Archive for 2010

Dec 09
2010

One of our most well received posts this year was on “Tracking Online and Offline Marketing Campaigns with Google Analytics”. The post detailed how to properly plan for and track your various marketing initiatives and campaigns (search, email, social, offline, etc.) to understand the impact and ROI of each channel.

That post was geared towards those who already had a good understanding of URL tagging. How about the beginners? In this post, we will try to address both beginners and advanced users. Does either of the bullets describe you?

  • You are familiar with URL tagging, but need to find a way to automate the process using an elaborate tool
  • You are looking for a brief how-to guide on URL tagging.

If the answer is yes, keep reading. Actually, keep reading either way – this was just a poorly crafted attempt at being dramatic. :)
Although url tagging isn’t a hot new topic, proper planning and tagging is fundamental to improving visibility into campaign performance, overall accuracy and proper attribution of campaign conversion data. Some of the most common questions we get asked are related to URL tagging, so we figured it was time to share some of the tools we use internally to help make the URL tagging process less mundane and more bulletproof.

Why should I continue reading? Here’s what you’ll get…

  1. Online URL Tagging builder
  2. An Advanced URL Tagging Kit (Excel based), and yes, it’s free!
  3. A video guide & practical tips

Ok fine….How do I get started?

Start with the end result of tagging – a pivot report with Channel Segmentation.
Impress your boss and brag about your marketing channel and campaign segmentation skills, show them a sample report like this one (and get additional help/resources for your analytics team!) and then proactively follow the steps and tools in this post.

ChannelMetrics

Let me explain why the above report is so powerful:

  • All your campaigns – online and offline are segmented and properly tracked
  • The pivot data is in an analysis friendly format
  • The raw data is available and easily exported from GA (extracted into Excel via the API)

The three tools listed below will help you set up proper campaign tracking.

1- Online URL Builder

If you’re trying to learn how to build properly tagged URL’s or just need a tool to facilitate building a quick link or two, this tool will serve your needs very well. It’s quick, easy and available online here:

http://www.e-nor.com/tools/url-builder

urlbuilder

Simply enter the appropriate values, and then press the Generate URL button, and you’re done.

2- The Google Analytics Campaign Segmentation | URL Tagging Kit (beta)

The URL builder above is great for onesey twosey links, but woefully inadequate if you have more than a few links to tag (who doesn’t?) For a more robust method, check out E-Nor’s URL Tagging Kit. This Kit provides an automated method to tag many urls at the same time for multiple campaign variables. Using the URL Tagging Kit offers the ability to tag in bulk, updates formulas, error checks and prepares final tagged URLs for distribution to the campaign manager and then off to Quality Assurance.

Input Parameters:

linktagging1

Output Tagged URLS!!!

linktagging2

For beginners, just use the default settings and tag away!

For advanced users, here is what you get with this beta version:

  • Auto concatenation of tag fields
  • Error checking
    • Space character is handled gracefully
    • Character case is auto-fixed based on selection
    • Leading/trailing spaces are trimmed
  • Your choice of querystring parameter character (? Or #)
  • Auto-creation of final static version of the tagged URL

Download the URL Tagging Kit here

Download

3- Online Video Tutorial

Don’t have time to read? Just watch the short tutorial below

(for whatever reason, I can’t seem to get full screen mode enabled on this video. Click here to watch the video on Youtube with full screen enabled.)

Practical Tips

  • Google AdWords offers an “auto tagging” feature, if you turn it on and you connect your AdWords account with your Google Analytics account, you are all set. No manual URL tagging are required.
  • Use URL Tagging for campaign types, such as:
    • Newsletters
    • Email
    • Banners
    • Affiliate
    • Shopping Comparison Sites
    • Non-Google CPC, CPA or CPM based advertisements
    • Press Releases
    • TV
    • Radio
  • Basic UTM tagging only applies to your domain(s) and does not apply to external domains.
  • Check which querystring parameter your site supports: ? or # (if you are using # as your querystring parameter, make sure you read the reference from Google Code on the _setAllowAnchor command)
  • Establish an insightful naming convention for your team & stick to it!
  • Ensure a QA process is in place:
    • QA naming convention (including upper and lower case) and if you use holiday_2011, don’t use FALL-2011 for the same campaign.
    • Check links to verify landing pages render properly.
    • Verify final tagged urls in all final content.
    • Verify information is passed to Google Analytics as planned.

