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6 posts from June 2006

Wednesday, 28 June 2006

High Accessibility is Effective SEO

Andy Hagans writes on why High Accessibility is Effective Search Engine Optimization:

On further reflection, this overlap makes sense. The goal of accessibility is to make web content accessible to as many people as possible, including those who experience that content under technical, physical, or other constraints. It may be useful to think of search engines as users with substantial constraints: they can’t read text in images, can’t interpret JavaScript or applets, and can’t “view” many other kinds of multimedia content. These are the types of problems that accessibility is supposed to solve in the first place.

He also demonstartes how using the Priority 1 checkpoints in the W3C Web Content Accessibility Guidelines.

Further down in the article he references Google's webmaster guidelines where the points parallel a W3C guideline.

Design and Content Guidelines:

  • Make a site with a clear hierarchy and text links. Every page should be reachable from at least one static text link.
  • Offer a site map to your users with links that point to the important parts of your site. If the site map is larger than 100 or so links, you may want to break the site map into separate pages.
  • Create a useful, information-rich site, and write pages that clearly and accurately describe your content.
  • Think about the words users would type to find your pages, and make sure that your site actually includes those words within it.
  • Try to use text instead of images to display important names, content, or links. The Google crawler doesn’t recognize text contained in images.
  • Make sure that your title and alt tags are descriptive and accurate. [...]

Friday, 16 June 2006

Link-Rich Home Pages

Jared Spool writes on the benefits of exposing more content on your home page by creating Link Rich Home Pages. But how many links you pile on and how you present all depends, as always, on your target audience. The Bureau of Labor Statistics has increased the number of home page links to 180, which works well for the statisticians, analysts and economists that use the site.

Dramatically increasing your content's transparency on your home page is not a simple thing to do well. It takes research and experimentation. You need to understand the content your users desire. You need to know how to organize the links into the right clusters. And, you need to have a process that permits you to make the transition through multiple iterations.

To understand the content desired by your users, you need to know their trigger words — the word or phrase they'll click on for the content they seek. Just populating a page with every possible keyword probably won't get you the effect you want. The teams at Staples, Analog, and McMaster-Carr spent tremendous resources learning how their users thought about their content, through extensive site visits, interviews, and usability testing.

In addition to knowing the trigger words, you need to know how to cluster them together. Link-rich pages only work when users can quickly eliminate the stuff they don't want and hone in on the few links that match their target. Card sorting and related techniques are critical to create quality clusters.

An iterative development process is critical to the success of these radical home page designs. The BLS design team made multiple iterations of their page, putting each one in front of users and collecting feedback. Each revision gave them more feedback on the trigger words, the clusters, and the transparency of the underlying content. We've yet to see anyone successfully build the right design in a single try. Building a process that allows for feedback and revision is key.

Tuesday, 13 June 2006

Customer Carewords

In the UIE interview with Gerry McGovern, he mentions a new method to help focus your content on the needs of the customer.

A testing technique I have been developing over the last five years is called Customer Carewords. It’s a voting technique that allows customers to vote for the words that mean most to them. Words are what drive actions on a website and if you identify the exact right customer words you’re going to achieve more success.

The Importance of a Customer-Centric Design Approach

UIE's Christine Perfetti interviews Gerry McGovern on the importance of focusing on the customer.

The number one skill that every web team should have is the ability and desire to relentlessly focus on the needs of the customer. Web teams must enjoy being around the customer, they must be stimulated by thinking of the customer. You have those skills and everything else fits into place.

The number one skill of an editor is not the ability to write. There are many people who are technically good writers but their content is not engaging. The editor must know their reader/customer inside out. They must also have empathy for their reader—be able to think like them, feel like them.

Monday, 05 June 2006

Value of Design Factfinder

The Design Council has put together a wonderful site that provides evidence for the value of design in business. The site is focused on the UK but the lessons apply to businesses around the globe. From their list of headlines:

In businesses where design is integral to operations, over three quarters say they’ve increased their competitiveness and turnover through design.

The site also provides detailed reports and case studies by region and sector.

The Key to Innovation is Understanding the User's Experience

Jared Spool's article Innovation is the New Black looks at the successes of the iPod and Netflix and how their understanding of the user experience was key to their success.

How did the little startup slay the established consumer giant? Netflix provides such a significantly improved movie watching experience, that its customers are selling Netflix's benefits. In a recent survey, 85% of new Netflix subscribers said they joined because a friend highly recommended the service. In addition, 93% of existing customers say they regularly evangelize Netflix to friends and family.

Netflix has done such an amazing job of designing their experience that their customers become their primary marketing force. Blockbuster would have to create a superior experience to compete with that.

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