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All Posts tagged Mobile Web

Trivera turns 21!

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Having been in business 21 years has allowed us to celebrate several birthdays with a look back at how far we've come. But 21 is symbolic of the entry into of adulthood and typically marks the beginning of a new level of maturity and accountability. And so, we're using this milestone to look forward.

The year ahead will be marked by the successful transformation of the ideal Trivera client relationships, as they evolve from exclusively website-based project work to deeper, more strategic ongoing digital marketing partnerships. That change began last year with the addition of new team members with skill sets in branding, integrated digital and inbound marketing strategies. It has continued with the development of a new, transformational 12 month process, one that begins with brand discovery and strategy development, and continues with tactical plans to strengthen every aspect of our clients' digital marketing efforts with constant monitoring, analysis and improvement. That new process is appropriately named "Evolve."

In addition to the new process, we've also deepened the strengths we've been known for for the past 21 years. Trivera's team now has greater depth in the areas of organic SEO, PPC and Social Media. We've also added Magento and Concrete5 certification to our credentials to back up our significant experience developing websites in both platforms.

While we're growing by addition, we are also maturing by subtraction. Over the next year, we'll be continuing our efforts to transition much of our hosting operation from our own data center to fully managed third party operations that specialize in Magento and Concrete5 hosting and 24/7 support. That effort will allow us to focus our own internal resources on the quality and management of the sites and applications we've developed, and less on the equipment, environment and security necessary for their operation.

Our client list will also continue its shift from smaller limited "website-only" engagements to one of fewer, but larger, deeper, long term ones that take advantage of all Trivera has to offer.

Watch for our own new trivera.com website to launch in February. The site will communicate our new direction and highlight more of our new client success stories while still preserving the archival information resources we've developed over decades of digital marketing leadership.

Over the past 21 years, how we've used the internet to support our businesses and organizations has evolved. What was once referred to as "Cyberspace," "the world wide web," the "CB radio of the 90's," the "information superhighway," the "dotcom boom"...and crash...the "new economy," have all evolved to become simply an integral part of every person's...and every business'...daily life. We're proud that we've been able to evolve with it and help hundreds of businesses leverage the power of digital marketing we knew existed when we opened for business on January 16, 1996.

About Tom Snyder

Tom Snyder - TriveraTom Snyder, founder, president and CEO of Trivera, a 20 year old strategic digital marketing firm, with offices in suburban Milwaukee.  Tom has been blogging since 1998, sharing the insight gained from helping businesses and organizations re-inforce their brands by taking full advantage of digital and Web technology as powerful tactics in their marketing and communications strategy.

 

Why I (and Our Clients) Love the Concrete5 CMS

by Serene Mireles, Web Design/Front-end Development Specialist

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Concrete5 is a powerful open source content management system (CMS). I started using concrete5 (C5) when I first came to Trivera a year ago. Previously, I worked with proprietary CMSs and other open source platforms that have a steep learning curve. Not C5. Concrete5 is user friendly for content editors, developers, and designers. I’m not the only designer who loves concrete5—it was the winner of the CMS Critic Award for Best CMS for Designers of 2015.

Here are a few of its many features:

  • In-context editing and a Microsoft Word-like content editor. All page edits are done on the page itself once you are logged in and in edit mode. No more filling out web forms and guessing where the information will end up on the page. 
     
  • Mobile Optimized & Responsive. Your website will look good on any screen size or device. 
     
  • Easy to set up and use right out of the box. You don’t need to purchase any extensions to achieve the look or functionality you want. 
     
  • Forms and Surveys. Easily created in few simple steps without any code. 
     
  • Developer Community. There is an active concrete5 community where you can get support from hundreds of other developers in the forums. 
     
  • Scalability and Extendability. Hundreds of add-ons (eCommerce, inventory management, customer management, fulfillment, the list goes on and on) make it possible for your site to do nearly anything you can think of.


