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WordPress Announces 10 Style Variation Selections for Twenty Twenty-Three Theme

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WordPress’ design team has announced the winners of the challenge to create a style variation for the upcoming Twenty Twenty-Three (TT3) default theme. Organizers received 38 submissions from 19 contributors (some submitted multiple variations) hailing from eight countries.

Given the wide range of colors and typography combinations, TT3 is gearing up to be a vehicle for a diverse set of styles from WordPress’ community of designers. Submissions included creative variations for all kinds of design moods – dark with high contrast, bright yellow with a smaller universal type size, a gradient aubergine background, and many more.

Automattic design director Channing Ritter published the selections that made the cut to be shipped with Twenty Twenty-Three

“These variations were selected in an effort to feature the most drastically different set of variations possible — so in many ways, we were looking at what would work best as a collection versus selecting our favorite standalone submissions,” Ritter said.

The selections are not in their final form. Contributors will continue iterating on them, under the direction of design team leaders, until the WordPress 6.1 beta period begins on September 20.

“Some of the changes suggested may be a bit aspirational, but let’s continue pushing to see how opinionated we can make each of these variations,” Ritter said.

Submissions that were not chosen to ship with TT3 may still have a path towards inclusion via an official child theme of the default theme. Contributors discussed how this might work and have closed the issue in favor of creating a separate project for it after TT3 has launched.

“I particularly like the idea of continuing to create style variations beyond those that are bundled with TT3,” Automattic-sponsored contributor Sarah Norris said. “I think this is a great opportunity to introduce people to block themes and building variations, with the help of the community and experienced block-themers. It also provides a space to test Gutenberg PRs, in a similar way to how emptytheme is currently used, but with more opinionated settings enabled.

“I’m not sure about this being part of the current TT3 project, and in my opinion, it would be best to start this initiative soon after TT3 has launched.”

In the meantime, contributors plan to refine the selected variations, and the child theme project can proceed without affecting the theme’s current timeline.

If you are interested in original article by Sarah Gooding you can find it here

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WordPress 6.1 Product Walkthrough Video Now Available

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Members of the WordPress 6.1 release squad recently gathered for a product walkthrough on Zoom, where Gutenberg lead architect Matías Ventura gave an informal tour of some of the new features coming in the next release. After the success of the 6.0 walkthrough, this gathering on Zoom has become a new part of the release cycle.

The event took place on Tuesday and the recording was published today. If you haven’t stayed up to date on 6.1 development, this short video (embedded below) gives you a transparent tour of features in their current state and shows some things that still need to be polished.

Ventura starts off with a hands-on demo of Twenty Twenty-Three (TT3) and its style variations. He also dived into the new templates and the ability to create custom templates:

I’m really excited about this because it opens up the power of WordPress to any user now. If you want to, you have a special category of travel, and you want to create a template for that category, you can do it. And there’s another improvement here. Before, when you were creating a template, it will start completely blank. Now it loads the most relevant template for this. In this case, it was the Archive. So it’s using – you are modifying the tag template, but it’s using the Archive type as its basis. So you don’t need to start from scratch. Obviously, here, in the future, will probably have different starting points, the same way that we have Patterns when you create a new page and so on.

He also covered more advanced locking features, the ability to create locked patterns where only a few tools are exposed, improved placeholders, design tools like fluid typography and spacing presets, developer focused tools, and more.

The 6.1 release squad joined after the walkthrough and covered some other core features, known bugs, and features that are still in limbo. They fielded a few questions from the virtual audience before concluding. Check out the recording below, and the transcript is also available on the post.

You can watch the video here

If you are interested in original article by Sarah Gooding you can find it here

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On-Site Search Best Practices For SEO & User Experience

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On-site search is more than a search box; it’s an important aspect of how visitors engage with your website.

No matter how easy your website is to navigate or how clean the user experience (UX) is, an on-site search function is vital.

Your site visitors want a direct way to find exactly what they want.

On-site search is more than a search box; it’s an essential aspect of how visitors engage with your website.

Google has set the bar pretty high, and nowadays, users expect search to perform flawlessly. It means your on-site search must return relevant results, or visitors may leave, and you lose out on potential business.

So, how can you make sure your on-site search helps convert site visitors into customers?

We’ve gathered a list of on-site search best practices, how the data can inform your SEO efforts and a solution for the SEO risks involved.

On-Site Search Best Practices

Is it enough to plop a search widget on your site?

Uh, not quite.

If the search feature doesn’t meet customers’ expectations, it becomes more of a hindrance than a help.

