Archive for February, 2010
Yes, it’s all about content, social media, search engine optimization, landing pages, calls to action and other ways to persuade people to buy.
The authors of Inbound Marketing believe most websites look perfectly fine and web visitors “are not particularly interested in your site’s colors or the type of menus used.” Per my recent review, I think this book offers good insight, however, not on this score. The web is has plenty of poor looking sites.
Just as people can judge a company by its office space, a restaurant by its décor, or a person by the clothes he or she wears, presentation matters. This does not suddenly change once you hit the web.
Of course, a great looking website with crappy content won’t get you far. Yet to say design doesn’t much matter is bogus. You don’t need to get all fancy, still, you want to provide an optimum user experience, and that includes good design.
Great sites for web design inspiration
It helps to know where to go for design inspiration and information. So I’ve noted several sites to help get your creative juices flowing.
Even if you’re not an artist, these are still excellent resources; for ideas to pass on to a web designer. Do a little window shopping in the galleries and showcases. Check out different font options. When something catches your eye, show it to the designer and say, “I’d like this kind of visual style for my site.”
Then too, if you’re like me, it’s just plain fun to peruse really cool design.
One of the premier sites for web designers and developers, Smashing Magazine keeps you up-to-date on the latest trends and techniques, in lively fashion. Graphics, coding, software — Smashing covers the gamut with thorough articles rich in resources.
When Vandelay Design first started this blog the idea was to show off the company’s expertise in a more creative way than a typical portfolio site. They surely succeeded — the blog has in excess of 38,000 readers who appreciate its useful posts, which often include examples of stellar web work. Comments to posts provide more great sources of info.
Inspired’s motto is “daily graphic design inspiration” and that’s what you get as applied to products, websites and blogs. Twitter and WordPress get added attention, and there’s a forum where you can ask and answer questions to engage with others in the Inspired Mag community.
Another one that covers the gamut (to include print; yes, it still exists) Crazy Leaf goes deep with tutorials, videos, photos, advice, templates, freebies, and more. Interviews with bloggers and authors help you learn how successful artists go about their business.
An excellent source to find out about all kinds of freebie stuff: fonts, icons, applications and blog themes. A tutorial section puts special emphasis on how to make of most of Photoshop.
If you believe the devil is in the details then you’ll dig Onextrapixel, a self-described “digital playground” dealing with user interface experience, programming, workflow, trends, techniques, plus web marketing and branding. The latter two topics push this site beyond pure design to shed light on how design fits into broader web strategy.
An aggregator of useful articles, tutorials, how-to guides and other information to keep your web design and development know-how up to speed. If you happen to write or read a worthy blog post, there’s a simple form to submit an article for possible inclusion. Approval is usually within 24 hours, so they’re pretty attentive.
- Deni Kasrel
Why not check out these websites and share your take on them? Do you have others to recommend? Comments welcome.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 6 so far )
If you’re hip to search engine optimization (SEO) then you know the importance keywords play in the process.
You think about things like keyword density – a ratio representing total number of words on a page divided by the number of times a given keyword (a word or phrase someone types into a search box) appears on that same page.
You want to strike a balance between strategically including keywords enough times that search engines see your page as relevant to the term you want to rank for, while keeping in mind the content needs to be useful and enjoyable to the reader.
This is basic SEO.
Length of the average search query is getting longer
One thing even those who know SEO can fail to take into account is the need to incorporate terms of three, four or even eight words. Then you’re really capitalizing on how people search online.
A survey by Hitwise shows there’s a nice amount action to be had with longer keyword phrases.
Longer queries bring more targeted results
Based on my own experience this is surely so. I use longer search queries because they tend to bring up more relevant results. This makes sense, of course – I’m giving the search engine more specific details about what I’m looking for.
Also, if I look at the statistics for this blog, The Communications Strategist, I see a fair amount of traffic comes from queries of between four and six words.
Bottom line: If you want to maximize SEO take advantage of the multiple keyword factor.
This is what’s known as catching the long tail — meaning you’re going for precise phrases, sometimes referred to as problem/solution specific keywords, that individually make up a small volume of search activity, yet when added together generate a sizable chunk of web traffic.
For example, if someone is interested in business financing, a short tail search term could be “business loan” while on the long tail there’s something like, “how to get a small business loan with bad credit.” It’s a more targeted type of search.
One size does not fit all
Then too, you need to take into account where your audience is located. Apparently, Americans are wordier with search terms than people in Canada or the U.K. Take a look at this chart, also from Hitwise:
So fine-tune your keyword strategy to suit your target audience. Keep in mind global differences. With certain locales on this good earth the more particular the better, while for other places less is more.
