Posted on Leave a comment

The Year of Mobile Responsive Design

The new normal

But of course it didn’t pass and it wasn’t a fad. Mobile responsive design continues to charge forward stronger than ever.

In fact, Mashable has called 2013 “The Year of Responsive Web Design.”

Yet, for all its accolades — and despite the backing of industry heavyweights — there are some who remain unconvinced that mobile responsive design is the way to go. These folks argue that your website should have a completely separate mobile presence.

I think differently. I want you to believe in mobile responsive design. I want you to embrace it like the internet has embraced funny cats. I want to give to you three reasons why you should choose a mobile responsive website design over a separate mobile site.

1. Mobile responsive design is better for SEO

Writers and web developers know that when Google suggests a certain course of action, it’s usually a smart idea to follow if you care about search rankings.

In an attempt to bring clarity to web developers, Google has specifically said that responsive design “is Google’s recommended configuration.” I’m not really sure what other arguments I need to make at this point, but for the stubborn we’ll press on.

If you employ responsive design, you’ll have more equity in your back-links.

There have been a number of times I’ve wanted to share a link from my phone, but when copying and pasting that link in an email, Twitter, or Facebook, the link copied is the link to the mobile site.  Everyone that clicks on this link in full size browser is going to be taken to the mobile site, and if they’re not redirected, they’re treated to content that looks horrible and is not optimized for their screen.

Nobody wants to see a mobile site on their desktop, so they bounce. If you design your siteresponsivelyevery link that’s shared is a link to your full site and mobile site. There is no confusion or crossover between the two.

Google says:

… a single URL for the content helps Google’s algorithms assign the indexing properties for the content.

For a mobile site (actually for every site), SEO and user experience are blood brothers.  If your site is unpleasant to use and the user can’t find what they’re looking for, they’ll make a quick exit.

This causes your bounce rate to grow, which tells Google your site probably doesn’t have what that person was searching for. Congratulations, you’ve just been knocked down in the rankings for the term that user searched for.

This can be avoided by having a mobile site that looks great and functions extremely well … and has all the content of your full size browser version.

For all that is good and right, please do not use a plugin that “converts” your site to a mobile site. There was a time and place for that, but that time has passed. There are few things in this world more ugly and jarring than visiting a site on my phone and having it redirect to the bland mobile version.

Lastly, we all know that load time is a factor when Google ranks sites.  When your site has to re-direct to a mobile url, this increases the load time.  A responsive site has no such redirection.

2. Mobile responsive design is easier to maintain

For sites that create a lot of content, it can be a real headache to make sure that all of it is transferred properly to multiple web properties.

Ultimately, you have to spend more time, or you’re paying someone else to spend time copying and formatting content to multiple places.  If your site is designed responsively, when you’re finished creating content, you’re finished.

With a responsive design, your site is also future-proof. Many mobile-only sites have to be constantly tweaked when a popular new device comes on the market. Mobile responsive design ensures that your site will be optimized … no matter what the screen size of the device.

3. Mobile responsive design delivers a better reading experience

There are some that will argue this is dead wrong, but if you develop with a mobile first philosophy, their argument goes out the window.

Some content producers think they should curate content by device — only publishing the content that they believe appeals to mobile users, or removing content that’s not “important” enough for mobile. This is a mistake.

Brad Frost, a leading voice in the mobile responsive movement, says:

Mobile users will do anything & everything that desktop users will do provided it’s presented in a usable way. Assuming people on mobile “won’t do that” is a losing proposition. Don’t penalize users with missing content & features just because they are on a full screen.

To be fair, there’s one thing mobile sites have that responsive sites don’t … the “view full site” link.

The reason this link exists is because of the inherent problems with a mobile site. Users want all the content, presented in a way that’s accessible.

The reality of the situation …

If you’re not designing and developing your entire site with mobile users in mind, it doesn’t really matter if you employ a responsive design, or have a separate mobile site.

Data consistently show that mobile devices, mobile usage, and mobile purchases continue to rise at an enormous rate. This data also suggests that this trend will not slow down in the future, but only pick up speed.

To be successful on the web you must begin your process with a philosophy that puts mobile first.

Mobile responsive design is then the natural outflow of this process.


About the Author: Josh Byers is a media specialist for Copyblogger Media. He’s a husband, father, follower of Jesus, and Broncos fan. A good day is filled with Coke Zero, the NBA, potatoes, Mario, serial tv, books, and too many Apple products. Get more from Josh onTwitter and Google+.

Posted on Leave a comment

What are the 4 Must-haves for a Successful Website Redesign?

Redesigning your website can be a daunting task. But if you think it through and approach it methodically, you can make your site both beautiful and effective. You’ve probably got a deadline, you may have a budget, and of course you have stakeholders who are helping to drive the vision and will sign-off on the finished product. What now?

To begin, it’s critical to define exactly what you want to accomplish with this redesign. Are you trying to raise more money online?

Recruit more volunteers? Is it simply time to refresh the look-and-feel of a tired and dated web presence? Keeping your objectives in mind, let’s look at the four must-haves for a successful redesign.

1. Understand Your Audience – By taking the time to learn about and understand your website visitors, you can be sure your web presence meets their needs so they’ll be encouraged to visit and keep returning to your site. Many organizations make the mistake of organizing their website in a way that makes perfect sense to their staff or internal stakeholders, but is not ideal for the users of the site. You can avoid this mistake by identifying four to five priority audience groups for your online presence and ensuring that you provide information and pathways through your content that are specific for each group. Examples of these audience groups include donors, advocates and volunteers.

