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Conversion Rate Optimization: Do Your Websites Have It?

Any website that has ever been created has been with the idea of the end user taking a certain action while on the website. Perhaps it’s buying a product, filling out a form, or calling a phone number. Whichever it is, the user is encouraged to take some sort of action. How well users take the desired action on a website is called conversion rate optimization. If you want someone to fill out a form on a site, how well does the site design actually encourage the user to fill out that form?

Many websites out there are designed with the thinking that they want a user to take a certain action, but there is nothing that encourages the user to take that desired action. This is important because while someone is on a website, you have their attention, so you better make the most of it. Don’t leave it up to the user to try and figure it out. Show them or even tell them what action you want them to take.

This is something that may seem foreign to some designers as they may just care about how things look, but if you want to take your abilities to the next level, then you should learn about conversion rate optimization. Here are 4 tips to help your conversation rates.

  • Run A/B Tests

One of the best ways to increase conversion rates on websites is to run tests, otherwise known as A/B tests. This means that you have 2 different options and split test them on users. For instance, you can run two different headlines and see which one works best in getting people to take the desired action you’re wanting. It could also be images, buttons, colors, or any element on a website. As the old saying goes, test, test, and re-test for the best results.

  • Write In Second Person

Let’s just be honest for a second. People care about themselves when it comes down to it. They don’t want to hear about “we” or “they,” but they want to hear words like “you” and “you’re”. Writing in this fashion also makes it easier to speak to a specific person’s emotions and helps make the experience more personable.

  • Be Clear

If you want to increase the conversion rate of your website, then you need to be clear about what action you want the reader to take. If you want them to fill out a form, then make it clear that you want them to fill out the form. If you want them to call a number, then make it clear you want them to call the number. Many people feel this seems pushy, but if you aren’t clear about what action you want them to take, then they will never take that action. Some people may not take the action because it seems pushy, but many more people will take the action because it’s clear what you want them to do.

  • Connect With The Reader

All the top conversion rate optimizers work great, but they work even better if you do one simple thing with the readers of a website – form a connection. The more personable the connection, the better. Some of the top converting websites come from blogs or websites that have spent a lot of time creating a relationship with the reader. If the reader feels a connection and feels that you really care about them, then they will be much more likely to take whatever action you are wanting them to take.

5 Examples Of Great Web Design

In my experience, one of the best ways to design a great looking website is to get inspiration from other websites out there. They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, so while this isn’t stealing or anything of that sort, it’s simply a way to inspire ideas and new design elements that you may have never thought of otherwise. It’s also a great way to kick start your designs if perhaps you tend to stay in one style and don’t seem to stray much from it. Below are 3 great examples of web design that may be a little different than what you’re used to, but should spark some great ideas.

1) Risen Church – www.risenchurch.com

Usually, when you think of a website for a church, you may think of pictures of old ladies playing the piano or just a basic site that is as bland as a piece of bread. The website of Risen Church is not your average website, especially for a church. If you’re looking to design a website for a service business or, of course, a church, then this site is a great inspiration.

2) Brick Fielder – www.brickfielder.co.uk/

If you are designing a website for an ecommerce store or just looking to sell items on a site, then this site is a great one to model it after. The goal of a website that sells goods is to showcase the things you are selling in a way that makes people want to buy. This site displays everything in a unique and “cool” way, while also explaining what each product does in a stylish way.

3) Christmas With Joy – http://christmaswithjoy.com/

This is a really cool site with a unique purpose. The site displays Christmas figures from around the world, from Santa Claus to Krampus (if you don’t know who that is, then you probably should keep it that way). You can pick a Christmas figure and send a Christmas greeting to a friend featuring that figure. The design elements really standout and could be used in various design elements of a website for any cause.

4) B14 – http://b14.dk/

Sometimes, simplicity is elegant, and this website is a great display of that. The site is black and white and has a great balance of white space, words, and images. If you are designing a personal blog or a portfolio type website, this would be a great website to draw some ideas from and spark some great ideas. The focus of this site is the words on the page and not images like many of the other sites on this list. Depending on your project, this could be something that stands out from the pack.

