Mobile Only however is foolish. While it’s critical that users can easily access your website on mobile devices, that doesn’t mean that desktops and tablets are not a substantial part of the equation. Most of us use one or both of those device types every day. It’s important to make sure your web presence is professional on all devices, not just phones.
When considering options as it relates to making your site mobile friendly, do it professionally. Don’t let yourself be tempted by very inexpensive or quick and cheap solutions. As with anything, if it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing it right. Remember, this affects how most people will experience your brand for the first time.
Things to avoid when considering mobile site options:
Cheap or freeware apps and tools that cannot be customized
Tools that interrupt your messaging with their brand i.e.: load screens with the tool’s logo
Tools that hide your content behind their domain (yourname.productname.com)
Software that looks the same in every application – your brand should stand out
Potential problems caused by low end tools:
Branding often limited and inconsistent
User experience is poor across multiple device types
Content can be hidden from the search engines or associated to other companies. Many of these services also don’t offer you any way to optimize your content or do other marketing-related functions that help make your business successful online.
I understand it’s easy to get excited, want to move fast, and have to go mobile on a limited budget. Believe me I have seen a lot of products come and go over the years that meet those needs. They go away for a reason.
If you have a solid business that you’re proud of and expect to be around for the long haul, you want to avoid short term mistakes that have long term implications.
Your site needs to be mobile friendly. That is true. But it should also be desktop and tablet friendly. That’s why professional web designers and developers who understand the big picture leverage responsive design.
Our industry has gotten a bad name with these kinds of foolish apps that make big promises and ultimately cost the consumer. As a digital agency, I believe we have a responsibility to uphold professional standards and look out for the best long-term impact on our clients.
I’d love to hear your thoughts. Give me a call at 330-493-6141.
As I have shared previously, having a business website that caters to desktop, tablet and smartphone users (responsive design) is crucial as Google is giving more weight to sites that offer a great experience to all of its visitors. So, let’s say you’ve invested in your company website to do just that – what’s the next step?
Obviously, you want people to find your website and pay it a visit. You do this by having a good SEO/content strategy in place; and you can also bring more traffic to the website through paid advertising, social media posting and email marketing.
So let’s say you have good traffic coming to your site. What are you doing with it? Is your website generating leads? Is it creating sales for your company? If not, then you need to look at what’s called “conversion optimization.” ‘Conversions,’ for the purpose of this article, is a fancy word meaning leads and sales – how someone makes contact with your business. If you have traffic, but you are not receiving leads or sales, then there is a disconnect somewhere – and you need to find it.
Leads and Sales
There are three primary ways to generate leads from your website: phone calls, form submissions, and live chat. Phone numbers should be prominently placed and easy to find by site visitors. Forms should be simple and quick to fill out so users can send you contact you. And chat is icing on the cake – a simple way to get instant gratification if you are a website visitor with questions. We have found that people like to reach out to our clients in different ways, meaning each person has their preference. Why not cater to all three?
Let’s say you have an e-commerce website; you don’t want leads, you want sales. Make the experience smart, easy and intuitive. Does your current e-commerce website offer features such as the ability to order from the product listing page? Can I set-up an account and save my past orders? Is the checkout process simple and painless? Can I get free shipping or a discount on larger orders? Are you offering as many products as possible to potentially expand order size? Does your e-commerce website convey the feeling of trust by offering a way to contact your company, a return policy, testimonials, product reviews, etc.? And do you offer live chat to help buyers overcome any ordering challenges or questions?
Challenge yourself to objectively review your website. Determine whether or not you need help with traffic or conversions; then, take the necessary steps to improve its performance. You may be able to make some changes on your own or you may need some help from a web development/web marketing company. Whatever the case, DO something. The internet is not going away, and I can almost guarantee your competitors will be looking at this, too. Why not beat them to the punch?
Back in December, we talked about this big metaphorical ship known as the “Mobile Web”. Since then, have you purchased your ticket and jumped on board? A common reason to not take the plunge is the concern of how much it costs to have a mobile website created and maintained on top of a desktop based web site, and some may not see any reason in having two versions of the same site. I want to give a little more encouragement for you to join many businesses world-wide who are taking a step into the future and taking advantage of mobility.
