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What Is Web Usability?

huge consumer electronics storeHuge Consumer Electronic StoreWeb Usability. It sounds very simple. "It’s just how to use the Web, right? I already know how to do that." That’s not exactly right. In fact, Web Usability is the layout, construction, structure and navigation of your website. Does that sound simple now?

Web Usability - A Real World Comparison

You can compare a website to an actual store. Let’s say you walk into one of those big retailers, looking for a new baseball glove. Now, you’ve never been there before. So, you first need to find the Sporting Goods section. This store is huge. And with all the shelves and displays up front, you can’t see the layout of the remaining 80% of the space.

The store might have a guide/map up front for you to check out. Then again, if it’s the chain I have in mind, they probably don’t. Instead, you’re going to wander around looking for signs. You also might use past experience in stores to make an educated guess. For example, you probably would look for the Pharmacy in the same area as the medicine and vitamins. That’s where they usually put it.

 store guide mapStore Guide MapNotice I didn’t say anything about asking someone who works there? That’s because it wouldn’t fit our example. Websites don’t have disgruntled slackers or underpaid clerks roaming around. Your sense of where you are and where what you want to go is dependent on the web designer. The hierarchy and site layout is created by them – and used by you.

Easy To Use = Easy To Profit

The ease of site use by your visitors is the same as the visitors to our store. How easy is it to find different sections of the site? Is there an easily located sitemap for them to consult? Do they have a sense of where they are in the site and how to go back to a page they visited before? Without using the browser ‘Back’ arrow?

example sitemapExample SitemapA frustrated customer might keep going back to the ‘real’ store in our example just because they’re the only game in town. Or they have the best price. But those advantages are few and far between on the Web. Chances are there is a viable competitor ready to take your frustrated visitors only a click or 2 away. And people do leave web sites when the get frustrated.

In a nutshell, Web Usability is making your site easily navigable, understandable and intuitive. It’s marketing, whether you realize it or not. Why? Because it’s a part of your image, your presentation, your place in the mind of the prospect. That’s why it is so crucial to success. Especially online, where you face a world of competition. Keep your visitors on your site and you’ll keep their business there, too. Now, that is as simple as that.

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Why Have An Article Website?

Article submission website listArticle Posting WebsiteKnow the fact

Presumably, you already know what internet is all about. It’s all about content. With free quality content, you can easily attract the masses. Some may consider this an investment while some may treat it as a hobby.

If you are wondering why some may treat it as an investment, what is there to invest in? Well, basically, having your own article website can often be the most powerful marketing weapon. You can increase your product sales or even attract many advertisers to place advertisements (Banners, text links) on your website should the site grow. Visitors will stay on your web site longer, because there are lots of articles to read. This gives you additional opportunities at getting more clickthrough’s to your affiliate programs. You could feature links to your affiliate programs on each page you have articles.

While for hobby purpose, some just want to share their knowledge.

free Article Submission WebsiteArticle Submission WebsiteIn either case, you as the writer, will be treated as a professional by the public within your article categories range.

Now you have a brief idea of the benefits in having an article website. So how do you go about creating one? Let's imagine in the case where you have established a very popular article resource site, consisting of some excellent graphic designers and some award-winning writers. How can you make sure each of the individuals does their job well, and focuses on only their section of professionalism? For example, most designers ensure that your article website content looks great. This is what they do best. Writers on the other hand, write excellent articles but can't draw well or build websites.

Hence, you need to allow everyone to concentrate on what they are best at, and bring their output together to provide the website as a pleasant place for your visitors. The answer? Vezine Content Management application software is what you need.

Brief introduction to Vezine

As you may already have referred to Vezine's website, it is an online content management software that helps you create a full article website easily. Vezine allows you, the owner or administrator (as you call it) manage not only articles, but also allows you to handle your writers, designers and files or images uploaded for any individual articles as well.

search engine friendly optimizationSearch Engine Friendly OptimizationIn addition, Vezine recognizes that Search Engine Friendly Optimization is especially important. Without optimization, your listing in the search engine will not be in a good position.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) can be easily enhanced within your Vezine's administrator panel. The most common optimizing options are friendly URL and meta keywords and descriptions for each individual articles. You can already see an example here in this site.

So, as earlier on, we are talking about having individual professionals to each handle their own job well. For this, Vezine allows you to create multiple Groups. For example, you may want to create a Writer group. Allow this group to access only the Articles Management section and throw all writer's account into this group and have them login into the admin panel. Once logged in, they will be restricted with a limited access. Allowing them to only create articles but not tamper with the website templates and designs.

Of course, do the same by creating a Designer group, whereby you should only allow them to access the Templates Management section of the administrator panel. This is how and what you should consider if you want to create a successful article resource website.

There is more to it than meets the eye for this application, hence it is out of the scope for this article to provide a detailed explanation for each feature. Check out: http://www.vezine.com/features.php for more information that may surprise you.

Having a successful article website

Now, if you have decided, or have already run an article resource website, you will most likely want to stand out among other popular sites within your categories.

articlewritingArticle WritingThe most obvious point you should bear in mind. is to keep your article content fresh and updated. Using free content available in the market is not advisable. Try to come up with something unique and perhaps do some comparison, like what interesting or popular topics your competitors do not have, which you can consider creating for your site. You can easily know this by doing some market research in various community forums. Just remember, quality content is king!

