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May 2015

Google’s Latest Update: Mobile-Friendly Pages, Now More Heavily Promoted

Google recently rolled out another algorithm update that is essential to recognize if mobile-users happen to represent a significant portion of your audience… And if you’re in the healthcare industry, that likely means you.

In the search engine results, Google’s algorithm is now favoring web pages that are more “mobile-friendly.” The guidelines for this particular initiative do not leave much room for interpretation as Google plainly states the criteria that needs to be met to be considered mobile-friendly.

The algorithm now more heavily promotes and boosts the rankings for pages that are either hosted on a separate mobile URL (m.example.com) or have responsive web design capability. The update also detects that tap targets are appropriately positioned, as page elements like these are believed to offer the most enjoyable search experience for users on mobile devices.

Furthermore, pages that require excessive horizontal scrolling, tapping and/or zooming in order to adequately read text run the risk of decreasing in the organic rankings. Additionally, pages with video and other media that doesn’t play because of mobile-compatibility issues will also be penalized.

Take note that this update:

  • Affects only search rankings on mobile devices
  • Affects search results in all languages globally
  • Applies to individual pages, not entire websites

Utilizing a platform that allows you to keep pace with the changes in technology is critical in protecting your SEO value on any device. For each of AVID‘s clients’ sites, we tested and made any adjustments needed; we then provided recommendations for clients with older sites that may not have met the criteria. For a good place to start, a member of AVID Design’s marketing team can walk you through the Mobile-Friendly Test.

Keep in mind, however, that Google still uses many factors to determine a page’s rank, and a page can rank well even though it’s not considered to be mobile-friendly. Above all, high-quality content is the underlying constant when it comes to increasing rank. Remember that these initiatives are a part of Google’s effort to promote high-quality and relevant results to provide a seamless and enjoyable user experience.

AVID Design offers full-scale written and visual communication services for hospitals and healthcare systems, including Content Management Systems, SharePointWeb DesignSEO and PPC, Content Development and AssessmentOnline VideoAnalytics and Measurementand more. 

Justin Small | Digital Marketing Specialist | AVID Design

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Jun 2014

GHA Meeting App for Easy Access to Info

As summer nears and schedules fill up with outdoor activities, people in the healthcare industry get revved up for another reason: summer time is the best time to combine work, educational courses, and leisure at summer conferences.

Every year, the Georgia Hospital Association (GHA) offers meeting opportunities at some of the best retreats in Georgia for their colleagues across the state. They bring in some of the industry’s most note-worthy speakers to share some of the leading and most relevant issues in healthcare.  GHA conferences are known for their valuable networking opportunities, coupled with strong training and advocacy components.

AVID Design doesn’t miss an opportunity to participate so we were happy to partner with GHA to build an app that would allow easy access to schedules, attendees, sponsors and materials.

The GHA Meetings app incorporates easy navigation, quick access functionality, and features password protected access to all conference information.

To easily access the GHA Meetings information for this week’s conference, you can either:

1) Access it through the iTunes store by downloading the app, which can be found by typing in “GHA Meetings” and then accessing it directly from your iPhone.


2) Access it through any Android or other device (tablet, laptop, PC, etc.) by typing in www.GHAMeetings.org into your web browser.

Once you type in your conference password at the top, you will have immediate access to everything you need for the upcoming GHA conference. The app’s quick and easy functionality allows you to stay on top of meetings you want to attend, while making sure you don’t miss any of the robust networking events that this conference has to offer. 

AVID Design offers full-scale written and visual communication services for hospitals and healthcare systems, including SharePointWeb designSEO and PPC content development and assessmentonline video and rich mediaanalytics and measurementcontent management systems and more.

Tom Brand | Executive Director | AVID Design

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Feb 2014

Web Optimization: A Valentine’s Tale from Your Friends at AVID

My boyfriend and I, like the rest of Atlanta, enjoyed a few work-from-home days this week through the snow storm (It turns out “Icelanta 2” wasn’t nearly as “biblical” as the weather predicted, but did keep us inside for a few days). Our kitchen table looked like a war-zone…my side of the table was filled with first drafts and client notes, his side with case files & notebooks. There were pens everywhere.

About halfway through the second day in our new “home office” he suddenly looked over his laptop at me, almost panicked.

“I…I don’t have anything planned for Thanksgiving.”

“Well,” I replied, “You’ve got a few months to think about it.”

