Technology is always changing, and websites change with it. One of the emerging technologies that website owners must be aware of, especially now with the emergence of Apple’s iPhone, is mobile surfing.
Most regular websites that you find on the World Wide Web are not optimized for mobile phones and other associated devices, and the procedure of optimizing these websites is more than just a one-step process.
So why go mobile? Mobile users are growing at a rapid pace, and in doing so they are becoming a huge market that you could potentially be missing out on. Mobile users are capable of participating in many of the same activities that happen everyday on the “traditional” internet such as research, viewing multimedia, and even in some cases, commerce.
While the intricacies of making your website fully ready to go mobile would take a while to sift through, here are a couple initial steps you can take if you do decide to go mobile:
Register a .mobi domain name.
The .mobi domain name is not required to make an optimized mobile site, but it can be a good idea. You will likely have to make adjustments to the pages on your regular website in some way and post those adjusted pages elsewhere, and a new .mobi domain is a good place to make these changes public. The .mobi suffix is somewhat new, but it is quickly becoming popular with .mobi domain names selling for inordinate amounts of money already.
Simplify your website.
For mobile purposes, stating the words “simplify your website” is really an oversimplification, no pun intended. The process of simplifying your website for mobile phones is one that can be daunting and take a lot of time. There are some resources that can help make your website mobile-ready. Ready.mobi is an outstanding resource to test your website’s mobile surfing compliance, whether you have actually created your mobile website or not. Google Mobile Optimizer helps to simplify your design, or the design of any website for that matter, if you need help while searching on a mobile device. The actual process of simplifying your website includes making your page file sizes smaller, eliminating menus that are difficult to navigate for mobile users, getting rid of large graphics, and eradicating pop-ups within your page, as explained quite thoroughly in the Mobile Web Best Practices 1.0 Basic Guidelines. It is also a good idea to prevent your website from being spidered by browsers so that search engines such as Google don’t see duplicate content and penalize you for it.
Unfortunately, the fact is that various mobile devices will view web pages differently, even if the pages are optimized for going mobile. In the process of optimizing your website for going mobile, the goal is to make a website that looks sufficient on each device. This goal is hardly different than making sure that your real website looks good on Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari, Opera, etc., on the traditional internet.
It is important to keep in mind that mobile website optimization is not right for every website at this point. Plenty of websites provide little value in a mobile format. That is certainly not a knock on these websites. As the technology in mobile devices evolves and improves, more websites will find it necessary from a usability and financial standpoint to make the jump to true mobile accessibility.
Seth Trachtman is a Web Marketing Account Manager for The Net Impact Web Design St. Louis.