So there you have it. Tag, Track, Segment, Analyze and Optimize!

Advanced User Notes:

  • For advanced users and those interested in multi-channel attribution, you can make use of the Multiple Custom Variables (MCV) feature in Google Analytics to measure first, last (and in between) campaign attribution
  • If you are running social media and online viral marketing activities and you are active in blogging, on Twitter and Facebook, you should include “off-site” measurements in your overall campaign analysis.
  • Here’s a nice post on the GA blog detailing a solution that requires no tagging.

Related Posts

Dec 03
2010

Looking to optimize your marketing and not sure where to start? Really want to leverage the power of data? Not sure how to use Google Analytics? Need to have more confidence in your Google Analytics data? If so, sign up for the Google Analytics Workshop @ SMX Marketing Expo West on Friday March 11th 2011 in San Jose.

Use this promo code smx100feras and save $100!

Who Should Attend?

  • Marketing Managers
  • Business owners
  • CMOs
  • Webmasters
  • Agency staff

Why?

If you are struggling to go beyond basic web metrics of visitors and pageviews and want to move into actionable insights, this seminar will put you on the right track. You will learn how to improve your return on investment (ROI) on marketing campaigns and utilize analytics insights to optimize performance.

What will you learn about Google Analytics?

The two-part seminar will focus on:

Marketer/Business Focus – Strategy & Planning

  • Web Analytics Strategy
  • How It Works
  • Master the User Interface
  • Advanced Features Overview

Webmaster/Technical Focus – Implementation

  • Accounts & Profiles, Filters & Goals
  • External Campaign Tracking
  • Reporting
  • Advanced Segmentation & Custom Reports

We will have ample time for Q&A and I’ll be hanging around for additional hands-on analytics review and advanced analytics questions.

Again, the seminar is in San Jose, CA on Friday March 11th, 2011. Register today and invest in learning!

I look forward to seeing you at SMX West San Jose and don’t forget to use this promo code smx100feras and save $100!

If you are still not convinced, maybe the following testimonials will persuade you :)

“E-Nor’s Google Analytics seminar provided me with the insight I need to provide our clients with actionable metrics” R.B., Managing Director

“I think you did a really good job presenting to an audience that had a wide range of Google Analytics experience. Glad I stayed the extra day to attend” C.S., Marketing Manager

“Feras clearly knows the intricacies of Google Analytics thoroughly. If our clients need advanced Google Analytics help, we wouldn’t hesitate to recommend Feras and the group at E-Nor.” R.L. Principal Consultant

“Very pleased with the Google Analytics workshop at SMX East in NYC. Feras was extremely helpful and knowledgeable in all aspects of GA. Highly recommend this course to all Google Analytics users”, M.W., Marketing Manager

Feel free to leave a comment or email me if you have any questions or comments.

Oct 11
2010

Recently, I had a conversation with some web analysts about the different traffic attribution models in Web Analytics.   This is a topic that web analysts and marketers will never reach an agreement on!  A few days after the dry theoretical discussion, I got a request from one of our clients to change the traffic attribution model in Google Analytics to treat “direct” traffic like any other traffic sources, which will enable them to measure the impact of their branding efforts.

What is considered “direct traffic” in Google Analytics?

Direct Traffic represents visitors who typed the URL directly into the web browser, clicked on a bookmark to arrive at your site, or clicked on an untagged URL in a desktop based application that link to your site.

What is the issue:

By default, Google Analytics attributes a visit and its conversions and sales to the last traffic source; that is what we call Last Click Attribution model. An exception to this rule is a “direct” visit. If a visitor returns to a site directly, the last traffic source before the direct visit will still get credit for that visit’s activities. This behavior is disliked by (few) analysts who prefer to look at the “direct” traffic like any other traffic sources.

