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5 things every mobile site needs to deliver

Michael Scully

Michael Scully is vice president of mobile product and strategy at SoundBite Communications

By Michael Scully

When you first decide to launch a mobile site, you might ask yourself, is it not just like my desktop Web site, but smaller? Definitely not.

Today’s mobile users are on-the-go, looking for information that is easy to access and quick to find, all on a screen one-twentieth the size of their traditional monitor.

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By 2013, more people will be searching the Web on their mobile phones than on a desktop or laptop. Below are the five things that your mobile site needs to deliver.

1. Simplicity. The mobile screen is significantly smaller than a traditional desktop screen, and it cannot be used to clearly represent the same amount of information as a traditional desktop screen. Keep it simple.

You may have to reorganize or reprioritize your information to keep it easily accessible on the small screen. Make sure on any given screen, the user can spot right away where she is supposed to look, what she should click, and what she is able to do with your site.

2. Touch-friendly user interface. Thumbs are bigger than mouse pointers, so leave plenty of space between links. Use big buttons and avoid small text links that can be very difficult to tap accurately with a finger.

If your mobile Web site is designed like an application, consider grouping general navigation options at the bottom of the screen rather than the top. It is easier for someone to tap the bottom of the screen while holding the device at the same time.

This is counter to most desktop sites, where the main navigation usually lives on the top of a site.

3. Contextual relevance. According to Google, one out of seven searches are currently made on a mobile device.

Mobile Web users are often looking for something very specific.

If a visitor to your site is on-the-go, what is she most likely looking for? It is highly likely she is looking for a) your location, b) your hours, or c) your phone number, so put that front and center.

Make sure this information is easy to find, and do not bury it on a sub-page like you might on a desktop site.

4. Speedy load time. Load time matters. A study from Gomez found that 40 percent of consumers would abandon a mobile Web site if it takes more than three seconds to load.

In that same survey, 71 percent stated that they expect a mobile site to load as fast, if not faster, as on their home computer.

A lot of variables affect wireless connectivity and transfer speeds. Not all of them are under your control, so use technology solutions to optimize the parts you can.

Be sure your images and videos are right-sized including smaller files for smaller screens, minimize and send only relevant code, use caching and CDNs, and watch your performance statistics.

5. Path to more information. Your mobile visitors are your most driven users. They are actively seeking you out to connect and jumping through extra hoops to do so.

Give visitors a way to interact with you from your mobile site. This can be the ability to find directions to your store, to click-to-call or even to buy something, since 50 percent of searches lead to a purchase.

ONCE YOUR MOBILE site has been developed, you can leverage it as a key component of your communications strategy. Integrate it seamlessly with your existing voice, text and social outreach, use it to gain opt-ins for your mobile database or grab a piece of the mobile commerce pie.

Michael Scully is vice president of mobile product and strategy at SoundBite Communications, Arlington, VA. Reach him at .

Related content: Columns, Michael Scully, Soundbite Communications, mobile Web site, luxury marketing, luxury, mobile commerce, mobile marketing, mobile

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Comments on "5 things every mobile site needs to deliver"

  1. Stephen Alberts says:

    August 13, 2012 at 8:43am

    I really like #5. Mobile users are driven and want to spend money. They are looking for specific information.
  2. Patrick Young says:

    August 10, 2012 at 11:49am

    A website can be both Mobile and Desktop when deployed with responsive page design techniques. Mobile Friendly design also improves the user experience on Desktop pages.

    The number one factor for speedy Mobile Page design is the number number of individual files on the page.

    Each time the Mobile Browser has to retrieve another page element (e.g image file) adds significant wait and blocking time to page loads. The time a Browser spends waiting for a response from the Web Server can account for more than 90% of page load time.

    Blocking is the time increased by every page element waiting in the Browsers Que before it can be loaded. This is because the Mobile Browser lacks the bandwidth to simultaneously load page elements like a Desktop Browser.

    Bigger image size can be better. Converting images to inline base64 text images, makes them about 35% larger in number of bytes. By ensuring your server is serving your pages with gZip compression can reduce the base64 overhead to just 10%.

    Each base64 image eliminates one http request to the Web Server by the Browser. This is because the base64 image is text combined with the HTML or CSS and eliminates the wait time.

    Smaller images such as icons should be combined into a single "sprite" image.

    Images that are repeated on every page, the base64 text image should be located in the CSS style sheet rather than the HTML so it will be cached just once.

    HTML and CSS code MUST be error free. Mobile Browsers do not have the computational ability of the Desktop Browser to fix errors. CSS code must be efficient, no unused and minified.

    I would highly recommend you take a few minutes to validate and speed test your home page right now. The W3C (the Internet rule makers) have a free HTML Validator (Google W3C Validator). Yahoo and Google have Web Page assessment tools. The free assessment on Gtmetrix.com combines both the Yahoo and Google in to one comprehensive report.

    Then test your pages for Mobile Friendliness. The W3C MobileOK checker rates your pages on a scale of zero to 100%.

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