eSites Network Website Design


Online Marketing Strategy

A simple and effective way to organize your marketing strategy for your website is the following five-step process. It would basically cover 85% of your traffic if you are a B2B business.

1. Search engine friendly website

Not just any website. A search engine friendly website is made in such a way that search engines can read it just as easily as humans can. For that your site should be made with Cascading Style Sheets or simply CSS. This is a new technology that is supported by the latest browsers which enables you to build a web page in a sequential form so search engines – which are essentially robots – can read the content instead of reading a lot of HTML code. The older more traditional form of coding a page relied on “HTML Tables” which made it confusing for search engines. Many developers still use this technique to code pages and the CSS based sites are way ahead of HTML Table based sites in rankings.

Of course, there is no point in having a search engine friendly website if it is not ultimately people friendly. So it goes without saying the site should also have pertinent content. But the assumption is that you have a real business and you have real content to fill the site with.

2. Keyword Optimization

The next step to an effective online marketing strategy of course is to ensure that your site is well optimized to reflect your business. This should be fairly simple but there are some things you still need to look at:

  1. Metatags – these are groups of words that you add to each page within the code so that search engines appropriately index the pages of your site.
  2. ALT Tags – these are word descriptions of images that you use on your site. Search engines do not see pictures. They instead read your word descriptions that are hidden in the code. So relevant descriptions will enable the engine to appropriately index the site.
  3. Keyword Density - In addition to having to the point and brief text for your visitors, also add detailed text with relevant keywords. I am not talking of simply adding keywords in meaningless manner but of detailed meaningful copy with high keyword density.
  4. Link building through Social and professional Networks

    1. Facebook, Linked in, etc.
    2. Forums and guestbooks
    3. Industry specific directories
    4. Other relevant websites

Active participation in online forums and directories ensures that you have effective “back links” or connections back to your site. Search engines believe that your site is worthy of listing on top by counting the number of times you have been referred to by other sites. Some people actively post every day or week simply to increase this measure of credibility.

4. Email Promotion

While the above 3 are ways for people to find your website from among the mass of other websites out there, email marketing is a highly effective way to build and sustain relationships with both customers and prospects. We are not talking of spamming here but opt-in mass mailing and targeted mailing. Some effective email marketing tools are opt-in newsletters, follow-up emails, announcements, etc. Used judiciously, they can garner effective relevant traffic.

5. Offline promotion

One of the most effective but often unused method of promotion is offline promotion. Offline promotion is something that needs to be done actively all the time. Talk about your website. Put the URL on your cards, letterheads, envelopes, mailers, brochures, posters, banners, etc. Any offline availability of your website address will be more readily and relevantly used than any type of online availability as it carries more authenticity and weightage.

If you can handle these 5 aspects of web marketing you should be covering 80% or more of your market. We’ll go over things like twitter and social media marketing in another article. But frankly if you do the above 5 you should be fine.

Thin clients computing

A thin client (sometimes also called a lean client) is a client computer or client software in client-server architecture networks which depends primarily on the central server for processing activities, and mainly focuses on conveying input and output between the user and the remote server. In contrast, a thick or fat client does as much processing as possible and passes only data for communications and storage to the server.

Thus , thin client computing is a server-centric computing model in which the application software, data, and CPU power resides on a network server rather than on the client computer.

A thin client is a network computer without a hard disk drive, which is designed to be especially small so that it does most of its processing on a central server with as little hardware and software as possible at the user's location, and as much as possible at some centralized managed site. Usually, the embedded OS in a thin client is stored in a "flash drive" or in a Disk on Module (DOM). The embedded OS in a thin client usually uses some kind of write filter so that the OS and its configuration cannot been changed but by Administrators.

