Category Archives: Karcher Group News

Understanding Mobile First

Having spent nearly 20 years in the web development field, I was an early adopter and strong advocate of the “mobile first” approach that has recently came on strong.

It forces many good habits that, frankly, the industry should have been paying attention to all along. Prioritizing the right content for the visitor’s needs just makes sense.

Mobile first means exactly that – considering what is most important for smartphone and tablet readers to see when they reach your website from those devices. It is (and should be!) a different experience from the desktop.

As Geoff detailed in his recent “Mobile Only is Foolish” post, TKG definitely does not advocate the easily-confused idea of mobile only. Mobile only is very different than mobile first, and it’s easy to see where people may be fooled into mobile only.

Commonly, what happens in mobile only is that a desktop experience existed and then a completely separate mobile experience is considered. With this approach, the likelihood that the brand’s intended experience across devices becomes increasingly fragmented. What happens is you end up cramming all of the information into the smaller displays or just cut it out entirely. Just having a link to everything that you would on the desktop doesn’t mean you’ve successfully delivered the right experience.

Not to mention what it says to Google and your SEO rankings.

A mobile first approach takes more thought and time to plan, but the return is tremendous. Desktop displays afford much more space to play with, and typically require more bandwidth and technology to produce a desired experience. The beauty of a mobile first approach is that the core experience is maintained throughout the site, no matter what device your visitor is using. The mobile experience is delivered with the minimum required components and then is progressively enhanced as the display, bandwidth and technology allows.

Here’s your strategy for doing it right:

  • Goals: Mobile first thinking immediately brings to the surface the need for clear goals for the site. Most often a conversion is desired, whether that be a phone call, a lead form or an e-commerce sale. This usually isn’t a one-step path. And often, the goal(s) of a mobile user are different than a desktop user, so we must make accommodations for those realities. Some simple things are quick access to things like directions, hours or click-to-call. These are things you might keep available on a desktop experience, but likely tone down.
  • Content First:Again, with limited screen space, mobile first thinking forces our content to be focused on the most critical messaging. So, as your content is developed, key messaging should be separated from their expanded topic(s), while allowing both to be present for the visitor.  This decision-making typically bodes very well then for larger display experiences by allowing a great amount of flexibility when presenting content. Of course, to execute that focus on key messaging, the designer must have the actual content prior to design to properly present it for the varied experiences.
  • Navigation:Navigation menus can present a substantial challenge, particularly on large sites. Taking a mobile first approach again brings these challenges to the surface early on and facilitates the need (opportunity) for structural prioritization. When possible, simplify. Long lists of navigation are forced to be tucked away as a utility to the visitor to allow key messaging to remain in focus. Remember, out-of-sight is often out-of-mind. The saving grace is that if your goals are clearly identified and your content provides a supporting path, those navigation menus should be able to remain a utility (in non-commerce websites).

Contracting a reputable digital partner to redesign your website from a mobile first approach isn’t the quickest, but I know without a doubt that it’s the most effective. A side benefit is that you only pay to maintain one “website” instead of multiple, which means that Google stays happy too and you won’t get dinged on the search marketing implications of having multiple websites.

Invest in creating the mobile experience first, put focus on your goals and reap the rewards of a better experience for those interacting with your business. As with any change, it’s not easy, but it’s the right thing to move your business forward.

6 Signs It’s Time For a New Site

The speed that technology advances is getting faster and faster. Once you actually get the hang of the phone you have the next model is already out. The internet is no different. From social media to SEO, it is changing daily. Website designs change to comply with the increase in mobile traffic and incorporate social media, content needs to be changed as visitors expect more and more visual content. If you’re wondering if it’s time for a new site here are some key points to take a look at.6 signs

  1. It doesn’t work well on mobile- Many older sites don’t load correctly on mobile devices. It is often hard to read the content or difficult to navigate the site. With around 50% of site visits being on mobile devices this means if a site is not mobile friendly, users get frustrated and a site may lose about half of it’s potential visits/conversions.
  1. It’s slow- Let’s be honest, we love instant gratification. Studies show that a page with a load time of 4 seconds resulted in a 25% drop in traffic. That may seem a little crazy but when it comes to the internet we want and expect it in the blink of an eye.
  1. It’s hard to update content- Content management systems have come a long way over the years. They now make it easy for anyone to go in and change content and keep the information current without needing a whole team to edit code to update.
  1. You’ve outgrown the site you have now- This point is by no means a bad one. If your business has outgrown your site congratulations you’re running a successful company! There are different reasons you may have outgrown it. Maybe you made the original site shortly after startup and have since added more services or products. It may be more difficult to navigate the site with these added items. Or perhaps you’ve changed the image of the company or shifted the primary focus. A revamp of the site to more accurately represent the business is a great plan to continue to grow.
  1. Users aren’t converting- The whole point of having a site for your business is to generate leads or make sales. If your site isn’t getting either of these but is getting decent traffic it may be time to consider a redesign. High bounce rates, short time on site, and low page views are pretty good indicators that the time has come.  There are different reasons why users may not be converting. Poor landing pages with content that doesn’t give users the information they were looking for, a lack of calls to action, or it could simply be because there haven’t been and conversions set up.
  1. No social media- Social media has become a huge part of business. It not only helps generate leads but keeps current customers up to date on what the business is doing. If your site doesn’t have links to the company’s Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. you’re missing out on a great opportunity to interact with users.

