Where and Why
The most important thing to determine is where you want people to go and what you want to achieve when they get there. Do you want a sale or maybe to collect their email address to build a list. You will also want to make it easy for them to go where they want easily and without to much effort. I have made the pages in this e-Manual, which is really just a website compiled into a eManual format, so you can get to any section you like from any page. Once you come to a page like this you can then navigate around this section quite easily by using the links on the left side. You can also go back to the beginning easily.
Hub and Spoke
I started out with this form of marketing quite unintentionally. I released a product which I promoted quite heavily, however as it grew and developed, I started to add more domains and other sites that were more targeted to different industries. Hence the first site I put up became a hub and then all these little satellites or spokes came into being.
It created my own internal linking strategy which has worked very well. I have now done this with a number of products and many will share certain spokes like say the newsletter, Affiliates etc but will have their own separate spokes as well like a blog or niche sites.
It might seem like a lot of work when you get a number of these going however a lot can be automated so that when you post top one place it can get distributed out to many different places especially when using generic information. The beauty is that not only does the hub provide traffic out to the spokes but after a while they start driving traffic back in towards the hub for other sales and products.
Obviously there are many different formats you can use and we will go through where and when to use each one below.
|We could have just as easily put links on the top of the page, however because of the large size of the folder we put them on the side. We accomplish this by using tables to separate the different parts of the page. Once you have worked out how you want people to navigate your site you then need to determine the layout. This is where a whiteboard comes in handy. If you can draw the pages and how they will link then you have a lot of the hard work done. Do not skimp on this process.|
Consistency is the key so we will build a template page so that we can enter the content and it will be the basis of our site. The beauty of templates is that you can change the whole look and feel of your website by changing a few items. This page is a template and all I did was import the data. I could change the colour or build a new template and create a whole different feel in a very short time.
Depending on what you are selling, or information you are providing, you will want to choose the colour scheme to match. The best way to determine this is to look at some sites similar to what you want to do. If it’s business – look at some business sites, if it’s a club – look at some similar clubs etc. For example, music sites tend to use black backgrounds, business sites tend to use lots of white space and fewer graphics, information sites tend to have lots of links, so need to be laid out differently again. Once again draw it on your whiteboard or pad to get the actual layout defined before you start.
Here is a great Tutorial on the whole process for you. Below is a small extract on layout for you. http://www.webstyleguide.com/index.html
The simplest way to organize information is to place it in a sequence. Sequential ordering may be chronological, a logical series of topics progressing from the general to the specific, or alphabetical, as in indexes, encyclopedias, and glossaries. Straight sequences are the most appropriate organization for training sites, for example, in which the reader is expected to go through a fixed set of material and the only links are those that support the linear navigation path:
This is perfect for a sales page. They arrive then progress to payment page then arrive at a download page.
More complex Web sites may still be organized as a logical sequence, but each page in the main sequence may have links to one or more pages of digressions, parenthetical information, or information on other Web sites:
This is used more for a membership or portal site.
Information hierarchies are the best way to organize most complex bodies of information. Because Web sites are usually organized around a single home page, hierarchical schemes are particularly suited to Web site organization. Hierarchical diagrams are very familiar in corporate and institutional life, so most users find this structure easy to understand. A hierarchical organization also imposes a useful discipline on your own analytical approach to your content, because hierarchies are practical only with well-organized material.
Weblike organizational structures pose few restrictions on the pattern of information use. In this structure the goal is often to mimic associative thought and the free flow of ideas, allowing users to follow their interests in a unique, heuristic, idiosyncratic pattern. This organizational pattern develops with dense links both to information elsewhere in the site and to information at other sites. Although the goal of this organization is to exploit the Web’s power of linkage and association to the fullest, weblike structures can just as easily propagate confusion. Ironically, associative organizational schemes are often the most impractical structure for Web sites because they are so hard for the user to understand and predict. Webs work best for small sites dominated by lists of links and for sites aimed at highly educated or experienced users looking for further education or enrichment and not for a basic understanding of a topic.
Collect all the elements
|Now that we have a plan we need to gather all the elements. You can write all the text in notepad or a word processor ready to copy and paste into the pages. It can be formatted when you put it in the page. This will take the most time, as you will write what you want to say and then probably rewrite it a few times. Read it out aloud to make sure it makes sense. You can also type it directly into the composer. As writing is probably one of the most critical factors, read the survey below.|
Make sure to name each of the elements, so you know what they are and put them all in one folder for easy reference. There is nothing worse than having to open files on your computer all the time to see what they are, because you haven’t adequately named them. Collect all the graphics you want to use and place them in an “Image” folder. Preferably use all lower case for graphics. Its quicker and also easier for editing later.
