According to comScore, as of May 2012, smartphone ownership reached 110 million users. To put it another way, about 55% of all US mobile phone owners, are using a smartphone. And the trend isn’t going away. By mid 2013, I’ll safely predict the number will be nearly 75% if not higher.
So how’s a higher percentage of smartphone ownership translate into 2013 being the year the web goes mobile? Isn’t it already mobile? I’ll answer the second question first. Yes, the web is mobile now. But it’s not generally optimized for it. While standard sites will usually work on phones and tablets – newer web technologies are making it easier for web designers and developers to create sites that work on computers and work even better in mobile environments. And while these tools existed during 2012 and are maturing rapidly – it takes time for both web designers and businesses to become comfortable with them. Not to mention, in 2012, not every business was ready to invest in retooling their website so it was mobile optimized.
In 2013 companies will feel the pressure to truly embrace mobile
As the economy continues it’s glacial “rebound” companies will again start to spend – including on web redesigns. The smart businesses will embrace mobile and all it’s devices and resolutions by adopting responsive web design. Responsive web design is the solution many have been looking for in the web design world. Instead of building multiple sites that correspond to each device (and their resolution) the site is designed so it’s adaptable to whatever device or screen size & depth it’s being viewed upon.
Responsive web design isn’t perfect….and it has its detractors. But it’s our experience that it takes less time to design, develop, and deploy a responsive site then it does to create multiple site designs for various devices. And as the responsive frameworks improve and designers begin to better understand and adapt their thinking – the development process will exponentially improve too.
If you’re a small business, think mobile in 2013
So if you’re a business that’s launching or redesigning a website in 2013 – make sure you’re focusing on mobile. More and more of your users will interact with you via their smartphones, tablets, or whatever is next. So make sure your site is ready for them or you’ll be left behind in 2013 – they year the web truly goes mobile.
One of the most frustrating things we encounter regularly is business owners that are unwilling or nervous to share their budgets. Sure, some may not know it, but others will guard it like the crown jewels – fearing if they reveal the budget that we’ll spend it all instantly.
Well, of course we’ll spend your budget….
It’s called a budget for a reason – you’ve budgeted it for spending. So if you tell us what your budget is – of course we’re going to use it. Maybe not every last penny but we’re going to try to maximize results by spending most of it. But what we’re NOT going to do is take all your money and give you nothing in return. What we’re going to do is match the services and expenses to suit your budget while we achieve your objectives.
You’re also not going to hand over all your money upfront – so you’ll be able to review the work and service you’re getting in return for your investment. If you’re unhappy – you can always stop. If some firm does ask you to hand over all your money upfront – you’re not hiring a marketing firm – you’re being held up – run away.
Yes, you can tell us your budget – you’ll get a better result.
Provided your budget is realistic – by sharing what it is – and discussing your objectives – your design or marketing firm (hopefully us) can tailor the projects and services to fit. We use to be more easy going about budget discussions with clients. We’d head back to the office after our meeting and brainstorm all sorts of things. Big ideas. Great ideas. Then we’d write up our proposal and arrange another meeting to review it. We’d go over all the great stuff we wanted to do and get buy-in and we’d all be excited – then they’d turn to the budget page…and say “we can’t afford that.” And then finally, they’d tell us what they could afford… but now they wanted everything we outlined – for far less. And we’d have to say, “we can’t afford that.”
So now we insist on a budget figure. It can be ballpark. It can be a range. But we have to leave our initial consultation meeting with a number – otherwise we can’t do a proposal. We want to offer the best services and best options that are affordable under your budget. Sure we can think up all sorts of things – but if they can’t be paid for what’s the point. Wouldn’t you rather us use our creativity and experience to develop solutions that will accomplish your goals and that you can afford?
So don’t be afraid to share your budget. Even if you hold a little bit back in the figure. It will make the whole experience and end result much, much better. If you’re hesitant because you’re getting an uneasy feeling about “them” then don’t hire those guys. You’re entering a relationship – so you’d better like and trust who you’re going to bed with – and if you’re not comfortable discussing money with them – that should be a big alarm bell.
By sharing your budget and your goals – your new marketing / creative partner will be able to design a strategy and plan that’s doable. And their “plan” should include how you will be measuring success too – so you can determine if you want to continue paying them. But that’s a different post.
Make it easier for your site visitors by adding a screen shot of your mobile site along with your QR code to the side bar of your website so that your site visitors can save your site to their smart phone or tablet. See the example below or visit our client’s site at: www.aadvantagetutoring.com . Call us today for details.
Elegant Image Studios would like to thank Alliance Fire Protection Services, Inc. in Loganville & Stuart & Johnston, LLC in Atlanta for letting us redesign their 2nd generation websites. This is their 2nd website for both companies with us. Our clients continue to come back to us time after time. We must be doing something right.
The old mantra that things on web pages had to be above the fold is an antiquated idea from the very early days of the web. When people didn’t know what the internet was or how to use a browser. Back then, yes, the “above the fold” idea mattered. But that was back in 1999 – today people know what a browser is and how to use it.
This old newspaper term was adopted and refuses to die.
Above the fold originates from the newspaper industry where positioning a story or graphic “above the fold” on the paper could increase readership. Since newspapers are displayed and sold flat – if the headline or photo was compelling it could increase sales. And of course, readers are more likely to read and be interested in things placed on the top half of the front page. So “above the fold” was born.
