Tag Archives: online

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.


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.


  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.

Why most don’t go beyond page 1 on Google

Click through rates show that the first organic result receives the most clicks, therefore, where you rank on search engines has a direct impact on how popular your web site is. Why do most of us not go further than page 1 on Google?

Reasons why we don’t scroll online

  • Web search is quicker than searching databases. Most people do not go onto page 2 of Google because carrying out another web search is free and quick.
  • Enjoyment. Searching is an enjoyable task. The majority of people don’t scroll to page 2 of Google because we prefer to carry out new searches, albeit slightly different keywords, because web search is an enjoyable activity.
  • Trust. Organic results have more trust than PPC. Those who rank naturally at number 1 will get more visitors. We don’t scroll because we trust search engines’ rankings.
  • Web search engines are well armed to resolve unusual queries. Most queries return hits and if they are unusual queries “search suggestions” are displayed for the search engine user to consider. We prefer to interact with web search engine features rather than selecting page 2 or 3 of Google.
  • Scrolling takes too much effort. We usually carry out several searches in 1 search session. Only a few search engine users go through pages and pages of results because they have more time available or they are carrying out an analyses of some sort, for example, connectivity queries to count specific hyperlinks.

From information retrieval to web search

Search engines are the most common method of finding information online. Ranking highly on web search engines is important to every organisation because it can increase: visibility; brand awareness; and profits. Search engines attract millions of users every day.

Scientists, for example chemists, used to pay and only use expensive fees to search databases. The main advantage of paying a fee to access information from subscription services is to have the reassurance that the content is well structured and organised. Web search engines, however, have been getting better at precision and recall: Web search engines are good at retrieving sites that accurately match your query. Scientists are now using web search engines more because they are free and quick at obtaining good results.

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  1. Altingovde, I.S. Blanco, R. Cambazoglu, B.B. Ozcan, R. Sarigil, E. and Ulusoy, O. (2012) ‘Characterizing Web Search Queries that Match Very Few or No Results’. CIKM ’12. [Volume and issue numbers missing] pp. 2000–2004
  2. Glander-Hobel, C. (2001) ‘Searching for hazardous substances on the Internet’. Online Information Review. 25(4) pp. 257-266

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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  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

User selection behaviour

Thinking about user behaviour during the design or building process enhances the effectiveness of web technology. Successful search engines also rely heavily on user behaviour. This post analyses user selection behaviour.

User click behaviour

User selection behaviour includes any traits which usually involve input devices and includes, for example, mouse overs, click-through rates and drop down boxes. Selection does not mean that users will be more attentive, in fact, designs influence user selection behaviour. A summary of Dunn’s online behaviour analysis can be found below:

Banner blindness
Studies have showen that advert looking areas are simply ignored. Limiting advert banners and using more text, for instance, helps maintain user attention. Text heavy websites, however, are off putting so write researched content succinctly.
Develop tunnel vision
We expect to see things in certain places and named properly. If something is strangely placed, perhaps the company thinks they are being different, then most users will simply ignore this.
When websites are found through search engines we tend to either want to achieve some goal or gain knowledge. We like to find this out quickly and if immediately apparent answers are non-existant then we simply leave a website altogether.
Our rich information society also means that we like to click deeply. Deep clicking allows us to read a range of information. Homepages have shorter attention spans because we like to click elsewhere.
Be memorable
Sometimes people browse and look at information without taking it in. Creating striking content on multiple formats means regular browsers will have a greater chance of knowing key messages.

Online behaviour

Selection impacts user experience, for example, clicking on various internal webpages will affect the length of time spent on a website. Frantic clicking usually indicates a lost user which means they will leave your website quickly increasing bounce rates, for instance.

Global search engines, restricting results to IP addresses, have country specific indexes. Sometimes however global results are retrieved. Search engines like to present pages of results to offer you a range of content. 91% of people only look at the first page of results. Search engines do not think about overwhelming users.

Binary digits shown over a human fingerprint.

Digital fingerprint. Source: Marsmettnn Tallahassee.

Language and user selection

If your text cannot be easily translated then your websites’ online behaviour will be affected. Semantic HTML helps translation programs render your content because it can easily be read and translated by computers. Allow global users to read your content by using semantic HTML. Subconsciously we judge the language of content which, in turn, affects user behaviour.

Google Translate uses a process called statistical machine translation that, in a nutshell, calculates text to discover patterns. These patterns are assigned to languages: Google predicts what languages match their patterns this explains why Google automatically suggests translation languages. Most of Google Translate is computerised so sometimes content is not 100% accurate. Humans are the best translators by processing and combining a range of information, for example, definitions, linguistics and correct grammar.

Accessibility and selection

Think about all users during the design process. Don’t make mobile buttons, for example, too small because this will affect user selection. Enhance your web technology by including LV:HA (love hate) actions into your CSS. A button on a computer should be fully accessible on a range of input devices including, for instance, a mouse and a keyboard’s tab key.