Of course, he meant Valentine’s Day but the word switcheroo struck with me. Valentine’s Day really is very similar to Thanksgiving. We think about love in all its forms, and are thankful for those people and things around us who make life a little more pleasurable…or a little easier.

Today, one of those things was my nice office at AVID headquarters where I can stretch my legs under the entirety of my desk without hitting someone else’s feet. The other was the fresh list of new web pages on my desk, just waiting to be written.

What things do you love that make your life easier? Do you need help to make your online tasks more manageable? Whether you are stuck with writing, can’t get a handle on programming, or would just like a little facelift to refresh your website’s look, we can set you up with the perfect solution. We can even take your site mobile. Our team is full of people who love to do all the things that make your online life easier. 

Binary Valentine's Day Card

we love programming so much that even our valentine’s cards are in binary

 If you aren’t sure where to start, ask us for a free consultation or SEO assessment. It’s like giving you the answers to the test; or like someone letting my boyfriend know that I like peach colored roses and there are some on sale at the flower shop just down the street (ahem). 

We promise, no matter if you call today on Valentine’s Day or wait until Thanksgiving, you’ll fall in love with AVID. 

AVID Design offers full-scale written and visual communication services for hospitals and healthcare systems, including SharePointWeb designSEO and PPC content development and assessmentonline video and rich mediaanalytics and measurementcontent management systems and more.

Whitney Stuart | Web Content Manager | AVID Design

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Jul 2013

It’s Official: Google Said Get a Mobile Site

Search engine optimization is what keeps modern marketers in business today. Because the infamous Google algorithm is a bit of a moving target, it takes a lot of research and training to keep up with the constant changes. Like many companies, Google keeps their formula a closely guarded secret.

This is to prevent people from trying to trick Google into falsely ranking websites based on anything other than strong content and design. These tactics are called black hat SEO, but you probably know that because it’s 2013. If you don’t, read this.

What Google does do is keep their market (read here: everyone) apprised of what major things they need to focus on when they’re working with their site. The latest update is the final stance on mobile: Websites without mobile presence are ranked lower when searched for from a mobile device than websites that do have mobile capabilities.

What does that mean to you? It’s time for a mobile site, even if you don’t really think you need one. The recommendation up till now has been percentage based. If your site was getting more than 15% of its web traffic from mobile users, it was time to consider putting together a mobile site, usually streamlined with only the most pertinent information that someone might want while looking for a hospital on their phone: emergency room information, contact numbers, parking directions, etc. If the number exceeds 25%, then more likely your website is already receiving web traffic from users who are not in urgent need of information but might be researching your facility, which means that a responsive design mobile site would be more appropriate.

If you’re on a strict budget, these are still decent guidelines, but remember that technology is changing fast, and before you know it, the next generation of devices will be available, so it’s important to try to keep up with the trends. So put Mobile site on your To Do list, if you haven’t already, and make it a priority.

So here’s a quick and dirty list of what to do when Google decides that you really need a mobile site:

  • Read up on best practices. This doesn’t mean you need to be an expert, but it’s helpful for you to have an idea of what’s going on with the technology so you can speak intelligently with your web partner when it’s time to start designing and building.
  • Understand the difference between an app and a mobile website. An app is a tool that performs a specific task, such as showing a dynamic schedule, rating physicians, etc. A mobile site is your website, only designed to create a positive experience on a tablet or smartphone.
  • Know what Responsive Design is. It’s generally agreed upon in the industry that responsive design websites are going to be the new standard. It makes sense, and while it seems more complicated at the initial design and development, it’s much easier to manage and maintain in the long term. Responsive design websites utilize the same content and design but are created to adapt and respond to whatever device they’re displaying on: desktop, tablet, or smartphone.
  • Watch your analytics. This is always a good piece of advice, but filtering your analytics to see exactly how your mobile users are using your website. If there is an exceptionally high bounce rate, or much shorter average time on site compared to users not using mobile devices, then you need to look at what might be creating issues with the mobile experience.

What steps are you taking to create a positive mobile experience for your website?

AVID Design offers full-scale written and visual communication services for hospitals and healthcare systems, including SharePointWeb designSEO and PPC content development and assessmentonline video and rich mediaanalytics and measurementcontent management systems and more.

Dani Robinson Holland | Content and SEO Specialist | AVID Design

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Nov 2012

Designing for Mobile: Catering to Context

A few weeks ago, several of us from our design and development teams at AVID Design attended Remix South here in Atlanta.  My main goals as a web developer were to learn more about responsive web design (RWD), and hopefully slide a few more jQuery tricks up my sleeve. Well, mission accomplished.

