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Optimizing your website for mobile

“86% of Australian users having performed a local search with 65% of those contacting the business and 39% making a purchase”

 Why go mobile?

Forget the year of the horse, 2014 is the year of mobile web. With more and more people using their smartphones and tablets to access the internet, it’s now essential for any business big or small to optimize their website for mobile. Mobile internet use makes up as much as 50% and is expected to overtake fixed internet access in 2014.

If your business isn’t mobile optimized yet then it needs to be. Mobile optimization has garnered some very positive results with 86% of Australian users having performed a local search with 65% of those contacting the business and 39% making a purchase. Users aren’t just using their phones on the go either to research or shop for products, an incredible 62% of shopping behaviour on smart phones is performed at home.

How can I make my site mobile friendly?

There are several ways to get your website mobile. First you need to understand Google’s preferences to mobile:

  1. Responsive design websites- sites that use the same URL’s for each device that uses CSS to change the appearance depending on what device the page is being viewed on. This is Google’s recommended configuration.
  2. Sites that use the same URL’s but uses different HTML and CSS depending on what device is used- several different sets need to be built for each device with the website determining which device is used and which set of HTML and CSS to display. This will need to be updated as new devices and configurations are added.
  3. Sites that have different mobile and desktop URLs- if you are on a mobile the phone will redirect to something like “m.yoursite.com”
  4.  Without going into the deep end, here are some ways to optimize your site for web.

HTML5

If you haven’t built your website yet, you can ask your developer to use HTML5 to put in the appropriate tags and use best practices to have your page load in a suitable way for web.

CMS Plugins

If you use a CMS (content management system) for your website there are many developers out there. There are many for WordPress, Joomla, Drupal and Plone that will try and detect when the site is being accessed via mobile and reformat it in a way that is suitable for mobile viewers.

Can’t use Plugins?

If you built your website yourself or can’t use plugins you can write a mobile CSS file to detect mobile users and define certain styles for mobile.

Media Queries

Media queries is a powerful CSS tool that can create responsive websites that automatically change their appearance depending on what device the website is being viewed on.  You can edit your stylesheet.css file with a few lines of code to optimize your site. To read more about Media Queries and see example code that you can use for your website please click here.

Designing for Mobile

There are a few things you need to keep in mind when designing your site for mobile. Keep scrolling to a minimum users want to be able to find the information they need quickly without going through huge blocks of text. In responsive design set everything to a percentage basis not a pixel basis so it doesn’t disrupt the display. Place call to action buttons strategically and obviously for the user such as buttons with “push to call” on them.  Click here if you’d like to read a more in depth overview of designing for web and web optimization.

Disclaimer: This article was produced as part of a learning initiative for our graduate program. The tips and facts presented are not necessarily shared by roi.com.au