It’s been predicted that by 2014, the number of people with access to the web from a phone will be greater than the number using a desktop computer.
For many people, certain kinds of online activity are only ever carried out on mobile devices now – reading blog feeds on the train, catching up with emails between meetings, posting a social media status update while on the move.
If you’ve got a website or are in the process of building one, this has implications for you.
“But my site works just fine on an iPhone,” you may say. Yes, it displays on the iPhone screen, and on other smartphones too. But have you noticed how tiny everything is? Or how much longer it takes for your site to load if you haven’t got access to wifi?
A website which is optimised for mobile devices (including phones, iPod touches and tablets) will be a much more pleasant and user-friendly experience for visitors. It may even help you achieve specific business goals which are relevant to people on the move.
So what’s different about a mobile site?
- Layout. Sites which have been optimised for mobile will most likely have a one-column layout so instead of having to scroll from side to side you scroll down. If you haven’t looked at the Compass Design site from a mobile yet, try it and you’ll see how it works.
- Font size. Do your eyes strain when you’re trying to read websites on your smartphone? or are you constantly having to zoom in and out to be able to read anything? By increasing the font size, you can make it easier for people visiting your site on a mobile to read the content.
- Media and images. It’s likely that people accessing your site on a mobile will have a slower connection speed than desktop users. You don’t want people to give up and abandon your site while they’re waiting for the images, slideshows and video to load. You can make your site mobile-friendly by taking these out, moving them to a separate page or providing a link to them on YouTube or a similar service.
- Navigation. Someone quickly visiting your site from a mobile may want to access different information from someone sitting at a desk. If your business is location-based, they may be looking for a map or your opening hours. Make sure it’s really quick and easy for mobile visitors to access this information – no more than one click away from the home page or even on it. And integrate with google maps, which will work seamlessly with the maps app on your visitors’ phones.
So how do you set up a mobile site?
There are three ways to do this:
- Responsive design. The layout of your site is coded in a way that makes it rearrange itself and resize to fit different devices. All of our new site builds are responsive.
- Mobile version of your existing site. If your mobile site needs to be quite different form your dekstop site, we can create a mobile version of your site using WordPress, with the same content but a different structure or design.
- Different site for mobile devices. There is also the option of serving visitors on mobiles a very different site. This might be relevant if a high proportion of visitors are on mobiles, if you have an e-commerce site or want a site that looks and behaves more like an app. Again, your web designer can advise you and set this up for you.
I’ve spoken at WordCamp UK about this topic and you can see my slides on creating mobile websites here.