A blog by the Brick Factory The Brick Factory
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Surviving Mobilegeddon: What you need to know about Google’s New Algorithm

A few weeks ago, Google announced a major change to its algorithm that will favor mobile-friendly websites in search results on mobile devices. Maybe you heard the word “mobilegeddon” buzzing around?  Google says this change will make it easier to get “relevant, high quality search results that are optimized for their devices” when searching from a smartphone or tablet.

But what does this all really mean? And how will it actually impact your organization?

All hype aside, here’s what you need to know:

Understanding Mobile-Friendly Design

Simply put, mobile-friendly design aims to ensure that your website can be easily viewed from a mobile device.  This can be achieved through responsive design (website resizes based on the size of your screen) or a mobile specific site (a different template is used based on the device you’re using).

But why does this really matter? The verdict is unanimous; we’re no longer living in a one-screen world and that’s changed the way people use the internet.

Earlier this year, we shared just how big an impact the rise of smartphones and tablets is having on our clients’ web traffic, with around 32% of visitors coming from these devices. And industry trends mirror this statistic. In fact, last week, Google announced that more “Google searches take place on mobile devices than on computers in 10 countries including the US and Japan.”

Are you Mobile-Friendly?

First things first: Is your site mobile friendly?
More importantly, does Google think your site is mobile friendly?

In anticipation of the update, Google provided us with a handy tool that answers just that. Enter your website’s URL and wait for the moment of truth.

If you’re mobile friendly, congrats! Google will factor this into your rank, potentially improving where your site lands in Google search results on mobile devices.

If you’re not mobile friendly, hold back the tears. Google will tell you what’s wrong with your site and offers tips and suggestions for improving it. But before you dive in and make any major changes to your website, it’s important to understand the impact this has on your website traffic and what you can do about it.

Data is your Friend

While, overall, mobile traffic is certainly increasing, every case is unique. Hop on Google Analytics and look at the percentage of visitors who actually come to your site from mobile devices. More importantly, look at the percentage of mobile visitors accessing your site from Google.

Google Analytics will help you determine if a change in your ranking could result in a major loss in traffic for your organization or if it will go unnoticed. For example, one of our clients sees more than 25% of their traffic come from mobile search. For another client, mobile search results in less than 2% of their visitors. What you find can mean the difference between a potential loss of 20 visitors…or 2,000.

Note: Make sure you benchmark your traffic before and after the switch to see the real results. Keep in mind that Google’s rollout of this algorithm has not been instantaneous so it may be another week or two until you have clean data.

Know your Options

So you failed. And you’re expecting a change in your traffic. What can you do?

Mobile Redesign. The most obvious solution to Google’s algorithm change is a mobile redesign of your site. While there are several viable approaches,  we always advocate for a responsive design…and so does Google. While a mobile specific site will still meet Google’s requirements, they are not preferred.

Mobile sites can be easier to implement, but more difficult to manage (requiring maintenance of both desktop and mobile versions). A responsive site simply creates a more seamless experience for the user.  Content can be easily shared across devices, page load times are often faster, and there’s a single URL for all versions, which can all help improve your SEO.  Talk to a web developer and see what’s right for you.

Mobile Optimization. It’s not all about the platform. While having that mobile-friendly design is key, ensuring your content is optimized for mobile can be just as important.

From the technical side, make sure the content you’re adding to the site is playable on all devices. Don’t block CSS, JavaScript and image files, and focus on load speed. For example, content created in Flash won’t load on Apple’s mobile devices. If your visitors can’t use your site on mobile, having a mobile-friendly template is pointless.

Approach your content from a mobile perspective. Some tips to keep in mind:

  • Remember the screen size people will be viewing your site on and how much content will actually be visible at a given time.
  • Use short headlines with easily readable text.
  • Place clear calls to action and important content up top. Assume your visitors won’t scroll all the way to the bottom.
  • Can you touch it? Leave enough space between links where it’s actually usable on a touchscreen device.

