Are You Ready for Google’s “Mobilegeddon?”

If you’ve been spending too much time at your desktop computer, chances are you may not be ready for Google’s April 21st “Mobilegeddon.” Huh?

Starting Tuesday, April 21, all mobile Google searches will favor sites that are “mobile-friendly.”  And that could change how your firm’s website shows up using the search giant’s much coveted SEO. Google explained it as: “[Users] will find it easier to get relevant, high quality search results that are optimized for their devices.” Makes sense considering that 60% of search originates from mobile devices.

Make no mistake, this is a big change. Google has been warning folks for over two months now that this day would come. Last year, they dipped their toe in with the “mobile-friendly initiative” but now they are getting tough.

What Can You Do?

Want to know how your site scores? Google has a tool for that:

If you have been tasked with getting ready, Google has also put together a getting started page:

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A Marketer’s Guide to Top 5 Web Trends in 2015

By Jeff Yerkey
Web & Interactive Director, Right Hat

Many companies will be celebrating 20 years on the Web this year. Saying websites have come a long way since those first static HTML black and blue text pages of 1995 is an understatement. Web design and technology has exploded in the past few years and 2015 promises to be no exception.

The top 5 trends we expect in 2015 are below:

1. Web Everywhere

The rousing chant of “Internet everywhere” and (shoot me now) the “Internet of Things” is in full swing and it’s a safe bet to say that smartphones, particularly “phablet” tablet/phones, will be out in front. To that end, we expect to see virtually 100% of new websites being built as responsive design or in other words a site that will work regardless of size or type of device you view it on.

Perkins Coie's new Responsive website optimizes and resizes based upon device

Perkins Coie’s new Responsive website optimizes and resizes based upon device

And while your website may not need to display on a toaster just yet, if it’s not responsive, you’ll soon be thrown to the wayside by mobile visitors.

Things to keep in mind this year are:

The Buzz

2. Flat Design

Hang on to your hats! Although surprising to most savvy designers, the Redmond-based giant Microsoft was the innovator in flat design. They created a simple “tile-based” user interface on Windows “Metro” 8 and Windows Phone. This spurred Google and Apple to follow suit.

Flatland: Clockwise from top left: Microsoft Windows Phone 8; icon, iPhone IOS 8; Google Material Design concept illustration

Flatland: Clockwise from top left: Microsoft Windows Phone 8; icon, iPhone IOS 8; Google Material Design concept illustration

Flat design means that websites load faster, scale better and are easier to read on all devices. It provides a foundation upon which designers can render an exceptional experience to the visitor through rich CSS web fonts, scalable vector graphics (SVG) instead of blurrier JPEGs, and more clear-cut content via layout conventions such as Google’s card design.

The Buzz

3. Beautiful Experience

With the technical superiority of HTML5, Retina image support and CSS, 2015’s websites will look sharper, more vibrant and more expansive.

Webfonts will continue to provide companies with brand-specific fonts that scale perfectly and provide razor-sharp rendering.

Greater bandwidth and the rise of visual-based website coding options like SquareSpace will mean a more widespread use of large-scale videos and backgrounds in order to uniquely brand websites.

Expansive video and large scale Webfonts make Greenpeace's Into the Arctic microsite Dramatic and moving.

Expansive video and large scale web fonts make Greenpeace’s ‘Into the Arctic’ microsite dramatic and moving.

Retina-style photos, which are twice as sharp as traditional web images mean bigger jaw-dropping images that scale much better to tablets and smartphones.

Combine all this with richer, lusher colors (like Pantone’s Color of Year 2015, Marsala) and you have no reason to have a boring looking site.

The Buzz

4. Enhanced Storytelling

Whether it’s a splashy infographic conveying stats in a graphically compelling way, animated GIFs showing off an action over time or parallax structure helping tell a complex story by scrolling, there are a myriad of ways to tell your brand story. So don’t tell it with mere words!

Impressive HTML5 animations, parallax scrolling and layered stories make this site a winner.

Impressive HTML5 animations, parallax scrolling and layered stories make this site a winner.

Subtle animations can draw the eye to tidbits that help pull visitors into more comprehensive pages. Such effects work together when you think of your brand as best conveyed through graphical storytelling.

And lastly (for the geeks among us) are browser cookies, which can be used to set and track user history and preferences to make subsequent visits to your site more personal and meaningful.

The Buzz

5. Fresh Navigation Models

Divining the depth and breath of your website – and the user’s travels while visiting – has never been more exciting. Driving this excitement are new, splashier types of navigation. We all want the nav to get out-of-the-way when we’re focused on content. And on smartphones, every square pixel’s space counts. In a way, it reminds us of a movie narrator: ease me in to the experience, explain the sticky parts and then get the hell out of my way. The show must go on!

