Tag Archives: internet

Accessibility and URLs: Writing tips

Decayed URLs occur because of URL: rewriting; stopping; combining; expanding; and redirecting. The dynamic nature of URLs means that statistically over 3 years, on average, 50% of URLs are dead: The “not found” error message is the most common method of displaying dead URLs to the end user. How can URLs become more accessible?

Before analyses accessible link writing tips there are a few important clarifications required:

  • Accessibility allows web sites to simply be accessed
  • Accessibility is not focused on disability but on the ability of anyone to do things
  • URLs, otherwise known as hyperlinks or simply links, are pieces of HTML code that link 1 page to another

Write accessible hyperlinks

Think logically. Write URLs with a logical structure allowing anyone to know where they are. BusinessA.com/team/GeraldMurphy, for example, may be 3 clicks deep but logically written hyperlinks signal good information architecture practice because this link is about businessA (1st click), team (2nd click) and a specific employee: Gerald Murphy (3rd click).

Research keywords and include them in the link. When search engines rank web sites they look at where keywords are located and one of these places is within the hyperlink. This blog post’s URL contains the keywords “accessibility” and “urls”.

Use meta data. Alt and title attributes, alongside anchor text, are great places to start but they are often ignored. Write in a meaningful way, consistently.

Don’t go length mad. Long URLs are not human friendly. Create short links that are snappy with keywords present.

It’s all about context. Accessible URLs should make sense outside of their environment. If for example someone writes a hyperlink down on a piece of paper another person should be able to say: what company a URL belongs to; and what page a URL is.

UX

Components of user experience are: look, feel and usability. Copyright reused from Wikipedia Commons.

Accessible hyperlinks

URLs add to the overall user experience. Accessible hyperlinks further enhances the user experience because, for example, logical URLs create a calming affect on end users, for instance, by reducing anxious feelings of being lost within a web site.

Since accessibility makes things available to everyone it is also important to regularly carry out hyperlink audits. Find non-accessible links and edit them to make them functional and accessible. The larger your site is the more you will need to complete URL audits.

Would you like to add another accessible tip for URLs? Tweet Gerald.

References

  1. Sadat-Moosavi, A. Isfandyari-Moghaddam, A. and Tajeddini, O. (2012) ‘Accessibility of online resources cited in scholarly LIS journals: A study of Emerald ISI-ranked journals’. Aslib Procceddings: New Information Perspectives. 64(2) pp. 178–192
  2. Rutter, R. Lauke, P. Waddell, C. Thatcher, J. Henry, S.L. Lawson, B. Kirkpatrick, A. Heilmann, C. Burks, M.R. Regan, B. and Urban, M. (2006) Web Accessibility: Web standards and Regularory Compliance. Friends of Ed: New York.

Do people notice web photos?

Compared to text, photos take longer to render. Websites with a lot of photos have slower loading times directly impacting user experience (UX). Limiting the number of photos is important to create fast loading and usable sites.

Photos: noticed or ignored?

Riegelsberger et al (no date) analysed the impact of photographs and found the following main points:

  • Text takes longer to process. Text interpretation simply takes longer.
  • First time visitors look at photos. Experience influences what we see.
  • Attractive facial photos are attention grabbing.
  • We learn page structure. Returning, thus familiar, visitors ignore regions unless text or photos are displayed.
  • Consistent user behaviour evidence does not exist. Some studies suggest photos of faces attract visual attention whereas other studies suggest we ignore photos because we link them to adverts causing banner blindness.

Critical analysis of Riegelsberger et al’s work would conclude that we should: (i) limit the number of web photos, (ii) include first time and return visitors in user personas, (iii) create relevant photos and think about using a facial photo to catch the attractive-seeking eye.

Web photo tips and analysis

We scan webpages often unconsciously. Page location impacts attention. Element size affects attention maintenance. Larger elements do not get more attention. Think about where you place items as supposed to what size they are.

