Category Archives: Website Usability

As you know at Wagada we love content and believe that it is key to creating a fabulous website that your customers will want to visit, buy from and share with their friends. However sometimes large amounts of text on a screen can be off-putting and daunting to website users, so it can be a really good idea to break up the text with images. Humans are very visually lead and research has shown that adding images to web copy and social media posts makes people more likely to read them. Images appeal to our subconscious minds and really bring the words on the screen to life.

However it’s not simply a case of adding a few images into your post that you like the look of. In fact getting your pictures right can be a vital part of encouraging interaction and engagement. Pictures help you to create your company identity and tell your customers the story of your brand. It can be worth putting as much time and effort into your pictures as you put into the writing itself. So when you begin to visualise a web page or a blog post always think about the images that you are going to use to complement the subject that you are writing about.

We’ve come up with some great ideas about the different types of images that you can use online, and we’ll discuss how they can help you to engage your users.

Telling a story with images

Telling a story to your customers is a key theme in 21st-century marketing and images can really help you to define what you offer to your target market. Online users no longer want static images of items for sale with a plain background behind them – that’s a sure-fire way to turn them off your product! Instead use storyboard images to give your product vitality and to help potential buyers to understand how the products will add value to their lifestyle.

To create an effective storyboard image think about how your product or service will fit into your customer’s lives. How will they use it and how will it benefit them in their day to day life? You should also consider what aspirations they may have and think about why they are buying your product. For example if you sell furniture you could picture it in a show home setting – fully accessorised. You could show people relaxing and having a coffee on their sofa, or a dinner party in full swing at the dining table. By using images in this way you can move from selling simply a product to selling a way of life to your customers.

Complement images with powerful language

Pairing words with images can be powerful and compelling. To achieve this effectively you need to keep it simple and think of one or two words or a short slogan that embodies what you are trying to tell your customer. Then you need to find an image that will bring these words to life. A good example could be a gym or personal fitness trainer who wants to show clients how they can help them reach their fitness goals. By overlaying the words “reach your goals” onto an image of a runner crossing the finish line of a race you can show your customers as well as tell them what your brand is all about.

Graphs and charts can make data stand out

In many circumstances you may have a lot of data that you want to convey to your potential customers, but paragraphs of dry data on your website may turn customers off and lead to high bounce rates from your site. We know that many people are time poor and when they visit a website they want to get the information that they need as quickly as possible. Therefore a great way to show off this data quickly and effectively is to create good quality stand out charts and graphs that highlight the key facts that they need to know. Bar charts or pie charts in bold primary colours really grab the eye and are a quick and powerful way of getting your key points over to your clients.

Infographics combine data and design

With the rise of social media and sharing sites such as Pinterest we have seen a new sort of image – an infographic. This is an image designed to show information or facts in a way that is engaging and appealing. Infographics add interest to the data that you are trying to share and are a quick way to get your message across. They are often designed so that the most important facts are given the most prominence which means that even a quick glance gives clients the information that they need. Then once they are interested they can take a closer look to find out more. These images work brilliantly on Twitter and Facebook as people will often share them with their social network. Whilst it can be worth investing in a designer to create some infographics for your business there are also a number of websites and apps which allow you to design your own.

Remember to optimise your images for great SEO

Of course when you add images to your website you also need to make sure that you have optimised them effectively for the search engines. As Google can’t understand images (yet!) you have to add in ‘alt text’ tags with keywords that tell the search engines what the pictures are showing. It can also help to give your image a descriptive filename before you upload in onto your website as this also helps the search engines to understand more about what the image contains.

Google is also very keen on websites being usable for its clients and pictures that take ages to download may cause frustration and lead to a higher bounce rate from your site. So ensure that file sizes for the images you choose are not too big and that they load quickly and easily with no disruption to website users.

As you can see images can be really vital in both building your brand and creating an engaging website that your customers will want to visit and share with their friends and contacts. Use imagery to tell a story to your customers and mix pictures and words to help convey the benefits of your product and service. Images can also help the search engines find you so make sure that you optimise all of your website images too!

