Archive for September, 2010
Posted on September 30th, 2010
In the quest to make your website more user-friendly, there comes a time when you need to give great thought as to what type of device and user you are designing for. As mentioned in part 1 of this series, many people today are accessing the web via mobile and multi-touch devices. As Steve Jobs commented just days after the release of the iPad," Elements that rely only on mousemove, mouseover, and mouse out or as a CSS pseudo-class hover may not always behave as expected on a touch-screen device such as the iPad or the iPhone."1 As a result, web developers should keep in mind that anything designed for the web and requiring a hover state has an uncertain future and may face serious website usability issues. Not sure? Consider this telling fact, "There are two smartphones being purchased for every one desktop computer."2
There are a variety of steps you can take to keep a website, whether
being viewed on a desktop or mobile screen, from being unpleasant at
best and unusable at worst. Here are a few common elements you may wish
to consider avoiding as you design or edit your next site.
pages that require an extra click to get into a site -If you must, make
sure there is a good reason for it. Not just to "Be cool."
- Videos or music that plays automatically on load – Unless you
want to compel a large percentage of your visitors in public places to
scramble for the "Close Window" button.
- Using drop down menus or
hiding content that is critical for people to get to easily – Although
the popularity of the drop down menu has helped to reduce it’s inherent
counterintuitiveness, consider other, more simple navigation techniques
- Hyperlinks that are not totally obvious
- Build intentionally and specifically for the touch screen devices
should quit using it (It can be a very useful tool, actually), but
rather that it is necessary for web designers (and website owners) be
aware that every "special effect" should be there for a purpose. Whether
it is getting more content on the page for SEO reasons without making
the page look so text-heavy, or hiding a login area that comes to the
forefront only after a click, if only 20% of a site’s visitors may need
to login, etc.
Website usability for the mobile generation also means some natural constraints3.
According to Luke Wroblewski, website usability for the mobile device
means that pages should be designed for a screen size of 480-320 pixels,
which is only 80% of the size of a low resolution desktop screen. As a
result, designers need to focus on what aspects of the site are most
important to your customers. You will also want to keep user interface
elements geared toward these "finger usable" sizes:
- Use extra big buttons
- List components should have plenty of line spacing
- The width of a finger limits the density of items on the screen. If
the items are too close, the user will not be able to choose a specific
With all of the browsers, devices, and programming
choices today, it’s easy to get caught up in implementing too many
features. However, ensuring website usability is a critical aspect of
increasing sales and that is the bottom of line for any business. After
all, the average user is not going to stay on a site that is difficult
to use, challenging to focus on, or takes too long to load. If you want
to increase your website’s usability, be sure to ponder these
suggestions. And remember that Page Progressive is happy to help you make your website all it can be
- (.net/standards, Sept. 2010)
- Practical Web Designs, Sept. 2010
Posted on September 25th, 2010
As you begin examining your website to see if it is usable to your visitors, there are many aspects you will want to research. Not only do you want it simple yet informative, you want your visitors to recognize, among other things, that they are important to you. Recently, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, after much research and combined years of experience have released the following website accessibility guidelines to enhance a website’s usability.
Website Usability Design Guidelines
- Provide content that is engaging, relevant and appropriate to the audience; this is the most critical aspect of the web page.
- Use all available resources to better understand the user’s requirements.
- Make sure the website’s format meets user expectations. It should
be easy to use, have helpful content and be well organized. This will
also encourage others to want to use your site. Also keep in mind the
guidelines for Section 508 standards for being friendly for those that are visually impaired.
- Focus first on the users; get them involved to better meet their
requirements. Some websites are better at this than others. Remember,
just because your company personnel does not have trouble using your site
doesn’t mean that your customers will experience the same thing.
- State and set goals; recognize and determine the goals of the site
before beginning the design process; be clear and concrete. As King
Solomon said in Proverbs, "Where there is no vision, the people perish."
- Consider the numerous interface issues during the design process. These issues include:
- Context within which users will be visiting
- Experience levels of the users
- Types of task users will be doing
- Types of computer and connection speeds
- Evaluation of prototypes
- Results of usability test
- Implement good SEO practices so that
your site will be listed in the top 30. Studies show that users do not
look at web pages that are not in the Search Engine’s top 30 results.
If, upon reading these guidelines, you realize that your website needs
work, don’t despair. According to a recent Public Accounts Committee
report, one-third of government sites did not comply with its own
accessibility guidelines. Of course, this doesn’t make having a website
that is difficult to use acceptable, but it does show that even with the
best of intentions, there are many websites that need more work. If you
recognize that your own website needs an overhaul, keep these tips (and
those in the upcoming posts) in mind as you consider how best to revamp
or contact Page Progressive and allow us to improve your website’s usability!
