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Leveraging Social Media in Web Design and Development

June 11, 2013 General, Graphic & Comm. Design 0 Comments

Social Media Web Development

Many professionals in Web Design and Development do not utilize social media correctly. This is primarily because designers and developers do not feel attached to social networks.

Paul Boag, the co-founder of Headscape, notes that “despite most of us being early adopters of social networks such as Facebook or Twitter, we consider social media the purview of marketeers. It certainly isn’t our responsibility—we build websites, we don’t run marketing campaigns… But, in my opinion, social media is very much our concern.” He argues for social media as a part of the modern user experience. As a Web designer or developer, you are also a user experience designer.

When you choose to integrate social media into your Web design, you may seamlessly improve your user’s experience. Keep this expert advice in mind as you continue to study and design:

Go Beyond a Share Button

Most Web designers and developers solve the social media problem by including a cluster of share buttons on their page (typically on the top of the page, the bottom or in a sidebar).

However, Boag argues that this is not always logical. At times, it may even be distracting. Depending on your content, it may make more sense to incorporate share buttons in a different location on the site or in a different way.

Mallory Woodrow, a social marketing specialist at Enlighten, suggests, “If you use social media to keep your customers or clients apprised of your recent happenings and are actively managing your outlets on a daily or bi-weekly basis, it might be wise to showcase your Twitter feed or Facebook posts directly on your website.” If your continual presence is important to your content, then this may improve your credibility and your user experience.

Some companies use share buttons to reward new users and customers. Facebook and Twitter are good options for posting valuable information, tutorials and even deals to loyal customers. If your Web content is consumer-based, this might be a good choice for you.

Regardless of your content, remember:

  • Be specific
  • Make it easy to navigate
  • Make it beneficial to users
  • Place it logically on the page

Be Analytical – and Willing to Revise

Woodrow also suggests utilizing Google Analytics to review how your users are interacting with your social media links. Google Analytics, or any similar analytical platform you might prefer, enables designers and developers to track how individuals visiting your page are using your social media links. Woodrow notes, “If you find that few individuals explore your social media outlets once landing on your page, perhaps your social media buttons aren’t in a convenient location.” Analytical reports allow you to gauge how effective your placement is and if your design needs to be revised. You can use actual statistics to back up your choices.

If your social media is not being utilized, be willing to revise your layout to improve the user experience. Be innovative and test placement in unusual or atypical locations on your website. Boag suggests that, on consumer-based sites, including links to Facebook or Twitter after checkout may be more beneficial to users than links back to the website. You can use this opportunity to advertise helpful information regarding the products purchased.

Don’t Forget about You

If you are maintaining the website, Internet entrepreneur Jake Rocheleau encourages you “to include links back to your own social media profiles wherever convenient.” This can personalize the page and allow users to interact with you directly – which may increase your credibility and directly improve the user experience.

Involving yourself personally in the website also improves the sense of community. Often, Web designers and developers do not allow channels to connect – though users are constantly looking for ways to interact with multiple channels seamlessly. The share button encourages this type of sharing across channels, but your website can do more.

Consider:

  • User comments: Facebook offers an entire commenting system, an activity feed and a live stream that allows users share comments in real-time. Blogging sites such as WordPress allow designers to incorporate threaded comment displays for their users, allowing them to interact in detailed conversations.
  • User voting: Reddit threads allow users to distinguish between helpful remarks and spam by voting. This increases user participation because the user experience is valued and directly impacts the content.
  • OAuth support: Open Authentication allows users to log in to your site through their Facebook, Twitter or other social network accounts. This cuts down registration time as users do not have to sign up for your website individually and do not have to store any sensitive information on your site’s database. OAuth allows social networking profiles to transition to different channels, as user activity on your site can include their username, display name and profile picture from the network they connect through.

Leveraging social media can be done quickly and seamlessly. Remember these important tips as you continue studying and practicing Web Design and Development at Harrington College.

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