User-experience design: beyond beauty

user-experience – functionality over form for business website design.

User-experience design: beyond beauty

With a myriad of tools (thank goodness) available in contemporary page builders it is so easy, for website owners and web designers alike, to get lost in what is “pretty” or “beautiful”. It is so easy to loose sight of who we are actually producing a website for: for the clients of our clients, the end user.

user-experience – functionality over form for business website design.

Let me start this blog post by categorically stating that, at Xeitweb, we love design. We get lost in finding ideal combinations of fonts and colours for our latest website design project. We delight in graphic textures, illustrations and image manipulation in PhotoShop. Developing the corporate identity of a new client and applying this to their communication platforms is purely a labour of love. Testing filters and animations to enhance user-experience on a website is often a process that needs restraint in order to avoid missing a deadline. No matter how small or large the project, when we hand over a uniquely crafted website to a client we are rewarded by knowing that we have created a business-focused platform that has met all of their expectations, including visual flair.

There I go again… rambling on about the joys of design when this is supposed to be a blog about function over form. Back to the point, there is a vital element that we value more than the visual appeal of the websites we produce: user-experience. How an internet user interacts with your website is integral part of the online success of your website. In this regard, success specifically refers to how the business investment that is your website translates into increased revenue.

With contemporary page builders for web design there are (thank goodness) so many filters, applications, widgets and special effects for the presentation of information on a website. With all these tools available it is so easy, for website owners and web designers alike, to get lost in what is “pretty” or “beautiful”. It is so easy to loose sight of who we are actually producing a website for: for the clients of our clients, the end user.

By the time internet users visit your website they are already partially convinced to make use of your services or to purchase your products. Now, they need further exposure to your brand, additional information and they need it fast. A website with a strong visual identity, a contemporary appearance and an accurate reflection of your business is very important. Even more important, though, is a website that is easy for potential customers and clients to interact with.

A fast-loading, mobile-responsive website is a sure-fire winner in terms of user-experience. Clear, uncomplicated navigation shortens the sales funnel on your website by effortlessly taking site users to the information they are looking for and to the necessary call-to-action mechanisms. Applying design that puts access to detailed information in the hands of site users offers them the opportunity to view only the information they are most interested in instead of having to read through a bulk of text. Site users often land on your site from social media platforms. A website designed to, visually, claim and affirm your brand territory will be reassuring to site users and extend brand awareness. Clear landing pages, reflecting your Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) approach drastically reduce bounce rate as this encourages visitors to interact with your information and move to other pages on your website.

We can all relate to the frustrations of a slow-loading website. Unnecessary visual effects, applied only for cosmetic reasons, tend to slow down the loading speed of your website. Too many pop-ups and banners also reduce loading speed but, more importantly, tend to block (or interrupt) access to the information that internet users came to your site for. Landing pages that do not relate to your SEO approach will frustrate site visitors and increase exit rate. Overtly complex, or unclear, navigation can cause confusion and, at worst, site abandonment. With over 50% of inter access now being on Mobile devices, an unpleasant, neglected Mobile experience of your website is detrimental to business success.

The approach we follow, at Xeitweb, is to put the user-experience of a website first: how potential customers or clients will experience your website. Your website is, first and foremost, a business investment and must be designed as a business tool that translates into ROI. Visuals effects can decorate a website but do not have the ability to “hide” poor structural design. We do, though, place great emphasis on the appearance of your website and we apply functionality design as part of the visual production. The look/feel of a website should be included in your online business strategy but the thinking is, always, functionality first. Once a structurally sound website, ready for SEO, is established and user-experience is defined we add to this with additional visual effects: to enhance the user-experience but never to overpower it. We go light on “pretty” and heavy on the functionality of your website as a business tool.

– Willem Botha, Director

Social Association #4: safe, not sorry

Social Association #4: safe, not sorry

Although there are many factors to consider before an employer can discipline an employee for Social Media misconduct there are scenarios that could qualify as legitimate grounds for dismissal. Think twice about venting about your employer on Social Media.

The question as to what constitutes grounds for dismissal in terms of Social Media misconduct is not an easy one to answer. One would think that what an employee does after work generally falls without the scope of the employment relationship and that an employer would accordingly not have a right to discipline an employee for their action outside of the working environment. However, this has proven time and time again to be wrong, if it can be proven and/or shown that there is a nexus between an employee’s personal conduct and that of the employer’s business there exists a cause for an employer to discipline an employee. This is effectively known as off-duty misconduct.

