I’ve got bad news for folks who like sitting in front of a PC – the desktop computer is going the way of the dodo. Every day about a gazillion new mobile devices are sold. That’s not an exact figure, but it’s bound to be close. No matter what kind of business you run, you need to have a mobile website.
A mobile website is one that’s designed specifically for mobile devices like smartphones and tablet computers. Regular sites that are designed for PCs don’t look quite right on mobile devices. They can also be hard to navigate.
Why the World Loves Mobile
Mobiles are taking off because the technology on our phones has finally improved to the point where you can basically do everything. You can surf the internet, check your Facebook account, email people, chat online, shop, play games – and you can even call people. Yes, people still occasionally do that on their phones.
The preferred mobile of years past was the laptop, but they’re too bulky. A smartphone is a pint-sized computer that you carry in your pocket. Mobiles also offer a ton of features desktop computers don’t, like geographical capabilities and the ability to scan QR codes.
In fact, the mobile boom has led to local SEO, which means optimizing for geographically specific web searches. The reason is that one of the things people are doing most on their mobiles is looking for local businesses. If your business has an easy-to-use mobile website, they’ll find it.
Designing for Mobile
Mobile sites are different than PC sites. Mobile devices have smaller screen sizes, so websites have to be simpler with less going on. A regular PC site looks cluttered on a handheld web surfing device. You also have to put more of your important content above the fold so users don’t have to scroll.
Mobile users have shorter attention spans and this means you need to grab their attention quickly. Mobile sites have high bounce rates. Your navigation has to be simpler and more clear in order to keep that squirrel-sized attention span.
One more key difference is that it’s hard as heck to enter text on a mobile device. If you’ve got lots of data entry fields, replace them with drop down menus, check boxes, and pre-populated fields as much as possible.
The best practice is to create a mobile version of your site and have your PC site auto-redirect them to the mobile site if they land there. It can detect the device they’re using. Sadly, lots of search engines still don’t deliver mobile results. You should also have clear links from your PC site to your mobile site and back again.
Once you’ve set up your mobile site, you can check its usability with a tool offered by Google called GoMo. It has tips on mobilizing your site but the coolest thing is a tool called the GoMoMeter that measures your site’s mobile usability. It shows what your site would look like on a smartphone and gives you a report on improvements you can make. All you have to do is enter your site’s URL and using the tool is free.
The world is going mobile and if your business doesn’t have a mobile site, you’re going to be left behind. The good news is that it’s cheap and easy to create a mobile version. Get started ASAP before the next gazillion devices are sold.