 

At Wagada we are really excited about the potential of Google Virtual Tours. Now your customer doesn’t have to leave the comfort of their armchair to visit your shop or take a look around your café – they can do it all online! This is an immensely powerful tool and we predict that it will become an increasingly popular way for businesses to show off what they can offer to their online customers.

How Google Tours works

A professional photographer creates a 360 video tour of your business which you can then place on your Google Local listing and your website for your customers to play and watch. They allow your website users to view the area that you have filmed and take a virtual walk around your premises or location. Alternatively you could give them a backroom tour of your kitchens or stockroom, or guide them around the unique features of your shop or café.

How Google Tours can benefit your business

Google Virtual Tours is a great way to improve your SEO for a number of reasons. Firstly they make your website really appealing to your customers. We’ve had great feedback from site users about these online tours as they find them really engaging, and it is fascinating to be able to not just read about a business but to actually see it. The tours can really bring your business to life!

As they are so effective in capturing your customer’s attention, a positive result of this is that they will stay longer on your site which can reduce any problems you may have with bounce rate. And once they have looked around your business they are more likely to stay and look around your website too. They are also a great tool to promote your business on social media which will help to increase your online presence and your social shares too! This can generate lots of online excitement around your service or product and we know that Google likes to see that businesses are relevant and getting mentioned online.

Finally the tours can give customers real confidence in your business, as they can check it out fully before taking a decision to buy or visit. For example, a potential visitor to a restaurant might like to see how clean the kitchens are for themselves or check out if the space works well for a party or celebration. Likewise, a visitor to a shop may enjoy looking at all the products shown to their best effect on the shop shelves rather than just seeing an online product list or uninspiring  static photos.

Case study – how Google Tours helped our client

We believe that Google Virtual Tours is a fantastic new tool for online businesses, so we worked with one client to help set up a virtual tour on his site. He’s a locksmith and so we thought it would be a great idea to show customers around his van where he keeps all the tools of the trade. He’s already had really positive feedback about his video and it’s certainly got people talking about his company and interacting with his website. Why not take a look at his tour and have a think about what Google Virtual Tours could do for your business!

Contact us to find out more about how Google Virtual Tours can help your business.

If you are designing your business website and starting to think about how you can make sure that your product ranks highly in the search engines, then one of the key things that you need to think about is how you can put your website users first. The website optimisation industry is no longer about being re-active to consumer trends and opinions but rather about being pro-active in understanding your audience and putting them at the centre of your online proposition.

In fact at a recent SEO conference the delegates discussed how the focus within the industry was moving from SEO (search engine optimisation) to SUO (search user optimisation). As we see a rapid change in search technologies from the increase in mobile search to the new voice search options businesses will need to move forward towards building increasingly user centric websites. Of course at Wagada we like to provide the latest innovative techniques to help our clients get to where they want to be on Google, so here are some of the things that we feel you should be focusing on when considering your website optimisation.

Understand your user and get intuitive!

To build a great website you need to really understand what your potential customers want to see on your website and how they will use it. Make use of all the data that you have about your customers from their age to their geographical location, hobbies, interests and the search terms that they might be using. Ask yourself how they interact online, what papers they read and what social media they prefer to use. Once you have collated your data it is recommended that you build ‘personas’ for your customers and refer back to these constantly whenever you are making any changes or developments to your website. Customers want businesses to intuitively understand their needs and to be aware of their preferences and will expect to see this when they search online.

Include search queries that go beyond keywords

The way that your customers search for information online is changing, and as search engines get ever more sophisticated – so should you! You need to look beyond only considering simple keywords which will only take you so far. Instead you could try using long-tail query sites to help you understand the different phrases that people are using to search for your product or service.  You could even search relevant forums online to find out what the demographic that you want to target are talking about, and take a look at any relevant items that are trending on social media such as Twitter or Facebook. You should also look at what search terms your main competitors are ranking for as well because this can give you some guidance as to how your target audience is currently using the search engines.

