It is impossible to deny the continuing growth of mobile computing. Nowadays, more and more people rely exclusively on smartphones, tablets, and other mobile devices to browse the web, shop online, and stay in touch. I have asked my colleague Ian Marquis, Creative Director at Pulse Marketing Agency, to give us some tips to help you ensure that your company’s mobile website puts its best foot forward:
Automatically detect mobile devices
One of the fundamentals of web design is to make things easy for your visitors. What is the point of creating a separate mobile site if users need to hunt for a link or remember a particular URL in order to see it? Configure your website so that it can tell when a visitor is using a mobile device and direct them automatically to your mobile site. Another option is to make your primary website responsive so that it displays optimally on every device regardless of screen size. With either approach, the takeaway is the same: give your visitor the best experience possible.
Design with a small form factor in mind
When viewed on most mobile devices, standard websites are cumbersome to navigate. Users must zoom in on the page in order to be able to read content or click on links, and are forced to scroll around the site, viewing only small portions of each page at a time. This is both frustrating and inefficient. When creating a mobile website, always design with possible size constraints in mind. Current technologies like responsive frameworks make it easier than ever to ensure that your website looks its best on every device.
Show only your most important content
Because mobile devices have smaller screens, even reading a few paragraphs of text can require quite a bit of scrolling. Edit your content until only the most crucial bits remain, and completely remove pages and sections not conducive to effective mobile browsing (such as large image galleries, image rotators, and dense blogs). Your aim should be to provide your visitors with the essentials – nothing more or less. After all, they can always visit your full website (more on that later).
Optimize all of your website’s media
Although mobile networks have steadily increased in speed since inception, they are still noticeably slower than the standard broadband internet used by most homes and businesses. Additionally, mobile users often have “capped” data plans that restrict download speeds and charge additional fees after they have surpassed a certain level of usage. Because of these two points, it is crucial to optimize your business’s mobile website as much as possible. You can start with the following:
- Remove Flash animations and Flash-based video files. Not only are they large files that will drastically increase your site’s loading time, but most smartphone browsers do not support Flash at all.
- Scale and compress all of your images. Be certain that all of your images are saved at the size in which they will be displayed – do not use a larger image and rely on the browser to scale it down. Also, keep the number of images per page to a bare minimum.
- Make your navigation straightforward. The fewer clicks it takes for a visitor to reach the content they are after, the better.
Make it easy to reach you
One of the most common reasons mobile users browse a company’s website is to get in touch with them. Make that process as simple as possible for your visitors: put a strong call-to-action and click-to-call button on your landing page. Make your contact form straightforward and easy to complete. The less time a prospect needs to spend hunting for your phone number or email address, the less likely they are to give up and look elsewhere.
Provide a way to view your full website
Automatic detection and redirection are great for showing customers and prospects information quickly and conveniently – but you should never force your visitors to view your mobile site without providing a way for them to navigate back to your full site. Many smartphones now come with high-resolution screens that make browsing even a standard website relatively painless. Also, many people do nearly all of their browsing from a mobile device, making it vital that they are able to access the content they are after without switching to a regular computer.
Don’t forget to track your traffic
Be certain that you install an analytics platform on your mobile website, and check it often. This will allow you to see how many of your visitors are being automatically redirected to your mobile site, how many arrive there directly, and how many return to your full website for additional information.
The bottom line: your mobile website is more than just a smaller version of your existing site. An effective mobile site represents an entirely different way of looking at things.