Website Usability Testing 101

Website Usability Testing 101

Sure, your website may be beautiful, but is it doing its job when it comes to converting first time visitors into lifelong readers? If you aren’t sure whether or not your website is performing as well as it could, measure it against all of the following usability metrics:

Step #1 – Accessibility
As you might expect, a great place to start your website usability testing is to determine whether or not visitors are able to access your site in the first place! Ask yourself the following questions to minimize any such issues:

Does your website display correctly in multiple browsers?

What looks good in Chrome might not work in IE – and what looks good on your desktop might render horribly in a mobile environment. Check your website in multiple browsers at once using cross-browser compatibility testing tools like BrowserShots.

Are your load times reasonable?

Slow load times frustrate both users and the search engines alike. Make sure your site speed is up-to-par (or get recommendations on how to improve load times if necessary) by using Google’s free PageSpeed Insights tool.
Can the search engines index your content?

Plenty of different website elements can interfere with search engine indexing, which can prevent your site from receiving all of the natural search engine traffic it should. Run your website through the WebConf’s Search Engine Spider Simulator. If you don’t see your content appear as text, something in your site’s code is preventing proper indexing and must be resolved.

Step #2 – Branding Identity
Of course, website usability isn’t all about your site’s functionality. Another key component of your website’s operation is its ability to distinguish itself from other sites in order to retain readers. Here’s what you need to know:

Does your website pass the “5 second test”?

Using tools like FiveSecondTest, determine whether or not your company’s most important website elements are appropriately highlighted through your site’s design. If not, make changes and run future tests until visitors hit upon your most important content right off the bat.

Do your visual aesthetics distinguish your brand?

The importance of a site’s visual qualities can’t be understated. Use the principles of color psychology and the process of split testing to ensure that the visual aesthetics of your website don’t conflict with your brand’s identity or positioning. website navigation

Step #3 – Navigation
While it’s important to address any deficiencies in your site’s structure, it’s just as critical that users be able to find the information they’re looking for upon arriving on your website. Check your navigation before it wrecks your site’s usability.

Is your main navigation easily identifiable?

When it comes to navigation, don’t make your visitors guess! Ask friends, family members and other contacts whether or not they can immediately identify the main navigation elements of your site. If they can’t, your website visitors can’t either – meaning that a redesign is in order.

Are your links styled clearly and consistently?

Beyond your main navigation bars, internal and external links help your readers to move through your site and find the content they’re looking for. Make it clear how they should proceed by styling your links using a consistent set of colors and fonts.

Can visitors quickly identify important pages on your site?

Website visitors have notoriously short attention spans. If they can’t find what they’re looking for on your site in just a few moments, they’ll hit the “Back” button and head to your competitors’ websites. Minimize this by making key pages and key pieces of content immediately apparent through your site’s design.

Step #4 – Content
Once you’ve helped your visitors to move through your content, make it as easy as possible for them to digest the information they’ve found by optimizing your page text from a usability standpoint:
Is your content easily digestible?

Large blocks of text fail when it comes to usability. Instead, break up your content through the use of headings, sub-headings, bullet point lists, numbered lists and bolded text.

Are your critical pieces of information placed above the fold?

Don’t hide important information below the fold (that is, below the point at which a user must scroll his browser window to read more). Doing so frustrates users, leading to unnecessarily high bounce rates and low on-site engagement.

Does your page content utilize on-site SEO best practices?

Although SEO often gets a bad rap as being “scammy,” it can be used appropriately to benefit both users and the search engines. Make use of meta tags, keyword placements and internal links in accordance with current on-site SEO best practices for best results.

Though the thought of measuring all of these different website elements might seem overwhelming, don’t let this prevent you from taking action to improve your site’s usability. Addressing individual elements as your schedule permits will allow you to create a culture of continuous improvement that results in better website performance over time.

23 Reasons Your Website Sucks

23 Reasons Your Website Sucks

Not to be harsh, but the reality is that plenty of businesses out there are running websites that do a serious disservice to their brand images. Whether it’s because their designs haven’t been updated in the past decade or that their sites don’t render properly in a mobile environment, it’s important to be aware of the pitfalls that affect both beginning and more experienced website owners.

Let’s get right to it: here are 23 reasons your website sucks – along with recommendations on how to fix the specific issues that are currently plaguing your site:

Your Website’s Design
1. Your site’s design is outdated – It isn’t 1996 anymore! If your site is packed full of frames, beveled-edge tables and animated gifs, it’s time for a redesign. Given the number of website templates and website building programs that are available today, this redesign doesn’t have to break your budget!

2. Your design elements are distracting – Your website’s design should complement its content, not overpower it. If you’re concerned that your message might not be getting through, ask test subjects to take the “5 second test” to determine whether or not your design elements are too distracting.

3. Important information is buried beneath the fold – The average new visitor only spends a few seconds deciding whether to stay on your site or to browse elsewhere. If your site’s most important information is buried beneath the fold, there’s a good chance it’s being missed.

4. You’ve used too many ads – When used tastefully, ads can generate extra revenue streams that support your web business. But when they’re abused, they become a visual assault that turns off visitors and prevents them from engaging further with your website.

