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How To Have A Website That Works Hard For You

For the man on the street, traversing the online world can feel like trying to navigate your way through a shopping mall on Christmas eve. It’s noisy and busy and can be overwhelming and confusing.

Roxana Bouwer

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online-website

A presumed and underlying aim for any website should be to offer respite from this constant visual din and information surplus.

You want users to want to stay on your site and return regularly because they enjoy interacting with it. You want them to find that it’s easy to use and gets the job done. This is the sole responsibility of user experience (UX).

A positive UX outcome is determined by myriad factors. It begins with in-depth knowledge of who your user is, how they navigate the Internet and why they’d be interested in your corner of it.

Once you have a grasp on your audience, the next important question to answer is what is the purpose of your site?

We-recommend-tickWe recommend: Why Your Business Website Needs To Rank Organically

If it’s commerce, you want the user to be able to admire, choose and buy a product in as few clear steps as possible. If they can’t find the product, they can’t buy it.

If it’s to inform, visual noise must be minimal, images should be meaningful and impactful and text should be pleasant and easy to read.

If it’s an intranet, usability will directly affect employee productivity. Streamlined processes are imperative.

Basic UX guidelines

mase-digital-experience

While keeping a specific audience and purpose in mind, there are overarching guidelines that should always be factored in.

1. As a general rule of thumb, copy should be kept as minimal as possible

  • DO write useful copy that supports your website’s purpose.
  • DO structure your copy in a way that is scannable. Online readers are scanners. It’s a fact.
  • DON’T use long and heavy walls of text – they’re daunting and get ignored.
  • DON’T waste words. Text for text’s sake is unprofessional and impractical.

2. Clickable links need to be seen as such

  • DO make clickable links/buttons recognisable. People will take as much guidance as you give them. If there’s somewhere you want them to click, make it obvious.
  • DO consider borders, colour, size and placement.
  • DO code the link to open in its own tab.
  • DON’T hide clickable links in heavy text blocks. No one is going to search for them. What they’re going to search for is a friendlier site.

3. Navigation needs to be intuitive and seamless

  • DO consider ease of use in terms of your target audience.
  • DO ask yourself if people could get lost easily in your site. Test this.
  • DON’T sacrifice sensible functioning for wow-factor design. Combining both is first prize but always guide design creativity to support function.
  • DON’T make it hard work. Remove as many steps from processes as possible.

We-recommend-tickWe recommend: 3 Must-Haves For Your Company Website

4. Keep going back to utility

  • DO repeatedly ask whether or not every single page of a site does what its specific users need it to do.
  • DO build with competence in mind. People are busy. Efficiency will keep them on your site. The quicker the user can perform tasks, the better.
  • DON’T get distracted. As attractive as a site should be, discernment is necessary when it comes to avoiding frills and design surplus.
  • DON’T add elements just because they appear on most other sites in a relevant field. Shrewd design trumps excess every time.

5. Be specific: Refine and polish

  • DO consider your target market as you refine. Take into account how you want them to relate to your website. How do you want to make them feel?
  • DO stay focused. Be strict and limit or reduce unnecessary clutter. Trim the amount of on-screen choices down to a minimum.
  • DON’T be extreme. Simplify yes but don’t sacrifice vital information. The site still needs to be useful.

6. Bring in breathing room

  • DO build using the law of white space. It prevents a site from being overcrowded and overwhelming.
  • DO consider noise. A site should be as quiet as possible while still fulfilling its purpose.
  • DON’T add social media buttons and other widgets unless they are relevant.
  • DON’T use a website as a dumping ground for all possible information about a company. It’s the working front page of a business for customers, not an archiving system.

7. Remarkability

  • DO build a website experience that is memorable because it’s enjoyable. It’s noisy out there and distinction is impactful.
  • DO remember that a website should be the perfect expression of a product or service, functioning in a way that’s optimal for its specific audience.
  • DON’T add flare that isn’t relevant or useful in someway. A site must be memorable yes, noisy no.
  • DON’T mistake busy for impressive. Busy sites with too much information are overwhelming, distracting and frustrating. If a giant mass of information is necessary, it’s important to present it well and make it available in as few clicks as possible.

We-recommend-tickWe recommend: 6 Growth-Hacking Tips to Boost Your Website’s Traffic

UX components to consider

digital-super-hero

Simplicity is central to design. Simple doesn’t mean there’s less to take into account it means considering every element separately.

