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Is it time for a single standardised web browser?

Published on January 11, 2013
Tags: Usability

A recent study by Forrester Research has made the case for a single standardised web browser for internet users. The argument for this is that there are hidden costs involved in having multiple non-standardised browsers.

Of the 113 IT professionals who were surveyed, nearly all of them (96%) said they standardise on a single browser for use on work PC’s. Enterprises are now deciding whether to support non-standard browsers as the report suggests it can be costly. According to the firms which offered a multiple browser strategy, 86% experienced on average, more than a 20% cost increase. This means that firms can end up spending around $4000 extra for each web app which is developed for multiple browsers.

The report is however biased since it was commissioned by Microsoft, whose latest web browser, Internet Explorer 10 was released in August 2012 and is the default browser of Windows 8. While the report is limited in its view, it omits any mention to mobile usage, although it has been noted that Microsoft has integrated extensive support for HTML5 on its Windows Phone 8 system.

A breakdown of the Forrester Research results

The results from the survey indicate that while an overwhelming 96% use a standardised single browser for work PC’s, 51% said that their company has enforced this standard by removing admin rights and locking down PC’s. 32% of IT professionals mentioned that there’s a single standardised browser, but they allow employees to install an alternative browser which the company will support if possible.

Meanwhile 13% said yes but that employees can install an alternative browser that isn’t supported by the company, if they so wish. 2% indicated that they had no plans to have a company standardised browser either now or in the future and the final 2% said no, but that this might change at some point in the future.

The costs of running and supporting multiple browsers can be costly for some businesses, especially during times of financial hardship when many companies are cutting back or have limited resources. Alongside these high security costs which are associated with non-standard browsers, app compatibility is another factor which many companies have to take into consideration.

Every time a web browser is updated, it may no longer work well with particular apps. All of these apps need to be tested for their compatibility, which can vary from browser to browser. Extensive testing is therefore required. This can cause complications due to update schedules varying from browser to browser. Companies will therefore need to follow a few guidelines on how to keep in budget and what to expect should they choose to use multiple web browsers.

As internet usage becomes increasingly more mobile and the presence of apps dominates the market, this is going to become more of a contentious issue. Therefore companies looking to enhance their web presence will have to analyse if a single standard browser is the right choice for them.

By Chelsey Evans

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Is your content selling? Online retailer sees their blog give them 172% ROI

Published on January 4, 2013
Tags: Usability, Web Design London

If you’ve ever wondered if a blog is worth the hassle to your business, you should check out online retailer ZAGG whose blog has given them a 172% ROI while earning them 10% of the company’s website traffic according to a recent MarketingSherpa.com article.

If you want to emulate their success, you need to understand a few factors around why they have earned such great results and how the blog alone is a great return on investment.

The first thing you need to do is to focus on sales. ZAGG’s blog isn’t shy about promoting their products which in their case is electronic goods and accessories for items such as iPhones, iPads, digital cameras, etc.

By writing about their products in great detail, it allows their target market to decide for themselves what they will buy, based on the advice and recommendations presented in the blog. This makes ZAGG appear knowledgeable and trustworthy as it establishes them as a ‘voice in the know’ when it comes to selling electronic goods.

Produce regular content

The second factor to consider is that to be successful you have to get blogging regularly. This is what ZAGG did as they only started the blog in January 2011 and the idea was to start with a three-month pilot to see how it went. They soon realised, every time they posted a blog, their website traffic increased and so did their sales.

The next step is to take your content viral and share updates about the blog on social media channels like Facebook, twitter and Google+. ZAGG did this by understanding their audience’s preferences and over time created and published different types of posts including news, how to posts, along with entertaining or promotional posts.

Interact with your audience

If you can engage your core market with your brand by getting them to read informative blog posts produced by your website, it will increase sales. You need to encourage your readers to shop with you too however, as getting them to read and share your blog posts isn’t enough – you need to convert these leads into sales.

The best ways to do this is to display adverts on your online shop, buttons which promote products, deals, etc. It’s also a good idea to use a graphic on the blog homepage and on every post so that visitors can tell that they’re on your official blog, which establishes trust between your brand and your target market.

Selective email marketing is one approach which ZAGG has utilised to increase their sales. They selectively promote their posts between their Facebook and twitter pages, so the email content showcases their best posts. It’s working for ZAGG as their content emails give them an 82% higher click-to-open rate than their promotional emails.

Finally, it’s important not to overdo the SEO. Increasing your website traffic is more about creating compelling content that a web visitor can’t help but click on.

By Chelsey Evans

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Website optimisation has a huge impact on offline marketing strategies according to recent survey

Published on December 7, 2012
Tags: Usability, Web Design London

A recent chart by MarketingSherpa surveyed a number of marketers and found that 70% of respondents believe that their online optimisation efforts have made an impact on their offline campaigns or other marketing strategies.

Respondents were encouraged to answer this question so that it could be analysed whether online marketers had any plans to integrate optimisation lessons within their larger marketing plans. Part of this can be that website optimisation gives marketers the opportunity to test elements of value and use these results to isolate products, messages and campaigns that will resonate with their audience.

This then begs the question of why marketers don’t use web optimisation findings to improve their overall results and attain more sales. In fact, data by the 2012 Website Optimisation Benchmark Report found that marketers who had advanced their levels of optimisation within their marketing practices were 57% more likely to take what they had learnt from testing optimisation protocols in offline campaigns and any form of broader messaging.

How online strategies can improve offline sales

This survey is an encouraging sign that website optimisation is the future when it comes to influencing marketing strategies. Any marketers having problems with improving sales offline might need to know how to utilise their web marketing efforts to interpret the results. From this a strategy can then be formed which will ultimately convert to both online and offline sales.

