Archive for the ‘Guide’ Category

Engaging Your Visitors

Friday, August 24th, 2012

One of the key goals of most websites is to communicate information – whether that’s information on your business’ services, your club’s events, or just a hobby you may have. Websites, however, are a passive form of information – your visitors need to read your information, watch your videos, and click your links… and the moment they leave your site, it’s no longer communicating that information.
So, logically, you want your visitors to stay on your site for as long as possible – this is why web developers pay such close attention to stats about the average length of a visit, and the ‘bounce rate’ (the number of visitors who see only your home page, and then leave immediately.) A well-made website should have a higher length of visit, and a lower bounce rate. So how do you make that happen?
The old adage ‘first impressions last’ is definitely applicable here. A quick google search will return pages of results on the subject. I’m not going to just reiterate what has written before, but this is one of the key factors in lowering the bounce rate, and it’s worth looking into.
More and more standout sites, though, are adopting unique and novel ways to present information in a way that engages their visitors, and keeps them on the site for longer. For business, this means a greater chance of converting a potential client into a sale. A lot of it ties into the idea that a picture is worth a thousand words – have a look at www.useit.com/ – and notice that whilst this site is a wealth of information, if it was a business site, it would see a very low conversion rate purely because it looks unappealing.
At the simplest end of the spectrum, imagery and videos placed properly create a visually engaging page with information presented in a variety of ways. At Morgan Creare, we actually offer ‘video presenters‘, made by our web video team, which communicate their information far more naturally than text – with a person speaking.
This doesn’t mean you should do away with text entirely – some information simply cannot be conveyed effectively using text, and a page that relies on images too heavily can easily become as visually distracting as one that contains none at all. Text also makes it easier to organise information, and is a lot faster to load than videos. It’s best to have a properly balanced combination of these three elements for the best effect.
Another aspect that can greatly increase engagement in a site is interactivity. This, however, needs to be used sparingly, according the the target demographic of your site. Younger web users tend to be more at ease with complex or unusual interfaces than older users, and if the interactivity gets in the way of usability or becomes frustrating to the user, they may leave on the spot.
The National LGBT Museum website is a good example of a site with interactivity that has simple fallbacks (the ordinary navigation bar at the top) to prevent confusion. The content is delivered in small but meaningful amounts which don’t overwhelm the visitor, and the use of a variety of imagery keeps the site visually interesting.
Both of the previous points, though, are somewhat mainstream in their application. Modern media has meant a much wider range of possibilities, and if appropriate to your site/business, they are well worth a look. This article on Kill Screen Daily is a very clever review of the PlayStation game Ico. Instead of an ordinary box of text interspersed with with a few pictures, like an ordinary review, it’s almost made into a game, unlocked by solving a number of simply puzzles and following breadcrumbs. By engaging the user so actively, it’s ensuring they will want to get to the end.
Obviously, this technique would not be suitable, for instance, on a website about window installations, but it shouldn’t be dismissed out of hand – the writer knew his target demographic (gamers) and set out to engage them. Many users may find this site confusing, but for someone who is interested in the game Ico, it’s just right.
Ben the Bodyguard and http://danielsternlicht.com/ also use this game concept to great effect in presenting their information (about an Iphone app, and a developer’s portfolio, respectively) – importantly, they have fallbacks for users who aren’t interested in the game versions.
This cross-media integration means the web is becoming richer and richer. A nuclear fuel company called Urenco actually had an entire standalone game made for mobile devices to add another facet to their website.
On a more practical note, the rise of mobile hardware and browsing software such as IE10 Metro, and the increasing number of people surfing the net on their phones, new possibilities are rapidly becoming available. Metro boasts support for ‘flicks’ (swiping your finger across a touchscreen) and tilting the screen – meaning you could now do things like navigating though a site without clicking a thing. Iphones already support things like intuitive zooming and reorienting the view based on the tilt as well.
These new techniques and possibilities mean that many current sites will, in the future, become as out-dated as the text-heavy, static, colourless websites of the last decade – and outdated sites never inspire confidence in the company they represent. Web developers need to continue to push boundaries, think outside the box, and innovate, or they will end up outdated as well.

How To Speed Up Your WordPress Blogs

Friday, May 25th, 2012

Does your WordPress blogs load slow? Google are taking page load speeds a bit more seriously nowadays hence it is crucial that your websites build considers the page load time. As web designers we can certainly help web developers by not designing websites with big backgrounds etc. Over 80% of the end user response time is from the front end. Images, Flash, jQuery, Javascript, CSS all play a part in how quick your WordPress or web page loads.