Make site usability and speed a priority

Getting customers to visit your website is only half the story to successful optimisation. Once they are there you want them to stay and fulfil their purchase. If possible you want the option to upsell to them and of course you want them to keep coming back and to recommend your site to others. One of the best ways to do this is to make your website as usable as possible. To do this you must make sure that it will meet your customer’s needs and deliver what it promises. Make the customer journey through to purchase as easy as possible and think about what information your customers might be looking for and how you can clearly signpost them to it. A key part of a usable site is the speed with which it loads so pay attention to this too. Slow pages or graphics can lose you customers instantly and increase your bounce rate so make sure that your customers can get to your site quickly and easily.

Remember that content is still a vital part of SUO

Content is key in SEO and it is still a vital part of an SUO proposition. However businesses now need to think about content holistically.  Rather than simply generating content as a place to put your keywords start to think about how useful your content is to your user. Google really wants to see articles that have a real relevance to your audience so you need to go beyond just basic content. Think outside of the box when it comes to your product or service. For example a travel company might write not only about holiday destinations but could also offer checklists of what to pack when you go away for the summer or ideas for entertaining children on long flights. By keeping your content fresh and useful you will also encourage your customers to keep on coming back to your site.

Build your own community of online influencers

The power of social media has really increased over the last couple of years and if you can build a supportive community of online influencers who will share and promote your business you could see real benefits. Use your Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest accounts to connect with your audience and keep them up to date with content that they will want to read and share with others. You could also consider connecting to bloggers who are relevant to your product or service and who will be able to help you spread the word online. Make the most of social media to see what topics are being talked about that relate to your business and you can then use them to inform your content and learn more about what potential customers want to see on your site.

Keep up to date with your search results – and those of your competitors!

The search engines are constantly changing and evolving so you need to keep up to date with the world of search engine optimisation. Make sure that you check your rankings frequently as this will enable you to make simple changes as and when you need them rather than suddenly realising that you have dropped down the rankings. It’s also worthwhile seeing what your competitors are doing and keep an eye on the market as a whole. This means that you can then pro-actively respond to any changes that you see and implement any successful ideas that are working well for others.

The world of website optimisation is changing at a fast pace, and as you can see it is vital to keep abreast of any changes within your industry. Build and create a website that has the user at its heart, know your audience and don’t forget about making it fast and usable too. Make the most of what social media can offer your business and build a strong online community. By doing this you should be able to maintain a strong position in the search engine rankings and reap the benefits that this will bring to your business.

The bounce rate from your website is one of the most talked about, but perhaps the least understood, Google Analytics metric. However, understanding your bounce rate and working on factors that can reduce your bounce rate can greatly improve your conversion rate, and can potentially offer a boost to ranking.

So what is your bounce rate and what does it tell you? Well in simple terms the bounce rate is the number of people who click through to a landing page on your site but then go no further into your website. They simply take a look at the landing page and ‘bounce’ out again. You can view the bounce rate for a particular page, such as a campaign landing page or home page, and for your website as a whole.  People often believe that bounce rate is linked to the amount of time people spend on your page but that is actually a separate metric and does not have an impact on your bounce rate.

Bounce rate is a really important analytical tool as a high bounce rate tells you that something is amiss when visitors come to your site. Most website bounce rates are in the region of 30 to 60%, depending on the types of keywords you are targeting and the types of content that people are consuming. Blog articles often attract a higher bounce rate, as this type of content can rank for a wide variety of keywords, and visitors often arrive, digest the blog article and then go elsewhere. The bounce rate to your Contact Us page may also appear to be high – as people may only be searching for a telephone number, or to send you a contact email. A high bounce rate should therefore be analysed within the context of the type of traffic and the intentions of those people arriving at the website.

