Maximizing your website’s mobile audience
Recent data suggests that 50% of website page views are now being made on mobile devices. I know what you are thinking, “So what, most people doing these searches have smart phones and aren’t they designed to see everything as If you were on your home computer?”. Unfortunately the simple answer is both yes and no. Not so simple, right. Let me ‘splain’… No it’s too much, let me sum up. Yes, smart phones are designed to have most of the internet functionality as your desktop computer. But at the same time, the functionality of your smart phone is more limited in general and more importantly the screen size is significantly smaller than your desktop.
These limitations coupled with the fact that your site is decked out with a brilliant layout, graphics and possibly animation means that when a potential client attempts to view your site from their phone, after hearing from a friend how amazing your product/service actually is, they might not be able to make any sense of what they are seeing.
With all of that in mind you can begin to see why it is important to make sure your customer facing pages are as mobile friendly as possible. So the obvious question becomes, “How do I do this?”. Well, I am glad you asked because otherwise this post would be nothing more than just another self-indulgent rant.
To answer your so brilliantly posed question, as with everything else, there are many ways of doing this but for the purposes of this brain dump we will boil it down to its simplest terms and cover the main two:
- Separate Mobile Site
A separate mobile site is pretty self-explanatory. You create a completely different version of your site specifically for mobile devices. This can be done as simply as a text only HTML version of the site, a more complex version that also includes some graphics or as elaborately as fully customized version of the site design that is modified for a smaller screen. The first two ways can potentially be done without a great deal of technical knowledge (even by those hanging on to old school Static HTML sites) but the latter will almost certainly require the skills of a professional for either the graphics modification and/or specialized coding.
- Specialized CSS
A Specialized CSS or Cascading Style Sheet — which is just a fancy name for a list of instructions for how things are to be displayed on your pages — is usually the weapon of choice for most entrepreneurs because depending on how your site was created, it can be the simplest to implement and for more daring site owners, something that they can handle themselves. The best part of doing things this way is that it is scalable with your site. Meaning no matter what content updates or changes you make to the main site, the same changes will automatically be available on your mobile site. This is because rather than redirecting users to a totally different version of your site, you are simply modifying the instructions for how things are displayed. Rather than an animation, you show a static image and rather than crazy layout art and special effects you simply show the content.
As with most things the simplest option is usually the best but simplicity is relative. If you have a really complex site, it might make sense to create a custom mobile version of your site but for most entrepreneurs the simple modification of the way existing content is displayed is all that is needed to serve the purpose.
No matter which way you decide to go the needs of your audience should trump anything that you think or heard you should be doing. I know, I know, you are thinking, “Well that is kind of cryptic, so what exactly does that mean?”. It just means that you should make sure to always include a link to the full version of your site in any mobile version because there is nothing more irritating than being redirected to a stripped down version of the info you are looking for when you have the desire and capability to view things in all of their glory.
So why are you still hanging around on my blog? Get to it. Get started making your site more mobile friendly and make sure you keep your share of that 50%.