22 05, 2018

Functional/Audience Design

By | 2018-05-22T15:38:17+00:00 May 22nd, 2018|Categories: Higher Education, Web Development|Tags: , , , |

Audience is Front & Center in Higher Ed Web Design

What makes a higher education website effective? The answer can certainly be complicated. Universities, colleges and community colleges are large organizations, with numerous goals, many decision-makers and a diverse set of users.

Prioritizing among a multitude of sometimes competing needs can be tough. How do you decide what gets top billing? For your school, the answers lie within your specific mix of prospective students, current students, faculty and staff, and the larger community to which your campus belongs. The other part of the equation is research.

There are a lot of factors that go into building a great site. But, at the end of the day, it comes down to this: Understand the needs and user habits of your primary and secondary audiences, and shape their experiences on your site accordingly.

How do we do that?

User Experience Research

At Beacon, way before any technical development work starts, we dig in to help you understand your audience mix. In a previous post, we covered the specifics of focus groups and surveys. These methods are key in gaining actionable insights into your target audiences.

We’ve also talked about heatmaps, and how helpful they can be in identifying the portions of a webpage that receive the most attention and engagement.

The other tool in our tool-belt is session recording software. This is used to analyze user behavior patterns and areas of interest on your site. The results are helpful in spotting common user difficulties and identifying opportunities for improvement.

The results of that research is parsed and presented during the strategy phase. It’s then used to inform the decisions in the design and development phases of the website build.

Insights Drive Navigation

Our goal is to deliver a website that caters to all of your intended audiences, is responsive to all devices it can be accessed on (laptop, desktop, smartphone or tablet), and satisfies all ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) requirements. In short, we design websites that are easy to use and navigate.

Understanding your audiences allows you to create intuitive navigation paths that lead users to the information they are seeking in the shortest amount of clicks.

With higher education websites, we recommend structuring your main navigation menu around the needs of your primary audience: your prospective students. The menu items should focus on the needs of this group, which are gleaned during the research phase. The header should also include an expandable menu with links to audience-specific resources and other frequently visited pages, as well as an easy to spot site search feature.

To make your website mobile-friendly, all menus should reduce down to an expandable hamburger menu (appears as an icon with three short lines). It’s also helpful to have a site search feature that expands to cover the length of the device screen.

Beacon Knows Higher Ed Web Design

If you’re not sure if your website’s current design is meeting the needs of your students, we’ll be happy to take a look. Request a complimentary website audit, and our team will provide you with an honest assessment of your site’s strengths and weaknesses. No strings attached. Feel free to give us a call, too, at (866) 708-1467.

21 05, 2018

Accessible Menus or Closed Items Using the Input Checkbox Method

By | 2018-05-21T07:02:38+00:00 May 21st, 2018|Categories: Web Development|Tags: , , |

When using the checkbox method to open and close an element, you don’t want to hide the input box. Doing that will make it non-accessible. Instead use this method for visual reference, but still allowing a keyboard to access the input checkbox.

Input Checkbox CSS:

input#IDname { position: absolute; display: inline; height: 0; width: 0; margin: 0; padding: 0; border: none; opacity: 0; }

Note: Make the action item the end user sees with an outline to indicate that they have something to access.

3 05, 2018

Visual/Marketing Design

By | 2018-05-03T14:37:15+00:00 May 3rd, 2018|Categories: Higher Education, Web Development|Tags: , |

Essential Elements of Website Redesign

More than four billion people use the internet regularly, according to the latest statistical estimates. That translates to more than half of the world’s population. A lot of eyes on screens, for sure. Which is why it’s smart to invest in your digital storefront – your website.

But, it is 2018… everyone has a website. Maybe even several.

Not only is the competition fierce, but internet users have a notoriously short attention span. If you can’t communicate to a visitor what you’re all about in five to seven seconds, you can pretty much forget about winning their business.

That’s a pretty tough and complicated proposition. After all, odds are that you don’t have a homogeneous prospect base that seeks just one specific product/service and lives in a well-defined geographical area. Your students probably come from many walks of life, are interested in different educational services for different reasons, and exhibit diverse user behaviors.

Yes, you can target these audiences with well-sculpted digital campaigns. But, you still have to attract them to your site, and be able to keep them there long enough to communicate your value proposition. If your website isn’t prepared to handle that job, it’s time to consider a redesign.

