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Why Your Business Website Must Be Mobile-Friendly—and How to Do It

January 21st, 2013 ::

By Rieva Lesonsky

There’s no question that consumer and business use of tablet computers is growing by leaps and bounds. The recent holiday shopping season put millions more tablets into consumers’ hands. Meanwhile, a recent report by Gartner notes that businesses are buying fewer PCs and instead turning to tablet computers.

Given all this, it’s clear why your small business website needs to be mobile-friendly, if it isn’t already. What are some factors to consider when optimizing your website for mobile use?

Use images wisely. The ability to display high-resolution photographs is a key part of the appeal of tablet computers like the iPad, but you need to make sure photos load quickly on a tablet or smartphone. Widely cited stats from Google say 60 percent of users expect mobile sites to load in 3 seconds or less, so don’t let photos slow you down.

Consider responsive design. The new trend in Web design, responsive design means creating sites in such a way that they “adapt” to the device being used and display differently depending on screen orientation, screen size and other factors. This can be a simpler option than the older method of developing different websites for each type of device or browser.

Use consistent elements. Your site should have the same overall look and feel whether it is viewed on a smartphone, tablet or desktop/laptop. Sure, there will be fewer and simpler elements on the smaller displays, but your website’s logo, colors, fonts and other elements of your brand image should carry over from one device to the next so that your site is instantly recognizable.

Develop simple navigation. Navigation on a touchscreen of a tablet or smartphone is different than mouse or trackpad navigation on a laptop or desktop. Account for the “fat-finger” factor; make sure users can easily tap, touch or swipe the icons they need to without hitting the wrong command by mistake.

Consider the competition. Before revamping your website for mobile use, check out what your key competitors are doing. Pay attention to what you like and don’t like when you access their sites on mobile devices. What seems to be missing that you could add to your site? Or what’s unnecessary on their site that you can eliminate from yours?

Borrow from the pros. Are there websites you frequently access on mobile devices that have a fantastic user experience? Whether or not these companies are competitors or even in your industry, take note of what makes them so enjoyable, and copy some of the same design, navigation and usability features on your own mobile site.

Editor’s Note : Network Solutions offers an easy way to build a website for mobile devices in mere minutes goMobi™, powered by dotMobi

Image by Flickr user muir.ceardach (Creative Commons)

The views expressed here are the author's alone and not those of Network Solutions or its partners.

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