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...
Colorado State University 2015 Container Field Trials

November 29, 2015

2015 Colorado State University (Fort Collins, Colo.) Field Trials Results

See the 2015 field trials results (includes photo gallery) for Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colo.

Read More
Coleus 'Colorblaze Velveteen' (2015 University of Tennessee Field Trials)

November 28, 2015

2015 University of Tennessee Gardens (Knoxville and Jackson, Tenn.) Field Trials Results

See the 2015 field trials results (includes photo gallery) for University of Tennessee Gardens in Knoxville and Jackson, Tenn.

Read More
Feature Image Cob 700 (NewLux)

November 28, 2015

16 LED Lighting Solutions For Your Greenhouse

Narrowing in on the right LED lighting product often comes down to considering your specific crop needs and growing requirements to see what works best for your application. Here are 15 LED products to take into account when choosing the right fit for your greenhouse.

Read More
Latest Stories

November 25, 2015

Everything You Need To Know About the New England GROWS…

Held In Boston December 2-4, New England GROWS includes a comprehensive conference program, a trade show, and with six special programs that teach new skills and provide opportunities to network with colleagues.

Read More
Giving Tuesday

November 24, 2015

Giving Tuesday On December 1 Is An Opportunity For The …

Organizations such as American Floral Endowment and others are encouraging industry members to participate in the generous spirit of the holiday season.

Read More
Random Acts Of Flowers

November 24, 2015

Random Acts Of Flowers Partners With FTD And Pro Flower…

The organization, which recycles and repurposes flowers with a volunteer team that delivers bouquets to health care facilities across the country, made its 100,000th delivery to a health care facility in Chicago.

Read More

November 23, 2015

Content Marketing: Buzzword Or Here To Stay?

A solid content marketing strategy provides valuable information that educates your consumers and builds trust.

Read More
Gotham Greens Chicago Rooftop Greenhouse

November 23, 2015

Gotham Greens Expands Into Chicago With New Rooftop Gre…

Touted as the world’s largest rooftop greenhouse, the company’s fourth facility is its first outside of New York and will produce nearly 10 million annual crops of local, premium-quality leafy greens and herbs.

Read More
Craig Regelbrugge Feature Image

November 23, 2015

Pollinator Initiatives Offer Opportunities For Growers,…

During Greenhouse Grower's 2015 Top 100 Growers Breakfast at Cultivate'15, Craig Regelbrugge, AmericanHort senior vice president for industry advocacy and research, discussed where things stand on the regulatory front with neonicotinoids, and the new Grow Wise, Bee Smart initiative.

Read More

November 20, 2015

Lessons Learned From The California Drought

For those of us who live in the areas of the country that experienced harsh winters and significant rain over the past three seasons, water has become a nuisance in some cases, rather than a blessing. I can’t count the number of times I have wished to be able to send the snow or the rain to the West Coast, tied up with a big red bow. But think about how we’d feel if we didn’t have the snow and the rain, and we were experiencing the same dry conditions that the residents of California, Oregon and Washington have. With fresh water supplies dwindling in regions of the world, and the resistance of residents in states like Michigan to share water from the Great Lakes, it’s likely that the next civil or world war could be fought over our most precious resource. California’s epic drought should cause everyone to look […]

Read More
Kate Santos Operations Director Dummen Orange

November 18, 2015

Kate Santos Presents New Opportunities For The Horticul…

Dr. Kate Santos is a scientist, an artist, an advocate, a traveler, a dreamer, a visionary and a go-getter. Well-known for her work managing Dümmen Orange as Operations Director, Santos has taken on a new role as co-founder of Luxflora, an organization for women in horticulture.

Read More
MPS Sustainable Quality Logo

November 17, 2015

International Seminar Finds Broad-Based Need For Indust…

Achieving durability and maximum transparency is the responsibility of the entire floriculture supply chain, was the main conclusion of the seminar “Shaping the Future of Floriculture,” which took place on Monday 9 November on the S.S. Rotterdam in The Netherlands. With just under 300 participants, the seminar, organized by Union Fleurs, VGB and MPS, received plenty of attention.

Read More
AmericanHort logo

November 17, 2015

Urgent: Your Voice Is Needed On Two Important H-2B Bill…

Two bills concerning the H-2B program were recently introduced in the House and Senate (H.R.3918 and S.2225). Both bills address key issues that employers continue to face with the H-2B program. Please urge your members of Congress to support these bills.

Read More

November 17, 2015

AmericanHort Moving Forward In Search For New CEO

The association is planning to enlist the help of a consulting firm that will solicit candidates best suited to lead the organization and serve the horticulture industry.

Read More
Costa Farms Owners

November 17, 2015

Costa Farms Named As International Grower Of The Year F…

The International Association of Horticultural Producers has announced its finalists for the International Grower of the Year award, and the list includes Costa Farms of Miami, Fla.

Read More
Bell Nursery reaches out by supporting projects that help children connect with plants

November 12, 2015

Bell Nursery Is An Advocate For Outreach In Its Communi…

In a heavily regulated society, growing relationships is just as important to our industry as growing beautiful flowers. In environmentally sensitive states like Maryland, outreach has become mandatory, says Bell Nursery’s Gary Mangum.

Read More
Greenhouse Grower State of the Industry

November 11, 2015

Greenhouse Grower’s 2016 State of The In…

The State of the Industry report, which uses input from both growers and suppliers, is designed to help you understand this year's crop and sales trends, as well as the issues that keep you up at night.

Read More

November 11, 2015

Drought Has Triggered A New Normal For The California L…

California is now entering its fifth year of the worst drought in 500 years, with no end in sight. Weather experts predict the current drought will continue into 2016, despite optimistic projections of increased rain patterns this winter caused by a strong El Niño ocean current. Residents have fully bought in to the emergency, and embraced Governor Jerry Brown’s April 1 mandate to reduce water usage by 25 percent. Even after an above-average hot summer, the state has exceeded its goal, with a per-month average of 28 percent water reduction. Some of the ways homeowners are being encouraged to reduce their outdoor water use are concerning, but the good news is, drought-tolerant landscaping and awareness of water-wise gardening is on the rise. Cash For Grass Rebates Have Landowners Trading In Their Lawns When Governor Brown’s water reduction mandate was announced in April, consumer reaction was reflected in the sales at […]

Read More
GreenhouseConnect 2015 Grower Supplier Meeting

November 10, 2015

Growers And Suppliers Exchange Solutions And Ideas At G…

Held this year in San Diego at the Rancho Bernardo Inn, GreenhouseConnect 2015 brought growers and suppliers together in a setting designed to amplify networking and collaboration.

Read More
Minnesota Landscape Arboretum – University of Minnesota

November 6, 2015

The Top 10 Most Beautiful College Arboretums

The best arboretums provide an ideal location for the study and contemplation of nature. Check out Best College Reviews’ rankings of the nation’s most beautiful arboretums.

Read More
Dave Armstrong Sakata Holding Corp.

November 5, 2015

Why Lobbying For Plant Breeding Is Important

Horticulture industry members who take the opportunity to advise Washington legislators on agricultural policy will find a surprisingly receptive audience.

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