A mobile website is more than just a smaller version of your regular website. It’s a website that is designed and laid out to specifically work on a smartphone or tablet. While smartphones and tablets are basically just smaller computers, that doesn’t mean your website should treat them that way. A mobile experience is a whole different experience, and users expect different things.
If you’re designing a mobile page, or at least a mobile-friendly website (a site that is easily read by mobile devices, but not made specifically for mobile), here are four mobile design factors you need to consider.
1. Simple layout
Rather than using wide, multi-column layouts, a mobile website should be a single column of information. That way, a mobile device can resize the column and the text will adjust itself accordingly.
2. Smaller photos
If you take photos with your phone or digital camera, and upload them, you’ve probably uploaded larger photos than necessary. We’ve seen photos that are 1500 pixels wide. At 100 pixels per inch (ppi), that’s a 15 inch wide photo being made to fit on a little bitty phone. Reduce photo sizes to no more than 400 ppi in size.
Smaller photos load faster. Big photos equal big file size, and as fast as mobile phones are, big file sizes still take a while to transfer. If a user has to wait more than several seconds for your site to load, they won’t stick around.
Body copy needs to be kept fairly short on a mobile website. Depending on how big a user’s phone is, you can usually fit 100 words or so on a screen without swiping. And while you’ve written some valuable information, no one is going to stick around for your 1,000 word manifesto on how your pizza sauce is completely organic and preservative free.
For a mobile website, people are typically looking for a few pieces of information: product description, a menu, pricing, directions, sometimes a blog, and how to get ahold of you. User reviews are also helpful. Keep body copy short, and give people what they want.
4. No Flash
If your regular website has Flash content, don’t put it on your mobile site. iPhones and iPads don’t read Flash, and since iPhones are half of the smartphone market share and <a href="http://venturebeat.com/2012/05/03/total-tablet-sales-down-in-first-quarter-but-ipad-market-share-back-up-to-68-percent/"iPads are 68% of the tablet market share. Don’t leave that much of your customer base out.
While having a mobile-friendly website is a great step in the right direction, we think mobile websites are a small business marketing tool worth having. By keeping these four design factors in mind, your mobile website could be both outstanding and profitable.
About the author: Duncan Alney is the president and founder of Firebelly Marketing. He is an entrepreneur, writer, speaker, and photographer, and he’s working on his first social media marketing book, which will be out in late 2012. Duncan has lived on 3 continents and in 5 countries, but is proud to call Indianapolis home.
Photo credit: Text100 (Flickr, Creative Commons)