How can a great user experience go hand in hand with great SEO?

Piranha Designs - Thursday, July 11, 2019

Are you constantly doing seemingly ‘all of the right things’ with the optimisation of your website for the search engines, only to find the high rankings you’ve worked so hard to achieve aren’t even bringing you a noticeable uplift in sales and loyal customers... that is, if your rankings are even climbing at all?

If so, your big problem may be that you’ve overlooked the crucial connection between user experience – or ‘UX’, as it’s frequently referred to in web design and development circles – and SEO.

You see, the two things have a very intimate relationship. Just imagine having two equally renowned high-street stores to choose from for a particular product, with the item being priced the same in both places... except that at one store, the staff are so much nicer, more responsive to your queries and more informative when answering your questions.

In theory, you might still buy the product at the ‘other’ store... but it’s the one that provides an especially great experience that you are especially likely to purchase the item from.

So, how does effect manifest for ecommerce stores?

Let’s continue with the offline analogy for a bit. You go to said brilliant store, you buy the product, you’re satisfied and you go back to that store again and again in the future, consistently benefitting from a brilliant service. You tell your friends and relatives how good this store is, and the store gains such a reputation that it is featured prominently in local directories, newspapers and magazines.

Well, there’s a similar thing going on for online stores that provide a superb user experience.

These sites don’t suffer from such high ‘bounce rates’ – the online store equivalent of someone heading into a shop, and then going straight back out again – while the more pleasurable browsing and buying experience for visitors lends itself to heightened ratings, referrals and inbound links.

A few quick ways to bolster your UX – and with it, your SEO

OK, so you might turn to Piranha Designs to undertake more in-depth optimisation of your site’s user experience – but here are a few quick tips to give you some inspiration and ideas. You might want to try...

  • Ensuring your site’s internal links are to pages that are genuinely relevant and useful for shoppers – there’s little point in linking to the page you’re already on, for example
  • Optimising for faster page loading times, in light of the Google study that showed conversions fell by 12% for every second of load time
  • Giving customers an equally pleasurable experience on mobile and desktop, in recognition of the fact that more than half of Google’s global search results are served from its mobile-first index
  • Going into greater depth with your content. Be careful here – length alone won’t translate into higher rankings, but content that is genuinely more informative and useful for visitors than what your rivals are serving up might well do
  • Targeting keyword themes and words that fit in well with what you’re offering to the customer, instead of being intended purely to drive search volume

Get in touch today with the Piranha Designs team at our Gibraltar, Edinburgh or London offices, and we’d be delighted to talk to you about our website design and SEO services that will help you to maximise your site’s user experience and with it, your brand’s online fortunes.

What could a ‘live chat’ feature do for your ecommerce store?

Piranha Designs - Monday, April 08, 2019

‘Live chat’ functionality has become an increasingly familiar element among the wealth of customer support options offered by ecommerce sites, alongside the likes of social media links, telephone numbers and email addresses.

However, the benefits of incorporating such a feature into your brand’s own online store could be wider-ranging than you initially expect. Below are just a few examples of what we mean.

Customers are comfortable using it

Anything that could help to cultivate a good relationship with a customer from the earliest stages has to be a good thing for your ecommerce store, and there is both formal and more anecdotal evidence to suggest that customers are comfortable with using live chat functionality on a website.

One study last year, for instance, found that 43% of customers have previously used live chat. This shouldn’t be too surprising, given that it’s much like the chat programs, online messengers and text messaging that many of your customers will already be accustomed to using in their personal lives.

It’s quick to use

As they say, time is money. It’s therefore helpful for both the customer and the ecommerce business if visitors can receive swift responses to their queries – whether about the given company’s products, services, delivery costs or something else altogether.

As soon as a visitor initiates a chat using such software, a customer service representative on your business’s side can be notified of this straight away and provide an immediate answer.

This could be especially important if the customer’s query concerns an issue that is preventing them from completing a purchase. In such circumstances, your ecommerce store’s live chat feature could make the difference between a clinched sale and a lost sale.

It helps to replicate the ‘high street’ shopping experience

Sure, your customer service representative can’t pick up a product and present it to the customer for them to touch. If the customer has any questions about a product, though, they can ask them... and perhaps also any secondary questions springing from the answers given to the first ones.

