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Jan
26

How to Optimize Your Website for Mobile

 

Desktop, Smartphone, Tablet . . . Oh My!

It is important to keep in mind all of the important features that a mobile website should include in order to engage viewers such as accessibility, structure, video and images. Everything needs to be placed just right to keep visitors there longer, and keep them coming back. How can you do this without changing everything that you’ve built for your brand? We’ll tell you…

Mobile Web Development

Until about 2012, most businesses created a different mobile version of their website. This was a smaller, easy to navigate version of the desktop site, often using a different domain, such as: http://m.website.com. The preceding “m.” indicated that the user was on a site designed specifically for mobile. When consumers came to the domain from a mobile device, they were directed to the site that was exclusively made for the smaller screen of the mobile phone.Mobile Web Development

Then, things began to change for the lowly mobile-only website. Google Best Practices announced that a business really should be using the same domain for desktop and mobile users. The SEO community began endorsing responsive design as the best way to obtain high search engine rankings on both desktop and mobile. Hence, Google’s announcement caused the near death of the m-dot mobile website. Today, sites are rarely designed using a different URL for mobile phones.

 Choosing the Right Technology for a Mobile Website

To provide a great web experience across multiple devices, marketers basically have two options: build a website using responsive design or create device-specific versions of the website using adaptive design. Technically, however, there are five potential solutions to designing a mobile website:

  • Unique Mobile Site – An m-dot website or a unique site solely for mobile users, although this technique is virtually non-existent in modern web design.
  • Responsive Web Design (RWD) – A responsive website that fluidly changes to any screen or device size.
  • Responsive Web Design with Server Side Components (RESS)—A site that uses device detection to maximize the efficiency of responsive design.
  • Adaptive Web Design (AWD) – A site where the elements change to fit a predetermined set of screen and device sizes.

A unique mobile site is old-school and most likely not the way to go in over 99 percent of mobile designs. If your business is almost exclusively mobile, perhaps there is a reason to have a unique m-dot mobile site, but it is going to be a very rare instance indeed.

Responsive web design, most commonly designed with HTML5 code, is going to be the likely choice in nearly all new mobile web builds. It can also be designed using CSS3 and JavaScript. Responsive design has the striking advantage of being highly flexible, as it fluidly changes to accommodate any device. RWD works by sending the same code, regardless of device, and then rearranging it on the client side, thus allowing the same webpage to be displayed on any device. It serves the same HTML code on the same URL, whether the user’s device is a desktop, tablet, phablet, smartphone, feature phone, or wearable. It can also respond differently based on the screen size of the site. Developers can decide which graphics and content will be used for mobile and tablet users. Text and images can be adjusted based on any browser or screen size. When new devices are added, there is no additional programming required. Most importantly, however, responsive design is Google’s recommended design pattern. For many websites, RWD achieves a reasonable balance between mobile-friendliness and ease of implementation.

There are several key design considerations that will make a website look and operate at its best with responsive design:

  • Header—The header and masthead should be simple so as to not take away from the key selling points. The logo is the key brand image; an overly horizontal logo may not look great on smaller vertical screens.
  • Navigation—Navigation is much trickier on a small screen. Often, designers will use a navigation button shown by three horizontal lines, usually in the upper right of the site. This is called a “hamburger menu,” because it looks like a burger surrounded by the bun. Some sites use a left side navigation that can expand outwardly to cover most of the screen.
  • Images—It is impossible to include too many images on the mobile screen. Therefore, designers often use image carousels that allow users to swipe through multiple product images instead.
  • Footer—A footer doesn’t take up valuable space like the header, but it’s just as important because it is a consumer’s last stop on your site. Consumers are used to using the footer as a navigation tool. It should also include the very important “Contact Us” link.