Another point to note is to spice up some interesting RSS feeds to the public. RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication. It is an XML-based format for content distribution that contains a list of items, each of which is identified by a link. Each item can have any amount of metadata associated with it. RSS allows the user or their traffic to see your site topics without going out of their way to visit it. While this seems bad at first glance, it actually improves your site's visibility; by making it easier for your users to keep up to date with your site - allowing them to see it the way they want to - it's more likely that they'll know when something that interests them is available on your site.

RSS feedRSS FeedsYou can easily do so with Vezine, create as many feeds as you want to. An example can be found here in this site, located at your right hand side (Latest News). Once someone clicks on the topic title, she/he will be redirected to the site where the original content is (Full Story).

Of course, in order to attract an audience to use your feeds on their website, you will need to convince them with fresh and updated content often as mentioned above. Hence, whenever new articles are being published by you or your writers, your audience's websites who are using your feeds, will also have the latest articles topic listed. This is one of the benefit of RSS.

Optionally, have designers to design a nice professional looking theme for your Vezine. Navigation usability do play a big role in this, so choose someone whom you are sure have knowledge in this. Refer to The Art Of Vezine for an idea on how to design themes for your Vezine.

Conclusion

Now that you have a brief idea on what the benefits are of running an article resource site, and an overview of Vezine, you can start right away. Get yourself a Vezine license and pick up experience as you go and be patient.

content article writingContent Article WritingTry to focus more on the quality of your article content, instead of giving too much attention to your SEO. Remember, word of mouth by the public is also another way to boost your web site's reputation.

If writing articles is not within your professionalism, try and get a few writers to help. Perhaps even pay them (Remember I said investment?). Or, you can take this chance as a challenge and write a few articles about what you know or do best.

No matter what,if you have or decided to run an article resource site, do remember the points stated in this article. There are lots of great articles or tutorials here in Vezine.net, supplying you with various tips on using Vezine and how to do the job faster.

Read them up and best of luck!

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When To Let Go Of Your Website Designing Ideas

let goTime To Let GoAs hard as it may be, but letting go of your website designing ideas and listening to the customer may actually be of benefit in the long run.

I know what you are saying, you’ve been in the web designing business long enough to know what works and wont doesn’t, what would my customer know? Well after approaching web design in the same manner, I’ve unfortunately had no other choice but to give in to my best laid plans and comply with the wishes of my customers.

Construction of good websites usually means that it has to be appealing to the eye, as well as being fully functioning for Search Engine benefits, but ultimately it must display professionalism for the business represented.

Complying with W3C Standards (W3C Markup Validation Service) for both HTML and CSS validation is paramount to good design and programming (but not necessary for good Google PR, I will discuss in later posts), so when designing we like to use base HTML formatting and CSS text font like Tahoma 11pt, to make neat easy to read text and nice page image layouts.

I will list some cases of where letting go has benefits for both parties involved and how in some circumstances actually resulted in little or no web traffic for the website.

architectural businessArtchitectural BusinessCase Study 1. Architectural Firm flash and font matters

Our customer wanted the use of Flash elements to display several architecture images with a nice fade between images and changes to original CSS Font used Tahoma 11pt font and replaced with Century Gothic 11pt, which is used in all their logos and architecture design work.

As most would know embedding Flash files into your website results in W3C Validation undefined source failure, thus rendering the site Invalid Markup. After explaining this, the customer felt the need to have a nice graphical flash style image far outweighed the importance of quality valid HTML Transitional Markup. To them the appearance and perception of their website to their customers was far more advantageous than complying with the W3C.

In addition they wanted the use of the Century Gothic font rather than Tahoma. By design Century Gothic has a much larger font height than Tahoma and when used increased the page height larger than when using Tahoma thus resulting in the site displaying with scroll bars when view under 1024 x 768 resolution, where previously it fitted in the whole page perfectly.

In the end the customer achieved the desired affects they wanted and ultimately it is the customer who ‘always’ knows best.

Case Study 2. Box supplier becomes boxed in

Our customer had started a new business supplying cardboard boxes for moving and packing. They wanted a

simple site with heavy graphical image elements and little or no text on the home page.

cardboard boxesCardboard BoxesExplaining to the customer the role of text based search engines results and that having no ‘readable text’ on the home page would limit their visibility, they choose design over results.

Why you may ask would a company limit their possibilities of being found on search engines? Well the question still burns with us too, but as mentioned earlier the ‘customer always knows best’ and the decision was solely theirs to make.

Their philosophy was simple, their website was purely to be used as a reference guide and not the source of extra business, as their marketing strategies would be enough to garner constant business.

To this day I still wonder why they limited their marketability and in particular their website which is always online and can be searched at all times of the day.

So in summary the best laid plans of mice and men (well in this case web designers) can be a utter waste of good management as what I have stated all along that the ‘customer always knows best’ and ultimately they are the ones paying for your service so sometimes its best to lay down your guns and concede defeat.

