Using video on websites

Nov. 18, 2014 Article by

Using video on websites can be an effective tactic to achieve your goals. Video will add an element of interactivity and enhanced visual appeal to your website design, as long as it is done correctly. Whether your goal is to promote your brand, products, services, or personnel, the correct use of video can produce desired outcomes. Of course, if basic usability guidelines are overlooked or violated, then you will very likely annoy users, which never is good for business!

We learn about website usability by reading reports and following suggestions published by acknowledged experts such as Jakob Nielsen, co-founder of the Nielsen/Norman Group, the source of a just-posted report summarized by this statement:

Video content is helpful only if users have control over it, understand what’s contained within it, and have an alternate way to access it. – Video Usability, by AMY SCHADE on November 16, 2014

Popularity of video in web design

Proof of the value in the use of video on your website is the fact that YouTube is the 2nd largest search engine in the world, bigger than Bing, Yahoo, Ask, and AOL combined. That means that by effectively using video on your website, you not only improve overall user saticfaction, but also you can expand your user base, increasing traffic to your website if you host your video on YouTube.

Created by Mushroom Networks

Smartphone research leads to in-store purchase

Nov. 20, 2014 Article by

Consumers spend 15+ hours per week researching on their smartphone and on average visit mobile websites six times.
Google/Nielsen Mobile Path to Purchase study

Consumers research on mobileIf you surveyed the people who come into your store, restaurant, or office, you probably would be surprised to find out how many of them used a Smartphone to research your products or services before coming in. In order to learn more about what role mobile has in the shopping process, Google partnered with Nielsen and the published their findings in November 2013.

Consumers research on Mobile before buying locally

The Mobile Path to Purchase report is based on a 14 day survey 950 participants who are Smartphone users, over eighteen years old, who had made at least one purchase in the previous 30 days in these categories: Restaurants, Food & Cooking, Finance, Travel, Home & Garden, Apparel & Beauty, Automotive, Electronics, Health & Nutrition. Using surveys and metered data, the study uncovered five key findings:

  1. consumers are spending time researching on their smartphones (15+ hours a week),
  2. their research starts with a search engine (vs. a mobile site or app),
  3. proximity is important (69% expect businesses to be within five miles of their location),
  4. immediacy is key (more than half want to purchase within the hour), and
  5. mobile influences their purchase decisions (93% go on to buy).

You can read the report here: Google/Nielsen Mobile Path to Purchase study

Google Apps for Business

Aug. 1, 2014 Article by

What is Google Apps?

Google Apps is a cloud-based productivity suite that helps teams communicate, collaborate and get things done from anywhere and on any device. It’s simple to set up, use and manage, so your business can focus on what really matters.

Millions of organizations around the world count on Google Apps for professional email, file storage, video meetings, online calendars, document editing and more.

Watch a video or find out more here.

Here are some highlights:

Business email for your domain

Looking professional matters, and that means communicating as you@yourcompany.com. Gmail’s simple, powerful features help you build your brand while getting more done.

Access from any location or device

Check email, share files, edit documents, hold video meetings and more whether you’re at work, at home or in transit. You can pick up where you left off from a computer, tablet or phone.

Enterprise-level management tools

Robust admin settings give you total command over users, devices, security and more. Your data always belongs to you, and it goes with you if you switch solutions.

Start free trial

Website ready for tablets, smartphones

July 31, 2013 Article by

Mobile path to purchase graphHave you ever asked yourself, is your website ready for tablets, smartphones? It is very likely that you have made sure that it has your business’s most important information on it, such as contact details and descriptions of your products and services. It probably contains your logo, relevant images, and references to your social media accounts also. That is a good start, but unless your website functions well across the range of popular web devices, and unless it follows a few basic guidelines related to how search engines operate, then it’s full value to your business has yet to be realized.

consumers use smartphones and tablets to search local products & services

If your website was not designed and built so that it looks and works good regardless of the user’s device, then it isn’t responsive, and your visitor’s experience will be unsatisfactory. It is important for your website to be responsive because more and more consumers use smartphones and tablets as their primary tools when searching for local products and services. The following, published April 30, 2013, is from the 2nd Annual Mobile Path-to-Purchase study, compiled by Nielsen.

The 2013 study shows that of consumers searching for local products and services, 45 percent tap mobile devices first, while 49 percent use PC/Online as their primary media resource. Although 54 percent of all mobile users (including smartphone and tablet) indicated usage of additional media sources to aid in their purchase decision, 46 percent exclusively used mobile as their default/primary research tool. The study also demonstrated that 50 percent of all mobile users rely on their device at the beginning of the research process with 1 out of 3 users indicating they used their device throughout their entire purchasing process.

