July 8th, 2011.
1. You didn’t explain exactly what it was that you wanted…
Did the SEO agency you chose actually understand what it is you do? Did you assume they would? I bet you did! Well that was a rookie error – just because they know SEO, it doesn’t mean that automatically they’ll know all of your business goals and aspirations. It certainly doesn’t mean that through SEO, all of your dreams will come-true overnight. Covering things such as budget and goals are essential in order for us to devise the appropriate strategy for you.
2. The SEO’s weren’t told what already worked (or didn’t work) for you…
Were you clear about what the best features of your online endeavours are so far? Did you talk about what proved successful, or things you tried and that were unsuccessful?
All conversions can be tracked which shows any progress SEO’s have (or haven’t) made. However, if you don’t inform the SEO’s of what already works or doesn’t then you can’t argue if there are repeat mistakes.
3. You didn’t indicate the importance of having one main person oversee the account…
Because any reputable SEO agency isn’t made up of just one person behind a desk and computer handling every enquiry made, but is rather formed of a team of people ranging in size (the team not the people, although this applies to both :-) ) that help manage your account – it is likely that, much like a ‘Chinese-whisper’, your goals, aims and dreams are somewhat diluted to anyone that didn’t speak to you directly.
For example, when person 1, explained the information to person 2, who made brief notes and handed those to person 3, person 3 wasn’t following your direct instructions. They might not have fully understood the notes…however, you don’t have to accept this. If you only feel comfortable with one person in particular handling your account, request that only that person have access to it. This way, any changes made by you won’t come as a surprise to the SEO.
4. You didn’t understand the amount of work needed and so were surprised when costs were higher than expected…
Good Search Engine Optimization will get your site discovered in online search results. There is however, more to it than that. Many people in an SEO agency work to get your site to its optimum, and you need to be aware of just how much work goes into this.
This team will mainly be in charge of making sure that SEO is being carried out for all your online needs
This team works alongside the SEOs to help get you publicity online.
Usability & Design:
This team will have the job of creating a smooth user experience for all users that come across your website.
This team will develop, build and ensure things work – such as buttons on your site, conversion tracking and more.
Providers of Content:
This team will ensure that good content is maintained, and optimised so that people can find it.
5. You didn’t maintain a good relationship with the agency…
Chances are, you started off all guns blazing, before slowly falling into a pattern of laziness, assuming the agency would take care of everything the way you wanted – meaning you wouldn’t have to worry about it.
Further, you were unavailable for meetings, you didn’t specify what kinds of reports you wanted, and changes were (or were not) made that you caused dissaproval. When (on your say-so) these changes were reversed, rankings and conversions fell and this caused (even more) tension between you and the agency.
Remember, rankings and conversion rates can see-saw and any changes made to your site can take time to show the positive affect they are having. You should try not to ignore advice about possible re-designs or new pages that should be added to your site. Other things to consider are using services to monitor your online reputation and testing better versions of your website to get the best results.
Good luck! ;-)
June 15th, 2011.
If you ever seen this strange looking black & white square in any form of advertising on a bus, train, email, business card etc., then you met a QR code.
What is a QR code?
The definition on Wikipedia says – QR code is a specific matrix barcode (or two-dimensional code) that is readable by dedicated QR barcode readers.
Country of origin
Japan. Approved by AIM International (Automatic Identification Manufacturers International) standard (ISS – QR Code) in October 1997.
How do you read it?
You need an iPhone or Android phone with installed QR code reader.
What does this code contain?
An URL to a website you try to promote, or text, phone number or SMS (check our QR code to see what’s there).
Is it good for anything useful?
If you think creatively there are many ways that you can use QR codes to promote your business such as on labels, business cards, storefront displays, and embedding promotions and discounts and links to Facebook.
QR codes are already widely used in Japan and increasingly in the UK. I guess the more tech savvy people will be more amenable to them.
How other companies use it?
- On their business cards – by placing a QR code on your business card you allow the receivers to save your business card details without any typing
- In print/magazines – will take a reader directly to your website, without typing your URL
- On billboards and in advertising on public transport
- On products
Couple of good marketing ideas how to use QR codes I collected from the net
Put a tag 20 feet tall on billboards all over the country. People in cars take a picture of it, and some of them unlock URLs that win Xboxes and Kinects. Regardless, think big.
