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Improve Your ROI With A Mobile Friendly Website

First off, for the uninitiated, what exactly is a mobile friendly web- site? Well, as the name implies, this kind of website is built to allow hassle- free viewing on mobile devices (usually small handheld devices such as feature phones and smartphones), thereby completely eliminating the often tasking and time-consuming, not to mention utterly uncomfortable experience of “pinching”, “squeezing”, “zooming in and out” or scrolling side-to-side when vie- wing a non-mobile optimised or non- mobile friendly web site that has been built primarily to be viewed using the larger screen of a desktop or laptop computer.

How Important is Mobile Optimised Website?
Since most mobile devices have much smaller screens when compared with the average 14-inch desktop or laptop monitor screen, (the average mobile device has a screen size of between 3.7 – 6.3 inches) website owners who continue to consciously or ignorantly belittle the importance of mo- bile friendly websites are simply failing their visitors drastically by not providing mobile friendly websites for their ever important visitors’ viewing, browsing and transacting pleasure. I am not at all surprised at the appalling statistics shared in numerous research papers and infographics all across the web; stats such as the following:

•One study by SMB DigitalScape (www. digitalscape.info) revealed that a whopping “98% of websites are not mobile optimised”; •Another study revealed by Adweek.com shows that “72% of consumers expect brands to have mobile-friendly sites, but 96% have been to sites that were not mobile-ready”; •And most appalling of all, as recently as 2010, Kissmetrics.com carried out a survey that shows that only 4.83% of online retailers had websites optimised for mobile devices. It is no wonder then that millions of companies moan and groan about how e-business is not working for them. The reason is not far-fetched, most website owners appear to be more concerned with how ‘amazing’ and ‘jaw-dropping’ their websites look as opposed to how practical, user-friendly and effective in generating business their websites can be. The latter is surprising too since the first words out of the mouths of most people I have personally interviewed and who showed interest in adding E-business to their marketing mix is “So, how can a new website marketing strategy help my company (or me) make more money?” If like many others, you believe that owning a website is just another fad, you might want to fire your e-marketing department or yourself in fact, (if you are your entire e-marketing department) because websites are far more useful tools than to serve merely as a way to stroke your (or your company’s) ego with flashy images and a ton of self-aggrandising text. Enter the argument for making the ownership of a mobile friendly website one of the top priorities of your 2013 web marketing plan.

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Mobile site visitors are only different to your traditional site visitors because of the devices they use to access your web site so there is no need to change your brand message and colours or leave out an all important logo or image because you are designing for mobile devices. Just make certain that whatever you choose to keep as part of your branding message does not conflict with keeping to a mobile friendly layout
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Bronson Harrington, an e-Commerce and e-Gaming SEO Consultant based in Cape Town, South Africa, recently stated “…with the advent of smartphones, …mo- bile web growth exploded …it will continue to grow furiously, especially in developing markets and countries (such as Nigeria), where (the mobile web) is a (true) alter- native to (often times) limited fixed-line and web connectivity.”

An Undeniable Upward Trend in Mobile Web Usage
According to some studies shared on Six Revisions.com in the 4th quarter of 2012. •Mobile search has grown by 500% in the past two years •In May 2012, 10.11% of web page views came from mobile devices •Since 2011, 45% of the world’s population has been covered by a 3G mobile net- work •Average smartphone usage nearly tripled in 2011 •Average network connection speed went up 39% between 2010 and 2011 •Mobile data traffic in 2011 was 8 times the size of the entire global internet in 2000 •Global mobile data traffic more than double between 2011 and 2012 •Mobile web traffic stands at 14.85% in Africa (almost double USA mobile web traffic) •In South Africa, 59% of web users access the web only (or much more often) via their mobile devices, in Egypt the number is even greater at a whopping 70% •67% of mobile device owners use their device to access the internet •Facebook had 543 million monthly active users who used Facebook mobile prod- ucts in June 2012 •Twitter’s CEO, Dick Costello stated in 2011 that 40% of tweets posted were from mobile devices, and according to research done by Microsoft Tag, 50% of Twitter’s 165 million users connect to Twitter via the Twitter mobile app. •9% of smartphone users use their mo- bile phone for shopping •Mobile payments globally are expected to quadruple over the next 5 years to a mind blowing $1.3 trillion (N208 quadrillion)! •Mobile is revolutionising the way commerce works: 24% use their tablets to shop 2-3 times a day, 20% use them to shop more than once a week, 12% use them to shop daily •In 2010, Google became a ‘mobile-first’ company, meaning that they test and develop all their sites and tools on mobile devices first.