Advantages of thin clients

Obviously, boot image control is much simpler when only thin clients are used – typically a single boot image can accommodate a very wide range of user needs, and be managed centrally, resulting in:

  • Lower IT admin costs. Thin clients are managed almost entirely at the server. The hardware has fewer points of failure and the local environment is highly restricted (and often stateless), providing protection from malware.
  • Easier to secure. Thin clients can be designed so that no application data ever resides on the client (it is entirely rendered), centralizing malware protection and minimising the risks of physical data theft.
  • Lower hardware costs. Thin client hardware is generally cheaper because it does not contain a disk, application memory, or a powerful processor. They also generally have a longer period before requiring an upgrade or becoming obsolete. The total hardware requirements for a thin client system (including both servers and clients) are usually much lower compared to a system with fat clients. One reason for this is that the hardware is better utilized. A CPU in a fat workstation is idle most of the time. With thin clients, memory can be shared. If several users are running the same application, it only needs to be loaded into RAM once with a central server. With fat clients, each workstation must have its own copy of the program in memory.
  • Lower Energy Consumption. Dedicated thin client hardware has much lower energy consumption than thick client PCs. This not only reduces energy costs but may mean that in some cases air-conditioning systems are not required or need not be upgraded which can be a significant cost saving and contribute to achieving energy saving targets.
  • Easier hardware failure management. If a thin client fails, a replacement can simply be swapped in while the client is repaired; the user is not inconvenienced because their data is not on the client.
  • Worthless to most thieves. Thin client hardware, whether dedicated or simply older hardware that has been repurposed via cascading, is useless outside a client-server environment. Burglars interested in computer equipment have a much harder time fencing thin client hardware (and it is less valuable).
  • Hostile Environments. Most devices have no moving parts so can be used in dusty environments without the worry of PC fans clogging up and overheating and burning out the PC.
  • Less network bandwidth. Since terminal servers typically reside on the same high-speed network backbone as file servers, most network traffic is confined to the server room. In a fat client environment if you open a 10MB document that's 10MB transferred from the file server to your PC. When you save it that's another 10MB from your PC to the server. When you print it the same happens again – another 10MB over the network to your print server and then 10MB onward to the printer. This is highly inefficient. In a thin client environment only mouse movements, keystrokes and screen updates are transmitted from/to the end user. Over efficient protocols such as ICA or NX this can consume as little as 5 kbit/s bandwidth.
  • More efficient use of resources. A typical thick-client will be specified to cope with the maximum load the user needs, which can be inefficient at times when it is not utilised. In contrast, thin clients only use the exact amount of resources required by the current task – in a large network, there is a good probability the load from each user will fluctuate in a different cycle to that of another user (i.e. the peaks of one will more than likely correspond, time-wise, to the troughs of another.
  • Simple hardware upgrade path. If the peak resource usage is above a pre-defined limit, it is a relatively simple process to add another rack to a blade server (be it power, processing, storage), boosting resources to exactly the amount required. The existing units can be continued in service alongside the new, whereas a thick client model requires an entire desktop unit be replaced, resulting in down-time for the user, and the problem of disposing of the old unit.
  • Lower noise. The aforementioned removal of fans reduces the noise produced by the unit. This can create a more pleasant working environment.
  • Less Wasted Hardware. Computer hardware is very environmentally damaging. Thin clients can remain in service longer and ultimately produce less surplus computer hardware than an equivalent thick client installation.

Can You Read Your Website?

Are the fonts on your site legible? Can you read it? Do people have to put in a lot of effort to read or does your type get out of the way so that your words are easily understood? An oft-heard complaint about how some site designs have text that simply can’t be read:
I can’t tell you how often this happens. I get linked to a website with a great article or a website where someone tells me it has a great design and when I visit it I can’t read a damn thing! Having a bad design is acceptable. Misplacing stuff on the design I can live with. However, how do some people design a site, look at the font and walk away thinking that it is legible?

If web design is 95% typography how can people design a site with unreadable text?

The Difference Between Legibility and Readability

Not all typefaces are designed to be legible. Many are drawn to create a statement, or provide a particular feeling. Some are even designed just to stand out from the crowd! A typeface that has a spirit, a personality or a distinction, however, often suffers on its legibility.

Display Typeis designed to attract attention and pull the reader into the text. It can be more elaborate, expressive, and have a stylish look. While, Text Type is designed to be legible and readable across a variety of sizes.
I’ve been interchanging the words legibility and readability so far, but they’re actually two different things. Legibility is a measure of how easy it is to distinguish one letter from another in a given typeface. Legibility describes the design of a typeface. How legible a typeface is designed to be depends on its purpose. Readability describes how easily words and blocks of text can be read. Readability describes how a typeface is used on the page; it encourages you to read by reducing the effort required to read and comprehend the text. The reader shouldn't even notice the text font; he should simply understand the words.
Type must be legible to make it readable, but making type more legible doesn't necessarily increase readability. Many other things go into creating readable text.

