“One of the most difficult client introductions I experience is when a CEO comes to me for help after having invested a significant amount of money in a website, only to find that the site itself prohibits effective digital marketing,” says Kevin Hourigan, president and CEO of Web design, Web development and online marketing agency, Bayshore Solutions.  “This is a harsh reality for any business to face, yet it is all too often the ‘norm’ and often requires a costly rebuild to create the correct website that can be marketed and grow a business.”

Smart Business spoke with Hourigan about how to ensure that the right items are in place from the start when building your business’s website.

Why is the way a website is built so important?

Business websites today are not only the first impression of your business to the world but a critical tool in marketing your products or services and delivering leads and sales. To effectively compete, a business website needs to be easily found via search and deliver a visitor experience that informs, assures and influences.

Here are some major considerations to address before you start building your company website, so you end up with a web presence that is capable of and fit to deliver the business growth performance you expect.

Ensure core code fitness

There are a variety of ways that websites can be coded. Some approaches result in more efficient and consistent processes and rendering of a website. The way a site is coded can dramatically affect the time it takes to load or view a web page. Load time is a key element of any search engine’s algorithm. The faster your website presents itself, the higher up on the list of search results it will appear.

There are a staggering amount of development intricacies involved in programming the features and functionality of a website. Proper Search Engine Optimization (SEO) requires code-level arrangements and additions to enable the optimization that makes your website competitive in search engines. Knowing that the finished website will be marketed via SEO and other digital marketing tactics alerts the development team to anticipate and allow for the integrations, arrangements and ongoing code updates the website will need.

How does your developer plan to accommodate your website for the digital marketing tactics you will use? If he or she can’t answer this specifically, you should be interviewing a different website development company.

Keep it device agnostic

Most search engine spiders and Apple iPhone and iPad devices do not read Flash code well, if at all. Yet Flash is a very popular way to accomplish impressive visual design used by many Web designers.

Today, a website built entirely or mostly with Flash design may look fantastic, but it is severely crippled in its chances of being found by your target audience, especially those using an i-device. If your Web design must incorporate Flash, what is the plan to present an equally impressive visual experience to your non-Flash-reading website visitors?

This same audience accommodation principle applies to your website visitors who use a mobile device. The visual and functional experience of your business by visitors using a mobile-device grows more important each day as more and more people are using smartphone, tablet and mobile technologies. Your website’s presentation and feature functionality need to be tailored differently to a mobile visitor. What is the website development plan to not just accommodate but elate your website visitors’ mobile experience?

Build website flexibility

SEO and digital marketing are ongoing processes with dynamic, ever-evolving tactics and best practices. Web marketers need to access, update and publish changes to web pages quickly to take advantage of and stay on top of market dynamics that affect your business. These types of items include keyword refinement, pricing changes, call to action alternatives, message and page layout edits, timely campaigns and promotions, etc.

Access to editing and updating website content is mission-critical to effective Internet marketing. Integrating a Content Management System (CMS), to your website enables this. Insist that a web content management system be a part of your website development. Some CMS systems are more SEO friendly and more administrative user friendly than others. Take care to select a CMS that accommodates your Internet marketing needs in an easy-to-use format.

Incorporate cross fit integration

Points of integration that need to be considered for optimized development of a website include data-processing platforms or eCommerce shopping carts and payment modules. Each has critical security measures that are required to make your business a trustworthy online store or information bank.

Another basic business website integration to plan for is your Customer Relations Management (CRM) platform. Determine what type of information integration you will need and how this will be accomplished as part of your website development requirements.

Social media platforms, including blogs, social networking profiles and content syndication channels can be greatly enhanced with proper integration, capability for RSS feeds, etc. Enabling and achieving these connections with your website design may require extra development effort but is a key differentiation in effective web marketing.

In today’s digitally marketed world, as you understand the strategic importance that your website has in your ability to grow your business, it is clear that your website needs to be purposefully developed with fitness for SEO, user experience and Web marketing.

Kevin Hourigan is the president and CEO of Bayshore Solutions. Reach him at (877) 535-4578 or http://www.BayshoreSolutions.com.

For a snapshot of Bayshore Solutions Web marketing methodology, visit www.bayshoresolutions.com/about-bayshore-solutions/methodology.aspx.

Insights Web Design, Development & Internet Marketing is brought to you by Bayshore Solutions

Published in Florida

The mobile revolution is here and skyrocketing. It reminds me of social media in 2009 —it was no longer something to ponder, but rather to embrace.

One of the biggest adjustments businesses have had to make in the first decade of the millennium to remain relevant has been to adapt to the major shift in the way people communicate. Well, it’s time to crank it up another notch and join the mobile revolution.

Smartphones are leading the charge

According to Google, approximately 25 percent of the U.S. population has smartphones. By 2013, the smartphone market is predicted to grow by 233 percent. The Nielson Co. reported earlier this year that recent smartphone purchases consisted of 50 percent Android, 25 percent Apple and 15 percent BlackBerry devices.

Mobile now affects all digital channels: search, e-mail, display ads, social, games, Web and commerce. Smartphones are changing consumer behavior with loyalty programs, comparison shopping apps and WiFi capability, among others.

According to Google, in a week’s time, 81 percent of us browsed, 77 percent searched and 48 percent watched a video via our smartphones. Additionally, 74 percent made a purchase from information we got from our smartphones.

Businesses need to get mobile-smart

Getting your business mobile-smart starts with conducting a simple audit. Begin with your Web analytics report to see how many visitors are coming to your website via mobile, where they are going and what percent are iPhone, Android or BlackBerry users. This will tell you that the mobile revolution is not a myth.

