Author Archives: David Mika

About David Mika

David is the principal owner of Lehigh Valley sites, and has been working on websites in varying capacities for over 10 years. His notable sites include EasternPAFootball and WesternPAFootball. David resides in Nazareth Pennsylvania with his wife and two children.

smartphone versus desktop usage chart

The Value Of A Mobile Friendly Website

Since the iPhone hit the market back in 2007 (yeah that long ago), Smartphones have steadily grown in usage every year since – and that trend continues even today. According to StatCounter, a company that collects a lot of data each day on who is using the internet, on what device, etc – we can clearly see the rise of the SmartPhone, the fall of the Desktop/Laptop and the mediocre blip that is tablet usage.

smartphone versus desktop usage chart

There are currently more smartphones connected to the internet than laptops and desktops. Let that sink in for a minute. What’s even more surprising is the usage is still rising. Whether or not smartphones can fully load and use your website is referred to as mobile friendly and responsive. Mobile friendly means the site looks good on a mobile device, and responsive means the site will actively respond to your specific device regardless of size.

How This Impacts Your Business On The Web

Okay so we have established there are lots of Smartphones being used on the internet – it doesn’t necessarily mean they are all researching & buying goods & services right?  Well yes and no. The amount of smartphone usage for any given site varies greatly. We have clients who see 10% of all their traffic as mobile users, while other sites are up to as much as 30% of their traffic being mobile and you can visit their website to know more about the strategy used. It all depends on who you are, what you do, and who your audience is.

The researchers did an awesome job since a lot of conclusions was drawn easily after an initial research taking place on a smartphone – especially when it comes to local service companies such as roofers, plumbers, contractors, lawyers, etc.

People using smartphones generally spend less time per visit and look at fewer pages compared to people on desktops/laptops. This makes sense – people on a smaller device who may not be at home have limitations. Their screen fits less information, their internet speed is not as fast and they do not have a mouse. Also people on smartphones tend to have different goals. They typically are looking for something fast – a phone number, address and business hours are very common things a smartphone user would be looking for.

How To Make Your Non-Responsive Site Responsive

Not sure if your website is responsive? Google made a handy tool that will tell you. Plug your site into the checker and a full analysis will be done & presented to you. Your site should be programmed in a way that a smartphone (or any device with a small screen) can

  • fully load under 2-3 seconds
  • quickly find your business information such as phone/address/hours
  • interact with and effectively use your website

On any device your website should should simply load fast and function correctly. If your website is not already responsive, or automatically adjusts to common screen sizes, you have two options:

  1. The first option includes having your website updated so that it displays correctly on a smartphone. This can be accomplished by creating smartphone-specific code that essentially changes how your website looks on a mobile device.
  2. The second option is simply having a new website built.

Updating Your Website Versus Building A Brand New One

What’s the difference? Usually cost, which varies quite a bit from website to website. If your existing website is very small and simple, simply adjusting the code can do the trick. This could be around 5-10 hours of development work. On the other hand if your website is very large, has specifically built systems or interfaces, it may be cheaper to simply build a new website. For a point of reference, a full website build takes us about 20-30 hours to create which includes all aspects of planning, documentation, design and launch. At the end of the day most companies find more value in a new website, especially since sites that are not responsive at this point have not been updated for quite a few years.

In Closing

Updating your site to be usable and look professional to a potentially considerable segment of your audience is a no-brainer. Consider the value of a user loading your site very quickly, finding your address & contact info and more importantly the value of a first impression.

Finding & Hiring The Right Website Design Company

So you’ve finished planning your website – now you’re ready to select a website design/development company to build your masterpeice. For a moment let’s compare a website to a car – after all both can be expensive long term investments, and important assets to your life & business. When searching for a web development company you try to shop around while having to talk to salesman who upsell you every chance they get, have to read contracts you don’t understand,  then have to put your faith in a company you don’t really know – who you can only hope will not let you down in the end. Buying a lemon can really set you back & waste valuable time.

The process is exhausting when you’re not sure what you need. The following will help you get thru this process with as little frustration and surprise as possible.

Before Looking For A Company

Determine what you need. Start from your company & customer needs. List the problems your company has that can be solved via  experts from collectiveray . These problem can range from needing to find certain information, to ensuring the site is usable and loads fast on a mobile devices to simply making sure your phone number is prominently displayed on all devices. The last one may sound obvious, but you’d be surprised at how many sites do not list a phone number on a mobile device, while showing a phone number on a laptop/desktop display.

Next – determine who your audience is. Every company has certain customer profiles, or common traits and/or goals your customers have and are trying to accomplish. Hubspot offers a wonderful guide to creating your buyer personas. Understanding who your audience is is crucial to building a site your potential and future customers will enjoy using.

If you really want to be successful, put some thought into your personas buyers journey. This is simply an excersize in listing what your personas are coming to your website to find, and helps guide you thru the different steps your clients are at.

Walking into a web development relationship with these assets in hand will not only empower you with a much better understanding of your audience & what they are trying to solve – it will allow you to better communicate with that design company which will make a huge positive impact in the end result.

