Why You Should Mobile Optimize Your Website

In this straightforward web design, the content and columns have been shifted to fit various screens. The content is all there, but prioritized for each format.

It’s widely understood that “mobile web” refers to people accessing information on browsers through their smartphone and/or tablets. It’s also a safe assumption that you yourself are a consumer of information on the mobile web when you consider that of the more than 7 billion people in the world, 77 percent own a mobile device. This leads to the conclusion that your customers are looking for information about your products and operation by using their mobile devices.

With that in mind, have you spent any time thinking about what your website looks like on a mobile device? Do you know how customers and potential customers find information about you on their various mobile devices? Many companies have not taken this time to make sure that their mobile presence is up to the task.

If you are thinking, “Yes, I have a mobile website. When I go to my URL on my phone, there it is. I see my site, just like I would from my computer,” you might want to take a moment to read on and see why an exact replica of your desktop site may not be the best way to go.

Understanding Your Mobile Visitors

James Williamson, senior author for the online tutorial site Lynda.com, makes the point that when designing for the mobile web, we are making too many assumptions on exactly what a mobile user is. Bad assumptions about mobile:
• Mobile connections are slow
• People don’t want to see your full site on a mobile device
• People accessing mobile sites are always on the go

These assumptions serve only to limit our thinking about what people want to get out of our sites on mobile devices and lead us to miss important opportunities.

For instance, as I write this article, I am using my tablet for research, sitting at my desk (not mobile at all), with a strong internet connection, and I fully expect to have access to all content on the sites I visit that I would if I was on my computer. Williamson further contends that the only assumption we can make about mobile users is that they are always connected. It’s as simple as that. Your customers can always access information about you — from anywhere, at any time, and from any device.

One simple understanding, however, opens up an entire can of worms when it comes to achieving a superior mobile presence for your customers. Creating a successful mobile website for your company needs to be an integral part of your overall user experience strategy. It can’t just be an afterthought, or worse, a scaled down version of your site squeezed onto a mobile device.

Your Mobile Website Strategy

To create a mobile web that is intentional and reflects your commitment to user experience, there are two concepts you need to embrace and understand; responsive web design and content strategy. When deployed in concert, these two fields work together to give you a web presence that is adaptive, accessible and device-appropriate. In other words, your site will be a good experience for all visitors; regardless of where they are when they view it, and what device they are employing to interact with it.

Responsive web design, a term coined by professional web-designer Ethan Marcotte, refers to three specific techniques for making sites that adapt well across many browser environments.
1. Fluid layouts
2. Flexible images and other media objects
3. Media queries

Even if you have hired a professional web designer and developer (highly recommended), you will benefit greatly from an understanding of what’s at work behind the scenes. You are not simply creating three static visual designs (smartphone, tablet, desktop) but creating a fluid design that is coded in a way that it understands which device is calling up the content and responds accordingly.

Content strategy refers to the planning, development and management of content. This content can be written, or it can be a host of other media including video, webinars or images. Content strategy has become increasingly critical for businesses (both consumer-facing and business-to-business), as customers have changed the way they buy. Customers don’t want to be sold to, they want to do their own research, get the information they find valuable, and then they will let us know when they are ready to buy. In other words, the traditional marketing and sales funnel no longer applies. Which means that we need to make sure the technological advances are working in our favor and not against us, making your mobile web content decisions so much more important.

For instance, take this example above, of a very straightforward web layout, and look at how the content and columns have been shifted to fit various screen sizes. The content is all there. We have not made assumptions about what a phone user will want to see vs. someone on a tablet or desktop, but we have prioritized the content and allowed for ways for people to dig deeper if they want more information.

The move from desktop to tablet has a few subtle differences, like the placement of the navigation and some of the explanatory text, but that attention to detail makes a difference in how you take in the site on the smaller screen. Then when you move to the smartphone, the columns are all condensed to one, but they still have all of the same information available. They have also collapsed the menu to make it friendlier on the eyes, as well as more conducive to the smaller touchscreen navigation.

If you’re looking for additional design inspiration, Mobify.com has published some of their favorite responsive sites to help get your creative juices flowing.

