App Development Questions
App Development Questions

There may be an app for just about everything, but close to fifteen years after the creation of mobile apps as we know them, there are still plenty of untapped markets. What’s more, even if apps in a given niche meet the needs of today’s users, tech changes rapidly. This means that today’s apps can become obsolete in the blink of an eye, and you could be there to fill the void. So, what do you do if you have a great idea for a new app? You move on it. Quickly! Below you’ll find a list of app development questions to ask yourself as you get started.

First and Foremost

What is the Goal of Your App?

Whether the app is your business or it’s a part of an already established business, treat it like a startup. One of the first tasks to tackle as you begin a new venture is to establish your mission and vision statements. Carefully crafted mission and vision statements will naturally help you answer these questions about mobile apps as you move through the development process. Additionally, clear mission and vision will inform every decision you make regarding your new app, from its name to launch logistics. Start by writing your mission statement. Why does this app exist? What value will it provide? Your vision statement is an extension of your mission; it describes where you see your company (or your app) years down the road.

Who Will Use Your App?

While your target audience may seem obvious, don’t overlook the benefit of very precisely defining your end user. Get specific. What does their life look like? How old are they? What is their financial situation? When do they have free time? How do they spend it? The list goes on and on. A clearly defined target audience leads to more effective market research, development plans, and marketing efforts.

What Sets You Apart?

As of today, there are nearly 2 million apps available in the Apple App Store, and over 2.5 million in the Google Play store. Users aren’t short on options. So, why should someone choose your app over another? After you have established what your app will accomplish and who will be using it, it’s time to identify what will make it stand out from the rest. What does your app do that others do not? How can the experience of current apps be improved upon? What set’s you apart?

What is Your Elevator Pitch?

Okay, you have thirty seconds to describe your app, what it does, and how it benefits your users. Annnd, go! Not sure what to say? Time to come up with your elevator pitch. Take a few moments to pare down the explanation of your new app and it’s benefits before moving forward. The clearer you are, the easier it will be for others to understand what you’re aiming for as well as the value behind it. This will save you time, effort, and energy as you move through the next steps of the app development process.

How Can You Protect Your App Idea?

This is one of the most common questions for app developers, and it’s a valid one. First and foremost, don’t go shouting your idea from the rooftops until you have the project well-established and underway. Of course, you’ll have to give some people lots of information early on. For these people, we recommend executing a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) before you divulge all the details. Here’s the thing though. No amount of tight-lipped secrecy will protect your app if someone else has the same idea and moves on it first. So, the best way to ensure this app is yours is to move on it, pronto.

Logistically Speaking

What Type of App Will You Develop?

Should you be creating a native or hybrid app? Should you just go with a straight-up mobile web app? There are several factors to consider when making this decision, including the purpose of your app, your budget, and development time just to name a few. Determine the answer to this question before moving forward, even if that means consulting with a professional to shed some light on which is right for you.

What Category of Mobile App Does It Fall Within?

This may sound like a minute detail or a no-brainer, but you want to make sure your app fits into a clear category such as game, health and fitness, productivity, etc. You can have the best home organization app around, but if you users are looking for “productivity” apps and you list it as a “lifestyle” app, they’ll be much less likely to find it. Determine the correct category to ensure your awesome new app is reaching your target audience when they fire up their app store.

Which Platform(s) Will Your App Run On?

Will you be developing your app for iOS, Android operating system, or both? This is yet another reason you need to be very clear about your target audience. Different groups of users have different tendencies, and the tendency to choose an iPhone over an Android, or vice versa, is one of them. If your app will run on only one platform you have to know which to choose.

How Will You Release Your App?

Will you launch across all platforms at once? Do you want to launch on one platform first (or only)? Will you start with a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) and go from there? These are all valid options, and it’s best to make your decisions before you get too far into planning and development, as this will also impact your next steps.

Design and Development

What Should the Design Look Like?

It should look like whatever will make your audience happiest. There’s a fine line between creatively stepping outside the box and providing something so unexpected that it’s challenging to use or displeasing to look view. In short, user experience should be top of mind when it comes time to designing your app. Just remember it’s not about how you define functionality and aesthetics. It’s all about that target audience!

How Much Will It Cost?

Of course, this is one of the first questions to ask your app development company, but we can give you an idea of what to expect. Business of Apps reports the average cost of developing an app ranges from about $18,000-$28,000. Honestly, cost will depend on several factors including the way you want the app to function, if/how it will integrate with other services, which platform you develop for, and so much more.

How Long Will It Take?

As with cost, this will depend on your specific application. Questions of this nature are tough to answer, but as a general rule, the more intricate and detailed the app, the longer it will take to develop. In general, expect 6-8 months from inception to completion. You can shorten your timeline by being very diligent in your research and taking the time to answer the app development questions included here. You’ll always come up against roadblocks that require you to shift course, but effective research and thoughtful planning can reduce the number of these roadblocks as well as the amount of time it takes to maneuver around them.

Wahoo! Its Live. Now What?

How Often Should I Update?

In the beginning, probably a lot. Bugs and their required fixes are truly a part of the process, as it’s nearly impossible to catch every potential snag prior to launch. So, plan on updating often in the first few months after you hit the app store. This way, when ratings, reviews, or problem reports come in, you’ll be prepared to adjust quickly. Over time you’ll find that you only need to update along with major changes in technology or to meet new security requirements. Other than that, you’ll update when the market (or your creative side) says it’s time for a refresh.

How Will You Define Success?

What matters most to you? Downloads, session time, ratings, revenue? If your goal is to put your app on the phone of every American, then judge your success by the number of times it has been downloaded. If your goal is to be the most amazing resource in your niche, maybe session time is your key performance indicator. Whatever your priority, structure your definition of success around it, and focus on ways to achieve that particular goal. (Hint: a mission and vision statement make answering this important mobile application question a lot easier.)

Hungry Media Can Answer All of Your App Development Questions

Bringing that niggle of an idea to fruition as a full-fledged app might sound a little daunting. But don’t worry. Hungry Media’s unique approach to app development will help you clarify the answers to all of these questions and more. We can’t wait to hear about your great idea and help you get it off the ground! Contact us today to learn more about making your idea a reality.

