Does Mobile Matter to Your Business? [It Should]

Unless you’ve been hibernating for the last few years, you already know that the majority of internet users are searching, finding and viewing stuff on their mobile devices. Because of that, Google has decided to make mobile usability a priority when ranking websites. In other words, if there are two websites that answer the same search query, Google will show the one that is mobile friendly first — “Mobile First Indexing“. That could make a huge difference to your business if you’re trying to drive potential customers from Google search.

So now that we’ve established the importance of mobile, let’s get back to our discussion about whether you need a mobile site or app for your business. To recap, in my last post I discussed how to determine if you need a website for your business. The answer was that it depends on your business, your business objectives, target market and competition.

Assuming that you’ve done the analysis and decided to build a website for your business, the next question you need to answer is what to do about mobile. How are you going to accommodate the 50%+ users who will be viewing your website on a mobile device?

There are several options:

  • Responsive Website
  • Mobile version of website
  • Native smartphone application

Responsive Website

Responsive design means that your web pages will look good on devices of different sizes. The same page will look good on a laptop, ipad and iphone. The way that you accomplish this is by making the elements on your web page scale, and by hiding and displaying elements, based on the size of the browser that is rendering it. The actual coding involved in making this happen is beyond the scope of this post and, frankly, probably not something you’re very interested in knowing.

The important thing to understand is that a responsive website will look good on mobile, and thus satisfy users as well as Google. Therefore, when you build your website, it’s imperative to make sure that you make it responsive.

Building a responsive website is pretty standard these days, especially if you use WordPress, Wix, Sqaurespace or any other platform with professionally designed themes or templates. But surprisingly enough, I still see plenty of websites that are not mobile responsive.

There could be several reasons for this:

  1. You (or your designer) did not properly utilize the built in settings for responsiveness included in the theme you’re using.
  2. You should either hide or display a mobile compatible version or certain elements on your web page. You haven’t done either.
  3. Your web page has a custom design that simply doesn’t work on mobile. In this case you’ll have to either modify the design or create a mobile version it.
  4. You haven’t even bothered to view your website on phone. If you did you would have immediately noticed that your website sucks on mobile, and fixed the problem.

Before you build a site make sure you or your web design team know that it MUST be responsive. If you already have a site, take a look at it on mobile — and then fix it.

Mobile Version of Website

In most standard websites you”ll be fine using the same site for both desktop and mobile by using responsive design. There are, however, cases where you’ll need to create a full mobile version of your website.

Here are a few possibilities:

  1. You already have a huge website with hundreds of unique pages that would need to be updated to be made responsive. In this case you can either modify each page, which could end up breaking the site as a result of human error (which happens quite often) OR you can simply design a mobile friendly site from scratch and import your content.
  2. You want to show your mobile users a great deal of content that’s different from what you’re showing your desktop users. Why would you want to do that? Well, maybe your analytics is showing that your desktop users are all middle age and up and your mobile users are millennials. Or you know that users speaking a specific language are usually only viewing your site on mobile, and you want to create a mobile site in that language.
  3. You have separate teams in different locations maintaining each respective site.

Building a separate mobile site is at least double the work (and requires double the maintenance) but it does give you the freedom to be super specific in your targeting and create the best experience possible for each respective device.

Native Smart Phone App

When I brainstorm new business ideas with my wife, she always will throw out ideas for apps. “How about an app for …..” , to which my response is usually something like, “why does it need to be an app?”

The “app” usually referred to by people is a native iphone or android app (depending on who you’re hanging with). A native app is a software program developed for a specific device, which takes full advantage of the elements of that devices operating system. It is downloaded by the user onto his or her personal phone, so it does not require wifi to use. And it can access and integrate with other phone elements such as phone, photos and contacts.

If your website needs to integrate with a mobile device, then you should definitely consider developing a a native app. Just bear in mind that it costs a heck of a lot more to develop a native app — at least a custom one. So if your website is primarily informational, then you’ll probably manage very nicely with a responsive site or a mobile version.

But if your application needs to track your user’s location and access the phones camera (for example), then a native app is the way to go. Also, if speed is of the essence, then a native app will be much better, since it does not need the internet (wifi) to work.

Example: Dating App

A great example of a business that might need a native app is a dating site.

Before the advent of Tinder, most dating sites were websites. Then the Tinder app came along and introduced the swiping feature, which is a feature of the smartphone. It also tapped into the phone’s GPS and let you find matches around you.

While people still use dating websites, way more use Tinder and other native apps. In the younger demographic, most use the apps exclusively because of the convenience and the swiping and GPS features. You just can’t beat the swiping!

So if you’re planning to launch a dating business, you pretty much MUST have a native app, unless you’re going for the senior citizen crowd (which might actually not be a bad idea — and plenty of people are already targeting that demographic).

Bottom Line

To determine what kind of mobile presence you should create, analyze your business objectives, target market and competition. If you are primarily informational, you can stick with your original website, as long as it’s mobile compatible. Or you can create a separate mobile version.

