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Looking good on mobile devices

How is your mobile traffic looking? More importantly, how is your site looking to mobile traffic? I hope the answers to both questions are “good”, because it’s becoming essential that they are. The definition of what’s “mobile traffic” is increasingly blurry, but I’m talking here about devices using non-desktop operating systems, including iOS (iPhone, iPad), Android, Blackberry, Symbian etc. If you haven’t considered the situation recently, I suggest that you do so. I’ve just looked through the Google Analytics stats from a few of our clients, and I’m seeing visitor numbers from mobile devices as high as 6.5% last month. If your website is offputting – or even unusable – to these people, that’s a lot of potential business you’re turning away.

They’re also important visitors. For years, anyone looking up a company website on a mobile device will have had a very serious reason for doing so; common sense will tell you that. But now, a lot of people use mobile devices for social media, and if anyone’s been sent to your website from Twitter or LinkedIn, for example, they’re definitely interested in something about you.

Your website visitor analytics application should show you what’s going on. In Google Analytics, for example, you’ll find “Mobile” under the “Visitors” link. Take a look at the proportion of your visitors on mobile devices, the number compared to a year ago, and the different devices being used (the iPad seems to be getting very significant). Whatever the trend, there’s no reason to believe it won’t continue into the future, so you might like to also consider how many mobile visitors you’ll be getting in a year’s time.

Are you catering for them? Take a look at your site on a smartphone or an iPad. Does the site look good? Is it suddenly overwhelming on a small screen? Are the menus and links operable (especially on touchscreens)? Are there critical elements created in Flash, which don’t show at all? If things aren’t great, you can either redesign the whole site so that it looks good on both desktop and mobile devices, or you can set up a separate design to be displayed on mobile devices, something any decent designer should be able to do for you. If you’re using a content management system such as WordPress, it’s a simple job to add an “alternative” style sheet which serves up a simpler version of the site to mobile devices. That’s the approach we’ve taken here: if you have an iPhone to hand, take a look at and you’ll see a radically different design.

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