Your Website Sucks: A Case for Mobile Apps

September 4th 2014 in Blog, The Web

Let’s say that you own a restaurant. And one day this review pops up on Yelp.

First of all the dining room was a total mess, like someone had set off a land mine in a plate of spaghetti. Half the tables were on their side and the ones that were upright had crookedly placed dishes all over them like they had just been chucked across the room. After hunting around I found a chair that wasn’t completely disgusting and sat down. I’d been here so many times but after getting my smartphone, things just haven’t been the same. 

There was crud on the table and a small piece of paper that looked like it was a shred of menu. And then I realized it was the menu. It was so tiny, like a menu for ants! I couldn’t read anything. I pulled out a magnifying glass (I used to be a boy scout, so I’m always prepared!) and that made it a little better. The waiters were really disorganized so I had to go back to the kitchen to order. I mean, they seemed really polite and nice but I wouldn’t know because they never talked to me. They just don’t seem to have their act together anymore. But here’s the weirdest part; the food was fantastic, just like always! It hasn’t changed. Heck, it might even be a little better. But this place is just…so off now. How could they let this happen? Furthermore…what happened? I’ll give them another chance, but if this is what my experience is going to be like from now on I will regrettably have to take my business elsewhere.

You would probably be a bit peeved. The key to keeping a business open is goodwill and customer loyalty. This poor guy seems to be running out of both. And while the scenario seems ridiculous, it’s not far from showing what a website is like that doesn’t cater to mobile users. In 2014, a time where a new phone is a masive media event that gets people lined up around the block weeks in advance, not having a mobile app for a website is quite frankly just as ridiculous as those lines.

Mobile app service Wovax WordPress

“I do say chappie, the pub down the way procured a mobile app nearly six months ago! What the devil is holding you lot up?”

Why do we use the web? We use it to find information. And every single one of the zillions of informative websites out there provides a service. That’s the key word here. Service. You serve your readers, and in doing so it is your responsibility to give them the best experience possible.

It’s easy for any kind of business, be it an online enterprise or a brick-and-mortar deal, to fall into the trap of believing that as long as their content or product is prime they don’t need to put effort into the structure of how that product is delivered. “We have the best DIY website out there; why should I give a hoot about how my site looks on mobile? People like the articles so they’ll keep reading it anyway!” Yeah, guess what? They won’t. There are 5 million other websites out there about the exact same thing. Give them a good reason to stay loyal to you.

If you run a website then you are in the service industry. And while your content is the star of the show, if the rest of the production isn’t up to snuff, people will pick up on that and drift away. People know when they’re not wanted and your website’s design clues them in.

Imagine going to this same restaurant again. But now everything is set in order. Furniture is upright, surfaces are clean, menus are large and legible. The waitstaff even goes out of their way to make your experience last after you’ve left. “Hey we’re setting up a system to let you know when we’re having specials on burgers! Would you like to sign up?” A mobile app provides not only the same level of service, but can make it even more personal than a sedentary desktop site is able to.

Wovax WordPress Mobile app

This is your website on Wovax.
Photo by Alan Light

You thrive because of your customers’ loyalty. And the second you take them for granted is the second they will find someone who does appreciate them. Do you have a website? Cool. You’re in the service business. And if you haven’t adapted to mobile web yet then your customers are receiving severe disservice. If you have WordPress, get a WordPress mobile app. Whatever you do, be sure that when your customers are guests in your business, you respect their patronage by letting them see you at your very best.

Toto…I Don’t Think We’re On Dial-up Anymore

August 25th 2014 in Blog, The Web

We’ve been talking quite a bit about the changing nature of the web. Barely two decades old, it has already seen a massive upheaval in its very nature because of the way it is consumed.

This is nothing new. One of the most recent communications technology to see such a transition in its youth was film. Within a few quick decades, the technology rapidly progressed from silent films to talkies to full blown Not-In-Kansas-Anymore Technicolor. And all along the way, industry giants who staked their careers on the old iterations kicked and screamed as they refused to change despite their relevance fading before them. Charlie Chaplin hated talking pictures. And you probably haven’t seen him in one, have you?

And while Chaplin was able to crank out a few more silent masterpieces well into the 30’s, he was an exception, not the norm. And with countless alternatives to your blog at users’ fingertips, the web is far more unforgiving.

The votes are in and the statistics have spoken in favor of mobile web.

By using tablets and smartphones, more than half of the internet’s digital democracy have made their choice. And while mobile usage has been on the rise for some time now, the final word that’s pushed us into this new direction is the high volume of app usage. We’d like to show you some numbers that we have found supremely helpful in making clear the new state of the web.

Flurry Analytics released a study in 2011 that shows the mobile-dominated progression of US web traffic. By the end of that year, the average user was spending far more of their time in apps as opposed to browser web. And it doesn’t stop there.