Here is a simple example to illustrate the issue:

You are a web analyst at forever21… you ran a huge online campaign for the back to school sale (banner, email, social media, affiliate,..) now you want to measure your brand awareness in the market. You want to see how many people because of your branding efforts visit your website directly by typing your URL?

A few months after the end of the campaign you still see visits are tracked as “paid search”, “email” and “banner”. You see a very small number of “direct” visits. In the budgeting meeting you shared the numbers with the board and you decided to spend more $$$ on marketing because you haven’t reached your brand awareness goals yet.

Hold on! Do you know that most of these “paid search”, “email” and “banner” visits that you see today in your report are “direct” visits?These campaigns did their job months ago and now the whole universe knows about your brand and comes to your site directly.  Unfortunately, you have no insight about these “direct” visits because of the rule that “direct” visits do not override previous traffic sources for 6 months!

Can we change this rule? If this will answer your business needs and save you money, of course we can :)

Solution:

Simple! Just credit visits to the last campaign/traffic source regardless of whether the visit was a direct or non-direct visit. See the table below for a comparison between the default GA reporting settings and the “True Direct” solution settings:

Visitor Visit 1 Visit 2 Visit 3 Visit 4
Source / Medium cnn.com / Referral ask / organic Direct Access Bookmark
Last Click Attribution cnn.com / referral ask / organic ask / organic ask / organic
True Direct Attribution cnn.com / referral ask / organic direct / none direct / none

How:

We will need to run some JavaScript code before firing the Google Analytics tracking code. This JavaScript code will check:

  • the value of the URL of the page that loaded the current page (Output: URL or Null)
  • the current page’s URL (Tagged with Google Analytics campaign UTMs or not tagged)
  • if the value of the referring page is NULL and the current URL doesn’t contain any UTMs, then update the URL with the following utm parameters utm_source=(direct)&utm_medium=(none)&utm_campaign=(not set)

Why do we check whether the current page is tagged or not?

Sometimes pages are loaded without referring information, yet they might have been manually tagged with campaign parameters to force GA to credit the visit to a certain channel. We do not want these pages to be overridden by our “direct” parameters.

Example: http://www.mysite.com/myfile.html#utm_source=cnn.com&utm_medium=banner&utm_campaign=thanksgiving

The traffic source for this visit will be:

  • Source = cnn.com
  • Medium = banner
  • Campaign = thanksgiving

Click here to view the entire code segment

Let us explore the code, section by section:

function get_referrer() {
var source = document.referrer;
if (source == null || source == “”)
return “direct”;
}

This portion of the code will determine the URL value of the page that loaded the current page (referring page). If the value is NULL, the function will return “direct” indicating that the current page was not referred by another site.

function get_parameter() {
var urlstr = window.location.href;
var results = urlstr.match(/[\\?&#]utm_source=([^&#]*)/);
if (results != null)
return “tagged”;
}

This portion of the code will determine if the current page is manually tagged with Google Analytics campaign parameters.

if (srcPage == “direct” && parameter != “tagged”) {
window.location.hash = “utm_source=(direct)&utm_medium=(none)&utm_campaign=(not set)”;
}

This portion of the code will check the values returned by the two functions above. If the visit has no referring information (direct) and the URL is not tagged with any Google Analytics campaign UTMs, then the page URL will be updated with Google Analytics UTM parameters setting the source and medium for the visit to “direct”

Page URL
http://www.mysite.com/myfile.html
New URL
http://www.mysite.com/myfile.html#utm_source=(direct)&utm_medium=(none)&utm_campaign=(not set)

* Notice that we did not use window.location.href function because this function will reload the page with the new URL, which is not what we want to happen. We just want to update the URL, without affecting the visitor experience, in order for the Google Analytics tracking code to attribute the visit in a certain way.

Bonus: Defining a Search Term as Direct Traffic

Sometimes out of convenience or laziness visitors reach your website by entering your domain name or business name as a search term in a web search engine (ex. google, yahoo, bing). Those visits will be attributed in GA as organic search visits, even though, the only difference between the two visits is that in one visit the URL was typed into the web browser’s address bar and the other was typed into the browser’s search box.