5) Landscape – http://thisislandscape.com/

If you are looking to create a portfolio website showcasing works, then this site is a really unique way of doing that. The homepage is mostly text but then you can go into each project and see each project more in depth from that point. Depending on your taste and how you wish to present a portfolio, this could be a great way to gain some ideas to do that.

3 Tips On How To Tell A Story With Graphic Design

The art of design, whether is be designing a website or creating a t shirt design, is really a method of storytelling. That’s how I’ve always looked at graphic design and I really think if you do too, it’ll change the way you work. When a business comes to you wanting a website built, what they are really telling you is that they want help in telling their story.

You may think that sounds a little frilly or Disney-like for your taste, but if you see yourself as the storyteller, then your designs will take on a sense of purpose and you’ll have happy clients singing your praises.

Below, I will illustrate three easy-to-implement strategies into your designs that will help you tell and shape a story for whatever you are designing.

1) Create A Personality

One of the easiest ways to tell a story is to have whatever you’re designing to have a personality. That personality could be anything from happy to edgy and everything in between. It really depends on the brand and culture you’re trying to create. If you look at the great companies out there, they are all telling one story or another. Apple, for instance, is telling a story that their products of ingenuity and simplistic designs will make your life a little bit better. Nike is telling a story that their products will help you perform at your best, no matter if you are a professional athlete or a weekend warrior.

2) Choose The Right Images

You’ve heard the saying, a picture is worth a thousand words? Well, the right picture is worth a thousand right words, while choosing the wrong picture is worth a thousand negative words. You want to choose images that help tell the story that you are wanting to tell. To go back to the example of Nike, they use images that show top level athletes performing at the peak of their sport while wearing Nike gear. You may not be selling Nike, but whatever it is your are trying to sell or portray, you should make sure that the images you choose further that story and add to it.

3) Connect With The User

The reason that storytelling is so effective when building a brand, website or anything else is because they help the user feel connected to the brand. When you’re creating the story with your designs, think about it from the end user experience. Sometimes, it’s really easy to get caught up in what we’re doing and think you know exactly what it is you’re conveying, but many times it’s much harder than it looks. Try to think and experience your story from the experience of someone who is viewing it for the very first time. Is your main goal accomplished with the experience? Do the images help convey the story? Do the colors make sense? And, does the overall feel of the design lead the user to feel part of the story? The answer may not always be a resounding “yes,” but the closer you can get to it, the better your designs and storytelling will be.

Aromatherapy Devices, Essential Oil Companies and New Technology in Natural Health

As you know by now I always find it interesting to see old modalities meet new technology in the ever evolving world of tech.

Most of the time I focus on web development, but the other day I was abruptly confronted with an example of offline tech advancements this while visiting my moms family.

One of my cousins on my moms side of the family is apparently head over heels with using essential oils. She keeps them all over the house and uses them on family members liberally for health and well being.

When I got to the house we were staying at I was mesmerized by all of these essential oil diffusers that she had littered across the house. There was literally one of these contraptions in every room – including the bathrooms!

I must say that she knew what she was doing. The smells they emanated really were enjoyable. She had calming smells filling the air in the bedrooms and more enlivening smells in the kitchen and entryway. She even helped my mom use her essential oils to calm a terrible case of menstrual cramps that had developed during the drive!

As I wandered around and admired her handy work I also took a close look at the diffuser devices. I was quite surprised – not only where these tools aesthetically pleasing, they actually seemed pretty high tech! Some were made with large capacity and a lot of power in mind, while others seemed to shine with their childproofing.

This trip came at an interesting time as I have been looking into ways to combine my tech skills with my interest in health and lifestyle to potentially create a product that I could promote. So after family time was done for the day I did a little investigating into these aromatherapy devices.

Essential Oil Manufacturers are Doing Well with these Products

It used to be that people diffused their oils with candles and heat lamps. But today with the success of large essential oil producing companies like doTERRA and Young Living we have been seeing new forms of diffusers. And these new tools are safer, more efficient and more pleasing to the eye.

And of course any new technology on the aromatherapy front is easy for these companies to promote alongside their collection of essential oils. It looks like sales of these new tech items are booming!

What I’m Taking Away from this Discovery

I’m now motivated more than ever to find ways to combine technology with physical holistic products like herbs and other natural remedies.

