Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Is Your Website Mobile Friendly

by Joseph Schembri

People are increasingly using mobile devices to access the web. But, most websites have been developed to be viewed on a computer monitor. These mobile users have a smaller screen size. This means that a user cannot focus on very detailed areas of your web page that would normally be viewed on a computer screen.

It can be difficult, therefore, to navigate through a website on a small handheld 
screen because:

i) the download time can be very long, and,

ii) some features are often incompatible with mobile browsers.

It has been claimed that millions of people world wide are accessing the web using mobile devices. Soon, most users may be accessing the web using them rather than a desktop or laptop machine.

The mobile web is a great place for advertising, content, information, social experiences and fulfillment on the go. In fact, what better than the opportunity to connect with users through the device they carry around with them at all times?

Mobile browsers are growing rapidly, and many webmasters, are optimizing their websites for these new users.

If you haven't given any thought to how your website appears and functions on a mobile device, now is the time to do so.

Now is the time to ensure your company's web site displays properly on mobile phones and hand-held devices. It is time to ensure your company profits from the mobile-friendly online revolution.

If your website's design is not mobile friendly, it will not correctly display your web site. Important information such as your contact information, service overviews, locations, directions and address information. If users can't quickly access what they're looking for, your potential business and profits will be lost to your mobile ready competitors.

Websites that are not mobile friendly have slower download speeds and different connectivity issues and problems.

Mobile optimization should be implemented on every business website. Whether your business is retail, roofing, real estate, a restaurant, or a government funded organization: being mobile will allow the fastest growing online search market to have access to your business. Going mobile now, will allow your business to grow its brand recognition.

If visitors feel cramped, or have to work hard to navigate your site, or read your content, you can be absolutely sure that they will leave your website.

Connection speed can also frustrate visitors. A lot of the time, people are trying to access your site on slow cellular data connections. And despite the attempts by providers to increase capacity, it still feels "slow," since the more they add, the more we consume.

You want both regular and new visitors to have a great experience with your site, whether it's at home on a nice large screen or while they are mobile and seeing it on a tiny device.

You should seriously consider making your website mobile friendly if you want to:

1) determine when mobile devices and browsers have visited your site.

2) redirect mobile devices to your mobile friendly website.

3) take advantage of the increasing mobile market to increase your sales and profits.

4) keep up to date with the latest mobile devices and browsers.

If you already have an existing website that was designed for computer screens, you do not need a new website or new domain to create a mobile friendly website. You can use what is called a "subdomain". All your mobile viewing web pages would then be contained in this subdomain.

A subdomain is a second website, with its own unique content, but there is no new domain name. Instead, you use an existing domain name and change the www to another name. The subdomain name would look something like mobile.domain.com (assuming you already host domain.com). This subdomain would be created using your cPanel on your existing website.

Your subdomain will now show up as a subfolder of your existing domain, which would be called mobile. You treat this folder as if it was your root folder. All your mobile web pages would be contained in this subdomain folder.

A subdomain configuration is very similar to a domain name configuration. The only difference is that the subdomain entry is tied to the corresponding domain name lookup. A request for the subdomain (e.g. http:// mobile.domain.com) will be routed to a DNS server containing the DNS information for the parent domain(domain.com). Once the DNS record for the subdomain is resolved to a particular IP address, the request is sent to the web server listening on that IP address. The web server can now delegate the request to the particular website based on the subdomain name in the host header of the request object.

Now that a mobile friendly website has been created, it is time to create the web pages that will be viewed by the mobile devices.

There are four basic rules to create a good site for a palm sized device:

1 - Stick to basic HTML tags such as: p, br, b, i, pre, headers (h1-6), blockquote, center, ul, ol, li, images, and simple tables.

Give your site a fluid width layout, as it enables viewing across many different resolutions or platforms. Simply change your width property to a percentage. This will cause the width of your website to stretch or squish depending on the browser size.

2 - Avoid frames, layers, imagemaps, plugins, Javascript, Java, and CSS.

3 - Keep your layout small, and avoid clutter.

4 - Be aware of how graphics are displayed.

In Summary:

- Keep your pages small.

- Navigation should be clear and concise.


- Be sure to test your pages in both smartphones like the iPhone and less sophisticated mobile devices like a PDA.

Do not lose business because buyers can't view your site on their mobile phones.

About the Author

If you want to learn more about Mobile Friendly Websites, please visit Mobile Device Detector, so that you can make your website the most effective it can be.