This is the third and final part of a mini-series about mobile series, to help small business owners understand some of their choices. Things to ConsiderThe size of your visitor's screen is something you need to consider when you think about the layout and content of your website. What they see when they first land needs to resonate with your typical viewer. With the much larger screen that a desktop has, you have more places to put more things, such as sales advertisements or seasonal specials. With a mobile device, you have fewer places to put things, but you still need to be able to quickly qualify yourself to the viewer that you're who they're looking for.
Checklist for Your Mobile Friendly Site
Run through this quick checklist on your own website by viewing your website on your smartphone, and ask yourself these questions. You don't have to be scientific – just be honest about your own reactions.
Did your website load quickly? Is the nature of your website clear? Can you easily read the text? Can you navigate easily? Is there a clear call to action? What sort of user experience rating would you give it? If it wasn't your own website, would you come back? Can you easily click on any links? Are things spaced well?
If your website didn't make the grade, that's exactly how other people are going to feel – and it's going to affect your reputation with them. This may be their very first experience with your company, so it needs to be a good one.
Equally important, it will improve your online search visibility and rankings, which is important because a great website that nobody ever sees isn't doing you much good.
It's also a great opportunity to give your website a makeover, modernize things, and maybe include some newer, higher resolution photos that better showcase your work. This will demonstrate to your viewers that you keep up with the times.
Also, while you may or may not engage in social media much yourself, many people do, so with a nice site this can be free advertising for you when people Share, Like, or Re-Tweet your page.
What About Mobile Apps?
Don't overlook mobile applications, usually simply called Apps. Some companies are embracing them as the ideal way to engage mobile users because you have very precise control over the experience. Some people speculate that at some point in the future, all mobile website interaction will be with apps, but this is likely many years in the future because it would require uniform standards that are unlikely to emerge between device and operating system manufacturers anytime soon.
Regardless, there are many benefits to having a mobile app for your business:
Ease of use. The typical rules for app stores are more likely to ensure a good user experience than may be the case with a mobile website, since there are no rules about mobile websites. Programmers can code websites to do whatever they want, with or without good forethought and quality assurance – which could be the reason why many plugins aren't that well rated. Mobile apps are more likely to be easy for your user to engage with.
Apps can provide additional functionality that your mobile website may not be able to achieve. Facebook is a great example of this.
Credibility. Having an app can increase your perceived level of credibility and professionalism, as long as the rest of the stage has been set correctly. It can't necessarily fix other problems, but it might be the thing that puts users over the top for choosing you over another vendor.
With time being one of our most valuable resources, an App can make your audience appreciative by streamlining common activities they might do in connection with your business, such as making payments, online ordering, and scheduling appointments.
Real-time engagement. With an app, you can perform message push notifications to users, which can be a huge business boost by letting them know about unannounced specials. Examples might include discounts on a home service that's booked within the next 72 hours, or perhaps an evening special at a restaurant.
What Lies Ahead
The mobile world is constantly evolving as people seek new ways of making their lives easier and maintaining social connections in ways they might not otherwise have had the time for. The latest smart-watch that we've all seen on television is a great example of mobility being taken to even greater levels as technology experts find ways to make common tasks easier.
As for what this means for your small business and search engines, one thing we know for sure is that they will continue to constantly make changes in their search algorithms – although I'll stop short of calling them improvements, since people who's search ratings change may or may not consider them improvements. What we do know with certainty is that we can continue to see more changes, more often. Consequently, it's important to stay up to date with what Google is doing because what we do know for a fact is that they penalize you if you don't.
The world of mobility will continue to change, and for a small business this will mean a big competitive advantage for small businesses that embrace these changes early since they will enjoy improved online rankings, while those who delay may see their rank suffer as a result. This can be a difficult landscape for a small business owner to navigate on their own, since they may not have the time needed to keep up with what's really important. In fact that's the reason for my business model of partnership.
I see, unfortunately, lots of people advertising they'll design a website dirt-cheap, but what so many people end up with is what I described early on in this article series: a website that might seem nice at first but doesn't actually serve your business as your #1 sales machine. If you need help, please contact me about your web design needs.