8 tips for the perfect title tag

What is a title tag?

The title tag determines the name of a web page. Title tags are mostly visible in Google and in the browser.

The page title Google shows is a page’s title tag. The same goes for Bing.

Your title tag = page title in Google

The title tag appears in the browser title bar and the browser tabs. When you add a page to your favorites or when you share a page via social media, the title tag is what apppears as the page title.

Your title tag = page title in browser

Is the title tag important?

You bet it is. The title tag is one of the most important things to get right if you want to do well in Google. It’s not the only thing but if you neglect your title tags you’re making it very hard on yourself.

8 tips for the perfect title tag

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Webdesign process: is the customer king?

Is the customer king?

You’re probably thinking that should be a statement instead of a question. Well… yes, the customer is king. And no, he isn’t really.

One of the main reasons a lot of websites fail to deliver is because they’re made according to the specifications of the company that ordered it. Don’t get me wrong. It’s good for a web builder or usability expert to find out what the customer wants. But it’s not enough.

We tell most of our customers at the start of a usability project that it doesn’t really matter all that much what they think or want.

What we think doesn’t matter that much either.

It’s not your customer’s opinion that counts, it’s his customers’ opinion

You don’t make a company’s website for that company. You make it for that company’s customers.

Their needs and expectations are what matters. A website can only be truly successful if it caters to the needs of its visitors, not to the needs of its owners or makers.

Finding out what visitors want is crucial if you want to base your functional analysis and information architecture on facts rather than feelings.

Companies know their customers

Yeah, right.

How can you find out what your customer's customers want?

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Product overview: do’s and don’ts

Product comparison: a must-have

If you’re offering 2 or more similar products or services, people should be able to compare them easily.

It’s the vendor’s job to help people pick the product that suits their needs best. That’s what people expect, offline as well as online.

We’ve written about this before in ‘4 product comparison best practices’.


Hide the differences

A typical problem in product comparisons is that differences between products aren’t immediately apparent.

First Choice Power is a good example of a site that doesn’t tell people what the difference is between products but makes them look for it.

What’s the difference between Simply Better Price Plan 24 and Simply Better Price Plan? The description is pretty much identical.

On closer inspection I can tell the first one’s a 24 month plan and the other one’s a 12 month plan. They both promise a ‘guaranteed low price’. Is it the same price for the 24 month plan as for the 12 month plan? I have no idea.

More examples of do's and don'ts

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Use pictures to direct the user’s gaze

You can influence where people look

Photographers know that the eye gaze direction of the person in a picture dictates the eye gaze direction of the person who’s looking at the picture. It’s in just about every book on photography ever published.

What does this mean for your website?

If you use pictures of people on your website, make sure they’re looking at something you want your visitors to look at as well.

Pictures of people looking straight into the camera bounce the viewer’s gaze right back. Sure, they draw people’s attention. But that in itself really doesn’t do anything for you, does it? Unless of course you prefer people to look at the pictures on your site rather than the ‘Buy now’ button. If that’s how you roll, be my guest.

3 examples to convince you

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10 most popular usability articles in 2009

These 10 articles were the most popluar ones over the past year. It’s a good mix of what we try to write on this blog: serious articles and less serious stuff, facts as well as meandering thoughts, good tips and bad examples. Thanks for reading them!

