disclosure.

Such research is usually done by business analysts. But if no one else is responsible for it, you should do it. Once you have the necessary information, you can begin with design.

Design Process

You can follow one of any number of processes in designing the user interface. You might already have one. However, I would suggest that you consider the Agile approach. Why, you ask? Well, because for users (and clients), the user interface is the product. The bottom line is that they don’t care about your sketches or about fantastic back ends or powerful servers. All they want to see is the user interface.

So, how does Agile help? It helps through its key principle: the iterative approach. Each iteration consists of all of the phases defined by your process. This means that at the end of the first iteration, you will have a product that can be tested, a prototype.

Process

Sketching

Sketching is a powerful way to explore ideas. The goal is to arrive at the solution by sketching out different concepts. Most sketches will be thrown out, but that is okay. As Bill Buxton says in his “Sketching User Experience” book, sketches are fast to create and easy to dispose of, which is why they are so powerful.

Are sketches the same as wireframes? Well, the differences can be blurry, but I would say no. Wireframes don’t capture rough ideas but rather develop them. Read a fantastic discussion on IxDA: Sketching Before the Wireframes.5

Once you get the “right” sketches, or at least the ones that you think are right, you can create more detailed wireframes or go straight to creating interactive prototypes.

sketch
Sketch by Jason Robb6.

Social media

media are computer-mediated tools that allow people to create, share or exchange information, ideas, and pictures/videos in virtual communities and networks. Social media is defined as “a group of Internet-based applications that build on the ideological and technological foundations of Web 2.0, and that allow the creation and exchange of user-generated content.”[1] Furthermore, social media depend on mobile and web-based technologies to create highly interactive platforms through which individuals and communities share, co-create, discuss, and modify user-generated content. They introduce substantial and pervasive changes to communication between businesses,organizations, communities, and individuals.[2] These changes are the focus of the emerging field of technoself studies.

Social media are different from traditional or industrial media in many ways, including quality,[3] reach, frequency, usability, immediacy, and permanence. There are many effects that stem from internet usage. According to Nielsen, internet users continue to spend more time with social media sites than any other type of site. At the same time, the total time spent on social media in the U.S. across PC and mobile devices increased by 99 percent to 121 billion minutes in July 2012 compared to 66 billion minutes in July 2011.[4] For content contributors, the benefits of participating in social media have gone beyond simply social sharing to building reputation and bringing in career opportunities and monetary income, as discussed in Tang, Gu, and Whinston (2012).[5]

In 2014, the largest social network is Facebook and other popular networks include Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Pinterest.[6]

Search engine marketing (SEM)

Search engine marketing (SEM) is a form of Internet marketing that involves the promotion of websites by increasing their visibility in search engine results pages (SERPs) through optimization and advertising.[1] SEM may use search engine optimization (SEO), which adjusts or rewrites website content to achieve a higher ranking in search engine results pages, or use pay per click (PPC) listings.

Examples

AdWords is recognized as a web-based advertising utensil since it adopts keywords which can deliver adverts explicitly to web users looking for information in respect to a certain product or service. This project is highly practical for advertisers as the project hinges on cost per click (CPC) pricing, thus the payment of the service only applies if their advert has been clicked on. SEM companies have embarked on AdWords projects as a way to publicize their SEM and SEO services. This promotion has helped their business elaborate, offering added value to consumers who endeavor to employ AdWords for promoting their products and services. One of the most successful approaches to the strategy of this project was to focus on making sure that PPC advertising funds were prudently invested. Moreover, SEM companies have described AdWords as a fine practical tool for increasing a consumer’s investment earnings on Internet advertising. The use of conversion tracking and Google Analytics tools was deemed to be practical for presenting to clients the performance of their canvas from click to conversion. AdWords project has enabled SEM companies to train their clients on the utensil and delivers better performance to the canvass. The assistance of AdWord canvass could contribute to the huge success in the growth of web traffic for a number of its consumer’s websites, by as much as 250% in only nine months.[24]

Another way search engine marketing is managed is by contextual advertising. Here marketers place ads on other sites or portals that carry information relevant to their products so that the ads jump into the circle of vision of browsers who are seeking information from those sites. A successful SEM plan is the approach to capture the relationships amongst information searchers, businesses, and search engines. Search engines were not important to some industries in the past, but over the past years the use of search engines for accessing information has become vital to increase business opportunities.[25] The use of SEM strategic tools for businesses such as tourism can attract potential consumers to view their products, but it could also pose various challenges.[25] These challenges could be the competition that companies face amongst their industry and other sources of information that could draw the attention of online consumers.[25] To assist the combat of challenges, the main objective for businesses applying SEM is to improve and maintain their ranking as high as possible on SERPs so that they can gain visibility. Therefore search engines are adjusting and developing algorithms and the shifting criteria by which web pages are ranked sequentially to combat against search engine misuse and spamming, and to supply the most relevant information to searchers.[25] This could enhance the relationship amongst information searchers, businesses, and search engines by understanding the strategies of marketing to attract business.

 

Posted in SEO |

Backlink Building

Ways to Build Backlinks

Even if plenty of backlinks come to your site the natural way, additional quality backlinks are always welcome and the time you spend building them is not wasted. Among the acceptable ways of link building are getting listed in directories, posting in forums, blogs and article directories. The unacceptable ways include inter-linking (linking from one site to another site, which is owned by the same owner or exists mainly for the purpose to be a link farm), linking to spam sites or sites that host any kind of illegal content, purchasing links in bulk, linking to link farms, etc.

