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News and advice from the Oxford Web team, February 2013
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What's coming in 2013?

Maybe it's just me, but do you feel like this year we're having a massive surge of new gadgets and other fancy tech? 

Just this month we've had leaks about the iWatch, the launch of Google glass, and the new Playstation.  We're expecting a new Xbox to be launched by the end of the year; 3d printing is coming in in leaps and bounds, as is touchscreen technology and the update of tablets and other devices.

So what are our predictions for 2013?

We've put our heads together and have some predictions for you:

  1. Google glass will lead to the rise in popularity of the QR code. If you have ever wondered what QR codes are for, you're not alone, and take-up hasn't been enormous.  They are a kind of 2d barcode which helps computers understand the world around them.  With Google glass on your face, adverts and other material with QR codes will come to life!  The problem may be the inevitable advertising.  Your glasses won't be a submissive servant; they will probably start firing ads at you every time they scan a QR code, and so Google need to think hard about usability (see below).
  2. We'll control more with the power of thought and hand gestures.  This article about electronic tattoos  suggests that technology is becoming available which will allow us to control drones, computers and devices with the power of thought or gesture, in effect acquiring telekenesis via a tattoo.  And hand-control over computer applications is on the rise, with more than one company competing for market share.  Minority report, anyone?
  3. We'll order and receive physical products over the internet.  With the rise of 3D printing, internet delivery is no longer the domain of books and music.  What about plastic toys, geometry sets, desk accessories, even car parts?  All of these things will as a result become cheaper and more accessible.   All of which means we won't need to go out so much, which may of course be a bad thing...
Usability analysis - find the bottlenecks on your website

When web people talk about usability, a lot of people believe that it means endless arguing over small tweaks in web page style.  It would be clearer, perhaps, to call it "bottleneck removal".

What happens in usability analysis is that real people are tasked with various jobs relating to using your website ("find out what they do"; "use the contact form"; "buy a product") and are observed (and not helped) as they carry out these jobs.  

Inevitably, on a website that hasn't undergone this process, bottlenecks are found when we run a usability test (whether it's a question of not finding something, mistaking one thing for something else - a very common bottleneck, or just getting fed up with a process to the point of giving up on the website).

Once bottlenecks are found (and usually the important ones are found more than once even in a sample of five people) it's a simple thing to remove them. So in this case, knowing the problem is a large part of solving it. At this stage we get our software developers to work, and hey presto - your website starts working better!

Two top SEO tips

Friendly URLS. Google pays attention to many (but not all) characteristics of your web page, when trying to decide to which topics it's relevant.  The body content of the page is the most important factor, but pay attention to the URL too: a page called /articles/?id=98789023 tells search engines a lot less than /cheese-tasting-in-aylesbury!

Link text. When you link to your page about cheese tasting, pay attention to the text of the link.  This is the text people see, rather than the link itself - or in the case of an image link, the "alt" text.  Instead of just naming your website, again it's important to use words which are highly relevant to the web page content - for example instead of making your link: smith's cheeses, make it: Try out our Wensleydale cheese at our Aylesbury shop.  

And finally..

What's been keeping us busy?

http://www.ecco-shoes.co.uk - a redesign for an existing customer

http://www.greenlivingenergy.co.uk - new website for Green Living Energy

http://holywellpress.co.uk - new website for Holywell Design and Print

But also.. 

Please join us in welcoming our new team members.

Publishing evolves.

More futurology.

Latest "Website that Grew" installment.


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