Mobile friendly user interface (UI) design, tappable user centric

The shift in commerce to online platforms, plus smartphone taken-up has driven a whole new approach to how we’re interacting with devices, whether that’s your phone, tablet or computer. Ease of use, even on the smallest phone is a must as consumers shift away from bricks and mortar shopping, to online. The importance of slick easy-to-use user interfaces (UI) could make a real difference in the success of digital commerce.

The importance of mobile first UI design and touch interface principles

The balance of power has shifted dramatically away from desktop devices to mobile, making the role of the user interface design even more important and challenging for designers and developers alike. Screen sizes on phones have been on the up, which does help increase the screen real-estate to play with. There has to be a limit to phone sizes though; we don’t all have supersized deep pockets!

It’s not only screen space issues that need to be thought through. Touch interface has to be much more space generous. Human fingers and thumbs demand larger tap areas, unlike mouse-driven cursor interfaces. This makes the economical use of the premium space a must. Simplification has to be a priority in any design; not easy if you’re trying to give as much information as possible to the end user and also trying to please Google with search engine friendly copy for it to index.

Menu design – how to drive interactions, navigation, and understanding

The mega menu still reigns supreme on retail desktop websites, the ability to show and select numerous options on a single screen is second to none. Anyone with a large product portfolio should consider using mega menus if they’re not doing so already.

The selection of the submenus should easy, with clearly defined live areas (clickable/tap areas). Heading spacing needs to be generous for tablet device user – this benefits readability too.

The categorisation of product lines within your menu system is key to assisting users journey through any site. The wording, language, and terminology used should reflect users’ expectations, rather than how you as a business refer to your products or services. Think about how your client or customer looking for a specific product or service might think! Keep wording short – menus are pointers, not full descriptions. Simplicity isn’t simple; take your time constructing the words and structure for your menus.

Images and icons within menus can be used to good effect, speeding up recognition, without needing to read a thing. Any visuals you choose should reflect your brand, and be bespoke if budgets allow. As with all design, the colourways should be complementary to your corporate look, call to action buttons, links signposting should be defined and consistent.

Mobile first menu UI design, hamburgers or is there a vegetarian option?

The Smartphone user is now outnumbering both desktops and tablet users. The challenge with a mobile user is getting them to the right section of your site before they swipe elsewhere. Keeping mobile users’ session duration as long possible is a factor in how search engines rank your website; and potentially whether you generate sales.

The default for many mobile interfaces is the Hamburger menu. Introduced in the early days of Graphical Interface Design (GUI) in the 1980s. It has had a revival since Apple, Facebook and Google started using this graphical device on the first-generation smartphone apps.

Hiding information behind layers of screens, or menu devices such as hamburger icons can help. However, this can be counter-productive as it can be easily missed or misunderstood. Having to tap through endless submenus is tedious. ‘Three clicks from anywhere’ used to be the old desktop website mantra – difficult in our smartphone world!

Other options include tabbed interfaces, these are a good option if space permits and should be named with single words, or better still utilising nicely designed, easy to recognise icons. Swipeable menus offer another way of interacting, working with images or graphics, offering a very quick option for driving mobile users to other content within your site. I’m a great believer in tappable images and photographs, we’re becoming pre-programmed to just tap on stuff, and expect it to zoom up, or take us elsewhere.

Logins, form filling and checkouts

The trick is to keep things simple, break tasks down into manageable step-by-step chunks. E-commerce apps need to signpost users to where they are within the process. Any errors, such as an incorrectly inputted email address, should be clearly highlighted and coded to prevent the user from going any further.

Keeping your interaction within reach and consistent

Fortunately, our thumbs aren’t growing at the same rate as our smartphone screens. For most people, gone are the days of driving a smartphone single-handed with your thumb! With phones reaching tablet dimensions it’s worth factoring in the areas that your thumbs can reach and position the buttons accordingly. Think about the prime place for frequent navigation hotspots –  hamburger menus usually sit top left or right. That said, breaking the norms of user expectations is what designing new products is all about. Rules are there to be broken, otherwise, nothing moves on!

Hope the above proves useful. There are loads more to be covered on this topic in future posts. Please get in touch if you need further help or advice. All the best, Ross

YouTube Video Marketing – Link Cards drive visitors to your website

YouTube link cards are a great new video marketing tool for driving traffic to your website. Cards allow you to add interactive banners, which appear at the top of your videos. These tempt viewers to visit relevant content being shown in the video clip being watched. A teaser message subtly appears in the top right of the screen as the video plays.

Example YouTube Card Teaser

Continue reading “YouTube Video Marketing – Link Cards drive visitors to your website”

Inbound or Outbound Digital Marketing – what’s the difference? Which is the most cost effective?

Let’s start with a few definitions. Outbound Marketing is reaching out to your customers by traditional means, e.g. television commercials, radio ads, print adverts (press ads, flyers, brochures, catalogues, advertorials), trade shows, cold calls, even billboards and posters, and direct mail/email campaigns. It’s all about targeting your product, services, and brand to your potential customers or clients.

Inbound Marketing is all about what we do now – and that’s “We Google it” or search on social media. Inbound Marketing is about getting people to your website or social pages by generating content (blogs, articles, online newsletters, videos). Getting found on the Internet – or by paying for Ads on Google or Bing, these are Pay-Per-Click ads.

