Lyn Nielsen of web development company Desktop Solutions sent me these great tips on how and why to consider making your web site “mobile friendly” so that it more easily displays on web sites of cell phone browsers and I’d thought to share them with you.
As more and more users use their smartphones to communicate on the road, having your web site fully or partially accessible through a cell phone browser is crucial. Lyn writes:
Picture this. A Vice President of a manufacturing company is sitting on an airplane, explaining his company’s product line to his seat mate. He takes out his new Blackberry Storm, pulls up his site, and discovers that many of the pictures are missing or broken. Sound familiar?
Discovering that your site is not automatically viewable on the newest mobile devices is a disappointing fact of life. But as the quality and speed of mobile devices improves, companies are discovering that having a mobile-friendly version of their site is a necessity. We’ve put together some tips to help you develop your mobile web strategy. We hope you find them useful
Review your competition. Take a look at what your competitor’s sites look like on various devices. This may be an opportunity for you to create a competitive edge!
Think about how users will be using your site while on a mobile device. What features will they most need to use while sitting on a train, eating in a restaurant or walking down the street? Do they need to see the ‘News’ section, the ‘About Us’ page? Will users need to see photos of every product in your line? While it might be nice to have a complete version of your site visible on every cell phone imaginable, it might not be necessary.
Consider the case of a high-end manufacturer whose products are sold through high-end department stores like Nordstrom’s, Neiman Marcus and Sak’s Fifth Avenue. Since consumers must visit a retail store to make a purchase, the most valuable site feature on mobile devices would likely be the store locator system. Creating a mobile version of the site with a cross section of products and a shortcut to the store locator is the most logical choice for users, and is far less costly than a version containing all the bells and whistles of the main site.
Test your site. There are several sites that allow you to see how your site will look on various mobile devices, and give you ratings as to how it stacks up overall. Some 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
Consider mobile uses when you design your site. 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.