Mobile best-practice tips for small businesses
By Paul Cho
The Internet, mobile and social media have ushered in a new normal when it comes to customers? expectations.
To compete with big businesses, small businesses need to be flexible enough to meet customers wherever they are, on their terms, and on the device they prefer. Increasingly, that preferred device is a smartphone.
According to a study by Global Web Index, 80 percent of shoppers consider smartphones a close second, only to PCs or laptops (91 percent), as the most popular devices used to search the Internet.
Mobile is key for successful customer interactions and transactions, and as a small business, you cannot afford to overlook the importance of investing in a positive mobile customer experience.
Whether building a mobile site from scratch or working with one of the many cost-effective mobile site service providers, you should make sure your mobile site is in line with these best practices:
Layout and responsive design are key
Catering to multiple devices means adjusting resolution for smaller screens of various sizes and ensuring that the design remains responsive.
A good rule of thumb is to consider three user experiences: smartphone, tablet and desktop. Regardless of the screen, customers should be able to easily read the text and view images on your Web site without having to zoom and shift the page.
Web sites should also be responsive to the way that customers use different devices, ensuring that slow Web site response does not steer them away from your online shop and to a competitor, or leaving a full shopping cart un-purchased.
Hierarchy of information
When you scale down to the mobile screen sizes, you have less real estate with which to work. Difficult choices have to be made about what information or functionality to display first.
Think about the type of information your customers would be looking for when they are on-the-go and prioritize accordingly.
Prominent contact section
Mobile devices can seamlessly launch phone and email capabilities when the appropriate type of link is provided.
Make the contact section of your mobile site prominent so that contacting your business is as frictionless as possible.
Be mindful that as people become more accustomed to the convenience and speed of mobile connectivity, they become less patient with delay.
It is therefore more important than ever that you ensure customers? concerns are addressed promptly.
Consistent brand experience
Delivering a consistent experience across all channels is the most important factor to keep in mind when thinking about your integrated sales and marketing strategy.
To give customers the same positive experience with your company?s brand regardless of the device they are using, the colors, logos and art assets used should be uniform across the desktop and mobile versions of your Web sites.
Customers should always be able to easily find the products or services they are looking for with the same ease they would experience on a desktop Web site.
Keeping up with updates and policy changes
Recent changes made by Google to boost the ranking of mobile-friendly pages in mobile search results have put even greater pressure on small business owners to make their Web sites mobile-ready.
Small and midsized business owners who do not prioritize their mobile Web presence now run the risk that their site will not be returned by the major search engines.
This can put a small business at a significant disadvantage, not only against large-scale enterprises but also local competition that has a mobile-ready Web presence.
BY STARTING WITH these tips, you will be well on your way to ensuring a positive customer experience that can help attract and keep customers ? and grow your business in the mobile age.
Paul Cho is managing director of Headway Capital, Chicago. Reach him at .