61% of Americans own smartphones. 63% of those use their phones to access the Internet. The direction of technology is pretty clear: mobile is king. So if you want to stay ahead of the curve, the number one thing your company should do is develop a top-notch mobile website that attracts users to your brand.
A mobile website is accessed from a mobile phone and is optimized for viewing on a smaller screen. It is accessible to touch screens and loads quickly within the mobile browser. Developing a mobile website may seem like a daunting task, but if you have the right web development team, it can actually be easier than designing a full site. Follow these 5 basic steps to build an attractive and effective mobile website:
1. Develop a strategy.
The most crucial step is to map out your strategy before you start. Figure out what information you want to feature and how you want it organized. Hierarchy, branding, and functionality are all concerns you will want to address ahead of time. (For more information on this topic, read Four Rules of Mobile Website Design on the 60 Second Marketer blog.)
2. Prioritize hierarchy of information.
Best practices in mobile website design suggest that just a few (3-5) menu options should be presented to the user at first, with each menu item revealing any additional options that are needed. For example, an Italian restaurant might have their logo at the top with 4 buttons directly underneath: About, Menu, Location, and Contact; with their hours listed at the bottom of each page on the site. After pressing the Contact button, users may be presented with 3 more buttons: options to call the restaurant, send an email, or connect on social media. This type of prioritizing makes the site more aesthetically pleasing and easier to navigate on a smaller screen.
3. Incorporate branding.
Your mobile website should be a reflection of your brand as a whole. Be sure to incorporate as many design elements from your full site as you can without making the mobile version too cluttered. This should definitely include your logo, header, and colors. Your branding should also extend into the tone of the written copy. Basically, your mobile website should reflect all the branding and personality of your company, just like your full website, print media, and social media elements.
4. Optimize functionality.
Mobile website functionality is going to be vastly different from that of a standard web page. For example, buttons should always change visually when they are pressed to let the user know they are working. Buttons also need to be plenty big enough for the average user’s thumb. If possible, include elements of your site that incorporate the phone’s other functions. For example, in our fictional Italian restaurant, the Contact options could be programmed to access the user’s phone so that they can simply press a button to call the restaurant (no dialing), email the manager (no copying and pasting), or follow the establishment on Twitter (no searching). All of the functionality is specifically designed to make the user’s experience easier.
If something warrants a change on your basic website, it warrants a change on the mobile version. With so many of your customers relying on their mobile experiences to determine their relationships with your brand, you can’t afford to let your mobile presence fall behind. Keep the technical aspects of your mobile site and the information found on it up-to-date to keep your users happy.
Now you’re off to the races! Mobile is unavoidable at this point, and it’s better to get ahead of the curve with your mobile site’s design and functionality than to be left in the dust. Follow these five steps to make sure that your mobile presence is worthy of your brand.
About the Author: Samantha Gale is a writer and account manager at 60 Second Communications, a full-service marketing agency that helps well-known brands turn their marketing investment into new customers. @SamanthaJGale