Five ways to make your website mobile friendly

The mobile web is growing fast as more and more of us get iPhones, Blackberrys and Android devices.

Smartphones are changing the way we use the web. Not only are people browsing on the move, but they are using it more at home – surfing the web on their phones while watching tv, lying in bed or even on the toilet.

Woman using smartphone
Increasingly your website visitors will be doing this: Make sure you make it easy for them

This means people are using the internet more – and relying on it more. No wonder the mobile web is predicted to be bigger than the desktop web by 2015.

What’s more this is likely to impact small local business even more as one in three mobile searches will is already local.

But many small business websites are simply not ready for the smaller screens, slower loading speeds and other challenges the mobile web brings.

And also there are signs that Google is tailoring search results to the device you are using – so if you have a mobile-enabled site then it will perform better on mobile searches.

So in 2013 it’s more important than ever that your website works on a mobile phone.

But it doesn’t have to cost a fortune to do it – you can make changes to your existing site.

Here are five tips to make sure your site welcomes mobile visitors, rather than sends them off to a competitor.

1. Be brief and get to the point

Lose the waffle on your website. Get rid of the marketing speak and cut the text down to the bare bones.

Web users are becoming more and more impatient anyway and are turned off by sites that are not short and to the point. Smaller screens mean mobile users are even more impatient.

Don’t make them wade through reams of text to find what they want because they will go elsewhere.

2. Use lots and lots of white space

White space is your friend. Write short sentences and short paragraphs and your site will be easy to scan. With the mobile web this is more important than ever.

Smaller screens make pages harder to read, so mobile users need some space to tap on to zoom into the page, then scroll up and down.

You also need a lot of space between links too.

It’s very frustrating to arrive at a page and find you can’t zoom in without accidentally hitting a link and sending you off to another page.

3. Cut the clutter

Remove all unnecessary graphics and images from the page. Clutter makes it harder for users to find what they want, but it also makes pages load slower too.

While some of your mobile visitors will be using mobile broadband, many will be on a much slower signal and will not be prepared to wait an age for your page to load on their phone, especially if they are waiting for graphics that don’t serve a purpose.

Some graphics packages simply will not work on some mobile phones. For example iPhones will not process Flash animations.

They may look nice but are they really necessary?

4. Test it!

You will never know what your site will look like unless you try it for yourself, preferably on a variety of phones.

You should try viewing your site on at least the major phones, although there are literally dozens of mobile devices.

If you don’t have a smart phone yourself, ask your friends who have to have a look around your site as if they are a customer. You may be able to correct some important errors quite easily.

5. Consider building a mobile-specific version of your site

Of course it may be too difficult to make these changes to your site immediately – or you may not want to for some reason.

If this is the case you should consider a separate version of your website for mobile users. These automatically send users to the correct version of your website by detecting whether they are using a computer or a phone.

A slimmed down version of your site tailored to mobile users could be the answer, and will allow you to take advantage of some mobile-specific features you can’t use on a normal site.

These include a ‘Call us’ link that immediately opens the phone’s dialler, allowing a user to ring you from a single click on a web page. Other features like interactive mapping can be made more prominent as they are likely to be more useful to those using a phone.

There are also some extensions available for popular content management systems that convert sites for mobile users – but you still have to slim down your content.

But here’s the rub

It doesn’t have to be that expensive to create a version of your site that works across every platform – from desktop computer to laptop, iPad to mobile phone.

This is what’s called responsive design and sometimes it can be implemented on the site you already have.

At Moghill we can help with making your site work for mobile phone users, whether it’s a mobile version or a responsive design. Contact us to find out more.

More information:

Photo credit: Ed Yourdon via photopin cc

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