Skip to content


  1. Website Usability and Persona Presentation Posted in Website Usability, Concocted by Mike Perk May 10, 2008 1 comment
    medamedia2.jpg

    website

    This week I had the privilege of speaking at the Mega Media Expo 2008 at the CTICC. I promised I would post the slide show from my web usability presentation. So feel free to download the pdf version: Website Usability and Conversion of Traffic Document (approx. 5Mb in size). Read Further

  2. Getting to know WordPress – Adding/Updating Content Posted in Website Design, Website Usability, Concocted by Ettienne Mostert April 12, 2008

    You were introduced to WordPress in my previous post (Getting to know WordPress – The Basics) as a content management system and bloggin’ tool deluxe. This week I will introduce you to some of the features and show you how to add and manage your content. Read Further

  3. Getting to know WordPress – The Basics Posted in Website Design, Website Usability, Concocted by Ettienne Mostert April 4, 2008

    Many of you already have your own blogs running on the open source, read “free”, platform WordPress, currently the best choice for a blog application. WordPress offers a rich set of blog features and has a massive supporting community. This usually means that software is well maintained and won’t disappear or run dry a few months down the line. If you are interested in finding out more about WordPress and its benefits, please contact the chefs. Read Further

  4. The top South African websites Posted in Website Design, Website Usability, Concocted by Mike Perk March 22, 2008 43 comments

    We all know that link building is a vital element in your search engine optimisation strategy. But we should also know that not all links are created equal.

    If Google really values the site linking to you, it is likely to generate more link juice for your site. Read Further

  5. What do we do to stop plagiarism on the net? Posted in Digital Strategy, Website Design, Website Usability, Concocted by Fred Roed November 12, 2007

    I wrote an article on Ideate a while back about originality, and how it was impossible to create something truly original. This is a semantic argument, and your conclusion will differ depending on your interpretation of the word ‘original’. Read Further

  6. Checking Browser Compatibility Posted in Website Design, Website Usability, Concocted by Fred Roed November 5, 2007

    When I opened my del.icio.us account many moons ago, I was tagging everything I found like a kid with a new toy. One of the first sites I bookmarked never really lived up to my expectations and I haven’t re-visited it for years. However I stumbled upon it again this morning and

    Read Further

  7. Rocking Flash Sites Posted in Website Design, Website Usability, Concocted by Fred Roed October 31, 2007

    Flash is a bit of a flashpoint in the web industry. There are those that believe that it should be done away with altogether, and those that advocate it over everything else. Sort of like religion, it engenders extreme
    views and not much in between. Read Further

  8. Understanding behaviour Posted in Website Usability, Concocted by Mike Perk October 22, 2007 3 comments

    I’ve been working quite a bit with the Omniture web analytics tool lately and although it is very very powerful, I also find it extremely frustrating at times. I’m sure this can be said of any tool you feel that you don’t know 100%. You always compare it to what you know best and my comfort zone lies with Google Analytics. But I know other analysts who swear by Click Track, Omniture and even Stats-Counter, purely because they feel comfortable with it. So should one step out of their comfort zone? Read Further

  9. Web marketing and usability Posted in Digital Strategy, Website Usability, Concocted by Mike Perk October 9, 2007

    Once again, Smashing Magazine have come up with a winner. This latest article is all about usability, and outlines things to watch out for when creating a website. Read Further

  10. Cross-browser compatibility Posted in Website Design, Website Usability, Concocted by Fred Roed October 2, 2007 1 comment

    As a web marketing company, World Wide Creative focuses a lot on the actual design and usability of the websites we’re marketing. One of our biggest headaches is cross-browser compatibility – arrgh. This means making the dammmm thing work in Internet Explorer 6 and 7, as well as Firefox (our browser of choice – download it here) and all the rest. Read Further

  11. Shaun Paul Posted in Digital Strategy, Website Design, Website Usability, Concocted by Mike Perk September 4, 2007

    The new guys (Shaun & Paul) in the studio have been doing some great work recently. Nothing like seeing a team develop. It brings a tear to the eye.

    This one goes out to you fellas…

  12. Usability or Design? Posted in Website Design, Website Usability, Concocted by Mike Perk August 16, 2007 1 comment

    Obviously the answer is a combination of both, and this is a highly fought over and debated topic.

    How can you approach a company with a poorly designed site and tell them they need a new website, when you know they are getting very low bounce rates and they have a very profitable website? This is a lot harder to do than approaching someone who has a beautiful site but is not converting any traffic.