5. Your site lacks white space – Adequate white space provides the visual relief needed to make website text readable. If you’ve crammed too many elements into a single page – whether it’s too much text or too many design elements – the absence of white space frustrates users and causes them to click away before they can engage with your business.

6. Your text is difficult to read – Using fonts that are smaller than 12pt or that are printed against a background color without sufficient contrast (as in the case of black text on a red background) is an easy way to annoy your visitors by making your site’s information harder to consume than truly necessary.

flash intros

7. You still use a Flash intro – Yes, I know your Flash intro looks “fancy,” but the reality is that these splash pages annoy users and complicate site access on mobile devices that don’t support the animation program. Get with the times, and get rid of this unnecessary website feature!

8. Your color choices don’t support your site’s goals – Different colors evoke very different emotions in website visitors, which is why it’s important to utilize the principles of color science in your website’s design. As an example, your personal finance website shouldn’t be built using reds and purples – instead, for best results; it should feature the color green, which is mentally associated with both wealth and money.

9. Your site auto-plays audio or video clips – Nothing pisses off website visitors quite like audio or video clips that start playing unexpectedly. While clips without auto-play run the risk of not being viewed, sites that use automated multimedia stand a much greater chance of having visitors click away before engaging in their content.

10. You have no clear calls-to-action – If you want your website visitors to do something (for example, buy your products or sign up for your email newsletter), you’ve got to tell them to do it! Adding calls-to-action to support your site’s primary goals is an important part of running a profitable website.

11. Your design elements prohibit proper search engine indexing – In order to get your website listed in the natural search results, it needs to be accessible to the search engines’ indexing programs (or “spiders”). Because plenty of different coded elements can prevent this from occurring, it’s a good idea to check your website against the Search Engine Spider Simulator. If your site’s content doesn’t appear, analyze your code to determine what’s preventing the search engines from properly accessing your website.

12. Your site isn’t cross-browser compatible – Don’t just build your website in one browser and assume it’ll work well in all the others. Instead, check your site using a tool like Browser Shots to ensure that all viewers see the same thing.

Your Site’s User Experience
bad user experience

13. Your site’s content isn’t well-organized – Finding information on your site shouldn’t be some sort of “Where’s Waldo” scavenger hunt. Spend some time making sure that your page organization is intuitive and well-thought out so that your users don’t have to spend time bouncing from page to page looking for the information they want.

14. Your website is slow to load – Simply put, long load times irritate users. There are a number of different things you can do to speed up your site, but if you don’t take the time to implement these techniques, chances are you’ll continue to lose visitors over your modem-like load times.

15. Your site contains too many broken links – Broken links aren’t just a disadvantage from an SEO standpoint – they’re also hugely frustrating for users who rely on your site’s internal links to find the content they want. Depending on the platform your site is built on, there are plenty of different broken link checking tools available; give one a try today and clean up any broken links you find.

16. Your content contains grammatical errors and misspellings – Nothing says, “I’m a trusted authority figure in my industry,” like a website that’s chock-full of errors… If you aren’t able to effectively proofread your own content, ask a trusted friend or family member to give your text a once-over in order to uncover any damaging mistakes.

17. Your content brings nothing new to the table – Ideally, if you’ve built a website, it’s because you have something new to offer the world – whether that’s a new product or a new idea to share. If you’re only regurgitating what you’ve seen on other sites, there’s no reason for visitors to come back time and again in order to engage with your brand.

18. Your site hasn’t been updated in months – Website visitors don’t trust sites that haven’t been updated in months. So if your sales or traffic are sluggish, it might be time for a new blog post, news update or other new article.

19. Your navigation is confusing to visitors – Your site’s navigation bar should help visitors to more easily find the information they’re looking for – not send them on a wild goose chase of disorganization. To figure out whether or not your site’s navigation is effectively helping visitors to peruse your content, ask a friend to try to find a specific piece of information on your website. If it takes more than a minute or two of searching, you’ve got navigation problems that need to be resolved.

confusing navigation

20. You haven’t installed social sharing tools – Having visitors share your articles on social media websites is a great way to promote your brand and drum up new visitors. However, readers aren’t usually willing to go out of their way to do this, so make the process as easy as possible by installing social sharing tools that appear alongside your individual articles.

21. Your site isn’t mobile-ready – Mobile web usage is booming, and if your website doesn’t display properly on these devices, you’re needlessly frustrating visitors and likely losing business as a result. Thanks to tools like GoMobi, creating a mobile-ready website has never been easier. Talk to your web developer about the various tools that can be installed to make your site more device-friendly.

22. You aren’t enrolled in Google’s Webmaster Tools program – The Google Webmaster Tools program offers a wealth of information to participating site owners, including the ability to receive messages directly from Google should your site violate the engine’s Terms of Service. It’s free to enroll in Webmaster Tools, so get signed up today!

23. Your site’s platform and plugins are out-of-date – Platforms and plugins that are out-of-date not only represent potential user experience issues, they can bring about major security risks as well. Do both your site’s performance and your users a favor by periodically checking to be sure any scripts you have installed are up-to-date.

