Monday, October 22, 2007

Signs It's Time To Redesign Your Website

by William defoe

Does Your Site Looks Like It Was Designed in 1995

Some signs of an outdated web site include: chunky, slow-loading graphics, old-style "framed" coding, where the site is divided up into panes that load separately, little animated cartoon clip-art throughout the site, and text created as images instead of in HTML. Having any of these on your site could reflect poorly on your business, making you look 'behind the times'. It can also make you look like you don't care enough about your business or about technological advances to keep abreast of them. Keeping your company's website looking modern will improve its credibility.

The Information on Your Site Isn't User-Friendly

If you cringe when you read your site text, or if you regularly get questíons on your site text from visitors, re-structuring your copy or rewriting it can help to fix these problems. If you've been adding to your site over time and the navigation has become unwieldy or confusing, restructuring your navigation could be another pressing reason to redesign your site. You want visitors to be able to easily find their way around your site and to be able to access all the information you have within a few clicks. Laying out your site to make that possible can make your visitor's experience on your site a lot easier.

You Apologize for the Site When Referencing It or Handing Out Your Business Cards

Your site should be a source of pride. It should provide your clients and prospects an easy way to get a lot of information about your business. And, if you have to apologize for out-of-date information, broken images, poor design, difficult navigation or anything else on your site, it makes you look unprepared and unprofessional. Make sure your site is in top shape and looks impressive, so your clients believe your business is in good shape too.

You're Not Getting Good Results in the Search Engines

Poor rankings in the Search Engines can be a result of not optimizing your site well. Poor search engine ranking can also be a result of bad design choices or coding on your site. Make sure that your site isn't designed using frames and that the text is coded in HTML. Flash sites are also more difficult to optimize for Search Engines.

It's Not Bringing in inquiries and Helping You to Make Sales

If your site was designed long ago, then there's a good chance that it was designed as "brochureware". This means that the site was designed just to act as an online brochure. This was very common a few years ago, when websites were new. But recently businesses have realized that a website can do a lot more than just impersonate your brochure - it can help you close sales, bring in new prospects and make your business easier to run. To bring in more inquiries and make more sales include the following when you redesign your site:

Calls to action to encourage your visitors to take specific actions - like purchasing something, contacting you, or signing up for a newsletter.

Forms, scripts, or programs to make your business easier - like contact forms, project estimating tools, and an autoresponder email series that can help you keep in touch with your clients and prospects. Including a shopping cart or Paypal buttons on your site can also help you to make more sales without any additional work.

Downloadable information packets, articles, questionnaires and white papers can answer a prospect's questíons about your products or services and help them to move closer to buying. And, if you require the prospect to enter their email address or other contact information, it can help you to grow your prospect líst as well. These are just a few of the functions that your site can perform for your business. To get ideas for other ways that your site can help you improve your business, visit http://www.makaistudio.com.

Your Site is Costing You a Fortune to Update

If you're racking up huge bills because of changes and still have a lot to go, it might be time to consider a whole site redesign. Make a líst of everything that you want to do on your site and consult a web designer about redesigning your site with those changes in mind. Often, if you have extensive changes to make to your site, it can be less expensive to just start over.

If your site is designed in Flash or coded in such a way that you can't maintain it yourself, redesigning and re-coding your site could allow you to do so. Having the ability to make changes and update your own text will let you make revisions quickly, at no expense. And you can play with your site and make revisions to see what will work best for your business and clients.

If your site has any of the problems mentioned here, it's time to redesign. The steps needed to update and revise will differ depending on the problems and issues that your site has - you may not have to start from scratch. But, do make sure that you address all of the problems that your site has so that you won't have to redesign again any time soon!

About the Author

William Defoe has been working with many IT department, web consulting firms and SEO Firms for many years. http://www.makaistudio.com

Internet home Business-Create A good navigation For Maximum Effect

by Arun Pal Singh

Purpose of navigation of website is to allow users an easy access to the content that they are searching for. If user wants to visit from one page to another, he or she must follow a sequence that is facilitated by the navigation system. If the sequence is haphazard, it could lead to frustration. The user in that case would simply leave the site.

If this happens, there goes your potential customer. All you get is an aborted sale and a lost customer.

A navigation system must enable the user to find out

* Where they are now in your website

* What should they do to reach some other page

If your website is only a few pages, you can simply post the links to those pages and that would be enough. But if you host a lot of content, not only it should be organized but also easily reachable.

Objectives of a navigation system is to provide the user with indicators of location and control over the browsing.

You must remember that coming can enter at any page of your site from outside and it is not necessary that he would start his journey from your home page. Wherever they might land in, they must be able to orient themselves quickly. This is made possible by location indicators.

This information must be present on every page of the site, in the same place and in the same style. This can be achieved very easily for small websites by naming the pages and using some different color or background where you have put the name.

Doing this on individual pages is difficult for the bigger sites But this can be easily done with use of breadcrumbs.

