Make Your Site Mobile-Friendly - Or Else

If Your Online Experience Doesn’t Work on Mobile, You’ve Failed.

Mobile Phone Site
••• Mobile Phone Site. Getty Images

A few years ago, having a mobile-friendly site, or something “optimized for mobile,” was a nice to have. It showed you were paying attention to the changing market.

Today, it’s essential. In fact, if you aren’t providing a great experience on mobile, you have signed your website’s death warrant. It’s quite common for people to browse on their phones while watching a TV show AND working on a desktop or laptop computer.

As technology becomes symbiotic with our everyday lives, it is natural to use it in many ways, at the same time.

Let’s be honest, many of you are reading this on a phone while you’re working on a computer, and vice versa. This is the norm.

However, before you issue the command “make it all mobile, now!” you need to make sure you are considering the complete experience. Here is some advice to ensure that any mobile you experience you create will support your brand, not drive people from it.
Remember HOW People Use Mobile.
The mobile experience you create should not simply be a resized and rehashed version of a current desktop site. You will have interacted with one of these sites, and know how frustrating it is. It’s akin to taking a 4:3 TV show and stretching it to fit your fancy new 1080p 55” TV. Yes, it’s on the screen, but it looks and feels wrong. And that’s just the visual aspect, let alone the interaction.

Your mobile site should be designed with a mobile user in mind. Mobile users are not all on the move, by the way. And they’re not looking for a dumbed down, simplified version of a bigger site. They want something that is easy to use and navigate, but they are fine with a big experience. It should feel natural, not forced.

And it should take full advantage of the device it’s on. This is a phone, after all. Launch a maps app if people want to know how to contact you, giving them complete directions. If they want to talk to someone, make it something that can happen with one click.

Size Matters.
The mobile experience is smaller. It can house a lot of information, but too much content can overwhelm the small screen and make the user feel like they’re wading through quicksand.

Keep it lean and mean. Anything that would be better served in a desktop environment should stay there. With mobile, people want access to the most pertinent information, and they want it quickly. So, design your mobile site strategically.

Ask yourself, why do people visit the site? What are they looking for? What’s the information they really need?

However, do not serve up a trimmed desktop version, with a link to the “full desktop site” somewhere on the page. Those sites look awful on mobile anyway, and make the mobile site feel like something of an afterthought. Everything the user needs should be on the mobile site; it should simply be presented in a leaner, meaner way.

Avoid Lengthy Forms.
You will know yourself when it comes to buying something from a mobile site, or requesting more information, the process can be painful.

Although some people are quite happy to fill in forms using the tiny keyboards on mobile devices, most of us want the information to be pre-filled, or to be something that is very simple to complete.

Make it so.

Don’t ask a lot of questions, and don’t ask for any more than you need to complete the sale or the request. Can you use Facebook authentication to get what you need? Can you extract the information from the PayPal verification? Do whatever you can to make it simple. And, make it big. Big cells, big buttons, big everything. When money or personal information is involved, people want to know what they are entering, and want to see that it has all happened smoothly.