I’ve spent about half of my life developing websites and content for the web. One of the challenging aspects of being an online marketer and social media strategist is anticipating the end user and how they are going to interact with your content. People will sometimes use your website in a manner that was not intended, so it can be a very valuable process to gather feedback from your audience and make adjustments as necessary.
One of the trends I’ve been hearing a lot about as of late is that of mobile. True, it has been getting coverage for several years now, but it seems that we are finally and firmly moving into the age of mobile. If you’re like me, you don’t see why anyone would ever want to use the web on anything but a desktop or laptop computer except for quick searches and fun apps. However, if you were to talk to your audience today, you may find that a surprising number are interacting (or trying to interact) with your content on tablets, e-readers and smartphones.
Credit: stock.xchang - iceviking [Image ID: 1417191]So, if you’re anything like me and you’ve been putting off implementing mobile functionality for your website, read on. If you already have a mobile strategy in place, you may not learn anything new, but you’re welcome to peruse this article and add your perspective as well.
Why You Need to Go Mobile
We live in an age in which people watch movies on their tablets and read entire e-books on their smartphones. If this realization hasn’t fully sunk in yet, really think about the way people live today. If you walk in to a coffee shop, you’ll inevitably see someone playing on their iPad. If you sit down for lunch, you’ll see someone across the way pulling out their phone to text or email. Few people stop to think or reflect at any given time. They are always plugged in, even at home.
I’m not much of a numbers guy, but I know some of you like statistics so here are some figures expert Greg Hickman cited on the Smart Passive Income podcast. Over 60% of users using Facebook and Twitter are doing so from a mobile device. 25% of global YouTube views also come from mobile devices. 41% of all emails are being opened on a mobile device, and by next year that number may even surpass desktop access.
One last point before we move on: when internet business experts like Pat Flynn and Jeremy & Jason from Internet Business Mastery are bringing in experts to talk about mobile, you should probably be taking notice.
How to Go Mobile
I will not be covering how to mobilize in excruciating detail here, but at the very least I’m going to try and point you in the right direction. If all else fails, there is always Google right?
There are basically two areas in which you need to think about going mobile: 1) your website, and 2) your email campaigns.
You’ll want to make your website and/or blog mobile friendly, as it is likely your primary content hub. You may choose to take advantage of one of the following options depending on what platform you use and how web savvy you are.
WPtouch Plugin – if you’ve built your website on WordPress, there is a convenient plugin called WPtouch that will make your website more mobile friendly. However, it is a bit of a band-aid fix in the sense that it is very basic (un-stylized) and really only organizes blog content in a useful manner. The paid version - WPtouch Pro - allows for more customization options, however.
Mobile Responsive Design – responsive design simply means that your website layout and/or content adapts to the screen size it’s being shown on. You want to provide your visitors with the best experience possible regardless of what platform they’re seeing your website on, and responsive design allows for a great deal of flexibility. It could take a little digging and time to get it working on your website, however. If you’re on the WordPress platform, you can take advantage of one of many responsive themes.
Hire Someone – if you’ve got a budget, you could always hire someone to make your website more mobile ready.
Your Email Campaigns
The easiest way to find out if your emails are mobile compatible is to test them. When you send out an email campaign, try viewing it on your tablet, phone, or both (ask your friends to do the same). While you’re evaluating the email, ask yourself these questions (and don't forget to make necessary adjustments):
Is it easy to tap on links? – Users can get frustrated if your links are surrounded by a bunch of text or images. Try putting your most important links on separate lines.
Is the content too cluttered? – It’s okay to use a bit of whitespace if text, images and design elements are bunching up. Two or three column layouts can get to be too much for mobile devices.
Is it too much content? – Shorter, succinct messages will do well on mobile devices, and this goes for your website too. You don’t necessarily want to send people to landing pages with 3,000 words. If you’re going to do that, make sure to have a call to action “before the fold” and mid-way so users wanting to skip the spiel can buy, download or sign up right away.
I assume you’re already using an email marketing platform, and if not, you should be. Most if not all services should provide you with mobile options. Look in to what they offer and take advantage of it if it suits your needs.