However, a high bounce rate may be a sign of problems with your website. Firstly, the quality of visitors coming to your site is low and you are not attracting the kind of online visitors that really fit with your product. Secondly, your site may not be offering the right customers the value that they need, it may not be relevant or helpful enough to them to get them to stay, or enticing enough to encourage them to delve further into your site. Obviously if you have a high bounce rate then reducing it should be a real priority for your business, so here are our top tips for how to reduce your bounce rate.

Ensure that your website is getting high quality web traffic

If the people visiting your website are coming for the wrong reasons then your bounce rate is going to be high as it is a sign that your site is not reaching the target demographic that you want. This is bad for your ranking and bad for your business as if you are not getting the customers who will be attracted to your product or services then your sales will plummet.

So how can you rectify this and encourage high quality traffic to visit your site? Firstly a keyword review can have a big impact. Make sure you are using the right keywords and long-tail keyword phrases that your potential customers will be using. It can be worth using a keyword tool to help support you with this. You will also want to look at your marketing channels and who they are reaching. Ask yourself if you are connecting with the right people on social media and if your marketing materials are correctly targeted. Doing some customer research on how people search for your product or service can also provide you with really useful guidelines as to how people are finding your site.

Create a strong call to action on your landing page

A strong, visible call to action is a great way to encourage customers to go further into your site. Often web pages are just not clear enough and they fail to tell customers what they need to do next. Use buttons, banners and heading text to clearly signpost to your website visitors what you need them to do next i.e.:

 Click here for 50% off bargains

 Click here to find a restaurant in your location

You also need to make your call to actions relevant to your customers and they must match what the customer is expecting to find. So, if you are advertising a sale online, they may be confused if they land on a homepage with no obvious mention of a sale. Try to use campaign-specific landing pages if you are running a marketing campaign as this enables you to create a clear and relevant call to action.

Create customer relevant pages with great content

Great content is always recommended as it can boost your website in a number of ways and this is particularly relevant for reducing your bounce rate. Interesting and relevant content keeps customers engaged with your website and the more they want to read, the more likely they are to stay on your website. Good content encourages customers to visit other areas of your site and you can help signpost them to this by using “if you like this you might like…” buttons which will keep them clicking through to other relevant pages.

You should also aim to make your content easily readable. Long, informative articles can be a fantastic way of attracting traffic, but long paragraphs of content can be daunting and difficult to read. Split your content into small chunks and use the tools for writing for the web successfully: bullet points, sub-headings, split content up with images, write in short paragraphs, make phrases bold, add links to additional information…

Make sure you pages are easy to use and well formatted with a clear user pathway

First impressions count in life and the online world is no different. Research has shown that customers take only 8 seconds to take a decision about whether to stay on a page or leave it so you need to make every second count!

It’s important that your page looks appealing and engaging and it’s just as important that it loads quickly and isn’t hampered by pop up ads that will just annoy customers and cause them to leave your site. Making sure that customers are signposted to where they need to go clearly and accurately can have a really positive impact on reducing your bounce rate too, and a site that is clear and easy to use will encourage customers to keep coming back.

User intent gives us a strong indication of whether a high bounce rate is a problem. If you think your high bounce rate is caused by user dissatisfaction, or the wrong visitor demographic, act fast to protect your ranking and your conversion rate. Google is taking user interaction into account in its ranking more and more, so having dissatisfied visitors can negatively impact on your ranking. Find out more about our conversion rate optimisation service.

One thing that we love about the SEO industry is that it is constantly evolving. There are always new things to learn and different ways to help keep our customers on top of their optimisation – and at the top of Google too!

As we approach the end of 2015 it’s a good time to take a look back at the year so far to see what changes and initiatives have affected the SEO landscape, and also to take a look forward to 2016 to see what’s in store for your website next year. So here is our round-up of the key issues that may have had an impact on your website and what you should keep an eye on for next year.

