“Round, round, get around. I get around,” sang the Beach Boys. If they’re like most people these days, they’re taking the Internet with them on their smartphone. For the first time, more than half of all U.S. adults own a smartphone, tablet or both. Mobile web surfing is estimated to overtake desktop web surfing by 2015. It is imperative that your business have a mobile website to stay competitive.
Why? For starters, while most mobile web browsers (such as Safari on iPhones and iPads) will display a desktop website, it will appear tiny on the small mobile screen. The layout may be unintentionally rearranged, miniature text links will be difficult to click and the reader will likely need to zoom and scroll in order to read your brilliant website.
You see, a regular desktop website is a “sit down” activity. Users spend more time browsing web pages on their big desktop monitors with their mouse and keyboard. It’s a relatively relaxed experience.
In contrast, mobile website browsing is a “stand up” activity. Mobile website users are on the go, actively seeking specific information, like a map or phone number, and they need it immediately.
8 Top Qualities of Beautiful, Effective Mobile Websites
To address the unique needs of the mobile web surfer, your mobile website should be:
FAST: Load times matter. Optimize your content, images and video for mobile. If a mobile site is too cumbersome or slow the user is likely to search another site within 5 seconds or less.
SIMPLE: It’s a small screen. Ensure your navigation is simple and intuitive. Users expect a web browsing experience comparable to the desktop version.
VISIBLE: Maximize readability using contrast, negative space and large fonts.
THUMB FRIENDLY: Smartphones and tablets are elegant in their touch-screen simplicity. But swiping, pinching and tapping a miniature text link can be next to impossible. Use large buttons in your mobile web design that even the clumsiest of thumbs can work.
ACTION ORIENTED: Mobile users have immediate needs: to call, get directions or share with their friends or family, and more than half the people searching on a smartphone will make a purchase. Don’t miss this opportunity for conversion. Provide obvious click-to-call, or click-for-map features for visitors to easily make contact.
LOCALIZED: Mobile users are, well, mobile. Choose content that is locally relevant. A restaurant should let mobile visitors use their smartphone to make a reservation. A mechanic with several locations around town could provide a map and leverage the GPS capability built in to the smartphone to highlight the location closest to the user.
ENTERTAINING: What’s the number one activity people do while using their smartphone? If you guessed waiting, you’re right. Mobile users are often killing time, waiting in line at the grocery store, at the doctor’s office, bus station, wherever. Give them something to do by offering content that is entertaining.
UP TO DATE: As with your desktop site, keep content fresh and up to date.
Setting up Your Mobile Website Design
If a website redesign is already in the works, consider a responsive design. Responsive website design, or RWP, is the trendy technique that changes the website’s layout depending on the screen size it’s being viewed at. No confusing redirects and subdomains; the user sees your same website content, just reformatted for the mobile screen. On a final note, regardless of the backend programming, be sure to provide a way for the user to manually change to the desktop version of your website, just in case.
QR Codes and Your Mobile Website
QR codes, those funny squares you see on product packaging, direct mail and in magazines, are a great way to connect with mobile web surfers. Any modern smartphone can read the simple bar code with their built-in camera and one of a multitude of scanner apps, eliminating the need for the user to type the website URL on the dinky virtual keypad.
It seems obvious, but keep in mind that the website the QR code launches will be viewed on the small mobile screen. So if you’re using QR codes in your marketing, make sure that the web page it points to, is optimized for mobile viewing. Our blog article, “Best Practices for QR Code Marketing Ideas,” provides creative ways to integrate QR codes into your marketing campaign.
In summary, do not underestimate the importance of a mobile website for driving engagement with, and ultimately revenue from, new and existing customers. You’ve invested time and money into your site—now, take it to the next level and go mobile!
Image courtesy of Liz Noffsinger / FreeDigitalPhotos.net