Category Archive of responsive web development 2

See What the WordPress Gutenberg Update Means for Your Website

WordPress is an amazing Content Management System (CMS) that powers websites across a wide variety of industries.  In fact, more than 30 percent of the top 10,000 websites run on WordPress. It is open source, meaning that it is free to use and hundreds of developers donate their time to keep the platform safe, secure, and fast.  Our development team at North Star Marketing consists of a few developers that help give back to that community through volunteering time and speaking at WordPress Meetups and WordCamps all over the country.

Getting Ready for the New Gutenberg WordPress Update

North Star has helped hundreds of clients – from schools, colleges, and healthcare networks to banks, accounting firms, and manufacturers – reach key audiences through engaging websites that are built on the WordPress platform.  We’re making sure all of the websites we host continue to function seamlessly when the next major update to WordPress, Version 5.0, is rolled out in the next month. If your website currently utilizes WordPress, keep reading to learn what to expect with this latest update.

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Triad Payroll Company Increases Mobile Engagement 97% with Responsive Website

Responsive Web DesignScott Jenkins, President of Payroll Solutions, knew his website wasn’t up to par. It was nearly ten years old, and his team realized that a responsive design would be vital to meet client needs. As a result, Jenkins contacted North Star Marketing in late 2016 and launched his new site in April 2017. Since launch, the company is already seeing indicators from the new website that positively impact productivity, sales, and client retention. A few of these include:

  • Increases in direct traffic to the site
  • Fewer visitors leaving the site (lower bounce rates)
  • And a significant increase in mobile visitor engagement

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Making the Switch to a Responsive Website

Responsive Website Development: More than just Geek Speak

How many times have you said to a friend, “just Google it,” or used your smartphone to quickly find the answer to one of life’s pressing questions? Whether you’re looking for local businesses, store hours, or need to know how far Earth is from Mars, the mobile web has you covered. But how often do you find yourself frustrated by websites that just aren’t built for access on-the-go? Pinch-to-zoom gets old quickly when you’re trying to read tiny text. Thankfully, there is a solution – responsive website development.

Whether you’re familiar with the term or not, you’ve probably used responsive websites on your tablet or smartphone. In a nutshell, responsive development is the implementation of multiple design layouts for a single website to account for the various screen sizes people use to browse the web. The width of the screen on individual devices determines the actual layout of the design – it “responds” to the user’s screen preference.

In most cases, you’ll see the same same content that you would find on the desktop version of the site, but organized in a format which is easily accessible from any device. As a result, you get a web experience that displays effectively regardless of the device you’re using. When done right, it can be just as easy to navigate the site on your smartphone as it would be on a desktop computer.

Here’s a quick video displaying how responsive design actually works based on the device size:

Why is responsive design so important?

In early 2014, the Internet landscape saw a massive shift when mobile web traffic exceeded desktop traffic. This means that more people are searching online from phones than computers.This shift isn’t a just passing fad – mobile Internet usage continues to climb and shows no sign of slowing down.

In April of 2015, Google (the industry leader with nearly 74% of all website search traffic) began penalizing search rankings for websites that are not mobile friendly. In an attempt to provide users with more relevant content and better search experiences, Google changed its algorithm to automatically display mobile-friendly sites higher in rankings than those sites that are not yet upgraded to a responsive design. This transition impacted many businesses, as they saw their search traffic drop significantly.

Perhaps you’re wondering if this is an issue for your website. You can start by pulling up your website on your phone. If it feels clunky, difficult to navigate, and hard to read, you probably need a responsive website conversion. Also, if you have Google Analytics set up on your site, you can see the breakdown of devices that are accessing your site. Most likely you’re seeing your mobile website traffic grow. (Click here for a step-by-step overview of how to look up this information.)

It doesn’t have to be a complicated process to convert your website a mobile-friendly format. If you need guidance or help getting started with making your website mobile friendly, contact a North Star Marketing team member today to learn more about the process. (You can even contact us from your phone through our responsive website!)