It means you just put a barrier between users and the product they want to buy from you.

Below are seven best practices to follow when adding an on-site search to your website.

1. Search Box Placement

on-site search bar placement

Your search bar should be easy to find.

No one will scroll to the footer of your website looking for it.

When someone views your website on a desktop, it should be in a prominent spot, preferably near the top right corner.

A mobile device should have its own line at the top of the screen.

Be careful not to place the search box too close to other boxes, like a newsletter sign-up, as that may confuse users.

2. Search Box Design

search bar call to action

Similarly, it should be immediately apparent what the search box does.

There are three design elements: a search box, a search button, and a magnifying glass.

The search box is where users type queries.

If the input field is too short, people can’t see all of their text, making it hard to edit their query easily.

A good rule of thumb is to have a 27-character text input, which accommodates the majority of user search queries.

Adding a search button to your design helps users understand there’s an additional step to trigger the search action.

The magnifying glass is essential to include because it is a widely recognized symbol for “search.”

The icon should be large enough to provide a clear signal to the consumer, even on a mobile device.

3. Add Placeholder Text

It is a good idea to include placeholder text in the search box to give users an example of what they can search.

on-site search box example_SEJ screenshotScreenshot from SearchEngineJournal.com, June 2022

4. Auto-Complete

categories within on-site search

Auto-complete predicts what the on-site search user is searching based on popular or suggested search queries.

The search box will recommend an item or category the user may be interested in by anticipating the search query, saving them the time and effort of typing.

This feature is not about making the search process faster; it is to help users ask better search queries.

Be careful not to overwhelm users with excessive suggestions; up to 10 results is best practice.

5. Custom Ranking Option

faceted on-site search filtersComposite image created by Paulo Bobita/Search Engine Journal, July 2022; images sourced from yelp.com

Now, let’s talk about what happens after the search.

Your user finds the search box easily, enters text, hits the search button, and lands on the search results page.

As the website owner, you want to control (or prioritize) which pages rank at the top of your on-site search results.

The ability to manually rank pages provides the control necessary for promoting seasonal products or specials.

6. No Results Page

zero results page optimisationComposite image created by Paulo Bobita/Search Engine Journal, July 2022; images sourced from kohls.com

What you don’t want to happen is a “no results” page.

A “no results” page feels like a dead end.

When visitors see “no results,” they may think your site doesn’t have what they’re looking for – and leave.

Providing visitors with a path forward is the best practice.

Under the “zero results” message, try adding a few related products or categories that may pique visitors’ interest.

7. Simplify Results

An on-site search aims to find what you’re looking for quickly.

It means that on-site search results need to be simplified.

Filters allow customers to refine their searches to find what they’re searching.

Amazing ecom landing page exampleScreenshot from asos.com, July 2022

For example, someone searching for “wedding guest plus size dresses” is likely to want to narrow the results down by size in stock, color, price, etc.

How On-Site Search Is Good For SEO

As marketers, we are piecing together first-party data and third-party data, trying this tool and that tool, all to understand how to improve communication with our audience.

The beauty of on-site search is that you don’t have to wonder what a user is up to when they visit your website.

Users will type into your on-site search box exactly what they are searching.

And according to Forrester Research, online visitors who use the search box are two to three times more likely to convert than non-searchers.

Now, the intel on what people, who are three times more likely to convert, are doing on your site is something to notice.

Regularly monitoring data from your on-site search will allow you to support your SEO efforts in the following ways:

  • Site UX.
  • Keyword Research.
  • Gaps in content.
  • SERP Feature: Sitelinks Search Box.

Site UX

If you notice a trend in searches beginning from a particular page, something is missing from a navigational standpoint.

Take a look at that page and experiment with making the trending search query a more prominent focus on the page.

For example, if the majority of on-search search begins from your homepage and the majority of search is for the query “login,” you will want to test ways of making the login button more prominent on the homepage.

Keyword Research

Alright, I’m going to share a quick SEO analyst’s secret.

Users will input what they’re looking for into your on-site search box.

These on-site search queries are most likely similar to what they originally typed into Google search.

The people who search these queries are more likely to convert into paying customers.

These are your “grand slam keywords,” bringing in three times the heat.

Use on-site search to your advantage in keyword research.

Gaps In Content

If you see terms with unique high searches and high exit rates, people are looking for this information but can’t find it.

At least not easily.

This data tells you where to develop new content your audience came to find.

Sitelink Search Box

If your website homepage appears as a search result, Google Search may show a scoped search box to your website.

However, this doesn’t guarantee that a sitelinks search box will be shown in search results.

