With more and more people accessing the web via mobile devices, answering the question, “Should I have a mobile version of my web site?” seems like a no-brainer. But the answer depends on several factors, including your type of business, your sales process, and what you hope to accomplish with your web site.
Before doing anything, use Google Analytics to determine whether or not your target market regularly visits you website using a mobile device. If not, don’t waste time designing and building something your prospects and customers won’t use. If so, it’s important to understand the differences between regular and mobile websites.
Most traditional websites don’t work well on mobile devices. They don’t load quickly, display properly, or navigate easily, which can frustrate prospects and customers. Worse, it may drive them to a competitor with a better mobile site. In contrast, a mobile website is a separate version of your primary website that has been optimized to work on all mobile devices. Given the smaller screen size inherent with mobile devices, this typically includes:
- Larger buttons that can be easily activated with the fingers or thumb (think “tappable” versus clickable)
- Simpler navigation
- Less text with larger font sizes that are easier to read
- Click to call/email buttons
- Maps and directions to the company’s place of business
Start by checking what your current site looks like when viewed on a mobile device. There are many free tools available for doing this. Simply do a web search on “test what your website looks like on mobile” and take your pick. If you find the text difficult to read, or have to scroll to view the whole page, then you need a mobile website. When building it, follow the three “easy” rules:
Easy to access. Smart phones give customers the ability to make purchasing decisions anywhere at any time. These are often spur-of-the-moment decisions. So in addition to providing easy access, your mobile website should also be designed to make the mobile buying experience as seamless as possible. At minimum, include call or email buttons so people can contact you with their smart phones if necessary.
Easy to find you. Research shows that a large percentage of mobile web surfers use their smart phones to read content, search for places to eat or shop, and find coupons to help them save money. These customers may not know exactly what they’re looking for, so the higher your mobile site search rankings, the greater the chances people will end up on your site rather than your competitor’s.
Easy to use. People are used to fully functional, easy to navigate websites on their PCs. They want the same experience on their mobile devices. That means keeping file sizes small for fast loading, minimizing special effects (no Flash!), and page layout designed for small screens. A single-column layout helps to manage limited space and makes it easier to scale between different device resolutions. If you have a lot of information to present, consider using collapsible navigation that allows browsers to tap on the content they want to see while hiding what they don’t.
Finally, make sure your regular web site automatically redirects mobile browsers to your mobile web site. There’s no point in having a mobile website if people can’t find it.