I’ve already noted the growth in mobile marketing and the important role it is set to play in future marketing strategies. Whilst we know that more and more people are browsing the internet with their phone, businesses are still underutilising the power of mobile website design by not fully optimising their site for the mobile user.
A few years ago sites could have got away without having a mobile version of their site but not anymore. Mobile websites have gone from being an attractive extra to an absolute necessity – and it isn’t enough just having one. With the commercial and economic opportunities available to online businesses via mobile phones it is crucial that the mobile site is designed to optimise the mobile user experience. Non mobile friendly sites are losing out on an increasingly large amount of business as more and more people buy though mobile devices. Fortunately there are a couple of simple tips and guidelines you can implement to make sure your mobile site is as user friendly as possible.
Landing pages and content “above the fold” is crucial when it comes to PC websites. This importance is magnified on a mobile web page. Do not waste time, effort and most importantly space, putting anything but the most important information on your mobile pages. Removing things like side menus or other content links allows your site to focus on only the most important information, making your site easier to read, quicker to load and generally improving user experience.
When it comes to seeking mobile conversions or sales it is crucial that your site prioritises important information relevant to conversions such as contact details. Overloading your page with irrelevant content will push important content down making it less likely to be found. Users will also become frustrated with having to scroll or delve deeper in to your site to find the content they want.
An easy way to streamline your content and improve user experience is to optimise your page layout for mobile devices. Simply displaying your standard PC website through a mobile device will negatively affect your users experience and likely lead to a high bounce rate. The text displayed will be too small to read and users will have to navigate a raft of different menus.
Optimise your layout into just one single column with additional content running down the page not across. This allows users to use the far more natural and preferred process of scrolling downwards, avoiding the need to scroll sideways or zoom in and out.
With such a small area to work in, navigation becomes an issue on mobile websites. Placing all your navigation at the top of pages moves the valuable content too far down below the fold and with a single column layout it can’t go down the side – where does it go?
The answer is to emphasise your homepage. Only place navigation on your homepage and do so at the top of the page. On other pages place your content at the top with the only navigation links being back to the homepage or the most relevant previous step in the user’s journey. Placing breadcrumb links at the top of the page with navigation links back to the homepage at the bottom, users are able to easily navigate the site without detracting from the valuable content.
If your site’s users want to see content straightaway rather than look to navigate or search for specific content you should place the navigation at the bottom. This way it does not get in the way of reading the content but can still be easily accessed by the user. Placing an anchor link at the top of the page will allow users to reach the navigation quickly and easily.
Minimise text entry
It is not just visually where mobile websites differ from their desktop or laptop partners. Usability is another major issue when creating mobile friendly websites. Typing, even on the best touchscreen keyboards are difficult for users who frequently make errors and can often become frustrated with over-elaborate and time consuming text entry. You can reduce the need for text entry for users by allowing them to store personal and login details on site or ask them to use a numerical PIN instead of a password. Instead of entering text akin to a standard text message allow the users to provide information by choosing between different selections.
Similarly you should be aware of the limitations of touchscreen devices for usability. Links (particularly when in amongst other links) can be difficult to click on. Users will become frustrated at the additional time and cost wasted by accidentally clicking on the wrong link. Therefore you should look to use highly visible and easily clickable square boxes for important calls to action.
Take advantage of inbuilt functionality
Ultimately when designing a website for mobile use, you should look to take advantage of the mobile devices unique properties and utilise their inbuilt functionality
Mobile phones were initially designed to just make phone calls (I know it might seem hard to believe!). Take advantage of this by allowing users to automatically call a number when clicking or tapping a contact phone number.
Similarly phones now have in built map applications. Give user’s a better idea of your location by automatically opening the phone’s map application after the user clicks on your address on site.
Take advantage of social media in regards to your website. Make it easy for a user to share your mobile site socially or share their location via the device’s inbuilt GPS. This can allow users to better interact with each other and find nearby stores or events.
2013 is set to be the year of the mobile. Marketers and webmasters are waking up to the power of mobile devices. The mobile will hold a crucial role in how businesses promote and market their websites online. It is crucial that as mobile devices are increasingly used to access the internet that websites provide users with as clear and smooth a user experience as possible. Following some of the above guidelines will help in ensuring you get the best return from your mobile website.
The team here at Only Web have been building, developing and marketing quality mobile friendly websites for clients for many years. Speak to our mobile website design team to ensure you get the best out of your mobile website.