Over-Arching Component of Your Marketing Strategy

Your website is the flagship in your marketing armada. This means that your site defines your brand, and all other marketing efforts support that foundation.

You’re likely to engage in many marketing activities to attract prospects. You may be fond of email campaigns. Perhaps you’ve found a PPC wizard and online ad campaigns are a key performer for you. Maybe traditional direct mail is your bread and butter.

Unless you’re trying to increase foot traffic on campus, all of those marketing efforts should be steering prospective students, and their parents, to your website. As such, your website has to be instantly recognizable as yours and ensure a seamless transition from the other marketing channels.

Brand, Personality & Messaging

When visitors land on your home page, there should be no question or ambiguity about whose site it is. Having a unique and engaging brand helps in this regard. When revamping your website, make sure that your brand personality is worked into the design and jumps off the page from the get go.

Users should also be able to use your site with ease. No visitor is going to stick around for long if they can’t quickly and intuitively navigate your menus or find the information they’re looking for.

Lastly, remember to keep your messaging short and punchy. Internet users skim – they don’t typically like to read a lot of text. Keep paragraphs short, use bullet points or lists whenever appropriate, and include visual content – videos, pics, infographics, etc. – as much as possible.

Does My Website Need a Redesign?

Beacon can help you answer that question. Give us a call at (866) 708-1467, and we’ll be happy to perform a detailed audit of your website.

19 02, 2018

5 Reasons to Perform Regular Website Audits

By | 2018-02-20T10:31:47+00:00 February 19th, 2018|Categories: Higher Education, Web Development|Tags: , |

Whether you’re preparing for a website redesign or simply looking to optimize your existing website, regular website audits are a must. Here are the 5 top reasons you need to perform regular website audits:

Usability is the Key to Engagement

What do the users of your website look for? What do they interact with and how do we ensure that they leave having had a satisfactory visit?  Optimizing the experience for your user is a matter of getting inside his or her head. Understanding their behavior is key to identifying opportunities for improvement. Concise navigation is key.

Done right, a usability audit will help you identify the shortest point between your user’s arrival and whatever it is that came looking for. In other words, it’s about goal optimization. If usability is poor, your visitor leaves without having made a purchase or having provided a lead. It’s a poor experience for everyone involved.

Accessibility Avoids Lawsuits

Accessibility is a hot button issue, especially for colleges and universities. ADA (or Americans with Disabilities Act) compliance guidelines are meant to compel institutions of higher education (and anyone in the public space) to make provisions for those with disabilities.

The DOE has become more diligent in the enforcement of ADA and specifically Title II (applying to any institution that receives federal monies from the DOE). Should the DOE’s Office of Civil Rights (OCR) find reason to file a suit against you or your school, they may very well do so.

Even more litigation results from the claims of students with disabilities. The National Federation of the Blind or the National Association of the Deaf often file complaints with the DOJ Civil Rights Division on behalf of these students.

Video accessibility (or lack thereof) is a common source of these complaints. However, ADA is complex and there are many other forms of online educational material that must also be made accessible. Develop an institutional policy that governs accessibility. Made necessary changes based on this policy. It may be advisable to consult an expert in ADA accessibility or a web development professional before developing such a policy.

ADA compliance can be difficult to interpret and even harder to implement. However, after a thorough audit, a qualified web developer will have a good idea where you stand and what you should do to get up to speed with ADA compliance guidelines.

Speaking of speed…

Load Speed: You get one chance at a 1st impression

Load speed (or the time it takes for a page to fully load) is important for the most basic of reasons. Research suggests that if a page takes in excess of 3 seconds to load, you’ve already lost 25% of your users. A similar thing happens with conversions. For each second of increased speed, you can expect a 2% improvement in conversions.

Page speed is a significant factor in SEO, too. Google has incorporated page speed into its ranking algorithm since 2010 and it has since placed even greater importance on this factor.

Dense image files and overuse of javascript are common culprits when page speed is below par. There are many online tools to measure and/or grade your page speed. While one can easily diagnose an issue, it may be wise to have a professional provide an insightful guide to remedy whatever may be ailing your page load time.

Optimized Forms Convert Better

Despite what some may say, there are no rules as to what works and what doesn’t. Only testing and optimization will provide you with those answers.