Our clients love it too! Here’s what some of them have to say about concrete5:

“As a developer I've worked with numerous CMS solutions. Some have been cumbersome to manage, others are limited by a simplistic client interface. Concrete5 accomplishes the best balance between the two: it is both powerful and simple. A user-friendly interface lets editors manage site content with ease and minimal training. Developers can easily create themes, blocks, and add-ons to create a powerful, custom-tailored platform.” — Sean McMahon, MMSD

“We really like the flexibility and ease of changing evergreen content blocks with the stacks option. Certain aspects of our organization can change at a moment's notice, and we need to be able to update site-wide content in the fastest way possible. Stacks allow us to do that in the blink of an eye!” — Erik Bergstrom and Erin Donegan, Dental Associates

“Concrete5 allows me to turn a unique design into a dynamic, customizable site in a short amount of time and with no fuss. Unlike other CMS options, my designs are not bound by anything other than my own limitations or goals.” — Bilan Hockers, Potawatomi Hotel & Casino


If you’re not satisfied with your CMS, or if your website isn’t built with a CMS and you can’t update it yourself, it’s time to check out concrete5! Visit concrete5.org to learn more.
 

About Serene Mireles

serene01.jpgSerene Mireles is one of Team Trivera's Web design/Front End Development specialists. In her role, Serene uses her 18 years of digital design experience to build websites focused on user journeys to create ROI for our clients. Serene was the first developer in the world to be certified for Concrete5 version 7. 

6 Ways That Neglecting Your Website is Killing Your Brand

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By Tom Snyder, President and CEO of Trivera

Over our 20 years in business, we have seen most of our customers fall into one of two categories. The first is the type that make their web presence a focus of a digital Marketing Stratgey, constantly updating, supporting, measuring, analyzing, improving and investing in it. The other type are the ones who contracted us to build their site, and despite our recommendations that digital marketing needs to be an ongoing process, and not just an event, still treated their launch like a drive-by.  The very vehicle that was supposed to help their business flourish in the growing digital economy now stands as a testimony to four, nine and even thirteen year old technology.  What may have been state of the art brand re-reinforcement at one time, is now the brand killing equivalent of a dilapidated building in a bad neighborhood.

When pressed to consider an update, a new focus, or additional inbound marketing efforts, the typical response is "we just don't have the money."  While that might seem like a justifiable and economical approach, it's short sighted. Your neglect is actually costing you money.

Here's why:

1.) Not regularly updating your website's content causes it to drop in ranking in search engines. Lower ranking means less traffic, resulting in fewer sales.

2.) Not executing a sound inbound marketing plan reduces the number of potential visitors who even know your site exists. That means less traffic, resulting in fewer sales.

3.) Not having an organic search engine optimization plan puts you behind all of your competitors who do. That not only means less traffic and fewer sales for you, but also more traffic and more sales for them.

4.) Not keeping up with the current best practices for navigation and visitor expectations for functionality reduces the number of site visitors who become customers. That means traffic is coming, but leaving without buying, resulting in fewer sales.

5.) Not keeping your Content Management System and operating environment up to date leaves it vulnerable to hacks and hijacks, causing things to not work in your site that you may not even be aware of. Sometimes it means your site is offline entirely. That means traffic is coming, getting frustrated because your site doesn't work properly...or at all...resulting in fewer sales (and maybe even thinking you've gone out of business).

6.) Not having a responsive site built around user journeys  loses the growing number of customers who use smartphones and tablets as their preferred web device. That means less traffic and more visitor frustration, both of which result in fewer leads/sales/conversions.

I've said before...ad naseum...that your brand is not your logo, it's the promise of an experience, and everything you do either reinforces or erodes that brand. And a crappy old website erodes your brand just as badly as letting your building get run down, not being able to provide the product or service your customer expects or making them put up with a  poor salesman or CSR.

With your website, you're either moving ahead or you're falling behind. Thinking that doing nothing keeps you where you are is a delusion.  The time to begin getting serious is long past, but before you start executing a hodgepodge of tactical efforts, the better plan for long term success is to take a strategic approach. 

Think Your Website is Mobile? Think Again!

Man-frustrated-with-phone.jpgAs a web marketing pioneer since 1995, my life has been in a constant state of frustration with marketers who have never been as eager to embrace the power of new possibilities as quickly as I thought they should.   It began with a survey taken the year I opened my agency that said 87% of all business owners believed they would never have a need for the web… EVER! It has taken a path through resistance to search engine optimization (which we began doing in 1996), e–commerce (which we began doing in 1997), email marketing (which we began doing in 1998), online Social communities (which we first did in 1999) and social media marketing (which we began doing in 2009). Eventually, universal best practices caught up to include each of those, and we were able to use the several years of experience our competition didn’t have to meet the needs of clients now willing to explore each “new” tactic, method or technology.


