Why You Should Mobile Optimize Your Website

Starbucks
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 Management...
Company-Culture-at-AgBiome

January 22, 2018

Four Ways to Attract Employees With a New Approach to Company Culture

AgBiome is a participative, self-managed organization where no one has a boss. Instead, employees self-assemble as teams around organizational issues that need to be tackled, and internal experts help drive important decisions.

Read More
National-Floriculture-Forum-photo

January 21, 2018

2018 National Floriculture Forum Heads to Florida

The event takes place March 2-4, and will feature tours of local floriculture operations, as well as discussions from industry leaders.

Read More
Laura Drotleff

January 19, 2018

Greenhouse Industry’s Positive Momentum Looks Like it Will Carry Into 2018

Results from Greenhouse Grower's 2018 State of the Industry survey show that growers increased profits in 2017 by raising prices and paying more attention to their operational costs.

Read More
Latest Stories
Company-Culture-at-AgBiome

January 22, 2018

Four Ways to Attract Employees With a New Approach to C…

AgBiome is a participative, self-managed organization where no one has a boss. Instead, employees self-assemble as teams around organizational issues that need to be tackled, and internal experts help drive important decisions.

Read More
National-Floriculture-Forum-photo

January 21, 2018

2018 National Floriculture Forum Heads to Florida

The event takes place March 2-4, and will feature tours of local floriculture operations, as well as discussions from industry leaders.

Read More
Laura Drotleff

January 19, 2018

Greenhouse Industry’s Positive Momentum Looks Like it W…

Results from Greenhouse Grower's 2018 State of the Industry survey show that growers increased profits in 2017 by raising prices and paying more attention to their operational costs.

Read More
Max-Luthy-TPIE-keynote

January 18, 2018

TPIE Keynote Maxwell Luthy Turns Trends Into Opportunit…

Maxwell Luthy, Director of Trends & Insights for TrendWatching, showed how to turn trends into business prospects for attendees of the 2018 Tropical Plant International Expo keynote address.

Read More

January 16, 2018

AmericanHort Partnering with MPS on Sustainability Cert…

The alliance with MPS is designed to promote and expand best practices in the area of environmental sustainability, enabling the entire industry to perform better.

Read More
Thomas-Hermes

January 15, 2018

Thomas Hermes, Owner of Hermes Floral Company, Dies at …

Thomas J. Hermes, who owned and operated Hermes Floral Company in St. Paul and Becker, MN, with his brothers before retiring in 1998, died on January 5 at age 75.

Read More

January 15, 2018

Missouri Greenhouse Grower John Tomasovic Dies

The patriarch of Tomasovic Greenhouses & Nursery, Inc. in Des Peres, MO, was a legend in the plant industry, and widely involved in many associations.

Read More

January 15, 2018

Perennials Icon Louis Stacy Dies

The founder of the former Stacy's Greenhouses in York, SC, passed away on Wednesday, January 10, 2018.

Read More
Charlie Hall Feature Image

January 9, 2018

AmericanHort Launches New Video Series on Profit Margin…

This week, AmericanHort is kicking off a four-part video series that offers perspectives on managing profit margins from AmericanHort’s Chief Economist, Dr. Charlie Hall.

Read More
Tax-Money

January 9, 2018

What You Need to Know About the New Tax Bill

The United Fresh Produce Association, which represents the needs and interests of fruit and vegetable growers, recently updated its members on how the recent passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act might affect their businesses. Many of the insights provided by United Fresh also apply to greenhouse growers and nurseries.

Read More
Plants-and-Money

January 5, 2018

State of the Greenhouse Industry: Dealing With Your Ban…

Financial institutions are still reluctant to part with capital for agricultural and horticultural growth, despite economic indicators. Here’s why banks have raised the bar on lending.

Read More
Doug Cole, Owner of D.S. Cole Growers

January 4, 2018

D.S. Cole Growers Blazes Its Own Path to Growth

Known for its commitment to sustainability and innovation, this grower is one of the pioneering trailblazers changing the way horticulture does business.

Read More

December 31, 2017

Ag Exemption for New Trucking Regulation Still Under Re…

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s trucking electronic logging device mandate, which took effect on December 18, includes an Hours of Service exemption that may or may not apply to greenhouses and nurseries.

Read More
Nathan-Nordstedt-HRI-Champion-Scholarship

December 30, 2017

Horticultural Research Institute’s Latest Scholarship W…

Nathan Nordstedt credits his background in the industry for giving him an appreciation for the challenges within horticulture as well as leading him to keep the industry at the forefront of his career objectives.

Read More
Capitol-Building

December 28, 2017

State of the Greenhouse Industry: Regulatory Uncertaint…

With election dynamics, a new farm bill, and pending immigration reform in the mix, 2018 looks to be a wait-and-see year for the horticulture industry.

Read More
CareerUp

December 27, 2017

How CareerUp Helps Young Professionals Level-Up

The mission of CareerUp is to equip young professionals with the skills to maximize their career potential.

Read More
Hydrangea 'Berry White' (Bailey Nurseries)

December 27, 2017

Headlines That Continue to Resonate with Greenhouse Gro…

During the last 12 months, there has been plenty to talk about regarding the floriculture industry. Along the way, Greenhouse Growers editors and contributors have crafted and published hundreds articles covering breaking news, news analysis, production and business management tips, industry profiles, and more.

Read More
Nathan-Nordstedt-in-the-Greenhouse-feature

December 26, 2017

Richard T. Meister Scholarship Winner Encourages Indust…

This year’s scholarship winner says young people need experiences that challenge them and allow for creativity and innovation.

Read More