Responsive Websites, Optimization and Mobile
Web hosting for mobile websites
Mobile website optimization and marketing your website or blog for mobile users is no longer an arbitrary necessity for business owners. An astounding 53% of Americans own a smart phone and those users depend on their smart phone for Internet access while on-the-go, but more importantly, the majority of smart phone users are utilizing their smart phone to access the Internet while at home or at the office.
Why is it important to think about the unique needs of mobile users?
It is important to think about where your customer or audience is coming from. Whether it be email, social or search, so much of the way that we consume content is happening from a mobile device. The first entry point to your business and contact with you, your company or brand is very likely to be from a mobile phone and it is best if the experience is very friendly and optimized for every device that people might use. In the United States, about 53% of the population has a smart phone. This means that very possibly more than half of your customers (or more) are visiting your website with a mobile device.
Mobile Website Optimization is Crucial for Business Websites
People use their smart phone to check their email and social networks. If a person is using their smart phone to check their email or social networks such as Facebook or LinkedIn and that person clicks a link, for example, in an email or update that takes the visitor to your company website and for whatever reason, it doesn’t work-that can be a real problem. People wake up to their phone (which is also their alarm) and at night, go to sleep only after checking their smart phone. At the end of the day, a marketing email is your first opportunity to be in front of your audience and chances are they are going to be mobile. Even though people have a desktop computer at their office or a laptop, the fact that they have a mobile device with them, they will choose to click a link and your job is to make it easy for them to consume your content when they arrive to your website.
How can you tell if your website has a mobile audience?
- Google Analytics, for example, will show you how many folks are coming to your website while using a smart phone or tablet and it will even be broken down to a specific device. The majority of mobile users will be using Apple but a very close second is Android. Some companies have reached out to specific customers, for example, by launching Android specific apps. Most likely it will be from 20% to 50% of your audience will be coming to your site using a mobile device. If you have that in place you will know will know exactly how much of your audience is mobile, then you can target those users and transform that traffic into solid leads.
- Your Facebook wall will show a small mobile icon at the bottom of the comment (near the area where the data and time is located). When you are answering comments and engaging with your social audience, take a note of the number of comments that are via mobile.
- Depending on your email service provider, some of them will offer insights as to how many of the email opens are coming from mobile. This is a good indicator as to how much of your audience is mobile.
Misconceptions of Smart Phone Users
The number of iPad users and tablet users is growing exponentially. There is a lot of misconception about how smart phone users are using their devices. For example, when a person is using a smart phone, it does not necessarily mean that the user is ‘on-the-go’. Indeed, an incredible 68% of iPhone users are at home while using their mobile device. Another example of a misconception is tablet users. Many people think website visitors using a tablet are couch users, but actually the large percentage of tablet users are at home and they use their tablet in the evening hours as a second-screen experience. Many people use their tablets to manage their social networks and check email while at home eating dinner or watching TV. Tablet use is growing super fast and the demographics of tablet users is changing, as well. Older generations, for example, are adopting iPads a great deal more in recent years. Business owners will be wise to recognize these trends and capitalize on them. Google Analytics will give you the data as to not only the demographic of tablet users, but also the time of day that these users are visiting your website.
How do you make your website or blog friendly for mobile users?
What type of business site do you have? If you have a WordPress website, you can create a mobile experience with “WP Touch Pro”, a tool that allows you to introduce a mobile presence very quickly and easily, plus it offers a lot of flexibility. But in order to decide which approach to use, you must first decide which method you wish to implement. Each one has its own pros and cons.
Mobile website design:
There are two different mobile approaches for businesses who want a mobile presence and it is based on intent.
1. Responsive design
This option takes your content and re-purposes it into a mobile website. The responsive design website is intelligent enough to know the size of the screen and re-format content on the fly so that it looks good no matter what the screen size is. What type of business you are is important to think about when deciding how to best engage mobile users. If your website is geared toward producing content to your visitors and you are a content marketer, for example, then responsive design is a good option. The intent of the person viewing your website is to consume your content. Responsive design lends itself best to content based websites. For content-based websites, responsible is best because the intent of the people visiting your website is to consume content and it is very important that you produce a positive first impression. Bloggers and content marketers can get into mobile easily using WordPress and an app. Responsive design offers flexibility and offers an inexpensive option for content-based businesses, such as bloggers, media printers, etc.
Responsive design involves your driving your visitor to a specific content-piece, article or post rather than a conversion page. It is important that visitors can easily navigate your site and get all the content that they are looking for in that moment. Joomla and Drupal also offer plug-in-play extensions or plug-ins that will achieve the same effect. You can purchase a premium responsive theme for a content management system, you can find these types of themes. This could be a very easy transition. Yootheme, Studio Press Responsive Theme, Theme Forest, Mojo Theme offers responsive themes or templates. These could cost $30 to $70. All you do is drop in your content and then you will have a mobile website.