Breadcrumbs are series of hierarchical links that you have used to go from page to page within a section. For example if you are in article section of a website and category "wealth management", the breadcrumbs might appear like

Home>Articles>Wealth Management.

Breadcrumbs is like a trail of the path you have followed. Each element in the breadcrumb is a link to that section or subsection.

Use of breadcrumbs allows the user to directly go back to the main section page or another sub section without following the same trail. breadcrumbs also show the context of the page being viewed and its relation to a section or sub-section.

They serve both as locator and navigational control.

Navigation is important part of a good website. If navigation on your website is not good, you make sure that nobody navigates your site, even after arriving there.

About the Author

Arun Pal Singh is an internet marketer,web author who runs website http://www.homeforprofits.com to help budding online entrepreneurs with information and ready made products. Visit http://www.homeforprofits.com to find how his products and tips can boost your business tremendously.

Subscribe to his "Online Business Manual Course" by email. Visit http://ebizgo.info now and sign up for free.

Domain Strategy for Your Website

by Brett Miller

Your small business website is the first contact Internet searchers have with your business. Your home page starts to build a relationship with prospects even before you know they exist. When prospects find that you offer valuable information to help them achieve their goals, they are more willing to trust you as an online expert.

It all starts with your domain strategy. Domain strategy is just as important as deciding your company's name, and for many, their company name is their domain name. Here are some things to keep in mind when you register your domain name:

Brand You: Your domain, or Internet URL, is your brand on the Worldwide Web. This is your Dot.Com-your Internet business name. It's not chiseled in stone-you can start over again and rename your small business website, but that can cause all sorts of headaches. Make the right choice now and save yourself a load of trouble down the road.

What's in a name? More than meets the eye. When you choose a domain name for your small business website, make sure it's one that reaches out to customers and makes them feel at home. . Jonathan Wilberforce Edmonds IV is a wonderful and noble name, but the very sight of jonathanwilberforceedmondsiv.com is enough to scare prospects away from your website. On the other hand, JonEdmonds.com opens the door for prospects as they come in. Remember: Your Internet domain starts building a relationship with prospects even before you do.

Keywords are Key: By researching the best keywords for a prospective client, you can make your domain search engine optimized. For instance, if you sell inspirational books, you might find that keywords like inspirational books, self-help books, personal growth books are all terms that prospective clients will use when searching for products you carry. It wouldn't hurt to make your domain something like PersonalGrowthandInspirationalBooks.com. It's as if you're loading your site with keywords from the start and people will begin finding you the moment that you purchase your domain.

Easy To Say, Easy to Remember: I always say that you should picture yourself speaking to a client in their car on their cell phone. They are not going to be able to write down a long domain name with a bunch of dashes, numbers or abbreviations. For instance "CallCathy4RE.com" becomes "call cathy with a 'c' - the number four, the letters R - E which stands for real estate - .com. " This is a disaster for remembering. Try to use easy to spell words and nothing hard to remember.

Domain strategy is fun, and it can be exciting to search for all sorts of domain names. When it comes to your Small Business, be smart about your domains. Use good research tactics and put as much effort and time into finding a good domain for your company as you did when you created your company's business plan.

About the Author

Brett Miller, the founder of HoopJumper WebSystems, is the creator of Webepreneur, an easy-to-use website building program for small business owners and individual service professionals that makes it easy to get your website visible and popular engine-wide. If you're a Small Business Owner and you want help with domain strategy, go to http://www.webepreneur.com/ or http://www.hoopjumper.com/ to find out how we can customize your domains to bring business to you!

Minimalist Web Design - Why Less Really Is More

by Barbara Logan

The saying that less is more has been applied to everything from art to advertising. When it comes to website design, it has never been truer than it is today.

With all the cutting-edge technology and so many fabulous graphics to choose from or create, designers often want to throw everything they can into a website design. The result, rather than impressive, is hectic. With no focal point or easy-to-use and locate navigation bar, the user becomes confused and is often unable to navigate the site easily or at all. They leave and the website owner loses not just a visitor, but likely a sale.

A minimalist website, on the other hand, offers users a website that's easy to use and to navigate. With a well designed minimalist website, visitors can easily and quickly find exactly what they're looking for. They don't end up endlessly clicking to page after page, viewing information they can't use or have already seen on the site. Finding a site like this is like find an oasis in the middle of the desert. Whew! What a relief!

Think of Google, for example. Simple, basic and extremely efficient. Could anything be easier to use? It's the perfect example of just how effective website minimalism truly is.

While you probably don't want a website that's quite that bare, you do want a website design that is that simple and clean. Minimalist websites can be quite beautiful when designed well and exude class rather than scream too many messages. Great color and just enough graphics combined with the right amount of white space make a site less busy, making it simpler for a visitor to navigate. This is a refreshing and calming change for a web user, and makes a minimalist website one that they will appreciate and want to visit often.

Content on a minimalist website needs to be clear and concise too. While we've all heard that content is king, this doesn't mean that there needs to be tons and tons of content, especially if it has little substance. Information that is easily accessed and precisely written is far more effective than having too much content to sift through to find necessary information.

