These days, it does not just seem like everyone has an iPhone, BlackBerry, or Android phone. Millions of people in the United States actually do, according to comScore statistics.
Mobile devices are completely changing the way we interact with information. All of our past assumptions about how the user interacts with information are being challenged. The trick is for small businesses to leverage the new opportunities of a mobile browsing experience. Unfortunately, even though many smartphones can view it, your old desktop-ready website will not exactly meet the challenge. A mobile-friendly website is often very much separate from a company’s primary online presence. That does not mean it is unnecessary.
You can follow this guide to create a user-friendly, memorable mobile online experience for your customers.
Making Your Website Mobile-Friendly: Determine Your Need
The good news is that developing a mobile website — at least a basic one — is not as time-consuming or expensive as one might think. A number of online services exist that will quickly create a mobile-friendly version of your existing website, and many of them are free. Google Mobile Optimizer is probably the quickest fix, but also the most basic and least customizable. Other solid options are Mippin, MoFuse, Mobify, and WireNode. These services also offer premium paid products that allow for a greater degree of customization.
Others prefer a more hands-on, DIY approach. But unless you are fluent in HTML, you’ll probably be in the market for an experienced mobile Web designer. Whether you use an online service, hire a designer, or set out on your own, it is essential to be armed with knowledge of the best practices to follow. That way, you will know exactly what you want, and you will never waste any time or money.
Making Your Website Mobile-Friendly: Optimize Content for a Mobile Context
The first, and most obvious, challenge is translating the content you have designed for a desktop experience into the much smaller screen size and typically slower performance of a mobile device.
Don’t know where to start? Identify the low hanging fruit – the one or two features of your website that would be the most useful to your customer. Ideally, you want to replicate everything available on your website on the mobile version, but start with the most important things first. Single out the features that have the most relevance in a mobile context, but realize that context is unique for each business. For example, an airline might choose a flight status update feature, or information on missing luggage because its customers will most likely be accessing their mobile devices while at the airport. Obviously, the task of picking and choosing the most relevant is easier said than done.
Making Your Website Mobile-Friendly: Optimize Your Design
Now, you need to organize your content. There are a multitude of design elements when you’re writing for the mobile web development that you need to pay attention to — 60, in fact, according to Francois Daoust, a mobile expert at the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), an international community to develop web standards. You can check them all out in the W3C Mobile Best Practices document. The goal is to design your site in a way that makes it as readable as possible across multiple devices and platforms.
There are many more things to discuss about mobile website development which I will do it in my next post. I am sure you will like this one and give feedback which will actually inspire me to write the next one.