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Upright Attends Cut & Paste Design Competition

The first Cut&Paste digital design competitionwas held in New York City in 2005. It has grown massively since. Today, preliminary rounds are held in each of 12 cities worldwide — with winners competing in the Global Championship in NYC each year.

This past Saturday, I was in attendance for the Los Angeles qualifying round of this now-famous design competition. Held in a small warehouse downtown, graphic designers and 3D animators hunched over their computers as we watched 3 speedy rounds of live graphic designing. (more…)

How Does My Website Look On Different Computers & Mobile Devices?

We receive this question all the time.  Often it starts with the line, “I checked the website from home and ______ was different…”

Good web designers and developers do a considerable amount of testing before launching a new website — using tools to simulate the view of the website on different computers (various resolutions), different Internet browsers (Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome, Safari, Opera etc.), and different devices (desktop, laptop, tablet, mobile).

Here we’d like to share a few of the FREE tools we recommend for those who would like to simulate the view of your website as others see it:

>TEST AT DIFFERENT RESOLUTIONS <- Viewlike.us is an online application that enables you to quickly test your website in different resolutions. Simply enter your website URL in the provided field and click “Submit.” Once the webpage loads, click different resolution tabs to view how the site looks on computers of several resolutions.

TEST IN DIFFERENT WEB BROWSERS <- A link to a strong list of cross browser testing tools. We recommend Adobe BrowserLab (the first on this list), but wanted to include this full list of recommendations, as BrowserLab will switch to un-free shortly.

TEST DIFFERENT MOBILE/TABLET DEVICES <- A link to a strong list of device “emulators” as they’re often called. Your best bet is to simply research which are the top 5 or 10 mobile and tablet devices at the time of your website/project launch, and download the individual emulator specifically catered to those tools. (Emulators that claim to match the view at several different devices typically do not work.)

Testing is important and (shhh — don’t tell!) can actually be fun. Remember to also test the view of social media campaigns, such as your Twitter profile and Facebook landing pages. Happy testing!

Tuesday Tip: Get A FASTER Website

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Do you dream of a faster website for your business? A fast-loading website:

– Earns better rankings in Google (Announcement from Google)
– Earns better ad placement when using Google Adwords paid advertising
– Improves satisfaction in site visitors (They get the info they need faster!)
– Increases the number of pages one visitor views by 25% (They’re happy, so they stay on your site longer!)
– Increases conversion rates (Happy people email you more often and make online purchases!)

To achieve these benefits, you don’t need the world’s fastest-loading website. You just need to be in the “safe zone”. These tools let you know if your website’s speed is holding you back:

  • Page Speed, an add-on for the Internet browser Firefox that evaluates webpage performance and offers improvement suggestions.
  • YSlow, a free tool from Yahoo! that suggests ways to improve website speed.
  • WebPagetest shows your website’s load performance page by page.
  • Pingbrigade tests your website’s speed as experienced by site users worldwide

If your website performs poorly in these tests, contact a friendly SEO pro at Upright Communications. We can help speed you up! Or, if you’re feeling really tech-savvy and want to improve your website’s speed yourself, read instructions here: Distilled’s Site Speed for Dummies Part 2 – How To Do It.

Tuesday Tip: ACT NOW to Improve Visitor Response

A great way to build a database of potential customers is to use your website to generate a list of interested prospects. An effective visitor response form on your website will do the job, if you follow these quick and simple tips that will get visitors to ACT NOW:

Above the Fold – It is important to make sure your response form is simple, direct and located entirely above the fold. This means that the full form should be visible without scrolling. A form that extends below the fold may appear to be too long or time consuming. The quicker it can be completed, the more likely visitors are to use it.

Create a Connection – Don’t just tell your visitors about your business, tell them what you have to offer them. If you are able to connect your offer with their needs, you will have a much better chance of compelling them to act. Letting them know that you will not share the information they are submitting will also help you to connect with their needs.

Talk Action – Develop an action oriented headline that encourages visitors to fill in and submit the form. Instead of the headline: “Free Downloadable Brochure”, use a headline that urges action:”Download Your Free Brochure Today.” Use brief, specific copy in bullet point form to explain what benefits responders will receive by responding:

  • Increased Sales
  • Higher Productivity
  • Improved Efficiency

 

No Distractions – When visitors land on your response form page, you want them to stay there.  Links on the response form landing page that take visitors to other areas on your site may distract them from filling out the form. A “thank you” page, which appears after the form is submitted, is a great place to provide links to other pages.

