It’s estimated by 2014, mobile traffic will overtake desktop, and getting traction for that now, is more critical. Still there are some businesses that don’t know how or where to get started. Can their current developer handle the conversion? Is it really necessary? Where do they get answers?

Karma Snack Regular Website

Karma Snack Regular Website

I was in the exact same boated a couple months back, until I learned the huge leaps and gains that mobile traffic was getting. Visiting my Karma Snack site on an iphone didn’t have the native feel, and look which I deem critical to the overall brand. We tried utilizing JQuery mobile and even JQTouch, but even though they great for applications (We are developing a quick lead management app utilizing JQTouch), wasn’t the right fit for the Karma Snack experience.

To give you a little background on how difficult the journey actually is for average business owners here is a background on me, a web developer. I’ve been computer programming in C++ and Perl since 1995, and designing websites back when Altavista and Lycos were running the show. I remember when CSS was still brand new, and Google wasn’t even a thought. Creating websites is in my blood, it is what I live for day in and day out. So for me to tell you that I had a difficult time with this task should give a small insight on how difficult it can be for newer website developers to handle. I knew businesses hand to take mobile seriously, so I took a hiatus and learned everything I could about the potential, frameworks, tested out script after script, and setup after setup.

A lot of back and forth with developers, programmers, and designers went into building the Karma Snack Mobile Architect. But just gaining the knowledge needed to answer questions for the perfect user experience standpoint was worth the headaches. After all this time, I can proudly say we’ve got the answers. We’ve already begun the conversion process for our bigger clients, and have stripped down a framework to barebones and usability for designers to have their fun too.

In the past 2 months, we’ve converted several clients’ website to mobile/tablet versions. In fact we made it mandatory for ALL new website development to be mobile friendly or enabled, there is no if-and-or-buts about it. If you get a website from Karma Snack, it’s mobile ready, no matter what.

Mobile Friendly Versus Mobile Enabled

What’s the difference in Karma Snack’s terms of Mobile Friendly or Mobile enabled?

Karma Snack Mobile Website

Karma Snack Mobile Website

A mobile friendly website means each page of the site will self adjust their layout according the device detected. There are several scenarios were this would be the best option versus a new mobile website itself. A website which is mobile enabled, is a website which detects mobile devices, and automatically redirected them to a mobile version of their website. We finally launched our Mobile version at http://m.karmasnack.com. I’m proud of the smooth back and forth between the mobile version and the regular version of the website, which we figured out how to do with cookies, and slight javascript tweaks.

Mobile Website To Regular Website Transition

What I’ve learned so far for Karma Snacks’ user feedback, people love the smooth transition of the website, if a particular page is not mobile enabled, it goes to the non-mobile version without interference, and then it automatically detects, when they go to a page which is mobile enabled, and switches back. This style allows a website to slow or gradually change pages to mobile friendly, over a period of time, because transitioning 10,000+ pages which are not on a CMS would be a hell of a challenge for a project.

I suggest moving the top level pages and 2nd level pages first. Make sure the call to actions exist on the mobile site in a mobile version. I’ve seen too many times where people half-ass their mobile site, and have the call to action, the most important part of your website, in an ugly non-mobile friendly way. Get your designer involved from the beginning of the transition and challenge them. They’ve got about 320 width of pixels to play with, good luck, it will be a true challenge. The goal is to keep the look and feel of the website the same when going from Mobile to Regular. If a user visits your website on their mobile first, and then goes to their desktop for a more vivid experience, They should understand automatically that this is the exact same website. The feel, the navigation, the content, it’s all there. The ultimate goal is for them to not even have to visit your regular site, since all of the functionality needed is on your mobile version, and they can order, fill out form, or quickly get in contact with your business.

The Mobile User Experience

User experience is key for everything, it took us nearly 6 months of trial and error until we got the perfect framework, and created a customized Karma Snack Mobile Architect and launched our mobile site. We had to do research, test speed, and compatibility. The user should be able to scroll, search, and understand intuitively how to use your mobile site. Quick symbols for navigation work where there is not a lot of room for text. Depending on the design, I recommend have a navigation at the top and bottom of the pages, and maybe a subtle mini-navigation when in a particular section. Sitemaps will also help visitors and search engines. I like to keep the sitemap easy and tiered up by specific sections of the website.

