Business Perspectives

Think of smartphone users when designing website

As an Internet marketing specialist, "How do I get more visitors to my website?" is the No. 1 question I get asked.

While there are several factors to consider, you can start with a clear understanding of who your target market is and how they search for your products and services. With the recent surge in smartphone sales, it's vital to recognize how consumers are using this new technology to search for you and how it can affect your bottom line.

According to ComScore, more than 45 million people in the U.S. owned smartphones in 2010. By the end of this year, it's predicted that more than 60 percent of mobile phone users will be using them.

A smartphone is essentially a mini-computer integrated with a mobile phone. More and more users are now surfing the Internet with their Internet-enabled mobile phones, rather than desktop computer. Since this likely includes your prospects and clients, have you considered how your business will connect with these customers where they live online?

A good place to start is to view your business's website on a smartphone. Do you have to constantly zoom in and out, or scroll up, down, left and right to get where you want to go? People have short attention spans; they likely won't stay on your website long if they're frustrated with the experience or can't view your content.

If your business website is totally built in Flash, or featuring major elements in Flash, then the millions of iPhone and iPad users can't see your flash content. That's right — those glitzy graphics won't show up as anything but a big blank space in your slice of cyberspace.

There are solutions. As more and more smartphones are integrated into our everyday use, you should consider designing a complete mobile version of your website with the mobile user experience in mind. This will ensure that the navigation, font size, content layout and graphics are optimized for the small screen sizes.

Beyond just creating a complete mobile version of your website, you can have your website developer add programming code to automatically detect the type of device being used, so Flash is replaced with the proper graphics on the fly. This may or may not be in your web designer's repertoire. If it's not, find someone skilled in this area.

Don't get overwhelmed with the idea of a mobile version. It's just selecting which content you think is most important for the mobile user and using it in the mobile version. You can have links from the mobile version to the full HTML site for those users who prefer that version. Determine what's most likely to convert online traffic into paying customers and make this a top priority.

While the design specifications may be technical, don't forget that the ultimate creation of any website should come from a marketing and communications viewpoint. The dilemma with this is that many Web designers are not marketers and may not understand your target market like you do. Take an active role in the vision and outcome to ensure your website speaks to the user with the appropriate marketing message.

Start by viewing a variety of websites on a smartphone. Take note of what you like or don't like and what elements make the experience positive or negative. Implement these ideas for your own mobile version of your website and you'll be on your way to making your brand as mobile as your customer.

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