Responsive Design – what is it and what’s all the fuss about.

When the internet was quite new, we were working on screens of 800×600 resolution – thats 800 tiny dots [pixels] wide and 600 highcomputer monitors. As screen technology improved we moved to 1024 x 768 and then wide screen monitors began to take over.

Web developers faced a bewildering range of screens and no solution was ideal.

If they designed sites for smaller screens then websites that were viewed on wide screen monitors had large expanses of empty space, if they focussed development on the wider screens then small screen users were left with two options, scoll across the page horizntally or go to a different site. The majority voted with a click and chose to go elsewhere..

Sony Ericson P990iSmartPhones are going through a similar metamorphosis. screens are getting larger and resolution is getting higher which means content [words and pictures] has a tendency to look smaller. One of my early Smartphones, a Sony P990 had a screen that was 2.7″ with a resolution of 320×240 whilst my current phone, an HTC One has a screen that’s 4.7″ across with a resolution of 1080 x 1920, the same as a full HD TV in other words.

This means that desktop sites designed for widescreen monitors do “fit” on the screen but the text is so tiny in most cases as to be unreadable. Yes, i know that I can use my fingers to zoom in and zoom out, but like many people, I find that’s just too much of a faff and websites that don’t make it easy for me to read and navigate simply get ignored.

So, how do you go about making sure that your website isn’t ignored by mobile users? 

There are three options, although one of them isn’t really an option, it’s simply to turn a blind eye to the problem and ignore everyone that uses a phone. They won’t like that, and will probably ignore you and Google will probably ignore you too – and neither of those are good for business.

Mobile version of www.enterprise-oms.co.ukThe second option is to have a mobile version of your website developed and hosted at http://m.yourwebsite.co.uk. This is not too expensive to achieve and can easily and quickly overcome many of the obstacles. www.dudamobile.com will even get you on your way for nothing, nada, zero. It took seconds to produce the simple version of this very site and, with a little more time spent on editing, it would become extremely user friendly and usable.

However, I have opted for the thrid, and for the moment, the best option, using something called Responsive Design.

website using responsive designSimply put, Responsive Design is built in to my site, it’s not a stand-alone mobile only version which makes it suitable for tablets as well as phones. Responsive Design is able to assess the resolution and size of the screen being used to access this website and automatically re-size the site to make the navigation easy and ensure that the content is easy to read.

You can see the result of one of the pages to the left. A word of caution though, it does mean that your website will have to be completely rebuilt and it could add to the cost so it might only be an option when you are ready to revamp your site.

However, don’t leave it too long. You’ll get left behind and your clients may very well choose to vote with their fingers so give me a call on 01793 238020 or email andy@enterprise-oms.co.uk if you want some help meeting this challenge.

How ready is your business for marketing online?

I recently read a post on www.SmallBusinessNewz.com that says many small businesses do nothing to enhance their on-line presence and 90% have not even considered paid web marketing such as Pay per Click [aka Google Ads, PPC] or sponsored updates on Social Media sites.

£20 notesPersonally, I think that this is good news even though I may disagree with the one of the main reasons they give – they believe that it may be too expensive and not deliver results.

I know that a properly constructed and managed campaign WILL most certainly deliver results and does not have to be expensive. However, campaigns that are rushed in to place and ineffectively managed will simply feed the money hungry machines that are Google, Facebook etc.

What’s even worse is that even a well set up and managed campaign may not deliver the wished for results because the website at the end of the click may not be up to the task.

It would be like advertising the opening of a new supermarket, building demand and expectation and then throwing open the doors only to have the shelves half stocked and no one around to help or take your money. A wasted opportunity! Not only a wasted opportunity but a wasted future because people who have had their expectations dashed will never return and (and this is just as bad) spread the word.

So, a business with a website that is unsatisfactory from a visitors perspective should NOT embark on any new marketing activity until –

  • the destination website is up to scratch.
  • they are sure they have the resources to deal with an uplift in enquiries and / or sales

What do I mean by having a website that it “up to scratch”? Watch this space for my next post.

The SMOG* Test – and it is nothing to do with clear air

How much thought have you given to the readability of your website?

Did you know that the average reading age in the UK is 12-13 years and that a significant number of visitors to your website may have English as their second language?

If you haven’t given this any thought then you are probably losing visitors and business because your words could act as an impenetrable barrier and you could be losing custom.

There is a simple tool that you can use to calculate the reading age of your site – you really should apply this RIGHT NOW.

Simply paste the web address for your pages in to www.read-able.com and click the “Calculate Readability” button

Readability Test

 

 

 

 

Your pages will be parsed through 6 different tests [including the SMOG* test] and the individual results will be displayed together with an average. Thankfully mine came back with an average grade level of 7 which is just about OK.

Readability-Results

The results are provided in relation to Grade Levels as measured by the American education system and you can find a simple Grade to Age comparison here. 

Alternatively you could also try the “Drayton Bird” test by reading your content out loud. If it sounds like one side of a conversation the you are probably on the right track – if it sounds stilted and disjointed you need to go back to the drawing board!

*SMOG – Simple Measure of Gobbledygook