Steps You Need To Take Toward Mobile

If you don’t have a website at all — or are ready and willing to do a complete redesign — your-job of creating a mobile website is actually easier. Sounds a bit counter-intuitive, I know, but many web experts agree that designing for the smallest screen first and growing from there is the smartest way to approach responsive web sites. The reasoning is that this allows you (forces you) to make your toughest decisions up front. (Is our company description most important, or do people really need our phone number and address first?) Those decisions will then pave the way for a superior content map for your larger screen layouts, as well.

  1. Inventory all of the content that needs to go on your site
  2. Categorize it
  3. Prioritize it

Admittedly, most of us have to work backwards, as we already have our desktop versions out there and now it’s time to make it responsive. This means we already have our initial designs, we already have a lot of content and we have already coded the site. This gets a little harder, but not impossible. You just need to go in to the project with an open mind and be willing to re-think some previously made decisions.

Confession Time

This is hard. I know it is not a project that is easy to tackle because even as I sit here and write this article as a marketing and user experience practitioner, I have to admit that sometimes other tricky business decisions get in the way. Like timing and resources.

Here’s my confession: ePlantSource does not have a good mobile presence. Our website on a smartphone or tablet leaves a lot to be desired.

Awhile back, we made the decision to focus on desktop users first and then work backwards. I remember the day we made this decision clearly and we had our reasons, some of them good ones some of them slightly more questionable. But that does not erase the fact that now we have some work to do to get our mobile viewing experience to match the very high standards that we set for our desktop site experience.

There are a lot of technical considerations to keep in mind and the field of responsive web design is constantly evolving, as it is a very young one. I did not go into all of the technical nitty gritty here, but I highly recommend the tutorials on Lynda.com if you are interested in diving deeper into the techie side of mobile website design and implementation. For other design considerations, I turn regularly to SmashingMagazine.com and Alistapart.com to keep an eye on what’s coming down the road.

Make the commitment to step outside of what your site is today and really look at it objectively to decide how your mobile strategy needs to be implemented. Then take the time to sit down with the right team (I’d recommend starting with a web designer, web developer, your content experts, your marketing team and executive leadership) and make it a priority for your company to have a smart mobile web presence.

Topics: ,

Leave a Reply

More From Business Management...

April 27, 2016

Use Your Data To Make Smarter Marketing Decisions

Learn which marketing metrics are important to your business, measure successes, and learn where changes are needed.

Read More

April 26, 2016

“Bee-Friendly” Labels Matter To Plant Consumers, According To Study

Research at Michigan State University shows ornamental plant buyers understand and respond to bee-friendly production practices.

Read More
University of Florida Online Greenhouse Training Courses

April 25, 2016

University of Florida Offering Online Training Courses For Greenhouse Growers

There will be five courses offered, with the first starting on May 30. Courses are available in both English and Spanish and range from beginner level to advanced education.

Read More
Latest Stories

April 27, 2016

Use Your Data To Make Smarter Marketing Decisions

Learn which marketing metrics are important to your business, measure successes, and learn where changes are needed.

Read More

April 26, 2016

“Bee-Friendly” Labels Matter To Plant Consumers, Accord…

Research at Michigan State University shows ornamental plant buyers understand and respond to bee-friendly production practices.

Read More
University of Florida Online Greenhouse Training Courses

April 25, 2016

University of Florida Offering Online Training Courses …

There will be five courses offered, with the first starting on May 30. Courses are available in both English and Spanish and range from beginner level to advanced education.

Read More

April 24, 2016

9 Business Predictions Smart Brands Should Pay Attentio…

Andreas von der Heydt, Director of Kindle at Amazon, recently predicted what smart businesses will do in 2016 to strengthen their brands and promote their products.

Read More
Lin Schmale 1996

April 23, 2016

SAF’s Lin Schmale Offers Lessons From An Industry…

Schmale represented the floriculture industry on Capitol Hill for more than 20 years. The advocate has recently retired, and shares some valuable insights from her career.

Read More
Scott Schaefer Aris CEO

April 22, 2016

New Aris CEO Scott Schaefer Looks Forward To Dealing Wi…

Schaefer, who has been with Aris for 15 years, grew up working at his family’s greenhouse operation in Illinois.

Read More
Krause Berry Farms Farm To Table Dinner

April 20, 2016

What The Floriculture Industry Can Learn From Farm Mark…

Although we have a lot in common with the produce industry, there is much we can learn from one another.

