Mobile journalists and service providers have been saying for a good while that doing business via mobile devices is set to continue to grow at a rapid rate and Zanox reports that one transaction every 15 seconds via their network of retail partners is conducted via mobile devices.
All websites, however, are not transactionary, and the requirement for a full mCommerce service is not required by the vast majority of service-based companies. Although the media may have a predilection to promote the growth of mobile-based sales and the that worldwide there are likely to be 1.7 billion mobile web-users by 2013, however, what does this mean for locally-based plumbers, head-dressers, accountants, builders, beauticians, lawyers and the like who may wish to target potential customers within a defined vicinity and who have a current, immediate need?
Many of these businesses would have had a desktop website built a year, two years or several years ago. They may have a content management system that allows them to change prices and some descriptive text. But do they have the desire to contact their web-designers to create a new mobile-friendly website?
The answer often is: no. They are far too busy running their business to actually do something about the growing number of potential customers using their mobile devices to find services as theirs. The solution may be to create a mobile-friendly website, virtually independently of their web-developers.
If you did want to include your web-designers in on the process then you could ask them to convert your current website into what’s called a “responsive design” version. This entails rewriting the code so that certain content is formatted differently if a user visits with a mobile device, perhaps with some content will be made to disappear so that the user has a much more lean and refined experience.
An alternative would be to create a completely separate mobile-optimised website on your current domain. Here you will go through the process of deciding what content you will like to be displayed and then, usually, having that displayed on a subdomain, such as http://m.yoursite.com. Typically this would be easier for your web-developer, but less easy for you as it would be a detailed project to sure it is search engine optimisation compliant and has the correct usability and content features.
A further alternative is to leverage the knowledge and experience of companies such as ourselves which create mobile-friendly websites with template that customers can just drop their marketing messages into and then redirect their mobile-using customers – all within an hour of sign-up, and without the need to physically speak with anybody else.
Going down this path would not only make the process of getting a mobile website live a very quick one, but it would also help with the implementation of “SEO best practices” by leveraging our team’s 15 year search engine optimisation experience and the internet marketing features we have built in to our mobile marketing products.
However, if you still have the desire to create your own mobile website, here are a few tips:
1) Be Lean
You don’t have to include everything that you have on your desktop website. With a smaller screen comes the requirement to be more focused on the content that really matters.
2) Create Intuitive Navigation
Make sure that any navigation menus are clear and direct people to the most relevant content. Ambiguous menu labels should be avoided. Furthermore, ensure that the sections of your website that are more likely to lead to calls or sales are near the top of the menu list.
We would also suggest that you create navigation that is omnipresent. Forcing potential customers to use the back-button to traverse your information will only lead to lower conversion rates. Ensure there is a navigation menu on each page.
3) Recognise that customers have limited time
With desktop sites you effectively have as much “real estate” as you like. With mobile-friendly websites the space, although unlimited vertically, you shouldn’t force customers to scroll endlessly to read your marketing text. Instead, be concise, to the point and focus on your objectives – making the sale or getting the inbound sales call.
4) Keep images to a suitable minimum
Of course images help your company and messages “come to life”, however, locally-focused searches are likely to be conducted out of a range of a Wi-Fi connection and hence you would not want your customers to have to wait for images to load before they decide to make contact with you.
5) Consider plugin compatibility
Do not forget that Apple devices such as iPhones, iPads and iPods cannot display Flash files. Many restaurants include flash within the desktop website homepages which typically include navigation elements which cannot be traversed by mobile users. This logic also applies with mobile-optimised websites and should be avoided at all costs.
6) Don’t forget to keep your mobile redirect code up-to-date
There isn’t a set, standard mobile-user redirection code that manages to definitively redirect those surfing with mobile devices. It is essential; therefore, that you make sure that you keep up with new mobile phone models to ensure that your code continues to service those more willing to purchase state-of-the art mobile phones and tablets.
7) Don’t forget social
Around 50% of Facebook and Twitter users access their services via mobile devices, it is essential, therefore, to include social sharing and the promotion of your social profiles.
We would say that it is much easier to pay either £5, £10 or £20 per month for a mobile website to be created using a mobile-friendly template design. But it quite simply is, given that you can have a fully-functioning mobile-optimised website live within an hour or two – including the redirection script and take calls from customers that are ‘out and about’ or commuting.