Mobile websites come in three different forms:
Full mobile version of the desktop based site
Mobile website for main pages in the website. Other pages will be viewed as desktop
Mobile splash page just to introduce your company to the mobile world.
There is a reason why I ordered these this way. The first option is both most beneficial and most costly, with the last item listed being the least effective and costs the least. Don’t get me wrong, a mobile splash page can still make a world of a difference compared to sticking with your desktop based web site. That being said, if you are curious of the benefits of having a mobile optimized web page but are still weary of the cost. Give the third option a shot, see the true benefits that mobile will provide for your company. As you see the number of page hits increase, you can always re-visit this decision and upgrade from there.
Maybe your point of caution is not the cost of the second website, but having to maintain two different websites. That can be a very daunting task and takes up precious time that could be used on other items for your company. Well, you’re in luck! Mobile websites can be integrated into your current website. Essentially a mobile website is just a different design for the web site and therefore can use the same content as the main site just with a different look if it’s on a mobile page.
But wait, There’s More!
Ever hear of the term “responsive design”? It is a way to build a website where the design responds to the size of the web browser. As the browser window gets larger or smaller, elements will re-size and re-position so that the page continues to look crisp and clean. Still not sure about what I’m talking about? Here are some easy steps you can follow for a live demo of responsive design:
Make sure your web browser is not maximized and filling up the whole screen
Grab a hold of the side or corner of the web browser and start moving it around
Watch as the page re-arranges and re-sizes to where it needs to be to fit the window
See how nifty that is? That is the true direction that this ship is sailing in. It is the way of the future. And the best part about it is that it does not rely on whether you are on a mobile device or not, only the size of the browser. It is a completely device and browser indifferent way of creating a web site that looks great no matter what.
What is not permitted on the Mobile Web?
Another thing to take into consideration is that just because your current website works on a desktop does not mean it will work on a mobile device. The big red flag is Adobe Flash. Mobile devices, especially Apple products, do not allow the use of Flash. So if your current site relies on Flash, it will not work on a mobile device. Not only will it not work, but for the few devices that it will work on, it uses a much larger file size than almost any other format for a web page. There are are other more elegant, mobile friendly ways to handle any functionality that flash may provide.
Change your mind yet?
Hopefully by now you see the true value of considering Mobile as part of your online strategy. If you are truly considering the true benefits that a mobile based website can do for your business, you are in luck. I know a fantastic group of people who know a lot about mobile and will always put your company’s goals first. Check out their page on mobile websites, to leave them a message or even request a quote and see just where this ship is sailing!
Lets face it, having a mobile application developed for a company can be very expensive.
Some companies use that money to make a mobile app that is more or less a working version of their website for mobile devices. Other companies will create ads that other mobile apps can include in their mobile applications. And lastly there are some companies that find an interactive way to advertise their product or service as a mobile application. Each has their own benefits and uses.
1. Getting Your Foot in the Door
The first use of mobile applications, which is having your website on the app store as a mobile application.
Your company will show up in searches on the app store.
Content can be stored off-line.
Great for content that changes often such as blogs to keep users updated.
Paying a lot to gain little.
People want apps that are interactive not necessarily just for content.
People look for information once and rarely need it again.
Since people will not be using it much, word will not get out about it and you will find low numbers of downloads and probably would not be worth the money spent to create it.
2. Save Money and Let Others Do the Dirty Work
The next level up is creating mobile ads that can be added to other websites. A great example of this is olive garden. One of the authors on Mobile Marketer wrote an article describing their strategy. Olive Garden has location friendly ads, that when someone taps their ad, it will find the nearest Olive Garden for the user to try out one of their new menu items under 575 calories.
Not as expensive as full-blown app.
Advertises the product effectively.
App developers will be attracted to adding ads into their app for the potential of generating their own revenue from it.
Little to no control over what app your ad shows up in.
Apps with ads often give the option to pay to remove ads which could cause visibility to decrease.
3. Taking Full Advantage of Modern Technology
The third option is, in my opinion, the way apps should be done. Sure its expensive, but it is also the most effective at getting your product, service, and/or brand out there. The key to creating a mobile application that gets your name out there is knowing what your product, service, or brand is.
