Why Website Usability Is Important For Brand Experience

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Building a website to market your brand is an exciting task, but it’s also one that comes with its fair share of challenges as well. There is a lot of different ways you can approach designing a website isn’t there? And it’s easy to get carried away.

In today’s digital world any business hoping to make an impact will need a website to showcase their brand, but website’s today can do so much more than just display information. They offer you unmatched versatility and reach but just because you’re a creative individual doesn’t mean you can build a high-quality website.

A lot of people make mistakes when crafting their website because they simply lose sight of what their website is supposed to do. They instead focus solely on the visual aspect and while this is incredibly important there is more to a website than just what it looks like.

That might sound strange when you consider how important a consistent image and design is when it comes to a website. But you have to ask yourself how good a website will actually be if it’s unusable? A striking design might make it look nice but if you can’t use the website is it actually any good?

The answer is no! An eye-catching design that also relates to your brand identity is important, but you also need to make sure your website is usable and when we say usable we mean usable by everyone. It’s important that no matter who your target audience is that your website can be accessible to everyone.

For example, let’s take a look at the Nicholson Original London Dry Gin website, it features a striking design that relates to their brand but is also simple and easy to use. Navigating their website is easy even for someone who as never really used a computer before, for example, the menu bar at the top easily highlights the separate areas of the website.

Getting the balance between an attractive design and maximum usability can be difficult because they are very closely connected but it can be done. If you’re ever struggling you can always take inspiration from your competitors, but make sure you don’t just copy everything you see.

How Do You Achieve Maximum Usability?

Well, that is the question, isn’t it? How do you build a website that showcases your brand effectively and is usable by a wide range of people? You need to plan carefully and know your brand inside out to ensure you build the best website possible and that isn’t always easy.

In fact, it rarely ever is that’s why freelance web designers are so popular, building a website is relatively simple but building a good one isn’t. But we can help you, below we’ve outlined some tips that will help you ensure your website is both the perfect representative of your brand and easy to use.

Keep It Simple

The word simple is a strange one, isn’t it? In certain circumstances, it can be bad but when it comes to website design it usually means the opposite a simple website doesn’t mean a poor one. Let’s consider the Nicholson Original London Dry Gin website again, it might be simple but it’s still striking, and a great representative of the businesses brand isn’t it?

A simple design can still be innovative as well, it doesn’t always mean basic, but it does mean you have to think about all the aspects of your website carefully. There are a lot of variables to take into account but as a general rule, the “less is more” approach is usually a good one to take.

Across Device Functionality

The internet has changed a lot, hasn’t it? In fact, I think there’s a good chance that many people reading this aren’t using a computer you could be browsing on your tablet or your smartphone. This is something you really need to take into account when designing your website because across platform functionality is essential.

Mobile web surfing is becoming more and more popular and the highly sort after audience groups like millennials and generation Z are more likely to utilise mobile devices so if they’re your target audience you need a website that will look just as good on a smartphone as it will on a tablet.

But even if they aren’t your target audience a website that works across multiple devices is still essential for effectively promoting your brand. So, make sure you ensure that your website is easy and simple to use across all devices.

Focus On The Text

They say a picture is worth a 1000 words, don’t they? And that’s true graphics, photographs and videos are incredibly important when it comes to designing a website, but the text is just as important and it’s an important factor when it comes to ensuring your site’s usability.

And I’ am not just talking about SEO (although that is important as well) it’s important that your text is clear this goes for things like headings, menus, and titles.

It’s also important that you know how to effectively write for the web you need to be descriptive and interesting but also get to the point quickly. The layout is very important as well so break up those paragraphs and use features like bullet points and lists.

Use Images Strategically

When it comes to building your website, images are very important as I previously mentioned and not just as a design tool. They also affect the usability of your website as well, so it’s important that you know how to use images and photographs strategically.

You shouldn’t just upload a stock photo and call it a day, you need to make sure the image relates to your brand and business. Does the image support or enhance the accompanying text in any way? Learning how to use images effectively can take some practice so don’t be afraid to experiment but remember the image should have a purpose beyond just looking nice. 

11 Factors to improve website usability

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We’re told to not judge books by their covers when we’re young – and while it’s a nice sentiment, I’m afraid to tell you that the practice doesn’t stick with us through to our grown-up internet shopping days.