There are a few things that you can implement to speed up your WordPress or web page:

1. Install less WordPress plugins, do not overload it. A good plugin to have is WP Super Cache and you can download it from here. Also delete inactive plugins from the server and this would get rid of external stylesheets or javascript files that the plugin may call on a particular page.

2. Combine all the CSS together in one file and keep in header and try combing javascript together or minify using a online javascript packer which can be found here and place in the footer.

3. Use a light weight theme and makes sure you use CSS sprites and not big background images etc. If you do use lots of images you can use a WordPress plugin which will reduce the file size of a image without affect the quality of the image. This plugin can be found here.

4. Try using free content delivery networks such as Cloudflare it is quick and easy to setup and will protect your website from Malware and other nasty attacks.

5. Add the below code to your theme’s functions.php place it at the top to remove unwanted stuff from your header file.

remove_action( ‘wp_head’, ‘feed_links_extra’, 3 ); 
remove_action( ‘wp_head’, ‘feed_links’, 2 );
remove_action( ‘wp_head’, ‘rsd_link’); 
remove_action( ‘wp_head’, ‘wlwmanifest_link’); 
remove_action( ‘wp_head’, ‘index_rel_link’);
remove_action( ‘wp_head’, ‘parent_post_rel_link_wp_head’, 10, 0); 
remove_action( ‘wp_head’, ‘adjacent_posts_rel_link_wp_head’, 10, 0); 
remove_action( ‘wp_head’, ‘wp_generator’);
remove_action( ‘wp_head’, ‘wp_shortlink_wp_head’, 10, 0 );
remove_action( ‘wp_head’, ‘start_post_rel_link’);

If you want a web design / website design team to help you with your wordpress website then please contact us on Bristol: 01179 000 482 or Cardiff: 02920 290 080 today.

Web Design GM’s jQuery Favorites

Friday, May 18th, 2012

Web design is continually evolving and we as web designers are always playing catch up and accumulating new technique to stay ahead. We thought it would be nice to review a few favourite jQuery plugins that we use here at Morgan Creare.

We recently stumbled upon a new jQuery plugin which uses CSS3 to create unique transitional style to your slides. Sequence is a jQuery plugin that has been developed by Ian Dunn and gives you the power to customise the plugin to your taste as it has no in-built theme. The plugin can be downloaded from here. No jQuery knowledge is needed to use this plugin and it gives a Parallax effect which is currently popular most web designers. We would highly recommend this plugin for the use of animating text and potentially using easing to give a flash like effect.

The next plugin which is currently popular with us is called Diapo which is by Pixdelic. This plugin is like the Wow slider but with this plugin you can have images, content and video slide from left to right and add cool transitional effects.

There are many more plugins available which do new and exciting things for websites. HTML5 and CSS3 are giving many websites new and exciting designs and effects. Both HTML5 and CSS3 is using animation of 2D elements to make the user experience of a typical website more interesting and most importantly compatible with mobile devices such as the Android and iPhone and iPad.

We are in the process of updating our web design portfolio and if you are from the Bristol, Cardiff, South West area or anywhere else in the UK please give us a call today and get a quote from us today.

Cufón Font Replacement

Friday, July 16th, 2010

Cufón is a font replacement technique for displaying non-standard fonts on a webpage. It is an alternative to sIFR but uses JavaScript to embed the font instead of Flash. It is also easier to set up and lighter in size than sIFR but still has the problem of copyright issues. (more…)

Tips For Launching A Website

Tuesday, June 22nd, 2010

Launching a new website can be a very daunting task. You will have many things that you would like to do but don’t have enough resources and time to complete them. Even if it seems like an arduous task, providing you keep some crucial things in mind, you can ensure a problem-free website launch.
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If you have any questions about our services or want to arrange a free no obligation consultation contact us today or call 02920 290 080 for Cardiff and 01179 000 482 for Bristol.

Bit Torrent Study Discovers Most File Sharers Are Now Monitored

Ever heard of torrents or used Bit Torrent to download movies, music or shared files over the internet? Researchers have discovered that anyone who does use Bit Torrent to download files over the World Wide Web will most probably be monitored. Studies were carried out by Birmingham University and they have discovered that if someone [...]
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