Radical Website Redesign or Incremental Change?

by Hoa Loranger

Site redesigns often require a tremendous amount of coordination and resources. Sometimes, a redesign project can be a purely visual reskinning of the entire site, with new styles, layouts, and treatments. Other times, serious taxonomy, information architecture, content, or usability issues are being addressed.

Usually Choose Incremental Changes Over a Major Overhaul

Drastic website changes are jarring for users and risky for business. The cost and effort of getting an entire organization and senior stakeholders to agree on the new website is enormous.

Never make radical changes when minimal adjustments will suffice. Too many websites undergo a major overhaul unnecessarily. While legitimate reasons exist for engaging in a redesign, the reality is that many problems you need to solve are isolated and can be fixed with smaller, incremental approaches.

Sometimes a Major Overhaul Is Best

Below are some reasons for taking the plunge:

  • The gains from making incremental changes are miniscule or nonexistent
  • The technology is severely outdated, making critical changes impossible
  • Architecturally the site is a tangled mess
  • Severely low conversion rates site-wide

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5 Tips to Get Donations on Nonprofit and Charity Websites

by by Nielsen Norman Group  

Our usability tests of nonprofit and charity websites show that people have high expectations of nonprofit and charity websites — which some sites don’t meet. Users have specific questions, and if sites do not address these questions, they have little desire or motivation to find the answers. Once users decide to donate, a clear call to action and a simplified donation process keeps them on the right track.

To get donations, follow these 5 guidelines:

1. Clearly Explain What the Organization Does

2. Disclose How Donations are Used

Those (users) who couldn’t find the information were aggravated and thought the organization was inefficient or trying to bury those details.

3. Display Third Party Endorsements

An organization’s reputation and legitimacy is another important piece of information users needed to know before making a donation. In our study, people often used the following information to decide whether or not a nonprofit or charity was worthy of their donation:

  • watchdog ratings
  • high profile endorsements
  • testimonials
  • name recognition
  • number of years in operation

4. Provide a Noticeable and Clear Link to Donate

5. Streamline the Donation Process

Creating a seamless donation process will increase the odds of getting users to complete the process.

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The Fold Manifesto: Why the Page Fold Still Matters

by Amy Schade

Summary: What appears at the top of the page vs. what’s hidden will always influence the user experience—regardless of screen size. The average difference in how users treat info above vs. below the fold is 84%.

Screen sizes are constantly shifting and designs can respond to these sizes, rather than fit to a constant size. So when clients, designers, developers, or marketers talk about content “above the fold”—a term borrowed from print-newspaper terminology and used as a way to reference what is visible on the webpage without scrolling —does it make sense anymore?

Yes. The fold still exists and still applies. Even though the exact location of the fold will differ between devices, it exists for every single user on every single screen. From a technical standpoint, the fold for the most common device sizes can be determined by looking at web traffic and at device and browser statistics.  A responsive design may have 2, 3, 4, or more different folds, specific to the devices and screen sizes that the design was optimized for. Each target device has its own fold to consider.

But more than a measurement, the fold is a concept. The fold matters because what appears at the top of your page matters. Users do scroll, but only if what’s above the fold is promising enough. What is visible on the page without requiring any action is what encourages us to scroll. This is true on any size screen, be it mobile, tablet, or desktop: anything that’s hidden and that the user must uncover will only be seen if the user deems it worth the hassle.

The following heatmap aggregates all the sites in our study (excluding search engines and search pages). Content below the fold does gather some looks, but not nearly as much as the content above the fold.

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FAQs Still Deliver Great Value

by Susan Farrell

Summary: A usable website FAQ can improve products, services, information, and user experience as part of your knowledge management process.

Website Development for Photographers

Finding Lost Souls – Customized 404 Error Pages Is Good Marketing

by Christine Churchill

Fast way to scare a customer to a competitor

In the rush to get the new site launched, many sites fail to take the time to create a user-friendly customized error page. Potential customers who mistype a file name or click on a link to a page no longer on the web site are served up one of the scariest pages on the Web, the cold, generic, dreaded default “Page Not Found 404 Error” message! No friendly language, no helpful guidance, just personality-less geek speak to drive the visitor straight to the competition.

When life gives you lemons, make lemonade…or Key Lime Pie!

A good custom error page takes the bad experience and turns it into a good one. It helps your customer know it’s not their fault they got lost. It takes them to a useful navigation site where they can quickly find what they need. It’s helpful. Comforting. It’s smart marketing.

Think about your experience when you get lost in a multi-storied department store. When you can’t make your way to the Home Goods Department, let alone find a clerk that can help you out, how do you feel? When you’re lost, frustrated, losing time, how do you feel about the store/its manager/its merchandise? A nasty generic 404 page gives the same experience.

Now imagine you’re lost in Home Goods, searching for Beach Gear. Before you have a chance to look for the nearest escalator and store map, a cheery clerk comes up to you and says, “You look lost. Can I help you?” Relief floods in. You bound down the staircase straight to Vacation Island, pick out a bright pink pail and blue shovel and sail off, happy ev…. Ok, you got the point. That, in a nutshell, is the purpose of the custom error page.