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  1. Dunn, T. (no date/year) 10 unexpected online user behaviours to look out for. [Online] [Accessed on 05th November 2013]
  2. Zhou, K. Li, X. and Zha, H. (2012) Collaborative ranking: Improving the Relevance for Tail Queries. CIKM ’12. pp. 1900 — 1904

Difference between internet and world wide web

The internet refers to the various physical infrastructures, such as nodes and servers, that make up a distributed network of networks whereas the world wide web, or web, is a form of communication over the internet. Other forms of communication include e-mail, blogs, wiki’s, videos and threaded discussions, for instance.

Despite the different types of web the whole entity can be collectively referred to as a massive collection of webpages stored on millions of internet-connected PCs all over the world. Combining this with the various terms for the web allows us to conclude that the web is a massive medium, in scale and scope.

Types of web

The scale of the web can be seen by the types of web. The web, in its simplest form, is comprised of two types of web: visible and invisible. These terms though are not accurate because the term invisible suggests that this type of web cannot be searched. Pay-per-view databases, for instance, can be searched and, thus, are not invisible. It is, however, the case that web search engines cannot index pay-per-view databases so this is where the term invisible originates.

Different terms for the web

Visible web
Otherwise known as publicly indexable, surface, or open web. These visible types of web are known to web search engines and can therefore be seen through search engines, such as, Google, Bing and Yahoo, for instance.
Almost visible web
This occurs whenever only a number of webpages are indexed rather than a whole website. Other terms include: opaque or barley visible web. How does this happen? Spiders have a limit to crawl which means not every page can be crawled and indexed. Webmasters can also turn away bots by using robots.txt (or NOINDEX) commands which is a little bit of code that tells search engines not to crawl selected webpages.
Gated web also comes under the category almost visible web because gated websites include those that use IDs to enter a site. CIPD, for example, requires free user registration to access resources that are not available to web search engines because they cannot register as users.
Invisible web
Deep, or unknown, web refers to things web search engines cannot crawl and, thus, index. Amazon used to be like this because all of its products we kept on Amazon’s database. Recently, however, search engines can display Amazon product’s because each product, or webpage, is comprised of HTML which is crawled by search engines.
The term professional web refers to high powered online services, for example, Dialog or Lexis Nexis. These types of websites require users to pay to access specified resources.
Vanishing web
These are usually visible websites that simply disappear by changing address, for example, or whenever a business goes out of business.

Quick history of the web

In 1984 the web was invented by a scientific establishment called CERN. At that time CERN hoped to share scientific knowledge across Europe via published materials. This meant the web was born. In 1984 Tim Berners-Lee started to invent hypertext to link webpages to other webpages but there were a lack of tools. By 1990 Berners-Lee invented all the appropriate tools for the web, as we know it today, for instance, HTML (HyperText Markup Language) and HTTP (HyperText Transfer Protocol). See Wikipedia for more.

Some advantages of The Web

The web as a communication medium has allowed us to share a range of accessible material with the connected world. The infrastructure of the internet has meant that uploaded content exists ‘all over the place’ which means the web is an open and free medium. This communication ability, in addition, allows us to promote ourselves online which, in turn, has meant businesses’ can expand economically (i.e. businesses can grow by web profits).

Some disadvantages of The Web

The open and free web has meant that previously purchased products, for example music videos, can be accessed and downloaded which infringes, mainly, copyright. Other laws can also be infringed. Breaking laws has, often considerably, large consequences on the economy. Aside from laws and the openness the web can also have social problems. Does a lot of web use mean people are more isolated because they don’t need to meet real-life people as much? Possibly.

The internet is a powerful medium because traditional mediums have changed, for example, online chats have changed face-to-face communication.

Iceberg's have a surface and deep view.

An iceberg can represent the web because it is bigger below sea level. Source.

This post analysed all the various types of web; they are:

  • Visible web
  • Invisible web
  • Publicly indexable web
  • Surface web
  • Deep web
  • Almost visible web
  • Vanishing web
  • Open web
  • Gated web
  • Professional web

Web vs Internet

This post, additionally, explained that the internet is the physical infrastructure whereas the web is a form of communication using the internet as a means to send communication messages.

What parts of the web do you search? Would you like to know something else raised here? Tweet Gerald. Get in touch.

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  1. Bertola, V. (2010) Power and the internet. Journal of Information, Communication & Ethics in Society. 8(4) pp. 323–337
  2. Chowdhury, G.G. (1999) Introduction to modern information retrieval. 2nd edition. London: Facet Publishing
  3. Lake Land College. (no date) Types of Online Communication. [Online] [Accessed on 29th September 2013]
  4. Pedley, P. (2001) The invisible web. London: Aslib

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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  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.
Means users are almost constantly at hand to communicate.
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


  1. Arthur, C. (2012) Text messages turns 20 – but are their best years behind them? [Online] [Accessed on 01st August 2013]
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  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]