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The Case for HTML5 and the Mobile Experience

HTML5 and Why it’s a Mobile Game Changer

HTML5 will continue to see a lot of traction in 2013; it is a viable technology for creating a good web-based experience across numerous devices in situations where budgets are an issue or the primary objective is the consistency of experiences across devices. Savvy marketers will begin to differentiate their mobile service offerings on applications and browsers. Businesses need to treat mobile as a strategic priority – business and technology changes mean that mobile investments must rise and adoption of newer HTML5 coded websites must be adopted. Originally I thought we’d cover SEO, but I just finished an interesting paper authored by Forrester Research on 2013 Mobile Trends For Marketers.

The paper includes some interesting stats we’ve touched on earlier, namely that the growth in Mobile continues unabated. For instance, over 1 million apps are now available; and more than 150 million tablets have been sold; and there are now over 1 billion smartphones registered – yes, 1 billion with a ‘B’! Immediacy and convenience combine to alter people’s behavior, consumers are changing their normal routines due to the multiple mobile options at their fingertips.

Tablets will be the biggest short-term disruptors. Smartphone penetration has already surpassed 50% in the US and will do so in most developed countries through 2013. In contrast, tablets are in fewer than one in five US households. However, in spite of a smaller installed base, tablet commerce will outpace mobile Commerce on smartphones. Conversion rates are already higher, and consumers use them as PC replacements — shifting their behavior from laptops to tablets.

So what does all of this data mean far a small business struggling to make a buck in America? Simple answer: Your website is outdated.

Your online image is now even more important than your Yellow page style advertising. Interestingly, many Yellow page type companies have recently launched ‘digital’ editions and online divisions. Why? Because they saw this coming and they realized that in order to service their existing customer base they had to adapt and start marketing online.

So let’s get back to HTML5 websites and what they do that normal websites don’t do. They just work – on every platform: your desktop screen, your tablet or your smartphone. They also work on just about every browser, without fancy plugins, or ‘compatibility’ switches or anything like that. I did I mention that an HTML5 website hosted with a good, name-brand hosting company is lighting fast? Yup, it is.

Obviously we’re big fans of this new technology and so are the major search engines. Which sort of brings us back to SEO. The way we look at it, if you want to generate higher SEO, you may as well start with the latest HTML5 code and work from there. OK, next time we’ll focus on SEO, promise. Until then, consider your current website and how your online image factors into your companies overall marketing efforts.

Saint George

Rambling Thoughts on Your Website

There’s been a lot of discussion lately about the online world and businesses, namely: Can a business thrive in an online, connected world without maintaining a state of the art website?

The simple answer is NO – The more detailed answer is: No, not without a professionally administered website. And this poses quite the dilemma for many small businesses today. For many of my clients (mostly small, with 6-25 employees) the challenge becomes how to run their business effectively and still get their message “out there” and get noticed in an ever-crowded online world.

Let’s back up a bit and explore the online world. When the Internet really started blooming many businesses realized that they had to have some sort of Internet presence, so most businesses I know rushed out and purchased URL’s with their business name. Some set-up simple ‘template-style’ websites, while others paid hundreds or probably thousands of dollars to get ‘professionally programmed’ websites set-up for them.

The next ‘Big’ thing came along with Content Managed Sites (CMS). These websites originally cost thousands of dollars but empowered early adopters to ‘manage’ their content and add new items, pages, and pictures as their businesses grew. CMS truly changed the online world and returned control of a companies marketing program back to the marketing departments of many companies. Of course, small businesses were left out in the cold as the software for these websites was mostly proprietary and costly and even if they could afford the investment, many small businesses could not spare the personnel to maintain their new website. Their solution, an occasional update was delegated to whichever administrative assistant had the lightest load.

Fast-forward to the late-90’s when Word Press emerged onto the scene. Word Press is an elegant online blogging platform that provides free space and a simple, semi-customizable template that anyone with just about anything to say can deploy and share with the world. And blog they did on just about any topic: politics, single parenting, travel adventures, etc. Some very astute and clever programmers realized that Word Press was also an excellent CMS website platform and started to design templates that could be user-modified to produce a semi-custom website look. Natural progression produced professional templates for advanced users and today we have one of the most powerful content managed website platforms available to the general public.

Along the way, Google took notice of the popularity of Word Press, and Google being Google, tweaked their Search Engine Optimization Algorithm (SEO) to include much of the blog-o-sphere world. Google loves content and Word Press provided Google search results with lots and lots of content.

Currently, the next ‘Big’ thing is Mobile. Mobile no longer means phones – although Smart Phones do account for a large number of visits to websites. Mobile also includes Tablets and last year, more tablets were sold in America than laptops! For many of my clients, well over 20% of visitors to their websites originate from a ‘Mobile’ device. I don’t know of any business that can ignore over 20% of their visitors.

To solve this problem, HTML5 was established. Finally, there is a universal language that allows all visitors to see the content on a website as it was designed to be seen, without ay ‘plug-ins’ or more importantly, without any restriction to screen size, resolution or operating system. HTML5 is what is better known as a cross-platform code – it just works, regardless of what device you are using to visit a website.

Here’s a good example, you visit a website on your home computer, looks great but suppose you want to show something to your colleague while you’re at a meeting – no worries, you pull out your Smartphone and dial in the URL – only problem is that unless the business setup a ‘Mobile’ site, you are zooming in and scrolling side to side and zooming out – far too much effort to share information effectively.

On the other hand, had you visited a website from your mobile device that was coded in HTML5, everything would just work; yes pictures would be scaled, but they would be scaled to fit your device perfectly. Navigation on a Smartphone becomes a lot easier with widely adopted drop-down menu system that fills your screen when navigating and intuitively, renders itself back to a small strip, out of the way awaiting your next command prompt. Some newer HTML5 coded websites also take full advantage of the touch experience – very useful when navigating with a Tablet or Smartphone.

We’ve arrived at the beginning – Can a business thrive in an online, connected world without maintaining a state of the art website? These days, state of the art also means HTML5 code running your site. For many small businesses, that means they need to find a way to take care of their business and find someone competent to take care of their website. Outsourcing your website is the next ‘Big Thing’ for many small businesses. It’s just too hard, and makes no financial sense, for most small businesses to try and set-up, let alone manage their online presence. It takes up too much time, and try as they will, they’ll never be as good as someone that has been trained to optimize the content and fine-tune a website. What usually happens is they start out with the best of intentions and then forget about an update, or upload pictures not optimized for web performance or, in some extreme cases, crash the site and forget about the whole project and abandon their online marketing altogether.

Small businesses should consider outsourcing their website to a competent website manager. There are lots of options available these days from SEO experts to content ghostwriters that will write a weekly or monthly blog for your business. The costs vary with the service: The more they are involved, the more it will cost. The cost-benefit to a business is straightforward: Do more online visitors equal increased sales? If the answer is yes, then you need and enhanced web presence and a more ‘hands-on’ approach. If you simply need a basic web-presence, then a online maintenance service is called for. Every business is unique and there is no one solution.

Take your time and talk directly with whomever you are considering to work on your website. Remember, treat this person as you would treat a marketing executive; once you get going, you’ll notice that marketing online is marketing – plain and simple – your web professional needs to be a marketer first, and a web guru second.

Next week we’ll start tackling SEO and expand on the online marketing theme.

Saint George