Is responsive design necessary?

Aaah, the good old days.

It was a much simpler time… Websites were straight HTML. Screen sizes were about the same size and ratio. 640 x 480 at 72 dpi.

search engine optimization ted360

Wow, have things changed, and for the better. It has caused me pain and angst seeing perfectly good Websites become obsolete before my eyes. With the introduction of smart phones, tablets, and wide screen displays on both the laptop and desktop, the challenge is to make sure your Website looks good on them all. While not an easy task… it is a necessity to say the least. Because now more than 51% of activity online is from smart phones and tablets, just seven years ago it was 12%.

So now we at least know the challenge we are dealing with. Make your Website look good on all devices at the same time. And here’s the kicker. Now Google will derank your site (push it down in the search results) if it is not mobile friendly. They are doing this because they now how much traffic is from mobile devices and they want to make sure the experience for the end user is the best it can be.


Mobile marketing for businesses

ted360 Web design for retail business

Like business owners, corporate executives and entrepreneurs, today’s customers are always on the go.

That’s especially true for working professionals. Thankfully, a growing number of mobile and online solutions make it simple to connect with, engage and promote your business to them virtually anytime, anywhere.

[source: Mobile Business Insights] Here are five mobile marketing tips to promote your enterprise more effectively on mobile devices:

1. Search engine optimize

Keywords are to the Internet and the information highway what billboards are to traditional interstates. So why not publish original, search engine optimized (“SEO-friendly”) content featuring these keywords more often? It’s the surest, fastest and most cost-affordable way to boost your organization’s visibility — and even compete with larger, better-funded rivals.

Numerous blogging tools make it simple for your enterprise to publish and capitalize on these keywords from almost any device. Providing hints, tips or how-to articles for your clients can satisfy their needs while shining a spotlight on your organization. Insider tip: Many search engines offer trends and analytics tools that can help you gain deeper insights into the exact terms and phrases your audience searches.

2. Design for mobile engagement

More customers are researching businesses online than ever before, and online shopping continues to hit record highs with each passing year. What’s the fastest way to connect with and successfully promote your business to mobile audiences? Create a polished, smartphone- and tablet-friendly Website that makes browsing, sampling and buying effortless.

Are you dealing with a legacy platform that manages your company’s online presence and feeling hesitant to invest in a full-scale Website makeover? A number of user-friendly services make it possible for businesses of every size to quickly build microsites, landing pages and online solutions using drag-and-drop tools and preexisting templates. Stock images and layouts make it possible to literally mix, match and create custom-branded online headquarters and stores in minutes.

3. Use local or location-based offers

Also important to keep in mind when discussing mobile marketing tips: Numerous services make it possible to offer special discounts on mobile devices to shoppers in specific neighborhoods or regions, or even provide coupons that pop up on customers’ devices when they’re near your offices or retail locations. You might also offer steeper discounts when potential buyers are about to visit rivals (“Love coffee? Stop by our latest store to grab a free cup!”). Options here are endless, including offering special promotion codes through online discounters or providing coupons through augmented-reality and location-based services that piggyback on the GPS systems built into mobile devices.

4. Get crafty with online promotions

Don’t forget to use social media to promote your virtual or brick-and-mortar presence. Cost-effectively strike where rivals haven’t by marketing uniquely themed and/or limited-time promotions to key influencers. Examples: “Stop by between 9 and 10 p.m. this Saturday to try our craziest new culinary creations” or “Sign up now to get VIP access to an exclusive meet-and-greet with bestselling author Scott Steinberg!”

As noted earlier, search engine keywords are the lifeblood of online advertising. If you’re savvy, in addition to traditional content marketing strategies, you’ll also want to build marketing campaigns around them. Many online providers offer apps that let you quickly create and manage promotional campaigns, so that your business readily appears when someone searches for “accounting firms in New York,” “corporate travel consultants,” “investment planning Los Angeles” and more. Trade secret: You can buy up ads around terms potential shoppers might enter when searching for your competitors.

