For over a decade, we have turned to the Internet for news, entertainment and communication. Now the Internet travels with us, wherever we go. With the recent explosion of smart phones such as the iPhone, Android devices and others, we’re no longer satisfied with a poor browsing experience on the go. At this point, we expect to be able to do everything on our phones just as we would on our computers at home. For some this is their primary method of accessing the web.
There are over 350 million active users who access Facebook through their mobile devices. In fact, Facebook says these users are twice as active than those who only use Facebook on non-mobile devices like a home computer. Do you think either of these statistics would be true if users only could see the full Facebook website on their small-screen mobile phones? Not a chance.
In Facebook’s case, they did two things. They created apps for the popular phones (iPhone and Android) and a mobile version of their website which gives the users of those devices access to selective (the most important) parts of Facebook. This allows them to quickly use the most common features of the site such as browse your timeline, write on someone’s wall, and view a friend’s photos. That’s it. It’s not necessarily a limited version, but it is a unique version because the circumstances demand it. If it’s good for your users it’s good for you.
At Synapse, we’re starting to look to building mobile versions of the sites we develop because we see it as a market of people that previously couldn’t or wouldn’t go to your site. If a mobile version of the site has not been developed, a user only sees the full site which on a 3″ or 4″ screen is usually darn near impossible to work with. Most sites are not as complex as Facebook’s and developing a mobile version does not need to be a difficult process.
To begin, it’s important to look at your current site and understand what the most important content is. Ask yourself: if you could only choose a handful of items that you would want a visitor to be able to see or do, what would they be? You have to put yourself in the position of the user and gain an understanding of what they might be looking for. They probably won’t be interested in reading several paragraphs about your company’s history but they would like two lines that explains what you do. They don’t want to fill out an entire contact form but they will be interested in seeing an address and phone number. They are out and about and want to quickly know how to get a hold of you.
Mobile users have a different mindset and different purpose than your traditional users. You must remember that they have limited time to view your site and when you provide a site that is tailored to their needs, you’ll win every time.