A mobile site cannot be as large as a traditional website. Okay, not exactly a startling insight. But what is surprising is how few businesses actually think through the implications of that fact.

So how do you figure out what belongs on your mobile site and what doesn’t?

The very best place to start is your customers and users. Realistically, what is their intent when they access your mobile site? In general, most mobile users are more interested in direct, easy-to-access information and less concerned about being entertained.

At your traditional website, great and entertaining content is a must. On your mobile site, users are more likely to be looking “for just the facts, ma’am”.

So let’s take the example of a restaurant. What are the ‘must-haves’ on a mobile site? First, let’s help the mobile user find you… make this as prominent and easy to use as possible. It is far and away the number one reason people will use your mobile site. For multiple location businesses, this involves a ‘Store Locator’ feature. For a single location business, this means easy access to your address, directions, and mobile mapping.

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Let’s stick with the restaurant example… what would be the next most popular information for your mobile website users? The menu. Again, simplicity and accessibility are key. A good supplement to the menu function would be nutritional and allergy information, loyalty program, and photos to share the amazing atmosphere at your restaurant.

Not in the restaurant business? It is a relatively simple exercise to put it in terms of the context of your own business. Locator functions will be a top priority for almost every B2C (and some B2Bs). What next? If you’re, say, a bookstore, what would be the equivalent of a menu? List the top selling books from the past week. Have another place listing upcoming events. It’s all about placing a priority on providing quick, practical information that your customer cares about first.

After covering the basics, how about some fun for your users? The ability to share their own photos, engage with you on social media, join your loyalty program are a few of the best categories for doing just that. This same principle can be applied to your mobile app for a consistent experience for your customers. Not to mention that mobile apps allow you the ability to send free and unlimited push notifications to your customers. It’s a great way to provide timely and valuable messages about happy hour specials, new products, upcoming events and more.

What’s the Deal?

There is one other aspect of a mobile site that every business should think through. What’s your deal, coupon, or special you can offer mobile users? Besides location, and other quick, practical information, users are looking for fun, easy incentives to do business with you. It is very much in your financial interest not to disappoint them.

If you’ll forgive me for putting it this way, it is again time to think small. Don’t use your mobile site for any complicated promotion or complicated redemption procedure. More direct is better. Something like, “Show us this on your mobile screen and receive 10% off of X product.” or “Purchase four entrees and receive a free appetizer.” And don’t forget that QR codes can be easily integrated into a coupon or discount marketing campaign as well.

Other Important Considerations

Technical

The technical aspects of a mobile site are often trickier than with a full-blown site. Mobile sites require very fast load times, which means code must be used sparingly. The other big issue with mobile is the variety of screen sizes and browsers. It is important to make your mobile site responsive so it’s functional across many different devices and platforms.

It is also crucial to be looking ahead. What is coming in the next 6 months in terms of new platforms or devices that you need to be reacting to now? Strike a balance here: you don’t want to be chasing down every hyped-up possibility but you want to be thoughtful about where mobile might go next and how it will affect your mobile site architecture and design.

Testing

Bounce rates for mobile sites are usually higher than at traditional sites. To a degree, that can be chalked up to the inherent differences between the two. But there are ways to minimize bounces, and that involves measuring and testing, and then testing and measuring! First determine where your bounce rates are highest on your mobile site and try and make sense of why. Try something different and see what it does to your bounce rate. If you can’t afford or don’t want to pay for independent user tests, ask some of your staff to use the site as a customer would. Where do they get hung up? What can’t they figure out? That’s what you change. Test and measure!

The Mobile Site Version of This Article…

Now, let’s shrink this article down to mobile size.

1. Simple is Best. Go to any 10 mobile websites. You can bet at least 50% of them will frustrate you. Be different by keeping focused on clean design that makes sense for a smaller screen.

2. Be Practical! What is your typical customer visiting your MOBILE site for? Give them that first.

3. Don’t Ignore Technical Considerations. Keep in mind that if you don’t select the right partner or service provider the technical aspects of mobile can become tricky and require special attention.

4. For Best Results, Test. Know your bounce rates. Figure out why. Try something to improve it. Test again.

And lastly, just this once, THINK SMALL!

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