2. Strong Structure – Your content architecture should both reflect each of your priority audiences and allow you to communicate what’s most important to your organization. A strong information architecture is scalable to grow with your organization, so that you can add information to your website over time. Ideally, you should have no more than five to six main navigation options available on your site, because more choices tend to overwhelm visitors. Also, the underlying structure of your content should be organized to allow you to present dynamic, audience-focused information to your visitors.

3. Compelling Design – You probably envision a beautiful, unique design for your website, and you should definitely have one.  However, a design must accomplish much more than just wowing the visitor with fancy fonts and slick photography. At the most basic level, the function of the design is to deliver your message to visitors in a fashion that is simple, clear and easy to understand. When in doubt, always refer to the objectives set at the beginning of the project and ask, “Does this design element support our goals?” In addition, the design should visually fit in neatly with all other vehicles that carry your organization’s brand forward, which include email templates, business cards, micro site branding, etc. Also, consider whether your new design can be easily maintained by your staff. An intricate, graphics-heavy design can make it impossible for your organization to quickly and easily update your website with fresh content without a full-time visual designer on staff.

4. Flexibility and Control of Content – Finally, you should be prepared to iterate on your site over time. Your website will never truly be “finished,” since you’ll always be adding and updating content to evolve your web presence with your organization and your users. The platform in which you build your site should allow you and your staff to easily add, edit and archive content so you can maintain your site and keep it fresh. A content management system (CMS) will provide the content flexibility and control you’ll need while allowing you to define relationships between your content items so you can present relevant, dynamic content to your site visitors. By using a CMS, you can take your understanding of your audience, strong structure and compelling design a step further, resulting in a truly successful new online presence.

Posted on Leave a comment

The 90/20 Rule?

Many are familiar with the 80/20 Rule; it’s been applied to everything from wealth to work.

It’s not uncommon to hear things like: “80 percent of the wealth is in the hands of 20 percent of the people;” or “80 percent of sales come from 20 percent of the customers;” or even “80 percent of complaints are generated by 20 percent of the people.”

But for me, the 80/20 Rule misses the mark. That’s because the key to my company’s success can be credited to a business philosophy best described as the 90/20 Rule.

I have built a successful production business by offering clients like the Florida Reining Horse Association and the Central New York Reining Horse Association production and web streaming services. The secret to my success—the 90/20 Rule—boils down to offering clients 90 percent of the production value the public is used to seeing on network television sports coverage for 20 percent of the cost.

That strategy has served me well since founding Image Botique. Since, I have produced streaming coverage of horse shows, fundraisers, and even the international disaster response in Haiti in 2010.  By offering production values that approach the best that television has to offer at 20 percent of the cost, I am creating value for customers.  Offering value based on the 90/20 Rule to clients.

Value-Based Production Technology

What makes it possible for me to deliver on the 90/20 Rule is a perspective on technology and having a clear understanding of the goal that is trying to be accomplished.

Delivering on the 90/20 Rule requires more than simply finding powerful, yet affordable alternatives to higher priced production technology. It also requires experience and judgment to know when it makes sense to spend a bit of extra money to achieve what viewers expect.

Nowhere is this more evident than with the cameras I use. Typically, I use prosumer-level cameras with HD-SDI output. This level of camera is capable of producing remarkable HD imagery at a low price.

The Other 10 Percent

If I am able to deliver 90 percent of the production value of a big event produced for television, what’s missing? In other words, what elements make up the other 10 percent?

That 10 percent is a rather random collection of pieces, including such things as on-screen graphics.

I am very strict on one thing—and I am adamant about it. If I do an event, our coverage will be done well, and it will be a TV experience. Frankly, if I don’t think I can deliver it on the budget, I don’t take the job. That is one of the things that differentiates us as a company.

Posted on Leave a comment

The Different Types of Shots

Let’s begin with a quick rundown of basic shots and what they look like:

Generally speaking, a long shot will include the entire body of the subject or subjects.

A medium shot will usually depict your subject anywhere from above the knees and up to just above the waist and up. Remember not to cut off your subjects at the knees, or any other juncture of the body – It looks awkward and poorly composed. Try to frame them just above or below the joint in question.

Closeups are where we most often see the emotional content of a scene. They allow us to see the character’s faces up close, and thus their state of mind. Close ups are usually framed from the chest up. Occasionally, however, they can be framed from forehead to chin, or will even involve just the subject’s eyes. We call this an extreme Closeup.

ECUs, as they are sometimes written add drama. These shots benefit the most from having a very tight focus. For the most part, they’re used sparingly, but a single ECU can add a real punch to a scene.

A quick note about the master shot: this is a term referring to a shot that runs for the length of a scene and shows all of the characters in view. It’s the most conservative way of staging a scene. Think of a master shot as being like watching a play from somewhere out in the audience. You see the entire set and where the characters are in relation to each other on the stage. In older films, and multiple-camera productions like sitcoms, scenes often begin with a master shot in order to orient the audience, and all of the rest of the shots in the scene relate back to this shot.

Most single-camera productions don’t rely so heavily on the master shot; however, keeping the master shot in mind can help you plan out the rest of your shot list. For example, in a scene depicting a conversation between two people, you may decide to cut to closeups of each person talking, plus an insert shot of an item that they’re talking about, and then cut back to the master shot after each one. This is a very basic way of editing a scene. There are also some special shots you might want to use in your storyboard. Here are a couple of examples.