Once you have that you just need a little creativity in the mix. Take a look at Charmin, yes the toilet paper brand. This mobile application is genius! This mobile application more or less keeps track of where there is a public restroom near your current location. Think about it, you have been on a nice 6 hour drive and all of the sudden, the three coffees you had before you left has hit. Where do you go? Open up the Charmin Sit or Squat app and you will find a place very quickly.
ESPN did a great job too. They have a mobile application that lets you follow your favorite sports teams and it will notify you any time the score changes when that team is playing. If you are on the go you never have to miss a game. This sort of application is possible for any company with enough creativity.
Gets people talking. When someone enjoys how they interact with your company they tell their friends and then they get hooked on it too.
Possibility of paid version to help generate profit.
Provide great advertising for what your company does.
The cost – It’s not cheap, there is no hiding that. But with proper marketing, the disadvantage of cost will turn into a profit as word of the app gets out and more people interact with the company.
Now It’s Your Turn
Which one of these approaches has your brand tried? Any of them? What worked and what didn’t? Let me know in the comments.
Some of you may be surprised that the Mayans got it wrong. The world continues to survive another day.
That got me thinking, what predictions were way off base and which ones hit it spot on regarding web development trends for 2012.
After looking around the Googles for a little bit I’ve discovered that web programmers are not as much as “future trend thinking” bunch as our front end designer friends. However, since both professions work together to make a complete website experience lets look at what was said:
Mobile Mobile Mobile Mobile. Did you realize there is a mobile revolution going on? With many devices now accessing content on the web, designers and programmers need to be aware and treat each appropriately for the end user. A few major predictions play into this trend as the world is always connected. The first being responsive design
Responsive design simply means that the layout has built in intelligence to render content differently based on the size of a visitors screen. A smaller screen can hide the large homepage banners, and provide quicker access to content most interesting to a mobile user, while a desktop display can provide a more encompassing experience with also providing the same content. Each of the predictions I read online listed this as the first major trend for 2012. TKG also felt this trend and we’ve begun implementing the techniques and methods in our own work to embrace the variety of devices using our websites.
CSS3/HTML5 finally becomes mainstream enough to welcome the technology into standard projects. Mobile devices not only influence how sites are being built, they are influencing the tools to build them. The evolution of the web is moving away from 3rd party plug-ins like Flash and offering native richer experiences through the use of CSS3/HTML5. This industry shift makes it easier for agencies like TKG to develop consistent and rich experiences across all platforms without needing to make a specific version for each, or require the user to install additional hardware on their device.
Not all predictions appear to be as wide spread, or accurate. For example, this particular author from Point B Communications felt that “unique scrolling mechanisms” was going to be a trend that gains attention in 2012. The author felt that putting the content “above the fold” (the point that scrolling starts) is a myth.
TKG knows that a website only has a fraction of a second to make a first impression, and that a user will not scroll or hunt to get the content they desire. By embracing a long scroll to convey a message in your website you risk the user missing a point, getting bored, or worse yet lost on your site because navigation is taken away from their view.
Hits and Misses from 2012
There you have it, some hits and misses for what 2012 was going to offer for web development.
As the predictions for 2013 begin to work their way onto the Internet, the folks at TKG will continue to watch the web evolve and come together to deliver the best of all fields of web development.
There is a big metaphorical ship ready to take businesses to the next level of marketing utilizing mobile phones. As of right now, when someone wants to know what a company is all about, they Google the company and take a peek at their website. Which is great if all of those searches were coming from desktops. A large percentage, though, is coming from mobile devices, mainly smart phones.
Most people know what it is like to roll up a sleeping bag after a weekend of camping in the outdoors. You really have to squeeze and stuff the sleeping bag into its bag in order to get it all to fit. Websites work the same way. Looking at websites on a desktop allows at least 4 times the amount of viewing space when compared to mobile browsers. So when a user tries to view your website on a smaller device, all of that information gets crammed on to a small screen forcing the user to zoom and slide all around your web page in order to get a little bit of information. Sounds frustrating doesn’t it?
It is true that the website is still functional even though it is crammed onto a small screen, but is it really usable? What I mean by that is will people want to use it? Very rarely will someone be sitting at a computer and chose to use their mobile browser to search for something over using their computer, so it is when people are not at a computer that matters.
