Time for businesses to rethink the mobile web as customers slip through the .net

Internet connected mobile devices are being used everywhere for business from accessing email in coffee shops, downloading reports while commuting or updating social media while in an airport lounge. Worldwide sales of smartphones and tablets continue to trend upwards fuelling an increase in the numbers of people accessing company websites from home and while away.

As mobile websites become an integral part of today’s internet browsing behaviour, with some people choosing to use mobile devices as their primary internet browsing format, it is crucial that SMEs adapt their traditional, desktop-based websites to keep up with the shifting expectations of online communication.

Not having a website optimised for mobile use runs the risk of alienating visitors, as they struggle to navigate traditional sites without the precision of a mouse or keyboard. Frustrated visitors on the move could end up postponing an immediate purchase or ignore the website altogether. The lack of a mobile-optimised website could affect a business’ customer relationships, sales, and eventually, the bottom line.

For business owners lacking advanced IT knowledge, there are intuitive software packages available that allow mobile sites to be created with relative ease and low cost.

Cloud-based applications are allowing SMEs to keep up with the changing online media landscape, without the high cost of hiring a web designer. The following five tips will provide a straightforward guide to crafting an effective mobile business website.

Maximise your audience
With sharp competition for smartphone market share between Apple, Google and Research in Motion, a website’s design is different to that of an app; it must be compatible across multiple platforms and numerous mobile devices to prevent excluding users.

Keep things simple
A clean design, with simple navigation no more than a couple of layers deep, lets audiences rapidly gain access to the information they need. The more intuitive and user friendly a site is the better reception it will receive from hurried visitors on the move or in busy environments.

Remember: mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets lack the precision of a mouse and keyboard, meaning the design needs to be content-light and keep in mind touch-driven functionality.

Tap to contact
As smartphone functionality continues to improve, it is easy to overlook the fact it remains a phone. Embed tap to contact functionality so in a single click, users can call, e-mail or locate you on a map.

Be social
Blogs, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+ are just a few of the ways businesses are maintaining regular dialogue with key customer segments. A large percentage of this dialogue takes place via mobile devices, so ensure you’re providing the necessary social media sharing and ‘liking’ functions.

Social media integration can also help satisfied visitors share a business’s products or brand with their friends, colleagues and members of their social networks.

Analyse this
It has become common practice to track a website’s traffic, keywords and more popular pages. This information can be used to further tailor a mobile website’s design and content. Keeping track of a site’s activity over time will help identify bounce points and favoured pages. This will allow a business to identify areas for improvement and development that suit the needs of mobile visitors.

Trying to maximise profits and look after a business’ bottom line during a period of economic uncertainty often means that developing a mobile website may not be a business priority.

However, an effective mobile website that is easy to create can yield results well worth the extra effort. Staying ahead of the trend and gaining an advantage over your competitors means utilising the latest technologies and communication tools to connect to customers and drive growth.

Mobile websites are the latest channel to offer revenue and brand-boosting opportunities for SMEs. Can your business afford to be without one?


Paul Jones

Editor of Business Matters, the UKs largest business magazine, and head of Capital Business Media's automotive division working for clients such as Aston Martin and Infiniti.


Editor of Business Matters, the UKs largest business magazine, and head of Capital Business Media's automotive division working for clients such as Aston Martin and Infiniti.