How to Choose a Domain Name

Your domain name is your online identity. Sure, you could use the WordPress or Squarespace domain that comes with your free website. But your domain name is the first impression visitors have of you and your business. In this sense, it’s not just an extension of your brand, but also provides helpful information to anyone searching you out. Oh, and speaking of searches, your domain name has the ability to positively impact SEO. So, if you’re concerned about how to choose a domain name for your website, you’re not alone. After all, it is a pretty important decision.

Tips for Choosing a Domain Name

Coming up with a kick-butt domain isn’t an exact science, but there are certainly a few best practices for choosing a domain name that will make a big difference. The best way to choose a domain name is to go slowly and consider the following before settling on your new web address.

Pronunciation

You can have the most thoughtfully designed site that’s perfectly optimized for conversions and search engines alike. It might even contain the world’s most engaging content. But the likelihood of a new user visiting your site drops dramatically if the site is difficult for them to find.

Confirm that your domain name is easy to pronounce by sharing it, in writing, with at least ten different people. Ensure each of them can pronounce it out loud, correctly, on the first try. If there are any sticking points, go back to the drawing board.

Spelling

In general, creativity is viewed as a huge plus, especially when learning how to pick a catchy domain name. But choosing a domain name for your business might not be the time for thinking outside the box. You want people to recall your domain name quickly and type it accurately. Here are a few faux pas that can stand in the way:

Funny Spellings – Sorry, but a domain name isn’t the place for cre8tive spellings. Using an uncommon (or made-up) spelling makes it incredibly difficult for users to find your website.

Homophones – Words with a single pronunciation but more than one spelling should be avoided in domain names. How will a user know whether you mean “new” or “knew” when they hear your domain name spoken aloud?

Numbers and Hyphens – In the same vein, avoid hyphens and numbers in your domain name, as they are confusing when it comes time to type it into a web browser.

Commonly Misspelled Words – Words that are difficult to spell can cause just as much trouble as made-up spellings or homophones. For the sake of ease, avoid using the most commonly misspelled words in your domain name.

To ensure it’s easy to spell, do another experiment. Say your domain name out loud to at least ten different people and ask them to jot down what you said. Did they spell it right? If not, you still have work to do.

Keywords

Want to know how to choose a good domain name for your business? Keyword research! Including words in your domain that relate to your business makes it easier for users to understand what your website is about. It also makes it easier for customers to find you.

Consider using keywords that describe the services you offer or products you sell. Bonus: this can also boost SEO. If you choose to use keywords, they’ll be most beneficial at the beginning of your domain name as opposed to the middle or end.

The Future

Before you settle on a domain name, think about your long-term goals. Do you dream of turning your small dog-walking business into a well-known doggy daycare and boarding facility? Then a domain name focused on dog walking might not be the way to go. Sure, the keyword is relevant now, but it could hurt you way more down the road than it will benefit you today.

Extension

Of course .com is by far the most well-known domain extension. However, since it’s been around for so long, the availability of affordable .com domain names shrinks every day.

In good news, there are several new domain extensions available. Think: .shop, .club, .photos, and .pet. If you decide to go this route, don’t just choose the first extension that pops up. Consider how to choose a domain name extension that will add clarity and context to your website. Dig into your options. You may find that there is an extension that works perfectly for your niche.

Research

Okay, now that you know how to choose great a domain name, it’s time for some due diligence. There are several factors unrelated to the name itself that will impact the viability of any given domain.

Trademarks and Copyrights –Be sure no part of your domain name is trademarked, copyrighted, or in use by another company.

For instance: even if the domain OldNavy.net is available, you probably shouldn’t use it to blog about your grandfather’s experience as a Naval Officer during the Korean War. Not only could this confuse those shopping for cargo pants and puffer vests, but you don’t want the headache of a legal battle arising from copyright or trademark infringement.

Cost– This is an important factor when picking a domain and choosing a domain name extension.  Your ideal domain name could cost a pretty penny. If you’re on a budget, brainstorm additional variations of your domain name and compare costs before making your final decision.

Social Media – Social is where it’s at when it comes to today’s digital marketing. It’s a good idea to make sure your domain name – or something very close to it – can be used as a social media handle.

Online Tools

If you need help choosing a domain name, there are several online tools to get you started. While they won’t do all of the work for you, they’ll make choosing a business domain name a little bit easier.

Keyword tools such as Google Keyword Planner can help you come up with a list of keywords related to your business.

Online “brainstorming” tools use keywords you provide to generate relevant domain name ideas. Tools like Lean Domain Search help you learn how to pick a domain name that sets you apart from the rest.

A Hosting Service will be your last stop after choosing a business domain name. Enter your desired domain with a service like GoDaddy or Bluehost to start the process of actually purchasing your domain.

How to Choose A Domain Name with Confidence

One thing’s for sure, a great website starts with a great domain. If you’re overwhelmed by what must be considered when choosing a domain name, you’ll benefit from our years of experience as we help you find one that accurately expresses what your brand is all about. At Hungry Media we specialize in developing websites that help businesses grow. From eye-catching design, to captivating copy, to a top-notch user experience – we can create it from domain down, or simply update your current site. Contact us today. We can’t wait to meet you!

What is a Vision Statement

Running a business is no joke! Effectively meeting the needs of your team and your customers, while managing your bottom line, can be a tough balance to strike.

The good news is that a clearly defined purpose goes a long way to structuring your company for success. Many new companies have mission statements, but fewer seem to have vision statements. How do you differentiate your mission vs. vision statement, and why the heck do you need both?

What is the Difference Between Vision and Mission Statements?

Mission and vision statements serve similar, yet distinct, purposes. Both set the stage for business success, especially when used in conjunction with one another.

What is a Vision Statement?

Vision Statement Definition (per Wikipedia): An inspirational statement of an idealistic emotional future of a company or group.

In other words, your vision statement is the place for you to dream. It defines where you’re headed and what you want to become.

Among many other “big picture” ideas, your vision statement can include:

  • Overarching goals
  • Dreams for your company
  • The broadscale problem your company addresses
  • Who you want to inspire

What is a Mission Statement?

