Pretty much everyone has a mobile phone these days. Mobile phones have grown into much more than just a way for people to call each other. Over the years mobile phones have become personal devices capable of delivering a wide range of interactive services, from music and movies to route navigation and surfing the web.
That’s why it’s a good idea to keep an eye on mobile developments and to prepare your website for mobile viewing. As more and more people buy web-enabled phones like the iPhone and G1, it’s more likely your website will be viewed on a visitor’s mobile device. Your standard website probably won’t function well on a mobile phone, so you need to make a special, mobile-ready version of your site.
Google, MSN and Yahoo all have mobile versions of their sites, as do Amazon and Ebay. More and more companies are developing mobile versions of their websites, as they realize that’s where the future of web browsing is heading.
There are a few considerations to keep in mind when developing a mobile version of your website:
- Mobile screens are much smaller. The average mobile resolution is 340×200 pixels (compared to 1024×768 and up for PC screens). This severely limits the amount of space you get to work with.
- Mobile data connections are slow and relatively expensive. Every byte of data sent to a mobile device can cost a mobile user money and makes your site slower to load.
- Keyboard functionality is limited on most mobile devices. While smartphones with full keyboards are becoming more common, most mobile phones don’t have a full keyboard and typing out words is often a somewhat laborious process.
This means your mobile website has to conform to totally different parameters than your regular, PC-viewable website:
- Streamline your content to get to the point as quickly as possible. Eliminate marketing fluff from your copy and focus on the core issues. This keeps your content short and makes it easier to absorb through a mobile device.
- Minimize the use of graphics as much as you can. No graphics at all is optimal, though you may want to put a small corporate logo on your mobile site. Every image file means more data to be downloaded to the mobile device, which slows down the use of your mobile site and takes up valuable screen space.
- List your links below your content. Don’t put your links in fancy navigation trees, as mobile users probably won’t be able to navigate them adequately. Instead put relevant links to other pages on your mobile site below your content in an ordered list.
- Optimize the user experience to eliminate as much user input as possible. Don’t make mobile users fill in long forms (which should be avoided anyway). Don’t make them click on a link six times to get to the meat of your content. Mobile users are limited on time and effort, so you want to make using your site as easy and accessible as you can.
There are several ways of implementing a mobile site. You can ask your website developer to create a separate mobile version that only users of mobile devices will see. If you use WordPress, you can install a plugin like MobilePress to make your blog mobile friendly. The W3 Consortium has a mobile web initiative that sets standards for mobile websites. And with a Google search you can easily find mobile website templates and services that make it very easy to create a solid mobile version of your website.
Mobile is the future, and by making your website mobile ready now, you’ll be ahead of the curve.