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Beyond Responsive Design: How to Optimize Your Website for Mobile Users

This may be of some interest.

Everyone can acknowledge the importance of a mobile-friendly website, especially after Google’s Mobilegeddon algorithm update.

Mobile optimization is here to stay, and it’s demanding more and more of businesses and their websites. But mobile optimization is about more than just a responsive website design.

In this article, we tell you why and how to adopt a mobile-first mindset for your website.

Google’s mobile-friendly algorithm change in 2015 (and a few more since then) was evidence that the search engine recognizes its responsibility to surface websites that painlessly get users what they need at the time that they need it.

Google doesn’t want to send mobile users to websites that provide a frustrating browsing experience — that would damage its promise to its users to always deliver helpful, relevant content.

Moreover, this algorithm change was and is a signal of a much larger shift that’s afoot — consumer behavior is changing, and it’s your job to adapt.

Building a mobile-friendly website is step one, but tweaking your website will not keep you ahead of consumers’ changing behavior and expectations.

In short, you have to infuse your marketing strategy with a mobile-first mindset. Here’s how.

1. Map your customer journey.

Imagine the experience of Sally, a young marketer who has just moved to Chicago. While out for a walk, Sally passes by a hair salon and realizes she needs a haircut. She pulls out her phone a search for hairstylists in Chicago who specialize in curls and color. Her Google search pops up Joann’s Stylez.

She flips through the website quickly and wants to research more, but it’s too hard while on the move — so she texts herself a link. When she gets home, she opens her texts on her tablet and quickly checks Yelp reviews, examines her calendar, and then books an appointment using the simple form on the Joann’s website.

When Sally loads up her laptop later that night to check her email, she discovers an email from Joann’s that confirms her appointment and gives her the option to add it to her calendar. The next day, 30 minutes before her appointment, she receives a push notification on her work computer reminding her of the appointment.

The next day, Sally receives a mobile email asking for feedback on the cut and offering to set up a recurring appointment at a discounted rate. She’s sold.

Sally’s experience is illustrative of the cross-device, omnichannel journey that many customers now make as they move through the marketing funnel. Every day, consumers switch a handful of different devices when completing common tasks such as online shopping, readying blog posts, booking appointments, or communicating with each other.

HubSpot’s Blogging Software equips you to publish relevant, conversion-optimized content you can preview on any device — allowing you to engage with customers wherever they are.

Consumers now expect this type of experience from all of their digital interactions. They want to be able to accomplish whatever fits their fancy on whatever device is at hand. This means that simply adapting your site to look nice on different devices is not enough. As a marketer, you must dig deeper into your customers’ and prospects’ lives.

For example, at HubSpot, we know that a visitor on a mobile device is very unlikely to fill out a long form on one of our landing pages. So we started using Smart Content to automatically shorten the form when a mobile viewer is looking at it. By doing this, our mobile prospects increased by 5x.

2. Seize intent-rich micro-moments.

You’ve likely already developed a strong set of buyer personas. You’ve conducted user research and testing to understand which content and CTAs to present to each persona as they move down the funnel. You must now go a step further. You must understand both the rhythm and rhyme to when, why, with what, and from where people are interacting with your website and content.

Google encourages marketers to identify the “micro-moments” in a customer’s journey:

Micro-moments occur when people reflexively turn to a device — increasingly a smartphone — to act on a need to learn something, do something, discover something, watch something, or buy something. They are intent-rich moments when decisions are made and preferences shaped.

A number of brands have figured out how to anticipate and capitalize on these micro-moments. Apple Passbook loads up your Starbucks card when you’re near a coffee shop. Hertz sends you an email when your plane lands to let your know that your car is ready. Starwood allows you to check in and open your hotel room with your smartphone.

Consumers are increasingly becoming acclimated to companies offering such intimately responsive experiences. 59% of shoppers say that being able to shop on mobile is important when deciding which brand or retailer to buy from, and 39% of smartphone users are more likely to browse or shop a company or brand’s mobile app because it’s easier or faster to make a purchase.