Mission Statement Definition (per Merriam-Webster): a statement of the purpose or goal of a business or organization.

In essence, your mission statement clearly defines and describes the way in which you execute daily operations. A mission answers the following questions:

  • What do we do?
  • Who do we serve?
  • How do we do it?

Benefits of a Vision Statement

There are many benefits of a vision statement, from the overarching and theoretical all the way down to the nitty gritty, nuts and bolts stuff you do every day. If you’re just starting your business, we hope you are beginning to see how a vision statement will be helpful.

But what if your business is already successful and you’re happy with where things are? You may be thinking, “Why do I need a vision statement at this point? We’re all good!”

Regardless of where you fall, here’s where a vision statement can help:  

  • Guidance Over Time: Keeping your eye on the prize isn’t always easy, and it’s not uncommon for a business or business owner to lose their way every once in a while. A vision statement provides a stable framework to both work within and guide you back if you find you’ve veered off course.
  • Inspiration and Growth: Building a successful, sustainable business requires that you (and your team) remain inspired to innovate and grow. Vision statements are perfect for this purpose! Because they include broad, lofty goals, there is usually no limit to the ways in which those goals can be achieved.
  • Brand Building: Let’s not forget the importance of branding, here! Your company’s unique brand identity speaks to your mission and vision as well as how you execute upon each.

How to Write a Vision Statement

First Thing’s First

Before trying to flesh out a meaningful vision statement, take some time to list your core values and beliefs. Start by considering the following:

  • What characteristics – in yourself, in those around you, or in a business – are important to you?
  • Where do you draw the line, ethically?
  • What makes you happiest?

Write down anything that comes to mind right away. Then take a peek at a comprehensive list of values and beliefs to make sure you didn’t miss anything.

You’ll have a much easier time developing your vision statement if you have a good grasp on what, exactly, is important to you.

Crafting a Vision Statement

Since your vision statement is a big picture view of your overall goals, this isn’t the place to get specific. This is where you capture your hopes and dreams into one or two sentences. NBD, right? Don’t worry. It doesn’t have to be daunting. Start with the questions below.

  • In an ideal world, what would your company be known for? This one is pretty theoretical, and it will probably tap into those values we discussed above. That’s great, especially if your company exists because it’s your passion.
  • What are your ultimate goals for your company? Here’s where you’ll get more objective. Do you have a financial goal, a goal related to your customers, a goal related to the size of your company? While you probably won’t use the goals themselves in your vision statement, keeping them in mind will help you craft it.
  • Who are your stakeholders? These are the people for whom and with whom your company exists. Stakeholders can include team members, customers, investors, or even the community at large.

Our suggestion is to write out your answers without thinking too hard or censoring yourself. Tip – if writing isn’t your strong suit, record yourself answering the questions, and then transcribe the recording afterward.

Once you’re confident you’ve captured it all, read through and pare down from there. Combine sentences, remove redundancies, and consolidate similar ideas until you’ve got yourself a few sentences you believe truly capture where your company is headed.

A Note on Mission Statements

Once you’ve crafted a kick-butt vision statement, it’s time to work on your mission statement! Aim for a single sentence that incorporates the “who, what, and how” of your business. If you’re stuck, here are 8 Questions to Consider When Writing a Mission Statement.

Mission and Vision Statement Examples 

Sometimes starting from the end and working your way backward can help. If after reading this you’re still a little unsure, check out these examples from well-known companies.

Notice that they each capture the company’s distinguishing culture and values. Additionally, you’ll see the distinctive ways in which these companies position their mission vs. vision statements. Simply put, there’s no right or wrong, here. Each statement is as unique as the business it represents.

Envision Yourself with Hungry Media

Regardless of any operational changes that may (and will!) occur, a solid mission and vision statement will help keep your business on track and headed towards the future you have envisioned. It’s worth the time and effort to develop both.

Need help crafting a vision statement? Have a clear vision and ready to execute? We’ve got you covered either way, and we can’t wait to meet you! Contact us today to get started.

Shopify vs Woocommerce
WooCommerce vs Shopify

WooCommerce vs. Shopify

They are two of the most popular and easy-to-use eCommerce platforms available. Both allow you to build an online storefront without hiring a professional designer or developer.

What is Shopify? Shopify is a user-friendly, all-in-one eCommerce platform that allows you to set up shop without having to manage the technical aspects of website design and development.

What is WooCommerce? Easy to use and fully customizable, WooCommerce is an open-source eCommerce plugin built for WordPress. 

Here’s the thing about trying to compare WooCommerce and Shopify: while they are intended to accomplish the same goal, they function very differently. In fact, this comparison is reminiscent of our Squarespace vs. WordPress debate.

Honestly, the comparison isn’t “Is WooCommerce better than Shopify (or vice versa)?” But rather, “Which is better for you?” 

That said, let’s get to it!

Build Time

While both platforms are relatively simple to use, there is a significant difference in the amount of time and effort required to actually create your online store. 

Shopify’s build is geared towards the everyday user. One of the greatest benefits of Shopify is that even their most basic plan includes everything you need to get your eCommerce site up across multiple channels. The setup wizard makes Shopify an easily accessible option for beginners, and the drag and drop interface makes design simple and intuitive.

WooCommerce requires a bit more effort up front. Before you set up your online store, you’ll need to select and pay for a domain name, sign up for hosting, install WordPress and download the WooCommerce plugin. Honestly, these steps can be executed in a matter of minutes, but they do add an additional layer of semi-technical work to get through. Once you install the plugin you’ll find an online setup wizard that walks you through the customization process. 

If you’re building your site from scratch, Shopify is going to have a faster setup. However, if you’re already using a WordPress site, all you’ll have to do is install the plugin and get to customizing your storefront.

Design and Themes

Both WooCommerce and Shopify offer sleek professional themes that meet the needs of your mobile-first strategy

Shopify has a theme store that comes with over 180 different themes. Some are premium but many are free, and most come with options to customize. In addition to Shopify’s store, sites like Themeforest provide additional paid theme options. 

