As the move continues towards an Internet that is increasingly being accessed by mobile devices, businesses must be absolutely sure that they are prepared for the people that are trying to find them on the Web through a mobile device.
What can a business do to be prepared for this? Simple. Test your website on various mobile devices, and if it doesn’t work, fix it. That might be an overly simplified and broad look at the situation though. There are a lot of details that go into making sure you have a workable and useful mobile Internet presence.
What I want to do here is share a few tips to help you understand how to better approach your business’ mobile Internet presence.
Should you build a different mobile site?
I’m increasingly becoming a fan of building a completely different mobile site for your mobile visitors; a site that is designed for a mobile phone from the ground up.
This doesn’t need to be a huge undertaking, really. A mobile site for a business can be pretty simple and straightforward.
When people search for your business on their phone, what do you think they are probably looking for? More than likely it’s some pretty simple information.
They might want to know when you open today. They might want to know what your phone number is so they can call you. They might want to find an email address so they can email you.
How about a more industry-specific example? Let’s take restaurants or bars. Mobile visitors might want to know what food is on your menu. They might want to know if you have any daily specials. They might want to know what exactly is on that list of the 40 different types of beer that you carry on tap.
Considering those examples, you could build a mobile site that simply contains your contact info, directions to your location, hours of operation, latest menu and beer list, and maybe some links to your social media profiles for more information. It could be that simple. Visitors would find it to be very useful, since it contains what they want to find.
Your Mobile Landing Page
The landing page that people see when they first visit your mobile site should load quickly and have easily recognizable navigation points. If your mobile site is as simple as the one we just outlined above, you could probably get away with using just a logo, a simple color scheme and a list of text links to your pages. If you have a blog-based site, your landing page could feature links to your latest articles.
It is a good idea to ensure that the home page or the landing page of your mobile site is simple enough to load quickly and easily on both feature phones and smart phones.
Design for Touching, Not Clicking or Rolling Over
When creating a site for mobile, remember that people are more than likely using touch screens and that they won’t be able to “roll over” things. Drop-down menus that activate on rollover can cause major issues for mobile phone users, for example.
Touchable Phone Numbers
It’s a good idea to have your business phone number in an easy to access location along with the ability to click on it to make a call directly from the phone.
Most devices handle this pretty well, if the phone number is in plain text on the page, but there is also HTML code that can be added to a page to make this even more accessible.
Avoiding Flash for a site that will be accessed via mobile devices is a very good idea. Many Android devices support Flash, but Apple devices do not. Flash elements can also lose a lot of their effectiveness when scaled down to a small screen, causing a loss of the visual impact.
Plain Text Is Good
Using plain text for navigation, as opposed to images, can be a really good idea on a mobile site. Images are going to cause your site to load more slowly. Text links, on the other hand, load faster and are easier for users to recognize on the screen.
Keep URLs Short
The URLs for your pages should be short. It might even be a good idea to consider a shorter domain name for a mobile-only site, if your domain name is really long. Anything that can reduce the amount of typing required on little phone keyboards is always going to be a good thing.
These tips are pretty straightforward, but I wanted to drive home the fact that simplicity and efficiency is very important on the mobile web. When somebody is staring at their phone searching the Internet for information about your business you want them to find it quickly, before they get frustrated and move onto something else.