I like watching people use web sites. Their likes, dislikes, environment, habits, expectations, and abilities to perform online tasks are all unique. Sometimes I think I’ll spend my retirement sitting in a shopping mall doing user testing, for fun.
I was interviewed by the famous Ralph Wilson who has long been dedicated to small businesses. In this video, he wanted to know how a small business can do affordable user testing, how to do it and why it helps.
Constant attention must be given to how users and search engines interact with your site to ensure that you not only attract visitors, but give them reasons to come back. Because as every Web professional knows, the more users interact with your site, the better the odds they convert.
“Performance Requirements: Sites that perform better earn deeper customer loyalty” – December issue. Not available on line yet.
Most of you would decline and so did I, but not before we got into a bit of a discussion when the agency insisted I was wrong about engines and Flash. For their company name, their site comes up in the number one spot. This, they say, is proof they rank well. They claim to be number one on their search term and claimed to be indexed by Google. I was challenged to prove they needed me. I didn’t have the time but it is a mistake to tell me I don’t know SEO.
Yes. Their site was number one for the company name search. This is because they are the only site with that name and domain. Yes, Google managed to get some pages. One was the Splash homepage that had no content on it. Another page was an orphaned Macromedia file. The other two pages were PDF’s. With no content or information architecture in place, there was simply nothing to add to a search engine database. Yes, they were number one for the keyword they targeted. This is because nobody was searching the term. Google data showed some interest by their local area (likely their own employees) but other than that, there was not enough data for Google to display. They had the perfect opportunity to optimize for that key phrase but had no interest in doing so. I showed them how far off the mark they were in targeting the words people use to search for their service. With some measure of satisfaction, I sent them their flat line of death – not only for their so-called keyword, but the clear line of usage in the past 4 years since they redesigned all in Flash. We’re talking a mountain down to a mole hole.
There were 4 silos: About them, Contact, Products and Services. (Very descriptive labels, not!) Every navigation cue was in an image. The URL never changed, so no matter where you clicked on the site, there was no url cue for sense of place. How in the heck they expected a search engine to figure it out, I have no idea. No link went to a separate page. Links either went to another web site they own, or a pop up window that displayed content a search engine would never see. Not to mention the content was bland. It could have been cut and pasted on any site offering products and services. There was nothing in the entire design or navigation structure, let alone the content, to help search engines understand what the site is about.
Of course they still think they can pay someone $500 to get them out of this mess. It won’t be me. However, this was a great exercise for me because it clearly illustrates how badly companies and ad agencies absolutely don’t get it.
Search Engine Strategies, Chicago 2009
Next Tuesday, at 10:30 am following Peter Morville’s keynote, Shari Thurow, Adam Audette and I gather together to explain why Information Architecture is critical to your web site both from a searcher perspective as well as the user. I am responsible for taping the walls. Shari will paint the room. Adam will make sure we don’t fall off the ladder. We cover:
What information architecture is as it relates to web site development (not software, or database development.)
IA and SEO
IA and Usability
Taxonomy, Ontology, URL structure
Page sculpting, orientation, scent of information, sense of place
and this is just the tip of the iceberg. We’ve worked hard to come up with information and takeaways, tools and examples. I get to tell stories.
Members only link – to the celebration of my 10,000 post.
I was thinking that these posts are just since Cre8asiteforums came about in its present form in 2002. From 1998 to then, I was posting in the original version of it, as well as Webmasterworld and MarketPositionGold’s forum.
And, if you count blog comments, Sphinn comments, articles, columns, live blogging…it can boggle the mind.
Thanks to Risa Borsykowsky for the cover design. Kim Krause Berg on the cover of Time?