Four reasons to use a responsive website design

Four Reasons to Use a Responsive Website Design

As the use of mobile devices steadily increases, it’s becoming more important for you to design a website that automatically responds and adjusts to mobile devices. The best approach to achieve this is to utilise a responsive website design.

A responsive website is not the same as a mobile-friendly website. A mobile-friendly website is a website that has an attractive appearance on mobile devices but could have a poor user experience (UX) when visitors view it on a traditional desktop computer. A responsive website is designed so that it adapts to the type of device that a visitor is using to view it. Whether visitors view your site on a mobile device or a desktop, they will have the same UX.

The designs of responsive websites are based on fluid grids; the sizing of the page elements is based on proportions rather than on pixels. For example, if a page on your website has three columns, you wouldn’t specify how wide those columns should be; rather, you could say that the first column should take up 50% of the page and the second and third columns should each take up 25% of the page.

You would also size images on a relative basis so that they would stay appropriately placed within the page’s design elements. Here are four reasons why using a responsive website design is beneficial:

1.   Increases traffic from mobile users

It was once common for businesses to have one version of its website for desktop users and another one for mobile users, and some businesses still maintain that practice. However, with the rapid increase in using mobile devices to access business websites, maintaining two versions of a website is both time-consuming and a high-maintenance proposition. Having a responsive website that seamlessly works with all devices makes it more likely that mobile viewers will continue to access your site and continue to purchase goods or services from you.

2.  Lowers the cost of website maintenance

Initially, developing a responsive website can be relatively expensive. However, once you have it operational, the maintenance costs of operating a responsive website are lower than operating two versions of the same site, and it takes less time. You can devote the time saved from maintaining two sites to other important functions in running your business.

3.  Provides a better UX

Providing a better UX is one of the best benefits of a responsive website. Unresponsive websites tend to distort the way that your site appears on mobile devices, and visitors who don’t have any problems viewing your site on a desktop computer may see jumbled text and distorted images. Visitors who experience a poor UX on your mobile will most likely choose not to return to it again.

With a responsive website, visitors will have a consistent experience when visiting your site. Since it adapts to devices with varying screen sizes, your responsive website will seamlessly work with new mobile devices as they continue to proliferate.

4.  Improves your SEO efforts

Responsive websites are more likely to rank higher in search engine results. A site with a consistently good UX is more likely to entice visitors to stay longer. Search engine algorithms take the time that visitors remain on a site into account when ranking a site, so your site is likely to receive a higher rank if it is responsive.

It’s worth your time and effort to make your site responsive.

Five Reasons to Redesign Your Website

Five Reasons to Redesign Your Website

There are many reasons why you may need to redesign your website. Customer expectations change, new website styles become popular, and businesses evolve and grow. It’s naïve to think that you would never have to give your website a new look or an update.

The internet has experienced a lot of changes over the past five years. Your customers increasingly access your website using mobile devices and expect greater functionality. Also, millennials have grown up in a world with internet access, and they now comprise one of your most valuable target markets.

Therefore, planning a website redesign and update should be high on your priority list. Of course, businesses must carefully consider how they spend their money, and your first thought may be worrying about how much it would cost to redesign your website. However, once you understand the importance of keeping your website up to date, you’ll see that a redesign makes sound financial and business sense.

When you redesign your website, your objective is to take your current site, improve it and both increase your profitability and your business efficiency. Your website redesign should focus on increasing your traffic volume and sales leads. Your redesign should incorporate the latest technology to meet your customers’ expectations and be consistent with your marketing goals.

Essentially, redesigning your website is the process of bringing your website up to date and meeting the requirements of your business. The following are the five main reasons for doing so.

 Optimise for mobile devices

Slightly over 60% of all time spent online in the UK takes place on a smartphone. Therefore, if you don’t have a mobile-friendly website, you are missing a large portion of the e-commerce market. Search engines now give mobile-friendly websites a higher ranking, and you are certainly hurting yourself if you ignore mobile responsiveness since about 75% of internet users never go past the first page of search engine results.

