Why Responsive Design Is Marketing’s Greatest Challenge

ALT="Mobile Friendly, Soulati Media"On April 21, 2015, Google will begin to label websites ‘mobile friendly.’ That means your website must be responsive and work on all sizes of screens and most of all smartphones and tablets. As is customary, Google is highly likely to label a site ‘non-mobile friendly’ in SERPS and ding your traffic, too. Is your site mobile friendly? You can test your site if you don’t know; click the link I just shared.

Two years ago, the call to make websites mobile responsive was rampant; yet, few truly new what that meant. I can tell you from experience two years later only a handful know the inside and out of responsive design. Responsive websites are marketing’s greatest challenge.
In my blended marketing firm, websites are one of the service offerings. From message mapping and copywriting to photography and design, a website is a critical component of a company’s marketing. And then there’s the backend of the site that now includes responsive design. It’s the latter that’s wreaking havoc among all businesses because it’s so new.

Perhaps the biggest developers for the largest corporations know what it takes to execute responsive design right, but what about the little guy?

There are thousands of businesses of all sizes caught in the responsive-design maelstrom right now. We consultants MUST do a better job communicating the intricate details and requirements of this burgeoning arena.

The Basics of Responsive Design for WordPress

In WordPress, a responsive design means your site will automagically resize for the 80+ screen sizes throughout the world. You know – all the smart devices and tablets, plus computer screens and now internet TVs. And when the user visits your website from a mobile device (not from a hardwired computer), your website is presented with all the navigation and calls to action neatly positioned on top.

If you elect not to take the plunge into responsive design, then you lose. You turn away traffic, you will not convert leads, you are ignorant of mobile marketing, and basically the finicky and demanding consumer will pick your competitor down the street.
Responsive design is here, now. It’s the ONLY way to code a website today; yet too many companies are still saying NO.

Communicating About Responsive Design

When you migrate your website from a WordPress template to a responsive template or custom build, there are a ton of coding, testing, sizing, more testing on all the devices, hosting, and security issues. How do you vet a web designer who has this knowledge? Is there any way to tell if you’ve hired the right team? What about the actual template selected? How do you know if it’s the right one?

Let me share the lightbulb moment:


Now that we’re all on the same page with utter chaos, let me share a few examples why I’m qualified to write about this topic.

Soulati Media Can Do 90 Percent Of Your Website

That’s an astonishing statement, right? If you hire me to do your website, I can do 90 percent of it extremely well. The other 10 percent not so much. When you read the examples below, you’ll see what I mean about that 10% that won’t go according to plan. It’s the gray area that no one has control over, and it’s the area causing the most headaches.

Client 1
A client recently spent $20,000 to get a website designed from scratch in WordPress (I know, crazy, right?). Turns out that spend did not include responsive design although it was promised. The team hired used coders in Brazil and each time they touched a page it was developed in a hodge-podge way. Two years later, the client agreed to spend another $2,000 to redesign the site into a mobile responsive custom build. The designers, BlueHost Design, did a phenomenal job. Alas, the client did not like how the new site looked although it was nearly the same as the original site, and she demanded her original site be restored. The site is now no longer responsive, and the new responsive site is sitting dormant on a development server.

Client 2
A small business had a six-year-old dormant website being hosted with a reseller. The reseller refused to turn over access to the domain registrar to transfer the site to a true host and has convinced the client this is not necessary. Upon the build of a new website using a WordPress template and its uploading to the business’s host, the site was the subject of a total hack attack from Turkey. At one point the entire site was replaced with Islamic music and Turkish gobble. The hackers left their identity on the site, and I reported them to Facebook and government agencies. The original team installed an older template that was not properly responsive. It took a second developer team to uncover all the issues with the site and recode the backend. Once the security plug in, Wordfence, was installed, the site did not work with Internet Explorer/Bing, and the developer had to call for technical support to fix this. The client insists on using IE as their preferred browser, although among the four browsers, IE is the least reliable and is being rebuilt. The site was tested on all the screen sizes, and it took two weeks to consistently test and recode parameters to address all the responsive issues. For now, the site is secure, quiet, responsive, and stable. It works on all screen sizes and with all browsers. It took my team three weeks to fix design, update code, work through a 7-day hack attack, improve security issues, and address daily issues with the technology.

