According to the Pew Research Internet Project, 58 percent of Americans have smartphones and 63 percent of these people use their phones to go online. This means that much of the website traffic for your business comes from mobile devices and not from the traditional desktop or laptop computer that your website is designed to service. If you aren't optimizing your site for mobile users, you are missing out on customer attraction and retention.
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Develop Mobile Website Access
There are multiple ways of making your website attractive and usable on a mobile phone. Responsive design allows you to change the size of your website to complement the screen size attempting to access your domain. Sites with a responsive design can detect the resolution of a user's device (here is what my site looks like on mobile). So whether they are using a tablet, smartphone or laptop, the site will display the information and images accordingly. This way, mobile users see your entire website, which ensures a consistent brand experience. Dedicated mobile websites are built from the ground up to deliver a mobile experience distinct from your existing website. These can be handy if you think customers only want to see a few pages (say, hours, location and contact). While responsive design pages can be slower to load, they do allow customers to view your entire site. Since slow load time is a major reason mobile customers close a page, this step alone will help with retention.
Rethink Image and Video Content
According to MarketingLand.com, online video accounts for 50 percent of mobile website traffic. Images and videos enrich your website experience, but they can seriously complicate the mobile UX of your site. Video and image optimization for your mobile site is very important to retain users and traffic. Videos made with Flash may not play on a smartphone. Large images cause slow load time and may force a user to scroll to see your content. If you want to be consistent with image and video content on your mobile site, resize images to load faster (and take up less real estate) and use CSS and HTML5 for videos.
Mobile Payment Processing: A Nice Perk
Going mobile friendly isn't just about your website. While not part and parcel of a mobile website, mobile payment processing can be a useful tool for expanding your business reach with your own mobile devices. Get started with no commitment by using a free mobile card reader, such as GoPayment from Intuit. The reader attaches to your smartphone or tablet and allows you to charge for goods and services. Pay a 2.75 percent swipe fee each time you swipe a card, or purchase a monthly plan for $12.95 and pay a 1.75 percent swipe fee. Customers will respond well to this added convenience and it will give you the chance to do business from anywhere.
Test Before you Roll Out
Before you launch your mobile site, perform usability testing to see whether everything is working correctly. Usability services can test your site for use with real users, delivering actionable insights on what works and what does not work, as well as video content that shows users performing tasks on your website. This is ideal if you don't have a usability professional on staff, or don't have time to devote to usability testing. Web-based services like UserZoom offer remote usability tests on any part of the mobile design process, from prototyping to the final product. You develop test questions and scenarios that test website design, and users access the test from UserZoom. It may seem like you're taking a step back to perform usability tests before you launch. However, if a test uncovers that users cannot navigate to your online catalog or find your store hours, then reconfiguring the design allows you to better capture mobile business.