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Why Your Website Should Be Mobile-Friendly

By Christopher Walljasper for America's Backbone Weekly
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If a retail business has an unwelcoming, rundown fašade, the first impression of the company is likely going to turn off and turn away potential customers. A website is no different, and increasingly, a clean, well-maintained site that can give consumers key information about a retail business on a phone or a tablet is the key to any small business' growth. Luke Wroblewski, author of Mobile First, says that almost 1.5 million smartphones are being activated every day. That's more than four times the number of people being born every day in the world.

According to a survey by Google, 72 percent of consumers want a mobile-friendly site that will allow them to search the company before they walk in the front door. When designing or updating your website, keep these factors in mind to make it easier for your customers to learn about your business on their mobile devices:

Utilize responsive design

A website's design is often an afterthought in a small-business owner's list of things to do, and the idea of creating a separate mobile site can seem even more daunting when there are two sites that need updating. A small business does not have to break the bank to make a site mobile-friendly though. Most free or low-cost content management systems (CMS) now include templates that are responsive to the type of device that the website is being viewed on, which means it will create a simplified version of the site for tablet and phone viewing.

Think about the consumer's needs

If your company already has a site, building a parallel site for mobile users may be the way to go. When designing a mobile-friendly site for your small business, consider the core needs of a consumer. Are they going to the site to purchase a product or just to learn about the services offered at the brick-and-mortar store?

If information is the key, Search Engine Watch, a company that studies consumer Web usage, says that small businesses should put that crucial information first. The "about" page is often tucked away on a traditional website, but that is the information that customers need fast. Short and sweet is the key as well -- minimizing the need for scrolling will lead to greater customer satisfaction. A phone number and email should be easily found on the first page they see, and contact points should be links that take a smartphone user directly to their email or phone dialer.

Keep the design simple

Search Engine Watch also says that big buttons and easy layouts are key to a mobile site, especially if the intention is to get the customer to buy a product or service from the site. An intuitive search function, big images of products and clearly marked prices are must-haves. If they have to scour the site for details, customers may move on to the next company.

Designing any website is about understanding customer needs. As mobile continues to redefine how customers use technology to connect with the companies they patronize, planning to reach customers through their smart device is the key to a business' survival and prosperity. Josh Byers, media specialist at Copyblogger Media, a business marketing company, says, "If your business is not utilizing (or preparing to utilize) a mobile strategy that works, you can expect a swift demise into obscurity."

The old real-estate adage says that success isall about "location, location, location," but in the digital age, that locationmay be in your customers' pockets, on their smartphones.

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Christopher Walljasper is a Chicago-based freelance writer. He has experience in the mobile technology world and enjoys exploring the ever-changing tech landscape. When he?s not writing, he enjoys spending time with his wife, Annie, daughter, Lucy, and basset hound, Ellie.

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