If this list sounds overwhelming, don’t panic. Many of these issues can be solved with a single change – as in the case of upgrading your outdated design to a responsive website template whose colors better suit your brand and enable easy mobile access.

But whether or not your site’s issues are the “easy to fix” kind or something a little more complicated, it’s important that you regularly address all of these concerns and make updates as needed. The process may be time-consuming, but it’s a vital part of maintaining your brand’s authority and your site’s overall performance.

Top 10 Reasons to Power Your Website with WordPress

Top 10 Reasons to Power Your Website with WordPress

These days, building a website doesn’t require that you spend hours poring over the raw HTML code that’ll ultimately form your website (thank goodness!). Instead, bloggers, business owners, and marketing pros alike can take advantage of a whole host of tools designed to make website creation and management as easy as possible, from website builder tools to intuitive content management systems like WordPress. Although WordPress was once a simple blogging platform, it has very much become a one-stop shop for building virtually all types of websites.  In fact, WordPress is so popular that over 25% of all websites on the web use it. To see how exactly this system can benefit your business, check out all of the following reasons to power your website with WordPress.

Reason #1 – WordPress sites are easy to build

Hostaculous provides a “one-click” installation of WordPress via QuickInstall, which takes roughly one minute to complete. Yes, just one minute. From there, everything from adding content to customizing the look and feel of your site can be done by even the greenest of website owners – making WordPress a good solution for beginning and advanced site owners to manage.

Reason #2 – WordPress sites are easy to manage

One common complaint from companies whose sites are built on dated platforms or raw HTML code is how difficult it can be to make even minor changes to their sites.  In the worst cases, changing a single website sentence represents an undertaking that requires expensive service calls to marketing agencies and/or independent web developers. WordPress, on the other hand, can be easily managed and updated.  Because the program has its roots in the blogging industry, WordPress posts and pages can be modified using an intuitive interface that even non-technical staff members can navigate easily (though more technical modifications can be made to the site and theme code if desired).

Reason #3 – The WordPress platform is built for SEO

It’s widely known that optimizing your site for discovery and indexing by the search engines is a top priority for business owners. While standard HTML sites require extensive modifications in order to highlight the information search engine robots want to see, WordPress comes pre-built with many of these same features. In addition, those who want to go beyond the default WordPress SEO offerings will find a number of valuable plugins that serve to maximize natural search exposure.  These comprehensive SEO packages take your site’s SEO to the next level with the inclusion of features that would otherwise require significant effort to code into standard HTML sites.

Reason #4 – WordPress sites allow you to manage different levels of user access

If several different people within your organization will be updating your website, there’s no need to worry about granting access to your full site to all contributors within WordPress.  This popular CMS program comes with five built-in user roles – administrator, editor, author, contributor and subscriber – that enable you to dole out access rights according to different security levels, minimizing the risk to your main site.

Reason #5 – The tremendous number of WordPress themes available

One of the beautiful things about CMS systems in general is that your content is stored separately from your site’s design.  Tired of your site’s current look, but don’t want to pay a developer thousands of dollars to come up with something new?  Simply swap out your existing theme with a new one! In this area in particular, WordPress shines.  Because of the platform’s open source nature, thousands of different developers have created a huge range of WordPress design themes – including everything from simple-yet-effective site templates to more complex web destination designs.  Best of all, the fees associated with WordPress themes are quite modest, making design changes accessible to just about everyone running a site using this platform. Forget about hiring a full-time design agency or consultant – you can rebrand your website in a matter of hours.

Reason #6 – WordPress is highly extensible

In addition to the number of WordPress themes that are available, WordPress plugins – small code snippets that add extra functionality to your site’s operation – are widely created and distributed as well.  Using plugins, you can take your site from simple blog to fully-fledged e-commerce provider with just a few mouse clicks (and for a much more reasonable fee than crafting your own custom shopping cart). Of course, it’s worth noting that using too many of these plugins can bog down your site’s operation.  Before installing any plugin, ask yourself whether you really need the feature you’re about to add, as well as whether or not the same feature could be coded into your site’s theme in order to keep your load times low.

Reason #7 – WordPress makes mobile optimization easy

Mobile browsing is huge, with mobile internet usage increasingly outpacing desktop internet access.  Long story short – if your website isn’t mobile-optimized, you stand to lose a serious percentage of your traffic to competitors who have taken this necessary step. Unfortunately, creating a mobile website version for standard HTML sites can be both complicated and expensive.  WordPress, on the other hand, makes the process easy through the deployment of responsive site themes (which automatically adjust display parameters to suit digital devices) and plugins like WP Touch, which create mobile website versions on the fly.

Reason #8 – Widespread WordPress support is available

Have a question about your WordPress site?  Never fear – the internet is here! From WordPress user forums to developers who work exclusively with this platform, there are tons of different resources out there that can give you the support you need to both get your site up-and-running and to keep it performing at peak efficiency over time. HostGator customers can reach our support agents 24/7 every day of the year.

Reason #9 – WordPress site updates can be easily automated

Running a company blog can be a great way to connect with consumers, but finding the time to write and upload new posts can be challenging, given the packed-full days and overstuffed “to do” lists that many of us maintain. For this reason, one of the WordPress features that users love most is the ability to schedule website updates in the future and then have them go live at specified times.  This feature alone can be a life-saver, allowing busy entrepreneurs to sit down, write out a few posts at once and then have them deploy at given times over the next weeks or months.