There are already plenty of low tech ways to manipulate these remedies for better use. For example the practice of creating tinctures with herbs doubles as a way to store these medicines long term and increase their rate of absorption.

If there is a way to bring new tech to the growing field of health and wellness there is a high likelihood of finding success in the market. Many people who are interested in natural medicine are homeowners who have liquid income to spend on improving their health and will welcome new advancements in their homes.

What do you think? Have you encountered new technology that’s enhancing old healing practices? Have you bought any of these new devices? I would love to know your experiences and share ideas!

Why Responsive Web Design Is Taking Over

As the world moves to interacting with the device in their pocket and not the computer on their desk, websites need to keep up. It used to be a lot simpler. You would design for one size screen depending on if you were targeting smaller or larger screen sizes. You might also have an entirely separate website that was created as a mobile site. Now, it’s vital to not only design for a monitor, but any size monitor possible. In addition, you also have to design for every size tablet or screen size. So yes, the new iPhone 6 plus may look as big as a tablet but it’s now just another size you have to design for.

The big question is why is responsive design taking over?

The Google Gods Say So

Google launched a new algorithm that increases their ranking for mobile-friendly sites. Basically this means that if your website has mobile compatibility you’ll be awarded a higher ranking in search results than websites without. You don’t want Google on your bad side so creating a mobile-friendly site is vital for showing up higher in Google search results. Also, all that awesome SEO work you did on your website to get you the #1 ranking on a Google search will be wasted effort if your site is without a responsive design.

Avoid the bounce rate

More and more people are working, playing, and shopping on tablets and smart phones. If users come to a site that is not mobile friendly, the percentage of visitors to a particular website who navigate away from the site after viewing only one page (commonly known as bounce rate) is much higher. In fact copterlabs.com states that on average, the bounce rate for mobile visitors to a non-mobile site is 28.4% higher than the bounce rate to a mobile site. You can’t sell to bounced visitors! I was recently hired to redo the pest resource website http://pestkilled.com and saw similar numbers after converting it to a responsive design.

User experience is vital

You always want to make your customers happy. This now goes beyond customer service in the store or office. You need to update your customer service and cater to them even after they step out of the door. There’s social media sites to keep in touch, advertising to stay top of mind, and now responsive design to keep your products and services in their pocket at all times.

Cost effective and efficient for you

As a business owner you’re always concerned with costs. At first it might seem like having to redesign your site will cost you more money. However in the long run it will save you money. Gone are the days of separate mobile sites and desktop sites that require two rounds of edits which means more time and money. All edits can be done in one place which cuts down on time, maintenance, and quality control issues.

Takeaway

Smartphones and tablets are becoming more and more popular. If you want your business to follow suite then you need to have a website that is user-friendly across all platforms. If you’re looking to please Google, make your website visitors happy, and save money then responsive design is vital for your business.

Designing Websites That Make Sales

For this article I reached out to Jared Lee, who is an Oklahoma City SEO expert, and is quite knowledgeable when it comes to conversion rate optimization. You can find out more about Jared and what he does by visiting his website.

A truly shocking number of web designers are unfamiliar with the basic principles of design, proper elements of design, and the way to design that convert well for their clients. Having never been through any formal design education, many just go with what they think ‘looks good,’ with very mixed results. If you’re going to design a website, you’ll do much better if you have some idea of what you’re doing when it comes to graphic design. Here, then, is a crash course in the principles and elements most useful to web designers.

Balance

It is important for things to be balanced. That doesn’t necessarily mean symmetry, making one side exactly the same as the other. It does mean that you can’t make one side ‘strong’ and not have that on the other side as well. For example, if you use a dark color, you should balance it with a larger area of a lighter color. What balance allows you to do is to lead the viewer’s eye to certain parts of the page without making the page look ridiculous.

Emphasis

If you want to make part of the page stand out from all the rest, you can give it emphasis using a variety of techniques. Grouping everything together and then moving one thing a significant distance away from them will make it a focal point, as will making it a different shape from the others, or a different color.

Line

The directions of your lines will give a mood to your design. As a rule, horizontal lines are calmer, vertical lines are moderately active, and jagged or diagonal lines are very active. If you were designing an austere financial news site, then, you’d use horizontal lines. For a fun site for kids, you would have lines going in all sorts of directions.

