December 27, 2014
So you’ve established an online presence and are ready to take your site mobile. Like most organizations – big and small – optimizing their sites for mobile for the first time, you may be wondering where to start. What comes first? Mobile optimization is a daunting task that leaves a lot of room for error. Getting it right now, however, can you help you avoid major problems down the road that will only get more difficult and expensive to resolve over time.
Here are five steps to optimizing your website for mobile for the first time:
1. Survey Your Customers:
The first step is understanding what your customers need to accomplish while using a mobile device. In most cases they are logging on to your site from different devices for very different, specific reasons. For example, users logging on via PC might be conducting research or looking to purchase your product. Mobile and tablet devices, on the other hand, may drive the most traffic to sections of your site where customers can get in touch with you. Highlighting the elements of your site that are most popular on mobile devices and tablets is the foundation to successful site optimization, and often the most-overlooked part of the process.
2. Understand Your Design Options:
There are notable differences between static, responsive and adaptive design. Picking the combination that best suits your customer base is critical. In most scenarios, static design is a poor choice because the user interface remains the same regardless of what device your customers use to access your website. Responsive design and adaptive design make varying levels of changes to the look and feel of your site based on the device used. Take a combined approach and apply responsive and adaptive designs to the portions of your site users are accessing most via mobile to make them fluid, scrollable and easy-to-read in any environment.
3. Deploy Your Content:
Content deployment, like site design, must match the mobile needs of your customers. Websites rich in additional content must fit it within the framework of what your customer wants and when. There are countless ways to achieve this and many of them are easier than you might think. For example, if your customers are logging on via mobile for quick access to your menu or product catalog, consider putting it into a downloadable PDF format that can be saved for future reference. If they need to look up your number or email address, embed links that will take them to their phone’s dial pad or email app for quick sending.
Once your customer has been surveyed, your site designed and your content deployed in a suitable format, you will need to measure for effectiveness. Don’t overlook this step just because you’re new to the game of mobile optimization – and don’t overthink your approach. An effective, easy way for startups to measure progress is by looking to their content. PDF files can be tracked by the number of downloads, paywall or member-restricted content might be measured by the number of requests or registrations and e-commerce sites might simply measure by the number of mobile-based sales. Measuring your site for optimization starts with the little things and lets you experiment with design and deployment in safe but effective ways.
5. Rinse and Repeat:
This is the one mistake I have seen made the most. Too many believe optimizing for mobile is a one-time thing that needs to be done on a website. In reality, like any other part of your business, optimization is an ongoing process that never stops. Aside from all of the design techniques and mobile devices that are always changing, the way your customers use and engage with your site will change as your startup grows and evolves. The moment you stop improving your site is the moment it flat lines, and it is very difficult (and expensive) to catch up once you’ve fallen behind.
If you’re thinking about optimizing your site for mobile, consider all of the elements needed to do it successfully and consider whether or not you are ready to make the long-term investment required to maintain momentum.
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