Tag Archives: ecommerce

Rolling Out the Red Carpet: 4 Tips You Could Use to Make Your Homepage Better

Rolling Out the Red Carpet- 4 Tips You Could Use to Make Your Homepage Better

Late last year, there was this interesting tidbit on the story of Playground Games, the company behind the popular open-world racing video game series Forza Horizon, and 2016’s Forza Horizon 3. It was revealed during a talk at the Nordic Games Conference that Playground spent 18 months of the two-year development cycle continually going over and polishing the first 10 minutes of the game. 18 months of work for only 10 minutes of playtime isn’t exactly proportional, is it?

Forza Horizon 3 isn’t the only video game to do this, 2009’s Uncharted 2 also pulled off a similar trick. Instead of easing players into the game, Uncharted 2 tasks you immediately tasks you to guide Nathan Drake, the main character of the series, to escape from a derailed train over a cliff in the Himalayas, which chronologically happens later in the game, a storytelling technique referred to as in medias res, dropping players literally in the middle of things. This practice of starting your video game with a bang is actually something the world of web development could definitely take a page out of.

The perfect opening salvo

What Playground Games did with Forza Horizon 3 might seem a little bit excessive but it works. Horizon 3 was my first entry into the series but I had a passing familiarity with the series so I had an idea of what I was getting into but the opening of the game still blew me away. I distinctly remember oohing and aahing and practically giggling to myself as I drove past some of Australia’s landmarks (the Maroondah Dam, the Glass House Mountains and the Twelve Apostles to name a few), first in an exotic Lamborghini and then literally off the beaten path in a trophy truck.

The reason Playground did what they did isn’t just because of some random quirk, it’s because the cliche of people judging book by their covers is for the most part true. Roger Ailes, former CEO of the television arm of Fox, who was responsible for turning the Fox News channel into little more than a mouthpiece for the current American administration once famously stated that you have seven seconds to make a good first impression.

The seven seconds is far from being a scientific truth but I do think it’s true that there’s only a very limited window of time that you could nail this impression. If we transplant this idea into the internet, then the burden of giving out this first impression lands on the shoulder of the homepage. Just like how Playground spent three-quarters of their allotted time into perfecting the 10 minutes of their game, you should also prioritize the development of your homepage as long as it doesn’t interfere with the rest of your website and here are 4 tips you could use as a guideline.

Emphasize your value offering

Instead of putting you on the seat of a crappy little hatchback, Horizon 3 gave you a taste of the Lamborghini Centenario right at the start of the game and gave you a route that takes you to some of the greatest vistas the game has to offer before switching into a trophy truck to show you that if the route isn’t to your liking, you’re free to make one of your own. In the first 10 minutes, the game managed to successfully convey how much fun I’d be having in the version of Australia that they’ve cooked up in their game, which is no small feat.

By the same token, your homepage should make it clear just what it is that sets you apart from similar companies in the industry and what your customers would be getting if they side with you. The start-up culture has what is referred to as the elevator pitch where companies need to have an idea that can be conveyed meaningfully over an elevator ride. That should be what your homepage is like.

Be original with your words and images

Your homepage should also clearly states what is it that makes you ‘you’. In practical terms, this would mean ditching the generic stock photos for something that is truly your own. Earlier this year, the internet had a little bit of fun when Nicole Paulk, an American biophysics professor posted a stock photo of a scientist that makes absolutely no sense, which started the whole trend of #BadStockPhotosOfMyJob. Stock photos and/or phrases are a plague to be avoided when it comes to your homepage.

Make use of whitespace to keep your homepage from being cluttered

You might think that because of the short time you’re given with to nail your first impression, the solution is to cram everything noteworthy into your homepage to make sure they’re not missing anything. This is not a good idea as it’s not just your time that is limited, their attention is also limited, which is why you need to figure out what part of your business you’d like to emphasize and focus your homepage around that idea.

One way of achieving this is by using whitespace, which results in a less cluttered and considerably friendlier website. Additionally, try to figure out a way to convey both your originality and value offering in the least amount of words and elements possible. Anyone could convince people with a 100-page manifesto but to do the same thing in 140 characters or less? Now that’s what I call art.

