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A new survey of US consumers has some surprising findings about what customers expect out of business websites.

The results from 1,013 respondents between the ages of 18-60 show that consumers have high expectations when it comes to how frequently your website is updated, what features are implemented, and how you are advertising your business online.

What Consumers DON’T Want in a Website

Of the respondents, more than 80% say they view a brand more negatively if their website is out of date. Additionally, 39% of consumers say they would reconsider buying a product or service if the website isn’t current.

The issue of advertising is also a prickly subject for consumers, based on the survey results.

Less than 10% approved of brands showing ads on social media based on a person’s browsing activity. Meanwhile, approximately 26% feel negatively about ads appearing on their social media feeds based on their browsing or device history – saying it is an invasion of privacy.

On the other hand, 41% of consumers say they don’t mind if websites keep personal data, but only if it is secured on used exclusively to improve the user experience.

Overall, consumers are largely conflicted. Approximately 50% of respondents say that they like the convenience of brands keeping data for to improve ads and user experience, but they are concerned about how else it might be used.

What Consumers DO Want in a Website

In general, consumers say ease of use should be the top priority in making their online experience better.

Approximately 50% of the respondents said they prefer user-created content like reviews and photos to help inform their purchasing decision.

Meanwhile, 25% say their favorite website feature is receiving a reminder when they have left a product in their shopping cart.

Perhaps surprisingly, a major feature desired by users is an on-site search engine. Nearly one-third of respondents say they are put-off if a site does not have a search box, while more than 40% say a search box is the most important feature on a site.


The survey includes a number of interesting findings about consumer behavior and desires online covering a wide range of topics. You can read all the details from Blue Fountain Media here.

 

Do you have a website for your business? If you’re like 60% of small business owners around the world, the answer is no. Whether it is because you lack the expertise or can’t afford it, Google wants to help.

This week, Google officially released a simple one-page website builder designed to make getting your brand online quick, easy, and (most importantly) free.

The new feature, called “Website”, allows you to create and edit a basic website for your business in just a few minutes. You can even make your site on a smartphone, as well as from a desktop device or tablet.

Website is being touted as a new part of Google My Business, meaning you will have to sign-up and fill out business information before you can use the tool. However, this also makes the process of making a site easier, since Google automatically uses this information to fill out your website. From there, you can customize it with a selection of themes, pictures, and customizable text.

If you don’t already have a GMB listing for your business, Google will automatically ask if you’d like to create a site when you sign-up. Those with existing listings on GMB can click the “Manage location” tab and select Website from the menu to get started. You can also skip right to making your website by clicking here.

The process is extremely simplified. Google will walk you through the steps and you can spend as much or as little time as you want tweaking your page before publishing it onto the web. You don’t even have to worry about hosting.

Any sites made with Website will have a URL following the structure “yourcompanyname.business.site” by default, but you can also purchase a custom domain through Google My Business within the Settings menu.

Once your website is online, any changes you make to your GMB listing will automatically be applied to your website as well.

Of course, the tool is designed to be used for very basic websites and lacks many of the features you would expect from a more comprehensive website management system. You won’t be able to create additional pages to highlight specific products or services, let alone operate a blog or robust sales page. On the upside, having a simple website for free is still better than nothing at all.

Your homepage is the face of your business. It is the first thing most visitors see when they visit your site for the first time and it is where you make your first impressions. If you already have a solid homepage with killer copy, that can be great news. But, there is a good chance your site is missing one of the several things users expect to see when they come to your site.

Having a homepage without critical features and elements is a bit like having a mouth full of broken, chipped, and missing teeth. No matter how hard you try to smile and make a good impression, a lot of people are going to be put off.

While dental work can be costly and painful, fixing up your homepage doesn’t have to be. HubSpot put together an infographic – seen below – detailing 12 features and elements that are absolutely critical to have on your homepage, and the majority are easy to implement without needing to call in the pros.

 HomepageInfographic

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Source: WikiCommons

Everyone working in SEO knows that Google has a multitude of factors they use to determine the order of search engine results, and the majority of these ranking factors are based on either the content of the webpage or signs of authenticity or reputability. That was the case for the longest time, but since 2010, Google has made significant shifts towards a focus on usability, and the harbinger of this change was the inclusion of website speed to ranking factors.

The problem is, website speed and other usability issues aren’t exactly objectively defined. What exactly is a slow loading site? What is the cutoff? No one has gotten a definitive answer from Google, but in June Matt Cutts explicitly stated that slow loading sites, especially on mobile platforms will begin seeing search rank penalties soon.

Obviously these changes are good for searchers. Searchers want sites that load quickly, offer quality user experience, and deliver great content. And, the emphasis on speed is certainly highlighted on mobile platforms where on-the-go users are likely to go back to the results if the site takes too long for their liking. The issue we face as search optimization professionals is trying to figure out exactly what Google is measuring and how that information is being used.

