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10 Mobile Website Quandaries Solved

January 9, 2013 By Heather Fletcher
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With more than 100 questions submitted by attendees of the "Website and Email Design for a Mobile World" webinar on Nov. 28, it was impossible for speaker Greg Hickman to answer them all. But the founder of, whose presentation is now available on demand, was able to answer a few more of them here, covering everything from local search to mobile marketing budgets.

1. Given what you said about local search driving a quick action, should you design different mobile experiences for local search visitors? Is there even a way to do that?

Greg Hickman: Short answer: yes. Ultimately you need to think about what visitors to your site are trying to accomplish while on their mobile device.

Statistically with small businesses, users are looking for one of a few things:

  1. Phone number
  2. Address or directions
  3. Hours.

Knowing this, optimize the homepage of your mobile site to include these three things right up front or within one click.

This goes back to the pyramid, which I presented in the webinar. You have to enable access, then interaction. Once they can access your site, can they accomplish their goal while there? If it's to call your business, don't bury your phone number in the footer or deep within a contact page.

Once you've enabled them to find this information, ask yourself, "How long would it take for them to find those pieces of info?" If it's over five seconds, I'd consider adjusting your site design/layout.

As an example, 1-800-Flowers doesn't offer all information on its mobile site. You can't track a shipment from mobile, because they saw very little use of that feature. So they focused on minimizing clicks to drive sales, use of proximity features and in-stock availability.

2. Can we create something like a shortcut (app icon) to a mobile website so it appears as an app?

GH: Yes, but that is in control of the user. For example, if you visit a site from your iPhone and tap the "plus" button in the lower browser navigation, you'll have the option to "add to home screen," which will put an icon on your screen similar to an app. Here is a good tutorial.

This shows you how to customize your icon so that if others do this, they get the icon you'd like them to receive.

3. How does one go about developing a budget for the mobile site project?

GH: Eighty percent of your marketing budget. Just kidding!

This really depends on what type of business you have. The budgeting process shouldn't change just because it's a mobile site. I'd ask, "How did you budget for your current desktop site? How did you budget for email services or direct mail?"

You have to determine which solution is best for your business or your client's business considering execution, management and price. Some of the DIY template-based solutions are only a couple hundred bucks to get started.

If you need something more than that, you might need to hire someone or an agency to help.

4. How do you recommend testing the effectiveness of offering a responsive site vs. not offering a responsive site? We often need hard numbers to convince clients to invest/change.

GH: Unfortunately, I don't believe there is a concrete answer for this. The best way to know the effectiveness of a responsive site vs. not is building one and going through the process. You need to understand the challenges, time commitment, efficiencies, etc., that result from that experience in order to compare it.

Most clients won't come to you saying, "I want a responsive site." It's your responsibility to recommend the best solution for them for as long-term as possible.

In many cases the choice to go responsive or not is going to be up to you and your team. Will it be easier for you to manage that client's site using a responsive approach or separate site?

Every business is different, so the efficiencies one company may have by going responsive won't be the same as your business. You may want to make your company's site responsive and keep a close eye on the process and see how it affects the internal resources and pipeline.

5. We're trying to build a business that serves retail businesses with traditional print advertising. Once the target audience receives this, they get directed to a website to fill out a form. Should we make this mobile, too?

GH: Absolutely. Remember, the consumers decide how they access the content. If they see that ad from the couch or kitchen table, they may visit the site from their phones. If you add a mobile call to action (which I would recommend) you'll even facilitate that. Either way, you'll most definitely want a mobile optimized form to capture leads to accommodate the users' needs.

6. Do you have any good examples to share in the B-to-B space?

GH: Some nice B-to-B sites I've seen are (visit these from your phone, of course):

7. We don't have all the devices needed for testing mobile. Is there an online service that you recommend that allows you to test your responsive site online?

GH: Yes, there are a handful. But I typically use Device Anywhere or Mobile Moxie Phone Emulator. I'll also go to wireless stores and test on the devices in the stores, too. Sometimes you have to hustle.

8. Because Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are already optimized for mobile, would it be more advantageous for small businesses to use them and opt out of having an additional mobile Web?

GH: You'd be leaving money on the table, unfortunately. If any consumer clicks off of any one of those social sites to visit your businesses site, they'll find themselves with a non-mobile friendly experience.

You can't control how your customers visit your site. So you need to make sure your site is mobile-friendly. You can't rely on the social networking sites, because the customer will still end up on your site at some point.

9. Would you recommend abandoning a traditional website for a mobile website, because of the trending toward mobile access?

GH: No. Your customers decide how they visit your site. You want to make sure they have the best experience, no matter what devices they use. Although Internet usage is going to shift more mobile, you can't neglect or forget about those interested in visiting your business from the Web.

10. We use forms for registration and need to have the complete form filled in. What is your suggestion for these forms?

GH: I'd first ask, "How long are the forms?" And then, "What are they registering for? Is there value in completing the registration? Do I get something immediately?"

Ultimately, consumers will fill out forms from their mobile devices, but typically not long ones. The sweet spot I've seen over the last few years has been three to five fields, tops.



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