Responsive Design – Formal Announcement

As of May 1, 2013  Acorn Internet Services, Inc. is proud to announce that all of it’s designs, both Custom and Turnkey will be developed using Google recommended Responsive Design techniques.  By doing so, we will be one of the first in our industry to offer these designs to Innkeepers looking to stay ahead of the Google SERPs (Search Engine Result Pages) curve.

Over the last decade, we have found that by following Google’s rules and guidelines, and providing that education to our clients via Acorn University and Club 60, they often enjoy the highest possible placement in the Google SERPs . This is just one more step in providing Google what they are asking for when it comes to Web site design.

Google Responsive Design Rules

What is a Responsive Web Design?
A responsive web design is where the server always sends the same HTML code to all devices.

  • It is not a separate site on another domain www.otherdomain.com/yoururl
  • It does not have a different URL such as www.yoururl.mobi
  • It is not a sub-domain of your site such as m.yoururl.com or mobile.yoururl.com
  • It is not a plug-in that displays the content differently on a mobile device
  • It is not a sub-directory on your site such a www.yoururl.com/mobi

It is literally your full site design being “rendered” or “displayed” through elegant CSS (Cascading Style Sheet) code manipulation and JavaScript/jQuery to be seen on mobile devices in a clear and usable fashion. The content is the same, though the layout of that content is altered via CSS to provide the best possible user experience on a mobile device.

Why Choose a Responsive Web Design?
Provided from Google’s Developers Webmaster Page

  1. Using a single URL for a piece of content makes it easier for your users to interact with, share, and link to your content, and a single URL for the content helps Google’s algorithms assign the indexing properties for the content.
  2. No redirection is needed for users to get to the device-optimized view, which reduces loading time. Also, user agent-based redirection is error-prone and can degrade your site’s user experience.
  3. It saves resources for both your site and Google’s crawlers. For responsive web design pages, any Googlebot user agents needs to crawl your pages once, as opposed to crawling multiple times with different user agents, to retrieve your content. This improvement in crawling efficiency can indirectly help Google index more of the site’s contents and keep it appropriately fresh.

Sample Responsive Design LayoutA Sample Responsive Design Layout

A Responsive Design, or any Web site in general needs to be built in a specific fashion, following Google’s Design Guidelines. It is no longer just pretty photos and well written wording. Though those things are still important, there is so much more your developer is required to know how to include in your Web site code to allow Google to place your site as high as possible in the SERPs.

All our Responsive Designs include the following items as required by Google’s rules and guidelines. And even if you don’t choose Acorn IS as your Web site Design company, you MUST make sure the company you do choose understands and proves that they can code using all these items in a successful manner.

We’ve had more than one Innkeeper come to us after they’ve hired another firm to build a Responsive Design, only to lose placement with that new design. There is a specific formula (set of rules) when building a Responsive Design and then releasing it to the Search Engines. You and your developer have to have a Flawless Migration Plan, or Google is not going to receive your new site code in a successful manner for placement.

Also, you cannot simply choose a WP Theme or Template that touts it’s “Responsive” and expect it to work. We’ve experimented with many different themes, and every one of them required specialized coding to get the load time to be in an acceptable range, not to mention having the display for the mobile user experience be an enjoyable one.   IT MUST BE EASY TO USE!

In other words, before you invest in a Responsive Design, you have to choose well when you are selecting a company you wish to hire. They must have an experienced coding expert, who knows and follows all the Google rules and guidelines, or your new site may just end up looking pretty, but not help, and possibly damage, your placement in the SERPs.

DESIGN REQUIREMENT MUST HAVES

  • Author Tags [Read More]
    Author Tags are going to be even more important to Google in the future. Matt Cutts (a Google spokesperson) produced a video on this topic letting us all know this is an important part of Google’s future. [Watch Video]

Author, Publisher and Schema Tags can all be tested for valid coding practices by putting your URL into the search field on this Google Test Site.

  • Unique Meta Tags and Descriptions on all Pages [Read More]
    You will see errors in your Webmaster Tools if you don’t have Unique Meta Tags and Descriptions on all your pages.
  • Easy to Use Mobile Navigation
    A Responsive Design MUST have its navigation coded to change from a Desktop style navigation to a Mobile style navigation. You can see a Mobile style navigation to the right. Also, to provide the best user experience to your Mobile clients, it’s best not to simply allow your Mobile site to default to the grey window drop-down box (as seen below). This does not create an enjoyable user experience.  It would be better if the menu had been actually coded by the programmer to produce a quality, easy to use, Mobile Navigation as seen in the sample display at the right.

