Make Sure Your Mobile Site Is User Friendly

This article was published in the March 11, 2013 issue of The Business News, a semi-monthly newspaper related to business. The Business News serves Brown, Calumet, Door, Fond du Lac, Kewaunee, Manitowoc, Marinette, Oconto, Outagamie, Shawano, Sheboygan and Winnebago counties in Wisconsin. Subscribe online at thebusinessnewsonline.com

Smart phones are everywhere!

We just can’t put them down! We feel lost without them and will drive miles if we leave them behind. We take them everywhere and do much more than make phone calls with them. Yes, our phones are as mobile as we are and they seem to get smarter with each passing year.

Over the last few years smart phone usage has increased dramatically. And why not? 4G (generation) technology and improved phone functionality have made web browsing from our phones much easier and faster.

They are searching for you

Whether you know it or not, potential customers are using their phones to search for local businesses like yours. How can you enhance their mobile web browsing experience and turn them into your customers? The simple answer is, think like your customers. Think about them out and about, running errands, stopping for a bite to eat, waiting to pick up a child from football practice, or stuck in traffic. Are they picking up their phone to search for you? And if they do, what do they find?

If they land on your full, desktop website where they must scroll up and down, pinch to zoom in and out, and navigate through way too much information, they may leave your site and go to a competitor who has made their site easy to use on a mobile phone. You have one chance to make a first impression. A mobile optimized site will help you make a good one. It will tell the user you care about their mobile web experience and have taken the time to make it the best it can be for them. They will appreciate you!

It’s not important if you use your smart phone to search the web – it’s only important if your customers or potential customers are. You want to make it as easy as possible for them to find you, call you, and do business with you.

What exactly is a mobile website?

A mobile website is not the same as your desktop website squeezed into the size of your smart phone screen. A user-friendly mobile site must be designed specifically for the small screen.

It's important to keep the mobile site concise and to the point, featuring your most important information. Mobile users won’t read all the information from your desktop site while searching from their phones anyway. Give them only a few links and make those links large and easy to tap.

Why are mobile sites important for users?

A website designed for a mobile device will provide the user with “fat-finger-friendly” links and tap-to-call buttons, eliminating the need to manually dial the phone number of the businesses they wish to call. It also will load faster and use less of their monthly bandwidth limits.

Users will soon become accustomed to mobile-optimized websites and they will know immediately when they land on a non-mobile site, making it even more important for business owners to provide them with the best experience possible. If they don’t, users will find someone who does.

Mobile is not a fad

It seems web history is repeating itself. In the early days of the web, it was acceptable to have an amateur-looking website. Now, people simply expect a website to function properly and look professional. If it doesn’t, they will find one that does.

In comes mobile! A year or two ago, it was cool to simply have your desktop website show up on a smart phone. Now, user expectations are higher. It's time to improve your mobile site's usability and load time.

Things are only going to get worse – or better, depending on your perspective. Mobile sites will become the norm as business owners get on board with this new technology. No longer will users accept the full, desktop website on their smart phone, just as they no longer accept the out-of-date, amateur site on their desktop computer.

Mobile-optimized sites should:

  • »» Focus on the most important information about your business
  • »» Highlight the most important actions users should take
  • »» Cut content and images
  • »» Enlarge buttons & links to accommodate "fat fingers"
  • »» Download quickly and use less bandwidth
  • »» Provide a link to your full website
  • Be among the first in your market

    While mobile is still new, why not get a jump on your competition and be one of the first in your market to put out the welcome mat on your customer’s smart phone? You might be surprised how many stop by to say hello!

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