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Although you already understand the importance of reaching customers across all platforms, the supporting evidence bears repeating:

  • Sales of mobile devices are up—way up. By 2015, tablet sales will outpace desktop sales (about 337.8 billion tablets will be sold worldwide, vs. 292.2 billion PCs).
  • 79% of smartphone users shop via their device and 71% will search via mobile after seeing an ad (whether a print, TV or online ad)  Source
  • Mobile devices account for 15% of online sales, a number expected to leap to 25% by 2017. Source
  • Mobile retail sales (or “mcommerce” sales) were projected to total nearly $39 billion in the US this year. Source

You get it. You need a mobile-optimized site.

But building such a site is more than just cramming your desktop site into a pocket-sized package. Mobile users typically are more goal-oriented and focus on a narrower set of tasks than those sitting at a desktop. Your mobile site needs to respond directly and quickly, or you’ll lose viewers—viewers who are primed to be buyers—to your competitor.

There are three areas to focus on when optimizing your site for mobile: appearance and navigation; user experience; and speed.

Appearance and Navigation

Space is at a premium on tablets and smartphones: You have a lot to say but not a lot of space to say it in. But avoid the temptation to stuff everything from your entire desktop site onto the tiny mobile screen. Instead, think of what your users want to do and make it simple for them to do it.  Make it easy on the eyes and the fingers.

Mirror the branding of your sites so users know it’s you. Keep logos, colors, and images consistent with your established desktop site and brand.

Make every word and image count. Keep in mind your user might actually be mobile—walking down a sidewalk!—and reading while moving is hard. Minimize text and use icons instead of paragraphs wherever you can, and ask yourself which words and images are most necessary for moving the user through your site.

Make it more visible. Bump up your font size. Experts suggest using 16 points as the default and increasing line space to make reading easier.

Make buttons bigger.  Few things are more frustrating than hitting the wrong button. Make your touch targets big enough: 44 x 44 pixels is just about right for most fingers to tap without zooming in.

Use contextual keyboards. If your user has to give an email address or phone number, for Pete’s sake, put numerals and the @ symbol on your keyboard so they don’t have to shift.

 

User Experience

Ask yourself: Why are users here? On mobile, they usually come to do, not to read.  If you’re a pizza place and they’re on your site to order, make the menu prominent. If it’s to get directions, an interactive map better be right there. Do they want to call? Give a click-to-call button. Pick two or three of the most important actions, feature them prominently and get unnecessary elements out of the way.

To paraphrase everyone’s favorite theoretical physicist, Albert Einstein, everything should be made as simple as possible, but no simpler.

Use drop-down menus. Nobody likes type a lot on a mobile device. Limit the keystrokes required to get your users to where they’re going.

Limit the number of layers. Pages load more slowly on mobile, so streamline the process for any action a user might take.

Avoid pop ups. Pop ups make your user toggle between windows, which can be cumbersome; it’s best to avoid them.

And even though you need to simplify things for mobile, give users an option to see everything that’s on your site. Give them access to full navigation, but don’t let it get in their way.

 

Site Speed

Advances in technology have made communicating easier and faster, and we’ve become an impatient society. Loading speed is measured in milliseconds, and whole seconds can seem an eternity. If your site doesn’t load before you can say “buy my products,” your user will bail.

Limit the number of images. Use images strategically and make them small. If possible, keep them to your product pages, where your user expects to see them, and not your home page, which your user expects to load instantly.

Think carefully when using Flash, Java, or other video platforms, as some are not well supported across devices and will cause errors or slow load time.

Don’t lose speed to slow links. If you can avoid it, don’t link to documents that have to be downloaded or any content that’s not optimized specifically for mobile.

Streamline your process. Beyond the technical aspects of site speed, consider user speed and the number of steps needed to complete a task. Again, look for ways to streamline it.

Google serves up sites that are responsive over those that are not. At NPWS, we focus on making sites fully optimized for mobile. Learn more about mobile website design and contact us today to make your site work flawlessly on mobile.