In the process, you will be able to answer questions in relation to such specific matters as product selection and availability, and even any related products that you may recommend to the customer, in light of their specific requirements.

A live chat feature, then, can help to restore some of the ‘humanity’ to the shopping experience that may otherwise seem at risk of being lost when one switches from offline to online retail.

The above aren’t the entirety of the benefits that you could see from embedding a live chat feature into your site, with others including the opportunity to gather invaluable data about your customers, as well as the cost savings that it can offer over other forms of customer service.

Could live chat functionality be central to the customer service offered by your own next ecommerce site? Don’t hesitate to contact our experts in custom website solutions for a more in-depth chat about the requirements that you have for your firm’s online presence.

So you’ve got a long page... how can you encourage users to scroll down it?

Piranha Designs - Thursday, July 26, 2018

While split tests have often shown that it’s better to make a page long than short, there’s one potential downside: you won’t feel the benefit if the reader isn’t aware that the page is long.

You won’t want to put a lot of hard work into creating the perfect long page, only for the visitor to not realise that they can scroll down further, or even wish to scroll down.

Defining the ‘fold’

You might well have come across the term ‘above the fold’ quite a bit when researching all things web design. It refers to the part of the page that a user can see without scrolling.

However, the fold isn’t always in the same place for different users. Instead, its position can be impacted by such factors as the user’s screen resolution, the number of bars – such as toolbars – that they have open in their browser, and whether they have zoomed in on the page.

That’s before you consider the even greater complexity brought to the issue by the ever-increasing variety of mobile and tablet web browsers these days.

But there are ways to get your users to scroll

Given such factors as the variability of the position of the fold, it’s fair to say there’s no single, universal solution to the issue of how you can encourage visitors to your long pages to scroll down.

There are, though, proven strategies that you can try. You could incorporate a distinctive background into the top, left and right-hand corners of your page, for example, so that it’s obvious to the reader when they still need to scroll down further to reach the bottom.

Alternatively, you could be a little less subtle, by actually asking the reader to scroll down in your sales copy – explicitly saying “Please scroll down for...” or words to that effect. Remember that users are more likely to follow such an instruction if they are given a clear incentive to do so – for example, if you have a discount code or a download link for a useful PDF to give to them.

You might even go as far as incorporating a ‘please scroll’ graphic just above the fold. You could simply place it where most of your visitors’ folds lie, or add it to a freestanding object attached to the bottom of the browser window. The latter tactic will ensure the graphic is always seen at the bottom of the reader’s screen, regardless of their screen resolution.

Why not talk to us about website design?

Long pages can certainly deliver great results for your organisation, but it’s vital to ensure your readers are quickly made aware of their length and are encouraged to scroll down them.

If you would appreciate the highest-quality bespoke web design services, don’t hesitate to get in touch with the Piranha Designs team, so that we can discuss with you the best route forward.

A few steps you can take to make your site more accessible

Piranha Designs - Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Accessibility can be a tricky subject for many online business owners to get to grips with, what with all of the complexity inherent in how screen readers and voice command applications work.

The good news, though, is that you don’t necessarily need an in-depth appreciation of accessibility principles to tweak your site to be usable by as broad an audience as possible. In fact, the following steps can go a long way towards accomplishing that.

Make your buttons standard HTML

Buttons are vital for triggering actions on your site. Such actions may include sending messages, saving progress and opening panels, among other things, but it’s important to remember that it is buttons that make such actions possible.

It’s therefore also vital that the broadest range of visitors to your site can make use of its buttons. That’s why you should ensure your buttons are always standard HTML buttons. These are the buttons that are natively usable from the keyboard, with the browser and operating system already knowing what to do with such a button element.

Ensure your site’s links are only ever links

Links serve a specific purpose on your site, much like buttons do, although that purpose naturally differs: they take you somewhere. You can also use them natively from the keyboard – again, just like buttons.

Does that mean it’s a good idea to use a link to perform some of your site’s button-like actions? The short answer to that is “no”.

While a sighted user may not be able to differentiate between an actual HTML button and a link that merely resembles a button, the screen reader will tell its user exactly whether the element is a link or a button. The user may therefore expect the element to behave like a link, rather than a button, and if the response they get isn’t what they expected, this can make your site frustrating to use.

