Which digital devices are your customers using?

 

A recent study from Pew Research Center showed that 36 percent of Americans own a smartphone, computer and tablet. Affluent college graduates between the ages of 30 and 49 were the most likely to own all three, but you can expect these numbers to grow across all demographics as we become a more tech-oriented society.

How you design your small business website needs to take into account which digital devices your customers are using.

Take into account which devices your customers are using when designing your website.

So what does this mean for your business? It means you need to be prepared to interact with your customers wherever, whenever and however they want; otherwise, you risk losing their business to someone else.

Make your website device-agnostic

Websites are often a customer’s first experience with your business, so it’s vital you make a good first impression. The challenge now is you don’t know exactly how a customer is interacting with your site. Is she at home on a laptop? Is she nearby on her smartphone? Is she accessing the site on a tablet at a local restaurant while she waits for her meal?

No matter what device the customer is using, it’s important that your site is designed so that it displays properly. The technical term is “responsive design,” meaning the design adjusts to whatever size viewing screen is available. An unresponsive design can result in awkward displays, difficult navigation and an overall impression that your business isn’t professional.

Try different devices to see how your site looks. Is it still easy to navigate using a smartphone? What about on an iPad? A Samsung Galaxy? A Kindle Fire? iPhone?

Avoid designs that require excessive scrolling or zooming in and out, and make sure vital information like contact forms display properly and work on all devices.

Provide the right information at the right time

Your customers aren’t always sitting at home on a laptop when they encounter your site. Someone might be within a few blocks doing a local search for a specific item that you happen to sell. Does your site provide the right information they might be searching for?

Hours and location are obvious, but does your site tell your story in a way that will entice them to visit? What differentiates your business? Why would someone buy from you versus a competitor? Unless you're the only supplier in town, don’t assume someone will do business with you. Tell them a story that convinces them you are the best choice.

Pictures give potential customers an instant idea of what your store or restaurant is like -- assuming they display properly, which is why the first point above is so important. Someone nearby searching for something to do or a fun place to eat can get an idea of what your operation is like and get the relevant information they need to make a decision.

No matter what type of business you run, keep in mind that how customers are accessing your website is changing. Laptops and desktops are no longer the predominant way that people are viewing your site, so it’s important that the design be mobile-device friendly and house the information customers need to make a decision. If you hit on the right design with the right mix of content that tells your story, you greatly increase your chances of winning new customers.

Todd Shryock is the director of content for Emerge Inc. If you have questions about whether your website tells the right story, contact him at tshryock@emergeinc.com.

Emerge Inc. provides web, mobile, social and content solutions and is based in Avon Lake (Lorain County), Ohio.

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