How important is it for small businesses to have a mobile-ready website?
Well, if you believe everything you read then mobile is definitely the future. Few would argue about the advantages of mobile technology, and even fewer would argue against its potential. However, whilst technology experts might extol the virtues of mobile-ready websites, they often fail to address the question of how these mobile-ready websites will help businesses better serve their customers and build the brand name.
The questions they really should be considering are how can businesses work out what their customers want from a mobile website, and which features are vital for a mobile-ready website, and which are simply unnecessary distractions? We can’t claim to have produced the most definitive or comprehensive list of answers to those vital questions, but hope that the following pointers might be helpful.
What mobile website users want:
Fast loading times.
What annoys mobile website browsers most? The answer is slow loading times. If a mobile page takes an eternity to load, then users will generally vote with their feet and go elsewhere. Slow loading times also reflect badly on the reputation of the brand. That’s why quick loading times are vital. You may have to trim your website accordingly and do away with some of the bells and whistles, but it’s a sacrifice that’s worth paying
Location details and opening hours.
Statistically most mobile searches will be for local businesses and services, so obviously it makes sense to make it as easy as possible for users to quickly establish where your business is based and when you’re open. Failing to provide such basic information is unforgiveable.
When users open a mobile website for say a car servicing centre or restaurant, they will usually want to be able to contact – normally there and then. So, mobile websites need to have a clearly-identifiable contact number for customers to ring. An email link just won’t cut it in these circumstances.
The same reasoning applies to emails. Customers often want to contact the company whose website they’ve been browsing. They often prefer to do this by email, so make sure the email address is obvious and easily identifiable.
Links to social networking pages.
Most mobile website users appreciate that it is far easier to update social networking pages than mobile websites. Often they’ll check these sites first for information about up to date events and special offers. So make sure that these ‘specials’ are clearly identified on the website and make sure that you provide a link to them.
Pictures generally speak louder than words and can get a point across far more effectively. So if you have video that you think the customers might appreciate, put it out there. It’s easy to embed video on your mobile site using YouTube. However, don’t make any videos autoplay: not every mobile visitor will want to watch video footage however good it might be. Give your users a choice.