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Internet Design for the Future

2009-2010 was no doubt the year of social media for internet marketing. Reality Concepts has been placing Home Builders and New Home Community content on various social media sites all the way back in 2005. In 2008 everyone asked face who? In 2009 everyone knew this was going to be the next big thing. No one knew how big though. Facebook grew faster than any form of mass media ever in history. Currently Facebook commands the internet and has surpassed well over over 500 million users. U.S. traffic now has equaled or exceeded Google.com’s traffic in the United States. Everyone in the home building industry knows you have to at least get on Facebook, that is the minimum. Now it is not a choice it just plain part of your online marketing strategy. It is 2010 and social media has matured to a degree. Facebook, Google and others saw a 4% decline in traffic in the month of March. Does that mean that the crazy growth has slowed, I feel it has and so do my colleagues in the internet marketing industry. Does that mean we should ignore Facebook and other forms of social media? Absolutely not, social media is a critical part of a mandatory formula for success on the internet. So what will be the next big thing out there? The mobile phone wars gives us some insight.

Currently Apple / ATT is selling 8.7 million phones per quarter. Google / Verizon sales have been around 5 million phones per quarter. Who will win the war between the Apple / ATT team or the Google / Motorola / Verizon team we don’t know or care. From on line research, my testing and talking to owners of each of the phones they are all great. What we do care about is that these are around 5 million new fully browser capable phones a month being sold around the world. Keep in mind this also includes the new I-Pad as well, which is really a smart phone without the phone part. Is this important to us? You bet, that means this is growth similar to what we saw with Facebook. It also means that we need to build web-sites that are smart phone compatible. This ensures our information is getting out there on these devices and are viewable on these phones. Frankly we are not talking about your old flip phone or even older Black Berry phones. There are just too many limitations to make your web site work with these phones. Also these phones are being turned in and traded for smart phones with Apple’s I-Phone being the leader. No point in putting new wine in old wine skins (*bible quote). So how do we take advantage of this in the future?

Making a smart phone capable site means few things. There are a few guidelines we would want to follow. We don’t want customers to have to think about which version of the site we are getting. We don’t want swiss cheese sites. This is the new term for content that cannot be viewed on a smart phone; it leaves a blank spot or hole on a web page. We do want it to be fast and easy to navigate. We may want our mobile website version to be a slimmed down version of our current site.

Have you gone to a site and it asked you if you want the fast version or the slow version? I hate that I feel like I might miss something. A customer should come to our website, and the website should be smart enough to detect if this is a regular computer browser or a smart phone browser. The website should at that time direct you to the proper content. Does this mean building two completely different websites? It may mean that, depending on the complexity of your website. If it is relatively straight forward it will only mean adjusting what you currently have on the site and simplifying the content. Those adjustments may mean allowing alternate content for items that cannot be viewed on a smart phone. It may also mean adjusting the layout to be easier to read and navigate.

Swiss cheese has holes and so do website with flash animation (website animation software from the Adobe Corporation) on smart phones. Video and loads of flash have all been the rage in the past 5 years. This content is blocked by Apple unfortunately. This policy will not change soon enough for us. The mobile version of the site needs to be a strict version of K.I.S.S. keep it simple. Text and images are great, heavy animation is a no no. You can still get a great looking version of the website. Straight forward navigation with easy to read big buttons is the best way to go. Gone are the days “telling a story” with mystery meat navigation. Having your site designed to look and function like a modern video game will just not work anymore. Your mobile site should be easy to work with and easy to navigate. Does this sound like what we should do on the regular website? Sound effects and music, that should be out but these will not work on a smart phone , so it is a waste of money and time. Any animations or slide shows done with flash technology will leave a blank spot on a web site so again clean and simple.

Fast is the name of the game for a smart phone site. There are two reasons to be concerned about load time of your website. First Google is starting to penalize you in the search ranking if your website is a little piggy on load time. Second smart phones are faster than the old dial up modems but not as fast as the broad band internet at the office. If you your site is a little piggy then consider putting your piggy on a diet. The answer may be smaller images lower quality. Complex security or programming at times can be a problem and will need testing. Some web technology is still not available for smart phones. If you have had your computer lock up from a web site you know how annoying that can be. If you have a phone lock up that can be a disaster. Not as easy to reset a phone and you may miss an important phone call.

Budgets are strict these days so what if you have a site that needs this technology but don’t have the deep pockets. Consider building a very simple version of your web site that has locations of where you build and contact information or even contact forms. This could mean a one page website with a link to Google maps.

If this sounds like a throwback to the “old school days” of websites it is. This is new technology and is a little like the wild wild west right now. Like the wild west though the first to stake their claim could strike gold and get a solid leg up on the competition. Early adopters are rewarded in the internet marketing business. If you have more questions or would like recommendations for your website, Reality Concepts can evaluate each and every page of your website to help decide which pages may need changes. Contact us if you have any questions or are interested in building a smart phone capable website.

By Brad Bombardiere 9-29-2016