Archive | April, 2011

Spotlight on .biz

28 Apr

Spotlight on .biz

PANALUX is an international market leader in the provision of lighting facilities spanning the full spectrum of film and television production.  Check out this week’s .biz site www.panalux.biz

An Expensive Lesson in Domain Names

28 Apr

An Expensive Lesson in Domain Names

Author: Anita Campbell

You’ve heard the standard advice. Start a business, get a domain name. Get a GOOD domain name, one that matches your brand.

Domain name exact match

Too bad I didn’t follow that advice when first starting out with one of my current websites. If I had, I would have saved myself over $3,500 (USD) and lots of headaches. Instead, I learned an expensive lesson. It’s a mistake that I hope I can save you from replicating.

I’m here to tell you firsthand the story of what can happen if your business name and your domain name do not match exactly. And why you need to stop and think about it — now — for ALL your businesses and products, even if they’re experimental products or part-time businesses.
Business is what happens while you’re making other plans

When I first started my current business, I just didn’t foresee the direction it would take. I wasn’t thinking about all aspects of it “mindfully.” Instead, I was deeply immersed in a state of flow, growing the business. I was figuring the business out on the fly. Things were moving along so quickly, that I didn’t step back and think about the domain name consciously and deliberately.

John Lennon once said “Life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans.“ That same saying could be adapted to my situation as “Your business is what develops while you’re making plans for a different business.”

You see, after I left the corporate world in late 2001, I started doing some consulting, first with entrepreneur friends, and later as a consultant for hire. I had the domain name to match my consulting business (no problem there). Everything went along fine for a year.

Then one day, I was looking for an easy way to publish a few articles online, so that I could link to them in an email newsletter I’d started for the consulting business. A friend suggested Blogger.com as an easy publishing solution. I tried it and was hooked. Blogger was much easier than trying to format articles using Dreamweaver, a software program. That was in 2003.

Soon more people were reading the articles directly on the blog than through the newsletter. I had timed the market well in this instance. Business blogs were just starting. Mine was one of the earliest. I had a classic first-mover advantage.

One thing led to another, and my blog-that-was-just-an-easy-way-to-publish-a-few-newsletter-articles gradually became my business. Instead of being in the consulting business, now I was in the online publishing business. And my new business was named for my publication.

Unfortunately, I didn’t have the URL to match.

A Rookie Mistake …

Yikes! How did I make such a mistake? Wasn’t I smarter than that? After all, I’d been running web businesses since 1998.

Looking back on it now, it all seems so obvious. But it wasn’t at the time. When you are heads down trying to build a business, you sometimes miss the forest for the trees. And I simply missed how important that domain name would become. But you can always see things more clearly looking backward than looking forward.

In fact, I will confess to something even worse. For the first two years, I didn’t even own ANY domain name for the blog. It had a blogspot.com address, as it was hosted at the time by Blogger, and that domain, of course, was owned by Blogger, not by me.

Gradually, I came to realize that my lack of a matching domain name was a ball and chain around my business. As the blog grew, the problem only compounded. Every month the problem got worse. But now the matching domain name was not available — another organization had it. Still, people automatically assumed that I had the URL that matched the site name. And they kept referring to me and my publication by the wrong URL. And then they linked to the wrong URL.

And so began years of:

* Contacting journalists and bloggers who had written articles about my business, begging them to the correct the URL
* Biting my tongue and trying not to interrupt as people introduced me in front of large audiences using the wrong URL
* Gnashing my teeth imagining the gazillions of visitors going to the wrong site (OK, so maybe it wasn’t that many visitors in the early years, but when you’re a startup every visitor counts)
* Chastising myself for not thinking about that darn URL issue earlier

A Chance to Redeem My Mistake Nearly 8 Years Later

Fast forward to 2011. A contact I knew alerted me privately that the domain name I should have had was coming up for auction at NameJet.com. NameJet is a service that picks up lapsed domain names and auctions them. So I set up a NameJet account and set about learning the ropes for bidding on a domain name through their procedures.

I was determined to get that domain. And so I immediately dropped everything to learn all I could about bidding at NameJet. Luckily I got some pointers volunteered by contacts I knew who were good at investing in domain names.

The fateful day came, and the 3-day auction was on! I had about 10 reminders set up so that I wouldn’t miss the end of the auction — and I didn’t.

It turned out that there were about 70 competitive bids. Now, the only reason most were bidding on that domain name is that obviously it was important to MY business (intrinsically, it’s not that valuable a domain name to anyone except me). I’m convinced that if anyone else had gotten it, they either would have tried to sell it to me for a lot more, or siphoned off traffic intended for my publication. So now it was a matter of defending my trademark.

Eventually the bidding, which started at $69, topped out at $3,700 . Thankfully I was successful.

Had I bought the right domain name originally, it would have cost me less than $100 to renew it for 8 years. Instead, I paid $3,700 at auction. And I went through many hours of extra work, not to mention the wasted hours of anxiety.

A Lesson Learned the Hard Way

Step back to strategically look at your business and where it’s headed. It can save you money.

Look around at all your products and businesses and get the domain names for them now. And if somebody else already has the domain name you want, consider trying to buy it from them, or renaming your product or business, especially if it’s early days and you can still change the name. If the business or product takes off, you’ll be glad you did.

For the original article go to: http://bloggertone.com/technology/2011/04/21/an-expensive-lesson-in-domain-names/

Good Web Site Navigation – Reaching The Information Instantly

21 Apr

Good Web Site Navigation – Reaching The Information Instantly

Author:  Mardiros Internet Marketing

Creating good web site navigation is the most important task a web designer has to accomplish in the web design process. Web site navigation is the pathway people take to navigate through sites. It must be well constructed, easy to use and intuitive. Poor navigation does not help users and often, your site can prove to be less accessible than others.