Photos add character to websites. Text heavy websites, from a design viewpoint, are dull. Interesting websites have character with a positive balance of text and other media formats, such as, videos and photos, for example. Use a mixture of formats on your website.

One of the most tactful and clever ways to gain hyperlinks is to produce unusually striking photos and allow other people to use or edit them under a Creative Commons License. Your license can be granted under the condition that the user attributes the photo — the hyperlink. Creative commons’ licenses are tactfully very effective for search engine optimisation (SEO).

Photo attention hot spots

Which screen position gets the most attention?

Position 1 in the image above gains the most attention, followed by postion 2 and 3. We also tend to associate position 1 with 2 whereas position 3, on the right hand side, is usually associated with advertisements. Owens (2011) also found that things we associate with adverts cause blindness regardless of format (text and photos).

Including photos on your website

Include great photos because they add character and improve the overall UX. Limit the number of photos, though. Depending upon how familiar a user is with your website they will either ignore or focus their attention on your photos. The location of elements on your website is important because we scan for information too.

It is also worth noting that search tasks influences photo acknowledgement and concentration. An Amazon user is likely to focus on photos if their task is to buy a product. If, however, a frequent user goes onto website-a to read an article photos might be ignored.

Do you work with digital media? How many photos do you recommended? Share your thoughts by tweeting Gerald.

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References

  1. Granka, L. (2006) Location, location, location: Viewing patterns on WWW pages. Proceedings of ACM. [Volume and issue numbers missing] pp. 43
  2. Owens, J.W. (2011) Are users blind to text advertisements? Usability News. 13(1) pp. 1 — 6
  3. Riegelsberger, J. Sasse, M.A. and McCarthy, J.D. (no date) Eye-Catcher or Blind Spot? The Effect of Photographs of Faces on E-Commerce Sites. [journal title missing] [Volume and issue numbers missing] pp. 1 — 15

Is it all about mobile?

94% of adults own a smartphone and 82.7 million people in the UK have a mobile subscription. Mobiles are popular today and will be increasingly popular. Their convenience, cheaper price plans, look and feel all help to market their use to a range of connected people. What can we learn from mobile?

Mobiles: RWD and apps

To allow mobile users one of the best mobile experiences, allowing them to view a large website on a smaller screen, responsive web design is very effective. There are some disadvantages to RWD, however, you must make a judgement for your particular website. It might mean that designing a mobile app is more effective for your needs. Regardless of what option you decide to implement, making your website available on mobile devices is fundamental for profits and user experience.

Mobile and apps

Mobile and social media use. Source.

Learning from mobile

Mobile is going to be the future of search. With global smartphones to reach 2 billion having a RWD or a mobile app is essential. Writing precise and informative content is also key to allow mobile users to get a quick answer.

69% of UK mobile users expect usage to increase by 2015. This suggests that web technologies need to be user focused. User experience is key to allow returning mobile visitors to visit and convert on your website again and again.

With the public launch date of Google Glass to be announced search engine optimisation (SEO) will need to think about moving towards conversational title tags and other everyday language meta data.

Organisations need to adapt to the user behaviour of mobile devices, for instance, thinking about what mobile keywords will be used. It is also a good idea to note the latest trends on iOS and Android: Games (32%), browsing (32%) and Facebook (18%) are the most popular activities on mobile. Mobile messages and entertainment are a good combination. Are funny adverts likely to go viral on mobile? Most likely yes. We see mobile technology as an entertaining companion.

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References

  1. Bosomworth, D. (2013) Mobile Marketing Statistics 2013. [Online] [Accessed on 16th August 2013]
  2. Ofcom. (no date) Facts & Figures. [Online] [Accessed on 16th August 2013]
  3. Yang, Y. (2013) Smartphones in Use Surpass 1 Billion, Will Double by 2015.

Mobile marketing: Why bother?