One of the challenges of responsive design is the tablet. The tablet, although technically a mobile device, is most often used more like a desktop computer than a smartphone. With responsive design, developers need to build the code to execute on three primary devices (desktop, tablet, smartphone). The tablet often straddles both of the other devices in its user intent. An admirable trend in responsive design techniques that combats the tablet struggle is to again use a mobile-first approach. In this way, designers create sites with the smallest screens in mind first and then add features and content for larger ones. It is a lot easier to add value to a site when going from smallest to largest screen size than to decide what elements to take away when going from desktop to mobile. Focusing on mobile first means the site will be clean and won’t have the bulkiness that often slows a mobile version down.

The main problem with RWD is that, by default, all devices are sent the same size graphics, regardless of screen size. Therefore, low-resolution screens are sent the same images as those sent to high-resolution screens. This is problematic in that the smaller screens cannot show the images at their native resolution and have to “shrink” them to fit. This method can be inefficient and can take up additional data that should be unnecessary. Responsive web design with server side components is a web development technique that takes RWD to the next level. RESS combines traditional responsive design with server-side detection that allows RWD to further optimize graphics to fit device specifics. RESS can also enhance the mobile website in other ways. If bandwidth is at a premium, RESS can limit data usage by only serving the most important images. In the same manner, mobile video can only be served if there is a fast connection available. And, RESS can avoid Flash on devices that do not support it.

RESS seems to be an obvious enhancement to RWD, so why doesn’t everybody use it? The negative to RESS is that feature detection is often difficult. The feature detection code on the site needs to be updated every time a new browser or device hits the market and that is difficult to keep up with. There are some third-party services that will do this for you, but nevertheless, it’s a limiting additional hassle for RESS. If your site uses RESS, it’s never going to be completely done and there is always going to be additional costs.

Mobile Device Screen Sizes

There are, however, limitations to responsive design and reflowing the same content on every device. Certainly, there are advantages to offering a unique and customized experience for every device user. This is especially true in the case of e-commerce sites where making the sale is paramount to the existence of the business, hence the need for adaptive design.

Adaptive design employs dynamic serving that uses the same URL regardless of device, but it generates a different version of HTML based on the server recognizing information about the user’s browser. With AWD, a specific experience is sent depending on the type of device. In this case, web developers can customize specific content and adapt it to the device itself. AWD allows for developers to design lighter versions of a site so it will load faster since extraneous items will never make it to the end user. It also allows developers to take advantage of the different unique features of certain smartphones and tablets. Adaptive design is not all about the designing for the device itself. If a user is on a slow or fast connection, a site could serve different resolutions of its images. They are not necessarily custom to each device, but to the bandwidth levels available to the user. An example might be a wide shot of the crowd at the President’s speech that is served to a desktop user and a close up of the President’s face that is served to a smartphone user.

The common thought process is that the obvious choice is always going to be responsive design, but that is not the case. There are instances where adaptive design makes sense as the preferred design method. Because adaptive design is created for the exact specifications of a particular mobile device, it does provide a better overall user experience. This is especially apparent in the case of load times since content used is formatted specifically for the intended screen size. An example of a company that would likely be apt to use adaptive design is an airline or travel site. For a travel-related business, sites need to be highly interactive, engaging, and have multiple options since it is a high ticket item where closing each deal is paramount to success. With its exciting graphics and complex interactivity, an online casino site is another type of site that needs to use adaptive design. With offerings ranging from table games to slot machines and bingo, it is easy to see why extra care must be given to ensure precise compatibility with all devices. Players are there for entertainment and adaptive design provides the best possible user experience regardless of the device used.

On the other side of the debate, the biggest concern with adaptive design is that it is very expensive to develop, since some brands may choose a custom development for every desktop and mobile device. Moreover, when new devices are introduced, the programming could start all over again to accommodate the new entries. An additional concern with adaptive design is that some older devices may still be in the market and they may not be supported by the original design. Because of these concerns, and the ongoing commitment to updating, adaptive design is never going to be the solution for everybody.

