Today I was going through my Facebook feed and came across an advertisement for one of those DIY companies that lets you build a “Stunning” website for FREE. There were hundreds of comments. Some people complained about their search engine optimization being terrible, others complained about the shear complexity of the site builder, and still other people were just mad that they had to “upgrade” their service to get the functionality they wanted. On the other hand, some really liked the service and shared a link to their site, made with said company, and that’s where the company “exposed” itself! Have you ever seen a picture like the one to the left? Sure, we all have. Facebook offers an awesome feature that when a link to a website is shared in a comment, (in the area where the red arrow is), a neat little box (highlighted in red here) comes up and gives a preview and a description of the shared website. Now in this screen shot, the name of the site and the user that posted the link have been removed to protect their privacy, but other than that and the highlighting, the image is exactly as it appeared in my news feed. This particular link box shows a vague outline of the Twitter Bird shadow as the graphic and “Mysite” as the description. Now, unless this is a “personal” home page for the “Twitter Bird,” then not only is the information in this feature misleading potential visitors, but it makes the website at the supplied link look unfinished, not to mention that it is a huge missed opportunity. It makes the site at the shared link look “undressed.”
Through what’s known as the “open-graph” protocol, developers can make that free area stand out and actually entice visitors to come to your site rather than mislead them or possibly leave them confused about what they are about to click on. That link box as we’ll call it, can feature any image you’d like, and a brief description of the image or what the visitor will find when they come to your site. At the top of the portion of the box just to the right of the image, the URL or site name (SITENAMEHERE.COM) is displayed by default. In other words, it’s the website’s name in all uppercase letters. Under that, developers can add two or maybe three lines of relevant text to make the site stand out. The link box shown is what we call a generic link box, and while that is much more effective than just a website link, and our developers can completely address what your site shares on social media within your link box, with the proper “open-graph” coding and image manipulation (both of which can be done by our web developers) you can have a “billboard type advertisement” every time someone shares a link to your website.
The picture at the right is a “Billboard Type Ad” that we built for one of our clients using open-graph protocol and our image manipulation.
There are best practices relating to images and image sizes for Facebook and other social networking sites. These image sizing guidelines determine how links and images are displayed across not only on each site, but across individual devices as well. Using the image guidelines, we created a canvas that fit Facebook’s news feed feature perfectly and then created an image using those sizing parameters. The result was, we didn’t get the generic link box as shown above but rather the billboard size ad that you see to the right. This size image will display properly on both desktops and laptops, and can be sized to fit smaller devices like iPad®, iPhone®, Android® and Windows® phones.
Addressing this particular link sharing issue simply isn’t a priority for all of the “build it yourself websites.” They will leave your site undressed. To take full advantage of what tools exist across the web for sharing your website, you need a professional developer. The professional web developers at Creative Web Design Unlimited have the experience and expertise to make sure your website is “fully dressed” and ready for action when someone decides to share your site on the web. Call us today at (334) 233-4235 and let us make your business our next success story.