Posted on September 22nd, 2010
Set Limits, Guided by Goals
One paramount way to increase website usability is in setting goals and limits. All websites should be built with a few goals in mind. Those goals may be actions that you want to encourage your users to perform on your site, like sign up for your mailing list or it could be to sell as many of a particular hot product as possible. If you don’t have any goals, your website will lack structure and purpose and more than likely not give you the best results. There are several ways you
can actually improve you website by setting limits:
Limit the Color
Just because there’s a color wheel to choose from doesn’t mean every
shade of green has to be used. Bill at GoMediaZine states, "Reducing the
number of colors we use in our design will make the piece feel
consistent. Keep the color palette small but vibrant." (Examples: Nike,
sports teams, chain restaurants)
Like colors, keeping a consistent font is easier for the eye to
follow. A fancy font may work well for headings, but body text should be a
standard font that is easily read – even at small sizes. However, do keep
in mind that the over-use of a single font within a single design can
also be confusing and difficult to read. Often a layout can combine the use of 2 fonts to emphasize the different between a heading and the body text.
Website usability also means keeping the size of a magazine spread in
mind when designing your site. In fact, according
to web entrepreneur, Luke Wroblewski, websites and web applications
should be designed for mobile devices first, rather than the more common
order of designing first for the desktop. He supports this argument
citing that mobile use is growing rapidly. Designing for mobile devices
forces you to focus. Of course, page size is one of the many factors that has no hard set rule. In the planning stage, this should be one of the factors considered. For example, will your site be accessed more by people who have older computers with smaller screens? Will a mobile version of your site be necessary? Will people on iPads or other tablet devices make up a large number of your visitors?
Minimize, not Maximize
Rather than using a little bit of every cool idea you’ve ever seen on a website,
you should use a few things really well. Products like the iPod or iPad
are remarkable not for all the options they have, but rather for what
they don’t have. Instead of having a dozen buttons like many other devices, these products have 4
buttons, making them easy to use and some of the most popular portable devices of all time.
Simply put, much of the
features that improve website usability can be filed under the old
acronym K.I.S.S. Keeping it simple can go a long way to making visitors feel comfortable and eager to spend time there. And, that is
the point, isn’t it?
Posted on September 12th, 2010
So you want to develop a website where that you can track phone calls, emails and follow ups, as well as manage billing , inventory/ and the status of team projects. Or perhaps you want to create your own online community or social media website. No Problem! Thanks to the versatility of the open source programming language PHP, you can do that and more! Designed by Rasmus Lerdorf in order to pass his resume online and then collect data, PHP has continued to be used by web developers for a variety of needs and web-based applications. PHP is lauded by programmers for many reasons, but these factors are best summed up as follows:
- PHP can be used to create exceptional web pages and interact with info on the web
- It can be used as a go between with users and databases (Such as MySQL)
- Compatibility with almost any Internet server
- PHP/MySQL-based open source solutions are free to use and can be found easily online, such as ImpressCMS or WordPress
- The syntax is simple and has many similarities to C or Java. In addition, it can be used easily on Windows, Macs, UNIX and other programming platforms.
- PHP, though free, is also secure, when used properly
Some of the more common uses of PHP programming are:
- Online inventory management systems – track what you have in stock and who is ordering what products/service
- Content management systems – manage your website yourself easily online
- Online photo galleries – store photos of products, customers, family, etc.
- Ecommerce systems - sell products online with a shopping cart
- Community social portals – create your own version of Facebook, perhaps?
In addition to the many uses of custom PHP development are several attractive benefits that make it practical for everyone involved. These benefits are because PHP is an open source framework.
- PHP custom programming costs less than other languages, typically.
- Because it is simple, it takes less time to have your website live.
- The flexibility of PHP makes it perfect for an abundance of website designs and customization options.
PHP is one of the more versatile tools in the programmer’s toolbox. If you are looking for a way to ramp up your website, PHP is just the tool. Contact Page Progressive to see how custom PHP can be used to help you.
Posted on September 5th, 2010
what information you collect and what will be done with that
depending on the type of business you have, one may not be absolutely
with your site visitors and offer a token of trust. Not only that, but
to be in accordance with any laws or legislation that pertains to your
- The policy helps protect you by stating acceptable behavior
- A privacy page is another opportunity to SEO!
add one, or if you want to upgrade your current privacy statement, then
you need to be sure that it includes the following:
- What cookies are
- What information is collected
- What is done with the information
- How to accept/reject or delete cookies
- Assurance that there are no harmful technical results or risk
should be noted that there are some who suggest including key
do make a difference in page ranking, so why not use a few?
legalese and computer technology terms that the average person cannot
understand what it is you are saying. Rather, do yourself and your
guests a favor, and keep the following tips in mind:
- Keep the language easy to read
- Make it friendly
- Design the policy and publish it like the rest of the site
- Be sure the policy is accessible throughout the site
your business. Will it increase your page ranking in Google? Maybe, but
of comfort and give personality to your business. If you don’t already