Since the dawning of the iPhone in 2007, millions of people are now accessing the Internet through their mobile phones. With the explosion in the use of smartphones with web browsing capabilities, comes the need for many businesses to rethink their websites. If your business relies on its web presence to drive revenue directly or indirectly, then it’s critical that you make adjustments to accommodate the millions of customers who may visit your site through their mobile devices.
So what do we mean by a “mobile friendly” website. For starters, these are websites that offer content and functionality without a lot of clutter and are easily viewable on a smartphone or other mobile device. This presents some immediate and obvious challenges for your web design. Screen size and pictures immediately come to mind, but there are also other considerations when thinking ecommerce and mobile access.
1. Consider creating a designated mobile URL. These days, your mobile website’s URL is a modification of the standard URL. Most often there will be the letter “m” before or after the URL. For example, the standard Google URL is http://www.google.com, and the mobile website is http://www.google.com/m. Notice the “m” at the end.
2. Rethink your content. People want to get useful information while on the go, which is a different use case than desktop browsing. Most mobile device users who access the internet typically aren’t shopping. The want useful information – information that they’re probably targeting specifically. And they want it quickly and on the go.
3. Organize your content with mobile consumption in mind. There is a visual challenge with viewing websites on a small smartphone screen. So organize your content to minimize the amount of scrolling your users will experience.
4. Design with a small screen in mind. While our PC screens are getting bigger to accommodate watching DVDs, etc., mobile screen are not. Typically it’s difficult for a mobile phone browser to figure out where to place things on the screen and in what priority.
5. Limit the need for user input. If your customers are accessing your site through a mobile device, it becomes a frustrating user experience if they are required to input a lot of data into fields on your site.
6. Minimize clicks. Pay attention to how often your site requires users to poke, click, and mash.
7. Use Java – not Flash. While your PC website might have some really cool Flash gimmicks, mobile browsers cannot handle heavy graphic and complicated technologies like Flash. Java is the most commonly used platform for mobile website development.
8. Think “vertical,” not “horizontal.” Structure your site so that content and pictures are organized vertically, with pictures on top of articles. The desktop horizontal design won’t display well on a mobile screen.
9. Keep it simple. A lot of internal links will make your mobile site cumbersome.
10. Link back to your homepage. You should always provide your mobile users with a quick link to go back to the home page and to previous pages.
The need for mobile website will continue to grow right along with the increase in mobile web consumption. Don’t let your business lag behind with an unfriendly website that will be useless to your customers.