Clicks & Notes

31 January 2005

Measuring Conversion Rates

A Day in the Life of a Persuasion Architect - How To Measure Conversion Rates

Every end-goal conversion (Macro-conversion), like a purchase, is composed of Micro-conversion points, like the click-through path in a shopping cart.


  • Overall conversion rate: “Total number of actions considered conversion divided by total number of visits.”
  • Scenario conversion rate: “Total number of visitors starting a specific scenario divided by total number who complete it.” Scenarios can be linear or non-linear.
  • Conversion over time: “Use this for situations where conversion is likely to occur over time or multiple visits.”

(via Digital Web)

⇒ Filed under:  by jen @ 12:22 am

30 January 2005

Web Authoring Links

456 Berea Street - The perils of using XHTML properly

  • serving XHTML using the application/xhtml+xml MIME type leads to complications that don’t occur when you serve it as text/html
  • (via Mezzoblue)

A List Apart - Pocket-Sized Design: Taking Your Website to the Small Screen

  • creating a stylesheet for page display on handheld devices; includes a few tweaks specific to the Opera web browser - Use presentation layer table sorting to achieve a better user experience

  • can be done via client-side, server-side, or combination client- and server-side implementations

Drunk Monkey - Print out HREFs on Links for Print StyleSheet

  • code using DOM works cross-browser and is more flexible than a plain CSS solution
  • (via paranoidfish)

Left Justified - CSS Negotiation and a Sanity Saving Shortcut

  • dealing with cross-browser differences in handling padding and margin, among other things
  • (via Asterisk)
⇒ Filed under:  by jen @ 11:40 pm

Internal Site Links and Search Engine Optimization

SEO Chat - Internal Linking: Thinking Inside The Box

The number of inbound links from external websites only counts for part of a site’s search engine ranking; search engines also examine a site’s internal links. Consider:

  • the site map – a well designed, clearly labelled site map, with related pages/directories grouped into themes, is not only helpful for human readers – search engine spiders will examine it too
  • menus – although most spiders can and will crawl Flash links, HTML links are better (presumably the same applies to JavaScript links?)
  • footer links – keyword-rich anchor links can boost rankings, especially for the ‘Home’ and ‘About Us’ pages – include the company name in the link text
  • link text – wording should alway reflect the theme of the receiving page (again, a basic uability principle for human readers as well)

(via InformIT)

⇒ Filed under:  by jen @ 10:51 pm

Web content management: Top 10 predictions for 2005

New Thinking by Gerry McGovern - Web content management: Top 10 predictions for 2005:

7. - As the attention span shortens, so too will content. It will become more and more difficult to get anyone to read anything over 500 words.

8. - As the need to get people to the right content as quickly as possible increases, the importance of writing quality metadata will grow.

(via InfoDesign)

⇒ Filed under:  by jen @ 10:12 pm

Content Management Systems – Basic Requirements

Robin Good’s Latest News - A CMS For The Web-Enabled Organization: Marqui CMS Review - Part I Requirements:

A part of his review of the Marqui CMS, Robin Good has compiled a series of requirements checklists for selecting a content management system. Aspects covered include the following:

Content Management Requirements:

  • Usability – “The system should not require the study of extensive documentation to understand how to perform basic operations like: creating new content, creating new categories for content, adding images and links, adding new contributors and external authors, validating content awaiting approval for final publication, etc.”
  • Version control & archiving
  • Workflow
  • Security
  • Integration with external systems
  • Reporting

Publishing Requirements:

  • Style sheets
  • Page templates
  • Extensibility – “The CMS should provide enough flexibility and easy-of-use as to make it extremely simple to integrate code “snippets” to provide additional publishing functionalities.”
  • Support for multiple formats – including HTML (Web), PDF, RSS, XML, and text
  • Personalization – “The CMS should provide the ability to customize the type of information presented to different types of users based on user profiles, roles and access rights or even based on specific metadata in the source content.”
  • Usage statistics

Accessibility Requirements:

  • Accessibility – “should be able to conform to one or more accessibility standards such as the W3C Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI)”
  • Cross browser support
  • Support for client-side functionality
  • Speed
  • Valid HTML
  • Effective navigation
  • Metadata – “should conform to a standard such as Dublin Core”
  • Support for multiple languages

Business Requirements:

  • Training
  • Documentation
  • Warranty
  • Maintenance agreements
  • Resources required – any pre-existing hardware or software that the CMS must interface with, or run on, including specific operating systems, databases, web servers
  • Skills required to customize and maintain the system.
  • Scalability
  • Reference sites – a portfolio of successful implementations where the CMS software has been effectively implemented
⇒ Filed under:  by jen @ 12:14 am

29 January 2005

Internet Hazards

Computerworld - Making the Internet Safer For Your Employees:

  • covers firewall settings, email security, and group policies

Wired News - Turning the Tables on Spammers:

Project Honey Pot is a distributed system that catches spammers who collect e-mail addresses from websites without authorization, a practice known as e-mail address harvesting.

Computerworld - Study: More identity theft off-line than online:

72% of the thefts of personal information from scams last year was done off-line

⇒ Filed under:  by jen @ 11:47 pm

Software Notes


  • yearly roundup of the best free software according to the alt.comp.freeware newsgroup

Acrobat Reader Speedup:

  • a free Windows utility that helps shorten the amount of time it takes for Adobe Acrobat to load
  • (via SearchEngineWatch)

Make Firefox Faster:

Warning over Microsoft Word files:

  • sensitive information can be inadvertently leaked due to the way Microsoft Word maintains data in edited files
  • Microsoft has a Remove Hidden Data add-in that can be used to expunge this information

Running open source without dropping Windows:

  • businesses are exploring using open source software such as Mozilla Firefox and Open Office in place of Microsoft applications, while continuing to run the Windows operating system
  • however, “those with complex Microsoft Excel or PowerPoint files probably won’t be able to work with open source alternatives because of file and macro compatibility issues”
  • places to look for open source options for Windows:
  • (via InformIT)

Open Workbench:

⇒ Filed under:  by jen @ 11:37 pm

Strategies For Information Gathering

Asterisk - Strategies For Information Gathering–Your Take

Discussion on ways to gather information as part of the web design process provides several suggestions, including:

  • documenting the top 10 risks to the project and distributing it to the team
  • interviews with stakeholder and staff
  • walkarounds / workplace observation
  • competitive website reviews
  • email surveys (eg. with Zoomerang)
  • sifting through artifacts (eg. marketing collateral)
⇒ Filed under:  by jen @ 10:48 pm

Interview with Kelly Goto

Digital Web Magazine - Interview with Kelly Goto

(Kelly Goto and Emily Cotler recently released the second edition of their book Web ReDesign 2.0: Workflow that Works.)

3 most frequent mistakes that occur in a redesign project:

  • Not hiring someone specifically to deal with content
  • A lack of specific measurable goals
  • Not having a clear brand vision

The “New” Usability:

  • develops around short cycles or rapid testing techniques throughout the development cycle (this part is key)
  • focuses not only on one-on-one but also on many other methods of gathering data and insights
    • contextual inquiry
    • card sorting
    • surveys
    • prototype testing
    • final-assessment testing
  • turns from a company-centered vision to a user-centered vision
⇒ Filed under:  by jen @ 10:37 pm

28 January 2005

Audit Before You Redesign - Audit Before You Redesign

  • audits inventory current strengths and weaknesses, help you to understand where your biggest ROI on a redesign would come from
  • use them to identify problems and suggest high level solutions
  • look at ROI to priorize which solutions to implement

The audit should be both a problem identifier and a mini strategy paper. Whereas a normal development list is based on individual problems, an audit has the advantage of being able to identify symptoms of an overarching problem, then prioritizing the problem as a whole, not just its underlying symptoms.

⇒ Filed under:  by jen @ 12:22 pm

Information Sharing and Knowledge

Two different lists about KM from two different perspectives – useful to look at them side-by-side…

noirExtreme - 5 major dimensions that can characterise information sharing:

  • Individuals —this is about people addressing an audience, talking to each other or reading what others write.
  • Topics —we are interested in specific themes and not others: In am into VoIP and peer-to-peer and not into gardening and pets.
  • Opinions —what it is all about: information, ideas, thoughts expressed, clashing and leading to others.
  • Things —for lack of a better word. Food for thoughts, almost literally: news, articles, events, books, new web sites, new products, etc. Anything one can have an opinion about.
  • Time —the organising principle that makes conversation and evolution possible.