We’re a fussy bunch, we’ll ditch a website as quick as a flash should we struggle with the navigation, not be enamoured by their imagery or be turned off by their layout.

However, according to SM Design Studio who are a Los Angeles web design company there are factors relevant to every website and some are more ‘crucial’ than others to get right.

If you want your ecommerce site to succeed, you’re going to have to overcome the most common pitfalls that see users hitting that ‘back’ button – and there’s a lot of them – but, fortunately for you, we’ve covered the most common 11 here…

  1. Load time

The first contributing factor to the usability of your ecommerce site happens before the first image or piece of text has loaded into your user’s browser.

The speed that your store appears on screen can make a MASSIVE difference to whether or not anyone sticks around to use your site, let alone decide how easy it is to use. Cause people to wait more than 3 seconds and you’ll lose somewhere between 38% and 44% of your audience.

Do everything you practically can to bring homepage loading time down to an absolute minimum.

  1. Make your homepage right

It might sound obvious – but your homepage really needs to make it clear that people are on a site that will sell them the product they’re looking for. Product images are important – and it’s also important that they correspond to what people are coming to your site looking for.

For example, you might have the best range of bikinis this side of Rio and a great email campaign that tells people so – but if they click through and see your range of winter jackets, don’t expect to sell much swimwear.

Studies show that you’ve got roughly one-twentieth of a second to make the right impression. That amount of time doesn’t allow for the human brain to make a solid conscious thought-based decision – but we’ve learned to base these snap thoughts on the colours, structure and layout of what we see – make it right or lose people.

  1. Complex filters

Menu filters can be awesome – but there’s a very thin line between superb and annoying.

If you make a menu filter over complicated you stand a chance of narrowing customer choice too far, meaning they’re left with just a very small number of available products. While they might well have chosen these options, users can be left with a bad impression of the store if they perceive that there are too few products stocked.

There are going to be standard filter options based on your industry – so do some research and see what will work for you.

When you’re doing your research, look out for subjective filter options – and remember them so you don’t fall into the same trap. What’s ‘leisure use’ to one person might be ‘professional standard’ to someone else – so stick to hard facts when you’re narrowing people’s search.

  1. Always let users search

It’s important to give people a rip-cord they can pull before hitting back and navigating away. A constant search bar at the top of the page gives people exactly this – and probably stops them clicking elsewhere when they’re tired of the product they’re currently looking at.

Essentially, the search bar gives you a second bite at the cherry – for example:

You don’t have the jacket a customer is looking for – so their instinct is to go back to the address/search bar at the top of the page. If you can offer them a search before they get their – they’re likely to glance over your range of jeans before they leave.

  1. Show stock levels early

There’s little as frustrating as getting all the way through your shopping process – sometimes choosing multiple items – before progressing to your basket and finding out that the first item you chose is out of stock.

Stock levels should be displayed on every product page. If they’re not, you stand the chance of really irritating customers – and irritated customers don’t persevere and keep spending money with you.

  1. Great imagery

Images are all we have when we’re shopping online – and if they’re not up to scratch you can expect to lose a huge number of people – who’ll all to go on to find a site that accurately shows what they’re shopping for.

Now, it might be time consuming, but showing images of every possible colour and design is vital. People don’t buy unless they’re confident – and they’re not confident unless they can envisage exactly what they’re going to get.

  1. Lots of product content

A massive number of online stores are guilty of going way too light with their product descriptions – and, just like scrimping on pictures, it’s going to put people off.

What you essentially risk by going light with your product content is putting a hurdle in the way of the purchase – and when people get to the hurdle? They’ll either look elsewhere for an answer – or they’ll ask you. Either way, your conversion levels drops significantly.

Words and pictures – a killer combo – and absolutely key if you want to maximise your sales.

  1. Stick to cart conventions

A quick and simple tip!

Don’t be quirky with your basket – sticking to the conventions keeps people confident. It needs to be somewhere near the top right of the page and should show the basket total price and number of items alongside it.

  1. Make add to basket obvious

Quick and simple tip number 2!

It needs to be extremely obvious how a customer adds a product to their basket. Make sure buttons are prominently placed and in an eye-catching colour.