Provide labels for everything on the site

Take a look at one of the forms on your site – if there is one. Is there text next to the form fields, to make clear what each of those fields is for? Then, click on the text – by which we do mean the text, rather than the field itself. If your cursor automatically moves into the input field, you can be sure that the field is appropriately labelled.

An unlabelled form creates problems for a screen reader user, who won’t be able to tell what belongs in each field except by exploring the rest of the site for any other helpful text.

Even if you implement all of the above tips, you won’t necessarily have a perfectly accessible website – but such advice should nonetheless serve as useful inspiration for when you do come to design or alter your site specifically with accessibility issues in mind.

Why not ask the Piranha Designs team today about the custom web design solutions that we can provide for you, in accordance with your most demanding requirements?

Your prospective customers will be reassured by a well-sorted ‘About Us’ page

Piranha Designs - Wednesday, April 18, 2018

What’s the first thing that a visitor to your company website will want to know, besides the products or services that you offer? It’s who you are, of course.

By that, we don’t just mean your company name, the sector in which your business is active or even the name of the founder. What we mean, are all of the other things that will actually ease the anxieties and doubts of your potential customers.

What anxieties and doubts are your site visitors likely to have?

Let’s imagine that a person ends up on your site through Google, because you’re selling something that they’ve been looking for. The likelihood is that if you’re reading this, your firm isn’t Amazon or Coca-Cola, so the visitor in question may well have never heard of your brand.

So, it’s the basics that they will want to be reassured about. Is your site a trustworthy one, where they can complete a purchase by entering their credit card or other payment information and be sure that their order will be delivered in good time?

Can they also expect the items that they receive to work properly, and if there are any issues with the product, will you be responsive to their complaints and work hard to resolve their problem?

As much of a habit as online shopping has become for so many of us, the fact remains that online shoppers can’t pick up and feel the merchandise, or try on items of clothing. You will therefore need to do everything possible to quickly establish trust with your audience – and your site’s ‘About Us’ page can be an invaluable tool for this.

A well-crafted page will do much to give you credibility

Given how unlikely it is that the average scammer will go as far as building an intricate ‘About Us’ section complete with detail on company values and original photos, it’s fair to say that original and unique content will go a long way to establishing a sense of reputability among your site visitors.

That might manifest in such details as why and when you started your company, as well as what motivates you to provide the products or services that you do through your site. It might also mean filling the visitor in on your staff, including their full names and own interests.

There’s so much else that you can do beyond this. You could describe exactly how the products or services that you offer are made, or how you manage to keep your prices competitive without compromising quality. What about ‘behind the scenes’ of your company, such as your work culture? You might also want to include details on media coverage that your brand has received.

In summary, when you get your site’s ‘About Us’ page right, it can be such a brilliant part of your site for showcasing and enhancing your company’s identity. It’s all about communicating what makes your brand unique, interesting and relevant, so that your prospective shoppers’ nerves will be calmed and they will feel confident to order products or services from you.

Could Piranha Designs be your crucial partners this year in helping you to get your website to the next level of success? We offer a broad range of up-to-the-minute and proven web design and other services, and would be delighted to hear from you.

The best subjects for your company’s blogs in March

Piranha Designs - Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Building an enduring relationship with your customers through content marketing depends on the creation of content that they find genuinely interesting and useful. So when your company’s writers are composing blog posts for the third month of the year, what subjects should they cover?

Here are a few ideas that could help to cultivate a connection between your store and its target customers that leads to sales.

Success stories

March is a month of optimism – the time of year when the arrival of spring becomes fully apparent and many of your blog’s readers will be looking to put the dreariness of the winter months behind them.

It’s therefore a fine time to publish blog articles outlining success stories related to the industry that your company serves. If you run a health food store, for instance, you may tell your readers about those who have felt reinvigorated by certain products bought from your store.

Essential spring tasks

Spring has long been associated with cleaning and gardening. There are certainly many tasks that your target customers are likely to need to get on with at this time of year, and they’re sure to appreciate informed guidance as to how they can do the best possible job.

