Thou Shalt Go Mobile With Thy Website (Here’s how to do it quickly)

by 5 10/12/2011

In the annals of marketing history, there are a few basic commandments that we all must obey.

  • Don’t try to sell ice cubes to an Eskimo
  • Don’t post your billboard in the middle of a barren desert
  • And (newly carved in stone tablets) don’t link your mobile banner advertisement to a website that’s not mobile friendly

I stumble across sinful mobile banners almost daily.

Case in point…

An architectural firm that runs mobile banners in the local business journal’s iPhone application. The banner links to the firm’s website, which is not optimized for mobile viewing. In fact, most of the front page content is a Flash slide show.

Of course, when Steve Jobs created iOS, he declared: “Thou shalt not support Flash,” and it was so.

Click on the architectural firm’s mobile banner on iPhone or iPad and you land on a page with a logo, a link menu, and a big, empty white space where that Flash slide show is supposed to be. Even if the slide show appeared, the site would be illegible – a 1,000-pixel monster designed for 15-inch or larger monitors, shrunken into a 320-pixel, three-inch-wide space.

I hope they didn’t pay much for that banner ad.

So what’s this poor architectural firm to do?

Two options:

  1. Dump the banner ad
  2. Go mobile

I vote for #2.

Like it or not, your prospects and clients are going mobile.

Mobile search and mobile web browsing rates have accelerated dramatically this year and will continue to do so. Huge percentages of people who connect with you online will do so on a mobile device.

You have no choice. You need mobile-friendly web content.

As I share that message with clients and prospects, I invariably get pushback. “Easier said than done,” they say. We don’t have the time or budget to make our site mobile-friendly.

Many businesses take the all-or-nothing approach to developing a mobile website. “We can’t go mobile without making our entire site mobile,” they say. This approach usually leads to a lot of nothing because they’re paralyzed with the prospect of doing it all.

But you can establish a mobile web presence with less effort than you may think.

Here’s how:

  • Create mobile-friendly landing pages. If you run banner ads or paid search campaigns, you should link to landing pages that are mobile-friendly. That should be no problem because a landing page should have a simple, clean design (usually one column without a lot of clutter) and just some well-written copy with a call to action, perhaps an embedded video (keep it 320 pixels wide or smaller) and a simple web form. The architectural firm could acquire a lot of leads if it linked to such a page from its mobile banner.
  • Build a temporary mobile-friendly site with just three or four pages. You don’t have to mobilize your entire 47-page website today. Just build a simple front page and a few interior pages with links. The rest can follow.
  • Add code to your homepage to detect mobile devices and redirect them to your mobile pages. There are a variety of ways to do this, including javascript and server-side code. If someone visits your desktop homepage on a mobile device, they will automatically redirect to your mobile-friendly mini-site. That mobile site should always include a link back to the desktop site.

Mobilizing your entire site requires more effort. But there are ways to accelerate the process, especially if you use a content management system such as WordPress.

Many CMSs have built-in code or plugins to detect mobile devices and then render the pages with a mobile-friendly wrapper. You’ll have the same content and navigation with different looks for desktop and mobile – without duplicate effort.

In WordPress you simply select from one of several free plugins to mobilize your site, choose a mobile theme (also widely available with some free and others paid) and you have a mobile version in minutes. Results can vary, and may not be ideal. But if your goal is to go mobile quickly, it couldn’t be easier.

Just remember that while your customers are commanding that you go mobile, you don’t have to do it all at once.

And don’t forget: For Jobs’s sake, don’t include any Flash on your mobile web pages.

Image courtesy of jbtaylor

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About 

Tom Ruwitch is the founder and president of MarketVolt, an interactive marketing firm in St. Louis, MO that specializes in email marketing. He publishes interactive marketing tips on the MarketVolt blog.

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5 COMMENTS

Bryan

Great article, thanks for posting.

“There are a variety of ways to do this, including javascript and server-side code.”

It would be helpful if you posted links to examples.

Thanks!

October 12, 2011 Reply

    Russ Henneberry

    Hi Bryan, this is a good idea. We will look into doing a follow up post with some code examples.

    October 12, 2011 Reply

Demian Farnworth

Love the title. And thanks for the short cut on going mobile. Never looked forward to going mobile, but it seems like there are some simple stop gaps into you get the whole thing mobile. Thanks again!

October 13, 2011 Reply

Tom Ruwitch

Thanks for the comments. I agree, Bryan, that we should post some examples. I’ll work with Russ on making that happen.

October 21, 2011 Reply

Andrew Kazakoff

Zuznow.com is an option for existing desktop sites to convert/mobilize in 90% less time. Best suited for eCommerce, dynamic news sites, financial sites because our software will decrease your complicated development time and increase ROI and mobile conversions.

December 9, 2013 Reply


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