  1. Basket etiquette

Again, keeping things predictable when people are reviewing their basket and checking out is really important unless you want your customers walking away with debit cards in their hands…

Confirm every detail of the product – including:

  • A picture (in the right colour/design)
  • Size
  • Quantity

Make it easy for someone to delete and item – it might sound counterproductive but if they don’t want it you need to make it simple for them to put one thing back – rather than abandon a heaving basket.

Oh – and the next step? That needs to be as obvious as getting to the basket in the first place. ‘Proceed to payment’ in eye catching colours and prominent placing wins the day.

  1. Focus on the check-out

Virtual checkouts differ from real checkouts massively. While you’re waiting in a queue in real life you’re a captive audience for the gifts, socks or snacks the retailer wants to tempt you with. Online the story is different though – you want your customers 100% focused on what they’ve got and getting over the payment finish line.

Now is not the time to recommend more products – now is the time to make the checkout process as light and simple as possible.

 

Is it possible to compete in the Online Gambling Oligopoly?

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Some industries offer ample opportunity to succeed if you have the correct basic ingredients in your repertoire. Whether that’s a small and efficient work force, an abundance of client demand, or a product that doesn’t have a sell-by date some businesses just work.

On the other end of the spectrum some business models are harder to decipher. The online gambling industry is a fairly new industry as far as trade and commerce goes with the boundaries not being completely ingrained so far. With online gambling being worth just under £5bn in the UK it’s only set to increase in prominence.

Furthermore, the accessibility of gambling onto our computer screens, mobile phones, and tablets has changed the connotations and reduced the stigma that is often associated with gambling. Although strict responsible gambling guidelines remain for good reason, the industry can now target demographics that wouldn’t often be associated with this area of recreation.

From a business perspective this creates many unchartered territory which you would think would only be a good thing, which it is if you know what you’re doing.

Breaking the walls of the Oligopoly

There are a number of factors at bay when attempting to grow an online casino, some of these are predetermined and some are down to you to manipulate. The Gambling industry seems on the outside an easy way to make money, the old saying ‘the house always wins’ being the mantra of many an external force.

With great propensity to make money comes significant competition in an industry where SEO and google search engine rankings can be the yardstick for success or failure.

It could be argued that the industry is dominated by 4 or 5 big companies. The likes of Ladbrokes, William Hill, Sky Vegas, or Coral.

These are companies who’ve been in the game a while and by definition of theirs names exist at the top of the pile through mass domain authority that creates immovable forces at the top. This oligopoly that exists at the top of the pile is a hard nut to crack.

SEO, Marketing, and Content

For the smaller slot platforms and casinos the most cost effective and competitive way to seize the market is through an efficient SEO and Content strategy. If you can build enough authority through a strategy of measured content and outreach then you can certainly challenge with the top dogs.

The nature of the industry relies wholly on google rankings with the exact opposite of a trickle-down effect occurring. If you’re at the top you receive the bigger proportions of the business and if you’re on the 5th page you are only receiving less than a percent of gambling traffic. Almost a microcosm for society where the top remain at the top and the bottom remain at the bottom. With a precise an efficient SEO strategy there’s no reason you can’t compete with the market leaders.

Building a Brand

The likes of William Hill are established names in the industry, almost household names. Finding the sweet spot between SEO strategy and building a relationship with a customer base or a demographic is the ideal compromise for new casinos in the industry.

Scott Manford, CEO of Wizard Slots said: “Here at Wizard Slots we seek to find the balance between technical strategies such as SEO, content marketing, and data analysis while also hoping to provide a more human, approachable face for customers to get on board with.”

“As time has went on and Wizard Slots has continued to grow we have noticed that the two go hand in hand and complement each other like for like. As your domain authority and presence in the market increased, so does the trust of customers and their loyalty to your brand.” View his website here.

Of course, there’s many variables at bay when competing with the fierce oligopoly that exists at the top of the online gambling pyramid, but these variants can also work in your favour and help you topple the pyramid through precise strategy and SEO methods.

The Equifax Hack – Are You Affected?

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Between May and July this year 694,000 customers had their personal details stolen when the credit reference agency Equifax was the victim of a cyber-attack.

Although Equifax initially played down the severity of the breach, they have since admitted that the stolen data included usernames, passwords, secret questions and answers, email addresses and even credit card numbers.

