Basic Site Structure – Pre-Website Planning

February 20th, 2009 by Barry

Now you’ll need to work out how to present the content in such a way as to drive user towards your end goals. Partially this will be done from the design stage and partially from creating a plan of your site.

This can be done using a storyboard; often called a site map but as we will use that term for two other aspects of website development I believe storyboard to be more appropriate.

An example of a storyboard would be like this one.

storyboard Basic Site Structure   Pre Website Planning

The boxes represent pages and the lines are links between those pages on your website. This example is very condensed although sometimes only a few pages are needed. Spending some time on this stage is recommended.

*Top Tip* – One page can have multiple purposes for several user groups and there should always be a way for that group to get there.

*Top Tip* – Remember that visitors could arrive at any page from a search engine so you have to be able to tell a story from wherever they start and have them reach the end.

There are several tools that allow you do plan this out in detail but usually all you need is a pen and paper, at least for a first draught. More complicated sites may benefit from the ability to edit and move planned pages as your view of user needs changes.

The most common way to plan a storyboard is to work from the top down. As your homepage is your shop window most users will see that page first. The homepage should cater to all of your user groups allowing them to find the channel of content most appropriate to them.

When you have defined the channels you must then plan out in which order to present the content to enable users to complete your goal.

*Top Tip* – Users rarely engage with a site for more than 3 clicks. Make sure your site structure allows them to get to a sales page within those 3 clicks.

We’ll look more at web usability and user psychology later on to help refine the structure of your site.

When planning out the storyboard always ask for each page -

Who is this page for?
What do I need to tell my visitors here?
What do I want them to do here?
If this page doesn’t convert them where do I need them to go next to get another chance?

Once you have pages for every group and have a way for them to reach the goal regardless of which page they start at you can begin to consider the design of your site.

In future posts we’ll look at ways of using analytics and data capture to allow users to tell you their needs and help refine your site structure.

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From the keywords you have you should be able to plan out, very loosely, what you intend to write. This content can then be batched together with related articles and then assigned to your visitor groupings.

If the content doesn’t match a group of users then put it to the side for now (as we’ll have to evaluate what purpose it does serve) and if a group of users has no content you’ll want to go back to the keyword planning stage to help come up with ideas to capture that audience.

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Defining users – Pre-Website Planning

February 19th, 2009 by Barry

Now that we have keywords and the keywords we have were based on what we wanted to write about, we need to work on who we will write the content for.

There are several things to consider when writing about a subject, especially when we want to drive users to a goal.

Firstly we have to prioritize what users will be looking for when the arrive at your site. This defines your audience and (initially) all content will be prepared for them.

So, as an example, if the goal of the site is to get users to sign up with a poker site then we need to anticipate what it is they need to enable them to do this.

The players that are looking for a new poker room are likely new to poker and may be interested in learning how to play poker, what bonuses are available to them, how secure online poker is or even how to actually download a poker room.

Another group of players may be more experienced and looking for rakeback at a new site or some strategy article to improve their game.

You should try and put together a profile of visitors and group the sort of content you anticipate they’ll need together. The more you know about the subject matter the easier this is but you should be able to come up with examples by categorizing users.

Examples of things to think about when categorising groups include :-

Characteristics – Gender biases, age.
Intent – At what point of their buying cycles is information likely to be relevant to the user. Are they after information, looking for a general product or looking for a specific product.
Knowledge level – Not just of the written subject but of general web usage.
Participation level – Are users going to view the site or participate/interact with it.

By defining groups of people we can to match them to content that will engage them and how to move them through the site to our goals.

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Choosing a domain – Bonus

February 17th, 2009 by Barry

Bonus 1

If this site will be a main brand for you make sure and register it for longer than one year. Google (and other search engines) give greater authority to a site that isn’t going to disappear overnight. Spending $50 on a domain for 5 years should be a small investment for what you are going to get in return.

Bonus 2

Additional to buying a domain for a longer period of time, consider protecting your soon to be developed brand by buying the .net, .org and .country (.co.uk, .fr, etc) as well. This soon adds up but is much cheaper than trying to buy them back later on.

Bonus 3

Never, EVER, wait to buy a domain name once you’ve found it. People scan others searches and buy them up. Once you’ve found a domain you like buy it, even if just for a year to start with.

Bonus 4

Buying multiple domains gives the possibility for cross promotion later on. Alternatively if a domain is likely to get type in traffic you can redirect it to your main site.

Bonus 5

If it’s a large site or an uncommon word it can help to buy misspellings and redirect them to your main domain. Typos take the form of one letter around each letter on the keyboard (this can get costly) and phonetically similar sounding sites.

Bonus 6

Always set your main domain to auto-renew. Your registrar should give you plenty of warning but it’s better to be safe than sorry and lose a domain that you’ve worked for years to build.

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Choosing a domain – Pre-website planning

February 16th, 2009 by Barry

Getting a quality domain name relating to your chosen field is becoming increasingly difficult. Getting a single dictionary word domain is now almost impossible for any TLD and all the good two and three word domains are generally taken too.

This isn’t an impossible obstacle to overcome in terms of SEO but having a good keyword rich domain is generally an advantage. Unless this is a larger budget project you’ll want to steer clear of the after-registry market and find a new unique and cheap domain. Registering old and second hand domains is something that I’ll go into more detail about later.

Now that you have your keywords you’ll want to try and include them into your domain if possible. The more competitive the word is the more likely it is to be taken. In this instance getting pokeraffiliate.com isn’t likely possible (and indeed it isn’t).

This leaves you with a few options.

  • Add a word as a prefix or suffix to your most popular keyword such as pokeraffiliateworld.com or onlinepokeraffiliate.com (both already exist so don’t bother). Trial and error is the only real way to find something that’s available.
  • Try adding random “webisms” to words affiliatester.com (keyword-ster being popular), affiliatrix.com (sounds a bit kinky, but it’s already in use), pokerjam.com (bought but not in use). This option requires some knowledge of the web, maybe get a web-savvy friend or family member involved if you’re unsure. The thing here is to remember that is has to be memorable.
  • Use keywords in the domain that are vaguely related. AllInBlind.com is a popular poker term and thinking about getting into poker affiliates without some knowledge could be deemed going all in blind to marketing (clever, eh?)
  • The last option is to make up a word or a sound-a-like word, Google being the best example of this or perhaps PKR.com for poker.

Ultimately this is going to come down to what domain names you think you can build a brand around.

Hyphens in URLs

Hyphens in URLs used to be regarded as a potential spam site. With the explosion of people buying domain names this is no longer the case. Sometimes a hyphen can be an advantage as it indicates a space to search engines.

poker-affiliate.com is a better match for the term “poker affiliate” than pokeraffiliate.com, though there’s not much in it.

The primary disadvantage of a hyphen is that people often forget to put it in when typing into address bars and end up at, what is probably, your main competitor. This can also reduce your type in (direct) traffic.

Buying a domain

Now that you know roughly what domain name you want and what to do if it’s unavailable you need to actually purchase the domain.

Probably the most popular domain registrar in the world is GoDaddy.com and I have over 50 domains bought through them and never had a problem. Domains cost about $8 and if you search around (Fatwallet) you can probably find some discount codes.

Unfortunately GoDaddy cannot sell all domain extensions (.fi, .pt, etc) so you’ll need to find other registrars. I don’t have any specific recommendations for finding country domain registrars (use a search engine) and you should be aware that many governments require you to be a citizen to buy a country specific domain.

In future posts I’ll go into private registrations and add ons for domains, expired domains and the resale market.

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