Google Map Localization

Google Map Localization

A big thing to take into consideration is location, and quick contact. Usually when someone doesn’t have a direct contact of a business, they Google it on their mobile phone. They either get the phone number directly from Google or go to the website. Make sure your phone number and contact information is visible and intuitive to find. At Karma Snack, our clients come and meet us at our location, like several other businesses. We placed a “red directions” pin for a map location in our navigation. So when a visitor clicks on the Red Pin, it launches Google Maps for them with our coordinates in place, they can take it from there. We attempted to make it very easy for visitors to contact and find us.

Website Speed

Remember speed is very important, most people will be using your mobile site on their cell phone data plans, so I made it a top priority to that each page is under 300K in size and still stylish. All scripts are Asynchronous, and we made sure database calls are done only when absolutely necessary.

Utilizing WebSiteOptimization.com’s Web Page Speed (http://www.websiteoptimization.com/services/analyze/), I was able to achieve only 18 http request for the home page, and under 262K size in download speed. I love speed, because it creates a better user experience.

Quick Comparison of speed:
Mobile Karma Snack - 18 http requests at 262K download size
Regular Karma Snack - 28 http requests at 471K download size

Mobile Accessibility

I’ll admit, I’m from the old school, and I go W3C validating crazy. It helps with accessibility for disable person (blind, deaf, etc), and it also helps in making sure your website looks exactly the same on every browser and operating system.

Utilizing HTML5, and our new Architect, and Also using Google PageSpeed test I have the following results for Performance:

Mobile Karma Snack – 92 / 100 score
Regular Karma Snack – 95 / 100 score

These Google+, and Facebook plugins are really killing my 100 out of 100 score, which kinda of irritates me, but I digress.

Search Engines and Search Localization

Another key thing to getting mobile traffic, is getting on mobile search engines. Wait what? Yeah, if you notice Google gives different rankings for mobile and desktop. Google also localizes rankings. There were times I would notice certain web pages were not ranking for the mobile version of the exact terms. I had to do some serious digging, and it turns out there are special sitemap annotations for mobile now.

Regular sitemap Annotations:

<url>
<loc>http://www.karmasnack.com/build-a-mobile-website/</loc>
</url>

Mobile Sitemap Annotations:

<url>
<loc>http://m.karmasnack.com/build-a-mobile-website/</loc>
<mobile:mobile/>
</url>

Check out Schema.org or Google (http://support.google.com/webmasters/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=34648) for more information.

Microdata – Rich Text Snippets

Microdata (http://support.google.com/webmasters/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=176035) or Schema.org

Microdata - Rich Media

Microdata - Rich Media


This would be the perfect time to implement your Microdata annotations as well. I found out that you can take it to the max by utilizing Rich Media Snippets to add photos, and your Google + profiles to their search results. Google even has a Rich Snippets Testing Tool (http://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/richsnippets) to help web developers out. You can even add star rating with proper verification and annotations. I’ll discuss this in another topic, but jumping on board of this through Schema.org is going to be crucial for the survival of online businesses in the coming weeks.

Implementation

Matt Cutts Google Panda

Matt Cutts Google Panda

People, I need you to understand this, I said in the next coming WEEKS. These are not decisions where you can delay 1 or 2 months because the board of directors has to approve of this and that. If you want to survive Google’s updates you need to implement every single part of the online marketing methodology we give to clients at Karma Snack. Why? Have you heard of Google Panda? Yes, of course you have, well a little kept secret at Karma Snack we kept from the industry is that none of our clients were de-ranked, de-index, or lost rankings when the updates occurred. In fact a majority of them moved up in rankings. It’s pretty simply, you need to have a solid foundation for your online marketing. If you go with Karma Snack or any other company, make sure they give you a solid foundation. Businesses can’t afford to have their rankings lost because their web developer doesn’t know this and that about mobile. It’s important. It helps rankings, and is a critical component for the user’s experience.

Also, there are some Google updates coming up that are going to effect a lot of websites, you should check out: http://googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.com/2012/04/another-step-to-reward-high-quality.html

It’s Not About Just Backlinks Anymore

There is really no more waiting for online marketing. If you are still just thinking about creating backlinks and think that is what’s going to get you results you are completely in 2002 mode. I’ve put together a quick bullet-point guide on what you need to survive the coming Google updates and Internet.

