2 things you must do to your website in 2014

Quarter 1 for 2014 is over.  April is upon us and we are knee deep in the year. It’s easy when the year takes over to forget to keep focused on important strategic things that matter.

You looked at your website last December and had great plans to get lots of things changed in 2014 and yet here we are at the end of March and have you made any headway?

Instead of waiting any longer and not making any progress by the end of the next quarter here are the two most important things you need to make sure you are getting done this year:

  1. Mobile Ready
  2. Conversion Optimisation

There are plenty of other areas that matter of course, but we can’t do everything at once, and you will find that the further you push into these two topics the more other related areas they will drag in.

For example, when you are optimising your experience for mobile users, you will be forced to  look at the user journey and the content you need for that, as well as how you are targeting mobile users with your PPC campaigns and SEO. It is all connected.

For now let’s just stay zeroed in on the top level topics.

Mobile Ready

Mobile devices are everywhere. People use phones and tablets anywhere and any time and the volume of search queries, research, and purchase done on mobile devices is growing every month and year.

Google fully expects that mobile search will overtake desktop search later this year or early next year. Without even reading all the statistics all you have to do is take a look around you.

Any day in any café, home, or business there are people everywhere looking, searching, buying, talking and sharing on the devices they own.

Smart businesses know that users are all on mobile devices and understand that they have to be part of that. They know they have to ensure their web strategy and marketing strategy includes a mobile solution and that this can’t just be left to chance.

So where do you start?

  • Understand where you are at
  • Research
  • Make changes
  • Measure and improve

You need to know you must have a decent mobile user experience if you want to compete and grow your business. This isn’t even debatable. You have to accept this first and foremost and then get started on making it happen. (6 Undeniable Reasons Why The Future of Web Design is Responsive)

So start with where you are now. How does your site work on mobile?

Get your phone out of your pocket and look right now.

When did you last do that? What is your reaction? If you were one of your customers what do you think of the experience?

Another good quick snapshot is this tool from Google (Page speed Insights). This measures predominantly the speed and rendering of the site from a mobile perspective compared to the desktop. Just enter your site domain name into it.

NB> Google now show the mobile results before the desktop results, a pretty good indication of which they think matters more.

This is where research comes into it.  Either you or your developer team need to start understanding the right ways for your audience to get the best experience on your site. Don’t just follow what someone else has done, look at the options and understand your users / customers and what their needs are.

With this in mind make the change to a mobile friendly site.

You MUST and have to get your site mobile friendly. If all you can do is make this change for now that is a win, and then you can do smaller progressive changes along the way (article about making small changes).

There are two key ways you can do this:

  1. A responsive web site
  2. A mobile website

Google has also clearly stated they prefer responsive web design (our preferred method for mobile compatibility) for these 3 ‘main’ reasons:

  • single url
  • saves resources
  • no re-directions are required

There are also good use cases for a mobile version  of a site and also for some businesses to push an app for mobile experiences.  Each of these decisions should be made based on your budget and user needs.

For a smaller / medium business without the budget of a Major multinational the big issue is how to maintain the best solution within a limited budget and provide a useful experience for the end user.

In my opinion a responsive site will offer the best bang for buck and enable you to win more than lose on all fronts. Keep in mind you don’t necessarily have to completely rebuild your site to make it responsive.

If you aren’t really sure what the term responsive web design means read Optimizing User Experience with Responsive Web Design  and How Responsive Design Improves User Task Completion and Building Smartphone-Optimized Websites.

A responsive design means you are using content globally across devices, which over time will lead you to looking at how good that content is, how it works on each device, and how that can be improved. It means you have to think in broader ways about what you add to your site and why and where you add it.

You will have to understand the size of the images and videos, the way calls to action are made, and many more decisions.

It isn’t right to limit the experience users get on a mobile.  In fact, the content on the mobile version is MORE important than your desktop.

Don’t make decisions to cut out content to make going mobile easier.  Make decisions about how content needs to work on all devices and, if anything, cut it out of the desktop version.

A mobile site isn’t like a small market stand you use to sell a few of your products to get people interested, it’s a fully furnished store that moves anywhere, anytime, and should offer everything you have to anyone looking.

Conversion

I will keep topic two for the next post. Conversion optimisation is the second item to focus on after you have your mobile solution fixed.

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