Archive for December 2009
If you’ve ever been involved in a website project, then you know content can get neglected. The process of writing, reviewing, analyzing, and optimizing can be daunting. Is the vendor writing? Is the client writing? The ball gets passed around and around until the site gets populated with fragmented content that might not be completely relevant for its users.
So what is a content strategy?
Content strategy plans for the creation, publication, and governance of useful, usable content.
A content strategist not only worries about time tables, but also content themes, content alignment with business goals, search engine optimization, editorial (voice/legal/etc), and metadata.
Content strategists are adjacent to a lot existing positions:
Why do I need a Content Strategy?
- it’s delaying your website launch
- your current content is written by technologists, marketers, management…too many voices!
- team members end up being pulled off their daily duties
- your company does not get represented to its full potential
- well researched and written content will help you get found and convert more business
Make sure you give your content the appropriate attention in your next web project. It will make all the difference.
Facebook ads are quickly becoming the top choice for targeted online ad campaigns. Whether your goal is lead generation, sales, or improving brand recognition, a targeted campaign will always have better results.
Google Adwords used to be the king of online ad campaigns because they can target users based on their current search priorities. Facebook ads are the next generation of targeted text ads.
Learn how to get started and why you should create a Facebook ad.
Facebook has servers of data just waiting to be leveraged for your next online ad campaign: age, gender, location, likes and dislikes. By laser targeting your web ads to just the right users, you’ll not only spend less money but you’re more likely to get a better response as well.
Using these steps to you’ll be able to make a Facebook ad to advertise your products, services, events or just about anything else. You can also advertise your Facebook Fan page. Once you have a few thousand fans, you’ll be able to reach out with different promotions on a regular basis.
Today we’re going to focus on a basic text ad with logo, although these instructions also work for text-only ads or banner ads too.
Start by gathering some information about your ad campaign. First, decide on a budget. Then, make a list of characteristics your customers have in common — their demographic. Does your customer enjoy the outdoors or reading? What is their education level? Where do they live? You may even want to create different ads targeting different types of customers.
Now that you know your target, it’s time to write your ad. Remember to write to your customer. Customize your text for each demographic you want to reach on Facebook. For your ad you will need:
- a title: no more than 25 character
- body text: no more than 135 characters
- a photo: 100 pixels by 80 pixels
Gather your ad information and let’s go. After logging in to Facebook, make your way to the Facebook advertising page.
From here, you’ll “Design Your Ad” in Facebook’s tool. Type in your text and url, upload your ad image.
The next part is the fun part. Using your list of “customer characteristics,” you can include or exclude specific types of people. Facebook ads let you set demographic filters for things such as age, geographic location, sex, relationship status, interests and more. Use the keywords filter to target users that mention specific terms such as the Obama or Sarah Palin.
Next you’ll need to choose between Pay Per Click or Pay Per Impression advertising. Pay for Clicks (CPC) advertising allows you to specify a certain amount that you are willing to pay each time a user actually clicks on your ad. Pay for Views (CPM) advertising allows you to specify how much you are willing to pay for each 1000 impressions. Personally, I’ve tested both and found very little price difference over the long-term.
Set your budget and place a bid for your Facebook ad. You can set a daily limit, however, you can’t set a monthly limit. You can pause your ad at any time, so just pay attention to the calendar and turn the ad off when your budget is spent.
Finally, review your ad. Make sure your image is appealing and easily readable. Check for spelling errors. After you submit your ad, Facebook will also need to approve it. This usually takes less than 24 hours.
Once your Facebook ad goes live, you can monitor it’s progress through your dashboard. Keep an eye on click-throughs, impressions, cost-per-click. And, don’t be afraid to tweak your ad through out the campaign. Facebook makes it easy to adjust your ad. If it’s not performing as well as you expected, you might try adding or deleting certain keywords to reach a different audience.
As a web designer, it is difficult for me to use the web without analysing almost every page I see. Web design is my passion so I can’t avoid it. It’s one of the best ways to learn what has been done well so when I see poor use of design on the web and think about the average user, it annoys me to notice that some aspects of websites, or even complete sites, are poorly designed.
Here are seven of the most common mistakes made in web design and why you need to avoid them at all costs in order to make sure you are on the right track to producing the best work you possibly can.
1. Unnecessary Use of Flash
First of all, Flash is great when used well. For example, the current state and popularity of online video streaming with sites like YouTube wouldn’t exist in the way it does without it.
The problem is that beyond this the disadvantages of using Flash far far outweighs the benefits in almost all cases. Being a browser plugin, it has a reputation of slowing down computers by using excessive CPU. Flash 10.1 however will support GPU usage to take the strain off the CPU. Which is nice.
Sometimes you’ll see Flash being used for navigation when it just isn’t necessary at all. Remember, by doing this you are making it less accessible to use. Avoid this like the plague as there are many great options using js libraries such as jQuery.
2. Poor Search Results
When using the search function of a website it is safe to assume that someone is actually looking for something and if it exists, poor search results may well prevent them from finding what they want.
One way of improving this is to make use of the power of the most popular search engine with the use of Google’s Custom Search Engine. With this solution, your results will be formatted in the same familiar way that they are on Google’s own pages so users will know what to expect.
3. Bad Images
There are two types of poor images when it comes to web design. The first is using images which are uninteresting or irrelevant especially with the internet being such a visual medium. Good images can convey so much meaning and get a message across very effectively. As the well known phrase goes, ‘a picture is worth a thousand words’ which is especially true when it comes to web design.
The second is quality of images which relates to heavy compression, blurry images, resized images and images that are stretched or squashed altering their aspect ratio. Any of the above is unacceptable in this day and age.
4. Irrelevant URL Structure
It is common for content management systems by default to use a dynamic URL usually consisting of seemingly random characters and numbers such as www.exampleurl.com/?p=52. Do you have a clue what the content of that page is? Certainly not from the URL and neither will search engines. Even if a potential visitor does see this in a result on a search engine then they’ll be less likely to follow through due it’s cryptic appearance.
Beyond that is the use of short URLs commonly seen on Twitter. Popular Twitter clients such as Tweetie are able to show the actual URL before sending you off there. When people use that option, it is generally to see what the URL is that they will be taken to and by containing a description of the page in the URL, it is possible to have a good idea of where their click is taking them.
5. Lack of a Clear Message
By not having a clear message on your site or a site you’ve designed, you run the risk of confusing any potential new customers or visitors. The longer they take trying to work out what it is the site is actually for, the more chance they will leave and try and find what they are looking for elsewhere.
A simple way of helping resolve this is to have a simple tagline, no more that 8-10 words long, located in the header. That way if someone lands on a page that isn’t the homepage, they can see the message and be clear of what the site is about without heading to the homepage or the about page.
6. Not Understanding What the Client Needs
The most important thing to get right before you get started is to make sure that you understand your client and what service or product they offer. This doesn’t only apply to freelancers or web designers who work in a design agency where they deal with multiple different clients but also those who work in-house. Think of your employers as your client as they, much like a traditional client, pay your for your service.
Making sure you have an understanding of what the client needs will reduce frustrations further down the road. Most of the time there will be changes out of you’re control that can’t be avoided but by getting your head around what is required early on will reduce any confusion as much as you possibly can.
7. Browser Inconsistencies
The average web user doesn’t know that there are differences in the way that browsers render pages, they only see the internet as one. If they come across a site that is broken in their browser then they aren’t going to know to switch to another browser to see if it works there, they’ll just move on to another site. Most users don’t even know what a browser is anyway.