Is Your Website Mobile-ready for Google’s Major Search Engine Update on April 21, 2015?

NSM-WebGallery-1200px-CFPHave you noticed? As you’ve used your smartphone or tablet, you’ve probably discovered that many of the websites you visit reformat from their desktop version to fit smaller screen sizes. This “right-sizing” of websites is more than just a trend. It’s here to stay, thanks in large part to Google’s evolving methods for ranking websites for search results.

On April 21, 2015, Google will release a major update to its website indexing algorithm that will negatively impact organizations whose websites are not optimized for viewing on smartphones. Sites that are not mobile-friendly can expect significant declines in mobile traffic.

Maybe converting your website into a mobile-friendly layout has been on your radar for a while. Maybe it’s technology you don’t fully understand. Or maybe you just haven’t had the time to research what mobile-friendly websites are all about. If this sounds like you, you’ll want to pay careful attention to the following information.

The Google Algorithm update and who will be impacted

2014 was the first year we saw mobile online traffic exceed desktop traffic for time spent on digital media in the U.S. This trend hasn’t been overlooked by the major search engines. In fact, for the first time ever, Google pre-announced an algorithm change that is scheduled for April 21, 2015. It will be one of the biggest updates in their history.

Google has been hinting at the importance of mobile for some time now, including the release of their Mobile-Friendly Test. To determine if your site is in fact mobile-friendly, simply enter your website address into the field on this test page. If your page submissions pass the test, then you should have nothing to worry about.

If your site fails, you’ve got some work to do and need to begin putting a plan together now. The more traffic your website sees from smartphones, the bigger the impact you will see from this update. To determine the total mobile traffic coming to your website, simply check your Google Analytics reporting. Mobile traffic can be viewed from the Google Analytics reporting dashboard under the Audience section. Once you’ve clicked on the Audience section, click on Mobile, then Devices. Adjust your reporting dates to the past 12 months to get an idea on your average monthly mobile traffic volume.

Why is Google doing this?

With the use of mobile devices outpacing desktop computers, Google’s desire is to serve up the best possible experience to their customers—customers meaning anyone searching online via Google. In order to do that, Google users must find it easier to get relevant and high quality search results that are optimized for their specific devices. As Google looks to maintain search dominance, customer-focused changes that improve user experience will remain at the core of their long-term strategy.

Why updating to responsive is your best mobile-friendly strategy

If your website is not mobile-friendly, don’t panic. Just start formulating a plan to update your site to “responsive” design. Responsive design simply means that your website will detect the screen size and device used by the person accessing your site and adapt accordingly. Each visitor on your website gets a tailored experience that quickly and easily gives them access to relevant content they’re searching for on their device of choice.

Why is this the best strategy? For starters, Google actually prefers responsive design over a mobile version of your website; they actually refer to responsive web design as a best practice. And because Google owns over 87% of today’s mobile search market, aligning your site with Google’s methodology should be top priority.

If you’re still not convinced, we’ve compiled a list of some major strategic advantages to responsive website design:

  • Excellent user experience: In the end, it’s all about delighting your customers. Happy visitors are more likely to purchase, revisit, and refer other prospects to your website.
  • Increased reach online: With the ability to serve up content on any device, your potential audience reach grows exponentially. Your site will appeal to a larger percentage of visitors exploring what you offer.
  • Flexibility: Regardless of potential new screen sizes that may surface in the future, your complete website can easily be delivered to your audience without further updating.
  • Cost savings: Both from a cost and resource perspective, having one website to build, update and maintain will save you substantial time and money. Two versions of your site usually requires significant maintenance and separate SEO (search engine optimization) efforts.
  • Better SEO: SEO is vital and expected now by Google. Since Google prefers responsive web design and will reward sites that provide a better mobile experience with higher rankings, having a responsive site means more traffic and a big competitive advantage. Showing up higher in search results can quickly equate to more leads and sales.

What’s involved in making the shift to responsive?