Currently, app usage is at an all-time high. As more and more websites get with the times and have apps made that keep their brand alive in the mobile shuffle, their users have responded eagerly. Just this January, 55% of web traffic was from mobile users, and 47% of that was from apps. For the first time mobile web had overtaken desktop usage, and it wasn’t a fluke or random fluctuation.

Just last week, Comscore released a detailed report of where things stand as of June 2014. We highly recommend giving it a read, but the main takeaway is this: mobile web usage is now at 60%. And 52% of that? It’s apps.

Wovax wordpress mobile app smarthphone

A smartphone user checks the Wovax app for the Supreme Court of the United States Blog.

These numbers make it crystal clear that there is not a push for mobile web. It’s just happening. And it isn’t just smartphones. People are buying mobile devices such as tablets because they’re generally more cost effective and portable than even a laptop. Although their method of accessing the web is changing, they want to be able to interact with it in the same way they have been. And smart website owners are keeping pace. So make sure that you don’t get left behind with the silent films and dial-up.

The Changing Mobile Web

August 15th 2014 in Blog, The Web

Change.

That’s a scary word, isn’t it?

“Let’s make some changes.”

“It’s time for a change.”

“Our way of life is changing.”

None of these are necessarily comforting statements to hear.

What about familiarity?

Now that’s a word. After all, familiarity is comfort, isn’t it? It’s safe. It’s relatable. Often, it’s home. Change is not any of those things. Change upends and reshapes what has come before.

But looking back on the history of technology, we witness much change in very short windows of time. In a century’s time, we went from massive steam-powered industrial machines to small convenient automobiles, not to mention flying. The telephone was introduced towards the end of that century and in a hundred years, mobile phones where taking the form of portable satellite powered devices. By the end of the 20th century, we had the internet which, in less than half a decade, had become as ubiquitous to staying informed and connected as the five o’clock news. If there is one thread that we can trace through the remarkable progress in technology through our lifetimes it’s change.

And there’s that word again.

As a means of public telecommunication, the internet is barely two decades old. But we have certainly seen it change many times over. The internet is a tool that relies on speed and ease of use. And the content has always reflected how we access it.

wovax mobile web wordpress idx mobile apps

Early internet users on their way to buy a faster modem. Photographed c. 1995

The internet of today is not the internet of 1996 for example. Those were the days. The days of the wild west internet where 56k modems roamed free, severely inhibiting web designers. Design and presentation were often sacrificed at the altar of efficiency and speed.

Now designers are only limited by their imaginations; our internet speeds are instant and immediate. And it’s in our pocket.

We have pocket computers now.

Let that sink in for a moment. Really think about what it means.

Pocket computers. Content is no longer limited to heavy desktops or a coffee shop table to settle down with your laptop. It’s in the palm of your hand whenever you need it to be. And once again, the design of the web has changed.

On a computer, the amount of screen real estate to work with is nearly unlimited. Mobile devices require a different kind of browsing. It needs to be easily accessible, clean, and easy to read with absolutely no clutter in sight.

And with over half of the web’s traffic now on mobile devices,  you have two choices.

The first choice is to stay in the familiar. The same ol’ desktop site with its gorgeous real estate and five acres of prime ad space. You can let your users access the desktop site from their mobile devices. After all, those things have mobile browsers don’t they? They do indeed. And everyone hates them. Mobile browsers are an afterthought for the on-the-go reader. It’s the thing you grudgingly resort to when it turns out that your favorite cooking blog or fashion review didn’t get on the ball and put out a mobile-friendly app.

wovax mobile web wordpress idx mobile apps

Our favorite shopping site on a mobile browser.

The other choice is change. But this kind of change isn’t scary. It’s the same amount of old and whole lot of new. The website that you and your readers know and love gets to stay. But those readers now have a new option for their mobile devices; an app that makes it easier than ever to stay connected and keep doing all the things they have been. Interaction via commenting, seeing mobile-friendly ads that don’t frustratingly explode across their small phone screens. It’s all there in a new package that doesn’t replace any of the current infrastructure, but rather is a compliment. And the advertising that keeps your lights on? It gets to come along too.

Even so, the attitude of website owners has been akin to that of the family dog when a newborn is brought home from the hospital. It’s a big change. It’s loud and smelly and leads to a whole lot of trepidation on how to approach the situation.

But it’s fine to relax. No one is getting replaced. There’s a new addition to the family but no one else is going anywhere. Desktop web is here and for now, it is staying. And now there’s the mobile web to deal with. It’s not just around the corner. It’s not the next big thing. It’s already here and it is thriving, growing even bigger and stronger in traffic than it’s previous incarnation.

It’s change. And at Wovax, we truly believe that we can assist in making it a familiar one.