Client 3
I have consistently rebuilt my website and invested in advancing my brand to follow industry trends. The point is that everyone is learning at the same time. When I thought I bought a responsive design, it turns out it was merely mobile ready. So, it was back to the drawing board to re-invest again to add the appropriate bells and whistles. My website has gone through about six iterations each with new back-end upgrades demanded by technology disruption.

My biggest piece of advice is what anyone will tell you – you get what you pay for. If you try to scrimp on the edges, then the inside deflates. Please invest the proper amount of budget into your website and be very happy with the outcome.

Tips to Communicate With Clients About Responsive Design

To wrap this up, here are my tips on how to prepare a client for a responsive design project. Each is very important and this should ensure everyone is tracking and prevent misunderstanding.

1. Ensure your client knows the definition of responsive design and why it’s a requirement
2. Let a client know that the entire site is going to be rebuilt with new code
3. Ensure the web host is qualified to handle new site designs, has server security, is accessible to the web team 24/7 for support, and all passwords are in hand to access cPanel and ftp
4. Discuss each step in the process to migrate an old site to a new template or custom build
5. Review the budget required for re-coding and migration; testing; security
6. Review the timeline for this migration and ensure additional what-if time is built in
7. Address the browser issues and ensure all browsers are up to date among all users
8. Ask the client to test the site and help find broken links or unresponsiveness
9. Review the budget and ensure there is enough to accomplish all of the above!

Questions Marketers Should Ask The Web Team

These are the basic questions to pose with ANY web developer team you hire. If the answers are not to your satisfaction or your instinct is flaring, then please trust yourself and move on. Finding the right web partner is so critical.

1. How many WordPress responsive design websites have you built?
2. Were they template migrations or custom builds?
3. How do you know a template is the most current version for responsive design?
4. How will you inform me a template is out-of-date, supported by a developer or ready for responsive design?
5. Are you a designer only? Who on your team is the developer? How deep is your web team?
6. How long have you been in this business?
7. Have you ever managed website security issues – hacks or malicious files?
8. Are you accessible for crisis management evenings and weekends if there’s a hack?
9. Once a site launches live, what do you do immediately following during transition?
10. What security plugins do you recommend for WordPress sites?
11. Share the most challenging responsive design project you’ve ever completed
12. What are the top three risk areas you will be watchful for?
13. How will you bill for this project? At what point are you going to nickel and dime and what’s the best way to make this relationship mutually beneficial?
14. I don’t want my site held hostage because you’re waiting for money. This happens all the time and I need to hear your philosophy and work ethic.
15. Why should I hire you over another developer?
16. What size of customer are you comfortable working with?

These issues will continue to plague marketers and clients. Only when everyone can get on the very same page and understand all the ins and outs will an experience go well. Over communicate and over explain and overdo the due diligence.
The reason above are real and true and based on solid, direct experience. Managing that 10 percent gray area is where the headaches reside. And, here’s the final nugget — it’s technology, folks! It’s going to break and get fixed.

There Is No Online Invasion Of Privacy!

Image representing Microsoft as depicted in Cr...

Image via CrunchBase

Last week I read an article by Matt Wilson via PR Daily. Titled, “Microsoft reportedly accessed blogger’s email to trace rogue employee”, the company was called out legally snooping in the blogger’s email, despite its Hotmail privacy policy.

Long story short, Microsoft is reviewing and “evolving” their policies after being reminded of its extreme criticism of the big G.

At the end of Matt’s article, he asks you if Microsoft’s promise to be more careful is enough. GO THERE to post your answer. [Read more…]

The Consumer Electronics Show, Cisco And AT&T


Everywhere you look, news of the Consumer Electronics Show this week in Las Vegas is rampant. The biggest names in sliced bread and IT will be present hawking their wares. My head is already spinning, and I’m not even there.