Shape

One thing that many designers don’t realize is that there are two kinds of shapes – positive and negative. Every design has both kinds of shapes. The positive ones are the ones you, the designer, actively placed on the page, while the negative shapes are the spaces created around the positive ones. Many web designers simply ignore this, leaving their negative shapes a mess. This leads to the ‘boxy’ look that many amateur pages have and these do not convert well.

Color

Color is a big subject. As soon as you add more than one color to a page, you make the other colors look different. Some colors are complementary, and some just look terrible together. On the web, generally, you should usually avoid using too many colors on one page. Even if they are complementary, it will look bright and loud if you’re not careful.

For the web, hue is more important. The best way to create a color scheme is to use black, white, and various shades of one color. You have to consider the brightness and intensity of your colors to make sure you’re not overdoing things. One of the easiest mistakes to make is to use the built-in CSS color words (background-color: red, for example) instead of creating color codes. The color words should generally be avoided because they’re just too intense.

Space

You can create all sorts of illusions with the amount of space you put between your objects and what you actually put there. Design is often as much knowing where to put something as it is knowing what to put there. If you make things overlap, for example, the covered things appear to be at the ‘back’ while the uncovered ones are at the ‘front’.

Lots More

This is the briefest of brief overviews, because graphic design and conversion rate optimization is a surprisingly large subject, and one that’s changing all the time. If you want to get properly up to speed, it’s worth buying a book, or even taking an evening course at your local college – you won’t regret it.

Graphic Design Trends for 2015

We all know the importance of graphic design to distinguishing your brand. Memorable print media and web presence go a long way towards developing your company’s presence. But what if your materials look outdated? Not so good: outdated materials make your site or print media seem, well, outdated! Though it is not necessary to change things up every year it is important to look at your logos and such with fresh eyes from time to time. If it is time for you to update it is important to give yourself or your designer some framework within which to make the necessary changes. With that in mind let’s look at graphic design trends for 2015. They have been summed up nicely in the cardprinting.us infographic found here. To summarize:

  1. Flat rather than bevelled or embossed
  2. Angular grid layouts with precise positions and geometric shapes.
  3. KPop – that is design based on Korean pop music graphic elements like LOUD, funky and bright, smiley faces, and kitsch.
  4. Custom fonts – even handwritten!
  5. Bright pastel colour choices that work well with #1, flat design.
  6. Bolder and darker colours as well.
  7. Fewer stock images more custom illustrations.
  8. Modern Paisley Motifs – think paisley transformed.
  9. Pixelated design the use of small blocks of colour to create logos and design.

These are all really interesting trends that I’m keen to put to use in my upcoming work. I’m curious to see how they’d work in a couple of random sites: a site about the best rice cookers, ricecookergoodness.com, and a site about standup paddleboard reviews called shakasurfer.com. The rice cooker site already has some of the elements mentioned above. The cute cartoon character rice cooker is quite Kpop. This makes sense considering the brand associations. Rice cookers are big in Asia and, what’s more, some of the world’s best rice cookers are made in Korea. The text part of the logo, too, has some of bright pastels mentioned above but perhaps lacks the boldness necessary to come off properly. Maybe point four above could be used to good effect here. A custom Korean-style font might work well and without any drop shadows or bevelling – just slightly stronger and darker choice of color.

The site about SUP paddleboards has a fairly simple text logo. It looks like the Impact font was used and the font colour was replaced by a dark water image instead. The colour is good with a dark but calming blue and a custom feel to it. And the flatness of the lettering is in line with point number one above; and it works well. The font and colour choice is so strong that no dimensionality is required. It might be a good idea here to have a custom font made up just for the logo. Even something with a calligraphic west coast feel would work well here. The logo in itself is pretty good but the way it fits in the page could be improved upon — it looks a little lost!

Hope this helps give you some direction if it is time to update your logo and design materials.

A Few Web Trends Which You’ll Probably See More Often

The internet is rapidly evolving and there are quite a few different types of trends that are occurring currently and a lot of which will be expected over the next few months. By looking at some of the rapidly reoccurring practices I see in the industry today, I’ve put together a list of what I believe will be some trends that will re-occur and become more popular over the next few months. Check them out below.

