Editor's Note: Although we usually cover SMS Marketing tips and tricks here, we know that many small businesses are beginning to embrace the mobile web - so we thought it would be a good idea to share some best practices.
Entry By Jason Brick
This Just In: Mobile design is not the same as web design.
That may not seem like news to experienced mobile marketing pros, but you might be surprised how many people apply inappropriate web design concepts to their mobile platforms. The result is predictable: frustrated viewers who move on to the competition.
Just like competent web design, solid mobile SEO and UX design is a complex topic -- but you can get started by working toward these six don't-miss characteristics of a working mobile platform:
1. Fewer Graphics
Graphics make a traditional website look slick, but take up bandwidth while loading. On a mobile device, download speeds are slower and the extra data costs money. Stick to your logo, plus compelling text, to catch and hold a user's eye.
2. Stick with Tried and True SEO
Keywords, headings and tags work for mobile devices just as they do with tradition al browsers. Use them appropriately, but consider streamlining data to the most effective keywords for your market. Mobile search engines often take load speed into account among other factors.
3. Remember Screen Size
Your designers usually work on jumbo screens attached to a desktop. This keeps them efficient by allowing them to optimize work flow -- but can lead to designs meant for larger interfaces. Mobile devices, especially the app phones that generate the overwhelming majority of mobile traffic, have small screens. If your mobile platform is so large that a user can get lost -- or has to zoom out until elements are frustratingly small -- you'll lose viewers to a site optimized for mobile devices.
4. Minimize Forms
Though we've come a long way from using a phone keypad to enter text, the interface on app phones is still time-consuming and flaky. Forms on your mobile platform should be simple, be easy to navigate, and you should ask for as little information as possible.
5. Allow for Portability
Make it easy for a mobile user to access account information he entered while accessing your traditional website from a desktop at home. This "best of both worlds" approach lets you impress with quality graphics and gather all the information you need, while still allowing easy mobile access while your customer is out and about.
Test your mobile platform from a mobile device. This is a simple concept, but you might be surprised to discover how many businesses skip this essential step. For best results, have somebody from a department unrelated to mobile design -- or a loyal customer -- do the testing. The further removed the testers are from the designers, the closer their experience will be to an end user on a mobile.