Tag Archives: marketing

How To Improve Your Website Navigation

How To Concentrate At Work

“The foundation of almost all good information architectures is a well-designed hierarchy.”

Anger. Confusion. Frustration.

These are the emotions of a Web surfer lost in cyberspace. In the murky, uncharted gloom of a poorly created Website. Not one of yours, I hope!

While it may be true that Content is King on the Web, your website needs an orderly structure – and many signposts – to help visitors get around it.

To find whatever they seek on it.

To get to whichever section of it they wish to visit.

Quickly. Effectively. Painlessly.

Your Website Needs a Good System of Navigation

The term “navigation” is used on the Web to describe the way a visitor to your site is guided as s/he moves about within its different sections.

What is the purpose of your Website?

In most cases, it will be to fulfil the needs of a particular group of people.

  • An information resource will expect to let users find relevant content.
  • An entertainment site aims to give the visitor a pleasant experience.
  • A retail site hopes to sell products that a shopper needs or desires.

One of the most important facets of your Website – apart from the content, of course – is how you direct the visitor towards what s/he is looking for. And the best way to do that is by….

Putting yourself into your customer’s shoes

The only way you can plan and design the optimal navigation system for your Website is to think in the same way a typical visitor to your site does.

Try and get into your visitor’s mind.

  • How will s/he find your Website?
  • How will s/he enter it?
  • What steps will s/he then take to find useful content?
  • What will happen after s/he finds it?

Trying to determine the answers to these questions will help you plan a blueprint for your Website’s navigation system.

The Value of a Pleasant User Experience

At the pace the Web is exploding with new content, it is no longer easy to attract and impress a Web surfer.

Your Website would have to offer a visitor an exceptionally good experience if s/he is to remember it, bookmark it, return to it later, tell a friend (or many friends) about it.

And a sure-fire way of alienate a first-time visitor is to make your site difficult to get around.

If you force people to click on multiple links and wander around your Website in futile circles trying to find helpful content, you can be sure they won’t return again. There are simply too many better alternatives available on the Web.

By constructing a Website with an intuitive, elegant and simple navigation system that shows visitors just where they are and explains how to get to other sections of the site, you can enhance their experience at your site.

Then, and only then, will they come back. And bring their friends with them!

Ensuring a smooth flow

Most searches for information (or fun) follow a logical sequence.

This order may be different for each site. And if you understand the pattern your visitors might follow and implement it into your navigation system, they sail smoothly through your site.

Almost effortlessly they are directed to the content they seek.

How can you design an excellent navigation scheme for your website?

It isn’t difficult if you put yourself in your customer’s position and think about the things you would like best on a site like this.

Here are some essential questions to answer:

  • Where am I? – an aid to one’s present location on the site
  • Where do I go next? – a roadmap or directory of the entire site
  • How do I get there? – an intuitive or descriptive system of navigation
  • Am I still on this site? – a consistent look-and-feel across different sections of the site

Where Am I?

Remember your last holiday trip to a National Park or the shopping spree you went on at the neighbourhood’s new shopping mall?

What was the first thing you did there?

I’ll bet you searched the location map for the familiar YOU ARE HERE sign.

And once you found it and got yourself oriented in space, the entire experience became joyful and exciting. You were no longer afraid of getting lost.

Similarly in a large or complex Website with multiple pages and plenty of content, it is easy for the surfer to feel lost. This is particularly so if s/he enters through a route other than the homepage of the site.

Bewildered, s/he asks the question: “Where am I?”

An excellent navigation system will answer this question – on every page.

By mentioning the title of a page, or by highlighting the topic, or by the use of buttons of a different color or design, you can let your visitor figure out the page on which s/he is.