Too many website designers, unfortunately, overlook this need for easy navigation. Trying to get around clunky navigation to find the information you want is a bit like being plopped down in a flea market where everything is jumbled together. Infant clothes tossed in with women's clothes are then topped off with a stack of men's shirts. The effort to get through it all to find what you're looking for is exhausting and usually not worth the effort.

Minimal yet precise copy offers website visitors many benefits, primarily the advantage of being able to read on screen information without too many elements competing for their attention.

Finally, with technology making it possible to view the Internet on much smaller screens, minimalist website design is crucial. There just isn't room on a cell phone or palm pilot screen to see a great deal. With each advance in technology, less really is more.

About the Author

Barbara Logan researches and writes about general interest news items, including design, programming, photography, conservation and the environment. She has lived and worked in the United States, Europe, and Latin America since 1999. Articulae.com | Minimalist Web Design

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Web Design - Simple Mistakes and Golden Rules

by Paul Osborne

Good web design is something that can be achieved relatively easily by sticking to a small set of guiding principles and avoiding some very common mistakes.

Truly excellent web design skills are born out of years of experience, dedication and plenty of hard-learned mistakes. Fortunately, being truly excellent at web design is not a pre-requisite for building a fantastic website and the lessons learned from those mistakes can be passed on without the hardship.

This article contains some of the principles which I have learned the hard way and the easy way. Each principle is fairly obvious but so many designers ignore them for one reason or another and the consequence is a hard-to-use, poor looking site that is difficult to manage and fails to make the top 1000 in Google. If your website adheres to the principles below it will almost certainly be much healthier, and you and your visitors will reap the benefits.

1. Keep Everything Obvious - Don't Make Me Think

The book entitled Don't Make Me Think!: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability by Steve Krug is one of the best selling books on the subject of web design and usability. Personally, I think thinking is a good thing but at the same time I don't want to be struggling to figure out how to submit a web form!

Visitors to a website expect certain conventions, breaking these is a great way of losing visitors. People expect to find the navigation at the top of a page or on the left hand side. Logos are mostly found on the top left. Much research has been conducted into how people view and use web pages. The good news is that you do not to know all of this; instead look at how larger companies such as eBay, Amazon, Google, Microsoft structure their pages and the language they use, then emulate them.

2. Limit Colours

A website using too many colours at a time can be overwhelming to many users and can make a website look cheap and tacky. Any users with colour blindness or contrast perception difficulties may even be unable to use the site.

Limiting a palette to 2 or 3 colours will nearly always lead to a slicker looking design and has the added bonus of simplifying your design choices, reducing design time.

Software like Color Wheel Pro can greatly simplify the creation of a pallet by showing which colours sit well together. If you really do not have the eye for design then software like this provides the perfect way of escaping monotone or badly combined colour schemes.

If your site uses blue and yellow together or red and green then it may present problems to anyone suffering with colour blindness. Vischeck.com provide free software that can simulate different types of colour blindness.

3. Be Careful With Fonts

The set of fonts available to all visitors of a website is relatively limited. Add to that the possibility of a user having a visual impairment then the options become even smaller. It is advisable to stick to fonts such as Arial, Verdana, Courier, Times, Geneva and Georgia. They may not be very interesting but your content should be more interesting than your font and if it can't be read, what is the point of having a site?

Black text on a white background is far easier for the majority of people to read than white text on a black background. If you have large amounts of text then a white or pale background is far more user friendly. Always ensure that there is a good contrast between any text and its background. Blue text on a blue background is okay as long as the difference in shade is significant.

Verdana is often cited as being the easiest to read on the screen. Georgia is probably the best option for a serif font.

4. Plan for Change

If you fix the height of your page to 600 pixels will you still be able to add additional menu items without completely redesigning your page?

The ability to add or remove content from a website is fundamental to the ongoing success of it. Having to rewrite the entire web page or website each time you want to make a small change is sure fire way to kill your interest in your own site and will negatively impact your overall design and usability.

Getting a good idea of how your website is likely to grow will clarify how best to structure your layout. For example, a horizontal navigation is often more restrictive than a side navigation unless you use drop down menus; if your navigation is likely to grow and you hate drop down menus then your design choice has been 99% made for you!

Understanding how to use Cascading Style Sheets (CSS), avoiding unconventional layouts and complicated backgrounds will all help enormously.

5. Be Consistent

Again, don't make your visitors think! About how to use your site at least. If your navigation is at the top on your homepage, it should be at the top on all other pages too. If your links are coloured red ensure the the same convention is used on all sections.

By using CSS correctly you can make most of this happen automatically leaving you free to concentrate on the content.

6. Keep it Relevant

A picture is better than a thousand words but if the picture you took on holiday is not relevant to your Used Car Sales website then you should really replace it with something which reflects the content or mood of the page; a photo of a car perhaps!

If you can take something off of your web page without it adversely affecting the message, appearance or legality of your website you should do it without hesitation.

