Entry By Jason Brick
This post is a follow-up to our previous guide to Mobile SEO & UX. – Ed.
Ten -- okay, maybe 15 years ago -- businesses were scrambling to put up websites. It was becoming clear that competitive businesses needed to establish a presence in this new virtual real estate.
Today, the same transition is happening with mobile computing and connectivity. Though it hasn't saturated all markets yet, including a mobile website within your company image becomes increasingly more important every month.
Setting up your mobile website is similar to creating your normal website, with subtle key differences that can make your mobile presence stand out -- as either a winner or a loser.
1. Forgetting Screen Size
Mobile devices -- even tablets -- have a markedly smaller screen size than desktops and laptops. Bad mobile websites make the screen, and even individual elements, too large for easy viewing and navigation. Users will grow frustrated and browse your competitor.
2. Too Much Data
With a mobile device, data speeds are lower and data costs are higher. If you pack your page with images, plugins, and even too much information, you can overload the capacity and cash flow of your potential customers. Stick with simple graphics and a clean style.
3. Unspecific Metadata
Metadata in a web page is the invisible code that makes the site work. In this case, it's vital that your metadata specifies that your mobile content gets displayed on mobile devices. Otherwise, the device could wind up accessing your regular website -- wasting all the time and money you've spent on the mobile design.
4. Not Thinking Like a Mobile User
The best mobile web pages put the functions users want first, out front. For example, many of your mobile users will access your site for directions and contact information. Your regular page might have that under a "Contact Us" tab over on the right -- a mistake in mobile design.
5. Desktop Interface Style
Forms are a pain on a mobile device, as are large fields that require interaction at various points on the screen. If your site requires interface -- such as a log-in prompt or order placement -- design it to make it as painless as possible, given the limitations of mobile devices. Similarly, it pays to allow a customer to import information from previous sessions -- for example, allowing them to use payment information they entered earlier using a desktop.
6. Keeping it Secret
This is perhaps the single most common error companies make when developing their mobile website: they don't tell enough people about it. Mobile sites are not an "if you build it, they will come" proposition. Use all of your existing communication channels to tell people about your new mobile portal.