Indexing Site Search Pages: The Risks

I’m hoping, at this point, you are onboard with on-site search!

Before you implement this on your website, there is an SEO risk that you need to be aware of.

Some consequences can impact your site’s performance if you allow internal site search URLs to be indexed.

Webmaster guidelines clearly explain Google’s stance on this topic:

Robots.txt for search result pages_screenshot of Google webmaster guidelinesScreenshot from Google Webmaster Guidelines, July 2022

The image reads, “Use the robots.txt file on your web server to manage your crawling budget by preventing crawling of infinite spaces such as search result pages.”

There’s a whole lot of internet out there!

So, Google sets aside a certain amount of time to crawl each site (known as the “crawl budget“) to keep things moving.

How much time (crawl budget) your site gets depends on the size and health of your website.

And, having many internal site search URLs to crawl is not optimal.

Mark your internal search results pages as no-index.

Final Thoughts

Make sure the search box is easy to find and how to use it is clear on desktop and mobile.

Look for an on-site search widget that allows you to customize results.

Don’t slack on the “no results” page; use it as an opportunity to communicate related categories of interest.

Remember to no-index your search result pages to preserve your crawl budget.

And last but not least, use this treasure trove of data to your advantage.

High-quality data tip: Add a GA filter to ensure all search terms are tracked in lower case. This way, it doesn’t matter if a user types “TERM X” or “term x”; your reporting data will not split.

If you are interested in original article by Kayle Larkin you can find it here

Lounge Lizard Blog Web Design Inspiration

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When starting a blog, one of the first things that you need to do is come up with an idea for what you want to write about. Once you have a topic in mind, it’s time to start researching different topics and sources to help flesh out your ideas.

In this post, I’ll be sharing some of my favorite blog design inspiration from the web, including all sorts of beautiful examples of how to use different colors, fonts, and layout techniques to create a cohesive look for your blog. So, if you’re looking for some creative inspiration on how to design your own blog, be sure to check out these Lounge Lizard posts!

1. Use Bold Colors to Stand Out

One of the best ways to stand out from the crowd is to use bold colors in your blog design. Not only will this help you easily identify your blog from a distance, but it will also make your blog look more professional.

2. Use Eye-Catching Fonts

Fonts can be incredibly eye-catching, and they can help create a unique look for your blog. However, be sure to choose fonts that are appropriate for your topic and audience!

3. Use Organized Layout Principles

The layout is one of the most important aspects of a successful blog design, and there are a number of principles that you can use to achieve a cohesive look. For example, use horizontal vs vertical scrolling bars, use graphical elements to break up long paragraphs, and use dividers between sections of your blog content to help organize it visually.

4. Use Visual Quotes or Anecdotes to Pop

Visual quotes or anecdotes can be an excellent way to add some personality and humor to your blog design. Not only will this help draw readers in, but it can also show off your writing skills in an indirect way.

Best Web Designs from Lounge Lizard

Lounge Lizard is a blog that provides web design inspiration. The blog has a variety of topics, including web design, branding, and marketing. The blog is updated frequently with new designs and ideas.

One of the best things about this blog is the variety of designs. You can find everything from simple and straightforward designs to more complex and creative designs. You can even find designs that are completely unique and different from anything else you’ve seen before.

This blog is a great resource for anyone looking for web design inspiration. It has a variety of styles and ideas, so you’re sure to find something that appeals to you. What’s more, Ken Brown recently published an article on the best designs for 2022, which you can check out at https://www.loungelizard.com/blog/webdesign-inspiration/  to find new ideas for your projects

Website Design and Development Lounge Lizard

Our website design and development blog are a great resource for web designers and developers who are looking for inspiration. You’ll find tips and tricks on everything from designing a layout to getting the most out of WordPress. We also have a variety of resources, including tutorials, articles, and toolkits, to help you get started with web development.

If you’re looking to create a website that’s both visually appealing and functional, then our blog is the perfect place to start. We’ll show you how to design stunning websites that are easy to navigate, and we’ll also provide you with tips and tricks on how to make your site work better. So, whether you’re a beginner or an experienced web developer, check out our blog for some great advice!

So, bookmark us, hop on over every now and then, and take a look at what we’ve got going on!

Inspired Website Design 2022 Lounge Lizard

Lounge Lizard is a blog about website design inspiration. I hope that you find some great design ideas here that can help you create an amazing website!

One of the things I love most about website design is how it can be so versatile. You can use it to communicate your message, sell products, or just give your customers a place to relax.