I’m going to predict, however, that Cisco and AT&T will steal thunder from many a company. I can promise that automobile manufacturers will have their hay day, too, as we’ve already seen new predictions about mobile computing in vehicles, new apps and email built into dashboards, self-parking cars for those who can’t parallel park, and autos that anticipate an accident before it occurs. BMW is a leader in consumer technology to elevate the status of the lowly automobile.


In a full-page, color ad in the Wall Street Journal (yes, I’ve told you before, I read that thing in hard copy every darn day and tear out and mark up the stories I want to reference right here), Cisco published the most eye-catching ad to launch The Internet of Everything.

Now as a hashtag, too, #IofE is just about every innovation bridging IT (internet technology) with consumers’ private lives, mostly in the home. Featuring sensors, apps, tags, and other IT gizmos, products and environments will turn into responsive devices.

  • Pill bottles will get empty and submit a refill to the pharmacist.
  • Clothing will detect when the kids get a fever.
  • Wearable tech is even now all the rage; it’s the biggest trend for the next two years hands down.
  • If the baseball breaks the window, an email shows up with recommendations for glass companies right in the neighborhood.


Did you see its TV ad when the kids meet the parents at the get-away cabin? The dad asks if they locked down the house, and they said sure. When dad uses his smartphone to check, he clicks through and shuts down the lights, TV, thermostat, security system, and anything else electronically digitized. He probably closes the refrigerator door, too.

I wonder what all this innovation will do to the world? Will it create the haves and have nots, just like the current income disparity crisis in the country? Probably.

Recently, I went shopping for kidlet’s first mobile phone. There were only two models available not smartphones. Knowing those two models would soon be obsolete and I’d have to buy a smartphone anyway, I took the $.99 plunge for the iPhone 4S. Where they get you is in the data plan; that monthly fee to keep all the cell numbers functioning with Internet access.

I wonder how much it would be for me to wire up my house and connect every gizmo and gadget to AT&T. I also want to know how much Cisco is going to charge to “unlock the $19 trillion in potential opportunity.”

What do you think? Are we ready for this kind of exponential growth in smart technology to invade our homes? We may as well just turn over the keys to privacy right now; once the house is wired to a “secure” network via the behemoths, then Big Data is really going to the moon, eh?

Cisco & AT&T

I’m leaving you with this gem of a find via YouTube. I went looking for the AT&T home security commercial and look what I found? These two giants are already collaborating. As of exactly one year ago, this interview ran featuring peeps from each company. Take a look; it explains a ton about what’s happening in your home security automation.

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Hoop.la: An Online Community Platform For Your Social Hub

hoopla.logo.pngRecently, my good friend, Rosemary O’Neill, President of Social Strata, was good enough to grant me an interview about the most #RockHot name for a company solution I know — Hoop.la. We originally met via Social Slam, my used-to-be-favorite spring fling that is now defunct. I love to give her grief about her crazy Twitter handle (@rhogroupee) and for that she’s now affectionately called RoHo. In all seriousness, her company’s latest community application is pretty cool, and we’re sharing here in a Q&A that’s sure to get your juices flowing, so grab a spittoon.

What is a Hoop.la? Do you have to sing that?
First of all Jayme, I love the way you say “Hoop.la!”  Hoop.la is an online community application that integrates blog, forums, chat, calendar, and media/file uploads in an easy-to-use (and mobile-friendly) interface. It’s SaaS, so there’s no software to install, no plug-ins. Hoop.la was first released in 2010, and is currently supporting over 4,000 sites serving millions of page views every day.

Who would need this?
Well, we’ve got customers ranging from small non-profits using our free Hoop.la Spark plan to run their donor/volunteer communities all the way up to Pro Enterprise-level deployments for Rodale’s Runner’s World Magazine community. If you’re a business looking to create a social hub on your own website, and wanting to pull together your crazy array of social “outposts” (as Chris Brogan calls them), you might want to check out Hoop.la.