Finally, there is the issue of Google’s preferred method. You need not be concerned of lost rankings if you use adaptive design instead of responsive. If an AWD site maintains canonical links to desktop content, it shouldn’t be a problem for a site’s organic rankings. (A canonical link element is supplemental HTML code that helps webmasters prevent duplicate content issues. Duplicate content is a negative for search engine optimization, and a canonical link works to indicate the “preferred” version of a web page.)

Have you seen a website that you like, and are wondering what design style they used? Here’s how to determine if the site has used responsive design or adaptive design. With responsive design, the web design does not respond to the device itself, because in most cases it simply doesn’t care about the device type. Instead, responsive design responds to the screen resolution itself. To test this, look at a site on a desktop and change the size of the window by grabbing one of the corners and expanding or contracting the overall size. When the window size is changed, the website will also change its size and shape to fit the smaller or larger screen of the desktop browser. Some of the elements of the site may shift to accommodate the larger or smaller screen size, but all of the elements will remain on the screen regardless. This is an example of a responsive design site.

An adaptive design site will act differently. Go to a travel site such as Southwest.com and do the same thing. Grab the site in the corner and drag it to the middle to shrink the screen size. Instead of seeing the elements of the site moving around based on the new site, you will see some of the images simply being covered up. If this is the case, it is an adaptive design site.

The technology used for a website design is going to vary based on the specific needs of the brand. Choosing the right method is important, because the site is going to remain active until the next overhaul of the site. Regardless of which approach is best for your particular needs, the important thing is that you provide an improved mobile user experience and gain the search engine rankings, and sales, that your business deserves.

Dec
30

How Food Trucks Use SMS Marketing

Build Food Truck Profits through SMS marketing

When you own a food vendor truck, you worry about the design of your truck: where your logo will be displayed, your most occupied locations, and your phone number. Soon, you start to think there won’t be enough room for your actual menu. But you’re forgetting one key marketing information: your keyword.  It’s time to start thinking about where your text message marketing keyword and short codes will go.

SMS marketing can help advertise all the things needed to in order to get new customers for truck vendors, and keep them have coming back. Just like an immobile restaurant, it is important to keep customers up to date on everything that is changing. For a restaurant that could mean things in the kitchen as well as in the dining room, but for a food truck it could mean in the kitchen, most recent locations as well as future ones, special coupons, as well as event and seasonal appearances. As a kitchen that is constantly on the move, text message marketing can help reach customers while they’re on the move  too.

Social Media is an simple, not to mention free, way to update customers on food trucks’ whereabouts and specials. All it takes is a simple post or a tweet and following customers are in the know. This option allows real-time communicati’on between consumer and company, while also diminishing confusion and increasing demand. 57% of food truck owners had more Twitter followers than they did likes on Facebook, but with Twitter comes uncertainty of exposure.

SMS Marketing for Food Trucks

SMS marketing is an opportunity to personally engage with customers

SMS marketing has the ability to increase this exposure. 95 – 98% of text messages are read within minutes of receipt, which means that upon delivery the marketing material is received and processed by hungry consumers. Not only does text message marketing allow food vendors to control what is marketed and who receives it, but this marketing tool also builds a customer database. With each customer who opts-in to receive marketed text messages a mobile phone number is saved and stored for future subscriber data. SMS marketing creates an opportunity to build a stronger relationship with customers.

If customers opted-in to learn more about your vegetarian menu, their phone number can be categorized for future changes or specials on the vegetarian menu. If someone uses a keyword to learn about when a food truck will be in a specific neighborhood that number is categorized along with all the other customers from that neighborhood. This allows the option for a broadcast text alert to be sent to all subscribers in that neighborhood when it is appropriate.

If a truck relocates for breakfast, lunch, and dinner each day, the owners can let their customers know by social media post or direct to their mobile phone. How? All customers have to do is text a keyword to the shortcode and receive a list of dates and locations that they’ll be occupying. This way they have a calendar to refer to when they want their favorite hot dog or pretzel.