Lessons Learned

This algorithm change was inevitable and the right direction for Google, the industry, and most importantly, the end-user.  Take advantage of this change and join the ranks of a mobile-friendly world today.  Your organization and your visitors will thank you.

Summer Internship at Brick Factory

We are looking for an intern to join our team this Summer. The job description is below as well as instructions for how to apply. We’d love to hear from you!

Summer Internship at Brick Factory

The Brick Factory plans and executes world-class digital campaigns for non-profits, trade associations, advocacy groups and brands. We believe in simple solutions, setting clear goals and objectives, and providing great service to our clients. We believe a good website or campaign is never done and the launch of a website is the beginning, not the end.

The Brick Factory interns will be responsible for supporting our Strategists in conception, implementation and analysis of many digital initiatives. This includes website, social media, email, mobile and other digital marketing efforts that support new business, our products and client campaigns. This position calls for an individual with strong communication skills, analytic skills and creative thinking ability. This position requires a highly resourceful individual who can think on their feet and can focus under pressure.

What you’ll do:

  • Help us launch new tools. We’re in the midst of building some great new platforms for our clients. You’ll be right in the thick of it as we launch them to the public.
  • Assist in running our clients’ digital programs. This involves an active engagement that is beyond management, ensuring that our projects ship on time, goals are set, tracked and met, and our clients are provided with clear, high level recommendations that help them succeed in the digital space.
  • Work in a small team environment. You’ll wear multiple hats, provide input and solutions, and work on multiple projects at one time.
  • Contribute to our blog. Brick by Brick is our soapbox to spread the thoughts and opinions of The Brick Factory. Once settled, you’ll be expected to develop new post ideas and contribute innovative content regularly.
  • Aid in new business and marketing efforts. At The Brick Factory everyone is involved in selling new work. Our interns have a large role in managing advertising and marketing campaigns. You will also be constantly looking to expand the work in our existing client portfolio while reaching out to new business prospects.
  • Make yourself and the company better. Meaning that you aren’t ever satisfied with the status quo and are constantly looking to improve yourself, the company and our clients.
  • Something you are interested in. We encourage our interns to tackle a self-driven project from conceptualization to launch during their time with us.

What you bring to the table:

  • You’re a fun person to be around.
  • You have a passion for work in the digital industry and are excited to learn new things.
  • You’re a problem solver. You would rather figure out the best solution than be told how to do it.
  • You’re organized. You can manage multiple projects at once and are dedicated to hitting deadlines.
  • You have some experience with HTML, marketing and sales research, and analytics tools. A big plus if you have experience with CSS and JavaScript as well.
  • You have a strong writing background. Your communication skills are exceptional and you have experience creating and editing content for clients.
  • Have used or are willing to learn Adobe products such as InDesign, Dreamweaver and Photoshop.

What you can expect from us:

  • A metro accessible office in downtown Washington, DC.
  • A great work environment, with plenty of opportunity to learn.
  • Training and professional development opportunities.
  • Compensation during the extent of your internship.
  • A fun team of enthusiastic and talented people.
  • Occasional work activities, lunches, and happy hours.
  • Additional random perks and benefits.

The Details:

Dates: May 2014 through August 2014 (can be flexible for the right candidate)
20-25 hours a week in the office

Sound interesting? Take a look around our website, blog, Facebook and Twitter. If you think we’d be a good fit please send a resume and cover letter to jobs@thebrickfactory.com. The deadline to apply is April 18th.

Front-End Developer at Brick Factory

The Brick Factory is looking for a front-end developer to take the lead on implementing innovative, effective websites and web solutions for our clients. We work with non-profits, trade associations, advocacy groups and brands, so there will be good variety in the work you do. Many of your projects will be major builds that you will oversee starting with the kick-off meeting, so you’ll develop a deep knowledge of each project and become our resident expert on your builds.