Not the best Mobile Navigation

  • Social Media Share Buttons
    As Mobile devices become the primary choice of web access for your customers, Share Buttons become more important to allow your visitors to share your information with their friends and followers, especially on your Mobile site!
  • A Great User Experience No Matter What Size Device
    Your programmer needs to be able to display your Desktop content on any variety of screen sizes and have each size offer the best possible user experience.  This includes appropriate navigation, image load sizes, content and speed.  The symmetry and balance of your Desktop content when displayed on smaller devices require effort by your programmer to appear balanced and visually appealing to your user.  “Out of the Box”  Responsive designs do not automatically produce a good Mobile user experience.  It requires both development, code and testing to achieve quality results.
  • Physical Image Size
    On a Desktop display, large photos can range up into the 1000 pixel range. This larger desktop image SHOULD NOT BE USED on the mobile display. A physically smaller image in the 300 pixel range will ensure your mobile speed load time is not impacted. Learn more about Mobile Speed penalties below. Many programmers and per-defined themes simply make the 1000 pixel image LOOK smaller by scaling it down visually, which is not good for your load time on a mobile device.
  • Visual Content (Wording) Adjustments
    On a Desktop site, you should have a good amount of unique, quality content. This is needed for well ranking SEO (Search Engine Optimization) purposes. Remember, your placement on Mobile SERPs evaluate the desktop SEO coding (Content and Metas). Though on a Mobile site display, it’s best to give your user the option to “READ MORE” so that they are not overwhelmed looking at so much content on a smaller screen. See example to the right.
  • One-to-One Content Inclusion from Desktop to Mobile
    Remember that Google’s Responsive Design guidelines instruct that your Responsive Design should “serve the same HTML to all devices”. This means that you MUST have all the content from the Desktop display be accessible on the Mobile Display. Your Mobile display will NOT say “View Full Site” as this is a Responsive Design, so your programmer cannot arbitrarily remove content from the Full Site. It all has to be accessible from the Mobile display.
  • CSS Buttons replace Full Screen Call to Actions
    On a Mobile display, it’s best to provide click-able Call-to-Action buttons that a fingertip can actually click on easily. This means the programmer needs to code such buttons as part of the CSS Mobile display, and not just “render” these Call-to-Action buttons identically as they appear on the Desktop display.
  • Clickable Phone Number or Icon
    On a Mobile device, your phone number one of the best ways to have a potential customer contact you, considering they are HOLDING THE PHONE IN THEIR HAND, as they read your Web page information. Your Mobile display should have simple Call-to-Action Buttons or Phone Number above the fold, easily visible and clickable for the user.
  • Google Analytics (GA) [Read More]
    When you build a new site, your Webmaster should re-install your GA account so your tracking CONTINUES and does not START OVER.
  • Google Webmaster Tools [Read More]
    All Websites should have Google Webmaster Tools Installed. This is the Tool where Google will TELL YOU what is wrong with your site, and offer suggestions on fixing those issues.
  • Speed, Speed, Speed [Read More]
    We cannot say enough about the speed of your Desktop site load time, and especially your Mobile site load time. Google just released information regarding Mobile Site Speed Penalties if your mobile site is slow to load. They are clear that slow loading Mobile Sites will not receive as high of Mobile SERPs placement as those that load fast. Site speed can be tested and recommendations found via Google’s Pagespeed Insights testing tool. Our current rule of thumb is we want your score for either Desktop or Mobile testing to be at least an 86 or higher. The higher the score the better.
  • Server Protection from Hackers
    Most Responsive Themes today start with a WordPress CMS tool. If your new Responsive site is being built with WordPress, make sure you choose well when you choose a hosting company. WordPress requires MUCH maintenance and best efforts to keep your site protected from Hackers. You need to discuss this with your hosting company to make sure it’s part of your payment plan to keep your site as safe as possible from Hackers.
  • Flawless Migration Plan
    So many Web design firms are only concerned with the “LOOK” of a new site. They don’t spend any effort on SEO or the Google Guidelines. If you do not have a Flawless Migration Plan IE: One that leaves NO ROOM for error, when your site goes live, Google is not going to look on the new site favorably and your placement can drop. Old pages and new pages should not mix in the indexes. They should redirect. A Migration Plan takes a lot of time and effort if done properly. This should begin even before you start the new design process, to make sure all old files are identified and handled properly when the new site goes live. A simple redirect to the home page from all of the old files is NOT the best way to handle a migration to a new site for highest possible placement. Though this tactic may be the quickest, it is the least valuable solution when loading your new design online.

If you are interested in receiving a bid for a Custom or Turnkey Responsive Design, please contact us at sales@acorn-is.com

A Special Note For Our Existing Turnkey Design Clients
We are offering the special price of $500 to upgrade your existing Turnkey Site with Mobile Plug-In to our Responsive Design theme.  If your Turnkey site went live before May 1, 2013 and are interested in upgrading, please contact us at sales@acorn-is.comDon’t know if your site is eligible?  See the list below!

Existing Turnkey Design Clients that are eligible for $500 Responsive Upgrade (as of June 17, 2013)
– Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
– All Seasons Fredericksburg
– Alpine Haus Bed and Breakfast
– American Guest House
– Applewood Colonial
– Beavers Bend Creative Escapes
– Buck House Inn on Bald Mountain Creek
– Bushnell & Bushnell Services
– Casale Monastero su Colle
– Flag House Inn
– Franklin Victorian Bed and Breakfast
– Garver House Bed and Breakfast
– Green Cat Guest House B&B
– Harrell House Bed and Breakfast
– Highlawn Inn
– Homestead Cottages
– Isaiah Jones Homestead Bed & Breakfast
– Lago Vista Bed and Breakfast
– Lavender Heights Bed and Breakfast
– NuWray
– Olympic View Bed and Breakfast Cottage
– Red Bud Cove
– Robert Frost Mountain Cabins
– Steeles Tavern Manor Bed and Breakfast
– Terrapin Peak Bed Breakfast and Beyond
– The Firelight Inn on Oregon Creek Bed and Breakfast
– The Guest House Bed and Breakfast (Seattle)
– The Hancock Inn
– The Homestead Cottages
– The Inn at Harbour Ridge
– Virginia Inn Brokers (TMG)
– Walnut Lawn Bed & Breakfast
– Water’s Edge Inn
– Whispering Pines Bed & Breakfast

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