Lessons in simplicity and constraints
I am a great fan of simplicity and constraints. I have written enough about simplicity before so I won’t bore you again. However, unlike most people I enjoy the constraints of a brief and limited timescales.
I was therefore delighted to read a short little post on the 37Signals blog which summed up these two concepts so brilliantly. They wrote:
The easiest way to force the insight of what can be lived without is by playing a game of constraints: You have to ship on Friday, you can’t add more people, you can’t work nights. Fixed resources, fixed time. All that’s left to give is scope. It’s amazing how creative the cuts and sharp the sacrifices become when you’re backed into a corner. It’s when you have to choose that you make the best choices.
In other words constraints force simplicity. This is a mantra I can get behind.
They also end with an important point for website owners:
For every 1 day estimates of a task, there’s a simpler version of that you can do in 3 hours, and an even simpler still you can do in 30 minutes.
So next time you hire a designer and they ask your budget, tell them. This is a key constraint that will influence how the designer builds your site or application.
Making better use of your footer
Designshack has an excellent post that gives you 10 ways to use your fantastically fat footer.
Some of the ideas are suggestions for content (such as using it for social media links or ‘about me’ content), while others are design ideas (such as using illustration or animation).
Personally I use footers for two purposes:
Secondary Content - Additional information that is not apart of the main content on the site. For example in the case of Boagworld this includes a blogroll, great content on other sites and stuff I am up to. This isn’t really apart of the boagworld blog. Its extra content readers might be interested in.
Calls to Action – I think footers are a great place to put calls to action. For example on the Headscape website, we have the contact form at the bottom of the page. Hopefully once people have read our compelling content they will be inspired to complete the form. 37Signals used to use a similar approach on their own website.
How to guarantee an improvement in your conversion
Later in this show we talked about ideas that might improve the conversion rate on your website. However, if you want a certain why of improving your conversion rate (or your site in general) then read: An Introduction To Website Split Testing.
Split testing (otherwise known as A/B testing) is the process of showing different users different versions of your site. You then monitor how these different versions affect user behaviour in order to find the best solution.
It is a guaranteed way of finding the best solution through a process of trial and error.
However despite its success, few website owners use the technique. I think it is generally perceived as time consuming and expensive.
Although it does take time to produce multiple versions of an idea and test it, actually running the test is fairly inexpensive. In fact Google provides a split test tool that is absolutely free. Also, there is no reason not to split testing an approach before you roll it out. After all it has already been built anyway.
To learn more about the benefits of split testing and how to get started, definitely read this post. It will inspire you and set you on the right path.
How to make sure you’re regular… at blogging
When I write about communicating with your audience in the Website Owners Manual I say:
The key is regularity, rather than frequency. Users should come to expect your communications. Communicating on an ad-hoc basis can be damaging, especially with blog posts.
This is a tone echoed in a post on ProBlogger this week. Tips on How to Keep Your Blogging Regular, emphasises the importance of regular posting before giving 5 ways to ensure you keep the habit up.
- Don’t bite off more than you can chew
- Regularity is more important than high frequency
- Under promise and over deliver
- Build a schedule
- Have someone or something manage you
After six years of blogging, I can say I agree with each and every one of these points. This is great advice if you are blogging on a personal site. However, it is crucial if you are running a corporate blog. Read and take note.
Feature: Increase your ecommerce sales
This week’s feature comes from a blog post I wrote some time before Christmas. It looks at 8 ways you can increase your ecommerce sales using as an example a site we have worked on called Wiltshire Farm Foods.
CSS Mastery 2nd Edition by Andy Budd