Longer Scrolling Webpages
Longer webpages have quite a few benefits which you might not have even thought about. For one, longer websites increase user-satisfaction because all the information they need is readily found on one webpage. Moreover, SEO experts will also tell you longer websites provide a huge SEO advantage. Most website’s on the first page of Google all have over 2000 words of content. Check out this graph below by SerpIQ.

Less Large Headings with Background Images
Over the past few years, we have seen an increase in trends where there were many websites with large headers and large images with text floating over them. However, many large websites are moving to a much more simplistic design where there may be a large heading with no background image behind it.

I’m not too sure why this is becoming a much more popular trend but my guess is that it has something to do with optimizing a website for speed.

Simplistic Favored Designs
You can expect to see designs becoming much more simplistic with a lot of the non-essentials removed. I believe the idea behind this is to remove the “fat” and bombard your potential clients less with information they don’t need to know. I presume this would also help the company portray a clearer and less convoluted message to the potential clients.

More High Quality & Original Photos
Stock images is great in some places of web design. However, I expect to see an increase in the amount of high quality, professional photos which are created specifically for a specified website.

As the internet continues to grow, and pictures continue to be reused, many reused pictures get noticed by various users, so custom photography creates more of a unique and lasting experience for them.

Hidden Main Menus
I got to be honest with you. I actually hate this trend, but I see it becoming more and more prevalent. Currently, most websites would have a full menu at the top of the webpage which allows you to see a list of pages the website contains.

However, these days, I’m starting to notice a trend where hidden menus are becoming more popular. Hidden menus are only shown and activated once a user clicks a button. When the button is clicked, the menu will pop-out for the user.

This trend is primarily popular with responsive websites when viewed on a smaller device such as a tablet or mobile phone and for me personally, I believe that is the only place these types of menus should be.

Very Large Text
I can see there being an increased emphasis on having sites which have larger typography. This is also one way web designers are adding a visual hierarchy in the message companies are trying to portray to their audience.

Designing For Mobile Devices

Web and graphic design is at the core of what I do for a living and what I blog about there. One area I have been focusing a lot of attention on is user experience and this is drastically changing with an ever growing shift towards mobile devices like Smartphones and tablets. This has brought about a whole host of challenges which the web design industry refers to as responsive design.

This is essentially the ability of a website to adapt and display dynamically dependent on the device being used to view it. 10 years ago this was not an issue, but estimates today suggest that over 50% of web traffic comes from mobile devices. This means that responsiveness of business websites is more important than ever before.

The problem is though that many web design companies around the world simply make modifications that allow a site to display dynamically. The original site design is still based on desktop viewing and when it is dynamically changed it will display on phones, but this often does not make for a nice layout and design. In many cases a site’s conversion rate and user interaction goes down.

We have been able to demonstrate this with the help of one of my customers. One of his sites had not been updated for the impending Google mobile friendly update, and a fix was urgently needed. The first thing we did was make it mobile friendly by installing a new WP theme, so the initial threat was largely reduced. We immediately started tracking conversion rates across devices and saw the very issue I just commented on: conversion rate was crap on Smartphones.

This was particularly evident on one of their most important assets, the cordless business phone section. Even though this page was now fully responsive, mobile users bounced away a lot. So we set about making drastic changes from a graphical point of view that would help reduce this.

Basically overnight, we were able to turn this around by a much more strategic approach to the use of images and call to action elements. To highlight the difference we suggest you compare the above link to the Panasonic cordless phone system page, which we have left unchanged for tracking purposes.

We suggest you do the following. Open the two links on a desktop computer or laptop and see how similar they look. Then do the same on a mobile device like an iPhone and you will notice a huge difference. The second page almost looks like it was forced onto the screen with a lot of the content appearing out of order.

This makes for a very poor user experience. You always want to have a conscious flow through your content where you provide an introduction, benefit and a call to action in precisely the right place. Imagine having the call to action before you have even explained to the potential customer what you are actually offering?

Yes, this may be an extreme example but this is what can happen when you simply trust technology to convert a website designed for desktop viewing into a mobile friendly site, and there are countless examples of this.

