10 best practices for your mobile website

willspring55, October 23, 2013

By D Hay

Here are 10 important tips to get your mobile site off to a roaring start.

Keep it simple and prioritize content

– See more at: socialmedia.biz/2012/05/31/10-best-practices-for-your-mobile-website/#sthash.bU70VotF.dpuf

Keep it simple and prioritize content

1. In general, keeping your site simple means eliminating most images; simplifying navigation, layout, and design elements; eliminating Flash and other proprietary software; keeping your site free of clutter; and breaking up text and other content.

Space is in high demand on a mobile site and site visitors are on the go, so you need to anticipate what content users will most likely want to access. Choose the three most important content items and make those items easy for users to find and act upon.

Recall that users are not browsing your mobile site — so make it easy for them to do the things they most likely want to do, like find store locations, buy or review products, review menu items, place calls to your business, or request additional information.

Take advantage of mobile features

2. Like the click-to-call button, there are features specific to mobile devices that can be used to improve your site’s user experience. The most useful of these features is location, both yours and the customer’s. By accessing user location information, you can offer a more personable experience.

Think ‘tap-able,’ not ‘clickable’

3. Design your site’s buttons, navigation items, and links for touch screens, not for a mouse. This will improve the user experience and prevent accidental navigation away from your site. Do not use hover-over features on your mobile site. A thumb cannot “hover” over an item on a mobile

 

Minimize scrolling and use vertical navigation

4. Mobile users prefer to scroll from top to
bottom, so design your site so that left to right scrolling is eliminated. You
should keep the need for scrolling — even top to bottom scrolling — to a
minimum.


Pay special attention to the navigation on your mobile website. Keep in mind
the “tap-able” issues discussed above, as well as scrolling and readability
issues. Your navigation menu should not scroll left or right. If your menu
items are too long to fit horizontally, create a vertical navigation structure.

Vertical navigation on mobile website

Formatting content: Be concise

5. Content is still king, even on the mobile Web, and there are plenty of ways to keep your valuable content available to your visitors while still maintaining a simple, readable, error-free mobile site:

  • Make headers prominent and concise.
  • Text should be readable at arm’s length, and broken up with “read more” links or collapsible navigation.
  • Use bulleted lists when formatting your text, and avoid the use of images wherever possible.
  • Avoid placing too many links within the body of your text, especially if the links are close together.

Focus on simple usability

6. Your mobile website design should focus on simplicity and usability. Designing for a smaller screen can be challenging and requires eliminating many elements we take for granted on desktop sites. The following best practices can help:

  • Do not clutter your site with paid ads or unnecessary elements.
  • Use CSS to organize content on your mobile site. Do not use HTML tables.
  • Use plenty of white space on your site, and use lighter-colored backgrounds.
  • Single column layouts are the best choice for mobile websites.

7. Page load time — how fast a page renders in a mobile browser — plays a major role in how well a site places in mobile search engines, and can also determine if someone stays on your site or not. A website designed for desktop browsers can take up to 40 seconds to load on a mobile device, a far cry from an optimized mobile site that should take around four seconds.

Use an image cruncher like crunch4Free to cut back on image size

Images tend to take a long time to load. Mobile users are content motivated — they are not necessarily “browsing” or “admiring” your mobile site, rather, they are there for a purpose. A few images are fine, but excessive use will degrade your site’s efficiency. Use an image cruncher like crunch4Free to cut back on image size.

Just as for images, including video on your mobile site can affect load times and usability. Rather than streaming the video yourself or relying on other proprietary software, consider using YouTube to place video on your mobile site. HTML5 has a video tag that renders video efficiently, too.

URL structure

8. You have a few choices for what type of URL to use for your mobile site. You could purchase a domain name using the “dotmobi” or “.mobi” extension so your site would have a URL like “yoursitename.mobi.” Or, you could point a sub-domain name like “m.yoursitename.com” or “mobile.yoursitename.com” to your mobile website. It is becoming standard to find a website’s mobile version at a URL like m.example.com.

Redirecting visitors to your mobile site: Let them choose

9. When someone accesses your website using a mobile device, there are ways you can make sure the mobile version of your site is what they see. One way is to redirect them to the mobile version of your website using scripts. Regardless of how you redirect visitors to your mobile site, it is always best to allow them the option of viewing the standard version of the site if they choose.

Test your mobile site

10. Mobile browsers are not as forgiving as desktop
browsers when it comes to errors. The best place to test your mobile website
for errors is the
W3C mobileOK Checker. This tool not only
checks your site for errors, but checks page sizes, load times, image sizes,
and many other factors that can keep your mobile site from displaying properly
in mobile browsers.

Taking your mobile site to the next level

So, what can you do on your mobile website?


Granted, the guidelines above are pretty strict, and many of them have older
mobile devices in mind. However, you should still attempt to adhere as closely
as possible to the suggestions here when developing your mobile website. The
mobile audience has a shorter attention span than ever, so every second counts!


There is still a lot you can do to create a beautiful mobile website while
adhering to best practices. Check out the sites on Mobile
Awesomeness for inspiration. Note: Not every mobile site featured on Mobile
Awesomeness adheres to the best practices discussed in this post.


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