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Business Unplugged™
This blog features Carol Roth's tough love on business and entrepreneurship, as well as insights from Carol's community of contributors.

Is Your Website Ready for Smartphones and Tablets?

Written By: Mark E. Goodman | No Comments

Modern workingYour website provides a lasting impression of your business. A dated online presence suggests a business that is behind the times. The profusion of smartphones and tablets has initiated changes in how websites are displayed and what kind of content is required. Increasingly, users are expecting your site to have less text, and more pictures and videos. And it will need to be “mobile friendly.”

Check out your website on your smartphone and/or tablet. What do you think? Would you be happy as a viewer?

Also, PCs, tablets, and smartphones have different usage patterns. While a tablet may look and feel like a smartphone, in many ways its viewing patterns are closer to a PC’s.

Look at one or two of your favorite sites. How are they different from yours?

Want to know what Google thinks of your website?

Put a few pages into this link. It’s likely you will be surprised – and not very happy. https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/mobile-friendly/. The vast majority of pages may come back as not being mobile friendly.

With more than a third of Internet content coming from mobile devices, it’s time to take another look at your website.

How to make your online presence more mobile friendly.

Look at your content and layout. Many websites were designed as a version of a business brochure. They have lots of text, a few pictures, and an assumption that you start at the home page, read it through, and end up at a “Contact Us” page. This is not what actually happens.

For most information sites, only a third of the people start on the home page. The average viewer looks at about 2.5 pages per visit. So, you have to assume that each page is a “start” page, and the next page can be any other page on your site.

Here are a few tips:

  • Make it eye friendly. Add a picture or two to capture attention – let the picture tell the story; leave only the text that enhances the picture(s).
  • Make it finger friendly. Link to videos. For key links, put an exaggerated click location (a box or a circle) or a “click here” notation.
  • Make it easy to contact you. Add a contact box with your email address and phone number on every page that makes sense.

If your volume is shifting mostly to tablets, making the changes suggested above may handle many user issues. However, these may not solve the search problem and allow you to “pass” the Google test.

Consider these changes for smartphone traffic.

If you are seeing a large shift to smartphones, there are a couple more changes to consider:

  • Think about moving to a mobile optimized or responsive site. These sites adjust to the size of the screen accessing the content.
  • Work with a web professional. Choose a professional who understands search engines like Google, Bing, etc., and their requirements.
  • Plan to simplify your presentation. Understand the basic questions your viewer is asking and focus on answering these.
  • Eliminate reliance on links to PDFs and downloads. As a restaurant, rather than asking viewers to download a menu to understand what you serve, create a specialties page with your top five items. A specialties page can give the viewer information around what you serve, how much it costs, and some insights into your food preparation techniques.
  • Consider an app or an online booking service like OpenTable. They understand how to create an excellent user experience.

Know your numbers.

How much of your traffic is coming from PCs, tablets, and smartphones? For most information sites, the majority of traffic is still coming from PCs.

Also, you need to understand how much of your website traffic is coming from search. You can get these numbers from Google Analytics, which is available at no charge. If you are not regularly reviewing these numbers, talk to your web expert.

If your website is more than two years old, it’s time for an update. If tablet and smartphone use is significant, it is important to stop and rethink your content creation and user interactions. A new website is probably in order.

If most of your traffic is still from PCs, you may not need a rebuild, but you should certainly consider a remodel. The remodel should include more pictures, videos, and easier user interaction.

When was that last time you looked at your numbers? Updated your website? Revisited your Internet strategy? 

Article written by
Mark Goodman is the President & CEO of e-Conversation Solutions. He is also past workshop chair at SCORE Chicago. Prior to founding e-Conversation, Mark held numerous positions as a technology executive, including Director of Business Development at Motorola, where he was the first business manager in the cell phone group. In addition to Motorola, Mark was an executive for a Silicon Valley company and a film buyer for General Cinema Theatres. Mark holds an MBA from Boston University and an MA in radio/TV/film from Northwestern University.