As mobile devices continue to proliferate among even the least technologically savvy of us, the way we access the Web will continue to migrate away from the desktop and toward highly mobile smart devices.
According to research firm Gartner, there will be a mobile device for every person on the planet by 2015, approximately 8 billion. And as the number of devices continues to rise, usage is expected to skyrocket exponentially. In the past year alone, mobile searches have increased 400 percent.
That means that every day more users are looking for your content from somewhere other than a desktop. So do you really want to deliver a mobile experience that at best replicates the desktop version?
Before you answer consider: You'll be dealing with an unforgiving bunch. Sixty-one percent of mobile Web users say they aren’t likely to return to a site that that isn't mobile friendly.
And if you want to compete in business you need to provide a user-friendly experience. It’s important to remember that even if users can see a website on a smartphone, it doesn't necessarily mean that the site is mobile-friendly and easy to navigate.
On complex sites, clear navigation and search functionality will help customers easily locate what they need.
If you’re planning to do business using the mobile Web it’s time to start paying attention. Start with these not-so-obvious tips for creating a better mobile-friendly website.
1. Cut the links, cut the clutter
A simple way to reduce clutter and increase clarity is to keep mobile links to a minimum.
- Use seven links or less for each page of navigation.
- Links with three to five words are easier to click than one-word links.
- Make clickable area around links a little larger, make buttons bigger, and use more space between links.
2. Always correct to redirect
A mobile site redirect code identifies if your visitors are using a mobile device and automatically sends them to the mobile-friendly version of your site. If you don’t provide a redirect, your customers likely are going bail before they find the mobile version. Redirects are also a critical step in ensuring your website is search engine friendly.
- Embed redirect at the top of the source code on each applicable page of your website.
- Provide option go back to the desktop site and make it easy to return to the mobile site.
- Include key information such as your address or a store locator on the redirect page.
3. Let them see the light
Computer-related eye strain is becoming a big deal as screens get smaller. The design and mobile development of your website should make it easy for your customers to read and navigate it.
- Create contrast between background and text (visitors are often in a place with low light).
- Use plenty of negative space.
- Use different sizes and colors to indicate link/button priority.
4. Keep it local
As we mentioned early, mobile search is exploding and the greatest percentage of those searches are local. Consumers look for local info on their phones all the time—whether it is searching for the closest sporting goods store or the best place for BBQ.
- Even the most basic functionality must include location information.
- Put your address or store locator on the mobile landing page.
- Use maps and provide directions.
5. Don’t be flashy
Because you want your mobile site to work across ALL mobile devices avoid using Flash. The platform does not work on every device.
- HTML5 is best for complete interactivity and animation.
- Adapt a simple design for your site that is usable in both vertical and horizontal orientations.
- Make sure users remain in the same place when the orientation is changed.