Focus on usability to improve your website’s results

Piranha Designs - Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Usability is a massive problem for many online business owners, marketers and web designers – not least as they can be so blind to it. So, how can you spot and fix those usability issues with your website that could be stifling your business’s growth? 

That’s a broad subject to attempt to cover in one blog post – but what we can do is deliver some key insights. 

Usability tests can be instrumental in improving your website 

If you were able to watch a random person – or maybe a not-so-random person, such as a member of your target audience – use your website for the first time, do you think they’d find what they were looking for straight away? Or do you think they would struggle to find what they want, scratch your heads and then leave your site? 

All too often, marketers and designers suffer from what is known as ‘the curse of knowledge’. By that, we mean that they’re so close to, and informed about, their own website that they can barely imagine what it must be like to be someone without any of that knowledge, trying to use their site for the first time. 

Such a phenomenon only makes it all the more crucial to take steps to ensure that your site can be used by even the busiest, laziest and most drunken idiots. If you are successful in accomplishing this, you can bet that even a lot of sober and hard-working geniuses will appreciate the benefits in the form of a much more usable website. 

Only usability tests can be truly depended on to help you to achieve this, as only they – rather than your own intuition – will really show you where you’re going right and wrong with the usability of your site. 

How can you recruit people for your website usability tests? 

It might seem the obvious thing to recruit individuals from your online business’s target demographic – for example, those looking to buy or sell a house if you’re an estate agent, or the kind of people who may wish to volunteer for your charity. 

However, they aren’t necessarily the only valid people on which to test your website. You could also speak to your existing customers about participating in usability testing, or even directly invite people via your site. Even a completely random person could provide useful insights that you may not have gained if you had only tested your site on one person or a single group of people. 

Usability is undoubtedly a tricky subject for even the most conscientious of online business owners, marketers and designers – after all, the most usable sites are often defined by what they don’t have, as much as what they do have. 

Creating a truly usable site can be an extremely difficult endeavour when you are attempting to do this on your own, so don’t hesitate to talk to Piranha Designs about our acclaimed custom web design services that really can make all of the difference. 

We are now firmly in the era of resilient web design

Piranha Designs - Monday, May 08, 2017

It’s easy to get bogged down in current-moment considerations when you feel that the time has come to revamp or refine your company’s website. What are the latest web design trends? However, you might also ask: which of those trends are likely to still be relevant in a year’s time, or five years’ time, or even 10 years’ time? 

This, in turn, might lead you to what is, in many ways, the philosophy of our present era of web design: resilient web design. 

How has web design changed down the years? 

That’s a very grand question to try to answer in the confines of one short blog post, but one thing that is certainly noteworthy is how our appreciation of the constraints of the medium of website design has changed. 

When the web first came to prominence in the 1990s, for example, web designers were generally those who had previously designed magazines, newspapers and other printed publications. They made the transition from print to pixels, but in the process, brought many of their old assumptions, preferences and biases with them. 

It was only natural, then, that they tended to treat the browser window much as they had the printed page. But there was a flaw with such an approach: whereas a newspaper or magazine page had a fixed ratio, a browser window could be any size. 

The journey to our present age of universality 

It was impossible for web designers to know in advance of the size of a given person’s browser window. What duly began over the decades was a struggle to impose order on this new, exciting medium – the web page – on which it was often much more difficult to impose order than had been the case with printed pages. 

So, we got web designers creating pages in ever-greater widths as people’s monitors got bigger – in the web’s early days, most monitors were 640 pixels wide, so they created layouts of the same width. But over the years, this ‘standard’ jumped up to 800 pixels wide... and then to 960 pixels wide. 

Similarly, in the early days of devices capable of fully accessing the web – as ushered in by the iPhone – the ‘answer’ seemed to be to design separate mobile-only websites on domains like m.sitename.com. 

But what happened when the lines between mobile and desktop devices blurred – when we started getting tablets like the iPad, and ‘phablets’? At this point, it became clear that even this segmented approach to web design would not be very resilient to the ravages of time. 

For truly resilient web design in 2017, choose Piranha Designs 

Today, of course, web design tends to be governed by very different principles, of serving exactly the same information in exactly the same representation across all of the devices through which one could conceivably access a given website. 

We are now in the age of not just adaptive web design, or responsive web design, but resilient web design, embracing the idea of just one World Wide Web. 

It’s a philosophy that our own web designers are proud to embody here at Piranha Designs. With all of the above in mind, we’ll leave you with a quote from the inventor of the World Wide Web, Tim Berners-Lee, in an article for Scientific American on his most famous creation’s 20th anniversary. 

“The primary design principle underlying the Web’s usefulness and growth is universality. The Web should be usable by people with disabilities. It must work with any form of information, be it a document or a point of data, and information of any quality – from a silly tweet to a scholarly paper. And it should be accessible from any kind of hardware that can connect to the Internet: stationary or mobile, small screen or large.” 

Contact Piranha Designs today for more information about our complete web design services

Even if your site is attracting visitors, are they coming back?

Piranha Designs - Thursday, May 04, 2017

We couldn’t help but think that a natural follow-up to our earlier blog post on how to boost your site’s conversions if it doesn’t receive many visitors would be to look at what happens when your site does receive visitors, but they don’t necessarily get ‘over the line’ to converting. 

More specifically, we’re thinking of the times when ‘real life’ intervenes for your visitors – when they’re thinking of purchasing from you but then have to take the kids to school, or they have to mop up some spilt liquid at home when in the middle of completing your email newsletter signup form. 

Real life is distracting, and once your visitors are distracted away from your site, there’s no guarantee they will ever return. So how can you boost your brand’s chances?

Being memorable certainly helps 

One of the most old-fashioned tricks in the book when it comes to keeping your visitors coming back is to simply make your brand memorable. Even just a quirky name, rather than an overly bland or corporate one, could help to keep your brand in your prospective customers’ heads. 

Then, there are all of those brands that have risen to prominence on the basis of an amusing viral advertising campaign or something else a bit crazy. Just consider the especially famous example of Lingscars.com, which is surely one of the most garish sites you could ever expect to see – and yet, behind it is a multi-million-pound success story. 

Continual customer communication is also vital 

A perhaps more sustainable approach for most businesses than the Lingscars.com one is to ‘capture’ the customer in some way – whether by getting them to subscribe to an email newsletter or social media updates – so that there’s no longer so much pressure to get them to buy in a single session. 

It may be as straightforward a task as getting them to follow you on Facebook or Twitter, or you could attempt to persuade your visitors to return through ad retargeting or a shopping cart abandonment campaign. If a visitor fills up their shopping cart, for instance, they are highly likely to convert, so a well-timed email with a suitable offer or discount could be just enough to get them over the line. 

Any or a combination of these methods could make an appreciable difference to your site’s ability to get more people coming back. It’s an essential plank of any strategy designed to boost your site’s resilience, and when you talk to Piranha Designs about our expertise in web design, we can help to build you a site that is effective, chimes well with your brand and assists your business’s growth.


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