The companies we trust with our sensitive data usually do a good job of keeping it safe – but what happens when they don’t? How can you check whether you’ve been put at risk – and what can you do if so?

What was stolen?

While 694,000 customers are likely to be significantly impacted by the breach – there were actually 14 million UK customer’s records stolen, although most only contained names and dates of birth.

Fortunately, names and birth dates are worth very little to criminals without the addition of other, more difficult to obtain, pieces of personal information. With this in mind, the focus has been on the smaller number of people who have been left vulnerable after the attack.

Although Equifax provide services to some large UK corporate companies, the stolen records are believed to belong to direct Equifax customers – i.e. people who have used the service to access and monitor their credit score.

How did it happen?

Equifax say that hackers exploited a vulnerability in their website – allowing them to access and download customer information that was held in an otherwise internal database.

As website users we only see pages and elements that are useful to us. But, behind the scenes, all websites are accessed through a series of secure control panels. These control panels are used by technical teams to administer the website; from what’s on display to the programming intricacies that allow us to log-in and perform sometimes complicated tasks.

Programming experts agree that in the case of this hack, criminals have been able to access passwords and bypass the security for these controls – allowing access to the data that is held within.

What does it mean to you?

It’s not until you understand what can be done with your personal data that the impact of the Equifax hack can be put into context.

Criminals use stolen data in a variety of ways:

  • Bank account fraud

With enough of your data you can be impersonated, either online or over the telephone – allowing fraudsters to access and control your accounts.

When in control they can do a number of things, including; spending your money, transferring it out of your account or accessing credit in your name. This kind of fraud is the most common in the UK, with around 2.5 million crimes reported during 2016 and 2017.

  • Accessing other accounts

Websites and online services generally use similar security measures to protect your data – and as users, we tend to answer with similar, if not the same, questions and passwords.

When a criminal has access to a chunk of your information, they are far more likely to be able to go on and access other online accounts belonging to you. With this information more data can be stolen – making you easier to impersonate, or even leading to fraudsters contacting you directly – convincingly posing as a company you have an account with.

  • Obtain documents

With enough personal information criminals can request copies of your official documents and ID.

With these documents they may be able to obtain services and products – even posing as you in person. The most popular kind of crime that the physical theft of documents leads to is the obtaining of goods in store – such as mobile phones, electrical goods and high-value household items.

  • Hi-jacking email and social media

Social media and email accounts can be the gateway for criminals to access hundreds – if not thousands of other people.

If stolen details can be used so someone else can pose as you online – your friends and family are likely to trust information that’s sent to them – because it appears to be from you. This means, hackers can quickly start harvesting other people’s personal details, as well as your own.

What should you do?

Equifax have committed to contacting all customers affected by the hack by letter – and should have already done so by now. If you suspect that you have been affected and haven’t heard directly from Equifax, you can call them on 0800 587 1584 – a dedicated advice line for UK customers in relation to the breach.

While the implications of this data-loss are vast, the message from the police and companies such as VectorCloud who are a leading IT Support company in Glasgow is to try not to panic about security, instead, work toward being as safe as you possibly can.

Check your accounts

Awareness is vitally important when you’re keeping your details safe. Checking your bank account and credit card statements for transactions you don’t recognise is a good first step and can be an indication if someone has used your details recently.

Checking your credit report is helpful too – if you see accounts or entries that don’t relate to products or services you’re aware of, it’s possible that they’ve been opened fraudulently. Contacting the companies in question is a good first step, but should be followed by a call to the police if it turns out your suspicions are correct.

Rather than calling your local police force – Action Fraud is the national police reporting centre for fraud and cyber-crime. They can be contacted on 0300 123 2040 and have specially trained staff to handle your case.

Tighten up online

55% of us admit to using the same passwords across virtually all our favourite websites and services – meaning one stolen password unlocks the door to your electronic life.

The strongest passwords contain upper and lower case latters, numbers and symbols. Although they can be difficult to remember there are handy free apps and services that can help with this.

Before you consider inputting any personal details into a website – you should always check that the site displays secure credentials – usually signified with a green padlock next to the website’s address. This means your data is encrypted and will be safely handled.

The Equifax hack shows that no company is 100% safe from criminals – but as more high-profile cases occur, businesses and internet users will be increasingly driven to make sure their own online practices are as safe as can be.