Matt Peters from Moz decided to break through Google’s intentionally vague information to figure out exactly how site speed affects rankings with the help of Zoompf. They can’t explicitly disprove causation between site speed and rankings, due to the number of other algorithmic ranking factors that complicate the study. But, their results did show very little to no correlation between page load time and ranking.

I wouldn’t take this information as gospel, but it does suggest that loading time isn’t a huge consideration into long tail searches and doesn’t need to be worried about too much. If your site is loading quickly enough to please the people coming to it, your site will also likely pass Google’s expectations.

Neglecting design is unforgivable in the online world. Having a good design is the difference between a good user experience and a frustrating one, which in turn makes the difference between success and failure for your site.

Good design is a main component of what made Facebook and Twitter rise above other social media sites. Using attention grabbing compositions keeps people reading. It also improves your site’s reputation. Hopefully these design tips will help you attract visitors to your web page and keep them there.

  1. Don’t crowd your page With Ads – Advertising may seem like a great money making method, but if you go overboard with ads, your site will look bad and users will be put off. Your sidebars should be places of content, not clutter. You don’t want to distract people into leaving your page, do you? If you decide to go the ad route, remember that less is more. Integrate the ads into your site’s appearance and try to only allow ads that are relevant to your content.
  2. Use Images Strategically and Professionally – Having high quality and professional pictures on your page can be a great boost to your aesthetic. Too many photos, however, and you run into the same problem as with ads. Too many pictures can overwhelm the viewer, and more importantly, they can make the site just look like a mess. Choose images carefully so that they add to your content, and not distract from it.
  3. Use a Professional Header Graphic – Your header graphic is at the top of every page a visitor sees. It affects their interaction with your entire website. So, you could say having a professional header graphic is fairly important to your user’s overall experience. If you aren’t a professional designer, this is one area where hiring someone is for the best. Make it clean and simple. You want to draw in visitors with a stylish and classy header, not bare down on them with clashing graphics and text.
  4. Use a Color Scheme That Highlights Your Content – The best color palettes for web sites are those with a few relatively similar colors. Complementary colors or colors close to each other on the color wheel help make sure nothing clashes, and that you don’t distract from content. You want your design to bring attention to the content in a positive way and not overwhelm.

Making sure you follow these rules for your site’s design can help improve your visitors’ experiences. Happy viewers makes for return visitors and more time spent on your site. By using a design that complements your content, your visitors will feel naturally drawn to it and they’ll be much more likely to stick around.

For more suggestions on web design, look at Sarah Arrow’s article at Sark e-Media.

When working on a business, sometimes you get a bit sidetracked and don’t always keep up with some things.  In this case, it’s been the blog.  However, the site has a new look to it, and with it, some changes are to be made.

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When it comes to web design, one of the biggest issues is figuring out how to maintain a web site after it’s been completed.  The resolution to this issue is usually what’s called a CMS (content management system).  The trick is finding one that will work and is easy to update with.

When we’ve done Tulsa website design in the past, we’ve tried different approaches to the CMS.  But it’s come down to using one that’s very solid and many people are already familiar with.  And that is WordPress.

WordPress comes with standard templates (known as themes in WordPress) and such, although for web design you’ll want to create your own.  Creating a customized template is much like creating a custom website design, just within the WordPress framework.

The results can be quite good.  We have a Tulsa roofing client that we built their site with WordPress.  They were thrilled that when we were finished they were able to make changes on their own (without needing to call us for help) with this CMS.  It made things easier for both us and them.  It was a little extra work at the beginning for us, but in the end it saved a lot of extra work for us and money for them.

The benefits are several:

  • Lots of plugins to choose from that make putting cool add-ons easier
  • Very easy to edit content, good for both the designer and client
  • Easy visibility from the search engines (Google loves WordPress)
  • Adding or removing pages is quick
  • Editing is done all online, no need to mess with FTP shenanigans and such

There are a couple of bad things, though:

  • There’s no real “dev” area you can easily put together that I’ve found, aside from not linking to all your pages until you’re live
  • WordPress does need to be updated regularly to keep on top of security issues and such
  • Sometimes WordPress can have technical problems that aren’t always easy to solve

If these bad things are worth the risk to you, then using WordPress for website design might be worth trying out, especially if you’re trying to find a good CMS to use.

It looks like smaller cities are starting to see their businesses move more online with web sites, online marketing and social networking.  This would not surprise me too much to see, as the demand here for Tulsa SEO has increased, as well as for Tulsa website design.  I’m willing to bet it’s very similar in other cities.

In this case, it appears that Columbus is definitely on the list of cities rising in their online presence, and it’s showing for several different types of markets.