Building the pages
I have already done the above for you, so we are now ready to start and build your first pages. You can practice with my template and then try building your own. If you would like to read some more detailed information about planning and building your web site, I will give you some links later on. You are now ready to build some pages.
How Users Read on the Web
Research on how users read on the Web and how authors should write their Web pages. Mainly based on studies by John Morkes and Jakob Nielsen.
People rarely read Web pages word by word; instead, they scan the page, picking out individual words and sentences. In a recent study John Morkes and I found that 79 percent of our test users always scanned any new page they came across; only 16 percent read word-by-word.
As a result, Web pages have to employ scannable text, using
- highlighted keywords (hypertext links serve as one form of highlighting; typeface variations and colour are others)
- meaningful sub-headings (not “clever” ones)
- bulleted lists
- one idea per paragraph (users will skip over any additional ideas if they are not caught by the first few words in the paragraph)
- the inverted pyramid style, starting with the conclusion.
- half the word count (or less) than conventional writing
We found that credibility is important for Web users, since it is unclear who is behind information on the Web and whether a page can be trusted. Credibility can be increased by high-quality graphics, good writing, and use of outbound hypertext links. Links to other sites show that the authors have done their homework and are not afraid to let readers visit other sites.
Users detested “marketese”; the promotional writing style with boastful subjective claims (“hottest ever”) that currently is prevalent on the Web. Web users are busy: they want to get the straight facts. Also, credibility suffers when users clearly see that the site exaggerates.
Measuring the Effect of Improved Web Writing
To measure the effect of some of the content guidelines we had identified, we developed five different versions of the same website (same basic information; different wording; same site navigation). We then had users perform the same tasks with the different sites. As shown in the table, measured useability was dramatically higher for the concise version (58% better) and for the scannable version (47% better). And when we combined three ideas for improved writing style into a single site, the result was truly stellar: 124% better useability.
|Site Version||Sample Paragraph||
| Promotional writing (control condition)
using the “marketese” found on many commercial websites
|Nebraska is filled with internationally recognized attractions that draw large crowds of people every year, without fail. In 1996, some of the most popular places were Fort Robinson State Park (355,000 visitors), Scotts Bluff National Monument (132,166), Arbor Lodge State Historical Park & Museum (100,000), Carhenge (86,598), Stuhr Museum of the Prairie Pioneer (60,002), and Buffalo Bill Ranch State Historical Park (28,446).|| 0%
| Concise text
with about half the word count as the control condition
|In 1996, six of the best-attended attractions in Nebraska were Fort Robinson State Park, Scotts Bluff National Monument, Arbor Lodge State Historical Park & Museum, Carhenge, Stuhr Museum of the Prairie Pioneer, and Buffalo Bill Ranch State Historical Park.||58%|
| Scannable layout
using the same text as the control condition in a layout that facilitated scanning
|Nebraska is filled with internationally recognized attractions that draw large crowds of people every year, without fail. In 1996, some of the most popular places were:
| Objective language
using neutral rather than subjective, boastful, or exaggerated language (otherwise the same as the control condition)
|Nebraska has several attractions. In 1996, some of the most-visited places were Fort Robinson State Park (355,000 visitors), Scotts Bluff National Monument (132,166), Arbor Lodge State Historical Park & Museum (100,000), Carhenge (86,598), Stuhr Museum of the Prairie Pioneer (60,002), and Buffalo Bill Ranch State Historical Park (28,446).||27%|
| Combined version
using all three improvements in writing style together: concise, scannable, and objective
|In 1996, six of the most-visited places in Nebraska were:
It was somewhat surprising to us that useability was improved by a good deal in the objective language version (27% better). We had expected that users would like this version better than the promotional site (as indeed they did), but we thought that the performance metrics would have been the same for both kinds of language. As it turned out, our four performance measures (time, errors, memory, and site structure) were also better for the objective version than for the promotional version.
Our conjecture to explain this finding is that promotional language imposes a cognitive burden on users who have to spend resources on filtering out the hyperbole to get at the facts. When people read a paragraph that starts “Nebraska is filled with internationally recognised attractions,” their first reaction is no, it’s not, and this thought slows them down and distracts them from using the site.