Colour is symbolic

It means different things in different industries. It evokes emotional reactions. It’s also a great tool for enhancing calls-to-action. Do your research.

Images used must be of the highest quality

Especially where e-commerce is involved because it’s one of the most considered elements for users when placing an order.

Calculate image dimensions because this affects the speed at which a page will load.

Sliders can be distracting and, depending on the site’s purpose, aren’t always relevant.

That said, used properly, they do well to showcase visuals and multimedia.

Buttons for social sharing are tricky

They can be applicable but do add to the noise of a site and offer a poor experience for mobile users. If they are to be used, intelligent size and positioning are important.

Design for fingers – Responsiveness

Responsiveness is fundamental if you consider that as of 2015, 61% of South Africans access the Internet from a mobile device. Websites are no longer only experienced on desktops and this change needs to be accounted for.

Competing elements are a shortcoming

Most websites could do with scaling back. The placement of each image and piece of text needs to be purposeful and useful. It’s a website, not a scrapbook.

Audience aptitude needs to be taken into account

Expecting too much of your user will result in a disconnect between design and usability.

People can’t use your website if they don’t understand how to.

Long forms are deterrents

Don’t make it difficult and boring for someone to buy a product. Sure, certain information is imperative but don’t have endless fields just because that’s what you see everywhere else. Be discerning.

Ambiguous copy and imagery takes away from pointed messaging

Be conceptual but don’t leave too much open for interpretation. It won’t be received as artsy, it’ll just lack context and be confusing.

Added value sets a site apart

As an example, Medium.com offers readers the function of being able to comment on a single word or sentence in an article. This kind of sensible functionality turns readers into devotees.

The end goal

Ultimately, a site will be a UX success if it’s a rich experience that loads fast, looks phenomenal and works on any device.

Don’t make the mistake of sacrificing refined finishing touches on the grounds that the audience doesn’t know better. Sure, your average user doesn’t know what infinite scrolling is.

That’s not to say it doesn’t greatly improve their experience. People can love a website without knowing why they do.

Remember, viewing a website for the first time is like meeting a stranger. First impressions are made in seconds.

A basic change to your site can directly, positively, effect its purpose (commerce, sign-ups, lead generation, etc.) and improve your revenue. Do what you have to, to convert first-time users into regular visitors.

Online Marketing

6 Steps To A Digital Strategy That Guarantees Results

Create your Brand Hero (Who exactly are you talking to?)

Chanelle Segerius-Bruce

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Digital Strategy

Your Brand Hero is often a mixture of some of your favourite past clients and could even be a version of you 3 to 5 years ago. Go deep and think about what they love to do, how they spend their time, what they passionately stand for and believe in, where they shop, what sort of holidays they like to take and what values are important to them.

Don’t worry about appealing to everyone, the more niche you can be the better. For example: “I help women with their health” vs. “I help new moms regain their energy through tailored exercise and nutrition”. In the second example, it’s crystal clear exactly who the programme is for.

Do market research. Send out a survey (without actually calling it a survey!) and ask them questions specifically around what their struggles or frustrations are. Ask them to select five ways that you propose to help them and see what they want. You can offer them a prize or a free value-packed download in return for completing the form. Keep it less than two minutes as people are time-poor these days.

Go one step further and select 5 to 10 people from the survey who filled it out in depth and jump on a call with them. Record it via Zoom and have it transcribed using Rev.com – now, you can use the actual words your potential used to describe their struggles into your upcoming marketing posts, email newsletters or sales copy.

1. Tell Stories

To cut through the 1000’s of marketing messages, your Brand Hero sees all day long online, you’ll need to use stories to connect in a genuine and authentic way. As the online market becomes more sophisticated people don’t respond to boring sales copy anymore. Injecting a story is crucial to creating a community around your brand.

People need to feel like they belong and that they know you intimately, especially if you have a personal brand but this can work for any company. Think about Richard Branson as head of Virgin. He blogs and shares his life via social media. He seems like an all-around nice guy who we love to follow and you’re probably interested when he launches a new product or service.

Humans learn through stories and find them easier to remember than a bunch of facts being thrown at them. Think about making your content shareable. Is what you’re creating and putting out into the online world worth a share? Would you share it? Would you be moved to buy from your own message?

“People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it” – Simon Sinek

Share your why. What’s the big why behind your brand and business? What’s driving you to do this? What’s important to you? What impact do you want to create in the world? Share that.