How can you figure out these micro-moments and design your content to meet prospects’ intent? Tap into your data. Here are three analyses you should start with:

  • Search: Which queries, ads and keywords are bringing users on different devices to your website and landing pages? Once they land on your site, what types of searches are users on different devices performing?
  • Content: Examine the content that users access by stage in the funnel and by device. Is there a trend around what prospects on their phones are downloading? Sharing?
  • Flow: Dig into a flow analysis segmented by device. What is the path mobile-using prospects follow? What is the path tablet-using customers follow? From what sites and sources are these visitors arriving?

After building your trove of micro-moments, it would be easy to think: “Okay, we just need to strip our website down to the specific things our visitors will mostly likely want to access on the go.”

But mobile users are not limited to completing short, simple tasks. The device does not directly imply location or intent.

A busy professional may use her commute time to conduct in-depth industry research on her phone, process her email inbox on her tablet while watching a movie with her family, and browse the websites of potential contractors while flying across the country.

Confirming this intuition, the Pew Research Center’s study of U.S. smartphone found that 99% of smartphone owners use their phone at home, 82% use their phones while in transit, and 69% use their phone at work each week. (This study was conducted in 2015, but we believe it’s still relevant, if not more so, today.)

People don’t want a stripped down set of content. Instead, they want quick and easy access to the materials they need on whatever device they happen to be using.Thus, while you want to optimize your site, landing pages, emails, etc. for micro-moments, you do not want to force visitors into a box from which they cannot escape.

3. Consider (and reconsider) your metrics.

The metrics you established in the desktop-centric days may not seamlessly translate to our new multi-device, micro-moment world. For example, you might have fought tirelessly to find ways to increase visitors’ time on your site, recognizing that more time means higher engagement, which translates to higher conversion.

The micro-moments you identify for mobile visitors, however, might suggest that you want a lower time-on-site. A prospect visiting the website of a consulting firm may be looking for:

  • An infographic they want to show a coworker
  • The bio of a partner with whom they are about to meet
  • A case study to read while traveling

In order to meet this prospect’s expectations for their mobile experience, you must design your website to quickly and intuitively help them find the specific piece of information for which they are looking. If their mobile visit is distracting, frustrating, or too time consuming, you’ve damaged their perception of your brand.

4. Embrace the intimacy of mobile.

For better or worse, I go to bed with my phone (reviewing tomorrow’s schedule and reading a nighttime meditation) and I wake up with my phone (silencing the alarm and checking the weather). I communicate with my partner and my best friends everyday — all through my phone. When my MBA classmate sends a GIF of Tyra Banks being sassy, I turn my phone to the person next to me, and we have a good laugh together.

Day-in and day-out, these interactions create an intimate connection between my phone and me. And I’m not alone: Most consumers imbue their mobile experiences with more intimacy than desktop experiences. The Pew Research Center found that Americans view their smartphones as freeing, connecting, and helpful, and associate their phones with feelings of happiness and productivity. These associations can inspire greater engagement with and interest in content.

As marketers, we should take advantage of these trends and consider how to make our prospects’ mobile experience more personal and social. Perhaps change your website to increase the proportion of social CTAs you display when someone arrives on mobile.

5. Remember the basics and think ahead.

Overall, embracing the mobile mindset means ensuring that the entire customer journey is responsive, relevant, actionable, and frictionless. As a marketer, you want to help consumers quickly and easily find what they want to find and do what they want to do. Again, this means thinking ahead, understanding when, with what device, and from where your prospects will interact with your content.

This can seem daunting, but mostly it means diligently applying the basics across channels. For example, since nearly half of all emails are opened on mobile, ensure your emails are mobile optimized. We recommend doing the following:

  1. Use large, easy-to-read text.
  2. Use large, clear images and reduce file sizes.
  3. Keep layouts simple and invest in responsive templates.
  4. Use large, mobile-friendly calls-to-action and links.

Recognizing the personal associations people have with their phones, you’ll want to ensure that the “From” name is familiar and that the preview text is inviting. And think ahead: Don’t email a link to a form or an event registration landing page that is not mobile-friendly.

Use HubSpot’s Free Landing Page Builder to launch landing pages that look perfect across devices and automatically change content based on who’s viewing your page.

