A month after arriving at college, I was writing my first ten-page paper on my brand new Dell desktop. Suddenly, and without warning, my paper was gone! And I hadn’t saved in almost an hour! What’s a college freshman to do?
In a panicked state, I frantically called the dorm IT “specialist.” Within minutes, my paper was back, although without the unsaved last hour of work (lesson number one learned). I asked, “What happened?? What did I do wrong??” He replied, “Nothing. Computers are just temperamental.”
Lesson number two learned was that computers are apparently not the simple machines I had at first suspected. They have a “temperament” and sometimes they break without reason. The same is true for all technologies, including your website. So when dealing with your website, what do you do when something breaks??
Reporting errors is a very important skill to learn when you’re working with a website, application or management system. When reporting errors, it’s a good idea to include and test out as much of the following as possible when sending a request for fixes to your web team:
- What browser am I using? Is the error the same in another browser? What version of the browser do I have?
- Can I replicate the issue? If so, what were the exact steps I took to create the issue?
Is my internet connection ok?
- Am I using a MAC or a PC?
- Did I include a link to the page the error is on? Can I take a screenshot to show exactly what’s happening?
Answer as many questions as possible to give your web team a good idea of what’s going on. The more information your web team has, the faster it can be fixed!
Google rolled out its NEW mobile-friendly algorithm today.
Why is Google doing this? The world is mobile. With an estimated 63% of American adults using their phones to go online (Pew Research Center), Google, the world’s largest search engine, wants companies to get serious about their mobile strategies.
What does this mean? When searching on your devices, Google will highlight mobile-friendly in the search engines. More importantly, mobile-friendly websites will rank higher in mobile searches.
How does this impact your organization’s web strategy? For one thing, if you don’t have a mobile strategy, it’s time to get serious about one. It’s also a good time for those with mobile strategies to assess them.
- Start with your own analytics. When reviewing your analytics, go to Audiences>Mobile>Overview. You can see from what type of device visitors are accessing your website. To gather a sense of whether or not traffic has climbed among mobile devices over a specific period, simply select the “compare to” in the calendar box (top right hand corner) and adjust dates. You can customize the dates based on specific periods.
- Use the mobile-friendly test tool. This tool crawls individual pages on your website and lets you know if a page is not mobile-friendly and why.
- Make your current website responsive. These days many content management systems, including Sitefinity and WordPress, offer responsive templates to help web developers convert desktop sites to responsive.
Finally, if you haven’t redesigned your website in a few years, make sure that you budget for a responsive website.
It’s no secret that Chrome is a good browser to develop in. I use it all the time.
Not everyone’s familiar with all the tools available to them, though. Tutorialzine came out with a great list of must-know tips and tricks that’s going to make your job way easier.
.gif via Tutorialzine
#7, Pretty Print, is really useful. It’ll un-minify code so you can actually read it without having to copy it into your text editor and add whitespace yourself.
Do you have a favorite tip – even one that’s not on this list? Let us know about it!
UI design has been evolving recently, and that has a lot to do with Google’s new Material Design Language that debuted last year. The concept is inspired by traditional ol’ paper and ink. Google interfaces are now more three dimensional with each component on its own “physical” layer, like sheets of paper laying on top of each other, sliding around to reveal different content sections.
Google designer Matías Duarte explained that “unlike real paper, our digital material can expand and reform intelligently. Material has physical surfaces and edges. Seams and shadows provide meaning about what you can touch.”
This is why we’re seeing design start to move away from flat design, sliding back to a more skeumorphic experience. But don’t worry, it will never get as far as the uber glossy buttons of yore and offensively strong drop shadows. What it does mean is that designers are starting to incorporate more subtle shadows and gradients back into their traditionally flat designs for added depth. For instance, that flat blue button, laying flat on a stark white background, will now have a subtle drop shadow so it appears to be a “physical” component sitting atop the ‘background material” but it will be so subtle, you probably won’t notice it unless you look close enough.
When Google creates something this big of a deal, other designers, myself included, take notice and pick up on a thing or two that in turn influences their designs going forward. I’ve been an apple fan forever, but watching what Google has been up to the past couple years is starting to make me think, maybe, just maybe, one day I’ll slide to the dark side and go Android.
Lately, we’ve been working with clients on developing and implementing event tracking strategies on their websites. Why is this important? These days, organizations are looking for opportunities to:
- Connect and engage with their users
- Gather data to better understand those users and their needs
- Assess the functionality of their websites
So, where does event tracking come into play? When it comes to designing and building websites, many of our decisions are subjective. And while things like big branding areas and tabs may seem like great ideas, we don’t have any data to back it up. This is where event tracking comes in.
So, how can Event Tracking help you enhance your users’ experience? Here are a few ways:
- It can tell you the effectiveness of your branding area. Research is showing that big branding areas are not as effective as we all think, but does that apply to your organization’s website? Event tracking can show you what branding images get the most clicks versus the least.
- You’ll get a sense of how far users scroll down your website. We recently added page scroll depth analytics to our website, and we’re discovering that the majority of users spend most of the time above the fold. With this in mind, one of our tasks is to review the overall design and determine the best approach for encouraging more visitors to scroll down. We may also want to move certain calls to actions like “subscribe to our newsletter” to the top to see if we get more subscriptions to the newsletter.
- Do visitors actually use some of the tools specifically built to help them find information quickly? Some clients include a link to their member databases on their website. Event tracking would allow us to see what visitors are searching for based on the already identified criteria. Isn’t that cool?
These are just a few ways of how event tracking can help you assess the effectiveness of your website. As you can see, the data can help you make decisions when it comes redesigning or modifying your website.