Make them surprising & unpredictable – the more surprises, innovative ideas and unexpected offers will be hidden in these QR codes, the more will people check them. Beware of increased number of ‘treasure hunters’ checking every single QR code they come across and leaving your site as quickly as they came, if not a ‘treasure’ found there.
April 21st, 2011.
Having a good ‘About Us’ page allows you to show off who you are, what you do and it allows to make people more comfortable doing a business with your company. Unfortunately, this page is being sometimes overlooked, as the perception is that it’s not that important.
However, according to a Stanford Web Credibility Research, they derived 10 guidelines/factors which effects websites credibility, 3 of them relating to your ‘about us’ page (based on a 3 year, 5500 person study):
- Show that there is a real organization behind your site
- Highlight the expertise in your organization
- Show that honest and trustworthy people stand behind your site
Naturally, testing a different version of your ‘About us’ page should be on your to-do test list. Unfortunately, in most cases ‘About us’ pages get at most several hundred visitors per month, which is not enough to come with statistically valid results within your 6 weeks test period. In this case, here is the list of 3 must have things an ‘About us’ page for small and medium businesses should definitely have if you want to get more sales:
3 Must Haves
- Pictures of your office and your team
- A passionate story behind your company showing your values
- Peoples bio (credentials, certificates, training)
Here is the list of some ‘About us’ pages for your inspiration.
www.technologywithpassion.com (nice animation)
www.tribal.nl (nice animation)
Business (ecommerce + service + corporate) examples:
October 12th, 2010.
We’ve all been there, needing to show a friend or colleague something we’re seeing on our monitor but don’t want them to see the entire screen, so we reluctantly fire up photoshop (or paint!), then crop the image, save the image (thinking up some temporary filename and cluttering up yet another folder) and finally email the resulting image – wasting precious time and losing focus on other tasks at hand.
Using the tool that sits next to your clock you can very quickly highlight a portion of your screen and either copy to clipboard, save to your computer, or upload to dowce.com – where you’ll be given back a unique short URL to send out to people. You can even add a caption and password protect your capture. It literally takes a few seconds and lets you get on with your other jobs.
Pre-launch, members of the team here at Datadial installed it on their office computers and found it to be really useful when composing emails to clients which needed to contain screenshots of statistics and website layouts. Friends have also started using it to show each other winning (and losing) hands of online poker! It’s one of those tools that once you pick up, you use more than you would expect.
To give you an idea of what’s on offer, here’s a screenshot of the options you get after you’ve made your selection:
If you choose to Save to dowce.com you’ll receive a unique link to your capture…
It’s as simple as that! For a full demonstration of how it all works and to download dowce for free, visit www.dowce.com
August 25th, 2010.
The bane of every online Clothing retailer’s life is RETURNS.
On average, the return rate is 11% for t-shirts; 25-35% for casual wear; and over 40% for fitted fashions. The return rate is higher for more expensive items. In countries like Germany, the average return rate for clothing is even higher – around 60 %. Most of the returns are due to bad fit (stats from fits.me.)
The returns bear a very high cost for retailers, as the average time for the item to be placed back into the sales cycle is 1-2 months. Summer apparel, sold in August, and returned in October, is difficult to be resold at any price.
This is just the nature of things – however good clothes look on screen they sometimes just don’t look so good once on one’s own weirdly shaped body!
However, it’s crucial for online retailers to minimise return rates and some have gone the extra mile in developing online dressing rooms. Online dressing rooms have come and gone over the years, most of them having promised a lot more than they ever delivered – it’s not exactly an easy conundrum to solve.
So I have been looking into current technology. There does not seem to be a whole lot around but here’s what I found. If you know or any others please let me know.
I hope they give you inspiration.
Hot off the press is youth fashion retailer Seventeen’s virtual dressing room
Online shoppers can now try on clothes in a virtual dressing room using a pioneering new augmented reality application that’s being pioneered by a US magazine publisher.
The application detects users’ image through their computer webcam. Then shoppers choose the piece of clothing they want to try on and see what it looks like on them by laying the clothing image over their own image on their computer screen.
So I gave it a go…….
Well this was fun, and after a bit of trial and error I began to get the idea. It’s good to be able to try on women’s clothes in the name of research though I couldn’t get the clothes to fit me though but then maybe that’s because I’m not a Seventeen year old girl.
Hmmm, couldn’t quite get my laptop angled correctly…
Not really sure if this is going to catch on….
2. Fits me:
Next up is technology being produced by Fits me http://fits.me/. This technology takes the old formula of the user putting in their size and the computer doing its best to recreate your build and to render the product on your body. But this time it looks much more impressive. I gave it a go and it does a nice job as far as I can tell.
