How to Reduce the Impact of the Digital Divide and Join More Clients Online

Remember dial-up?

Connecting to the net would prompt a flurry of whirrs, beeps, and buzzes which was strangely satisfying. Webpages would take a few minutes (sometimes 20) to load, lots of time to have a snack (or 2 ). From time to time, the page would not load in any way, including a layer of expectation to the total experience. And downloads were always a wild card.

The world wide web has come a long way since then, but it is not yet as widely accessible as some may believe. Certain communities, particularly in rural areas, just don’t have the infrastructure in place to encourage high-speed net.

In a new ConnectPOS survey, 66 percent of U.S. respondents have experienced challenges related to a weak online connection or sign in the previous six months. These challenges include slow loading times,”lags” in video calls, or unresponsive webpages.

Sources

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The impact of the digital divide Can’t be ignored

Unlike the days of dial-up, there’s more at stake now with a slow internet connection. The effect of the digital divide can’t be ignored as more people are working, learning, and shopping from home, tendencies that are projected to continue beyond the pandemic. Nowadays, more companies than rely on eCommerce to enlarge their buyer pool and remain afloat (full research accessible to Gartner clients).

Although demand for internet access has increased, communities’ connectivity has remained mostly unchanged and–in some instances –gotten worse. This digital divide can affect how customers interact with your organization and their overall buying experience.

In our survey, over half of consumers (54%) said it is important that service providers provide an internet experience that’s usable with a weak online connection. And that begins with your site.

5 ways to make your site usable for clients with weak internet

Your site is where a customer’s online interaction with your company begins. Here are five things companies like yours do to make sure their sites remain usable even in terms of low connectivity.

1. Be smart about how you display pictures (and videos)

Visual content attracts attention and can improve user experience on your site, but it comes at a cost. Content like videos and images can weigh down your website, leading to slower load times, particularly for weak net connections.

Some developers and developers recommend being choosy and just including visuals and images which are essential, or supplying an option to”turn off” pictures.

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Axel Kuehnle, co-founder of this Mindmonia mindfulness blog, utilizes a combination of methods to decrease website size while not removing visual elements completely.

As a general guideline, smaller image files load faster. Before uploading a picture to the website, Kuehnle reduces file size without compromising picture quality utilizing tools like Kraken.io. By compressing images, he is in a position to decrease image size by 59%, making them easier to load than the first picture.

Kuehnle also utilizes LazyLoad, which implies visual content just loads once the user scrolls down the page and the picture comes into view (instead of loading no matter what). Mindmonia’s site runs on WordPress, and Kuehnle utilizes WP-Rocket, a WordPress plugin to make it simpler to implement LazyLoad.

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Next steps:

  • Take inventory of how you use photos on your own site. Are they necessary? Can any be removed without taking away from the user experience?
  • As soon as you choose the photos you need to keep, compress them. Find the ideal balance between quality and size to prevent pixelated images.
  • Employ a feature like LazyLoad so that pictures only load when the user scrolls down and the picture comes into view. Most website builder platforms provide this feature

2. Simplify your Site navigation

Users should be able to easily find your site, product or service listings, email newsletter

Signup, contact page, and whatever else that they came for.

In accordance with Crazy Egg, your site should enable an individual to land on any page and find what they want within three clicks. This requires you to understand your customers, what propels them to your site, and what they expect to do.

Huan, a company which makes smart tags for pets, redesigned their site navigation so that users can get advice without jumping between unneeded pages and saw a return on their investment.

“We saw an increase in traffic from rural regions of 14%. It’s hard to measure the effect on our earnings but we estimate our sales increased by 5 percent.”

Simplifying navigation could be as simple as upgrading your menu choices, including applicable, related links on various pages, and supplying a site map which shows visitors where everything is located on your site.

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Next steps:

  • Test your site and how many clicks it takes to get between your most important attractions. How do you decrease the time it takes for users to locate your services and products?
  • Make and publish a site map that is easy to follow so users can easily navigate around your website.
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3. Include the most important information at the top

Fantastic design practices include placing most relevant information towards the top of the page and loading the most significant elements first.

“You can fix your website to display the most relevant ones [website elements] so that individuals won’t have to wait for everything to load before they could begin [seeing the page ],” said Michael Miller, CEO of VPN Online Multimedia Inc..

Consider it this way: When a user visits your contact page, they should not need to scroll to the bottom of the page to really work out how to connect with your business. This means users with poorer internet signals can find the information they need straight away.

Following steps:

  • make certain the most important information is on peak of the page. Be certain that what you designate as”most important” is really most important to your customers , rather than your company.
  • Gather user feedback that will assist you discern what information website visitors find most helpful. Survey software or email marketing software can help streamline the process of collecting and analyzing consumer feedback.

4. Give a”lite” version of your website

If you don’t need to scale back on layout, another alternative is offering a lite version of your site that’s text-based, uses simple code, and does not rely on JavaScript.

DuckDuckGo, National Public Radio, Reddit, and Facebook provide stripped-down versions of their site to give users exactly what they came for, with no flair which may slow them down.

Though this can be a wonderful workaround for a company, it does require building and maintaining two sites instead of just one. Bear in mind, however, the messenger version will have fewer components, which make it much easier to handle.

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Next steps:

  • If you don’t wish to modify anything on your primary website, you can construct another version of your site that’s entirely text-based.
  • Utilize website builder software if you would like to develop and keep both versions yourself.

5. Make your site mobile-friendly

Nearly 4.57 billion individuals are active net users, and 91 percent of these use mobile devices to connect. Those in areas with low broadband might only rely on their mobile devices for net access.

This means that failing to optimize your site for mobile can result in lost sales–and it is not worth the risk.

Designers urge for responsive and adaptive design; this sort of coding detects the way the user is accessing your website (i.e., via mobile device or desktop) and adjusts accordingly. With mobile optimization, all the identical web design principles covered here apply but need a mobile-first mindset.

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Simple navigation starts with a user-friendly menu. Users will need to have the ability to see their choices and click to go anywhere on your website, but a fantastic menu for desktops and a fantastic menu for mobile devices seem completely different.

On desktop, a navigation bar is a frequent menu type. Transferred into a mobile device, but this can easily become mess, particularly if a weak online link is creating the load time slow. With a hamburger menu, can simplify this for mobile users, even those with a poorer internet connection.

Another approach isn’t only including the most important information at the top but also keeping in mind how people use mobile touchscreen devices. When users maintain their phone, they are typically using their thumb to browse the page, which has a limited range of motion.

Making your site mobile-accessible can make it much easier for those dealing with a poorer internet connection, reducing the amount of taps it takes to get where they would like to go.

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Next steps:

  • Diagnose how easy your site is to use on mobile devices, such as both Android and Apple products.
  • Familiarize yourself with mobile optimization best practices.
  • Implement modifications to make your site more mobile-friendly. Many website builders possess a mobile optimization feature built in, but it can be quite restricting depending on its complexity. You might want to check out how your opponents have optimized their websites or hire a web designer.

Your website can lessen the impact of the digital divide to your customers

When it comes to the digital divide, there is a good deal beyond your control as a small business. After all, you do not govern over your clients’ internet speeds. You do, however, have control over your company’s digital storefront.

You need your site to look appealing to customers, but not at the cost of functionality. Your website needs to be well-designed, which means usable for people with a slower internet link.

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