Usability

Why is Frontierville so popular?

Screenshot of Frontierville

Whenever I see my News Feed on Facebook I see a lot of people playing Farmville, Frontierville and now Cityville. With various requests like “Friend is out of energy!”, “Friend has stopped by your homestead with a hand drill” and “Friend has wood to share!”

Over the years I have had numerous requests to join and play these social games and I have always refused. “Why?” Mainly because I cannot see the point and see it as a total waste of time. That leads me to the question “So why are they so popular?

So I asked my friends who play these games and they said “It is great for chilling out.” And “I like seeing how my friends are doing.” and “I like helping my friends out.

So by creating virtual villages, cities with avatars and being asked to carry out tasks for rewards and helping friends out is being very sociable. There seems to be various reasons why people play these games but everybody I spoke to was passionate about how they could grow their homestead or city and expand!!!!

Screenshot of Frontierville

A study by NPD that revealed that 20% of Americans spent time playing social network games like FrontierVille. The games are produced by a company called Zynga which makes online social games. Zynga which has 235 million monthly active users. Produce the games FarmVille, FrontierVille and now CityVille. Impressive statistics!

Why produce the games for free?

Each of the games use a 3D matrix model for playing the game. Mark Pincus co founder of Zynga Game Inc. The games are found on Facebook. In addition to making their own games, Zynga has created a network which allows third party developers to become part of the Zynga network.

According to analysis carried out by Steven Carpenter. It is estimated that Zynga generates $180 million per annum in profit. He also estimates that Zynga single handedly makes up over 45% of the market for social gaming.

Carpenter credits Zynga with being the first company to achieve large scale financial success on the virtual goods model, which allows Zynga to make millions out of the %1 to 2% of its users that are willing to buy items.

Screenshot of Frontierville

So here is the answer: Zynga create the games for free they make them very socially interactive, offering incentives to players to post to their Facebook wall and most importantly offer users the ability to purchase virtual goods. This generates over $15 million per month for the company from the small percentage of millions of users who purchase virtual goods.

The games are addictive and have a very large captive audience. With a small percentage willing to spend money on virtual goods for their virtual world in turn making Zynga the largest and most profitable social gaming company on the planet.

How do I increase my online sales?

Image of a graph showing how custom ecommerce can increase sales
You have plenty of visitors coming to your website, but they just do not convert into online sales. Here is some advice on how you can improve your conversion rate and improve your return on investment (ROI) of your ecommerce website.

Firstly research all your statistics and analytics, find out where your customers dropping out. Usually this is your shopping cart page, they have added items to the basket with all good intenmtions and then just close the browser window. Simple as that, you have lost the sale and the potential new customer.

Know your customers

You can improve buying behavior with just a few simple tweaks to yourshopping cart page. You need to think like your customer not as the website owner. For example you may know your website inside and out, you know that  you need to manually enter in a number into the quantity field before you click add to basket, but do your customers?

Stop going for the hard sell. We all hate to read “cheapest ever”, “offer ends at midnight”, “sign up now” etc, etc. Nobody especially your customers wants a heavy sell, you need to create a desire to purchase from you.

Shopping CartThink about who buys from you, or more important, who you want to buy from you. For example you sell football shirts, you have sold a few online already, you think your audience is young men based in the UK that want to buy a football shirt? Think again! The people your aiming at love football, associate your website with football, your customer may belong to a football team? Would it not be better to sell your football shirts to the whole team, for example to the coach or manager? This way your likely to sell five or eleven times as much!!

My job as a website designer is by using ecommerce web design to take your customer from your product page to the purchase page as smoothly as possible. Increasing the usability and accessibility of your website will improve your sales.

Test your ecommerce site out with friends and family, evewn if they are not regular internet users. Get them to give you real feed back, Not just “I like the green color!!” Did they know how to navigate? Did they know how to add items to the basket? Did you need to help them? If you did then it is likely that your customers are having the exact same response, probably on a bigger scale.

Give your customers what they want, give them all the information they are looking for, do not confuse them and ensure your level of service and quality is better than your competitors. Using a clever blend of ecommerce design can see your current online sales increase rapidly. Please contact us for a chat about how your ecommerce design can be improved.

Usable and accessible web design

When your customer lands on your website, whether it is from a search engine or from typing in your website address, they have to have a really good first impression. Otherwise they will just click off your site and go elsewhere.

Your site needs to look professional and trustworthy. Once the customer has stayed on your site for more than 5 seconds, your website then needs to work properly, and give them the information they need in a usable manner.

The following are good ideas for what every website should have in order to be accessible and usable:

Image depicting different size text

Clear readable type

Tiny fonts can look stylish, as can text in a light colour - but how many of your customers can read it? 1 in 3 men are colourblind - have you considered this when deciding on your font colour?

Mimimal use of Flash and moving images

There is nothing more distracting and annoying than a web page moving around and dancing at you. Flash images can be stylish and when used correctly can enhance your website - but are you using them gratuitiously just because you can?

Image of a sign post, hightlighting good navigation on a webpageClear easy to use navigation

In my opinion there is nothing worse on a web page than it looking fantastic, but just not being able to find what you are looking for, or being able to get back to it easily. There is no excise for bad navigation.