For example, it is generally understood that a lead generation form should not be too lengthy or ask too many intrusive questions. Also, a protracted pathway to conversion is desirable. Yet, there have been some notable successes with two or even three step conversion forms. The psychology for this makes complete sense.

People can become overwhelmed when they see too many questions on a lead generation form. When you divide the lead path into two parts, you may see greater completion rates. Since users generally prefer a shorter path to conversion, this may seem counter-intuitive at first.

However, users don’t like long forms and when they see too many questions at once, they bolt. So, by asking only a few surface questions on step one of your form and a few slightly more penetrating questions in step two, it appears to the user that they’ve been asked to do less. The only way to know if this works for you is to A/B test.

To further minimize effort, set question defaults. Optimize question types and provide drop-downs for ease of use.

Since mobile technologies are changing almost constantly, optimize your forms for mobile devices regularly. Use the proper mobile markup. If you use a captcha, that may be costing you leads as well. A/B test without one. There are spam filters that will do nearly as good a job anyway.

Content Writing Has Changed

This is true as it applies to user engagement as well as SEO. We’ll discuss them both separately.

Engagement

Users’ habits have changed considerably, too. Video drives traffic much more than ever before. Users not only engage with video content, they expect it. If you want eyeballs, you want video. Adding new, relevant video content is a key to improving engagement.

Go “all in” on visual elements. Don’t scrimp on photos. And interactive content shared through Instagram and other social media outlets is a must.

SEO

In the early days of SEO writing (the 1990’s and before), the objective was to appeal to a search engine algorithm rather than the end user. Back then, keyword stuffing was the norm. A myriad of keyword iterations were used on numerous pages, creating a redundancy that could actually be off-putting to the same users you were trying to appeal to.

In the late 00’s, Google’s algorithm changed considerably. The algorithm became more sophisticated. However, keyword signals still required some specificity and incoming links were very influential. Writing for SEO (to show up well in search rankings) didn’t mean the same thing as it did back in the 90’s.

Today, Google’s algorithm has been refined to focus on the fulfillment of the user’s search. In short, the algorithm is much better at measuring intent and providing a satisfactory result. What that means is that the content that best solves the searcher’s intent is much more likely to rank best. Whereas keyword matching was an imperative a few years back, intent matching is far more effective now.

Get out in front of possible issues with regular audits.

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Regular website audits will not only boost your conversion rates, they may very well keep you out of court. The IT & SEO experts at Beacon can assist you in such an audit as well as providing remedies to any issues that we may identify. Send me an email or call Beacon today at (877) 994-6955 for more information.

 

8 01, 2018

Beacon Launches SITEXPRESS for Small Businesses

By | 2018-03-06T09:40:14+00:00 January 8th, 2018|Categories: Web Development|Tags: , |

GREENSBORO NC.  Beacon announces the launch of its all-inclusive, budget-friendly SITEXPRESS product for small to medium-sized businesses.  Packed with Beacon’s 20 years of web technology experience, smaller businesses can now get a high-end, customized website, with all the bells and whistles, to compete more effectively in generating leads and sales online.

“About 3 years ago, we started talking internally about how we could help smaller companies have great websites at a lower cost so they could level the playing field somewhat,” says Keana Lynch, Beacon’s Director of UX Design & Development. “SITEXPRESS contains the best-of-the-best from our designers, developers, digital marketing specialists and technology experts.”

With SITEXPRESS, customers get a dependable website on a platform that has been tested across 10 different device-browser combinations, especially mobile, but is also easy-to-use, SEO-friendly, meets accessibility requirements (for disabled users), and designed to engage visitors.  But that’s not all.  Customers are trained to update their own website and the price includes web hosting, ongoing maintenance/support and Google Analytics setup/reporting.  Wait, there’s more.  Beacon’s digital marketing specialists also created 3 unique upgrade packages, specifically for small business, to facilitate short-term, gradual, or accelerated growth in traffic to your website.  SITEXPRESS is a much more comprehensive, dependable alternative to WordPress.

“We’ve learned that smaller businesses need a turn-key website solution,” says Mark Dirks, Beacon’s CEO.  “With the complexities and changing design trends for websites, many small businesses don’t know what they need, nor have the time it takes to fully leverage the web to grow their business.  Nowadays, your website is the centerpiece for your marketing strategy and typically, the first point of contact for new business.  So we combined all the critical elements into the SITEXPRESS framework and services to make it easier and cost-effective for smaller businesses to stand out among their competitors.”