When it comes to customization of a WooCommerce site, the sky’s the limit. There is a seemingly endless number of themes to choose from when beginning your design journey. The best place to start is Woo’s own online theme store called Storefront

Plugins and Integrations

No matter how robust the platform or plugin, you’ll always need third-party tools and services to grow your eCommerce business. For example, digital gift cards optionsanalytics integrations, and shipping tools can all be purchased from a variety of online extension stores.

Shopify has an app store for this purpose. They have hundreds of options covering several features. WooCommerce has their own marketplace as well, but since they are an open-source platform the options don’t stop there. There’s almost no comparison in terms of extras when it comes to Shopify vs. WooCommerce. WordPress extensions are available for anything and everything you could possibly want, and most of them are WooCommerce compatible.  

In short, your additional options are significantly greater with WooCommerce than Shopify.

Payment Options

You’ve got to collect money in order to turn a profit, right? So, it’s pretty darn important that you accept payments online and that your customers have a variety of payment options to choose from. 

WooCommerce and Shopify both work with over 100 payment gateway options. These are either built in or added through integrations. Some examples are Stripe, PayPal, Apple Pay, and Square. Each gateway will charge a transaction fee. Keep an eye on these as you make your choice.

Shopify has its own payment solution called Shopify Payments (Powered by Stripe) plus third party options. Shopify charges a basic transaction fee, and if you use a third-party gateway, there is an additional fee on top of that. 

WooCommerce offers PayPal and Stripe payments automatically, and it supports many other popular payment services. But Woo doesn’t charge you an additional transaction fee for using a third-party payment gateway. 

Security

Online stores must be security-conscious. Taking care of your customers (and their personal information) serves to build trust. We can’t underscore the importance of branding, and trust goes a long, long way to create a positive brand image. Plus, let’s be honest, protecting your customers’ personal information is just the right thing to do. 

At the bare minimum you’ll need a Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificate, which safeguards your website so that internet bad guys can’t access your customer’s personal information. In order to process online payments, you’ll be required to maintain compliance with Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards (PCI-DSS).

Because Shopify is fully hosted, security is the platform’s responsibility. Your store will come with a free SSL certificate and is PCI-DSS compliant from day one. They also take care of making sure the site meets industry standards and that any potential security threats are addressed immediately.

The main bummer with Shopify, security-wise, is that backing up your storefront, which you should definitely do, requires a plugin. One of the benefits of WooCommerce is that it’s sites can be easily backed up to any hard drive.

Now, WooCommerce doesn’t technically have any security measures built in, but this doesn’t mean your store can’t be secured. You’ll have to source your SSL certificate first, and then tackle PCI compliance by following a few easy steps.

Customer Support

While both platforms are fairly easy to use, it’s always good to know there’s someone available to back you up if you need. 

Shopify provides 24/7 support – via live chat, phone, email, and Twitter – as they well should, since your online shop is completely dependent upon their platform. This is incredibly convenient when you have questions or need a helping hand. 

WooCommerce, on the other hand, handles support a little bit differently. Because it’s self-hosted, your primary support system will be your hosting provider. The official WooCommerce website also has a ton of documents and tutorials on demand, as well as the ability to submit general support tickets. 

An upside to WooCommerce is that it’s very popular, which means that both DIY and professional problem-solving options are easy to find and inexpensive to source.

Pricing

Obviously, cost is an important consideration anytime you make an investment in your business. Because they function differently, it’s not surprising that WooCommerce and Shopify use different approaches to pricing.

Shopify’s plans include many of the basics you need to get your store off the ground – a domain name, SSL certificate, and web hosting. A basic plan starts at $29/month with two upgrade options available, priced at $79 or $299/month. 

This price does not include third party tools or add-ons that you may need in order to upgrade functionality or help keep up with your growing business.

The WooCommerce plugin is technically free, but there are still costs associated with building and maintaining a WooCommerce site. Your domain name can cost as little as $10 per year and an SSL certificate goes for about $70 annually. Web hosting starts at about $8 per month.

Don’t overlook one important feature when comparing Shopify vs. WooCommerce – transaction fees. Both Shopify and WooCommerce charge a payment processing fee of 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction. But, if you opt to use third party payment gateways, Shopify charges an additional 2% per transaction. WooCommerce sites are subject to standard processing fees, only. 

In short, it’s much cheaper to start with WooCommerce than Shopify. However, there are more places to spend when you’re using WooCommerce. Paid add-ons such as premium themes, plugins for SEO or security, and social integrations will definitely make your shop stand out, but they’ll also impact your bottom line. 

WooCommerce vs. Shopify: What Now?

Both Shopify and WooCommerce have a place in the online shopping world. Which one is right for you depends on your ultimate goal.  

Our suggestion is to start by writing a mission statement. How do you see your online store growing in the next five years? What are your short-term goals, and what are the next steps once you achieve them? If you know where you’re headed, it’s much easier to figure out how to get there. 

Set-up Shop with Hungry Media

We know, even after reading all about WooCommerce vs. Shopify, the decision can still be overwhelming. Sometimes, simply determining a starting point is all you need, and sometimes you’ll want support throughout the entire process. Regardless of where you stand, Hungry Media can help. Our unique approach to design and development ensures your needs are met and your eCommerce site is set for success. 

Reach out today to get started. We can’t wait to help you make your big idea a reality!

Mobile First Strategy
Mobile First Strategy

We Live in A Mobile World

Mobile is here, people, and it’s here to stay! So, it’s no wonder the term “Mobile First Strategy” has become a bit of a buzzword these days. 

The phone you keep in your pocket, and are very likely using to read this article, is exponentially more powerful than the computer NASA used to manage Apollo 11’s moon landing or Nixon used to run the country during his presidency. Another interesting statistic: more Americans own smart phones than desktop and laptop computers combined. 

Why are we sharing this with you? Because historically, most web developers have chosen to take a desktop-first approach, with a mobile design as a secondary consideration. In short, they begin with full-sized sites and work their way smaller. It makes sense, or at least it did fifteen years ago – before smartphones became the way of the world and mobile first development strategy became a must. 

But times, they are a-changing. 