Error page checklist

  1. Retain the overall site look and feel to make the visitor feel comfortable.
  2. Use friendly, non-technical language to explain that the page they are looking for is not available.
  3. Be informative without being insulting.
  4. Help the lost visitor to get back on track quickly.
  5. Provide a search option on the custom page.
  6. Include a short contact form on the 404 page 
  7. Include an email link
  8. Design the page to load fast.
  9. Make the file size larger than 512 bytes.
  10. Monitor your logs for error pages.
  11. Think of the error page as a marketing opportunity.
  12. Humor can be effective.Read full article…

How to Create Landing Pages That Address the Emotional Needs of Prospects


Emotions aren’t generally discussed within the context of landing page optimization, but the fact remains: our emotions impact the decisions we make and the products we buy.

Knowing this, it stands to reason that fulfilling the emotional needs of prospects on your landing pages motivates prospects and can lead to more conversions.

This may sound a little abstract, but luckily there are models that can guide you in using emotional triggers to make your landing pages more powerful.

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is a psychological theory of human physiological and emotional needs authored by Abraham Maslow in his 1943 paper “The Theory of Human Motivation.”

Maslows Hierarchy of Needs

The theory, which gives us an understanding of what motivates us as humans, is considered one of the cornerstone theories of human development and is widely used in psychology, sociology and management training.

But it’s also an effective tool for landing page optimization.

The framework isn’t meant to be a replacement for the landing page optimization tactics you currently use, but it’s a great way to gut check your pages to be sure you’ve left no stone unturned.

Below, we’ll take a look at the various levels of the needs hierarchy and see how other marketers are incorporating them on their landing pages to drive better outcomes (and how you can do the same).

Read on…

11 Ways to Make Visual Content More Effective


Images are an integral part of the Internet, and they’re getting more important all the time. That’s mostly because images are a key part of human consciousness. Our brains process visual information much faster than text.

Social media and audience engagement is increasingly visually based, not text based. For evidence, think of Pinterest. Think of Instagram, Snapchat, or SlideShare. Think of YouTube, now the second-largest search engine.

There are dozens of studies that document how people share image-based content more than text-based. Earlier this year, eMarketer showed us that on Facebook, photographs crush all other media formats.

According to eMarketer, 87 percent of the most-shared posts on Facebook contain photos.

Moreover, Twitter published data that shows 35 percent of retweets contain photos.

Thirty-five percent of retweets contain photos, according to Twitter.

In other words, the data supporting images as the most viral kind of content is extensive. But trick is how to apply it to your day-to-day marketing. So here are 11 ways to leverage the power of the visual web in your content marketing. All of them are easy — and free or nearly free. And you won’t have to hire an art department.

Read on…

13 Awesome ‘Welcome’ Email Ideas


Welcome emails are one of the first key steps to long-term success with email marketing. They build trust, reduce opt-outs, and get sales upfront. Welcome emails typically get three times the clicks and sales as a standard promotional email. They’re also a terrific way to get ready for Christmas, which will be only 114 days away as of September 1.

13 Awesome ‘Welcome’ Email Ideas

Send your welcome email out immediately, in real time. Do not “batch” your welcome emails. Batching is certainly more efficient for the server, but it wastes a critical moment.

Let your new subscribers know what to expect. Ever heard how “expectations are everything”? Well, they may not be everything, but they definitely matter, especially for welcome emails. Telling subscribers when they should expect to hear from you and what they should expect to get in their inbox is a proven way to increase readership and reduce opt-outs.

Use the welcome email to show the simplest and easiest way to start using your service, or to buy from you.

Show your new subscribers they’ve made a good decision.

Give your new subscribers a sense of community. Say something to make new readers feel like they’re part of something special.

Simplify your welcome message.

Include a reply email address that works.

Use your subscribers’ enthusiasm to leave some of the most valuable information they’ll ever tell you. If you only do one thing from this article, do this: Set up a welcome email that asks your new subscribers what’s the one thing they want to know about your niche.

Test your welcome email subject line.

Ask subscribers to follow you on social media.

Use the welcome email to get more information on your new subscribers’ preferences.


Use a recognizable sender name and email address.

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10 Common Content Marketing Mistakes


Does your content marketing need an upgrade? See if you’re committing any of these common mistakes.

1. No Content Marketing Strategy

2. Not Using an Editorial Calendar

3. Not Using Keyword Research

4. Not Using Multiple Platforms and Formats

Have you heard of “the rise of the visual web”? Internet users want more than words. Blog posts are helpful, but infographics get shared more often. Tweets with images get shared twice as much as tweets without images.

To leverage new formats, make creating videos a habit. And always ask yourself if you could add an image. And don’t forget SlideShares, animated gifs, and podcasts. Want to make all this easier? Here’s a great app for creating social media images on the go: WordSwag, available on iTunes for $2.99. Canva is an excellent desktop alternative.

5. Content that Is Too Simplistic or Too Advanced

6. Not Using Personas

7. Content Is Not Actionable or Useful

8. No Call to Action

9. Creating Boring Content

For content marketers, being boring isn’t just… well, boring. It’s failure. Here are some common symptoms of boring content.

  • Similar content is easily found elsewhere (and done better).
  • A tiny bit of interesting content is watered down and made into much, much longer watered-down content.
  • The content is hard to understand (hard to read, hard to hear, or hard to understand how to use it).
  • The content has no personality. There is no playfulness to it.
  • The content is self-centered. It is a barely concealed advertorial.

10. Not Promoting your Content Enough

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