Changes to site navigation are happening at opposite ends of the spectrum and in 2015, we see them meeting in the middle.

On desktops, we want to always be able to find our way through the use of pinned navigation or navicons (the “hamburger” menu) that are always present, like Downton’s favorite head butler, Mr. Carson; but when clicked, spring to center stage with large and well-designed menus that contextually guide the visitor.

New York's Museum of Modern Art features special exhibition with hamburger-style menu, giving way to full frame navigation

New York’s Museum of Modern Art features special exhibition with hamburger-style menu, giving way to full frame navigation

When triggered, these mega-menus must be well designed and easy to parse. But don’t overlook that navigation can also incorporate a small feature or story that visitors weren’t even expecting.

Navigation mega-menus also provide a core branding area that can visually support your strategic goals while sending users to areas they might not think to visit. (Web surfing anyone?) Use it as an ancillary pitch space.

On smartphones a tap should reveal just enough choice so as not to overwhelm and confuse the person standing up on the train trying to find her page. This is the essence of “who, what, when and where” (save “why” for the destination) navicon hamburger menus.

The Buzz

‘Big Feet’ Are Good in Law Firm Web Design

When I hear “big feet” I think about not being able to fit into Jimmy Choos. And that makes me sad. But when it comes to Web design, big feet, or footers, are actually a good thing. A modern footer, which is like a mini site map at the bottom of each web page, has become increasingly popular to improve site navigation and provide for a better overall user experience. So let me ask you this: How big are your feet?

BACK WHEN EVERYBODY STAYED ABOVE THE FOLD

Footers used to be small so viewers could avoid scrolling. Remember having to click on the scroll bar and drag it downward to see the rest of a page? What a hassle. No wonder we tried to cram everything onto a single visible screen, calling it “above the fold”—a leftover from newspaper days. Changes in hardware, particularly swiping features on trackpads and tablets, and tapping the spacebar on computers, loosened the physical limits of longer pages. As a result, we are no longer as constrained on page length.

CONVENIENCE IS KEY

This is great news for usability. One of the major benefits of a big footer is always having a convenient site map at your fingertips. Since a law firm website has many audiences—clients, prospects, potential new hires, the media and alumni—you can’t expect them all to be looking for the same information. The big footer is just one way to make it easier. Those who prefer can still use top-level navigation and drop-down menus to find what they want, but they can also just look to the bottom of the page. This means visitors are more likely to stay on your site longer and visit more pages.

MEGA-BIG FOOTERS?

As with most things in life, moderation is key when it comes to building big footers. If they are too big, perhaps mega-big, they can actually thwart navigation. Too many layers and lists of links make all the information start to blend together into a confusing mass. There are a few ways to avoid this pitfall, such as editing down the amount of links to display. For law firms, this could mean only displaying top-level pages rather than drilling all the way down to subpages in the footer. Some megafooter pitfalls can also be managed with clever designs. For example, it is important to show a hierarchy of links with the headings differentiated from the rest of the list. These headings will grab the eye and quickly draw attention to the desired pages.

DON’T FORGET SOCIAL MEDIA

Finally, especially if your firm is active on social media sites, consider adding social media links and even feeds to your footer. This will encourage visitors to engage and connect with your firm. After all, 67 percent of general counsel checked LinkedIn in the past week, according to a recent new media engagement survey. Take a look at your firm’s website and ask yourself how easy it is to locate your firm’s LinkedIn page from your homepage. If the answer is “not so easy,” consider dropping a link into the footer.
Since your firm’s website is often the first way a prospect learns about your firm and the best tool for your clients to tap into your thought leadership, making your key information easy to find and access is one of the best ways to make a good impression.

Read more: http://www.lawtechnologynews.com/id=1395146540494/%27Big-Feet%27-Are-Good-in-Law-Firm-Web-Design#ixzz2xZ2MouHU

Reprinted with permission from the MARCH 18, 2014 edition of the Law Technology News © 2013 ALM Media Properties, LLC. All rights reserved. Further duplication without permission is prohibited, contact 877-257-3382 or reprints@alm.com.

The Digital Marketing Race: Using Verndale’s Latest Digital Marketing Survey Results to Get Ahead of the Pack

Company website? Check. Twitter account? Check. Blogging engine? Obviously, check. Email marketing campaign, mobile app, high level SEO and a Pinterest page? Hmmm…maybe keeping up in the digital marketing race is not as easy as it seems. With so many possible platforms, devices, and strategies, how can you put time and energy into all of them? And, more importantly, is this even worth it?

