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Get yourself mobile — it’s not as difficult as you think

By John Faulds /

Mobile Internet is massive in Australia; we have nearly 9 million smart phone users, approximately 37% of the population, making us the second most smart phone-friendly nation in the world. More than 2 million Australians use their mobile phone to access the Internet each month (Roy Morgan Research), with more than half doing product searches. In fact, research from Google indicates more than 40% of shopping-related enquiries come from mobile devices, but less than one third of small businesses have a mobile-friendly site.

Those numbers are only going to get higher, with mobile Internet usage tipped to outstrip that of the desktop (which includes desktop and laptop computers) in the next year or so.

So if you don't have a website that works well on mobile devices (smart phones and tablets), you could well be missing out.

But the good news is that it's not that hard to get your business ready for mobile; you don't necessarily need to rush out and have an app developed.

The first step would be to actually get yourself a website if you don't already have one because people are increasingly unlikely to buy from you or visit your business unless they can check out your website first. But we'll assume that you already have one, and are just after ways of making it work for mobile.

Create a mobile version of your site

While smart phones do a pretty good job of fitting your site's layout into their small screens, it's not as convenient for your visitors to keep having to tap to zoom in and out.

Creating a layout that automatically fits the screen it is viewed on will reduce the number of taps people have to make, making navigating your site easier and creating a more positive impression.

How this is done will depend on your site, its content and goals, but you wouldn't necessarily need to create a completely separate mobile site. For many smaller sites, your current site's layout could be made ‘responsive’ or ‘adaptive’ which means it adapts to whatever size screen it is viewed on.

Ideally, mobile layout considerations would be included in the original planning and design phase for your site, but existing sites can have mobile-friendly styles ‘retrofitted’ if you are looking for a short-term solution.

Keep pages as light as possible

Not only do search engines give preference to faster pages in their results, but particularly for mobiles, fast-loading pages are essential if you want to capture people's attention and keep them on your site. This ties in to the point above, but when creating a mobile version of the site, whether it's a separate site, or the same site using an adaptive layout, code and images would be optimised to ensure your site loads as quickly as possible on mobile.

Replace Flash

Flash is a technology that adds animation and movement to websites, but unfortunately it doesn't work on Apple's iPhones and iPads. So if you have Flash on your site and you view it on an iOS device, you'll just see a blank space, which doesn't leave a very good impression.

In most cases, Flash can be replaced with HTML and javascript that will work everywhere, and is easier to update.

Design changes

With limited screen real estate, you may need to make some slight adjustments to the layout of your pages, particularly the home page.

Make contact details highly visible, use less copy on your home page, and don't have pages that are cluttered with links.

Claim your local business listing on Google Places

Many people on the go will use Google maps or Google Places to find businesses close by. Claiming your business on Google Places and linking your office or shop to Google Maps means you are more likely to be found by these people.

If you'd like help getting your website mobile-friendly, or would like someone to assess how well your site performs on mobile now, please get in contact, we'd love to help.

Get your website mobile-friendly