    The Trust factor is an important element of the design. If I come across an old looking website, even if it is very easy to use, I am hesitant to enter my personal details when purchasing.

    Just this week I was browsing the web and came across the Cape Town Lodge Hotel website http://www.capetownlodge.co.za/. Whenever I drive pass this hotel I always think wow, that looks like a trendy vibrant place to stay. So I was very shocked when I saw their website. I expected my impressions of the hotel to be reflected in the look and feel of their website.

    Lodgehomepage

    However, I cannot complain about the usability. On every page the navigation is clear and actionable, and all information that you would require is on the site. The only thing I noticed was once you leave the home page you can not get back there which is a shame as the homepage has all the pictures of the hotel on.

    Lodgepg

    Once again the dilemma has appeared, If this website is profitable for them (because of the usability) why would they want to change the site?

    At World Wide Creative we take the approach of a site storm before any website is designed and built. The whole team comes together and ensures the design will reflect the brand and marketing objectives as well as compliment the usability of the website. I believe we have some of the best website designers and web marketing experts in South Africa and with this combination we do not even have to choose between usability or design? (Shameless self promotion, I know)

    - Nicola

  13. Telephone number on your Website Posted in Website Design, Website Usability, Concocted by Mike Perk August 16, 2007 1 comment

    I always come from the theory that a telephone number should be visible on every page of you website (unless your business strategy doesn’t involve people contacting you:-)

    A web norm is to have the number on the top right hand corner of the site, and it makes me glow whenever I see one there.

    By having a telephone number clearly visible I know without thinking how to make contact. On a website that requires a process (for example an e-commerce purchasing system or online banking process), the telephone number should be visible in case a visitor encounters errors or does not know what to do next. If this occurs on an e-commerce site, the visitor is more than likely not to continue. A telephone number could be the way out.

    The other day I was on one of our banking sites where we process all our Debit Orders each month. After logging in and trying to process the order I came across a problem and I needed to change some settings. I had no idea how to do this, so I searched for contact details, only to find I had to log out to get to the contact page. Once a visitor has logged in all access to contact details are lost. This frustrated me greatly, although banking sites are lucky because it is too much hassle for us to try and change to a new bank.

    -Nicola

  14. Going the extra mile Posted in Heavy Chef News, Website Design, Website Usability, Concocted by Mike Perk August 7, 2007

    Due to the time and effort that was taken to change the Spier site as a result of my comments last month, I thought a whole new post, rather than a passing comment was required to say thank you.

    As observed from the comments and debate that took place it appears my post was only skim read by most, however not Spier. They have been very progressive dealing with the issue raised, which only affects 2% of their visitors. It is this type of effort that will distinguish their brand and customer service from the rest.

    As an appreciation to Spier we would like to offer them an invitation to attend our next Heavy Chef Session at no cost. The session will be taking place at the World Wide Creative studio on the last Wednesday in August (29th).

    - Nicola

  15. Website horror story Posted in Digital Strategy, Website Usability, Concocted by Mike Perk August 1, 2007 1 comment

    Check out this article in Business Week Online. It’s about a well-intentioned company being suckered by an evil web designer who registered their domains in his name, and then made off without satisfactorily completing their sites. To date, the company is stuck with two websites that cannot be updated and paints a poor reflection of their business.

    I found this story quite disturbing, especially since I’ve actually met a designer who operates like this. The argument is whether the designer or design team should be allowed to register the domain names under their ownership.

    At World Wide Creative, we made two critical decisions a few years back:

    • There would be no contractual agreement over an extended period. Should a client, for whatever reason, want to leave, they could do so.
    • Our clients own the domains.

    I cannot understand what makes someone want to lock an unhappy client into a contract. Imagine a restauranteur having guests and then locking them in the restaurant after they complained.  Surely, if the relationship goes sour for any reason you’d want to let them leave, if they chose to?

  16. This week at World Wide Creative Posted in Digital Strategy, Website Design, Website Usability, Concocted by Mike Perk July 9, 2007

    This week is a busy one for the team. These are exciting times for us, and we are looking for some new talent to join the team at World Wide Creative. We are currently looking for the following positions:

    Studio Manager: must have experience managing a creative studio.
    Client Service / Sales: must have experience in an agency environment, must have marketing background.

