Tag Archives: responsive design

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.

Mobile Only is Foolish

responsiveHas our industry done enough to convince you that a mobile friendly website is important?

In case we haven’t, it is critical.  Here are a few links to make that point clear:

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.

Why You Shouldn’t Have Too Many Websites

When marketing your business on the Internet, sometimes it may be sensible to offer visitors more than one website. But in most cases, having too many websites can be a detriment to your company.

Over the past two years, we have been asked our opinion concerning having more than one website. Should your company have more than one website? Maybe, but owning numerous websites, we found, can cause lots of challenges.

4-8 years ago: the multiple website mentality 
There was a trend—especially with larger corporations—to create websites for each brand or for every whim that came out of the marketing department. For example, if a company wanted to market a new product or service, the quick plan was to build a website around it.

“It’s new. It needs its own website.” 

The concept seemed solid: let’s create one site that is all about this product or service, and Google will reward us for it. Oh, how times have changed. Today, that just isn’t the case.

Today’s web and business
Google has gotten smarter. The world’s biggest search engine can tell what type of device you are using, not to mention your location, your behaviors, likes and interests as well as the websites that stand the best chance of meeting your needs.

The Internet has changed; so websites need to adapt quickly. Today, your business or organization must have a web presence for everyone. Your audience is on all devices: desktop, tablet and smartphone computers.

Knowing all of this, how are you going to manage a website for each product or service well and manage the information each type of computer user is seeking (e.g. a smartphone user tends to want brief, bullet-point style answers to questions; a desktop user may want to dig deeper into the information, research, etc.)?

In other words, how can you give visitors to your website a great experience so they want to buy from your business?

Answers to the challenges of multiple websites

The following are some reasons why businesses should want fewer websites – perhaps even condense down to one site.

  • Mobile-friendliness – It’s important to create a great web experience for all users, especially smartphone and tablet users. This most likely means redeveloping your website in what’s known as ‘responsive design.’ This is costly and time consuming. Imagine doing this for every site you own!
  • Lower costs – You can save development costs and management time when multiple websites are trimmed down into one good site. Development is less time and money. Hosting is less. SSLs are less. Costs of labor to make changes, additions and updates are less when resources are conserved. Less is less.
  • Easier to manage – I would say one of the greatest expenses of owning a website is the time it takes to add and update pages. And to do it right, you have to dedicate time to manage your website. Otherwise, the site is likely not doing your company much good. Having fewer websites means less time employees will spend logging in, writing and managing text, photos and videos in multiple website admins. It’s much easier to manage all of your company’s content in one location. (Shameless plug alert: You can also save employee time by having us help with writing content, and managing your website – FYI.)
  • Search engine credibility – If more content is on one domain, and Google is getting really good at understanding what a business has to offer (not to mention if visitors to a website are finding what they are seeking), doesn’t it make sense that you might be able to leverage the strength of having more content on one domain to your advantage? If that content is consistently being updated in one place (instead of having many websites with some stagnant content – who can manage all that and do it well?), wouldn’t it appear to Google that your company’s website is well-maintained with fresh, relevant content for visitors? If so, we bet Google would reward that.

There IS a solution!
The web is challenging. Our clients are busy, and most have a website (or more) and multiple social media platforms to manage. The challenge is to let go of what you don’t need. Don’t be afraid to ask yourself the hard questions:

  • Do we need more than one website?
  • Can we have just one good website?
  • Where is my audience on social media? (e.g. Are my customers on Facebook and Twitter or are they on LinkedIn?

If you have multiple websites and are loaded down with doing a lot but not doing a lot well, it may be time to find a better way to market your company.

Let’s get together and talk about your customers and your business goals for growth. Let’s put a strategy together for your website and web marketing.

Don’t Do Anything to Your Website for this One Reason

One would think that Google’s own team of experts would know how its search engine works, right?google

While they probably know how their engineers envision it working, it’s apparent that there are aspects that even these leaders in tech can’t reliably explain.

As you can see from Jon’s post regarding subdomains vs. subdirectories, real world tests don’t play out as Google says they should.

Over the years we’ve seen numerous examples where real world tests don’t always match up with stated outcomes.

Another good example is the flurry over responsive design and how it relates to search engine rankings. Our industry–TKG included–is really good playing into the hysteria. If you’ve followed the industry conversation, you’d think that all websites that are non-responsive would have been removed from Google’s index by now.

The reality is that most sites are not responsive; Google, however, still has to return relevant results to satisfy its users.

Don’t misunderstand me. I believe sites need to be responsive, but for the right reason: because human beings are accessing sites on mobile devices.

We have said for years to our clients, “Don’t do anything to your website just for Google.” If you’re doing it just because Google or your online marketing agency said so then it’s probably not the right move. Make changes to your website because it makes sense for your users and the search engines will have no choice but reward you.

Besides, it’s clear that even Google doesn’t always know how Google works.