Avoid the need to add images, Flash animations or adverts just because you have space. This wastes bandwidth and obscures the intentions of your website. If you absolutely must fill the space, then exercise your imagination to find something as relevant as possible.

Keeping your content focused will ultimately help your search-engine rankings.

7. Become a CSS Expert

Cascading Style Sheets should be any web designer's best friend. CSS makes it is possible to separate the appearance and layout of your page from the content. This has huge benefits when it comes to updating and maintaining your site, making your site accessible and making your site easy for search engines to read.

CSS at a first glance is very straightforward but is definitely worth investing in one or more books. Two great books are: CSS the Missing Manual by David McFarland and Bulletproof Web Design by Dan Cederholm.

8. Avoid Complexity

Using standard layouts for your web page will save you development time and make your site easier to use. Pushing the boundaries nearly always leads to quirky behaviour, cross-browser problems, confused site visitors and maintenance headaches. Unless you really do like a challenge then avoid complexity wherever possible.

Many standard layouts are freely available online with much of the boring, repetitive work already done for you.

The principles above all border on common sense and are well known to most people, yet so many sites continue to deviate away from them and suffer as a consequence. Following these principles will help you keep away from trouble, although it still doesn't guarantee it!

About the Author

Paul has worked as a programmer and in Web Design for over 15 years.

Get the best website with aid of Web Design Company

by Allan Gibbs

A web site is meant to be a platform for you or your business to showcase and communicate important information to people online. Hence it is extremely essential to create your website in such a way that it attracts the right target audience. The making of a website can literally make or break the very purpose of your website. Here comes the role of a web design company.

You may have wonderful offers for those who visit your site, but if they are presented in an unprofessional way you may not be able to impress upon the online visitors. In fact people might not visit your site just because your web site has not been done up efficiently. So in order to maximize their visits to your site as well as to yield an encouraging response out of such visitors, you can always take the help of a web design company.

Web designers help you in designing, programming and uploading your web site on the Internet. Various nuances of corporate branding are made to work by them. Web designing is an art of integrating your aims with prevalent customer behaviors thereby giving shape to the best profitable options.

A web design company actually deals in several areas related to a web site. Apart from creating the structure of your website and increasing the visual appeal and user-friendliness, it also provides services such as regular maintenance of your site, designing logos, site promotion and marketing, e-commerce, web hosting services, shopping cart solutions, software programming, etc.

Web designers in general use HTML, CSS, XHTML, java, etc. to create the web pages. There can be a number of web pages within a web site taking care of different sections of business information.

When you are through with creating the structure of your site, the next important step is to upload it online. You need to decide on your network service provider, your server, and your domain name. Subsequently you have to index your domain name with the probable virtual space through your server. Only then you can finally upload your site on the net. A good web design company assists you in all these areas. Hence all you need to do is to provide the required information as the company takes care of your site.

Even when your site has been uploaded it needs special care. That means you need to have your site among the first-page listings of popular search engines. A competent web design company also helps you in this regard as their extensive search engine optimization services provide full support.

Hence in this age of globalization to make your presence felt in the virtual world, a professionally managed web design company can give you an absolute edge over others. With their highly qualified and trained manpower and adherence to International quality standards, such companies are ready to offer tailor-made web solutions for you.

About the Author

Allan is a software engineer and web site developer. For more information on the work pattern of a web design company, he recommends you to visit www.smartimeinc.com

Web Design. First Impressions May Be Your Last

by Bill Kernodle

The perfect web page is not only nice to look at, but is easy to use. Most web visitors stay only seconds before they leave your site. That is one sad fact you must come to terms with. There is no second chance for a first impression, as they say. You must grab their attention and hold it.

Here are some of the most often overused designs you will come across and ones you may do well to avoid.

Background music

Music has become so overused and misused that it is downright annoying. If a visitor hears music without requesting to hear it, they may leave. If they again hear the same music on each page they visit, you can bet it will not be long before they will be gone forever. If you have a music site and have samples for visitors to listen to, that is another story, but at least give them the option to turn it off or on at will. Do not force them to listen. Personally, I leave my speakers off because I am sick of the whole thing. I especially hate it when a person on-screen starts talking to me when I did not hit the play button. In addition, music takes longer to load and the visitor may leave before the music ever comes up because they are tired of waiting.

Popup windows

Pop up windows used to be cute; used to be. Now I find them another of the oh- so- annoying attempts to get you to sign up or buy something. I realize we are all in this business to make money and we all must use the devices available to us, but use some common sense and don't beat people over the head with all of theses techniques at once, a little goes a long way.