Consider the example of Hewlett Packard and how they combined their offline and online marketing strategies to boost their sales by 2,050%. The computer manufacturer did this by creating a targeted email database and website with content to connect a niche audience and drive sales.

HP faced the challenge of how to better communicate between their IT managers on college campuses and they wanted to convince their target market that HP had the hardware and the expertise necessary to make the IT managers stronger assets to their schools.

By arming the IT managers with as much information about HP’s products both offline and by creating a targeted email database and website, it meant that the HP brand was at the top of their mind when it came to making a purchasing decision.

HP built a database of IT managers by creating a microsite to host content which was specific to each audience, launching a lead-generation campaign involving direct mail which was sent to IT directors and managers. This direct mail encouraged them to visit the InformED microsite they had created and to register to receive the newsletter in return for a free T-shirt.

By enrolling the managers into subscription lists and then continuing to grow and nurture these lists, HP’s 18 month campaign saw 100% higher average revenue per subscriber than their average revenue from higher education customers.

The HP case is a perfect example of how website optimisation can interlink with an offline marketing strategy to have a huge impact on your marketing sales. 

By Chelsey Evans

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Survey reveals slow shopping websites affect visitor buying habits

Published on November 30, 2012
Tags: Usability, Web Development London

A recent survey by Monitis, a cloud and web app monitoring company found that many online shopping websites are not fast enough with new data providing warnings that many consumers have cancelled their orders due to slow response times.

Findings from 1006 online shoppers who were polled by Opinion Matters on behalf of Monitis, found that 56% of those taking part, when quizzed about website response times, spent more than two hours a week shopping online and admitted they had cancelled an order if the response times were slow.

74% of respondents also believed they would switch to a competing online shopping site if they felt they could have a better user experience and the website was a lot faster than the one they were currently using.

Other important findings from the survey found that in 81% of respondents, the number one reason for choosing to shop online was to make purchases instead of shopping at stores in the high street.

61% also found that price was the most important consideration when it came to choosing what to buy online. Meanwhile 61% of online shoppers might leave a web page and search for a competitor whose site doesn’t take longer than 30 seconds to load.

What does this mean for online shopping during peak season?

With the festive season approaching, online retailers (vendors) will need to ensure that their websites are providing shoppers with an efficient user experience which is efficient, but the onus is on the web developers and designers to avoid downtime as the holiday rush approaches. This is particularly important as for online stores, their success is solely focused on the minimum threshold of their uptime; so for every moment their website is down, they lose sales.

One of the ways in which an online vendor can ensure they make good sales is to have sufficient developers working on the system for maintenance in case the website goes down. Another option is to ensure the website is easy to access and highly usable, as 56% of respondents to the Monitis survey indicated that when comparing one retail site and why they went to another instead to do their shopping, website usability is an incredibly important factor, second only to price and reputation.

Online vendors should also have a good idea of the best time to shop online and according to the survey, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. is the most popular according to 40% of all respondents, while 32% preferred to do their online shopping in the early evening, between 5 p.m. and 8 p.m.

All of these factors are things which a website vendor should take into account when thinking about how their visitors use the site during peak times, when demand for online shopping is high. Sub-optimal performance and a poor customer experience can result in transaction losses, so businesses need to learn how to optimise their website and strengthen their online stores for such occasions.

By Chelsey Evans

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Research shows most effective means of testing value propositions

Published on October 22, 2012
Tags: Usability, Internet Communication

In trying to gauge your own marketing success, it can be very useful to know which value propositions will be most productive and give the highest return on investment for your company. But how do you begin a true and productive testing campaign?

Earlier this year, MarketingSherpa launched its Lead Generation Benchmark Survey in order to discover the most effective means of testing value propositions. Some of the participants in the survey were asked which methods they felt were the most effective and compelling for website visitors. 64% of the respondents said that they felt landing pages were effective, with email marketing campaigns coming in a close second on 51%. Just 40% said they felt other types of website pages were effective, with 36% supporting pay-per-click advertisements such as those displayed by Google Adwords. In contrast, just 16% of respondents said that they felt offline advertising - such as direct mail and print advertising - was effective.
Respondents were asked to select up to three of the categories, allowing them to choose what they felt were effectively the three most effective methods of marketing. Interestingly, the order of the options seems to closely follow the inherent associated cost, with landing pages being effectively free, working down to costly offline advertising at the bottom of the tree. Was this factor borne in mind by the respondents when considering the options? After all, the cost of a marketing campaign will have a direct effect on its profitability and perceived effectiveness. As business owners continue to feel the pinch of the current economic climate, was the inherent cost of marketing campaigns perceived to be abnormally negative, leading to an artificially downgraded view of its effectiveness? The permutations and perceptions abound, but as with any survey which is built on the opinions of its respondents, the true underlying causes can never be fully known.
In terms of testing conversion factors, the results of this survey seem to bear similar results. Landing pages and email marketing campaigns often come out on top in terms of conversions with offline marketing and pay-per-click campaigns ranking lower. Although the new data may not be groundbreaking, it does give a fascinating insight into the beliefs and perceptions of marketers and business owners which, in itself, can be incredibly useful in terms of planning marketing campaigns. After all, marketing is all about perception and it should not be dismissed as a factor purely because it is ‘unscientific’ or unimportant.
Value proposition can be very easily tested through using landing pages. With virtually unlimited options in terms of testing the content of these pages, marketers can test continuously in order to find the ‘sweet spot’ which will maximise conversion rates, lower bounce rates and increase profits for the business. Of course, these things are all notoriously hard to do with the slower and more rigid medium of offline advertising. However, 16% is not an insignificant figure, so offline marketing clearly does still have its own appeal for many.

By Chelsey Evans

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