Over to You: Time to Optimize

Follow these tips and you will be well on your way to living the mobile mindset and weathering the change in consumers’ digital behavior. Move quickly and your organization could be at the head of the pack.

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in June 2015 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

Thank you for reading.

What is a website taxomomy?

This may be of some interest.

While scavenger hunts can be fun, users don’t want to frantically search through a website to find answers to their questions. They want them quickly, and they want them to be easy to find.

The structure users want is called taxonomy. Scientifically, a taxonomy is a classification scheme that dictates how things are organized and classified based on their characteristics.

A website’s taxonomy can dictate the user experience, and can also influence search engine rankings. This post will go over what a website taxonomy is, and give you the resources to create a successful organization system for their site.

Website taxonomy is also related to URL structure, which is how URLs are organized to reflect content within specific site pages. Every website domain stays the same for every URL address, but subdirectories and URL slugs change as page content gets more specific.

For example, say your website’s primary domain is www.samplewebsite.com.

Your taxonomic structure will include subdirectories within your domain that are relevant to the page’s content. So, if your samplewebsite has a ‘Contact’ or ‘Announcements’ page, the URLs would change to reflect the information displayed on each page. The URLs for these pages would be www.samplewebsite.com/contact and www.samplewebsite.com/announcements, respectively.

Why is a website taxonomy important?

A well-planned taxonomy can transform how users interact with your site, especially when your content is organized logically. If users can get to your site and find what they’re looking for, they’ll view you as a reputable source and they’ll stay longer.

Websites that don’t have a specific structure tend to be difficult for people to understand. In fact, an average of 38% of site visitors will leave a site if it’s poorly organized.

A carefully crafted taxonomy is also crucial for search engine optimization (SEO), as a taxonomic organization is easier for search engine bots to recognize as they analyze and index your site.

Let’s put all of this in context with a hypothetical website. Say you own www.recipes.com. Since you know that your visitors are coming to your site for specific recipes, you want to set up categories that help them find what they’re looking for as quickly as possible. If they’re looking for desserts, for example, they likely want to find those recipes through the corresponding category page, not by browsing through a list of unrelated meals.

The URL for this page would be www.recipes.com/desserts. A user knows what they’ll find within this subcategory of recipes. For search engine bots, the URL subdirectory helps them understand what the page is about and when they should show the page in search results.

 

Best Practices for Creating a Website Taxonomy

Ultimately, you want both users and search bots to understand your site. You don’t want them to be bombarded with content that isn’t going to fulfill their needs. While it may seem clear cut, various factors go into creating a successful website taxonomy.

Know your audience.

Just like all types of marketing, the key to creating your taxonomy is understanding your users.

You’ll want to know who they are, why they’re visiting your site, and what they want to find on your site. It’s essential to understand what their specific needs are so you can structure your content accordingly. To better understand your users, you can do things like create buyer personas.

Continuing with the recipes.com example, whoever runs the site knows that their visitors are coming because they want help with their cooking. It’s great to know this, but is there anything else they’ll want from your site? They may also want you to recommend kitchen supplies that will help them make these recipes, or recommend brands to buy ingredients from.

If you take the time to get to know your future users, you can design your site accordingly.

Conduct keyword research.

When you know who your users are and what they want, you want to make sure you have the necessary information to keep them on your site.

You can use your site’s primary purpose to rank in search results, but it’s essential to have multiple keywords for the additional categories you’ll create within your site. These keywords should be directly related to the content that users will find on those specific pages.

For instance, if you run a blog on travel tips, travel tips can be your main keyword. However, your research may show that users also associate travel tips with travel packing tips and travel insurance tips. You’ll want to use that information when creating your structure.

Be consistent.

Consistency with categories and the content within those categories makes it easier for users to understand your site. It also makes it easier for those executing your content strategy to create relevant content. For example, on the HubSpot Blog, we have four different properties: Service, Sales, Marketing, and Website.

Blog posts are categorized based on their relationship to each property, and this organizational consistency makes it easier for visitors to find relevant information. For example, a user would know to search within blog.hubspot.com/website rather than blog.hubspot.com/service for a tutorial on how to use WordPress.