Posts or content that contain derogatory, derisive or disparaging remarks and or comments about the employer and the business which brings the employer’s name and or business into disrepute or portrays them in a negative light constitutes grounds for dismissal.

Some aspects that need to be taken into consideration when making a decision in relation to disciplining or dismissing an employee for their Online misconduct, such as whether or not there was a public outcry over the post and whether or not the employee was as fault in making the statement, whether the employee’s conduct has caused irreparable damage to the employment relationship and if the employee’s conduct is so morally reprehensible that it leaves the employer with little to no choice but to dismiss the employee.

That said employers need to be mindful that while dismissing an employee for conduct on Social Media might be lawful it is not always the appropriate response and it is important to bear in mind that the misconduct by the employee must effectively render the continued employment intolerable and the correct procedure for dismissal must be followed.

– By Denis Warren-Tangney, BProc LLB.
Warren-Tangney Attorneys and Mediators.

Social Association #3: making it official

Social Association #3: making it official

Protect your Brand reputation and manage your Company’s liability with a clear Corporate Social Media Policy and educate your staff in general Social Media conduct. The third instalment in our blog-series on Social Media law, written by Denis Warren-Tangney of Warren-Tangney Attorneys and Mediators.

The importance of a Social Media Policy

There are two very good reasons why your company should have a social media policy:

1. To protect your company’s brand and reputation – employees are inevitably associated with your company (the more senior the employee the closer the link to the company), what they say may damage your company’s brand and/or reputation.

2. To manage your company’s liability – it is impossible to control what your employees say on Social Media, but you can be vicariously liable for what they have said. This risk can only be limited by having a Social Media Policy in place.

The consequences of an employees post on Social Media can be very severe, for both the employer and the employee which is why it is important for companies to have Social Media policies designed to clearly set out the employers’ expectations for appropriate behaviour to limit the company’s exposure to legal problems and public embarrassment.

When an employee gets into hot water for posts they submitted on Social Media it is not just the employees that get into trouble but the employers who suffer as much if not more for the actions of their employees.

The Council for Conciliation Mediation and Arbitration “CCMA” has made rulings on more than one occasion in favour of employers who have dismissed employees as a result of Social Media posts.

What should be contained in a Social Media Policy
  • Make it clear who is authorised to speak on behalf of your company in the media and on Social Media platforms.
  • Protect the confidentiality of your company’s information, including trade secrets and client information.
  • Regulate the use of your company’s trademarks and or letterheads.
  • Clearly state what the company deems acceptable methods for business communications. Social Media should not be used for business communications between employees, or employees and clients. Using Social Media for business communications blurs the line between business and personal.
  • Provide guidelines for participation in Social Media (what is your company’s values and how do you expect your employees to behave) this includes moral and social standards.
  • Educate your employees about the risks of:
    – posting defamatory statements;
    – copyright infringements;
    – anti-competitive comments; and
    – discriminatory or offending posts.

– By Denis Warren-Tangney, BProc LLB.
Warren-Tangney Attorneys and Mediators.

Social Associaction #2: the work/play nexus

Social Association #2: the work/play nexus

Social Media has transformed from a platform for personal social networking into an altogether much more complex vehicle such as being used as a modern-day Marketing tool and means for conducting business and obtaining a new client base. Your private and/or personal Social Media profile, or use thereof, is not considered as such especially where a nexus can be created to a person’s employment. The second instalment in our blog-series on Social Media law, written by Denis Warren-Tangney of Warren-Tangney Attorneys and Mediators.

The birth of Social Media

We live in what we refer to today as the Age of Information (also referred to as the Digital Age, Computer Age or New Media Age). The shift from traditional methods of communication and industry practices arose from the development of modern technology.

The advent of this cutting-edge technology has changed the way in which people live their lives, communicate with one another, socialise, share information, conduct business and stay abreast of developments and or new trends through the development of new user-devices and platforms in which people can interact with one another both socially and professionally.

One of the main objectives of these advancements in technology being to simplify the way people perform these daily tasks by making it easier, quicker and more accessible for the user.

The creation of the Web and or Internet has given rise to something called “Social Networking” and or “Social Media” which allows users to connect and communicate with a much broader group of people. The use of social media platforms has grown in such a phenomenal way that it has since become one of the most prominent forms of communication where some people almost maintain a permanent online presence.

