Website usability

A customer may decide to buy a product or not based on the first 5 second of seeing your website, and some websites don’t convert at all and are a waste of time and resources. Creating an attractive website doesn’t mean you have the perfect website and that it will convert, in fact too much design can detract from your products/services all together. Some of the best selling websites are simple and sleek, meaning the focus is on what you are trying to sell, and not he pretty lights, complex navigation, verbose text or poor design.

One of the key characteristics of a user-friendly website is the ease of use with which the visitor can browse through it. Give the user a few options, as confusing potential customers and you will end up pushing people away. A user-friendly website is a must for a company to grow.

Tips for making a website more user-friendly:

1. Choose the colours smartly

Colours are important for the website as each of them portray a different meaning, yes you need to understand the psychological meanings of the colours, as to customise it to your product/services.

For example:

  • Blue: Honesty, Trustworthy, Stable
  • Green: Relaxing, Envy, Eco-Friendly
  • Purple: Royal, Luxury, Creative
  • Red: Love, Energy, Sale, Anger
  • Black: Bold, Rich, Evil, Elegance

2. Use simple and informative content

Use simple words in the content so a greater audience will be able to easily understandable, this can be different in the case of website selling technical items that require complex descriptions. Use images to help customers visualize the product and use white spaces to keep the content clean, meaning do not clutter text and products all together.

3. Organize the information

Most visitors spend only five seconds to go through a website and decide if they will stay. If the information on the site looks very well organized, then the customer feels more confident that the information is legitimate and will go through the content more. If it is not, then the visitor will most likely leave.

4. Give a simple URL name

If the URL (Domain) of a website is easy to remember, they are more likely to return and also share with others in conversation.

5. Making mobile compatible website

Since 2014, mobile phone have been used to access the internet more than PCs and with a large majority of people using mobile phones to find businesses, check out products/services, review and more, it is a must nowadays; even considering the Mobile Layout as a priority over the Desktop/Laptop look and feel.

6. Handling of errors

Code Errors show not be displayed on a Public website; such information should only be used to debug the website either during maintenance or on a staging server the public can not see. The public seeing Code Errors and output of codes, is a large turn off and creates trust concerns.

7. Update your website frequently

Most websites are not like a retail store, where you see people moving and doing things, a website is usually very static and having old information can be very off putting and concerning to potential customers. Make your website look active, either by having up to date details, recent news/events or share active Social Media accounts on your website to show you are active.

8. Minimum time required to load

You want your website to open up in seconds, nowadays many websites use CMS like WordPress, Joomla, Drupal etc… and most of these either have caching or you can install a caching plugin to make the website load much faster. Many of these plugins will help minimise the includes on your website, this in itself is a full discussion, for now you can use the Google Speed Test to check out tips on areas you can improve your website speed.

Google Speed Test: Click for Website

9. Provide information for contacting you

It sounds simple yet is it very important to seem legit, so provide as much details as you can so people can verify who you are. People want to feel safe about a purchase or dealing with another, you want more than just an email, have your phone number, address and any Business identifiers. Again, there is a lack of human connect with most websites, so you need to create an atmosphere of confidence that you are genuine.

10. Sharing information on social media

Social Media sharing can help to make a website look active, this is very important, as discussed previously, a website is mainly static in the sense it is not a retail store that you can talk or see people moving around in. Social Media is very good at creating your brand and adding that human touch to your website.

hacker protection
By Lionel Thomas / HackingWebsite Security / 0 Comments

Building websites is continually becoming easier ever year, while the complexity of the world Hackers thrive in, is still very much technical with access to hacking tools being made more readily available with many resources for the novice to expert level Hackers.

No one really knows how many websites are hacked per day, yet estimates range from 30,000 to 60,000 or more; either way there is a greater need now more than ever to secure your website and hosting with multiple security levels and procedures, in addition to keeping everything up to date.

I have heard numerous business owners say, “No one would hack us, we are only small”; the thing is, it is not always banking details hackers are after, there is distribution of malware, using your server for spamming others, spoofing a webpage, attacking another web server and many more malicious activities and as the owner of the website you are responsible!

Yes, you are responsible and there have been cases where the website owners were charged for being hacked, due to the impact it caused to others. If you own a website, you need to know what security is in place, backups performed, monitoring and processes in place.

Here are 5 basic steps to help protect your website from hackers, there is much more you can do:

1. Stay Updated

Keep your website, plugins and server updated as a hack at occur at these points; if you are using a CMS such as WordPress, Joomla etc… join a security newsletter as to keep on top on any security issues as they occur. Google indexes a lot of information, yet this also helps hackers find websites with old versions and systems for easy picking.