Mobile algorithm changes

In April this year Google launched a new update that became known as “mobilegeddon” in the SEO community. This update meant a big change to the mobile search engines. As more and more people are using search on their smart phones Google felt that it was increasingly important for websites to be mobile friendly, and therefore they changed their rankings for mobile search to downgrade pages that didn’t work well on a smartphone. Although this update did lead to some panic, we feel that it was actually a very sensible move and it was good that businesses were encouraged to look at how mobile friendly their sites were. After all, if it is good for your customers it is good for your sales! It was also a relief for businesses that the algorithm was run in real time so pages would be re-assessed as soon as they were made mobile friendly.

Long tail keyword phrases

Although it’s a bit of a tongue-twister we have seen a focus on Long Tail Keyword Phrases become increasingly popular over the last year. These are basically the more conversational phrases that customers use when searching online. So this can focus on the longer and more specific questions that your customers could be searching for on Google. This move away from shorter keywords means that it’s easier to create more natural looking content for your readers. However it also means that businesses need to work closely with their customers to understand how they are searching for their product or service so that they can get the phrases they are using on their website right.

Focus on user experience

We need to become much more focused on the user experience of a website and how easy it is for customers to navigate through a site to find the information that they need. Businesses are being encouraged to do thorough user testing when they launch their website, both to make sure that it fulfils their customer’s needs and to help them understand how customers are searching for their product or service online. Google is now becoming very aware of how relevant and helpful sites are to their users so it’s a double bonus for websites that get it right. Not only do they have happy customers who are more likely to purchase their products, they will also see a rise in their search engine ranking too!

Looking ahead to 2016

So what does next year have in store for the SEO community? Well, we predict an even bigger focus on mobile search and site usability as an increasing number of people want to search and make purchases from their phones. With a number of high profile hacking incidents happening in 2015 we also think that search engines will be looking at website security and will be changing how that is prioritised. We’re sure there will also be some more algorithm updates from Google as they focus on user experience and the relevance of content, and we expect to see the importance of social media shares and likes increase too. Whatever happens we can assure you that the Wagada team always have their ear to the ground, so watch our site for regular updates on the latest SEO news!

We’ve been having a great laugh this week relooking at this fabulous YouTube clip entitled ‘The User Is Drunk’. As well as getting us giggling it has also had us nodding our heads in agreement as it’s actually about a really effective way to test the usability of your website. We often think about user testing as being done by serious customers in an office environment – but this video asks you to think outside the box and imagine that the user is drunk! So how would someone who has had a glass of wine too many find your website? How would they use it? And how would they react to it?

If you can make it work for them you can make it work for anyone so, here are some of the key points that the video makes…

Drunk people have a short attention span (and blurry vision)

Imagine that you are trying to help a drunk friend make their way home. They need constant clear guidance and reassurance. The best websites are so clear that even someone drunk can use them (that’s why so many people end up regretting late night chats they have on Facebook).

Make sure that the screen is clear so that even with blurry vision they can easily see what buttons they have to press. Tell them what the next steps are and talk them through the process. Say things twice so that what they have to do really sinks in, and they are in no doubt as to what they need to do to get the result they want.

Drunk people can be emotional

Being drunk heightens the emotions, and frustration and anger can come to the fore very easily. We have all had moments where we feel really frustrated with our computer or a website we are trying to use and can understand those feelings. It’s hard to judge what emotions your website may set off by just by looking at a screen so get a real person to test it out.

Ask someone to go to your website and get them to do certain things. It could be finding out information on the product, completing the sales process or trying to find where you are based. If the user comes away calm then your website interface is working well. If you see them getting more and more angry or frustrated then you probably need to take another look at how easy your user pathways are!

Drunk people are not stupid people!

Even though someone is drunk and may be slower than usual, it doesn’t mean that you need to talk down to them. Make things clear for your customers but don’t patronise them or they will end up getting even more annoyed with your website.

We think that this clip is fantastic as it really shows how important it is to think about the usability of your site. You can have a great product, great content and great SEO but if the customer can’t get to what they want quickly and easily you will lose them at the last hurdle. So, the main things to remember are:

  • Keep things simple and clear but don’t talk down to your customer
  • Guide and signpost your customer through your site
  • Don’t let your customer get frustrated
  • And of course….drink sensibly!

