It's no secret that the rise of mobile devices has created one of the largest shifts in consumer behavior in the last 40 years.

ABI research reports that 1.2 billion smartphones will enter the market over the next five years. And Morgan Stanley has predicted that web browsing on mobile devices is likely to overtake desktops within the next couple years.

The question is: Is your website keeping pace with this shift?

If your website isn't easily accessible to mobile users you are missing out on a substantial group of sophisticated consumers, and your website is basically broken. These users will go somewhere else for products and services. Mobile ready websites are no longer a luxury; they are a necessity.  

So, let's start with what you should avoid in your website.

Flash, Frames, and Funkiness

Flash is an Adobe multimedia platform for websites that has recently been discontinued. It was popular for video streaming, but it is not supported on more than 100 million iPhones and iPads. If your website has Flash as part of its framework, it's time for a change.  

Frames came on the scene in 1996 and should have left soon after, but they hang on in many websites and cause problems.

You may not recognize a site that uses frames - they are invisible to the user - but you might have noticed these issues:

  • I can't bookmark the specific page - I keep bookmarking the homepage.
  • When I print it doesn't look right
  • When I resize my browser the site looks horrible and isn't usable.

It's amazing how many sites still use this non-standard technology and you should be sure your site isn't one of them. Using frames will ruin the mobile experience.  
Funkiness is the the junk drawer of website features that includes animated "GIFs," popups, and various plugins that clutter a website and cause problems when it is displayed on smaller devices. Every element on a website should translate easily to mobile devices, and these elements can be troublemakers.

What should you do to ensure a great mobile experience?

Standards, Speed, and Simplicity

Standards: Your platform should built on XHTML and HTML5. These are modern cross-device standards that will ensure your site works on all devices. In addition, your site should be styled with CSS3.

Styling with CSS and avoiding tables will allow your website to adjust to many different mobile display sizes. Unless you are quite a tekkie, HTML5 and CSS may sound like Star Wars characters to you, but all you need to know is the names so you can check that your website designer is meeting the latest standards in technology.

Speed: When I am on my mobile device I expect things to go fast. If I have to wait even a full minute for something to materialize on a site, I may never come back. Your prospects and clients feel the same way. So be sure that you optimize images for fast downloads, and eliminate large images that aren't necessary and require a lengthy download time.

Use HTML5 for streaming video instead of the traditional Flash player, and you will have a more seamless experience. Mobile device consumption of video is skyrocketing, so you want to make sure your videos are in the mix.

Simplicity: Smaller screens call for a more minimalistic design - less is more in mobile. Make content the focus; smaller screens means less space, so you need to choose wisely. And remember to concentrate on easy navigation with less clicks and large targets, since users are hitting your buttons with their fingers.

The fact is, you really only get one chance with mobile users.  If your site doesn't work, they won't come back.   If you want to provide an great mobile experience avoid flash, frames and funkiness, and instead focus on standards, optimize for speed, and keep it simple.   

Craig Faulkner is CEO of FMGSuite, a company dedicated to creating digital marketing tools for today's financial professional. You can also follow him @fmgsuite on Twitter.



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