Mobile Website Browsing

Browing the web with the IPad is quickly gaining share
According to recent statistics, 8% of website browsers in the US are doing so on their mobile device, be it a phone or IPad. IPad alone is accounting for just over 1% of all browing and that is growing quickly, as you can see from the graphic above. What does that mean for you and your business?

A website is not going to look the same on a Blackberry or IPhone as it does on your home monitor. You need to have your site designed to accommodate the different places where your users may look for you. One key element you need to avoid is the sideways scroll. Scrolling down is one thing, but have you ever come across a site where you have to scroll both ways on your mobile device in order to see everything or even to navigate the site? It’s a pain in the *** and will lose you visitors and business.

There are several ways to address this, from a dedicated mobile site to some simple code to reformat your existing website. Which way you go is based on your budget, your company’s technical capabilities and your target audience. The best way to go is having 3 dedicated sites. The most robust one for your PC and laptop visitors, a more stripped down tablet (IPad) version and finally a phone version. Your phone versions should be heavy on text and very light on big graphics. Load time is critical, most people will leave if it takes your site more than 2 seconds to load. Yup, 2 seconds. That’s where our society has gotten in terms of patience and you need to react to that. People browsing mobilly are on the move and time is one of the most important things. Don’t be fancy. Get to the point and get to it quickly. Have a very clear navigation structure.

A tablet site should be stripped of any extraneous images and animations, remember, IPad does not support Flash, so those pretty animations you paid a fortune for are not going to run and will make your site look horrid. Again, no scrolling back and forth and try to keep all your important information “above the fold”, up front without need of a scroll down.

While I’m at it, if your site has a fancy animation on it’s home page that you have to either watch or click through to get to your first information page, you are going to seriously allienate users who can’t run it. An example of this is from the website of one of my favorite restaurants, Serendipity 3 in New York. I was running around the city the other day and wanted to call ahead so my daughter wouldn’t have as long a wait. I pulled the website up on my BlackBerry and ……nothing. The home page animation would not run, so all I got was a blank page. Some businesses can withstand this, most can’t (We still went and waited an hour for a table, but had an terrific dinner and humungous sundae for dessert).

The bottom line is that surfing the web on devices other than PC’s or laptops is gaining traction and you need to be sure your website can adjust to these changes without losing business.