Here are some essential practices to follow:

Give your visitor an easy way to find what they are looking for by including a navigation menu, a site map and perhaps even a search bar if you have a lot of information on your site. Pay attention to the font size so that your pages are easily read. Too large of a type makes for a strange looking page and too small makes people squint or worse yet, leave altogether. Do not use strange color combinations unless your site is all about art or very esoteric. Black background with white type for example you will see but I can hardly stand to look at it! Take care not to over-use images and be careful of their file size. Large file sizes make pages load slowly and you are then faced with the same situation, people leaving before the page loads. Most image editing programs have the capability to reduce file size. Be sure every link in your site is working. It also goes without saying that you must test every link on your site before you place the site on the web. Broken links are a sure sign of sloppy work. Make more paragraph breaks than you normally would in a written paper. This makes it easier to scroll and read and keeps your visitor on the page. Check your site in different browsers as they do not all behave the same. . The most important is Internet Explorer, but many people prefer Mozilla Firefox as well as others.

Hire A Designer?

You can see that there is a lot to think of when it comes to web design. There are many ways to get a simple web site up quickly. Many hosts have web templates that you upload images to and type directly into the page. This is fine for an informal site and for the initial learning phase, but soon becomes old and looks the same as everyone else. You can buy software designed for this purpose which is what most people eventually do, or you can hire a designer if you have the funds and lack the desire or the time to learn yourself.

If you are a business owner, for example and are using the website to sell products you will have many things to do rather than spending countless hours learning the process of web design. There is a time to hire a designer and this makes sense not to waste all your time doing everything in your business. After all, you cannot be the bookkeeper, the human resource manager, the warehouse manger and the web designer! You need to concentrate on the big picture. If on the other hand you are a work at home business, you may find it helpful and perhaps necessary to do everything yourself.

No matter which way you choose to go, remember the design of your website is the most important first impression you may ever make and perhaps the last.

About the Author

Web Design with ad words,affiliate marketing and ebooks.
Sales and business advice from the best in the field.
http:///www.SimpleSalesAdvice.com

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Web Site Creation-Different Types of Web Graphics

by Arun Pal Singh

Web graphics are important part of web designing. Though there are many file formats for graphics only few are used for web purposes. It is important to familiarize with them so that you can choose the best that suits your purpose.

GIF (Graphic Interchange Format):

In 1980 CompuServe Information Service popularized the Graphic Interchange Format as an efficient way to transmit images across data networks. It was adopted in 1990 by the World Wide Web due its efficiency and widespread familiarity. Majority of images on the Web are now in GIF format, and the format is supported by all web browsers.

GIF files use a compression scheme to keep file sizes at a minimum, and they are limited to 8-bit (256 or fewer colors) color palettes. Also the GIF compresses large fields of homogeneous color better than pictures with many colors and complex textures.

With conventional (non-interlaced) GIF graphics, the browsers downloads one line of pixels at a time from top to bottom, display each line of the image as it gradually builds on the screen.

In interlaced GIF files the image data is stored in a format that allows browsers to build a low-resolution version of the full-sized GIF picture on the screen while the file is downloading. It gives the reader a idea of the full area of the picture while the picture downloads.

The GIF file format also allows you to combine multiple GIF images into a single file to create animation. The animations can be made to play again and again and again if looping is allowed. GIF animations are used in many a banners over the web

JPEG (Joint Photographic Experts Group):

This graphic file format commonly used on the Web to minimize graphics file sizes is the Joint Photographic Experts Group (JPEG) compression scheme. Unlike GIF graphics, JPEG images are full-color image or true color images.

JPEG can achieve incredible compression ratios, squeezing graphics down to as much as one hundred times smaller than the original file. But increasing the JPEG compression progressively can degrade the details of the image:

Once an image is compressed using JPEG compression, data is lost and cannot be recovered from that image file. It is always better to save an uncompressed original file of your graphics or photographs as backup.

Portable Network Graphic (PNG):

Portable Network Graphic is an image format developed by a consortium of graphic software developers as a open source alternative to the GIF image format.

PNG graphics offer a range of attractive features including a full range of color depths, support for sophisticated image transparency, better interlacing, and automatic corrections for display monitor gamma. PNG images can also hold a short text description of the image's content, which allows Internet search engines to search for images based on these embedded text descriptions. At this moment almost all of the major browser support PNG format.

For practical purposes all formats are good and a difference is usually not appreciated by common eye. You can choose any of the three web graphics you are comfortable with.

About the Author

Arun Pal Singh is an internet marketer,web author who runs website http://www.homeforprofits.com to help budding online entrepreneurs with information and ready made products. Visit http://www.homeforprofits.com to find how his products and tips can boost your business tremendously. Subscribe to his "Online Business Manual Course" by email. Visit http://ebizgo.info now and sign up for free.

SEO and your Website Redesign- Avoiding the Pitfalls

by BJ Novack

In reading the SEO messageboards regularly there's one issue that comes up repeatedly, usually after a site has plummeted in Google, Yahoo and MS LiveSearch immediately after a site redesign. The site owner is sweating, traffic has dropped through the basement, and now he or she is scrambling to make things right. You can avoid most of that. If you carefully consider what Search Engines will penalize, and work around those traps when redesigning your website, you can ensure that you don't lose out in the Search Engines when spiffying up your site's look.