If your business objective and target market requires a native app, there are ways of getting one built which will not break your bank. For basic apps there are off the shelf app builder solution like Shoutem and Appypie that charge a relatively small monthly fee, where you can get a basic app onto the iphone app store for around $30 per month.

Of course if you want something custom and sophisticated you’ll need to invest in an app developer, which could run you from a few thousand to, well…the sky’s the limit. It all depends on your specs and the developer you choose.

Do you really need a website for your business? [the answer might surprise you]

You’re launching a new business. Or maybe you’ve been in the same business for 30 years. In either case, you’ve decided that you need to build a website and do some digital marketing because…well, you’re not really sure why, other than because everyone else is. Not a very strategic way of investing money and resources.

Before you invest money or other resources into a website or digital marketing, you MUST have a strategy. It doesn’t have to be a 25 page document with graphs and advanced statistical formulas and analysis. You can spend tens of thousands of dollars on that once you’ve got a fortune 500 company. For now what you need is a clear idea of your business objectives, target market and competition.

Let’s expand on these 3 elements for each item you want to invest in, starting with a website (I’ll go through other digital marketing tactics in future posts).

Should you invest in a website for your business?

Business Objective

Let’s take it as a given that the primary objective for any business is to make money. So the question becomes, how is a website going to help you make money?


If you’re selling products (ecommerce) then you definitely need to have a website on which to sell on. The question then becomes, does the website need to be your own?

Thousands of successful merchants do all, or at least the bulk, of their selling on,, and other online marketplaces. The reason for this is because they realize that these marketplaces are where millions of people go to shop every day. How many potential customers will be visiting their own website? Definitely not as many (I think that’s safe to say).

And driving traffic to a company website will require investing in PPC ads, SEO, content marketing and social media campaigns — all the stuff that the major marketplaces are already doing. True, you will be paying some of that cost in the form of commissions to the marketplace. But most merchants understand that it’s worth paying, since they could never drive enough traffic to their own websites to match what they’re getting on the marketplaces.

Now there are reasons why you might want to sell your products exclusively on your own website including:

  1. To build your brand
  2. To avoid getting your prices discounted by Amazon (especially if you’re offering Prime).
  3. To avoid getting copied and undercut by competitors
  4. To capture emails of potential customers and then remarket to them

You can, of course, also sell on Amazon and other marketplaces as well as on your own website.

If you do decide to sell products on your own website, you’ll then need to decide whether to create a custom site or use a hosted ecommerce solution such as Shopify or BigCommerce. Your custom site will most likely be built using an ecommerce plugin like Woocommerce (for WordPress), Magento or OpenCart.


Whether or not you use it to conduct ecommerce, a website is a powerful tool for branding. Despite what your mom told you, people DO judge books by covers, and they will most likely create their first impression of your company based on your website. A modern, user-friendly and informative website will create a positive impression. It will tell potential customers that you are trustworthy, knowledgable and dependable. A crappy website will do just the opposite.

Because of the importance of that first impression, I’d recommend not having a website rather than having a mediocre one.

If I can rant about this for just a moment…I’ll sometimes see someone in my network sharing their brand new website. I’ll check it out and to put it mildly, I’m underwhelmed. It’s usually a Wix or Squarespace template, which is not necessarily a bad thing. Except that they haven’t applied any sort of design sense to make the template look good. So it looks like a million other mediocre websites built on these platforms.

Now, I understand the budgetary constraints of a small business or startup, and if you’re opening a neighborhood cookie shop, then this might be the right direction for you. But the people launching these mediocre (at best) sites are professionals trying to sell expensive consulting services to companies or other professionals. If I’m going to hire a high priced consultant for my company, it’s not going to be the one using a $10 per month Wix template.

In other words, if you’re trying to sell services for thousands of dollars, you need to invest in a website that portrays you as an experienced professional worthy of your fees.

To understand more about building your own website, read this post. Rant over.

Even if you sell products exclusively on Amazon, it’s still useful to have a website where customers can go to see the company behind the product they’re purchasing. And it better look respectable, or you’ll probably lose the sale.

Information Hub

If you’ve got information to share about your company, product or service, then you need a place to store that information. A website is a perfect information hub where people can learn all about you and your offerings. But if you just have a page or 2 of information, then a Linkedin or Facebook page could do the job just fine. Again, I’d recommend that over a mediocre website.

Onrush Digital Linkedin Page

Onrush Digital Linkedin Page

Target Market

Who is your target customer? How do they engage with you?

These are key questions to determine whether or not you need a website. Let’s focus on the cases where you would not need a website, since they are less common.

  1. Local based on-demand service
    Plumbers, electricians — any kind of service that you need NOW can do just fine with a Google Business page (to make sure you get into the Google local listings) and a Facebook page. Any ads you run will have your phone number, which is how people will be contacting you. Your local pizza place can probably do fine with the same. If you want pizza, looking at Facebook page to order will do it for you.
  2. Entertainment related
    Entertainers can showcase themselves nicely on Facebook and Instagram, since a good deal of what they do is visual and can be expressed in a few good photos. How much do you really need to know about the juggler you’re hiring for your 5 year old’s birthday party? You’ll usually find them on a service websites like Thumbtack or Bark.