 Provide better user experience (UX)

Studies show that you have about ten seconds to engage visitors before they leave your website and go elsewhere. Customers tend to be impatient these days, and they quickly want to know if you have to offer what they’re looking for. Good UX is critical to maintaining your advantage over your competitors. About 75% of consumers rate a website’s credibility on the UX it provides, so providing a better UX than the competition is an important reason for redesigning your website.

 Keep branding up to date

The e-commerce marketplace is always changing, so you need to make sure that your website reflects how you want your brand to be perceived by your customers.

 Improve page loading time

About 40% of visitors to a website will abandon it if it takes more than three seconds for a page to load. Always monitor your website, and use page speed testing to redesign it if you find that your site is loading slowly.

 Improve website flexibility and functionality

While your site may meet today’s needs, change always occurs in business conditions, so you need to ensure that you can easily modify your site to add new products and content. Social media has become a very important marketing tool, so you need to ensure that your site can efficiently incorporate social media plug-ins.

Redesigning your website can be crucial to your future success.

Five tips to make your mobile site SEO friendly

Five Tips to Make Your Mobile Site SEO Friendly

The trend for people to prefer using mobile devices rather than traditional desktop computers continues to increase, with important considerations for online retailers. According to web form publisher Formstack, conversion rates for smartphone visitors have been rapidly increasing compared to desktop conversion rates. To take advantage of this trend and remain competitive, you need to optimise your mobile site and ensure that it is SEO friendly. An optimised site gives your visitors a better user experience (UX), which leads to higher conversion rates and increased revenue. Here are five suggestions that will help ensure that your site is SEO friendly: 

Provide fast page loading

Your customers do not want to visit a website that loads slowly, especially on a mobile device. A page on your website may contain valuable content, but visitors will quickly leave when they encounter pages that load slowly. On average, the loading time for bounced visits is about 2.5 seconds slower than the loading time for sessions where visitors engage with a site.

You’ll receive more visitor engagement with a faster mobile experience, so analyse all pieces of CSS and JavaScript and every image and compress them where feasible. Also, use your cache for static items that load constantly, and be sure to minimise redirects.

 Minimise pop-ups

Pages on mobile sites that show intrusive pop-ups provide poor UX, which is the main reason that Google now penalises sites that use them. Since mobile devices have small screens, search engines use these penalties as an incentive for businesses to improve customer UX.

Non-intrusive pop-ups such as small banners and age verification boxes that don’t cover a large portion of the screen are fine and do not incur a penalty. However, any pop-up that drastically obscures the screen or requires a visitor to dismiss it before your site displays content will have a big impact on your site’s SEO.

 Design for all finger sizes

Be sure that your touch screen navigation allows users with both large and small fingers to easily scroll content. Catering to all visitors will provide a better UX, and don’t forget that people use both their thumb and their index finger when scrolling.

 Size titles and meta descriptions properly

Using action-oriented titles and meta descriptions that include relevant keywords are important for SEO purposes, but you need to consider how these items will display on a mobile site. Unfortunately, search engines can truncate titles and meta descriptions that are too long, thereby hurting your search engine rank, so limit titles to 70 characters and meta descriptions to 130 characters.

 Use simple page designs

Since mobile device screens are small, simpler is better when designing pages for your site. If you try to include too much on a page, UX will suffer, negating the positive effects of SEO. Provide content that is both short and focused, and be sure to use a clear call to action (CTA). Use simple menus. If there are numerous menus and sub-menus, visitors can easily become confused and decide to click out and go elsewhere. Also, make sure that any contact forms that you have are mobile friendly.

As the trend continues of more people using mobile devices instead of desktops, your success will depend on a mobile-friendly design that takes SEO into account.

How to Speed Up Your Ecommerce Website

How to Speed up Your e-Commerce Website

These days, advances in technology occur at a rapidly increasing rate. One of the most obvious changes has been the increasing speed of the internet, which mirrors the increase in the number of internet users around the world. If you’re an online retailer, making sure that your website loads quickly is not always easy. Many e-commerce sites experience problems that slow down their performance.

This fact should concern you, as customers are much less likely to purchase items from your online store if your website loads slowly. Even if you have a fantastic selection of items for sale, potential customers are likely to turn to your competitors if they experience undue delays in accessing your site. Even a one-second delay can cause you to lose revenue, so increasing your site’s loading speed deserves careful attention. Here are a few suggestions that can help your site load faster and make it more likely that you can convert visitors into paying customers and generate more income.

