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How to Develop Your online audience An overview of current web trends and issues. Some points to consider before creating or updating your website. What information is most useful to your audience? How will you update information on the website?
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How to Develop Your online audience An overview of current web trends and issues
Some points to consider before creating or updating your website • What information is most useful to your audience? • How will you update information on the website? • Are you making your website accessible to the visually impaired and people with learning difficulties? • Do you have a clear strategy for your website? • Have you considered your website in your overall marketing strategy?
CASE STUDY City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra
Case Study • The City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra is a good example of an accessible and user-friendly website. ( see hyperlink below ) www.cbso.co.uk
The homepage informs the user about various features on the site. • A useful calendar feature • enables the user to quickly find events on a particular date. • An email subscription form enables the venue to contact users about new events and enables CBSO to email market. • The overall design is clear and the navigation is simple to understand and use.
Accessibility has been carefully considered with a variety of useful features for the visually impaired and people with learning difficulties. • Alt tags have been used. • ( see ‘Man playing Violin’ on top right of image ) • Please note, an alt(ernative) text tag enables Screen Readers to ‘read’ screen elements such as imagery, which would otherwise be unrecognisable to the visually impaired.
The CBSO website has included a very useful ‘Text Size’ option. By clicking on the ‘L’ option, users can see an enlarged text version of the website.
We can see that the text size has increased significantly, enabling the visually impaired to read page content more easily. • Please note that the menu text on the left hand side has also increased in size. • Graphical menus look aesthetically pleasing, however they are not very accessible to the visually impaired and should be avoided.
It’s important that text can change size, instead of being ‘fixed’ to e.g. 10point • A good way to test if your website text can change size is by going to View > Text Size > Largest.
Useability and accessibility • Useability can be tested via observing people as they complete certain tasks on your website (i.e. finding event information, contacting the venue via email etc… • Any difficulties in using the website will soon become apparent and further amendments to the website can be applied. It is important to get as many testers as possible • ( preferably 5 + ). • Resist making changes to a website based on one person’s feedback, or the personal tastes of one person. • Many organisations have increased their ticket sales through careful consideration of their website.
Some useability points to look out for: • Clear navigation, which is consistent throughout the site. • Use a system for navigation links that is clear and simple to use • Use language and terminology that is customer-friendly, try to avoid using jargon. • Readable text and font sizes can be made larger or smaller as per the users wishes. • Clear title on each page should identify where the user is. • Headings and sub-headings are clearly distinguished. • Important content should be placed near the top of the screen.
Accessibility can be evaluated and tested using a variety of methods: • the DDA (Disability Discrimination Act )requires that you make what it refers to as “reasonable adjustments”, to your services to ensure that a person with a disability can access that service (More information available at http://www.rnib.co.uk).Ask a variety of people with differing degrees of disability to test your website, and then provide you with feedback. • Use online validating tools such as Bobby http://bobby.watchfire.com from Watchfire and the W3C markup validation service http://validator.w3.org • Test your site with a screen reader such as IBM’s Homepage reader. ( Free 30 day trial available ) • http://www-3.ibm.com/able/solution_offerings/hpr.html .
The RNIB website features a ‘web access centre’, which provides useful articles and a checklist for accessible website features. • http://www.rnib.org.uk • The website also contains detailed information on the DDA ( Disability Discrimination Act )
Managing your website content • It’s useful to think of your website content in terms of what websites you visit and why. Is there a particular website that you visit that informs, enlightens and entertains you? If there is, try to pinpoint where they’ve succeeded and measure your website against it. • Some points to consider: • Who is responsible for gathering content for the website? • Be concise • Write for the web, not print. • Users scan web pages for interesting content. Use headlines to grab their attention.
Managing your website content – continued … • Use short paragraphs • Long lines of text make it difficult for the user to find the next line of text. Shorten the width of your content to solve this problem. • Where possible employ a content management system (CMS). This allows virtually any member of your organisation to update website content with a web browser and a simple editor. *CMS systems have dropped in price over recent years. • Plan ahead. Can your website develop over time with your existing navigation? • How frequently must your content be updated? • Allow time for planning, writing and implementing content.
Marketing – How will people find my website? • 85% of Internet users use search engines to find suppliers and products. • Search Engines are the most common way to locate a particular topic, organisation or event on the internet. • Some of the most popular search engines include: • Yahoo! • Google • MSN • AltaVista • www.ineedhits.com run several services at competitive rates that will optimise and submit your website to various search engines across the world.
Email Marketing – Enabling targeted offers • Email marketing has become an increasingly popular way to contact, inform and subsequently market your services online. Permission based email marketing has become the ideal way to do this without running into the contentious area of Spam. • Permission based marketing requires the user to actively request a subscription to your newsletter, rather than sending it to a large mailing list of random emails across e.g. the U.K. and Ireland. • This essentially safeguards your organisation against accusations of spamming.
