With the rise of tourism in Sri Lanka I see many websites coming up related to hotels, beach resorts and boutique hotels, and most of them are created mostly using flash. Problem with Flash websites are not limited for search engine optimization. There are many other factors about Flash websites that leads to less visitors and low sales. Even if you manage to get visitors to your websites, using search engines or referrals, you are more likely to piss off the user with too much Flash. Below are few problems of Flash heavy websites. [Read more…]
If you have being blogging for a while, you must have heard about “writers block”, it is a situation where you are stuck for new ideas, you are desperate to write a new post but you just can’t come up with an interesting topic for a post, and there are situations where people have just stopped blogging because they can’t come up with new ideas. Most people have trouble generating ideas and so you need all the help you can get to generate new ideas and efficiently use those ideas. I have being writing for Squidoo for a while, and when browsing some of the lenses created by fellow lens masters I found this great lens about creating ideas. Its a long article covering things like creating ideas and how to best use them. But there are two points which I personally found very helpful in my online work and life in general. Those two are
- Ideas don’t have to be big
- You must immediately write down your ideas
Although two separate points those are somewhat related, because some ideas are not big you tent to ignore and forget them in a while, but if you have written them down then you always have a record of those ideas. Below is a quote from that article which I found very inspiring
People often think that to have useful ideas they must think of something extraordinary or revolutionary but in fact ideas can be small and simple, a quicker way to work, a way to organize your paperwork, a way to get your work done more efficiently, an attention grabbing title for your new essay or blog posting, a simple gift that would provide pleasure for a friend or relation, a surprise for a colleague, an exciting vacation, a new recipe, a way of using some ingredients that might go stale soon.
Please check out the article about creating ideas and I highly advise you bookmark it, so you can always refer it back when you are stuck for ideas.
Tools to write and follow up on your ideas
After realizing the importance of ideas why it is important to follow up on them I quickly looked for tools to implement the suggestion. If you are not a software engineer like me, who spends most of his day in front of the computer, then these tools might not suit you perfectly, but I’m sure you can generate few ideas to match your needs. First of all I needed some tool to write down my ideas. Since I have my Firefox browser opened all the time QuickFox Notes ( Firefox Add-On) was the best solution for me. You can open it with a single click on your browser and below is an image from my QuickFox Notes
Not that I have a way of quickly adding notes, now I needed a tool so I can access them from almost anywhere. Installing QuickFox helped in this regard as well,since QuickFox notes are saved as Firefox bookmarks all I needed to do was synchronize those bookmarks across computes. You can do this easily using Firefox Sync, which is another Firefox add-on. Now I can write down my ideas quickly and access them whenever I’m browsing, and I have found this very useful when it comes to producing blog posts and Squidoo lenses.
For people who are not in front a browser most of the day the most obvious choice is the mobile phone, there are plenty of advanced mobile phones these days and I’m sure they have the facility to store notes. If you are storing ideas in some other form I would love to hear about the tools and methods in the comment section, so feel free to share your ideas.
In one of my previous posts I mentioned about how to receive money from PayPal send only accounts. Some of the things mentioned in that post are not that relevant now because of various changes in PayPal. However if you are residing in a country with PayPal send only accounts then there are few alternatives you can use to receive payments for your online service. I have tried all these methods and they have worked perfectly for me. It is up to you to choose your preferred method although I will give you some hints, so you can identify the best method that suits you. I personally use these service and have received money to those accounts so I know they work. If you have any questions about the below method feel free to ask in the comments section and if you find this article helpful make sure to share it with your friends as well.
Use another online payment service
Although PayPal is the most popular and widely used online payment method, there are plenty of other services available to you as well. AlertPay and Moneybookers are the other alternative payment services I use, you can choose one depending on your country. In my opinion AlertPay is the widely recognized one and it is included as a receiving option in many popular freelance sites as well.
Like PayPal these services also have upgraded accounts which can be used to do a whole lot more activities. If you are starting to set up a online business in a PayPal send only country then this is about the only option you have as well.
Receive money to a friends account
If you have a friend in a country like US,UK where you can receive money from PayPal, then one of the easiest methods is to receive your payment to that account and let your friend send you money via check, direct deposit or any other payment service like AlertPay,Moneybookers etc. Be mindful of the costs for direct deposits because it is relatively high amount for international transactions.
Get the Money via direct deposit
If you are getting paid for a standalone service like creating a website, optimizing a website for search engines etc then you can consider getting money via a direct deposit. As mentioned above there are some fixed charges so it might be not applicable to all payment. As a practice I only request money via direct deposits only if it exceeds 100$ and usually it cost me about 5-1o$ for various charges. Considering that PayPal charges you 5$ to debit money to your credit card I think this is a good bargain.
Receive money via a check
This is my preferred option for receiving money from Merchants like ClickBank, CJ. You can use this method for other online payments as well. This option is cost effective but time consuming. It takes about a week to receive the check and it takes even more time for the money to come to your bank account. On average it takes about 2-3 weeks for my Adsense and Clickbank checks to be visible in my bank account.
Amazon Gift Cards ( Quick PayPal send only solution )
It doesn’t necessarily have to be Amazon, but Amazon gift cards don’t expire. If you are looking to buy something online then getting your money as an Amazon gift card is a good option. One big advantage of this method is, it is almost instant payment received.
Below are some of the solutions and workarounds you can use if you are in a PayPal send only country.If you have another great idea feel free to share it in the comments section. If you find this article useful share it with you friends as well.