Those running a holiday booking site, for example, may wish to use the opportunity that March presents to urge any of their customers still contemplating a summer holiday to book now before their preferred flights and hotels become unavailable for their chosen dates.

Outdoor activities

The brightening days and creeping temperatures of the mid-spring lend themselves well to blog content about projects in the garden, weekend getaways or pretty much anything else embracing the great outdoors.

So, think carefully about what blog posts could motivate your customers to get outside and enjoy the open air. This may mean an online store dedicated to sports supplements suggesting to its blog readers the outdoor workouts that may best suit their get-fit aims this year.

Nutrition ideas

Linked to the aforementioned point, many of your blog readers will be interested to know how they can support their efforts to achieve a ‘beach-ready body’ (if they aspire to such a thing) with the most appropriate nutrition.

Perhaps you could advise your readers on how their kids could eat better during the month, provide ideas for healthy lunchtime meals at work, or indicate what foods could be invaluable when they next go backpacking?

Remember that we offer onsite and offsite blog content writing as part of our Platinum search engine optimisation (SEO) and marketing package here at Piranha Designs, alongside such other key services as keyword research and social set-up. Why not get in touch with us at our Gibraltar, London or Edinburgh offices to learn how our expertise in these areas could benefit your brand?

Great product descriptions help you sell more online.

Piranha Designs - Thursday, July 03, 2014
We have all had the negative experience of buying something online and receiving something completely different than what you ordered from the net. And we all know how it feels! 
These sorts of experiences are normally the type that as a online seller you want to avoid because it damages your reputation both with individual customers, and more importantly with search engines like Google. Be aware that product descriptions and photos are normally the only reference point your potential clients will have for your products so make sure you do it properly from the start. Don't fall into the same trap as so many others by copying and pasting manufacturer's descriptions or using the same collection of words for all your products. If you are serious about e-commerce check out these tips we have prepared for you to write a good product description from the start.

 Think before you begin
Before putting pen to paper, pause for a second and meditate on what you are selling. Put down the main points that make your product useful and how you can describe them to a potential buyer. By going through this slightly longer process you can ensure that you include everything you want to get across to the public in one piece of text, so nothing important is omitted and you can feel satisfied you have done the best job possible. Style and tone should reflect the audience you are are trying to reach, so make sure you have done your market research.

 Innovate, don't imitate!
Whatever you do always make sure that you don't plagiarize what someone else has already written, even if it is the manufacturer. All text must be freshly conceived in its entirety and therefore never published beforehand on the web. While reproducing previously drawn up descriptions for the product can sound like a really quick and easy shortcut, it is the biggest mistake you can make. The first thing that will go out of the window will be its SEO value, quickly followed by your ranking in search engines. It is better to round up the best ideas from other reviews of your product or those in the same bracket and develop your own words from that material.

 Keywords are the key
Keywords are the mainstay in any product description so make sure you do not forget to include them. This will do two things at once – give you a better SEO ranking and make a client feel they have reached the place where they want to be. At the same time, don't overdo it. If you go overboard with keywords your description will be unreadable and you will be downgraded by your search engine. Most of the time keywords will appear naturally  in your text if you just write what you feel about a product, thus giving the reader an impression that you are having a dialogue with him or her.

 Be seriously funny
The most important thing about product description is that it is accessible and user-friendly. Humour and emotion play a big part in giving these pieces of text life and imagination, but always remember to tailor it to your target audience. As part of this identification with the reader you could also use colloquial terms and cliches which make a connection with your reader. In particular if what you are selling are luxury products, wow as many of the the customer's senses as possible so that they will feel it will really make them feel better.

 Put yourself in their shoes
Ask yourself what the person searching for your product is thinking. How could you make it sound so irresistible that they would not hesitate to proceed to checkout? Which things are imperative to include? Examine what characteristics could be asked for in a buyer's mind and deliver them. When you have written them all up check with someone else to see if they would have anything done differently or if they need more answers than what you provide.

 Improve your layout
Web-users don't normally have much time when they are looking to buy things online so the best thing to do is to avoid is long chunks of prose. Write up stuff clearly and concisely, so information can be examined easily and follow it with tidy bullet-points that summarise the product features to a potential client. 

