Consider the numbers: Nearly half of all U.S. adults use a smartphone, according to recent findings by the Pew Internet and American Life Project. Ninety percent of those smartphone owners say they use the device to check email and surf the web. That's not counting people who use other mobile devices, such as tablets, to access the web.
With mobile internet traffic on the rise, you might think small businesses are developing mobile-friendly websites. But you'd be wrong. Only 26 percent of small businesses have a mobile website. That's a growing problem -- especially for local businesses.
Take, for example, a recent excursion I had with a friend in New York City's Upper West Side. We were on the move, smartphones in hand, looking for a particular restaurant -- which will remain nameless -- to grab a bite to eat. I used my Motorola Droid Razr to look up the restaurant's website but all I saw was a white screen with two links to download PDF files of the lunch and dinner menus.
No contact information. No hours. No easy-to-read menu. Sorry, no business from me.
With more people using their mobile devices to access information about companies, business owners need to think about how their website displays on smartphones and tablets. If content isn't easy to read and access on a smaller screen, customers might go to the next shop down the block instead.
When developing a mobile-friendly website, or a dedicated mobile site, here are some important things to keep in mind:
1. Display your company's most important information at the top in plain text. This includes your name, address, contact information and perhaps a brief description of what you do.
2. Don't include Flash-based videos on your mobile site. Many devices don't support Flash. Plus, video eats up data and can take a long time to load.
3. Make information easy to read on a small screen. Don't complicate navigation across several pages, and don't make users download PDFs. The more straightforward, the better.
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