What’s in a domain name?

Google claims that the domain name is a minor factor in search engine rankings, but I have found it to be a tad more important than they suggest. They first started saying domain names didn’t matter in 2010 at a conference in New York City, and I foolishly believed them.

The weight of the factor depends on the number of competitors, and in local SEO, you can use every advantage.

Having a keyword in your domain name helps for two reasons:

  1. Branding
  2. SEO

In most cases, I would only add a keyword to your domain if it is either short, or your domain name isn’t available for your brand name. I would also add a keyword only if it is related to the majority of your business.

In the case of Caravela, I recommend that they add “Communications” the domain name. They do copywriting, web design, and market research, but all under the umbrella of communications. Nobody really searches for a communications company, but using “copywriting” would have been too narrow.

Go Web Go SEO had areal simple solution. Include “SEO” in the URL.

In addition to the domain name, you will have to choose a domain extension. I always recommend .com in 90% of the use cases. Non-profits should use .org.

Before you buy a domain, check WHOIS to make sure it is available. Once you find a name and an extension you like, ask yourself “Would you click on it?” if you saw this site in the SERPs.

Dropdown menus are for good boyes

Good boyes” are popular on the Internet. We Americans are crazy about dogs.

We had lots of good boyes roaming our college campus: Rocky, Tucker, Tahoe, Buddy, and of course, Caesar. Dogs of all sizes, big small. Purebreds and mutts. Lots of labs.

Dropdown menu navigation on websites hit the web hard and heavy in the mid naughts. They were born from the experience users had with <select> elements in forms.

This year the OUC team at Brown righted a wrong, and brought back to the new Brown University homepage.

Usability experts believed dropdowns offered users too many choices in the navigation. Research indicates 5-7 menu options are ideal. Web designers abandoned dropdowns for simpler navigations. I believe the reintroduction of dropdown menu to mobile device design really cemented easability of use for users.

I have witnessed a frantic return of dropdown menus to web sites. Of the 200+ Analytics accounts I have access to, I have seen a consistent trend. Adding a dropdown nav increases pageviews, time on site, and conversion rates. Users are able to find what they are looking for sooner.

So the good boyes are happy to return to the good old days of dropdown menus. The good boyes are looking good in their designer dog bandanas sitting on their dog bed while Mom and Dad watch the final season of Orange is the New Black.

Usability and Bee Removal

Sometimes honeybees live where they don’t belong. It’s not their fault, they just look for an empty space with shelter, and fill it. Usually, they are found inside hollow trees or around tree branches, but sometimes they make their way inside walls.

Last spring, at the University of Rhode Island, there was noticeable honeybee activity outside one of the main entrances to Quinn Hall.

URI facilities management immediately called Debug Pest Control of Rhode Island. Bill from Debug arrived and confirmed the honeybee hive was active.  His first task was to convince URI to allow him to remove the hive humanely and save the honeybees. There’s a few ways to do this.

Cut opening in door frame

Cut opening in door frame

The first attempt, was to cut open a hole in the woodwork, to slightly expose the hive, and to scare them to fly off and leave. Would the bees notice this? 2 weeks later, the bees were still there. This is like having a small “contact us” link in the footer of your site: nobody noticed it.

The beekeeper

The next step? Call in the beekeeper. Jeff Mello is the person to call in Rhode Island. He assumed the bees were pushed down lower in the door frame to keep warm due to the colder-than-usual weather last spring. After some careful facade removal, he found a big hive with fresh honeycomb.

A few hours later, and the bees and honeycomb were collected. These bees were placed in a hive alongside his other honey bees in Tiverton.

The lesson here: Sometimes bees and users need to told where to go.

Displaying Teasers of People in Academia

We have been assigned the task of quickly revamping the college’s primary people page.

Designing teasers/views of people in the University setting can be challenging:

  • Long last names
  • Really long job titles (especially at Brown)
  • Inconsistent photograph sizes and cropping (usually)

To create a successful flexible design, you will need to design mockups using the longest content and largest elements from the content you are given.

In the college’s case, we need to play with first names that are 12 characters long, last names that are 12 characters long, and job titles that are 166 characters and spaces. Yikes!

Here is what the client proposed:

Screenshot of faculty with overlayed text

Proposed comp from Dean’s office.


  • Overlaying text on top of photos and responsive design doesn’t work that well.
  • Names don’t look like links.
  • Not really browsable if I know the name I am looking for, and there is a long list. This particular list is 20-30 people deep.

Given these parameters, here are the three ideas we proposed.

4 people designed baseball card style

Option A

Option B

Two wide and short layouts

Option C

Client choose “Option B”. We agreed that it was the strongest choice.

Ramblings on User Experience Translated to University Websites

For starters, web design is a process of theorizing, planning, and creating a collection of digital files that define the outline, colors, text styles, organization, images, and use of interactive tools that will convey information to your site guests. On the other hand, a website or simply a site refers to the documents that are accessible via the internet. A web page is a screen that appears when you type a web address or a link.