How to Make Your Text More Readable

The common reaction when coming across text you can’t read online is to make it larger. More goes into designing text that is readable, some of which has little to do with the font itself.
Layout: The use of whitespace, grids and images; all have an impact on the readability. A lack of space around blocks of text and in your design can make everything blend into each other. Images help create a flow through your copy and give readers a place to rest.
Alignment: Text can be centered, justified, left-justified, or right-justified. Each has it’s appropriate place in a design. Left-justified is generally best for long blocks of copy. Having a strong left edge gives the eye an easy place to come back to after reaching the end of the line.
Paragraphs:Long lines of text in paragraphs tire the eye and make it hard to find your way back to the next line. Your line length ideally should be 45 – 75 characters long. Also avoid long paragraphs. Line spacing within paragraphs and between them is also essential. Common advice says the vertical space between lines of text should be at least 25% to 30% larger than your font size, however I find that 50% larger is most readable online.
Type Case: Type can be lowercase, uppercase, and mixed case. Lower case with capitalization for grammar is the easiest to read in longer blocks of text. Upper case or all caps is more difficult to read, though it can work fine in short blocks of text.
Font Styling: Roman and Sans Serif fonts are the easiest to read online such as Arial, Verdana, etc. Italics and bolding can become difficult in long blocks of text and are best use in small doses. The more the colour contrast between text and background; the more readable the text will be. Black text on a white background is the easiest to read. From there every combination makes text less readable.
Number of different fonts: Using too many fonts in a single design can be a struggle to adjust to. Consistency helps readability. Rule of thumb advice is to use 2 fonts (3 at most) and to contrast a serif and sans-serif font. Perhaps one for body copy and one for headings.

Hopefully I’ve convinced you that there is a lot to designing legible and readable text. My main goal was to get you to see past the idea that it all comes down to your choice in font and font size. Like a lot of people when I see type I can’t read my instinct is to think it simply needs to be bigger. Hopefully now we’re both aware of the many of things that make type more readable.

How A Web Design Goes Straight to Hell

This is for all the web designers out there who have suffered as I have suffered.

Everything is cool in the beginning

The client communicates their need. You set the expectations. Enthusiasm and excitement all around!

The client shows you their current website

You both laugh at how terrible it is. You call the earlier design an idiot.

You redesign the website

It looks nice and works well. You are happy with the work you have done. This is the high point of the design.

Just a few "minor" changes

Clients have actually said all these things to me. To this day I still do not know what "pop" or "edgy" mean with regards to web design. I also still don't know how to design websites based on someone else's feelings.

Minor changes start to add

Soon they become not-so-minor changes.

A client actually actually said this to me. The design had no horizontal rules or lines of any kind, they were referring to the rectangular shape created by such things as div or p tags!

The client gets others involved

"This looks GREAT, but I want to get feedback from my friend, my dad, my mom, my brother, my sister, my wife, my co-workers, my uncle, my dog, etc... etc...

I have actually had clients include nearly their entire family in the design process so they could provide feedback and criticism

All hope is lost

You begin to fantasize about other careers and businesses, like someone who digs ditches for a living or drives a cart carrying dirt in a remote part of the country!

I did not make this up. This is a modified version of what a client actually requested from me. I've never come closer to braining someone with a car battery as I did that day.

You are no longer a web designer

You are now reduced to a mouse cursor inside a graphics design program which the client can control by speaking, emailing and instant messaging.

I have had a lot of clients take my design comps and start revising it themselves in Photoshop or even Paint. They would then send me the updated versions of how they felt it should look. After the 13th revision I fired a client.

An abomination is born

The client has completely forgotten that they have hired you, the web designer, to build them a great website.
If you were an engineer designing the turbine of a commercial airplane, or an architect designing their office building, would they interfere then, I wonder?

And then when someone comments on what a s***ty piece of design their website is, who gets blamed...