Web Trends: Mobile Websites

What does your website look like on a mobile device?

With the growing popularity of smartphones and other web-enabled devices, such as the iPad, more and more consumers are browsing the web through their mobile devices. Your customers can now access your site on a wide array of devices, all with their own unique advantages and disadvantages. And it's important to make sure that when they browse to your site, they're seeing what you want them to see. What looks great on a 15-inch desktop monitor doesn't always translate well to a 3.5-inch handheld screen with limited scrolling ability.

Even the highest quality handheld devices have smaller screens and lower display resolutions that sometimes distort intricate graphics. Slower connection speeds mean that complex pages may take too long to load. (And don't forget that Apple devices still can't view flash animation.) But there's also a unique set of advantages to mobile browsing; there's the convenience of instant access, and the ability to include hyperlinks that allow users to instantly call you or save your contact information to their phone.

In the last year, mobile web browsing has risen by 148% worldwide, according to the Quantcast Mobile Trends 2009 Report. Market research firm eMarketer, specializing in digital marketing and media, projects that this year alone, 85.5 million mobile phone users will access the web from their handsets, up from last year's 83.5 million. So the question is: when someone goes to check out your site, what will they see?

For someone who's never seen the full version of your site, the mobile version may be their first impression of your company. And, as you know, making a good first impression is one of the first rules of any business. Having a gaping hole where a flash graphic should be; background colors that make text hard to read; or pages with wide displays that require viewers to scroll left, right, up, and down just to get through one sentence can all make a mobile viewer jump ship and go to another site. (Maybe even your competitor's!) Sure, Apple's great new pinch-style zoom makes it easier to read mobile websites than ever before, but having to constantly zoom in-and-out is anything but enjoyable.

Now that users can access your site from a variety of different devices, it's time to make sure your site is designed to cater to them all. There are two main options to consider when making your site mobile-ready:

1. You can continue to have a single version of your website that you attempt to optimize for easy viewing on every screen by using clean, uncomplicated graphics and a more narrow text layout.

2.You can create a mobile-friendly "lite version" of your website.

With the second option, your website determines if a visitor is coming from a traditional computer/web browser or a mobile device. Traditional computers will be presented with the standard website, while the mobile browser is directed to the the "lite version" that has been specifically designed for mobile devices.

Mobile-friendly websites typically consist of a single column layout that auto-fits the width of the device's screen, requiring only a vertical scroll to view the whole page, images that don't require zooming, and large, easy-to-press hyperlinks that let visitors call your company with a simple click-of-a-button (or touch-of-the-screen, as the case may be). With an easy-to-read, inviting mobile website, you can encourage web traffic, both for new visitors and for your current customers who may want to stay updated or review their order status while on the go.

When it comes to deciding how to handle mobile web traffic, the key is to understand how your customers and site visitors navigate your site, and what functions they need to easily perform. The business analysts at Brave River can help you determine which solution is best for your company, and our web designers and developers can then make it a reality. Email info@braveriver.com or call us today at 1-888-828-8911 to make your web site mobile-friendly.


Article by: Lindsey McColl

Image source: Brave River Solutions

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