In my opinion, these branded searches should be dealt with as direct visits. In GA we have the option to do that so if you are convinced, then let’s configure Google Analytics to treat certain search terms (our brand) as direct traffic.

The configuration has to take place at the code level. It will be simply adding the _addIgnoredOrganic() method inside the Google Analytics tracking code for each keyword we want to track as direct traffic.

The custom Google Analytics tracking code will look like this:

<script type=”text/javascript”>
var _gaq = _gaq || [];
_gaq.push(['_setAccount', 'UA-xxxxxx-x']);
_gaq.push(['_setAllowAnchor', true]);
_gaq.push(['_addIgnoredOrganic', 'e-nor']);
_gaq.push(['_addIgnoredOrganic', 'e-nor.com']);
_gaq.push(['_addIgnoredOrganic', 'www.e-nor.com']);
_gaq.push(['_trackPageview']);
(function () {
var ga = document.createElement(‘script’); ga.type = ‘text/javascript’; ga.async = true;
ga.src = (‘https:’ == document.location.protocol ? ‘https://ssl’ : ‘http://www’) + ‘.google-analytics.com/ga.js’;
var s = document.getElementsByTagName(‘script’)[0]; s.parentNode.insertBefore(ga, s);
})();
</script>

Congratulation, now you don’t only have access to the direct visits data of those who visit your site for the first time as direct, but you will have insight into all direct visits regardless of whether they took place during the first, second or even the tenth visit.

Related Posts

Oct 09
2010

Just got back in town from another great Google Analytics training day at SMX East (New York City). Thank you to all who attended, it was great meeting you all and I hope I lived up to your expectations.

As I typically do after a workshop, here are the answers, links, and additional references to questions raised that we didn’t have time to address in full details. Feel free to drop me an email if you have an account specific question.

Again, thank you all for attending the workshop and I hope you start putting all the power of Google Analytics in use to help you improve the performance of your website and get better ROI on your marketing campaigns.

10/19/2010 Update

Some of you asked for more technical details on flash and video tracking, here are the links. Enjoy!

Feras

Sep 29
2010

October is a busy training month for us and we love it!

If you are not attending our Google Analytics workshop at SMX NYC, and happen to be in or around Chicago, you don’t want to miss our upcoming half-day seminar at Search Engines Strategies (SES) Chicago at the Hilton Chicago on Friday October 22, 2010 from 1-5pm, buy your seminar pass today at $845!

There are a number of search marketing workshops taking place on the 22nd, so check out any of the morning sessions, and more importantly (we’re not biased :) ), make sure to attend E-Nor’s session in the afternoon. Mark your calendar and register today.

So why should you attend?

Sure, you want to spend your training budget, add something to your resume and just really want to meet in person :) (and these are all valid reasons) but what else can SES Chicago do for you? Well, if you are struggling to go beyond basic web metrics of visitors and pageviews and want to move into actionable insights, this seminar will put you on the right track. You will learn how to improve your return on investment (ROI) on marketing campaigns and utilize analytics insights to optimize performance.

What will you learn about Google Analytics in a 1/2 day?

Marketer/Business Focus – Strategy & Planning

  • Understand the user interface & clever stuff you can do with Google Analytics
  • Campaign Tracking – measure performance of search, email, banner campaigns

Webmaster/Technical Focus – Implementation

  • Accounts & Profiles, Filters & Goals – structure your data properly
  • Advanced Segmentation & Custom Reports – powerful ways to find insights

Who Should Attend?

  • Business, marketing and technical management and staff
  • Webmasters
  • Business owners
  • CMOs

We will have ample time for Q&A and I’ll be hanging around for an additional hour for hands-on analytics review and advanced analytics questions.

Again, the seminar is in Chicago on Friday October 22, 2010 from 1 to 5pm. Register today and invest in learning!

I look forward to seeing you at SES Chicago.

Sep 14
2010

The digital marketing space is constantly evolving and for those of us in the web analytics industry, staying up-to-date and relevant is a challenge (for some of us analytics geeks, this is the only thing that keeps us going! ) But your job doesn’t end here- you are still expected to generate more revenue, reduce costs and improve the return on investment for your marketing campaigns, all in a ‘New York minute’ :) .