Whether you’re looking for creative ideas or just some inspiration, I hope you enjoy Lounge Lizard!

Conclusion

Lounge Lizard is a blog about web design and lifestyle, and this post is all about designing an Instagram feed for your business. I think it’s important to keep your Instagram profile as up-to-date as possible, especially if you’re working with clients or promoting your services externally. Make sure to use interesting images that reflect the brand you are trying to create and that showcase your work in a fun way. You never know who might see them!

If you are interested in original article you can find it here

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Bad website design: Bad for SEO, UX and business

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Are these design elements slowing your download times and keeping your website from doing what you need it to do: earn you more business?

I tell my clients two things to frame organic search discussions around content and user experience:

  1. Search engines want to provide answers to their users in one click or less.
  2. If you design your website with the idea of getting answers to visitors’ questions as efficiently as possible, your site should earn more attention in organic search

Search engines must keep their users happy to retain and/or grow their market share. Therefore, it’s in their best interest to send people to websites that they calculate will give users a good experience. 

Bounce rates increase 32% when download times went from 1 to 3 seconds, according to Google. Also, bounce rates increase dramatically at 3 seconds, while page views also drop off, according to Pingdom.

Both of these stats are a bit old, but there’s no evidence to suggest people are any more patient today.

The challenge I most often run into with brands is that they design their websites in a way that hampers the “one click or less” goal. They incorporate things into their designs like:

  • Large autoplay videos (sometimes with sound).
  • Large hero images that push informational content far below the fold (add heroes that rotate through a slideshow and the experience is even worse).
  • Custom fonts that are not likely to have been installed on the local machines of their visitors.

All of these design elements (and others) detract from user experience, conversion optimization and accessibility standards. 

Examples of bad design and UX

Both of these examples show the filmstrip view of the page load over time on WebPageTest.org, a popular site for testing download times that has been recommended by some Googlers. I simulate a Galaxy S7 smartphone over an LTE connection in both examples.

Charity website

This website has a large autoplay video on its home page that pushes much of the main content below the fold. 

In the tests I ran, nothing appeared in the viewport until 3 seconds into the load. The CTA at the top of the page is visible, but only the logo’s alt text shows. Some text is hard to read because it is light gray; it is intended to display as an overlay on the darker video. 

Visitors may even miss that they are on the right website because the logo does not display until 4.5 seconds into the load and the alt text is difficult to read.

If we are to believe the data from Google and Pingdom, it’s quite likely that unless someone taps on the CTA at the top of the page, they are quite likely to bounce before getting the main message of this organization. 

Well-known brand website

This website has a large hero image pushing content below the fold and a custom font that must be downloaded before anything displays. 

You can see from the example that nothing other than the hamburger menu displays until 4 seconds into the load. 

Here’s a hint: If you have to include some sort of download timer to let people know something is on the way, it’s too big. 

Part of the reason the content takes a long time to display is that the custom font alone takes around 4 seconds to download. No text appears until 6 seconds into the load, and that’s only the cookie notice. 

All told, it takes longer than 10 seconds for this page to completely download. When the page finishes loading, the only thing you can see other than the hero image is the cookie notice.

To be fair, there is a lot more going on in these examples than large videos, huge heroes, and custom fonts. There are also JavaScript and CSS files, third-party tracking, and more also jamming up the download streams. Those are likely a subject for another time.

Why bad UX happens

When I talk with designers and developers about challenges like this, I’m often given the same justifications:

  • “Everyone else is designing their websites like this.” This kind of excuse didn’t work when we were kids. Why do some adults think it’s still acceptable?
  • “The search engines are unfair in how they judge download times. Our tools tell us everything is OK.” There are many reasons to believe that the search engines are being unfair about evaluating download times. In the end, it really doesn’t matter. If we want to compete, we need to be faster!
  • “But … branding!” Yes, branding is important. But is it so important to risk losing potential customers because the website is too slow?

Avoid these pitfalls

It’s our job to help our clients, partners, and colleagues create engaging sites that download quickly and meet the expectations of website visitors while still looking good. 

Doing so will help earn more attention from organic search results and increase business.

If you are interested in original article by Elmer Boutin you can find it here

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How to optimize your ecommerce site for better indexing

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Is your ecommerce site underperforming? Learn how optimizing your product pages can help you exceed the quality threshold for indexing.

Over the next couple of years, how search engines index content will likely change.

I’ve covered this viewpoint in Why 100% indexing isn’t possible, and why that’s OK. Still, this ultimately means that we need to work smarter in competitive markets to create better value propositions and uniqueness to move above the ranking quality threshold.

