The Blog

Designing Mobile-Specific Sites

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Sites have been being designed for mobile scenarios since the inception of mobile devices… but recently we’ve noticed a huge push towards entire sub-sites that are designed specifically to be viewed on small, handheld screens. Surprising? No, not with the current climate of smartphones outselling PCs and tablet sales surpassing even the most conservative of estimates. The majority of your visitors will likely be browsing your website on mobile devices by 2013 – and unfortunately most companies are not prepared for this dramatic shift in web communications.

If the analysts are accurate, by 2014 over 50% of website traffic will be coming from mobile devices Should you wait until after this “mobile apocalypse” happens to optimize your website for mobile? I suppose the real answer is are you reactive or proactive?

Let’s look at some facts:

• Over 30 percent of internet surfers are surfing from a smart phone.

• A website with mobile optimization gets 6.5 average visits per user vs. 3.5

• 400% growth in mobile searches in 2011

• 95% of mobile users looked up local information

• For online retailers a mobile site can increase consumer engagement as much as 85%

• 74% of smartphone shoppers have made a purchase

What’s neat about mobile screens is that it forces designers to get creative with a relatively small amount of real estate. Succeeding in the mobile environment isn’t tough if you keep a few rules in mind:

1. Content should be condensed and streamlined to the type of content a mobile viewer is looking for (services, location, contact, etc.).

2. Messages need to be conveyed quicker and with more efficiency.

3. Links have to be designed for a touchscreen environment; and text needs to become legible (or at least effectively zoomable).

Sounds simple right? Not so fast – ease of use is not only about user interface design… It’s also about building an information architecture that is easy to navigate and is *also* optimized for key use cases. The site should be tested with users and constantly improved over time. Delivering excellent usability is an integrated part of good mobile website development.

To further complicate these mini sites is the biggest challenge of all. There are 10+ operating systems, hundreds of browser versions, 20+ display resolutions and lots of exceptions to take into consideration. Testing on as many platforms as possible is crucial before launch – as is having a ‘full site’ link for those who wish to bypass your condensed site.

The wave of “mobified” sites is spreading like wildfire…. do you need a mobile companion site? Consider how easy your site is to navigate with pudgy fingers on a smart phone. Consider the facts. Remember to review your content and make an effort to condense the material for the mobile site (think on-demand consumers who want the information they’re looking for ‘now’) and then consider the above all reason to budget this effort immediately:

On the Mobile Web, it’s 1999 all over again. Mobile browsers are hungry for new mobile content. It’s a clean slate in terms of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) for keyword and page title optimization. Get in now while the getting is still good!

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