Frustrations of a Mobile Early Adopter

We created our first mobile websites 14 years ago for ourselves and Milwaukee’s Mitchell Airport. With the Kyocera Smart Phone being the only mobile device in existence back in 2001, we were admittedly way ahead of the curve. But we knew that mobile’s amazing proliferation in Japan foreshadowed a similar explosion in the US. It wasn’t until the 2007 debut of the first iPhone, and emergence of Android phones in 2008 that it actually began to happen here. That was the beginning of our push, via our recommendations and our blog, to urge all businesses to create a web experience for their customers who preferred to interact with them via mobile devices. A handful jumped onboard immediately, and more followed.  However, 8 years later, still less than half of those clients have a website that is mobile-friendly.  And only our newest clients and a handful of fellow-visionaries have a site that is fully responsive to be viewed intuitively on any device or display size.

Introducing the “Mobile-First” Best Practice

While some would say we should be happy that we’re making progress, the sad fact is that we’re falling even further behind. The call to accommodate a mobile experience actually ended several years ago when it was replaced with a new best practice: designing your web presence with a mobile FIRST experience.

A design process that just accommodated mobile began first with a desktop user experience. Then, using a practice called graceful degradation, it removed the elements and formatting that prevented the desktop experience from displaying satisfactorily on tablets and smart phones.  Mobile first is just what it says. The first user experience, wireframe and design comp is the smartphone portrait mode.  Then, using progressive enhancement, features and design elements are added as the larger platforms and displays allow.  That approach is more difficult, and as you’d expect more expensive. But wise site owners who embraced that approach early on had their sites ready to capitalize on the shift that happened in mid-2014 when the number of website visits via mobile devices permanently surpassed that of the number via the conventional desktop machines.

That change in mobile first focus is causing a whole new analytic: users who begin their desired transaction with you on their smartphone, but frustrated with the functional or UX limitations you’re imposing on them had to go to a tablet or desktop to complete the transaction or desired task, or even decided not to do business with you at all.

What Comes Next?

As a result of those statistics, the next step in UX is emerging: The Mobile-ONLY approach. A recent report from the Altimeter Group demonstrates how fast the paradigm is shifting, and how quickly website owners and other developers are falling behind.  In my next blog, I’ll share some of the alarming statistics from that report and tell you how developers like Trivera are adapting.

How Much Should You Invest in Digital Marketing for 2015?

website-development-budget1.jpgAlthough most companies planned their 2015 marketing budgets in the last months of 2014, a new Gartner report will give you some guidance as to whether your planned investment will match that of your competitors.

According to the report, most companies plan to allocate a little more than 10% of their topline revenue for marketing in 2015, with 50% planning to increase their spend over 2014 levels.

Two thirds of companies these days still separate digital marketing as a separate category out of their overall marketing budget, with the average amount allocated to the digital efforts at a quarter of that budget.

Most companies plan to make Customer Experience their highest priority for the upcoming year, allocating 18% of their marketing budget on improving that.

The typical company will allocate 13% of their budget for Digital Advertising, with content marketing and website development just behind at 12% each.

The following chart shows how those numbers break out in dollars for various size companies:

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Those numbers may seem large to some. But there is plenty to spend it on. Our own observations confirm dozens of other studies that show how far many businesses have fallen behind in their digital marketing efforts. Few companies have responded to the shift in paradigm from desktop to mobile as the preferred customer experience. Most companies still fall behind when it comes to the latest best practices for SEO, PPC and content marketing. With email marketing and Social Media competing as the tool that creates greater results, and new transactional functionality emerging all the time, there is no shortage of digital initiatives to add to a company’s arsenal of marketing tools. 

Smart marketing decision-makers already know what they need to do to take full advantage of digital marketing to build their brand awareness, generate leads, and serve existing clients. But many have had difficulty convincing their CEOs, and CFOs to invest enough to drive efforts that will produce meaningful results.

These numbers will provide them with the evidence they need to argue their case and make sure they have the necessary dollars allocated to stay ahead of their competition.

 

Craig Schneider Joins Team Trivera

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Craig Schneider has joined TeamTrivera as a designer/front-end developer.

Craig is one of those guys who possesses the unique talent of being able to create awesome, intuitive, user-friendly website designs and then using frameworks and content management systems to turn them into fully functional websites. 
 
Craig comes aboard after a long tenure at Kalmbach publishing where most recently he was Interactive Art Director. In that role, he had been overseeing all of Kalmbach's digital properties including their 20 web sites and a team of 2 designers.  He has also been part of their Internet Strategic Development group and participated in the ideation and planning of their web-based products.
 