2. Strong Organised Passwords

Where possible you want to use 2-Step authorization, yet in general organise your passwords with a Password Manager, and use the password generators that create long (12+ Characters) and strong passwords (Lower/Upper-case, Numbers, Symbols). I personally use Last Pass (https://www.lastpass.com) and KeePass (http://keepass.info); Last Pass is by far the most convenient for the non-tech savy.

Also, I do not add all passwords to Password Managers; all my Bank and Email account passwords are stored in my head. To ensure that they are strong passwords, I remember a phrase, instead of a mixture of words; for example “ILoveHotCement110%”… Create a phrase you would remember, yet not something that is know (ie. Movie/Singer/Book quote/title etc…)

Note: Avoid using the same password on multiple websites, as many people do this and hackers know this.

3. Backup and Store

You will want to Backup your files and database on a regular basis, how regular depends on the amount of data processed through your website. In, addition to storing them on a different server, you will want historical versions. Hacks can go undetected and you may have a hacked website with back-doors added over a year ago; so you want to keep some historical backups over a year old, in addition to your short-term backups.

4.SSL Certificate

SSL isn’t just for processing transactions, you will also want any sensitive information to be sent over SSL; such as user Logins. You will also want a valid certificate, instead of a self-signed one.

5. Security Layers

With CMS’s such as WordPress and Joomla, you will want to add security plugins to these and set them up properly to add that layer of security the default installation is missing.

I say “setup properly” as I have seen people add security plugins CMS’s like WordPress, yet they don’t even set it them up, which makes the plugin pointless until it is setup properly.

If you are looking for information or need security Contact Us Today!

By Lionel Thomas / Hacking / 0 Comments

A hacker has found that the Beta Site of Facebook (beta.facebook.com and mbasic.beta.facebook.com) didn’t have any limit on guessing the code to gain access after a ‘Forgot your Password’ request.

This allowed the hacker to brute force into Facebook, meaning he could keep guessing until he got it correct (by using a script).

By Lionel Thomas / WebsiteWebsite SecurityWordPress / 0 Comments

WordPress and other Content Management Systems (Joomla, Drupal etc…) allow us to leverage technology so much, many website nowadays are created by either the business owner themselves, non-technical personal or just a website designer. This opens up websites to many security issues, where they are either not kept up to date, don’t have security added (or not setup properly) and may not even have any backups of their website.

Previously, I helped a Website Design company that had 42 of their clients websites hacked, plus an additional 8 websites from another website design company sharing their server. Looking into the issue, the hacking started 4 years ago and only recently became aggressive, the server and websites lacked security, and was not kept up to date. Their security had more holes than Swiss Cheese and the hackers had a field day. The websites and server where fixed, yet the cost to have implemented the security was insignificant to the cost the fixed the issue. Also, once a server has been hacked to this extent, it is best to move the websites to another server, as there is always the chance something is left behind to regain entry.

In another scenario, a new client had a website with a security plugin, yet it wasn’t setup and still allowed the basic Brute Force attack freely, and was actively having attempts to hack in every day. Luckily, it was a novice hacker and the website was secured before entry was gained, yet it shows a little knowledge can be dangerous with security. When implementing security, you need to know why you are doing what you are doing; adding a Security Plugin doesn’t mean it will work for every scenario, especially if it is not setup properly.
I hear this a lot, “my website is hosted with X, they would look after the security right?”, No hosting company will look after all security issues. If you own a website or looking after one, you need to know what security if any has been setup for your website & server and to also know what security is needed.

Joomla (8 Year Old Vulnerability)

Recently Joomla had a vulnerability that affected all versions for the last 8 years; meaning nearly every website needed to be updated as the vulnerability was actively being exploited. In this scenario, there are precautions that can be taken, such as firewalls or security layers that help prevent issues occurring, until the website can be updated. Yet, as stated above as many websites have non-technical personal maintaining it, there is a great lack of website security, opening up websites to being hacked.

WordPress 4.4.1 Update / Plugin Vulnerabilities

The 4.4.1 update to WordPress fixes a XSS (Cross site Scripting) vulnerability. This vulnerability is now known in the wild, meaning if you have not update your WordPress website you need to ASAP.

WordPress Plugin Vulnerabilities

All of the following have vulnerabilities, these have been fixed in their latest version, so if you have not update ensure you do ASAP.

  • Commentator plugin version 2.5.2 and older
  • WordPress Download Manager 2.8.7 and older
  • Simple Download Monitor 3.2.8
  • Simple Ads Manager 2.9.4.116

Key Note

Research and Training is needed by companies that have a website into what is required to keep not only the website safe, communications from the website and any data they retain of users.

