How Your Business Can Adapt to Digital

How Your Business Can Adapt to Digital
With more than a quarter of web traffic now coming from cellphones and tablets, a website should look good from any device.

Let’s face it: The world has gone digital. Upward of ninety percent of adults in this country access the Internet everyday, and more than half of them do it from little devices that fit in their pockets. Since the Pew Research Center started tracking Internet usage on cell phones in 2009, the percentage of adults using their phones to access the Internet has doubled. In fact, in 2014 mobile web usage is projected to take over desktop web usage for the first time. So if you’re a business looking to capture some market share this year, you’re going to need to meet the customer where he or she is—and that’s online, and increasingly from mobile. That means having a website that’s optimized to view on a smaller screen and possibly building a mobile app, two things that are no longer reserved for big biz and tech firms.

DATA: Pew Internet & American Life Project

of people accessing the Internet via phone are more likely to buy from a mobile-friendly site. (Google)

of adults now use social networking of some kind. (Pew Research Center)

of online adults now use multiple social networking sites. (Pew Research Center)

DATA: Walker Sands

Local tech company Drifty builds software to help other businesses create their own apps without having to code much themselves. We talked with co-founder and CEO Ben Sperry about the changes he’s seeing in the industry.

Who are Drifty’s clients? Everyone from the individual who’s interested in learning how to build an app for himself, to a mom and pop shop that wants a mobile presence and doesn’t have the skills to code or can’t afford to hire an expensive developer, to bigger businesses who have teams of developers who use our products to speed up their development processes.

Has there been a change in demand for apps? I think so. When we started out in 2011, mobile was just gaining momentum. The idea that you couldn’t just have a desktop website wasn’t there yet. Now mobile is just dominating the market. And it’s growing. There’s no sign of slowing.

Why do your clients want mobile apps? It’s better business for them. They know a lot of their clientele or potential clientele find them through mobile phones. Someone is less likely to become a customer if the website doesn’t look good on their phone or tablet.

Are we at the point where a business will focus more on its mobile presence than on a traditional website? The trend of more people accessing the web from their phones will continue, but I don’t think we’ll have to get rid of having a desktop presence. There is a new philosophy called “mobile first,” where you build a mobile site before you build a desktop site. It actually can be more beneficial because you have to cut some things out, which makes the site more streamlined for the user.

Any trends for 2014 in the app-building world?  A lot of people want to incorporate “flat design” into their apps. It’s simpler and cleaner than previous design trends that tried to represent something that people were used to in real life—e.g. a button has a shadow to mimic a real button so you know to push it. Over time we’ve gotten better at using mobile phones. Now we don’t need it to look like a button we’d see in real life.

In his fifteen years as a web designer, Joseph Roy has witnessed a lot of change in how businesses utilize the Internet. He’s the web administrator for a division of the Wisconsin Department of Transportation and owns RoyTek Website Designs, plus he teaches at Madison College, giving him plenty of perspectives on how we’re adapting to the new web. On the small business side, Roy has seen former RoyTek clients return since the economic downturn. “Now people are realizing [having a web presence] is a necessity” and worth the investment, Roy says. And with the near-ubiquity of company websites, Roy is seeing a spike in interest from people wanting the skills to build and maintain their own sites. “It’s becoming a large part of a lot of people’s regular jobs,” he says. Training and consultant work has become a larger part of Roy’s business, and he works closely with members of the Madison Black Chamber of Commerce, of which he is president.