 Use caching technology whenever possible

Caching technology makes it possible for you to store critical information, such as search indexes, customer profiles and product descriptions, without making repeated calls to your database. By reducing unnecessary access to your database, you can utilise your server’s RAM to store data and dramatically improve response time, as input-output transactions conducted using RAM are up to ten times quicker than those conducted on a hard disk.

 Use a content delivery network

If you want to have a site that loads quickly, you need to use a robust content delivery network (CDN). There are several significant advantages of using a CDN if you have an international customer base, especially if you have conducted an analysis of your sales data to identify where your customers live. You can store content on servers located where your customers are, and customers can then load content from those servers rather than from one central server, thereby reducing your page loading time.

 Reduce page size

Images can be a major contributor to page size. If you reduce the size of images and other embedded objects, you can reduce the page’s loading speed considerably. You need to find the correct balance between using rich graphics and page loading speed, with the objective of maintaining a loading time of three seconds or less.

Make your site mobile friendly

These days, more than 50% of website traffic occurs on mobile devices, and this trend continues to grow, making it important to ensure that your website provides mobile users with a reliable and fast service. Also, if you don’t optimise your website for mobile devices, it is likely that you will experience lower rankings in search results, which could adversely impact your sales. Since mobile devices have less processing power than desktop computers and can have difficulty rendering complex pages properly, it is crucial to ensure that your site loads quickly with complete functionality on mobile devices.

 Use efficient coding

Efficient coding can reduce the number of HTTP requests that your site makes, thereby improving the time it takes pages to load. By storing frequently used information, they don’t require reloading on every page.

Following these tips should help your site load faster and improve both customer experience and sales.

The importance of an SSL certificate

The Importance of an SSL Certificate

Cyber security is now a major concern for both online businesses and internet users. Website visitors want assurances that a website is secure before they decide to access it, and an SSL certificate issued by a certificate authority provides online businesses with the ability to assure visitors that the site is safe.

When you obtain an SSL certificate, a third party (the certificate authority) has stated that your website is secure and that visitors can trust it. It is imperative that you obtain an SSL certificate if your site sells products or services to visitors, provides visitors with the opportunity to become members of an organisation, or asks visitors to provide sensitive personal information on online forms.

Once you install an SSL certificate on your website, all interactions between your website and your visitors are encrypted, meaning that they are secure. This security makes it almost impossible for a third party to gain access to the information being exchanged between you and your visitors.

SSL certificates maintain security by providing both a public and private key. The public key enables the encryption of the connection between your site and your visitors, while the private key enables the decryption. The information exchanged remains secure because it is quite difficult for a third party to obtain both randomly generated keys to gain access to the information.

If your site does not have an SSL certificate, major internet browsers will warn visitors that your site is not secure and suggest that they do not enter, and most visitors will choose not to access your site once they receive that warning. Once you purchase an SSL certificate, visitors will know that your site is secure by the information displayed in your website’s URL on their browser: a green bar, a padlock and the HTTPS designation. Therefore, you really don’t have any choice but to purchase an SSL certificate if you operate an online business.

You have several options available as to which type of SSL certificate to purchase. You can get a single domain SSL certificate to protect one domain or a multiple domain SSL certificate if you have more than one domain. You can purchase a wildcard SSL certificate to protect every sub-domain under your main domain, and you can purchase an organisation SSL certificate that validates your company’s credentials, including your email address and other vital information. Finally, you can purchase an extended SSL certificate, which is the most secure and requires the certificate authority to conduct a background check to validate your website.

In addition to securing your website, obtaining an SSL certificate has several other benefits. An SSL certificate adds credibility to your website with search engines. They will designate your site as secure, and this increased credibility will help drive traffic to your site. The increased traffic will then improve your SEO ranking, which will also help your business to grow.

Obtaining an SSL certificate is a win-win situation for both visitors to your site and your business.  Just make sure you remember to use an SSL monitoring service to alert you when your SSL certificate is due to renew.