When the web was young, and newcomers didn’t understand how a browser worked, monitors were small, and the world wide web was not ubiquitous – this idea was co-opted and applied to web design. Since screens were small, things seen within the boundary of the home page screen were “deemed” above the fold. So back in 1999, something visible within the 800 x 600 pixel dimensions of the home page was more likely to be seen, read, and clicked on. Similar to a “folded newspaper” if it appeared above the fold or in digital terms, within the visible area of the monitor, then it was golden. AOL also made this concept popular since its standard interface was constrained to 800×600 everything was “chopped up” to be contained and displayed within this area – to keep it visible. The result, articles spanned multiple pages, you clicked to the next page instead of scrolling to see more. But that was then…
Repeat after me, above the fold doesn’t matter any more.
Now breath a little bit. Relax. It’s ok. You’re not going to die. Your head isn’t going to explode. And visitors to your website aren’t going run screaming from their computers because they have to scroll. In fact, with the explosion of the big monitors and the mobile web with its small screens on smart phones, scrolling is almost a requirement in some instances. The fold has vanished. It has ceased to be. It is a dead issue.
User testing, eye tracking, and click data dispels the fold myth
Many studies of been conducted to test the validity of the “above the fold” hypothesis and they’ve all shown that today’s users do indeed scroll. The above the fold myth has been debunked. CX Partners, a user-centric design firm from the United Kingdom, does a lot of eye tracking research for their clients. And they’ve consistently found that the “fold” is no longer relevant. You can read about their “above the fold user testing” on their blog. But to paraphrase their results – often less content above the fold will encourage exploration beneath. And if the design tantalizes that more exists below – scrolling is almost guaranteed. In essence, if something bridges the fold people with scroll down to see more. Further, people now recognize that scroll bars on a browser indicate more content lies below and know that the scroll bar can also visually indicate the page length.
Evaluation of click data also supports the notion that people do scroll. Milissa Tarquini writes for boxesandarrows.com about her experiences as an interface designer at AOL since 1995. Her article, “Blasting the Myth of the Fold” is a very good read and provides lots of anecdotal and real-world evidence to support the concept “the fold doesn’t matter” – but one of the interesting things she mentions is the click data for TMZ. She notes that the links at the bottom of TMZ’s super long pages are often the most clicked on – this indicates a willingness of the user to scroll long pages – if the content is compelling.
Things above the fold should be important…
If you’ve scrolled down this far, you’ve just read the above headline where I acknowledge that content above the fold should be important. But it’s a no brainer to proclaim interesting and important things should be placed at the top of the page. Really “above the fold” was an argument against scrolling and against longer content on pages. The mantra of “above the fold” was used to constrain design to an arbitrary and mostly imaginary screen dimension. But as research has demonstrated compelling content and visual cues that more content exists below have obliterated the old notion of “above the fold” in web design. Unfortunately the out dated idea simply refuses to die.
But where is the fold?
Again, back in the 90’s when most computer monitors were typically 15 inches, screen real estate was at a premium. But more so, it was fairly standard. Most people viewed a web page full screen and with “browser clutter” designers knew they had less than the 800×600 pixel dimensions to work with and designed for 640 x 480. But today, high resolution monitors are fairly standard and their pixel dimensions and aspect ratios vary wildly. Desktop monitors can span 20” to 30” or larger; you can connect your computer to huge LCD or Plasma televisions; and laptops come in all sizes and shapes with lots of different screen resolutions too. And need I mention smart phones and tablets? So the answer to “where is the fold” isn’t easy to answer today. The “fold” was usually defined as the bottom of the browser window…but if you open your browser on a 24” monitor it’s likely most web pages will fully display within that height – so there really isn’t any fold. Or if you open the same page on a smart phone…it’ll either resize the content to fit or you’ll need to scroll.
So why cling to the old 800 x 600 dimension? By adhering to the “above the fold” dimensions your content is squeezed to the top of the browser. You’re doing a disservice to your web design and web visitor. To fit, your content was most likely edited and unnecessarily truncated to squeeze it into an arbitrary area. And your larger monitor using visitors are left looking at a lot of unused screen real estate and a forced user experience. All because you (or likely the client) believed users don’t scroll.
But when monitors are huge or very tiny (such as in the mobile world) it’s impossible to ascribe a fixed dimension to the “fold” on a web page. The idea works for newspapers because they are a consistent size and perhaps in the early years of the internet it was some what true – but today – there is no fold on a web page. Users do scroll. And in fact, most would likely prefer to scroll and continue reading or viewing your content over being forced to view shortened content spread across multiple pages. So forget the fold – it doesn’t exist. Design a compelling page layout and if it runs long…it’s OK…people will scroll – provided what you put lower on the page is worth scrolling for.
Elegant Image Studios is now offering mobile apps for lawyers, restaurants & bars. Contact us today for details.
WE’RE NOT FOR EVERYONE
Like the Italian sports car, our websites are the finest in the world. So, naturally, they’re not for everyone. Some people don’t recognize unique quality, some recognize it but don’t want to pay for it and some just don’t care enough about the best website possible.
But, our clients know the difference – that’s why our websites are Number One for businesses from New York to California!
At Elegant Image Studios Web Design we believe in a credo that we have stood behind since we founded our firm – “Superior quality websites will attract superior quality clients.”
Since we started, we’ve not been disappointed. That’s why we’re not everyone – but then, neither is a Ferrari!
For choosing us to design and develop the very best websites, Thank You! We appreciate your good taste!
Bob Hendrix CEO/Chief Web Architect
“It’s unwise to pay too much, but it’s worse to pay too little. When you pay too much, you lose a little money – that’s all. When you pay too little, you sometimes lose everything, because the thing you bought was incapable of doing the thing it was bought to do. The common law of business balance prohibits paying a little and getting a lot – it can’t be done. If you deal with the lowest bidder, it is well to add something for the risk you run, and if you do that you will have enough to pay for something better.” ―