Reason #10 – It’s free!

While you might wind up paying a small fee for professional themes or plugins (or a much larger fee, should you hire out for a custom WordPress theme), the basic WordPress installation is free to use – making this specific site design platform a great option for business owners who are just beginning the process of creating their companies’ online presence. Of course, WordPress isn’t right for everyone.  The system does have its limitations, and there are certain situations that require more advanced developments that WordPress can provide (as in the case of major e-commerce outlets and some online training courses). However, for a large number of people, WordPress represents a quick and easy way to get a professional website created and uploaded with the smallest amount of hassle possible.  If the benefits described above appeal to you and your unique situation, go ahead and give this innovative and highly accessible platform a try!

Five Steps To Building Your Dream Website

Five Steps To Building Your Dream Website

There once was a time when only the IT elite had their own websites. Now? Mittens the cat has a webpage with 70,000 unique viewers per month. This is not, however, without good reason.

Websites afford the opportunity to make your name, your product, and your words as accessible as humanly possible. Combined with the powerful Internet search indexes that fuel Google and Yahoo, potential customers are now just a quick search query away from discovering your quality wares. But the process is not as simple as choosing the right font and page background. A number of factors contribute to making your website the best it can possibly be.

1. Know Your Budget

Building a website begins, and ends, with the least fun step: budgeting. Web hosting, premium features, and additional bandwidth can come sometimes at a premium, so knowing what you are willing to spend to make your website great is the first step. Consider what you can reasonably spend on a website, what you need, and, just as importantly, what you do not need. Building a great website is not about the biggest and best, but what is most appropriate for your company.

As obvious as it may sound, it bares articulating that larger websites with more ambitious goals require a much greater budget. Facebook, for example, spends more than the annual revenue of most companies on server capacity to keep its service running at full speed. More modest sites, however, may only need a $10/month subscription fee for storage of product images and the necessary dues for server load from incoming viewers.

2. Make Your Wish List

One could argue that this is the first step in the process. When building your website, it’s important to determine what you want to include on your website, and how you want it to function. Are you a small business? Perhaps contact information and inquiry forms are enough. Selling a wide selection of products on your site? An organized tree of product pages, up-to-date pictures, and pricing information will be your priority.

Know your market and tailor your wish list to their needs. Your website should do no more, nor any less than what the customer needs to quickly and painlessly find the information they seek and complete the transaction with your business. Avoid popular traps like social media feeds and cluttered backgrounds. Features like this may seem cool in the lab, but deploying them in the real world for online visitors with short attention spans and a penchant for distraction can prove detrimental.

 

3. Design Your Website

This step may only occupy one slot on this list, but the process is important enough to merit three. Good web design is essential to a painless user experience and there exists copious information to guide you in your efforts. Hack Design, for example, possesses expert-curated articles about design on all sorts of topics that can help make the experience a little less daunting. Another method is to take note of attractive websites and mirror their good practices.

Based on your response to step 1, professional web design may be worth the money. The fact is that good design has demonstrable potential in improving your bottom line. Good design practices affect not only the shopping experience, but also the mood of visitors. Since the steep price premium of good design is not accessible to all businesses, consider your priorities and your budget and evaluate whether or not professional web design is a viable and useful option for you.

Do not step away from the web design canvas without considering how your website appears in search engine indexes. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a realm of study with volumes of research to its name but knowing a few basics can make a big difference. Focus on keywords that best describe your business and brand and consider gleaning further insight once the site goes live from services like Google Analytics.

 

4. Choose a Great Domain Name

As our knowledge of how the characteristics of web pages affect consumers changes, so too do our practices. It once was thought that a domain name was simply a sign; that “Bob’s Towing” would suffice. However, it is now understood that a web domain performs multiple tasks when viewed by online visitors, including setting expectations, improving accessibility, and building a brand.

It is important to keep in mind that most good domain names are, for better-or-worse, owned. As a result, domain name companies are making a mint from charging a premium for good domain names. Despite this, purchasing a well-crafted and impactful domain name is worth the money. Your domain is your storefront on search engines and, just like a physical storefront, a fresh coat of paint will pay for itself many times over.

 

5. Keep it Updated

Once the site of your dreams is set up, plan on performing routine maintenance to keep it “the site of your dreams”. Consider any time you’ve shopped at a site with outdated information, pricing, or item descriptions. Were you happy? What did this do for your trust in the organization? Did you complete your transaction and, if you did, did you come back to the cobweb riddled vendor?

Consumer trust is greatly influenced by the integrity of your new digital storefront. Run a regular spot-check and update/delete old information. Check pricing and keep it updated, removing old products that are no longer offered. Keep contact information current to avoid any lost emails or missed connections, and occasionally update your website. Brand image must be reflected by your website and no one wants to shop at an establishment where the storekeeper has left the shelves un-dusted.

