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Get your "plus one" now!

30th August 2011
Categories: google+

Google +1 is the latest social media tool from google, a direct translation of the Facebook 'like' button that has become so prolific. It allows users to mark a page as being, in the words of Google, “pretty cool”.

So why should you care? After all it is just another 'like' button. Well, aside from the obvious benefits to your exposure there are other factors that will help to increase it even more:

Google have stated that their search ranking calculations will include the +1's of friends (assuming you are signed in)

Google search results will list all of your friends that have +1'd a page (and what better recommendation can you get than that of a friend)

If none of your friends have +1'd a page, or you are not signed in, the search results will display an aggregate of the number of people that have +1'd that page.

Aside from the search engine optimisation (SEO) implications (which in my opinion are tempting enough) there's more. Google have included a callback that tells your website whenever someone +1's or un-+1's a page. This allows for anything from a simple display of thanks to a complete change of the user experience. It is important to note though that Google are fairly strict about how you can use this information. To quote the google policy page “Publishers should not promote prizes, monies, or monetary equivalents in exchange for +1 Button clicks.”, although they do allow you to 'unlock' content for users that have +1'd a page you will need to be careful that this isn't interpreted as a monetary equivalent (for instance if you charge users to download a document but allow it for free to people who have +1'd you, this could be taken as a monetary equivalent). You could also use this to catch whenever someone removes a +1 and display a simple text box, giving them the chance to explain what put them off and what could be done to improve the page.

If you do decide to use it then it is recommended that the +1 button is displayed in a prominent, logical place (next to the page title, above the fold, with all your other social buttons). An alternative option, that you could use in conjunction with the above, is to put a button at the start and end of every article. Google also recommend putting a button on your homepage to get brand endorsement (i.e. Fred +1'd www.mysite.com carries a bit more weight for your site as a whole than Fred +1'd www.mysite.com/products/a-category/my-super-product).

Google +1 also supports the “canonical” relationship declaration. This is a tag that can be included in a webpage to notify end users that this page is just an alternative version of another page and should be treated as such. This means that if you use canonical URLs then all your +1's will be aggregated into the defining URL for that content to prevent your +1's being spread over different formats.

Google +1 is more than just “another sharing tool”, it is also a search tailoring tool and, in my opinion, exemplifies the aims of the social-network-sharing idea with it's ability to influence your search results based on your friends opinions. I would say that for any website looking for more exposure, whether your a shop or an association, this is one of the must have share buttons.

Danny

the rules of web design

26th August 2011

It's August, and while some of our staff are away on holiday enjoying the sun, here in Oxford the rain is cold and the sky is grey.  This is not what we expected in August.  And so, despite the fact that in Oxford in particular and the UK in general, this type of weather is very common, it makes people unhappy.

It's true of web design too - if you don't get what you expected, no matter what it is, it devalues the experience of using the website.

So is there a set of rules for web design?  

Unfortunately not.  Since the web began, the practices employed by web designers has changed constantly, leading to easier and happier user experiences.  This does not, however, mean that web designers should make up new paradigms every time.

Take navigation, for instance.  There are web designers who create blocks of colour without labels, for the user to discover what's behind them by mousing over or clicking them.  This may look good, but on a site where the user wants to get somewhere, quick, you want to put up readable navigation in a place they expect.  And you need it on every page.

At Oxford Web, we know design

Our team at Oxford Web have four decades of combined experience designing websites - not as pretty pictures (that too) but as living, breathing, working extensions of our customers' businesses, fulfilling a purpose, which usually means increasing the income of our customers. Everyone in our team has expertise in an aspect of web design.  Oxford Web fosters an atmosphere of sharing ideas and working together.

Want to know more?  Get in touch.

#webpredictions - debate about the future web

16th August 2011

Our technology pundits have gathered, the conference has begin, and we're discussing how the web might evolve over the next 10 years.  The debate is lively and the outcomes are interesting....

Social media

- I'd like to see convergence.  It's all about isolated platforms at the moment, isn't it?  Like operating systems used to be.
- Yes but operating systems still are a polarising force.
- Not in the same way though; you used to be able to do nothing without installing some platform-specific software.  Now the web browser has become a huge leveller.
- So what's the leveller with social media?
- Don't know, but it seems to me a bit weird that you can't keep in touch with your facebook friends from Google+ and vice versa.  What about a common protocol that unites your groups of friends?  A bit like circles in Google+
- OK, I look forward to it.

User interface

- Websites are getting boring and I don't see that trend changing. 
- In the sense that users expect them to work in certain ways, yes, but remember that happened with operating systems, phones, tablets, and almost every technology with a user interface.  If we continually redesign the interface or make it difficult to switch between devices, users become less pleased with the result, and less effective.  But at the same time the user interfaces on websites are getting more sophisticated, in saving your work, looking things up as you type, and so on.
- I see that more as the icing on the cake.  I don't see a paradigm shift.
- While web designers have to employ tricks to do this nowadays, I see the browser as providing more native support for those use interface elements.
- Yes, that would certainly help with accessibility.  You could fill a list for someone who's turned off javascript because of accessibility problems, and it would still work for them.
- Nice.

Security

- The most fundamental problem with computer security is users trusting in communications or sites when they shouldn't.  Surely users are more savvy now?
- Yes but hackers become more savvy too.  I think browsers have a role to play in keeping up to date with their techniques and warning you if you're going somewhere dangerous - like Chrome does a bit.
- It seems like the more sophisticated browsers become, though, the more exploits they seem to have.  Can browsers be simpler and work better at the same time?
- Or they could give you a little tutorial in computer security when they're first installed.
- That can't be the answer; people would just ignore it.
- Maybe they need to work more hand-in-hand with the operating system to get it right.  

Mobile

- More and more users are accessing websites on the move
- Is that certain websites like google maps or everything?
- We don't have info on that, but every website should take steps to improve their mobile offering; it's difficult to predict if your customers are going to be checking you out from their phone. 
- Are mobile devices going to get bigger?
- I doubt that the smaller devices will disappear, but I don't think watch-sized devices will ever take off; they're so limited.  I do think that small devices will increasingly dock with bigger ones or make use of projection to incorporate bigger screens.

Join the debate by using the hashtag #webpredictions !

1st January 1970
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