The disadvantage of this type of mobile website is performance. It makes the site fairly heavy. It is using CSS to move content around and therefore, your site could be slower if you have a lot of images. Your site could take longer to load and Internet users, especially mobile Internet users, do not have the patience to wait for your pages to load. If your site does not load within five seconds, then the odds of that person leaving is as high as 40%.
2. Separate mobile website
This option creates an entirely separate website with the address m.yourdomain.com and, when a mobile user comes to your site, the redirection script automatically redirects users to the separate mobile website. When you look at retail or any business that has a local presence or a company that has online commerce, it is important to have a second website. Many brands have a separate mobile site like m.yourdomain.com, which is more realistic because it is easier to implement for these types of businesses. Separate mobile website providers offer a content management system which includes tools that you can use to customize your own mobile website, store, or local presence.
Separate mobile website—Pros:
A separate mobile website is beneficial because business owners do not need to completely re-design their existing website. Because the mobile website is on a different platform and utilizes a different design platform, the mobile website is easy to establish. With a mobile CMS (content management system), your content is re-used and automatically called upon for the mobile website.
Mobile CMS provides ability to:
- easily add pages
- create your site
- add graphics
- incorporate RSS feeds
- generate a QR codes
- generate the “redirection code” which you will want to insert into your traditional website so that if the visitor is on mobile, the redirect code will immediately take that visitor to the separate mobile website.
Providers of separate mobile websites:
- Web hosting firms
- Blue Train Mobile – more advanced features
- Duda Mobile – small business owes
Separate mobile website—Cons:
A separate mobile website requires additional maintenance. Additionally, it can require an additional web hosting account, referred to as a mobile web hosting account.
Which mobile design method is best?
The reason why we separate the two mobile approaches is because each method has different uses based on the intent of the user. When someone is searching for you, they have different intent than someone who is looking for a specific blog post. A good example is if you are searching for Mexican food. In this case, you are most likely ready to purchase, but you need to find the nearest Mexican food restaurant or read the reviews before calling in a to-go order. Important items to include on your mobile website consist of, for example, a big “Click to Call” link or directions to your restaurant with a link to Google Maps so your audience can easily find you. Most likely the user will want to call the restaurant to place an order or find directions. This type of visitor is ready to convert. As a business owner, you want to turn that searcher into a customer within minutes. Businesses that have a local presence or retail store and also have a mobile website will have a distinct competitive advantage. Turn that prospect or searcher into a customer within minutes with a mobile website.
Again, the difference between a business who needs a responsive design mobile website and one who needs a separate mobile website is dependent on the type of business. With a content-based business, your visitor might be browsing your website by reading something at your website or blog. While a person is standing in line at the DMV, they might want to kill time by reading and educating themselves at your website. These people are not in the mind-set to buy something, but instead they want to learn and educate themselves in that moment. Try to provide the best experience from a mobile device based on what the visitor’s intent will be.
SEO and Mobile Websites
Google will know what option is giving the best experience for your type of business. If you have a separate mobile website and you are trying to drive people to a mobile version of your website, it shouldn’t affect your SEO rankings. Switchboard Tags from Google allow Google to know that you are trying to drive users to a mobilized experience of your site and, because of that, a separate mobile website will not lower your SEO rankings.
User Experience: Click-to-Call and Map
These are important user-interface considerations.
- Ultimately, when people are trying to find a specific location, click-to-call and maps make a lot more sense than other options.
- Find a location and store locators are important parts of a mobile website so make sure they are visible and above the fold. Do not use multiple links within the same sentence because people can have a difficult time clicking your links. Button sizes should be above 44 x 44 pixels in size when on a mobile device. And if you have text links, be sure to use a lot of spacing and padding so people don’t accidentally click the wrong link.
- Similar to a mail-to tag, the tell=512-961-8289 is used on mobile websites. Based on the browser or device, a little window will pop-up that says something to the effect of “Are you sure you want to call?”.
- If you want to insert a map on your mobile website so that people can easily get to your local store, Google provides ’embed code’ to easily install a Google map on your mobile website. This way people can see the map on your site and, from there, people can request directions from Google maps.
Promoting your new mobile website
If you have a subscriber email list, use it to announce your new website. Target individuals who have different interests. Use social media to promote your new mobile website. Promoting a mobile website is similar to promoting your main website. You can create some graphics to promote your new mobile website. If you offer a unique feature on your mobile website that includes value and utility, be sure to feature those items on the graphics and advertisements that you put out. Testimonials are a good tool for marketing. Customer quotes display to visitors that your previous customers like your product or service. Integrate testimonials in your graphics on Facebook or email marketing. Incorporate sign-age and a QR code at your local location too. A separate mobile website service will most likely provide you with a QR code and brochure that you can print out and utilize in your local marketing, whether it be on a billboard, sign, or magnetic sign on your automobile. Go above and beyond what your regular website offers and focuses on your core customer.
Web Hosting and Mobile Websites
The ultimate goal of a mobile website is to provide value and utility to your customers. Whether it be created through a web hosting provider or a third-party application, companies that offer a friendly user-experience for mobile visitors will not only build brand awareness, but also increase conversions and client loyalty.