The possibilities are endless for marketing products. Promote a coupon code through SMS marketing and the code is saved in hundreds of inboxes for easy access. Market specials and new menu items through a broadcast message and know that customer received your information. In the city and on the street, vendors are already up-close and personal with their customers, so get more personal by texting straight to their mobile phones. Customers will never forget their favorite food truck.

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Nov
27

How to Cook a Thanksgiving Turkey

Author Bob Bentz    Category Uncategorized     Tags

 

How to Cook a Turkey

Tips on cooking your Thanksgiving Turkey are just a phone call away.  Call 1-888-723-4468.

Need help on cooking your turkey?  Shadybrook Farms offers its turkey cooking tips on the number below.

Call 1-888-723-4468

Jul
10

Twenty Must Follows in Mobile

The world of mobile and mobile marketing is constantly changing as new technologies are developed and new trends evolve. To help you stay on the cutting edge of mobile, atsMobile has compiled a list of twenty leaders in the mobile industry that we strongly recommend you follow on Twitter. must follows on twitter

1. The Mobile Marketing Association (@MMAglobal)- The premier non-trade association that represents over 700 mobile marketing companies internationally.

2. Mobile Marketer (@MobileMktrDaily)- A leading news site in mobile marketing, media and commerce.

3. Mobile Commerce Daily (@MCommerceDaily)- The news leader in mobile commerce and retail.

4. Mashable Mobile (@mashablemobile)- A subset of the news website, technology and social media blog, Mashable, that focuses on trends and news in the mobile industry.

5. Mobile Crunch (@MobileCrunch)- A subset of Tech Crunch, a web publication on technology news and analysis, that emphasizes advances in the mobile industry.

7. Mobile Marketing Watch (@MobileMW)- Features mobile telecommunications business news and analysis.

8. Greg Kumparak (@Grg)- Greg is the mobile editor at Tech Crunch

9. Kim Dushinski- (@KimDushinski)- Kim is the author of the Mobile Marketing Handbook and the founder of the International Mobile Marketing Business Network.

10. Rudy de Waele- (@mtrends)- Rudy is a the co-founder of dotopen.com and a mobile strategist on an international level.

11. Luke Wroblewski- (@lukew)- Luke is the author of “Mobile First” and an expert on user interface design.

12. Michael Becker (@mobiledirect)- Michael is the managing director of the North America MMA and the co-author of “Mobile Marketing for Dummies.”

13. Cindy Krum (@Suzzicks)- Cindy is the founder of MobileMoxie and author of “Mobile Marketing: Finding Your Customers No Matter Where They Are.”

14. Matt Parzych- (@MobileMktg)- Matt is the CTO at SparcPlug Inc.; reports on “useful, effective, innovative communications between businesses and their mobile audience.”

15. Serena Ehrlicjh-(@Serena) Serena is the Director of Marketing at Mogreet and was named one of the Top 25 Women in Mobile to Watch for 2013.

16. Bill Parkes (@billparkes)- Bill is the EVP and Chief Marketing Officer at nFusion.com

17. Giselle Abromobich- (@GAbramovich)- Giselle is the CMO at Adobe and the managing editor of both Mobile Marketer and Mobile Commerce Daily.

18. Tomi T Ahonen- (@tomiahonen)- Tomi is an international mobile consultant and best selling author of twelve mobile telecom books.

19. Michael Essany- (@Michael_essany)- daily contributor to Mobile Marketing Watch and Daily Deal Media, and VP of Indiana Grain Company; former E! Entertainment host.

20. Danny Mallinder- (@MobInsider)- CEO and founder of MobInsider

Jun
20

Social Media and Mobile Are Having a Significant Impact on Retail

According to a recent KPMG survey, social media and mobile have the largest impact on business of tech-related trends.  71% of retailers stated that social media has a significant impact on business, followed by mobile/online shopping at 52% and mobile/online promotions and coupons at 51%.

Social media has a significant impact on the retail business.

Social media and mobile have a significant impact on the retail business.