Creating a More Attractive Website for Your Online Knife Sharpener Business

Intro: It is not easy to sell knife sharpeners online. However, you can always find a way to ensure that your product stands out.

There are a lot of ways to attract people to buy your products sold online. However, given the number of other online stores out there, it might be a bit difficult to compete with them. This is true especially if you are selling products that people don’t normally buy online. Therefore, you have to double your efforts to ensure that they are lured and will eventually buy what you offer. For instance, if you are selling a knife sharpener, it might not be easy to find customers right away.

You might have to go through the usual online marketing process, but it won’t do the trick. You need to do something more. You need to ensure that people will be easily attracted to what you offer.

Write interesting articles

To begin with, your website must not just be about the product you sell and its description. It must also contain other interesting information about the product. You can write about the uses of knife sharpeners. You can also discuss why your product is cutting edge and is way above other products. You can also write articles about using the sharpener and many more. Look into unique angles to ensure that people don’t get bored and eventually come back to buy your products.

Create funny animations

If you just post photos and descriptions of knife sharpeners, it might be deemed as boring. Therefore, you need something that pops out. You can use funny animations. The animation must be about how the knife sharpener is used. It must be an infomercial in nature. If not, you can create a poster that contains everything that they need to know at once. If they don’t like reading details, then the picture must sum everything up.

Create a friendlier atmosphere

Your product might not necessarily the friendliest product people can find out there. However, it all depends on how you transform the website and create a friendlier vibe. People must be attracted by the choice of colors, graphics and many more. You can even use background music if possible. You can also throw some kitchen photos. By then, knife sharpeners don’t seem so scary anymore.

Highlight your edge over the others

This entails research. You need to ensure that people see the advantages of buying your products over your competitors. For instance, you can highlight the price difference. You can also include the promotional prices and other freebies. If they see why they can save more money or get more out of their money from buying your products, then you can expect them to buy from you.

For now, the best thing that you can do is to research on the best products to sell. You can take care of the website later once you have already finalized the list of products to sell. If you want more ideas on the best knife sharpener, you can go here. On the other hand, if you want a smaller pocket knife sharpener, you can go to www.knifesharpenerhq.net. Hopefully, your business will succeed in the end.

The User Interface Trends You Need to Follow in 2015

Every year, many aspects of the Internet keep adapting the needs of the user and if you build against these new principles, you’ll end up losing traffic. The reason is because the user must always come first when planning the design. If you make it too difficult for them to navigate, they won’t be able to the important content you want them to see. If your designs are clunky, then the chances that a user will leave you skyrocket. This is why it is so important to keep learning the new trends, which arise when it comes to page design. So here are some of the things you will need in order to please the user.

Minimalism is Still King 

Minimalistic design has been taking the tech world by storm but that makes sense because it’s the simplest way to appeal to the user. Clean icons tiled in a quick to access manner make a page more attractive. Having fancy graphics can only go so far and ultimately won’t matter if you can’t show where these graphics lead. So before you overstuff your page with features and buttons, think about how you can simplify it instead.

Animations are the Dukes

Ever since Internet speeds have become faster, designers have become more creative. Animations illustrate how the net responds to fluid movement designed to draw the eye to certain page elements. Objects on a page tend to stay static, but some designers have now taken the mouse cursor into account and have integrated rolling menus that expand into animations. It’s a great way to keep a user’s attention, and might even be the best way to create a more seamlessly transition process through different pages. Even a site about rice cooker reviews like this site can improve with a few animations attached to them.

Chunked Content

A few years back people started to assume that the shorter the content, the more views you get. While this is true, long form articles and features are starting to make a comeback through content chunking. The method of chunking involves cutting up a page into small segments accompanied by images or illustrations. Apparently, users have responded in a positive manner when they saw how posts were edited and placed on a long form page.

Focus

While it may be tempting to cram as much content on a page so that you can move traffic to other pages, it’s not an attractive feature nowadays. People what to know what they’re getting into as soon as they hit the home page so focus is the key to keeping attention in the right places. To do this, all you’ll have to do is to incorporate minimalism into the content and presentation of each page. Like how a site about an appliance reviews site found in http://www.homecentric.org will talk about rice cookers rather than spin you around in loops.