Social media has become on of the most popular forms of communication not only for our personal lives, but also for business and the work place its popularity largely based on the instant, frequently updated content which is easily accessible with smartphones and modern technology.

Social Media and the workplace

The fact is that Social Media has transformed from an entertaining past-time and means for social networking into something altogether much more complex such as being used as a modern-day marketing, promoting tool and means for conducting business and obtaining a new client base. It can assist businesses by enabling them to gain valuable insight about consumers, their buying behaviour and patterns, increase brand awareness and loyalty, maintain current customer base and increase repeat sales/services, increase traffic on their website and increase customer experience and gaining valuable feedback from customers and or clients.

The important thing to remember when using Social Media is that a person’s private and/or personal Social Media profile or use thereof is not considered as such especially where a nexus can be created to a person’s employment. There has recently been a rise in cases where an employee has been dismissed by their employer due to their social media activity.

An employer-employee relationship is already complex and the risk to business amongst other issues such as reputation risks, goodwill, defamation, vicarious liability and divulgence of confidential information are just some of the factors that need to be considered by an employer in what they deem is acceptable social media use. It is glaringly obvious that Social Media is here to stay and that it is impossible for an employer to prevent their employees from using it, this is why it is so important to have a Social Media policy in place, informing their employees of the dangers of including the company name in their social media profile and providing them with guidelines in acceptable practice.

– By Denis Warren-Tangney, BProc LLB.
Warren-Tangney Attorneys and Mediators.

Social Association #1: The rules of conduct

Social Association #1: The rules of conduct

Social Media has long been an invaluable tool of the trade in Online Marketing. Communicating Brand messages and interacting with target audiences have become commonplace practices on various Social Media platforms. Are you aware of the “rules of conduct” and the legal implications of communicating on Social Media? The first instalment in our blog-series on Social Media law, written by Denis Warren-Tangney of Warren-Tangney Attorneys and Mediators.

Social Media: a quick summary of the leading platforms

Social Media is a web-based platform which allows users to generate and share various forms of content via a collection of Online communication channels which are dedicated to host and or publish this community-based input, interaction, content-sharing and collaboration with other individuals and organisations.

Prime examples
  • Facebook: a popular free social networking website that allows users to create profiles, upload photos and video content, send messages and keep in touch with friends, family and colleagues. It is also a very effective marketing tool and is used to promote businesses.
  • Twitter: a microblogging service which allows registered users to broadcast short posts known as tweets.
  • Wikipedia: a free open-content Online encyclopaedia where anyone who is registered on the site can create articles for publication on the site.
  • LinkedIn: a social networking site designed specifically for business networking where members can establish a network of people they know and trust professionally.
  • Reddit: a social news website where stories are promoted by its members. the site is broken up into sub-communities known as subreddits which is further broken up into categories such as technology, politics and or music etc.
  • Pinterest: a social curation website for sharing and categorising images Online which contain descriptions.
  • Instagram: a free, Online photo-sharing application and social network platform that allows users to edit and upload photos and short videos through a mobile app. Users also have the option of making their profile private so that only their followers can view their posts.
  • Snapchat: a mobile app and service for sharing photos, videos, and messages with other people, it can also be used to send quick text messages that disappear once the recipient reads them.
  • Tumblr: a microblogging and social networking website which allows users to post multimedia and other content to a short-form blog, users can follow other users’ blogs.

– By Denis Warren-Tangney, BProc LLB.
Warren-Tangney Attorneys and Mediators

Rocket fuel for websites

Rocket fuel for websites

Having a website is a good start for your Online Presence but it, alone, is not the key to online success. Your website needs Search Engine Marketing.

I still come across a surprising amount of website owners who expect to be successful online just because they have a website. Having a website is a very good start but it, alone, is not the key to success. Having nothing more than a website and only relying on word-of-mouth a business owner might as well promote their website with printed flyers or do it telephonically.

A simple analogy: if you own a car, do you have transport? Technically, yes. But, if you do not have fuel in the tank of your car you technically do not have transport. This is where the connection between Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and your website comes into the picture.

SEO relates the content of your website to Search Engines, such as Google. This enables potential customers to find your website without having to know the name of your Brand. Internet users are looking for your products, or services, and these are the search terms they type into Search Engines in order to find your website. Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising works in a similar way.

