Last week, MarketingProfs reported on a recent study that found 51% of US mobile subscribers owning a smartphone as their cell phone of choice. That’s 119 million pairs of potential eyeballs on your mobile website. Is it optimized for mobile browsing? A good litmus test for this is to ask yourself if you visitors could get what they need from your site while holding a cup of coffee, walking down the street, and trying to hail a taxi. Because that’s more than likely the type of circumstances in which they’ll be viewing your site. If not, here’s some advice to get you on the right track.
Do NOT Recycle Your Web or Brochure Copy.
You (or a marketer you love) spent many long hours working diligently to create persuasive copy that tells your customers everything they need to know, and fits perfectly into the margins of your marketing materials. Since you’ve already approved it, you should just copy that over to your mobile site, right? Wrong. Though it may be painful, you’ll need to slice and dice that static content until is mobile-friendly. Think about it this way: if your copy is just perfect for your print brochure, it’s automatically NOT perfect for your mobile site. It’s crucial to think about the context in which people will be consuming your content.
DO Think Like You’re Tweeting.
This advice from Mashable is so smart that is bears repeating. Following the wisdom of hotel marketer Steven Rojas, they suggest that you ““Make it quick. Make it smart. Make it witty. And above all make it retweetable!” One need only look at the explosive success of Twitter in the years since its inception to realize that the creators understood the mobile user to a T. So if Twitter is a hugely successful means of communicating to the mobile population, why not emulate the ‘rules’ of that platform in your mobile site? While you might not shave it down to 140 characters per page, it’s a good place to start.
Do NOT Use A Complex, Intricate Design.
No doubt, visitors would be impressed with your masterful design that uses transparent fly-out menus, dozens of stunning images, and a video telling them all about your company. Unfortunately, they’d never see it, having already clicked back to their Google search after the first 5 seconds of that spinning ‘loading’ wheel. Keep your design simple and easily digestible in just a few seconds. Don’t make users work to figure out your layout, because they simply won’t. Pare down your navigation as much as possible, and try to avoid dropdown menus — depending on the capabilities of the user’s phone, they don’t always work reliably. Also, make buttons and navigation links easy to tap without accidentally tapping the wrong thing and having to go back and try again. According to Apple’s research, the typical finger tap area is about 44×44 pixels. (AT&T)
DO Optimize Your Visuals.
It’s important that your mobile site be visually rich and stimulating. Whether that can be done through graphics or the use of images or video is up to your discretion. If you do choose to work with images, be sure that they are the smallest file size possible. GIFs and PNGs work well for mobile browsing. Make sure they are web-optimized so that they still retain a quality look without megabytes of unnecessary pixels. As for video, it’s probably still advisable to avoid using Adobe Flash if you want your site to be as universal as possible. Apple products have a long history of not supporting Flash, and though Adobe reports working on a solution for this, it’s probably best to avoid the issue altogether and use an HTML5 player instead.
One last, and possibly counterintuitive, piece of advice: Make sure users can access the full version of your website if they want it. Some users are already familiar with your website and know exactly what they’re looking for. Others have had bad experiences with mobile sites not delivering all the info or functionality of a full site and want to automatically bypass the mobile option. While it might not serve their needs best, it’s important to provide this option to avoid frustrating your visitors.