What is a Mobile First Approach?

It’s pretty much what it sounds like. A mobile first strategy takes the typical “desktop down” paradigm of web design and flips it on its head. Mobile first strategy makes mobile considerations the primary concern, with laptop and desktop versions developed from there.  

This is not to be confused with a “responsive design,” in which a desktop-first design changes based on screen size. Navigation options and download speeds of responsive sites remain geared towards desktop users instead of mobile. This isn’t the case with mobile first.

Mobile first design is similar to developing a mobile app which is adapted for viewing on a desktop or laptop. In this case you start small – you can only fit so much on a mobile screen, after all. You’ll decide what is most important to include on that screen and go from there. Compared to typical desktop design, a mobile first design strategy usually includes fast download speeds, simple navigation, shorter forms, and interactive, media-rich content.

Why Mobile First Strategy?

“Why not?” might be a better question. There’s no two ways about it – we’re addicted to our mobile devices. 

Seriously, when was the last time you went a day, an afternoon, or even an hour without looking at your phone? As of 2019, 53% of total internet traffic came from mobile devices. It’s estimated today that 25% of mobile web users are “mobile only” (i.e. they rarely use a desktop or laptop to access the internet). 

Plus, Google’s algorithm favors mobile friendly sites. Currently, when a search is conducted from a mobile device, Google returns responsive sites closer to the top of the list. It stands to reason that as mobile first content strategy becomes the norm, the algorithm will begin to favor sites designed not just responsively, but with the mobile user experience as the top priority. 

The internet has broken out of its computer-shaped box, and it is now carried around in our pockets. That’s not going to change anytime soon.

What is a Mobile First Marketing Strategy?

Users make buying decisions based on their ability to access information on products or services immediately; therefore, it’s not enough just to have a mobile friendly website. A mobile first marketing strategy is a must, as well.

According to a bizreport study, while less than half of users actually make their purchase on a mobile device, most use it to research a product before purchasing. As consumers we’re using our smartphones to find inspiration, compare prices, learn about various companies, read reviews etc. If this process isn’t smooth and comfortable, the probability that we’ll move forward with a purchase takes a nosedive.

Even if most of your business transactions occur in person, you’re not immune to the mobile shopping trend. It’s been reported that 82% of smartphone users have consulted their device to research potential purchases while standing inside the store.

A mobile first strategy includes unique content for mobile users, social media integration, and of course web design optimized for mobile usage and viewing. 

So yes, everyone needs a mobile (probably even a mobile first) business strategy. Think about it this way: the content your consumers see on their mobile device establishes brand awareness, develops brand loyalty, and drives purchasing decisions.

Mobilize Your Mobile First Strategy With Hungry Media

To make it in today’s market, mobile is a must. We’re here to help design and implement your mobile first strategy. Contact us at info@hungrymedia.com to get started. We can’t wait to hear from you!

Writing a Mission Statement

Writing a mission statement is a must for business builders, app developers, content creators and any other entrepreneur. However, slowing down to brainstorm about one simple sentence doesn’t always seem like a great use of time, does it?  But while a mission statement is a single sentence – it’s certainly far from simple.

How to Write a Mission Statement

What is a Mission Statement?

In short, the purpose of a mission statement is to define your company and set it apart from the rest. It describes why you exist, your goals, what you will provide your stakeholders, and how you plan on achieving it all. That’s a lot of pressure to put on one little sentence, huh?

Why Should You Be Writing a Mission Statement?

That is a lot of pressure to put on one little sentence. Which is exactly why the importance of a mission statement can’t be understated. Creating a mission statement is a process. It isn’t something you throw together in a few hours and slap up on your beautifully designed website.

Good mission statements will serve as your compass. A well thought out mission statement guides your decision making. It helps you focus your resources. It serves as a starting point for your branding. It provides a framework for your employees to work within.

So, yes. A mission statement is a big darn deal! And, yes. You should definitely be writing one. But how, exactly, do you do this?

Questions to Consider Before Writing a Mission Statement

Learning how to write a mission statement for a business takes time and perseverance. To get started, sit with the questions below and document your answers. It’s important that your mission truly encompasses the spirit of your business, so don’t rush this part.

What are your beliefs? 

To what do you hold true? What colors your view of the world? The best mission statements are built upon this foundation. A sentence to describe each of your top 3-5 beliefs will do.

What do you value?

Think about what makes you choose to spend your money on one product over another? What makes you gravitate towards certain people? This is a great way to identify the attributes you value most. Try to pare your values down to 1-2 two words, each.

Why does your business exist? 

What is your goal? Take a holistic view of your beliefs and values to answer this one. Of course, most businesses aim to make money. But what’s the reason you chose to make money in this particular way? That is your why.

What action word best suits your company? 

Dedicate, inspire, awaken, nurture, champion, refresh. Your options are endless. If you don’t identify with one word right away, try starting with a broader statement and whittle it down to a single word from there.

Who is your ideal customer? 

Envision them actually deciding to use your product or service. Why do they want it? How do they find you? What benefit will you provide? Keep this person in mind as you draft each version of your mission statement.

What makes you special? 

Why should a customer choose your business, specifically? Do you provide incredible value, the best customer service in the world, the most relatable content? What sets you apart from the rest?

How do you serve your other stakeholders? 

Describe exactly how you want those involved in your business to feel about you (and their work). According to a 2017 study, mission statements are more effective when stakeholders other than customers are considered, too.

How will others perceive your mission statement? 

This will inform the words and tone you use to craft your business mission statement. It also provides a great starting point for the revision step, below.

How to Write a Good Mission Statement

Once you’ve spent time considering the questions above, you can begin creating your mission statement. While there’s no “official” checklist, there are a few logical steps you can follow to guide you through the process.

