Kirby Stephens Design

Lake Cumberland Tourism site sees 82% increase in mobile users

Smartphones are “such a pervasive and insistent part of daily life that the proverbial visitor from Mars might conclude they were an important feature of human anatomy.” — Chief Justice John Roberts, Riley v. California

Indeed, we’ve become a smartphone-dependent society. Nearly two-thirds of Americans are smartphone owners — according to an October 2014 Pew Research Center study — and for many of them, their phone is their only access to the outside Internet world.

As the landscape of Internet accessibility has changed, so has KSD in the way we design websites for our clients. All new websites built in the last two years are mobile friendly, and KSD’s most recent sites are responsive, meaning they can reflow, reprioritize and even present different content depending on the screen size.

The Somerset-Pulaski County Convention and Visitors Bureau tasked KSD with redesigning the site we originally developed for them in 2011, asking for a more mobile-friendly presence on the web. Turns out the timing was perfect — the new LakeCumberlandTourism.com launched at the end of April 2015, right as Google implemented a new search algorithm that penalizes websites that are not mobile-friendly in search results.

The statistics from the Pew study support Google’s move and the CVB’s desire to have a mobile-friendly site: 64% of Americans own a smartphone, 15% have limited options for online access other than a cellphone, 10% have no broadband service at home other than their smartphone data plan and 7% have limited options for online access and no broadband service at home.

In southeastern Kentucky, limited access to broadband is especially prevalent, further emphasizing the need for mobile-readiness. Also important is catering to those visitors who want to learn more about the area on demand, and maintaining a top 5 position in Google search rankings for “Lake Cumberland,” where LakeCumberlandTourism.com has remained since KSD redesigned it in 2011.

“Not only did we want to offer visitors to Lake Cumberland a robust site with all the information they need about places to play, stay and explore in Somerset and Pulaski County, we wanted to do so no matter how they were able to access it,” said Carolyn Mounce, executive director of the Somerset-Pulaski County CVB. “Previously we could only truly accommodate desktop computer users. This beautiful new site is now functional for every Internet user on every device and allows them to fully plan their stay on Lake Cumberland.”

Since launching the mobile-friendly LakeCumberlandTourism.com, Google analytics show the CVB’s site has seen an 82% increase in new mobile users from May 1 to Sept. 28, 2015, as compared to the same period last year. New desktop users dropped by 2%, and new tablet users increased by 3%.

Apple reigns supreme as the No. 1 and No. 2 devices used to access LakeCumberlandTourism.com, with iPhones generating 9,142 sessions and iPads generating 4,248 from May 1 to Sept. 28, 2015. The Samsung Galaxy S5 comes in third at 624 sessions.

“We see an ever-increasing number of inquiries through our website, which tells me we’re achieving our goal,” Mounce said. “The more people we are able to reach, the more ways we can share how much fun can be had in and out of the water on Lake Cumberland.”

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