Tips and Tricks

  • In your HTML TITLE tag, use descriptive text to explain the page’s content.
  • Make sure your site’s name and URL (and maybe even company name and other relevant details) are on every page of your site. This will be helpful even to people who print out your Webpage and read it offline.
  • Somewhere in your site’s content, try and fit in a TEXT based navigation aid that tells visitors where they are and possibly where they came from and where they can expect to go next. For instance, you could have a line that says:Home > Articles > Diamonds > THE KOH-I-NOORThe last one (KOH-I-NOOR) describes the page on which the reader presently is. It stands out because it is in ALL CAPS and not a hyper-link. The other words tell a visitor the path that leads to this page. By making them hyper-links, the visitor can easily click on them to get to other parts of your site.This sort of lateral and vertical navigation ease is a unique benefit of the Web, and an excellent system of navigation will exploit it to the maximum advantage.
  • Alternately, you could use a more graphical expression of this by a set of tiny images. One that I like best is a set of white ARROWS in a RED circle to indicate that there are pages ahead and behind the present one, and a white SQUARE inside a BLACK circle to denote the page on which the reader currently is.
  • Another way to let your visitor find his/her bearings is to use the button technique – a different color or shade for the background or text in the site’s navigation bar to indicate the part of the site s/he is on.

Where Do I Go Next?

If you have spent time thinking about the layout of your Website in detail, there will be a smooth flow across the site towards your content.

To achieve this end, related or similar types of content on your site must be grouped together in an intuitive and rational manner. A visitor could then drill down from a broader category to more specific content.

For example, if your Website deals with electronic publishing, you might have a top-level category titled “eMail publishing” and several sub-categories for “eMail Newsletters”, “eMail programs”, “eBooks” and so on.

Under “eBooks” you might have a further set of categories such as “eBook software”, “eBook tutorials”, “eBook retailers” and the like.

There are two general levels of site organization – Global and Local.

Each merits a distinct navigation method. Global navigation is concerned with helping a visitor to your site to identify and move within the broad general categories. Local navigation, on the other hand, drills down within one of the major sections of the site and helps guide the visitor towards a more specific location within the broad category.

Tips and Tricks

  • On each page of your site try and include a link to the next logical section of your site. This could be done by:
    1. Using text that says – ‘NEXT’ or ‘READ MORE’ or ‘CLICK HERE TO CONTINUE’ or even something more exciting and compelling that entices your reader to go on
    2. Using tiny pictures or symbols – e.g. “>>>” for forwards and “<<<” to go back.
    3. Hyperlinking a part of the content of the page itself near the end. For instance, in this sentence:”The Koh-i-Noor is thus a very intriguing diamond with a mysterious past.” you could make the words “mysterious past” a clickable hyper-link to the next part of the article.
  • To help the reader get a sense of your entire site’s layout, try and provide a list of at least the major areas or sections on every page. This way, if a reader wants to explore an entirely different part of your site, s/he doesn’t have to click many times to retrace a path s/he had taken earlier.
  • In a complex or large site with multiple interest areas, you may need to create multiple navigation tools for each section to optimize the end-user experience.

How do I get there?

So, now your website visitor has found her/his bearings and decided which portions of your site s/he wants to explore next.

The question to answer is: “What must I do to get there?”

The obvious answer is: “Click on the link.”

But it is not always obvious where the link is, and what it will lead to!

A good navigation system will ensure that a link is easily identifiable as one. The default color coding of most Web browsers displays a text-link in blue, often underlined. If for some reason you need to change this link color, make sure that there are other ways to identify it as a link.

Your navigation system can also enhance the user experience by making it clear just where the link leads to. This can be done by making the text-link as descriptive as possible and avoiding ambiguity and jargon, or by using tools like the Javascript pop-up title that is displayed when a mouse-cursor is placed over the link.

If you need to use different navigational aids on your site or if it is likely that many users will have trouble understanding your navigation process, it is worthwhile to create a “HELP” page detailing the process of getting around your site.

