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Using Abbreviations & Terminology on your Website

21. December 2009 20:29

Making the assumption that you know the audience of your website and that they understand all the industry and product terminology you use within your company maybe alienating some of your potential customer base.

There are a few very easy ways to continue using your terminology and acronyms whilst making your website more user-friendly and meeting web accessibility guidelines on acronyms and abbreviations at the same time.


Add Meaning to your Terms

Acronyms and Abbreviations - By using the <acronym> and <abbr> tags in HTML you can give more information to your users when they hover their mouse over the term or abbreviation on your website.  This HTML mark-up also allows spellcheckers, screen readers, translation systems and search-engines to understand the context too.

For example:

Welcome to the <acronym title="World Wide Web">WWW</acronym>
or <abbr title="Telephone Number">Tel</abbr>

Create a Website Glossary

If you find that you use lots of terminology on your website you might want to consider adding a glossary to your website and hyper linking to the appropriate terms in your glossary when you use them in your web text.

Picture used under Creative Commons from tuchodi

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User Experience Explained

7. December 2009 18:52

User Experience (UX) is what a user experiences while interacting with your website and encompasses everything from how easy it was to find the site to the journey a user takes through the site.

User experience is understanding and designing a user’s experience from start to finish, not just how the website looks or functions.

The aim is to improve the user journey - ironing out those frustrating fly-out menus, optimising the shopping cart processes and making the website more intuitive by placing information where users expect to find it. 

User experience honeycomb

UX includes, but not limited to:

  • User interface design
  • Information architecture
  • Usability
  • Interaction design

User Focused Process

User Experience is user focused, so the first step is to identify and understand your audience and find ways to communicate with them effectively.  You shouldn’t assume a user is familiar with your product offering or knows all your industry terminology.

Understand what tasks end users will want to perform on your website and create a series of use-cases to identify each task.
While you and your web design company know how to navigate your website, do your users?  The only way to find out for sure is to perform user testing.

User Testing

The best way to evaluate a website’s user experience properly is by assigning tasks to real users and monitoring their progress in achieving the tasks.  Users should ideally be recorded and asked to think out loud while carrying out the assigned tasks so you can understand their thought processes while navigating.

It’s important that the users picked to perform the tasks haven’t been involved with the design or development process.

Information gleaned from user testing is then fed back into the design process in an iterative manor to improve the end user experience.  Iterative design can help optimise sign-ups, maximise return on investment (ROI) and increase sales, so it has real benefits!

Picture used under Creative Commons from A-dit-ya

Planning a Website

29. November 2009 17:05

Planning a website project

Before jumping into any project it always makes sense to do a little planning beforehand to ensure the project runs smoothly, website projects are no different.

During website planning and brainstorming sessions write down notes and questions you may have.

Follow these basic steps as a guide:

  1. Choose an appropriate domain name.
  2. In a notebook set aside a page for each web page you require on your website and make the page title the name of the web page section.
  3. Begin to jot down notes relating to each website section on its page in your notebook.
  4. Look at your competitors websites and sites you like and use these as inspiration for your website.  Make a note of:
    • Websites you like and why
    • Website you don’t like and why
    • Elements of websites you like (e.g. colours, layout, navigation and content)
  5. Start gathering materials and information you want to put on your website.
    • Company logo
    • Brochures
    • Website text
      • About your company
      • What your company does
      • Contact details
      • List of products/services
    • Photos and images
    • Testimonials

While planning your website you should consider the following:

  1. The purpose or objective of the website
  2. Target audience of the website
  3. How will we drive traffic to the site (get people to visit) – Introduction to search engine marketing
  4. How often will we update the website?  Would a content management system be beneficial?
  5. Development budget, on-going marketing/maintenance budget

Read more about the web development and design process.

Picture used under Creative Commons from aarontait

What is an RSS Feed?

21. November 2009 19:52

You may have noticed lots of blogs and websites using small buttons similar to these.

RSS feed buttons

These services use a technology called XML to allow websites to distribute their content beyond the confines of the pages of the site.  They make it possible for users to subscribe to websites to receive updates either via email or via a news reader.  They also allow the content to be bookmarked, aggregated or packaged into widgets and displayed on other websites.

What is a Podcast?

A podcast is a special type of RSS feed that contains links to audio files.  You subscribe to podcast in much the same way as you subscribe to plain RSS feeds.

The Benefits of RSS

Enabling feeds allow the readers of your website to be kept up-to-date with your latest web content without remembering to return to your site.  By subscribing to blogs and websites of interest with a news reader such as Google Reader visitors can follow as many blogs as they wish all from one place.

For the website owner it enables visitors to subscribe to your website which should encourage users to return more frequently.  Using a tool such as FeedBurner you can also give your readers the option of subscribing via email and you can begin building a subscriber list.

From the advertiser’s point of view distributing your latest content via RSS bypasses SPAM filters that usually affect email broadcast, it also enables you to display adverts on the actual feeds themselves.

How do I get a Feed for my Website?

If you own a blog already there is a chance that you already have an RSS feed enabled on your website.  Popular blogging platforms such as Typepad, Wordpress or Blogger publish feeds automatically.

There are also tools such as FeedBurner that enable website owners to gain useful information about feed subscribers as well as lots of free ways to advertise and market your feed.

How do I Start Reading Feeds from my Favourite Sites?

There are many ways to subscribe to feeds, sometimes these tools are called news aggregators, some are installed on your computer whereas others are web-based services, and the good news is lots of them are free!

Google Reader user interface

Many news readers use an interface similar to an email inbox with each blog post appearing in a reading pane.  The posts are listed in chronological order and you usually have the option of selecting all the latest content or content only from certain sites you subscribe to.

Click here to find a suitable RSS feed reader.

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Category: Blogs

What is LinkedIn and how does it Work?

19. November 2009 20:17

LinkedIn logo
LinkedIn is a social networking website aimed at business professionals, it allows you to create a personal profile where you can promote your skills, knowledge and experience while allowing you to connect with professionals in your field in order to do business.

As you build your profile you can request and receive recommendations from people who you have done business with in the past (colleagues, business acquaintances, clients etc).  These recommendations add value to your online resume just like letters of recommendation and testimonials and will help build trust in what you have to offer.

Ten Tips for a Strong Profile

  1. Create a Personal Tagline – This is shown under your name, so it needs to summarise at a glance who you are.
  2. Elevator Pitch Introduction – Create an engaging 30-second introduction that succinctly describes who you are and what you do.
  3. Don’t Cut and Paste your CV – Describe your experience and skills as you would to someone you just met and keep it short and punchy.
  4. Use Action Words – Use words that project an image of a results-driven, action-oriented achiever, such as maximised, supervised, optimised, streamlined etc.
  5. Point out your Skills – List your specialities, abilities and interests, be sure to use appropriate industry buzz words where appropriate.
  6. List your Experience – Briefly describe each company, what it does and what you did there. Again use clear succinct phrases.
  7. Distinguish yourself – Add additional information to enhance your profile, join groups of interest and list trade associations or other organisations you belong to.
  8. Build Connections – The connections you make add credibility to your profile.
  9. Get your Profile to Rank in Google – Your public profile is available to view by anyone and will appear in search engines, so think carefully about what you want to share with the world and use it to your advantage.
  10. Answer and ask Questions – Asking and answering questions in your field will help establish your expertise and raise your profile on the network.

Photo used under Creative Commons from NickStarr