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Be friendly (to mobile users)

Posted On: February 8, 2015

As the online experience becomes more and more mobile, it’s obviously critical to direct your website user experience to mobile users.

We’ve talked before about how much tablets and smartphones have changed Internet use, but now we’ve reached the point where any website that doesn’t focus specifically on the mobile user is effectively isolating itself from consumers.

The latest studies show that more than 91 percent of U.S. adults own a smartphone, and more than half of consumers say they won’t return to a website if it doesn’t work right on mobile. That’s all you need to know to make mobile accessibility your No. 1 priority.

If you’re not sure exactly how to go about the process, no problem. Consider this checklist and handle the transition step by step.

Understand what potential customers need from you: Specifically, what information does your audience need? Is it contact info? The ability to log into an account? Details about products and services? Answers about business-specific services? Tutorials or other instructional videos? Before you move forward, make sure you’re focused on providing the most important aspects.

Mobile-specific or responsive design? If you’re unfamiliar with the difference, it’s as simple as this: Responsive design adapts the full desktop experience to a mobile device. Mobile-specific design is created specifically for a mobile device, providing only necessary functions in the most mobile-friendly way. What your customers need from you (see the first item) helps determine which design type you select.

Test the user’s ease of clicking on options: People have fingertips of different sizes, and keep in mind that older users or people with disabilities and other accessibility issues might not be able to click on something as easily as you can. Make sure all navigation buttons, links and other clickable elements are very easy to activate.

Realize that not everyone on a mobile device will have a high-speed connection: If your website offers more than basic content, visitors might be expected to download items or take interactive actions (such as filling out a form) on a slow wireless network or a cellular data network. You might need to rethink your mobile presence to accommodate varying connection speeds.

How are visual elements being presented? Strong images and video are just as important to the mobile experience as they are in the desktop environment, but it’s important to consider the small size of a mobile screen (especially on a smartphone, even as Apple creates phone displays that rival those of small tablets). Consider condensing content and conveying more information with optimized infographics and videos.

Investigate and analyze: Refer to your website analytics regarding the total number of mobile visitors, the comparison of desktop to mobile visitors, which mobile devices accessed your site, the time spent on your site via a mobile device and the mobile bounce rate.

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