Tips and Tricks

  • It is preferable to leave the default color selections of your user’s web browser alone. These colors – blue for unvisited links, purple for visited links – have been chosen after extensive research and usability testing by the major browser companies. Meddling with them shows a certain lack of concern for your site visitors. If you feel compelled to change them, make sure you change them across the entire site.
  • Using images for hyper-links makes it difficult for users to identify one as a link. Try and make it easier by adding text pointers like: “Click on icon below
  • A survey of new Web-surfers determined that they sometimes didn’t notice hyper-links unless they DID SOMETHING. By using simple Javascript or CSS techniques, you can *animate* links so they change when the user moves the mouse cursor over them. A change in color or font or size, or a line under the hyper-linked text, makes it easier for a visitor to know what to click on.
  • Javascript is a neat way to have a link description pop-up when the mouse cursor it placed over it. Here’s one trick. In the HTML code for a link, use a "title" tag to add a block of text that describes the link. The format is:<a href="link.htm" title="This is the link descriptor"> LINK </a>When the page is viewed in a web browser, the link description pops up when the mouse cursor is placed over the link text! Try it for yourself.
  • If your website attracts many newbies who are still learning about getting around the Internet, or if you use a complex navigation system that is difficult to understand intuitively (ideally, you shouldn’t be doing that!) it may be worth creating a HELP page to explain your navigation system. On this page, detail all the navigation elements that you use and explain to the user how they can take advantage of the system to get around the various sections of your site. Then – most important – link to this HELP page from ALL pages of your site!

Am I Still Here?

Web surfers like consistency across a Website.

If a visitor clicks on a link and is transported to a page that looks totally different from the previous one, s/he is confused and asks “Am I still on the same site? Or have I been transported to a different one?”

An excellent navigation system involves retaining a consistent look-and-feel across a Website. The constancy reinforces the fact that the linked page is a part of the same site.

Constructing Your Navigation Aids

One of the challenges of website design is to integrate your navigational system into the overall schema of your site’s image and brand.

There are many ways to create your navigation aids.

Text only: Words are used to describe a link

Images only: A small graphic explains the link

Text with Images: Both words and a graphic are used as a link

Drop down menus: Clicking on it brings up a list of options to select from

Dynamically generated pages: Uses scripts to pull up pages from a database

By a judicious use of one or many of these elements, it is possible to design an effective and integrated navigation system for any Website.

Some general principles of constructing navigation aids

Text Links

  • use unambiguous link titles
  • try to have links of consistent length
  • avoid using jargon or slang in link titles
  • make sure the link text is clearly distinguishable as a link

Image Links

  • ensure small image sizes to minimize page download times
  • graphics must be intuitive or clearly descriptive of the link
  • combining text with image links improves clarity
  • always use ALT tags to benefit visitors who surf with images off

Drop Down Menus

  • are useful to help conserve save space on a Webpage
  • need some programming expertise to set up
  • may not be accessible to surfers who use older browsers

Webpage Design Elements for Navigation Tools

As your Website grows and develops, newer sections will be added over time. Including them in the navigation bars would mean replacing data on multiple files.

Two methods to minimize this problem are:

  1. using “Frames” on your Website, with one frame containing only the navigation bars
  2. using “Server Side Includes” for the navigation elements

With either of these techniques you can make changes to just one file and have the changes reflected across all sections of your site.

Don’t just deliver: Over-deliver

So your Website has all of these points covered. You have an excellent navigation system.

Congratulations.

But it isn’t time to relax yet.

For any number of reasons, users may not be overjoyed with your navigation tools. So focus on delivering extra value to your users. Create an SNS – an acronym for the Supplementary Navigation System.

As the name might imply, the SNS includes other navigation tools like:

  • Search Engines
  • Table of Contents
  • Site Map Indexes

Search Engines

Everyone has heard of the giant Search Engines like Google and Bing that list sites from all over the Web. It is also possible to have a Search Engine only for content on your site. A visitor can use that search engine to try and find material that s/he could not easily access using the navigation tools.