Good navigation is fundamental to good web design – in both business and informational sites – users should be able to find information easily. If the navigation is not easy to use or intuitive users will quickly go elsewhere in search of information. We often see ourselves in front of web sites without knowing what to do next. The navigation is so well hidden or disguised that the some users simply dont know how to use it. Navigation is the single most important element in creating accessible and usable web sites.

Checklist and key points to consider when designing navigation

  • People can enter a site through any other page, not just the homepage. Using other pages as entry points is achieved through search engines, links from other web sites or bookmarks. Users must easily find their way around a web site from every and any page. They should be able to reach the homepage from any page within the web site. Reaching all major site sections can only help them see more of the provided information.
  • Bear in mind what people expect from good website navigation: primary navigation (most important links, categories etc), secondary navigation (secondary links, subcategories etc), position of navigation, link titles, number of links per page etc.
  • Keep in mind the “the less clicks the better” concept when designing web site navigation. You must aid your visitors in finding the information they seek as quickly as possible. The website must respond instantly to their instincts.

Think and act like the average user does. Then design.

The most frequent issue in web design is that designers do not act and do not try to experience web sites from the user perspective. They are often misled to think that their web site’s navigation is the best when in fact it might not be. They might only have that impression for the simple fact that they’re familiar with it.

It would be useful to open up a few sites and take a look at the web site navigation, how it’s positioned, how easy it is to go through etc. Consider how many pages you can access from any page. Can you go to related pages? Are there hints to help users navigate? Is there a site map with all the pages in the website? Can you figure out where you are at any time?

Design good primary web site navigation

Although primary navigation is very important users should not be forced to rely heavily on primary navigation but rather be able to use smaller “doorways” to jump to related pages.

  • Left navigation. Left web site navigation is the most common type of navigation. However, the designer must make sure that at 800×600 resolutions or higher the most important navigation links are visible in full at first page load and that they do not fold below the screen. The navigation links width should be narrower than 300px in order to leave enough space for body text. Left navigation has become very popular because it is responds to user behaviour: start reading from the left – read navigation links – click on the desired link – keep reading fresh content to the left.
  • Top navigation. Top navigation is the second most common navigation. The advantage of a top navigation bar is that it leaves more room below for content and other relevant information. However, you must make sure that the navigation stands out. People tend to ignore everything that looks remotely like adds. If you intend to put graphics in the header of the page make sure the navigation bar is situated below the graphics and not above it. People might ignore the graphics and the navigation bar along with it. They might end up thinking that there’s nothing more to that website. This is a classic example of the importance of secondary navigation.
  • Right navigation. For English language based web sites people read from left to right. Thus, a menu situated on the right hand side would be difficult to use. People tend to read the navigation first and then the body text.

Design good secondary navigation

Links which do not belong in the primary navigation are used to make up the secondary navigation. Such links are the usual Contact Us, About Us, Privacy Policy, Terms of Use, Site Map, Links and so on.

Position of the secondary navigation does not have a general rule

  • Secondary navigation can be placed just below primary navigation while making sure it does not stand out as much as the primary navigation does. Web designers can either make the link text smaller, use a separator or leave a reasonable amount of space for the eye to be able to make distinction between the two. When using top navigation secondary navigation can be placed on the left hand side of the page.

Text menus to help users

Text menus can be used as primary navigation but they can also be used as an additional navigation method. Often the text menu is placed at the bottom of the page. By the time you finish reading relatively long pages the main menu may be out of sight, a text menu in the page footer proves to be a solid navigation alternative for users who get easily confused or wish to save time.

Internal linking

One important aspect of navigation is internal linking between the pages. One can place links to other pages within the site in the actual body text of the page. This can help users find related information quickly. Internal linking can also help search engine spiders to find their way to every single page. For example, if you’re talking about text based browsers link the word browsers to a related page like a glossary for instance.

Placing a small set of links just below the text to related pages or resources is also a very successful way to interlink pages of similar interest.

Reasons against intricate, overly modern navigation

When designing for users it is important to give them what they expect. Web designers should not confuse matters by using funky, intricate navigation no matter how cool it might be. Users do not like to be kept away from the information they are after. They do not have the patience or time to discover and learn navigation, it should be instinctive and instantly clickable. Complicated and difficult to use navigation makes users feel uneasy and apprehensive about a web site. They are likely to leave the site to go somewhere else where they feel welcome and where they can easily find what they’re looking for. It’s very important to prevent that from happening.

Web site navigation checklist

  • Titles of navigation links should be short, descriptive and intuitive. Users should easily understand what every link leads to.
  • The primary navigation should not have more than 6-7 links. Keep only the most important links in the primary navigation and leave the rest for the secondary navigation.
  • Make the primary navigation stand out by using graphics or different links style.
  • If using graphics or javascript links, a text alternative should be available. Some people might have the graphics turned off or javascript disabled when browsing the Internet. In such cases an alternate option should be available. To achieve this, a text menu and the bottom of the page could be included.
  • On every page there should be a reasonable number of links. Pages with 20-30 links are harder to use than pages with 10 links. Visitors don’t have the time to click on all of them to see if they are interested in the information secluded behind them. The best approach is group similar links in categories and let people discover them click upon click.
  • Users should be able to tell at any time their whereabouts are in a web site. A crumbs type of menu such as the one on this page lets them know that they are in a subsection of the Accessible web design section.
  • Colour links don’t necessarily have to be standard but they should be able to tell if a link has been clicked before or not.

Testing web site navigation

In order to test web site navigation have inexperienced users navigate through the web site. If they find it intuitive to use then so will more experienced users. It means that the web site is a navigational success.

For the original article go to: http://www.mardiros.net

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