Make sure your homepage is as gorgeous on a mobile screen as it is on the desktop

Once you’re happy with the homepage design you’ve come up with, the next step is to see how it’d look like in a diminutive phone screen. Mobile internet traffic is now bigger than desktop internet traffic and your priorities should adapt accordingly. Check if your homepage looks and works as it was meant to on your phone in addition to on your computer. The easy way to do this is by using a responsive design, where the webpage adapts itself to the size and orientation of the device it’s being displayed in without you having to manually adjust every element of the page.

Getting in Shape: Using Geometry in Web Design

web design tips

Raise your hands if you recognize any of these notations; 2d10, 20d6, 2d20, 3d6. If you do, then I salute you gamemaster, but if you don’t, here’s a crash course on the beautiful world of tabletop role-playing game. These notations, referred to as the AdX, refer to dice notations. A 2d10 for example would mean that the players are required to roll a 10-sided dice twice, most usually used to calculate damage.

The reason I brought this up is because when I was rummaging through my desk looking for my nail clipper, I’ve lost at least 3 nail clippers this year alone so this was a pretty big deal, I stumbled across a pair of 10-sided dice that I haven’t seen in years. My affection for 10-sided dice doesn’t just stem from the fact that I love RPGs in general but also because I love the shape of a decahedron. Obviously, a decahedron doesn’t translate well to web design, not until VR is widespread anyway, but other geometric shapes still has a place in web design.

Geometry in web design

To sum up, geometry is the visual study of shapes and patterns. Shapes and patterns occur in pretty much all walks of life, not the least in the field of design. Architecture, art and design are all mingled with geometry and even Mother Nature itself is filled with geometric shapes. A honeycomb for example is simply an array of beautiful hexagonal wax cells arranged in a cluster by honey bees as their nest.

The beauty of geometric shapes is that they can be used both aesthetically and functionally. They can be used simply to inject some visual pizzaz on your website or used as visual cues to guide reader’s attention on to certain elements. It’s this exact versatility that makes them so attractive to use in web design and other user interfaces in general. The thing that people need to keep in mind when it comes to geometry is that it’s not just about the shape itself.

Geometry also deals with how those shapes are related to each other and how those shapes relate to the space around and between them. If that description strikes you as familiar, it’s because that is what functional design mostly concerns itself with. The screen the webpage is being displayed on has limited space and deciding what to communicate and how to communicate them best is pretty much the question every web designer should ask themselves.

Geometric shapes in web design

Quite possibly the most simplest shape there is, dots or a circle when it’s bigger in scope, is the most common shape you’re probably going to see. Circles are most commonly seen as standalone icons, such as on your phone for example, due to their shapes, which is an indicator of fullness. Circles are also widely used when dealing with a gauge of some sorts or when you wanted to display some statistics using a chart, especially of the pie kind.

The second common shape we’re dealing with is rectangles. Rectangles as a shape are foundational because they are used as the basis for the grid layout that is widespread in a lot of websites. Check out the homepage of the tech blog The Verge for an example. Headline contents are arranged on a rectangular grid at the top with other most recent articles spread out on a list below them. This grid layout is also quite commonly seen on booking websites such as Airbnb and Booking.com.

The third shape we’re dealing with is a collection of shapes referred to as polygon, which is any 2-dimensional shape formed from a collection of straight lines. Yes, rectangles technically fall under this definition but we’re focusing on less common polygons such as triangles and hexagons. Because of their sharpness, triangles are commonly used as navigational cues, guiding viewer’s attention into an element on the webpage.

How geometry is used

If you’ve ever used an Android device in the past 3 years or so, you should be familiar with the words Material Design. For those unaware (read: an Apple devotee), Material Design is the design language Google has been using on their mobile interfaces since the release of Android 5.0, Lollipop in Android parlance. Geometric shapes, the grid-based layout and the use of shadows to create an illusion of depth are the hallmarks of Material Design, creating simple, consistent yet attractive user interface across all of their devices and services.