So there you have it; some user interaction trends that are sure to keep your site in the loop. However, the best way to keep in touch is to keep learning more trends.

How technology is making this world safer

It’s amazing how much technology helps us out. As a graphic designer, I come across the latest technological developments, and honestly, I’m always incredibly impressed by what I get to see. Take for example online safety. I recently designed some graphics for a service which allows anyone to quickly perform a background check online. This is a service which involved going to libraries and other public service buildings across the country, and spending hours going through all kinds of documents. This website literally lets you find out the personal details about anyone in the United States. All you need is their name, last known address, and a social security number helps but is not necessary.

This technological trend is becoming more and more important in our daily lives. Whether it is finding the nearest pizza shop on your phone or finding out whether your new neighbor has a criminal record you should know about. It’s insanely easy to do and absolutely necessary in my humble opinion.

I realize I’m a lot more technologically advanced and Internet aware than your average user, so to prove to myself and my readers that these kind of services are easy to use, I did some research. I found an honest BeenVerified.com review detailing that these background check services are so easy to use, a three year old could do it. I think that’s a slight exaggeration, but it does show that even though these things are incredibly advanced and complex, the interface is easy to use. I feel somewhat proud to have helped design the user interfaces of some of these application that make our modern lives so much easier and simpler.

Take for example online dating. You don’t need to leave the house to find a date these days. You don’t even have to gamble with love, as you know the details of the person you’re meeting. If that’s not enough, there are websites such as eharmony.com that calculate the probability of you falling in love. All you need to do is fill out a questionnaire, and the computer does the rest. This is complicated programming in the background, but all you see as the user are some nice looking button to press. To get back to the topic of safety, you could even perform an online background check on your online date. I personally always make sure the person I’m meeting for a date is who they say they are. Do they have arrest records or anything worrying in their past? It just makes sense to me.

This does lead us to the drawbacks of the safety trends online. All of this means that anyone can perform a background check on anyone at any time. This puts into question whether we are violating privacy. As a technology geek I don’t think so. Certain rights need to be sacrificed to ensure we’re advancing as a society, and this is one of them. Having your privacy invaded slightly when someone performs a criminal background check on you is a small price to pay for more safety.

Improve Customer Experience Through Visual Impact

Web design has drastically changed in the last decade. I still remember the days where any kind of web presence was OK and all you did was put a few photos and a bit of text on a page and you felt great for having an online presence. But just like in the world of software, user interaction has become increasingly important in web design.

And this has been further complicated with ever more web traffic being driven by mobile devices with small screens. This is where responsive design has become very important and latest indications from Google show that mobile friendly access will have an impact on a website’s search rankings, which is crucial for many businesses.

In this post I want to highlight some really important things that should be done by all web masters before any other changes are considered. I have put together practical examples based on a project I work on with baby stroller review site BabyWheels, and all of the advice can be easily implemented on any type of website.

During the initial analysis phase it was very clear that the website was not mobile friendly. This resulted in the first step of applying a completely new WordPress theme that was fully optimized for all types of mobile devices. A full review of site traffic analysis showed that 30% of all visitors were coming from mobile devices and bounce rate was as high as 80%. Within one week of making this first change the bounce rate had dropped to under 60%; that is a significant improvement for the users.

Next up we reviewed the image size for all pages on the site. It looked like page load times were quite high, and while there are plugins that can improve image load times, it is always best to upload an optimized image for each specific use.

While the website had reviews of all types of strollers, it looked like the pages for the double strollers were performing the worst. We quickly found that there was a set of 3 images that appeared several times that were over 1 MB in size. While it does not sound like much it adds up to some significant load delays.

People browsing or shopping for stuff no longer have the patience to wait for pages with load times over 6 seconds. This is one of the main contributing factors to bounce rates increasing. So, we took the images and resized them to what was needed. Then we further optimized them for web use and we ended up with images that were under 200k in size.

The important thing was that the images still looked great but they loaded so much faster. Overall we managed to reduce the page load times from over 6 seconds to 3.2 seconds, which is a huge achievement with such simple changes. The overall visual impact was improved and the usability became better for both mobile and desktop users. All this has been measurable in the traffic analytics, and ultimately in the conversion rates and monetary success.