Make your website actually work

When was the last time you checked your website to ensure that it’s effectively supporting your business goals?

In this age of social communication that’s rapidly evolving as tools and channels like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Vine become part of the mainstream experience for millions of consumers, is your digital presence up to scratch?

The focus of these questions is largely to do with mobile – although not exclusively – that reflects the trend away from desktop and laptop computers to smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices.

We’re now in the post-PC era, according to some, where access to and interaction with content of every type is on demand, anywhere, any time via the device you have to hand, so to speak.

And if you’re the kind of person who visits a store for product and price research and comparisons and then buys from Amazon or other online retailer via your mobile device – often while in that physical store – you’re not alone.

All this brings many important issues to the forefront of your thinking. Search engine optimization, lead generation and sales lead capture, site performance, content curation and marketing, website usability and engagement…and that’s just for starters.

There’s much to think about and future posts here will discuss many of those topics. Today, though, I’d like to address one that is a good place to begin – usability and engagement. Those two words speak to the question: How easy is it for people who land on your website via a mobile device to actually use your website?

Remember, the clear trend is towards mobile. Even though PCs and other fixed-location and portable devices still account for the vast majority of website traffic, more people are coming to your website via a mobile device, whether on the three-inch screen of an iPhone 4S or the ten-inch screen of a Galaxy Note 10.1 tablet and everything in between.

kpcb-devicetrends-dec12

Mobile devices are ever more powerful with each new model, offering faster processor speeds and gorgeous graphics capabilities. Networks, wifi and cellular, are popping up everyone so you can be online wherever you are and whenever you want.

All of this translates into one key fact – when someone sees your website on their device screen, what happens at that point?

Do they get to what they want with a couple of swipes or taps? Or are they a bouncer, leaving your site in three seconds or less? If the latter, they’re gone and probably for good.

You can see where this is leading, right? Make sure your website is designed for mobile devices?

Absolutely, but not exclusively. You need to ensure that your website works for your visitors when they see your website on whatever device they are using, whether that’s a smartphone, tablet, laptop or desktop PC.

While discussion can get quite technical when you dive into topics like HTML5, not to mention the pragmatism of how much things will cost, there are three simple words you and I can easily understand.

Responsive web design.

In a nutshell, this is about enabling your content to be seen, consumed, shared and otherwise give value to those who come to see you online, no matter how they do it – with a smartphone, tablet, laptop or desktop PC.

Your website just works and works seamlessly on whatever device, delivering a consistent usability and user experience.

If you want to see what I mean, check out this imaginative video published by tech news website ReadWrite on their website relaunch last October. It’s the best video I’ve seen so far that lets you see exactly what ‘responsive web design’ means to the user.

(If you don’t see the video embedded above, watch it at YouTube.)

Making sure your website is usable when seen on any device is not as complex as it may seem. And if you use a content management system such as WordPress, it gets even easier. Note, too, these broad web design trends.

Think about it. Delivering satisfied and engaged website users, on their terms using their preferred device, is today’s business aspiration.

This post was first published on the Official WebHostingBuzz Company Blog on March 8, 2013. Founded in 2002, WebHostingBuzz is a web hosting company based in Auburn, MA, USA and in the UK. It offers web hosting, reseller hosting, VPS hosting, and dedicated hosting services from data centres across the United States and in Europe. WebHostingBuzz is a sponsor of NevilleHobson.com.