If you’re having any of these issues, or if your site was made in Windows 95, it may be time to ditch it and consider a redesign. If you need some help or have any questions we are more than willing to assist you.

What I’ve Learned at TKG

I have been interning here at TKG for a little over two months. Sometimes it feels like time has flown. With just a few short weeks left I thought now would be a good time to reflect on my time here and what I’ve learned.

what ive learned_edited

With this internship brought many firsts. My first internship, I couldn’t have asked for a better company to intern with. As anyone would be, I was a little nervous to start the job. From day one each and every employee was kind and helpful. It also brought my first look into the industry. We learn all about business in school, but learning isn’t doing. The Karcher Group set a good program for a first time intern to lead me into the world of marketing and web design. Being that all my previous jobs were outdoor labor intensive jobs (such as grounds crew on a golf course) this is my first office job. For those who have worked both types of jobs you know how different they are. There was a period of adjustments and a learning curve.

Since being here I have worked on various projects ranging from social media libraries for clients to assisting in the development of a new site. With these I learned programs to complete the project including content management systems and Google Analytics and have become Google Analytic certified. With each project I find it becomes easier to know exactly what we want the end result to be and how to get there. I’ve also been able to see which parts on the industry I love and which parts maybe not so much.

They say that happy employees are hardworking employees. At The Karcher Group I’ve been able to see how true that really is. There seems to be something going on almost every day. With employees riding scooters through the office, playing foosball, darts, and pool it’s clearly a fun work environment. At a glance it may look like it is all fun and games but employees here play hard and work harder. In fact, each month an employee is elected by fellow employees and awarded the brain award for outstanding work and get to spin for various prizes from gift cards to extra vacation days. This is just one of the ways they show appreciation for the hard work put in by their employees.

As a first time intern I really had no idea what to expect. Going based off the stereotypical intern I thought I would be getting coffee and doing all the stuff around the office no one else wanted to. Within the first week I knew it was anything but a typical internship. I was already being taught programs and tools on the first day and was given projects shortly after. Although I only have a few short weeks left I have really enjoyed my time at TKG and am excited to see what I can learn in my remaining time.

How to Avoid Social Media Slip-ups

Okay, let’s talk about your social media plan.

If you have one in place, great. If you are still asking yourself what a social media plan is, that’s okay too. You’re in the right place.

Chances are, if your business has a social media presence, you’ve had to deal with some strange comments, unsatisfied customers or even downright nasty reviews. And the more successful your business is, the more likely you are to experience these encounters. Social media mistakes will inevitably happen, but you can avoid them harming your business by following the steps below:Social media symbols

PREVENTION

  • Have a Plan: Always have a plan that outlines what to do in the event of a crisis. Are you suddenly getting bad reviews because of a defective product? Has one of your employees delivered less-than-exceptional customer service? Make sure you have a plan on how to deal with comments, @ mentions, reviews or if your business page goes viral in a bad way.
  • Bring in the Experts: Do you have someone dedicated to watching your accounts? You should. Not only will you have an extra set of eyes monitoring your social media presence, but a trained PR person will be able to react to just about any situation that comes up. You should have someone dedicated to at least several hours a week — maybe more depending on the size of your business and the size of your social media following — to managing posts and interacting with the users on your pages.

