Tag Archives: Responsive Website

Google Has Done it Again… small businesses need mobile friendly websites – STAT!

Stats showing small business need mobile friednly websites diesgn. Smart phone  search increase 17%, tablets 28%,, desktop searches down -1%

If you haven’t heard already you may be one of the few left on the planet who doesn’t live and breathe all that is the internet. What is being referred to as  “mobilegeddon” (don’t you love tech-nerds?) or, Google’s mobile website algorithm change launched last week. Small businesses need mobile friendly websites now more than ever. The algorithm change was announced two months back very clearly by Google and they actually went ahead and launched it on the pre-determined deadline, Tuesday, April 21, 2015. What the change means to small businesses who do not have mobile friendly websites is that your company website will either not come up in mobile Google searches or if it does, it will come up so far down it might as well not come up at all.

I can hear some of you now, ‘So, what? Most people search our site from a desktop computer.’  ‘We provide a service, people don’t search for us on their smart phones or tablets, they wait until they get home and research on their computers.’ Not so my friends. “In the final three months of last year, estimated 29 percent of all U.S. search requests – about 18.5 billion – were made on mobile devices.”   – comScore.com

The increase in numbers from desktop to mobile searches will continue to grow. The largest percentage of mobile searches currently are done by people shopping for products, however local services searches are not far behind. “Searches with local intent are more likely to lead to store visits and sales within a day. New Google research says that 50 percent of mobile users are most likely to visit (the store) after conducting a local search, while 34 percent of consumers on tablets or computers will go to a store.” – Search Engine Watch

Mobile searches are steadily increasing for local services including, home healthcare services, restaurants, home improvement services and more.small businesses need mobile friendly websites now to come up in those search inquiries.

  “According to Google, 56% of searches on smartphones have local intent. ” – Wordstream

Searches-Infographic2Google is the top-ranking search engine claiming two thirds of United States web searches and even more in other countries. Mobilegeddon has the potential to effect sales volume especially for small businesses who have not had a strong reason to upgrade to a mobile friendly website yet. If we give an example of  a residential home builders website in Lansing who has not upgraded the website since mullets were in style, compared to a national residential home builder with a mobile friendly website targeting Lansing clientele – where would you place your cards on search results?

Not sure if your small business website is mobile friendly or not?

Check out Googles “Mobile-Friendly” test page in its developer section. Type in your website URL (domain name) and see the results. (https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/mobile-friendly/.

Mobile Friendly Website Solution for Small Business

If you do not have a mobile friendly website and you are ready to make the change, you have a few decisions to make. First you can choose to keep your desktop website as it is and create a completely separate mobile website to satisfy mobile users (and Google!). The drawback to this solution is you now have two websites you must maintain. The other option is a responsive website. Responsive WordPress websites format to fit which ever screen size a visitor is using. On a desktop monitor the website looks good on the screen without unplanned scrolling or clicking. On a tablet it condenses slightly to fit the screen with limited scrolling and on a smart phone the navigation will collapse to a drop down screen. All of this is automated with a responsive website design. The other benefit of a responsive website design with WordPress is small businesses can now update their own website without programming knowledge. Updating is also easier because you only have to update one site instead of a desktop website and a mobile website.

Mobile-Friendly Website Design considerations:

  • design web pages so that they load quickly
  • make content easily accessible
  • page scrolling up and down (as opposed to left to right swiping)
  • make call to action buttons (like BUY NOW!) easily seen and touched even on small screens
  • make your contact information clickable – click to call, click to map location
  • make your text size large enough to read on small devices

No budget for a small business mobile-friendly website right now?

Or do you have a mobile-friendly website on order but all the local website design firms in Michigan or your state are booked solid a few months out? Since Google searches do show local listings first make sure all your local information is current. Get a Google+ page set up if you haven’t already, check your Yelp listing. Get your website listed on Google in Google MyBusiness section. These steps will help while you are working toward upgrading your website to mobile.

If you’re one of those small businesses who need a mobile friendly website right away, give us a call today! We are taking  orders and turning custom designs around as quickly as possible. We also provide mobile-friendly  Wordpress responsive website design solutions for those of you who want the freedom to access and update your own website .