Do I have to give up my WordPress blog?
No. That’s the cool thing. Hoop.la is designed to be really flexible, so that you can turn off or on any of the modules (like blogging or chat) with the click of a button. We also offer import services, if you do decide to bring over your existing blog or forum content from another platform.

How can you fit Hoop.la in with the rest of your website?
You can easily make custom pages within Hoop.la that have any HTML you like. Also, there are built-in widgets that are embeddable on your existing site; so, for example, if you want to pop a widget that shows recent forum topics on your home page, you can do it with the click of a button. No geekery required. (However, if you’re feeling saucy, you can access the custom CSS to really tailor the look and feel.)

hoopla-splash-image.jpgHow is this better than just using a Facebook page?
Would you like to be earning SEO juice for yourself instead of Mark Zuckerberg? We definitely aren’t saying you don’t need Facebook; however, every business should have their own social “center of gravity” that’s under their direct control. With Hoop.la you own the data and you control the experience, period. We have lots of customers who are successfully cross-pollinating from their Facebook page to their Hoop.la site, making even more engagement opportunities.

Can I use it for private or internal communities too?
Definitely! Hoop.la is designed with really granular permissions, so you can keep the whole site public, or you can restrict certain features or forums, and you can even monetize certain activities with built-in premium memberships (no merchant account required). Long John Silver’s is using Hoop.la for its private, internal franchisee community.

Hoop.la is worth checking out, Jayme adds. Please do reach Roho aka Rosemary O’Neill at 206-283-5999 ext 106 for a demo.

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Fashion Brands And Fashionbi Big Data


Credit: Fashionbi Newspaper screenshot via http://fashionbi.com

The world’s largest fashion brands are ubiquitous. Every developed country and most every woman within yearns for a stylish handbag by Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Gucci, Hermes, Dior, Prada, or Yves St. Laurent. Across worldwide time zones and language barriers, a high-end and classy handbag requires no translation.

A handbag from either of these brands is more important than just being chic. Women in Hong Kong short on cash are using their hand bags from four global fashion brands as collateral for loans. The girl short on money between pay checks turns over her handbag for authentication via Milan Station Holdings and gets 80% of its value from Yes Lady Finance Co. When she’s able to pay off the loan, she earns back her handbag. The Wall Street Journal had this story Aug. 14, 2013, “Cash Is In The Bag, If It’s Gucci.”

What does that mean for the brand? Each has an iconic statement women want; what that means is the need for a more targeted focus on engaging with the customer and having the customer engage positively about and with the brand, called a net promoter score.
How do brands track and listen on a global scale?

Fashionbi Is Big Data of Fashion

Recently, I had the pleasure of being introduced to Italian startup, Fashionbi. It’s the “complete digital marketing tool for the fashion industry,” with big data and analytics crossing borders and time zones for the world’s global fashion brands. Based logically in Milan, Fashionbi has offices worldwide and is growing exponentially.
Its ability to track social media analytics on Twitter and Facebook via Profiles across the world, including Weibo in Chinese, puts Fashionbi squarely at the forefront of its sector as a company to watch and work with.

Not only can Fashionbi share brand engagement by social media channel, it can also provide deep analytics of content quality and value. I got a look at its dashboard for member users only, and it blew me away. The graphs and charts typical to any users’ dashboard put Slideshare presentations to shame.
When I saw the analytics Fashionbi produces with sleight of hand, I immediately suggested it launch or purchase a digital marketing shop to execute on the big data being produced every minute of every day across every time zone. The wealth of information in Fashionbi’s dashboards requires expert assistance from marketers and public relations to interpret the data and put it into action for fashion brands.

Care to learn more?

Fashionbi on YouTube

Check out this YouTube video, two minutes of polished and well-done by the folks at Fashionbi. Even if you’re not that interested in a high-end handbag from Louis Vuitton, you have to admit, the analytics this company produces is enough to make you slap happy.

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