Understanding the average Internet user and various reading patterns on the web is very important if you want to monetize your website or just want to make the user experience as pleasant as possible in your website. In very broad terms reading patterns can be categorized into two , immersive reading and scanning.
The goal of immersive reading is to go through almost all of the text and thoroughly understand what is written in there. This could be something like reading a novel where you absorb everything written there. By contrast the goal of scanning is to quickly locate things. This could be something like a user visiting your website to find your contact details or find an order form etc.
When it comes to blogging in most cases it is a combination of two of these techniques. Typically a user scan for the desired/specific information and do some immersive reading to comprehend that section. Which is why it is important to make your blog , websites and even blog posts easy to scan and locate important things. In one of my previous posts I showed how to make a user friendly website , below are few things you can do to make them easy to scan.
- Have important information in vertical navigator or at the top of the sidebar – it could be your contact information , link to the download of something your giving away free , if its an event it could be link to the time table , anything that you will think that visitors to your blog or website want to find out quickly
- Break your blog posts into small points – it could be by having sub headers , presenting items in bullet points , making some text bold etc , anything to highlight the important aspects of your blog post , keep in mind that users tend to skip large paragraphs that are not properly formatted. There are some cases where this is a good thing and which can lead to increase in advertisement clicks but if you trying to provide information and grab the attention of the user then its best to avoid such text blocks.
How Could This be Used to Highlight Things
Making the text easier to scan ( sub headings / bullet points / quotes ) can highlight the main points in a blog post. But to highlight your ads and to increase your income you need to understand the general eye movement pattern of the average Internet user. The above images shows how a typical web visitor scans a web page.
Top left corner is the starting point which is why ads just under blog title tend to perform well. Then the focus moves to top right and as you can see the least looked upon place is the bottom left corner. So obviously having your contact information and newsletter subscription form at the bottom left is not a good idea.
Since you’re reading this check out how I have added various content to my blog. In a single blog post the title is the most important part and it’s place to the top left. To the top right it’s a brief introduction about me because the primary aim of this blog is to build leads for my freelance SEO business. The right sidebar covers the next most important things and they are to the bottom right.
Although these patterns could be considered as starting point you should remember that it is very important to measure the performance of your advertisement units because user behavior is differs from blog to blog. Most advertisement programs allow you to track your clicks etc and in case of Google Adsense you can use channels to monitor the performance of your ad block. So make sure to test each and every aspect of your advertisement blocks whatever the research says.
Manipulating Reading Patterns on the Web
As I mentioned few times this is the general reading pattern and I’m sure a majority of users follow this pattern. But there maybe instances when you want them to focus on something specific without going through the usual routine. Fortunately there are many actions that can be taken to trigger these things. Covering them all probably requires a book but I’ve linked to a blog post that covers something that really fascinated me.
It covers in detail why people are attracted to other peoples faces, how then tend to look at what other people are looking at and how to include those finding to your website. Be sure to check out “You look where they look”.
Sri Lanka has a growing Internet audience which is increasing the demand for web site designers. Web designing in Sri Lanka seems to be more about fancy Flash scripts and less about website usability. Its all very well to have a fancy looking flash based website but if the visitors can’t find the information they are looking for then your website isn’t worth much. In one of my previous posts I talked about search engine optimization in Sri Lanka , but ranking for key words and bringing in visitors isn’t worthwhile if you are not providing the relevant information in an easy to find way.Below are few tips that could be useful in making your blog or website more user friendly.
Tips to make your website user friendly
- Have a consistent website design – Everything about your website should be consistent , the color theme from one page to another shouldn’t vary drastically. Same goes for link colors and sidebar links. If you are underlining your links make sure you underline all of them in a consistent manner. This should apply to fonts as well , basically what you should do is use your common sense. Getting a few opinions from different people also helps in this regard.
- Display contact info – One thing I find missing in most Sri Lankan websites , contact information is something users regularly check on websites and in some sites its the hardest to find thing as well if it is there at all. Don’t display contact info as a small link in your blogs footer but show it prominently in the header area. Its a good idea to have a separate page for contact info and link to it from the home page. Make sure to provide the necessary details and provide a contact form as well.
- Have a good navigation structure – The important pages of your website should be always accessible. They could be displayed in the header navigation bar or in the sidebar but it should found easily.This is especially true for blogs where visitors tend to leave quickly if they don’t find the information they are looking for.If you take this blog for example the RSS subscription is visible in every page. So are the important links in the header navigator which includes the contact info etc. Displaying the home button displayed everywhere is also very important.
- Make your links descriptive – This could be considered as part of good navigation but making your links descriptive is very important. If the link is going to a page about web design services then make sure to name is “web design services” instead of just “services”
- Have a site search – Make it easier for users who are looking for information in your site. It is very easy to integrate services like Google site search etc so you have no excuse for not providing a search box.
- Use proper language and grammar – Your website is the first impression a potential customer has of your service or company so make sure to make it a good impression. If your website is filled with spelling and grammar errors then the customer might think if he can’t properly maintain a website how could I trust him with a service or a product.
- Make sure forms and shopping carts work – If your website has feedback forms or any sort of form make sure they are working properly. If you are a merchant selling something then make sure that your shopping cart software works properly and your payment options are secure.
I hope the above tips will help you make your website better and much user friendlier to the user. If you are looking to get your website designed you can contact me.