Congratulations! You’ve officially built your dream website, minus the work to get there. Creating your digital hub is all about evaluating your needs and designing its functionality around those needs. Be prepared to invest both time and money in the project and when it’s finished, step back and bask in the satisfaction of a job well done.

Why Ugandan Companies need professional website designers

Why Ugandan Companies need professional website designers

Why Ugandan Companies need professional website designers

When you start the journey of designing and developing a new web design for your business, there are thousands of decisions to be made related to meeting your goals and challenges for marketing your business. One of the main decisions Is whether to keep your new web design in house or have a professional web design agency create the website for you. Within that decision there are a lot of different factors that you have to weigh to make the best decision for the best fit for your company.

E-commerce
If your new business website is e-commerce enabled this might be one of the biggest drivers to engage a professional web design agency. you have a responsibility to your customers to safeguard their data while delivering an easy and consistent buying process.

An agency has the know-how to deliver secure, easy to use, and approachable e-commerce websites. Almost every e-commerce website today is required to meet and apply for some level of PCI compliance. your agency will be able to prepare the application with all of the required research for the government agency. An agency will also be able to deliver encrypted servers and data transmission to safeguard your website and information.

24/7 Access To Customers
As the one platform that is the basis for your 24 hour a day 7 days a week access to your potential and current customers, your web design should receive a large portion of your overall digital marketing budget. You have to think through every aspect of that design to make sure that it is approachable and draws attention from your market. Your agency can work with you to find the perfect demographics of each of your target audiences and can’t develop the website to most effectively attract and convert those prospects.

With the change over to a content driven marketing Focus for most search engines, an agency can deliver a website that is best optimized to draw in those clients and that is easy to update with new content over time.


Years of User Interface Design

A professional web design agency has years of experience in user interface design specifically to attract target audiences and make the site as easy as possible to navigate. They have the knowledge of design and usage conventions for desktop and mobile devices and are able to sculpt the experience to direct your visitors attention exactly where it will be most effective to convert those visitors.

Marketing Expertise
A company web design is no longer a standalone entity. It is a part of an overall omni-channel marketing effort.

The agency can bring knowledge and experience of dealing with websites, social media, search engine optimization, email marketing, and print branding to the table to make your website the best representative of your company possible.

If your company doesn’t have staff that can cover all of these avenues of knowledge, an agency might be the best choice.

Processes and Procedures
An agency has a lot of experience and have been creating websites for a long time.

Typically, they will have set processes and procedures from the start of the project all the way until launch, and then beyond into testing and maintenance. Would you miss a step?

How is your team’s expertise on web servers and hosting?
Do you often perform user testing on digital platforms?
Do you fully understand the domain name server system?
With complete immersion into a skillset, these agencies can deliver a more comprehensive platform for your marketing message. They can forecast issues with certain features or page sin a website and make changes before they become a problem. You can rely on their expertise to streamline the process and ultimately keep your overall costs down.

Conclusion
While it is possible to use a build it yourself tool or leverage the skills of your in house team, as the person responsible for the success or failure of your company you should weigh out the many benefits of using a web design agency for your next project.
Contact Us for a quotation

The peace of mind in delivering the best possible web design for your company will be the best reward as you form new and longer lasting relationships with your prospect, customers and evangelists.
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Why Ugandan Companies need professional website designers web hosting and domain registration services in uganda

Drupal vs Joomla: In Search of the Best CMS

Drupal vs Joomla: In Search of the Best CMS

Drupal and Joomla web hosting in Uganda

While WordPress powers a whopping 24% of all websites on the Internet, it’s certainly not the only open source content management system (CMS) available. In fact, there are two highly effective software platforms, Joomla and Drupal, that warrant great attention when considering a CMS for your website. 

With Joomla raking in over nearly 50 million downloads and Drupal housing more than 1,000,000 elite websites, these powerhouses are worth investing the time to see which platform will best serve your business and site goals.

Although each CMS provides the basic functions of adding, deleting, publishing, and storing various types of content, each tool has different strong points and weaknesses which should be explored prior to making your final decision.  The purpose here is to provide a comprehensive overview of Drupal vs Joomla to give you clarity for your next (or current) business website.   

Joomla

Joomla is becoming an increasingly popular content management system.   Actually, after WordPress, it’s considered the world’s most accepted CMS, currently supporting over 3 million websites.  Joomla has the power of being extended to provide state of the art functionalities. It has been presented with the Packt Open Source Awards multiple years in a row, making it highly credible to be used as a CMS for your web application.

When it comes to complexity, Joomla places somewhere between simple WordPress and comprehensive and advanced Drupal.  Using Joomla means that there may be a slight learning curve particularly for beginners, yet webmasters are usually very happy with the features it incorporates. 

There are many advantages including better architecture as compared to other content management systems.