 

 

Jun
13

Wealthier, Higher Educated People Are More Likely to Own An IPhone

A May 2013 Princeton Research Associates survey showed the demographic differences between IPhone and Android owners. According to the study, the biggest demographic differences between IPhone and Android owners involve income and education. Compared to Android owners, people who own an IPhone are more likely to have an income of $150,000+ and to have graduated from college+.  In addition, the survey showed differences in age, gender and race.

A May 2013 survey shows the demographic differences between Android and IPhone users.

A May 2013 survey shows the demographic differences between Android and IPhone users.

May
22

Cinnabon Utilizes QR Codes in Breast Cancer Fundraiser

On Friday, May 17, Cinnabon, a nationwide bakery with over 800 locations, launched a mobile-based campaign entitled “Sweet Support.” The campaign uses the company’s mobile website and specialized QR codes to raise money and awareness for breast cancer research.  When in the bakery, customers are encouraged to donate using their smartphones by visiting the mobile URL, give.mobi/cinnabon, or by scanning one of the QR codes featured throughout the stores. Cinnabon is planning on matching the first $10,000 in donations.

cinnabon qr code

Cinnabon’s QR codes that customers can scan to donate.

Cinnabon mobile site

Customers can also visit Cinnabon’s mobile website to donate.

Kristen Hartman, the Vice-President of Marketing for Cinnabon, attributed the mobile marketing-focused campaign on the easy-accessibility and user-friendly aspects of the QR code and the mobile site for customers. She stated, “Consumers are increasingly accessing more and more information through their mobile phones. Knowing that our Cinnabon guests are often toting their phones and our delicious treats around the mall, we sought a donation process that was easy and user friendly.”

Cinnabon’s use of a custom QR code, instead of a traditional black and white QR code, was a smart move for the company. Custom QR codes have a 2.3x greater response rate than the ordinary black and white QR codes. In addition to a higher scan rate, the custom QR codes catch the attention of customers and provide another platform for Cinnabon to further brand the company. Overall, utilizing custom QR codes was a win-win for Cinnabon.

QR codes are a powerful tool for inviting customers to interact with your brand. There is great potential in the future of the QR code system. Currently, only 40% of the QR code is being used in scans, which allows for future expansion in the QR code system. For more information on custom QR codes and how to create a custom QR code for your brand, visit Advanced Telecom Services.

Mar
4

The Importance of Social Media Interaction with Mobile Marketing Campaigns

It’s increasingly important to plan and execute a mobile strategy that includes the implementation of the use of applicable social media channels to promote, support, and supplement the mobile program. If nobody knows to use their device to respond to a company’s investment of its efforts into a campaign, the results will be unsuccessful.

Agencies and brands should strive to work with mobile partners that understand the integration of the appropriate social elements into mobile marketing, whether it’s as basic as text messages and customized QR codes to direct a user to a mobile website or app, or to a device-fitting website or customized app itself, social media creates the path.

To make sure your brand remains relevant, consistent and exposed, it’s important to highlight four areas to your desired recipient, your customer:

*Promote-The targeted audience that needs to know about the mobile campaign will know about it.

*Engage-The targeted audience wants to know what’s in it for them; it must be a compelling experience.

*Interact-Mobile and social media channels are direct two-way communication with your audience, make sure you’re talking and they’re responding.

*Satisfy-Once they take part in a campaign; make the target group feel good about the whole experience start-to-finish.

Not all campaigns are alike, so the use of which social media channels to use and how often are unique to the desired intention.

The most populated channels include Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Google+, and YouTube, along with social/locale-based sites such as Yelp and FourSquare.

In addition, it’s critical that social media reaction to the mobile campaigns is monitored through a partner providing reputation management services, keeping a close eye on channels related to the business and/or industry of the brand for comments both positive and negative directed towards the client.

No mobile marketing/social media campaign is complete without leveraging the power of content. Information pertaining to customers is critical to sustaining the social media penetration. Updated content must be created and optimized to be found in online searches and to attract your audience.

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