Table of Contents

By listing out all major segments of your site, a table of contents makes it much simpler for a visitor to drill down directly to a specific topic or category rapidly.

Site Map Indexes

A variation of the Table of Contents listing, a site map index is created by going down deep into the different forms of content on the site. The top 30 to 60 interest areas are then listed with links to the appropriate content.

Test Your Navigation System

Never assume that your navigation system is perfect. While it may appear intuitive and clear to you, it may still leave a site visitor totally fogged.

Put it to the test.

How extensively you test will depend upon your site’s size and extent.

If you run a small hobby-site, getting a few friends and family members to help test it might be enough. For the larger professional sites, pilot project testing is a serious undertaking.

It is best to actually watch your trial users as they navigate around your site.

  • See how they react to your site’s layout.
  • Do they identify the navigation aids easily?
  • Do they know what to do to get around the site?
  • Give them a target – say, to get to a particular page or article. Then see how quickly and easily they can get there.

Take notes. Ask for feedback. Act on suggestions to improve your navigation aids. Tweak, test, re-tweak and re-test.

Until finally your site is a joy to get around!

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What Do Your People Want?

Why Book Reviews

I wrote and published my first ebook way back in 1997.

It was for a very small and specialized niche. Since then, that little ebook has sold over SEVEN HUNDRED copies. Even today, it sells a few every month – with no effort at all.

That didn’t happen because I was smart – but because I was lucky.

Very lucky.

Intuitively I had picked a niche that was in high demand by my target audience. It was information they simply had to have, because it offered the solution to a pressing problem that couldn’t be solved in any other way.

Few information marketers today have the luxury of taking such a chance with their product creation, especially now when over-looked niches with little competition are almost non-existent. More than ever before, anyone venturing into a new niche must be able to do one thing accurately and well in order to succeed.

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4 Reasons Why Everyone Needs Time Management Skills

At a recent college reunion, twenty-five years after we first entered college, I met many old classmates and re-learned one important lesson.

Being Time Efficient Is HIGHLY Profitable!

One theme kept popping up over and over again in our conversations.

“Our kids rarely get to see their dad, he’s so busy!”

“I go to work at 6 a.m. and get back around 7 in the evening!”

“My son WON’T be a doctor – because he sees how crazy our schedule is!”

And invariably, the next question is: “As a surgeon, you must be working very long hours, right?”

They were all surprised when I said my average ‘work day’ at the hospital is 2 hours – except when I’m operating, when it is 7 hours (or longer, depending upon how complex the surgery is).

How do I manage this?

How do I have so much “free time” when everyone else has “No Time”?

How am I juggling so many exciting projects in ADDITION to my regular work?

It’s really quite simple. Let me explain.

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How To Launch A Product Online

Transform Yourself

Looking for the ULTIMATE product launch formulaThe quickest, easiest way to launch a product and ramp up sales is to…

  • identify what your audience wants badly
  • create a fantastic product that fills that need
  • tease them about its arrival – for a long time
  • build a list of curious, eager and excited prospects
  • ramp up the excitement level
  • get partners to join in and promote for you
  • craft killer copy – test and tweak it till it rocks
  • provide ‘social proof’
  • launch with a bang

Got it?

With this outline, you don’t really need the Product Launch Formula – but you can check it out if you like, here.

Now, let’s get our teeth into the meat of this process! 🙂

How To Plan Your Product Launch

The BIGGEST mistake beginners make is to assume the product launch process begins a few weeks (or months) before the actual launch. Truth is, it begins often months, or even YEARS, earlier – because it involves people and relationships first, and products/marketing only later.

If you (or your business) has a brand, reputation and image that breeds trust and respect, you’ll have infinitely more success in a product launch than if you were going at it from a standing start. That’s true of just about every big launch.

So get started right now.

Meet people who matter to your success, who are ‘names’ in your niche.