The first step in building backlinks is to find the places from which you can get quality backlinks. A valuable assistant in this process is the Backlink Builder tool. When you enter the keywords of your choice, the Backlink Builder tool gives you a list of sites where you can post an article, message, posting, or simply a backlink to your site. After you have the list of potential backlink partners, it is up to you to visit each of the sites and post your content with the backlink to your site in it.

You might wonder why sites as those, listed by the Backlink Builder tool provide such a precious asset as backlinks for free. The answer is simple – they need content for their site. When you post an article, or submit a link to your site, you do not get paid for this. You provide them for free with something they need – content – and in return they also provide you for free with something you need – quality backlinks. It is a free trade, as long as the sites you post your content or links are respected and you don’t post fake links or content.

Getting Listed in Directories

If you are serious about your Web presence, getting listed in directories like DMOZ, Yahoo, Jasmine Directory and others quality directories is a must – not only because this is a way to get some quality backlinks for free, but also because this way you are easily noticed by both search engines and potential visitors. Generally inclusion in search directories is free but the drawback is that sometimes you have to wait a couple of months before you get listed in the categories of your choice.

Forums and Article Directories

Generally search engines index forums so posting in forums and blogs is also a way to get quality backlinks with the anchor text you want. If the forum or blog is a respected one, a backlink is valuable. However, in some cases the forum or blog administrator can edit your post, or even delete it if it does not fit into the forum or blog policy. Also, sometimes administrators do not allow links in posts, unless they are relevant ones. In some rare cases (which are more an exception than a rule) the owner of a forum or a blog would have banned search engines from indexing it and in this case posting backlinks there is pointless.

While forum postings can be short and do not require much effort, submitting articles to directories can be more time-consuming because generally articles are longer than posts and need careful thinking while writing them. But it is also worth and it is not so difficult to do.

Content Exchange and Affiliate Programs

Content exchange and affiliate programs are similar to the previous method of getting quality backlinks. For instance, you can offer to interested sites RSS feeds for free. When the other site publishes your RSS feed, you will get a backlink to your site and potentially a lot of visitors, who will come to your site for more details about the headline and the abstract they read on the other site.

Affiliate programs are also good for getting more visitors (and buyers) and for building quality backlinks but they tend to be an expensive way because generally the affiliate commission is in the range of 10 to 30 %. But if you have an affiliate program anyway, why not use it to get some more quality backlinks?

News Announcements and Press Releases

Although this is hardly an everyday way to build backlinks, it is an approach that gives good results, if handled properly. There are many sites (for instance, here is a list of some of them) that publish for free or for a fee news announcements and press releases. A professionally written press release about an important event can bring you many, many visitors and the backlink from a respected site to yours is a good boost to your SEO efforts. The tricky part is that you cannot release press releases if there is nothing newsworthy. That is why we say that news announcements and press releases are not a commodity way to build backlinks.

Backlink Building Practices to Avoid

One of the practices that is to be avoided is link exchange. There are many programs, which offer to barter links. The principle is simple – you put a link to a site, they put a backlink to your site. There are a couple of important things to consider with link exchange programs. First, take care about the ratio between outbound and inbound links. If your outbound links are times your inbound, this is bad. Second (and more important) is the risk that your link exchange partners are link farms. If this is the case, you could even be banned from search engines, so it is too risky to indulge in link exchange programs

Brand Management

The process of maintaining, improving, and upholding a brand so that the name is associated with positive results. Brand management involves a number of important aspects such as cost, customer satisfaction, in-store presentation, and competition. Brand management is built on a marketing foundation, but focuses directly on the brand and how that brand can remain favorable to customers. Proper brand management can result in higher sales of not only one product, but on other products associated with that brand. For example, if a customer loves Pillsbury biscuits and trust the brand, he or she is more likely to try other products offered by the company such as chocolate chip cookies.

Search engine optimization (SEO

Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of affecting the visibility of a website or a web page in a search engine’s “natural” or un-paid (“organic”) search results. In general, the earlier (or higher ranked on the search results page), and more frequently a site appears in the search results list, the more visitors it will receive from the search engine’s users. SEO may target different kinds of search, including image search, local search, video search, academic search,[1] news search and industry-specific vertical search engines.

As an Internet marketing strategy, SEO considers how search engines work, what people search for, the actual search terms or keywords typed into search engines and which search engines are preferred by their targeted audience. Optimizing a website may involve editing its content, HTML and associated coding to both increase its relevance to specific keywords and to remove barriers to the indexing activities of search engines. Promoting a site to increase the number of backlinks, or inbound links, is another SEO tactic.

The plural of the abbreviation SEO can also refer to “search engine optimizers”, those who provide SEO services

 

Posted in SEO |

Web Design

Web design encompasses many different skills and disciplines in the production and maintenance of websites. The different areas of web design include web graphic design; interface design; authoring, including standardised code and proprietary software; user experience design; and search engine optimization. Often many individuals will work in teams covering different aspects of the design process, although some designers will cover them all.[1] The term web design is normally used to describe the design process relating to the front-end (client side) design of a website including writing mark up. Web design partially overlaps web engineering in the broader scope of web development. Web designers are expected to have an awareness of usability and if their role involves creating mark up then they are also expected to be up to date with web accessibility guidelines