Mobile users are ready to buy now

Here is another study that examines the role of mobile devices in a user’s readiness to make a purchase: Study: 50 Percent Of Mobile Queries In Travel, Restaurants, Autos Result In A Purchase

View your website on smartphones and tablets

You can see how your website looks and works on a variety of devices by using the free tool here: responsinator.com (opens new window). We would be happy to discuss the options available if you want to ensure that your website works well on smartphones and tablets. Get a FREE consultation..

Responsive web design

July 23, 2013 Article by

Responsive web design examplesIn the first quarter of 2013, the percentage of web traffic coming from mobile devices showed nearly an 80% increase over the same period just a year earlier, and was more than twice the amount in 2011. (source: MarketingProfs.com) With almost one quarter of all web traffic originating on smart phones and tablets, if your website looks bad when viewed on a mobile device, then your business undoubtedly suffers. You can see how your website looks across the full range of mobile and hand-held devices by typing your website url into the form on responsinator.com.

how responsive web design works

Responsive web design is the technique that for creating sites that “serve all devices on the same set of URLs, with each URL serving the same HTML to all devices and using just CSS to change how the page is rendered on the device.” This is what Google recommends. It causes the contents of a web page to shift position and sometimes size depending upon the user’s device. For an interesting illustration of how responsive web design works, take a look at this page (and move the orange slider at the top.).

Search engine optimization

July 20, 2013 Article by

Google SEO guidelinesSearch engine optimization is the technique of creating web pages so that they achieve the best possible SERP. Google and other search engines index and rank web pages, not web sites, so each page needs to follow a few simple guidelines, and consist of content that is optimized to match the desired keyword. Besides the various elements listed below, the most important part of optimizing your website is to create compelling and useful content.

page titles with title tags

Each page on your website ought to have a unique, succinct, and descriptive title, indicated by title tags. When displayed in search, words in the title that match a user’s search query will be bolded. Another element is the use of the “description” meta tag, which won’t be visible on your page, but may be used by Google as your page’s snippet in search. Diagram of Google search results page

“Search engine optimization is about putting your site’s best foot forward when it comes to visibility in search engines, but your ultimate consumers are your users, not search engines.” – Google’s Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide

useful urls and clear navigation structure

Google recommends that your URLs ought to be as simple as possible, contain relevant words, and reflect how your site is organized. Text is to be used in your site’s navigation, rather than images, and 2 sitemaps provided: one for user’s and another XML sitemap for search engines. When inserting images into pages, be sure that they are optimized for the web and include descriptive alt tags.

The text on the page ought to be presented as you would write an outline, with each section labeled with an appropriately tagged heading. Keep in mind that people tend to scan web pages rather than read them line-by-line; headings help your users find the sections most important to them. NB: this page includes an h1, h2, and an h3 heading.

This is a brief overview of important aspects of search engine optimization. We are planning more articles about other aspects of SEO, and other techniques for improving your website’s performance and overall value.

Keyword research via Google

July 18, 2013 Article by

Google provides tools that you can use for keyword research so that you can find the most popular relevant keyword and keyphrase around which to plan your SEO strategy. (Google.com/trends) Keyword research reveals two key bits of information:

  1. what people really call your product or service,
  2. what products and services people are actually searching for.

To be an effective source of traffic, the content of your website must be relevant to both of them.

Another important thing you will notice in researching keywords is the time element, indicating that the popularity of your keyword may vary widely depending on time of year. Here is an example showing that no matter how well you optimize for a keyword, it only drives traffic when people are interested in it:

“fall foliage” keyword popularity

The chart shows popularity of the keyword “fall foliage” in the US since 2004 in the Travel category. Notice that if you want to attract users to your website who are interested in “fall foliage,” then you can expect one big spike in traffic every October. But note also that the term itself is losing a little popularity every year.

fall foliages keyword alternatives

Further research indicates that the term can be refined to drive traffic from a narrower but more specific group.

Mobile-friendly photo slideshow

May 15, 2013 Article by

We have posted this mobile-friendly photo slideshow to demonstrate that images can be displayed properly on a website that is optimized for use across the full spectrum of Internet devices. When a website has not been updated for current best practices, users will most often get frustrated by incorrect deployment of images. If you want your users to stay on your website and see all you want to display, employ mobile-friendly image techniques. And, if you are viewing this page on a device with a screen that is 50em or larger, you will see a full-screen background image

Chesterwood – Studio and home of Daniel Chester French

Visitors and residents of the Berkshires may recognize that these photos were taken at Chesterwood, the studio and summer home of Daniel Chester French (1850–1931), where he created the sculpture of Abraham Lincoln for the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC. Chesterwood is located in the Glendale section of Stockbridge, not far from the Norman Rockwell Museum and Tanglewood.

Mobile-friendly photo slideshow