You know analytics will do the trick, but where and how can you get the proper training? Easy. Come and learn the tools of the trade at a full day hands-on Google Analytics training.

I am speaking at SMX East

If you’re convinced and ready to register, do so before October 3. Feel free to use this code for a $100 dollar discount: smx100gaw (case sensitive). You can register here and enter the promo code or just click on this URL. But if you’re holding out and still need a bit more convincing, check out some (uncensored :) ) testimonials from previous training attendees.

The training will cover some basics, but will focus on much needed, yet underutilized, best practices. We will also explore various advanced topics and leave a lot of time for Q&A. You’ll be prepared for morning’s work with specific action items to implement on your own site (or your clients’ sites).

So whether you’re a marketing manager, a technical webmaster, or a consultant, and whether you’re working for a start-up or a Fortune 500, this workshop will help you leverage Google Analytics to the fullest.

Training agenda

Morning Session – Marketer/Business Focus – Google Analytics Strategy & Planning
  • Web Analytics Strategy – approach, opportunities and limitations
  • How It Works – overview, accuracy and privacy implications, integrating with other data
  • Practical – understanding the user interface
  • Advanced Features Overview – clever stuff you can do with Google Analytics
Afternoon Session – Webmaster/Technical Focus – Google Analytics Implementation
  • Accounts & Profiles, Filters & Goals – structure your data properly
  • External Campaign Tracking – measure performance of search, email, banner campaigns
  • Reporting – dashboards & insights
  • Advanced Segmentation & Custom Reports – powerful ways to find insights
Need more convincing? Here are some testimonials

“I wanted to thank you for the great work you’ve done in helping Blue Shield set up Google Analytics and taking us through the process of understanding the User Interface. We are enjoying the training sessions and the entire team feels very confident in your expertise. Thank you!”
-T. S., Online Member Acquisition, Blue Shield of California

“I think Feras did a really good job presenting to an audience that had a wide range of Google Analytics experience. Glad I stayed the extra day to attend.”
-C. S., Search Engine Marketing Expo

So why wait any more! Register today and don’t forget to use this promo code for $100 discount: smx100gaw (case sensitive) or simply use this URL.

If you have any questions about the Google Analytics training, don’t hesitate to email or call. For latest updates on the workshop and other (mainly) analytics tips, follow me on twitter. And above all stay in touch!

Sep 09
2010

 
Advanced Segments from Google
A few months back a colleague of mine called Multiple Custom Variables "Google’s Gift to Humanity."  I disagree.  He had good intentions, like he usually does, but in this case he was terribly misguided.  Multiple Custom Variables are significant and a dream come true to some, but the real gift to humanity, and there isn’t even any competition here, is Advanced Segments.  I can’t remember a day going by where I haven’t used this phenomenal feature in Google Analytics.  Now, the feature is finally available in Urchin 7!
 

What can I do with Advanced Segments in Urchin 7?

  • Identify & analyze the visitor groups who are truly valuable to your business
  • Allows you to filter reporting data similar to using GA Advanced Segmentation. The feature is accessible on the Urchin 7 Reporting UI from the toolbar.
  • Each advanced segment is a combination of filters joined by an "AND" condition. Metrics support numeric comparison operators "equals to", "less than", "less than or equal to", "greater than" and "greater than or equal to".

 

How do I use Advanced Segments in Urchin 7?

Easy :)   the interface is similar to Google Analytics.  The screen capture below shows the new Advanced Segments dropdown.  Click on this dropdown to enter the wonderful world of Advanced Segmentation awesomeness.


 
In the screen capture below, the user is presented with an option to manage their advanced segments, or view from a list of default segments.


 

How do I create a new Advanced Segment in Urchin 7?

Let’s build a really simple segment that will let us analyze traffic originating from Google.

NOTE:  in building a segment, I strongly recommend giving the segment a meaningful name.  This will help you and others that may be using the tool clearly know what the segment contains.  Don’t use names like "My Segment" or "Segment 1" or "test".  A meaningful name for the example above would be "Traffic Source=Google" or "Traffic from Google" or something to that effect.
 