Large Adverts Slow Websites

Over 40% of Online Advertisements are Too Large and Slow Down Websites

According to a report by Ad Lightning, a digital advertising analysis firm, over 40% of online advertisements exceed industry standards, which frustrate visitors to websites with slow-loading pages.

Large ads have been a major issue with online publishers who have been struggling with how to curtail what many call “fat ads.” The oversized ads have a major impact on the ability of website visitors to see them as they can’t view them if they don’t load properly.

Business Insider and other online advertising publishers have been notifying advertisers that they cannot guarantee that viewers will be able to see ads that exceed the limits of the advertising industry’s guidelines.

Business Insider Chief Revenue Officer Pete Spande said: “If something is a ten-times-larger file size and takes ten seconds to load, viewability is a very difficult thing to expect when something is so far out of spec.”

The Interactive Advertising Bureau has set a maximum threshold of 300KB for online display ads. However, Ad Lightning’s report indicated that 41% of the ads that they evaluated on thousands of sites exceeded that threshold.

Almost 10% of the online display ads were larger than 5MB. To put that in perspective, that represents the word count of Shakespeare’s collected works, and advertisements that large often load slowly or not at all.

Business Insider is one of many publishers that have been criticising advertisers for creating ads that they stuff with animation and other data-intensive media. “Lighter ads with less animation just perform better. It’s not just about viewability,” Spande said.

Websites also load faster with smaller ads. Page loading speed has become a critical factor for user experience as more visitors tend to leave a site without engaging if a site does not load quickly.

Facebook and Google have been instrumental in advocating for faster page loading times as they have seen how quickly visitors leave a site with poor performance. Facebook has been encouraging publishers to post articles directly to its platform to keep people on their business social pages, and Google has recently begun to give a higher ranking in search results to sites that load quickly.

“Consumers experience these issues in ways that reflect on the publisher much more than the advertiser,” Ad Lightning said in its report. “On average, advertising doubles the amount of time it takes to load a webpage. Offending ad quality issues often delay page loads significantly longer.”

Ad Lightning also found that advertising networks with large ads were slow in delivering ads to websites because of the number of requests required. Every online display ad goes into an auction with advertising networks that then place bids, which are called requests. Codes placed within the ads then track how well the ads perform regarding response rates and other analytical reports.

The Interactive Advertising Bureau has set a guideline of a maximum of 15 network requests. However, the report found that the current average is about 60 requests.

Newspaper Websites Slow to Load

Largest Newspapers Worldwide Hurt by Slow Loading Time on Mobile Devices

You would think that the largest news sites would perform exceptionally well on mobile devices, but this is not true in most cases. According to a study conducted by mobile industry intelligence firm DeviceAtlas, the average time that it takes a major newspaper site to load is about 10.5 seconds, with the worst-performing sites taking from 19 to 22 seconds. This poor performance is very costly for the newspapers, as Google estimates that 53% of mobile device users only wait three seconds before abandoning a website that doesn’t load.

To conduct its performance test, DeviceAtlas used a Chrome plug-in to simulate a Nexus 5X smartphone, a mid-range device that was released two years ago, with a connectivity limit of 1.5 Mb/s. DeviceAtlas also used a proprietary tool that visualises a website and measures website page weight over low-end, mid-end and high-end mobile devices.

For its test, DeviceAtlas chose 50 daily newspaper websites from around the world from 18 countries, including Australia, Austria, Egypt, Finland, France, Germany, Holland, India, Italy, Japan, Norway, Russia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, the UK and the US. DeviceAtlas chose the individual newspapers to include in the study based on their circulation figures.

The key results of the performance tests are as follows:

  • The average load time on mobile devices for all tested websites was 10.5 seconds.
  • The average page size on mobile devices was 1.35MB.
  • Of all countries tested, India experienced the fastest average load time at 7.7 seconds.
  • URL redirection was employed by 30% of the websites overall and by all Indian websites.
  • It cost $0.39 (£0.30) for a user in the US to access wsj.com based on average prices of mobile data plans.

To keep things in perspective, a study by Google found that about 53% of visitors to websites will abandon them if it takes more than three seconds for them to load completely. Most of the newspaper websites tested exceeded that time, leading to increased bounce rates and fewer pages viewed on mobile devices. DeviceAtlas noted that most mobile users read news content on the go with less than an ideal connection speed, making the test standard of 1.5 Mb/s realistic.