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7 Chakras of a Connected Website – Keep your website updated

Having a website with a content management system (CMS) that is also a responsive website design is the best type of website for small businesses. CMS sites, like WordPress websites, allows you to keep your website updated even if you don’t know coding. CMS sites that are responsive can be updated easily and can be navigated smoothly on all devices. Contracting a local web design firm to create a responsive webiste with a content management system is the  smartest marketing investment a small business can make right now.

The main components and considerations of a website:

Websites are like hairstyles, you can pinpoint the decade or year they were created at first glance. Your brand image can quickly look outdated with the ever-changing technological advances in online marketing and digital communications these days.

Don’t be accused of having a mullet or big hair website. Update your outdated site to one that is easy to navigate and can be updated easily to keep it current and inspiring.

Responsive websites are the latest and greatest way to present your company web content professionally to people, even when they view it on various devices.  A responsive website will format to fit on a desktop computer monitor, laptop screen, tablet, or smart phone. Responsive website designs for small business are becoming the industry standard because they adapt to the users devices. Small businesses benefit because they eliminate the need for two separate sites; a stand-alone mobile website and a stand-alone desktop website that each require their own updates. Many responsive website designs utilize the widely accepted WordPress content management system (CMS). CMS allows for ease in updates by companies who want to update their site in-house but do not have staff who are trained in web development or coding.

1. Home Page

Typically the home page is the first page visitors will come to on your website. If a visitor enters in your domain name they will come to your home page first. Because your home is usually the first impression a visitor has of your website  your home page needs to be eye catching and hold attention. Contact information and site navigation should be easily identified.

When a visitor lands here they should have a clear understanding what your site is about right away. Consider how to add an interactive element like a video or slideshow to keep visitors on the page longer.

Questions to consider for your website home page design:

  1. How will the visitor know what your business is and what the website contains?
  2. What needs to be included in the main website navigation (products, services, shop, gallery, etc.)?
  3. What photos, graphics, or messages will be used in a photo slideshow that depict your product or service well? also link to website content on internal pages?
  4. Do you have photos for each category of your product or service that link to website content on internal pages?

2. Web Forms and Contact Forms

The web is 24/7, most businesses are not. Web contact forms can be your 24/7 administrative professional or sales representative. Visitors who don’t want to call or wait until you are open can fill out a form quickly, provide their contact information and
ask specific questions. The form will be waiting in the employee email that you designate to receive each online web form inquiry.

What Web Forms Will you Need?

  1. How many web forms do you need?Who will the web form be sent to (identify the email of the person who will receive
  2. Who will the web form be sent to (identify the email of the person who will receive
  3. the inquiry form in their email)?:
    Do you just need a contact form?
    Do you need a quick quote form or detailed quote form?:
  4. Do you need an order form?
  5. How about an application form for membership or employment?

3. Product / Services Page

Even if you only offer one product or service you should have a designated page for it. Customers shopping for your company online want to get as many answers as possible on their first
visit. Your product and services page should include photos, detailed information (preferably keyword enhanced!), how to order, possibly pricing, shopping cart, web inquiry form, and a direct way to contact someone.

Products and Services Page Content:

  1. How many products and services do you have?:
  2. Do you have various product or service categories to include? Get the list together
  3. Do you have photos, descriptions and/or prices for each? Share as much detail as possible!

4. Landing Pages

When you have a specific intent such as a product or service feature or giveaway, landing pages are ideal for getting action. Landing pages are a stripped down home page or product / service page with a clear call to action. Promoted through various media like direct mail, tv advertising, radio, magazine ads, email marketing
or online advertising they offer clear direction to the customer and opportunities to target tracking.

Landing Page Planning:

  1. Identify featured giveaway, contest, product or services for sale
  2. Are downloads or online purchases available or who will receive email inquiries?
  3. How will customers find your landing page?
  4. What media will you use to promote it?

5. Content Management System (CMS)

Websites that have an administrative back end access allow for easy website changes and updates for small businesses. Website changes can be made by people who don’t know code. This is a great service for small businesses to help keep your website updated and keep outsourcing costs down. Administrative roles can be set with varying levels of permission. Staff with access can add photos, articles, blog entries, videos, etc. as easily as they can in a word processing software. The main administrator can add or delete users and their level or access.

How will you keep your website updated?

  1. Who in your office will be in charge of updating?
  2. How many people will need to be trained in the CMS?
  3. How frequently will your website be updated?

