Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Minor Irritations

Here are the top five ways to irritate your customers online:

1) Opening links in new windows:  Often a gut reaction for businesses new to the web is to open all links into new windows.  The rule of thumb is, if you are providing an internal link, linking to another page on your website, the link should open in the same window. If you're linking to another, outside site a new window can be used.

2) Music that plays automatically: Nothing is more nerve racking than researching information and landing on a site where music is blared at you. Worse is when no option is made available to turn the music off. If you offer sound, give the customer the option to turn the sound on and off.

3) Not properly testing your site in popular browsers. There are people that love Apple and have something against Microsoft. There are people who do all their work in FireFox. No matter what browser or platform you like the best when it comes to your website keep your customer's preferences in mind. You may love that new iPad but most of your customers are likely still using Microsoft.

4) Poor Navigation: Test your links. Make sure that customers can move back and forth through your site easily, and that once they find a piece of information they don't lose it again within your site.

5) Animations that interfere with information: Butterflies and growing flower animations are lovely but when they interfere with the reason your customer is really at your site the animations can become too much.

Minor irritations can cause a customer to forego your site for a competitor's site ruining your chances to stay in front of the competition. When it comes to the web, just like  the physical world, keep it simple.


Monday, March 28, 2011

How Can I Help You?

Take a glance through your website and ask five questions.
  1. Does it welcome your customer?
  2. Will your customer know immediately what your business does?
  3. Does it intrique and hold interest?
  4. Is it easy to navigate?
  5. Does it ask "How can I help you" and provide a customer a way to respond. 

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Key Words

A good analytics software will provide you with the key words that helped potential customers find your website. It will also provide you with a hearty chuckle every now and then.

A recent customer of a handcrafted site found the site with the search words "mmmm pie." The online store couldn't help with that one but someone else was looking for diaper covers for little boys and there were a lot of people looking for St. Patrick's Day napkins. These were things the store's owner might be able to provide to potential customers.

Keep an eye on those keywords. You maybe able to provide potential customers a route to your online store.

Another way to look at keywords is to look at what people are talking about and the top key words that the major search engines indicate. Can your business be of service, even get in the discussion or provide information? Don't miss an opportunity--keep an eye on those key words.   

Monday, March 21, 2011

Attention Grabbers

Over the weekend I was on the Internet searching for information. In fifteen minutes or so I had the information I was looking for and I had bookmarked a couple of sites for later reference.

There were sites I quickly backed out of and there were sites that had nothing to do with the information I was looking for but that kept my attention enough to stay and bookmark.

Is your site the later? Each page of your site should grab a visitor's attention and make them want to stay. You never know what page that visitor may land on.

Offering valuable information that is related to your site is a great idea that creates bookmarks for later return. Whether you're a sewing store offering thread palettes, a garden center offering advise on taking care of the shade, or a gourmet kitchen center offering recipes, tantalize your visitor with a return possibility.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Customer Visit Expectations

What do customers expect when they visit your website? What do they expect when they visit your actual location?

Meeting your customer's expectations online can be a tricky thing. Your customers may have entirely different needs and expectations than you are providing.

Using a good analytics program, research how your current website is being used. Where are clicks being made? Where are customers exiting? Where do they enter?

A short survey on your site can also provide valuable information. Did the customer find what they were looking for? Was the site easy to use and informative? How likely are they to use your services or product in the future based on information they have obtained?

Understanding why your customer locates you on line, what they find when they locate you, and where and what they do from there are the first steps to making that sale and keeping that relationship going into the future.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Using Color Adjust in Corel Paintshop Pro

For this morning's example I took a picture that I wasn't quite satisfied with and added dimension and interest by using the Color Adjust tool:


After tweaking with Color Adjust 
Much better--wouldn't you agree?

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Design with devices in mind

Whether you're blogging or  creating a website keep in mind all the different ways that your customers can view what you have to offer.

Pictures, text, fonts, and formating should look good in as many different media as possible; whether on iPads, laptops, or phones.

Different browsers render different versions of your page. Fonts are not always available on your customer's devices.

Blog readers like Google's reader also render pages differently, so after posting it is a good idea to check out what the post looks like in a reader.     

Monday, March 7, 2011

Top 5 Photo Edits to make your photos pop

Taking good photographs and making them better can be a simple process of running the photos through your editor and performing these five tasks:

  1. Crop--Make sure the focus of the photograph is where you want it to be. Photos for the web need to draw the attention in and look good at different resolutions and sizes.
  2. Depth of field--wipe out any of the background that you don't want or need.
  3. Clarify--bring out the detail in your picture.
  4. Correct the hue--digital pictures taken under marginal light conditions can lose some of their color. Pop the color back up to match reality.
  5. Resize and optimize--help your pages load quicker, making it easier on your audience to view and web crawlers to find, by optimizing your photos for the web.   

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Black and White

Taking a digital picture and turning it into a completely different masterpiece is so easy to do with a photo editor like Corel's Paintshop Pro. The picture above started out being a color photo full of yellows and greens. 

There are a wide variety of effects built into Paintshop Pro. This one is the standard black and white; I moved the contrast up a bit to make the individual foreground flowers pop out. 

Consider using a bit of black and white for a touch of something spectacular on your site.