Email Marketing – What to look for in your software. • Ability to connect to other databases • Template systems for creating HTML emails • Ability to upload HTML email created in external software • Wysiwyg ( What you see is what you get) system for creating HTML emails plus Plain Text alternatives • Email Preview and tracking results ( e.g. how many people visited your offer. ) • Mail Merge • List filtering and cleaning list data
Email Marketing – What to look for in your software. • Ease of Use • Is there a user guide? • Is training included? • Is there support? • What skill levels are required to use the system?
Email Marketing – What to look for in your software. • Cost comparison • Have you factored in costs for support? • Cost for software licence • Cost per email ( some systems use a cost per email model ) • Cost for software and additional training
Marketing – Other ways to attract people to your website • Link Exchanges • Use space on your website to promote another organisation, event or service. Ask them to place your banner ad or link on their website in exchange. • Banner Advertising • A popular way of advertising on the web. Ask your web developer / designer to create a series of ad banners for your organisation. • Email a Friend • The internet equivalent of the age old ‘word of mouth’. This enables your website visitors to market your website for you.
ECOMMERCE Reassuring the customer
E-Commerce – Selling online • Think of your customer. What do they want to find out before buying the ticket? i.e. What seats are available? • If possible incorporate a seating plan to illustrate where they will be sitting. • Reassure your customer that any information they give to you will be confidential and won’t be passed on to any third party who could misuse that information. • Your organisation ideally require an e-commerce system that is robust and secure, yet simple for your customers. A bad ecommerce experience can have a negative impact on your website.
E-Commerce – Selling online • It sounds simple, but do your homework. What ecommerce sites have you been to that provided a clear, helpful and reassuring booking system? • Use these websites where possible to inspire your organisations booking system and to inform the website developers what you expect from your organisations ecommerce system. • Remember it’s better to have a clear indication of what features you want in your website, rather than leave it to your website developers to second guess. • Try to capture information on each client for future e-marketing ( promotional email offers etc…). For example, what kind of shows they’re interested in, where they live, email address etc.
We’ll look briefly at the • E-Commerce system on the CBSO website. • The CBSO booking system provides a summary of the performances, including: • Date • Time • Location • Phone Number • Conductor • Composer • Brief synopsis of performance to inform viewer
If the user clicks ‘book now’, they are taken to a web page where they can choose their ticket price. • There is also a useful seating plan link, which opens a ‘pop-up’ window of the concert hall.
The user is then asked to choose how many tickets they would like to buy. • The user is then prompted to ‘reserve’ their ticket to continue.
The CBSO website now informs the user that they are now connected via a secure web link. A clear indication of this is that the web address of this page should start with the prefix https:
You will also notice a padlock symbol on the bottom of your websites status bar. • This also indicates a secure web page. • Once completed, reassure the user that they have been successful in buying their tickets. • Send them confirmation via email that they will receive their tickets etc…
Informing your web designer / developer • Before giving a green light to the development of a website, it is important to create a brief that highlights what you want to achieve with the website. • This brief should enable the web developer to create the first version of a website draft without too much input from you. • The brief should be approved by your organisations senior management before being handed to the developer. Where possible try to deliver a complete picture of the website to the developer. • This encourages completion of the website within time and budget. Further additions to the project brief often result in delays and further costs to your organisation
Informing your website developer / designer - continued • The brief should contain a ‘site map’ of the structure of the proposed website. The sitemap ( see diagram on next screen ) shows each page and it’s relationship to other pages within the website. • Functionality within each page should be identified. ( i.e. Contact form and location map for a ‘Contact Us’ page ) • Be as clear and concise as possible so that the developer understands what you hope to achieve in each section. • Building a website is a collaborative process. Build a healthy working relationship with your developer and stay in contact throughout the development cycle of the project. • Ask your developer to show you updates each week where possible
Measuring the effectiveness of your website
Measuring the effectiveness of your website • Analysis of the web server that hosts your website data is used to track usage of the site. Ensure that you have access to this data via your web developer or hosting package. • Evaluate the success of your website through the number of visitors, or ‘page impressions’. The number of page ‘hits’ is largely irrelevant as pages with more images get more hits per user. • Has there been an increase in ticket sales or enquiries via the website. • Improve the number of new and repeat visitors. Repeat visitors indicate that your website content is attracting and retaining an online audience.
APPENDIXES How the web works The World Wide Web allows rich and diverse communication by displaying text, graphics, animation, photos, sound and video. So how does this modern day invention work? The Web physically consists of your personal computer, web browser software ( e.g. Internet Explorer ), a connection to an ISP ( e.g. NTL Broadband ), computers called servers that host digital data, and routers and switches to direct the flow of information. The Web is known as a client-server system. Your computer is the client; the remote computers that store electronic files are the servers.
How the web works - continued Let's say you want to visit the home of Arts Journal website. First you enter the address or URL of the website in your web browser: ( http://www.artsjournal.com ). Then your browser requests the web page from the web server that hosts the Arts Journal site. The server sends the data over the Internet to your computer. Your web browser interprets the data, displaying it on your computer screen. To access the Web you need a web browser, such as Netscape Navigator or Microsoft Internet Explorer. How does your web browser distinguish between web pages and other types of data on the Internet? Web pages are written in a computer language called Hypertext Markup Language or HTML.
www.audiencesni.com Proposed website site map