Free online courses

Have discovered these three websites that offer free courses online, whilst I’m on maternity leave I think I might just treat myself to a few :)

Enjoy!

This article offers an elegant solution to a problem that we often encounter, on hotel websites the placement of the “booking mask” i.e. the place you go to check if rooms are available for the dates you want at the hotel - is paramount. It is important that it is clearly visible to your most important users - this often means tweaking the design to work differently depending on screen resolution.

This infogaphic shows just how important on-line marketing and a good social media reputation are for the travel industry.

This infogaphic shows just how important on-line marketing and a good social media reputation are for the travel industry.

A pretty good list of things to watch out for…

Google Analytics In Real Life - Online Checkout (by Google Analytics .)

Very funny video, and oh so true. 

Online shopping is meant to be easy, but it’s so far from the offline experience..there is definitively room for improvement. 

Useful read from both an agency and client side perspective. 

Top 5 tips for avoiding the pitfalls of translating your website into a second langauge.

From my experience managing this type of project here are my top tips:

1. Build your website in only one language first.

I would recommend even launching the website and having it live a couple of months before you decide to launch a second language. The reason behind this is that you can: 

  • Launch faster: As you are only working in one language, if you work in more than one, your double/triple/cuadruple the workload, depending on how many languages you work in. 
  • Get user feedback: As much as we try to get the website exactly right prior to launch, there is nothing like actually launching the site and seeing how it performs in a live environment.

Once you are happy with the site in your main language, then proceed to translate into additional launguages.

2. Choose your second language carefully.

You know your business better than anyone, you might choose a language that you want to start targeting or one that is already using your services and that you would like to serve better by presenting the site in their prefered language. If the latter is the case, look at your analytics data to help you choose.

I would also strongly recommend choosing a language that you, or someone on your staff, speaks in order to keep the second language content up to date.

3. Make sure there is a process in place to actually get the translations done.

When choosing a partner to help you translate the website or if you are doing it all yourself, here are the main things to ask about / consider:

Firstly, how will you get all the text out of the website in order to translate it? Idealy your content management system will allow you to export all the text from your website into  a format like excell so that you can pass it to your prefered translator, logically, if you can export all the text there should be a mechanism for you to import all the new translated text.

Otherwise it could turn out to be quite a manual process, copy pasting from each pag on the website - don’t forget to translate the SEO data too, page titles, descriptions, image alt tags, etc.

Alternatively your translator could work directly within your content management system.

Ether way, it is important that a native speaker have a look at the site in the new language before it goes live. This is to make sure that it all makes sense in context.

You will find that certain words/phrases are longer of shorter in the new language, you may need to make some layout adjustments to the site to make it all fit nicely, so allow time and budget from this in your schedule.

4. Make sure the language switcher works correctly

The language switcher is the user interface that allows you to switch from one language to another - usually a set of little flags or the name of the language.

The site should automatically open in the language that the user has specified as their prefered language in their browser settings, but if they want to view the site in another language, they will need a way to switch between them.

Wherever possible make sure that you can reach the equivalent page in the alternative language when you click onthe language “Flag”. It would be very user un-friendly if every time they switch language it takes them back to the home page of the site.

5. Do lanague specific SEO

You should go futher than simply translating the data that is important for SEO (page titles, descriptions, image alt tags, etc) You should develop an SEO strategy specifically for that language, targeting language specific keywords.

Work together with your SEO specialist/team to make sure this is done correctly.

If you follow the above tips it should help you avoid some of the main pitfalls in a process that seems like it should be streight forward, but can in fact end up disastrous and time consuming if not managed properly.

This software looks so cool!

One of the hardest questions to answer that we come accross every now and then is site speed, specially if the site loads perfectly well and fast on our end and we can’t reproduce the slow loading time that the client or their customers are experiencing.

Because so many things can affect site speed, we have to do a series of tests in order to narrow down where the culprit might be, and even if we do find it, there may be nothing we can do about it.

This article has some usefull information to help takle this issue more effectively.

Tags: site speed

Treat your clients like children or valuable advisers?

There are two methodologies around at the moment in terms of how you should approach your relationship with your clients:

The first, and the one that has been around for the longest, is to treat your clients like children, set boundaries, guide them, tell them what is best. In this sitepoint article there are some tips and tricks following this approach, as John Tabita explains: 

Children do not have a complete understanding of the world around them. When left to their own devices, they tend to make foolish choices. Likewise, when a client steps into the world of web design and development, they have an incomplete picture of how that world works and may have unrealistic expectations. 

However, Paul Boag, in his series on “Client Centric Web Design" builds on this by recognising the very real value that a client can provide: 

Not only will the client’s knowledge of the business and customers improve your website, many also have other skills to bring to the table. Many clients are experienced marketeers, entrepreneurs or business strategists. Although we like to think of ourselves as having some knowledge in these areas, our knowledge probably is not as deep as theirs.

I think there is value in both approaches, we have to know when to be guiding experts and when to step back and really consider what the client is trying to achieve and why. 

I know I have from time to time read an email or come of a call with a client feeling frustrated that they did not understand or disagreed with our point of view, it goes both ways, the client probably felt exactly the same.  

We can do much better by asking the right questions, getting to the bottom of the reasoning behind a request and trying to understand where they are coming from before we act. This level of consideration helps greatly towards creating an atmosphere of mutual respect, which makes it easier and more enjoyable for all involved.

Tags: webdesign