By the end of 2013, it was projected that there would be more mobile devices than people on Earth. Thus, if you’re wondering if people are looking for you or your services via a mobile device, the answer is assuredly yes. Are they finding you though? Can they easily access information on your mobile site? Are you giving them the full desktop experience (responsive) or paring down to a mobile-specific site?
Here are questions to ask and tips to consider as you develop your mobile strategy.
1. The most important question to answer first is “what will users actually do on your site via a mobile device?” Do they simply need access to your phone number and directions? Do they want to shop? Do they want recent news?
You have a couple of options to finding this information. First, ask your users. It might be as simple as posting a question on Facebook asking for insight. It could be as formal as a focus group study. Second, study the analytics. If people are accessing your site currently via a mobile device, find out which pages they visit most and which page is most frequently the last page they visit. This will give you an idea of what users are interested in.
2. If you decide to develop a responsive site (a responsive design means that it adjusts to the device size you’re using, whether it be a desktop, tablet or mobile device), which elements are most important for mobile? Even though the design can shift around to fit different devices, it doesn’t mean every last element is needed. The technologists working on the site can code it to hide certain elements once the screen size becomes small.
3. Think about the navigation structure. We all have different sized fingers, so asking someone to tap a very small link or graphic can be challenging. There are ways to make menus pop up where you scroll and select an item or have menus with larger, horizontal buttons that are easier to select. The mobile “site” continues to evolve and many are shifting to look and work more like a mobile “app.” Evaluate a few mobile apps to see how they structure buttons, images, videos and content as you plan out your mobile design.
4. Consider how the mobile device will access the Internet. With your desktop computer, you’re likely hooked up to a network and have decent speed connections. While certainly you want the mobile site to look nice, think about the size of pages and the functionality needed per page. The long page format is becoming popular again. If you are just serving basic content, it should work fine. If the user is doing a lot of interaction (like filling out a form, for example) and the website needs to talk to the database frequently, bandwidth and speed is important. However, a mobile user may not always have access to a fast wireless network. It’s important to know when and where your users access your site via a mobile device.
5. A good mobile presence is important for search engine optimization (SEO). The search engines are looking for an optimized mobile experience. Both responsive designs and mobile-specific structures are acceptable; it comes down to how easy it is to browse and access information. Don’t put a roadblock up to your SEO rankings.
Device optimization should be a part of your overall digital strategy. As the methods to which we access the Internet continue to change, it’s important to know the current best practices. They change often, sometimes only minimally and sometimes they are completely rewritten. You don’t have to react immediately, all the time, but knowing the latest information will help as you map out your strategy.