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HighEdWeb Takeaways – Part 4

October 21st, 2015 by Erick Beck

Rolling a couple of presentations into one post, the theme here is website optimization, from both a technical and content standpoint.

Website download speed correlates directly to user experience, which in turn correlates to conversions. Tying back to the first of these posts, you should have some measurable goal for your website that you can track in conversions. This is how we can align our digital strategy to the mission of the university.

Perceptions of website speed:

  • Response time 0 – 100 ms => instant access
  • Response time 100 – 300 ms => site is working properly
  • Response time 300 – 1,000 ms => perceived delay, consider adding a spinner
  • Response time > 1,000 ms => attention is likely to be wandering
  • Response time > 10,000 ms => They have probably left by now

In looking at the above figures, keep in mind that network latency is a huge issue. Even assuming no network slowdowns, the location of the client and server can add enough overhead to make your site perceptibly slow. This is why the best thing you can do to optimize your code is to decrease the number of http calls.

For optimizing content on the page, there are several myths that need to be dispelled. This can be a challenging process, though, because they are often deeply ingrained.

  • The “3 click” rule has been disproven for many years. Evidence shows that users will continue to click for over 20 links if they perceive they are making progress to their eventual destination.
  • The Boston Globe is seen as one of the leaders in online publication. They have done extensive A/B testing and have shown that the concept of “the fold” does not apply on websites. In fact, depending on design, heatmaps of many sites show that site use can be stronger below the fold.
  • Carousels are not effective in increasing user engagement. Focus instead on a single content element that is the most compelling

Content must also be well written. We say that “content is king,” but a king needs his kingdom and that is what the website provides.

One of the worst offenders of bad content is still the “click here” link. This is becoming increasingly true as fewer people “browse” the web and instead rely on search. Your SEO suffers every time you write “click here.” Search engines give added weight to linked text, so the best practice is to include key words that you want searched in the link. Do you really think people go to Google and type “click here” to find your site?

Wednesday, October 21st, 2015 Uncategorized
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