With an aim to improve website security, I have listed various system and plugins that can be used to improve website security; note that these still need to be setup correctly and kept updated to the latest version to be of benefit; plus, there are more areas of owning a website such as the server that do need to be hardened to help maintain an adequate level of security.

Cloud Flare

(www.CloudFlare.com)
A group of web-masters started to collaborate many years ago to create a Database of Hackers, Spammers and the like so they could filter out traffic to improve security of websites. Cloud Flare sits between your website and the users of your website, it is extremely useful and includes CDN, Optimization, Security, Analytics and website Apps; in short it will assist in the Security, may make your website load faster, reduce the load on your server, give you traffic statistics and allow you to add specific features with ease. It has a Free and Paid version. The Free version is very good, yet if you have a large website you want to keep healthy, look into their paid version.
There are several WordPress, Joomla etc… Security Plugins I will do a write up about in my next article. If you need help or would like the know about these security details, send me an email (lionel@vofer.com.au) and I will update you on the details.

Vofer

Websites, Online Marketing (PPC/SMM) and Cyber Security
www.Vofer.com.au

It’s been a while now that Mobile usage to find businesses overtook Desktops in both local and Google searches. 80% of People searching for a business on their phones are looking for the location or contact number, and while responsive websites work on Mobile and are classified as Mobile Friendly, they usually are not Mobile User Friendly. Meaning that responsive websites hide or push down the most important content people are looking for to the lower sections of the website. Do not make the user search for what they need.

A business mobile website should have the Location and/or Contact Number/Email prominent at the top of a website or their main Call to Action, depending on the business. Rule of thumb if you have a business people would be looking for the location of or needing to contact, you need to supply this information for the end user in an easy to access location at the top of the website, which is displayed when the website loads; drop-down menus and the like are not user-friendly and the more clicks or searching a potential customer or client needs to do, the less likely they are to go through with it.

The dynamics and flow of you main call to actions needs to be researched in relation to the demographics. For example, having the Location link straight to a Google Map if only one location is good for convenience, yet linking to a page with the Location in text with a Map is good in the way that it allows the user to copy the Location to use with their own GPS system. With this sort of thing it will depend on the demographics of the end user, as more efficient mobile users may know how to share the Google map location the copy from it if needed.

If you don’t test, measure and repeat you will not be able to make a judgement on the best solution for your business.

Also, never forget that they are on a Mobile Device and you can enhance user experience with the user’s location and don’t forget Facebook check-ins, reviews and more Social spread techniques.

By Lionel Thomas / FacebookMarketingSocial Media / 0 Comments

Due to the potential Social Media has, such as viral spread, many companies are pouring large amounts of money into advertising, only to become frustrated due to the low conversion rates and/or purchases.

If we look at some of the statistics we find on Social Media, 92% of people trust recommendation from a peer and 70% trust a recommendation from someone they don’t even know.

Yet what many companies are not considering is that an Advert is a forced recommendation, it is pushed out in front of them; Advertising and other PAID Social Proof have less than 40% trust level due to this.

Also, when companies advertise we see them mainly redirect people to their website, this adds to the reduction of trust, as if you can keep people within the Facebook platform, it helps retain the trust of that environment.

With website pages (Landing Pages) people are sent to, we find the following mistakes:

  • Landing Page
    Don’t use your Homepage as the Landing Page, as it will usually have too many distractions reducing your conversions and action taken. You need a dedicated page with One Call to Action, this allows you to measure
  • Re-marketing
    Social Media platforms such as Facebook allow you to track traffic on your website, meaning you can track what action or in-action they have taken, and you can re-advertise to those who previously clicked on your advert yet didn’t take any action.
  •  Landing Page Relevance
    You need a dedicated page that is customised to the advert, especially using keywords specific to the advert as this will help reduce the price of the Ads.
  • Testimonials
    You should have testimonials as it adds a level of trust, not as much as Social Media recommendation, yet it may be close.
  • Associations/Media Mentions
    If you are part of any associations or mentioned in any media, add their logos; this again adds a level of trust especially if the people can recognise the Logos.

This is just the start of optimising your marketing campaigns, always Split-Test, Measure and Repeat to determine what your audience reacts to the best, as one method may work for others, yet not your business, yet the above if a good basis to start with.

Google has a Mobile Friendly check to ensure your website works well on a mobile device, such as not having to zoom into the website, large text, links/buttons large enough your not mashing multiple links/buttons. Although, this doesn’t mean people will be able to use your website with ease on a mobile device. In fact, most responsive websites (websites that respond to browser size) don’t work well as mobile websites out of the box.