6. Blog

A web log holds company information, news and updates that is tied to your company website. Blog entries help to provide informaiton to cusotmers and visitors to your website. If you offer valuable content visitors can subscribe to blog entries in an RSS feed or receive email alerts. Blogs also help bring your website up in search engines better than sites without blogs. You come up in searches better because search engines like it when you keep your website updated with frequent posts. The other reason is relevant content, search engine inquiries response is based on a websites relevant content. When you post information that is connected to your product or service in your blog the content will be of value to search engines and your site will be more apt to come up when inquiries are made that match your blog content.

Is Blogging in Your Futue?

  1. What types of blogs will you write?
  2. How frequently will you post new blogs?
  3. What categories should be included for searching blog content (general, product names, press, etc.)
  4. What are the primary keywords for the website

7. E-Commerce Portals / Member Access

If your website is going to serve as a shop for people to buy online there are a number of decisions to make right away as you are planning the site.

Specialty stores, publications, trade associations and other groups often have an area of the website where members can log on with a password or user name to gain access to specialized information.

Some of the questions to ask yourself when planning these types of websites:

  1. Will visitors pay online?
  2. With Paypal or another payment portal?
  3. Approximately how many products or product categories will you need to include?
  4. Have you considered what your shipping cost will be for each item?
  5. For password protected members, only areas on websites what content will be included?
  6. Who will manage the database of members?
  7. Are there dates when memberships will expire? How will the member be alerted to subscribe again?

You have your homework. Your test will be determining if people will find your website, if they find it easy to navigate, and visually appealing and if you keep your website updated with relevant content. If this all seems overwhelming to you contact us. We can provide consultations. We can help you organize your website content, determine navigation and of course build and design your website – whether you choose to keep your website updated or you would like us to help you with that marketing component as well, we’ll get you connected.

Membership Website Ideas – WordPress Makes it Easy to Update

Jug&Mug Club Membership website home pageWe recently were selected to provide new membership website ideas and design for a local Lansing Michigan All Seasons Club JugAndMug.org. We worked with the president and a few other board members to re-create the site. I wish I had a screen capture of the old membership website – a before and after would have been dramatic and impressive.

We were happy to hear the group contacted us because we were referred to them as a company who would provide quality service and a website design that met all the goals of the organization at a reasonable rate. Upon our initial meeting with the website committee we learned more details about their ideas for the new membership website.

Local Club Membership Website Ideas:

  • Bring website design into the current decade
  • Offer a content management system that was easy for non-programmers to update
  • Responsive website format: detects screen size and format for smart phones, tablets or desktop monitors
  • Slide show of photos that can be updated easily
  • Blog page to be part of the membership website and not a separate url
  • Online inquiry forms, contact forms or registration forms
  • Emails with domain name (name@jugandmug.org) that forward to each board persons personal email if desired.
  • Ease in updating content and adding photos in all areas
  • E-commerce capability for accepting payments, ticket sales, membership dues, etc.
  • Members only section – password protected with different access levels

local-club-memberhsip-website-ideas

We have provided similar membership website ideas and solutions in the past with password protected areas, e-commerce, events pages, and specific administrative access. Membership websites can range between local clubs like jugandmug or large national or state associations, non-profit and political groups as well as business groups membership sites.

When we’re provided membership website ideas and solutions throughout our  17 years of business that incorporated content management systems (CMS) we typically built them from scratch. Now we can often use the robust WordPress options available.

Jug&Mug.org was built with a WordPress theme that supports e-commerce interactions. There were a plethora of plug ins available if we needed for the password protected area or the photo slide shows. The use of WordPress for this particular project was ideal primarily because of the ease in updates. Since membership websites are often updated by different people and the administrator may change with each board member update it is important to keep website updates simple. Jug and Mug is lucky, they have a President and website committee right now who is knowledgeable of computer programming and interested to learn. Other memberships, associations and clubs may have people responsible for managing the website who have no clue what web code is. Use of WordPress CMS helps alleviate worries and errors and helps newbie website managers to feel at ease.

ski club responsive website - on smart phoneThere are some particular rules to follow when choosing a website company and a WordPress theme,

  • do you want the website for business or just for fun
  • do you want to use your own domain name (hosted on it’s own)
  • a responsive theme
  • a theme that allows e-commerce
  • a theme that allows third party plug-ins
  • customizable
  • … and more depending on your website goals

Discussing WordPress, membership website ideas as well as customizing existing WordPress themes really requires another article. For instance I throw WordPress plug ins out there like they are little miracles… they can also be mean little sprites that choke your website speed and may not play nice together… So much to cover so little blog space.

