According to Morgan Stanley, mobile web is going to be bigger than desktop web access by 2015. That means that if you’ve only got one version of your web site, the time to start thinking about mobile optimization is now.
Mobile users tend to surf the Internet for different purposes than desktop users. Knowing how to optimize for mobile starts with understanding the goals and desires of both user groups. In these tips for mobile optimization, we’ll look at what makes mobile users different than desktop users and examine a few keys for designing the best mobile site.
What makes mobile users tick
What makes mobile search so useful is that it offers smart device users the chance to get quick, helpful — and usually local — information. Consider all the reasons why your customers might visit your rental property’s mobile site:
- To find your nearby location(s)
- To get contact information
- To check out rental rates and specials
- To see your rental property’s community and units
Because smart phones and tablet computers have small screens, mobile users aren’t likely to do in-depth research on your property via mobile web. Mobile users visiting a rental property’s site have likely already done their in-depth research at home in front of a PC (with a normal size screen and a fast Internet connection). They’re also less likely to spend a lot of time on your mobile site because their web connection may be slow or they may pay high data rates for their smart phone plans.
Given all of these factors, it’s a good idea to assume that anyone surfing your mobile site just wants a few quick bits of information — perhaps because they are on their way to pay you a visit in-person.
If you want to see which parts of your web site mobile users visit most, you need only turn to your web analytics. Most programs will tell you how many mobile users visit your site per day or month and where they linger longest. Refer to this behavior when you’re deciding which areas of your site to optimize for mobile users.
Designing for mobile optimization
Now that you understand the intent of the mobile user, it’s time to think like a minimalist when it comes to the design and content of your mobile site. The following considerations are important for creating the most satisfying mobile search experience:
- Keep the homepage simple. Unlike your traditional web site, which should explain all the features and benefits of your property in depth, a mobile site should be more directed and limited in scope. Just the basic facts.
- Go lo-fi on design details. Another thing to keep in mind is that you’re designing a mobile site for a wide audience — and a wide range of technologies. Keep your design simple enough so that it loads quickly and works on a wide range of devices. That means no Flash applet and minimal use of images and video. (Do make your mobile site’s branding consistent with your traditional site, no matter how sparse the design details.)
- Test, test, test. Since a broad range of mobile users will visit your site, the best way to ensure a satisfying experience for as many users as possible to test a new mobile site on many types of devices.
As you can see, the key to mobile optimization is to keep things simple.
You’d never dream of letting the information on your traditional site get outdated, and the same goes for your mobile site. As technology is constantly changing, it’s necessary to update your mobile site regularly to ensure it always works on the latest and greatest mobile devices.