For different websites, indexing key pages can mean different things. But for ecommerce stores, it boils down to two types of pages:

  • The category page or product listing page (PLP).
  • The individual product page or product details page (PDP).

Historically, many ecommerce websites have implemented similar strategies – to bulk out the category page with some form of “SEO content” (that mostly fell to the bottom of the page) and an optimized H1.

Individual product pages, on the other hand, often receive less attention. A few key products might have product descriptions written. But most of the time, the page content is left to the product information management (PIM) solution to populate.

Why indexing signals matter in ecommerce

First, I want to clarify that when I’m talking about “indexing signals,” I’m not talking about the page-level indexing signals we can control, such as canonicals and noindex tags. 

For the most part, I’d like to think these are correct, as related issues should be found in the first five minutes of looking through any crawl data.

I’m referring to the signals we can generate when Google (and other search engines) are processing your website and the content on individual product pages to ascertain whether it would be a “good” document to rank within search results pages and for which queries.

The decision on whether the page (the individual HTML document) is good enough to index comes down to the notion of a quality threshold. Search engines need to have a quality threshold, as indexing the entire web is impossible.

In ecommerce, the quality threshold bar will differ between industries (e.g., the threshold will be lower for fast fashion than for home medical equipment).

A mistake I often see is that the quality threshold is mistaken for E-A-T, when it’s a wider combination of:

  • The source of the content (e.g., brand, entity).
  • The topical relevancy, authority, and breadth of the content.
  • E-A-T (as we know and understand it).
  • Historical data and factors.
  • Competitor content and value propositions for the same search queries.

Google also isn’t linear in how it presents SERPs. For example, the current SERP in the U.S. for the 12,000 monthly search volume query [solar charger] has a SERP containing:

  • Google Shopping results.
  • A Top Stories carousel.
  • Four ecommerce results, including Amazon and BestBuy.
  • Five informational results (a couple of them look affiliate).

This matters because Google is clearly catering to multiple common interpretations and intents for the query.

By providing mixed results, it also needs to have different thresholds per result source type – as it’s impossible to compare the Amazon result to a random product comparison website result.

This is also why keyword difficulty scores in third-party tools are becoming increasingly redundant for me. 

Internal anchor texts are important and, from my experience, are often underoptimized and left as generic calls to action (CTA).

Examples of generic CTAs include “click here” and “find out more.” Google calls this out in a 2008 Search Central article as a “not-very-optimal way of linking.”

Google’s John Mueller has said on record that the anchor text used for internal links gives Google context around what the page being linked to is about.

Descriptive anchor text relevant to the content they’re placed in and relevant to the page you’re linking to can help Google better understand:

  • Where the content piece sits in your domain ecosystem.
  • Whether it should be ranked for a certain query over another page. (As much as we target keywords with specific pages, pages will rank for multiple keywords intended or otherwise.)

Improving your product detail pages for better indexing

A lot of ecommerce websites don’t invest enough in their product pages.

In competitive markets, most of these PDPs don’t offer unique value propositions and fall below the quality threshold for indexing.

There are several ways to enhance your product pages and leverage the business and brand’s unique selling proposition (USP).

Dynamic metadata and product information

Let’s say your brand’s USP focuses on offering quality products at lower prices, and search terms gravitate around “budget” and “cheap.” 

To enforce the lower price in the page content and boost click-through from the SERPs, you can include dynamic elements in the PDP title tag, H2, and body copy to pull through the current price.

Content enrichments

Many product pages tend to follow templated product descriptions, which is understandable as there’s only so much you can write about specific products. 

However, you can enrich product pages through expert reviews or advice sections and tie them in with your website’s E-A-T strategy and other content areas.

Championing among variables

Some product lines have the same product but with multiple iterations and releases. Some of these come over several years (e.g., the iPhone) and others over the course of months (e.g., Pokemon cards). 

The core product name doesn’t often change, only the version number or name, but you might still want all versions available to users. 

One tactic I’ve used here is to create a “champion” version among the near duplicates – typically the most recent or most valuable product. I then add internal links between the versions so search engines can better understand the relationship between each one.

Rather than having the product versions randomly compete for indexing, you’re signaling a champion for more consistency.

Wrapping up
The methods listed above shouldn’t be read as a “do everything checklist.”

Instead, you should leverage the tactics according to what works for your brand, your website (stack), and how much needs to be done to tip the needle in your favor.

Ultimately, optimizing your product detail pages for indexing sets your ecommerce site for success in the SERPs.

If you are interested in original article by Dan Taylor you can find it here