Knowledgeline - Guiding Principles of Knowledge:

  • Knowledge is information in context.
  • Information should be easily shared with and collaborated on by clients
  • Knowledge is: what, how and educational
  • We should learn from our mistakes
  • We should formalize and disseminate the things that work
  • Ease of access and use is part of the value of knowledge
  • Practice group and local/regional boundaries should be removed
  • Knowledge is to share, not to horde for personal use
  • Capture knowledge when it is fresh – know when it is stale
  • Principles should not compromise activity/results
  • Focus should be on supporting the core Business strategies

(via Knowledge Jolt with Jack)

⇒ Filed under:  by jen @ 1:52 am

27 January 2005

How to write summaries for web and intranet pages, and why

Quality Web Content - How to write summaries for web and intranet pages, and why

The first text in most web and intranet pages should be a summary of 1-2 sentences. That’s a good rule of thumb.


  • saves readers time
  • helps the writer focus/clarify thoughts
  • provides useful search results


  • “The executive summary-summary” – encapsulate the entire article in one sentence
  • “The key message-summary” – just get to the point
  • “The description-summary” – describe what the article is about (although, couldn’t the title serve that function just as well?)
  • “The instructions-summary” – tells the user why/when/how the page should be used

(via Column Two)

⇒ Filed under:  by jen @ 7:39 pm

Web Browser News and Notes

Robin Good’s Latest News - Free Fall: Internet Explorer Has Now Lost 30% Of The Browser Market

according to my own traffic statistics based on a sample of over 600,000 visitors from over 180 countries, Internet Explorer controls slightly more than 70% of the browser market, where, just twelve months ago it had over 91% of it - Firefox Advantages

The benefits of tabbed browsing hit home when you create folders of related bookmarks. For instance, on my computer I have a folder of a dozen technology-news bookmarks and another 20 or so bookmarks pointing to political Web sites. A third folder contains 15 or so bookmarks for sites devoted to the World Champion Boston Red Sox. With one click, I can open the entire contents of these folders in tabs, in the same single window, allowing me to survey entire fields of interest.

Computerworld - Business Must Be Cautious With Firefox

Many mission-critical applications have been built on Internet Explorer, and most organizations don’t have the budget or resources to recode them. In addition, PCs’ application loads need to be properly tested to ensure that nothing breaks with the addition of a different browser.

Added 02 February 2005: Computerworld - Readers respond to Firefox column

Michael Gartenberg’s Jan. 24 column ‘Business Must Be Cautious With Firefox’ generated the most reader mail that we’ve seen in a while. Here’s some of what readers had to say…

Wired News - Opera, the Forgotten Browser

Ironically, many of the features that are now favorites among Firefox users first appeared in Opera, such as Multiple Document Interface, known as tabbed browsing in Firefox, and Mouse Gestures, which allow users to control the browser by moving their mouse instead of clicking on icons. Opera can also match Firefox’s boast of enhanced security – that is, better security than what IE supplies.

BBC NEWS - Latest Opera browser gets vocal

The latest version of the net browser can be controlled by voice command and will read pages aloud.

⇒ Filed under:  by jen @ 7:19 pm

Web Analytics and Continual Site Optimization

ECRM Guide - Web Analytics: Time for a Change in 2005

Doing a big site redesign every two years, with minimal content updates between redesigns, no longer makes sense. If you’re really concerned about the site’s performance, consider tuning it, based on overall site goals, throughout the year.

Our most successful clients set aside roughly 10 to 20 percent of their annual Web budget to optimize the site throughout the year. In many cases, staff is divided into groups. Two people on a 10-person Web team focus exclusively on projects to optimize site performance. Optimization work can include improving calls to action, copy, signup or checkout funnels, campaign landing pages, and so on.

⇒ Filed under:  by jen @ 12:35 am

26 January 2005

Behavioral Marketing 101: Defining the Terminology - Behavioral Marketing 101: Defining the Terminology

Behavioral marketing targets consumers based on their behavior on Web sites, rather than purely by the content of pages they visit. Behavioral marketers target consumers by serving ads to predefined segments or categories. These are built with data compiled from clickstream data and IP information.

Contextual marketing is when marketers target users with ads that are served based on a given Web page’s content. Ads bought through Google’s AdSense or Overture’s Content Match are a great example. Both place text ads on contextually relevant Web pages.

