As mobile networks become more powerful, people are relying more on their cell phones, Blackberries and iPhones for Internet access. Depending on your company’s products and services, you could be losing sales and customers if your website doesn’t work properly on a mobile device. Simply having a website is not enough. It must also display well and provide easy navigation on mobile devices
I recently talked to Lyn Nielsen at Desktop Solutions, a web development firm, about key elements to consider in making Web sites more user friendly on mobile devices.
Your competition. How does the competition look on various devices? This may be an opportunity for you to create a competitive edge!
How will mobile customers use your site? What are the most popular site features for users sitting on a train, eating in a restaurant or walking down the street? Do they need to see the News section or the About Us page? Will users look at photos of every product in your line? While it’s nice to have a complete version of your site visible on every cell phone imaginable, it might not be necessary.
Mobile visitors meet brick-and-mortar. Sometimes, the most valuable site feature on mobile devices is a store locator system. Creating a mobile version of the site with a cross section of products and a shortcut to the store locator is a logical choice for users. It’s also more cost-efficient than a full blown version of the main site.
Test your site. There are several Web sites that allow you to see how your site will look on various mobile devices, and give you ratings in several categories. Some sites will even identify specific problems and make suggestions to improve your results. Try one or both of the following: http://www.enom.com/instant-mobilizer/imobilizer.aspx# or http://ready.mobi
Focus on function over flash. Avoid using a lot of Flash and other animation programs as they will not render properly on most devices. Also note that sites coded with 'static' as opposed to data-driven html will need to be manually updated for mobile-friendly versions.
Consider registering a mobile version of your domain. DotMobi (.mobi) is a top level domain approved by ICANN mTLD global registry, dedicated to delivering the Internet to mobile devices via the mobile web. It is financially backed and sponsored by Google, Microsoft, Nokia, Samsung, Ericsson, Vodafone, T-Mobile, and Visa. The main advantage of .mobi sites is that they are theoretically guaranteed a site optimized for usage on the go. The main disadvantage of using dotMobi is that it promotes creating two separate device-dependent versions of the web, one desktop-based and the other mobile-based. Companies using .mobi have to register and take care of two domains/websites, instead of one whose pages would be adjusted to various devices via programming code.
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