What Was I Looking At Again?

Most people have short-term memory issues.  What does this mean and why is it important to consider when designing? When we encounter something new, online or in the real world, our memory is shortened. Meet a new person or discover a new product: “What was their name again?”  We use some of our mental capacity to understand what we are seeing and this limits our memory. This is one reason why intuitive designs are more engaging. Our mind shifts from understanding something new to remembering something familiar.

Think about that.

Our memory works better with things we have seen before or are familiar to our brain. If we design in a manner that causes users to believe they have seen the application before, they can remember it and can immediately begin to engage with the product.

This phenomenon is based on something called the short-term memory mode. This means that users are more likely to stay engaged with a design that is easy to understand and has clear next steps. Easy enough, right? But, what happens when you have a complex concept or a long process?

Escalating Complexity for Design Stickiness

Escalating Complexity is a fairly common term, particularly in the gaming industry. Almost every single “successful” game uses this process. In the beginning, you provide the user with a very basic set of options. Then, as the user becomes comfortable and is on the verge of becoming bored, you add additional options. When done successfully, you create a user experience that is (almost) addictive.

Angry Birds Might Hold the Solution to Complex Designs
Let’s look at Angry Birds, which may just be the most successful game in smart phone history. If you’ve played this game, you will remember that in the beginning, all you could do is shoot a basic bird at blocks. One small, red bird. One target. In fact, the first several rounds are easy – they allow you to familiarize yourself with the game.

Just about the time that you begin to completely understand the scoring, functionality and strategy of the game, it changes. It increases in complexity in a progressive fashion , and before you know it, you’ve got an arsenal of different birds, with increasingly challenging targets. The brain has to consider how these new attributes will work. This goes on and on as you progress through the game, always forcing you to learn a new functionality and always reengaging your brain.

If Angry Birds started out with all of the different bird types and target options in the first round, you would leave – it would be too much to take in.  So, when designing a website, remember to keep the functionality basic and intuitive in the beginning, combatting short-term memory issues by allowing the mind to understand the process prior to progressively shifting to more complex ideas, designs, and functionality.

Not Enough Preparation

It is imperative that a clean and easy user experience is implemented early on. The longer you wait, the more changes you will have to make and it will cost you a lot more time and possibly money. UX should be one of the highest priorities on your list, as this is normally the most important fulfillment users need. UX should not be added in half-heartedly later on after the product is launched.

Research, test, and be confident in your user experience before you plan on launching it, even in beta. A solid user experience can lead to a better, cleaner design in the long run.

Clear Goals

Whether this is a new blog talking about the latest web technologies, or an amazing startup launching a new product, it is extremely important to show a clear goal. When a user finds your site or product they should be able to know exactly what it is within seconds of seeing your site. This should be the most important and forefront element on the page. A nice simple header explaining your service, maybe a quick paragraph about it, and an image or video is all you need on the landing page.

Keep it simple and explain your product. Get the core description right, and the right users will come.

Too Much Text

Research shows that users are much more engaged with visual or audio cues. When designing keep in mind not to overload on text and to provide some visuals and possibly video or audio to make the website or app interesting. An interaction here and there is always nice and will keep users enthralled in the simple, but interesting features your site has to offer.

Do keep in mind not to over-complicate it though. Features are nice, but not if it is preventing the user from using your actual service. Define the goal of the user, and help them reach it. What do you want the user to do when visiting your site or app, how should they interact with it, what problems might they face? These are just a few of the many questions you could & should ask when designing and developing a new product.

Microcopy

Copy on a website is the text or the words that describe the product and help sort of “sell” the service. As explained by designer Gene Crawford,  it is important to clearly define your product and add helpful text to guide the user through your site. Be a defensive designer. Offer help where it is needed and always be ready to help even more. Users need context, so give it to them. Never use jargon or poorly written copy. Copy could make the difference between a new user, and an upset/confused visitor on your site.

Cluttered Forms

Another mistake that is made on a ton of websites are the forms. Whether it be a contact form or a sign up/sign in form, some have a common problem: Too many fields. When building and developing your forms add only the absolute most important fields that are necessary. It is imperative not to clutter the form and make it so the user must add a bunch of extra details when all that is needed are a few things like a name, email, and message for example.

Information Overload

When starting out, a lot of designers feel the need to cram crazy amounts of information on a single page. Posts, ads, icons, social media links, email lists, and pop-ups can seriously affect the experience of a new user on the site, not to mention it can easily make them turn away and just leave the site.

When designing a new site, consider organizing the information in a way that is easy on the eyes. Clearly define headers and paragraphs, separate information, use white space where it is necessary, and try to organize social links along with ads or other extraneous information in a subtle manner so as to not put a burden on the user.

Once the backend setup is completed, all you have to do is keep adding content and perform website maintenance at regular intervals. As the time goes by, the website becomes richer with content, images, plugins, theme files, applications and many other things that are required for enhancing the effectiveness of the website; all this might result in slowing down of the website.

Eventually, the website owner starts noticing a latency in the page load time thereby giving rise to many other issues as well. In order to enhance the reader experience and to make the website easily accessible, it is highly important to have a website that loads quickly.

Caching Plugin

Your WordPress blog might contain of old and static content that is no longer read. A new server request is initiated for this type of content as well every time a visitor comes back to your blog. The page load time can be reduced to a considerate extent by installing a caching plugin.

There are a number of great caching plugins that you can choose from but it’s important to choose the one that will work with your hosting and service provider! Whatever you choose you use they ultimately will help in similar ways, providing caching options for any website type and makes scaling easy in any hosting environment.