Read More
Janeen Wright

April 18, 2016

Three Lessons From A Master Greenhouse Vegetable Grower

Three lessons from greenhouse vegetable grower Casey Houweling that you can apply to your business.

Read More
Costa Farms Container Ideas E-Book

April 12, 2016

Costa Farms Targets Consumers With New Container Garden…

The electronic book offers tips on container selection, design, and plant care for millennials looking to grow in small spaces.

Read More
An Edible Evening At Stephen F Austin

April 11, 2016

How The Greenhouse Industry Can Propagate Gardeners The…

Jared Barnes at Stephen F. Austin University says we are the experts at propagating plants. That’s knowledge we can put to good use to envision how to attract new gardeners and future horticulturists to the industry.

Read More
Sanitation programs are essential to preventing and removing food safety concerns.

April 7, 2016

USDA Launches GroupGAP Program For Fruit And Vegetable …

The new certification program is designed to help small and mid-size growers, including greenhouse vegetable producers, comply with new food safety regulations.

Read More
Tropical Fruit Tree Selection (Hopkins Tropical Fruit Nursery)

April 7, 2016

University Of Florida Research Shows Consumers Value Lo…

Compared to conventional plants, consumers reported a higher purchasing likelihood for certified organic or organically produced fruit plants.

Read More
Congressional Action Days 2016

April 5, 2016

Floral Industry Leaders Make Progress And (In Some Case…

Nearly 90 floral industry members gathered in the nation’s capital in March to meet with lawmakers in the annual event coordinated by the Society of American Florists.

Read More
Casey Houweling, owner of Houweling's Tomatoes

April 4, 2016

Houweling’s Tomatoes Grows Produce With Mastery Under G…

Houweling’s Tomatoes, winner of Greenhouse Grower’s Excellence in Vegetable Production award for 2015, exceeds industry standards for locally grown produce while pioneering innovative technologies that improve sustainability.

Read More
Student Video Horticulture Education

April 2, 2016

Use Videos Featuring Your Millennial Employees To Recru…

Your Millennial employees may be the best spokespeople you have for your business. Why not encourage them to make a 30-second video talking about why they got into horticulture?

Read More
Random Acts Of Flowers

March 31, 2016

The Floriculture Industry Needs A Unified Message To Pr…

Seeing the sneak preview of the new varieties that will be presented at California Spring Trials (CAST) spurs a visceral reaction in me. I’m giddy and excited about these gorgeous plants, having taken in some of their beauty and excellent performance already at Costa Farms’ Season Premier. I’m excited to travel to Spring Trials and that spring is coming, and I’m ready to dig in and get gardening. I’m guessing many of you feel the same way. And it’s likely that consumers do, too. Nearly a year ago, upon returning from California Spring Trials, I lamented the absence of ideas translated from CAST to retail. The beautiful displays, the breathtaking combinations, the clever marketing — somehow, all of that effort and enthusiasm focused on business-to-business promotion is not being funneled effectively to the consumer. As an industry, we are not good at working together to market our products in a clear, […]

Read More
Sakata Seed America President David Armstrong

March 30, 2016

Sakata Signs Agreement With Indonesian Government To Co…

This week, Sakata Seed Corp. announced internationally that it has signed an agreement with the Republic of Indonesia to cooperate in the further development and production of its line of SunPatiens interspecific hybrid impatiens, based on the principles of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). Under an agreement based on the CBD, Sakata Seed has worked with the Indonesian government since the early 2000s to identify the origin of the native germplasm collected in Indonesia to develop SunPatiens, and the two parties have agreed on how the indigenous genetic resources will be used for the further development of SunPatiens. There are currently only a few cases in the world of such an agreement, based on the CBD in the category of horticultural plants, made between a resource-rich country and a commercial seed company. Greenhouse Grower contacted Sakata Seed CEO David Armstrong to provide context about this agreement, what it means […]

Read More
One symptom of Botrytis blight is gray, fuzzy sporulation on foliage and flowers, similar to that shown on the flower of this hibiscus

March 25, 2016

American Floral Endowment Will Fund Research Projects A…

AFE’s primary research funding priorities cover everything from pest control to production management. Funding applications are due June 1.

Read More
[gravityform id="35" title="false" description="false"]