Are Keywords and SEO Dead?

The article Keywords Are Dead? Long Live Keywords by George Stevens on the Social Media Today website confirmed my view of Search Engine Optimization. People search with keywords so if you want your content to rise to the top of any search result results for a given keyword, your content better be relevant to that keyword. I’ve had many customers ask me about SEO and I always point back to their content. As it says in the article “good quality content will have all the keywords you need”. Search engines decide relevancy based upon content and the words in that content. You need to spend a good amount of time thinking about how your content is structured. Including your keywords in not only body content but headers and navigation as well. This will greatly improve the relevancy of a given keyword on your site.

The article goes on to discuss the death of SEO. It positions professional SEO as being in business to “trick” Google and other search engines. Since searchers want relevant results to their keyword search, Google’s aim is to be “un-trickable” or “SEO proof”. I agree with the author that as SEO practices must evolve. As long as people use search engines to find information there will always be a need to optimize the content of your website.


Design Hasn’t Changed

Even with the digital revolution, visual design and its underlying principals haven’t really changed for the last 50 years. I was surprised when I read that in Why Design Hasn’t Changed a Bit in the Past 50 Years by James George on the Design Festival website. I thought for sure that with the advent of electronic communications and social media that couldn’t be true.

The article explained negative space and how book margins are determined for both print and electronic versions. I learned that the application of the rule of thirds for composition was first recorded in the late 1790’s. Even older than that is the Golden Ratio which determines the most aesthetically pleasing ratio between areas in a composition. Examples of this can be found in the structure of a seashell as well as the Mona Lisa.

My favorite part of the article will make my UX and IA friends happy. For many years I have heard them quote Hick’s Law and Fitt’s law while reviewing visual designs for me. Hick’s law basically states that the time it takes to make a selection from a menu of items is determined by how the information is organized. The more information presented the more time it will take for your visitor to find what they’re looking for. Fitt’s law looks at the size of your menu items and states that visitors will instinctively navigate to the largest menu on the page.This can be good or bad depending on your goals. The author illustrates these laws quite well using the craigslist and eBay websites.

While the underlying principals haven’t changed but visual designers still need to apply the principals correctly in all the different digital communication vehicles we use today. The biggest challenge will continue to be that you cannot always control the size of the view-port or client side software where your target audience sees your message. We must think beyond a fixed page.

Responsive Design is Everywhere

I recently read an article called The New Rules of the Responsive Web by Matthew Carver on the Webdesigner Depot website. The article started by telling me what I already know – Responsive Design is now a near ubiquitous buzzword on the web. To me that means a lot of people think it’s great (including me) and a lot of people don’t know what it is – but know they need to have it.

The Responsive Design approach is been around for a long time. But it has now gathered enough momentum to be a part of most every web design project. This article lays out four ground rules for how to work on the design of a responsive web design project. The first rule is don’t stop at just a graceful rescaling of the design. Build a site optimized for anything from the desktop to a “tiny cellphone running IE7 on an EDGE network”. Second, there is no easy way out. Responsive design is complicated it calls for a new iterative approach to design and development. Evan Gerber VP of Mobile at Fidelity in a presentation I attended described it as a “Lean UX” approach. By prototyping your wireframes and presenting them to the client you can focus on the site’s layout before the design. Third is to embrace change. You have to change your tools and approach to design fro a responsive design project. You need to go beyond Photoshop and full page mock-ups. The last rule is my favorite – “Remember your roots”. It starts with a quote from Tim Berners-Lee. “[The web] should be accessible from any kind of hardware that can connect to the Internet: stationary or mobile, small screen or large.” This has always been the case. We need to think of how the target audience is consuming our information and make sure is easy for them to do so.

Read the full article for the full details of the rules. There are links to some nice resources and as always the comments on the article provide for some interesting perspectives.

No Lists for Navigation?

Using lists for navigation makes it difficult for blind visitors to navigate your site. This came as news to me. I had always thought that lists and nested lists were the most accessible way to code website navigation. The article Navigation in Lists: To Be or Not To Be by Chris Coyier on the CSS-Tricks website has convinced me otherwise.

The author reports that at a January 2011 Refresh event Reinhard Stebner, who is blind, suggested not using lists for navigation but instead use divs and spans. He uses JAWS as a screen reader and said navigation in lists makes it harder for him. Other attendees add that the list structure is not conductive to the screen reader’s logic and that divs and spans are the way to go as they’re invisible to screen readers.

Read the full article to find out what other attendees at the event had to say. Be sure to read the comments at the bottom. There is a great discussion amongst developers about the topic.

Write Off Google Plus?

Google Plus will not only prevail but have a staggering number of active users by the end of 2013. This is according to Dave Llorens in his article¬†for Fast Company Plus-One This: Proof the Google Plus Will Prevail. The author states that expectations for Google Plus to be a Facebook killer were off. He even goes on to say that Google never intended to complete directly with Facebook. It’s an interesting premise and to back it up the author points to Google pulling the plug pretty quickly on failed concepts like Buzz and Wave. The real goal is for Google Plus to be the glue that connects all their products into a “big ball of awesome user experience”. Think of all the Google products you use on a regular basis: Search, YouTube, Gmail, Calendar, Maps, Drive, Play, Picasa and more. That means a lot of people are already participating in the Google Plus product. I for one agree – Google Plus is here to stay. Read the article and judge for yourself.