  • Get it out. Write down, in paragraph form, exactly what you want your mission statement to convey. Include the answers to the questions above as clearly as possible. Don’t worry about word count yet. Just get it out there.  
  • Collect feedback. Have others read your draft. Ask them questions. How does it make them feel? What meaning does it convey? What could make it better? This isn’t the time for you to talk. Just ask the questions, listen to the answers, and take it all in.
  • Revise. You may need to revise and collect feedback a few more times before this first statement feels like a true expression of your mission. Don’t move on until it does.
  • Use a formula. Rewrite what you’ve got to fit this formula: Goal + who + how = mission statement. 
  • Collect more feedback. Ask the questions again. You want to ensure sure the change in structure hasn’t changed the overall perception of the statement.
  • Revise, again. Same as above.
  • Pare it down. Get out your red pen and start editing! Aim for a maximum of 20 words. Yep, 20! Get creative. Use a thesaurus. Research other mission statement examples for inspiration.
  • Walk away. Give your brain a break. Take a day or two to clear your mind. This will give a fresh perspective before you dig in again.  
  • Rinse and repeat. Continue to revise and seek feedback until you’ve got it right.
  • Use it! Take advantage of all that hard work. Allow your mission statement to guide you from here on out.  

Need Help Writing a Mission Statement for Your Business?

A good mission statement lays the foundation for business success. If you find yourself stuck, want to make the most of your existing mission statement, or simply need help working a mission statement into your marketing plan, reach out! We’re here to help and would love to be a part of your journey. Contact us at info@hungrymedia.com to get started!

Importance of Branding
Importance of Branding

What is Branding?

The term “brand” refers to a name, design, symbol, or other feature that sets a product or service apart from the rest. “Branding your business” refers to the process of fostering an emotional connection between the consumer and the brand.

Regardless of whether you own an established brick and mortar, are in the development phase of a cool new app, or just getting your startup off the ground via a crowdfunding campaign – your brand is your reputation. The importance of branding cannot be underestimated.

The Importance of Branding

In today’s marketplace, brand building isn’t simply a task that you complete in order to move on. Working through the steps of branding is a necessity. Branding promotes recognition, sets you apart from competitors, and tells customers what to expect from you. According to a 2013 Neilson survey, 59% of consumers prefer to buy new products from brands familiar to them.

Customer aside, a strong brand provides an internal compass. Brand can guide business decisions and help you stay on track when faced with uncertainty.

What is Brand Identity?

Brand identity encompasses several factors. It might start with a brand logo, but it also includes what a business actually represents and how customers feel when they think of it.

A strong brand identity will help you stand out in the marketplace by making your product or service more memorable to consumers. Over time it can also solidify your identity as a subject matter expert in your niche.

How to Create a Brand Identity

Keep in mind that brand identity is fluid and ever evolving. Therefore, it’s not something to create and forget about. You’ll want to monitor it closely and work to strengthen it as time goes on. Here are a few brand building strategies to get you started.

  1. Establish a mission statement. The time required to develop a strong, meaningful mission statement is time well spent. Your mission statement becomes the foundation of your brand by defining your purpose and your target audience. Everything from logos, to taglines, to voice should reflect your mission statement.
  • Determine what sets your company apart. You don’t have to be the biggest, fanciest company in your niche to stand out. What do you offer that nobody else can? What do you do well that you competitors do not? Is it the authentic, transparent customer service you provide? Is it the simple, handwritten note you include with each order from your Esty shop? Figure out what sets you apart…and do that!
  • Develop a brand voice. What adjectives will describe the way you communicate with your audience? Casual? Humorous? Professional? Technical? Once you decide how you would like to be perceived, brand your business by ensuring all customer-facing content utilizes your brand voice.
  • Maintain consistency. Once you begin to execute your plan with brand identity in mind, you’ve got to stay consistent. Otherwise you’ll confuse your customer. This means ensuring you’re always guided by your mission statement; moreover, it includes branding design components and web design elements, such as colors, fonts, logos, etc.

After you’ve established a solid brand identity, you can begin to foster brand loyalty. And let us tell you, this is where the magic really happens!

What is Brand Loyalty?

Brand loyalty (or lack thereof) can make or break any business, since it is based on customers’ feeling of support or allegiance to the business. The best brands can (and do!) maintain a loyal customer base despite changes in the environment, increases in cost of products or services, actions of competitors, market fluctuations, etc.

Brand loyalty exists when customers feel truly connected to the brand itself. This connection can be derived from a number of factors including the quality of the product or service, trust in the business, and customer service experiences, to name a few.

An established, loyal customer base will lead to repeat customers and word or mouth referrals, which are the holy grail of business building. As you can imagine, though, brand loyalty doesn’t just develop overnight. I must be built organically, and over time.

How to Build Brand Loyalty

Now that we understand the purpose and importance of brand loyalty, let’s look at a few ways to build it!

  1. Identify your target audience. Who is your ideal consumer? What are their priorities? Where do they shop? How do they dress? How much money do they make? Answering these questions in advance will ensure that your marketing efforts are focused in the on the correct group of consumers.
  • Examine what makes them tick. Learn what drives your target audience to make buying decisions and use this information as you create customer-facing content. Everything from customer service replies to Instagram ads should be developed with the needs of the customer in mind.
  • Stay consistent. Consistency is key here, too. You’ll build the most loyal base when your customer knows what to expect from you. This includes anything from how often you post on social media, to shipping time for your products, to turnaround time for email responses.
  • Provide incentives. For your customers to return, that is. Repeat business is where it’s at! Consider creating a loyalty program or use promo codes to keep customers coming back for more.
  • Use Social Media Influencers. Brand loyalty is dependent upon trust. Generally, consumers already trust the influencers they choose to follow on social media. If one of those influencers believes in your brand, their followers will be much more likely to believe in you as well.
  • Let your personality shine. Connection can drive brand loyalty. And nothing connects people quite a common quirk or two! Don’t be afraid to be yourself! YOU might be the very thing that generates an emotional connection between your customers and your brand.

Build a Brand that Inspires Loyalty

The best brands are built upon a strong foundation, which allows each and every branding decision to be made strategically. Whether you want to learn how to start branding your business, discuss the importance of branding, or simply want to brainstorm business branding ideas, we’re here for you!

We’d love to make your ideas a reality and help you create a brand that inspires lifelong loyalty. Contact us at info@hungrymedia.com. We can’t wait to hear from you.

