What Should My Mobile Site Do?

As phones get smarter and mobile browsers get better at rendering your desktop site, many ask the question: “Why do I need a mobile site at all?”   The mobile experience is not about shrinking your site to fit on a tiny screen, rather it is about communicating with your customers when they are in an entirely new context.  No matter the certainty of new devices, faster browsers and higher bandwidth in the future, the mobile experience merits its own design!  Let’s get started to make your website mobile friendly.

It all starts with the user- they are in a different ‘mode’ or context when they are using a handheld to access your site.  The point being, your user is mobile and their needs at that moment will be quite different from that of a desktop viewer.   Your full website on a mobile screen would be overwhelming at best and a major annoyance at worst.

Rethinking Mobile:  How do I begin?
Mobile Web Development

As usual, the first thing to do is to step in to your customer’s shoes.   If someone is accessing your site for a mobile device what are the kinds of things they would want to do there?    Will they read your latest article, find a store location or perhaps check to see if you are offering a special promotion?

Consider some basic aspects of the mobile user:  They are likely out and about and time is an issue for them.  They are looking for something more specific from you – either a recent article or some information to connect with your brand, maybe they want directions to your storefront.   By the way, they are holding a device that can make a phone call so consider adding voice interaction (can you say “click to call”).   The device probably has a smaller and perhaps less comfortable keyboard than the desktop- so you’ll also want to consider what keystrokes you will ask them to perform.

Less will always be better-  that is the primary rule of converting your website to mobile.

Here are some questions to consider when you are making a website mobile:
•    What is the context of the average mobile visitor?
•    What are the goals of the mobile user?
•    Why are they going to your mobile website at this time?
•    What are they likely and unlikely to have any interest in?
MoFuse Top 10 Rules of Mobile Website Design

1. Keep it Simple 
With over 5000 devices and screen sizes, simple layout is the only way to go

2. Make it Convenient
Put most important information at the top, easy to access

3. Speed Up Their Use
Think less keystrokes, use radio buttons or dropdowns to get data entry when possible

4. Don’t Annoy Them
If you use images use jpeg or gifs to make them quick to load, nobody likes to wait for a slow loading site

5. Pay attention to Navigation
MoFuse ensures a ‘back’ button on every page, nesting topics leads to quicker understanding

6. Consider Color Contrast
Make sure text shows up against a pleasant, yet contrasted background for easy reading

7. Connect With Them
If it is appropriate for your business type, enable them with a Click to Call button, use the phone’s core capabilities

8. Help Them Find It
A search bar is more than a convenience; it is a time-saver and often their quickest way to get answers

9. Keep Them Up To Date (and make your job easier)
Use RSS feeds to populate your mobile site, whatever you use on your desktop site should work fine

10. Listen and Iterate
Just like with your desktop site, you will learn as you go and it is easy to make changes with the premium site builder

For more information on Best Practices for Mobile Design visit the W3C guide: http://www.w3.org/TR/mobile-bp/

To get some ideas on the best new mobile site designs you can check out:  http://www.mobileawesomeness.com

MoFuse has a platform that helps you build sites for mobile devices around the world.  Find us a www.mofuse.com