As part of Skyhook’s commitment to build a better Internet, we’ve identified some key insights that we think it’s important for our clients to consider this month:

1. New TLDs are available

Until recently, every web URL you knew pretty much ended in .com, .net or .org. Sure there were a few weird ones — .us, .biz, .info and so forth, but we all kinda felt like those TLDs (top level domains) were only created for the poor saps who didn’t move quickly enough to get their own “.com”

But all of that is changing now. In 2011, the ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) began allowing folks to apply for their own TLD. Obtaining a TLD is an incredibly difficult process — taking 2+ years and costing upwards of $185,000. Fast forward to 2014 and we’ve seen over 100 of these new TLDs come into the marketplace with more arriving every day. “.services”, “.today”, “.bar”, “.band”.. you name it, it’s probably available (or coming soon).

What does this mean for your brand?

The most exciting part about this new change is that brands now have a plethora of options. Gone are the days of having to settle for “yourbusinessnameandserviceandlocation.com” domains just because the “.com” was taken by a domain squatter. It’s also going to give brands a lot more opportunity to get creative, and we’ve already seen sites like “feed.ly” and “del.icio.us” pop up that take advantage of the new structure.

For those who own trademarks, it unfortunately means that you’ll now have to do a lot more work to police your mark as squatters may buy up variations of your name with various TLD extensions. Fortunately, along with these changes ICANN has set up the “Trademark Clearing House (TMCH)” to keep a register of trademarks and (hopefully) handle domain disputes much more expeditiously.

There’s also speculation that new TLDs will alter the way we search on the internet. For example, if you’re looking for a photographer, could you simply search all sites with a “.photographer” extension. Pretty cool, eh?

Click here to see a full list of available TLDs (powered by Godaddy)

Related articles:
New gTLDs are coming: How does it affect your business online?
Will the New gTLDs Spur Digital Innovation Away From the Home Page?
The gTLD Explosion: Changes to Domain Names that All Businesses Should be Aware Of

2. If your site isn’t responsive, you’re missing the boat

What is responsive design, and why should I care?

“Responsive design” is the term given to creating a website that automatically adjusts itself to look/behave differently on different devices. This allows you to create a more appropriate experience for visitors who are viewing from say a mobile phone as opposed to a tablet or a traditional computer. Why does that matter? Because customer experience matters. Happy customers means more money, impact and longevity for your business. If viewing your website is a painful experience for someone who is using a mobile phone, you’re definitely alienating at least some of your customers and probably a lot of them.

Related articles:
How to optimize your websites landing page for mobile

How big of a deal is it?

It’s big. As of January 2014, 58% of American adults have a smart phone and 42% own a tablet. Almost all of them use their devices to go online, and 34% of cell Internet users go online mostly using their phone. These numbers have doubled since 2009, and they’re only going to grow. In order to capitalize on this shift, some brands have been adopting a mobile first approach to web development because of the fact that in the not-so-distant future, mobile devices will be the primary devices we use to surf the net. Failing to optimize your website for mobile traffic will soon be like not accepting credit cards.

Related articles:
Pew Internet – Mobile technology fact sheet
Pew Internet – Cell internet use 2013

My site is already responsive. What’s next?

Depending on how much traffic you get (and how valuable that traffic is to you), you might consider taking your “responsive” website approach to the next level(s) — adaptive. Where responsive design essentially aims to make cross-device compatibility easy, adaptive design aims to create a truly unique/customized experience for the user based on a variety of factors like location, history, preference, time of day, browsing patterns or other contextual criteria. For example, with adaptive content you might:

  • Show an entirely different version of your webpage to a visitor who just came from Google say than from a visitor who just came from one of your competitors
  • Offer a promotion to a customer who has been on your site for 5 minutes or longer without making a decision
  • Simplify your service offering or navigation when a visitor comes through a particular channel
  • Customize ads/promotions to better resonate with your visitors based on something you already know about them (like their birthday or purchase history)


Related articles:
Which is better – Responsive web design or adaptive web design?
Breakpoints and the future of websites
Responsive web design should not be your only mobile strategy

3. Slow loading websites are becoming increasingly unacceptable

We’ve all been there. You’re driving around looking for the store you’re trying to find but you can’t see it. At the red light, you whip out your smartphone and you try to look up the company’s address before the light turns green. Or perhaps you’re cruising through your social media feeds and an article grabs your eye, but when you click on the link the site takes too long to load — so you eventually get board and click “back.” It’s sad, but page load times of more than a few seconds are becoming increasingly unacceptable to us.

Fortunately, some of the greatest advancements in Internet technology in the last few years have been in data centers. Super fast Internet connections, solid state hard drives, caching, minifying, content delivery networks — all of these technologies are working together to improve the speed at which pages are delivered. At Skyhook, we believe that this need won’t be satiated until changing web pages is as snappy as changing a channel on your television.

What is an acceptable page load time?

In 2009, the Internet infrastructure company Akamai found that 47% of visitors expect a page to load in under 2 seconds, and 57% will abandon a page that takes more than 3 seconds to load. Furthermore, in 2006 Amazon found that a 100 millisecond increase in page speed translated to a 1% increase in revenue. More recently, Google has announced that it has begun taking page speed into account when ranking websites.

Related articles:
Akamai Reveals 2 Seconds as the New Threshold of Acceptability for Web Page Response Times
Google Uses Site Speed in Web Search Ranking

How can I increase the speed of my website?

There are a dozens if not hundreds of factors that determine how fast your page will load. In our opinion, the best approach is to do a speed test and identify the parts of the page loading process that are taking the longest and fix those first. Some of the more common steps to take include:

  • Make sure you have a good host. Shared hosts or data centers that are far away from your customer base can be bad news.
  • Make sure your code is clean and efficient. Not all programming is created equally, so make sure yours is good.
  • Compress your website and minify your code
  • Make use of a content delivery network for large assets (images, videos)
  • Make sure the most important elements load first, with the larger/bulkier assets using “loading” bars and coming at the end (or behind the scenes)
  • Minimize the total number of assets loading through CSS sprites or other tricks

Related articles:
How to speed up your WordPress website
7 tips for feeding your website’s need for speed

We hope you find this information useful. If there’s anything we can do to further educate you or to help you with the implementation of any of these items, please let us know!