8 Tips for running your website in 2011

How do you go about creating a relevant and authoritative website amongst the multitude of sites today? There are many reasons for having an online presence. If you have pondered starting a website but put it off, then you should realise that your competitors’ websites are probably already reaping the benefits of the internet. Customers will often start their search for your service online. Be sure to be there when they do! The web offers a 24-hour service from anywhere in the world. Surely there are ways of capitalising on this? Well let’s look at some of the developments in the internet that will help, whether you’re looking to start your own website or need to update your current site in 2011….

1 – Mobile devices

Why would somebody want to view a website on their mobile? Surely having to create an iPhone, Blackberry and Android site requires just too much extra effort and money? Well fortunately it’s easier than you may think. Mobile internet is on the rise with handhelds outselling actual desktop computers, millions of users are checking everything from their emails and social networking updates to online content on a daily basis. Just think of the possibility of having your website viewable at any time from any place by millions of handheld users! But remember, adjustments may need to be made with handhelds as the small screen size and differences in coding can irritate you website use and prevent them from properly viewing your online content.

Check out this website for more information on the topic. It claims that there are a potential 83,000,000 handheld users surfing the web and this growing number is set to overtake desktop browsers in less than three years! Now is the best time to get up and beat your competitors to having a mobile-friendly website!

2 – Social Networks

Recently overtaking Google as the customer research database of the internet, Facebook has already compiled the personal interests of 250 million users and uses software that can predict your personal shopping trends. Scary! If you have products to sell, consider making use of Facebook Commerce and you will instantly have a vast number of customers to sell to.
Have you got a Facebook account for your company/small business? Having like/dislike features on every website is not as beneficial as having your own Facebook page where you can gather customers and partners as fans. Put up photos of in the gallery and get feedback and vital research. If you can increase the interactivity of your website then you are onto a winner, whether it is by getting people to post their own experiences, photos or just developing a buzz through starting a weekly discussion. Look at the recent example of Disney, getting Facebook users to contribute childhood memories to their webpage, creating universal feelings of nostalgia and Disney appreciation.
Other things to consider are a blog or the mandatory Twitter account. Be careful to avoid carpet bombing your Twitter users with links upon links. Try to approach the Twittersphere with a more personable approach to ensure you provide a more interactive web experience to your users.

3 – Compatibility

Still a persisting problem with internet users across different operating systems. More likely than not, you will make use of a specific browser on your operating system to check out websites online. A multitude of browsers have emerged in the last decade and as each develops, there are more and more problems with browser compatibility. It’s important to stick to a decent standard when coding in HTML5 and to test your websites across different browsers.

4 – Typography

Typekit, Googlefonts, Cufon
With the development of HTML 5 and CSS3, web designers can now incorporate different fonts into their sites, making creative possibilities much more exciting. Previously, coders would have to paste text in the form of images to their sites, but now it’s possible to place in selectable text that is easy to edit. Programs available at the moment for incorporating different fonts include: Typekit and for free versions: Google webfonts and Cufon. You should choose a program that suits your needs as some require you to upload fonts allowing more customization, and some have a selection of fonts online to choose from for quicker use.

5 – Advances in technology

Nowadays, broadband and optical cable is pretty standard in offices and households across the country leaving the days of slow-loading images and screechy dial-up sound effects a fading memory. Back in the technological day, we were advised that complicated JavaScript, video and image heavy content be kept to a minimum to ensure a smooth browsing experience. In the last decade computer technology has advanced exponentially and one particular benefit we can make use of is the increase in screen size and resolution. Instead of being limited to a 960px width, websites can now use 1024 or 1140 resolution comfortably. Bear this is mind when deciding what content to put on your site, you can now fit more categories into your headers, there is no need to strictly limit the amount of colours in the images you use, and you can now make use of full-screen photography for your backgrounds. Check out some examples of full-screen photos in web design.  This also brings us into our next category…

6 – Video

Welcoming users to your site using video can be far more personable and visually stimulating than with the old standard text and accompanying photo. People will search for video content  as often people prefer to get information this way. Bear in mind that YouTube is the second largest search engine on the internet! Start a YouTube channel and put up creative and interesting content and you’ll have access to an extra 100 million estimated users. Having video on your sites enables you to reach a different, much larger, audience and is easily transferred across social networking sites.
New businesses that are aware of the importance of creating a brand with a personality can reap the benefits by streaming video. Compared to reams of text, video is a quicker, space-saving option for conveying content in an easily digestible, user-friendly format. Bear in mind that Youtube although having a much larger potential audience may not suit your business. Vimeo offers higher resolution streamable video with a more professional feel.

7 – Search Engine Optimization

Preparing your website for Google before its launch can often causes last minute worries. A company or individual entering the web may feel that unless their website is creating a noticeable impact, that the endeavour may be fruitless. Often businesses will feel reassured only after spending a large amount of money on boosting their ranking through SEO ‘secrets’. Although this can help, ultimately the key to getting to the top of google’s search results is to provide internet users with well written and relevant content. Google is looking to provide the most interesting and authoritative content to people surfing the internet so good writing, plenty of links as well as meta tags will have your site ranking high in no time at all. Here’s a good guide by Google to organising your content to ensure optimum ranking.

8 – Accessibility

Although web design should be creative and innovative, a site should always be accessible, simple and easy to navigate. When designing a website you should always bear in mind your sight-impaired users. By placing meta-tags into your headers, navigation buttons and images, you are not only locating areas for people with difficulty seeing, but are giving your site more words for google to find you.

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