Saturday 20 November 2010

Website in my pocket..

Every few years, something big happens in the online industry that starts to change the way we do things. The product making the biggest noise in the last few years is around portable web devices - namely smart phones.

A smart phone is a device, that although sold as a phone, largely through communications carriers, offers a host of other functions with the addition of web interactivity being at the forefront. With 174 million sold in 2009 alone (a 15% increase over 2008), the world is on the uptake at a steady rate - but what does it mean for your business?

The non-support of flash from the iPhone was the hottest of topics for a while, but the biggest defining change is the viewing area.

The ability to access the internet any where & at any time, at the push of a button and at virtually no cost, means that people are turning to the web for everything. With a GPS system in most devices, there's no longer a need to remember directions and there's no need to write down addresses or phone numbers any more, because if you forget, a quick search on your phone will give you the answer.

As people rely more on their smart phone, they start to use it as their primary device for sourcing information. If that's the case - what happens when they get to your website? Do you offer a mobile-optimised view so that they can still access your information? Are you considering how they interact with you when they're on the road.

Lets take a look at the Digerati Solutions website (a great place to go if you're looking to build a new website or refresh your existing one by the way).

If you look at the site using your browser on a standard computer screen (1024x768) it may look something like this.

If you look at it on an iPhone  it looks like this...

You will notice that although slightly squashed, the primary content is still readable and the information on offer can clearly be seen where to navigate or browse . This is an example of a design that can work in both formats with little real need for change.

Most retail or service businesses will not be so lucky. If we take a site with a lot more content and a lot more happening on the page, you get a different story. Here's a quick look at a few places that have clearly not addressed the issue.

As you can see, its an awkward experience for a user to interact with the site without zooming into a smaller region, at which point they lose the context of the full page.

If your site is similar to this, you may want to consider getting Digerati to help you develop a smart phone optimised version of your site. This basically rearranges the content on your site to hide some of the larger graphic or display areas, and show a clear path to the content that users may be looking for on the run, such as contact phone, store location or functional areas like shipping or order information. There's no need to tell users to visit a different URL, the website automatically determines if a user has a portable device and sends them to the appropriate layout.

Some smart phone optimised sites offer a revised version of ALL of the content, but some cut down the site and only show the key areas, or the most visited areas of the website. Here are a few examples for you to compare with the full version (click on the image to see the full version). You will notice that in these examples, they don't try to show everything you would see on the full website, but take the most important parts of the site and create a streamlined version.

The key for each business is to decide what is appropriate. It's not good enough to simply look at the existing stats to see how many customers use mobile devices, but at the same time, you need to seriously look at your key clients and target clients to determine what is going to make like easier for them - or what's going to make you stand out as a business they engage with over your competitor.

Talk to Digerati today about an appropriate solution for your website - Lets make a website!

Monday 1 November 2010

Keep them coming back - Part 2. Living Content

« See also Part 1. Email Marketing

While regular contact will keep you at the front of a client's mind, how can you use your site to get people coming back?

First, we're going to have to look at why someone would want to come back more than once to your site. There are 3 main reasons people re-visit sites.

1. Because they remembered the content they found there was good
2. Because they think you may have new information there this time
3. Because they know there will be new content

The difference between 2 & 3 is perception. If a user visits your site in Sepetember and the last 'latest news' post was January, a user may assume that you update the site infrequently, and also assume that although there might be something new a few months later, the chance is low.

For this article, we want to discuss living content, or content that isn't stagnant. Nothing shows you care less to a potential client than a website that has been neglected, but on the flip side, a website with current, relevant content shows that you not only care about your business, but that you're diligent and committed. Relevant living content is also a great way to make your customers bookmark your site and want to come back to see whats new next time.

Ask anyone that has dynamic content on their site and they will tell you that it;s not easy work to keep it up to date. It takes time and effort, and the results are directly proportionate to the effort you put in, so here's 4 steps to consider when you're ready to add some action to your site.

Step 1 - be realistic when setting up your site.

Committing to updating your website every day or week can sound like a good idea at the time, but very soon you start to realise just how big the task is, and it can quickly become the dreaded thing that never leaves your to-do list. A few ways to alleviate this can be changing a title from 'This Week's News' to 'Featured News' or making the expectation for each post to be quite short. Partnering with similar businesses to take turns writing content that you can share can also be a good way of reducing work.

At the same time, work out what frequency is going to be appropriate for your business. Imagine going to your preferred news website (say If they only added news once a month, how often are you likely to go back there? Probably never, because you'd never know when it will be updated and you have other ways of getting the information, more conveniently.

Step 2 - work out what your clients actually want to see.

There's no point subjecting yourself to the rigmarole of writing content every week or month if it's not directly relevant to your site or the people using your site. If you run an accounting firm, keep the content relevant to accounting or at least a related industry. If you find yourself writing about lawncare, then you're going to see reader drop-off.

Step 3 - keep content concise & interesting

Boring content is a fast road to a shrinking email list. Keep newsletters short, and only provide a teaser to articles with a link to the full story. That way a user can scan the extract and see if its relevant to them before proceeding to the article (this is also good because it drives traffic to your site). Sometimes it may be more beneficial to miss a newsletter than to send out dull or irrelevant information that was put together at the last minute just to get something out.

Step 4 - ask yourself why?

Similar to step 2, this step is what you should ask when adding anything new to your site. Write out the pros and cons for adding a feature to fully evaluate the ROI (return on investment) of your time and money. If there's not a compelling benefit to adding a feature, don't bother. Once you've added the feature (say a news feed), make sure you ask yourself every time you post something 'is this going to benefit anyone?'

What are my options?

Okay, so what are your options when it comes to living content? Here's a few examples that might work for different sites.

1. Newsletter / Blog
2. Latest News
3. Social Media Feed (facebook or twitter)
4. Photo Of The Day
5. User Generated Content (maybe a topic for a future article)

Some low maintenance options are;

1. A news feed from an third party source
2. A twitter search feed (searches other tweets that include a specific tag or phrase)
3. Randomly selected featured products

Some examples of living content

Here's a few examples of Digerati sites that have regularly updated content

1. The Sea Life
Updated every day with some photos and surf report.

2.  Inaburra School
Highlights an event calendar and latest news

3. Olive Tree Media
Latest news & featured products

How can we help you?

Talk to Digerati today if you're interested in bringing your site to life with living content.