Of course, don’t forget Youtube — where you can post as many videos as you need to explain and showcase your product or service. Google also likes showing Youtube (which it owns) video in its search results, so it’s a great SEO strategy too!

If you’re a service provider or a small local business, you can most likely do fine using social media and a Google business page. But if you’re a company or consultant, you should have a website — as long as it’s a quality one. If you can’t afford one, then stick to social and Google page.


Finally, to determine whether or not you need a website, look at your direct competition. If someone does a Google search for plumbers and the top 2 local results are you, with no website, and your competitor with a website, the searcher will most likely click on your competitor’s website. Of course, if it’s really shitty they might move on to the next listing. But they will probably be wondering why you don’t have a website and assume that you’re “old fashioned” and behind the times. For a plumber that might not matter that much. For other services it could be a deal breaker.

For services which are not required at that very moment (like all types of consulting), consumers will spend time researching options on the internet. That means they’ll visit a bunch of websites and try to decide whom to contact based on their first impressions. We spoke about this in the branding section above.

Bottom line: if your direct competitors have a quality website, you’d better have one too (preferably a better one).

Take Aways

  1. Before investing money or resources in a website for your business, review your business objectives, target market and competition to determine whether you actually need one or whether you can do fine with a Google Business Page and social media pages and posts.
  2. No website is better than a mediocre one.
  3. People will judge you by the impression they get from your website.
  4. If you’re trying to sell expensive products or services, you need a website that reflects that. Unless you personally are a designer and writer, you’ll need to invest in professionals to get the job done right.

Stay Tuned

In my next post I’ll speak about whether you need to invest in a mobile site or app.

How to complete and launch your website on time [and why it’s so hard to do that]

Most companies looking to build new websites (or redesign old ones) focus almost exclusively on design. They want a site that is modern looking, professional, clean — all important design elements. They usually have an example or 2 of websites that they’d like to emulate. But they usually say nothing about content. They have a general idea of what they think they want on the site, but they haven’t taken any concrete steps to create or organize that content.

While the design of your website is important in representing your image and brand, it’s the content of your site that will inform, engage and convert visitors into customers. Your content is also what Google uses to decide how often to display you in its search results.

So why are companies so unprepared when it comes to the content for their new website?

Because creating and organizing content is hard. Really hard.

Creating Website Content

Here are the steps involved:

  1. Strategy
    Before you write a single word you should know what the objective of your website it. If it’s only to serve as an online brochure, then you might just need a few pages of informative content about your company. If you want it to drive traffic from search, then you’ll need a lot more content focusing on the keywords you’re trying to target. If your website will be instructing and supporting customers, you’ll need to have in-depth technical content. In many cases you might have a combination of several objectives required a variety of content. Determining a content strategy is a vital step in the web development process that cannot be skipped, but it often is, simply because companies are not even aware it exists.

  2. Structure
    Once you’ve determined your strategic objectives and the type and quantity of content you’ll need, it’s time to create the content structure of your site. A simple example might be – Home – About – Services – Blog – Contact. Each of these main categories will probably have subcategories. So the About category might have History – Values – Team – Testimonials. Some of these might have subcategories of their own.If you have multiple services, you might decide to create a unique page for each. Some of those subpages might also have their own sub-pages.

    For example:content structure

    In the diagram, Services has 3 subpages. The Programming subpage has 5 subpages.

    Create a flow chart is one effective way of organizing the content structure of your website and determining what pieces of content you need to create.

  3. Curation
    Some, or even all, of the content you need for your website might already exist within your company, on your old website, brochure, catalogue, support materials, manuals etc. You might have the perfect images on your hard drive. Before creating any new content, review the content you already have. Much of it might need to be be updated and optimized, but it’s usually easier and time efficient to do that as opposed to starting from scratch.

  4. Creation
    After you’ve curated your existing content it’s time to start creating any new content you need.

Design vs. Content

The entire content process is daunting for many companies, especially if they don’t have dedicated marketers or writers on staff. Web design agencies need to step up and do whatever it takes to move the project along. That includes writing the content for the client. The client still has to provide an outline or notes, but the agency should create the actual content.

The problem here is that since companies are almost exclusively focused on design when seeking an agency to build their website, they often end up hiring a designer who might be an expert at design, but not at content strategy, structure and creation or SEO. These designers usually price projects for less than full service agencies, because they’re only taking design into account.

Sometime, when I quote a price for a website project, the client will show me a lower quote from a designer. My response is usually — I can give you the same price for the design, but then I’m also adding content, SEO, marketing strategy etc. Hence, the higher price.


Content is usually what delays website projects for months and even years. Making sure that doesn’t happen is a team effort between the client and web agency.

Here’s what the client needs to do:

  1. Hire an agency that has content expertise in its tool kit.
  2. Designate a capable staff member to gather together and curate all of your inhouse content.
  3. Be responsive to the requests of your agency for outlines, notes, content and feedback.

Here’s what the agency needs to do:

  1. Help the client clearly define the website objectives
  2. Guide the client in organizing the structure of the website (flowcharts help).
  3. Give the client detailed instructions of what you need them to provide, with specific examples.