Mobile is the growing trend predicted to take over the online marketing arena in the coming years as more and more people are using mobile devices to get online every day. Industry giant, Google, has created a tool, Go Mo, to help you mobilize your site now and prepare for this big shift.
Being “mobile-friendly” doesn’t mean seeing your desktop site on a mobile phone as it is. Mobile sites are designed for the small screen, with the needs of mobile users in mind. A mobile-friendly site can help your business connect with customers and drive conversions.
The Reasons Why Mobile Matters
Your customers are already mobile. Are you?
According to Gartner, 2010; Google Mobile Optimization Webinar, 2011; and Cisco, 2011, more people will use mobile phones than PCs to get online. Mobile searches have grown by 400% since 2010. By 2015, there will be one mobile device for every person on earth.
Users expect their mobile experience to be as good as their desktop experience.
In an article by Compuware, “What Users Want from Mobile” in 2011, data states that 71% of users expect a mobile site to load as fast as a desktop site. Sixty percent of users expect a mobile site to load in three seconds or less. Seventy-eight percent will retry a site two times or less if it does not load initially.
A bad mobile experience can cost you customers.
According to the same source, 57% would not recommend a business with a bad mobile site. Forty percent have turned to a competitor’s site after a bad mobile experience. Twenty-three percent of adults have cursed at their phone when a site doesn’t work.
Mobile users want to connect with the businesses in their local area.
Did you know that 95% of smartphone users have searched for local information? Of these, 61% call a business after searching, 59% visit the location, and 90% act within 24 hours.
Apps are fun and useful, but many prefer mobile sites for shopping.
Adobe Systems’ Mobile Experience Survey and eMarketer data both in 2011, states that 81% of users prefer mobile sites for researching prices; 79% prefer mobile site for product reviews; and 63% prefer them for purchasing.
Businesses like yours can drive purchases with a mobile-friendly site.
Mobile users who have compared product prices on their phones consists 70% of the total number; 65% have read reviews on their phones; and 50% mobile searches lead to purchase.
Mobile Site Best Practices
Google promotes a list of excellent pointers and best practices you should consider before planning and building a mobile version of your business website.
1. Keep it Quick
Mobile users are often short on time, squeezing in online tasks as they go about their day. To help them, design your site to load fast and make copy easy to read.
- Prioritise the content and features that mobile users need most. Use your desktop site analytics to see what mobile users are doing.
- Reduce large blocks of text and use bullet points for easy reading.
- Compress images to keep them small for faster site loading.
2. Make it Easy to Convert
No matter what your site’s objective is, your customers need to be able to do it with a virtual keyboard and no mouse. Make it easy to buy something or contact you!
- Focus on information that will aid conversion (i.e., product details).
- Reduce the number of steps needed to complete a transaction.
- Keep forms short and use the fewest number of fields possible.
- Use check boxes, lists and scroll menus to make data entry easier.
- Use click-to-call functionality for all phone numbers.
3. Simplify Navigation
No one likes to be confused. Clear navigation and, on large or complex sites, search functionality, will help your customers easily find what they need.
- Minimise scrolling and keep it vertical only.
- Use a clear hierarchy in menus and avoid rollovers.
- Help users navigate between levels with clear back and home buttons.
- Use seven links or fewer per page of navigation.
- Have a search box prominently available on complex sites.
4. Make it Local
Consumers look for local info on their phones all the timeófrom locating the nearest gas station to finding an open pizza place. Include functionality that helps people find and get to you.
- Have your address or store locator on the landing page.
- Include maps and directions. Use GPS to personalise when possible.
- Allow users to check stock at nearby stores.
5. Be Thumb-Friendly
People use their fingers to operate mobile devices ñ especially their thumbs. Design your site so even large hands can easily interact with it.
- Use large, centred buttons and give them breathing room to reduce accidental clicks.
- Pad smaller buttons to increase the clickable area.
- Pad check boxes by making the text clickable.
6. Make it Seamless
People now use multiple screens throughout the day. Convert as much of the functionality of your desktop site to mobile as you can to create a seamless experience.
- Allow users to save popular searches and shopping cart contents.
- Maintain key features of your site across all channels as much as possible.
- Display the same information for products/services.
7. Design for Visibility
A mobile-friendly site gets its message across without causing eyestrain. Make it easy for your customers to read ñ remember they may be in a place with low light.
- Create contrast between background and text.
- Make sure content fits on screen and can be read without pinching and zooming.
- Use plenty of negative space.
- Use size and colour to indicate link/button priority.
- Use 3D effects and shadowing for buttons.
8. Use Mobile Site Redirects
A mobile site redirect is code that can automatically tell if visitors are using a mobile device and send them to the mobile-friendly version of your site. Have your site developer implement this redirect code so your customers get the best version of your site for their needs.
- Give users a choice to go back to the desktop site, but make it easy to return to the mobile site.
- Let users choose which version they prefer to see for later visits.
- Include key information, such as your address or a store locator, on the redirect page.
9. Make it Accessible
Ideally, your mobile site should work across all mobile devices and all handset orientations.
- Find alternatives to Flash – it does not work on some devices.
- Use HTML5 for interactivity and animation.
- Adapt your site for both vertical and horizontal orientations.
- Keep users in the same place when they change orientation.
10. Listen, Learn and Iterate
Good mobile sites are user-centric, which means theyíre built with input from your audience. Ask your desktop site users what they want in a mobile website and make testing and optimisation an ongoing process.
- Use analytics to understand how people use your site.
- If possible, especially for complex sites, do user testing before implementation and collect user feedback after launch.
- Iterate often and continuously improve your site based on your research.
After thorough consideration, Google let’s you test your site by going to their GoMOmeter – a tool available online that shows you how your current site looks on a smartphone, and provides a free report with personalized recommendations tailored to how your business can build a more mobile-friendly experience.
Learn more and see what your customers see. This way, you can build your site and get started to optimize and put up a mobile website that caters best to your mobile customers online.