Reasons I’ll Resent You On The Mobile Web

mobile web search

He resents you so much he wants to drown your children.

I travel a lot. Your customers travel a lot. We’re all on the move and thanks to the advancements made in hand-held technology we’re now able to take the Web with us. Heck, I have to practically hide Rhea’s Blackberry under the table to get her to look at me instead of her phone during dinner. People are accessing information from wherever they are. And they’re using their phones to do it.

This is 2009, not 2001. Actually, we’re quickly on our way to 2010. That means you have no excuse for not paying attention to mobile and giving me a Web site that I can actually use. And yet so many companies are doing just that. They’re ignoring it. They’re ignoring the targeted searches who are lost, starving and can’t find the storefront they’re looking for. They’re creating Web sites that simply don’t load on a mobile browser and, in turn, are sending those hungry customers to the other pizza place across town.

Mobile users are looking for you, phone in hand. Don’t screw it up and make them resent you.

Your site doesn’t work

Do you know how frustrating it is to try and access a Web site and have it simply Not Work on certain handsets? Do you know how much that makes me want to cry into my pillow at night because you don’t love me enough to care? If you happen to notice that your site crashes, freezes or just flat out doesn’t work on certain browsers, please fix it. Your site should be set up so that if it detects a mobile handset it will immediately redirect to a lighter, more mobile-friendly version of your Web site. It’s not that hard. And the number of customers and conversions you’ll save by doing it really make it worth your time.

You don’t know what I want

If I’m looking at your site from my Blackberry, I’m probably not there because I’m casually searching. I’m mean, the chances of that are increasing, but it’s still a pretty safe bet that I’m a girl on a mission.

  • I’m lost.
  • I need a phone number.
  • I want a menu.
  • I want location information.
  • I want quick entertainment.
  • I want info about an advertisement that just ran on the radio.

If I’m searching your site on my phone, chances are I want something immediate. And I need you to give me this information, as well as a search box, right off the bat. Do not make me scroll 18 times to get through your navigation. Create a light version of your site with smaller images, less ads and less weighty pages. And then serve me that. Use your analytics to segment users who are viewing your site from mobile phones and see if they’re behavior and action are different from traditional users.

You include the kitchen sink

Once you know why mobile users are on your site, remove everything that does not help them achieve their goals. Don’t get me wrong, give them access to your full site via a link somewhere on the page, but don’t make them start there. Most mobile users probably won’t want your full navigation on every page. They don’t want all the video, all the images and the heavy pages. Mobile means I need the condensed version of your site because while I have an unlimited data plan in the States, I don’t want to wait for my phone to digest your overweight pages when I need quick information. I especially don’t appreciate this when I’m in Canada and paying $2 for every megabyte I download. Hello, June and my $833 phone bill.

You go mobile ad crazy

I know mobile advertising is all on the rise, but let’s not get over-excited and become mobile ad crazy. I still need to be able to use your site and when you plaster ads all over an already small screen – well sometimes they get in the way. And then I’m left resenting you. When you’re going with ads, make sure they’re small, unobtrusive and highly relevant. My phone is personal. If you’re trying to advertise to me there, it better be something I’d be inclined to want to know more about. Otherwise, we’re back to me resenting you. On a smaller screen, everything looks bigger and more offensive. Use that space wisely.

The site doesn’t work. Again.

Most phone and PDA manufacturers have emulators on their site that you can use for testing. I’d recommend getting your hands on emulators for the iPhone, Blackberry and even the Android. You can also use the regular Opera browser and select the Small Screen option to get an idea of what your page would look like on a mobile screen. Using these emulators will give you a good idea as to how your site will load and operate on different handsets. The W3C also offers a nice mobileOK checker to help you check page weight, CSS and other stuffs.

Mobile users have different wants, needs and desires than other searches. If all you’re doing is repackaging your “traditional” Web site, you may be severely limiting your ability to get them inside your store.

Your Comments

  • Stuart Foster

    Drowning babies? Not cool. Hilarious. But not cool.

  • Phil Buckley

    Best post on mobile site laziness I’ve read in a while. “Girl on a mission” is the takeaway, don’t make me regret going to your site.

  • graywolf

    on wordpress you can put out a mobile version in about 5 minutes with this plugin

    *cough * *cough*

  • Rhea Drysdale

    Michael – Nice plugin, will look at adding it this weekend when we do some housekeeping.

  • Norcross

    I use the plugin Graywolf mentions above, and it does the job well. Regardless, I have no idea (other than laziness) why people don’t make their sites mobile-ready. Even a single load page with the relevant info is enough.

  • Innkeeper Seely

    Norcross, some of us don’t use mobile and don’t realize that our sites are too bulky. That’s why we read these blogs.

    Will work on it pronto. Thanks

  • Doug Bellenger

    Great article! I think the plugin Graywolf recommended is a great first start, but it still has the challenge of loading everything in a page into the site (adam kings site is 133kb with no images) so it takes awhile and still delivers JavaScript, which may not work on all phones. A lot of the plugins for WordPress also only deliver one look and feel, or they only create an iPhone version, so be cautious of this since they won’t work on Blackberry’s usually. An example is the WPTouch plugin. Check out there site on your blackberry here if you have one:

    Ideally a tool will allow you to create a version for different device categories such as a touchscreen, a qwerty device or a feature phone. Then the system should only deliver content relative to that device to keep the html footprint small for quick loading. It’s a little more than just installing a plugin, but the results are much better for all of your users.