Computer Arts - - Digital Design Skills -

“Once you be­come the in­dus­try leader, the real work be­gins. For de­sign­ers and prin­ters the world over, Sappi sets the stan­dard for fine-coated pa­per. Through in­te­grated cam­paigns, cre­ative strat­egy, ed­u­ca­tional ma­te­ri­als, on­line tools and more (which are de­liv­ered via print and dig­i­tal chan­nels, of course), we help Sappi tell its story.

Sappi etc. (www.sappi.com/ sap­pi­etc) is an ed­u­ca­tion, train­ing and con­sult­ing web­site that gives peo­ple ac­cess to more than a cen­tury of its rare his­tor­i­cal doc­u­ments, de­tailed case stud­ies and ex­pert tech­ni­cal ad­vice. The site of­fers a wealth of knowl­edge, is free and fully search­able in crys­tal-clear 600ppi res­o­lu­tion, and brings ev­ery­thing on­line that de­sign and print in­dus­try pro­fes­sion­als need in order to work smarter, faster and more ef­fec­tively.

Sappi wanted this site primed to sup­port both top­i­cal brows­ing and tar­geted key­word search­ing, and so we did front- and back-end de­vel­op­ment to make that pos­si­ble, par­tic­u­larly in the use of op­ti­cal char­ac­ter recog­ni­tion (OCR). This meant that ev­ery word on ev­ery page would be search­able.

From the Sappi web­site, users can sort re­sults by list or gallery. They can shelve com­plete se­lec­tions or in­di­vid­ual pages to read later, or share now via so­cial me­dia. They can also down­load PDFs, watch the lat­est videos, browse event cal­en­dars and cu­rate a per­sonal li­brary.

In short, we have cre­ated a web­site to sup­port dif­fer­ent user needs, speeds, styles and pref­er­ences, which puts Sappi and search right at the heart of the ex­pe­ri­ence.”

Google to rank sites are both se­cret and con­stantly chang­ing. For this rea­son, op­ti­mis­ing the SEO of a site is not a ‘one and done’ deal, but some­thing that needs con­stant at­ten­tion. Thank­fully, it’s easy to gather data on how your strat­egy is work­ing, and tweak ac­cord­ingly.

“SEO is very easy to mea­sure with an­a­lyt­ics tools such as Google An­a­lyt­ics and a range of other plat­form tools,” ex­plains Adam Innes, tech­ni­cal ar­chi­tect at 50,000feet. “In­sights gained from these tools in­clude key search terms, vis­i­tors by type of de­vice, and du­ra­tion of vis­its – all of which are vi­tal in con­tin­u­ing to op­ti­mise the ex­pe­ri­ence for en­gage­ment and per­for­mance.”

It’s also im­por­tant to keep an eye on trends. For ex­am­ple, Google has made it a pri­or­ity to mea­sure the speed at which web pages load, with slow-load­ing sites get­ting de­moted in the rank­ings. Google also puts huge stock on whether your site adapts seam­lessly to mo­bile.

Innes, mean­while, be­lieves other fac­tors will be­come im­por­tant in fu­ture. “With a grow­ing aware­ness of fake con­tent, there will be more em­pha­sis on a web­site’s TrustRank and user se­cu­rity,” he pre­dicts. “Google has al­ready taken steps to in­clude a small bump in pref­er­ence to sites us­ing HTTPS. Pro­vid­ing not only qual­ity and en­gag­ing con­tent but also truth­ful and se­cure con­tent will be­come more and more im­por­tant.” BEAT­ING GOOGLE Re­gard­less of the specifics, one thing is clear: SEO is some­thing all cre­atives need to be aware of. So how can de­sign­ers de­velop their aware­ness of it?

Firstly, says Stringer, know your lim­i­ta­tions. “Un­der­stand that this is not your forte, and it’s hard enough for SEO spe­cial­ists to keep up with Google’s chang­ing al­go­rithm let alone a graphic de­signer.” But at the same time, the more you can learn about SEO the bet­ter.

“Take re­spon­si­bil­ity and get up to speed so you have a rough un­der­stand­ing of best prac­tice,” Stringer urges. “It’s bet­ter for your ca­reer, your san­ity and the team. I’ve al­ways found that learn­ing from your peers is the most use­ful way to gain new skills, and the dig­i­tal sec­tor is prob­a­bly one of the most com­mu­nity fo­cused sec­tors out there, so you’ll never find a short­age of peo­ple will­ing to help,” he con­tin­ues.

“If you are lucky enough to work in a team that has a search spe­cial­ist in house, or that comes in to help, don’t be afraid to ask lots of ques­tions and don’t let the ac­count man­ager or project man­ager do all the work for you,” says Stringer. “As the sec­tor grows, there will al­ways be more and more peo­ple you can call upon for a skills swap.”

Sappi Lim­ited, a South African pulp and pa­per com­pany with global op­er­a­tions, asked Chicago cre­ative agency 50,000ft to build it an ed­u­ca­tion, train­ing and con­sult­ing web­site, on which ev­ery word on ev­ery page needed to be fully search­able.

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