1) Mobile Friendly or Enabled Website – By 2014, Mobile internet visitors will over take desktop computer traffic. You no longer need to be in front of a computer to search or find what you need.

2) Fresh Articles and Content – Search Engines, and especially Google take a strong consideration with website which have fresh content. Indexing your website within 10 minutes of publishing an article happens all the time. Get content, and keep creating quality relevant content. This means content people want to read.

3) Website Speed – Google takes Speed into consideration for rankings! They said they do, so make your choice – do you want a heavy slow website with flash (seriously – Flash???), or fast loading and a better user experience?

4) Usability – Did you know what 80% of disabled people are head of their household? Why are you not W3C validating your website?

5) Schema.org compatibility – whether it is sitemaps, or Microdata, get with the program if you want traffic from the search engines.

6) Solid Online Marketing Plan – Get engaged, don’t spam website through blog comments, get engaged on social websites, and web 2.0 platforms. Create content, buzz, discussions, and get rankings. 70% of your website traffic should be coming from non-search engine sources.

Social Media Traffic

Social Media Traffic

If a business has over 70% of their customers coming from one source, what happens if that source decides to drop them? That’s what most website owners are doing when they only concentrate on Google rankings, Google this, Google that. Screw Google, get traffic from multiple sources, social media, social networking, social bookmarking, forums, Linkedin, and more. It is very critical to go where you TARGET audiences is online.

If you are a website designer and looking for business, go to small business web forums, find out where business owners are and talk to them. If you sell dolls, go to forums for doll and toy enthusiasts and engage there. Just go and drive traffic back to your site!

7) Take your website and your mobile website seriously! If you create a mobile site make sure it is truly user friendly, and has options for feedback from people!

Good luck my friends, if you have any questions drop me a line or comment below, and I will get back to you as soon as possible.

BlackBerry’s Imminent Death

On April 22, 2012, in Technology, by Adelard

Blackberry Blue Screen of Death

Blackberry Blue Screen of Death

This quarter, Blackberry (Research In Motion – RIMM) posted it’s first revenue decline in 7 years. I’m surprised it took this long, but it was going to happen sooner rather than later.

BlackBerry’s strongest customer base was always business men and women, who were always on the go. Blackberry never really catered to the average Joe and that’s where they dropped the ball. Blackberry could’ve held on for a lot longer in my opinion, if they keep innovating with better features, and not simply mimicking what Apple’s Iphone and Google’s Android were doing. But mimic they did – poorly. They were light years ahead of most of the competition, In fact, they were the UN-disputed kings until Apple showed interest. There was not other real smartphone company other than RIMM. HTC was trying somethings here and there, but they were retarded enough to run Windows Mobile, which, let’s face it, was a disaster. Microsoft too had light-years of research and development, all ahead of the new kids on the block, Apple and Google, but they dropped the ball, like Microsoft always does.

They could’ve developed their mobile browser so it showed more of a website, but I guess they thought they didn’t need to. It’s also easy to criticize a company, cause Hindsight is always 20/20, but when the Iphone came out, with it’s browser that did all the functionality that a regular desktop browser did, why is it that in 2012, 5 years after the Iphone came out my brother’s new blackberry phone has one of the most ridiculous browsers every seen. The browser looks like it was from the Netscape versus Microsoft Internet Explorer era. I mean come one, 5 years later, even the lowest of your model phones should be able to not remind me of the browser wars of the mid 90s. My father has one of the newer Blackberry phones, real advanced too. So advanced, there was an update that disabled the browser, and he can no longer get on the internet through their browser. The T-Mobile representatives couldn’t even figure it out. I attempted, and failed. You know what I told him “Just get an Iphone and call it a day.” My brother asked if that was the answer to everything, just get an Apple product. I stated, “Well, I can get on the internet, and you guys can’t, so it’s not about right, wrong, or preference. I’ve got the internet.” My father ended up canceling the data/internet package, cause the phone simply could not get online.

The problem with Blackberry is lack of innovation and weak development. It doesn’t have the magic and spark that Apple has, that Google still has. It doesn’t have the “thinking of the future” mentality.