Mobilegeddon: The Results are in

April 21, 2015 will forever live in infamy in the online marketing world. This date, lovingly dubbed ‘mobilegeddon’ by those in the industry, corresponds with the day Google implemented their new algorithm that favors mobile friendly sites on mobile searches.

Think about how many times a day you Google something on your phone. This is a huge deal for websites.mobilegeddon

Google informed webmasters that they were planning to favor mobile sites on mobile searches back in February and provided resources for developers to help them make their sites mobile-friendly. This created a two month long mad dash for web developers to get their sites mobile. Some succeeded, and some did not.

It’s been a few months since April 21, so a lot of people are asking what the real impact of mobilegeddon actually is. The results seem to live up to the hype. According to a recent study done by Adobe Systems, traffic to non-mobile websites from Google mobile searches fell 12 percent in two months.

Google is not messing around. When they said mobile-friendly sites will receive preferential treatment in mobile search results, they were serious. On top of that, Google recently announced that in the US, mobile searches now outnumber desktop searches.

If you’re reading this and your site is not mobile, it might be time to consider responsive design.

Responsive design is a technology that allows your full website to be desktop, tablet and mobile friendly. You can tell if a site is responsive by decreasing your window size. If the site adjusts to the size of the browser, then it’s responsive and vice versa.

Google’s mobilegeddon aside, there’s a more important reason to go mobile: it’s great for your site’s visitors. Responsive design allows mobile users to easily use your whole site, as opposed to having a separate mobile site that is a watered down version of your desktop site.

When users find your site to be easy to use on a mobile platform, they are more likely to stay on your site longer. This should lead to more leads and conversions.

The Internet is shifting toward a mobile platform. Google and customers alike are saying catch up or be left behind.

Need help making your site responsive? Check out our website and see how TKG can help.

Real Time Responsive Design Test

Responsive Design – it’s not just a buzzword. We’ve written quite a few blog posts on the subject here at TKG. We’ve stressed the importance of providing a powerful, functional web experience whether the user is sitting in front of their PC or in the back of a taxi cab miles away from home.

Chances are if you are already working with an online marketing firm, you know whether or not your website is, in fact, responsive. But for the small business owner who doesn’t have a bevy of web experts at their disposal, this can be a tricky question.

Enter the Mobile Web Transmogrification Portal! The what? Transmog is a simple tool that generates a real-time working preview of your website as it would appear on various mobile devices. Preview options include the iPhone 4S, iPhone 5, iPad 2 and Samsung Galaxy S3.  Simply plug your URL into the tool and choose the display choice. You can toggle through the different display types and click through to any page on your website. The display updates real time so you can see whether your entire site is responsive or if your homepage is the only piece that is user-friendly.


We’ve captured a few examples of what a nice, responsive website looks like on the iPad and Galaxy using this tool. Give it a try! If you aren’t pleased with what you see on the display, you know where to find us!

TransMog Responsive Test - iPad TransMog Responsive Test - Galaxy

Above (and Below) the Fold

For years I would preach about keeping all relevant content “above the fold” on the home page. If you are unfamiliar with the phrase, it simply refers to the area presented to visitors when a web page loads in the browser window. Wikipedia might explain it a little better. Anything included below the fold was most certainly lost forever. Never to be seen again. Yikes!

Why did I hammer this concept home for several years? Because it was truly believed that people didn’t like to scroll down a page to find what they were looking for. And maybe that was true way back when.

I think that concept is one dimensional and isn’t very true anymore.

While you still want to keep your biggest message on top, you can include many details on a page and people WILL scroll if they are motivated to find out more. Another reason to disregard my old advice is because search engines look at the entire page and index content no matter where it’s at. If it’s relevant, then it deserves a place at the table.

I think a large player in this arena is the adoption of smart phones and the necessity to scroll on those devices. People have become accustomed to viewing websites on smaller screens with the need to scroll. Have you ever spent 5 (or 60) minutes scrolling through Facebook? Yep, you’ll just keep going without any worry.

Scroll On

If you’ve lived in fear of the fold maybe it’s time to reconsider things. You may be missing an opportunity to get great, relevant content on your home page that will ultimately help convert potential customers. Not sure where to start? Call us and we can look at your website together.


Responsive Design

Over the years, the ways in which we view the internet have changed dramatically. I still remember the days when my family dialed up the internet on our old Compaq, and now users have the option to access the internet virtually on their TVs, PCs, tablets, smartphones, netbooks or even their refrigerators. The point is, users are accessing your site on a range of different devices, and you want to be seen everywhere you can.

If your company is willing to invest the time, money and resources it takes to create a digital playground where customers can go to discover your products and services, it’s worth adapting that investment to display correctly on all relevant devices.

According to a recent study by the research firm IDC, there were over 1 billion smartphones sold worldwide in 2013, and according to Gartner, over 195 million tablets were sold the same year. With that many mobile internet users in world, it is important that your website is equipped to adapt to those users’ mobile screens.