The 404 Issue

The most avoidable and devastating mistake made when rolling out a site redesign is to completely change the URL structure of a site without putting any safeguards in place. If a search engine spider or a visitor who has bookmarked a page or followed a link hits a "404 Page Not Found" message, that can lose you indexing in the search engines, and the linkbacks to that page that got you good SERPs in the first place, not to mention the visitor, who will most likely just hit the back button. So either keeping the URL structure the same, or putting 301 redirects in place via the htaccess file to redirect from each old page URL to the corresponding new page URL is the best way to ensure that your site won't tank. Cpanel hosting has a tool for this purpose, and I'm sure other hosting managers do too. Using the cpanel tool you simply put in the old URL that you want redirected from and the new URL you want redirected to, and save it. Have a list ready to do each webpage change immediately upon switchover.

When launching the new site you should also, when possible, notify sites that have linked to your pages. Include the URL on their site where your link is located, your old url that will no longer be in effect, and your new url. This courtesy will, in most cases, ensure that you continue to have a link from that source. Not doing so might lose you a link, if there isn't at least a 301 in place, which is another thing that hurts websites in the search engines, and annoys visitors and people who link to you. If you have hundreds of thousands of links this might not be possible, but you may want to consider at least hitting the high points on the PR scale, and notifying the sites with the most Google Juice. Though it's best to notify people, if your 301 redirects are in place at least you won't be breaking links for anyone.

Of course, keeping the same url structure is a much better way to handle all this, but sometimes that just isn't possible, especially if you're switching from a static html site to a database driven site. In this case, 301's are a must. Since most dynamic sites are tested locally prior to deployment, you can generate sitemaps on both the old and the new, and use them to create your 301 redirection list.

On Site SEO Page Factors

Another huge problem is changes made to the on-site page factors. The most obvious of these are in the html head area; page title, the page description and any meta tags. If these page elements change, so will your SERPs and Ranking, usually downward when coupled with a lot of other changes. Minimize these changes as much as possible. If you are switching from a static html site to a database driven site, choose a dynamic program that allows you to control on page factors such as title, meta description, meta keywords, etc. for each page, and keep all on page factors as close to the originals of the html head elements as you can for each and every page of your site.

The Codebase, making the Skeleton Stronger

The third thing that affects SERPs and Ranking is less easy to control, since, by its very nature, a site redesign means code changes, but is less of a concern if handled properly. Because the source order of information within the html will change, this may affect the way the search engines look at your pages, at least for awhile. But if you upgrade your code to be cleaner and leaner compliant table-less xhtml/css code, you may end up coming out better in the end, though a dip may happen at first. One of the things search engines do take into account is the code to content ratio. You want to decrease the amount of code and increase the amount of content a spider will find when parsing the html, whether it's static or dynamically generated. The easiest way to do this is to make sure all css and javascript is in separate files and called in through the head via link hrefs. This allows that part of the code to be cached, and lessens load on your html, good for visitors and good for spiders. And using a good source ordered layout will put your content front and center for both the spiders and your visitors, and be friendlier to those using alternative devices such as screen readers.

Taking these simple precautions when launching a new site design will considerably lessen the negative impact. Though you may see a drop in the first few weeks as the search engines adjust to your new codebase, you will rebound to your former, or possibly even better, Search Engine Placement in no time.

About the Author

BJ Novack is also known as Kickass Web Design, a Web Design Boutique specializing in Custom WordPress Themes, Cubecart Templates, ModX Templates, and other Dynamic Templating for Small Business and Non-Profit Websites.

A Rose By Any Other Name May Smell as Sweet - But Do YOUR File Names Stink?

by Ben Kemp

File naming is an element of SEO that most people pay little attention to, yet its a crucial issue for two key reasons;

Search Engine Page Results When a reference to one of your pages shows up within a SERP, there are 3 important cues that can entice a visitor to click the link and visit your site. In order, they are Title, Description and URL - or page file name. Why not give yourself every possible advantage when competing for visitors, by providing accurate and readable file names? It might well be the final push that slides the mouse pointer in your favor.

Search Engine Rankings Equally, when search engine spiders are mapping your site and trying to figure out what on earth its all about, giving them some accurate information in every possible area would seem like a smart move, right? Keywords in file names are important, and they do make a difference. It might only be one of 100-plus elements in a search engine relevancy algorithm, but the more places you can tick off as being perfect, the better!

The Reality Check Oddly enough, few people actually do this! Most file names are either a model of brevity, acronymic, cryptic or just plain gibberish! Thats a bit like driving with the handbrake on...

Top 10 Factors

1.) Use keywords! Why use "contact.html" when you could use "contact-the-blue-widget-specialists.html"??? Your page names are a good place to slip in an "exact match" high-volume keyword phrase... Do this where appropriate - like every page on your site - to help reinforce the keywords in Title / Description tags.

2.) Use hyphens and not underscores! In a URL, or in a text anchor on a page, the underscore blends with the hyperlink underline, making it difficult to see that it is not a space.

3.) Do NOT use spaces! Aside from the fact that the operating system has to fill the gaps with the awful %20 - there are still some operating systems and browsers in use around the globe that struggle to process spaces in file names.

