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Search engines are now using data-driven factors to determine how relevant your website is to a particular search query

The practice of search engine optimization (SEO) has experienced monumental changes over the course of the last 15 years. When SEO first broke onto the scene, it was quickly discovered that webmasters could manipulate search results and make their websites rank well merely by packing their target keywords into the website as many times as possible – a practice known as “keyword stuffing”. This majorly skewed and distorted Google’s and Bing’s search rankings, since low-quality, “spammy” websites were quickly able to outrank reputable and relevant websites. In response to this unfavourable outcome, these search engines rolled out several rounds of algorithm updates, permanently changing the way in which websites are ranked. Presently, Google and Bing each use hundreds of different factors – with varying levels of importance – to rank websites, helping to ensure…

Chart of the day: Most user research is conducted to understand customers and their needs

Understanding customers needs and testing prototypes or wireframes are the primary reasons for customer research, according to a survey of over 2000 professionals by UserTesting.com Interestingly, over half (53%) conduct user testing, or use user testing results to inform senior management or stakeholders. It's great to see research is being used to show management and stakeholders evidence for a particular cause and to influence change, based on customer needs.

The power of user research is profound

The study also found that UX research is influencing better quality products and services, as well as that the voice of the customer is considered hugely important. User research is also having a positive effect on marketing campaigns too. It's great to see marketing teams are bought…

Chart of the day: Most user experience (UX) research is conducted during the design and prototyping phase

76% do UX research during the design and prototyping phase, whilst 72% do user research before design and development. Just over half (52%) also do user research after launching. It isn't recommended to only do testing after launch, though doing user testing at all is better than not doing it at all. It just makes it harder to make changes after launch. It's certainly best to get the feedback early, to make changes early. It might take more time to test before launch and at various stages, but it certainly saves time in the long run. Those surveyed certainly seem to think the same as the vast majority test before launch. Some of those testing after launch will also be testing at other stages before launch…

Examples showing why B2B website visitors deserve a great experience too

Whichever business sector you are in, it is still crucial to consider your digital marketing as a holistic process created around your website. In a 2013 blog post here on Smart Insights I detailed a number of areas that all effective B2B websites should have. Many remain relevant even though the technology and customer expectation has moved on. The objective of this blog post is to build on this theme of centrality and align it with the delivery of powerful and engaging user experience that draws visitors in and keeps them coming back again and again. Only by creating a website rich in customer focused content and that is built to respond to the device it is being viewed on, has the chance of catching and maintaining attention. I'll also be covering this topic as part of 6 key tactics to Turbocharge your digital…

Examples and the Pros and Cons of Parallax Web Design

We are all more aware than ever that web design styles are shifting  towards user experience as opposed user tasks and usability. Users demand to be engaged, entertained, educated and enticed into absorbing content online. Parallax web design, used in the right context, has the ability to deliver a really strong connection to an online brand experience, based on the interactivity of the website, the journey and the focus, realism and context given to the content or product. Often, examples of Parallax web design focus on product examples, such as Google's Nexus 7 page, but I hope to show in this post that there are opportunities for other types of organisations such as B2B businesses or charities to use Parallax design for deeper engagement. The examples show that Parallax design can offer a more interactive version of infographics, better suited to…