Related: How I Run An International Business From A Remote Beach Town In The Eastern Cape

2. Show behind the scenes, be real and human

A simple tactic to use for your digital strategy is to show behind the scenes of what it is you do. This can work across the board for many kinds of businesses and show the human side of your brand. Who’s doing the work? How’s your product being created? Where are your materials sourced from? Take people with you on a journey and let them see how it’s created.

If you’re a serviced-based business you can do the same. Instagram Stories, Facebook Live and Instagram lives would be perfect for this sort of thing. Once a week, create an hour by hour account of your day and give your audience a glimpse into your workday.

Be fascinating. Don’t spend all your time consuming content. Turn the tables and get into the mode of creating. Treat your business like a mini media company and always be thinking about what you can share.

Create before you consume!

3. Live video streaming

Live video streaming

Live video is by far the number one way to stand out from the crowd. Video will make up 82% of all internet traffic in 2021, according to forecasts released by Cisco. Get uncomfortable by doing the things not everyone’s willing to do. One of those is showing up and giving value on a platform like Facebook Live. Livestreams are great as you can interact with your audience, show your expertise and take Q&A directly from your potential customers.

From a practical point of view make sure you’re in flattering light (preferably natural light from a large window) or invest in some decent lights on a stand. Use a tripod. Get a Rode VideMic Me, a directional microphone for Apple iPhone and iPad so that your sound quality is good. Have your juicy topic ready and write out some bullet points on a whiteboard so you don’t lose track halfway through. Now 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 press that blue live button!

4. Grow your List with an opt-in freebie and give results ahead of time

It’s not enough to rely on social media platforms alone. With ever-changing algorithms and the fickle nature of human behaviour, putting your eggs in one basket could come back to bite you. You don’t own Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or Linkedin. Take Snapchat for example. When Instagram introduced Instagram Stories, and basically swiped the idea and format, Snapchat lost users in droves! Ensure that you build your email list as that’s a rather valuable asset for your business and if you decide to sell in future you’ll get a higher price if your database is substantial.

Create a valuable PDF, Video series or Mini-Course that people would be eager to hand their names and email addresses over to receive. Create a simple opt-in page or a pop-up on your website with the enticing freebie offer. Once people agree to hear from you, you can then follow up with a welcome sequence and email out your newsletter regularly from your chosen CRM (Customer Relationship Manager) such as Active Campaign, Drip or MailChimp.

Remember to share stories, behind the scenes and valuable content with your readers and don’t simply bombard them with sales offers.

5. Be consistent

Pick two social platforms to focus on in the beginning. Don’t feel as though you need to be on every single one. The most important thing to remember is consistency. Get really good at posting regular content on a consistent basis. Engage with your audience. Respond to direct messages and comments. Build a loyal audience before expanding out to other platforms.

You can use blog posts, like I do, as pieces of pillar content that can then be spread around social media and posted to many platforms. My readers know that every Monday I release a value-packed blog post that will help them move the needle forward in their business. This goes on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Linkedin, Medium and gets emailed out to my list via MailChimp.

Related: Creating Power Digital Campaigns

6. Use launches to sell new offerings

Everything mentioned above falls under regular, organic content. When you have a new product, service or program to put out into the world you’ll need to map out a launch plan. This will involve going live more often, posting more often, creating branded graphics for social media and putting some budget behind paid traffic. You can do this by boosting your Facebook lives for example or sending paid traffic to your opt-in freebie that you’ve created so that you build your following faster and have eager buys to launch to.

To keep up to date with Chanelle’s tips visit http://segeriusbrucecoaching.com/blog/

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Online Marketing

The Seven Rules Of Social Media

Here are 8 tips from the proverbial digital playbook.

So Interactive

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Social media has become indispensable when it comes to marketing and PR. Smart, carefully thought out, and well implemented social media strategies have shown to increase exposure and engagement, improve search engine rankings, increase turnover, encourage brand loyalty, and improve lead generation. Converting social media followers into true fans is the key and will set you well on your way to creating long term customer advocates and “ideal” customers.

Here are 8 tips from the proverbial digital playbook. They lay out exactly what brands can do and the ground rules that they should follow to prevent social media faux pas:

1. Don’t Over Promote Your Brand

Your profile or page on any social media platform should clearly communicate your brand message and offering to your target audience. Your social media posts need to be more than overt marketing tactics. Offer your audience relevant, interesting, and engaging content. Overly sales orientated content is a sure way to lose followers. Conversational and on trend content is the way forward.

