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Mobile Websites: Time To Stop Procrastinating and JUST DO IT.

We cannot harp on about Mobile any more – it IS the absolute MUST DO thing for your organisation in 2012. If you don’t have a mobile optimised website at this stage, you may as well not be in business.

The fear for most organisations is the cost. And the time. And the perceived problems of fitting in all of the “stuff” on their website. These are not logical fears. These are entirely abated with a bit of research and a helpful mobile web solution.

Think about it another way. If you didn’t have a website for your company, would you miss out on essential sales leads and clients? Yes. Would people be able to reach out to you, or find your phone number easily without a website? Probably, but why take the chance. Mobile websites are just as important as having a website in general. The prevalence of smartphones and mobile web access, which is continuing to rise at a rate of knots every quarter since 2008, means that when consumers and clients visit your website using their mobile device, their user experience should be optimised so as to encourage greater interaction and conversion.

We have experimented with quite a number of mobile website converters (we ourselves use WPTouch – an app for WordPress, and also recommend WeeverApps as an excellent solution too), but we’ve just learned of and experimented with BMobilized over the last week, and it’s excellent. There is a free trial available, and prices start at $5 per month. A really cool tool is the website preview feature – you just enter the URL of your website and it’ll show you what it could look like (in real time) across all of the mobile operating systems (iPhone, Android, Windows and Blackberry). If you want to have someone do all of your mobile website stuff for you, it’ll cost you a cool $199 (this is extremely good value) and $9 a month for a rake of features that’ll be a gem to your business.

Here are some examples of how a website looks when it’s not mobile optimised: (these were taken as screen shots on an iPhone today, Monday 25 June 2012) and websites on Mobile Devices and websites on Mobile Devices (screenshots)

Can you read what’s going on in those websites? No. It’s “pinch and zoom” hell. Here’s what they could look like on a mobile: (using the Mobile Website Previewer of BMobilized) and in the Mobile Website Preview BMobilized and in the Mobile Website Preview BMobilized

What should you include in your mobile website?

The first thing that should be scrapped anyway are huge images and distractions that you spent ages sourcing or creating to make your desktop website experience what it is today. These just don’t work on Mobile. These main things should be clear:

Simplified Navigation Menus
These should be vertical (ie, one menu tab under the other, not beside the other) and large enough for your clumsy fingers to push without bother. Strip out unimportant sections like subsections of blogs (incorporate them all together), and try and make it as easy as possible for your mobile website visitors to do what you want them to do – ie, search for a product or service, contact you, apply for a job etc.

Contact Details
The main reason why people come to your site using their mobile phone is to get your phone number. They don’t want to have to memorise your number and then go out of their web browser to their keypad and dial your number. They don’t want to have to copy and paste your number. They just want to be able to click it and it’ll start dialing. Simple as. Click to Call is a really simple and effective feature and one that should be at the top of your list of requirements. As is Click to Email, for exactly the same reason.

Small Images and Logos
Branding is sometimes lost on mobile websites, but having a clear on-brand colour palate and minimised logos will enhance the experience without taking up huge swathes of prime real-estate on a tiny mobile phone screen. Stock photos should be dumped because they’re not making you any money, at the end of the day. Your content is the most important thing you should focus on, and it should get all the attention.

Embrace Random Moments

Opportune moments for people to visit your site using their mobile device, such as commuting to work, waiting for meetings to start or friends to show up, in the pub clarifying facts to win an argument these are all ideal moments when ordinary people will visit your website, and you’d like to have the opportunity to delight them and encourage them to convert into a paying customer or business lead.

Marks & Spencer, when they invested in their e-commerce mobile website in 2010, reported that their largest single order was for £3,280 for two sofas – M&S marked that down to a couple who’d moved into their new home and didn’t have internet set up yet so used their phones to do their online shopping. If you make it easy for people to perform the actions that your website should be used for (whether its to use your services, buy your products, apply for your jobs, call you or request a call back), then they will do so using these short opportunities on their smartphones that happen every day.

Integrate your Twitter and Blog habits to Mobile

If you write blogs and tweet your content out to the world, expect visitors to view that content using their mobile phone. Believe it or not, but 55% of Twitter users access it using the mobile app, so when they see your tweet about your most recent blog or your hot job of the day, they’d like to come on to your mobile site rather than your standard site.

Consider Investing in HTML5 if you’re Undergoing a Website Re-Design

If your website is getting a total overhaul this year, consider investing in a HTML5 site rather than a standard run-of-the-mill site. It’ll cost a small bit more, but it’ll future-proof your site for the next 3-5 years and won’t need considerable change (which can cost a lot of money). What HTML5 does is respond instinctively to the window-size of your web browser. There’s no need for separate websites for different desktop sizes or tablets or mobile phones, the HTML5 site will respond to the change in browser window size in real time. Try it out yourself – here’s Starbucks career site and Eden Recruitment’s websites which are built on HTML5. Test it by making the browser window smaller and bigger when on your desktop, moving it from standard rectangle desktop size to something of a tablet size and what a mobile screen size would be, and see how they change to suit all of those browser needs.

Have you made the Mobile Website plunge recently? What has been your experience, and what advice would you give to other business owners considering Mobile Websites? Leave your thoughts and recommendations in the comments (even if they’re blatant plugs for your mobile web-designing skills!).

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