Live From Miami: Live Site Reviews!

It takes a lot of guts to have your Website critiqued live in front of hundreds of people. So we won’t identify the folks that volunteered their sites at Internet Retailer’s Web Design conference in Miami last week, but we will pass along some of the experts’ advice on usability and search engine optimization.

  • If your Website has a “visitor counter,” you may want to lose it, said Scott Kincaid, vice president of Usability Sciences Corp. Some sites use this to look bigger than they are, but “it’s a 10-year-old [Internet] convention.”
  • Don’t put your security statements too prominently on your site, Kincaid said. “You’re actually drawing attention to it and making the user think about site security.” These statements are good to have, he noted, “just put them at the bottom so that if customers want to see it they can find it.”
  • On your site’s home page, you don’t need a link to the home page, said Jennifer Bailey, usability services manager for ForeSee Results. Customers that see the link may not be sure that they’re on the home page so they’ll click on it. This is an extra click and it causes the page to reload. “Follow conventions for labeling the functions that display,” she said.
  • When it comes to search, your meta description should compel the click from the search results, said Stephan Spencer, founder/president of SEO company Netconcepts. Words such as “new products” and “free shipping” are compelling; your company’s copyright information is not, he said.
  • Links should be product headlines, not phrases such as “more info” or “click here,” said Spencer, pointing out that the top search results for “click here” is Adobe’s Acrobat Reader download. Anchor text is “super important,” he added, and “must refer to your products and categories or business/industry you’re in.”
  • When you type in a Google query, Spencer said, the tool bar suggestions that come up “is a great place to look up good potential keywords.”