Don’t think you need to make your website mobile friendly? Think again. The statistics show that more than a third of the folks out there access the Internet with their phones. While some phones such as the iPhone are capable of pulling up regular, “full” websites on the Internet, many other phones don’t have that ability, so you are losing a percentage of your visitors by not making a mobile site available to them.

A good mobile website, however, has to be optimized for mobile phones. Here are a few tips to help you create a mobile-friendly version of your website.

Make the page a variable width.

There is a lot of variation between phones: what they are capable of, but also other important details, such as how big their screens are. In order to ensure that your website looks good on all mobile phones, you will need to design it with a variable width.

This means that instead of specifying a specific pixel width in the code, you will be using percentages: how much of the screen you want your column of text to fill. That way, the text will wrap no matter how big or small the screen is, and your visitors won’t be forced to zoom in and scroll back and forth.

Streamline the navigation options.

Since you only have room for a one-column format on a mobile phone, too many links will make it difficult for visitors to navigate your site to find the information they need. Look at some of the big news sites’ mobile websites for an example of a good mobile site. You will find that most of them have a header at the top of the page, followed by a handful of links, and then the content (a list of headlines, the article you want to read, etc.). Lastly comes a page footer.

Get rid of large images.

Another issue with mobile phones is that pages with a lot of data can take a long time to download. Most users will get impatient will sites that are slow to load, especially if they are browsing on their phones, which usually means they are on the go and in a hurry.

The best way to speed up your site is to eliminate large images. You will notice that most news sites don’t have pictures accompanying the headlines on the main page — you only see the picture when you click on the article.

Don’t use flash.

Flash pages can also take a long time to load on a mobile phone. Instead, use simpler code, such as html, so that the page will load quickly and without problems.

Use keywords.

Just as on a regular website, a mobile site needs to be optimized for the search engines. For the best SEO content, use keywords, headings, and so on, just as you would on a full-size website.

Clearly, having a mobile site is very important. Enough people are getting online using their phones that if you don’t offer a mobile version of your site, you could be causing frustration to, and ultimately driving away, a large percentage of your target market. These tips should help you get started thinking about what you need to do with your website in order to make it more mobile-friendly.

Your Tips on Mobile Optimization

Have you designed a website for mobile use? What tips or advice would you give for anyone doing the same for their site?

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