3 Ways to Improve Your Site Evaluator Usability Score 

By Steve Hoag

site evaluator usability score

In order for you website to realize its full potential, it needs to have an optimal level of usability. This means making it easy for users to navigate, find, and use content. Site Evaluator looks at a bunch of factors when providing a usability score to your website, and here are 3 ways to improve your score.

Include a suitable site map for users and crawlers

Every website needs to have a well-structured site map that users and site crawlers can use to navigate to different pages. A site map most commonly refers to buttons or links at the header or footer of every page that connect to major areas of the website. If users find it hard to navigate your site they will leave. If search engine crawlers find it hard to navigate your site they will give you a lower search ranking. If you make life easy for users and search engines they will reward you with more traffic.

Make sure every link and file isn’t broken

One of the most annoying things on any website is when you see a link that connects you to something cool and it doesn’t work. Nothing makes a user more frustrated and more prone to leave a site than that. Every link and file needs to be working so that you don’t drive potential customers away. Take care of the little things and your website will perform much better.

Ensure content is fresh, ample in supply, and with no errors

You can have the greatest website design on Earth, but if you lack consistently fresh content no one is going to come back for more. The Internet is a ‘what have you done for me lately’ industry. Everything on your site needs to be fresh, and error free so that any user can take advantage of everything you have to offer. Search engines look at this too and will reward you with higher rankings for doing so. Keep up with developing trends, and throw out anything that isn’t fresh.

 

View User Profile for Steve Hoag Steve is a recent graduate from UW, and the Marketing Coordinator at Fast Track. He primarily has experience in the tech and start-up industries. When he's not busy promoting Fast Track, he's watching Huskies or Green Bay Packers football. You can find him on Twitter @steven_hoag .
Posted by Steve Hoag Thursday, October 17, 2013 7:36:00 PM Categories: B2B enterprise SEO Site Evaluator SMB web design web development website

5 Things To Look For In A Website Developer 

By Steve Hoag

things to look for in a web developer

Deciding on a great web developer to create the website you want is a critical decision in the business world. There are tons of options out there, but only a handful that are right for your company. Many of them have their own unique proficiencies, and your mission is to find the one with the right blend of skills for your website. So what are five things you should look for? Read on!

Experience

Some web development firms have been around for a few months, and others for years. Older web development firms have the advantage of plenty of experience, having best practices in place, and years of knowledge of the internet industry. This can be highly valuable, but at the same time do they have the right TYPE of experience? Do they know the industry YOU are operating in and what your needs and wants are? Can they deliver on these? You may find that the older firms you look at don’t, but the younger ones do. That’s why it’s important to do your research. Ask to see a portfolio, and take a look at their website to see what they are capable of.

Great Customer Service

An important aspect of the web development process is customer service. Once you have your website completed, you will invariably have more questions. The web development firm you choose should be one that will stick around to help you as you acclimate yourself to the content management system and features at your disposal. Some firms will even offer ongoing support packages that can be very beneficial if your team doesn’t have a lot of technical experience.

Pricing

The price of custom developed websites can fluctuate greatly. Some may cost $500, while ones with more complicated features like e-commerce can cost thousands of dollars. Establish your budget and features needed before beginning your search. This will help you to narrow down the pool of potential developers. Also, ask for an estimate before finalizing any sort of deal. Many development firms will do this for free.

Communication Skills

Much like customer service, great communication skills are crucial during web development. The firm you choose needs to be on hand at all times to respond to all concerns and questions you may have. It is wise to choose a developer that is close in proximity to your business. Choosing a development firm that is headquarters half way across the world can create timing problems if not handled correctly.

Turnaround Time

Time is money. And this is especially true when it comes to web development. Developing a website is a lengthy process that will invariably need revisions, meetings, and troubleshooting. Having a developer that can establish a clear timeline and meet your deadlines is very important. Make sure to ask potential candidates for their expected turnaround times for deliverables, and compare these with your needs.

View User Profile for Steve Hoag Steve is a recent graduate from UW, and the Marketing Coordinator at Fast Track. He primarily has experience in the tech and start-up industries. When he's not busy promoting Fast Track, he's watching Huskies or Green Bay Packers football. You can find him on Twitter @steven_hoag .
Posted by Steve Hoag Wednesday, October 16, 2013 5:52:00 PM Categories: B2B enterprise SMB web development website

3 Ways to Improve Your Site Evaluator Social Media Score 

By Steve Hoag

ways to improve social media score

Social media is becoming more and more important in business. It allows you to engage your target audience directly, as well as serving as a valuable SEO and lead generation tool. Site Evaluator analyzes your use of social media using a variety of metrics. Here’s three ways on how to improve both your social media, and overall site score.

Place social media links/buttons on your website pages

This has quickly become a must-have on any website. If you are using social networks to reach out to consumers you absolutely need to have buttons linking to your accounts on every page. Make it easy for users to see how to connect with you. Oftentimes, social media is the place where people get to see a different, more personable side of the company. If this means more sales leads, you need to make sure to link to these accounts every chance you get.

