Going Mobile: Mobile-Friendly Websites

Going Mobile

If you’re a certain age, the heading above may trigger memories of The Who smashing guitars on stage, but in the wild world of the web today it means something quite different: Is your website mobile-friendly? Or is your website suitable for desktop or laptop viewing only? Maybe it looks fine on a tablet, but check it on your iPhone or Android: if you have to “pinch” the screen to make it readable because the text is way too small or the layout far too cluttered, you’re not mobile-friendly.

So what’s the big deal? The big deal is you may be losing customers, for two very big reasons:

  • 61% of internet access is now on mobile devices, according to InMobi, and Nielsen reports up to 84% of US consumers browsing their smartphones or tablets while watching TV.
    Mobile Web Browsing Overtakes PC Browsing

  • Google recently announced major changes to their search algorithms, penalizing websites that aren’t mobile-friendly. Sites that fail to pass the Google mobile-friendly standards risk losing rankings on search engines, at least for searches on mobile devices (and after all, those are precisely the mobile users you want to capture). The result: a decrease in overall visitors, which in turn can mean a huge drop in revenues for those who rely on web traffic.

How do you know if your site is mobile-friendly? Take the Google test.

The Solution

One size does not fit all. You have to assess your website needs and determine the value proposition that’s right for you. Let’s look at three basic approaches:

  • The Ostrich: My site is fine as it is, I’m not going to spend any money fixing what isn’t broken.
  • The Pragmatist: What’s the best bang for my buck? What’s the quickest, least expensive way to be mobile-friendly and not reinvent the wheel?
    Solution: A partial site build to provide mobile access for key pages.

  • The All-In: OK, it’s time for a site redesign anyway, what do I need to do to optimize the site for all platforms?
    Solution: A complete site conversion to a “responsive” design optimized for all devices.

Sample Mobile SitePutting aside “The Ostrich,” let’s compare the other two options. The first is a partial site redesign where you or your web team creates a mobile version of your site (or of key pages, at a minimum the homepage and any essential pages such as Contact Info) which is fully mobile-friendly. A simple script detects whether someone is accessing your site from a desktop or a mobile device, and delivers the appropriate version.

For smaller sites, or just a few pages, this can be very cost effective, providing your customers a mobile-friendly experience with minimal expense and no need to redraft the entire site. The downside? You have two sets of pages to maintain, and it’s really only a temporary solution. But if you don’t edit the site very often, this could be the ideal solution at a much lower cost. (Of course, you should update your site, or at least your homepage, frequently, but that’s another topic.)

The second option, which you may have seen promoted online recently, is the full site conversion to what’s called a “responsive template”: a design which automatically adapts to the browsing device (“user agent”), delivering the same content formatted to whatever platform the visitor is using. The layout “responds” to mobile devices with one layout, tablets with another, and desktop PCs with a third layout. Additionally, a WordPress responsive template empowers you to edit your site at will through its capable admin interface, so you can blog or edit page content at will (allowing you to update your site frequently without having to pay a third party for these edits). The downside? A more expensive initial development phase.

This could be an opportune time for a site redesign if it’s been a few years since you last updated your site design. But at the very least, I strongly recommend the second option: For minimal cost, you can have a sharp-looking, mobile-friendly website, improving your SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and garnering more customers. At Standing Stone Designs, I have worked with several clients recently who inquired about the need to be mobile-friendly, developing a custom fit for each client based on their requirements and budget. I will be happy to review the options with you and help you choose the best approach.

Welcome to ChamberMaster

If you have recently visited the Blackstone Valley Chamber of Commerce website, www.blackstonevalley.org, you may have noticed some changes as we’ve been rolling out our new ChamberMaster features, including enhanced Events listings, a completely new and interactive Members Directory, and other features.

If you are a Chamber member, you should have received an email with your new log in info to access your member profile in our Members Directory.

We are really excited about the great new features ChamberMaster brings to our website and the wider Valley community. In the coming days you’ll see a lot more detail here in the BVCC Blog to help you to make the most of your profile and the enhanced website features.

In this post, I’m just going to give you a very brief intro to ChamberMaster.

Your Own Dashboard

When you log into your profile, you will see a dashboard with many opportunities to promote your business.

dashboard

 

You can now add a photo, a logo, a photo gallery, and your social media connections (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn). If you don’t know your login or have any trouble connecting, please just drop us a line and we will assist you.

For now, just take a minute to preview the new Members Directory. You’ll see that you can search by keyword (such as part of your company name), which will generate a dropdown list of options; or alphabetically; or by category.