First you get your shape
Then try something on
You can see it in action on http://www.hawesandcurtis.com, though they hardly mention it on their site which surprises me. Click on the tiny “change my size” icon.
This is an old favourite and has been around now for a couple of years. This is a sort of online fitting room in that it helps you imagine how a product might look on your type of body, but it’s not attempting anything clever by way of personalising it to your actual shape.
The killer app?
Whilst serving a useful function as an online fitting guide it also doubles up as a sort of online Spearmint Rhino and has become popular with men the world over achieving viral status, which is why if you type in “knickers” in Google and this site comes number one as so many people are now linking to it. Call me cynical but I can’t help feeling that this may have been as much the objective in the first place as helping out on the fitting issue. It’s due for an update quite soon.
This is just a glorified (or not even that) mood board. I can’t believe anyone is really using this in any serious way. Even the demo doesn’t look very interesting. There is a laborious sign up process and you can’t even get the individual items to move around. So you have shoes pointing one way and handbags the other. Nil points I’m afraid.
Virtual Sunglasses from Brille
This site worked nicely. A bit clunky and slow and really unless you live 100 miles from an optician you’re probably going to have more fun and less waiting going into shop.
A few more editing tools might have been good so that I could rotate my head inline with the horizontalness of the glasses. There’s nothing technologically amazing about this site but hopefully returns are reduced by giving the user the opportunity to see how they might look once on.
The separate 360 view of each pair of glasses is useful and makes up for the fact that the site can’t quite display the arms of the glasses on my head. I guess we need some sort of 3D version here.
Anyway, I think I look good with glasses. Any opinions?
And some more just sent in bya reader
Not exactly a fitting room but more a style guide
OK I just saw this so thought I would add it to the mix: It’s an ad by Google. Not sure it’s the future but cant be ignored.
Please let me know on firstname.lastname@example.org if you find any other good example of online dressing rooms.
May 18th, 2010.
The format of this year’s conference is tons better than last year. The atmosphere of the Brewery is great, and the food (which is also outstanding) at the break times gives people a chance to talk to each other and network. It has been much easier this year to meet people and talk to other designers.
It’s really hard to choose a favourite speaker because they’re all so great! I think jQuery for Designers is probably going to have the most impact on my day to day work because it has encouraged me to take a new step into jQuery.
The design clinic time was great, and it was a wonderful opportunity to talk to designers you really respect. I got some great feedback from Mike Kus, who has to be one of my all time favourite web designers because of his original work.
Definitely had to be font.com’s sponsor slot. Not only were they the ugliest slides of the day, the introduction was dated (we know about using @font-face already) and then followed by a whole sales pitch on why we should all buy their service. It was very amusing to see the tweets coming in during the talk!
Don’t get me wrong, their service is great and no doubt I’ll be using it soon, but the talk and presentation definitely gets labelled the worst, after everything else was so amazing.
More to come tomorrow, but in summary…
(I’ll add links to slideshows and downloads as I get them)
Play. Destroy. Create. from Brendan Dawes
I loved his reference to maths and nature, and seeing how he had turned that into something new. It’s about observing things like the trend of technical stuff to non techy people. Some of the things he was showing was simply play to explore and provoke reactions. He encouraged us to play, have passion and love what we do!
How to Get Started with CSS3 from Dan Cederholm
After doing a lot of CSS3 work already, I wasn’t expecting to get much from this session, but was very pleasantly surprised. I now have a list of things I want to try, tools to use, and new ideas generated from this session. Definitely ideal for people new to CSS3, but still lots of great stuff in there for those of us who have already been using it.
Accessibility in Web Design Robin Christopherson
I’ve seen Robin speak a few times, and each time he has something new and very informative. This time he encouraged mobile versions of websites, as the format of them is also much more accessible. He also encouraged the use of Text Captcha because it’s accessible, free and offers a comprehensive API. You Tube are now also providing automatic captioning on their videos!
Making things usable is not enough – we should also make them enjoyable. Don’t compromise on the base needs for t»he user, but look for ways you can add that extra layer of emotive enjoyment – like the Mailchimp quotes!
UX Masterclass with Web Standardistas Web Standardistas
This flowed on really well from the Emotional Interface Design and looked at the secret for making something that is usable really great. The secret is YOU!
Smart Tips for Wireframing Brad Haynes