    Projects this week:

    • We begin the design and development of the website for a new hotel group being launched here in South Africa.
    • Our team has nabbed the account for one of the country’s top golf estates (more to follow). We will be responsible for the design and development of the estate’s website, intranet and communication systems.
  17. Freelancer’s worst nightmare Posted in Website Design, Website Usability, Concocted by Mike Perk July 3, 2007

    Paul points me to this website, with which he felt a certain kinship. World Wide Creative regularly uses freelancers to assist in projects (Paul used to be one before we employed him), and I laughed when I read this. It could have been me talking…

    Ff6_revisions

    Click here to see more of these.

    - Fred

  18. Great Usability Posted in Website Usability, Concocted by Mike Perk June 29, 2007 2 comments

    Allurecollection

    As a member of the World Wide Creative team, I have finally been allowed to post on the Heavy Chef blog. Although I have been given strict guidelines and my comments will be closely monitored as I am told I can be very outspoken.

    Within the World Wide Creative Team I help analyse clients websites from a usability perspective, and I am known for finding usability issues on all sites and being quite harsh in my remarks. So to prove the team wrong, for my first post I am going to share with you a site that I was testing the other week. I have to say this has been the only site I have ever looked at and found no problems.

    The site is a villa rentals agency www.allurecollection.co.za specialising in luxury villas within South Africa.

    One of my first tasks in starting a usability test is to answer the follow questions as if I was a new visitor to the site:
    1.    Have I come to the right site?
    2.    What do I do now? Where do I go?

    You have 5 seconds to answer these questions before a visitor will leave the site. I feel this is a little long, but they do say for women you must only allow 3 seconds. Within seconds on the above site I know this is a property site, and to start searching I should click on the properties link on the left or the search facility on the right. (We have found in various group usability tests that people search in different ways, and it is great that there are multiple ways on this site).

    As I delve deeper into this site the more I love it I know where to go, the information is all visible and easy to find, and at any time I have options easily available to me to contact the company.

    - Nicola (World Wide Creative)

  19. The Unknown Factor Posted in Website Design, Website Usability, Concocted by Mike Perk June 21, 2007 1 comment

    When I was back in the UK last week I had to present a Web Marketing Strategy to one of World Wide Creative’s clients: Credit Control Solutions (or CCS as we say in the studio). We have recently refreshed the design of the site, as well as revised the content (see screenshot below).

    Ccs

    When we put together a strategy we look for possibilities that exist for improving the site’s position in the natural search results. The competitiveness of CCS’ services online meant that not a lot of opportunity existed other than focusing on specific locations.

    The interesting thing during our research was that despite having zero positioning in the results, there was good historical data about the site. Five years ago when the old site was originally built it did reasonably well. However, in the last three years it hasn’t gained any search engine traffic and hasn’t produced any enquiries.

    Knowing that Google places a lot of value in the history of a domain, I was interested to see if Google would remember the fact that the site once performed well and: if good content was added and a few SEO tweaks made, would it respond? I mentioned this at the presentation suggesting we hold fire on certain aspects of the strategy until we could gauge this "unknown factor".

    The result of the news site have been amazing. This is the email we received from Credit Control Solutions this morning:

    "WOW. ! !

    I’ve just done a search in Google for "selective debtor coveage" and guess who came up first – credit control solutions of course. I’ve also just searched "outsourced credit control" and CCS now appears at the top of the second page. I’ve also searched "outsourced credit control kent" and we appeared towards the bottom of page 1? How can this be? This is phenomenal!!!

    Later in the day we got this one through:

    "What is going on??? I just typed in "Credit Control" in Google and limited it to UK only, and we came out on Page 2. Whatever you’ve done keep doing it.

    I’ve had 3 enquiries in the last week. That is 2 more enquires than I’ve had in the last 2 years. I am astounded, amazed and very excited about what the future holds"

    So what has happened? I like to call this the "unknown factor". We know that Google can react well if the site has good history and the right things are put in place from a content and SEO basis. But I must admit, even i wasn’t  expecting a result like this. It shows that Google will remember a site from at least a couple of years ago and still be willing to give it a chance if pushed.

    - Perky

  20. New websites from World Wide Creative Posted in Website Design, Website Usability, Concocted by Mike Perk June 19, 2007

    We are very proud to announce some new sites going live.

    AV Direct
    First up is AV Direct, a fantastic audio-visual company that we have been working with for the past 12 weeks on their revised web presence. Click here to view the site.

    Av_direct

    Vladimir Tretchikoff
    This iconic Russian artist who sadly passed away last year has sold more prints of his work than any other artist in history. World Wide Creative was proud to be picked to create the website in praise of the great man. Click here to view the site (live on 1 July).

