Superior Web Design Manhattan | ProStrategix

Hakilon, CC BY-SA 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

Manhattan: Constantly Evolving Mosaic of Neighborhoods

I have lived in Manhattan for the past 20 years or so. I have watched the city change dramatically in just that small window of time. Twenty years is a long time, but few cities are as dynamic and ever evolving as Manhattan is.

I grew up in Pittsburgh, and I think it is a great city. Although I haven't lived there in twenty years or so, it still feels very familiar. In contract, the Chelsea I moved into in the late 1990s looks nothing like it did then. You would be hard pressed to see anything that has remained the same.

That's the fundamental challenge of Manhattan. How to survive and remain relevant when you are living in a whirlwind of change and evolution. Each neighborhood is slightly different in its rate of change, but they all share a similar theme - if you are standing still, you are falling behind.

Why Web Design Matters in Manhattan?

Great web design is important no matter where you are located. However, in densely populated areas like Manhattan, where mobile usage is high. It is cost of entry. You are at a significant disadvantage without it.

  1. Great UX Experience: Easy to find what I need quickly. No one is going to fish around a site. If it is simple and intuitive, they are on to the next thing.
  2. Raising Awareness: Nothing kills awareness like a slow site. If you do not load in around 1 second, that opportunity is lost
  3. Catch them When They are Nearby: If they are searching on mobile, they are likely looking for something nearby. An east, fast, and intuitive site make it clear how close 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 Manhattan?

Manhattan businesses are constantly trying to stand out. They are always competing with new ideas, concepts, and new ways to solve old problems. The question many of them face is about the brand. Can it evolve, or is it too rooted in one thing or another. Can the brand be authentic to both, or do you have to choose?

  1. Local digital marketing in Manhattan is about targeting. Who are the right people to reach? What are the right messages to send?
  2. Once you identify the target, it is important to raise awareness among them that your business exists. 
  3. Local digital marketing lets your target the right customers when they are nearby. That's the other truism about NYC and Manhattan specifically. If it's not within a 5-10 minute walk, it's too far.

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.

Manhattan: Maintaining a Brand when Everything is Evolving

As I said earlier, Manhattan is a place of constant change. This can be incredibly challenging for a brand to manage. Branding is about consistency and building equity. How can you do that when tastes and customers change so quickly?

The key is to find your core equity, which is less about what you do and more about who you are and why you do it? Methods and things can change, but core values do not. That's how you can evolve. You can change what you do or how you do it, without sacrificing the brand to do it.

How to Adapt Our Small Business SEO Tips for Manhattan

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 Manhattan 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 Hudson Yards”.

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 Manhattan. 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. Please see the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce or New York Small Business Services for listings that might pertain to you. 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 that you will score points on relevance.

These same tools would apply if you want to target local SEO in NYC

If you are more interest in the borough, you can see our Small Business Marketing in Manhattan. If you want the full city, you can see our Small Business Marketing in NYC.