The Big Picture:

  • Lead front-end development efforts on large web-based projects.
  • Collaborate with our team of designers, project managers and back-end engineers to create project plans and to set realistic implementation schedules.
  • Communicate effectively with project teams, and self-manage your time to make sure the work gets done well and on schedule.
  • Think outside the box to help improve processes, implement new technologies, and develop innovative solutions for our clients.

The Details:

  • Convert design and user interface files into working websites; troubleshoot and support existing implementations.
  • Construct responsive and mobile-focused themes for Drupal and WordPress.
  • Configure modules; content types and views; roles and permissions; navigation, menus, taxonomy; actions and workflows.
  • Execute build tasks with high attention to detail: client specs, validation, and load times.
  • Test cross-browser, cross-platform, and/or cross-device compatibility for inconsistencies.
  • Maintain high execution standards: write clean, maintainable code; actively participate in code reviews; maintain documentation; maintain QA process.

What you bring to the table:

  • You’re fun and easy to work with.
  • You’re a problem solver. You would rather figure out the best solution than be told how to do it.
  • You’re organized. You can manage multiple projects with an eye on project specs, quality and schedule.
  • You have a deep knowledge of CSS and HTML with 4+ years of experience.
  • You also know your way around Javascript and JQuery.
  • You’ve gotten your hands dirty with CSS frameworks such as Foundation or Bootstrap.
  • You have some experience with responsive design.
  • It would be great if you also:
    • Have a basic knowledge of Drupal and WordPress.
    • Have worked with CSS preprocessors like SASS.
    • Have worked with version-control systems like SVN or Git.
    • Have a good sense of UX/UI.
    • Have a basic understanding of PHP.

What we’ll bring to the table:

  • A great small-team environment, with plenty of opportunity to lead and learn.
  • A metro accessible office in downtown Washington, DC, if you’re in the neighborhood. We’re also open to telecommuting for the right candidate.
  • A full-time position with a competitive salary.
  • Budget for training and attending conferences.
  • Generous vacation/personal time.
  • We’re an Equal Opportunity Employer
  • Additional perks and benefits

Sound interesting? Take a look around our website, blog, Facebook and Twitter.

If you think we’d be a good fit please send a resume and cover letter to prodjobs at thebrickfactory . com. The cover letter is required. We realize that it’s not fun to write, but it helps us get to know you.

Spring Internship at Brick Factory

We are looking for an intern to join our team this Spring. The job description is below as well as instructions for how to apply. We’d love to hear from you!

Spring Internship at Brick Factory

The Brick Factory plans and executes world-class digital campaigns for non-profits, trade associations, advocacy groups and brands. We believe in simple solutions, setting clear goals and objectives, and providing great service to our clients. We believe a good website or campaign is never done and the launch of a website is the beginning, not the end.

The Brick Factory interns will be responsible for supporting our Strategists in conception, implementation and analysis of many digital initiatives. This includes website, social media, email, mobile and other digital marketing efforts that support new business, our products and client campaigns. This position calls for an individual with strong communication skills, analytic skills and creative thinking ability. This position requires a highly resourceful individual who can think on their feet and can focus under pressure.

What you’ll do:

  • Help us launch new tools. We’re in the midst of building some great new platforms for our clients. You’ll be right in the thick of it as we launch them to the public.
  • Assist in running our client’s digital programs. This involves an active engagement that is beyond management, ensuring that our projects ship on time, goals are set, tracked and met, and our clients are provided with clear, high level recommendations that help them succeed in the digital space.
  • Work in a small team environment. You’ll wear multiple hats, provide input and solutions, and work on multiple projects at one time.
  • Contribute to our blog. Brick by Brick is our soapbox to spread the thoughts and opinions of The Brick Factory. Once settled, you’ll be expected to develop new post ideas and contribute innovative content regularly.
  • Aid in new business and marketing efforts. At The Brick Factory everyone is involved in selling new work. Our interns have a large role in managing advertising and marketing campaigns. You will also be constantly looking to expand the work in our existing client portfolio while reaching out to new business prospects.
  • Make yourself and the company better. Meaning that you aren’t ever satisfied with the status quo and are constantly looking to improve yourself, the company and our clients.
  • Something you are interested in. We encourage our interns to tackle a self-driven project from conceptualization to launch during their time with us.