The Advantages:

  • Simple to install
  • Knowledge of CSS, PHP, or HTML is not required
  • Manage users with various permission levels without switching tabs
  • E-commerce made easy
  • Several thousands of free extensions available for increased functionality and interaction for your site
  • Amazing support with programmer tools and tutorials for users
  • Advanced administration panel offers many functions for complete optimization
  • URLs generated are SEO friendly thus better positioning in search
  • Update installs are easily done through web browser
  • Application framework makes it effortless for developers to create sophisticated add-ons
  • Highly strong and active community support

The Disadvantages:

  • Although simple to use, beginners may initially be intimidated by the multitude of functions and possibilities…there is some learning involved
  • Some of the plugins and modules are paid
  • Limited adjustment options particularly for advanced users
  • May experience compatibility issues with some of the plugins, requiring some PHP knowledge to get the functions to work properly
  • Limited access control list (ACL) support

The Challenge:

The structure may seem complicated and you may have to go through a learning curve before you master the layout system.

Brands that Use Joomla:

  • IKEA
  • Greek Ministry of Education, Research and Religious Affairs
  • IHOP
  • Harvard University Graduate School of Arts and Sciences
  • University of Notre Dame – Alliance for Catholic Education

If you have some experience with CMS systems and you’re looking for something more than WordPress, but you’re still intimidated by Drupal, Joomla might be a solid option.

Drupal

Currently over 1 million websites run on Drupal, widely known to service entities like governments, higher education institutions, NGO’s, and global enterprises.  This CMS proudly services The White House and prides itself on its top-notch security element.  Its incredibly powerful and comprehensive framework is suitable to house virtually any type of website.

The beauty about Drupal is that it was designed especially for search engine optimization.  Placing high value in security, reliability, and flexibility, this CMS is indeed the cream of the crop.  Its large robust community is also highly responsive to inquiries and concerns.

This CMS is definitely for the advanced with developer expertise…it is not for all users like Joomla.  Installing Drupal for your next project will require an experienced web developer on staff (or a contracted one).  Using Drupal is indeed a great choice with the ability to create amazing looking sites.

Here are the advantages, the disadvantages as well as the challenges users may experience with Drupal:

The Advantages:

  • Top notch enterprise-level security
  • Great ability to handle large amounts of content and data
  • Lots of functionalities including advanced menu management, polls management, graphics modification tool, and users management
  • Built for high performance
  • Advanced control over URL structure
  • Pages load faster because of its defaulting caching features
  • Features countless modules, themes, and extensions
  • Ideal for community platform sites that require complex data organization with multiple users
  • Supports multiple site stakeholders (admin, editors, logged in users requiring customized content, private groups, etc.)
  • Very clean, professional look
  • Flexible with lots of versatility
  • Stable and scalable
  • Downright powerful platform!

The Disadvantages:

  • Upgrades need to be completed with developer knowledge
  • Not user friendly
  • High learning curve
  • Requires technical expertise
  • Hiring a web developer to install is more expensive than a Joomla installation
  • Premium themes and plugins (modules) cost a lot more than WordPress

The Challenge:

It is very difficult to install…you will likely need an expert.

Brands that Use Drupal:

  • The White House
  • University of Oxford
  • The Weather Channel
  • Bruno Mars
  • Verizon
  • The Economist
  • Fox
  • Forbes
  • New England Patriots
  • NBC
  • Rutgers University
  • Twitter
  • Australian Government

Drupal is an advanced CMS system offering plenty of functions that make it possible to create simple or advanced websites, blogs, discussion boards, social networking pages, etc. However, it does require experienced knowledge of PHP and HTML languages as well as CSS.  For those with at least basic knowledge of these languages, there’s a very good technical support to guide them through the process.

How to Choose the BEST CMS for Your Business

Being clear on your business goals, objectives, and intentions is the first step towards selecting a CMS that is optimal for your business.  This clarity will guide you as to what type of website is congruent to your needs while better serving your unique target audience. 

Joomla is also a good option for small to mid-tier e-commerce stores or for building a community or a network with a membership features, newsroom, forums, articles, input from external authors. If you want something more powerful for large projects in which stability, scalability, and power are essential, or for more enterprise use, then consider Drupal.

Choosing the right CMS for your project will save you a great deal of headaches later.  A reliable web host also saves you from headaches. Fortunately, with Hostaculous you can get both reliable hosting and the CMS of your choice, be it Joomla, Drupal, WordPress, or Magento.

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Five Goals to Strive for with Every Site You Design

Five Goals to Strive for with Every Site You Design

Goals are important to have in life. They are especially important for website design, because without any goals, you have nothing to shoot for in the end and nothing to measure your success by. Goals help designers focus on the important things and not lose sight of what you want in the end; goals are what help designers deliver outstanding sites every time.

The results at the end of the site design process are usually pretty much the same with every project; I end up with a site design and I hand it off to the client. In the beginning, I have an idea of what I want to do and what the client needs, and I know I want to strive for an awesome deliverable in the end. The steps in between follow roughly the same path, however each site design is vastly different in style and character needing some different steps to achieve the proposed outcome. Sometimes I feel the need to sketch and other times I jump right on my computer. Even though the process may be different each time, it’s important to have goals with every site, whether you write them down or keep them in the back of your mind while you design. I’ve compiled a list of 5 goals that are important to think about each time you start a site design.

