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Web Design Time Travel

There was a time when a company could happily tick the ‘online presence’ box when its website went live. Not so any longer.

The online landscape is changing so fast, constantly iterating, that it’s no longer sufficient to have a ‘website’, you have to have the right website to market yourself effectively. Websites with slow Flash intros for example are out-dated. It’s not just about fashion – it’s about speed and attention span. Google added site speed to search rankings last year in a response to searchers who aren’t prepared to hang about waiting for pages to load.

Iterate or Die

Research from HubSpot is indicating that companies should re-design their website every couple of years.

HubSpot : The Science of Website Redesign

Giving users what they want and cutting down the number of clicks is driving website change.

Users want to be social and this has been a major factor in the evolution of website design. Sharing functionality is important, as is the integration of social networks. The Facebook Like Box was introduced recently allowing website visitors to ‘Like’ a Facebook Page in a 1-click step, without having to leave the website.

Twitter has recently followed suit with its ‘Follow Me’ button. This allows a website visitor to ‘follow’ the website’s Twitter feed in a 1-click process, without having to leave the website and go to the Twitter platform.

Google has now entered the social space with its +1 button. Working in a similar way to the Facebook Like button, a visitor can +1 the content of a page and this recommendation will influence the search results of people in his network. This may have future implications for social SEO.

The 3-click rule applies: you should never be more than 3 clicks from the home page. The idea is to facilitate visitors and let them do what they want to do as quickly and easily as possible.

Time Travel on the Internet

It’s interesting to take a trip back in time to put some historical context on the online environment. The Guardian is now one of the best sites on the web and has been heavily invested in over the years.  But look at it back in 1997:

The in 1997

It seems a little, well, primitive.

Now look at it: in 2011

Let’s take a look at the features:

  • Navigation: The navigation bar along the top allows visitors find what they want in the quickest way possible. You can see that the tabs on the Amazon site have a similar navigation. And you may be sure that the Amazon site has been user-tested to within an inch of its life!
  • And if it’s not clear from that, you can search with the Search Box.
  • The site is interactive – you can see the number of comments the news stories have.
  • It’s got an RSS feed, which lets people access the content the way they want.
  • It’s visual engaging.
  • It’s got usability built, in allowing larger text at the click of a button.
  • It’s got a mobile site.
  • The content is up to date (updated 1 minute ago).

If you’d like to do some Internet time travel of your own check out the Wayback Machine.

Now, what was that DOS command to bookmark something..


Based in Dun Laoghaire, Co. Dublin, I'm a Digital Marketing and SEO consultant working with small businesses to improve their profile and build their business online with a collaborative and knowledge-sharing approach. Whilst concentrating on optimising sites for search engines, the opportunities presented by social media and networking are also part of the picture and this fast-moving space is very exciting for anyone doing business on the web. It's all part of the 'conversation'.

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  • Hi Jennie, great post and I love the Guardian comparison. What amazes me is that there are still some major businesses that are closer to pic 1, and don’t appear to have invested at all in their website. Small businesses are one thing but why do you think a large org would still have a website like the Guardian in 1997?u00a0

  • Derbhile

    Shows how times have changed!

  • Yes, many are still behind the curve – Google chied Eric Schmidt was pointing out in Dublin recently nn”..Irish businesses are somewhat behind, especially the smallnand medium business, getting online compared to where they should be..”u00a0 (in Irish Times yday).nnI guess many organisations are still not thinking about their customers / audience – and where they are.n

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  • Interesting list of resources there Joseph – thank you!

  • Nicely explained, and often a touchy subject – especially with smaller firms – who foots certain bills, and how much “personal” usage is allowed?
    I think the debate (and the fears) will stretch into 2013 – education will lesson fears, but I expect it will be one of those – learn as we go – kind of business goals.

    Great post Nishadha, thanks!

  • Swarna

    Great points, Nishadha. Another reason why mobile virtual desktops — and sandboxing solutions for that matter — aren’t always ideal is because they force the user to alter the way they use their devices. Mobile virtual desktops and sandboxing solutions force users to be either in personal “mode” or work “mode,” but not easily both at the same time. Mobile application management (MAM), which you also discuss and which we at Symantec offer, provides a seamless usage experience across both personal and work use. By applying security and management controls at the application level rather than the device level, MAM technology lets users use their devices in the ways they feel most comfortable with, which enables them to be more productive. At the same time, however, it ensures IT departments have the ability to protect sensitive company data.

    Swarna Podila

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