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How to optimize your website for mobile devices

Website for mobile device

You will be surprised to know that more people might be accessing your website through their mobile devices than the conventional computers and laptops. If you have some doubt, just log into your analytics service (for instance Google analytics) and you will be amazed to discover how many people come to your website from their mobile phones and Tablet PCs on a daily basis. Roughly one in seven searches are happening on mobile phones, according to a quotation on this Search Engine Journal blog post.

So if you haven’t optimized your website for mobile devices you might be losing a big chunk of users. Whereas on tablets most of the conventional web designs look fairly good, the problem is with the smaller devices such as smart phones and usual phones. The screen size is small and the circumstances under which these devices are used are myriad. Various surveys have shown that people are browsing the Internet on their mobile phones while watching TV, traveling, conversing and doing all sort of stuff, in more than 80% of cases. So it’s not just the screen size, you also have to compete with 100s of distractions happening around.

Predictions aside, computers and laptops have their place in the world and they’re going to enjoy this place for a long time to come. Of course more people are using mobile devices to connect to the Internet compared to computers and laptops, but that’s because more people purchase mobile phones. Anyway, if you want to cater to this massively burgeoning market segment, you need to optimize your website for mobile devices. This is how you can create a website optimized for mobile devices:

  • Target multiple mobile devices: Through basic programming in JavaScript and PHP you can easily find out which device is being used to access your website. Of course not all devices in the world can be covered but the major ones like the iPad, Samsung galaxy, the iPhone, the BlackBerry and such phones and tablets can be programmatically recognized. This way you can have multiple formats for multiple devices.
  • Stick to the most important: Whereas on Tablet PCs you have some luxury to show extra content, when it comes to mobile phones stick to the most important. If yours is a business website, just include the most important and relevant links on the home screen. Get rid of images and animations if they don’t contribute to the central message and are merely there for aesthetics. There are two reasons for this – there isn’t much space on mobile devices, and most of the people are in a hurry. They quickly want to access the information they need and then go on with whatever they’re doing. They normally don’t have time to go through your articles and blog posts on their mobile phones.
  • Get rid of the sidebars: The usual sidebars unnecessarily take up screen space, so you can get rid of them. Instead at the top or at the bottom of the screen you can have a link to the site map that takes the user to all the relevant links. All of your screen space must be used for the central content of your website.
  • Create your interface for fingertips: Remember that people will be tapping on your links rather than using a pointing device (some devices are used by a stylus or an S pen) so make them big enough to be able to touched with fingertips, whether you’re using hypertext or an image.
  • Use fluid layout: The layout of your website must expand and contract according to the width of the mobile device currently being used. This way people don’t have to scroll right and left in order to read your webpages.
  • Use mobile friendly technologies and coding platforms: For instance, instead of using tables use CSS for creating layouts. The source code must be in XML or XHTML and your character coding set at UTF-8 and if possible use the latest HTML 5.
  • Make it easier to use forms: Entering data into multiple form fields can be a problem with mobile devices, so use as many drop-down lists, check boxes and radio buttons as possible and use text fields only when it is impossible to avoid using them.

Remember that when it comes to optimizing your website for mobile devices the less is more. People are looking for information that they can immediately use. As already mentioned above, the space is limited, and in many countries people have to pay a lot in order to access the Internet, so they only want to see the most vital information.

Image source: FuzzyMath