Our ramblings about website design and other things

Category: Website Design

10 Seconds is all you have…

Research has shown that at least 50% of all visitors to your website will leave withing 10 seconds so that is all you have, so in other words if your website does not does not catch their attention within 10 seconds then they are gone and it is possible that for a lot of websites this 50% figure could be as high as 60 – 70%

We often talk about your website being a shop window but in the case of the internet it is a shop window where visitors are moving past very quickly and if their head is not turned they move on.

So what can you do to trya and hold on to your visitors:

1, Headlines – Hit the visitor with your message if it is buried in text it will get missed or the visitor may never actually get to it before leaving.

2, Prominent Message – Make sure your key headline or message is at the top of your website, laptop or mobile users may not see the bottom of your website without scrolling so do not take the risk that they will scroll down.

3, Put yourself in their shoes – think like a visitor does, what are they looking for, why are they at your site try and tell them what they want to know and not what you want to tell them. An engaged visitor will stay and look further and those are the visitors that will become customers.

 

DNS Propagation

We often set up a new website or move your existing hosting to our hosting platform and then we tell you to wait while we get DNS propagation across the web so what does DNS propagation mean?

When we set up your new website we create a Master DNS record in our Domain Name Servers. We simply point to our DNS server as being the master authority of your domain.

When anybody wants to know how to find your website, they first go to the registration database to find out who the DNS authority is for your website. Then they visit our hosting provider’s DNS servers to find out what the IP Address is for your domain name, and from there your audience can now view your website.

This all sounds very straight forward however the problem with this whole set up is that in order to speed up the rate at which their customers can view the internet, each Internet Server Provider (ISP) caches (stores) their DNS records. This means that they make their own copy of the master records, and read from them locally instead of looking them up on the Internet each time someone wants view a website. This actually speeds up web surfing quite a bit, by speeding up the return time it takes for a web browser to request a domain lookup and get an answer, and in helping reduce the amount of traffic on the web hence giving it the ability to work faster.

The downside to this caching scenario and what makes it take so long for your website to be visible to everyone, is that each company or ISP that caches DNS records only updates them every few days. There is no standard for this time frame , and they can set this time anywhere from a few hours to several days. The slow updating of the servers cache is called propagation, since your websites DNS information is now being propagated across all DNS servers on the web. When this is finally complete, everyone can now visit your new website. Being that the cache time is different for all servers, as mentioned above, it can take anywhere from 12to 72 hours for DNS changes to be totally in effect. You also have the added effect that some users can see your hosting while others cannot until the propagation is complete.

So in summary you just have to be patient and let the DNS propogation happen.

Website Facelift

We have all heard the expression ‘cobbler’s shoes’ although when I quote some well known expressions to my teenage children they look at me like I am speaking a foreign language!, we have finally found some time to give our own website a ‘facelift’

We practice what we preach so our website is CMS based so the majority of work was with the new template and design and we carried all our content across, this is the beauty of CMS based websites, many times we see users produce a new website and as they have a lot of information they lose their history which can be a very good business resuorce and have the added bonus of bringing traffic.

Anyway jumping off our soapbox we hope you enjoy the new design.

Good Website Design Practices

Here at Bluewave we like to think we are good at what we do an we hope our customers do to. Very often with a website project it is easy to get bogged down in tiny design details of colours, line thickness, icon size etc and while the overall aesthetics of a website are important there are some key items that many web designers overlook.

Website Accessibility

Make sure every page on your website can be accessed via your front page, it is important that search engines can see your whole site, ensure that links are not hidden in flash or other types of menus. Users may only come to your site via searches and if pages are not indexed then they will not hit them.

Cross Browser Compatibility

Check, check and check again your website in all browsers, depending on your target audience some sites may be accessed from mobile phones so ensure your site can be seen and all menu items accessed, you may want to consider a version of your site just for mobile users, people like easy access and if they like your site they are more likely to become customers.