You possibly have heard of the benefits of consumer inclusion when designing web products meant for user experience, consumer centricity, social strategy, and customer involvement, but all in all, they stand for one thing; customer experience call it what you like, it’s all the same thing. Regardless of the business slogan, I can assure you that you have to sit over a complete demonstration, read a research paper or even a blog that talks about User Experience (UX) if you want to understand it.

When hundreds of thousands of learners probe through the website every year searching for an excellent university, how do you present yours to ensure that they choose it ?Being the first haven of call for many potential students, how do you ensure that your website uniquely stands out given that there are hundred of perfect sites students can pick? How do you launch a website that will gain tremendous public attention? An incredible design, with dynamic interactive features, is the way to go. Giving it a precise brand personality, user-friendliness and clear messaging not forgetting the services and products will ensure that it hits the target profoundly.

Employ the idea of content flow

During the initial phases of the website, it is essential to take into consideration the concept of flow. Crafting this flow encompasses the application of visual design, content and navigation tools that aid the website user in information searching and retrieval. You should ensure that the site’s content is consistent yet motivating, easy to understand, amusing to read and attract the reader’s full devotion. First, create main pages and sub-pages with the visual flow as the content’s flow as it will give the site a touch of seamlessness and flow( the situation in which an individual becomes fully and positively immersed in a particular action to a point they lose track of time) in its goals. If a user can feel the flow, they will deeply explore the new and relevant website and are more than likely to give in to it as it tends to fulfill their ultimate objectives.

Give the site a sense of human touch

It is essential to keep in mind that human touch is the key to designing an interactive and eye-catchy website. A user will react more confidently to those websites whose taste and designs are with a sense of human touch when they are browsing. The key to developing the site with a sense of human touch lies on the idea of being as straightforward as probable with both the structure and the content. It also depends on humorous the connotations set off. Having this kind of flow will initiate positive user reaction toward your site users build trust with a website and eventually the corporation and persons that work for the company. When they receive all the information, they are looking for in an inspiring and resourceful way as it gives them a feeling that they are interacting with another person interestingly. Having a human touch in the presentation initiates a positive user response in a less- confusing yet friendly manner

Put the needs of the user first

The main aim of the website is to serve all adequately. How do you ensure that the site is all inclusive yet not too extensive? Positioning yourself in your guest’s shoes is significant in certifying that your website accomplishes its determinations meeting users needs.Most Institutional websites are usually multi-managed and extensive that the information seeker has a hard time choosing on what to concentrate. While marketing the university bear in mind that several universities have the same thing in place and readers have got several options to choose. Too much unnecessary information will yawn your visitor, but on the other hand, little information won’t meet your guest’s needs. Marketing and promotion are about getting the client to love the business just the way UX is about getting the university to like the customer. Therefore, you got to work not just hard but smart to get the attention of the viewers.

Don’t be about fashion, concentrate on style and uniqueness

While some business slogans and trends will always come and go, the idea of user understanding may change. With the vast intensification of digital content, the development of websites that suit the growing user expectations is the major concentration of most companies now, most specifically the higher education sector. The content is always overflowing across with different capabilities especially on research areas and professional sponsors.With the desire of Satisfying the unending information needs of large users, your website is not just an opening to your institution; it is the organization, the filing breakfront, the information outlook, the library, and the workshop that tells more abut the university. Your should design your website in a way that it can take care of a potential student with the academic program data they are looking for, a lecturer with their course notes, a recent student with a timetable and a parent details of tuition fees — all at the same time. It, therefore, has to be everything to everyone.

Create a considerate user experience

With thousands of websites with a million variation out there, it won’t take a user very long to get what they are looking for, if and only if your site is user-friendly and all inclusive. It is important to deliver all the information on one page and after one click (the use of links is an added advantage). It is to create a feeling on users that they are adequately informed is what matters – intelligent UX design. The website should also be detailed to cater for uninformed individuals. The best example is a guest to your site who wants to study a degree in business administration may not be aware of the more particular courses within that field such as human management, procurement and business administration. It is, therefore, your duty to make sure they get a comprehensive view of what is available to them.

Arrivals and Departures road signs at T.F. Green airport.

Arriving and Departing an Airport: It’s All Relative

Driving to the airport is rarely a pleasant experience. Sometimes you are running late, nervous about of flying, or lost in the endless loops of terminals and ramps.

Most American airports (based upon my personal sample size of 12) have a similar traffic philosophy:

Arrivals and Departures road signs at T.F. Green Airport.

Arrivals and Departures road signs at T.F. Green Airport in Warwick, RI.

  • Direct access from highway exit
  • Endless loops of access to terminals
  • Separate visitors who are dropping off vs. picking up

Once a driver exits the highway, they are usually presented with their first choice: Take a ramp for arrivals or one for departures.

Who does arriving/departing refer to? The driver? The traveler(s) in the car? The traveler(s) in the airport?

I don’t know.

When I drive to T.F. Green Airport in Warwick, I especially don’t know.

A little help please?

Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) does it right.

LAX signs with plane icons.

LAX signs with plane icons.

With an addition of plane icons, the options are clear.