5. Tap into email and newsletter promotions

Referral and opt-in marketing solutions rank among the most powerful promotional tools today. Dozens of mobile apps and providers make it simple to design and share email or newsletter campaigns that can help you keep your business top of mind with customers and generate repeat business from your top clients. One insider mobile marketing tip: Set up a Website for your enterprise that offers free incentives, such as exclusive discounts, coupons, white papers, eBooks, trend reports or videos, for subscribing. Then promote it using online services and social networks such as LinkedIn. Once you’ve built a list of potential buyers, you’ll be able to design mailers, connect and communicate with them at almost any time.


Is Your Business Prepared For Today’s Landscape?

The companies that master mobile are creating novel digital experiences that shape customers’ expectations of what brands can and should do for years to come.

Welcome to the Mobile Era, the Era of Big Data, the App Era, the Cloud Era—whichever name you prefer, we can all agree on its chief message…

that the days of “business as usual” are over. Innovation—specifically, continuous innovation—is essential for companies looking to shape their future and forge new paths.

[source: FastCompany] The shift from a physical to a digital economy has rewritten the rules of competition. Today, the rewriting occurs even faster, accelerated by mobility, the cloud, and ever-present security risks. Ask the world’s top executives and IT managers what keeps them up at night, and odds are they’ll describe the paradoxical nature of disruption. Call it the Uber Syndrome.

A new competitor with a new model, they fear, can catch them off guard and upend their entire industry. Uber isn’t the only billion-dollar case study. Look at the impact of Airbnb on hospitality; Netflix and Spotify on entertainment; BuzzFeed on media; Amazon on retail; and Apple on consumer electronics and telecommunications.

At the same time, these very executives and IT managers have the opportunity to carry out the disruption themselves. The same technology that enables a startup empowers existing players to innovate and reinvent their industry. A never-ending wave of new apps allows companies to better understand their customers and partners, and develop groundbreaking products or services faster than ever before.

But nonstop innovation requires its own ethos of motivation and its own set of organizational skills. And, of course, its own tools. In particular, the demands on corporate IT systems have never been greater—or more complex. Businesses need not only more computational, storage, and network capacity, but also more speed and flexibility. Or as Gary Barnett, the chief software analyst for London-based research firm Ovum, says, “Infrastructure capable of allowing companies to evolve different parts of their portfolio at different speeds.”

The Mobile Reimagining

Fueling the upheaval, of course, is the proliferation of mobile devices and apps. Next year, mobile connectivity to the Internet worldwide is projected to surpass fixed-line connectivity for the first time. The economic implications are significant: By 2018, global consumer spending via mobile is estimated to reach $626 billion, according to Goldman Sachs.

From an IT standpoint, mobile growth represents a formidable undertaking: After all, a single transaction, such as changing your airline seat or making a bank-to-bank transfer, instantly generates dozens of interactions with a corporate IT system (from account authentication to fraud analysis). Extrapolate that flurry of activity across a few billion smartphone users the world over and you get a sense of the urgency facing IT executives.

The companies that master mobile are creating novel digital experiences that shape customers’ expectations of what brands can and should do for years to come. “If you use an app on your phone to, say, open your hotel room door, that resets your expectation,” says Nigel Fenwick, vice president and principal analyst at Forrester Research. “When you go into another hotel, your perception of value has changed.” The entire concept of a key suddenly becomes antiquated.

To coordinate the interplay between apps and back-end systems, companies are relying more on APIs, the software-based rules that allow applications to share data with each other and with IT systems. Increasingly, this communication is driven by machine processes rather than by a consumer or by a mobile device. “A huge amount of cognitive activity is taking place between businesses without any direct human intervention,” says Jason Gartner, CTO of API Economy at IBM. “The key to that automation is having the processes, tools, and DevOps culture to be agile and responsive.”

The behind-the-curtain technical jujitsu between databases, analytics code, and the cloud services that power such sophisticated automation is one of those feats that wasn’t possible until recently. But in short order, it’s remaking business operations and much of our digital lives.

Just a few years ago, simply having a mobile app set you apart. Soon after, the focus shifted to the best user interface. Now, a company distinguishes itself by the intelligence derived from its mobile data. In the right hands (read: right IT infrastructure), it can enable real-time personalization, the holy grail of digital experiences. The apps on your devices know you, anticipate your needs, and deliver in the moment.

We’re Guardians of Data Now

The snake in this garden of opportunity is the increase of cyberattacks, both in volume and sophistication. The number of new malware threats now exceeds a million a day, according to Symantec. Nearly half target big companies.