- Deni Kasrel
What do YOU think? Do your online search habits reinforce the research cited in this post? Have you used longer keywords as part of an SEO program? Please share your stories. Comments welcome.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 4 so far )
Tom Ferrick Jr., a former columnist and reporter covering government and politics for The Philadelphia Inquirer, believes the continuing demise of in-depth news coverage signals the loss of a check in our national system of checks and balances.
After all, he asserts, democracy is a form of government that relies on an informed citizenry.
So what happens if our sources of investigative news coverage die out?
It’s a scenario he’d rather not live to see.
Tom recently launched a website called Metropolis, with in-depth news, analysis and commentary for the Philadelphia region.
I’m a former journalist and the concept of Metropolis piqued my interest. So I gave Tom a ring and we chatted about his new venture. Here are highlights from our conversation.
Interview with Tom Ferrick, Senior Editor for the website, Metropolis:
What’s the impetus for Metropolis?
Tom: You’re seeing the decline in traditional media. Journalism is still sound but the economic model is failing. And my argument is we’re still fine with breaking news — TV and the newspapers do a good job with breaking news. But it’s the other stuff they used to do — the analysis, the investigations — those kinds of things that are broader. The real hard work. That stuff is diminishing and we sort of end up with this news and information gap.
Locally and regionally, it’s declined, … so my argument is we’ve got to find a way to fill that void and that’s what this is designed do.
Do you have a content strategy?
Tom: The content is very much local, or regional. It’s a combination of commentary, good analysis, in-depth stories and investigations. That’s the portfolio.
Right now, if you look at the site it has four main components. There’s a main story, a commentary called Publius, which is about politics and government and commentary and analysis of that. VoxPop, which is more personal essays and reflections — people’s voices that reflect life in Philadelphia today. And then I have New and Recommended that points people to other interesting articles. I’d like to expand that over time.
And you picked those four main areas because they are personal interests?
Tom: I spent my whole life covering politics. I played on my strengths. I would not put up a sports site — let’s put it that way. It’s not where I’m at.
How are you getting contributors?
Tom: I advertised on Craig’s’ List and that was mostly for the VoxPop personal essays. I’m getting some of the political commentary that comes over the transom, and rest is people in the business I’ve known for years whom I’ve recruited to write stories. I don’t pay much… $50 for the first article, $75 for the second, and $100 for the third… For the bigger pieces, I can’t pay these people what they’d normally get. But I’ll pay them 400 to 500 bucks. My feeling is free is the new model, but I think if you’re going to ask people to do professional quality work, you can’t ask them to that that for free… If it’s a professional writer, I think you should pay them. Even if it amounts to an honorarium.
Is it self-financed?
Tom: Yes, at this stage.
You’re not soliciting for ads?
Tom: Not yet. I think I have to have an audience before I start charging people [laughs]. It’s a radical idea.
So what’s the economic model?
Tom: My hope is, because this is a non-profit that I’ve established, called the Public Media Lab, there will be a foundation or wealthy individuals who see the value of it and want to see it expand and sustained, and will step forward to provide some funds to operate it.
Well there has been talk of non-profit foundations stepping in to save traditional journalism, as we now know it. Just as an idea; not that a foundation has said they’re going to do it.
Tom: Right. And I think the other side of that is, the economic model for making these kinds of sites go forward has not yet been found. It’s all a process of discovery. I don’t think it’s a good idea in the long run for foundations to pay for news operations. But I think it’s a good idea to provide the research and development money. The seed money.
What’s the case you make? Why should they support you?
Tom: The simple case is this: Good journalism is really important to a good democracy. You need it. It serves a public purpose in that sense. And if we’re sort of headed into the dark ages through the collapse of the big news institutions, you have to ask yourself, what is going to replace it, if anything?
So what do you see as the damage being done? What’s lost?
Tom: The information that citizens need to not only monitor the politicians who are supposed to serve them but can also help the neighborhoods they live in.
One could argue that people just don’t want to read that kind of thing and that’s why you see so little of it nowadays.
Tom: My argument is there is a market. I think this kind of stuff will find a niche.
Do you think what you’re doing can serve as a potential model that may be picked up in other cities?
Tom: I think there is a core of people who see value in what I call American style journalism — which is independent of political party, fact-based, verified. As opposed to a state-run paper or infotainment. And I think the people who practice that type of journalism are going to have to look for new venues to continue to practice that.
As the old ones fall you’re really emerging into an era of experimentation as to what new venues you can find. This is what I am trying to do. There’s a lot of this stuff going on like this around the country.
- Deni Kasrel
Do you think Tom is on the right track with his new venture, Metropolis? Do you think it’s a good model to help save the future of local hard-news journalism. Please share your thoughts. Comments welcome.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 8 so far )