Consistency is also important for SEO, as bots dislike poorly organized websites, and sites with jumbled and unrelated content is considered spammy. Bots also recognize contextual relationships between categories and content, and they’ll learn how to index your site for specific search queries.

Keep it simple.

While there are certainly hundreds of categories and subcategories you could come up with to sort content on your site, less is more. The ideal web taxonomy is focused and straightforward.

With recipes.com, there are so many different types of dishes that it would (and will) become overwhelming for users to sift through hundreds of different categories.

Keeping it simple means creating fewer high-level categories that can house lower-level categories. You can have a high-level category page dedicated entirely to baking recipes, and the content you post within that page will be specific to baking recipes.

The URL for this category would be recipies.com/baking rather than recipes.com/pie-recipies and recipes.com/scone-recipies. Then, if a user goes on your site to find a blueberry pie recipe, the page URL may be www.recipes.com/baking/blueberrypie.

Leave room for growth.

Taxonomy can, and should, change as your business scales.

If you create new forms of content, you may need to shuffle categories to ensure that they still relate to each other and have room for new content.

Say you’re running a blog about content marketing, but you cover the topic generally. It’s unlikely that you’ll have multiple page categories or subfolders within those pages. However, suppose you decide to hire new team members who are experts in specific types of content creation. In that case, you’ll want to create different taxonomic categories to distinguish between the different types of content.

You may also realize that certain categories and subcategories aren’t as intuitive as you’ve hoped, per user feedback. Taking the time to understand what is and isn’t working for those who interact with your site is essential.

 

Types of Website Taxonomy

Once you know your audience and have created your keyword-relevant categories, it’s essential to decide on the taxonomic structure that works best for your site. Since taxonomy is a classification system, it may seem like the logical structure is a hierarchical one, organized by importance. However, this isn’t always the case. Let’s review the different types of website taxonomies so you can select the one that works best for your site.

Flat Taxonomy

A flat taxonomy, sometimes called unlayered taxonomy, is a simple list of top-level categories. All categories on this site carry equal weight in comparison to each other. It’s a perfect structure for smaller websites that don’t have a large amount of content.

For example, a veterinarian’s office likely doesn’t have many needs to fulfill. Their homepage may only have three to four categories, like ‘About Us,’ ‘Book an Appointment,’ ‘Location,’ and ‘Services.’ Users visiting the site won’t need much more than that.

flat taxonomy website structure representational diagram

Image Source

 

Hierarchical Taxonomy

A hierarchical taxonomy is an arrangement of categories by order of importance. Larger websites typically use it, and top-level categories are broad.

hierarchical website taxonomy model

Image Source

Moving down a hierarchical structure means getting more specific. This allows users to quickly identify and navigate between different sections and categories. Search engines will recognize these relationships as well.

For example, hubspot.com displays three main categories at the top of the page: Software, Pricing, and Resources. Each of those categories is broad and overarching. If a user mouses over them, they’re then shown more specific categories.

In turn, our URLs for these categories look like this: hubspot.com, hubspot.com/products, hubspot.com/products/marketing, and hubspot.com/marketing/seo.

It’s important to note that there shouldn’t be too many high-level categories or subcategories, as excessive groups can become confusing for users and SEO crawlers.

Network Taxonomy

A network taxonomy involves organizing content into associative categories. The relationships and associations between categories can be basic or arbitrary, but they should be meaningful to users.

For example, a ‘Most Popular’ category within a website may contain lists of different articles covering a broad range of topics that are popular among that audience. Still, they’re all similar in the sense that they are highly rated, viewed, and visited by others.

network taxonomy website structure diagram

Facet Taxonomy

A facet taxonomy is used when topics can be assigned to multiple different categories. Sites that typically use this structure allow users to find content by sorting for specific attributes. It’s also great for users who will likely arrive at certain content by different means.

facet website taxonomy model

Image Source

For example, Nike sells a variety of different products. While there are specific categories for shoes and clothing, there are also subcategories for color, size, and price. A shoe that shows up on a search for ‘blue shoes’ may also show up on a list of cheap shoes because they’re currently on sale.

 

Put time into your website’s taxonomy.

