Tips for Building a Smartphone-Friendly Website

kathryn by Kathryn Hawkins on July 13, 2011
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Thanks to the popularity of the iPhone and its ilk, smartphone usage is booming. As of December 2010, 63.2 million Americans were using smartphones—up 60 percent from the year before. The analyst group IDC predicts that the market will grow by nearly another 50 percent this year alone.

That means people are likely to spend plenty of time browsing the web, and even making online purchases, from their phones and other mobile devices. If you want them to start spending time on your company’s site, you’ll need to make sure that your business’ web presence meshes with the mobile experience. Here are a few tips for making your site smartphone-friendly.

  • Design for a 340 x 240 pixel screen size. Go any wider, and mobile viewers will need to scroll sideways or zoom out to view the full site.
  • Take advantage of web programs that will optimize your site for mobile browsers. If your site runs on WordPress, use the free plugin WPTouch to optimize your site for mobile platforms. Another option, Mobify, works with WordPress, Drupal, and ExpressionEngine sites, though it requires some coding knowledge, so you may need to get a web developer on board to help with the conversion process.
  • Speed up your loading time. Many people viewing web pages on mobile devices aren’t on high-speed internet connections, so they’ll close a page if it’s not loading fast enough for them. Cut down their waiting time by upgrading your web hosting and reducing your image file sizes.
  • Cut out the Flash. iPhones and other Apple mobile browsers don’t support Adobe Flash, so your cool graphics will simply result in an ugly gray box. If Flash is a central focus of your business’ website and you don’t want to ditch it, you may need to create a streamlined, mobile-only version.
  • Simplify the navigation. Fancy graphics as navigation buttons may look cool, but they can be confusing to viewers, particularly if they’re looking at your site on a small screen. Instead of getting design-heavy, stick with clearly-worded menu items instead.
  • Keep your web copy short and to the point. People browsing your site on mobile devices may find it hard to read long passages of text. If you want them to pay attention to what you’re saying, make sure it’s short and snappy.
kathryn

Kathryn Hawkins is a business writer for Intuit and is passionate about solving small business problems.

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