Redesigning for The Mobile Environment

How Does Your Site Look on A Phone?

When someone opens your site on their mobile phone, how does it show up? Is your site optimized for viewing on tablet and phone? Many older sites are not. And newer sites built on inexpensive or free platforms may not look very good on smaller screens.

Is it worth the cost of a redesign?

Well, that depends on how much online business you’re willing to lose.

Nearly ALL Smartphone Owners Research Product Information Online

Recent research indicates that 90% of US smartphone owners use their phones to access online information prior to making a purchase. That’s just about the same number of smartphone users who also make their purchases, or contact a business for more information, based on their online searches.

It’s also been demonstrated that purchasers are clicking on ten or more different sources of online data before they buy.

Goodbye, Yellow Pages. So long, print ads. It’s all about the Internet, and for more and more consumers, that means online shopping.

Okay, sure: There are some folks who still prefer using a desktop for searches. But that number is dwindling. It’s common for people to be shopping on their phones while on the go. And more and more workers and students take their breaks on their cellphones. They’re not just checking Facebook and email — they’re doing personal business, including shopping.

Now, Here’s the Kicker

Mobile websites are designed differently from standard desktop websites.

Older websites were far more elaborate. Much more written information. Complex images and fussy fonts. Fancy design elements. Looks great on a desktop. But on a phone’s small screen it’s cluttered, confusing, and won’t size worth a darn. Viewers have to pinch and zoom to see what’s on a site. And menus are clumsy and don’t show up right.

It’s a lot easier for a shopper to just leave a site like that and find a better one. Is that better site yours? Or is your site still stuck in the first decade of the century?

Mobile design is simple, clean and uncluttered. The goal of the mobile homepage is to easily direct the user to the exact content they are seeking. There’s not an overload of copy either – just the facts, ma’am, and some good-looking images to help tell your story. These days, every word counts on a mobile site.

Visual Elements are Crucial, Too

Photos are best when they represent your real business and workers. Real images build trust and sense of connectedness that stock photos just can’t. Of course, attractive models are delightful to look at. But a customer is going to have more trust in your message when they see images of Front Desk Sandra and Sales Manager Jason at work.

Yes, inexpensive stock photos abound, but use them as a last resort. Stock images of products are fine, but shots of your store or business office will truly help sell who you are as a company. Graphic icons are also readily available for very little money, and make more sense in some situations than photos. Use sparingly!

Videos Can Be A Selling Tool. Or a Distraction

Videos on your site can help or hurt your presentation. Videos tell your story quickly and in an entertaining way, but loud and intrusive music is irritating. Poor production values (blurry, bad camera cuts, etc) can be a turn off. On the other hand, a video snoozefest of dry facts told in a monotone won’t do anything for your sales numbers. If you’re not comfortable in front of the camera, find an employee who is, and hand them an interesting script.

Calls to Action Are a Must

As for the more business-like parts of your site, calls to action are best done with buttons on mobile. That makes the intent clear and the connection easy as pie. Contact forms should be short and simple. And you might want to include a phone number (and your business hours) for people who simply must speak to you at once.

Keep your menus short, and be sure the navigation is simple and gets people where they want to go.

Won’t My Site Look Kind of Spare on a Desktop?

Interestingly, no.

The same good clean design that makes mobile so appealing will size properly to fill the desktop or laptop screen, and offer the same easy navigation. Your images will appear larger, of course, and the whole site will have more white space between paragraph, and that makes reading easier and more enjoyable.

Pop-ups are not encouraged on either phone or desktop; too many of them over the years have led customers to view them as spammy and pushy. Keep them off your home page, and if you must have one, be as tasteful as possible and offer it somewhere that makes sense — perhaps on a contact page.

Bottom line: If you have an older website, don’t just keep it and have someone design you a cheap, limited mobile site as an add-on. You want customers and prospects to be able to transition easily from the desktop to the phone and back, without confusion. Make your site easy to find and easy to view on any device, and watch the bottom line reflect your careful planning.

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