I’ve stated before that geometric shapes is notable for their versatility, which is why they’re perfect for Material Design. Whether stuck in on the upper-right corner of a desktop screen or sitting right there on your phone screen, geometric shapes are universally relatable and customizable to a degree than you can use them for any goal you could think of. Recently, Google has updated this design language with softer colors and gentle curves in place of hard angles but I won’t be surprised to see this style to be used for many years to come.

One other use of geometric shapes I’m particularly fond of is isometric projection. For those of you who grew up with video games back at the dawn of the 21st century, you should no doubt be aware of isometric video games. Back then, 3D graphics was still very rough so video game developers played around with 2D video games to give players the illusion of depth using isometric projection.

Think back to classic strategy games such as Command & Conquer: Red Alert 2 or the first game in the Age of Empires series. By displaying elements in such an angle, you can create illusory depth even though the images are still flat. For something contemporary, check out the game Monument Valley and its Escher-like aesthetic. The isometric viewpoint isn’t just a stylistic choice in that game; they also form the basis for optical illusions central to the game puzzles.

The simplicity and versatility of geometry

Good design is simple, yet understandable. In a way, designing using geometry is no different than the approach taken by companies like Muji and Uniqlo with their products, taking a simple, minimalist approach that is borderline industrial but still pleasing to the eyes. In good design, form and functions lives in harmony and using that standard, there is no way to describe geometric shapes as anything other than good design.

Avoid These Link Building Techniques that Failed in 2018

SEO tips

Having a business means that you have to think through risks and consequences that may come in the future; therefore, everything should be planned even before you launch your business. There are things that should be considered while building a business starting from financial management, employees, even to marketing. Many business owners nowadays know one more important part in establishing a business; SEO. Yes, they hire various SEO companies to do SEO services for their business, maybe including you. That being said, even though you have hired an SEO specialist to do their job for you, that doesn’t mean that you can’t get involved with the process. In fact, you should be involved too. Not only can you be well aware of the situation, this can also help make things easier for your SEO specialist if you know some techniques that can boost the progress. One of the techniques is link building. Oftentimes, many business owners join their SEO specialist in building links for their website. However, due to having limited time to do it properly, many people still make mistakes in link building, thinking that Google won’t notice. Be careful, some mistakes are sometimes unforgivable. You may want to avoid some techniques in link building especially it’s 2018 at the moment. What should you avoid, then? Keep reading to find out!

Sending spammy blog commenting

Link building is basically putting our links to other websites in hope to get a link back to our website. Therefore, blog commenting is one of the ways we can do link building. However, many people are still doing it wrong. I don’t know if commenting for some people is a waste of time or they are really lazy to read through the blog articles to deliver relevant comments. Instead, they ended up customising the same comment for different blogs, making it look spammy. The right way to do blog commenting is when you read a little bit of their articles first (not just looking at the title and just go on with commenting), and understand what they are sharing in the articles, and comment on it accordingly and relevant to the topic. If you don’t have time, you can hire another person or one of your employees to help.

Spamming links through your forum profile signature

Joining a forum seems to be harmless, especially when your profile features a backlink as well. You can actually leave a lot of backlinks by frequently replying to forum threads. You might think that frequently replying to forum threads will make your SEO performance better, but the truth is that just like blog commenting, doing too much also has negative effects.

Submitting your content to low-quality content directories

Low-quality content directories may be cheaper in terms of price (and sometimes free) and easier to be approved, but low-quality directories can’t offer you effective results, and after Google pushed out their series of Penguin updates, the real benefits of content directories have faded away. Instead, it is better for you to write guest posts on more reputable websites. Although the editing is quite strict and sometimes you have to pay more, the results are more effective and reliable.

Redirecting domains (that’s so Black Hat)

This not-so-new trick has recently been used by SEO professionals, where there is 301 redirecting specific domains to funnel link juice right into their web proprieties. Just like many other black hat SEO techniques, it can work well as long as you execute it perfectly. However, once Google finds out, your rankings are gone and your entire time spent on building the juice flow will be in vain.

Getting significant results on SEO may take a long time, but it will be worth waiting for, instead of wanting fast results using black-hat SEO techniques that will damage your SEO process. When you are genuinely taking this SEO process seriously, you will do your best in maintaining and improving your business performance. Therefore, when big efforts may take long, better results will pay it off.