 Include client feedback
While it would make no sense to point out what could go wrong with your product, it is valid to be able to show that a neutral observer like a past client has had a positive experience both with your company and more specifically, with the product in question. This can be presented in the form of product reviews or as a link to an article written about your product making sure it is recent and fits in with your description. Such a ploy could corroborate your own product description, affirm that your company is open to criticism and virtually confirm a sale. You can find product reviews all over the internet which will boost your e-commerce no end and additional modules can also be purchased online.

 Create a narrative
You want the customer to be captivated by the product and for the description to translate that emotion. One way of doing this by telling a story of the product's journey. Below are some things you could include:

Where it was manufactured
The manufacturing process and what it is made from
Who designed it
The influences that led to the product being created

A product story like this can read more like warm advice from a previous buyer than a cold description from a sales-orientated company, which, when accentuated with colloquialisms, can really create a sense of confidence in the product. A narrative like this can really give you the cutting edge over your closest rivals and will make people take more interest in what your brand has to offer.


• Show why yours is top dog

Nowadays, the harsh reality of the market is that every product has a replica which is could be cheaper than the one you are selling. Additionally, the amount of companies getting acquainted with the Web and its commercial advantages is increasing everyday. This is why your product needs to be a cut above the rest. And the best way to prove that is by contrasting it positively with other brands and using rich vocabulary like superlatives to strengthen your argument. Special offers or free services are always a great way to make your client get over their reservations and order the product immediately.

Examine the advice above to ensure your product descriptions are a real hit which will bring in more sales than ever before. When presented alongside quality images of the product and attractive web design, the results will mean you can just sit back and start taking orders.

6 things that must be on your homepage

Piranha Designs - Wednesday, October 17, 2012
Your website is often the first port of call for a potential customer, when they get to your site you only have a matter of seconds to make an impact. There are a number of things that people look out for and are proven to make a huge difference on the relationship with the website visitor.

I have been very surprised to find huge businesses failing on these basic principles, so even though they sound incredibly obvious they aren’t.

Here is the list of 6 key things that must be on your homepage:

1. Clear contact information
Many people visit your website just to get in touch with you, make it as easy as possible to call you or email you directly from your homepage. Don’t make the visitor search around for your contact details, put them clearly on the top right if possible.
Stats show that by having a telephone number clearly on your website you instantly increase customer trust in the site.

2. Your unique selling proposition

If you have a USP then make it clear on your homepage, if you don’t then at least explain what you do clearly and concisely. Remember to speak to the visitor with simple words that they will understand.

3. Clear navigation
People need guiding around your site, so help them. Give them the 3 or 4 most popular options. I normally recommend clients to think of the top 4 reasons someone would visit their website, make those options clearly visible as soon as they get to your site.

4. Good images
Images can make a massive difference on first impressions of a company. You should have good quality and well taken photographs showing what it is that you do.

5. Call to action
Ideally you should have some call to action that includes the visitor giving you their email address in exchange for some information, eg. a free guide, a newsletter or some other free gift.
This means that you can begin to convert your visitors into leads.

6. Social media links
A recent experiment showed that a florist who displayed their facebook likes on a prominent section of their website increased customer trust by 44%. If you are using social media (you should be) then make it easy to connect with you by displaying this on your homepage.

Make sure your site is doing as much work as it can, so you don't have to.

Easy tips to make your emails more effective

Piranha Designs - Wednesday, March 28, 2012
We all use email so much that it can actually eat up all our free time. With our mobiles receiving emails and the Ipad too, you can’t seem to escape from them.

Over the years I have learnt many ways of improving my efficiency. I would like to share some useful tips with you, on how you can improve your emails.

Your email signature.


If you are constantly having to type the ending to all your emails, eg: Regards or Thanks – you can put that into your signature.

Make sure your signature is on all initial emails and that it includes all your relevant contact details. It can be really frustrating when you can’t find a persons phone number and you have loads of their emails.

Your Inbox


I have been to visit many clients who have shown me their Outlook with thousands of emails in the Inbox. That scares me. I have seen Outlook crash when there were simply too many emails in the Inbox. When Outlook crashes it can be very distressing!
It takes a few seconds to create folders and then you can organise your emails and keep your inbox clean. I try to leave only things I have pending in my inbox, when it builds up I find sometime to get things done and it all cleaned up again.

