So you building a mobile website for your company or product and need some best practices, tips and advice? Listen up. Here are some of the most important things to consider when building a mobile site.
What URL should I use?
Ideally you want all the different URL variations we see people use for mobile sites. The big problem is there is no defacto standard for a mobile site like there are for websites. With a website, its easy. www dot company name dot com or dot co.za. If that doesn’t work, a quick Google search for said company and you on your way. With mobile, its a little more complex, but you can make it really easy for your mobile users. Firstly decide what your mobile domain is going to be for marketing purposes (If someone asks what your mobile site is, this is the answer you always going to give them). Once decided on, make sure you setup all the other options and redirect them to your final mobile site URL.
So if your mobile site URL is going to be company.mobi (remove the www. it takes time typing it into your phone) redirect all the other options to it. Those other options being:
Lastly, if your have a smart web programmer, get them to check if someone is browsing your site with a mobile phone and redirect them to your mobile site, company.mobi.
Less is more with mobile site design
The less images, pictures and text, the better with a mobile site. If you could only list 1 thing about your company or product on a website, what would that be? Most probably contact information, so get that up front, without any fluff.
Use a large font for navigation and keep the least amount of links in the menu as possible. If the page does scroll, create a smaller footer and repeat the links so users don’t have to scroll back to the top to navigate again.
Kulula just recently launched their mobile site, Kulula.mobi and it’s a really good example of less is more. 5 links, logo that incorporates the mobile URL and a simple footer with 2 links to allow users to switch to the full site or mobile site. With Kulula, the most important info to a traveller is the status of their flight, whats the weather at my destination doing, what rules and info apply to me flying and how do I get hold of Kulula. That’s it. No fluff around specials, car hire deals, how can we improve surveys, how green a company they are etc. That is all info you will find on their full website.
Which phone should we design for?
As many as possible! Start with the most popular phones, which in South Africa are NOT iPhones and Blackberrys. It’s the Nokia XpressMusic and Samsung E250 phones. If your site works 100% on these devices, it will pretty much work on anything! The nice to have effects that iPhone and Android phones can render are great to have, but be clever about developing them so that if you aren’t on a smartphone, you don’t take away from the user experience and what the end goal is of the mobile site.
So in summary, your goal with a mobile site is somewhat different from your fully fledged website. Make it easy to guess the URL, use less images, less text and offer just the bare basics and most important information your user would want on your mobile site!