This reminds me, I was on a phone call with a Blackberry user, and he had to send me a text message with a phone number on it, and I told him to go ahead. He paused and said, “I have to hang up to send text messages.”… I had to think about it for a minute, cause I didn’t understand what he meant. Then I realized, what I take for granted on my Iphone is still beyond anything Blackberry phones have. Maybe it’s a data plan, or whatever, I don’t really care what the bottom-line thing is that requires the user to hang up the phone to send a text, but that was ridiculous. Thinking back, I recall Verizon phones can’t doing two things at once also, I recall that from an AT&T commercial.

Microsoft’s Window’s Phone has less than 1% market share, and they have seen an increase, and they are MICROSOFT. Come on. Blackberry had it’s moment in the sun I guess, but I don’t. I guess it just couldn’t innovate anymore…

And let me not even talk about the RIM network being down for days in October, the 4th quarter. It’s not a coincidence that the first decline in revenue in 7 years, happens in the quarter right after that. Think about it, your whole world wide network goes down, right before the holiday times, where people are definitely going to be shopping for phones. That’s a huge publicity nightmare. EVERY SINGLE Blackberry user was not able to get messaging for days.. What is the likelihood that they were going to buy another Blackberry phone during the holidays? NONE… NONE.

I wish I could help them with some advice, or marketing strategy, but they need to clean up their act across the board. They need a young and innovative team leading the charge for development. They may have to simply give up their operating system and go with Google’s Android. Whatever they do, DO NOT go with Microsoft’s Window’s Phone Platform. That’s like teaming up with IBM at this point. Microsoft is simply doing what they do best, copying and pasting Apple and Google’s innovations. They had a chance awhile back. I used to have a HTC PPC 6700 and even the HTC PPC 6600, but now they are just overpriced paper weights. Blackberry needs to team up with winners, and Android is going toe to toe with Apple, and is the best bet for Blackberry’s survival. Now, can Android take out Apple? That’s another topic.

Blackberry should become a hardware company, selling the hardware components that help power the great Mobile Apps. HTC saw the light. Sell tablets and smart-phones, but not the software, because the current Blackberry developers, simply don’t get it. Also, get with the program, if you are still attempt to get people to not use touch screen as your main selling point, you are in a lot of trouble. People clearly want touch screen. And honestly, there is no different then a built in keyboard when typing in my opinion. In fact, Google’s text swipe’s a pretty cool feature. And now, Siri and voice to text, and voice controlled phones – why are you still having commercials on the air taking weak jabs at people with touch screen, when your phones remind everyone of a Brother’s typewriter.

Blackberry, Good luck.

Getting Rid of Bottlenecks In Your Business

On January 5, 2010, in business, by Adelard

bottlenecks-in-businessBottlenecks cause huge problems in any business. Finding a way to release the flow reduces pressure and stress at all levels of the organization. The problem occurs when one person, or group hold up processes, projects, or even decisions that have a rippling effect down the organization ladder. Here are some of my suggestions to removing bottlenecks and streamlining your business.

Know Who To Really Go To
The problem with most meetings of manager is just that meeting of managers. There is almost no representative of employees on the front lines that directly talk to customers and clients. The people that have most communication with the clients have the least input on streamlining the process, which when you think about it is backwards. The people in the trenches that go in day in and day out, they know what the customer complaints are, they know what’s hold up production, they have better rapport with customers than some manager believe.

Identify The Bottlenecks
Have a company wide meeting that has one agenda. Ask employees, managers, etc to all put input on what they see is holding up process, sales, etc. Where are the bottlenecks they see? Some employees might state some profound realization on what they feel is going on and their frustrations. Everyone can give insight to what can be better and what is wrong. One thing you have to do is make sure it doesn’t turn into a pointing fingers situation. Explain to group that everyone will have a turn to put their input and state problems they see, and how it can be fixed. Remind everyone that everyone in the company is in it together. What someone does on one end affects the outcome on the other.

Remove The Bottlenecks
If a process or method is not working, completely remove it and design it from the ground up by having employees and managers work together to find an efficient way. With many brains working together others can see problems that can occur or input solutions that can save headaches down the road. Create a process and test it out for a week or month and come back as a group and find out what were the results and did it improve productivity as a whole. Make sure that everyone is allowed to have an input if they have one, this important!

Employees need to understand what they are saying is not falling on deaf ears, so giving them the same power of level of respect as managers and executives will help get better response from them.

One of these company wide meetings may not be enough. I suggest having a meeting once a week or at least once a month to discuss productivity and allow everyone to he heard creates an environment that is constantly moving towards more efficiency.

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