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What’s a Design Dinosaur

dinosaurDinosaurAre you fond of applying and scrambling old and new design clichés in one helpless web page? Are you one of the thousands not yet enlightened that ‘too much of a good thing is bad’? Are you too engrossed in improvising other designs and not coming up with your own?

Being a design dinosaur is a common sickness among designers who tend to be exposed and awed in latest design clichés coming out and copying or improvising them to concentrate on making his / her original design. But this practice isn’t entirely wrong, though. There’s always some "monkey see, monkey do" in the design world. Someone comes up with a great logo, Website, package and the next thing you know, they’re everywhere.

What’s bothersome in using most design clichés is that it implies you're not using up your own talents as a designer. In graphic designing, the ultimate creation to make you cry “Eureka!” may come upon us on our thirtieth attempt. This moment will happen once you really challenge and stretch yourself.

Here, we give you several examples of design clichés which uses seem to have gotten out of hand:

    • Swooshes – this logo was started by Nike and before we knew it, "swooshes" were everywhere on the Net. It’s obviously been successful for Nike. But if your Internet company try to use this swoosh along with thousands, we can’t guarantee if anyone would remember you.
  • Beveled Anything – this give depth to the appearance of your graphics and prevent it to look flat and one dimensional. But avoid excessive beveling just because Photoshop now makes it easy. Think about the company you're designing for. What sort of image do they want to portray?
  • Ambiguous Icons – doubtful graphic icons for buttons which are supposed to lead the user to an important link won’t help you in gaining attention for your internet company. It would only serve to confuse users and eventually leave your site. Remember -- if you can't come up with a graphic that is easily identifiable with where the button leads to, don't use a graphic — or don't use a graphic with no text.

graphic designGraphic Design Some design dinosaurs are fond of Flash - fading text and moving text is pretty been there, done that. This effect can be seen everywhere and it's a rare occasion when moving text really catches the eye. There are also those who abuse drop shadows by having it go in different directions. A drop shadow, indeed gives depth to a page but if you won’t be so consistent the whole idea is spoiled.

If you don’t want to be a design dinosaur, don’t be too dependent on design clichés. The only way to achieve an original and outstanding design is by thinking about your design and deciding what’s really best for it. You have to challenge yourself and stretch your design muscles. Who knows? You might be the next one to make a design cliché.

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Fastest Way to Ruin a New Web Site?

planning websitePlanning WebsiteI’ve been asked, “How do I design a successful Website?”

I often respond, “Do you know the fastest way to ruin a new Web site design?” As you might suspect, the answer is, “Lack of proper planning beforehand.”

Let's put it another way. In programming, there's an old axiom, which states: "The sooner you start your coding the longer it takes to finish."

Planning out your Website before you build it is essential. To borrow a technique from the film industry, I recommend that you create a storyboard, which is a type of a flow chart of your new Web site design. You don’t have to be an accomplished artist to draw out your idea, but it’s essential to create it on paper first.

On each piece of paper, the goal is to have room for an image at the top, plus space underneath for writing down information. As you might suspect, the first page to start with is your home (or welcome) page, which will typically have the most information as it will contain the page the people visit before they enter your site and as people go through your site, the will encounter more information (in tiers) as they go down.web design planningWeb Design PlanningTypically, the home page links to 5-15 pages below that, which we could refer to as Tier 2. Each of those pages links to another 5-15 pages, which you could call Tier 3

If you use all of these pages, you’ll wind up with an extensive Web site design, of at least 226 pages (including the home page).

It's during this process that all sorts of problems will crop up. But it's much easier to solve them on paper than in the middle of coding rather than when you are finished.. If you don’t, you might run into a major problem along the way that would require a “back to the drawing board” complete site re-design.

Working things out on paper will give you a much better idea of how things will work and how to fix problems. And, if you have knowledgeable friends, get a second opinion.

Once you've completed the on-paper process, and you or your web designer is satisfied with the results, you’re ready to translate it into code. Unless you or your programmer is a pro, I would recommend using a “template”. These are ready-made Web site design formats. You can choose from several templates by typing “template source” in most search engines. Many of them are free.

Commonly Asked Questions

Q: For a Website, do I have to employ a pro, or can I call the guidance counselor at my local high school and ask for the names of some computer whiz kids that I could call to help me out (for a fee)?

A: It really depends on what you want to do. If all you want is 1-2 pages , you can learn how to build the Web site yourself. If it’s an intensive site with many pages, I’d recommend student or a pro (if you have the budget).

website planningWebsite PlanningQ: I see a lot of photo-oriented web sites that have a black background. Is this the best color to use?

A: Not necessarily. It’s a matter of opinion and personal taste. White can work just as well. I don’t recommend the use of other colors as they can compete with your images.

Q: Is “Flash” or audio acceptable?

A: If you absolutely need Flash to demonstrate an animation, then by all means use it. If it’s for a fancy trick, I recommend leaving it out. It’s similar with sound. Unless it adds to your site, don’t use it. And if you do use sound, give users an option to turn it off. If you don’t, you’re likely to lose visitors.

If you would like a free quotation, or more information, please do not hesitate to contact us.

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