Chris Raymond, Director of the Schubert Interactive Group, a US-based B2B digital strategy consulting firm was noted recently as saying “I am amazed that more B2B companies do not have mobile-optimised web- sites. Companies can gain a real competitive advantage just by providing customers and potential buyers easy access to their corporate websites from the road.” And frankly if Google, (the world’s most profitable web-based company with reported earnings for 2012 of over $50 billion (N8 trillion), which is just shy of Nigeria’s entire GDP in 2004) believes that focusing a good amount of its energy and resources on the mobile web is a good investment for both them and their avid users, it would be foolhardy for any company with a web based strategy to continue to ignore the mobile web for any further length of time. This fact is compounded by further stats revealed on Mashable.com that 50% of all local searches are performed on a mobile device and even more pertinent is that mobile web usage is predicted to outgrow desktop web usage by just next year, 2014. Any company not playing in the mobile web arena by 2014 will be forced to kiss good-bye to a good number of their mobile-only web traffic, and if they continue to play truant to this ever increasing trend, they could permanently be handing off valuable market share to their direct competitors who are savvy enough to have an effective mobile friendly web presence. So, What Makes Good Mobile Web Design? According to a recent article published online by Jamie Turner, co-author of the bestselling mobile marketing book ‘Go Mobile’, “A mobile website is an entirely different animal from a traditional website. When someone is mobile, they are expecting an entirely different experience from the one they will get on your standard website.” He suggests the following best practices for mobile web- site design:

#1. Keep Your Mobile Site Design As Simple As 1-2-3
Unlike designing traditional desk- top-friendly websites, in mobile site design less is more simply due to the fact that when someone is viewing your site from a mobile device, they are very likely a) on the move; b) distracted by some other gadget or entity e.g. a soccer match on TV or the baby wailing in their ear. While the latter might equally distract someone viewing your site from a desktop or laptop computer, chances are they will get turned off viewing your site faster if there is too much information to scroll through on their mobile device before they can finally find what it is they are looking for. So, in building your mobile presence, put yourself in your visitors’ shoes: what information is crucial to their visit and what simply can be considered as “not immediately necessary to satisfy the wants of a visitor with very little time and patience”. Eliminate the latter and focus on the former for an attractive mobile friendly concept.

#2. Cut Down On Clicks & Scrolls
While having enough content to satisfy a visitor is imperative, it is not necessary to add a plethora of pages or links to accomplish this task. One rule of thumb is to keep everything a visitor requires to no more than 2-4 clicks and/or scrolls away from the home page or any other part of the mobile site. If I cannot get to the con- tent I want by doing a maximum of a) Clicking a drop down menu; b) Clicking a link or tapping a button and finally c) scrolling a maximum of 2-4 times, there is something terribly unnecessary on your mobile site.

#3. Be Brand Consistent
Mobile site visitors are only different to your traditional site visitors because of the devices they use to access your website so there is no need to change your brand message and colours or leave out an all important logo or image because you are designing for mobile devices. Just make certain that whatever you choose to keep as part of your branding message does not conflict with keeping to a mobile friendly layout. Be consistent with the branding used for your marketing material and never stray from your winning concepts in total. In- stead, if any part of your branding mes- sage will constitute an unfriendly mobile experience, simply figure out a way to stream- line the necessary elements to suit a mo- bile interface.

#4. Blank Space is Your Friend
Blank or white space is crucial to any well designed website. First off, having white space is easy on the eyes and helps to en- courage your visitors to browse your site because it will appear as it should i.e. completely uncluttered and thus inviting to their roaming eyes. The same rule applies to mobile web design and not just for the above reason but also because allowing white or blank space around clickable elements makes it much easier for your visitors to interact with your website when they have to click or tap a link or button to get to some piece of information or other prize they are after.

#5. Do Not Junk Up Your Site With Multimedia or Scripting Elements
Videos, audios, flash images, java scripts, pop-up windows, for some designers and their patrons – these are all exciting reasons to develop a full blown website. However, the opposite is the case when designing a mobile web site. Your mobile visitors often cannot view certain types of media and do not want to end up paying for forcibly loading certain types of scripts. So, to encourage your visitors to use your mobile web site regularly, keep your content to text and adequately sized images.

#6. Make Filling Forms Easy
If you must use forms on your mobile site, make filling your form(s) a breeze by reducing the amount of text that visitors must fill in to complete your form. If you must exceed the 3-5 maximum recommended number of variables they need to enter, then be sure to make use of drop down or tick box menus wherever possible to eliminate the need to enter text in multiple fields. It is easier and more user-friendly to select a choice from a menu than it is to type using a small keyboard as most of your visitors will be forced to do with mo- bile devices.

#7. Automatically Redirect Mobile Visitors
Make sure that your visitors using mobile devices enjoy a seamless browsing experience by automatically redirecting their mobile devices to view the mobile version of your site. Having said that, also make certain to add a link (preferably at the top or bottom of your mobile site) to your desk- top friendly website for those who prefer to visit your full site on their mobile phones as invariably some of your users will.

DIY Mobile Web Design Tools You Can Use
As is common with most challenges faced in the web industry, there are already easy- to-access solutions available that will help you conveniently design your own mobile website with relative ease or convert your existing desktop friendly site to a mobile optimised site with just a few entries and clicks of your mouse. While the following tools do not offer bespoke solutions, they can go a long way to helping you design a professional looking mobile site in-house and on a shoe string. To start on your DIY design journey visit BMobilized (www.bmo bilized.com)  or  Ginwiz (www.ginwiz.com), where you can create a mobile website in minutes simply by entering the domain name for your existing  desktop friendly web site.  A Google search will reveal even more DIY mobile site design options many of which are free to use with payment required for upgraded solutions.

 

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