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The Game Has Changed

It’s been a little over three years since I’ve actively worked in the field of web design and digital marketing. That being said, once your eyes are opened to the wonderful world of optimization, you are forever acutely tuned in to “good” and “bad” websites. As a consumer with enough knowledge to make me dangerous, I can easily list companies with websites that are user friendly, and companies who have lost my business due to their to inability to produce a quality platform.

When I started working in digital marketing in 2009, we spent a lot of time trying to impress upon potential clients the importance of having an online presence. No one was using the yellow pages any more to find businesses – that was now the role of search engines. And although building a website can be an expensive investment, it’s the best, least expensive salesperson you’ll ever have; it works 24/7/365, doesn’t come in late or leave early, doesn’t collect commission and, with the exception of an occasional broken link or 404 error, it’s an investment well made.

Fast forward to 2018. It’s no longer enough just to have an online presence…the game has changed. Your website has to be visible, user-friendly, intuitive to any level of technical ability, and functional on mobile devices. As a consumer, there is nothing more frustrating than trying to navigate through a slow, clumsy website. You should be able to find exactly what you’re looking for in three clicks or less.

Statistics show that in 2018, approximately 77% of the American population carries a smartphone. The world is at our fingertips, literally. This pint-sized, handheld computer offers so much more than a means of communication: it’s a phone book, clock, camera, wallet, newspaper, bank, gaming device, GPS, and gateway to the World Wide Web. Websites that translate well onto mobile devices significantly enhance business visibility – whether to check hours of business, call directly, or get directions. Google statistics show that 60% of online searches initiate from mobile devices.

So how important is it to have a good website?

It’s crucial. But how do you know if your website is “good” or “bad?”

One of the many tools we use here at Upright Communications is called a Usability Study. We ask clients of ours to reach out to their customers: anyone who in one way or another has been active on their website. This would include, for example, someone who has filled out a contact form, made a purchase, requested a quote or sample, etc. A brief email is sent requesting a few minutes of their time in exchange for an Amazon gift card. The consumer signs up for a date and time and one of our Digital Marketing Strategists contacts them via GoToMeeting. While sharing a computer monitor, our team walks the consumer through a series of simple tasks and asks questions related to their time spent on the website. We get real-time insight to the user experience.

The results are fascinating: Did you notice the call to action button? Did you know the images expand? How important are the images? Is the phone number easy to find? Did you find what you were looking for? It doesn’t take long to notice a trend and become proactive at suggesting and even testing improvements to the site.

Digital marketing is a fascinating, constantly evolving and challenging business…a business that gets me excited to come to work every day.