Also at the top are links for Hot Deals and Member to Member Deals. You may want to check from time to time to see what special deals our members are offering either to the public (Hot Deals) or to other members (Member to Member). If a member is running a Hot Deal, you’ll see it listed in their description upon a search.

If you click on Manage Your Membership (left column under Membership), you will access your member profile, where you can enter or edit a wide range of choices, create a Hot Deal (subject to Chamber approval), add photos, and much, much more.

Add Your Events

Last but certainly not least today: Events.

eventsChamberMaster provides us with a number of options to make event listing and registration much simpler, including a calendar and the opportunity to set a reminder for an event you don’t want to miss. We are just beginning to add events now, so watch this section grow!

There’s much more to come, so check back often to get the scoop! And have a “Valley” great day!

Jeannie Hebert

Marketing in the Blackstone Valley – What’s Working?

How can you get in front of your customers today now that traditional marketing has been turned upside-down and inside-out?

Jay Baer has just published a book called Youtility. Jay is a thought leader in the social media world and he’s a real no-bull kind of guy. I like his down-to-earth, easy to absorb style. And every business needs to know what is working in marketing today.

Three Marketing Awareness Categories

Top of Mind – This is very traditional and pretty ineffective unless you’ve got a huge budget and can come up with an amazing campaign.

Please Hear Me!

In this category falls television, radio and media purchased with the hope that the client’s desired audience is listening or watching the commercial when it appears on their screen or blasts through the speakers.

Just how effective do you think this is for a small business? Unless you’ve got a budget like Geico (think Gecco) or Progressive (think Flo) or even Dish (think Hopper) and combine this tactic with many others including social media and mobile applications, I wouldn’t do it.

Frame of Mind – This has been around for a long-time. It means when your desired target wants to find you, they can. The Yellow Pages is a great traditional example of this. Google searches also fall into this category. Printed directories? Does anyone use them?

phonebook

As marketers, of course we want to place strongly on Google. For a consumer, what could possibly replace the #1 way we search?

Well, if you’ve got an iphone you should know Siri, right? Siri (and voice technology) could well be the “trojan-horse” that knocks Google off that pedestal as #1 in search! When you are on your mobile device, it’s a whole lot easier to press that button and talk to Siri then open your browser and do a search on that tiny screen.

Before we discuss the third category, think about your personal buying habits. If you are starting to research a upcoming purchase, what steps will you take?

  • Start asking your friends, off and on-line. On Facebook you’d put it out as a question. “Looking for a new television. There are so many kinds out there. any recommendations?”
  • Once you have some recommendation, perhaps including Smart TVs, you would Google for more information.
  • Consumers are very educated which effectively changes the job description of a salesperson from one who can make cold calls and close sales to one who needs to answer critical questions from educated consumers quickly, efficiently and in a friendly manner as soon as they appear on the radar. That moment now often happens when they are ready to purchase or have such specific questions they need to talk to a person. So sales has become awesome customer service!
  • According to Social Habit, among Americans who use social media, more than 30% say social media has driven the actual purchase.

Next, open your Facebook personal profile. Look down the newsfeed. These are choices that you have made. Likely you’ll see friends you know, virtual friends you don’t physically know and brands you have chosen to follow. And if you don’t engage with those brand pages (meaning you don’t Like, Comment or Share), then Facebook stops showing them to you.

That is the utopia goal for a brand. To be selectively chosen to be in a person’s social media newsfeed and have them interact with you. So, with that thought in mind, HERE is the third type of marketing.

Friends of Mine! –┬áJay Baer coins this third, real-time, type perfectly. He summarizes the three Awareness categories:

Top-of-mind awareness is an overripe banana, tenuously clinging to relevancy. Frame-of-mind awareness is an apple, worthy of eating, but not enough to sustain you.

Luckily, colossal shifts in how, where, and why consumers access information have made a new, third marketing method possible.

I call this friend-of-mine awareness, and it’s predicated on the reality that companies are competing against real people for the attention of other real people!”

socialSo, my small business friends here in the Blackstone Valley and beyond, if you want to be in front of your customers, incorporate Friend-of-Mine strategies. This means becoming friends with your target audience. Of course, physically networking as our friends here are doing at a Chamber event works well but how many people can we physically do that with? Be sure to include Social Media in your marketing strategies!

My business, Social Media by Michelle, aka FBSmarty, focuses on teaching strategies to do just that.Sign up for my free weekly blog here for easy-to-absorb tactics.

Hope to see you at the next Blackstone Valley Chamber of Commerce event or in virtual land!

Michelle Fontaine