By Mike Flynn, CEO, Fast Web Media
In 2009, Jay-Z rapped about the ‘Death of Autotune’. While controversy about this pitch-correction technology continues in the music world, a different type of autotune is growing in importance in the online world. That’s the ability of your business website to auto-detect and adapt to the device and browser that it’s being viewed on.
Growth of mobile internet
For businesses, there is no hiding from the fact that mobile and tablet-based internet browsing is rapidly growing universally. In the UK, mobile browsing accounts for nearly 20% of all website hits, according to Ofcom’s 2012 communications report. The same report revealed that the number of smartphone searches is doubling every two months, and over 40% of smartphone users say their phone is more important for accessing the internet than any other device.
With predictions of ongoing growth and power of mobile-based consumers, businesses from all sectors can no longer afford to ignore the impact of mobile users on their sales. Online marketing strategies need to consider the various viewing platforms and devices if they are to capture their full audience.
With the importance of mobile device usage for internet browsing, comes the demand for a quality viewing experience. It’s one thing attracting customers to your website; it’s another keeping them at your site.
How many times have you viewed a website on your mobile or tablet, only to find you can’t see the content or access any features?
Surprisingly it’s the big names and brands that are falling foul of creating websites that are responsive to their audiences’ devices. Without naming and shaming, you’d be shocked to see how many of the top 20 global companies have still not adapted their websites to provide the best viewing experience, despite the fact there is an ever-growing mobile customer base.
So, a restricted marketing budget is not necessarily to blame for poor website planning and fulfilment. It’s not just smaller businesses that are missing a trick to further drive online sales.
Unresponsive websites that only provide a standard viewing platform irrespective of the device being used to access it, will become increasingly detrimental to businesses’ bottom lines as the demand for a quality viewing experience rises.
Many businesses have recognised the surge in mobile internet searching and the demand from smartphone and tablet users. And, they have responded to this by developing different versions of their sites to cater for the various devices and browsers.
However, this is a large and largely unnecessary expense. For each version, there will be a separate design cost, but also there is a duplication of content management efforts. Producing multiple versions of the same website is a reactive measure to meet current demand and will only create ongoing expense.
What happens when a new platform becomes available, such as web TV? Each new version of the website is effectively like building a new site in terms of cost and design, and therefore an expensive online marketing strategy for your business.
Equally, duplication of website content can cause a confusing experience for the user. For example, if a link is tweeted from a mobile, a PC/laptop user would be taken to the mobile version of the site when viewing that link. The content duplication is also bad for search.
There is a way to create cutting-edge marketing that captures your mobile audience without breaking the budget.
Surely it’s far better to design your website from the ground up, so that it’s responsive to the device and browser, to provide an optimal viewing experience?
The fact more and more businesses are aware of the impact of mobile browsing, is a huge step forward in conquering new sales streams. Now they need to find a way to ensure their sites adapt to the settings of whichever device the browser is viewing from, and retain them.
A responsive website can be viewed in different formats to give the best experience depending what device the browser is using. Responsive technology follows Google’s guidelines about building one site with one set of code for all devices.
This ultimately is far more cost-effective and responsive to user demand as well as being future proof to adapt to changing trends and new platforms, such as web TV.
Although responsive websites require more time in their initial stages of development, it does mean less work in the long run and a more cost-effective solution. Any updates need to be made just once rather than multiple times – there is afterall, just one website now.
Reading emails is reported to be one of the main activities of smartphone owners, with 36% of emails read on mobile phones.
Businesses, therefore need to consider how their marketing emails will be viewed when planning online marketing strategies, it’s not just about website performance.
Responsive technology can be brought to emails to ensure content adapts to the viewer’s device and those opening your emails on a mobile device can comfortably read it.
Autotuned websites are part of a new web-building philosophy – instead of trying to detect the viewer’s platform and deliver content accordingly; a responsive website simply adjusts to the available screen size and uses the features available to it. This future proofs a site. As platforms evolve, the user will continue to see the best possible view of the site, as your site will be constantly auto-tuning to your entire audience.