Actively engage your target audience on social networks to improve Klout score

Engaging your audience does mean sharing content you have generated with your networks. It does not mean force feeding them your content. Don’t spam your followers, and be sure your content is actually interesting to them. If they start sharing or re-tweeting your posts you are in good shape. Also, take any opportunity you get to share their content, as long as it is relevant to your business. People love attention on social media. Klout is a service that measure how people interact with your posts and you with theirs. The more back and forth there is, the higher your influence score will be.

Actively share your website and any content you have on your website with links pointing back to your site

Inbound links from social media networks are becoming increasingly important. This is a huge part of inbound marketing. Make sure these links are connected to great content that will help retain user traffic. Once you have a good content generation system in place, people will take notice, and actively search for your content on social networks. Great content means more followers, which means more traffic, and that means more sales opportunities.

View User Profile for Steve Hoag Steve is a recent graduate from UW, and the Marketing Coordinator at Fast Track. He primarily has experience in the tech and start-up industries. When he's not busy promoting Fast Track, he's watching Huskies or Green Bay Packers football. You can find him on Twitter @steven_hoag .
Posted by Steve Hoag Wednesday, October 9, 2013 7:15:00 PM Categories: B2B enterprise SEO Site Evaluator SMB social media social media marketing website

3 More Website Design Mistakes To Avoid 

By Steve Hoag

web design mistakes to avoid

Website design is one of the most creative and exciting processes out there. You can literally create anything, with the only limit being your imagination and technology. That being said, it is important to avoid common pitfalls when designing websites.

Home page opt-ins

Home page opt-ins are pop ups that occasionally require the user to input their email before viewing the website. This is usually common practice with companies who are giving away free content like e-books, but should only ever be used on landing pages for specific content – not the home page. It can be quite annoying to be bombarded with opt-ins every time you visit a website, and users know that once they have put in their email they’ve sealed their fate. If you choose to use opt-ins let viewers of your website know what they are opting in to, and don’t make it a requirement for viewing your website. You will only succeed in driving traffic away.

Auto-loading videos            

The most infuriating thing since auto-playing music is auto-playing video. No one likes to have a random video playing in an obscure location of any page that they need to race to pause or mute. If you have an awesome video, give the user the option of playing it. Don’t force it down their throat.

Spamglish

Spamglish basically means text that is written specifically for search engines. It occurs when copy is crammed with keywords in the hopes that it raises the website’s ranking. Search engines will actually lower your ranking if they find you doing this. More importantly, a website’s purpose is to appeal to consumers, not automated bots. It is almost impossible to write compelling copy for consumers when spamming them with keywords.  A good rule of thumb is to keep keyword density at around 5%. For instance, try using 5 keywords every 100 words.

View User Profile for Steve Hoag Steve is a recent graduate from UW, and the Marketing Coordinator at Fast Track. He primarily has experience in the tech and start-up industries. When he's not busy promoting Fast Track, he's watching Huskies or Green Bay Packers football. You can find him on Twitter @steven_hoag .
Posted by Steve Hoag Tuesday, October 8, 2013 3:06:00 PM

No Need To Reinvent the Wheel: Why Refreshing Your Website Can Be Better Than Rebuilding 

By Steve Hoag

Don't reinvent the wheel.

Ever heard of the saying ‘No need to reinvent the wheel?’ That statement holds true when it comes to websites as well. Think of your current design as a car. Refreshing your website is simply changing the design, while keeping the major structural elements in place still. Kind of like upgrading to a new set of wheels once the old ones are worn down. Rebuilding your website is like realizing you think wheels are too backward for you, and deciding to develop a set of jet engines instead. Now that that elaborate comparison is out of the way, let’s take a look at why a refresh can be a better idea than a rebuild.

Better ROI

How expensive is a refresh? It will vary from designer to designer, but at the end of the day it will always be substantially cheaper than a rebuild. That’s because the changes are mostly aesthetic, while a rebuild will require changing the architecture of the site, and is much more expensive in time & money. The results of a well done refresh can look like a complete rebuild though. Customers’ perceptions are what matters at the end of the day, and website refreshes offer significant results at a lower price point.

Go live quickly

How much time does it take to grab some new wheels? Maybe an hour or two at most. How much time does it take to develop and install some jet engines for a car? Maybe a decade. If you need a new look for your site quickly, then a refresh is the way to go. A rebuild takes a lot of time and effort to successfully do, and the turnaround time can vary greatly depending on obstacles and delays.

Still lots of customization options

A refresh can look like a rebuild as long as you hire the right designer. All you need is a solid structure in place already, and any good designer will be able to work his/her magic. It’s amazing what some new colors, layout, graphics, and font can do. And remember, depending on your website platform, you can still add tons of custom functionality with a bit of development work.

View User Profile for Steve Hoag Steve is a recent graduate from UW, and the Marketing Coordinator at Fast Track. He primarily has experience in the tech and start-up industries. When he's not busy promoting Fast Track, he's watching Huskies or Green Bay Packers football. You can find him on Twitter @steven_hoag .
Posted by Steve Hoag Thursday, September 26, 2013 4:57:00 PM Categories: B2B enterprise SMB web design web development website
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