Mobile device users are accounting for a higher percentage of your website’s visitors than ever before. In some cases, smartphones are actually replacing desktop or laptop computers as the Internet surfing tool of choice. Thus, if your website is not designed to handle mobile visitors, you will lose out on a good chunk of your potential traffic and sales.
In brief, you need to ensure that your website can handle mobile as well as desktop or laptop traffic. Where do you start?
How to make your website mobile-friendly
1. Check out your website’s look and feel on a mobile device.
The first and easiest step you can take is to use a smartphone or tablet to examine how your website pops up on the mobile screen. Type in your website’s URL on Safari or some other mobile browser and see how it renders. Then, scroll down the web page and see if you can easily read the text or if you must expand and move the screen about in order to get at all the content.
Incidentally, if you don’t yet have a smartphone or tablet in hand, you can use a desktop tool like Screenfly, which will show you what your website looks like on mobile devices. Google’s GoMoMeter is another useful desktop tool, showing your site across various devices, their upload speeds, and how to improve them.
2. Find your mobile traffic.
Using Google Analytics, locate your total mobile traffic and find out how well (or poorly) your website is faring on smartphones and tablets. Also, consider how much of your total traffic is originating from mobile devices. In my website example below, almost 30% of total traffic and potential sales are derived from mobile device users.
If you see a high bounce rate or low session duration originating from mobile devices, it may be time to better mobile-ize your website.
3. Consider creating a mobile website.
Sites like DudaMobile or Bootstrap will help you build a mobile version of your website within minutes- and for free. If you have a small website and just want to feature a few pages for mobile device users, these basic service plans are the way to go. My own mobile website turned out quite nicely after I’d tweaked it using DudaMobile:
WordPress users can try out the WPtouch Mobile plugin, which is a one time fee of $49 and offers you a range of mobile-friendly themes to choose from.
Many businesses have opted to use frameworks that enable their desktop websites to be rendered on different mobile devices via responsive design. In this case, the technology uses a grid to lay out and then render your website elements on whatever device is used. This saves the mobile device user from having to constantly shrink/expand or left/right scroll through the screen.
The problem with creating a mobile website is that the site will probably have a second URL containing the .m subdomain. This may result in search engines not being able to locate your site.
A quick solution to this issue is to link your mobile site to your regular website and direct mobile device users to click there.
4. Consider creating a mobile app.
Although this solution is not as instantaneous as converting a regular website to a mobile one via a single plug-in or program, it may be worthwhile to build an App for your website if you have a content-rich or parallax design website that just doesn’t look good on mobile devices.
Thankfully, the process is much easier and cheaper than even a few years ago, when building an app meant hiring a programmer. In some cases, you won’t even need to download any software to create a rudimentary (and even free) app.
Como is one example of a site that enables you to build your mobile app completely online via its Cloud-based software. Here is my basic plan-based app, courtesy of Como:
Yapp and AppMakr are other possible app maker programs you may wish to look into and consider. Don’t forget to submit your app to marketplaces such as the Apple App Store when you’re done.
The only downside with creating and having an app for your website is that some mobile devices are so stuffed with apps that their users can’t possibly download just one more app without killing their device memory. Also, many apps are routinely installed just to be uninstalled.
5. Make sure your buttons/links are “fat finger” enabled.
Even if your website already looks good on mobile devices, it may contains text and menus that are not easily manipulated. First, test out your website on a mobile device by using your thumb to click on its various links and features. If you find yourself hitting the wrong things, this is indicative of what’s popularly referred to as “fat finger syndrome.”
Consider converting your links to larger buttons and banners. What’s a good pixel size?
Also, go for simplicity and larger icons overall in your website design. Break up longer paragraphs into shorter ones and insert images in subsections. Create titles and subheadings that explain the nature of your content in the first 3-5 words. Use bullet points and numbered lists to enable viewers to easily absorb your content.
6. Make sure your opt-ins and checkout pages work.
The last thing you want to do is make your customers’ checkout experience time-consuming and/or frustrating. So, if you own an e-commerce or affiliate site, check your email opt-in and shopping cart/checkout areas for usability and function. If they are difficult to work with, consider generating mobile-friendly opt-ins and payment forms through plugins like SumoMe or OptInMonster.
You might also think about creating off-site forms using a service like LeadPages. Alternately, you may wish to direct mobile device users to a third-party shopping cart like ClickBank or Gumroad.
In short, make it easy for your mobile device visitors to become your customers.
7. Extra credit: Offer another option
It’s completely optional, but you may wish to convert your website and/or its blog into podcast/videocast format and offer those broadcasts as your mobile-friendly content. After all, many mobile device owners prefer to listen to their content while driving or otherwise engaging in some activity, so why not offer them that option? Doing so may even win you more desktop/laptop visitors too.