Squarespace vs Wordpress
Squarespace vs WordPress

Okay, so you’ve decided to build a website. You know what it’ll look like, which web design mistakes to avoid, and what it’s purpose will be. What’s next? Well, when it comes to actually building your website, the first step to pick a web design platform. This decision often comes down to Squarespace vs. WordPress, and which is right for you.

Both web design platforms allow users to create a website with minimal technical skills and experience; however, they aren’t created equal. There are pros and cons to each, when considering which to choose.

The main points of comparison between these two website platforms are a result of their fundamental differences. Web design powered by WordPress (and we are referring to WordPress.org, here) uses an open source content management system, where as Squarespace is a cloud-based website builder.

That said, they’re often used for the exact same purpose – building and maintaining a website for use as a business tool. So, which should you choose, and why? Well let’s take a look!

Squarespace vs. WordPress: Design Flexibility 

Variety and Availability of Themes

It’s pretty safe to say that there’s little comparison here. When it comes to design flexibility, WordPress is going to have Squarespace beat. This is because WordPress is intended to be built upon, while Squarespace is intended to be a one-stop shop.

When designing a site from scratch, the options offered by WordPress are nearly endless. To date, there are over 7,000 free WordPress themes. And then there are thousands more premium options available for purchase. Most, if not all, WordPress templates are customizable in terms of colors, fonts, layouts, etc. Additionally, WordPress web design provides more in-depth functions and allows for complete, customizable control.

Squarespace is a “feature rich” web platform known for it’s beautiful, sleek templates. But given the nature of Squarespace itself, there is a relatively limited number of templates available. On the other hand, these templates are ready-made and come with plenty of preset features that are simple to use.

Extensions and Integrations

In a way, this could fall into the category of “design flexibility” above, as it can refer to the options you have when creating your website. But, it also refers to the options you have after your site is up and running.  As your business, following, or customer base grows, you may find yourself in need of additional functionality.

WordPress is much more adaptable in this situation. In addition to the most essential WordPress plugins, you’ll have close to 47,000 options to utilize. Whether you need to connect with third party software, tools, and services, or simply need to add a new feature – there’s a plugin for that. As your business grows, you’ll find endless opportunities to grow your website alongside it.

The list of available extensions for Squarespace, compared to WordPress, is very short. There are a few third-party integrations, but there isn’t a very robust API to build upon. If you want to extend a site using Squarespace, you’ll have to work within its limitations.

Squarespace vs. WordPress: Performance

SEO Optimization

Search engine optimization, or SEO, is super-important these days. It’s how you get your website to show up in a Google (or Bing or Wiki) search. But SEO optimization is an ever-changing science, and it can be a bit tedious to learn. Enter: SEO tools.

There are several SEO tools integrated into Squarespace, versus WordPress which requires plugins to achieve the same goals. WordPress plugins like Yoast SEO will guide you through best practices to optimize your site as well as your content.

Security

Website security is a hot topic, and for good reason. Your customers have to trust that you will keep their information safe. There’s one main difference between Squarespace vs. WordPress when it comes to security – who’s responsible for it.

WordPress requires that you keep your site’s security up to date. While this may seem a little scary, you need not fear! There’s a plugin for that. In fact, there are several plugins that automatically take care of security for you.

On the other hand, Squarespace manages security for you. The platform ensures your site stays safe from hackers and that the system functions properly.

Squarespace vs. WordPress: Convenience 

Mobile Editing

You’re probably on the go just as much as your customers are! You’ll want the option to edit, track, or analyze your site without having to sit down at your computer.

The free WordPress app allows you to edit content, review analytics, and update your pages from your smartphone. The official Squarespace app only allows you to edit your pages. There are additional apps available which provide the ability to update Squarespace content and track performance.

In short, you can edit from your mobile device regardless of which web design platform you choose. The only difference is the number of apps you’ll need in order to do so.

Ease of Use

When it comes to getting something new off the ground, the decision often comes down to ease of use. So, let’s talk about that!

WordPress is pretty intuitive. Given everything we’ve discussed here, it stands to reason that WordPress will take some time to learn. The good news is that the learning curve isn’t terribly steep. Most beginners adapt to WordPress after a just few days of working with the web design platform.

On the other hand, Squarespace’s visual, drag and drop operation very beginner friendly. In fact some might argue there’s no learning curve at all. Yes, it offers fewer choices in general, but that can simplify the decision-making process, thus shortening the time from inspiration to complete creation. Plus, you still get everything you need to design, publish, and maintain a full website.

Squarespace vs. WordPress: Cost

And here we are. The bottom line. What is each one going to cost you? Well, just like everything else on this list, there’s no black and white answer.

Technically WordPress is free. You don’t have to pay to use their software. But you do have to pay to host your site, as well as incur the one-time costs for any premium themes, templates, or plugins. There are plenty of hosting options available. For a service like Bluehost, which starts at $7.95/month, it’s a relatively inexpensive investment.

Squarespace is software as a service. Basically, you’re creating your site and paying a monthly fee for Squarespace to maintain it on your behalf. As with any service, there’s a cost. The cost of Squarespace includes hosting and starts at $12/month.

To be honest, the costs of each will probably equal out over time. You might spend less initially on Squarespace vs. WordPress, which could have a higher up-front cost. On a monthly basis, however, you will likely spend less on WordPress site.

Conclusion – Which is the Best Website Platform?

Well, as you might imagine, there’s no straightforward answer, here. Squarespace is certainly easier out of the gate for a beginner. However, it’s limitations can make future expansion of your site challenging, or even impossible. WordPress may take more time to learn, but most believe its flexibility is worth it.

The best platform for web design comes down to your ultimate goal. What do you intend to use your site for? Where do you see yourself and your business in two, five, ten years’ time? Our best piece of advice – start with the end in mind and work backward form there.

We’re Here To Help!

Want to talk it out? Interested in learning more about Squarespace vs. WordPress? Need a second opinion or some assistance? Get in touch! We’d love to help you design and build a website that meets the needs of your business today and well into the future. info@hungrymedia.com

Web Developer Insurance
Wed Designer

Dumb question, right?  Wrong!  Unfortunately, not every web designer or developer is insured.  “Why would I need insurance?” “What could possibly happen?”  Well, let me tell you, a LOT. 