Search Engines favour quality content. For this reason a successful website needs to be built “Search Engine-ready” containing the structure and content that Search Engines prefer to present to Internet users. Search Engine ranking, through either SEO or PPC, puts the fuel in the tank of your website to be visible on the Internet and accessible to potential customers. The combination of a quality website (built for Search Engine success), quality website content and effective Search Engine Optimisation is a sure-fire way of making your business successful online.

– Willem Botha, Director

’Net worth and visibility

’Net worth and visibility

Few things in life are more exciting, and empowering, than knowledge. Knowledge stems from access to information. My fascination with the Internet started in the 90’s when I first gasped at the vast wealth of information I suddenly had at my fingertips. What I regarded, then, as a privilege is now taken for granted by Millennials because we live in a time when “just Google it” is a commonly-used phrase, as it should be.

At the core of my attraction to the Internet has always been what lies beneath it: the “mechanics” driving it. What happens between me doing a search and the relevant information being presented to me?

After 21 years in Publishing I purchased a Puzhr Online Marketing franchise in 2014 and started operating as Puzhr Mother City. I completely started indulging my romance with the Internet. With the support of my Franchisor I greedily started gathering information and honing my expertise.

In 2018 I re-branded my business as Xeitweb (PTY) LTD and started operating as an independent Online Marketing agency. At Xeitweb we put our clients first and, after completing many urgent projects, we’ve only just had the time to launch our website:

The nutshell version of our mission statement: we use the power of the Internet to connect businesses with potential customers by making these businesses visible online. We regard websites (and other Digital Assets), first and foremost, as business tools. We want to make being online fun, seamless and profitable for our clients.

It feels great to now be sharing my passion for, and knowledge of, the Internet to empower businesses with knowledge and the visibility and accessibility to be truly successful.

– Willem Botha, Director

The magic is in Mobile

The magic is in Mobile

Most website owners are already well aware of how crucial it is to have a Mobile-responsive website. During the past four years Mobile devices have overtaken Desktop devices as the main means of access to the Internet and this tendency is only growing. Are we paying enough attention to the actual user-experience (UX) on Mobile devices or is the look/feel of Mobile-responsive website design still viewed as an afterthought?

Desktop devices (think 24-inch screen) will never lose their delicious cinematic appeal: browsing through large pictures and experiencing more of the website on a single screen than what can be done on Mobile. In certain industries your Desktop site will probably always be where returning visitors will go to immerse themselves in your information. However, in order to build your army of loyal followers your website has to, first, be discovered by new users. This is the pivotal point where Mobile comes into the contemporary picture.

The Development of any new website should be Mobile-focused. This does not mean that Desktop sites should be neglected but Mobile has to be put first. This makes business sense. In our Analytics Reporting at Xeitweb we already see that most of our clients, during any given month, tend to have 48 – 55% of their total website traffic from Mobile devices. Of the Mobile percentage, easily, 80% of the traffic would be new site visitors. This means that whichever industry you are in there is, roughly, a 70% chance that your website will first be discovered (by a first-time site visitor) on a Mobile device.

The first-time discovery of your business website by an Internet user is a make-or-break moment for your Brand. If the Mobile user-experience is immersive and easy to navigate the Internet-user could immediately relate to your brand and access the primary information they have been hoping to find. Depending on your Brand message, or the industry you are in, the first-time visitor to your Mobile site could then later visit your site on a Desktop device because they have already established a connection with your Brand. However, if the first experience of your website on Mobile is unpleasant or frustrating you could lose a site visitor and potential customer.

How do we ensure that the crucial, initial experience of your website on Mobile is an excellent experience? We do not conceptualise a Desktop site and then take it to Mobile as an afterthought. The first step is to approach the design of your Mobile site in a different way to the Desktop version of your site. Auto-responsive technology is our (greatly beloved) friend but as soon as the design of a website becomes intricate, which is often needed, the bridge between Desktop and Mobile cannot all be left to auto-stacking. Elements such as font choice, font sizes, image sizes and even colour tones need to be adapted. Beautiful hover-effects used on a Desktop site need to be replaced with equally immersive visual elements on Mobile, all within the same design style of the relevant website.

However much of a cliché, the expression “first impressions last” will forever be true. Let’s put your Mobile site first as this is where your Brand will be discovered. In order to grow your business you should not rely on existing site visitors alone. Let’s make the first-time online (Mobile) discovery of your Brand an excellent user-experience.

– Willem Botha, Director