Next, with your mobile phone in your hand, type your website address into your phone. What do you see? Try to find information on your website. Is it easy or impossible to navigate? This will tell you how mobile-ready your company is.

Now analyze a typical customer. Are they executives, consumers, what age group, etc.? With your customer in mind, think about when your company sends out an e-mail blast, where do your customers open that e-mail? This will tell you how important it is for you to get on board.

Then do a little research to uncover what your competitors are doing and where opportunities may exist to differentiate your company so you can move ahead of the pack. This will show you why it is important from a strategic perspective. If your business is one of the 80 percent that are not mobile-ready, this should be high on your priority list.

The difference between mobile app and mobile site

Mobile applications are developed for specific mobile operating systems. This is why it’s important to know if customers are using Android, iPhone or BlackBerry devices. Unfortunately, one app does not fit all. Each operating system requires its own app. Each app must be approved by the operating system gatekeepers to be added to its suite of downloadable apps.

Mobile apps are expensive to create. They are software applications built for the mobile environment. They provide access to specific data even when there is no Web connection. Not all businesses need a mobile app.

A mobile site is built similar to a website only for a mobile environment, and just as there are Web standards for the development of websites, there are standards for mobile sites. Unlike mobile apps, I would argue that nearly all businesses need a mobile site. There are some ways to offer a more friendly mobile experience using your current website, but they are temporary at best.

Check your company’s mobile IQ

Make sure your marketing team is up to speed on mobile marketing: mobile pay-per-click, mobile optimization, short message service/multimedia messaging service, mobile display ads, mobile e-mail, QR codes, etc.

Just as with website marketing, there are metrics for tracking mobile apps use, mobile sites and mobile searches. With this information in hand, you can begin developing clearly defined goals and objectives to obtain success.

KELLY BORTH is CEO and chief strategy officer for Greencrest, a 20-year-old brand development, strategic marketing and digital media firm that turns market players into market leaders. Borth has received numerous honors for her business and community leadership. She serves on several local advisory boards and is one of 25 certified brand strategists in the United States. Reach her at (614) 885-7921 or kborth@greencrest.com, or for more information, visit www.greencrest.com.

Published in Columbus

BERLIN (New York Times) -- Nokia said Tuesday it had settled a two-year-old global patent fight with Apple over smartphone technology through a licensing agreement that will commit Apple to make a one-time payment to its Finnish competitor and to pay regular royalties in the future.

The agreement settles all outstanding patent litigation between Apple, the leader in the smartphone market, and Nokia, its main rival. The companies also agreed to withdraw complaints against each other with the International Trade Commission over the use of intellectual property.

“We are very pleased to have Apple join the growing number of Nokia licensees,” said Stephen Elop, the Nokia president and chief executive. “This settlement demonstrates Nokia’s industry-leading patent portfolio and enables us to focus on further licensing opportunities in the mobile communications market.”

Nokia did not disclose the financial terms of the settlement. It did say the agreement would have a “positive financial impact” on Nokia’s revised second-quarter results.

Nokia shares rose 1.8 percent in Helsinki trading following the announcement to 4.37 euros per share. The Finnish company’s shares had plunged on May 31 after Nokia revised its second-quarter sales and profit forecasts sharply lower, and abandoned its previously announced full-year targets for 2011 amid rising competition.

Apple appeared to describe the agreement as limited in scope, and emphasized that the patent settlement did not extend to most of the unique features of the iPhone, the world's best-selling smartphone.

“Apple and Nokia have agreed to drop all of our current lawsuits and enter into a license covering some of each other’s patents, but not the majority of the innovation that makes the iPhone unique,” Apple said. “We are glad to put this behind us and get back to focusing on our respective businesses.”

The mobile phone makers had been embroiled in more than 40 patent lawsuits in Germany, England and the United States since 2009 over basic technologies relating to a handset’s user interface, power management, antenna and camera.

Florian Mueller, an intellectual property analyst in Starnberg, Germany, said the announcement was a victory for Nokia, which in the first quarter ceded its long-held lead in global cellphone revenue to Apple.

Mueller said while Apple benefited by settling its legal differences with Nokia, it was likely that the patent settlement with Apple involved “significant” payments by Apple to Nokia.

“I’m sure Nokia had to go down from its maximum demands because otherwise there wouldn’t have been a settlement,” Mueller said. “But the deal structure is very telling: a combination of a payment for past infringements as well as running royalties is a clear indication that there’s serious money in this for Nokia.”

Mueller said the agreement was the first fruit of a new Nokia strategy to more aggressively defend its patent portfolio, which includes more than 10,000 groups of handset patents called “patent families” that it developed over the last two decades. Nokia has said it invested more than €43 billion ($62 billion) to develop its patent archive.

“Having proven its ability to defeat Apple after the most bitterly contested patent dispute that this industry has seen to date is clear proof of” the effectiveness of Nokia's more aggressive strategy, Mueller said. “Other companies whom Nokia will ask to pay royalties will have to think very hard whether to pay or pick a fight.”

Mueller said Nokia may now turn its sights on Google, the maker of the Android open-source phone operating system, which is the world’s fastest growing mobile operating system. Mueller asserted that Android is technologically similar to Apple’s iPhone operating system and may invite a legal challenge from Nokia.

“Android-based devices are highly likely to infringe on largely the same Nokia patents that Apple now felt forced to pay for,” Mueller said.

Published in National