As a web designer and software developer, there are some pretty simple things that could happen to you that maybe you have not considered.  Take us for example, we are located in LA, MO, and Warsaw.  While all of our software is backed up with cloud solutions, most of our day to day coding occurs locally before it’s uploaded.  Take the Midwest where tornadoes LOVE to threaten us.  As you can imagine, we didn’t buy the cheapest equipment on the market and for us to lose all of the software, the computers, and our serves…okay, let’s not think about that, but it’s possible and something to consider.

Outside of “Acts of God”, there are dozens of reasons for having insurance.  I know they are probably likable people, but let’s say another client of theirs and your developer have a falling out. Scope of work had changed, long hours and not getting paid, blah blah blah, you get the idea.  Now they are ready to burn that client bridge and there is a lawsuit, having insurance could be their only saving grace.  The insurance company will get a team of legal experts together to deal with the client and this could be settled out of court. If a client makes a claim against your developer, their professional indemnity policy will pay the defense costs. This isn’t just for situations that have escalated to court. Insurers want to solve problems before they get to that stage, so they’ll provide a team of legal experts to help negotiate terms with your client.  Now the company doesn’t have to close.  You’re safe!

Copyright Infringements

What about Copyright infringements?  This one is the most common claims that web designers are faced with.  Even if they unknowingly or unintentionally used a photo, verbiage, content or videos that were licensed, they are still going to be in trouble, will need to meet for hours with attorneys and will have to spend time in court. Now, I bet you are wishing they had insurance?  Still not convinced? Keep reading

Script Errors

Let’s say they are writing code for your new website they are building.  It has been tested and has launched and all of a sudden the accounting department finds an error with their script and they have cost you thousands of dollars!  OR they are cyber attacked because there is a data breach and you aren’t protected.  Losses due to hacking and malware issues are also covered with insurance.

Timing Issues

As a web design or graphic designer, they publish high quality designs on a schedule and a budget to make everyone happy.  Sometimes things don’t work out as planned. Maybe you, the client, was slow to get your information, maybe their project manager has been out sick and now you are really far behind.  This could put your hard work and their company at risk.

The Human Factor

We all know the company has a great reputation, but every once in a while, they get an employee that doesn’t love them as much as everyone else.  Next thing you know, they quit their job and with them they take their desktop, software, phone, you know, those precious tools of the trade.

It’s Required!

And the elephant in the room, most companies REQUIRE insurance.  That seems reason enough.  It will cover personal injury, property damage, medical expenses, completed products and personal and advertising injury.  Reassuring your clients that you are covered will likely make them feel more comfortable and could be the final selling point to having them hire you.  So yeah, you should care if your web designer or developer has insurance.

Tell us what you think!

Info@hungrymedia.com

Web Developer Location
Web Developer Location

How many of you check your email in the morning and you see several emails directed to you to help you build a “newer and better” website?  I’m sure all or most of you.  These emails are not bad; in fact there are some really great legitimate companies out there that send out those emails.  But before you randomly hire one of them, make sure you know whom you are hiring.

One of the questions you should be asking is where are they located?  There is a big debate about hiring a local web developer versus a company that is overseas and there are pros and cons to each.  Let’s go through some.

Cost

Often times overseas developers will charge a quarter (or less) than a local developer, who normally charges around $150 an hour.  The thought is “why would I spend more money to get the “same thing”?  If you spend less on the site, you could use the cost difference to add more to the site, right?  Well, in a recent survey, 62% of offshore IT contracts cost much more than the business expected. 

When you hire a local developer, you are paying the amount they charge for good reasons.  You are getting someone on your team, which can make or break your website.  Your local agency will be on the same page as you the entire time and can change directions with you rather than waiting 12 hours to talk to your overseas team.  You are also helping to pay for their healthcare, which we all know can be a ridiculous amount of money.

Contracts

Typically, you won’t have a long-term agreement with an overseas developer, which can be a plus.   If you find yourself needing someone with a specific specialization or skill set and down the road, a short bit later, you may realize that you need someone else to complete a different skill set, you will likely not be committed in a contract.

When working with a local agency, you will likely be asked to sign an agreement with them for the full spec of the work you need done.  All the developers and coders will all be in the same place working on the same projects so you are getting a smooth transition from one phase to another.  For us, we work in phases.

Phase 1: Discovery

We will first meet with you to discuss your concepts, must-haves, expectations, etc. in order to identify specs that effectively outline your ideal product. We will discuss design preferences, existing branding elements, and functionality requirements, while also identifying additional specs for Phase 2 development.

Phase 2: Design

From detailed documentation and architecture we will design a beautiful, functional interface, and present your brand as a trustworthy authority in its space. 

Phase 3: Develop

Immediately after initial planning is in place and approved by your team, the build begins. Regular meetings will be held to measure progress and manage expectations. Status reports will also be sent weekly to ensure written documentation of project status. 

Phase 4: Deploy

Hungry Media will provide rigorous testing, detailed QA, and a formulaic launch process to make sure we are putting your best foot forward. Additionally, we stay on through launch to support the work we create.  While we do have set completion dates with most of our clients, most projects require monthly maintenance and support, and this will be no different.

Time Difference

Don’t forget the time difference!  This one to me is huge. Probably because I love my sleep!  Unless you are willing to wake up in the middle of the night or early morning, don’t expect to speak directly to your overseas developer.  Let’s say I am in the Central Standard time zone and my developer is in India, that is a 12 hour time difference. While I CAN wake up at or talk late at night to make critical decisions, I am not going to be at my best when making those decisions.  One thing you could do is hire a project manager to deal with it on your behalf, but let’s face it…that’s just more money to spend.

While there is no right or wrong answer here (and honestly the best option for you may be a hybrid), to ME, hiring local takes all (or at least most) of the stress out of what will already likely be a demanding time for you.  Plus investing in a company that is local to you can help you invest back in to your community by creating local ownership and jobs and a supporting community groups.

Learn more about our Hungry Media locations stateside and overseas here.

Tell us what you think. info@hungrymedia.com