6 Simple Steps to Help Mobile Visitors to Your Website

Use of the mobile web

This article provides a common sense approach to help the growing number of mobile phone users when visiting your website.

Scale of mobile shopping: As of early 2013, mobile shopping in the UK is likely to account for around 10% of total online spending. In 2010 many dismissed mobile retail as a niche offering and something that would not threaten many retailers. In fact, a growth rate of almost 600% has been estimated in the UK over this period, so mobile shopping is now certainly a force to be reckoned with.

Visits by mobile phone – We are seeing strong increases in mobile phone traffic to our customer sites. For one client, mobile visits recently accounted for 27% of total site visitors.

Other customer shopping sites now earn over 10% of their traffic this way. Of these mobile phone and tablet visits, about 90% will be shared between iPhone/iPad and Android. Our sites with a more commercial or technical emphasis on their products and services show a lower percentage, but continue to grow strongly.

mobile web costs – There was a time when website owners considered setting up separate versions of their websites specially designed to display well on mobile phones. Things have now matured to the point where those who want to surf the web using their mobile can choose iPhones, Androids, Windows8 or a variety of tablets, all of which can do a good job of rendering standard web pages. Those with less adapted phones simply don’t use them much to visit websites.

So the decision of the website owners has become quite different. They no longer need a separate site on a separate domain aimed at low-spec mobile phones. They simply need to ensure that their site renders well on the most capable mobile devices: iPhone, Android and Windows8 and the latest range of tablets.

six simple steps – Here are six simple steps you can take to improve the experience mobile and tablet users have when visiting your site:

1. Consider a dot mobi domain name was specially introduced to allow website owners to set up a separate version of their website to be accessed from mobile devices. If you have a really complex site, it may be easier to develop a completely new site and entertain mobile visitors than to try to adapt it for mobile users. For most sites, any action needed to serve mobile and tablet can be handled within the existing domain.

2. Identify mobile devices – the technology for identifying a site visitor’s device and operating system is well established and means that we can present pages of the website in ways that are specifically targeted to the visitor’s device. In other words, we can present each of the pages of your website in a way adapted to the visiting device.

3. Take advantage of free functionality – mobiles already automatically present certain things differently than desktop machines. For example, a dropdown box on your site renders as a “sliding box” on iPhones. You don’t need to change your website: the phone does it automatically. Just keep the facilities in mind and maybe change your site to use them instead of more cumbersome alternatives.

4. Consider whether to abbreviate the text – Some people choose to make all the text on the main site available on mobile; others develop abbreviated text designed to present the main points on a single mobile screen, perhaps with a “more info” icon for full detail. The final decision may depend on how much text you have and how important it is to have access to it all.

5. Remove unnecessary parts of your standard page template – for mobiles and tablets, your navigation bar can be condensed into a single icon to save space. When tapped, all navigation slides out ready to use. If you use two columns of text, render it as a single column for mobile. Need to present your footer to mobile users? Do you have a less important side column that can be converted to a slide-out column for mobile users?

6. Beautifully present your images – Mobile phones (particularly iPhones and Android) and tablets are very good at presenting images. So take advantage of its features when you present your gallery to them. Let them scroll the page to go from one image to the next. And if you’re putting moving images or a slideshow on your site, there are ways to do it that mobile can interpret and ways that they can’t.

The mobile phone approach – we assess the importance of mobile users for all sites we develop, especially sites with high potential usage, eg information-only sites, forums, social media, e-commerce sites, sites targeting a user market younger. A clear overall internet marketing strategy is essential and must incorporate the needs of the growing number of mobile and tablet users. Sites where meeting the specific needs of mobile visitors is less important, for example within certain industrial/commercial sectors, will also be identified and usually a different technical solution will be offered.