Thursday, 31 May 2007

Should you register an account everywhere online?

My thought today is should you register an account on all the major websites as soon as they start to become useful?

How you tell this is just a matter of listening to what people are talking about or if you see a site you may in some way use. Even if you have no plan to at the time. This is because you need to get in early to be able to get the username and often url that you want. Most people, like me want the same username accross all community sites. This is because you want to remember it but also so that seo and other people can find them. I never want to have the name+random number option but some people like my brother have adopted that style as the default as his name is too common. chrisbailey79 or baileyboy79 allows him to have a year and get his name. My name is not so common so I can get mine mostly but a new problem was recently highlighted to me, i think in boagworld or .net podcast, namly takeovers. Google and yahoo buying companies they take on the user system and add it to their own in a dual manor and sometimes require it too be the same name.

Some people who paid for Flickr accounts then had to create Yahoo accounts if they did not have them, and Yahoo being slightly big can be almost harder than hard to find a real name you can use. Their account would not work if they could not create the account, and this is a service they paid for.

Also a point for the future is if the good services online are run by Google, Yahoo, MSN etc... and the usable names are used up in less than 10 years what will happen if my son wants an account in another 10 years? Two things may happen, more domains, like google and some service providers have, so my username is tristanbailey then because I registered early but other friends have arksports then and we just have this second part as a choice not free entry. It is like namespaces for usernames I guess. Or the systems will have to be broken up into pieces or run a bit like keychains on my Mac, having lots of usernames (probably auto assigned) assigned to one username and password. Both these do not really solve the problem for one website.

I'd be interested in any other ideas, to solve it. I figure I will have to make a system work for a site I work on at some point.

Wednesday, 30 May 2007

Do you need a homepage anymore?

I have being thinking about what the homepage should do for the site now that search is king and most traffic enters 'inside' your site.

Then Chistene mentioned in her post The Content Gets Priority's that Jared Spool had written on UIE Brain Sparks Is Home Page Design Relevant Any More? and I started thinking about it again.

The homepage now is used as a splash page for advertising url responses on off line media. But online I would almost never send anyone to the homepage, out of choice. A user once in the site often only needs to (or should not need to) return to the homepage when they get stuck or do not know where they should go next.

So maybe that is what the page is for guiding the uninitiated or the lost. Not to help people who know but for those who do not. I know form my use of sites that I browse the homepage of a site very quickly to get a picture of the site and see if they tell me if anything has changed or is new. I come up for air after swimming around on the more useful search and reference pages linking the desired content. I know the one thing I want from the homepage, to get off it and find something better, something i am looking for.

So maybe the homepage will drop some of the brand and gain more of the help and deep linking that will get me to the content I am looking for.

Well I can only hope my work can achieve this and see what everyone else does.

How Content Aggregators Change Navigation and Control of Content has a great example of this in two diagrams. Users are no longer using the navigation of the site until after they have first found what they want. The links then must be a call to action after they have found what they want and a trigger to the scent they are looking for if this was not it. Either way, most sites require people to find and understand the interface around them, navigate to the top of it and then back down to anything else they were looking for.

I think this leaves allot of thought out structure for users, actually for search engine to find the pages for the users and then a new set of navigation to move site ways and around the content for users when they have started at the bottom of it.

Back to the navigation drawing board for me, things are evolving.

Saturday, 19 May 2007

Listern to good advice

The other site that all people in the web creation and running business should listen to again and a again is MarketingExperiments.coms the people from this company must be doing some great and well paid work at researching individual element that effect websites. They are also really nice and give back to the people who can not afford to buy into their research by posting their conference calls as audio on the site. These come at the end of a report and are packed with gold dust examples of how changes work and can be tested. You would have to carry the tests out for yourself and learn your own results but you can use the things they have learned. It is a wonderful resource.