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Make your website stand out in Windows 8

Eric Geier | March 25, 2013
New features in Windows 8 and Internet Explorer 10 help you integrate your website and attract visitors to it

Buried within Windows 8 are little-known features that can give your website a prominent presence alongside the apps on any user's desktop. Exploiting these options can enhance your site's visitor experience and give your business a competitive advantage. For example, people can pin your website to Windows 8's new Start Screen, share your site with others via its Charms bar, and access shortcuts to your content.

Although Windows 8 remains controversial, it counts millions of early adopters, and Windows will likely remain the most popular operating system for the foreseeable future. That's why it matters to optimize your website now for Microsoft's newest OS. Luckily, all it takes is adding add some custom code to your website, and it doesn't take heavy-duty developer skills. Read on to get started.

Customize your Windows 8 Start Screen tile

When visitors browse your website using the Internet Explorer app in the new Windows 8 interface, they can pin your site to the Windows Start Screen. This creates a "live tile" icon in Windows, serving as a shortcut to your site.

Make sure your website has a favicon--the Favorite or Bookmark icon that appears in your browser's address bar or tab--since that icon appears in Windows 8's tile. Otherwise, you'll see the IE icon by default. Windows 8 extracts the dominant color from your favicon, if available, and uses it as the live tile's background color. It uses your site's HTML title tag for the name of the tile.

If you don't have a favicon but want to customize a Start Screen tile for your site, you can get customized code to make your site stand out with a background color, an icon image, and a tile name. Just use this convenient wizard provided by Microsoft. It offers two lines of code that you can paste within your site's HTML tag.

Also consider utilizing pinned site notifications, through which you can alert your visitors of new messages, new content, or other site-related updates via graphical alert flags that appear on your site's tile.

Design for flip-ahead browsing in Internet Explorer

One new feature available only in the app version (not the desktop version) of Internet Explorer 10 for Windows 8 is flip-ahead browsing. This allows your visitors to explore your website like a book or magazine, clicking the Forward button or swiping with their finger to advance to the next page. This is particularly useful for content like multi-page articles, photo slideshows, and blog posts.

Though the Internet Explorer app tries to analyze your site and come up with flip-ahead suggestions, you can manually identify them within your Web page code. Browse your site in IE 10 on Windows 8 and use the flip-ahead feature to see what happens. It should automatically detect obvious content, such as multi-page articles with "next" buttons or links. If you find flip ahead doesn't provide your desired content flow, refer to this Microsoft guide on how to add the code to your site's pages.


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