4.) Do NOT use CAPITALS in file names - Windows does not care, and will treat "Blue-Widgets.html" and "blue-widgets.html" as the same file... However, operating systems such a Linux are case sensitive and see that variation as two completely different filenames! If you've typed internal hyperlink file names with case variations, you may well generate broken links for some users.

5.) Confine yourself to the alphabet, and numerals, with hyphens between words. Do not commit the heinous crime of adding special characters into your file names! Linux allows pretty much any character except a forward slash (/) - but other operating systems might choke on them!

6.) Remember that SE's really don't like all the "&" and "?" and "=" that some CMS systems add. For example, if you are an osCommerce user, its a straightforward task to have Ultimate SEO URL's installed, and produce plain-English file names.

7.) Don't use the default file names and hierarchical structures in Wordpress / Joomla / Drupal / or any other Content Management system. For example, is 2007 a good Category heading, or directory name? Its out of date in a few months time! Still, its not uncommon to see sites based on silly, out-of-date directory/file name combinations.

8.) Make sure your CMS site generates keyword-rich file names that reflect page content. This should be the "normal" way to do things, but apparently the people who write this software genre don't really understand a web business must generate search engine traffic to survive.

9.) Prevent your session ID's being added to pages served to search engine spiders. Aside from the special character garbage, it means every time they visit, they get a different URL for the same page - resulting in duplicate content indexing! That can get your site removed from the SE indexes!

10.) Before changing a filename, ensure that you first set up a 301 Permanent Redirect from the old file name to the new file name. This will make the transition seamless, and minimise the possibility of 404 page not found errors. Also, those people who had the page bookmarked will still arrive at the correct location in your site.

About the Author

Yet another SEO article by Ben Kemp, a free-lance website seo consultant and web site designer. He offers free SEO articles & web design tips, see Web Page SEO & Website Design Blog : Web: www.comauth.co.nz

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Web Site Graphic Design

by Damon Richards

A picture is said to be an expression of a 1000 words. Yes, this may work for an artist. However, a Overland park website designer has to reconsider this while creating a website. A picture may express certain things that need to get to the audience but that may be for websites with humour as their theme.

As a Kansas web designer, you need to meet the demands of your audience and your organisation through quality information and content presented on a website rather than images that slow down the uploading of a website. You need to attract the visitor and not distract him. The Webmaster who realizes these little facts can gain huge success. He needs to remember that, fancy and alluring items do not always attract the customers.

Additional keep-in-mind features:

ALT text is important

Including ALT text to a page can be helpful while adding an image on the same page. The ALT characteristic in the HTML tag provides substitute text when a person cannot view an image. The textual information will be displayed if the browser of the user does not allow him to see the images or if the user had disabled the visuals option. The ALT text can contain information on the company apart from a site map and then company's logo.

Handy height and width tags

These tags help the browser to track the size and resolution of the image and the browser automatically decides where to place and adjust the text that is available on the page. This helps to catapult the speed of the page and uploads it easily and more swiftly. This will also allow the users and visitors to access the page textual information on the page without displaying the images nearby. Therefore the webmaster has to keep in mind that the use of height= and width= attributes can be helpful incase the pictures are not viewable.

Interlaced images

These images can help a web page to load in a quicker fashion and bring convenience on the users end. These are the GIF type of images and are easy to use. The image may appear a bit blurred at the start but it catches up with the browser after some time and comes as an attractive and useful image. These tricky images actually make the user feel that the page uploads fast when it does not in actuality.

Reuse images

The image that is put up on your website gets loaded to the browsers cache of a visitor when he logs on to it. This area of a hard disk stores files that may be needed again for viewing. Therefore, theimages on your website will load onto the users' computer and he can feel the website uploading faster. Thus, you can use one image throughout your site without causing any speed disturbances.

David vs. Goliath images

Several small images instead of one big image can be useful as they download more easily than big images. They can also express the organisations values, products and offerings. They are far faster than normal big size images.

About the Author

Damon Richards is a senior web designer and ecommerce website developer consulting small and medium enterprises on Kansas City web design and Web Development Kansas City

These Web Design Blunders Steal Your Profits

by Hermas Haynes

It's an unforgivable abuse of resources to spend your time, effort and money researching a product and targeting a market, only to throw it all away on a poorly designed Web site. That is the equivalent of shooting yourself in the foot and then wondering why you're bleeding.

Since just about every element of your promotions, advertising and marketing campaigns is geared towards driving visitors to your digital storefront, it only seems appropriate that the destination should be impressive, inviting and interesting.

Unfortunately too many Web sites are guilty of serious design blunders that cause visitors to scamper away never to return, and this takes a big bite out of profits.

Here are Web design blunders to avoid:

1. The Misuse of Colors - Stay away from any combination of colors that is garish and ugly because it will cause people to flee your site. To them the visual impact is comparable to the sound of fingernails being scratched across a blackboard.

