Fact and Fiction – What Makes Website Design Work?

It can be difficult to keep up with all of the developments in website design, but whether you are launching your first site or your fiftieth having the right information is necessary to make clear decisions. Which of the following statements about website design are based on fact?

A website design should always be viewed the way the designer intended-Fact or Fiction?

Fiction: it is impossible for this to be true when the method of viewing differs according to the type of browser software being used along with the difference in monitor sizes, resolutions and other user preferences that can be activated on the Internet.

In addition, people want the ability to control how they view websites; the more flexibility you offer them to customize their experience on your website to their liking the more satisfied they can be with the experience, providing of course that your content provides the information they need as well. If you limit your website design to be seen as you intended instead of giving people the freedom of choice, you may also limit your online business profitability.

How can you create website design for the browsers of your "target audience" when there is no way to know which browser and configuration your "target audience" is using and these are changing all the time? Are they a business owner on a laptop using Apple Safari in their hotel room or a person using Lynx to browse at the public library? Either way the browser they use does not influence their preferences in products or services. Website design that is created to be browser independent is your best option to reach your audience where they are and regardless of their computer specifications.

HTML 2.0 is the best coding to use for web pages to be accessible- Fact or Fiction?

Fiction: with the new backward compatibility features you can maintain web page accessibility using HTML 4.0, HTML 3.0, HTML 3.2 or HTML 2.0. The important thing to remember is to use features non-supporting browsers can handle, for instance using HTML tables can require extra attention and using style sheets provides an excellent workaround that can compensate for the short comings of some browsers.

In order for web pages to be accessible they must be created with boring content content only- Fact or Fiction?

Fiction: using style sheets in website designs affords you the ability to specify colors, fonts, and parameters allowing the visitor the option to see the style as designed or customize it to their preferences and still access the content. You can use the multimedia capabilities of the Internet to your advantage with images, video or audio and provide alternative content for those who do not want to utilize these features.

Writing accessible web pages is cost and time consuming-Fact or Fiction?

Fiction: if you pay careful attention to the authoring process, using HTML creates accessible web pages without additional cost. Where you may encounter expense is in the process of converting a website design …

Wikiasari – The Convergence of Usability and SEO

Just before Christmas, Jimmy Wales, the founder of Wikipedia announced he was going to create a new search engine for the web – Wikiasari. This piece of news might have slipped under the radar for many people, but people working in the search engine optimization industry probably did not sleep well that night.

The end of search engine optimization?

Wikiasari is a search engine with a twist. It plans to display results based on what humans think are the most important. Yes, that's right, real people!

At the moment, search results are based on complex algorithms. These formulas are closely guarded secrets (or they'd soon be copied) – a bit like the recipe for Coca-Cola. Over the past decade a whole SEO industry has spawned out of the need to skim the tiniest advantage to allow businesses to appear higher up the search results than their competitors. More people finding your website measures increased leads and hopefully increased sales. As the saying goes, "If they can not find you on Google, then you might as well not exist".

The way to get to the top of the search rankings has been to optimize your content around keywords (the phrases users type into the Google box to find you) to ensure the 'machines' associate your site with those words.

But if Wikiasari are suggesting that humans and not algorithms will decide, then does the whole SEO strategy become moot? After all, why bother optimizing your site if absolutely a real person will decide your web ranking? Hmmm … Images of tumbleweeds blowing across a deserted SEO industry …

But SEO already incorporates usability and users' opinions!

So is this the end of SEO? Well, probably not. For years now search engines have understood the importance of getting users' opinions factored in and Wikiasari is just a natural progression of this. Search engines have basically always tried to mimic what users want. For example:

– The number of inbound links a site has plays a major part in its search engine ranking. Every link to your site essentially represents a vote for your website – the more votes (especially from quality sites) the higher in the rankings your site will appear.

– All other things being equal, search engines rank sites with good spelling and grammar higher than those without. This holds true in the real world too – who would not prefer a well written site !?

– Google has its own analytics package, which allows them to take an inside peek to see which sites have the most conversions. It could figure that sites with more conversions are effectively votes for that site by users and should be ranked higher.

– Bookmarking sites (eg Digg) are all about user powered content. The community votes for the best sites, with the best ones being promoted to the front page.

Good usability is the key to SEO

Perhaps the search engine algorithms will die a death, perhaps not. Either way, usability is …