Mobile marketing covers many devices, for instance, PDAs, smartphones, digital music players and laptops. These devices are easy consumed, since mobiles can be simply used anytime, anywhere, anyplace and their rapid growth is well understood. This post will look at mobile marketing because it has greater access to customers compared to traditional marketing.

GroupOn’s communication success

Two-way communication is the best form of marketing. If your company pushes text messages to a customer it is a good idea to get the customer to text back making it two-way, effective communication, GroupOn is an excellent example because customer’s get an e-mail which allows them to ‘buy’ a coupon rather than simply including the coupon to the original e-mail. Two-way communicative marketing is successful since GroupOn is a very profitable business.

Mobile technology enhances marketing*

Location specificity
Locations are usually obtained by GPS, however, this raises privacy concerns.
Portability
Means users are almost constantly at hand to communicate.
Wireless
Usage is promoted; thus marketers have increased marketing opportunities.

*Adapted from (Shankar and Balasubramanian 2009:119) illustrating that mobile technology can enhance marketing campaigns. The future of digital marketing is creating good relationships with technology, marketing and the user’s of these devices.

Mobile marketing and communication.

Photo showing types of mobile communications.

SMS and “offer ends” viewpoint

If you are thinking about using mobile marketing it is important to note mobile trends. SMS messaging, for example, may have reached its maturity stage of the product life cycle which suggests that SMS messages are declining as online-based messaging apps become the new SMS message. This is useful to know since your resources could be targeted for online-based message apps to get access to a greater number of active customers.

Well-written mobile marketing is understood compared to, say, face-to-face or telephone dialogues but mobile marketing can result in delayed response times. This explains why effective campaigns use deadlines, such as, offer ends Monday, for instance. It is also a good idea to be critical when writing campaigns. Offer ends Monday 05th August 2013 is more clear than “offer ends Monday”.

B2B vs B2C

B2B, business-to-business, is different from B2C, business-to-consumer, because perceptions are completely different. Branding, an example of a perception, for B2B has only recently become a competitive tool whereas B2C has always been about competition. Fragmented markets further complicate marketing. B2B customers are more rational than B2C which means that brands have less of a role for B2B consumers.

Other forms of mobile marketing

Social media has many channels to enable mobile marketing. LinkedIn, YouTube and Google+ are examples of other forms of mobile marketing. Marketing is implemented everywhere. Next time you are on YouTube, which is an everyday activity for 78 per cent of people, look at the adverts around the screen, you will see banners, pictures, movie-style ads before and after a video starts. Advertising, therefore, uses multiple formats to get a message across.

Older YouTube interface showing that adverts were always popular.

Older YouTube interface showing that adverts were always popular.

So why bother with mobile marketing? You can access a greater number of people, often for a reduced cost, which is specific to your target audience. One campaign can make use of multiple formats and, therefore, audiences. The more specific people you can reach means your enterprise will maximise profits.

Posted by Gerald Murphy

References

  1. Arthur, C. (2012) Text messages turns 20 – but are their best years behind them? [Online] [Accessed on 01st August 2013]
  2. Beverland, M. Napoli, J. and Lindgreen, A. (2007) Industrial global brand leadership: A capabilities view. Industrial Marketing Management. 36(8) pp. 1082 — 1093.
  3. Lindgreen, A. Beverland, M.B. and Farrelly, F. (2010) From strategy to tactics: Building, implementing, and managing brand equity in business markets. Industrial Marketing Management. 29(2010) pp. 1223 — 1225
  4. Shankar, V. and Balasubramanian, S. (2009) Mobile Marketing: A synthesis and prognosis. Journal of Interactive Marketing. 23[no issue number] pp. 118 — 129
  5. Web Video Marketing. (2013) The Power of Online Video – The Stats 2013. [Online] [Accessed on 01st August 2013]

What information can Google not store?

