Mobile web usage is exploding. As smartphone ownership surges, more and more consumers are using devices like the iPhone to find information and access the web. More and more consumers buy products and do research from their phones than ever before. A great way to stand out from the crowd is to have a website that is fast, accessible and easy to use from a mobile phone.
Even just a few years ago, thinking about designing or optimizing your website for mobile devices was a risky proposition. So many different types of devices and mobile web browsers exist that picking and choosing what to optimize for could take up lots of resources for very little payoff. However, now that mobile devices are becoming more and more ubiquitous, it’s time to consider optimizing your business’s site for mobile visitors.
There’s a reason that companies like Google and Microsoft are investing lots of money into the mobile web and in making their products more accessible from the mobile web. Think about it, if a customer is doing research on her phone and comes across two sites, one that is hard to pull up and read and one that is elegant and attractive and makes it easy to call a number or send an e-mail directly from the page, which company has a better shot of getting the business?
Although there are still no “official” standards for mobile web development, more and more smartphones and smartphone operating systems are following the iPhone’s lead and using a technology called WebKit to render and display web pages. What this means is that a web page built to look good on an iPhone will look about the same on a Google Android device, a Palm webOS phone, and soon, BlackBerry devices.
Optimizing your website for mobile devices doesn’t have to be difficult. If you’re website runs on the popular WordPress CMS, there’s a great – and free – plugin called WPTouch that can quickly optimize your website for the iPhone and Android devices. Another good WordPress option is the Carrington Mobile theme. Both of these options are nice because they allow visitors to view the full site, without any mobile optimizations, if that is their preference, plus they load faster on mobile connections.
If you’re interested in really optimizing your site for better performance and features, check out Mobify. Mobify is a free service (premium options are also available) that makes it easy to create a mobile version of your website. It integrates well with WordPress, Drupal and ExpressionEngine, and really only requires CSS and HTML knowledge to customize. The results can be quite impressive, both in reduced page load and overall viewing experience.
Not convinced that a mobile website will really make much of a difference? Visit CSSiPhone for some excellent examples of terrific mobile optimized designs. Web designer Cameron Moll also wrote an excellent book, entitled “Mobile Web Design” that outlines tips and best practices, as well as practical reasons and examples of good mobile design.