Responsive websites do respond, yet most ‘Call to Actions’ are hidden in drop-down menus, at the bottom of the website due to the responsive repositioning or not there at all. This is a flaw many designers have added to websites without the thought to usability and conversions of traffic.

Aspects to make a website Mobile User-Friendly, is to have the main Call to Actions easy to access at the top of the mobile website, even having the front page displaying only the main ‘Call to Actions’. As mobile statistics show, Mobile users doing local searches are mainly seeking the Business Location or to phone the business; this means you need to have a Find Us / Call Us ‘Call to Action’ prominent on your mobile website or similar call to action/s depending on your business and the actions you want your potential customers/clients to take.

We have an extensive Website review that will check the Mobile User-Friendliness and many more aspects to improve your business website; Have a website Check-up Today: http://www.vofer.com.au/website-check-up/

By Lionel Thomas / WebsiteWebsite Design / 0 Comments

What is going on?

You are feeling excited having developed the best landing page copy you can ever imagine. It contains the right elements such as persuasiveness and conciseness. Which focuses on your guests.
Now you have launched this and immediately traffic came pouring in out of your campaigns and you were amazed. However, this did not continue as the days passed and you were not expecting how it will turn out.

You asked yourself, what went wrong? Maybe you were just so focused on your copy to have forgotten the importance of other areas particularly the design. But you need not worry; here we have some techniques to help you overcome this condition.

Focus on contrasting colors.

While many considered that one color in the design is the best option, it is often the contrast in color that will generate a better conversion.

Use colors that are varied but will complement each other. This is one way to ascertain that your design will have the components to stand out. Do this by creating a hierarchy that informs guests the most important aspects. The call to action should be more distinct while the text should be in red color. Another method is making it bold. With that it will surely stand out.
Add Real People to the Design

Real live pictures of people are not just there to use up vacant spaces but they are meant to add an important feature to the landing page making the experience more memorable. Avoid using graphics instead use photos that manifest customers who have used the products or services. If you have not done this, then you are throwing spaces that can be used to influence guests to sign up.
Testimonials are better too with real photos of the sender.

Provide Guest with the Tools

Maximize the use of pictures by letting it focus on the next item you want your guest to notice. It can be the headline or the product itself. But remember, the pictures are there to supplement the design and cannot cover up the quality of your headline, so make your headline solid as well.

Incorporate Visuals

The task of guiding guests toward certain areas in your landing page is not just through the use of pictures. You can likewise use arrows and borders thereby bringing them to the vital areas.

Design Match Up

Ensure a match up in your design from the landing page to the paid ads which is a vital design factor. Be consistent in both content and visuals. This eases navigating your site. You can do this by using the same or similar images, colors and any other representations.

Choosing the right color

This is different from the contrast. Here we specifically tackle the color itself. If you want you landing page to grab the attention of your guest, well, go ahead, choose the brightest color that you can find. However, take note that mismatch color is a complete turn off. Likewise, remember that colors can have a way of influencing the emotions so better use colors that are not provoking too.

Seek the Aid of Visuals

It is true enough that pictures tell a thousand stories. Yes, there are times that we find it difficult to explain things. In such cases, the use of visual aids is the best tool. Note, drawings can simplify and conveys ideas and information more explicitly than words so supplement you copy with them too.

Size is Important

Don’t let your guests miss out on important aspects. Make your call to action big and for sure you’ll draw their attention to that. If you pair this with bright colors, then the most aged guest will not need any magnifying glass. Do it in different sizes, with the biggest for the item that you want to stand out from the group. Subsequently, do not use the same size for the less important aspect or else you will be dividing the attention of your guests.

Importance of Whitespace

Whitespace connects all the elements of your design into one landing page that is organize to put emphases on certain important aspects. It subsequently enhances the decipherable aspect of the page. This can be done using shorter paragraphs and bullets for listings. But as always, don’t overdo things.

Moving Forward

After the above 9 techniques start moving forward into testing what best suits your site. Then gradually improve it until you reach your goal of a higher conversion, one that will surely bring your site to the top.

By Lionel Thomas / BrandingWebsite Branding / 0 Comments

Impress your customers to the point of making them visit your site time and time again.