Surface vs deep web

There are two types of web: the surface web is the part that search engines can see and index, for example BBC News, whereas the deep web refers to the parts that cannot be accessed, for instance, online banking information is hid behind a password wall. So Google cannot store anything from the deep web because their crawlers cannot crawl past firewalls, passwords or another restricted access point.

Photo showing different parts of the web.

Photo showing different parts of the web. Source: ConetIslandDreams

Cookies, IP address and browsers

Any information you give, for example your username and password, can be stored by Google, as well as, other indirect pieces of information such as cookies, IP addresses and browsers, for instance. Some of these technologies are not as clear as others. Cookies, as an example, are not broken down line-by-line so their precise use is simply not known. Can a cookie take note of an IP address, and what ISP you use, or where you live? It is not impossible for Google to track an IP address to a specific location. In fact other pieces of technology can pinpoint your location.

Case study of Google Street View

It is not uncommon for large companies to use and misuse information on their products and services. Google’s Street View cars were ordered to clear data they collected as they took pictures for their Street View service. So Google has, and can be referred to as being “evil”, misused and stored lots of unauthorised information.

A devil theme to Google's logo.

A devil theme to Google’s logo. Source: 4.bp

What information does Google store?

Google is likely to archive most things from the surface web. Your bank, as an example of a surface web website, is likely to be crawled and stored in an index but Google cannot search or store your bank account information because it is hid behind password walls, therefore considered to be within the deep web, and secure servers….

Android viewpoint

If you own and use an Android mobile Google may be able to collect even more information about you. Phone numbers and call records can be stored. Is the future of Google’s business model likely to produce cheap flights to Australia if you call a person over there frequently?

If you are interested in what information Google can store read the references below this post to learn more. Would you like me to post about a specific search engine topic? Tweet Gerald.

Posted by Gerald Murphy

References

  1. Channel 4. (no date) What does Google know about you?
  2. Google. (2013) Google’s privacy policy.
  3. Peng, W. (2000) HTTP cookies – a promising technology. Online Information Review. 24(2) pp. 150 – 153
  4. Rawlinson, K. (2013) Google ordered to delete data collected by Street View cars.

Are hyperlinks good or bad?

Hyperlinks, websites and users

On the whole hyperlinks help a user to navigate from page-a to page-b but if there are too many links on a page it can cause a lower attention span causing users to jump around. Hyperlinks, from a web accessibility viewpoint, take a blind user longer to view a webpage because screen readers will read aloud the actual text, as well as, metadata within those hyperlinks. So limiting the number of hyperlinks on a website is very important for everyone.

Simplified photo showing that hyperlinks are complex.

Simplified photo showing that hyperlinks are complex. From: FastCodesign

What to include in a hyperlink?

Having full hyperlink data is very important, and good practice, so everyone can benefit. All hyperlinks should make use of metadata (e.g. alt=”…”, title=”…”). Write call to actions rather that “click here”. Check that your hyperlinks are not broken, the most common reason for changing a hyperlink, and remember to be informative when writing links.

W3C have a good example of a good call to action hyperlink.

Hyperlinks, SEO and rel=”nofollow”

Hyperlinks are important for ranking because links count as votes, if you like, which allows a search engine to know whether or not a website is a good quality website. It is highly unlikely that website-a will link to website-b if they did not like the content. But it is possible that a poor website may have an excellent image. In this case you should consider using the rel=”nofollow” command just before the title=”…” tag. The rel=”nofollow” tells search engines not to go onto that link; thus this link will not be counted as a vote. So all links, strictly speaking, do not boost a website’s ranking.

There is lots of detailed information on hyperlinks online, for instance rel=”me”, if want to find out more after reading this post. Is there anything you would like clarification on? Do you have good examples of hyperlinks you would like to share? E-mail or tweet Gerald.

