Studies show that there are six billion cell phones globally — just 1 billion less than the current world population, although that number includes many people with more than one cellphone. Research firm In Stat predicts that 65% of the US population will have a mobile device by 2015. Another research company, NPD DisplaySearch, estimates that 240 million tablets will be sold in 2013, of which smaller tablets with 7 to 8-inch screens are expected to make up 45% of the total. Google claims that 90% of all business transactions begin on a screen – making mobile web a top priority for any digital and sales savvy company.
Although the mobile revolution picked up speed last year, 2013 is expected to be the year that the floodgates open. With more and more of us connected to the net at all hours of the day or night, and this interaction is just as likely to take place on a tablet or smartphone as it is a traditional desktop or laptop, good mobile web design is becoming just as important as good SEO or good social media.
Mobile devices differ greatly from traditional screens and require very specific design considerations. Getting to grips with the myriad possibilities requires intense study and a capable mobile design agency. Avoiding common pitfalls is the first step; here are the first few mistakes to look out for…
1. The Domain Name
Since a mobile site is essentially a different website, it can be tempting to give it a new domain name. This is a common mistake and one that should be avoided at all costs. Your brand is your first sales generator and all marketing materials, tools and information emanating from your company should all sit within the one domain.
Don’t be misguided into purchasing a new domain for your new mobile website. Having invested time and money, as well as what are likely to be hundreds if not thousands of man hours in search marketing, adding your mobile offering to your existing domain is the most logical route to take.
2. Load Speeds
Before the look and feel of the site takes shape, you’ll need to consider load speed. Mobile devices are often more limited than traditional desktop counterparts and can only process so much information as they are usually subject to slower connections. If your page is too big to load quickly on a mobile device, users are much more likely to head back to their search engine of choice and pick another result. When you begin to consider the design of the new site, always refer back to page load speed consideration. Anything that could slow the page loading time down will need be jettisoned or reinterpreted to offer a more mobile-friendly user experience.
3. Overly limited content
Having considered page loads speeds and the smaller screens of mobile devices, it’s likely that your mobile site will sport a very different look content-wise to your main domain. Overly limiting content is a common mistake but one that can be avoided. Just because the user is accessing your site from a mobile device doesn’t mean that they don’t want the full brand experience. When curating you content for mobile, consider what is important to your brand values, your product offering and your brand identity. Don’t strike off important content such as a catalog or a product video because it could take too long to download and make the page too heavy. Think around the roadblock to create a mobile appropriate version of that content.
Videos can be tricky to integrate on a mobile website so many opt to leave them out all together. Many smartphones struggle to play video content but, they can be integrated using HTML5 standard tags. Flash based videos usually won’t play so they are to be avoided but, if you can recreate your flash based content or an approximation of it, into a playable video format it is worth using. Don’t use a technical stumbling block as an excuse to leave video off your mobile site, as its addition can often make a site stand out. It is also easier to watch a video that works than scroll through lots of text when accessing a mobile site, which makes your domain more useful and more engaging to the user.
Try to avoid these four common errors when beginning to plan your mobile website and you’ll be on the way to providing an alternative to your viewers that will fit their wishes to access your content when they want and how they want.
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