    Vladimir

    Exciting News
    World Wide Creative won the 4 way tender to design and build the Cape Nature website. The site has over 18000 regular visitors, and is being heavily touted on a Cape-based radio advertising campaign.

  21. Why is Browser Compatibility and Standards Compliancy important? Posted in Website Design, Website Usability, Concocted by Mike Perk June 19, 2007 2 comments

    Recently, weve had a few issues with Browser Compatibility (when a website is not consistent on different browsers). Its been a trying time for us.

    One of World Wide Creative’s stated aims this year was to get better at creating standards compliant websites. Why? I hear you ask. Whats the point in doing something nobody really cares about outside of the techie community?

    The problem with trying to create these sites, employing fancy techniques like tableless CSS, is that browsers interpret them differently. Its hard to get it right first time everytime, so often we have to spend a few days fixing glitches once the site is live on our server.

    Im a salesman, and part of my job at World Wide Creative is to present the final site designs once they are up and live. I can say without prejudice that there are few things worse than presenting a site on a clients PC or Mac, and tadaa the site is all broken up. Considering that they have just paid a whack of money to see their beloved company being launch on a world wide stage, it is not surprising that clients can get annoyed when the final product is not 100% in the first presentation.

    As a vital step in building websites, we check all the sites across all popular browsers to ensure that they look consistent on all of them.

    However, issues arise when I arrive at the clients office we move over to the secretarys desk (because she will be maintaining the site). The secretary is using a 5 year old PC with IE5 on it, and the monitor is set at 800 pixels wide, and the text is enlarged.

    I exaggerate, because the glitches are not as bad as I make them out to be, but I am acutely aware of even the little things (since its my job). For example, Ill be presenting and then all of a sudden the main navigation bar across the page will shift up a notch. A background image will slide down and then I start to sweat bullets. The client hasnt even noticed, but Im sitting there, crazily clicking away at the mouse red-faced and stammering and slurring like a drunk Scandinavian welfare case.

    Im telling you, for me, theres nothing worse.

    So, anyway, tonight, I made myself a cup of tea and started to browse the web. Im looking for the low-down on other peoples experience with browser issues.

    And hey presto! I find out that this is a challenge faced by web designers and developers the world over. There are dozens of sites and blogs, authored both by developers and web-users, which complain about the same issues at World Wide Creative face.

    I even found a couple of large consumer sites that had issues (check out a screenshot of the Sanlam site below, as seen in IE7). Hey, even the really big guys have issues

    Sanlam

    It is with a wry sense of ennui that I also realise that World Wide Creative could solve all this by going back to the old conservative route and creating sites in tables, no Java and no CSS. This will allow for little fancy stuff, but at least we can be sure the site will just work.

    So why is Browser Compatibility and Standards Compliancy important?

    • Standards Compliancy means better search results
    • Table-less CSS when done right means a faster and better experience for the site visitor
    • When the site is built right, problems and errors at a later stage become easier and faster to fix
    • Changes are a cinch, especially when the whole site uses style-sheets.
    • Standards Compliancy is going become a legal requirement in many countries (this means creating sites that cater for people with disabilities).
    • Browser Compatibility means you dont lose potential customers. (Check out this story about Delta.com not working on Macs Safari browser.)

    To conclude: we’re sticking to our guns. We aim to be up there with the best in terms of building sites, and tackling these issues are part of the process. I reckon they’ll probably only get worse as browsers tweak and change their features and functionalities.

    It’s a good thing I love my job.

    - Fred

  22. Tips on writing content for your website Posted in Digital Strategy, Website Usability, Concocted by Mike Perk June 8, 2007

    Here are some tips on updating your site. Please dont hesitate to contact us should you need further advice.

    Home
    The home page is also known as an Index page. In the same way that people would look at the Index in a book to find content within the book, visitors to the site look to the home page to find content within your website.

    The home page should have some focus points that make it obvious where you would like your visitor to go. The first paragraph should state concisely what it is that you do. Should they wish to read further about how great your company is, they should click through to the About page. 

    Then, either in blocks that highlight the focus points, or in additional paragraphs, you should state where it is that the visitor can find the most value (e.g. View our Products or Contact Us)

    About
    This is a more detailed description of what youre all about. This is your chance to wax lyrical about how great your achievements are, and how many awards youve won, and how you got that MBA from Cradock University.

    Products
    This should be a simple, super-functional (and easy to navigate) area showcasing your products. If you have many products, then you should categorise the products into relevant sections. If you have only a few products, then one page should suffice.