Posted by Gerald Murphy

References

  1. Gunter, S.K. and Valade, J. (2008) Master Visually. Canada: Wiley Publishing Inc.
  2. Mohamed, M. Rahman, R.A. Tin, L.C. Hashim, H. Maarof, H. Nasir, N.S.M. Zailani, S.N. Esivan, S.M.M. and Jumari, N.F. (2011) Reading behaviours of students in Kolej Datin Seri Endon (KDSE). International Journal of Educational Management. 26(4) pp. 381 — 390
  3. W3C. (no date) [Online] Don’t use “click here” as link text

Why is Google popular?

Google’s UK statistics

Google is a popular search engine in most places in the world, except countries in which a government censors internet usage or where there is poor internet penetration, but in the United Kingdom Google is by far the most dominate search engine because:

  • it has 82.9 per cent market share
  • it is the most popular search engine in the UK
  • Alexa (2013) states that it is the best website online
  • Google is more popular than Microsoft, eBay, BBC, Amazon and Wikipedia

These statistics alone show that Google is popular but why is Google a popular search engine?

Why is Google popular and successful?

Google’s business model helps explain its popularity and success because: of their growth in market value and revenue; they have increased the number of people clicking in search news; they are a piece of picture locating software and have increased the number of staff, for example, lawyers and lobbyists. So Google’s business model allows the company to run successfully which plays a large role in promoting and maintaining Google Search.

Working at Google allows employees to take advantage of a range of benefits, such as, getting access to medical staff, funding for classes/degrees which help you learn a subject and receiving travel insurance for both personal and professional travel arrangements. Most of Google’s success of maintaining and running their offices plays a large part of Google Searches’ success.

Correlation, marketing and choice

Google’s interface is simple and easy to use. It is highly unlikely that a searcher will not know how to search and examine Google results. To explore more of the important viewpoints you might want to read my slightly older post Is Bing better than Google? because this post looks at the different perspectives which explain why Google and Bing are popular search engines.

Will Google always be popular?

This is a very difficult question but most ‘Googlers’ like Google because they return to the same search engine even though there are over 40 free other search engines available. The user behaviour of Googlers, returning to Google’s search engine rather than using a rival, indicate that Google’s success will not change anytime soon because people’s opinions and habits are difficult to break away from. So it is possible to conclude that Google will remain popular for the next few years.

A case study of Instagram and Vine

Other digital enterprises, Instagram and Vine, have recently shown that users can change their use of a digital product very quickly. Knibbs’ (2013) work looked at the number of Instagram and Vine links on Twitter’s micro-blogging site to find that Vine links have overtook those of Instagram. We can see from this example that the ‘digital world’ does change very quickly. This can be applied to Google’s search engine because a smaller search engine can overtake Google anytime. So the question here is not will Google always remain popular? It should be: what is the best search engine for results and which search engine offers the best user experience?

Photo of Bing, Yahoo and Google logo. Source

What makes Google popular?

So the short answer is their simple interface, ease of use, effective marketing, business model and staff fostering. But it is important to note that “ex-Google employees” have recently been vocal about wider issues, for example corporation tax avoidance, which shows that wider issues can also affect Google’s success or lack of.

Posted by Gerald Murphy

References

  1. Alexa. (2013) Google.com. [Online] [Accessed on 25th March 2013] http://is.gd/kC7Nom
  2. comScore Ranks Top Web Sites in U.K. for September. [Online] http://is.gd/jYXkPs
  3. Google. Benefits. [Online] http://is.gd/pHmjGl
  4. Knibb, K. (2013) Here’s why you shouldn’t be surprised that people share more Vines than Instagrams on Twitter. http://is.gd/svAMju
  5. NetMarketShare. (2013) Desktop Search Engine Market Share. [Online] [Accessed on 10th April 2013] http://is.gd/W9dC8V
  6. Office of National Statistics (2012) Internet and web based content. [Online] [Accessed on 16th Feb 2013] http://is.gd/uGPjU8
  7. The Economist. (2007) Who’s afraid of Google? 384(8544) Sept edition. pp. 9 and 52 — 54