Craig was instrumental in leading Kalmbach into the Digital realm. On top of building the layouts and interactivity, he also worked with their in-house development team to build custom storefronts for 3 of their publications that had in-app purchases. And most recently, Craig helped lead them into responsive web design, moving 10 of their sites in that direction.  All of that experience has combined make him the perfect fit for our team.
 
When not working, Craig is an avid golfer, loves playing softball, outdoor recreation. Like the rest of the members of TeamTrivera he enjoys spending time with his family. He is also a loyal cheesehead who loves going to Packer, Badger, and Brewer games.
 
 

Future Web: Skating to Where the Puck is Going

Hockey great Wayne Gretzky attributed his success to a simple philosophy: "Skate to where the puck is going, not to where it is. It ain't where the puck is, it's where the puck will be."

What your company is doing with the web is a lot like a hockey game. If your only focus is a web site based on an assumption that all your visitors are sitting at their desks viewing your site on a 1024 x 768 resolution desktop monitor, you're skating to where the puck was. Even if you've begun to toy around with making your website more mobile friendly, you're still skating to where the puck is.

As an early adopter of the Internet as a powerful marketing tool, and founder of one of the Midwest's first Web development firms, I remember the days when 87% of all businesses polled said they would never have a need for a website. My challenge for over 16 years has been to be chasing after the future and dragging clients kicking and screaming behind me, hoping they'll keep up.

And it's about to get even harder.

Over the past few days, I've been spending time with the presentation Stephanie Rieger gave to the Breaking Development conference in Orlando, Florida. It's an eye opening look at how the web is evolving. Where it used to be something you'd go to the computer or your mobile device to "do," it's rapidly becoming something that's always on, connected to everything we use to provide us with any knowledge we need just as we need it. As Brad Frost aptly put it:, you need to get your content ready to go anywhere because it's going to go everywhere. Skating to where the puck is going means moving to a world where internet touch points go beyond browsers, smart phones and tablets to now include treadmills, refrigerators, cars, and a million other "smart things" that we haven't even begun to imagine. A world where search engine queries are replaced by contextual information fed to us based on our interests, needs, and location, the keyboard having been replaced by GPS's, our voice or even our retinas. The journey to where the web is headed has shifted into hyper drive, and in the process is shattering the paradigms. And it's about to leave many businesses, and even some self-professed "web development firms" in the dust.

That's why I'm so fortunate to have the team here at Trivera. While still understanding the need to provide superior, best practice web experiences for our clients (delivered on time, scope and budget), we take regular time out of the office every Friday to talk about, and plan for, the technologies, platforms, tools, ideas and directions that will help us embrace the future web.

As a result we've continued to push the envelope and come up with some pretty amazing stuff:

  • You have an e-commerce-enabled B2B website but still achieve your highest sales with your independent distributors? How about a fully integrated tablet-based tool for them to use in the field to coach them real-time to up-sell, cross-sell, check inventory, lead times and create and submit an order.
  • Your customers are voicing a common complaint that's not your fault, but due to their forgetfulness? How about a reminder with the appropriate information sent to their mobile device when it detects exactly when and WHERE they need it?
  • You have a brand with a huge community that needs Facebook, Foursquare, Twitter and Flickr functionality, but has huge archival resources you don't want to trust to those Social Media sites? How about an online community with full desktop, mobile and tablet compatibility with check-ins, photo uploads, topic threads, member chat and any other features the members say they need?
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I've always been totally flabbergasted by traditional ad agencies who say "Oh, yeah, we do web too." Many are still trying… and still failing…to embrace even 10 year old best practices, and thus skating to where the puck was. A few conceptually get it but don't have the breadth, depth and length of experience to hire, manage or direct a team with the necessary skillsets, and so also are still skating to where the puck is. In the minority are the brave, visionary few who not only are embracing concepts like responsive web, but even seeing that as an experience we'll one day look back on with the same quaint nostalgia that we have for stuff like Cue Cat, Flash, 56k dial up and AOL.

I guess there are parts of the marketing world where a business just needs a small desktop-sized brochure-ware website, and the agency that does their direct mail, yellow page ads, and print handouts can create a cute little site for them. And there are other parts where an agency is able to convince a business to pay megabucks for a pay-per-click-supported big honking Flash landing page.

You won't find Trivera or our customers there. We're all too busy skating to where the puck is going.