  • One way to do it is network at a seminar or workshop.
  • Another is to engage personally in conversations on Twitter or Facebook.
  • Or you may send handwritten postcards, or do something equally personal to build rapport.

If you cannot get out to live events, do the next best thing and network like crazy ONLINE.

  • Visit forums and discussion groups, and hang out with the crowd.
  • Share opinions, ideas and extend help to members.
  • Chat via email, private messaging or Skype – or just pick up the phone and talk with folks.

There is NO WAY to short-circuit this process. It takes time to develop, foster and nurture relationships. And these connections pay off richly when you have a product launch to co-ordinate. Now, on with the process itself.

Find What Your Market WANTS

Don’t guess. Don’t reinvent the wheel. Don’t try and twist your buyers’ arms the way you want them to behave. Just figure out what people desperately want, are already buying, will willingly spend money on. There are many ways to do it.

Here’s a quick outline of some ideas:

  • visit forums and see what topics are HOT, what problems many people in the niche are facing
  • look on marketplaces like eBay or Clickbank to see which products are selling nicely
  • study bookstores and magazine racks to see what type of things most fascinate prospects in your niche
  • ask people in your niche through a survey and analyze their responses

Create a Product That FILLS This Need

Study your competition. See what other products and services they offer prospects.

Buy them if necessary, to see what’s in them, how they are selling, what they do after the sale… and analyze every bit of data you gather.

Then, create your own product or service – with your own unique twist – and make it BETTER. There are many ways to do this.

  • make it bigger or more complete or versatile
  • make it cheaper or offer wider choice
  • create it in multiple formats, languages, regions
  • customize it for individuals or make it exclusive
  • throw in bonuses, guarantees and mentoring

It isn’t always easy to create excellent products. But the payoff happens when you approach partners to help you promote them.

Quality partners will NOT promote shoddy or useless stuff. The ONLY way to rope in enough partners and affiliates is to make sure your product and sales process WORK.

Start Building EXCITEMENT

A successful launch needs to be fuelled by momentum. So start building excitement as early as you can.

Anticipation for what’s in store is a powerful force to harness as a marketer. And a blog is one of the best vehicles online to start building buzz.

Post a few notes on your blog MONTHS before launch.

  • Hint at what’s in store.
  • Use some hype and mystery, but do it tastefully.
  • Bait your curiosity hook.
  • Be secretive and ‘accidentally’ drop nuggets to keep your audience eager and upbeat about what’s coming.

Get Interested Prospects To RAISE THEIR HANDS

A crucial part of the launch process is to get folks interested in your product launch to identify themselves – and give you a way to contact them with more information about your launch.

It’s a principle called COMMITMENT – when you’ve expressed an interest in something, it’s harder to back down later when it comes closer to the time to pull out your wallet and buy!

Keep The Buzz Going – And GROWING

As a product launch co-ordinator, you cannot let the buzz die down or get softer. Each tid-bit that you let out into the marketplace must be carefully pre-planned and timed for maximum impact. (You get brownie points for making it seem ‘accidental’!)

By judiciously tying in such news to current events, or other stuff that’s already got your audience’s mindshare, you can grow and expand your buzz to fever-pitch… just before launch.

How to create buzz?

  • Sneak peeks and case studies by folks who have had early previews of what you’re creating
  • Spy photos of the package and ads
  • Snippets of video or audio related to the product
  • Interviews with people involved
  • Special reports, trial software, freebie samples

All of these will get people in your market niche excited and talking. Markets are conversations. Your role, as a marketer, is to START conversations – not control them (or try to), but direct them to where you’d like them to head.

Find and Recruit PARTNERS

You don’t always have to do this. I’ve had very successful and profitable launches with no partners, or just a few. But if you can get some reliable partners on board, and enthusiastically promoting your launch, it can take your whole effort to a new level.

Best of all, it costs you NOTHING – until you’ve made a sale. Free advertising… you’ve got to LOVE it!