The most interesting talk, however, was less about development and more about design. The session Designing Immersive Mobile Experiences by Wren Lanier was exceptional, and she introduced two ideas that really caught my attention:

  1.  The “lean back” vs. “lean forward” experience
  2. Designing for “mobile” vs. designing for “small screen”

Traditionally, “lean back” describes the type of experience that happens when sitting in your easy chair, reading the newspaper or browsing Wikipedia for hours on end. You are casually consuming information on things that you are interested in.

In contrast, “lean forward” is what happens when you use Google Maps to find the best route to the nearest coffee shop. You are on a mission. You are looking for something very specific, not just casually perusing the interwebs.

Now fast forward to 2012: your iPad has replaced the daily newspaper, and you’re now using the new, amazing iPhone Maps app to find the closest Starbucks. To put it clearly, tablet users are typically having a “lean back” experience, while smart phone users are having a “lean forward” experience.

Several leading-edge companies are taking advantage of this knowledge, and they are changing and prioritizing the content on their site based on the type of device that the user has. Wren used a perfect example in her presentation: the popular online travel company Orbitz. If I travel to the Orbitz site on my iPad, I basically get the same exact site that is rendered on my desktop browser. I can specify that I’m looking for a hotel, and then choose what city I want to stay in, check-in and check-out times, etc. However, when I go to the Orbitz site on my iPhone (and after I get past the annoying “get this app on your phone” dialog), I see this:

A screenshot of the Orbitz mobile website.

Nearby and available for tonight

As Wren said during her presentation, if a user is visiting the Orbitz site on a tablet, she could be sitting on the couch with her family, planning their next vacation. However, if she is visiting the Orbitz site on a smart phone, it’s likely that something has gone horribly wrong. Her flight was delayed, and she needs to find a room right now. In other words, they are gauging what type of situation a person is in based on the device type, and giving the user options that would be most useful in that context. It is smart and effective, and you should be doing it on your website.

We do the same thing here when we design mobile sites for our healthcare clients. If a user landed on the Georgia Health Sciences Health System website on their smart phone, it is likely they have an immediate medical need. To accommodate this need, we place a large “Emergency Information” icon at the top left of the mobile site. Clicking the icon takes the user to a map where they can get directions to the adult and pediatric emergency rooms. Emergency information is one click away, and the icon is at the top of the mobile site on every page.

A screenshot of the Georgia Health Sciences Health System mobile website home page.

Georgia Health Sciences Health System mobile website

The second idea – “mobile” vs. “small screen” design – was brought-up by Tim Murtaugh and later mentioned by web design guru Jeffrey Zeldman. This idea encourages web designers to separate mobile design into two parts: how the site looks and feels on a mobile device, and what content to display on a mobile device.

In general, a mobile site should have larger text and smaller images than the desktop browser version. Also, the site should be very lightweight so that it loads fast and is very responsive on smartphones. This type of mobile optimization falls under designing for “small screens”.

Designing for “mobile” is a different story, and requires some investigation. What functions are your mobile users using the most? What information are they accessing the most? The functions that they use the most are the ones that need to be front and center on your mobile site. The most used functions and content should even perhaps display at the top of every mobile page, or be a part of your mobile template. You can find out what pages your mobile users are going to the most by viewing your analytics – I will describe how to do this in a future post.

“Mobile” design ties into the “lean back” vs. “lean forward” experience: when designing for “mobile” we are essentially designing for a “lean forward” experience. Your mobile user is on a mission, and the faster she can complete her mission, the more successful your site will be. If the user can’t find what it needs in a reasonable amount of time, you have potentially lost a customer.

Your take-away from this post should be: 1) your site needs to look good and be easily usable on a smart phone, and 2) the functionality and content that is most popular for your mobile users should be front and center on your mobile site. It has been predicted that mobile internet usage will surpass desktop internet usage by 2014. This change has already occurred in China’s internet mobile usage. If your website is not currently presentable on smartphones, then you are doing it wrong. If you are not catering content to your users based on their context, then you need to start thinking about that now.

AVID Design offers full-scale written and visual communication services for hospitals and healthcare systems, including Web designSEO and PPC content development and assessmentonline video and rich mediaanalytics and measurementcontent management systems and more.

Jonathan Nesbitt | Web Developer | AVID Design

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