Creating and maintaining a successful website taxonomy that makes sense for users and search engines essential to your marketing strategy.

If other elements of your site are already optimized for other SEO ranking factors, the addition of a structured taxonomy will help your site rank highly in search query results, not to mention, it’ll keep users on your site.

If you want to learn more about website best practices, consider taking the HubSpot Academy Website Optimization course!

Thank you for reading.

60 Things to Double-Check Before Launching a Website

This may be of some interest.

Admit it: Launching a new website is stressful — even for the most seasoned digital marketers.

Websites are complex. There are so many things that are easily overlooked, like a broken link or a misspelled word. 

And of course, a handful of things could go very, very wrong. Like what if you forget to test an important data capture form and then lose out on generating a bunch of new leads? Or worse, what if you forget to properly set up site redirects, and those valuable search engine visitors get a page not found message?

Instead of worrying about the what ifs, wouldn’t it be much easier to have a comprehensive website checklist to run down before every site launch? One that you could use for enterprise websites, microsites, landing pages, and everything in between?

Well, you’re in luck because I’ve put together the following list of 60 things to check before launching a website. It’s the same list that our team uses at our digital agency, and it’s a list you can copy, edit, and make your own based on the software you’re using to launch and host your website.

We’ve grouped items into seven categories related to page content, design, functionality, SEO, branding, analytics, security, and compliance. Keep on reading to make sure you don’t forget a thing before your next launch.

Don’t have time to check all 60? Here’s a list of the most important highlights from each section:

Check for Consistent Page Content

First, take some time to review all of the content on your website with a fine-tooth comb. Of course, that means page content, but don’t forget about your premium content too. From data-driven content and downloadable documents to rich media such as videos and images, you want to make sure everything is in place, working properly, and looking beautiful.

So my suggestion is to check the following items once — and then check them again. You really don’t want to miss a single typo or grammatical error.

Make sure text is accurate and error free.

  1. Web copywriting has been proofread. Spelling and grammar are correct.
  2. Copyright date (perhaps in the footer) includes the current year.
  3. Company contact details are accurate throughout the website.
  4. Generic content, such as lorem ipsum, has been properly removed and replaced.
  5. All premium content, such as case studies, ebooks, and whitepapers, have been proofread. Spelling and grammar are correct.

Create clear content structure.

  1. Paragraphs, headers, lists, and other formatting are correct.
  2. Images are in the correct places, formatted and working on all devices.
  3. Videos are in the correct places, formatted and working on all devices.
  4. Audio files are in the correct places, formatted and working on all devices.
  5. All premium content, such as case studies, ebooks, and whitepapers, are stored in their proper libraries/databases and work properly.
  6. Rights to images, fonts, and other content have been properly licensed and/or cited.

Test your website design and its functionality.

Second, take the necessary steps to ensure that the site design is pixel perfect. If you have a responsive website (and you definitely should), you need to check the design across all devices. Your site should be looking good not just on an office desktop, but also on laptops, tablets, and mobile phones.

Test the site for User Experience (UX).

  1. Website pages are compatible across browsers (IE 7 8, 9 and 10, Firefox, Chrome, Safari).
  2. Website pages are compatible across devices (Android, iPhone, tablets).
  3. CSS/HTML is properly validated.

Insure your design is aesthetically pleasing.

  1. Scripts are optimized across web pages.
  2. Images are optimized across web pages.
  3. CSS is optimized across web pages.
  4. Favicon is in place and rendering properly.
  5. Paragraph styles are working properly (headers, lists, block quotes).

Test your conversion path’s functionality.

Third, take some time to test and validate all of the different features on your website. Lead generation forms, social sharing, CRM integration, and any other technology should work flawlessly across your website.

  1. Forms are submitting data properly.
  2. Thank-you message or page displays after form is submitted.
  3. Form data is being emailed to a recipient and/or stored in a company database.
  4. Auto-responders are working properly (if applicable).
  5. Internal links across web pages are working properly.
  6. External links across web pages are working properly, and open in a new tab.
  7. Social media share icons are working properly.
  8. Feeds are working properly (RSS, news, social media).
  9. Company logo is linked to the homepage.
  10. Load time for site pages is optimized.
  11. 404 Redirect pages are in place (page-not-found.aspx).
  12. Integrations with third-party tools, such as your CRM, e-commerce software, and/or marketing platform, are running smoothly.

