When going out to a restaurant or a store, it can seem like everyone has a smartphone. This may not just be imagination. It has been estimated that by 2015, there will be one mobile device for every person on the planet. These devices allow users to access the Internet from any place without the need for a personal computer. It is important to understand the difference in viewing experience between mobile websites and desktop versions.
Experts estimate that more people already access the Internet via a mobile device than through a personal computer. Since 2010, mobile web searches have increased by 400 percent. This can open up a whole new market to businesses that have mobile sites that are user friendly. Here are some tips for optimizing a mobile website.
Keep Navigation Easy and Simple
When selling a product or service, eliminate the number of hoops customers need to jump through to complete an order. Mobile users do not have the benefit of a mouse so they use their fingers and thumbs to navigate pages. They also have to rely on virtual keyboards. Make sure forms are short and provide drop down boxes to assist users.
Make the navigation of the site as simple as possible by limiting scrolling, adding a search functionality and provide clearly-marked buttons that will allow them to backtrack or head to the home page. The buttons should be large enough and spaced far enough apart to avoid accidentally hitting the wrong one.
Include Your Location and Contact Details
Be sure the vital information concerning the business is prominently displayed on the home page. This includes address, phone number and hours of operation. Provide a map and directions. It might also be helpful to display GPS coordinates. Mobile users likely will not be familiar with the area where the business is located so make the site as helpful as possible.
Ensure Seamless Integration
The mobile and desktop sites may have small differences, but they should work seamlessly with each other. Items that are saved in shopping carts on one site should also appear in the other. Key features should be maintained in both whenever possible. The same information regarding products or services should remain the same.
Focus on Speed
Mobile users have an expectation of fast-loading websites and will not want to wait more than a few seconds. Smartphones actually have slower download speeds than desktops, so use smaller images or even use HTML and CSS coding instead. Fewer pages will also help this speed.
Avoid using Flash, because some mobile devices are not compatible with it.
There’s more to creating a mobile website than making sure the content fits onto a smaller screen. The mobile site should be a partner with the desktop site, but must also take into consideration the different ways smartphone users access the Internet.
Simon Phillips develops mobile websites and runs TouchLogic.co.uk, a British mobile marketing company.
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