Just as an example, lets say that company A, which sells furniture, has a fully functional desktop site, but no mobile site to back it up. George is at company B, which also sells furniture, and wants to try and do a quick price comparison on the kitchen table he is looking at. The first result on his Google search was company A. Three minutes later the web page finally loads and now in order to find the product George is forced to zoom and slide around the page to find the appropriate links, some of which are too small for his finger to touch accurately. George gets bored and frustrated and even though it turns out that company A sold the same table for 100$ less, he gave up looking and purchased thetable from company B.
So that functional website, is it really functional? The website is about 4 times larger, therefore it will take longer for it to show up on mobile devices. In order to fit the website on the screen the device zooms out so everything is really small. Even if the user knows exactly where to go, they will still need to zoom in and slide around to make sure they hit the links they need to hit to get there.
Want another example? Take a look at the two images on the right. The one on top is an image of a non-mobile optimized web-page on a mobile device. It’s not very easy to see what is going on or where to go without zooming and sliding. Now look at the image below it. It is very clean and simple, easy to navigate eliminating all confusion.
That all being said, what are the advantages of having a mobile Smaller file-size means faster page loading which means everyone is happy.optimized website?look at the two images on the right. The one on top is a screen shot from a non-mobile-optimized web page on an iPhone 4S. Without zooming and scrolling its not exactly easy to see what is going on or where to go to find the information you are looking for right? Now look at the image right below it.
Takes up less screen space: No more zooming and horizontal scrolling.
Have your phone number on the site? The call is just one touch away.
Content is to-the-point: Goodbye confusion, hello information users need.
Shopping on the go? I think so.
People, for the most part, including myself, have become very impatient and spoiled when it comes to technology. If it’s not fast and it is not easy to use, they want nothing to do with it. Is it worth not having a mobile-optimized website if that means potentially losing business from smart phone users? The answer should be no. Mobile websites are much smaller and relatively inexpensive, and will only help bring the company more business.
So what are you waiting for? That metaphorical ship is leaving and quickly speeding up. Are you on board? Or are you being left behind?
At TKG, we’ve been seeing mobile visits to our clients’ websites grow upwards of 150% or more over this past year. That means if you are a business and you do not have a mobile website that is using responsive design, you’ll need to get in the game quickly. If you wait, you may risk loosing visitor traffic to your competitors who have already invested in using responsive design to make their websites friendly to mobile devices.
5 Reasons Why Your Website Needs Responsive Design
Responsive design improve user experience. It’s much easier to read a mobile website page that quickly displays the most important information relevant to your business. (Ever try to read a full website on a tiny cell phone’s mobile browser?)
Even your grandma may be using a mobile browser. Even older generations of consumers are moving to adopt smart phones. Do you want your grandma to be able to find your website in her mobile browser.
Mobile websites let your customers find when it’s convenient. People search for information as they need it; and that means your business needs to take advantage of every opportunity to get in front of customers. Most people do not wait until they get behind a desktop or laptop computer to search for things they want now; they search using mobile devices that are convenient.
Mobile devices let customers contact you on the spot. If your business has a brick and mortar location, the smart phone can be prompted by the mobile-friendly page to have customers call, e-mail or find your business location on a map. This is an incredible tool and a primary reason why many business owners/managers quickly opt to use responsive web design.
Responsive web design can help you stay ahead of competitors. Your competition is already working on making their website display better on mobile devices such as smart phones, iPads, notebooks and tablets. They may be using one of several different methods responsive web design and gaining an edge over competitors.
You have a few options to consider when you are making the move to opening up your website to consumers using a mobile browser.
1. Responsive Design Websites
First, if you do not have a responsive website, it’s time to get that old site upgraded with new code. You’ll at least want your full website displaying nicely in all types of mobile browser options. And, if you are planning to have your website redeveloped anyway, why not explore responsive design?
A website that incorporates responsive web design will allow it to adjust automatically to any screen size. This means that the site can be made to display the most relevant information visitors are looking for, no matter what the size of display screen.
The full website is pre-planned and designed to scale down to every size browser, removing unimportant elements as it is viewed in smaller screens. Responsive web design does cost more, but in the long run, it will adapt and look great in the ever-changing host of browser sizes.