So what’s the takeaway? To stay current and relevant in the digital space, it is important to consider responsively designed websites. Responsive sites are quickly becoming the industry’s standard because of their ability to adapt to changing technologies, and bonus: they have all sorts of residual business benefits.

Have additional thoughts about responsive design? We’d love to hear them!



Image Credit

Getting More Leads and Sales from Your Company Website

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?

More Traffic

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?

Is Your Website Ready for the New Year? 5 Things You Need to Update

2015All year long you’ve been working on online marketing efforts, putting time and money into your website. We are sure 2014 has been one of your best years ever.

As you head into 2015 and plan to make this next year even better, there are a few items to focus on to meet your new business goals. So we polled our experts and looked back through our archives this year to bring you the top 5 things to think about for your website in 2015

  1. Responsive Design

If your website is not easily accessed from or adaptable to any mobile device, or if you’ve been using mobile workarounds, or if you hear the term “responsive design” and say “huh?” then it’s absolutely time for a change.

(Seriously. We cannot emphasize this one enough.)

With more and more customers approaching access to the Web fluidly from any device, it’s more important than ever that your information and products be accessible and viewable on any screen.

Not only is the user experience of responsive design important, but there are SEO and business benefits as well. In fact, Google recommends responsive design for your website.

Want to learn more? Our TKGeniuses have covered responsive design in depth over the last year. Take a look:

An Introduction to Responsive Design

How TKG Integrates Responsive Design

How Responsive Design Impacts Online Marketing

Responsive Design Tips

SEO Benefits to Responsive Design

  1. Updated Online Marketing Tactics

No matter how good your online marketing strategy is currently working for you, it’s always wise to review your efforts and update them if necessary.

For example, you might place an emphasis on customer service in your business and have your 800 number prominently displayed in your utility navigation on your website. But have you thought about capturing customers sooner with the added convenience of live chat?

Or what about the use of opt-in SMS messaging for coupons or reminders? Sending some of your online ad budget toward Clickbank or Commission Junction? Custom landing pages for specific articles or capture opportunities (e.g. grabbing customers from a trade show)? YouTube, Facebook or Twitter ads? Sponsored Pins on Pinterest? Instagram contests?

If you have an idea, a niche audience or an upcoming campaign, consider tactics that may not have once been a part of your regular online marketing strategy.

Just to get you started, here are a few articles from TKGenius:

Why Manufacturers Should Consider E-Commerce

The New Shift in Online Marketing Trends

3 Reasons Pinterest is Good for Business

Long Tail Ads on YouTube

Keeping Track with Tag Assistant

  1. Clean Up

OK, when was the last time you audited your product listings and made sure every photo was up to date, compelling and showed your product accurately? How about the last time you went through your descriptions and updated them? Or–gasp–are you still listing products you no longer carry?

What about your forms? Are you still using tiny boxes with hard to read fields, or requiring information that makes it hard for customers to fill them out easily?

Do you always remember to update your copyright year on your website? What about your profiles on Social Media? Do they currently reflect your current brand message?

Auditing your site can take time, but is well worth the effort. Here are even more helpful articles from our experts:

Unique Content for Product Descriptions

Product Descriptions that Convert

3 Types of Content to Include In Your Product Descriptions

  1. Messaging

What message is your website REALLY conveying? Is it consistent with your overall brand message?

It’s easy for brands to overlook their messaging online. Cluttered homepages, mis-matched logos across Social profiles, and landing pages that are all text actually detract from your overall message.

We’ve often found that many businesses are really good with their print messaging, but, for whatever reason, this messaging gets lost online. Part of the problem is due to feeling like everything needs to fit on one screen, instead of strategically using content, images, SEO or other tactics to funnel a visitor exactly where you want them.

Making your product or service offering the center of attention and erring on the side of minimalism in your design is actually a better way to convey your message. It’s also easy to employ the use of sidebar stickies or custom slider photos or videos to convey your message. And don’t forget the use of your blog or Social Media to reinforce your message regularly.

And of course:

3 Clever Messaging Tweaks to Grow Your Business

Avoiding Outdated Web Design

Revisiting Website Strategy

Using Video

Improve Conversions with Funneling

  1. Content

Unless you’ve been ignoring the online marketing sphere for, oh, the last eight years or so, you’ve probably heard the term “content” or “content marketing” at some point. But as both consumers, marketers and Google are getting more savvy, regularly publishing compelling content that truly reflects your brand and your message is more important than ever.

So does your content truly show your brand’s personality? Is it communicating your message and promotions clearly? Is it relatable and easy to understand? Does it work in harmony on all your channels? Does it include all types of content, especially multi-media?

Here are just a few articles (of the many) to help you create your best year ever in content:

21 Tips to Make Your Content Marketing More Effective

5 Ways to Use Content to Increase Engagement

What To Do With Past Content

How to Market Your Content Off-Site

3 Inspiring Creative Content Marketing Campaigns

We want 2015 to be your best year online yet. Use these last few weeks of 2014 to comb through and evaluate your website and make tweaks (or major changes!) if needed.