1. Strive for a design that’s user-friendly and beautiful.
A great user-interface is often sacrificed for a wonderful design, but both are equally important and should go hand in hand. A well-designed site helps users travel through your site with ease. Items are where users expect them to be. If they’re in unusual places, they need to make sense and the site design needs to direct users where to go. The navigation is best near the top of the page not because that’s where it looks best, but because users don’t often know to scroll down to find it. If you expect users to scroll to find the navigation, give them a reason to scroll like some movement in the design that directs their eye downward and they’ll find it more easily.

2. Create a site that targets the appropriate audience.
I’ve seen many gorgeous sites that just don’t fit the target audience. A retro site with funky colors may look great for a design studio or a music producer, and your client may love the look, but it doesn’t fit a law office with a professional, corporate clientele. Your client can give you good insight on their particular audience, who they target and what customers they reach the most. Do your research and see what other similar companies are doing. You don’t have to do the same thing, but the feel your site gives to its users should be similar.

3. Design a user-interface that flows freely, allowing users to navigate easily and find what they need quickly and efficiently.
A good navigation is key for a top notch site. A sitemap done beforehand helps determine where pages should go and what items should be placed together. Many sites often have too large of a navigation because they didn’t plan where information would fit best. You need to minimize the amount of space and maximize the amount of pertinent information. Not everything belongs on a company’s website because not everyone is going to have the patience to read it. Streamline the navigation, determine what’s important and throw away the rest.

4. Give the client what they want plus what they need.
As many designers know, the client usually thinks they know best. They do know their company better than you (in most cases!) so do take their advice on their industry, listen to what they say about their audience and the products they are selling. However, they may not know how to organize the information in the most practical manner, and they may not realize the characteristics of web users. Educate your clients on items that are important for them to know and help them understand why they don’t need certain things that may seem cool, like a 5 minute flashy intro to their site.

5. Increase the site functionality with additional code.
A simple website can be made into a great website with the addition of some fancy features with the use of javascript or php. Users will enjoy the extra added feature and it gives designers a chance to try out a new tutorial. There are so many skills out there to learn and add to your repertoire, why not aim to stretch your design legs and try something new with each site? Try a new jquery tutorial or add a fun php script. There are tons of new things to learn every time you sit down to design a site. If you could learn just one new thing with every site, think of where you could be in one years time.

Goals are definitely an important part of being a designer and moving forward with your design and coding skills. You can’t hope to increase your skills and dazzle your clients if you don’t aim for something. Think of what you want to accomplish when you start a new site and aim not for perfection but for a great site design, each and every time.

WordPress vs Static HTML – What’s Best for Your Business Website?

WordPress vs Static HTML – What’s Best for Your Business Website?

WordPress vs Static HTML is one battle that can only be fought on a technical front. Do you want to launch a business website but not sure how to get started? Recently while attending an event, one of the users asked us what’s the advantage of using WordPress over a static HTML site. If you had a developer tell you that you need a HTML site or was wondering because you had heard this elsewhere, then you’re in the right place. In this article, we will compare WordPress vs HTML and what’s best for your business website.

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What is WordPress?

WordPress is a Content Management System (CMS). Content Management Systems allow YOU to manage your website from a user friendly interface.

You can make all the changes on your website from an admin area which is quite easy to understand, even for absolute beginners.

While there are many CMS out there, WordPress is the most popular one because it powers nearly 26% of all websites on the internet.

It is important not to confuse WordPress.org with WordPress.com. WordPress, the open source CMS is available on WordPress.org. On the other hand, WordPress.com is a blog hosting service. Please see our guide on the difference between WordPress.org and WordPress.com.

Having said that, let’s take a look at the pros and cons of using WordPress.

Advantages of Using WordPress

Easy to Update – You can simply login to your WordPress site and add new pages without paying your developer. WordPress is easy to use and has an intuitive user interface, which makes it easy for you to create or update pages on your site.

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Professional Templates – There are thousands of ready-made templates that you can use on your site. These themes are developed by professionals from all over the world.

Incredibly Powerful – WordPress websites can be easily extended with plugins. By installing plugins, you can add any functionality to your existing website such as adding a contact form, adding a reservation system, adding a photo gallery, and more.

Full control and Ownership – You get full control of your website, its domain name, and all its contents. You can make any changes you want, and there is no limit on how much your site can grow in popularity, traffic, sales, and users.

Disadvantages of Using WordPress

Learning Curve – While WordPress is easy to use but it takes a while for most beginners to get familiar with the software. There is plenty of help available to get over this learning curve quickly, but it will take a little effort.

Maintenance – You will be responsible for keeping WordPress, installed plugins, and themes up to date. You can also use managed WordPress hosting who can do this for you.

What is a Static HTML Website

HTML is the markup language used to display web pages. Most websites on the internet use HTML with a variety of markup and scripting languages to create web pages.

Typically you will need to hire a web developer to create an HTML website for your business. They will use HTML, CSS, JavaScript and some other technologies to build your website.

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CMS software like WordPress use database to store and retrieve content. On the other hand, HTML websites have all your content in static files.

Having said that, Let’s take a look at advantages and disadvantages of a HTML website for your business.

Advantages of a HTML Website

Little to No Maintenance – Once your website is live, you do not need to install any updates or regularly backup. If nothing is changed, you can just backup your website once and forget about it.

