Superior Web Design Allentown | ProStrategix

Paul Leiby, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Allentown: Another PA Success Story

When I think of Allentown, I’m often reminded of a song from Billy Joel from my childhood: “Living Here in Allentown”. It pictured the plight of the many of my parent’s generation who lived through the deindustrialization of the economy that hit Allentown as well as where I grew up, Pittsburgh.

Like Pittsburgh, the Allentown of today is much different than the Allentown of the late 20th Century. Allentown is experiencing a revival based on health care, transportation, and some high tech. 

Bridgeworks, supported by the Allentown Economic Development Corporation, has played a role in this transition by helping support start-ups and new ventures with incubator support. Lehigh University has also played an integral role in helping fuel Bridgeworks with new ideas.

There has been a lot of new development in the downtown area and around the Lehigh river, which was spurred by state funding. Allentown is gentrifying, and like all other post industrial gentrifying regions, businesses face a unique challenge of choosing between the old and new or trying to support both.

Why Digital Marketing is Important in Allentown?

The marketing challenges in Allentown are more about differentiation and awareness.  An amazing website, when used effectively, can help either one.

  1. Web design in Allentown is about being visible, at the right time, and at the right place.
  2. Most businesses are not run by the wealthy in Allentown so it is important to provide that visibility as inexpensively as possible.  Great design doesn't have to cost a fortune. You may have fewer bells and whistles, but it can still be fast, intuitive, and responsive.
  3. Mobile lets you target the right customers when they are nearby, relatively inexpensively. It is so much easier to get what you need when it's a short walk from where you are.

For a web design to be successful, it needs to be fast & responsive to do well on mobile, and intuitive so users find what they need quickly.

How Fast is Fast?

5-Second Rule Does NOT apply

I remember as a kid the five second rule. If food fell on the floor, it was still ok to eat it if was on the ground for less than five seconds.

Turns out that germs are more forgiving than mobile users. There is not broad agreement, but it seems they follow the under three second rule.

The 1 to 3-Second Rule

If a page takes over 3 seconds to load, mobile users bounce as the Pingdom chart below suggests.

Pingdom Page Speed Study

SEMRush gauges page speed using a 1 second rule. I would argue they are closer. My personal experience suggests that the widow has continued to narrow.

Search engines grade your speed as part of your ranking. Therefore, page speed is an important factor in search engine optimization.

Main Drag on Page Speed is Unnecessary Code

The root cause of most speed issues is the content management system (CMS) that you choose for your website. 

What is a CMS

In plain English, these are programs such as WordPress and Wix. These programs have three parts. 

  1. User Interface (UI): Place where you enter the content
  2. Theme: This is the general layout and design of the page with all the options
  3. Server: The place where the content and theme are stored as separate files.

The browser has to fetch the data and the full theme in order to render the page. After the browser parses the content, it has to sort through all of the themes features to see which to use. This causes delays in loading, which is typically called render blocking CCS.  

Digital Marketing Agencies Like the Convenience of CMS

With all these disadvantages, you might ask why someone would choose a CMS. A CMS is user friendly. They are faster to build, easier to maintain, and simpler to update. You do not need to understand coding or even basic HTML or CSS commands to get great looking results.

BUT, They Create Render Blocking CSS - Pagespeed Killer

The key issue with the theme. Every theme carries a set of instructions called cascading style sheets (CSS), which tell the browser how the page should look. It will load your content onto the screen following these instructions. 

Why Digital Marketing is Important in Allentown?

The marketing challenges in Allentown are more about differentiation and awareness.  Local digital marketing, when used effectively, can help either one.

  1. Local digital marketing in Allentown is about being visible, at the right time, and at the right place.
  2. Most businesses are not run by the wealthy in Allentown so it is important to provide that visibility as inexpensively as possible. 
  3. Local digital marketing lets you target the right customers when they are nearby, relatively inexpensively. It is so much easier to get what you need when it's a short walk from where you are.

Custom Build Site Will Yield Best Performance

If your developer helps you set up your tracking codes and other third party integrations, then you can minimize any issues those create.

The beauty of a custom build is there is no trade-off between speed and quality. When you factor in the lost revenue from bounces and poor conversion that a slower site creates, the investment generally pays for itself.

Any CMS Will Require “Fixing” 

It does not matter that much which theme you choose. All will need some modification to be to pull you out of the 20-40s on Google Page Speed Insights.

