A few decades ago, websites were accessed only via fixed-line services on desktop computers and laptops. With the rise in mobile gadgets for communication, there was a need to expand accessibility to include technology devices like cell phones. Wireless technology has improved internet access on cellular phones at reduced prices, and multiple users can share one network. Coffee shops are famous for providing Wireless Internet where customers access the network by just keying in the password. Wireless connection is a key selling point to many businesses and almost an expected investment. Coffee lovers will even bring their laptops and work from the cafe all day as they enjoy hot meals delivered straight to them. Co-working spaces are also on the rise as more technology hubs come up in developing countries. These tech hubs provide wireless internet and workstations for startups who may not afford to rent an entire office. As more people use the internet on a daily basis, businesses find it paramount to be online to get in on the action. In today’s economy, it is unwise to run a business without a website. Customers expect to find you online, and in many cases, sites are the initial point of contact between you and potential clients.
Features of great websites
Table Of Contents
If you plan to start a website for your business, you want your site to stand out from the endless pool of pages that plague the internet today. Business sites are platforms to advertise your business to people who would otherwise not know you existed. Some of the features that constitute a good website are:
- Logical road map – this explains how your site functions. You can play around with different mock ups of your site and gather feedback from friends. This process is called wire framing. Sites that make sense promote user experience and also helps with search engine optimization.
- Attractive design – since websites are visual, you need to use designs that will capture the eye of the audience. Beautiful sites encourage people to spend a little more time on them whether they intended to or not.
- User experience – usability is one of the most important things to consider when setting up a website. Your target customer should enjoy finding content on your site rather than spend time trying to navigate through the pages. Bad user experience will put off potential customers as they have many other options.
- Search engine optimization – The internet is probably the most common pastime of today’s generation. A lot of people wonder online scouring endless pages sometimes looking for something specific but mostly just hanging’ before clocking off work or falling asleep. Search engine optimization helps to draw the right crowd to your website by using keywords that will lead people to your site. Without search engine optimization, customers may never find you!
- Social media plug-ins – we live in a world where people want to share every little bit of information with your peers. If someone finds a great recipe on a dessert website, they want to shout about it from the rooftop. Well, in this case, the rooftop being social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, and my favorite of all, Instagram. It does not hurt to add sharing buttons to encourage your visitors to give you free publicity.
- Business contacts – just a few decades ago, companies relied upon face to face contact to interact with customers or telephone numbers from the Yellow Pages. Business meetings would conclude with the exchange of business cards bearing the contact details of the company. Great websites will include contact information at the bottom or as an extra page.
- Browser compatible – advancement in technology has led to many browsers available for users. You want to ensure that customers can access your page regardless of the browser they are using. Compatibility problems will cost you traffic to your site and subsequently revenue especially in the case of commercial websites.
- Hosting – work with mainstream providers rather than gamble with hosts without a good track record. You want your site to load quickly without wasting time refreshing pages which can be irritating. Good hosting does not come cheap, but it is worth every penny as you have access to technical support 24/7.
Types of websites
There are two distinct types of sites regardless of their purpose be it commercial or recreational use.
i. Mobile-specific websites
In layman terms, mobile specific websites are sites accessed via handheld devices such as smartphones and cell phones through a mobile or wireless network. According to Mashable.com, more and more people are accessing the web via Smartphones and tablets. Affordability of mobile devices has led to this shift from the traditional desktop and laptop access, especially in the Global South. For this reason, companies and individuals are opting to invest in mobile sites to keep up with changing consumer trends. Mobile websites are similar to desktop sites but have fewer pages specifically design to format on any make of phone. Use of mobile devices is common around the world and not just in developing countries. According to Smashing Magazine, a whopping 28% of the American population claims to access the internet primarily on mobile phones. This percentage is staggering given that the population of the United States is over three hundred million.
- User experience – enhanced user experience is the biggest advantage of mobile sites. Users enjoy accessing websites while on the move without having to sit at a workstation for endless hours. With mobile sites, you can catch up with your favorite blog on as you wait for the train to arrive or as you wait in line at the grocery store.
- Loads faster – mobile websites have fewer pages, so they tend to load more quickly than regular sites. Some people may dispute this notion as there are external factors that affect internet speeds such as data provider. Slow internet speeds are a common phenomenon in third world countries.
- Better ranking – mobile optimized websites rank higher in local searches than their desktop counterparts. Ranking well in search engines, particularly among the top 10, is a dream for many website owners as this increases their chances of being noticed by potential customers.
- Double maintenance – operating two websites creates additional work as you have to maintain both of them. If you are not tech savvy, this means hiring technicians to run performance checks and troubleshoot problems. Double maintenance spikes your operational budget.