Low Requirements – HTML websites don’t need servers with PHP or MySQLinstalled on them. They can run on cheaper server with low resources. Although most good web hosting companies offer PHP and MySQL support.

Disadvantages of a HTML Website

No Updates – Unless you know HTML/CSS, static HTML websites can be very difficult to update for beginners. You will need to hire a developer even for smaller tasks like adding new pages, updating old content, or uploading videos or images.

No Additional Features – If your business grows and you want to add a feature to your website like a store, a survey or poll, a gallery, etc. All of this would require you to hire a developer and in most cases they would recommend you to move to WordPress.

Costs – Considering that you will have to hire people even for smallest tasks, the cost of a HTML website could get much higher than a WordPress website.

What is Better? WordPress or HTML?

Now that we know the pros and cons of both WordPress and HTML websites. Let’s talk about which one is better for your business website.

If you are certain that you will never want to update, change, or add anything new to your website, then by all means go for a HTML website. It will be faster and will serve your purpose.

If you want to have the freedom and control of your website and not waste money on monthly retainers paying developers to add images, then WordPress is obviously the better choice.

For those who want grow their business website to make you more money, then WordPress is the way to go forward.

Using WordPress you can add content to your website without hiring anyone. You can create as many pages as you need at any time.

You can add a blog section to keep your customers updated, or even build your own email list and keep bringing more customers to your business.

You will be part of a global community of businesses using WordPress to manage their online presence. You will find plenty of free help, resources, tools and pluginsto grow your business every day.

Instead of paying developers loads of money for smallest things, you will be able to spend that money on growing your business with WordPress.

How to Get Started With WordPress for Your Business Website?

First, you will need to sign up for a WordPress hosting service provider. These are specialized companies that will host your website on their servers.

We recommend Hostaculous as they are the official WordPress hosting providers.

What is: Content Management System (CMS)

What is: Content Management System (CMS)

A content management system or CMS is a software that facilitates creating, editing, organizing, and publishing content. WordPress is a Content Management System, that allows you to create and publish your content on the web. Although it is mostly used for web publishing, it can be used to manage content on an intranet, or in a single computer.

WordPress allows users to have full control over the files, documents, as well as the design and display of the content. You don’t have to know a single line of code to publish content using WordPress. The beauty of a good content management system is to allow any user to create and manage their content without any technical know-how.

In the earlier days, an average user or a small company had to rely on static HTML sites because they could not afford a content management system which would cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. That problem is now solved. WordPress is open source and free for anyone to use.

WordPress is being used in all sort of creative ways. We have seen WordPress being used to power small business websites, blogs, large university websites, portfolios, real estate property listing site, internal communication system for companies, web directories, movie databases, application infrastructure base, arcade sites, and basically anything else you can think of.

Why you need a website

Why you need a website

A website will expose you to a larger number of potential customers and increase the size of your target audience.
The people who visit your website are already interested in what you have to offer because they have reached it through searching the internet by content and location. Therefore, your business promotion is more effectively targeted.

Internet Purchases Increasing in Popularity
Researching and purchasing products and services on the internet is becoming increasingly popular. Customers can browse businesses at any time of day and night in the comfort of their own home. They don’t have to run all over town and there are no pushy salesmen, no parking hassles and they don’t have to worry about the kids. A website puts the customer in control of the purchasing process and as a result, shopping on the web is becoming evermore convenient and popular.

Get Customers Early
For many people, a purchasing decision starts with research on the web. They often make their choice long before ever entering a store or making the first phone call. Having a website will mean that you are part of their selection process from their very first step.

Promote Yourself Continuously
For the small initial cost and effort of establishing a website, customers have access 24/7. They can read about you and your work when and where it is convenient for them – often, long after you have finished for the day. With an informative website, you can effectively communicate with potential customers all day and all night.

Win Customer Confidence
By providing appropriate content on your website, you can answer visitor queries and provide valuable information that goes beyond mere marketing. Potential customers value this service and can see that your business is knowledgeable and professional.

Inexpensive
As a form of advertising and marketing, a website is cost-effective and great value. Compare the cost with other forms of advertising, such as printed media, Yellow Pages, or radio and television.

More Information
A website does not limit the volume of content you can present. Other promotional media like print, radio and television, charge you by the word or second. A website allows you to fully explain and display who you are and what you do. You can tell potential customers about your work, qualifications, existing clients, completed projects – in fact just about anything that will benefit your purpose.

Dynamic
A website is a dynamic, easily updateable resource through which you present information to your visitors. Unlike other forms of marketing that are either static, or difficult and expensive to change, a website is easily updated.

Increase Customer Interaction
Visitors can contact you via e-mail directly from your site. You can also have online forms that allow visitors to request more information, provide feedback or place an order.

Increase Your Profile
Customers will perceive you as more professional, dynamic, modern and better able to meet their needs. Can you imagine companies like QANTAS, ColesMyer, BHP or ANZ not having a website? How will potential customers perceive you if your competitors have websites and you don’t?

Measurable Success
You can analyse the comprehensive statistics reports provided by your website to see how many people are visiting, what pages they are viewing and how long they are spending on your site.
REMEMBER – YOUR BUSINESS NEVER CLOSES ON THE INTERNET