Thursday, March 29, 2007

Writing for the Web

Many of our clients want to write their own copy which is fine if they know that writing for the web is much different from writing a brochure, sales letter, or print ad.

Here are the basics to look for when writing for the web:

Rule #1 - Users don't read, they scan.

Bolded Items
Short Sentences
Bulleted Lists
Short Paragraphs
Use Headings and Subheadings

Rule #2 - The longer the line of text is horizontally on the page, the harder it is to read and comprehend.

Narrow column widths (there is a reason newspapers are they way they are
Left aligned text (never right or center align it)

Rule #3 - The good stuff should be above the fold.

Calls-to-action and offers above the fold
Linked keywords above the fold

Rule #4 - Your content makes or breaks your search engine ranking.

Keywords and phrases in title, tags, headers
Keywords as far up the page as possible
Often, but not too often
As internal links

Rule #5 - Less is more except when it comes to search engines

Less than 100 words per page, if possible
Case Studies, Articles, Blogs to add content that everyone may not read but that is important for search engines

Follow these rules and you'll have happy users and high search engine ranking.

Ivy Hastings is a Project Manager at Fusionbox, a Denver Internet Marketing and Web Design Company.

Fusionbox is offering a complimentary review of your site's search engine marketing friendliness.

Contact us to sign up.

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Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Exito Travel Case Study

We recently were contacted by Exito Travel, a company based in Ft. Collins, Colorado that provides travel deals for passengers going to South and Central America. They needed our expertise in design, usability and search engine optimization. Their current site needed some help in these three areas. The goals for the project were to:

• Redesign with a cleaner, more modern look and feel that appeals to their target audience. Use design to drive user actions like performing a flight search, or calling Exito.
• Increase leads by improving the lead generating forms.
• Create a central navigational system that considers key user paths.
• Rewrite the code in order to increase organic search engine ranking.

All of these goals supported increasing site traffic, page views, time spent on the site, and of course leads and bookings.

Here's what we did:

When redesigning a site, Fusionbox always considers the following rules:

• What is the first thing you want a user to do when on your site? How will the design support this critical user action?
• What is the second thing you want a user to do on your site? What are the key user paths and how are we going to make them as efficient and readily available as possible?
• How will we tackle the 30 Second Rule? (Showing users who you are, what you do, and what the user should do next within 30 seconds.)
• How are we going to most effectively use prime real estate - the area of the site above the fold in a user's browser?
• What design look and feel supports the brand and appeals to the target audience?

For Exito Travel, the first thing they wanted users to do was pick up the phone and call them. The second action was to do a flight search. With these key actions in mind, we made the phone number much more visible and placed the flight search tool at the top right of the page where users expect to perform an action (this is according to eyetracking studies).

We tackled the 30 second rule simply by keeping the logo at the top left of the page where the eye goes first, and creating calls-to-action that underscore what Exito does and what the user should do. For example: Book a Flight, Search Group Flights, and Search Flights to Mexico. This way users knew exactly who Exito was, and what option they should use that fit their needs.

In the previous design, important calls-to-action were placed below the fold in 1024x768 meaning most users would completely miss them. This most certainly meant lost leads. We made the most of the real estate above the fold by moving up these important calls-to-action that support key user paths.

The current design had some great elements, and then some that weren't necessarily working toward an end goal. We redesigned to appeal to a young target audience (20-40) by using modern colors, rounded, contemporary, 2.0 looking shapes, and removing stock illustrations.

Here’s the old site:

Here’s the new site:

Users complained of "getting lost" and not knowing how to get back. To improve usability, we created a central top navigational system that was missing from the previous site so users could navigate around to different sections without getting lost. We also added a breadcrumb trail to help users orient themselves on the site. We developed a left nav that was very clear and also managed to use keywords, i.e., Flights to Mexico, Belize Tours, etc.

We put the all important Booking Tool on every page in the same place so users could take advantage of booking from anywhere on the site. This way, users could be reading about a Tour in Guatemala, and then book that tour immediately on the same page. This increased bookings dramatically.

Before the redesign, the lead generation forms were lengthy and bulking. We recreated the forms and eliminated unnecessary information from the tools. Fields like Mr./Ms./Mrs, Fax Number and auto filling information whenever possible. We also presented the information in the form in steps rather than one long form that is intimidating to users.

Search Engine Improvements
The most dramatic success of redesigning Exito Travel’s site was the boost in site traffic by 50%. This is due to the search improvements we made to the existing code. By optimizing and streamlining the code, Exito Travel’s organic search engine results improved dramatically. We did not launch any other internet marketing strategies, and did not change the content in any way, but Exito still increased unique page views by half.

Fusionbox is a Denver Internet Marketing and web design company.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Exito Travel Traffic Increases by 50%

We've recently finished a project at Fusionbox where we redesigned and redeveloped a travel web site for Exito Travel.

The goals of the project were to:

Improve website design look and feel
Improve usabilityIncrease organic search engine ranking

All of these goals support the end goal of getting more traffic and conversions. The project has been an overwhelming success.

Here's the old site:

And the new one:

Right away you can see the difference in design. The site is more modern looking, less complicated and contains clear content areas. The code is clean and search engine friendly. These changes have resulted in 50% more traffic for Exito.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Increase Ecommerce Conversions

Research says that 59% of ecommerce users abandon the process before it is complete ( The reasons why users abandon the process are:

Not revealing pricing up front - Users want to know exactly what they are in for. You need to be up front about product pricing and, shipping and handling costs. Don’t try to trick users about pricing. Ever.

Poor usability – The process needs to be seamless, fast, and intuitive. Make buttons big and obvious. Error handling should make it very easy for users to go back and fix mistakes.

Asking for too much information – Fields like Mr./Miss/Mrs., Title, Company, Fax, Home Phone and Business Phone are not particularly valuable to you, and can really frustrate a user. Eliminate them and make the process shorter. Auto fill any information that you can. Have the country field default to US. Auto fill the shipping address.

Not presenting the process in steps –users respond to processes that are presented in steps. They also want to know where they are in the process and how much they have left to complete. We’ll segment the checkout process.

Forcing users to register in order to buy – Buying should be as easy as possible. Users have a block when it comes to registering. These are busy people. We need to let them get in, buy, and get out.

Presenting outside links or navigation –How often have you clicked on an outside link and then come back to find all the information that you have just added missing? Let’s keep the users focused on checking out.

Follow these best practices and you will increase your conversions dramatically. By giving your customers a pleasant buying experience, you will turn them into lifelong advocates of your products and service.

Ivy Hastings is a Project Manager at Fusionbox a Denver website design company.

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Wednesday, March 14, 2007

When AdSense Goes Wrong!

Dave Gannon, a Denver freelance designer, noticed that we had a competitor listed on one of the AdSense ads. The fact that this competitor is advertising with AdSense pretty much shows that they don't know squat about getting organic results. So, as far as competition, I'm really not worried. They are an ad agency and every ad agency I know, offers web design and then just outsources it and marks the work up by 50% and is more concerned with design and flash than usability, web best practices, etc. Too bad their poor clients don't know that too!

Check out his blog entry here: Dave Gannon :: Denver Freelance Web and Print Designer Blog

Friday, March 09, 2007

Jabbits Launches

This is a development project that we did at Fusionbox. We did the design, the Flash video, and an engine that connects to your web cam automatically to record questions and answers.