You know your business needs a mobile-friendly Web presence. Maybe you’ve seen those Pew Research Center statistics that the number of adults accessing the Web from their smartphones has nearly doubled in three years.
For a PR manager in charge of content for his or her client or organization, the mobile stakes are especially high: 75 percent of mobile Web users said they’d be less likely to return to a website they couldn’t visit via mobile, according to a 2012 KISSMetrics study.
Lisa Buyer of Search Engine Watch warns: “If your brand isn’t set up for mobile, this could be a PR crisis called ‘unnecessary lost visibility.’ You’re letting it slip through your mobile fingers.”
You don’t want your brand to alienate the growing number of mobile Web users, so how do you ensure your company’s website is ready for a deluge of iPhone and Android visitors?
First, think mobile.
Before diving into development, ask yourself: What do you expect when you browse the Internet from your phone? What makes a good mobile site, and what makes a bad one? If you’ve been to a website on your phone that was no different from the company’s desktop site, it was probably a bad experience. Here’s why:
Think of your business’s home page: How would it look scaled to an iPhone screen? Chances are, the proportions would be all wrong. Your logo might be legible, but the text and links would barely be readable. You would need to scroll horizontally to see the full page—which cuts off text and puts off an audience used to vertical scrolling.
Forget flashy, graphic-heavy design on your mobile site. Smartphone users prefer a site that’s easy to read and navigable than one that’s cluttered on a phone’s small screen.
Weigh your options.
How do you run your desktop site? If you use WordPress, there are plenty of tools (many of them free) to help optimize your webpage for mobile devices. Check out the WPtouch plugin and the WordPress Mobile Pack. Tripwire Magazine last month compiled a list of more than 25 other mobile tools for WordPress. If you run a small business and don’t have a Web developer on staff, or don’t plan to contract one for the job, WordPress is your best bet for a low-budget, DIY mobile site.
Several companies also offer to fully convert your existing website into a mobile-optimized version. Mobify is one such service, and its free version is robust—if you don’t mind having the Mobify branding on your pages. Business plans start at nearly $1,000 a month, which is steep, but the package includes attractive features such as unlimited templates and layouts and support for up to three domains.
DudaMobile boasts more than 4 million mobile sites built. It offers fewer bells and whistles than Mobify, but it has a more manageable price tag, with both a free option and premium plans starting at under $10 a month.
If you’re considering a redesign of your site, or launching a new site altogether, don’t discount responsive design, which is a one-size-fits-all style solution for displaying a single website across multiple platforms and screen sizes. Per Mashable:
“In simple terms, a responsive Web design uses ‘media queries’ to figure out what resolution of device it’s being served on. Flexible images and fluid grids then size correctly to fit the screen […] The benefits are obvious: You build a website once, and it works seamlessly across thousands of different screens.”
In essence, a single responsive design website erases the need for multiple websites across platforms. It also ensures content continuity for visitors that come to your site through any device.
Of course, if you’re a developer (or have one in your office), you could build your own mobile site from scratch or launch a site with responsive design. For the rest of us, the options outlined above offer a variety of free and paid tools to get the job done.
Once you’ve decided on your best option, go mobile.
Your smartphone-savvy customers will appreciate it as much as you’ll enjoy the uptick in mobile Web traffic.