We're closing focus on content and website optimization this week with a few pieces from the expert pool. Read on for coverage of optimization myths, what it really takes to promote findability, and, as always, an attempt at demystifying the whole shebang. 

  • Web Optimization: The Myth of the 3 Click Rule. Website, and Intranet, design has matured almost beyond recognition since the early nineties. Copies of Frontpage have been banished to the great software cemetery in the sky, and modern content management systems allow us to develop very sophisticated systems with relative ease. As an industry we have made great strides in our tools, processes, and methodologies.
  • But one or two relics from the early days still remain, including a number of design myths. Anyone who is involved developing web based systems will be familiar with this request from clients:

    “Users must be able to access all content with a maximum of 3 clicks”
    This is generally referring to an unofficial web design rule, the '3 click rule', specifically talking about navigating to content. It suggests that a user of a website, or Intranet, should be able to find any information with no more than three mouse clicks. Any more than this and the user will become frustrated and abandon the task at hand.

    It is a theory that arose very early on in the short history of website design, and as such has attached to it a certain kudos. Nobody quite knows why it is held in such high esteem, but it is very rarely questioned. Clients who contract vendors to build websites or Intranets seem particularly fond of quoting this phrase during the requirements gathering phase, and look on in horror if they are told it is no longer relevant.

  • Web Optimization: W3C Takes Semantic Web to Next Level. If you think RDFa and the semantic web is only for geeks, it's time to take a second look. The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) is advancing the standards for tomorrow's Internet and web content management vendors are getting on-board. The result is going to be a smarter, more findable Web.
  • The W3C recently took another significant step forward with their semantic web project — the publishing of the first public working draft (FPWD) of the RDFa API. This document by the RDFa Working Group has long been expected, and is significant as it enables developers to begin using RDFa in their applications. The RDFa API document details the mechanism by which software can make use of (extract facts from) RDFa mark-up inside of web pages.

  • Content Optimization and Promoting Findability at the Macro Level. In a previously published article, Information Overload and Improving Intranet Findability, we talked about overcoming challenges around our ability to filter through the copious amounts of data that we’re confronted with on a daily basis inside our organizations. Expanding on that topic, let’s now take a look at it from a much broader perspective, one that extends out beyond the firewall and into the digital realm of the Internet itself.
  • In this day and age it’s easy to publish content online. Anyone can do it and the ease with which it can be done has resulted in a massive explosion of digital data, which some expect to surpass an estimated 988 EB (exabyte) this year. The sheer volume of information is inconceivable, let alone challenges encountered overcoming difficulties in our attempts to both find and be found online.

    Arguably, much of what is published might be considered irrelevant to the “neighborhoods” in which we frequent and may therefore be easily ignored or dismissed as nothing more than superfluous noise. However, in the world of search, which has become the primary lens with which the majority of us gain access into this mass of information, we are unwillingly being forced to compete directly against it — regardless of relevancy — as more and more content rapidly finds its way into search indexes in near real-time. Any document or web page that ranks higher than us in the search engine result pages is our competition, like it or not.

  • Demystifying Web Engagement - Part 1 - Capabilities. I’ve discussed Web Engagement here for CMSWire before and in my last article I scratched at the surface of defining what web engagement management (WEM) is. This was, of course, in defense of the phrase being sucked into the lexicon of marketing business-speak and its meaning and business value being forgotten. This time around I'm thinking about operations and looking at the specific capabilities that comprise WEM.

  • Content Marketing Strategy for B2B Software Vendors: Starring the ‘New’ White Paper. For the past several years, multiple studies by different research firms have been conducted to evaluate the most sought-out and influential content for B2B technology customers during decision-making buying cycles, and every time, in every study, the #1 preferred content is the White Paper.

    The white paper is the #1 most influential piece of collateral that technology purchasers consult when making or influencing a buying decision for their company, according to a recent survey by Eccolo Media.

    However, many B2B software vendors still are missing the boat with their use of white papers and have not employed them in ways to engage potential buyers, let alone convert them to customers.