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.
Joint Ventures: How to Write an Irresistible Proposal
A joint venture is a partnership undertaken between two or more businesses for mutual gain. To have a joint venture partner you have to seek out website businesses that are related to the products or services that you are selling. Finding one is the easy part, the hard part comes next. How do you convince them to have a joint venture? You first have to write proposals. Joint venture proposals are a formal way of saying to your partner “Let’s make a deal and be partners.” Joint venture proposals are far more successful in obtaining partners if they are brief and to the point. Remember that you are dealing with people that are the same as you are. A ten-page proposal will simply not cut-it. It can become boring for the reader to read all the corporate jargon that is is not easy to understand, and subsequently, they will reject your proposal.
The first thing you have to remember to write in your proposal is the most common question of a potential partner. Whether they are an article publisher, a competing business owner, or even a CEO of some huge corporation, they will usually ask in various ways, “What’s in it for me?” They will often ask and wonder how your proposed joint venture will benefit them and their company. Remember that people like to sieze advantage, so explaining to them the benefits for them and their company a joint venture can give is very important in gaining their partnership. Explain each benefit in detail, yet still in simple terms, to get their attention. It is very important that the benefits you offer them are accurate and also highly beneficial to their clients. Explain to them that it is very lucrative for your potential partners to have joint ventures. If you are an experienced negotiator, you will know that giving them what they want to hear is best. And also keep in mind that it is not always about the money.
Now that you have an idea on how to write a proposal, it is the time on how to write you proposal so that it gets the attention of your potential partner and does not turned down. Research about your potential partner; determine what their specifics needs are for their business. Look at their websites and look for their company mission or goal. This will reveal what your potential partner wants in a joint venture. Make an offer they cannot refuse. The key again here is research. Try to find out what they want. Also, make it appear like they will get more profit out of it than you will. You will have to make it look like they gain all the advantages while you are only asking for a few reasonable things. This will help you in the long run, for instance; if your partner has many clients, it is possible that some of them may buy from your website, and that you may also get free targeted internet traffic. Make the proposal as easy to read as possible. Getting that illusive “yes” can be very easy if you keep your proposal brief and to the point. Remember, always include in your proposals their benefits. This is because many people are naturally lazy readers; they do not want to read technical terms that may seem complicated and hard to understand. Tell them in your proposal, formally, that they are sitting on a gold mine. Make your proposals personal. Relate to your potential partner as much as possible and avoid impersonal proposals. Impersonal proposals will only get one look from a potential partner before it is thrown away. Try to relate to your potential partners by giving them the same goals or missions as their company that you would like to achieve. If you really want to make an impression, send the proposal by hard copy through “snail mail”. It can look very professional and more attractive this way.
Build a relationship with your potential partner. Most businesses will only do business with you if they know you well enough to trust you. Try to relate to your potential partners through your proposal. In your proposal, add a sense of urgency, there is no use having to wait a long time just for them to say no. However, write it in a discreet way, do not point out to them that you are in a hurry. It could lead them to think that you are overbearing, deceptive and unrealistic.