Our ramblings about website design and other things

Posts tagged: browser

Browser Compatibility

When we produce a new website for a client we make a big effort to ensure cross browser compatibility but what ever we do there are always small differences fo the appearance of a site depending upon the users viewing environment.

It is a continual battle (we use the choice of battle deliberately) to ensure current compatibility and backwards compatibility but the big question is how far do you go back with testing.

We see that WordPress have taken the step of announcing the ending of support for  Internet Explorer versions 8, 9 and 10 starting with the WP release 4.8

To us this makes sense, we wish that all users only used the latest browsers in their environment but there are many ranging reasons why users have no upgraded their browser from lack of knowledge, possible cost implications to working in a situation where there are locked down sue to administrator control.

The full story can be viewed over on the WordPress blog

The New EU Cookie Regulations

You may have seen various articles and mentions on the TV news bulletins about the new EU Rules on the use of Cookies.

So what are cookies and how do they work? (Chocolate Chip are our favourites :-))

A cookie is simply a text file containing information that can be remembered by a web browser between pages. When an individual uses a web browser to access the Internet their browser can create cookies which are stored on the user’s computer. Cookies are not programs and therefore cannot contain viruses or other malicious software. They are purely a string of text and numbers.

There are two main types of cookies – session cookies and persistent cookies.

Session cookies only last during a single visit. When a user closes their web browser the session cookie information is automatically removed from their computer. Typically a website uses session cookies to allow you to navigate back and forward through pages.

Persistent cookies are stored by the user’s web browser even when the web browser has been closed, so that the next time a user goes back to the website that originally set the cookie, the web site can read information back from the cookie.  Persistent cookies have an expiry date which controls when they are automatically deleted. This can be anything from a few minutes to several years.

The big concern by the EU is the use of Persistent Cookies and how that information can be used by different websites.

As many sites are using a lot of Persistent Cookies then they will need to obtain your permission to proceed so from the 26th May 2012 every time you visit some websites you may need to click on an accept cookie pop up box.

At Bluewaveweb we tend to only make use of persistent cookies for Google Analytics and the information stored is minimal mainly being used to clarify users as a first time or returning visitor, no personal information is stored.

So for our customers our approach is to add a ‘use of cookies’ page to their website so any concerned visitors can find out more information about the use of cookies on their site.

Ultimately the user has total control over cookies by changing the settings on their browser.

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.

Which Browser ?

Clients often ask us about which browser should they be using and which browser we optimise our sites for.

In terms of market share Microsoft still dominate with Internet Explorer having a market share of around 60%, second is Mozilla FireFox with a market share of around 23%, third is Google Chrome with around 8% (and growing) and fourth is Safari with 5% and behind that is Opera with around 2% and various other browsers with minor market share.

So generally we test all our sites with Explorer, Firefox, Chrome, Safari and Opera but the real growth area is in mobile access. Most mobiles can happily view websites designed for PC access but it is possible to have browser detection for web pages optimised for mobile devices and this is becoming a regular request for us.

Many Website developers take the view that testing with Explorer and Firefox is more than enough and I guess covering around 83% of the market is the majority but in our view one of your customers may have a less popular browser and if your site looks ‘wrong’ then they will not put their hands in their pocket to buy from you.