Restricting The Number Of Plugins

Although you might be allured to install a lot of pluings that suit your website, it is important download, install and use only the specific plugins that are necessary for your website. Plugins and themes acquire additional space that can slow down a website. It is true that some plugins are valuable and important and you must have them, however it is important to keep a check on the number of plugins you are downloading and the ones that are being utilized.

Eliminate all the plugins and theme files that you don’t require for your website. For the plugins present on your website, make sure that you have the latest versions. Even the deactivated plugins can slow down your website and also make it vulnerable to malicious activities.

Themes

Selecting the right theme is also a crucial element of blog performance. Opting for a simplistic and minimalistic theme makes a huge difference. The themes that ensure the best performance usually have a few images, limited number of features and a CSS based design.

You will come across many appropriate theme options that do not affect website speed and are also visually attractive. For selecting an efficient theme, there is no need for you to sacrifice on the style quotient of the blog.

Database Optimization

Optimizing the database is an important aspect for every website. WordPress provides with many database optimization plugins, one of the most efficient one of them is the WP-Optimize plugin. With a properly optimized database, the web hosting server can respond to queries without any delay, thereby having a positive effect on the overall website speed.

Optimizing The Images

For any type of website, use of images is imperative because it helps in creating a great impression on the visitors. Use of appropriate images enhances the readability of the blog.

It is a fact that the image files consume more space as compared to the text files. If you have uploaded a wide range of images, you will surely have a slow loading time. This will happen if you are not using any image optimization plugin. One of the best image optimization plugin is WP-Smushlt. It can be installed on your WordPress website for free.

Web Hosting

If your website takes a long time to load every time it is accessed, it is time to think about upgrading your web hosting package or switch the web hosting provider. Even if you have just started your website, it’s a smart move to plan for the increase in the traffic.

There are many reliable and managed hosting solutions available and depending on your preference, you can opt for a good web hosting with WordPress package that offers with a strong technical support to backup your website. Spend some time in researching for a premium hosting solution that brings out the best performance of your website.

Over 80 percent of peoples’ searches begin online and of that 80% roughly 30 to 40% of those searches are targeted at local search results. Those figures alone should tell you why local search is becoming increasingly more and more important. If you have a business, you need to make sure your business is relevant to local search results.

If where you are is important to what you do, then you must maximize your business’s presence in the Local Search results and optimize it for the best performance. People searching for you may be across town or a continent away. Wherever they are and wherever you are, you want them to find you.

You Can Grow Organically

By following a local SEO campaign, you can grow your business naturally and ensure you target each market progressively. On the whole, keywords targeted in local SEO campaigns are less competitive than their broader counterparts but there are also mitigating factors to consider when determining the overall difficulty of the campaign.

Even if you’ve dabbled in local before, it’s a good idea to revamp your campaign at regular intervals. If your campaign has grown a bit stale or simply isn’t producing the results you were expecting, it’s time to go back to the drawing board.  Below I’ve outlined some tips to help put you on the map (Bet you didn’t see that local SEO pun coming!)

Local Information On-Site

Securing a large volume of high quality citations can be difficult and time consuming. Luckily, there are onsite factors you can work on to make a difference in the meantime.

If you are a multi-location business, building out single location landing pages as opposed to using a single page format will make a huge difference in ensuring that all locations have a chance of ranking in local search.

1. Craft “Pretty” Permalinks

One way to improve your search engine ranking is to use what are called “pretty permalinks.” Permalinks are the direct and permanent links to your blog entries. It’s what websites use to link to your content. If you use a permalink structure that includes important data like your title, it can be used in the indexing of your posts. These key words’ role in search engine indexing is debatable, but the general consensus is that they help in some way.

2. Robots.txt File

A simple text file that stops Google (and other search engines that recognize the file and its commands) from crawling the site, selected pages in the site, or selected file types in the site.

There are two important considerations when using /robots.txt:

  • robots can ignore your /robots.txt. Especially malware robots that scan the web for security vulnerabilities, and email address harvesters used by spammers will pay no attention.
  • the /robots.txt file is a publicly available file. Anyone can see what sections of your server you don’t want robots to use.

3. Semantics – Proper Use in Headings

Despite the nature of the Web and the vast change in its role from a structural medium to a visual media, it is still important that Web content be designed with proper structure. With better support for Cascading Style Sheets in recent versions of Web browsers, developers can change the appearance of structural elements to meet their design and visual preferences.

There’s six heading tags, ranging from <h1> (the largest) to <h6> (the smallest). These little tags can be a very important part of your blog’s SEO because they define the individual importance of different titles on a page to a search engine, which can be useful when they come to indexing the page.

Your titles should follow a logical hierarchy, with a single <h1>, top-level heading being used for the page’s overall title (your site’s name on your homepage, the post title on a single page etc.), with sub-headings following the 2-6 hierarchy. That means the headings used in blog posts should be <h2>, and sub-headings of those <h3>, etc.

4. SEO-friendly Slugs

URL slugs are the exact address of a specific website. It is the location where webpages are accessed when typing their URL in the address bar. Optimizing URL slugs is not a very hard thing to do. But if you ask me, it is one of the most important things you can do in your on site optimization process.

URLs hold a specific weight in your search engine rankings and are also a key to your article’s keyword presence. Just as the title tag is important in on-site optimization, so are slugs – especially because people also look at the slugs in the search result snippet.

5. Make Sharing Easy

This is a bit of a bonus really, because it’s not anything you can technically do to optimize your blogs. It turns out, especially with Google, that social media links can affect search ranking. With Google, a fairly big percentage of each search result can be dedicated to referencing a Google+ share or +1, which can encourage some users to opt for one link over another.

By including social sharing buttons like Google’s +1 button or Twitter’s Tweet button, users can be encouraged to share your article on sites, potentially creating a large number of backlinks.