Main Options

There are three common options.

  1. Plug-ins: For most CMS systems, plug-in exist to help minimize excess CSS. However, they are not a true fix, but a band-aid. They can definitely help, but they will always be the slowest of all your options. Plus, most require a subscription to gain the most benefit.
  2. AMP: Accelerated mobile pages is a stripped down version of regular HTML. It has fewer options and features, so it is very fast. However, you will need to manage two sites. Plus, you will lose continuity between your desktop and mobile versions. 
  3. Theme Optimization: This requires a developer to strip out the unused code from your theme. This is not cheap, but it can get you close to if not equal to a custom built site.

No Web Design is Really Viable if it is Not Responsive

Users expect the same level of user experience (UX) regardless of device. This is simply the bare minimum of performance.

Custom Builds are Responsive by Design

Custom builds are generally designed for mobile first. They are first designed to work on mobile, then scaled for desktop, not the other way around.

Responsive CMS Themes Require Quality Control

There are several very good themes across CMS providers that can provide a seamless UX experience. However, they require some quality control. 

These are not generally built mobile first. Therefore the first issue is image sizing. If you let the theme do it, it can cost you on performance. Therefore, you will want to be mindful of these pitfalls if you go this route. 

Web Design Needs to be Intuitive

The key challenge with any design is that it is so easy to lost in the visual and aesthetics that we lose track of why people come to a site.

Users Expect to Find What They Need Quickly

Fundamentally, a website is a communication tool. If we lose sight of this purpose, the performance in terms of dwell time, bounce, or conversion will suffer.

In fact, when users were asked what they valued most in a website they chose finding information by a 7 to 1 margin.

A separate report showed 60% users left because they could find what they needed.

Summary

For a great web design, it should excel in three key areas.

  1. The site needs to be fast. Shoot for load speed of 1 second as an average, 3 as the maximum limit.
  2. A web design is only viable if it is responsive. When mobile is primary device for search, this should be a no-brainer
  3. Layout must be intuitive. Users want to find information quickly or they leave.

ProStraegix is a web design agency with offices in New York City. We also provide SEO and pay per click advertising support to our clients.

Things to Remember…

If you're thinking about finding help in Allentown for your small business, here are the things to keep in mind.

  1. Find a firm that knows your area. If your small business is marketing in Allentown, you'll want help from someone who understands the lay of the land, character of the neighborhood, and the challenges its businesses face.
  2. Find a company you can trust. If you can't trust a business to have your best interests, you're already going to be left in the lurch. Make sure you have a guarantee that your business will be treated fairly by all parties.
  3. Get the size of help you need. A larger firm can provide more resources and can do more things. A smaller firm, on the other hand, can be less intimidating, with the added benefit of one-on-one help from the best the company can offer.

How to Adapt Our Small Business SEO Tips for Allentown

Aside from all the general tips above, here are some specific actions you can take based on the three key elements of local search algorithms:

Proximity 

All of this assumes that you have completed your keyword research and developed your keyword list. If you have not, this section will be more effective once you do. Please see our previous post on digital marketing in Allentown and then come back.

Go through your keywords list and select those which are good descriptors of your business. If it were me, I would use something like “digital marketing agency”, “seo services”, for example. Then make a list of the neighborhoods you service, for example “seo services Lehigh Valley”.

Now comes the harder part, that is frankly a bit tedious. For each combination, see if you can create a somewhat unique post that’s 500-1000 words for that keyword. For us, it is a post like this. I try to write a post that helps my potential clients learn something or do something they didn’t know they could. 

Prominence 

Now, this is the good part. If you do write quality posts for these keywords, you will be raising your prominence. Google knows that all these neighborhoods are in or near Allentown. So, for each good post you write, you help raise your prominence on a given topic in a given location.

Prominence is also helped by the basic techniques I mentioned earlier, such as being a part of local business groups, e.g. the Allentown Economic Development Corporation or Lehigh University. Any local listing helps.

Relevance

This is why I like the blog technique because it hits all three key areas. If your keyword is a descriptor of what you do and the neighborhood is one you serve, it is highly likely that you will score points on relevance.

Finding the right SEO for your small business in a neighborhood like Allentown can be a crucial way to get your company noticed online.

See more about Small Business Marketing in Allentown. If you live closer to Philadelphia, you can see our Small Business Marketing in Philadelphia. If you live closer to New Jersey, you can see our Small Business Marketing in New Jersey.