What you bring to the table:

  • You’re a fun person to be around.
  • You have a passion for work in the digital industry and are excited to learn new things.
  • You’re a problem solver. You would rather figure out the best solution than be told how to do it.
  • You’re organized. You can manage multiple projects at once and are dedicated to hitting deadlines.
  • You have some experience with HTML, marketing and sales research, and analytics tools. A big plus if you have experience with CSS and JavaScript as well.
  • You have a strong writing background. Your communication skills are exceptional and you have experience creating and editing content for clients.
  • Have used or are willing to learn Adobe products such as InDesign, Dreamweaver and Photoshop.

What you can expect from us:

  • A metro accessible office in downtown Washington, DC.
  • A great work environment, with plenty of opportunity to learn.
  • Training and professional development opportunities.
  • Compensation during the extent of your internship.
  • A fun team of enthusiastic and talented people.
  • Occasional work activities, lunches, and happy hours.
  • Additional random perks and benefits.

The Details:

January 2014 through May 2014 (can be flexible for the right candidate)
20-25 hours a week in the office

Sound interesting? Take a look around our website, blog, Facebook and Twitter. If you think we’d be a good fit please send a resume and cover letter to jobs@thebrickfactory.com. The deadline to apply is January 17th.

petition-sites-post

5 Most Inspiring Petition Websites

Online petitions are a proven way for non-profits and advocacy groups to demonstrate support for the causes they care about and to grow their email lists.  Despite their prevalence, a lot of online petitions consist of little more of a few sentences of text and a sign up form.  Check out these five groups that took the time to create inventive and inspiring online petitions.

 5. R-Word

On their way to eliminating this demeaning word for the intellectually disabled, r-word.org features a refreshing and easy to navigate UX that truly facilitates their mission.  A clean homepage slider and top-of-page pledge button encourage supporters to be heard, act now, and share their stories of support.  This petition goes a step further, providing news, resources and merchandise, allowing their more than 400,000 supporters to practice what they preach.

r-word

4. It Gets Better

On a mission to inspire change for LGBT youth, the It Gets Better Project has engaged the support of more than 575,000 visitors for their fun, comprehensive and informative petition.  The project’s action center allows for a range of involvement.  And while the petition’s pledge and donation options are quite standard, an impressive dual-homepage slider featuring hundreds of supporter-submitted videos is what helps this petition stand out from the crowd.

itgetsbetter

 

 

3. I work for the Internet

Iworkfortheinternet.org uses a truly unique approach with their visual petition.  Band together in the fight against SOPA, visitors from around the country are given the opportunity to upload their photos and put a face to their cause.  A simple “add yourself” button utilizes a webcam plugin, allowing visitors to take a photo directly on the site.  With an uncluttered, responsive design, this petition built in tumblr gets right to the point.

iworkfortheinternet

 

2. Protect Our Waves

Determined to save the UK shoreline, Protect Our Waves utilizes a clean, simple layout and beautifully designed navigation to explain their cause and usher in a sewage-free age for the surfers of the UK.   With pre-populated social sharing and an integrated Hashtag campaign, joining the ranks of this movement couldn’t be simpler.  Stunning photography and an entirely responsive design, has earned this campaign nearly 55,000 signatures.

ProtectOurWaves

 

1. 96 Elephants

Created by the Wildlife Conservation Society, 96 Elephants is a prime example of the powerful movement an online petition can create.  With sinister theming and full-bleed graphics, this interactive microsite tells the heartbreaking story of the African Elephant.  Stunning UX allows the user to scroll through the elephants’ chaptered journey on any platform with its fully responsive styling.  Embedded social sharing and a beautifully designed Take Action bar has garnered nearly 55,000 signatures.

96elephants