DeviceAtlas found some interesting differences in load times between countries and regions. Indian newspaper websites had an average load time of 7.7 seconds, which was significantly better than for Spain (12.8 seconds), France (11.4 seconds) and the US (10.4 seconds). Every Indian newspaper website used some type of mobile URL redirection, which indicated that these sites had been optimised for mobile devices.

According to DeviceAtlas, the mobile market in India consists of mostly low-range and mid-range mobile phones. The top five mobile phones used in India included the Xiaomi Redmi Note 2, J7 Duo and Samsung Galaxy J2, none of which are high-end phones. Also, according to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India, about 44% of internet users in India only use mobile devices to connect.

The report also showed that mobile users incurred significant costs to access the largest and slowest newspaper websites. The highest cost was $0.69 (£0.54) for a user in Canada to access latribune.fr. The main point from this finding is that it will cost you more to access a newspaper website that has not been optimised for mobile use.

Keeping Your Website Fresh & Updated

Making Sure Your Website Is Always Updated

Congratulations. You’ve designed your website, and it’s now live, giving you a very powerful marketing mechanism to promote your business. However, your website will only be useful if you keep the content current. Keeping your website up to date is called website maintenance, and it’s vital to provide both your customers and search engines with new content. Think of maintaining your website the same way that you think about maintaining your car – you must check it on a regular basis to make sure that it’s running smoothly.

When you update your website’s content regularly, current and potential customers are more likely to visit your site again to see if you have anything new to offer. Also, search engines regularly visit your site, and if they find your content unchanged after visiting it many times, they are likely to downgrade your rank in search engine queries.

When should you update your website? You certainly don’t want to spend money and effort to make changes that don’t add any real value to your site. Here are some good reasons to do so:

  • Update your site when you receive new licensing, accreditation, add significant new capabilities, or make any changes or additions to key personnel.
  • Update whenever you add a new product line, change prices or begin to provide new services.
  • If you have just completed a new project, include a description of it on your website. Also, update when you receive any significant new testimonials from your customers. You should ask you customers for reviews after you complete a project or sale and post them on your website, as these present a positive image to potential new customers.
  • Add fresh content to your blog on a regular basis. Visitors are more likely to return if you continually add interesting content, and search engines will also rank your site higher.
  • If you’ve issued a press release, be sure also to include a copy on your site.
  • Update your copyright statement annually.
  • Test and validate any links on your site on a regular basis to be sure that they direct properly.
  • Update your “About” page to keep any dates and timeline references current.
  • Update your homepage to highlight any changes that you make on your site to make it easier for visitors to find them.

These are all excellent reasons to update your website. When you make maintaining your website a top priority, your reward will be higher search engine rankings and increased sales. After you have decided to update your website, your next choice is how to make those changes. There are two steps required to maintain your site.

First, you need to do a preliminary edit of your website offline. You can do this easily by copying and pasting the material that you wish to change into a word-processing program and make the desired changes.

Then, you have to decide whether you wish to make the changes online yourself or hire a professional web designer to make them. If you are computer savvy and you only wish to make changes in text, there are several software programs available that you can use. If you are planning to make more complicated changes, hiring a professional could save you a lot of time and frustration.

Avoiding a Website Crash - Virigin Money

Avoiding a Website Crash – Virgin Money Giving Runs into Trouble

 

Virgin Money Giving experienced a website crash during the London Marathon, and that crash was both embarrassing and costly. In the short term, the crash prevented people from providing support to the marathon participants promptly. In the long term, Virgin has taken a hit in brand reputation that may take a while to recover from.

Of course, Virgin is not the only organisation to fall victim to website crashes or slowdown. During Black Friday last year, many large online retailers suffered the same fate. Even a degradation in site loading time can have detrimental effects as serious as a website crash. Customers will abandon a site that is slow to load and take their business elsewhere, and search engines will downgrade the ranking of sites that have a track record of frequent crashes or slow loading time.