After the initial setup fee, customers pay a fixed monthly fee of $395 for 2 years, but may cancel at any time without penalty.  “We are confident that customers will like the results and value the support of our team, which is why the contract is not binding,” says Dirks.  “So they get a high-performing website, preserve cash by paying monthly and get a proven partner for support whenever you need us.  Not a bad deal.”

Beacon Technologies is a recognized leader in web design and analytics for Higher Education and Retail/Ecommerce with clients in 45 states and 4 countries.  As one of the first Certified Google Analytics Partners in the U.S., Beacon drives data-driven decision-making & business growth via a proven comprehensive digital strategy.

13 12, 2017

WCAG 2.0 Checklist

By | 2017-12-11T13:31:39+00:00 December 13th, 2017|Categories: Web Development|Tags: , |

An accessible website is important for any website, but especially for higher education driven websites. 508 is equally important, but this article covers WCAG 2.0 specifically.

The WCAG 2.0 checklist is a great place to start.

There are three levels: A (beginner), AA (Intermediate) most colleges abide by this level, and AAA (Advanced)

At a glance:

A Level (Beginner):

1.1.1 – Non-text Content Provide text alternatives for non-text content

1.2.1 – Audio-only and Video-only (Pre-recorded) Provide an alternative to video-only and audio-only content

1.2.2 – Captions (Pre-recorded) Provide captions for videos with audio

1.2.3 – Audio Description or Media Alternative (Pre-recorded) Video with audio has a second alternative

1.3.1 – Info and Relationships Logical structure

1.3.2 – Meaningful Sequence Present content in a meaningful order

1.3.3 – Sensory Characteristics Use more than one sense for instructions

1.4.1 – Use of Colour Don’t use presentation that relies solely on colour

1.4.2 – Audio Control Don’t play audio automatically

2.1.1 – Keyboard Accessible by keyboard only

2.1.2 – No Keyboard Trap Don’t trap keyboard users

2.2.1 – Timing Adjustable Time limits have user controls

2.2.2 – Pause, Stop, Hide Provide user controls for moving content

2.3.1 – Three Flashes or Below No content flashes more than three times per second

2.4.1 – Bypass Blocks Provide a ‘Skip to Content’ link

2.4.2 – Page Titled Use helpful and clear page titles

2.4.3 – Focus Order Logical order

2.4.4 – Link Purpose (In Context) Every link’s purpose is clear from its context

3.1.1 – Language of Page Page has a language assigned

3.2.1 – On Focus Elements do not change when they receive focus

3.2.2 – On Input Elements do not change when they receive input

3.3.1 – Error Identification Clearly identify input errors

3.3.2 – Labels or Instructions Label elements and give instructions

4.1.1 – Parsing No major code errors

4.1.2 – Name, Role, Value Build all elements for accessibility

AA Level (Intermediate):

1.2.4 – Captions (Live) Live videos have captions

1.2.5 – Audio Description (Pre-recorded) Users have access to audio description for video content

1.4.3 – Contrast (Minimum) Contrast ratio between text and background is at least 4.5:1

1.4.4 – Resize Text Text can be resized to 200% without loss of content or function

1.4.5 – Images of Text Don’t use images of text

2.4.5 – Multiple Ways Offer several ways to find pages

2.4.6 – Headings and Labels Use clear headings and labels

2.4.7 – Focus Visible Ensure keyboard focus is visible and clear

3.1.2 – Language of Parts Tell users when the language on a page changes

3.2.3 – Consistent Navigation Use menus consistently

3.2.4 – Consistent Identification Use icons and buttons consistently

3.3.3 – Error Suggestion Suggest fixes when users make errors

3.3.4- Error Prevention (Legal, Financial, Data) Reduce the risk of input errors for sensitive data

AAA Level (Advanced):

1.2.6 – Sign Language (Pre-recorded) Provide sign language translations for videos

1.2.7 – Extended Audio description (Pre-recorded) Provide extended audio description for videos

1.2.8 – Media Alternative (Pre-recorded) Provide a text alternative to videos

1.2.9 – Audio Only (Live) Provide alternatives for live audio

1.4.6 – Contrast (Enhanced) Contrast ratio between text and background is at least 7:1

