Archive for March, 2009|Monthly archive page

Competing in a recession

While budgets are restrained in a recession, contrary to what may seem logical, it’s time to invest wisely to get your website in order. Not only does this provide your business with an edge and may well ensure survival but it also puts you ahead of the game when the economy turns round and things pick up.

Recent research shows that lowering prices isn’t necessarily the answer and may end up doing more harm than good. Customer service and client relationships on the other hand, are a great way to distinguish your business from your competitors’. Understandably service levels are improving in the UK and possibly worldwide during this period of hardship.

The big question is can you create a good user experience (UX) without breaking the bank?

Know your audience and their goals

‘Who’s coming to your site?’ is the first question to ask. This may sound simple but it’s surprising how many organisations aren’t aware of this information. Run an online survey on your site to find out more about who your customers actually are. This can then be broken down into a clearer segmentation to give you a basic view of your audience. Tools like SurveyMonkey make this easy and are reasonably priced.

Also find out why people are visiting your site. What are they looking for or hoping to achieve? Only by discovering their needs can you check if the site meets them. And if it doesn’t, you’re armed with this valuable data to direct your efforts in ensuring customer needs are fulfilled.

Check your navigation and search

Browsing and searching are the 2 main ways of accessing information on a website. The online population is split 50:50 in terms of preference for one or the other so both need equal attention and care.

When considering your navigation, think about how your content’s structured and classified. Is it meaningful to your users or is it mired in internal intricacies? Card sorting is the technique to create a user-centred navigation. This doesn’t have to be an expensive exercise requiring a huge investment. Automated tools that minimise the facilitation required and extend the reach can help keep the costs down.

Ensure your site search is clearly identifiable, consistently placed in the top right and forgiving of common typing errors. Are your search results presented in a logical manner? The value of a good back-end search can’t be underestimated as web users now expect the efficacy of Google wherever they encounter search.

Considering a new feature or even a re-design?

Does the proposed change meet site visitor needs? Before embarking upon a change, find out from your customers whether it’s what they want and need. Needless to say, if ever there was a time when ROI needed certainty this is it. User interviews are your best bet here. Make sure the resulting user needs are incorporated into the other requirements that may have been gathered.

The most cost-effective way of making sure the new design is along the right user experience lines is to create low-fidelity, throwaway wireframes and test these with your target audience. These blueprints can be as basic as paper sketches.

Resist the temptation to skip testing and go full steam ahead in creating something that’s nearly finished because the earlier a design’s validated, the cheaper it’s to fix faults and the less effort you’ve wasted.

Free SEO keywords and analytics

Good usability and good search engine optimisation (SEO) go hand in hand. Tailor your site to what your audience is thinking and that’s what they’ll type into the search engines! Want to find out what your site visitors are searching for? Try the Google AdWords Keyword tool – it shows what’s been searched for on a given URL in the previous month.

Another valuable addition to your toolkit is Google Analytics, which lets you analyse website statistics. This allows a strong tie-in of the UX changes to demonstrable ROI, which in turn can only promote buy-in of the user-centred philosophy throughout your organisation.

www.mad.co.uk
Mrudula Kodali, Senior Consultant at user experience consultancy, Webcredible.

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Google Streetview in the UK

Google have recenly launched ‘Street view’ for the UK! It looks as though here in London someone, or something has been watching us for some time!  It has ‘attack of the smart cars with cameras attached’ all over it. But it is quite a thing to behold. Here you can see where we are.

Unfortunately they took the picture before we got our door vinyl up! Sorry about that!

There are people left right and center complaining about concerns over individual privacy (see article from Digital Bulletin), perhaps they have a point. But for now it is here to stay! Well I mean if you are called Christine Boring, it’s going to be hard to have anyone take you seriously on a project such as this! So get on it and look up your own house! Visit google street view here

Sweemo Nominated for an SXSW Web Award

Sweemo have been nominated to recieve a SXSW web award 2009. The award only accepts sites that have been launched, or completely redesigned in 2008. The winners in each category are revealed at the SXSW Web Awards Ceremony on March 15th.

Let’s hope Sweemo get the win that they deserve!!

Sweemo BBC Pitch in a lift

sweemo

Sweemo is launching itself into the new heady heights of featuring on world wide news coverage! The BBC are showing a short video of representatives from 5 of the world’s hottest budding web companies. The representatives have just the time it takes to be elevated 26 floors in a lift to deliver a pitch about their company, and Sweemo are up first! Click here to see the BBC news page covering Sweemo

The hopefuls were showcasing their online innovations at a US technology festival, South By Southwest, in Austin, Texas.

Red Nose Day at Pomegranate!

Ginerger bread man with a Red Nose!

It’s Red Nose Day! And what better way to support the good cause than to make gingerbread men? One of my fellow Pomites has created these little beauties to raise money for Comic Relief (Red Nose Day).

Take a look at our website, we’ve got a Red Nose!

Experiment #1: Media Mash

Pomegranate Media are announcing a new experiment into social media! We are currently in the lab getting out the bunsen burners, tweaking knobs and turning screws to create one monster of an experiment!

The aim of our experiment is to find out just how far we can push ourselves within the social media network. Using sites such as You Tube, Twitter, Facebook and the like we plan on promoting ourselves left right and centre.

Check back here soon for an update on our progress. Keep your eyes peeled and your ear to the ground… You might just see us out there in action!

Vanishing stores leads to ‘Brand Ghosting’…

Derelict B&Q store, UK

People discuss brands, identities, perceptive values etc etc until they are blue in the face. However something I recently noticed, with the crippling blanket of financial gloom hanging over us, is the amount of downsizing or relocating that is happening. Of course there are also the less fortunate who have simply had their business well and truly crunched, but what struck me as I passed by a recently vacated B&Q was how little attention brand owners pay to the state of the premises on leaving. It appears there is little thought as to who may take your place, how brands communicate their departure to customers, what state the location is left in and did you remove every trace of your brands existence there?

After some discussion I have realised that there is a new term to be coined here, ‘brand ghosting’! People can still remember when your company was last there and how they were treated when you moved on or closed down, the fact is a customers memory can live on for some time and definitely has a measurable impact. The question is what can brands do to minimise the effect when its out of your control.

First and foremost its the old communications game, advise and inform your customers well in advance, let them prepare and feel a part of goings on. Make sure the premises are pristine on departure, removing your identity but leaving a good taste.

The big issue with the B&Q experience was that it affected my view of the entire company not just that particular store. In this volatile economic climate where the unexpected is expected brands have to be more careful then ever to always portray themselves in the most positive light.

The reason this point rather caught me unawares was the realistaion of how little brands really consider the vacation impact? The B&Q I saw was a mess of graffiti and rubbish, however because the brand identity was clearly visible, with that lovely orange hoarding the effect I was left with was a negative feeling about the state of the company. In times like these can any brand afford thoughts like this to creep into the publics conscious?

Pomegranate would love to hear about more experiences of brand ghosting, so if you have seen any on the high street lately, get sharing?

To learn more on branding and brand confidence visit the Pomegranate group website and find out what it’s all about!

Is your website in need of attention? Look no further…

Despite the growing popularity of the internet as a primary information source for millions, we see far too many websites left unattended, dreary and failing to capitalise on their online potential.

At Pomegranate, however, we’re passionate about nurturing neglected websites within numerous different sectors.

Visit our website to take a look at our excellent portfolio of web design. We’ve got a suite of impressive tools and products to help get your website back on track and making waves. We’ve got results to prove it! Get in contact with us today and boldly take the first step to rekindling your relationship with your website.

Go on. Make your website’s day!