- Exclude information – mobile websites have fewer pages and do not include all functionalities of the main site. This missing information and functionality may be limiting to users who may even switch to another site to find what they need.
These are websites designed for use on devices with different sizes of screens. These sites will adjust automatically to fit the screen of the said gadget. Responsive sites employ responsive design, a technique used to detect the type of device in use and automatically adjust the layout of the page. With responsive design allows for consistent information and functionality on multiple devices, so users do not have to keep switching from one device to another.
- Adaptable – you can access these sites on all devices from mobile phones to tablets and laptops.
- Consistency – these websites have the same content across all platforms used to access. The layout may change depending on the size of a screen, but functionalities remain consistent.
- Simple search engine optimization – the benefits of search engine optimization are present across all devices used to access a responsive site.
- Single URL – these sites only need one address across all platforms.
- Long scrolling – the content appears in a vertical manner, and this requires scrolling for long on mobile devices.
- Missing content – even if responsive sites have matching content with regular sites, some pages may be left out due to scaling. In this case, users would result to checking the desktop version.
- Loading time – Some sites may take longer to load. Pictures are only scaled down but not resized for quicker loading.
Mobile versus Responsive sites
The Nielsen Norman Group compares mobile and responsive sites based on their user experience, costs, search engine ranking, among other factors.
Costs- developing a mobile site is cheaper than creating a responsive site. Responsive sites require more advanced development skills, and this does not come cheap. If your operational budget is limited, you may want to start off with a mobile site.
- Maintenance – having a mobile version of your website calls for extra support and updates. Since responsive sites are consistent through multiple devices, you only update once.
- Devices – mobile sites are unique to mobile gadgets which means that companies need to create two websites. On the other hand, responsive sites are uniform across multiple devices, so one robust website is sufficient for all.
- Content – Mobile sites have lesser content than the regular internet site. Their functionality is also different, and this affects user experience to some extent. Responsive sites have matching content and functionality across all devices, so users do not miss out on valuable information.
- Complex tasks – while mobile sites are easy to access on the move, there are obvious limitations on how much you can accomplish. For instance, it may be difficult to update your sales dashboard on a mobile phone especially due to the small screen. Responsive sites are adaptable to any device so you can opt to use a laptop for complex work.
- Speed – mobile sites are easier to access because they have less functionality and content. On the other hand, responsive sites tend to load at a slower pace.
- Future planning – mobile sites need reworking as new versions of smartphones and tablets emerge. Responsive sites come with media queries that deal with screen size rather than specific devices. You can use a responsive site on newer versions of devices with little or no amendments needed.
- Search engine ranking – mobile sites have a different link from the main site accessed on desktop computers. In the past, different URLs have affected search engine optimization, but no longer. Mobile sites can achieve good ranking with local searches. Responsive sites have one URL across all devices, so there is no need for redirecting to a different version of the same website.
Accelerated mobile pages
Accelerated Mobile pages (AMP) is a technology initiated by Google that helps pages of websites to load faster on mobile devices. Faster opening enhances user experience while interacting with mobile sites.
Why use AMPs?
If you are not using Accelerated Mobile Pages, you and your target customers are missing out. There are many benefits associated with AMPs as discussed below:
Better search engine ranking- since AMPs help your site to load quickly on mobile gadgets which increase the chances for higher ranking on mobile search engine results.
Ads on websites- since AMPs help your pages to load faster, you can add an extra commercial aspect your site by selling ads. A site without AMP takes forever to open prompting the user to refresh the page or block ads in an attempt to save time. Accelerated web pages prevent such problems thereby exposing your ads to a bigger audience.
Offers Analytics- Analytics are key metrics that marketers use to measure the performance of ads. AMP allows you to track the number of new and return visitors, what they click on and the topic of conversations. You can use these insights to plan your next marketing campaign.
Less bounce rate- The internet has all kinds of distractions, and delays in opening pages will out rightly turn visitors away. This habit is known as bouncing. Accelerated mobile pages ensure that visitors who click on your site stay a little longer and find out what.
Supported by Google- Google is actively drumming up support for AMPs by sending campaign messages to site owners who are not using AMP. According to Entreprenuer.com, Gooogle has made it easier to test AMP pages, and it displays errors to website owners.
- AMPs do not support every content; pages with video take time to load.
- Faster load time is not the only factor to consider when ranking sites.
- Apparticles.com notes that installing and managing AMP can be an expensive affair
We have delved into the pros and cons of mobile and responsive sites; the ball is in your court to make the right decision for your business. Accelerated Mobile Pages are not websites; they are tools that enable your pages to load faster on phones and tablets. It may help to ask for feedback on user experience from a handful of regular visitors to your site. Probe on the speed of loading pages, layout, and content. Honest feedback will help you decide on the next move that will restore the glory of your website.