Go mobile! Check your website on an iPad and mobile phone. See the future!
March 03, 2011
2011: Have you looked at your website on a mobile phone and iPad (or a similar device)?
You are looking at the future! Your images are like superheroes working 24 hours a day, traveling at the speed of light. And now they are going mobile.
How does your website look on a display the size of a RITZ cracker? Could some small changes to your images or your website improve how it looks for mobile viewers?
Why do I even ask this question? Recently I got a new 3G Android phone. I can now surf the Internet anywhere, any time. It is fun and convenient to have mobile Internet access. Yet it still astounds me that many people are using their phones every minute of the day. Looking up a word, an idea, a picture, or a fact.
Last month I was stuck in traffic for over an hour....stopped, completely stopped. I had the chance to look around at all the other people in their cars. What was everyone doing? They were playing with their phones. Ironically, so many people were on their phones, the web traffic was also slowed down to a "crawl" (pun intended).
It won't be long before the whole world has "smart" phones, iPads, or other electronic devices all connected to the Internet. And they will be looking at everything including your website if you plan now.
So . . . how does your website look on these smaller electronic devices? Consider checking your web site on your phone AND your friends' phones, and your sister's iPad...that's assuming you don't own all these devices yourself.
Even more basic, does your web site function on these mobile devices? Start now to consider adaptations for your web site to work well with these devices. Here are a couple of non-technical options for better mobile performance:
Your amazing photos with strong graphics and uncluttered backgrounds are good for easy viewing. Think great postage stamp!
Take FLASH off your website. It doesn't work on most mobile devices. This may be fixed in the future, but is it worth losing your potential buyer now?
Turn off the music on your site. It slows down the viewer's experience to a crawl. Or, this may embarrass someone taking a sneak peek on their phone.
Simplicity is important for mobile web layout. It goes without saying that the more information piled into a small space, the harder it becomes to read and the more scrolling that will be required. With such limited space to display website content, a single vertical column layout would be ideal.
Websites should avoid horizontal scrolling. This is a recommendation by website gurus for all websites, but the problem is even more acute on mobile devices. It seems that some mobile devices can't make a horizontal scroll on a website evident, thus your viewers may miss your web content.
Images on my website work like buttons for navigation.
Navigation can be optimized for mobile viewing (without reinventing your website). Don't assume that everyone can just zoom in . . . because some can't. Consider larger easy-to-press links or clickable images to streamline the experience.
Images on my website work really well as "buttons" to other pages.
Text Links with multiple words are easier to tap with your finger.
Shorter URLs are easier to type in a search box.
Speed for page downloading is once again an issue. It is kind of like the old days with dial-up Internet connections (if you are old enough to remember the early days of the Internet with 56k modems). Keep your images compressed and small enough to download quickly.
For now — at least until mobile network infrastructure improves and mobile connectivity becomes more pervasive — simple, low-tech changes to your website can improve your mobile viewers' experiences without costing you a penny.
[2022: When I wrote this post in 2011, the idea of using phones for the Internet was relatively new, but gaining traction. Now re-reading this post in 2022, I am stunned by the look into the past. Most of the information above is still relevant. The website templates are all designed to be compatible with phones, tablets, and computers. Make sure your website is working on your phone. A couple of years ago....pre-pandemic, I spent an hour in conversation with a curator for an important exhibition and navigated my website showing exhibition suggestions from my phone. Last week, I was on television in Los Angeles, and the commentator and producer were using their phones to download images from my website for the next segment. Your website has to work on phones!
This post was updated on February 5 , 2022.