Your next question is likely, “What’s involved in migrating to a responsive, mobile-friendly website?” If you’re already on a content management system (CMS) like WordPress, the shift could be relatively simple and inexpensive. To fully understand all that’s involved, you’ll want to speak with an online marketing agency that specializes in developing responsive websites. Responsive design considerations need to be thought through with a provider that has a solid understanding of marketing, your value proposition, and messaging that is tailored for your audience. A responsive design without proper consideration of your audience could be a waste of money that does more harm than good.

If you would like assistance, our team here at North Star Marketing would be happy to walk you through what’s involved in moving to responsive and provide options tailored to your specific budget.

What you can expect if you don’t take action now

If your site is not currently mobile-friendly, failing to act now will result in your site being penalized once the Google update takes place on April 21st. How bad that penalty hurts your company will depend on what percentage of your online traffic is coming from mobile devices. For example, if your site typically generates 1,000 mobile visits per month and on average 3% of those visits turn into leads, you’re losing 30 leads per month. If 20% of your online leads generally become new customers, that translates into 6 lost sales per month. Depending on your average sale and the lifetime value of your average customer, that could be thousands of dollars in lost revenue every month. Analyzing the impact in terms of lost revenue often makes the decision a no-brainer.

If you do nothing to deal with this update, once your site does end up being penalized, keep in mind this could equate to longer-term pagerank and traffic issues. Migrating over to a new, mobile-friendly site doesn’t happen overnight and won’t create an immediate cure for your traffic woes. Plan on several weeks to several months to bounce back from these search engine penalties.

While the mobile-friendly update will only impact mobile traffic initially, this could change in the future. The value of mobile-friendliness may likely become a more prevalent factor in Google’s search algorithm, impacting site rankings as a whole (including desktop). Preparing now will put you in a stronger strategic position to benefit from this kind of change in the future.

Where do you go from here?

For starters, taking the following steps can help you to prepare now and be ready for what lies ahead:

  • Use Google’s mobile-friendly test to determine if your website will be penalized.
  • Check your Google Analytics reporting for mobile traffic and determine the potential impact any traffic loss may have on your sales.
  • If your site is not mobile-friendly and you have traffic to lose, contact an online marketing agency that specializes in responsive websites.
  • Ask how quickly you can make the shift to responsive. Check with them about any patches you could put in place during the development process.

If you’re a small to mid-size business concerned about the impact of Google’s new mobile-friendly update on your bottom line, take action now! Given the current trend in mobile usage, search traffic from mobile devices will only continue to rise.

Ready to start building your mobile-friendly website strategy? Click here to contact North Star Marketing today.

How Did I Get Here? Communicating Your Message via Intuitive Navigation

Bret Newton - Web DeveloperWhen a user visits your website, one of their primary objectives is finding the information they want quickly and easily. It doesn’t matter if they’re researching a topic, buying a product or simply validating you as a potential vendor, in most cases, your users are on a mission. The navigation style your site uses can either make their experience efficient and engaging or clunky and frustrating.

In this post, we’ll explore a few navigation options to make your site more effective and give your users a helpful browsing experience.

Once a user shows up on your site, they won’t immediately start clicking. They will instantaneously evaluate whether or not they even like the site…then they’ll start making decisions.  The aesthetic graphic design, such as eye-catching colors, fonts and images, has to grab your website visitor’s attention, or they may bounce – the technical term for a visitor seeing your page and immediately leaving your site.

Assuming your design has gotten the visitor’s attention, the content must also be easily accessible. This is where intuitive navigation comes in.   Read More

North Star Launches Responsive Website for Triad HealthCare Network

Triad Healthcare websiteJune 21, 2013 – (BURLINGTON, NC) – North Star Marketing recently completed a new mobile responsive website for Triad HealthCare Network, a Greensboro, N.C.-based network of physicians affiliated with Cone Health. As a mobile responsive website, the new Triad HealthCare Network website scales automatically to the size of the viewing screen, whether it’s being viewed on a smartphone, tablet or desktop/laptop computer.
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