Saturday, November 24, 2012

Making the Most of Your Mobile Website

In the ever-changing digital world, yesterday's fringe activities have become today's mainstream. More and more people now rely exclusively on smartphones, tablets, and other mobile devices to browse the web, shop online, and stay in touch - and this opens up a unique marketing opportunity for online businesses. However, a mobile website differs in crucial ways from a standard one. For retailers looking to take the next step in online marketing, bearing a few key points in mind will help your mobile site put its best foot forward.

Automatically detect mobile devices.
Among other things, website design should strive to make things easy for viewers. There is no point to creating a separate mobile site if users must hunt for a link or remember a particular URL in order to see it. Configure your main website to detect visitors on mobile devices, and automatically redirect them to your mobile site. Alternately, make your primary websiteresponsive so that it displays optimally on any kind of device, regardless of screen size. Both approaches lead to the same result: a clearly translated and fully functional mobile site to assure the best experience possible for your mobile clientele.


Design with a small form factor in mind.
When viewed on most mobile devices, standard websites are cumbersome to navigate. Users must zoom in on the page in order to read content or click on links, and are forced to scroll around and view only small portions of each page at a time. This is both frustrating and inefficient. When creating a mobile website, always design with possible size constraints in mind. Current technologies like responsive frameworks make it easier than ever to ensure that your website looks its best on every device.

Show only your most important content.
Because mobile devices have smaller screens, even reading a few paragraphs of text can require quite a bit of scrolling. Edit your content until only the most crucial bits remain, and completely remove pages and sections not conducive to effective mobile browsing (such as large image galleries, image rotators, and dense blogs). The aim should be to provide your visitors with the essentials - nothing more or less. After all, they can always visit your full website.

Optimize all of your website's media.
Although mobile networks have steadily increased in speed since inception, they still remain noticeably slower than the standard broadband internet used by most homes and businesses. Additionally, mobile users often have "capped" data plans that restrict download speeds and charge additional fees beyond a certain level of usage. Because of these two points, it is crucial to optimize your business's mobile website as much as possible. You can start with the following:
  • Remove Flash animations and Flash-based video files. Not only are they large files that drastically increase your site's loading time, but most smartphone browsers do not support Flash at all.
  • Scale and compress all of your images.Be certain that all of your images are saved at the size in which they will be displayed - do not use a larger image and rely on the browser to scale it down. Also, keep the number of images per page to a bare minimum.
  • Make your navigation straightforward.The fewer clicks it takes for a visitor to reach the content they are after, the better.
  • Keep your page code lightweight.Needlessly dense stylesheets and complicated Javascript will only slow down your mobile site and make it more frustrating to use.
 Make it easy to reach you.
Most often, mobile users browse a company's website to get in touch with the company. Make that process as simple as possible for your visitors: put a strong call-to-action and click-to-call button on your landing page. Make your contact form straightforward and easy to complete. The less time prospects need to spend hunting for your phone number or email address, the less likely they are to give up and look elsewhere.

Provide a way to view your full website.
Automatic detection and redirection are great for showing customers and prospects information quickly and conveniently - but mobile sites should always provide visitors with a way to navigate back to the full site. Many smartphones now come with high-resolution screens that make browsing a standard website relatively painless. Also, many people do nearly all of their browsing from a mobile device, making it vital to have access to the content they are after without switching to a regular computer.

Don't forget to track your traffic.
Be certain to install an analytics platform on your mobile website, and check it often. This will show you how many visitors are being automatically redirected to your mobile site, how many arrive there directly, and how many return to your full website for additional information.
Ultimately, a mobile website is more than just a smaller version of an existing site. An effective mobile site represents a specialized way of looking at things, providing entirely different displays, navigation, and sometimes content to make businesses fully accessible to a changing, evolving audience. With careful planning and forethought, a mobile site can be a decisive tool in digital marketing.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/7388395

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