 

Offer Something – Increase the likelihood of a visitor submitting your response form by offering them something immediate in return. A free brochure, guide or whitepaper provides the responder with an immediate reward. It will also provide a value that may allow you to require a little extra information on your form.

What’s the Point – Visitors should be able to discern at a glance what is being offered to them on the response form page. Make sure the headline clearly states what responders will be getting: “Download your 15-page Guide to Increasing Sales.” Replace generic submit button text with a specific message: “Download Now.” Adding an image of the guide will also help responders to know what exactly they are downloading.

 

Bing & Yahoo Alliance: Key Facts

Starting this week, Yahoo search results have a new label: “Powered by Bing.”  What?!  Yahoo and Microsoft’s Bing once were two search engines vying for 2nd in market share, behind all-powerful Google.  Their limited alliance —  centered upon Yahoo’s adoption of Bing’s search technology and advertising display — is a major attempt to offset Google’s dominance in search.  Can you say “no more monopoly”?

Key Dates in Bing /Yahoo Search Merger thanks to coverage by the New York Times

  • Spring 2008: Microsoft offers a whopping $47.5 billion to buy Yahoo after merger talks lead nowhere.
  • Summer 2008: Microsoft abandons the offer, frustrating Yahoo investors.
  • January 2009: Carol Bartz named CEO of Yahoo, as co-founder Jerry Yang is ousted.
  • July 2009: The two companies announce a partnership in Internet search and advertising intended to create a stronger market with Google. (<– the current deal)
  • August 2010: With few announcements from either party, Yahoo begins displaying Bing-powered search results in the US.
  • December 2010: Yahoo plans to display Bing paid advertising, beginning at this time.

Good Timing for Yahoo?
While the alliance is a big win for Microsoft’s Bing– growing since its June 2009 launch– Yahoo is feeling the current momentum:

  • In July 2010, Google remained the market leader by a wide margin, holding 65.8% of the U.S. search market compared with 66.2% in June.
  • Yahoo picked up those lost points, rising to 17.1% from 16.7% share.
  • Bing held its share at 11%.

Yahoo also stands to retain an incredible 88% of paid ad revenue for searches originating in Yahoo during the first 5 years of this merger.  In layman’s terms, Yahoo is “getting a better search engine” for next-to “free,” until it begins forking over a larger share of ad revenue in 2015.  Finally, Yahoo’s Dow Jones stock trading is down 1% for August 2010, vs. a nearly 8% dive in August for Microsoft. Time will tell!

Website Testimonials – Why Publish Them?

I didn’t grow up here in Los Angeles, so I’m still trying new restaurants around town.  It’ll take me a long time, eh?  To cut losses, I count on sites like Yelp.com and Chow.com to read Testimonials by people who have already eaten what I’m sniffin’.  Crucial restaurant questions are answered: how long was the wait for service, and do they have good dessert?  Yelp reviews starred 1 -> 5 guide me like the Big Dipper towards dinners that are…hopefully…”out of this world.”

But can Testimonials work on your business site?  Definitely.  Here’s WHY you should add Testimonials to your site:

TestimonialEffectiveness

1. TESTIMONIALS ARE READ. I’m not the only one persuaded by online Testimonials, which can be found both on general review sites like Yelp and on individual business sites.  In fact, studies prove Testimonials to be especially effective on B2C sites.

Yahoo!Local recently analyzed the decision-making behavior of 2,500 consumers visiting home improvement websites.  We are not all in the business of home improvement, but the statistics to the right are valuable in showing that Testimonials truly encourage visitor action.  Specifically for household products and services, Testimonials are one of the most clicked-on site features (see right).
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Low-Cost Site Usability Testing

1,000,000 visitors are useless…if none becomes a sales lead.

So Upright designs sites for easy navigation, integrating keywords logically to provide the solution to each visitor.  We analyze visitor behaviors monthly to uncover areas of statistical difficulty.  And as weak spots are suspected, we utilize Google Website Optimizer and live usability tests.  (Notably, we code and design all buttons, images and text for layout alternatives.)

While doing this deep-level analysis, we also research new Usability Testing tools to see which could benefit our clients. One goal of our blog is to share new tools we discover…
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Web Site Usability Testing – Overview

A usability study or usability test is a great way to learn from a sample of real people to provide a better user experience with your web site. When you work closely on a project, sometimes it’s difficult to take a step back and view a web page or site as a normal user would. A fresh set of eyes often sees and can identify the positives and negatives of a web page that those who work on the site every day may be too close to see. Learning the basics of usability testing can get you started thinking about how to conduct your own usability study and how it can help you make your web site better.
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