Optimize your site for search engines.

Fourth, take some time to ensure that your website has been given a solid foundation for SEO success. From site architecture and content hierarchy to metadata and XML sitemaps, do not leave any stone unturned.

Technical SEO

  1. Pages have unique page titles (fewer than 70 characters, includes keywords).
  2. Pages have unique meta descriptions (fewer than 156 characters, includes keywords).
  3. Pages have keywords (fewer than 10, all words appear in page copy).
  4. A dynamic XML sitemap has been created.
  5. The XML sitemap has been submitted to search engines.
  6. Page URLs consistently reflect site information architecture.
  7. 301 redirects are in place for all old URLs (redirecting old to new pages).
  8. rel=”nofollow” tags are in place on applicable links and pages.

Optimize your metadata.

  1. Metadata is properly in place for any content in an RSS feed.
  2. Metadata is properly in place for any social media sharing content.
  3. Spelling and grammar are correct in all metadata.
  4. Alt tags have been added to every image.

Keep your branding consistent.

Once you’ve decided on a brand message and tone, stay consistent throughout all platforms. This will make you look more legitimate, credible, and memorable.

  1. Make sure your website’s color scheme is consistent with your previous branded content.
  2. Copy edit text for brand voice to ensure consistent brand voice and style.
  3. Make sure all company taglines and mission statements are up to date.

Prepare to monitor analytics.

Fifth, make sure your website is set up to capture web data and analytics. This valuable information will allow you to continually improve your website going forward, so you don’t want to forget this stuff.

  1. Your website analytics codes have been inserted on website.
  2. Relevant IP addresses have been excluded from analytics tracking.
  3. Funnels and goals have been properly created in your analytics software (if applicable).
  4. Google Webmaster and Google Analytics accounts have been properly synced.
  5. Google Ads accounts have been properly synced (if applicable).

Make sure your site is secure and backed up.

Sixth, you can prevent loss of data and protect against malware and other damages by properly setting up site security and regular backups.

  1. 24/7 monitoring scripts are installed.
  2. A copy of the final website has been made for backup purposes.
  3. Ongoing copies of the website are being created and stored on a regular basis.
  4. Passwords and other website credentials are stored in a secure database.

Comply with all applicable laws.

Finally, make sure your website complies with any applicable laws and regulations. Internet law can be sticky, and each industry has its own set of rules to follow. So it’s best to consult with your legal counsel to make sure you aren’t missing anything — this post is not legal guidance. Here are a few you might need to know about:

  1. Web pages offer accessibility for users with disabilities (WAI-ARIA).
  2. Web pages announce if the website uses cookies (required in some countries).
  3. Website is compliant with usage rights for purchased or borrowed code, images, and fonts.
  4. Terms and privacy policies are visible to website visitors.
  5. Website is PCI compliant (if you’re storing and processing credit cards).

Resources for Launching Your First Website

Launching a new website can be a tedious task, but you can alleviate some of the stress by using this comprehensive website launch checklist.

If you’re just getting started on your first website and are looking for tools to help you streamline your process, start your 14-day free trial of our CMS.

Editor’s Note: This blog post was originally published in August 2014, but was updated for comprehensiveness and freshness in January 2019.

Thank you for reading.

YouTube Kids will finally get its own website this week

This may be of some interest.

Four years after launching on iOS and Android, YouTube Kids is getting a web version.

Although Google has always insisted that the regular version of YouTube is not for children, it’s never offered a web version of the separate YouTube Kids app, which restricts content based on age and disables certain features such as commenting. That’s going to change this week, as Google has quietly revealed plans for a YouTube Kids website. YouTube is also tweaking the age groups for the Kids app, with different content for “Preschool” (ages 4 and under), “Younger” (for ages 5 to 7), and “Older” (for ages 8 to 12) kids. Previously, YouTube Kids had only two screening levels: 8 and under, and 9 to 12.

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