WHEN SOMETHING HAPPENS

  • Act Quickly: Do not let complaints or issues on social media sit without response. At a minimum, respond within 24 hours – but within a few hours is ideal. In today’s fast-paced world, the people reading your business page and watching your social media accounts are watching around the clock. They expect answers to questions as soon as they ask. Can you keep up? Because you’re expected to. If you let a negative comment or review sit for long enough, it will turn into an even bigger problem. Do what you can to nip it in the bud early and move the conversation offline.
  • Start a (Public) Conversation: Your customers and potential customers will be watching you to see how you react to the issue and they will judge your company’s morals and standards based on your reaction. The good thing about social media is that if you handle these types of issues promptly and professionally, lots of people will see it. The bad thing about social media is, well, if you handle it poorly, lots of people will see it.
  • Don’t Delete: Never delete comments, tweets or reviews. When you delete comments or try to “cover up” what your customers or potential customers are saying, you will start to lose your reputation and the trust that people have placed in you or your products. Instead, use the opportunity to be real with your audience while reacting and responding appropriately.
  • With that Being Said…There are some fires that you shouldn’t even bother putting out. Offensive language and all-out attacks must be handled on a case-by-case basis. If you are dealing with someone online who you just cannot get through to, ask them to contact your business or organization so that you can handle the matter privately. If someone is attacking others or using foul language or refusing to work with you towards a solution, it’s okay to pull the plug and walk away.

AFTER THE FACT

  • Apologize and Move On: If you truly made a mistake, own up to it. We are no longer dealing with the days of putting out a press release to cover up a mistake. Our social media world does not allow it. Admit you made a mistake, apologize for what you did, and tell your customers what you are doing to fix it and what you will do in the future to make sure it doesn’t happen again. Coming clean and moving on will make your brand stronger and your customers will trust you more in the long run.

At the end of the day, your business needs to understand the power of social media and how professionally-run social media pages can make a world of difference. If you have a solid plan on how to handle negative remarks, comments or reviews, your business will benefit greatly from it in case of an emergency.

Spotlight On The City of Green, Ohio

City of Green Responsive Website

The City of Green, Ohio (CoG) identified a need to refresh and redesign their old website (http://www.cityofgreen.org) that was originally designed and hosted by TKG.

Green has changed pretty dramatically since the former site was created. It is now a bustling suburban community with more than 25,000 residents. Some small farms still dot the landscape, amid 530-acres of city-owned parkland, homes and subdivisions, office parks, businesses and recreation facilities.

Their website served the community well, but a lack of updating meant that it couldn’t be viewed on some devices, specifically mobile. More than 80% of traffic to their website were returning visitors on a weekly or monthly basis, so it was important that they have a site that could be viewed on the go.

At the same time, and most importantly, the website needed a review and restructuring of the existing content to improve relevance and improve findability (it’s a word, look it up!).

Valerie Wolford - City of Green

For the pivotal task of reviewing and restructuring existing content, we were introduced to Valerie Wolford, Communications Coordinator, as the lead of the project. We have worked with only a few project leads that can compare to Valerie. Her attention to detail and realistic outlook on seeing a project of this magnitude through to the end were invaluable and a joy to see in action. We know it will probably be awhile until we get the opportunity to work with Valerie again, but until then we will be looking forward to it.

Valerie lifted the heavy weight in the beginning of the project by rounding up a staggering amount of factual data from the current website. She polled and interviewed actual visitors and employees alike in an attempt to uncover the true areas to be improved. Out of this research, we determined three core objectives of this project:

  1. Create a responsive design to quickly engage visitors by focusing content to their demographic and interest(s)
  2. Provide CoG with a higher level of stability and content flexibility using APOXE 7, TKG’s latest content management platform
  3. Assist CoG to improve site structure and usability

In order to facilitate the objectives, TKG employed these administrative sections behind the update of the website’s aesthetic design of 17 unique layouts:

 

  • Page Content
  • Community Events (with community submissions)
  • News Articles
  • Real Estate Listings
  • Citizen Alerts
  • Contact Forms
  • Image & Document Directories

This project has come to completion and, for all parties involved, it was a huge success. The City of Green, Ohio will continue to be a progressive, technology-friendly city by improving its web presence by utilizing tools such as search engine optimization, content reorganization and other continued strategies to focus the navigation, tone and user experience on the website.

TKG would like to again extend a thank you to The City of Green, Ohio for the opportunity to work on the project. Congrats on a great site!

 

Congratulations to Bonita Eberhart, our new Office Manager!

Bonita EberhartBonita comes to TKG after almost 15 years in the interior design industry. In her new role as Office Manager, Bonita will be responsible for establishing and maintaining the efficiency of TKG’s front-of-office operations. She will draw from her broad experience working in administration, sales and interior design to keep the TKG team in check and the office running smoothly.

Join us in congratulating Bonita in the comments!

Dave Brown on His New Role & a New Perspective

Dave_BrownIt’s interesting to have the opportunity to see the inner workings of a small company like TKG from more than one perspective.  When I joined the group almost 2 years ago as an Account Coordinator, then Account Manager, I saw a lot of things – many of them from the perspective of the client.