You need to be proactive to keep your site up and running. Here are four steps that you should take:

1.  Plan for the worst-case scenario

Most businesses know when they will experience peak traffic based on previous experience. If you are on online retailer, you know what volume you experienced on previous peak days such as Black Friday, and this should be your starting point for planning for how much traffic your site should be capable of handling to allow for a major spike in traffic.

2.  Identify potential bottlenecks

One you determine the peak traffic flow that you wish to accommodate, identify any bottlenecks on your website that might prevent you from handling it. Then, load test each to see if any of them fail, and make appropriate changes to eliminate those bottlenecks. Be sure to do this well in advance of when you expect your peak traffic to hit.

 3.  Conduct a final check

After evaluating the individual potential bottlenecks, conduct a complete load and stress test on your site and apps using the maximum anticipated amount of traffic plus an additional amount of traffic to give you a margin of safety. A complete professional load test will simulate peak traffic amounts easily and quickly and will show you exactly what failed if your site does not pass the test. Once your site passes the final check, you can be confident that your site is ready.

 4.  Have a backup plan

Sometimes, circumstances beyond your control can thwart even the most comprehensive plan, and your site will still crash. Therefore, it’s best to have a plan to help mitigate the damage if your site does go down. Consider using a website monitoring service so that you will know promptly if your site does crash. Prepare a communications plan so that you can inform your visitors and customers why your site went down, what steps you are taking to get the site back online, and how long you expect it will take for you to resume normal operations.

When your website goes down, it’s the equivalent of a brick-and-mortar store locking its front door. Taking steps to keep your website up and running during peak traffic flows is crucial in maintaining your reputation and keeping your customers from going elsewhere.

How to Avoid Domain Hijacking

How to Avoid Domain Hijacking

After you register the domain for your website, you might take pride in owning your company’s online address. However, from a legal standpoint, you don’t own it. While you can register it, thieves can hijack it from you. Domain hijacking does not receive a lot of attention, but it is a real threat. Domain hijacking is also very frustrating, as it is relatively easy for thieves to hijack a domain, and once they get control, it can be very difficult and expensive to regain it.

Domain hijackers take advantage of security weaknesses at your domain registrar, your email service or your own security practices. The technical details are quite lengthy, but basically, thieves get control of your domain by convincing your domain registrar that they are you. Then, the thieves transfer your domain to their own account, usually with a registrar located in a different country. Thieves hijack domains for several criminal reasons, but the usual motive is to take control of your domain and then sell the registration back to you.

Domain hijacking is very costly. According to Symantec, a US-based security software company, the annual cost to firms from domain hijacking is about $400 billion (£310 billion). Many high-profile domains have been hijacked in the past, including Google, Forbes, Twitter and the New York Times.

If thieves hijack your domain, recovering it can be very difficult. If you think that you have been the victim of domain hijacking, you should immediately notify your domain registrar. In some cases, your registrar can help you regain control of your domain if you can prove to their satisfaction that it has been hijacked. However, in many cases, the only recourse that you will have is a lengthy and costly litigation procedure to try to regain control.

Of course, the best way to deal with domain hijacking is not to have it happen in the first place. There are steps that you can take to minimise the risks:

  • Choose your registrar wisely. There are hundreds of domain registrars in existence, so be sure to conduct your due diligence to make sure that your domain registrar is reputable.
  • Keep your contact information current. Most registrars use email to keep in contact with their clients and to reset passwords, so be sure that your registrar has the correct email address for you.
  • Create a secure password. Weak passwords are one of the main reasons that domains get hijacked. Be sure to choose a password that is not easy to guess, and only provide access to the password to individuals in your company who absolutely require it.
  • Use a private personal identity. Thieves often do an internet search to find the contact information for domains, so consider registering your domain using the WHOIS Privacy Service, which will keep your contact information private.
  • Monitor your domain. Frequently check your domain for any unauthorised changes, and promptly notify your registrar if you notice anything unusual.
  • Lock your domain registration. Most registrars will allow you to lock your registration, which will prohibit a third party from transferring, modifying or deleting it.
  • Renew your domain on time. Be aware of the expiration date for your domain registration and renew it before it expires.

By taking these steps, you can help avoid the expense and hassle of attempting to recover a hijacked domain in the future.