Writing emails


To me this is the area that is most important. Some people are extremely brief in their emails and in their SMS messages, others write whole books. I think a comfortable comprise is needed.
After you have said the usual pleasantries, get straight to the point, and make it extremely clear. Try and say everything you need so that the other person will definitely understand, rather than leave any guessing. Here is an example.

Client emails me, or even worse sends me an SMS:

Hi Julian,
My website isn’t working.
Please fix.


There are a few assumptions here:
1. I know which website he is referring to
2. That I know who he is
3. That I have all his contact details

The more effective way to right this email would be:

Hi Julian,

My website www.domain.com is not working. This page shows an error – www.domain.com/about.htm
Can you please fix this?

John Smith
ABC Limited
Tel: 2000000
Email: john@domain.com
Web: www.domain.com

When you write the email try to think of the questions that may arise from the message you are sending and answer them. 

Another typical example is in arranging meetings:

Hi Julian,
Can you meet up next week?

--
Yes, sure when is best for you?
--
Wednesday or Thursday
--
Ok Wednesday morning?
--
What time?
--
11am
--
Sorry can’t. How about 12?
--
Ok 12 it is. At my office or yours?
--
Mine is better.
--
Ok. Wednesday at 12 at your office.
--
Ok see you then.

That’s 11 messages which could have been done in 3. Lets see:

Hi Julian,
Can you meet up next week, I am free on Wednesday and Thursday morning, except for 11-11.30 on Wednesday. It would be best in my office as I have something to show you.

--
Sure, let’s make it Wednesday at 12 at your office. Ok?
--
Great. See you then.

Summary:


• Be specific
• Be clear
• Try not to leave questions open ended
• Explain what you need to in order to avoid unnecessary questions

These are just a few tips that can help you make your emailing quicker, easier and more effective. Let me know any tips that you use to improve your email efficiency, by commenting below.

Does good graphic design affect website success?

Piranha Designs - Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Imagine you enter a shop, the logo looks like it was designed by a child, there are sheets of paper stuck on the walls with hand written text on them. The tiles are all misaligned on the floor. The walls are painted in bright contrasting colours which almost hurt your eyes. The display units are huge, but the products are tiny. None of the products have clear labels or prices. You look for a shop assistant but can’t find any. After a few minutes you give up and leave.

No business owner would ever want to have a shop like that one, and no client would bother wasting time in that store. However, when it comes to the online store/website it is often forgotten that we are dealing with the same person and the same issues.

Some excellent businesses have terrible websites. Badly designed, disorganised, difficult to navigate and just not user friendly at all. The Stanford Web Credibility Project found that 47% of users make buying decisions based upon the site itself. This implies that if the site looks professional and has good graphic design it can heavily influence sales. So much so that nearly half your customers can make a buying decision without having to shop around, or doing off-site research.

This seems extremely obvious in the physical store example explained above, but for some reason it is often disregarded when creating a website. Whilst in a physical store you may have up to a few minutes, on the web you only have 10 seconds to make an impression.

 

10 Seconds

In the first 10 seconds of arriving at your site many users will have already made a decision in their minds. In this time visitors gather a large range of impressions: company quality and size, product range, product offering and price. They either connect and feel they are in the right place or leave.

Website owners need to look at their websites objectively and ask this type of questions:

  • Does my site look attractive and professional?
  • Does my website properly reflect what we do?
  • Would a complete stranger know how we can help them within 10 seconds of visiting our site?
  • What is the overall message my site is sending?
  • Do I have clear calls to action?
  • Is it easy for someone to find what they are looking for?
  • Is my contact information obvious?

In my experience I have seen some incredibly convincing results that good graphic design can positively increase sales. One particular ecommerce site is our best example of this:

The site was consistently selling around 6000USD per month before we took it on.

Without any further advertising or increases in traffic, but just by applying a totally revised look the site sales shot up to 10,000USD per month instantly.

The second redesign of the site, after extensive user testing has again increased sales to 13 – 15,000USD per month.

Don’t forget that your website can say a lot for your business. Make sure your site is saying the right things.


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