Contact us for more information on our usability services, or pop in to see us (though we can’t promise you a glass of wine).

The Royal National Institute for the Blind has started legal proceedings against low cost airline BMIBaby over the failure to make its website accessible to those with disabilities.

BMIbaby website - sued by RNIB for inaccessibility issuesThe website is currently impossible to use by the blind, partially sighted and those navigating without the use of a mouse. The issues were initially flagged up in 2010 when BMIBaby sought expert advice and recommendations on how to make its website accessible to screen readers, used by those with sight loss. However, the company has since made very little progress in its accessibility initiative, prompting RNIB’s action this week.

Hugh Huddy, RNIB Campaigns Officer for Inclusive Society, said: “Blind and partially sighted customers deserve to have access to the best online prices and flight information, just as any customer of BMIBaby does. Why should those with sight loss risk missing out on a web-only deal or be forced to ring a call centre simply because companies are failing to take accessibility standards seriously?”

The web is a fantastic medium which can give those with disabilities an enormous degree of freedom and independence. However, websites must be designed with accessibility in mind for all sectors of the population to benefit.

The 1999 amendment to the Disability Discrimination Act stated that all website owners were legally obliged to make reasonable adjustments to their websites. This has since been replaced by the 2010 Equality Act but owners are still responsible for ensuring that their websites adopt accessibility standards.

In the UK , no website owners have yet been sued for poor accessibility. However, RNIB has started legal  proceedings with two high profile brands in the past. These 2 cases were both settled out of court and the companies retained their anonymity.

The RNIB has proved in the past that it prefers to assist companies to improve their accessibility, rather than calling on the law to prosecute infringers. However it seems this time that it has lost patience with BMIBaby. It remains to be seen whether BMIBaby will respond in a positive way and make the necessary changes, or if the case will run its full course. Watch this space!

For more information on the laws surrounding inaccessible websites, read Wagada’s article.

If you want to know if your website has accessibility issues, contact Wagada.

Read the full press release from the RNIB here Opens in new window

It’s obvious to anyone who owns a tablet PC that many website owners are not testing their pages on the device. Some sites offer limited product visibility and menus that tablet PC users cannot take advantage of. Tablet PCs and the iPad have primarily been used for entertainment purposes but more and more people are now using them for online shopping*. Website compatibility with a tablet PC is now a valuable investment. Here are Wagada’s usability tips for tablet PCs and the iPad:

  • No Flash please! Flash is not supported on the iPad. This means that we often miss out on enhanced views of products and just see a blank space instead of a Flash splash screen. Not a pretty sight (yes I am talking to you Ikea).
  • Smaller screen sizes – so watch out for your font size This also applies to very busy websites which can be very difficult to read on the iPad without zooming.
  • Tablet PC users cannot hover – no tooltips for us then Don’t rely on the hover function to offer helpful advice and instructions.
  • Drop-down boxes aren’t a great success These boxes also rely on the hover functionality. Some do not work at all while others disappear when you least expect it.
  • Links too close together Links that are too close together can make navigating a nightmare (and before you ask I don’t have fat fingers).
  • Buttons and touch targets need to be of sufficient size Following on from the last point, make your buttons and touch targets sufficiently big for users to be able to click on them (1cm by 1cm is a nice size).
  • Keep data entry to a minimum Tablet owners don’t like typing so you are even more likely to lose them at the final form filling stage. Keep your data entry demands to a minimum in order to maximise conversions. Even big companies are neglecting to test their websites on a tablet PC. With tablet sales now reaching 15% of the PC market in 2011** testing your website on a tablet PC is now vital. Wagada offers usability testing of websites, contact us for more information.
*Source: http://www.pcadvisor.co.uk/news/tablets/3288280/20-of-online-shoppers-will-buy-a-tablet-in-the-next-year/ **Source: http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2011/sep/15/ipad-tablet-market-2011-forecast