1.4.7 – Low or No Background Audio Audio is clear for listeners to hear

1.4.8 – Visual Presentation Offer users a range of presentation options

1.4.9 – Images of Text (No Exception) Don’t use images of text

2.1.3 – Keyboard (No Exception) Accessible by keyboard only, without exception

2.2.3 – No Timing No time limits

2.2.4 – Interruptions Don’t interrupt users

2.2.5 – Re-authenticating Save user data when re-authenticating

2.3.2 – Three Flashes No content flashes more than three times per second

2.4.8 – Location Let users know where they are

2.4.9 – Link Purpose (Link Only) Every link’s purpose is clear from its text

2.4.10 – Section Headings Break up content with headings

3.1.3 – Unusual words Explain any strange words

3.1.4 – Abbreviations Explain any abbreviations

3.1.5 – Reading Level Users with nine years of school can read your content

3.1.6 – Pronunciation Explain any words that are hard to pronounce

3.2.5 – Change on Request Don’t change elements on your website until users ask

3.3.5 – Help Provide detailed help and instructions

3.3.6 – Error Prevention (All) Reduce the risk of all input errors

Source: https://wuhcag.com/wcag-checklist/

6 12, 2017

Managing a Website Redesign: Overcoming 3 Common Problems

By | 2017-12-06T20:43:15+00:00 December 6th, 2017|Categories: Web Development|Tags: , |

The moment has arrived. Your website needs an overhaul. There’s a great deal at stake and if you’ve never gone through the process, it can be overwhelming. However, if you take the right approach, it isn’t that painful. Done right, it can even be exhilarating.

Either way, there are sure to be surprises. Nobody likes surprises. The small ones take care of themselves but the big ones, well that’s another matter. Consider this a heads-up. It’s your insurance policy against a costly mishap.

1. Understand the Full Scope of Content Issues

Content is one of the most important things to consider in any website redesign. It is also the part of the project that is most often underestimated. Content consists of old information that you’ll want to carry over as well as new content. This new content includes video, photography, and social media.

There’s more there than meets the eye. Here’s why.

User habits have changed. Attention spans are shorter so you’ve got to create easily scan-able pages. If someone cannot find the information they seek at a glance, they won’t hesitate to move on to a competing website.

Google’s algorithm has changed. Once engineered to emphasize written content, the algorithm has changed to reflect the habit of today’s users. Engagement and user experience are big factors, hence a new emphasis on video and other engagement tools. You’ll want to consider who you’re presenting information to, new and old.

Accessibility is a hot button issue. Not only has accessibility become part of Google’s algorithmic changes, it has become a legal consideration for schools and companies. You’ll need to make sure that your content – new and old – meets compliance requirements.

Step one is to thoroughly assess your content situation. Place your pages into categories so that you’re working with manageable groups. If you’re a college website for example, a few appropriate categories may be admissions, programs, news, and alumni. Some of these categories will require that you update or rewrite the information. Typically, this is the case with your program pages. With your news pages, you may wish to carry the more recent ones over while eliminating some that are so old they’re no longer relevant.

You’ll also want to review your admissions content as that information may need to be newly created or updated. The same may be said for student life pages. By now, you get the picture. Before you begin the redesign process, make sure you have a realistic accounting of the total pages you’ll want to carry over, which ones require updating and which are to be newly created.

2. Maintain Consistency Throughout the Redesign Process

This problem is particularly acute in cases where there are many stakeholders, such as a college or university. The marketing or admissions office may be driving the bus, but there are deans, professors, administrators, athletic directors, and students who all want to tell the driver where to go.

If you’re spearheading the website redesign project for your school, don’t get hung up on pleasing every stakeholder equally. What may be ideal for one school or department may not work as well for another. Try to maintain a singular vision throughout the entire website redesign.

The stakes are high so try to keep all interested parties on point. Managing the expectations of deans, administrators, and other interested parties can be paramount to the project’s success. Your redesign firm’s project manager will do their best to give the website redesign the momentum it needs.  But it works best when all parties involved adhere to a singular vision. Otherwise, you run the risk of a delayed launch and cost overruns. Or worse. If everyone gets what they want, you may have so much clutter you may wish for the old website back. Imagine having to redesign your redesign just a few months later!

