Useless overview pages at deSingel

Although research shows that users spend 80% of their time above the page fold, a lot of websites don’t really take that into account.

The overview pages on the website of Antwerp art campus deSingel give the user an overview of, well, not very much. Except for a truly huge page title (if you’ve ever seen a bigger one, please let me know) there’s not a lot to see really.

Ah, but there’s a tiny link ‘Topical exhibitons’ just visible above the page fold! Yes, there is. Go ahead and click it. Nothing happens.

If you want to see the current architecture exhibitions, you’re going to have to scroll down.

Now there’s nothing wrong with scrolling, but on a page like this the current exhibition(s) should at least be partly visible above the page fold.

Why use up all that space for one creatively hyphenated word?

Thank you, Jan Seurinck for pointing this one out.

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Extremely advanced search

Finding the right holiday home isn’t easy.

And the advanced search feature on doesn’t make it any easier.

Then again, maybe it’s handy if you’re looking for a lakeside cottage in the mountains with a private swimming pool and sauna. Around the corner from an 18 hole golf course.


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Navigation versus search

Is good navigation important?

A client recently asked me: “Navigation, isn’t that a bit old hat? I mean, this is the time of Google. Doesn’t everybody just search?”

No, they don’t. Good navigation and good links are vital for the success of a website. A search feature is an added bonus, sure. But if you have one, it has to be as good as Google or even better.

Less than 5% uses the search feature

Google might be insanely popular but that doesn’t mean the search feature on your website is too.

On the contrary.

When we do visitor behaviour analysis (read: Google Analytics) we often see that the search feature is rarely used by more than 5% of a site’s total number of visitors. On our blogs the number of searchers is even lower: around 1,5%. On the website of a Flemish province we’re working for it’s just below 5%.

What else do we know about search?

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The people at Lego are slightly paranoid…

At, people with perfectly innocent names like Massimo or Laetitia are considered perverts.

As soon as your chosen user name contains certain, shall we say ‘improper’, letter combinations Lego delicately points this out to you. And then forces you to choose a different user name.

It’s good to be careful. Just don’t be too careful.

And ahem, Lego… if you’re really that worried about your squeaky clean image, maybe you should pick a figure with a less suggestively crooked smile. Just sayin’.

Many thanks to Anthony Bosschem of Youreca, who put us on to this beauty.

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12 tips for the perfect description tag

After reading ‘Description tag: what is it and why is it so important?’ you know what a description tag is and why it matters so much.

But how do you write a good description tag? These 12 tips should point you in the right direction.

1. Use no more than 155 characters

Google shows only the first 160 characters of the description tag. After that, it simply adds an ellipsis (…). If you want to play it safe, don’t use more than 155 characters. Don’t forget: spaces and punctuation marks count as characters too.

Description tag: broken off after 160 characters

2. Use keywords you want to score with for that page

Google only shows the description tag if there’s a sufficiently strong content relation between the description tag, the user’s query and the content of the page.

If you want Google to show your description tag, be sure to include the page’s keyword(s) in it.

10 more tips to write the perfect description tag

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This route is not available at the moment

Route planner Mappy had a strange message for me last week.

What do you mean, this route is not available?
Has the road gone missing?
Was it destroyed by an earthquake?
A tsunami?
Has it been temporarily moved to a parallell universe?

Related articles

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Description tag: what is it and why is it so important?

What is a description tag ?

The description tag is a piece of html code that’s meant to give a short – you guessed it – description of a web page. The description tag is at the top of the page in the <HEAD>section of the code.

In code, a description tag looks like this:

<meta name="description" content="Short, riveting description of your web page." />

Not visible on your web page

The description tag of a web page is not visible on the page itself. That’s why a lot of companies don’t pay it much attention.

Google shows the description tag

Google likes the description tag. If a web page has a description tag, Google shows it, provided these 2 conditions are met:

  • Semantic similarity between the description tag and the content of the web page
  • Significant similarity between the user’s search query and the content of the description tag

Example 1
Google shows the description tag if it contains the user's query

I looked for ‘title tag’. Google shows the page’s description tag because it contains my query ‘title tag’.

Example 2
If the description tag doesn't contain the user's query, Google shows sentences on the page that do

I looked for ‘page title’. Because the description tag does not contain my query, Google doesn’t show it. Instead, Google shows a sentence fragment on the page that does contain the query.

Some more answers to frequently asked questions about the description tag

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Experts don’t know everything, not even usability experts

Do experts know everything?

10 years ago I thought so. More specifically: I thought I knew everything.

Surely my usability expertise, my deep knowledge of information architecture would be enough to find and solve all the usability issues on every possible website?

Without research you can never truly know your users

10 years of user testing have made me a bit more modest. Okay, a lot more modest. Expert knowledge alone is not enough.

Does that mean I’m not a good usability expert? Hell no. I think I know more about web usability and information architecture than anyone else in Belgium. (Non-Belgian readers, please suppress that giggle.) Actually, that’s a lie: Els knows more about it than I do. See, I told you I was modest.

And still, despite all of our combined expertise, we often say things like ‘That depends’, ‘We’ll have to ask your customers that’ or ‘We’ll have to test that’.

Why is expertise not enough when it comes to usability?

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CMSs don’t manage websites – people do

Creating content is fun

The great thing about a content management system (CMS) is that it makes it really easy to create and publish content on your website.

So that’s what most webmasters and editors do: they create and publish content like there’s no tomorrow.

Cause it’s fun. And it’s what they’re being paid to do.

They’re often judged on the amount of content they produce. The number of pages and articles they put online. A nice and easy box to tick during the annual evaluation talk.

Managing content is boring

If you’re responsible for the quality of your company’s website, your main task should not be publishing new content. You should be managing and improving the content you’ve already got.

It’s less fun than creating new content. But it’s vital if you want to have a website that works.

It’s like Gerry McGovern says: “You’re not being paid to have fun. You’re being paid to run a good website.”

6 essential questions and tasks for a content manager

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4 examples of clumsy title tags

A little while ago, we talked about 8 tips for the perfect title tag.

Which provides us with a good excuse to also show you some examples of what not to do.

1. The root of all evil

Title tag: Roots

2. Must remember to enter title tag. Very important!

Title tag: insert title

The final homapge and more

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