I’m honored to have my work featured amongst this month’s winners for Smashing Magazine’s Desktop Wallpaper Calendar series. “The Little Things” is a wallpaper made to represent the “Holiday Spirit” in a less commercial, and more inspirational way by illustrating 150+ little things that mean everything.
Downloadable on smashingmagazine.com or below ( less compressed) in the following resolutions:
1024×768, 1280×800, 1280×1024, 1440×900, 1680×1050, 1920×1200, 2560×1440
1024×768, 1280×800, 1280×1024, 1440×900, 1680×1050, 1920×1200, 2560×1440
Can’t read the 150+ things in the Wallpaper’s background?
Here’s the list:
- Best Wishes
- Birthday Wishes
- High Five
- Hold Hands
- Please & Thank You
- Well Wishes
- Wish One Joy
This statement was made a fellow web professional in an industry podcast. This statement makes me cringe. This and a series of misstated, misguided advice from this podcast leads me now take everything they say with a grain of salt. To make this statement implies that web design and ROI are mutually exclusive. They are not.
I’m not saying that a website needs to be “pretty” or should be designed just for design sake. Web design needs to support the function of the website. It needs to say “Hi, we’re awesome and we’re professional. You can trust us.” and then fade into the background as the user navigates through the site. The effect of design should be subconscious. It should influence user behavior by supporting their goals and the goals of the website. Design should help lead the user to complete whatever task they came to the website to do.
I think there’s some misconception that designers just want to make things “look pretty”. A good designer understands the purpose of design: to support and influence user behavior on a website in a helpful manner, to gain the trust of the user, to help introduce and orient the user to the website and then move quietly out of their way, at least consciously. Subconsciously, good design makes friends with the user and supports their every move. In short, good design leads to a good user experience, which leads to increased ROI.
A web designer or Internet marketer’s blog is never complete without at least one post that references Seth Godin. Seth Godin is a marketing expert with a unique and captivating writing style. Short authoritative sentences, written in a conversational tone, Seth makes you feel like you are getting insider information. His marketing advice is a stream of revolutionary ideas, and at the same time just plain common sense.
If you are designing a new website or blog or trying to improve results from your current online presence. Here are a 2 classic eBooks from Seth Godin you are sure to find useful.
- Knock Knock – Seth Godin’s Incomplete Guide to Building a Web Site that Works
Excerpt: “Here’s our first big rule: View your site as a series of steps, steps that go from a stranger clicking on an ad, all the way to a satisfied customer telling ten friends. Figure out which step is least efficient, and focus all your energy on making it more efficient. Measure everything!”
- Who’s There? – Seth Godin’s Incomplete Guide to Blogs and the New Web
Excerpt: “People come to me all the time, believing that if I would just link to them, just highlight them, they’d be unstoppable. Alas, this isn’t true. What’s true is that if you write something great, and do it over and over and over again, then you’ll be unstoppable. Whether or not someone helps you.”
352 Media Group has put together quite a directory of web design companies in the United States. As a New Haven web design company, I’ve been featured on the New Haven page. Click the graphic below to view the listings and vote for your favorite New Haven firm. Here’s a hint. It starts with a “W” : ) Web Design
What defines a “successful” homepage?
A homepage should to introduce users to your company and direct them to the most appropriate content in terms of the information they are looking for and the content you want them to see. The goal of your homepage is to start the conversion process for those who enter your site from there. Whether you are a business owner or professional concerned about your company website, or a web designer offering web design services, here are five elements to consider for designing a successful homepage:
- Strong Identity
Visually this means displaying your logo and brand name clearly, and using graphics or photos that communicate your brand promise. Having a strong identity also includes providing a brief statement defining who you are, what you do, how you do it and who you serve.
- Prominent Call to Action buttons
What is the main action you want the user to take on your website? Is it to contact you for more information? Download a demo? Sign up for a newsletter? This is the button that will lead the user to complete that task. Having effective, attention grabbing call to action buttons prominently displayed on your web page, encourages the user to click through to the next step in your conversion process.
- Highlighted Teaching Content
If you have white paper(s), reports, product tour, video demo, resources page, or a blog, you should use some real-estate on your homepage to highlight the teaching content that will be most relevant to your users. Teaching content promotes awareness of issues important to your users. Include a link or explanation on how your company helps resolve these issues within the teaching content when appropriate.
- Social Media Links
Give user additional ways to connect with your company online via LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Flickr, or other social media platform.
- Clear Direct Navigation to the Following:
- Information about your company
- Information about your products and services
- Information that builds credibility and trust (e.g. customer lists, customer testimonials, customer reviews, awards, affiliations, and recognitions)
- Teaching Content (e.g. white paper(s), reports, product tour, video demo, resources page, blog)
- Internal Search functionality (for larger sites and blogs)
- Contact Information
Including these elements on your homepage will help the user find what they are looking for and help shape a positive perception and preference for your company offering.
Search engine algorithms change. What’s important today may not be important tomorrow. If you review the latest search ranking factors survey over at SEOMOZ you may find that SEO professionals sometimes have differing opinions on what factors they think are important, versus what is less important or not important at all. However what follows, are some of the top basic on-page SEO considerations I feel most would agree with, and have stood the test of time thus far.
- Keyword in title element/tag: Some argue location of the keyword within the title tag doesn’t matter. Some say it should be close to the beginning. I agree with the latter. I believe the title tag is the most important on-page SEO factor but it needs to be supported by other factors considered on the page.
- Keyword in H1 tag: The most important text tag to optimize in my opinion. Should also come first if possible.
- Keyword rich content: There used to be a specific “keyword density” percentage, page optimizers would shoot for. That’s a tad outdated now. The general rule I follow is to use keywords as much as possible, where it makes sense to do so, without being spammy.
- Bulleted lists containing keywords: In written text, bulleted list usually contain important information. This basic idea hold true for the web, so search engines give bulleted lists higher consideration.
- Keywords used in strong, em, H2, H3: Although the H1 tag has the highest weight, the use of these other text formatting tags will also tell the search engines that the keyword is important.
- Keyword rich anchor text: Keyword rich anchor text (specifically for the exact phase) on both links pointing internally and externally are given more weight by the search engines. Be sure to take advantage of every opportunity to link internally throughout your website. It helps spiders crawl your site and may help to determine link authority.
- Short keyword rich url string: If your url is short and contains your keywords, there is a strong chance your site is going to rank higher in the search engines. Search engines may also give more weight to a keyword rich url string, however, stuffing website domain names and url strings with keywords can seem rather spammy. I believe a careful mix of a branded domain name with relevant descriptive url strings may be the best approach.
These factors are the main on-page elements I consider when I do search engine optimization on a webpage. Of course there are many other factors to consider on-page and off. It’s a highly customized process so general advice, will have caveats. Overall, making these considerations when you are building a webpage or writing content for a web page will keep you on the right track and may alone improve your search engine rankings.