How to review a website?

I’m fortunate to be able to review many websites each day. Learning from the successes and failures of others is important to the success of my own current and future endeavors and equally important to readers of Website Magazine. But on what criteria should a website be judged? While there are no hard and fast rules to what makes one website “better” than another, when you look at professional and novice websites day in and day out, you end up getting a pretty good handle on what is going to work and what’s not.

Never one to cast the first virtual stone at the hard work of designers and web professionals, here are a few guidelines that I personally use each and every day to assess the overal design of a Web presence:

– Is the Design “pleasing?”
This is completely subjective, but most of us know when a design is pleasing. Mismatched colors and a variety of fonts only cause many to simply back away and perhaps never come back. Not only ugly, such sites look unprofessional and cause feelings of mistrust. How do you know if your website design is pleasing? Ask someone without a vested interest in you business or whom you trust and chances are good you’ll get a honest answer.

– Is the website “innovative?”
I am a proponent of using publically available templates for website design, whether they are from sources like OSWD or those that are found individually and used for WordPress blogs. When experts look at thousands of websites and notice that 10 or 20 feature the exact the same design, there is simply no way you’ll appear innovative, regardless of how innovative the idea or content being presented.

– Is the content “appealing?”
Here’s another tricky one. Content is typically appealing only to specific groups. Some of us are interested in benefits, others are interested in features. How does a designer satisfy both goals? Images assist greatly in developing “appeal.” If you know the audience, you’ll be able to find an image that reflects their demographic.

– Is the website “easy-to-use?”
There’s nothing more discouraging than website features that don’t work. Actually, scratch that – in fact there is. It’s the complicated, endless stream of navigation that turns off users (who will never return) more than it is broken links. The reason is that Web experts, just like consumers, are forgiving – but only to a certain point. Fail to explain how something works on the site or force detailed registration to access information and you’ll elicit some negative feelings with your potential customers. You need to identify your audience and give them what they want with as few clicks and hassles as possible.

– Does the website “meet it’s own goals?”
This is perhaps the most important point to consider when assessing a website. Often Web professional think more is better when, in reality, less is more. Not forcing users to make multiple decisions will benefit your bottom line. Have 10 goals for your website’s landing page? Cut it down to three and the conversion rate on all will be much better and earnings much higher. Don’t make users think – they won’t, they’ll just leave.

Categories disappeared while upgrading to wordpress 2.6

Apparently I’m not the only one having problems with the categories after a WordPress 2.6 upgrade.

So, time to give something back to the WordPress community, some screenshots on how I fixed it.

First of all, I upgraded from 2.2.3 to 2.6, it’s possible this solution will work for you, but I don’t make any promises.

I started by going to phpMyAdmin and having a look at the wp_term_taxonomy table, and noticed all the descriptions where missing.

When I took a look at the backup file I made, more specifically, the wp_categories piece, I noticed the counts and ids matched up.

I then manually edited each record, just hit the pencil icon, and filled in all my descriptions again. If you know some SQL you could do this faster, but anyway, everyone can do it manually

After I’ve done this, I visited my admin section and noticed the Descriptions were filled in again. But there was no Name, and all my posts still had empty categories linked to them.

To fix this, visit http://your-site/wp-admin/categories.php?action=edit&cat_ID=1 where 1 is the category id to edit. Fill in a Name and a Slug, the url name for your category, and save it.

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Copywritting-Soul of SEO

SEO copywriting is one of the major factors which decide the ranking of any particular page in the SERPs or Search Engine Result Pages. Unlike the common notion, the task of an SEO expert starts right from the website design and development phase and web page content development which decide the fate of any website in the SERPs.

SEO copywriting as defined in Wikipedia is “A technique of writing on a web page in a way that it can be read and understand by the surfer and it also uses the keywords and keywords phrases targeted for the websites. The purpose of doing copywriting that is SEO centric is to rank highly in the search engines for the given targeted keywords and phrases.”

It can also be explained as the technique of writing the text on a web page in such a way that it reads well for the surfer or the user, and also targets specific search terms. The challenge lies in creating a content that is both user as well as Search Engine friendly. The purpose of SEO copywriting or Search Engine copywriting is to make a web page that can rank highly in the search engines for the targeted search terms and also conveys the message to the surfers in an effective and easy to understand manner.

Search Engines look for genuine and unique content on the web pages that should be related to the search terms and the keywords used in the title and other meta tags. The content on any page should not be misleading for the users and it should reflect the correct picture and idea behind creation of the page. This ensures that the users are getting exactly what they are expected to find on a particular page. Search Engines ensure this by matching the words present in the text of the webpage with that of the page title and meta tags. LSI or Latent Semantic Indexing is a technique which helps them to accomplish the task. In this technique, synonyms of the search terms or phrases are also taken into consideration while generating of SERPs.

The task begins right from the designing phase before content development. Thorough keyword research is required for all the individual pages. Once the keywords are identified according to the theme of the page, content is developed with strategic placement of the search terms or phrases within the text and other on page elements. Synonyms of the search terms are also used to maintain the LSI ratio.

The reverse approach can also be taken for content development. In this case, first the target key phrases are identified according to the business, website theme and goal, and then web pages are created that can represent the actual aim of the website.

SEO copywriting is one of the major factors which decide the ranking of any particular page in the SERPs or Search Engine Result Pages. So, it is always a good practice to do SEO copywriting while creating any website or page, so that it can rank well as well as provide genuine and useful information to the users.

Website Conceptualization

Every business these days wants to have a presence on WWW; the main objective is to be able to target the global market and creating a profile of the company, which can be accessed by anyone from anywhere! This is opened many opportunities for the business involved in designing & development of websites, and depending upon the size of the business processes and approach for deploying a web based application changes. Which is very fair because everyone has his/her style of working and making deliverables, if the process & approach does not include all the basic steps of a software development life cycle it leads to the problems like – deadlines are not met and the scope of the work changes as the work progresses.

The clients might not be tech & internet savvy so they are not able to visualize how their site will look like and when they get the first demo of the application that is being developed for them it acts as the food for thought. They then try to relate it with what they are looking at and there business model. As a result they expect some changes to be done to the features or the style in which the information is being displayed on the website. Which results into requirement of additional time and effort for accommodating such things, and leads to the above mentioned problems.

There is a believe that anyone can start delivering web based services and can keep the cost low by not hiring people who actually are skilled to accomplish this task. The thought originates a company with the problems of delivering work which is not quality and ending up with unhappy customers.

Why this happens?

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