Now, the thing about recruiting partners is that it is NOT easy… unless you have one MAGIC ingredient.

What’s that?

A product that sells – and an offer that puts cash into your partners’ bank accounts, the more the BETTER.

If you launch a product that will bring your affiliates $5 per click, and your competitor can guarantee only $2, then guess who is going to win the loyalty of more affiliates?

But partners won’t be swayed by cash bounties alone. Many affiliates revel in the EXCITEMENT and DRAMA. So turn your affiliate recruiting process into a little CIRCUS.

Make it an event. Add a contest. Go further and run mini-contests for different stages. Publish a separate blog and mailing list for your partners alone. Keep them updated on the progress of your launch.

Remember – excited and enthused affiliates will bring in more sales.

Craft a Killer Sales Process

No matter what you’re selling, you’d better have a sales process that converts a fair share of prospects into buyers – or else you’ll drive away partners and lose a ton of credibility.

Test and tweak your sales process using traffic you generate from organic search results or that you pay for (or do private pre-launch JVs).

Find a combination that works well and hits your target numbers for conversion rate, revenue per visitor and other important metrics affiliates will find most relevant, and that will help make their decision to promote for you a no-brainer!

Provide SOCIAL PROOF

There are many ways to prove to a skeptic crowd that you’re the real deal. One way is to display testimonials from buyers or testers. Another is to publish case studies detailing successful use of your product or service.

A nice idea is to invite prospective buyers to leave comments on your blog, indicating how they plan to use your product once you launch it. That not only gives them a chance to start feeling OWNERSHIP of the product, but also tells other visitors to the blog that there are so many others considering buying it… a double wallop of social proof!

Oh, and you can make it fun and exciting by throwing in a contest where you offer one (or more) winners a free copy of your product when it comes out!

LAUNCH DAY…

It may be big, busy and bustling. Or it may be quiet, calm and satisfying. I’ve done both styles – and much prefer the second. But hey, you probably LOVE the first kind, so to each his own! 🙂

On the big day, you get to revel in the results of weeks of hard work.

And while big cash influxes are a reward, there are so many more intangibles that give you great satisfaction and fulfillment. That’s something you CANNOT experience just from observing someone else’s launch… you NEED your own.

So go out and get busy.

I’ve given you an outline. You can choose to learn more about organizing and running product launches from a course or ebook or guide. Or you can do it by actually launching a product soon – and then learning from the process.

If you don’t have the cash to invest right now, DO NOT WORRY. I’ve had 7 or 8 great launches without ever having studied any product launch course. Indeed, this entire article is written from my own experience and learning BEFORE studying any program that teaches it!

And here’s another ‘Poor Man’s Tip’ – shell out $12.50 and order a fantastic book (printed out on paper, NOT the digital kind) called: “INFLUENCE – The Psychology of Persuasion” It’s written by a researcher named Robert Cialdini.

Get it and read it AT LEAST 3 times. Then, if you want, come back and read this article – while thinking about ways to use the powerful principles Cialdini teaches.

But remember…

Reading Alone Won’t Fatten Your Bank Account!

If you want more detailed, step by step guidance on your product launch, check out the Product Launch Formula (See a full PLF review here – click)

You’ve got to take these lessons and act on them. Go for it – and I wish you great success with your own product launch in the near future.

In my new book “Knife At A Gunfight5 Easy Ways To Transform Your Life“, I dive deeper into the subject of developing positive habits.

If you want to build new habits that stick, this book will transform your life… in 5 easy steps!

Get ‘Knife At A Gunfight’ along with some fantastic bonus gifts – here

 

Knife At A Gunfight Book Cover

 

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What’s The New SEO In 2019 – And Beyond

SEO in 2017 - Smoke and Mirrors

SEO in 2019: Discover 5 SEO Tactics That Worked For 20+ Years… Because What’s ‘New’ Is Just The Same Old Search Engine Optimization From 1997 – Only Smarter!

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