Maximizing the Online Revolution: Improving Web Performance & Design
Marla Johnson Norris
Marla Johnson Norris, CEO of Aristotle Design wowed us for 2 hours straight with an amazing presentation completely catered to jewelers, giving us the lowdown on what makes successful websites. She not only laid it out in terms we could understand (not too techie), but had example after example of SNAG member’s websites and what could be improved or tweaked, or what was hitting it right on. No holds barred, she went to the top and scrutinized even the PDS organizers’ websites.
Let me share with you some of the highlights I’ve gleaned from her Top 10 Tips to improving your website performance.
KNOW YOUR KEYWORDS: use your Artist Name, Jewelry types/Materials/Trends, Specific Design Terms. Start Broad and narrow down; you’re aiming for that sweet spot where a lot of people are searching for your keyword, but there isn’t much competition for that keyword.
REPEAT your KEYWORDS on your site in multiple places: hypertext links, image titles, title pages, title tags, website address, headline font.
HAVE CONTENT ON YOUR HOMEPAGE: Just having a pretty image doesn’t cut it, you NEED to have text (and text that is not a rasterized image), content, and links. Content on POP UP windows or PULL DOWN MENUS won’t be seen by the search engines. Now, before you freak out, do this at least: have your SITE MAP to your website posted, which will list all the hypertext links.
FLASH-driven SITES ARE BAD. Yes, this I was aware of and had my pretty flash site redone into HTML so the search engine spiders can find you. Flash sites are basically seen as one big image–so get over your flash selves and get with it!
MUSIC IS BAD. Nuf said.
PROVIDE PRICING ONLINE: Make it easy for people to buy your work, saves your time and theirs.
LABEL ALL YOUR IMAGES. Be specific, concise with your file names and don’t forget to label your Alt Tags and Captions. Flickr is a good example where they make it easy to label the tags for all your images. Abbreviated labels, or using your own coding system (like eo_id346) does not help others find your work, nor does it help Google Images find you either.
Marla Johnson Norris
CREATE APPROPRIATE TITLE TAGS, and LIMIT THEM TO 65 CHARACTERS MAX. This was the big whammy for all of us, especially those people who use web mac templates for their websites, which often have default, lame title tags. The TItle Tag being what comes up on that very top bar of your browser, above the URL. This is definitely a programmer/coding kind of thing, but UBER IMPORTANT. Every character counts, so GET RID OF :: | | _ _ in your title tags. The FIRST WORD is the most important, the second word the second important, and so on. If your title tag says “Home :: Welcome”, you better change it quick. “Francesca Vitali Paper Jewelry” is ideal.
And not that, but EVERY PAGE SHOULD HAVE A DIFFERENT TITLE TAG. Otherwise, you’re only competing with yourself.
My last AHA tidbit to share is: DESIGN FOR CURRENT SCREEN RESOLUTION. Yes, this sucks for those of us whose sites are coming from the age of 800 x 600 pixels. Lesson: redesign every 2 years. Stats are that only 8% of web users have a max screen resolution of that size. Today less than 32% of people are viewing at 1024 x 768!
To sum up, remember these points: Make it EASY, Have CLEAR CATEGORIES, Every page leads to SALES, BIG IMAGES, PROFESSIONAL looking DESIGN.