Sensible use of images

Images are important. They can make a page look far more attractive - a full page of text can look daunting or just plain dull, but don’t overdo the use of images, and make sure they are relevant. Images are crucial for an ecommerce site, but make sure all images are correct, and informative.

Fast load time

Gone are the days when most people are using a slow dial up connection to the internet. However just becasue broadband is much more widespread, it doesn’t mean all pages load quickly. Bulky images are the cause of many websites taking an age to load. Before uploading make sure your images are in the right format and the right size.

Broken links, missing tags for images, missing pages

Image of an example page not foundIf you click on a link on your webpage it should work - It should also be underlined, otherwise how would somebody know it is a hyperlink?

Keep checking your site to make sure all links are still valid - this is especially true if you link to an outside source, if they change their site - your link will no longer work. Screen readers (and Google) will not see images on your site, but will read the ALT tag. Which is more useful? “Pic of woman” or “Photo of woman entering our shop on Paradise Street”

Too little too soon

Don’t be so eager to have your website on the internet that every page says ‘coming soon’. Customers will just go away, forget about your company and find someone else. It won’t hurt to be patient and wait for a fully functional website. One or two coming soons is OK, but not the majority of your site.

Cross browser and screen resolution compatibility

Image of Internet Explorer Firefox and Safari Browser logosYour website might look great on your PC but what about everyone else. What works in Internet Explorer might well look totally different in Firefox. Different browsers work differently, and apply code differently. You can go too far though. It makes no sense to check every browser, if only a handful of people use a particular browser, it is not cost efficient to make sure your website works on that one. Your website should work on all the most popular browsers.

Microedge websites are tested in the following browsers: Internet Explorer 7.0, 6.0. Firefox 3.0 . 2.0 & Safari 3.2, 3.1. We will happily check other browsers but if support for other browsers is required this needs to be made clear before the start of the project.

Don’t forget about screen resolution. 600×400 screen resolution is still there but not popular like it once was. However, screen size and resolutions do vary, make sure your website doesn’t have those annoying scrollbars across the bottom, with part of the right hand side of your pages missing.

Clean clear design

Don’t feel the need to fill all your page with text and images - don’t be afraid to use white space. It could be the most powerful item on your page!

If you are looking for an accessible website designer please contact Microedge.

Accessibility - JAWS is the screen reader of choice

WebAIM has released initial findings from their recent screen reader survey.

As reported by the Web Standards Project here are some of the main findings

  • The most common screen readers used are JAWS (74%), Window-Eyes (23%), NVDA (8%), and VoiceOver (6%).
  • 75% of screen reader users upgrade to the newest version within one year.
  • 12% of respondents use a screen reader on a mobile phone.
  • 76% of users always or often navigate by headings.
  • 36% never or seldom use text-only versions of web pages.
  • 72% of screen reader users reported that Flash is very or somewhat difficult.
More details and analysis will be made available later, however as few conclusions can be drawn now.
  • there is no typical screen reader user
  • screen reader accessibility is about much more than just whether screen reading software can read a site
  • much more emphasis needs to be placed on the abilities and preferences of screen reader users
It is important to remember that making your website available to a wider audience also improves the ability of Google to read your site. Our accessibility web designer will ensure that your website is available to the widest possible audience including visually impaired or blind website users.

Simpler the better? For ecommerce design and usability.

Is it important to get as much infomation as possible onto your website?
The easy answer is NO!

Why do your customers use the internet instead of the high street - because it is quicker and easier. They do not want to be bombarded with information, banners, ads, polls or sign in areas.
They want to buy their product and go.

Don’t get me wrong - all the information has to be there - customers will not buy from you if all the information regarding the product is not easy to find and easy to understand. It is up to the ecommerce web designer to ensure that it is.

Landing pages

Landing pages can be your homepage or any page that your user lands on from a search engine or link from another website. Do not think you can keep your product pages clean and then put too much information onto your homepage - it doesn’t make it look better, and it will put off potential customers. They want to see what they are looking for, know that it is right for them and be able to buy it easily. 

Is simpler better?

Just take a look at Google’s homepage. All you can see is a logo, and a search box. No banners, ads, nothing flashes or takes your eye away from your purpose. Now take a look at the home pages of Yahoo, AOL, MSN or any other search engine. Who has the simple site? Who is the market leader? When you look at a good simple ecommerce site, this will naturally return the maximum number of purchases.

The news today is telling us that consumers are confused by complexity:
“New phone features ‘baffle users’. Setting up a new mobile phone is no longer child’s play. The complexity of modern mobile phones is leaving users frustrated and angry, research suggests. Some 61% of those interviewed in the UK and US said setting up a new handset is as challenging as moving bank accounts.”  
The same can be said for ecommerce.

Making your site simple.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • Can you use the site without instruction?
  • Can you get to the purpose of the site without hassle?
  • Could a child use the site?

If the answer to any of these is no, the odds are your site needs work.  Get Microedge website designers to review your site. We will write a usability report detailing:

  • Your content - relevance and neccessity
  • Your navigation - useability, accessibility and simplicity
  • What are search engines picking up about your site?

We are also a Search Engine Optimization UK based company and fully understand what search engines are looking for from your website. You may wish to contact us or email to discuss further your requirements.