5 Tips for Taking Your Company Website Mobile and Creating Apps
These days, simply having a website isn’t enough. With the growing popularity of mobile web browsing, your site has to work on a wide range of devices. But doing mobile the wrong way can actually frustrate visitors even more than a regular site and drive traffic (and sales) away.
Many companies enjoy the success of mobile apps and sites when they allow customers to make purchases directly from their phone or mobile device. If you also want to enjoy this success, you must ensure that you avoid the common mistakes that companies often make when first going mobile. Read on for a few tips that will help make your site mobile-friendly, and bring your business to a broader audience.
Make it Responsive
In the past, many companies built a main website for desktops and a separate mobile version of the site for phones and tablets. Instead of doing that, stick to a more modern paradigm known as responsive web design, in which you have one website that automatically adjusts to any screen size. When you opt for a responsive design, the site will automatically adapt to any device, making it easier for your customers to navigate around the site to get information, make a purchase, etc.
Another benefit of a responsive layout is that all your buttons, images, and logos will be more flexible, so the imaging on the website doesn’t get distorted or pixelated and confuse users. No matter what the website looks like on a mobile device, it will still be usable. However the goal isn’t to be merely usable, but user friendly. The easier you make the site to navigate, the more likely customers will be to linger, make purchases, and return to the site on their mobile device.
Use Large Buttons
Part of creating a great mobile site is remembering how people will be navigating your site. While small text links are fine when using a mouse, they are harder to click on when using a touch screen. Stick to large links and buttons that are easier to tap on, especially in areas like menus where there are many links in a small area.
As mentioned, the online shopper or mobile user is extremely impatient, and if they have to zoom in and squint just to get to another page, they will likely give up on the site very quickly. Larger buttons and links make your site more user-friendly, especially to the older generation or those with poor eyesight and large hands. This will be especially helpful if your site includes a large number of products for customers to view. Easy navigation buttons will allow a customer to easily browse around and compare a bunch of products before they make their purchase.
Another difference between a mouse and a touchscreen is the fact that a mouse can hover over a link or button without clicking it, but users can’t usually do this on a touchscreen. When designing links, menus, and other page elements, try to avoid using features like help text boxes that appear when hovered over. Instead, make such elements appear when clicked on so mobile users can tap on them to take advantage of those features. As you can see, it is important to remember that you aren’t merely transferring your original website to a smaller screen—you need to tweak certain aspects of the website so that they are more mobile-friendly. Just because something works well on a monitor or laptop, don’t assume that it will work for mobile.
When building for mobile devices, consider the differences between normal web browsing and mobile browsing. Specifically, keep in mind the fact that many mobile users will be using an expensive data plan to load your site. As such, try to minimize the bandwidth required to load your site by shrinking image file sizes.
For those who are very data-conscious when it comes to using the internet on their phone, a site that is slow to load and eats up data isn’t worth using. Many customers will only wait a few seconds for the site to load before they close out and opt for a different website that won’t use up so much data.
Also, consider using techniques like AJAX to only load items when they are needed. The AJAX method will allow data to be retrieved without disrupting the current display of the page that the user is on. Once again, your goal is to make your site user-friendly so that customers will linger longer—making your site easy to load and easy to use will minimize the number of frustrated of customers and will keep them from closing out of the site and going to a competitor.
Simplify the Login
Another area where customers tend to get frustrated with mobile sites is when it comes to logging in. This is because mobile keyboards are prone to errors, and masking the password makes it hard to catch those mistakes. And, if your buttons are too small (as addressed above), it will make it even tougher for someone to log in. One way to simplify the process is to provide a button that will reveal their password in plain text as they type it. This helps the user catch mistakes in the typing so that they don’t have to login over and over without access.
You can also provide an option that will keep the user logged in. This isn’t always the best method for mobile sites with sensitive information like online banking, but many users will appreciate the fact that they don’t have to enter their information every time they want to use the site—especially if they use it multiple times a day. Plus, many people have passwords and codes to lock their phones and tablets, meaning that even if the device is lost or stolen, someone else can’t access their accounts.
Creating a mobile-friendly website is worth the investment, but it will take time as well as money to create a site that is easy for customers to use. It is important to do thorough testing for the mobile site before you announce its release to customers. That way, you have time to work out the bugs and avoid angry customers who are left to deal with technical issues. Once you’ve created a user-friendly mobile site, your company will enjoy a return on your investment as customers use the site to purchase products and services or learn more about the company.