⇒ Filed under:  by jen @ 11:56 pm

Blogs, Wikis, Project Management, and Internal Commnunications

Cutting Through - 10 ways to use blogs for managing projects:

  1. Communicating with project stakeholders
  2. Replacing paper
  3. Building issue logs
  4. Capturing information snippets
  5. Publicising the project progress
  6. Reducing email overload
  7. Capturing requirements
  8. Circulating screenshots
  9. Keeping team members up-to-date
  10. Provide an automatic audit trail

Cutting Through - Four ways to use wikis for project management:

  1. Planning meeting agendas
  2. Real-time minute taking
  3. Brainstorming presentations
  4. Keep documents up-to-date

See also Enhancing Internal Communications with Blogs, Wikis, and More (presentation by Nick Finck, Mary Hodder, and Biz Stone) for specific examples of how blogs and wikis can be used in organizations.

⇒ Filed under:  by jen @ 11:08 pm

A-Z Indexes to Enhance Site Searching

Digital Web Magazine - A-Z Indexes to Enhance Site Searching:

  • using an internal search engine to find information on a site often produces poor results; however, you can customize a search engine to search metatags based on keywords that you create for each page
  • A-Z indexes provide an easy, browsable way to search a site; readers are familiar with them from using such indexes in books
  • A-Z indexes work best with “medium-sized Web sites or intranets of between 30 to 300 pages", where pages are not constantly changing
  • you can either hire a profesional to create an index for you, or do it yourself; there are some automated tools that can assist in index creation
⇒ Filed under:  by jen @ 4:06 pm

Thinking Differently About Site Mapping and Navigation

Asterisk - Thinking Differently About Site Mapping and Navigation:

I’m really questioning the traditional “home down” way a site map is presented and how that hierarchical visualization (and often times the groupings themselves) drives our design, content and navigation. The concept of “home” is a valid one, although the idea that it’s first, or “at the top” isn’t really accurate in many cases. It make more sense to visualize it at the center, as kind of a “hub”.

Alternatives to a “traditional” site map and navigation include:

  • proper meta data (particularly labels and page titles) for search relevancy
  • related item grouping and linking
  • Indexes
  • links within content
  • faceted classification and corresponding navigation
  • folksonomies
  • personalized taxonomies
  • a homepage that acts less like a landing page and more like an information hub (or site map - oh the irony)
⇒ Filed under:  by jen @ 3:53 pm

Navigation blindness

GUUUI - Navigation blindness:

Two of the world’s most well-respected usability experts Jakob Nielsen and Mark Hurst agree on at least one area: Users tend to ignore navigation and don’t care where they are in a site structure. They are highly goal-driven and follow a very simple click-link-or-hit-back-button strategy when navigating websites.

To compensate:

  • Use trigger words and phrases in links that direct a user towards the next step in their goal
  • Use the “seducible moment” – the moment after which a user has achieved their goal and as immediately receptive to having their attention diverted elswhere – as the point in which to introduce links that encourage the user to explore the rest of the site
⇒ Filed under:  by jen @ 3:47 pm

Blog setup notes

A few notes about the setup of this blog:

  • I’m using WordPress as my blogging engine. It has a reputation for being very easy to set up, and it’s true – you really can have a functional blog up and running in as little as five minutes. Customizing and configuring it, of course, takes a bit longer…
  • One of those customizations was putting together a new web stylesheet (the default one that’s supplied with WordPress isn’t particularly attractive). I started off with this alternative stylesheet and modified it to produce my own look.
  • I’m using the WPBlacklist plugin to help fight off comment spam.
  • The RSS feeds are being optimized with Feedburner for maximum compatibility with various newsreaders.

Fortunately, none of this was too difficult to set up. However, there’s always room for improvement, and you’ll likely see a few more tweaks implemented over time.

⇒ Filed under:  by jen @ 11:34 am


Hello, and welcome to my new blog.

One of the hazards of pursuing work that is information- and technology-centric is that there is always information about one’s work being produced that one likes to keep on top of. New developments in the field, new insights or observations, or just plain good advice about dealing with old problems.

Clicks & Notes is an attempt to capture some of what I’ve been reading online.

⇒ Filed under:  by jen @ 11:00 am

© Jennifer Vetterli, 2005