Is Your Website Unprepared Half the Time?

In this edition of Media Monday, I’d like to shift the conversation to two areas where most of us are either unprepared or underfeatured.  These two areas of web programming complexity are critical, as they make up over HALF of the traffic that comes to our websites.  Consider the following two stats: 

* 23.1% of all traffic to U.S. websites comes from mobile devices (Walker Sands) 

* 29 percent of all traffic to U.S. websites comes from bots (Comscore). 

Many of the business owners or managers I’ve talked to about this wonder what the big deal really is.  “I’ve looked at my website on my iPad and with a little adjustment, it looks perfect to me,” is a typical reply.  But the reality is much much different.  Take retail eCommerce: According to a report late last year by Skava, only 7% of retailers have tablet friendly sites.  This means that some type of functionality is off: Flash, buy buttons, pop ups, etc.  

Why is this a big deal? If you fail for your user, the costs to get them back go up dramtically.  The May 2013 Mobile Experience Survey suggested that 44% of users will NEVER return to a website that is not mobile friendly.  Wow.  That’s not a small number.  While you may be willing to play around with your website to show it off on your Android phone for a friend, your customers and prospects will not.  

Then there’s the issue of being Bot-Ready.  In some cases, the bots are friendly: Search engine bots that are attempting to index you for discoverability.  However, in most cases, the bots are spam tools that are designed to use your website as a distribution platform to sell dubious products and services.  One of my good friends has a website that sells a training course and recently, he’s been overrun by spam … getting over 100 emails a day due to having insufficient filters (captcha is an example, although an overbearing one).   

Fail to be ready for the good bots and your website will be hard to find.  Forget about the bad bots and you’ll gain more grief than leads from your website.  In both cases, the fix isn’t really that hard, usually a matter of finding an SEO expert or using any one of a multitude of off-the-shelf filtering and security products.  For both mobile and bot prep, here are some resources for you (or your friends). 

Tips For Building A Mobile Friendly Website 

Optimize Your Website for Search Engine Bots

(For bloggers) Top 6 WordPress Plugins To Stop Bots/SpamRegistration