Business Advice Blog

Why Optimizing Your Website is Good for Business

Web Design Template And  Web Page Closeup Shot Of Laptop With Di

A sizeable percentage of your customer base is already using their mobile devices to purchase your products or services. In all likelihood, given current statistics, this percentage will grow exponentially in the near future.

The question is, how prepared is your business website to handle the explosion in mobile usage among your target audience?

Simply having a website up and running won’t meet this demand. The way your site looks and how well users can navigate differs dramatically from desktop usage to mobile devices. Screen size is different. The speed with which websites load is different. The way a business site’s homepage looks on a mobile screen is different.

If your site isn’t optimized to accommodate mobile devices, it can be difficult to view and navigate. Any such difficulty can be enough to deter prospective customers and their impulse to make a purchase on the spot. If so, chances are you’re losing out on a lot of business.

According to online marketing expert Ian Mills, mobile users “report that their mobile purchases are often impulse buys,” which “underscores the importance of optimizing your mobile experience to match a visitors needs and behaviors” when they browse your site.

Generally speaking, three design strategies are used in optimizing websites: mobile optimized, mobile friendly, and responsive design. All three ensure—to differing degrees—that mobile users can download your site and view it effectively, regardless of browser or device being used. It’s up to you and your IT team—or trusted third-party vendor—to analyze the strengths and weaknesses of your site and opt for the best design solution.

What’s important to include in your optimization strategy? Consider the following:

The call-to-action (CTA) must be visible and accessible at all times. A user interested in getting more information about your business should be able to easily locate a CTA on their mobile screen—and click for whatever comes next. The simplest solution is creating “eye-catching, stand-alone calls-to action” to enhance visibility.

Streamline the navigation process. Mobile users must be able to move through site pages with speed and efficiency. Consequently, there should as few steps as possible to take them from your home page to the products/services page and then to check-out. Other key tips:

  • Employ image scaling to make sure images download with appropriate dimensions, and without slowing the navigation process.
  • Offer content that is quick, succinct and easy to read.
  • Stay away from pop-ups, which can be inconvenient and frustrating to mobile users.

A mobile optimized website enables “more customers to be reached at a quicker rate,” notes digital strategist Justin Wong, and this can dramatically “increase customer satisfaction.”

Use icons instead of words. On larger screens, it’s OK to feature text like “click here” to prompt further actions. On an optimized site, the use of traditional mobile icons is far more preferable. These reduce clutter and make the desired action easier to recognize and perform.

Keep contact information front and center. Prospective customers may or may not make that all-important impulse buy, but most do want essential business information (contact numbers, email, store location and hours, etc.). As concisely as possible, make sure such information is highly visible on all of your optimized web pages.

Test your optimized site. Want to know how effectively your optimization upgrade is working? Try Google’s mobile-friendly test. After providing your site’s URL, this resource will assess its degree of “mobile-friendliness” and give you a view of how the site appears to a mobile user. It can also offer insights into how well or poorly various pages load.

The need for mobile optimization isn’t going away. It’s become a necessity for businesses concerned with retaining a competitive edge in the marketplace.

Want more advice on technology and its impact on your business? Find out if a TAB Board is right for you!

 

5 Tips for Recovering from a Cyber Attack

bigstock--186356185

Small businesses are increasingly aware that cyber crime can strike any enterprise, not just Fortune 500 companies. This realization comes not a moment too soon, since various studies estimate that nearly 50% of cyber attacks specifically target small businesses to achieve their nefarious objectives.

Why? Cyber security expert Joseph Steinberg points to several alarming factors:

  • Small businesses are considered more likely to give in to ransomware and pay hackers to restore urgently needed data.
  • Small businesses that regularly work with larger companies may be “a hacker’s golden ticket into a larger enterprise.”
  • Many small businesses lack a sophisticated line of cyber-defense.

Your business should take steps to guard against data theft, but even so, there’s no such thing as 100%-guaranteed protection. So, what happens if and when a cyber attack occurs? Here are five mission-critical steps to keep in mind:

1. Fall back on your contingency plan. Your best defense lies in crafting a comprehensive assessment of your IT system’s strengths and weaknesses before a cyber crime occurs. A thorough evaluation (not conducted during a time of crisis) can objectively determine where and how a malicious virus or hacker can breach your defenses. Encourage your IT team to brainstorm every possible contingency and come up with an action plan to protect against them.

2. Ascertain the extent of the damage. The first step following a verified cyber attack is assessing the extent of damage to your system. Get your IT team—or a trusted third-party vendor—to scour the system and isolate any infected areas. Analyze incident data. Determine if internal security protocols were adhered to and, if not, pinpoint where the breakdown took place.

Also, as part of the assessment process, be prepared to enlist third-party expertise “to help handle and mitigate the fallout,” says data protection expert Ermis Sfakiyanudis. This includes “legal counsel [and] outside investigators who can conduct a thorough forensic investigation” that definitively details how much damage has taken place.

3. Validate the integrity of your data backup. Since many cyber attacks take the form of encrypting precious data and rendering it inaccessible to you and your business, it’s critically important to have redundant data storage systems up and running at all times. These redundant servers and ancillary equipment must be maintained apart from your primary system, to protect against “collateral damage” from a virus or malware.

4. Repair the damage. If and when an attack does occur, “it’s time to begin the restoration process,” advises IT security specialist Andrew Douthwaite. Reformat hard drive volumes. Reinstall operating systems and applications. Adds Douthwaite: “After the breach it’s vital that you verify your backups are good.”

5. Notify constituencies about the cyber attack without evasion or ambiguity. Virtually all IT security experts agree on the importance of communicating with various constituencies in a clear, forthright manner. To employees, customers, vendors and—if necessary—the media, you should share as many details of the incident as appropriate and outline the actions you’ve taken to repair the damage and ensure against future attacks.

Any executive’s initial impulse might be to deny or mitigate the truth, but remember—the integrity of your brand is at stake. Attempting to misstate or spin what happened in a way you think may bolster your image is extremely risky. A certain amount of consumer trust is lost when news breaks of a successful cyber attack; if customers or employees or the media then suspect you’re covering up what happened, more trust will be lost, possibly forever.

Planning for the worst is the most effective strategy. As part of that effort, revisit your crisis plan at regular intervals, recognizing that technology (and company personnel) keep changing as well.

To try and keep yourself from being a target for a cyber criminal in the first place, register to watch our BOSS Webinar about Why Small Businesses are a Cyber Criminal’s Favorite Target, at 10 a.m. (MDT) Wednesday, August 16, 2017.