Mobilize Your Website
Is your website mobile friendly? Just because you can see your website on a smartphone doesn’t mean that it’s usable for handhelds. Do you have to pinch and zoom to read the site? Is text large enough to press without hitting the wrong link? Is it easy to navigate your site on a phone?
Why bother with mobile?
Almost half of all U.S. adults today use a smartphone, according to findings by the Pew Internet and American Life Project. This means it is more important than ever that your website be optimized for smartphones and other mobile devices.
How to go mobile?
There are two strategies for to going mobile. You can 1) create a mobile version of your site, or 2) create a responsive website.
What’s the difference?
A mobile site is a copy of your website that is converted to a smaller size. When mobile users navigate to your site they are redirected to this separate mobile website. This is a good solution if you have recently designed your website and aren’t looking to rebuild anytime soon, but there are several downsides. Since the mobile site is a second domain you will have to keep track of updating two sites and follow two sets of analytics. Also, design isn’t flexible with a mobile site. Your mobile site has only one design and one size, so no matter what mobile device you are using the site will look exactly the same. Imagine using a tablet and seeing a website that is sized for a smartphone.
A more favorable solution is responsive design. A responsive site uses code which allows your website to render differently on whatever sized screen it is viewed on. On a smart phone your website will shrink, buttons and text will be larger, and the layout will be easy to navigate on a small screen. The same site viewed on a desktop monitor will grow to fill your screen, have more images, and more navigation buttons. Unlike a mobile site, a responsive site is just one website.
Other things you can do
Short of redesigning your site, here are a few things you can do right now to begin making information easier to find on a phone:
1) Display your most important information at the top of your website. Things like your phone number, contact email, and address should be very easy for your users to find.
2) Don’t use Flash. Flash takes a long time to load, uses a lot of data, and many devices just don’t support it.
3) Keep content simple. Users don’t want to dig through tons of text and images to find what they need. This is true for your website on any platform, but particularly true on a small screen.
4) Don’t make users download .pdfs. Again, this can take a long time and eat up a lot of data.