Have you got a website? Have ever tried using your website on a mobile phone? Hard isn’t it? It may be that your website is not that important for your business, while for others it is vital. It could be that your site is your business, or maybe it is where you get the majority of your enquiries.

In this post we’re going to look at whether you should get your website mobile ready to improve conversions. If you have already had your site changed to respond to different mobile devices, then don’t stop reading, you may still find out something useful.

Let’s look at why you should improve the user experience of your website on a mobile device.

Facts and Figures

  • 9 out of 10 Searchers have taken action as a result of a Smartphone search.
    (Source: thinkmobile with Google, The Mobile Movement, Google/IPSOS OTX MediaCT U.S., Apri 2011)
  • For 1 in 4 smartphone owners, their phone is their primary way of accessing the internet.
    (Pew Internet & American Life Project , July 2011)
  • Mobile Internet is expected to eclipse wired internet by 2015.
    (IDC as cited by The Independent , September 2011)
  • The average transaction value for a purchase carried out on a mobile phone has increased by 43% in the last 12 months.
    (IAB UK , September 2011)
  • Mobile internet user penetration is set to hit 37% in the UK by 2015
    (.eMarketer, April 2011)

The above stats should make you realise how important mobile browsing is becoming. By not considering how your website performs on a mobile you are excluding a large percentage of your potential customers. “But I only sold my Ferrari last year to pay for the new website, I don’t want to sell the other one as well just to get my site to work on a smartphone” I hear you shout. Well rest assured it won’t cost that much. However, it would be worthwhile to see how your site performs on other devices . Look at your analytics data to see what percentage of people are coming to your site on smartphones, and how long they are staying. Then you can make an informed decision.

How to check your website

The best way of checking how your website works on a smartphone is to check it on a… smartphone. Of course there are lots of different types of smartphones, and they all behave slightly differently. There are also various emulators that you can use (http://www.studiopress.com/responsive/). To get the true experience however, you do need to use a smartphone.

How to make your site work on a mobile

What most people are talking about when it comes to websites and mobile devices is response/adaptive design. The great thing about this, is that you keep the same website and just alter the CSS (web based styling language) so that the site shrinks and moves content around depending on the devices screen width. This is also what google prefers as you are not altering the content the search engine is crawling through.

example of how a website will display on various mobile devices

How to make your site work better on a mobile

Most of the following principles apply on all devices including desktop computers, but they become even more important when applied to a smartphone that has a screen of only a few inches in size.

Content Hierarchy – One of the ways responsive web design works is by rearranging content on a web page. For example, you may have a page with two or three columns. When the page is resized the three columns will become one by dropping the columns, one below the other. Obviously the most important information or functionality needs to be at the top of the page. However, if that important information or functionality has dropped below something less important, then the page loses its power. So look at your page and write down the order of importance of each block of content.

Reduce Text – Have another look at the text on your website. Are you managing to get your point across in as few words as possible? When viewing text, that on your PC looks like a few small paragraphs, on a smartphone can turn into a scrolling marathon in order to get to the next bit of the page.

Large Buttons – With a mouse you can be very accurate with where you move the cursor and what you click on. However, it becomes surprisingly hard when you use your finger to interact with your smartphone, especially if you have sausage sized fingers. To test whether your button is big enough, fry some chipolatas, once they are cold and greasy, use them to accurately navigate around a website on a smartphone. (RocketMill holds no responsibility if grease does not react well with your mobile phone)

Forms – are very annoying to fill out with a phone. So for starters keep forms to a minimum, then have look at the ones remaining. Can you convert any of the input fields from text inputs to radio buttons, tick boxes or drop down menus? These are much easier to use on a mobile, but make sure they are bigger enough to click on with a chipolata.

Speed – People may not be accessing your site via wifi but instead through their mobile network. This is has a limited bandwidth therefore increasing the download time. People are not patient, and may not be willing to wait an age for your website to load. The solution is reduce the number of images and graphic elements, then reduce the size of the ones remaining.

Avoid Flash – Apple seems to be falling out with everyone nowadays; Adobe, Google, Samsung. As a result with falling out with adobe they won’t allow Flash to work on any of their mobile device and it doesn’t work that well on Android either.

Telephone number and contacts – Make it easy to find your telephone number and the location of your business. Most smartphones will convert the phone number into a link that when clicked will dial your number.

Other useful mobile related blog posts