Verndale’s latest survey on digital marketing—given to mostly B2B companies —set the course for this year’s race to implement the most effective and comprehensive digital marketing strategies. Based on the findings, they declared a “digital marketing revolution,” as even those lagging behind are planning great strides for the coming year. Luckily, the results indicate that implementing every strategy is not necessarily worth it. Instead, it points out which strategies the top performers—which Verndale defines as the top 10% of their respondent pool—tout, and thus where you should focus your energy to see the greatest ROI for your digital marketing efforts.

The survey looked at the platforms most commonly used, forgotten, and in game plan for the near future for B2B companies. Everyone started the digital marketing race on the same basic footing, having at least a website—thank goodness—but from there the engagement and activity levels varied. The most common platforms were social media (75% of respondents have a Facebook page), email marketing, digital marketing analytics, and a blogging engine. Less common were microsites, mobile sites and mobile apps. With mobile set to become the most predominant access platform in 2014, according to Verndale, this is soon to change. 33% of digital marketers are planning to add a mobile site in the near future. Blogging is also a high priority—for those who do not already have an engine in place—and 22% plan to add one. As for social media, Pinterest, although rarely used now, is the most likely social site to be added in the next twelve months.

This brings us back to the age-old question—just because everyone else is doing it, does that mean you should, too? As we all look to improve and better strategize, the critical skill becomes getting the most bang for your digital marketing buck. Unless you have unlimited time and resources for digital marketing—and more power to you if that is the case—you just can’t do it all. Especially with greater importance being put on generating regular, high quality content, some major hurtles start to appear—namely a tight budget and limited staff. So instead of spreading yourself too thin, think quality over quantity.

The top performers are in a few secrets. The survey shows that there are strategies these digital marketing frontrunners have in common. Since these strategies obviously work (or they wouldn’t be top performers, would they?) they are great place to consider investing your limited resources.

According to Verndale, the top performers all have a blogging engine, a modern CMS and CRM in place. If you can swing it, these areas may be a good place to focus your efforts. These are certainly larger scale projects, so luckily there is another area the top performers share, which takes a lot less sweat—digital marketing analytics. They are all keeping track of how effective each of their digital strategies are, and in turn finding ways to improve them. Luckily, Google Analytics makes this easy and free. We have a recent post about Making the Most of Google Analytics, and it is worth reading if you are not already an expert.

Another way to get ahead of the pack is to sneak up from behind by focusing on the strategies others most often let slip. SEO, for example, is commonly forgotten and not high on the priority list. However, it is a critically important tactic (read Not Your Chemistry Professor’s Periodic Table) and earmarking some dollars for this area may give you a boost.

In developing your plan for this next year’s digital marketing race, remember the tortoise and the hare. Slow and steady always wins the race. Well, let me rephrase that—STRATEGIC and steady always wins the race. Focus your efforts on creating high quality content on the platforms that will have the most overall impact, and leave the others for another time. You can find more about Verndale’s survey on their website.

Not Your Chemistry Professor’s Periodic Table: Understanding and Implementing the Periodic Table of SEO Success

If the idea of a periodic table turns your stomach—as it does mine—be not afraid. This table has little to do with noble gasses and pre-chemistry exam nightmares, and much to do with finding a successful strategy for search engine optimization. Search Engine Land recently released an updated version of their Periodic Table of SEO Success, which includes the fundamentals for both on and off page SEO. The latest version expands their 2011 table by accounting for the importance of social media, impact of ad heavy pages, and removal of blocking factors.

Periodic Table of SEO Success

The elements…

Whether you can barely define SEO or are a seasoned pro, the chart is handy introduction or refresher course to the most important elements. Search Engine Land was able to make sense of Google’s 200 signals, all leading to over 10,000 sub-signals, and organize the most important aspects into an easy to read table. Each SEO element is represented by two letters: the first for a category and the second for a particular aspect of that category (i.e. Cq for Content Quality). Each element is then given a “weight” for how effective it is on overall SEO. The weight can be positive, improving SEO, or negative, degrading it.

This is getting heavy… 

Although the table is not designed to be a comprehensive tool, it is certainly a valuable resource for defining some basic SEO strategies. Just reading through the table’s key sparks ideas about often forgotten or overlooked factors. The association of weights with each element is also particularly valuable, as it helps indicate which strategies will have the greatest overall effect and should be given the most attention. Off-page SEO elements are often overlooked, and the table is a great reminder of their importance.

Quality over quantity…

This updated table is especially important as Google recently revised their ranking advice to place more emphasis on high quality content. Their new policy touts the importance of creating high quality site content—which visitors actually want—over the importance of having external sites link to your page.

With social media and mobile optimization such hot topics, SEO sometimes gets overlooked. If this important web strategy has not been on your radar for awhile, consider browsing the table over at Search Engine Land.