1) To create and configure a new segment, click the "Create new custom segment" button on the Manage Urchin Visit Segments page.


 
2)  Below is the segment definition screen:


 
3)  Once done, apply the segment to all profiles


 
4)  Now let’s view the New vs. Returning report for our segment!


 

What are some practical use cases of Advanced Segments:

1)  Create a true organic segment where branded traffic is filtered out.
2)  Create a segment to analyze visitors by referrer or traffic source (like our example above)
3)  Segment by geographic location (country, city, etc)
4)  Segment by Content viewed (Landing page or Page)
5)  Segment by Goals (allowing you to see the behavior of users who converted vs those who didn’t)
6)  Segment by Technology metrics (browser type, screen resolution, etc)
All the above will help in your data analysis.  These are just a few simple ideas.  Pleases share any cool segments that have assisted you in your analysis!

Try out Urchin 7 today.

Related Posts

Aug 31
2010


Urchin 7 is finally here and ready for your web analysis needs!  Keep reading for details, contact us for more information, and click here to buy Urchin 7.

Features

  • New reporting UI
  • Report permalinks
  • Advanced segments
  • Event tracking
  • Report tabs to provide more information in context
  • Updated segmentation menu and options
  • Customizable geolocation settings
  • Custom filter ordering
  • Native 64-bit support
  • Faster data processing speeds
  • Multiple schedulers for concurrent profile processing
  • Urchin API
  • Automatic updates
  • Embedded help center
  • Improved lookup tables
  • New site summary report
  • And more!

That’s an impressive list of features and more will come with time!

Works with Google Analytics

Urchin 7 receives some of the best features you have been using in Google Analytics, such as the polished interface, event tracking, and advanced segments.

In addition, you can easily use both Google Analytics and Urchin 7 at the same time to leverage the power of both tools to truly become a data-driven organization!

Pricing

The price for Urchin 7 is $9995.

Any amount paid for Urchin 6 can be deducted from the price of Urchin 7 – Google’s way of making sure your Urchin 6 investment continues to pay off!

For more information about Urchin 7 or any web analytics needs, feel free to contact us and we’ll be glad to help you.

Related Posts

Aug 18
2010

As we anxiously wait for Urchin 7 to be released, a small update for Urchin 6 has come out in the form of Urchin 6.603.

Here are the top changes for this release:

  • Limit on a total number of log sources in Urchin (65000) was removed.
  • Yahoo CPC sources are disabled in Urchin 6.603.
  • Switch to AdWords API v.2009.
  • Some specific issues related to AdWords account structure download were fixed.

Check out our Urchin page for a download link.

Jul 29
2010

With the creation of smart phones and since your mobile device is conveniently available anywhere, mobile internet browsing has increased astronomically. As such, users have come to expect better experiences on their phone. Unfortunately, not all sites have a mobile version, which is a problem since there’s a good chance your site will look significantly smaller and possibly illegible on a mobile device.

This should raise a couple questions:

  1. Is your site compatible on all cellular phone platforms?
  2. Is the site being used on a cellular phone the same way it would be used on a desktop?

If you aren’t sure, don’t guess; check your analytics. Here’s a post on how to track mobile traffic.

Issues with Mobile Usability

The answer depends ultimately on the function of your site but of course regardless, browsing a website on your mobile is a much different experience than browsing on your desktop. That said here are some usability issues you may run into while browsing on your mobile:

  • Excessive Scrolling – Phones have been getting smaller and sleeker over the past couple years, which means screens are even smaller. While the width of a standard desktop screen is around 1052px, the standard width for a mobile site is 250px. Unfortunately because of the small screen restriction, viewing a site is very frustrating because of scrolling and/or zooming in. I’ve run into this problem so many times, when I search on my blackberry, I always have to zoom into the site to be able to read, which of course means I have to scroll from right to left to read the content properly.
  • Load Time – Non-mobile-friendly sites could take a long time to load.
  • Page Height – Along with having to zoom, the page could be longer than necessary, causing the user to have to scroll down.
  • Flash – If your site has flash, more than likely it will not be supported by all cell phone browsers.
  • Mobile Location – Another factor affecting mobile browsing is location of the user. While computers are generally stationary, cell phones are used everywhere (hence the world “mobile”). The contrast of the colors and font size on a site may not be legible while using a cell outdoors.

