This concept came to light when I was discussing with an acquaintance his new website he’d just had built by a freelance developer. He’s in the painting business here in Cape Town and with whats available in terms of competitor contractor sites his knocks the shit out of all of them. One problem, his ranking in Google and yahoo are terrible, so for all those bells and whistles, from all the use of flash and rich media in the site..no one even gets to see it, and the ROI fr all the money thrown into developing this site? Stuff all to show for it.
The way I see it why not leave the development to the actual developers. It’s what they’ll good at. Were we can step in is in the design of the digital asset, again not using flash and all those pretty things top make a website light up like the strip on Las Vegas, but rather ensuring the principles of good website development are being considered.
What are these so called ‘principles’ I’m preaching? They’re not rocket science, and will seem pretty obvious.
- Accessibility - any possible barriers that users may experience in accessing your site?
- Usability – Well…how user friendly is your site?
- Search-ability - How well does your site ensure it can be found via the search engine ?
- Discoverability - This looks at how well the site takes advantage of social media and making it more ‘shareable.
The first and second points are self-explanatory. Technical barriers can be simple to quantify and test to see what works, such as checking which web browsers support the site ans then tweaking accordingly. And discoverability refers to making your site and content as shareable as possible.
Things to consider:
1. Look at the standard conventions as a guide. (Distinctly coloured links, menus at the top and left, logo’s at the top left hand corner) Search boxes displayed at the top
3. The most important info needs to be above the fold (meaning all the content on the screen can be seen without scrolling down)
4. Don’t forget about a sitemap, this is usually left out, but is so helpful in displaying the information according to its designated ‘hierarchy’
5. Finally clear cut navigation, as the user should always be able to ascertain where they are in the site.
LABEL THINGS CORRECTLY!! URL’s, Alt tag’s, and meta data all describe the website to the search engine spiders and people.
Look to implement title attributes, that text seen when the mouse pointers hovers over a link. Search engine spiders can see these and use them when crawling the site. Title tag’s, appearing at the top of one’s web browser describe the page content and is used when a page is bookmarked. Meta tag’s, are filled in by copywriters and while not seen by the user all the time and are less used by the spiders but still are seen as important enough to enter an example of this is:
<!DOCTYPE HTML PUBLIC “-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN”>
<title>All our wooden furniture is water proof.</title>
<meta name=”keywords“ content=”wood, furniture, garden, garden-table, etc.“>
<meta name=”description“ content=”Official dealer of wooden garden furniture.“>
Finally the copy itself in the content of the pages (this is separate from the code telling the browser how to display the web page). Following SEO practices one can ensure the content is ranked adequately in the search engine results pages.
Some bare basics, but well worth knowing and understanding.