    Photo Gallery
    Youd be surprised at how many people visit your photo gallery or portfolio. This is a credibility builder, as we say in the industry. Along with your testimonials, this area needs some attention to make it as good as it can be.

    Services
    This is a helpful guide that will let the visitor know that youre not a one-trick-pony. Ohhh, so he also builds whatsits! said the customer perusing your site. This area should be straightforward and as devoid of long reams of text. It is to give your customer a quick overview of your offerings. If you feel it necessary that detail is required, then create sub-categories where you can write some well-worded essays on the pros and cons of your service suite.

    Contact Us
    Often the most neglected area in a site, this is what 90% of your referred customers are looking for. Dont forget to put in the important details. This is also a good place to cross-reference service offerings (e.g. Central Desk: 021 123456; Specialised Whatsit-Building Support Desk: 021 123457). A map is a great feature to have here if you have a destination business.

    News
    One piece of advice: If youre not going to update the news section, dont have one at all! Theres nothing worse that old news.

    - Fred

  23. The Website Triangle Posted in Digital Strategy, Website Design, Website Usability, Concocted by Mike Perk May 9, 2007 2 comments

    I am working with one of our outsourced programmers at the moment and we are trying to put together a budget for a project we are quoting on. He said something that really resonated with me: “The client needs to choose any two points of the triangle”. The points of the triangle being:

    1) Quality

    2) Cheap

    3) Speed

    I’m sure for you avid book readers this is probably old news, but I hadn’t heard it before so thought I would share it with you.

    - Perky

  24. 25 Reasons You Might Be A Hardcore Graphic/Web Designer Posted in Website Design, Website Usability, Concocted by Mike Perk April 19, 2007 1 comment

    Thanks to Paul, our awesome designer at World Wide Creative, for this list.
    (In no particular order)

    1. You’ve almost rear-ended the car in front of you because you were analyzing a font on a billboard.

    2. You get pissed when a free Photoshop brush you download is less than 1000px in size.

    3. You’d rather study the paisley pattern on your boyfriend/girlfriend’s shirt than listen to what he/she has to say.

    4. You can use keyboard shortcuts at light speed, blindfolded, but you can’t type a paragraph of text without staring at the keyboard.

    5. You’ve had "Software Nightmares," when you’ve been working way too much.

    6. You consider meals interruptions.

    7. You’ve learned your lesson and stopped using the word "final" in any file name when saving.

    8. You clean your keyboard more often than you wash your car.

    9. You’ve intentionally given up trying to explain your projects to non-designers.

    10. You see CMYK and RGB like Neo sees the Matrix.

    11. You’d rather organize your desktop than your sock drawer.

    12. When you heard that Adobe was acquiring Macromedia, you had a Design Orgasm.

    13. When you look at Album art all you see are grunge Photoshop Brushes. (Then you see the album art a couple minutes later)

    14. You’ve Photoshopped out a watermark for a comp or mock-up.

    15. You’ve actually $paid for a font.

    16. You’ve totally slaughtered a great design concept because the client thinks he/she knows best. (everyone thinks they are a designer)

    17. The amount of words you’ve written with a sharpie labeling burned discs total more than the amount of words you’ve read in novels.

    18. You’ve had to explain to a client that a layered file wasn’t part of the deal.

    19. You’ve kept a ragged concert ticket just so you could scan it.

    20. You’ve nicknamed the OSX spinning wheel. (and not affectionately)

    21. You bookmark a resource more often than you have a fun night out on the town.

    22. You’ve intentionally overbid a project because you can sniff out a bad client from a mile away.

    23. You can’t go to a restaurant without secretly critiquing the menu design.

    24. You have an amazingly huge font collection, and an amazingly short temper.

    25. If you had a penny for every mouse click, you would have been a trillionaire 3 years ago.

  25. New websites from World Wide Creative Posted in Website Design, Website Usability, Concocted by Mike Perk April 15, 2007

    We’ve been busy lately at the WWC studio.  In addition to all the moving and new members, we recently won the contract to redesign the Cape Nature website and we’ve gained a host of great new clients. We’re proud of the design and development work we’re doing now as well. Check out these two new sites recently gone up:

    Beautiful Bug: Want something for the wife? Look no further than this luxury lingerie site featuring the best and most affordable underwear in the United Kingdom.

    Beautifulbug

    Friday Island: a lifestyle and conference venue up the West Coast of Africa – perfect for those who want to test out some adrenaline-charged activities.

    Friday_island