Opt instead for colors that compliment. Colors affect everyone emotionally and your site's color scheme should be arranged to maximize the subtle benefits. Bright, playful colors may be right for a Web site that sells children's toys, but could be wrong for a network systems consultant.

2. Confusing Navigation - Your site navigation should work like a roadmap pointing visitors to the particular content they came to find, and not as a crossword puzzle challenging them to figure out where things are located.

Buttons and text links should use the most precise keyword or descriptive phrase to help visitors find information quickly. A site map and search box are additional options that cater to the different navigational preferences your traffic will have.

3. No Contact Information - If there is no facility available for a visitor to contact the site owner or a company representative, you can bet it's not going to help the reassurance factor.

Contact information should be readily accessible from every page and should offer a variety of options, such as telephone, email, fax, instant message, postal address, web form or some other means.

4. Excessive Pop-ups, Annimation and Flash - While each of these marketing tools does have its place, a delicate balance of judgment is required not to make them appear intrusive and annoying. When in doubt and to be on the safe side, adopt the "less-is-more" approach.

Unless you're running an entertainment site, your average visitor is primarily looking for information or a solution to a problem. Anything that hinders that objective will be frowned upon.

5. Incorrect Spelling and Poor Grammar - Before you upload your site and expose it to the world, make sure the content has been proofread for spelling, grammar and typographical errors. If this is not your forte, then have someone who knows what they're doing take a look at it for you.

If your copy is seen as sloppy and careless, that impression unfortunately will carry over to your business. You may be an expert at what you do, but an inferior presentation makes it difficult to convey that with confidence, and it will end up costing you.

Your Web site's appearance plays a significant role in how your business is perceived online, so it's important that you consistently convey the very best impression. Always pay attention to the details. Keep the viewer's interests and comfort in mind at all times.

The greater the satisfaction you can guarantee your visitor, the more traffic you'll attract and the more you'll appreciate what you see when you refer to your profit and loss statement.

About the Author

Hermas Haynes has more than five years of solid online marketing experience and is the webmaster of http://ebizinfocenter.com -- a popular resource for marketing ideas, tools and strategies that will help you advance your Web business.

What are the options for receiving online payment through my ecommerce web site?

by Ralph Ramah

Buyers and selling online is increasingly popular and more and more organisations are looking for simple ecommerce web design solutions to sell their products and services and receive payment securely online. For many the whole web design and payment process remains a mystery and therefore a hindrance to them setting up an ecommerce web design solution. Here are a few simple facts and options to hopefully help you get started with an ecommerce web site. Assuming your web design is taken care of and your web designers are using a reliable shopping cart software that both intuitive, user friendly and secure, you need to know a Payment Service Provider (PSP) who will handle the payment process when your online buyers purchase from your web site and how the money will reach your bank. After all, no sales is actually a sale until you receive payment for the purchase.

Paypal

Paypal is by far the quickest and simplest PSP to set up. All you need to do is sign up for a Paypal account online. You can sign up for free with an email address and a password of your choice. The email account is also your username which you will need to use every time you want to log in to your Paypal account. All you then need to do is give the email address to your web design company and they will link your ecommerce web site to your Paypal account. There is no need to provide your Paypal account password as this is not needed for the Paypal integration into your web design system. There are a number of simple security measures your web design company needs to put in place to ensure the integrity of the payment system. This information is readily available in Paypal's online resources for web design companies. You will not have to worry about this, assuming you are using a competent and reliable web design company. Every time a buyers makes a purchase on your web site and select to pay, he or she is redirected to Paypal's web site for secure payment. Paypal's web site already has a secure certificate and payment is made on ths secure web site and not on your own web site, so security is taken care of by Paypal. Once the system is set up and running, you will receive an email notification from Paypal every time a payment is successful on your ecommerce web site.

Other Payment Service Providers

Setting up a payment method with most other PSPs is slightly more involved and can be more costly than with Paypal. As a first step, you will most probably require to obtain a merchant account from your bank or any other bank that process merchant accounts. This merchant account will be used by the PSP to credit any payment received online from your web site to your bank account. The process of obtaining a merchant account can be a straight forward form filling exercise or, with some banks, quite a lengthy process. Some banks will even ask for your audited accounts and a business plan. Do not be discouraged though, shop around and you will find a reputable bank that will provide you with a merchant account. There are a number of PSPs that will accept online payment through integration with your web site. You will need to consider which one offers the best package for your online business. Cost is certainly a factor to consider. Some PSPs require a minimum contract and a set up fee while others like Protx charge no set up fee but only a monthly fee provided the account does not exceeding a certain number of transactions per quarter.

Integration of a PSP other than Paypal is a bit more involved, both technically from a web design point of view and also on the admin side. However, if your web site is a more established online business and you require a seamless payment system integrated into your web design solution, then it is worth the trouble and your online buyers experience should be more pleasant and fluid thus improving your conversion rates i.e. sales.

About the Author

Ralph Ramah is the webmaster of Discount Web Design, one of the leading web design company in the UK offering quality web site design and SEO services