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Creating a Mobile Site

Published: 09/12/14

For any company establishing or re-evaluating their online presence it’s universally agreed that user experience is a primary consideration.

Whatever your business; whether selling shoes or accountancy services, good interface design, functionality and accessibility are crucial for customer retention.

As we all know, the online market is one where the demands on companies are constantly changing.

Today, the UK online retail sector is dominated by mobile devices, with over half of all business owners spending at least two hours a day working on a mobile device, according to BiznessApps.com. A ReportBusiness article found that 75% of entrepreneurs use smartphones daily to improve productivity, track expenditure and organise their diary.

Mobile devices are such an integral part of daily life that it is essential that businesses have a website that is easy to access, navigate and use from a mobile device.

A report from MarginMedia stated that 48% of business users saw it as an indication of a company not caring if they arrived on a website that wasn’t designed to fit a mobile device. Meanwhile, a similar report from Econsultancy found that 40% of online users simply abandoned a site if it took longer than three seconds to load. Three seconds here is a very small amount of time that could still prove devastating for online businesses.

“There has been a mind shift toward thinking ‘mobile first’”, says Oliver Bareham, Head of Mobile in the UK for Universal McCann. “The first device we go for in the morning is our mobile phone, and it’s the last thing we look at in the evening.

“We check our phones around 150 times a day – so the mobile device plays a massive part in the customer’s path to purchase, or simply conducting research, regardless of what the product is. Companies run the risk of losing business if potential clients are searching for a particular service and discover that the website isn’t mobile-friendly. The chances are they’ll move onto a competitor.”

Improved engagement and experience

For businesses whose websites may not be mobile accessible, all is not lost. There are still simple and cheap options for you to upgrade your site to meet the mobile requirements of your customers.

“Statistically 80% of all UK websites aren’t mobile friendly,” says Oliver. “However, that number is expected to drop to 60% due to the success of smartphone penetration in the UK.”

While it may seem a daunting prospect to upgrade a business website, Oliver explains that a simple strategy will make the entire process much easier.

“Think about why your customers would want their site to be mobile accessible in the first place. Google Analytics can tell them how many people access their site on mobile devices and what devices they use. They are then able to make sure that their site is updated to meet those requirements.

“Google also rewards those who are mobile friendly, SEO-wise. Companies don’t need to spend thousands of pounds on website features their customers don’t need. It can be as simple as just making it mobile accessible.”

There are a number of stages that you can implement, depending on budget:

Simplify your site design. View your website on a smartphone (or via Google GoMoMeter) and you'll probably see the need for design changes, namely simpler page design; critical information above the fold and large touchable buttons that are fat-finger-proof. At the very least put your name, phone number and a link to a map at the top left of your home page where it is easy to find.

Create a mobile version of your site. In stead of editing your website, you can create a parallel version, using mobile-site-design services, many of which are free or low cost. But if this mobile site has a second URL, search engines may or may not find it. Both Bing and Google advocate a one-URL approach for find-ability and search engine optimisation. However if you can’t afford to rebuild your site, a mobile version that links to the main site is better than doing nothing.

The best option is to rebuild your site for display on any device. This is the difference between adaptive and responsive site design:

Adaptive design is the epitome of website design. It's used by big companies that invest -- heavily -- to reach the largest possible online audience. Adaptive design detects and identifies the user's device and then generates a page matched to the device capabilities.

Responsive design is a more affordable solution that creates a single version of a website that auto-adjusts to display properly on the majority of modern devices. It should be the case that the site can still be easily read, irrespective of how small the display area is.

Commit to future-proof your website reach consumers via their phones, tablets, PCs, TVs and goodness knows what else is next….?

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