Friday, February 24, 2012

Introduction to Pinterest

What’s the interest in Pinterest?

We’ve all heard of the likes of Facebook and Twitter, but there’s a new young upstart making waves in the Social Media world. But what exactly IS Pinterest?

Based on the premise of a virtual pinboard, Pinterest allows users to build their own image boards, adding in all kinds of media from images to videos, or discussions, and comment on both theirs and other users’ pinboards. Registration is by either invitation from an existing user, or applying for an invite through the website.

It may sound like a bit of a fad, but there’s some impressive statistics to back it up.

Pinterest has actually been around for almost 2 years, but most of that’s been spent in an invitation only beta state. It wasn’t until December 2011 that the site catapulted itself into the top 10 social networks (according to Hitwise) and the tail end of 2011 also led to TechCrunch naming Pinterest the best new start up of 2011.
January 2012 has seen that success continue, and it’s now reported that Pinterest drives more referral traffic to sites then LinkedIn, YouTube and Google+ combined! Last month comScore reported the site had 11.7 million unique visitors, making it the fastest site in history to break the 10 million unique visitor mark. Not only does it boast some impressive numbers, but Pinterest has become a top traffic driver for Retailers.

Not only is it high in the visit numbers, but there are now over 10.4 million registered users. Furthermore, a surprisingly high percentage of them are women. AppData and Facebook’s advertising tools show that just shy of 98% of Pinterests Facebook fans are female. Women between the ages of 25 and 44 make up 59% of Pinterest users. Its a great way to share and build a community of enthusiasts. The pinboards and pinner profiles are found easily and high in the search results.

Pinterest doesn’t shy away from its appeal to women either, on the Pinterest About Us page they describe their pinboards as a method to plan weddings, decorate homes and organise their favourite recipes. Of course, there are a fair few blokes as well, Fiona, here at Rocktime, has an exclusively male following of 'pinners' (each with their own beautiful looking pinboards!) for her own Music pinboard.

Naturally, Pinterest has it's own YouTube Channel, full of useful How To tips and a Twitter feed.
The biggest brand on Pinterest is 'Perfect Palette', with 244,163 Followers, 113 Boards and 6,925 Pins. The success is due to this wedding blog helping visitors to explore and choose the colour theme for an upcoming wedding.

Popular content on Pinterest covers a whole range of areas, from cooking to crafts and skincare to pets. So far it seems to have great appeal through its simple interface and ease of use. These attributes make it a great method of sharing content, your Pinterest content not only shows up on your pinboard, but can integrate straight through to your Facebook feed too; Facebook-connected Pinterest.

When reviewing web analytics, it is likely brands will start to notice new trends in keywords, traffic sources, what is driving traffic and where content is getting shared the most. So, it is well worth factoring Pinterest into an Integrated Digital Strategy.

If you’re interested in finding out how to get your foot in the door and how Social Media can further your business online, why not drop a line to our sales team here at Rocktime.

Author: Alice Cheetham

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Improving your 404 Error Message page

Image credit goes to NetDirekt and their 404 page design.

When a user lands on your 404 pages, it means that something went wrong. Either the user clicked on a broken link, or they may have mistyped your URL. For more information on what exactly a 404 page means, why not take a look at our "What's in a 404 page?".

Whatever the reason, landing on a 404 page is by no means convenient for user, or website owner. While a little humour – “WOOPS try again, click here” could be added to the 404 page, it's important to stress that the main message should be to let the user know that they haven’t reached the end of their journey and to provide useful options/navigation posts to help them find the page they seek.

