There are two ways you can get your presence felt on mobile devices. The first is to simply provide a formatted version of your site which is “mobile friendly”. The second is to create a specialized mobile “native application”.
A “mobile friendly” site is one which automatically detects the incoming device, and provides the visitor with a version of the site which is optimized for use on a mobile device. For instance, if a visitor with a mobile device goes to our website modernearth.net, they will receive a smaller-scale, easy to navigate version of our corporate site, instead of the full blown site. Why? Ease of use – while most mobile devices would be able to render our full site, the text would be much too small and the links hard to click on, without a lot of work – pinching, zooming, etc.
In contrast, a “native application” is a software program which is designed to run on a particular mobile operation system and is downloaded to the device. While there are some online tools which can help you build a simple version of one of these applications relatively inexpensively, to build anything with complexity, you will likely require the assistance and involvement of a programmer.
A mobile friendly or mobile optimized version of your site is often a better choice than an application, because many of your visitors will be accessing your site through a mobile browser. So, let’s consider what you need to discuss with your web designers to make your website mobile optimized.
The first consideration is screen size - chances are that your website was created with “full screen viewers (FSV)” in mind. A FSV is a visitor who is accessing your site through a PC, MAC desktop or laptop computer. Because mobile devices can either have tiny screens like some smart phones, or larger high-resolution screens like some tablets, there is a wide range of screen sizes which must be considered.
When you are designing your mobile site, you should target it to display nicely for the two most popular mobile screen formations – the iPhone* and the iPad. If you site works well on these devices, it generally should display well on most of the others.
Second, consider navigation – you should have a menu that is very easy to navigate and that allows a user to easily select their area of interest. Links should be large, separated and easy to press - remember it’s easy to accidently hit the wrong link if they are small or two close together and people will be using their thumb or a finger to press the link.
The third consideration is content – you should have as little content as possible on your mobile site. Reduce your content. Then, reduce it again. Keep it to the key facts/features which are needed to have your visitor take action.
Finally, be sure to test your website and see how it appears to mobile users – ideally on a variety of platforms.
Want to find out how many mobile visitors are coming to your site? Download and install a website statistics tracking package such as Google Analytics (google.com/analytics). This allows you to see exactly how many visitors are currently coming to your site, through which mobile devices, and can correlate to some very useful comparative statistics such as:
- Bounce rate – the number of visitors which only consume one page of your site (the first page they see)
- Time one site – the average length of a visitor’s visit.
You may be surprised how high your mobile visitor segment is. You may also discover that your mobile users have a much higher bounce rate than your FSV users. You will probably see dramatic improvements in visitor engagement once you optimize your site for mobile devices.
It’s becoming increasingly important that your site embrace the world of mobile – to be fully available to all your potential customers wherever they are, and however they are accessing the internet. It’s a brand new mobile world!
Guest blogger Dan Belhassen is the President of Modern Earth Inc. He'll be presenting at the big LERN Conference this November in Washington, D.C.