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Ensuring Your Website is Mobile-Friendly

Lee Iacocca once said, “You can have brilliant ideas, but if you cannot get them across, your ideas will not get you anywhere.” If customers can’t find your company or engage with your brand on mobile devices, then you’re not getting your business across to an ever-increasing audience.

Nielson estimates mobile Internet is growing eight times faster than the adoption of the web in the late 1990s. With this kind of growth, is your website ready to provide an optimal user experience for your customers who use smart phones and or tablets?

Target the Right Mobile Devices

Google has robots that search out quality websites to provide us with search results. But did you know Google has two robots, one for desktop websites and one for mobile websites?  Developing a website that’s dedicated to mobile devices is the first place to start.

There are literally hundreds of mobile devices on the market, all with very different specifications and requirements. You can choose to develop a single website that works across all mobile devices or develop multiple websites that target specific devices (i.e., one for mobile phones and one for tablets).

The Apple iOS devices should be a priority due to their dominance of the smartphone and tablet markets, with Google’s Android operating system next and Blackberry’s (Research in Motion) a distant third. All three of these operating systems are used on both smartphones and tablets. If you focus on these three types, you’ll cover 95 percent of all new mobile devices being sold in the United States.

Tools to Evaluate Your Website on Mobile Devices

It’s important to begin putting yourself in the shoes of customers and seeing what they see and experience. Evaluating your website on the three main mobile platforms is as simple as looking at it on your own mobile device. To take it a step further, download a simulator to test your website(s) on several different mobile devices.

Each of the three main platforms has simulators you can download. Use the Google Android Emulator, the Blackberry Simulator or Apple iOS Simulator to assess and evaluate your website’s mobile readiness. If you or your team uses Adobe tools, their Creative Suite has some additional mobile simulation tools.

One big difference between these three companies: Apple and Blackberry manufacture their own smartphones and tablets and don’t license their operating system to other manufactures. Google also manufactures a line of tablets and smartphones (Nexus), but they also license the Android operating system to many other companies, including Samsung, LG, HTC, Sony and Motorola.  Consider downloading these simulators to test how your website looks and responds on these various mobile devices.

Also, when considering the right tools, consider Google’s recommendations for building smartphone-optimized websites and ensuring the use of responsive web design and device-specific HTML.

Mobile Brand Experience

There are many things to consider when it comes to extending your brand experience to mobile devices.  The first thing is to understand the goal of your website when a mobile user arrives at it. There are different goals, including: Does your company want to sell customers a product? Would your business like them to contact it to request some sort of service? Do your customers just need to find the nearest store with driving directions and a map? Once your business has established its immediate mobile goal, this will provide the appropriate information to make your user experience decisions in compliance with your brand guidelines.

User Experience 

First and foremost, take steps to ensure that your website’s structure is formatted to fit with in the mobile devices’ screen dimensions and resolution, keeping in mind that navigation on modern smartphones is primarily done with the tip of a finger. Some best practices in general mobile website design include:

• Keep navigation to a minimum with links that are easy to see.

• Links should be large enough to be easily selected with a finger.

• Forms fields should be large with space between them to be easily selected.

With eCommerce, calls to action should use large product imagery with “add to cart” buttons and a product search function.

With lead generation, calls to action should be a “Call Now” or “Email Now” button and a “request for service” button with a short-lead form for the consumer to complete.

With store locators, the calls to action are either GPS pop-up for the location or “enter your location to find the store nearest you.”

Reporting, Analytics and Conversion Tracking

The last thing to consider when ensuring that your website is mobile-friendly comes down to tracking success. Just like in all marketing, it’s only successful if your business can track an investment to an outcome. First, ensure that your website analytics program is tracking your mobile-specific webpages. Key performance indicators or KPIs are different for every business, but a few trend analyses that most businesses can take advantage of are: average transaction size, phone calls, form fills and store searches. Tracking these KPIs will allow your franchise to set goals and to follow trends in your mobile website strategy.

After Technology, Focus on User Experience

The technology world is moving fast.  To present your brand experience to your customers, ensure that your website is mobile-friendly. Focus on Apple, Android and Blackberry to cover the vast majority of mobile devices and use the available tools to view and access your website’s mobile capabilities. After understanding your mobile website goals, the user experience is the most important aspect to ensure the very best experience. It must be very easy to use. Customers expect to be able to complete their desired outcome very quickly on their mobile device. Last but not least, track your KPIs and mobile conversions to ensure success, as well as customers enjoying their mobile experience.

Looking Ahead

AllThingsD.com, which provides news, analysis and opinions on technology, the Internet and media, estimates that 20 percent of all traffic already comes from mobile devices. And comScore, a source of digital business analytics, says by 2014, mobile Internet should overtake desktop Internet usage.

With this kind of growth comes a new set of rules that we must consider. Mobile is only a part of the experience. In today’s world, consumers are not only mobile, but very social and hyper-local. This convergence of social, local and mobile (known as SoLoMo) is where the consumer experience now lives. ⎯

Michael Boyer is COO for ElementsLocal and oversees the client service and product development teams, which provide service to 9,000 franchisee locations worldwide. He can be reached at 805-547-1160. Ext. 208 or
mboyer@elementslocal.com.

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