Everywhere you look you see people using Smart Phones, iPhones and a variety of handheld devices to surf the web. I’m sure there’s some fancy statistic I could look up that will tell me the percentage of browsing done by mobile device… and I’m sure as soon as I type it here, it will be outdated. Suffice it to say, there’s a lot of mobile browsing going on.
Of course, devices like the iPhone and iPad and the Samsung Galaxy S3 make it easy to browse the web, no matter where you happen to be. So chances are that your site has been visited recently by someone using a mobile device. If you do any kind of e-mail marketing (publish a newsletter or send regular broadcasts to your followers) or even if you post links to your content on Twitter or Facebook, people will find your site on their phones. I don’t know about you, but I have email delivered to my Blackberry and often click on the links in the emails to find out more information or view a special offer. Chances are pretty good that mobile browsers have come knocking on your virtual door.
That’s why I want to cover a few simple ways to make your site mobile friendly. I said simple — I’m not going to get too techie. If you need help with any of these steps, just drop me a line in the comments or on Twitter.
Testing Your Site
First thing’s first: you need to check if your site is mobile friendly. There’s an online validator that can test your site but I promised to keep these steps easy-peasy so the best thing to do is grab a mobile device and hit your own site. What does it look like? Does it take a long time to load? Are your pages and images formatted properly? Are links easy to see and follow? Just go through a few pages on your site and test things. Don’t have an iPhone or an iPad or any other mobile device? No worries! Just drop me a comment in the comment area below with your URL and I’ll browse it on my end.
WordPress Mobile Plugins
There are a growing number of WordPress plugins that will allow your WordPress blog to display much more easily on mobile devices. I am going to be re-launching my WordPress plugin review in the coming weeks (you’ve asked for it to come back) so I’ll review a few for you. If you have a WordPress blog or WordPress site, this is the fastest solution to turn your site into a mobile friendly site. I’m not going to recommend one plugin over another as each site is unique and mobile plugins are being released constantly. If you have a favorite mobile plugin, let me know in the comments area below. I’m always excited to discover a new plugin, especially if I know it has worked well for someone!
When I worked on the team of a hosted blogging platform, we had tossed around the idea of instantly creating mobile friendly versions of each member site on a subdomain. The solution was never implemented but it’s an idea that you can easily implement yourself. You can create a stripped-down version of your site that only has essential details like company info, directions, hours and a few other key pieces of information. You would install it on a subdomain like m.yourdomain.com or mobile.yourdomain.com. Then all that’s needed is to install some detection and redirect code on your site that detects when a visitor is using a mobile device and routes them to the subdomain rather than the main site. This is especially useful if your main site is graphic / video intensive and takes a long time to load on a mobile device.
Most hosting accounts allow subdomains so it should be an easy solution for you to implement.
So there you have it, three easy tips to make your site mobile friendly. Of course, you could always wait until the technology catches up on its own. Mobile devices and web publishing platforms get more and more advanced almost daily and soon it won’t be necessary to take any extra steps to make your site mobile compliant or mobile ready. But if you want to be ahead of the curve and give your potential and current customers the best mobile experience of your brand, product or service, then take a few minutes to go through the steps listed above to optimize your websites for mobile devices.