Rise and Shine

Don’t Do This (and Lose Business)

If your website isn’t fully accessible and viewable on mobile devices, you are missing out on more than half of your opportunities to interact with potential readers and customers.

In May of 2013, a PewInternet Research study found that 34% of cell internet users access websites mostly via their cell phones. By January of 2014, CNN declared that 55% of all internet access was mobile … and that percentage was still climbing sharply.

Any way you dice it, mobile is hot and it’s growing steadily. Here’s how to check on the mobile performance of your website, and what to do if the results aren’t as good as you would like.

How to test your website for mobile responsiveness

mobile-friendlyFirst step: Grab your smartphone, open a browser, and go to your site. Pretend you are seeing it for the first time. Is the information straight forward? Is your call to action (CTA) readily discernible and easy to do?

Next step: Go to MobileTest.me to emulate how your site looks on various mobile devices. (The beta version shows more recent phones, including the popular Galaxy Note 3.) Test on a range of devices and sizes — from iPhones to Androids and tablets.

How does your site look? If you were a first-time visitor, would you be impressed? Would you “buy”anything (if even an idea)? Is it easy to find your way around — to know where you are and what you can do there? Treat your mobile visitors as well as you do storefront and fixed-device visitors. They are equally valuable. And if you are own a restaurant (for instance) and a hungry potential customer is on the street searching for an eatery … you definitely want to be impressive online.

Website ways to get mobile-ready

Let’s concentrate on WordPress. It is the most popular content management system (CMS) in the world.  Moreover, most of the tips given here will apply across the board.

First, you should know there is a difference between the terms mobile-friendly, mobile-responsive, and mobile-ready. Let’s leave that debate to the tech-gurus, though. For our purposes, it really doesn’t matter. We simply want our websites to display accurately on mobile devices and be available for simple human interaction. Don’t worry about terminology right now.

Ways to make sure your website is optimized for mobile

1. Use a responsive WordPress theme: Just be sure to go with a vendor that has a track record of quality and support. StudioPress is the Writer’s Choice recommendation. They are top-drawer and reasonably priced. Their mobile-responsive themes automatically size themselves to fit the screen size of whatever device they are viewed on. Moreover, the layout lends itself to mobile viewing.

2. Use a WordPress plugin: If you like what you have and don’t want to switch to a different theme, you may be able to get by with a WordPress plugin. Browse through the plugin directory, paying attention to ratings and descriptions. There are plenty of options there. Remember to watch carefully for troublesome interactions with your other plugins after the install.

3. Use domain mapping to create a mobile page or pages: This one is for the technically-savvy. For an example of how it works, go to m.facebook.com. Your best bet here is to get current information directly from WordPress.

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Tips for your business site:

Learn from small business sites that are getting it right. Use your phone to browse the web … it can be a real eye-opener.

For instance, compare this site (via mobile) to this site. See how the first one is cut off and not really readable, but the second lines up beautifully?

Here’s another set: Check this one versus this one. Which small business would you say has it more together, when it comes to mobile? Notice the first probably invested considerably more on the build … but the second can be viewed and operated with ease on mobile.

Next (if you still haven’t completed step one) … check your website.

If you are in business online, mobile-ready isn’t an option; it’s a requirement. If you have been discouraging mobile device use in your brick and mortar store … stop it. Encourage mobile. Find a way to compete anyway. Your customers will appreciate it.

Offer specials via mobile and social. Start a newsletter. Be of value to them and they will be loyal to you. And be sure your mobile branding, PC branding, and in-store branding are in step.

Mobile is ready. Are you?

Featured images:

Don Sturgill

Don Sturgill lives and works in Oregon, USA. He loves growing a gardenand hiking the Cascades. He is a small business owner, trying to figureout how to leverage the power of the internet for mobile customers. Findout more about Don by visiting his home on the web: http://donsturgill.com. Google+ folks can come join the Circles at https://plus.google.com/+DonSturgillWriter/.

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