Each page should be Unique

Avoid at all costs a cut and paste mentality across many pages, content should be unique and appear only once, even if you have product variants vary the copy on each product so it is unique. Search engines love unique content and it will help you in the long run.

 

10 Tips to Increase Sales from you Website

We love lists at Bluewave but not ‘to do’ lists as it reminds me of all the work we have to do 🙁

So here are 10 quick Tips to help increase sales, most are common sense but it is always nice to be reminded of the obvious.

1, First Impressions Count – Your website is your shop window so make sure it is clean and will instantly tell the customer what you are selling and why they should buy from you.

2, Clearly Display Delivery Prices etc – Do not hide these away or hit the customer with them at the end of a checkout process as if there are any shocks the customer will drop out. Make sure you are fair and comparable with the competition and have them on display or just a click away.

3, Customer Service – Keep the customer informed every step of the order process, inform of any problems immediately. Customers will accept delays if they are informed rather than them having to chase you.

4, Contact Details – Do not hide behind your website, clearly display your contact details some customers will find your website but then might want to call you to discuss details further – if there are no contact details on a website other than an email address many customer will not buy from it.

5, Make Buying Easy – Make sure the buying process is easy and smooth, do not force a customer to create an account, verify it etc as you will lose most sales at this stage just take the information you need to purchase the order and no more.

6, Browser – Make sure your site works with a number of different browsers and that is loads quickly, keep images small but give customers the option to click on an image to view in high resolution.

7, Payment – You should take as many forms of payments as you can, all major Credit Cards and add others such as Paypal, Bank Transfer etc – you need to cater for as many customers as possible.

8, Security – It goes without saying your site should be secure but display your security credentials and if you can show information on your SSL certificate, customers need to be assured your site is safe to trade on.

9, Offer Good Value – Buyers are looking for good service with good value, make sure your prices are competitive and offer extras such as free shipping, gift wrapping etc

10, Track Your Customers – Use free software such as Google Analytics to track a customer’s journey on your website, do you know what is your bounce rate ? or do you know how many customers attempt to but but drop out before completing the sale.

Content is King

When developing new websites for our customers we are often not given much content to start with and on many occasions we have to ‘squeeze out’ what we need. We get lots of questions about how to generate traffic and there are lots of SEO methods we can use to help with this but quite simply ‘content is king’

Successful websites have good useful content that users want to read, the content must be relevant to your subject and should be changed and updated on a regular basis. Care should be taken not to just try and push a product, try and include more information in your content, readers will quickly see you know what you are talking about as most buyers want to buy from an ‘expert’

Blogs such as this one are great for content and the information provided can be a little less formal than on your website, customers will see you know your subject but the style will also give them a little insight into the ‘behind the scenes’ elements of your business.

Once you have a new stylish and well laid out website then if you are a small business set some time aside each week to make an update, this can be a simple review of a page or changing the graphics or photos on your site, and remember search engines such as google love relevant and changing content.

Developing a Website for Visually Impaired

A client of ours wanted a new website but one of the key areas that we need to take care of was the fact that the site may be visited by a lot of visually impaired visitors.

We did some research on this and we have always thought about accessibility with our designs but generally speaking for this particular project the majority of users were older people with failing eye sight due to age or illness.

The main criteria to think about is the readability of the text and for most users this relates to font size – so for this site we added a font sizer that allowed users to increase the general font and it would remain at the chosen size for every subsequent visit.

We had to think about colours and the contrast of colours for menu items, there needs to be a very distinct contrast such as black on white or black.  We also had to avoid providing information based on slight colour changes such as when a mouse is over an item and again make any colour changes very distinct, often this is not pleasing to the designer but in this case function was more important.

Another area that can help visually impared users is to generally use less graphics and more plain text making the site easier to read and navigate.

All in all with a project like this you need to identify your target users to see how the website design needs to make it accessible to the maximum number of users.