Rather than just saying, this page can’t be found return to home page, we advise our clients to:
  • Include a simple / apologetic statement.
  • Add a site search box to the 404 page.
  • Add a link to most popular category pages along with a list to the website onsite sitemap.
  • Provide a link to a contact form, so that users can reach out to you directly.
Our favourite usability expert Jakob Nielsen, termed by U.S News and World Report as “the worlds’s leading expert on web usability” states that all error messages must be;
  • Written in plain language that is easy to understand for non-technical users and that does not imply that the mistake is the user's fault
  • precise in specifying exactly what was done wrong (that is, not be generic or vague)
  • constructive in suggesting steps the user can take to correct the problem.
We advise our clients to regularly check their analytics to monitor the amount of times people have seen the 404 pages. If the error page is in your top 20 content pages, then there is a clear problem with your site's design or navigation.

The Flashlight team regularly send each other good looking 404 pages, please check out one of our favourite lists for creative error pages, although these 404 pages ooze creativity, some do lack some of the usability / useful features that Jakob talks about above.

One we particularly like from HootSuite includes the below:
  • Starts with a simple / apologetic statement
  • Explains: why the user has landing on the page
  • Highlights where they could go next
If you think your website could do with some improvements, and not just in terms of 404 pages, why not get in contact with our sales and web development team here at Rocktime.

Author: Aysegul Yigitbasi

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

What's in a 404 page?

If we’re going to establish what makes an effective 404 error page it makes sense to start by explaining what an error page is. Now as error pages aren’t exactly the most exciting of subjects so in the interests of keeping you entertained as well as informed the following may not be exactly how things happened...

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away pixies invented something called the internet. The internet was a magical, wonderful place where people from all over the kingdom could go to do anything their imaginations could conjure up. They could play games, speak with people from across the kingdom and even settle up household utility bills with companies that, thanks to a big sell off of national interests in the eighties, are now essentially foreign owned.

Now as everybody knows pixies are very wise indeed. They had the foresight to realise that, given the fact the internet was a global phenomenon based on a network of millions of computers running over telephone lines and administered by humans, it was inevitable that things would go wrong. So the pixies gathered the wisest wizards from across the land and over a feast of unicorn pizzas and the juice from a magical red bull they came up with a list of standard laws that should be obeyed by everyone in the land. If something was ever to go wrong on the internet a page would be displayed with an error message. In order to help fix the problem these pages would have code numbers which would explain what had gone wrong so that other wizards could fix the problem.

Ok, so it’s not exactly how it happened but it’s close enough.

When your computer accesses a web page it will receive something called a response code. These codes are essentially three digit numbers. If this number begins with a 1 or a 2 then everything is pretty much hunky dory and as such the chances are you’ll never be aware of these responses. Anything beginning with a 3 signifies that the page has moved a 4 suggests client error and a 5 means that there’s a server error. These last three response codes usually result in an error page being displayed.

A 404 error is served up when a file (typically a web page) could not be found, it simply doesn’t exist. This can happen for a number of reasons, the user could have made a mistake typing in the URL, the page may have been deleted or, much as it pains me to admit, occasionally links are coded incorrectly. An un-styled 404 error page can look like this:

Let’s face it, that’s not much use to anyone apart from geeks. However, the user ends up with something like the above; there is very little useful feedback and unless they’re persistent, you’ll end up losing them and their business to one of your competitors.

So what are the alternatives? Well as a bare minimum, the page should look friendlier and feel less like I’m being told off by a teacher. Next up the reasons as to why the page might be being displayed should be in clear English with an informal, non technical tone. There could also be links to the main pages of the website so I only have to click once to get back on track and in an ideal world it should look like the rest of the website so as not to look broken. (People will think twice about parting with cash online if the website doesn’t look fully functional!)

If you think you might need some internet pixies* to help with your online needs, why not get in contact with Rocktime and talk to our sales team about how we can help you expand your online presence.

*Pixies may not be included.

Author: Foz

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Geek Video of the Month

This month’s geek video has taken a bit of a morbid direction, asking the question “What happens to your digital life when you die?” As we invest more time and effort into our online presence, the size of our online footprint grows, but what happens to all that information after we kick the proverbial bucket?

The video infographic above by gives us some insight as to the pure amount of information about ourselves we can leave floating around the internet during our lifetime

Author: Alice Cheetham