3. Adhere to a Hierarchical Strategy

Earlier, we spoke about decreasing attention spans and scan-ability.   Your hierarchical strategy needs to consistently follow this same principle. Information must be organized so that the content that’s important to your audience is simple to find. This should be reflected in the organization of your content as well as its visual design. In order to develop a sound hierarchical strategy, do your homework in advance.  At Beacon, we perform a user engagement analysis early on to identify the ways in which your audience uses your website. We strongly suggest you do the same. After all, good data makes for sound decisions.

Once you’ve reviewed the data, you’re ready to develop a hierarchal strategy based on user behavior, increasing your chance of success exponentially.

Breathe easy with Beacon.

If you’re looking for a new website, talk to me. I’m here to answer any questions you may have regarding the process and how Beacon can make it easier for you. We know a thing or two. We’ve been redesigning Higher Ed websites for over 20 years. Contact me any time or call one of our team members at 1.855.467.5447.

 

16 11, 2017

How To Remove Aria-Described By if Dots are Disabled in Slick Slider

By | 2017-11-16T12:22:32+00:00 November 16th, 2017|Categories: Web Development|Tags: , , |

Need to remove the aria-described by tag if no control dots are needed? Try this:

This allows Slick Slider to pass accessibility testing.

Change “.slide-title” to your respective class name.

$(‘.slide-title’).each(function () {    var $slide = $(this).parent();        if ($slide.attr(‘aria-describedby’) != undefined) { // ignore extra/cloned slides        $(this).attr(‘id’, $slide.attr(‘aria-describedby’));    }});

Sources: https://github.com/kenwheeler/slick/issues/2020

9 11, 2017

Surveys: Get the Right Input for your Redesign

By | 2017-11-08T13:42:37+00:00 November 9th, 2017|Categories: Higher Education, Web Development|Tags: , |

The success of your redesign depends upon how thoroughly you understand your audience.  Your results are only as good as your preliminary research. Before you begin, ask the experts – the end users. Getting the right input may be the most important part of the redesign process.

Know Your User(s)

Many organizations have several audiences. For example, colleges must appeal to students, faculty, current students and alumni. Each have different needs and wants.  To properly address each user subset, you’ll likely need to create a different survey for each focus group.

Question Structure

There are two types of questions, fixed response and open ended. Each serves a purpose, however, you’ll want to lean heavier on structured questions. Respondents can be hopelessly vague when answering open ended questions.

Structured questions may include Yes/No, nominal or ordinal questions, just to name a few types. Choosing the right type of question will help determine how insightful the answers are. For example, instead of asking “Were you happy with the website navigation?” (yes/no question), you may wish to ask “How happy were you with the website navigation?”. Follow that with multiple choice options (very satisfied, somewhat satisfied, neutral, unsatisfied, or very unsatisfied). This can help you prioritize initiatives while in the planning phase of your redesign effort.

Regardless of type, make sure you’re specific. For example, instead of asking a question like “Do you take online classes often?” try something like “How many online classes did you take last semester?”

Construct questions that are simple and direct. If the question is a bit nebulous, then break it down into multiple questions rather than being vague.

What Questions Should You Ask?

The first step to understanding your user is to focus on their experience with your existing site. Find out what they like and dislike. That way, you’ll know what traits to carry over to the new design and what you’ll want to scrap. Asking a multiple choice question such as “What is the first method you use to find information on the website?” This way, you’ll know whether users prefer to use site search as opposed to the site’s navigation. This can go a long way toward determining what you emphasize with your redesign.

When you phrase your questions, focus on the user’s first impressions. Remember the 59 Second Rule*. Make sure you cover the most significant aspects of engagement such as design, content, imagery, navigation, and social media. Since demographic groups consume information in dramatically different ways, you’ll want to address device usage, too.

Using the prestigious (and imaginary) Beacon University as our subject, here are just a few examples of the types of questions you’ll want to ask:

  • Assuming the Beacon University website were accessible on all devices, what device would you most likely visit the site with? (multiple choice)
  • Rate your experience using certain areas of the website. (multiple choice)
  • What are the three top reasons you visited the Beacon University website? (open-ended)
  • Compared to other college or university websites, how would you rate the Beacon University site? (multiple choice)

Again, your questions will differ depending on the demographic you’re addressing. However, the questions above should provide some insight into the type of question one must ask and how to ask it.