Mobile Design Tips

Here’s a list of guidelines for designing a more-user friendly mobile site:

  1. Screen Size – Design your mobile site to be 250pxE-Nor Mobile
  2. Limited content – Since the width is limited, height may be used to fill in space that is lost with width. However, it’s best to avoid having a long page of content. After all, this is a phone and is still quite small. Whether its touch screen or keys based, it’s much harder to scroll up or down than it is on a desktop.
  3. Clear action buttons – Again, since the screen is small, it’s best to make sure if you do have images to make them clear, and if that means using the whole width that’s okay. Same goes for buttons, if there is a clear action, it will be seen, so the bigger the better. I highly recommend buttons over links; specifically for touch screen users. When trying to click on a link, it’s always so hard to actually click on the correct link. The link will usually be buried within text and other links.
  4. Create a separate mobile environment – administering a site that is optimized for a desktop that is at the same time 100% mobile friendly is very difficult since both natures are completely different. That would mean you’re essentially limited to the parameters of mobile (for example, when choosing the width of images for your desktop site, you’ll be nagged by the limits of your mobile resolution). It’s best to have a separate environment specifically catered to mobile screens allowing you to have freedom in both designs.
  5. Real Estate – Mobile “real estate” is very limited; to maximize the use of space in your design, simplify your site to the very basic functions of your company. For example, if your desktop has three panes; a side menu, content, and news. The side menu may not be completely necessary, especially since the navigation on mobile and desktop is completely different.
  6. Meet the user’s needs quickly – If the South Africa World Cup is the hot topic, and you’re cnn.com, make sure that story is visible above the fold right away.
  7. Clear functions – Make things clear and easy for the user to find. If you want someone to click on a button, make it large and bright to emphasize the action. For example, on a mobile site it would be smart to have a back button rather than a link because it’ll be easier for the user to find the button than a link since a link could easily get hidden through the text.
  8. Ease of use – The user shouldn’t have to waste time scrolling up and down looking for something that should be easy to find. For example, in tip #5, I talked about “real estate.” With a limited width, you lose a lot of space for content, but what you lose in width you can make up in the height. This makes it much easier for the user to read rather than having to scroll from left to right.
  9. Browsing Links – Use only basic browsing links such as home and back, you don’t need to include the whole menu that is on your desktop site. Make sure to add the browsing links at the top and bottom of the page.
  10. Search – For some sites, it is very important to have search because the site is search based for example, Google or Target. Google is search based links, while Target is search based products. If your site is search based, including two search boxes may be really helpful. Some companies have sites that are entirely search based such as Google, their desktop and mobile site is just a search bar. As for Target and Amazon their home pages have a search bar at the top of the page with browsing links below, which is another way to go because you can browse products as well as search for them.
  11. Testing – Lastly, make sure to test the usability of the mobile site on different phone browsers. This, of course, would be a separate checklist from launching your desktop site. Keep in mind, phones can be used in any location, for example, the contrast of a screen in the sunlight, has to be legible.

Having a mobile friendly site, will make it much easier for your customer to navigate, making for a better user experience, in turn, increasing your conversion. If mobile phones make shopping more convenient, you want to make sure your site takes advantage of that trend and make it easy for users to shop for your product as well.

And now that you have a mobile site, few things to keep in mind:

  • Search engine optimization (SEO), here is a link from the Google Webmaster tool on how to Help Google Index Your Mobile Site. Mobile websites are often returned in Google mobile search results (and other search engines too) in preference to non-mobile websites.
  • And once your mobile site is ready for prime time, you might want to drive qualified traffic through paid search (aka Pay-Per-Click) on Mobile, here are some ideas from the Google AdWords blog.
  • Last but not least, you gotta measure! A separate mobile website is easier to track on all devices than an integrated website where the tracking code might not run on all devices. Try Google Analytics for Mobile.

We’re in the process of practicing what we preach, so keep an eye out for the E-Nor Mobile Site! :)

References

For more info on mobile usability check out the following references: