Tag Archives: mobile web

Looking At It Wrong

Ahh, the grocery business. We can learn a lot from the grocery channel about target audiences and merchandising. Visit your local grocery chain with a five-year-old, and you’ll be reminded of just how accomplished these retailers are at moving products. Turn your head for one second and that five-year-old will have something in his or her hand: a toy, candy, a coloring book. As you try to put the item back (while unsuccessfully trying to calm the screaming tyke as shoppers around you surreptitiously record video for social media), you will inevitably find yourself asking “where the heck did this come from anyway?” You'll look around for a few more minutes and finally give up, placing the item on any nearby shelf and hurriedly moving on. All parents and grandparents have been there. Interestingly, the reason you couldn’t see where the item came from wasn’t that you were looking in the wrong place.

You couldn’t see it because you were looking for it the wrong way.

If you had kneeled down, you would have quickly been reminded that the folks in grocery stores understand exactly where little hands can reach. That whole screaming kid thing? It was pretty much engineered by the retailer in the hope that you would cave in and let the child keep whatever it was that they grabbed (only to be lost into the cracks of the car seat on the ride home).

What does this have to do with {code} Roadies? It relates to web development because we are reminded of this phenomena every day with mobile devices. We code on desktops and laptops because they have big keyboards and the processing power to manipulate media, but the truth is that the number of users viewing websites on those devices is small and shrinking. As we develop sites, we constantly remind ourselves that while it’s important for sites to look good on desktop displays, it’s absolutely imperative that they look good on the latest mobile devices.

The same goes for you as you add content to your website via WordPress or any other CMS. If you’re reviewing your content only using your laptop at work, you’re looking at it the wrong way. It’s easy to be deceived by layouts and fonts and graphics when you are putting pages together on a 17-inch screen. I still struggle with old-school print concepts like orphans (the stray word kind, not the Punky Brewster kind) in emails. I feel compelled to fix them on my desktop display even though I know deep inside that the vast majority of users will be opening their email on their phone, completely changing how it looks. Even then, each unique device will display the content differently depending on screen size, resolution and even orientation.

Test your work in mobile. It’s the only way to make sure that your content looks good. And if your website isn’t optimized for mobile, stop reading this now and give {code} Roadies a call. Look at your site like your customers do, and you’ll be able to communicate with them a lot more effectively.

An Offer You Can’t Refuse

I spend a lot of time working with Google’s Adword’s platform. It’s not perfect, but it’s still the standard by which all other online advertising platforms are judged. Some are better, others are worse (I’m looking at you, Facebook), but nobody is more important.

That’s why it’s so valuable to watch what Google does with Adwords. It’s usually a really accurate indicator of what the rest of the web is going to do next. For the past year or so, Google has been warning people if their websites aren’t responsive and mobile-friendly. Put another way, if your website doesn’t adapt to smartphones, Google Adwords will give you some friendly advice: bring it up to speed or else. What does “or else” mean? You don’t want to find out.

Think of Google as the mafia Godfather of online marketing. All of the other big tech players follow Google’s lead, even if they would secretly like to bump them off. And anybody who has ever seen a mob movie knows that when the big boss makes a request, it’s not really a request. It’s more like an ultimatum wrapped in decorative tissue paper. As long as you do what he says, it stays in the gift bag. When you disobey, he takes it out and bops you on the head with it until the Motion Picture Association of America gives the film an R rating.

And it’s not just Google. All signs point to an increased emphasis on responsive websites across the internet. If your web presence ignores mobile devices, you will show up later in search results, you will be charged more for clicks and impressions and you will get penalized by every algorithm on the net. It’s like getting that weird mafia kiss that marks you as a target for every up-and-coming wise guy in the gang.

Why is everybody making such a big deal out of responsive websites? Because more people use the web with their smartphone than any other device. It’s not unfair treatment to single out the sites that don’t stay current, it’s good business.

If you have a website that isn’t responsive, it’s time to clear your name with the online powers that be. Update and you’ll see that the web works better when you put users first.


There’s No Such Thing As The Mobile Web

If you are over the age of 30, you remember the day you finally retired your old CRT tube TV. You probably had to ask a friend over to help you lift it out of your house. You were filled with pride as you walked out of Best Buy with a brand new flat screen TV that cost a lot of money but looked like something out of Star Trek (“I can’t believe how thin it is!”). 

Then you told your friends you got a new flat screen TV. The wording is important there, because you couldn’t just tell them you got a “new TV,” or they might think that you invested in another tube-based behemoth. No, you had to be specific because there were logical alternatives. Today when you buy a TV, you just tell your buddies “I got a new 65-inch TV for my living room yesterday.” Notice the difference? You didn’t have to explain that it was a flat screen TV anymore because your friends already assumed that you didn’t pick it up off the berm in a retirement community.

A similar phenomenon is taking place with businesses that have a presence on the Internet (in other words, all of us). We’ve been using the phrase “mobile web” for almost a decade now, but it’s time to stop. This combination of words made sense when there was a logical alternative (I suppose you might call it the “desktop web” or something), but that is no longer the case. Look around the restaurant next time you go out to eat and note how many people periodically use their mobile devices. All of them. That’s not a subset of Internet users anymore. That’s a huge, growing, overwhelming majority of Internet users. That’s what the web looks like today.

So if you still have a website that isn’t mobile friendly, you need to take a hard look at the message you are sending out to users. If the majority of visitors to your website get pages that are challenging to navigate or that they have to zoom into to read, then you are telling the world, “I’m not really taking this whole Internet thing seriously.” Perhaps that’s the message your business wants to put forth, but I doubt it. Nobody wants their first impression to be the Internet equivalent of a 19-inch tube TV with rabbit ears wrapped in tinfoil.

There’s no such thing as the mobile web because all of the web is now mobile – or at least it should be. Welcome to the future.