Locating Links: Enhancing Website Usability
The Internet is what it is because of connections, bridging one computer to a host of others. Because of this we are able to access information at a click of a button.
The things we click are called links, and they can be likened to the synapses of a brain—connecting the user from one document to another.
One of the main tenets of website design is that a page must be able to link to another page. Failure to do so renders the page dead and is a lot like crashing into a brick wall as you speed down the information highway.
That said, website designers, both pro and amateur, make it a point to include links into every single page they design. But it is simply more than just slapping on links anywhere. Links are as vital to a web page as the content on it, for without it, a visitor will be hard pressed to connect to other documents on the Internet.
In any website, there are different kinds of links. There is no hard and fast rule when it comes to laying out links on a web page. But over time, certain conventions have emerged that seem to have become an unspoken standard in design. Deviations certainly will not depreciate a website’s over-all impact, but it may require some amount of time for the visitor to become oriented.
Whether you tend to follow conventions or not, it is best to be acquainted first with the rules, so that you will know what rules to break and how to break them.
But first of all, for the sake of clarification, imagine a website to be like a book. Of course, you know that a book holds several pages. In the case of a website, the pages are called web pages.
A web page basically has two kinds of links: Internal and External.
Internal links are what connect pages of the same website to each other. Going back to our book analogy, an internal link connects a page to another from the same book. So a visitor can access the contact page of a website from the home (or index) page via an internal link.
An external link, on the other hand, connects a web page to another web page from a different website. So an external link is something like a connection between two pages from two separate books.
Over the years, as more and more users and websites are added to the Internet, certain conventions or assumptions about the location of links have been formed.
The most common of which are the internal links on either the top or left margin of a page. Seeing that these two areas are the ones first noticed by a user, designers felt it was natural to place internal links that would connect the pages of the same website together. Because of the nature of its location, links on these sides of the page are prominent and tend to have graphic designs on them.
Another area where internal links are located is at the bottom of the page, usually where the copyright information is placed. However, unlike the top and left margin areas, the links at the bottom are discreet and usually rendered in small fonts (like copyright info). This is done primarily to avoid redundancies in design, while still providing alternate sources of links should the others fail.
External links are usually found in the body of the text or in the right hand margins of the page. No specific rule exists for this, and the conventions arise merely out of common usage.
However, some designers have surmised that the tendency to place external links within the body of the text is done because references to information outside the website should be described or explained, whereas internal links need little to no explanation at all.
Another theory is that the right side feels like the outer part of page. This assumption is built on the observation that reading is done from the left to the right. So the right part of the page indicates the end of a page, thus references outside the website find themselves allocated to this area.
For some reason as more and more text advertisements (such as Google AdSense) proliferate, the location for such external links are designated at the center or the right side of a web page.
And yet, as mentioned before, these are merely conventions and NOT rules set in stone. Designers have all the freedom to layout information and links however they see fit. Deviations from such standard practices simply make the surfing experience for these websites slightly more interesting than the rest. The important thing is that connections are made and everyone can continue to cruise and surf the Web one link to one page at a time.
Learning E-mail Marketing
Sending letters via post was more popularly known as snail mail due to the unbelievable length of time needed to complete the task. However, gone are the days of snail mailing, thanks to the internet revolution. For those who want to have a faster and more efficient communication system there is electronic mail.
The use of e-mail has been taken advantage of both by individuals and businesses. For business establishments, informing a target group of a certain product used to take a lot of time and effort using snail mail. Today, businesses are banking on e-mail marketing to do their communications in a fast and efficient manner.
E-mail marketing or eMarketing is the process of enhancing communications through the use of e-mails. Thus, the use of a computer injunction with an internet connection is vital for e-mail marketing. No more stamps and envelopes and endless waiting times—just a computer and an internet connection.
While eMarketing is not just limited to e-mail, more people are shifting their focus to e-mail. Through e-mail marketing, one can send out product information, newsletters, sales letter advertising, and public relations campaigns. After sales service can also be conducted through the use of e-mail.
E-mail marketing means having an unlimited set of information at the tip of one’s hand. E-mail marketing makes information accessible and useful—from acquiring customers through product information, and keeping them through after sales service. The technology allows the possibility of connecting to various customers, and knowing important information about these customers.
Most business cease to communicate with their customers once they get them to buy or patronize their products. These businesses could not however be blamed because of the workload required to get back to those customers with their records and other pertinent information available. E-mail marketing can take care of these requirements at the click of a mouse. Regular communication is the key to acquiring and keeping clients.
Through the technology offered by e-mail marketing one can keep track of client information like the letters sent to them, their preferences, their last purchase, and their present and future interests.
E-mail marketing allows businesses to customize their e-mails and to program their delivery at specific schedules. It allows you to communicate with your clients with their important records at hand—ready and available at any time.
The popularity of using e-mail as a marketing technique has risen because e-mail is cost effective. It allows one to reach as many clients as possible with the least time and expense. E-mail marketing makes communication fast, and it allows immediate response from clients the moment they receive the e-mail.
However, those who avail themselves of e-mail marketing should make sure that they are sending worthwhile information to their clients and are not pestering them instead. Most clients get turned off from too much e-mail garbage reaching their e-mail addresses that they tend to disregard these emails. To avoid this, make sure that your target recipient will have a use for the materials you are sending them.
Before you use eMarketing—or if you are already using this strategy—make sure that you do not resort to hard selling as this might turn off some clients. Also be on the lookout for the right schedule to send your e-mails. And do not forget to make use of sign-up boxes where the browser can just check his preference.
E-mail addresses of prospective clients may be collected by simply asking site visitors if they want to subscribe to a certain newsletter and having them sign-up for it. Specify the exact information that they want and ask them to check their boxes. This way, you will know their hobbies, interests, and other data that may be useful. You will also be able to increase traffic to your website.
Information that is helpful to your target market will be welcome, and will not be brushed off easily. You can even devise a way in which they can send the newsletter to a friend’s e-mail, thus increasing your e-mail list.
While eMarketing appears to be the crowd favorite at this point, there is no denying that it has just taken off and is still in that stage or boom. The United States has made its mark in eMarketing while Europe is fast catching up.