Analyzing Survey Results

Look for patterns within your results. While common responses are important to note, the same can be said for outliers. Sometimes, surprises bring the greatest insights.

Here at Beacon, we typically provide a strategic document prepared from the survey results. Provided to designated stakeholders, a Beacon strategist meets with marketing staff or the organization’s website committee to discuss the results in depth and its implications on the planned website redesign.

Questions or Comments

As one of the nation’s premier Higher Ed. And retail redesign firms, Beacon has been providing colleges and online retailers with redesign consultation and services for almost 20 years. We invite questions or comments regarding all aspects of website redesign, not just the survey process.  Feel free to contact me or call one of our team members at 1.855.467.5447 with questions or leave a comment below.

18 10, 2017

Love Quiz: Fall In Love with Your Website Again

By | 2017-11-17T09:31:34+00:00 October 18th, 2017|Categories: Web Development|Tags: , |

You have genuine feelings for your website, but you’re not entirely sure you’d call it love. Or, maybe your digital relationship has been less than fulfilling and you’re starting to wonder… is this a relationship worth saving?

Take this quiz to find out if it’s time to get more serious about a website redesign.

Question #1: How do you feel about your website’s friends?

If you’ve been “dating” your website for a long time, you’ve more than likely met the friends. If not, it’s time you do. Meet Google Analytics and Google Site Search. Believe it or not, they’re your best friends, too. Get to know them well as they can be the key to opening your significant other’s digital heart.

The “E” Word

That’s right. Engagement. Google Analytics can provide insights into the type of content that drives visitors and captivates users. Find out which pages are under-performing and adjust your new content strategy accordingly.

More importantly, ask yourself which pages are performing best. Exploit these subject areas in your new, updated content strategy. Some topics may need to be called out more. Knowing your website’s likes and dislikes can only make for a more healthy relationship.

Google Site Search

Google Site Search can tell you what users are searching for when they first meet your website. Are users satisfied with what they find? The results may be surprising. You may find new areas of opportunity that you’d never thought of. Are they searching for a product or online course that you don’t yet offer? Maybe it’s time to expand your catalog.

Get Your Friends’ Input, too.

A focus group is an ideal way to find out what your users need and want from this relationship. Identify your audience correctly and your focus group will be effective.

For example, in the case of a college or university, your focus group may be made up of a combination of students, prospective students and alumni. Keep the size at a manageable number (about 10-15). With the right moderator, you’ll find out what you need to know about your user’s habits and objectives so that you can design optimally for a more fulfilling relationship next go-round.

Question #2: Is your online presence responsive to your needs?

Responsive is the key word here. 86% of those between the ages of 18 and 29 have a smart phone. If this is your audience (that’s you, Higher Ed), this one’s a no-brainer. By contrast, 87% of those living in households making in excess of $75,000 a year have a smart phone (that’s your audience, online retailers). If your current website isn’t responsive, this is step one to a more healthy relationship.

Beauty is More Than Skin Deep (although that counts, too)

Often, websites fall behind as organizational branding requirements evolve. This is a chance to update a color theme, new logo, etc. And while looks are important, inner beauty is even more so. Make sure the voice of your website is consistent with your other collateral.

Incorporate images and video where appropriate. In short, it’s a great time to make sure that you and your website are speaking the same language – the language of (digital) love.

Question #3: Does your website’s content still give you butterflies?

We’ve all seen the data on declining attention spans. That’s very likely true for your audience, too. Creating a logical navigation and page structure ensures that your site is easily scanned – an essential element to today’s website design.

Start with an overview and make sure you’ve written relevant headings and used SEO friendly tags accordingly (H2s, H3s. etc.). Use bulleted or numbered lists where appropriate. Link to other relevant internal pages and make sure that link text is meaningful.

Breaking up (blocks of text) is hard to do. Not really. Nevertheless, it always seems to be overlooked. This one’s an easy fix. Don’t forget it.

Call Me

If you’re looking for a new website, that is. We at Beacon don’t claim to be “doctors of love” but we’ve been helping guide clients through their digital relationships for almost 20 years. Feel free to contact me with questions or call one of our team members at 1.855.467.5447.

 

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