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Keeping the visitors happy and browsing

For a clock to work, every cog must be in place and meshing correctly with the next cog - otherwise the whole things falls over. And so it is with a web site too. It's no good having a superb look and feel with no content, or good content with no navigation to get to it, or no marketing to bring people to your site in the first place.

Our web site has grown from strength to strength - our weekly stats show that 203 people searched for Python Tuple and got directed to our site as a result in the last 7 days, and 3121 people included the word Java in their searches over the same period. (Those are neither the top phrase, nor the top word, by the way - can you guess what they were?) . But that's only a part of the story - we want people to find the page they reach of interest, and stay on our site and explore other content.

Towards the end of last year, we updated the look, feel, and navigation of our website - something that really needs to be done from time to time as technologies and content changes, and a structure that was great in 2003 isn't going to be quite so great for 2006. The top-right navigation area of that new look is show to the left of this text.

But that's not the whole story - we couldn't do better than make an educated guess in November as to where people were going to be landing, and how they were going to move round the site. So over this weekend, we've picked at our log files and looked at the search terms used by some of our newcomers, how long they've stayed, and where they've gone. That's been very educational, and a gives a much different view to raw log files. As a result of this work, we've made some small but, we believe, significant improvements - you'll see that they're quite subtle from the top-right navigation area as it now looks at the end of the weekend.

What did we learn / change? Amongst other things:

* Few people now arrive through our from page, so we wanted to make it very obvious for them how that could get to the top of the site they had landed on. Have you ever come to a page from a search, but found it hard to find the context in which it was presented?

* We have relabelled our "Navigation off" button to be "Printer Friendly", and added an icon. It's a bit twee, but people know what that means if they want to print our page out. And, yes, our printable page DOES include a full URL every time so that people can find where they got the printout from later!

* The "next font larger" and "next font smaller" are replaced by four specific font sizes, and we've done something similar for colour alternatives. We've replaced the term "My Wellho" with "customise" as we think people will understand that better and actually use it!

* The "contact" section that was in the middle of the menu has been moved to the end - again, that's where people expect to find it. And we've added an "email us" link on that menu. Yes, I KNOW every page has an email link at the bottom anyway - but on balance we felt it was a good idea to have one at the location that most sites do these days.

Want to see if you can spot anything else? There ARE a few other little things too. Start off at our home page and perhaps we'll notice your footprint as we check to see how our changes have effected the site over the next few days.

(written 2006-03-26, updated 2006-06-05)

 
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Web Application Components
Some other Articles
An unhelpful error message from Apache httpd
Dressed up for a phone call
Stopping and restarting Apache httpd cleanly
Web Application Components
Keeping the visitors happy and browsing
The ternary operator in Python
Think about your design even if you don't use full UML
Can some food be TOO different?
Making use of disabled facilities
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This is a page archived from The Horse's Mouth at http://www.wellho.net/horse/ - the diary and writings of Graham Ellis. Every attempt was made to provide current information at the time the page was written, but things do move forward in our business - new software releases, price changes, new techniques. Please check back via our main site for current courses, prices, versions, etc - any mention of a price in "The Horse's Mouth" cannot be taken as an offer to supply at that price.

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