Recently I took on the role of Director of Client Services.  My new job is to manage our Online Marketing & Web Development teams’ resources to keep hundreds of clients moving in a positive direction. It’s been a role that’s been hard to fill at TKG in the past, so I’m looking forward to the challenge.

What a different viewpoint this is! As an Account Manager, all that mattered was delivering what we promised and keeping my clients happy. TKG has always strived to deliver excellent customer service, and I knew what that meant when I was managing client accounts. It meant understanding the client’s goals or requests, reaching out to the team and understanding what it will take to deliver, then asking them to execute upon approval.  Pretty simple right?

The view from the Client Services Director’s seat is quite different.  I now see just how many requests we get on a daily basis, both large and small. They also come from dozens of external and many internal clients.  It’s a real challenge to work with my team to find a way to keep all of these clients happy.

Every client, large or small, feels like they are our only client.  I believe they deserve to feel that way.

I’m now working with a great team of people to find that balance between the right number of clients, and the right communication system to allow us to do just that.  Make every client feel as if they are our only client.

Announcing Two Well-Deserved Promotions at TKG

We’re excited to officially announce the promotions of two TKGers, Patrick Willoughby and David Brown.

After 10+ years of service at TKG and increasing responsibility, Patrick Willoughby has been promoted to Vice President of Operations. In his new role, he oversees day-to-day operations here at TKG, which includes all of us staff, finance issues, as well as managing any building issues (we’ve been known to have one or two).

Pat_Wiloughby

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

David Brown, who joined TKG in 2011 as an account coordinator (and was quickly promoted to account manager) has been promoted to Director of Client Services. He now oversees all web development and marketing staff and ensures projects are delivered on time and within budget parameters. No pressure or anything, Dave!

Dave_Brown

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Congrats, guys! Well, well deserved!

Our Culture at TKG: Work with People You Like

Or at least we hope so. In May I talked about the importance of client relationships, including our take here at TKG. This month I’m touching on our other “people relationships” here at TKG that matter: our people.

Employees are more likely to enjoy coming to work with people they like and respect.  Quality goes up. Efficiency goes up. Overall enjoyment goes up. Not a bad situation all around, if you ask me. As a business, you create a name for yourself as a place people want to work: “Oh man, that place is so cool, I’d love to work there!” Etc, etc.

IMG_6039

It’s the easy stuff that can get lost that often means the most.  Taking time to have a quick discussion, asking how the weekend was (and mean it), putting on a company grill out or participating in it (these pics are from a May cookout here), getting smaller groups of employees together for lunch, beer after work, etc. These are things we try to make part of our culture here at TKG.

Last month we did a top 5 Characteristics of a Great Client relationship. This month, we have an installment of a great employee relationship:

  1. Communication – don’t keep secrets. Be up front and clear/transparent in your discussions with the team. Even the hard stuff.
  2. Trust – do the employees trust the company? That the company will make good decisions always with the team in mind.
  3. Engagement – Is the company going to the team for input regularly? What challenges are IMG_6041there? Feedback?
  4. Action – if the team is engaged, are they acting on the needs of the clients/business? Reversely, if they company tells the team they are going to do something, the company needs to deliver.
  5. Growth – is the company challenging the employees, encouraging and supporting them to grow?

Who wouldn’t want to work somewhere other people only *wish* they could work? We feel strongly here at TKG that it’s our people who make the difference. We want this to be a place that people want to work and others wish they could. Don’t you want that for your business, too?

IMG_6043

IMG_6037

Register Now for Google Analytics: How to Make Sense of Your Stats

If you follow TKG on social media or here on the blog, you know that we just wrapped up our 5th season of Breakfast Bootcamp.

Well, we were supposed to wrap it up, anyway.  It’s still happening!

By special request, we tacked on a bonus session on Google Analytics: How to Make Sense of Your Stats for Thursday, July 25th. That session filled up in three days. Apparently people want to really want to make sense of stats!

So, now we’re doing a BONUS BONUS (double bonus? Bonus-squared?) Google Analytics session on August  8th. This is the same session as the one on July 25th, so please only register for one session!

We fully expect this one to fill up, too, so register soon.

Here’s what our own Google Analytics-certified Leanne Wicks plans to cover:

  • Introduction to Google Analytics
  • Understanding Traffic/Types of Traffic
  • Understanding Which Reports are Key
  • How to properly set up Google Analytics on your site
    • Account Creation
    • How to Use Filters
    • Setting Up Goals
    • Terminology

DETAILS:

Google Analytics: How to Make Sense of Your Stats
Thursday, August 8, 2013
8 AM -9:30 AM
@TKG Offices
5590 Lauby Road Suite 8
North Canton, OH 44720

Head over to TKG.com to register now!