Today, a brand’s equity is inextricably tied to the trust a company establishes with data. “The biggest threats to this whole world of datafication are security and privacy,” says Irving Wladawsky-Berger, who worked for 37 years at IBM, much of it identifying emerging technologies. “If people don’t trust that their data will be both protected and properly used, they won’t share it or participate.”

That duality—the thrilling potential and the bracing risk of technology—epitomizes business for today’s IT executives. How do you recognize and seize opportunities in such a dynamic environment? How do you equip your organization to keep evolving? How do you innovate week in and week out?

Find the answers that work for you, and you’ll find yourself and your company on the right side of disruption.


Mobile Search Has Changed the Game for Local Businesses

Web design for local businesses.

We have become an instant gratification society.

A lot of this is due to the convenience of the Internet, and how it’s accessible from anywhere, just with a simple search on our mobile devices. Even the days when we used to sit at our desktop computers, researching a local business, are passing by quickly.

[source: HuffingtonPost] Right now, about 25% of Internet searches are being completed on mobile devices, and that number is steadily climbing. It’s expected that in 2015, mobile device searches will overtake searches on desktop computers entirely.

For the consumer, this is great. With our mobile devices, we’re able to quickly find businesses in our communities that provide the exact services and products we want. The GPS on our phones allows us to pinpoint the location and even get directions, all in one handy device.

Local business searches are very targeted, it’s estimated that about 61% of mobile searches result in a purchase. People are clearly able to find what they’re looking for, and they’re able to find it in their community with the help of mobile search.

So what does this mean for business owners, specifically small business owners, who depend on business from their local communities?

1. Location, Location, Location

Perhaps you’ve heard the old adage ‘location, location, location?” That sentiment was used to express the belief that a business could be successful when given the right location, simply due to the fact that it was more accessible to potential customers.

With mobile search, having a great location is no longer enough. Brick and mortar stores without a strong SEO strategy are seeing their business ebb away as people turn to their mobiles to give them the address of a great Italian restaurant nearby, or a salon in their neighborhood. Customers no longer have to go out hunting for local businesses because those businesses are right at their fingertips.

2. Word of Mouth Has Evolved

Not only can these consumers get a location of a business, with certain popular applications they can also see customer reviews and recommendations. Customers no longer have to take a risk on a new business when they can simply rely on the opinions found in their local search results. That means even business owners who rely solely on the sales from a physical location need to shift their strategies to ensure they’re coming up in those searches, and that they are managing their online reputations.

3. Digital Natives Now Dominate the Market

One huge reason for this digital dependence is the emergence of Generation Y and ‘digital natives’ as part of the consumer market. There are nearly 80 million members of this generation and about 40% admit they prefer to buy from local businesses as opposed to big chain companies. At the same time, this generation was raised to rely on the Internet, so much so that 72% of them have smartphones. According to Customer Magnetism, these ‘Millennials’ touch their smartphone a staggering 43 times per day. When these individuals are looking for a local business, they’re not doing walk-ins or talking to their neighbors as was convention in the past. Instead they’re going to their Smartphones. As this generation takes up a larger portion of the pool of customers, the trend of using mobile technology to find local businesses will only increase.

4. Conversions Come Easy

Even when these local searchers don’t buy, they usually follow up with local businesses. Three out of four mobile searches trigger some kind of follow up action. Whether that action is a call to the business or making an appointment, 75% of people using mobile search and finding your business are going to reach out to you in some way. The option ‘Click to Call’ on ‘Google My Business’ generates about 30 million calls a month alone.

5. Having an Online Presence is Now Essential

This all means one thing. Small business owners are no longer immune to the need to manage their businesses online. In the past, many of these small businesses had no Internet presence. About 50% of businesses didn’t even have Websites. Now, those businesses are losing out on local customers. When a business fails to have a strong local Web presence, potential customers are getting directed to their competitors instead.

Business owners who want to stay competitive need to shift their strategies to focus on local SEO, no matter what. Even if your business doesn’t have an online store and you have only one physical location, it’s important that the growing group of mobile users can easily find you. About 20% of Google searches are local searches and 45% of all searches are specifically goal oriented; meaning local users are ready and willing to buy. Business owners with a local SEO campaign can be sure they’re cashing in on that local mobile search business.


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