2. Mobile-Only Websites
So, you don’t want to shell out the cash to redesign your website, but you would like to have a second site designed specifically for mobile devices. One option is to build a mobile website that is designed to display in a mobile browser in lieu of your full website when it detects that a mobile browser is being used by the visitor.
Like responsive website design, a mobile website can be a great option because mobile sites are designed for smaller screens. You can keep it simple by offering customers just a few pages of information, or elect to create a version for mobile commerce.
3. Mobile Splash Pages
Another option that is least expensive is to offer a mobile splash page. One way to have a mobile website is by offering one page that auto-displays when a mobile user visits your company’s website.
You keep it simple by offering a description of your business with phone, address and e-mail. If they touch the phone number, the smart phone prompts them to call; if they touch the address, a map pops-up showing your business’ location; and if they touch e-mail, the customer can quickly send a message to your company right from their phone! If more information is needed, the visitor can always select “View Full Website.”
What Will You Choose?
The statistics show that mobile devices have become a mainstream part of our culture in the U.S. and around the world.
The only choice you MUST not make is to ignore this trend.
From the three options I mentioned above, what sticks out to you as the best choice?
We all know by now that mobile is the new “thing” for consumers, due to ease of use and that it can be used just about anywhere. So let’s go ahead and assume you have chosen that “going mobile” is the right decision for your company…which leaves you with another decision. Which is right for your company: a mobile website or a mobile app?
Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a mobile survival guide? Whaddya know….great news! That question you are now pondering has become a lot easier to answer. But before we jump into the reasons for each type of technology, there are some things to be considered before making any sort of decision.
What is the overall goal of the company?
How will mobile help with that?
What will the user be doing?
These are questions that only you can answer.
Any website can be viewed on a mobile device, but there is a catch. Most websites are designed to work on desktop computers, not mobile devices. If you have ever held your phone up to a computer monitor you would see that it has the same effect as holding a post-it note up to a sheet of computer paper. BIG size difference. Taking the website that was designed for your desktop and putting it on mobile would be like printing a full page of text onto computer paper then cram it all in to the size of the post-it note. Mobile websites make this easier by changing the size of the website to match mobile devices without having an effect on the desktop site.
What if your company sells products online and wants to utilize mobile devices to sell products while people are on-the-go? A mobile website is preferable over a mobile app, with the main reason being cost. Mobile applications are much more difficult to create and will cost more to develop, maintain and update. Sure companies like Apple, Amazon and many other e-commerce companies get away with creating an “app for that,” but it is unnecessary when most of the work is already done and is reusable from your website.
Mobile websites are great if you want to use mobile to have consumers interact in various ways with your company. A great example would be sweepstakes websites used by Subway and a few others to interact with their users. These sweepstakes websites use “point and click” interactivity to make it feel like a game without all of the crazy controls and animations of an actual game. Mobile websites are just as capable of achieving these lightweight interactive features that mobile apps can achieve, with a far lower hit to the company’s finances.
Mobile apps are used less for information and more for doing something. As with mobile websites there is still a limited amount of space per page, but generally speaking mobile apps are not as robust as mobile websites.
So who should use mobile apps?
A company that sells compasses would want to consider a compass app to demonstrate their product
GPS companies could easily create GPS apps for people to use instead
A clothing store showing users what they would look like in their new outfit without having to change into the outfit or go into the dressing room.
Each app is made to achieve one goal; some can get away with more, but not many.
Maybe the goal for your company is brand awareness. It is hitting that one-goal mindset from the previous reason, but it opens doors for more opportunities. Taco Bell not too long ago had a mobile app promotion that allowed users to play a game for prizes when they purchase certain food items. Another great example is toy companies creating games for kids to play on their parents’ devices, or in some cases, their personal mobile device. All it takes is a logo and some use of a product related to your company to make this work.
Typically information is meant for a mobile website, but let’s assume that the information you want to display won’t change and is useful for many people. This would include user manuals, strategy guides for video games, general information about a product, or even general data about materials used in your industry. The point is that this information could be stored within the app since it probably won’t change. Mobile websites require internet to use and so do most apps, but apps like these can get away with having the information within itself so it doesn’t have to go searching the internet for it.
So now you have a basic understanding about what separates mobile websites from mobile applications. If you’re still not sure how to proceed for your biz, go ahead & leave a comment. We’d be happy to help!