While Looking For A Company

Got all your homework done? Great. Now you should have a solid understanding of the people who will be using your site, and what they need to be able to accomplish. Now you have to find a number of web development vendors and narrow them down to a workable list. Where do you find a web development vendor? Local! You probably live within 50 miles of dozens of great companies. The benefit of choosing a local vendor is being able to meet them in person. In-person meetings are simply invaluable. Get a list of these companies via your chamber of commerce, Google and review sites like Yelp & Facebook.

When Talking To A Company

First get some references and call every one of them. Ask what their experience was like, ask if there were any surprises and ask if the project finished within the expected timeframe and scope. These few questions will give you great incite. The barrier to entry is really low in the web design business, so doing your homework is really important. You want an experienced company with a few examples of sites they’ve built, and you want to understand how they did with past customers. Feel free to contact websites that appear in the vendors online portfolio as well.

Before You Sign Anything

Hopefully you found a handful of prospects and narrowed down the list based on their past customer experiences. You probably have a few proposals floating around your email inbox. Proposals range from very simple list of services with a price, to 10+ page documents that read more like a home mortgage than an actual proposal.

Make sure the following items are clearly identified in the proposal:

  • Project scope details – on what is being built & what software/technology is being used. For instance a 15 page website being built on a LAMP server using WordPress.
  • Functional requirements – any functionality you want needs to be in writing. Want contact forms, a photo gallery and your site to have the ability to post to social media accounts? Make sure it’s all in your proposal. Even silly details like a contact page – get it all in writing.
  • Responsiveness – make sure the devices your site will be optimized for are specified, along with versions and software. There are many devices used by your audience, so make sure they are being accounted for. If you have Google Analytics already set up you can simply look at the most popular screen sizes and devices. If you have this info make sure it gets used to ensure your site is optimized for your specific audience.
  • Project timeframe, phases and deliverables – They should have an idea on how long the entire build should take. It may change during the project, but you should have a turnaround time to be used as a basis to keep the project on track as well as phases and specific deliverables to ensure the project is keeping to a schedule.
  • Out of scope – what happens when something is out of scope? The company should have a process when a request is made for something not within the scope of the site build. Normally a change-order is done to amend the contract with the additional cost. Out of scope work happens all the time – clients may change their minds on original plans or maybe something new came out that the client wants to utilize. This is completely common and you just need to understand the process and price for out of scope work.
  • Payment terms – Most web development companies do 50% down and 50% on site completion. Site completion can mean different things to different people, so make sure the milestones are clearly defined details are ironed out.
  • Ongoing management – Who is hosting the site, who is placing the finished site on the host. Who is buying/renewing the domain name. Who is keeping the site software up-to-date and who is going to be updating the site content when needed? Once the site is complete there are a lot of things that have to be accounted for and a website design company is going to consider the project complete.

In Closing

There are both great and not-so-great web development companies out there. Prepare yourself, then do your research to find a trustworthy company. Finally iron a contract that includes details that will save you a headache down the road. In a few weeks/months you’ll have a brand new website that makes you, your visitors and ideally your bottom line happy!

What To Consider When Planning A New Website

So your company or organization is ready to step up and join the internet – or you’re ready to upgrade your existing presence – either way congratulations! Building and/or upgrading a website can have a significant positive impact on your overall business, both in direct metrics like sales, and indirect metrics like business identity and customer satisfaction.

Where to start? If you’re thinking the next thing you need to do is hire a web design company – stop. You’re not ready for that yet.

Yes you eventually need expert input & recommendations, but for the time being try to brainstorm what you want as a company. While web design companies can offer expert recommendations, you are the foremost expert on both your business and what your website needs to accomplish to satisfy your existing & future clients, while being an effective business tool

Here are basic elements every company website should contain:

  • Company logo (usually on the top of every page)
  • Company Address (usually on the bottom of every page)
  • Phone number (usually on both the top and bottom of every page)
  • Customer Service/Sales Email Address (usually on the bottom of every page)
  • Hours of Operation (either on the bottom, or on your about/locations page)

Here are basic pages every company website should contain:

  • About Us – Explain your past future and present. Differentiate yourself.
  • Frequently Asked Questions – Very helpful to your visitors!
  • Contact Us – With a clear way to call, email and locate your business. Hours too!

Once you get past the basics, you have to ask yourself a few very important questions:

  • Who are our current & potential clients?
  • What goals are these people trying to accomplish?
  • What can I do to make it easier for customers to accomplish these goals?
  • What questions are they asking? What are their pain points?
  • What are the answers to these questions? How can we help them?
  • How can we help earn people’s trust?
  • How can our site better serve our customers?

These questions are what start productive internal conversation, and lead to great answers. It sounds simple – you match solutions to customers problems, but it’s not simple. Most companies don’t think these things through, and end up with websites that act as basic brochures and go on and on about how great the company is, but fail to speak to the needs of their audience and fail to perform as an effective business tool.

In Closing

Start your website journey from the perspective of making your clients happy. Ask some really good questions internally and come up with realistic goals that will make your website an effective business tool. Once you have the business side of things done, a good website design company will be able to effectively create the tool your business needs.

Next Step: Hiring The Right Website Design Company