If you are interested in using WordPress as a new website design solution and would like to talk to us about your considerations whether you have your own membership website ideas, an e-commerce site, or a website offering a service that you need help with. please call us today, 517-645-4387.

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Is Responsive Website Design an Affordable Solution for Small Business?

It’s almost July, should you take a vacation or update your small business website to a responsive website design?

Based on  Compuware, 2012 statistic stating “57 percent of consumers will not recommend a business with a poorly designed mobile site”you may want to put that sabbatical on hold. If your small business marketing goal this year is to increase internet marketing exposure we recommend you start with your website. For most small businesses building a stand alone small business mobile website and a standard small business website designed for desktop monitors is not very feasible. Maintaining one website design can be challenging enough for a small business – having to maintain two separate websites that essentially contain the same information is absolutely daunting – and quickly proves to be unrealistic. Enter, responsive website design.

Responsive Website Design: Small Businesses Affordable Mobile Website Solution

graphic of a desktop monitor navigation menu

Example of navigation view on a standard desktop monitor.

responsive website deisgn drop down navigation menu

Example of responsive website design navigation drop down option

Responsive website design is the solution for small businesses who want their website visitors to be able to navigate their corporate website easily on any device they choose. From a smart phone, tablet, or desktop monitor, a responsive website design will conform to fit the screen size of the device the visitor is using. Responsive website design programming automatically detects the size of the device screen the visitor is calling up your website from. The responsive website design will either reduce, collapse or expand the content depending on the size of the screen. A clear example is shown in the graphics on the right. A small business website created for a national professional speaker w that is viewed on a desktop monitor has an expanded navigation bar. When you view it on the smart phone the navigation will condense to a drop down menu. The mobile user doesn’t have to scroll all the way to left or right or up or down, all they need do is click on the drop down box arrow (indicated with the red circle) and select the section they want more details on.

Not only does the responsive website design we offer  reduce our customers need to have a separate mobile site built it also saves money because they can be built with the WordPress content management system (CMS). Small businesses can reduce internet marketing expense  by developing a responsive website design built in WordPress. A responsive website design in WordPress will have a simple back end management system that allows users without programming knowledge to easily add new content. Companies can now update their service pages, add new staff members, promote an event, announce new products and add photos and videos of the new products. A whole gamut of information can be added to your small business website without having to pay for website edits from a professional website design firm. All of this without knowing how to write code.

Having the control of your website content is more critical now than ever before.

Google has led the way with search engines to provide more accurate search results. Google search results are now based on relevant content found on each website. For example if you search for small business responsive website design firms in Lansing, MI Google will look for websites that use keywords such as ‘responsive website design for small business’ in multiple pages of their website. Google will look for common words, design, website, responsive website design, Lansing, MI to make sure the website is legitimate based on the relative content on the website. This also demonstrates how important it is for small businesses to continually add relevant, updated content to their website… but that is another blog entry or email news article.

Besides the need to have a mobile friendly small business website, when was the last time your business website received a fresh new look? We joke here at Connection Group that we can tell the approximate year a website was built based on the design. Kind of like women’s hairstyles, straight long hair is clearly 60’s flower child and teased, moussed, mile high hair and mullet’s are unabashedly big hair from the 80’s. There is often no denying the era a small business website design emerged. Don’t be that small business stuck in the 90’s! Showing a dated design to visitors and  prospects sends the message that your company is not staying current with trends and technology. Much credibility can be lost with one click of the button.

So, what are you waiting for? Give us a call today and let us provide a 15-20 minute responsive website design consultation for your small business. Depending on our schedule, we may be able to take a look at your current website while we are on the phone with you today. We can talk about some of the goals you have in mind for your small business internet marketing locally in the mid-Michigan area or find out if your company needs a more powerful national reach. Updating to a responsive website design is the most affordable website solution to get small businesses current and mobile ready as well as have an updated visually appealing website that will connect with visitors on all devices.