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Is Your Website Changing With Your Readers?

If the only constant in life is change, then you can expect your prospects' and customers' habits, preferences wants, and needs to evolve on a regular basis. The question is, can your publication's website change as your online readership changes? Fortunately, the answer is yes. Here are some important technological and strategic advances that help you stay abreast of your readers' dynamic viewing tastes and trends.

Getting Responsive

An ever-growing segment of the population does much or most of its online reading, browsing, and shopping over some kind of mobile device, often flitting between smartphones, tablets, and laptops, and whatever other toys they happen to have handy. This major shift means that the good old days of creating a fixed website design are over. It's critical for site owners to make the switch to responsive designs that reconfigure themselves automatically to provide the best possible experience for the device being used to view it -- especially since Google's announcement that mobile-friendly sites will receive higher rankings in search results. The BBC is only one prominent example: The UK network recently shut down its familiar PC-oriented website in favor of a brand-new responsive design that better reflects its audience's usage habits.

Smoothing the Path

Creating a responsive website isn't the only strategy involved in making your publication's website easier for visitors to use -- and more profitable for you. As your audience shifts from a PC to, say, a mobile phone, the path he uses to navigate your site must streamline itself accordingly. There's a significant different between the "clickstream" that works well for a PC-based experience and the "tapstream" that sends viewers along the path to your desired result. If your website design team doesn't take this into account, you'll likely end up with disappointing conversion numbers simply because your visitors don't understand where they're supposed to go next.

A Personal Approach

How well does your website adjust to individual visitors' locations, traits, and interests? "Hyper-personalization" has become a major buzzword in the digital marketing world lately, and with good reason. The wealth of data to be mined from incoming traffic includes the ability to geo-target your prospective customers. If your site comprehends the visitor's location, it can direct the visitors toward a local brick-and-mortar location or regional web page to help close the deal.

Predictive analytics is another useful technique for turning web traffic data into personalized "guided tours." If your website makes use of browser data and patterns, time spent on each page, favorite keywords, and buying history, it can think on the fly to lay out the links, native ads, and other content most likely to appeal to each visitor. It's almost as if you're recreating your site from scratch for each individual who passes through the gate -- a powerful attraction that will help you build a loyal following.

Take a careful look at your publication's website to see if it's ready to change with the times. If you're lagging behind, then it's time to invest in a new web presence that offers responsive, personalized solutions for the audience of today -- and tomorrow.

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