For your company, services and products alike and for it to be known and patronized, you need to impress your visitors. This is specifically true since your site is where your visitors will gain information of your business, learn about your services and products and decide whether to try them or not. That is the critical point of your branding technique as it communicates just who you really are, what you can offer and your commitment to deliver them. Always reflect on your website through a branding point of view with:

Analyzing steps: As you start communicating online, consider first your clients and customers, the other business players, the industry you belong to and your own business as well. This can be done through:

  • Analyzing the Visitors: Virtual success starts with a comprehensive visitor’s profile. Who will likely visit your site? What are their expectations? How well is their knowledge of the internet? Will they need a thorough learning of your products? What call would they likely react to: logical, expressive or both?
  • Analyzing the other Business player: You want to gain an edge in the business over others. So, learn more about them starting with their web address. Check how their site looks and feel by comparing your site, getting your pros/cons and improving the negative side.
  • Analyzing the Industry: Start with the present industry trend, its history as well as its present and future conditions. Stand prepared as industries evolve.
  • Analyzing your own business: How does your business look and feel to clients? Are you so technically inclined? Or too formal? What about giving your client the fun side? These are ways in transforming your brand through visual and verbal methods with designs and copywriting.

Clarifying Steps: After doing the said analyses; trim down your next attention to particular niche however do not overdo things. Concentrate on certain audiences and evaluate what you can offer to them in terms of products and services based on their requirements.

Likewise, make your business unique giving more demand to your product and services and easing communication towards building brand equity.

Strategizing: Focus on your site content and site organization. Divide your website into section based on the user’s expectations and wants and fill each section with contents. Provide a site diagram with your homepage containing the information and relying on the links for details. Using your side menu and top tabs; help visitors in navigating your site. Likewise let visitors find your outlets too.

Focus on the consumer’s minds because as it is, a highly systematic site relates to a highly systematic business, an effective content conveys an effective company that strategically boils down to the production of an effective brand. Aim for a quality image that sums up your business and brand and with the right logo, design and lay-out, will manifest professionalism in all angles.

In the end, never forget to take loading time as another vital factor in lieu of special enhancements for this is the key to your site’s success.

Each year we read and hear about SEO techniques, ideas, tips and tricks that are said to be effective means for the success of our website in the World Wide Web. Although, are these really useful in reaching your site’s ultimate goal? We know that SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is the process that is affecting the visibility of a web site. So if you are interested in making your business site more visible you have to learn certain things. However, it is hard enough to focus on one, so before your head goes spinning we have consolidated the best; Discover the Top 9 SEO Techniques for 2014.

Best SEO Techniques ideal for 2014

1. Relevant Content

Relevant Content is one of the vital SEO techniques that have been proven to bring in more traffic. The keywords that you should use in your tags should relate to the actual main page of your site topic. Any deviation to that will definitely bring negative impact to your site. Google has now a good eye in identifying duplicate contents too, so avoid copy pasting contents from other sites to your site. Likewise do not use any other Black-hat SEO tricks such as keyword stuffing as well.

2. Proper use of keywords

For keywords to be effective, it must be used properly and there are ways of identifying the ideal keywords for your site. One is to use less competitive keyword but have high search volume. Another is to use key phrases. Similarly, optimum keyword density ratio in your content is another crucial factor in SEO.

3. Title Tag/Meta Tags

Title Tag/ Meta Tags these are important factors in the indexing of a web site since title tag is the first item that search engine will get in knowing the content of the page. Meta tag on the other hand is what is listed in the search engine result which is what users will see as your site link appears. Whether to click or not depends on the keywords and key phrases you add to your tags.

4. Proper Use of Heading Tags

Proper Use of Heading Tags is another vital element of SEO. Using heading tags will make the web browsers, search engines and users alike distinguish the main key points of your copy.

5. Alt Attributes /Title Attribute–Adding

Alt attributes on the images found in your site actually gives another relevant text to your site’s source code that search engines will use when indexing your site. On the other hand placing title attributes is useful as links both in the image and in the text.

6. SEO Friendly URL

SEO Friendly URL can boost your site with the Search Engines. The Url syntax as well as its structure can definitely affect your SEO efforts.

7. Link Building

Link Building or the number of links that points to your site generally affects your SEO. This is one crucial part that needs to be considered even with the changes in the page rank algorithms.

8. Social Media

Social Media is one developing influence in establishing your site to the general users. It can both bring follow back links to your site as well as deliver a good amount of traffic.

9. SEO Check Up

SEO Check Up is evaluating the effectiveness of your SEO programs. This will help in determining whether to continue with an existing SEO tool or not. Equally it can trigger a shift to your SEO programs that you have not used and tested before.

Improving a site ranking is the key to a successful business venture through the internet. While we cannot claim that the above techniques will specifically give the result we all have hoped to achieve for a particular site, it will give you a solid basis for your website; with an increased chance of bringing your site a notch higher in ranking and improving traffic, converting visitors to clients and ultimately increase sales in your business as well.