Make Your Commerce Site Mobile-Friendly - dummies

Make Your Commerce Site Mobile-Friendly

By Marsha Collier

Success in social media commerce means you have to make your business website mobile-friendly. If you’ve used a smartphone to visit a website, you’ll understand the importance of a mobile-friendly site. Complex, content-heavy web pages with many photographs, elements, or videos present challenges to mobile viewing.

You may think that you could simply add an app for your business instead of creating a mobile version of your website, but apps are not as functional as a website.

Apps are fun and useful for a single purpose, but 81 percent of mobile users prefer mobile sites to apps when researching purchases. And more than 40 percent of users turn to a competitor’s website after a bad mobile experience.

A Compuware study found that on mobile devices

  • 71 percent of users expect a mobile site to load as fast as a desktop site

  • 60 percent of users expect a mobile site to load in three seconds or less

  • 78 percent retry a site two times or less if it does not load initially

In this want-it-now world, people expect those with a presence on the web to keep up with technology. You might think you don’t have the time or resources to stay on top of every technological trend. But as the number of smartphone users continues to grow, your lackadaisical attitude will change and you will make it happen!

You also want your sites to work great on tablets, and it’s very likely that the trend will be toward larger screens for active web browsing. Those who try tablets want the full web experience.

The goal when making an alternate mobile commerce site is to eliminate extraneous features and words, without limiting your selection of products. A mobile site should have less information about each product and fewer things users can do with the products, but the range of items should remain the same as on the full site.

If users can’t find a product on a mobile site, they assume the company doesn’t sell it and go elsewhere.

Don’t make a push for mobile a priority over the other strategies for social media, including Facebook, Twitter, and blogs. Keep things simple and remember that people visit your website or blog for the value of your content.

The main reasons that your full website does not translate automatically to mobile are as follows:

  • The screen on a phone (or small-format tablet) is considerably smaller than most computer displays.

  • Small screens generally equal lower resolutions, so unless you have a mobile design, items may look distorted or have missing elements when viewed in a mobile browser.

  • Cellular data networks process data more slowly than your computer, which can result in interminably long page load times. Your customers will not wait around; they’ll just exit.

  • Mobile subscribers who aren’t connected to Wi-Fi accrue higher data usage when they come to a data-heavy page. The moment they notice the slow page load, they leave.

  • Flash, a common browser add-on for viewing videos on website sites, is not compatible with Apple’s iOS (iPhone and iPad devices). In addition, Flash is not always included as part of a mobile browser.

  • HTML5, the latest version of HyperText Markup Language (the code used to build web pages), translates web pages for most operating systems. This new version is still in its infancy but looks promising in allowing far more flexibility and putting far less strain on mobile processors.

Most blogging platforms automatically format your pages for mobile viewing. The figure shows you how a Blogger site looks on a computer monitor.

An author's blog as viewed on a computer monitor.
An author’s blog as viewed on a computer monitor.

In the next figure, you see the same blog on a phone. The figure on the left is the mobile version of the Blogger site. The one on the right shows the same blog on Posterous; that site isn’t quite as enticing, but it is clear and loads quickly.

The mobile-optimized blogs.
The mobile-optimized blogs.

To see how your site looks on a smartphone, go to GoMo. Just type your website URL in the Test Your Website text box, and you are presented with the smartphone version (as done for the figure).

When viewing websites on tablets, you serve the simplified version of the website that better applies to mobile devices. But performing this task gets complicated. Many tablet users are looking for a rich user experience. To stay clear of disgruntled web visitors, offer a clear link from your mobile site to your full site for those who prefer the features found only on the full site.