Which is best – Outbound or Inbound Marketing?

That depends on what your product or service is. If you are a manufacture or sell high-value items/services to a specialist target market, in this case, B2B trade shows could be a reliable option. Outbound Marketing may be best for you – design an eye-catching exhibition stand that draws in visitors and invite the right potential clients. Combine this with some targeted trade press ads, and you’ll have a classic Outbound Marketing campaign.

However, if you’re the exhibition promoter who needs to attract lots of visitors to your consumer show, then Inbound Marketing, creating a buzz on the Internet and in Social Media, will be essential. You’ll need to generate lots of stories about the exhibitors and work with them to cross promote and link to their online content. Using Content Marketing promotion platforms such as Outbrain and Taboola, are an effective way of spreading your message across online media. You will also need to build a well-structured and targeted Pay-Per-Click campaign, through search and social media channels, which reaches out to consumers who have an interest in the exhibition subject matter.

This approach is an effective way to promote a show; however, what works best is a combination of traditional outbound promotions with a sprinkle of PR in the mix as well!

Inbound Marketing – how do you attract visitors to your site?

Please Google or Pay Google and get Social. For starters – pleasing Google, getting traffic to your website for free.

Firstly it’s not free, and it will take much effort to get pages that rank well in Google. Long gone are the days when you register a domain such as www.cheapcars.com and car buyers would flock to your site.

Content Marketing – building a presence, attracting an audience

Building a strong online presence is about developing great original, quality content, which is useful for your customers and broader audiences. It’s about gaining trust. Articles and advice on buying a second-hand car would be suitable for Motor Dealer, or little peace on which cars are the cheapest to insure for younger drivers. Not only will these articles give your website more credibility – you know what you’re talking about – it is great for Google! And long-term will lead to natural search traffic to your site.

What do Search Engines like?

There’s no magic bullet – here are some suggestions:

  • Lots of great original content that changes regularly
  • This content should be search engine friendly (SEO’d)
  • Articles, videos that people read or watch – visitor engagement
  • People share your content, contribute and link to it

Producing great engaging content involves effort; it needs to be relevant and useful to the reader. The message should reflect your business/brands image both visually and in the tone of the language. Above all, it should be trustworthy and be easy to read – people are great skimmers when it comes to reading online content.

Videos are a great engagement tool; they should be short, snappy, well scripted and visually appealing. You need to catch the viewer’s attention in the first 10 seconds, while using other tools within Youtube, such as Link Cards, to drive traffic to other parts of your site. Above all – keep it simple!

If all this sounds very daunting and time-consuming “it’s hard enough marketing and running a business without having to please Google”, I hear you cry. At TurnRound, we can help, let us develop your content strategies, produce creative communications that meet the technical challenges of well executed search-friendly Inbound Marketing. We’ll even give your website an MOT to make sure it been SEO’d correctly and that it is easy to use. It’s no good generating web traffic that doesn’t drive users to other sections of your site; you need them to make contact and ultimately do business with you!

The Fast Option – Paying for traffic

Okay, generating content is going to take us a while to do, with distinct benefits moving forward. What you may need is quick results; this is when Pay-Per-Click (PPC) ads come into their own.

Search engine advertising has become one of the most popular methods of PPC marketing, with Google Adwords being the most dominant platform, as it has the most successful search engine.

PPC Ads appear at the top of the page when you use Google’s search engine, and these Ad’s appear biased on advertisers bids (an auction) and other factors. Quality score (value given by Google that takes into account your click-through rate, relevance, and your landing page) and connection of the keywords in the ad campaign, as well as the value of the keyword bids. Yep, all sounds very complicated, and not like any traditional auction I’ve attended!

Optimising Pay-Per-Click Campaigns

Building a successful Pay-Per-Click campaign is all about researching the most relevant keywords, writing suitable ads and making sure your landing page is relevant to your keywords.

Sounds simple? Not really – much effort goes into building a successful Adwords campaign, its very easy to throw budget at PPC advertising. What is important is to maximise your conversion rate, while minimising your bid spend. There’s no point getting loads of clicks from users who never convert into customers. TurnRound can help here.

The real beauty of PPC promotions, as is all Inbound Marketing, is that you track everything that happens online through Google Analytics. Allowing you to monitor the performance of your keywords and ads, then track visitor flow through your website. Setup ‘Goals’ such as a sale, or a new client using a contact form.

Don’t ignore traditional Outbound Marketing

It’s far more challenging to measure the success of Outbound Marketing campaigns; you can ask “How Did You Hear About Us?” which often leads to unreliable recollections of ads, flyers, mailers and other media coverage. These results can lead to poor reporting and errors due to assumptions and inaccurate data. That said, Outbound Marketing has an essential place in any campaign – brand presence and recognition are still significant. Consumers and potential clients, still read newspapers, magazines, listen to the radio and watch telly. Keeping your product or service’ top-of-mind’ or even ‘back-of-your-mind’ will result in new business long-term. Perversely it may also distort your endlessly traceable Inbound Marketing stats due to visitors remembering your Outbound Marketing activity and visiting your website directly.

More on this in future blogs hope the above proves useful.

Please get in touch if you need further help or advice.

All the best, Ross