Net Shift Media is a strong advocate of an open, compatible Internet. That means you should be able to browse and experience any web site without limitation based on your web browser, operating system, and installed plugins. Once upon a time, web sites used to ask you what web browser you were using, and then sent you to one of many versions of the site depending on what browser you were using. Fortunately, this is a thing of the past, but it is still quite prevalent for some web sites to work better with certain web browsers than others, and not work correctly at all with other browsers.
With the Internet becoming a more central component of people's daily lives we must ensure that users from all over the world can experience your web site the way we intend them to. Your web site must be accessible to users with temporary and/or permanent physical disabilities, novice computer users who may not be as skilled navigating the Internet or familiar with common conventions of browsing the web, and users with less capable browsers like mobile phones and PDAs.
Web Site Development and Usability Philosophy
- Content is the most important aspect of your web site. We don't just focus on the design and add fluff for content. The design's role is to grab users attention, but your site's content is what will convert users and really engage them to contact you.
- Clean, simple, and professional. Your web site should be easy for users to navigate and find what they're looking for. We won't clutter it up with unnecessary – but pretty – shapes and colours, or make it difficult for anyone to navigate, even your grandmother, unless she's one of those grandmas on Facebook, because then she can probably teach us a thing or two.
- Users should be able to access your web site no matter what operating system they have: Linux, Mac, or Windows.
- Users should be able to access your web site no matter what browser they use: Internet Explorer, Firefox, Opera, Safari, Chrome or any other.
- Web sites should degrade gracefully in less capable, or dated browsers such as cell phones, or older versions of web browsers, and should not rely on third-party plugins or applets.
- Web pages should have clear, easy to understand URIs or addresses i.e.: netshiftmedia.com/services or netshiftmedia.com/services/web-site-design. They shouldn't require confusing abbreviations or extensions like netshiftmedia.com?pg=services&id=23. Think about how you would verbally tell someone how to get to a specific page on your site. Imagine talking to someone on the phone and telling them to go to yourdomain.com/services or yourdomain.com/content.php?p=234. It's pretty clear what is more intuitive.
- Users should be able to have an engaging user experience whether they have dial-up or broadband Internet connection. We won't require users to download large media files to view your site, and any large media will be optimized to reduce the time it takes to load. Also, by separating the content and presentation layers of your web site, your web site will load faster making it easier for your visitors to navigate it.
- In the event a plugin is required, alternative content has to be provided if the user doesn't have the required plugin installed. This includes flash content such as flash banners, movies, and intros, but also audio/visual elements such as podcasts and video.
- Pages should load quickly to keep the users attention. You won't see any unnecessary loading screens on your web site, and we won't force large amounts of stats to be tracked upon entering your web site to slow it down.
- Skip Intro. Flash should be used subtly, in moderation, and not in a way that overwhelms your visitor with too much motion, and unnecessary design. There's a reason web sites always have a "skip intro" link on their home page.
Internet Marketing Philosophy
We also subscribe to a number of online marketing philosophies. A side effect of these principles is that your web site will also work very well with search engines. Search engines have a limited ability to traverse your web site and are blocked by things like forms, plugins such as flash, and poor usability and accessibility design – adhering to these rules will ensure that search engines can view every page on your site and understand what they're about, providing more direct traffic, and potential customers, from search engines.
- Web sites should be built for users first, but also work equally as well with search engines.
- We will strictly avoid any tactics that may be potentially harmful to your rankings or penalize you with search engines. This includes keyword spamming, shady link building strategies or partnerships, and other "black hat" tactics that are known to be frowned upon by search engines, even if they do provide an immediate and short boost in rankings. Eventually you will get caught and you will be penalized hard. We've worked with some clients who have suffered from this, and it can make our efforts exponentially more difficult than it has to be.
- Site content should be written for your site visitor in the first-person, not in the third-person. Each visitor is a one-on-one relationship with you, so communicate that way.
- Domains should be named appropriately for your business. Don't make up an acronym for your site when your full name is available. It's easy to remember a long domain name if it makes sense, and getting visitors to try to remember a rarely-used acronym to describe your company is just going to earn you 4 people a day to your web site. Do not add inc, ltd, or corp on the end of your domain name. While variations of your domain name should always be registered to protect yourself, your primary domain should always be the what most users would assume your domain name is.
- Follow search engine guidelines. Always monitor and adhere to Google's webmaster guidelines. Google wants your web site to be user-friendly, and wants to make it easier to index and rank your site for your keywords. They're goal is to provide the most relevant search results to their searchers, so they want to work with you to understand your web site and what you're about.