With the explosion of smart phone use globally, it has become a necessity for businesses to have a website that looks good and works well on desktop and laptop computers, as well as one that is mobile-friendly. This can sometimes mean building two separate websites—but it doesn't have to. Especially in the case of independent professionals, who may not want to spend their more limited resources on building multiple websites, creating a mobile-friendly site that does double-duty is the perfect solution.
But how can independent professionals go about creating such a website—especially if they already have a site up? We've put together a few tips to help.
1. Make use of plugins. If your site was built using Wordpress, Drupal, or Joomla, there are plugins available that create a reduced version of your website for smart phones. These plugins take the basic elements of your website and shape them into a mobile site that functions smoothly when a user accesses it via a mobile device, while still allowing your site to show up normally on computers.
2. Place important information strategically. To make the best use of the smaller real estate that a mobile device's screen has to offer, independent professionals should make sure that they have placed the key information they want visitors to take away from their site prominently. Highlighting your contact information and details about what exactly your business provides at the top of the site, in large print, will help your message stand out no matter how small the screen.
3. Keep loading time and cell phone limitations in mind. While large images and videos can make a website attractive on a desktop, those same features can spell disaster for mobile users trying to access it. Avoid videos that use Flash, since they won't work on cell phones. And try resizing images, or limiting yourself to only one or two, to speed up mobile loading times.
4. Make it easy to navigate. Keep in mind the fact that mobile users don't have a mouse—they've only got their fingers to navigate. For this reason, drop-down menus are not the best option for a mobile-friendly site. List-based menus are much easier for smart phone users to access. Make sure that the links you make clickable are also large enough and far enough apart from each other that fingers can tap them easily.
5. Stick to the basics. If you do decide to create a separate mobile website, keep in mind that it does not have to be - and in fact, should not be - the workhorse that your regular website is. Mobile users do not expect mobile sites to have all the same capabilities that their desktop counterparts have. Simplicity and ease of use are key. Just make sure that you don't lose the feel of your original site in translation - keep the same logos, colors, etc. for consistency.
It doesn't have to be difficult for independent professionals to make their websites mobile-friendly. By taking a few simple steps, they can create a site that is ideal for both desktop and mobile users.