"Mobile-friendly" refers to a site that displays accurately when viewed both on your desktop/laptop computer and a mobile device. While it will appear smaller on a phone, and may not work perfectly on a touchscreen tablet, a mobile-friendly website will be perfectly functional. Many developers view mobile-friendly as a "best practice" for all website developments. As you start building your mobile-friendly website, consider how you can implement the following features:
- Tappable phone numbers, physical addresses or email addresses that can trigger a call, directions or email messages from your mobile device with one simple touch.
- Slideshows or image rotators that function without Adobe Flash support, as some devices—like Apple's—don't support Flash.
- Small image sizes to allow for fast loading over mobile connections.
A mobile-optimized site is a far more advanced website. Mobile-optimized means that the site has been specifically formatted for smartphone or tablet devices. Larger navigation buttons, reformatted content and differently optimized images appear when the user is on an iPhone, Android or other mobile device.
Reformatting allows the website to easily engage a large mobile audience when key buying decisions come up. More and more consumers are turning to their mobile devices right in the store. Having a website developed that allows users to easily navigate and engage from the small screens of their handhelds means reaching a decision faster.
Think about the following formatting elements when considering a mobile-optimized site:
- "Thumb-friendly" simplified navigation with large touchpoints, especially for critical contact information.
- Reduced graphics that don't interrupt the appearance of critical information, such as product listings or paid content.
- Avoid making users type unless it is absolutely necessary.
- Give users the option to view the desktop version of your site.
Responsive design is a method of developing a site that is completely flexible, regardless of device. Rather than detecting a specific browser type or device type, the website automatically orients itself based on the screen size of the device. A combination of reformatting and re-optimizing the site as a whole gives a practical flexibility beyond imagination. Below you will find some key advantages to taking a responsive design approach:
Mobile is going to continue to grow as will its use as a way for brands to interact with their customers. However, the mobile device is far more personal than your email inbox. Fortunately, there are ways to implement a mobile marketing strategy that delivers relevant information that your customers want to receive. By understanding how your customers want to engage with you will help you build loyalty and in turn, help you see faster returns on your marketing investment.
Greg is a 12-year mobile industry veteran and vice president of mobile solutions at Hipcricket, Inc., where he's responsible for the vision and strategy to deliver consumer experiences that increase mobile engagement and lifetime value across mobile messaging and advertising, mobile websites, social media and branded apps