Going Mobile-does your website work on mobile devices?

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1 Going Mobile-does your website work on mobile devices?

2 Going Mobile-does your website work on mobile devices? It is unlikely to have escaped your attention that people are now accessing the web from a myriad of different devices. Yes they still use desktop computers (sometimes) or laptops, but increasingly visits to your website or social media sites are being made from smartphones, tablets and e-book readers. So what should your business do about it? Gareth Edwards of the National B2B Centre takes a look at your options. Introduction Yes it s true, the mobile revolution is with us and our options to access online content and shop have dramatically increased. As often happens in these situations there has been a corresponding rise in the amount of hype and lots of doom laden announcements that suggest not having a specialised mobile website or app will be the end of your business. The truth is that the appropriate response to these changes is different for everybody. It depends on the type of business, your approach to online marketing and above all what your customers want. Here are some ideas for understanding where you stand with mobile technologies and how to move forward.

3 Where are you now? Take a look at your site A lot of people ask me about mobile sites and apps. The first thing I ask is What does your site look like on mobile devices right now, to which the answer is often I don t know. So the first thing you might want to do is to look at your site on as many different devices as you can. If possible use a mixture of Apple, Android and Windows devices and take a peek through Safari, Chrome and Internet Explorer browsers (Firefox too if you have time). It s quite possible that you will see some differences between each device, operating system and browser combination. In the first instance the bare minimum I would expect you to see would be your website shrunk (see the screenshot of the B2B Centre from a tablet above). In other words the technology would be doing its best to display everything you d expect to see on a normal computer screen but squashed to fit the size of the device s screen. If that s what you can see, good start. There are 2 other things you might see now. One is something like your normal website but possibly with some unexpected blank spaces or boxes with a message saying something like This plug-in is not supported. This is probably because your site uses Adobe Flash to display graphics or video clips. You can see the difference in the two screenshots above. The first is the view from a laptop and the second the view from a tablet.

4 Flash is not supported by Apple and newer versions of the Android operating system. Fortunately there are ways around this and you will need to talk to your website developer about utilising HTML5 instead of Flash. If you are really unlucky your whole site may have been built using Flash and so nothing will be displayed on any mobile device. In this instance, because Flash websites are also very difficult to optimise for good search engine visibility, it might be worth starting from scratch. The other thing you might see is something that doesn t have the same format as your website but is showing some of the content. You can see from the screen shot of the Judy Knight Garden Design site that it is still possible to see text and pictures but it isn't quite like a normal website. That means your site has already been configured to work with mobile devices in some way! We ll look at that more closely at that in a moment. Check Google Analytics Before that let s look at another way of examining what s going on at the moment using Google Analytics. If you haven t heard of Google Analytics or it s on your site and you just haven t looked at it before then open up Google Analytics and click the Audience link on the left side vertical menu, followed by Mobile and then Devices. What you will see displayed is a list of the different mobile devices that have been used to get to your site, how many visits per device and, very importantly, what percentage of total visits this represents. If you are feeling particularly analytical you can also look at a breakdown the traffic by Operating System which will split out traffic as, for instance, ios (Apple), Android, Blackberry etc.

5 To give you some sense of comparison I looked at the Google Analytics mobile device statistics for a number of sites. Looking at six corporate type sites the mobile device traffic was between 7% and 12% mark however for a couple of ecommerce sites the number was over 20%! What does this mean? Well it gives us some indication of what effort making the sites mobile friendly might be, and gives us a clue to the types of site that require more immediate attention. Very broadly speaking the more consumer oriented your site then the more likely it is that people will be using mobile devices to find and browse your site. Sites that are offering information or purchases that are tied into location (think food or entertainment) are likely to need more work. B2B (business to business) oriented sites may get less mobile traffic but as we have already seen you may need to do some work just to make sure that your site can be read at all on a mobile device. What do we do next? At the very least you need to ensure that your basic site displays correctly on as many mobile devices as possible. This will depend on how your site was built in the first place so you will need to talk to your website developer about your options, mainly for replacing Flash. The next step is more strategic. You need to consider how far you want to go with this mobile development process. Some questions to consider are: How important is the web in your online marketing mix? How many people are already accessing your site using mobile? What experience to you want to provide users? Do you expect people to purchase something from your site?

6 What are your competitors doing? How much are you prepared to spend? The reason for going through these questions is that there is a range of ways to upgrade your mobile site ranging from some quick tweaks right up to developing a free standing mobile app. The next steps are essentially designed to make it easier for mobile device users to navigate and browse your online content and enhance their ability to purchase goods or use applications. A true mobile website or mobile app will: Reduce the amount of content that is displayed on the screen. Change the navigation so that visitors can get to what they want as quickly as possible. Minimise the amount of text entry. Work on touch-screen and non-touch screen devices. Content Management Systems Hands up if you have a WordPress website. If you do then then you can simply add one of a number of plug-ins such as Mobile Press or WP Mobile Edition. Similar functionality is available in other CMSs such as Joomla! and Drupal so check the help documentation or use Google to search for solutions. Upgrade or redesign your site If your site is reasonably up to date then you or your developer might be able to upgrade it to adopt responsive design, which uses CSS technology to automatically display your site correctly on any device in whatever format you choose. Another approach is called adaptive design, which uses javascript technology to identify what device a visitor is using and then generates appropriately formatted content. It offers the opportunity to cater for the specification of individual devices to create the best possible user experience. You ll probably need to go for a site redesign to make this work. A big advantage of both these approaches (and CMS plug-ins) is that you retain a single URL or web address, and one set of content. Separate mobile website Another alternative is to develop a separate mobile website using its own URL. There are lots of online services that will create a mobile site based on your existing one (for instance dudamobile

7 ( and Mobify. If you don t mind using their standard templates this could be a low cost (and possibly free) approach. The more you want to retain your branding or customise the way it works then the more expensive it gets. One downside is that you might have to manage two lots of content, which might be a chore on a large site. Remember you don t have to use a special URL like.mobo. A sub-domain of your existing site is just fine. Mobile Apps At the top of the mobile food chain we have mobile apps (Apps). Unlike websites Apps are programmes that are installed directly onto mobile devices. This means that they have some major advantages over websites: Improved graphics, better navigation and faster operation. Access to all of the features on the device such as GPS (really important for location critical businesses) and cameras. A more interactive and engaging user experience More revenue generating opportunities paid downloads, advertising and mobile commerce There are some disadvantages too. Unless you re in a very specialist niche such as gaming you ll probably need to have a mobile website anyway. So an App will be an additional investment. There are App builder tools such as Mobile Roadie and Mippin but you may need help to plan and build an App. The more functionality that you want from it the more expensive it will be and unfortunately you need a new App for each of the mobile platforms (ios, Android etc.). Conclusion There is a lot to take in around this subject. What s important is to just start thinking about it objectively. It isn t the end of the world if you haven t turned your attention to mobile marketing yet but it is a good idea to start taking notice. You just don t know how your next visitor is getting to you. This article was written for Optimising Business Broadband for Shropshire and Staffordshire by Gareth Edwards of the National B2B Centre. You can find others on related subjects at For more information on this programme visit You can contact the programme for help on or

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