Tag Archives: design

How Content Processes Affect Site Design

Too often a website is designed by marketing/business development people and only then is handed over to a content manager around the time of the launch. The content manager is then left to develop content processes to fit around the site that has been designed, compounding any errors made in the site design.

Building a site for web content

Building a site for web content

Continue reading

How to label a Buy button

I have been working on a retail site and the issue of how to label the Buy button cam e up. Different possibilities have different connotations:

  • Buy – blunt
  • Add to cart – impersonal
  • Purchase – too formal
  • Buy now – too bossy

To complicate matters the site is not traditional in that it sells high-ticket items that people are unlikely to buy more than one of.  That makes the concept of a virtual shopping basket less appropriate than it might be on other sites.

I wanted to check out the labelling that big retailers use to get a pointer on this.

  • Wiggle – add to basket
  • Asos – add to bag
  • Amazon – add to basket
  • Fashionphile – add to bag
  • Chain reaction Cycles – add to basket
  • Yoogis closet – add to shopping bag
  • Harvey Norman – add to cart
  • Pixmania – add to basket

We have 4 “Add to basket”, 2 “Add to bag”, 1 “Ad to cart” and 1 “Add to shopping bag”.

I want my terminology to be consistent with what people are use to, so I will use the phrase “Add to…” on the button. But add to what? I don’t want to use “bag,” as handbags are what the site primarily sells. If they were one of twenty product types it would be ok, but they are the primary one. So that’s out. That leaves “basket”or “cart”.

I think “basket” is the less harsh and more modern of the two, so that’s the one to go for.  We can test it at a later point if we don’t like the conversion rates.


Website footer – less is more

In recent times there has been an increase in website footers that are packed with links that take you all over the site. They have so many links that it becomes very difficult to actually find the one that you want.

You can have 40, 50 links or even more across several columns. Some people don’t recognize when they reach the point of diminishing returns. The footer is not a dump. It is a place to show miscellaneous but necessary links. The exact links to show will depend on the type of site that you run.

As a rule, if the link would only be required by a specific type of user (as opposed to general users), it is a good candidate for the footer.

Keep it simple. Combine pages where it makes sense. If you do have a lot of links, keep the names of them as short as possible to save your users’ time while they scan the footer looking for the one that they want.


You should never use sliders in web content

“But I’m a photographer/artist/retailer” – It doesn’t matter. You should never use sliders according to this fascinating post on sliders on Yoast.com.

It is very easy to think that there are exceptions, but if you truly believe that, you should test out your beliefs. I like the points made in the post about sliders diluting the focus of a site.

Read the post in the link. If you couldn’t have a slider, what would you replace it with? Why?

Then why not test that out and see where you get?



Logo Design Tips

In July of 2012 I got my logo designed for cycleireland.ie. I had put the task off for a while as I was nervous about ending up with something that I didn’t like, and I felt that a bad logo would leave the whole project looking about as attractive as a tramp in a heatwave’s underpants.

#1 Don’t stress over it

That was my first mistake – I attached too much importance to it. Logos can be amended, improved and changed at will. It is not the most important thing in the world. There is a very clear process to follow. If you end up with a bad result just examine what went wrong, change what you need to change and start again. If you don’t have time to do that, review it an appropriate later date and keep that in mind when you are doing any printing work.

#2 Verbalise what you want

Some people have the idea that they don’t want to influence their graphic designer and would prefer that they come up with a blue sky idea. If you are one of those people, you are a designer’s nightmare, and they are only working with you because better people won’t hire them. You don’t want to be in this situation.

Continue reading

Contact Form – how to do it

Contact forms are simple. They are a relic of the old days when people used email clients such as Microsoft Outlook. The idea was to save the user the hassle of opening up a separate program.

That day is gone. Now most people use web-based mail, and more of them have their email open more of the time. Contact forms are misused in two main ways.

Contact form abuses

1) Content managers ask for too much information. Look, you don’t need my telephone number ,and you aren’t getting it. So if this is the only way you are allowing people to write to you, I’m not doing business with you.

2) The user is left without the ability to send a copy to themselves. The more complex the typical query, the more important this feature is. If they send an email, after getting a reply they can instantly check the original message if they need to.

Contact form - keep it simple

Contact form – keep it simple

The most important thing about using contact forms is to include your email address as well. When someone emails you they don’t have to write out their name and email address, or risk spelling their email address wrong. Make it as easy as possible for people to contact you.

Oh, and once the form is on your site, do test it.

Adobe Guide for content managers

This Adobe guide helps you navigate your way through what is a fantastic suite of products. The Adobe suite sets the standard for software to aid the creation of both great content and also great web content. Let’s run through the products in the suite and see how useful they are to a web content producer/manager:

Photoshop CS6

Adobe Photoshop is the market leader in photo manipulation software. If you can think of it, you can probably do it in Photoshop. And while you won’t have much call to smurfify people for your web pictures, it is a superb tool to clean up images quickly and easily. And it supports camera RAW, so if you are shooting images for your site, you can bracket your photos in order to take three exposures of each and between them get the perfect exposure. Quite apart from saving time in setting up shots, it means you need never come home again with unusable shots.

Use to a web content producer: 10/10

Dreamweaver CS6

Dreamweaver is a superb tool to manage websites and to assist with coding or even just manipulating code. It keeps everything together under one umbrella and should be your programme of choice if you do not use a CMS. On of its best features is sitewide find and replace, and the ability to change a filename (most useful when building out a site) and have all relevant links change automatically.

Use to a web content producer: 8/10 (10 if you do not have a CMS)

Continue reading

Stock photo problems

Stock photo problems blight many first-time and small business websites. You can use them in certain circumstances, but in most instances it is a terrible idea.

Stock photo problems occur frequently when they are used by people who don’t understand content other than on a binary level. The thought process goes something like “this page needs a picture – picture inserted – page complete”. A skilled web content creator will understand what works and doesn’t work in the picture chosen. The picture they choose may not be perfect, but it will be the best option given the budget and timeframe.

Stock photos of objects present few problems. It gets trickier when dealing with people. I will use an example that blights thousands of company websites – the stock photo of the office, or even more commonly, of the beautiful customer service person.

Continue reading

Content manager – how to hire (part 2 of 2)

This post is continued from Content manager – how to hire (part 1 of 2)

I will finish off the list…

Sales skills are always important

Most content managers will need to sell with ever word they write. This is the primary purpose of most commercial sites, whatever it is they are selling. Many will need to sell your company when talking to potential partners. They must know what the user wants the most and then give it to them. They must know how to close with users and must be able to use effective calls to action.

Marketing skills

Today many content jobs are content/marketing jobs. This is only a good idea if there isn’t a budget for two roles. Ideally, content will always be a standalone job and will not merely be part of somebody’s duties. Nevertheless, even if the two jobs are separate, there will need to be a lot of communication between both employees. Both will need to know in detail what the other person’s job entails. They need to know what the other is doing at any given time in order to work in tandem.

Continue reading