How important is it for your business to look good on the mobile web?
Let’s check out a few facts:
• Over 85% of mobile phones can access the mobile web
• Mobile web usage doubled last year and will double again this year
• In the US, 25% of mobile web users are mobile-only
• The most popular mobile web destinations include social networking, search and maps
• Mobile searches have quadrupled in the last year
• 71% of smartphone users who see TV, press or online ads do a mobile search
Is there any doubt?
A few years ago, a small business mobile site was a novelty; today it’s a necessity. How many people get their first impression of your business from a screen that fits in the palm of their hand? And what happens when these visitors have to wait for your site to load, or struggle to navigate your site or read your content?
You need your customers and prospects to have a positive experience on your site, whether they visit you from home, office, car or sidewalk. Fortunately, there are some simple guidelines you can follow to create a mobile-friendly experience for your visitors, starting today.
Make It Smart
When a visitor accesses your site with a mobile device, they should be directed automatically to a mobile version of your site (You can do this either by sending them to a separate mobile site or by using a mobile theme or plugin that re-formats your main site’s content – and that’s a whole separate topic). Don’t make visitors wait for your main site to load, and don’t make them hunt for a “visit our mobile site” link. Take them directly to a mobile version that loads quickly and automatically, and looks like it belongs on a mobile screen.
Remember that some of the content on your main site may not display properly on mobile devices. Simple features we take for granted on our desktops and laptops, like dropdown menus, don’t work the same on all mobile devices. Flash videos and animations won’t show up at all on iOS devices (iPhones and iPads). A smart site works and displays properly across all mobile platforms and browsers.
Make It Friendly
As in “user-friendly.” Remember that long, dense blocks of text are hard to read – especially on a small screen. Remember that navigation is by thumb, not by mouse. Break up your text into short paragraphs and bullet points. Make your links large, legible and spaced far enough apart for fat fingertips. Don’t make your visitors scroll in two directions to navigate your site or to view your words and images. Give your visitors a smooth, seamless mobile experience.
User-friendly also means well organized. Make it easy for your visitors to find the information most important to them, at a glance. You only have a few seconds to show them that you have what they’re searching for. If you frustrate them, they may leave and never come back.
Make It Tight
Keep your mobile site focused. Tighten up your content. Make sure you include all the information and functionality a mobile visitor is likely to need, and leave out everything else. Mobile visitors are less likely to be randomly browsing. They are more likely to be looking for specific information, so give it to them.
Make sure your phone number is large and prominent, and can simply be “tapped” to call you. Make it equally simple to email or text you, or to capture your contact information. Other key information and functions may include your business hours, a map to your location, a contact form, a list of your products or services, and coupons or time-sensitive offers. Focus on your visitors’ needs and minimize the marketing messages and fluff. Your users will appreciate it.
Make It Light
Even though mobile networks continue to improve, they aren’t as fast as cable or DSL internet. And for most mobile users, data usage is not truly unlimited. Keep your site lightweight for fast load times and minimal data usage. Don’t make them wait (and wait, and wait) for your site to show up – chances are they’ll go elsewhere to find what they’re looking for.
Use images and video sparingly – enough to get your point across, but no more. Don’t make your visitor’s mobile browser resize large images – make sure you load only small images to your mobile site. If you use videos, embed them from YouTube. They will be optimized for the mobile web and will probably load faster than videos hosted on your own server. Respect your visitors’ time (and bandwidth). Again, they will appreciate it.
Make It Local
If your business has an optimized Google Places listing (and it should), you may want to include a link to it from your mobile site. Google has optimized its Places listings for the mobile web. They load quickly and display a lot of useful information about your business, including reviews. Customer testimonials are pure gold – and they have more credibility if they are found on a trusted third-party site.
Make It Social
Social media use is increasingly mobile. As phones have gotten smarter and apps have gotten better, social networking has become one of the most popular mobile usage categories. Your mobile site should include prominent links to your social media profiles.
All the big social media sites have mobile-friendly versions, so they load quickly and provide a good user experience. Hint: Check out Facebook or Twitter or YouTube on your mobile browser to see a good example of a user-friendly mobile site.
Make It Happen Now
We are in the middle of a huge shift in how people use the web – and a corresponding shift in their expectations about the businesses they deal with online.
Phones have become incredibly smart and powerful, and increasing numbers of people use them as their primary (or only) means of web access. The devices are so good that expectations have been raised. People expect their mobile devices to deliver all the information they need about everything. They expect a simple, hassle-free, rewarding experience – every time.
If you don’t meet their expectations, where does that leave you? If you don’t offer a user-friendly mobile web presence, do you look like you’re capable of meeting their needs? Do you look like you care?
Take the time today to visit your business online with a mobile device. Are you happy with what you see? If you’re not delighted, chances are your potential customers won’t be delighted either. But there’s no need to disappoint them. Use these guidelines to tune up your site, and you can give them what they’re looking for – they will appreciate it.
Advisors On Target is sponsoring a free webinar with Bill McKinney about Mobile Web on February 16, 2012 at 9:00 AM Pacific. Register Here.