  1. Page fold: myth or reality
    A hot topic if ever there was one. Is the page fold a myth? Do or don’t people scroll? Everything you’ve always wanted to know about the page fold and page length.
  2. Stop the presses – we’ve got a new website!
    Don’t bore people with messages about your new website. It’s not just inappropriate, it could cost you customers.
  3. Screen resolution statistics and tips
    Which screen resolutions do people in Belgium use to surf the web? And what does that mean for your website’s layout?
  4. 48% of visitors on e-commerce websites don’t buy due to lack of usability
    iPerceptions’ research shows that 48% of the people on e-commerce websites doesn’t buy due to lack of usability. Even worse: 38,5% of the people who visit a website with the intention to buy, don’t succeed in doing so.
  5. 13 quotes that show the customer isn’t ready for a good website
    Sometimes a client says something that makes it clear to us usability professionals that they are simply not ready for a good website. 13 quotes that make our blood boil. Also read a lot: 14 quotes and explanations
  6. User-friendly error messages: 7 tips
    A lot of websites make usability mistakes on their form pages. And that costs visitors. On a form page that’s extra painful because if you lose a visitor there, you loose a very valuable visitor. A visitor who’s willing to make the effort to get in touch with you or perhaps even to order something. 7 tips for user-friendly error messages.
  7. 11 tips to turn your visitors into customers
    My colleague Karl Gilis’s presentation with 11 tips to turn your website visitors into customers. Lots of eye-opening examples. Warning: you may not always like what you see. But it is the truth.
  8. Google Maps: cases from travel websites
    Google Maps is great. But only if you use it well. People seem to put stuff on Google Maps pretty much without thinking about it. We show some good and bad examples from travel websites.
  9. Gender error
    According to Citroën I’m suffering from a ‘gender error’. Should I panic? Wear more make-up maybe? Stuff some of those silicon chicken cutlets down my bra? None of the above. It seems I simply forgot to tell them whether I am a MR, MISS or MRS. Phew.
  10. Browser statistics
    Which browsers and operating systems do people use to surf your website in Belgium? Is Firefox catching up with Internet Explorer? Is Chrome as popular with housewives as it is with geeks? And what about the Mac guys and girls? Are they going to take over the world at last?
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4 product comparison best practices

Everybody compares

Everybody who shops on the web compares. They don’t just compare products from different vendors, but also different products from the same vendor.

This comparison behaviour goes for visitors of both b2c and b2b websites.

Allow users to compare

Comparing is a top task so make sure it’s easy to do on your website.

If you make it hard to compare your products, there’s a good chance your website visitors will not become customers.

What do your visitors expect?

  • Main characteristics of the product or service on the product page, pereferably as a bulleted list.
  • An overview of the similarities and differences of comparable products on 1 page. It’s really annoying if you have to get out pen and paper to write down product characteristics and then look for the differences between the products.

What do you need in order to compare?

  • Clearly differentiated products or services. If you’re not sure what the difference is between product A and B, how is your customer supposed to know?
  • If you want to compare products in a meaningful way, you need to know what the deciding factors are for your customers. Seems easy, right? Wrong. In about half of the projects we do, the company doesn’t know what their customers deciding criteria are.

What if you don’t meet these criteria?

  • Make sure you do!

The choice is simple: adapt or lose customers.

4 product comparison best practices, with screenshots

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Google by marketing managers

Earlier we wrote on this blog that Google is a classic example of focusing on your top tasks.

This is what Google would look like if the average web manager, marketing manager, advertising guru or CEO had a say in it. (Granted, it’d look more polished and glitzy but the content wouldn’t differ so much.)

How did we come to this conclusion? Crank up your speakers and watch the 3 minute video with commentary by my lovely colleague Karl Gilis. You’ll never look at your own homepage the same way again…

Credit where credit is due

All the credit for this example goes to Gerry McGovern who shows a similar version in his seminars.

If you haven’t already, subscribe to Gerry McGovern’s weekly newsletter. You’ll love it.

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Homepage focus: Google

We’ve said it before and we’re saying it again. Identify your visitors’ top tasks and build your website around them.

What do you use Google for?

Ask 100 people this question and I guarantee you that at least 99 answers will contain the word ‘search’.

A small group of people will also talk about things like Gmail and Google Maps.

An even smaller group will talk about Google Adwords, AdSense, Analytics etc. The stuff that only web professionals really know about.

Top task: search

Because search is the absolute top task people visit Google for, the new Google homepage focuses on it for the full 100%.

Is it a good idea to make your website that easy?

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Choose images carefully

Question: what does this company sell?

What does this company sell?

Possible answers

  • Couches
  • Couches and chairs
  • Anything you can park your behind in ™
  • Furniture in general
  • HR publications

Click to find out the answer

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Usability and copywriting article roundup

Interesting articles

Read on for some great quotes and a handy email tool

Read more articles about , Read elsewhere.