2. Think Before You Post

Always take the time to properly consider your content before posting it. Think it through and ask yourself if it is relevant to your target customer, if it uses the correct tone, and does it put your brand message across accurately. Consider the purpose of each social media platform and the content that is generally consumed on each of them.

Plan, evaluate your messaging, and use relevant hashtags.

Related: Social Media Marketing For Start-ups: Essential Tips

3. Always Fact Check & Cross Reference

Fact checking isn’t just for journalists and TV news. Always fact check your content, especially when trying to tie in news and current affairs into your messaging. A careless mistake in your content can be extremely damaging to your brand. Making time to fact check can save you at the end of the day.

4. Damage Control

It is important to react quickly and professionally, be careful not to respond with knee jerk reactions. Never delete a post, comment, or response. It is important to own your failures and mistakes. Address issues out in the open and hold yourself accountable if need be. How you respond will make all the difference at the end of the day. You need to be prepared to take immediate action, to act fast, and at any time.

Take the time to properly assess the situation and make a calculated decision that is in the best interest of your business and brand. Transparency is key and showing that you managed a situation flawlessly will only reflect positively on your business.

5. Post Regularly

Manage and maintain your social presence effectively while promoting your offering by posting regularly. This ensures that your brand is kept top of mind while increasing brand exposure. It is important to keep in mind that over posting is not in your best interest and will only hold your brand back from gaining traction in the online space.

Your online audience and social platforms including social media could very possibly view your content as spam and flag it as such, including on Facebook. One to three posts a day are best practice and a formula used by most brands the world over.

6. Invest In The Time To Do Solid Research

Researching your customer personas, target market, your niche in the market, and so forth, should be researched very early on in the making of your business. However, going forward research makes for amazing content that is tailored to your target audience. A few hours of solid research can go a very long way in the process of creating quality social media content. Posting social content for the sake of the act itself is simply not an effective strategy. Posting carefully curated content for your target audience will yield higher engagement and conversions.

Related: 4 Key Social Media Mistakes You Might Be Making – And How To Avoid Them

7. Never Ignore Enquiries & Comments

Social media allows for two-way communication and conversations between businesses and their potential customers. Social media goes beyond simply putting the content on your timelines and onto the news feeds of your audience, it includes engagement between brand and customer in the online space. It is important to acknowledge your followers and your fans, every single time. This encourages brand loyalty and gives the impression that you value your followers. Answering messages and responding to comments shows that your brand is present and listening to the needs of the customer. Personal engagement and a speedy response speaks volumes.

Your first step is to consider getting a respected social media specialist onboard. Johannesburg based So Interactive is a highly respected digital marketing agency with an excellent reputation in South Africa and across borders. So Interactive is a boutique studio offering clients quality digital solutions. Get in touch to get your next digital campaign off the ground. Talk to So Interactive, and together you can create a winning social media marketing campaign.

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Online Marketing

The Six Second Sweet Spot

Six-second video has been all the buzz since Google showcased the best of its six-second hackathon at Sundance in January 2017.

So Interactive

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video-marketing

In June last year, Fox announced it was on board with six-second bumper video ads. Google recently performed a study which established that nine out of ten bumper video ads drive ad recall while 61% increased brand awareness. Six seconds is proving to be the perfect time frame within which to tell your brand story.

The six-second video amplifies the beauty of storytelling in that it creates a much faster, more accessible and memorable way to communicate messages. The time constraint can be quite daunting and, at first, some would consider it a creative hinderance. However, a short sentence, a single word, a stand alone image, or a six second visual is often more than enough to catch and keep the attention of your audience as it pushes creatives to think differently and with more focus.

YouTube recently challenged creative agencies worldwide to retell fairytale classics by using only six-second video. The challenge was met overwhelming enthusiasm and creativity. From Bollywood classics to local folktales, every entry proved, for the first time, that short, powerful stories have much broader impact and memorability than their longer counterparts.

Related: The Launch Of Instagram TV

Six-second video is a snackable content trend that is paving the way forward for online content. Respectable industry leaders and key players in the field are predicting that six-second video ads will continue gaining traction at the end of 2018 and through into the coming year. Short form video has literally become the six-second sweet spot and will continue reshaping the way digital marketers address their audiences.

So Interactive, based in Johannesburg, are known for their work in video. If you are looking to create a six second brand message or a short series of six second videos that form a single brand story, then So Interactive is a fantastic fit and brilliant option. Go with the professionals, get a brilliant creative team on board, and get your six second video out to the world. Get in touch with So Interactive to discuss your next six second video marketing campaign.

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