With internet marketers hailing each of the last 10 years or so as ‘The Year of the Mobile’, it seems as though the reality is now upon us.

With internet marketers hailing each of the last 10 years or so as ‘The Year of the Mobile’, it seems as though the reality is now upon us.

With each month that passes, new and more mind-boggling figures are released –

  • A third of us are now using smartphones to access the web
  • Access to the web via a mobile device is set to dominate desktop and laptop by 2014
  • Mobile search queries on Google have grown 3000 percent in the last 3 years.
  • There are now more than 500,000 mobile applications
The majority of big businesses, including the web’s Godfathers, Google, Amazon and eBay, have reacted with developments of mobile optimised websites and smart phone apps to service their existing customers and attract fresh consumers using the new platform. These tailor made solutions for mobile users aim to – and in most cases succeed in - making the experience of searching and shopping from a handset as easy as from their desktops.

But is this new frontier strictly the domain of the web’s power houses, or are there equally enthralling opportunities for the nation’s bread and butter - small business?

If you look at the analytics for just about any website these days, you will likely see a rising number of people trying to access from a mobile. The truth is that mobile search may just have a bigger impact for smaller, more localised businesses, than for their large national or international cousins.

The vast majority of searches made on Google mobile are local in nature, as consumers look for information relevant to their current location when they're out an about. Any local business who takes advantage of this new on-the-move consumer by making sure they’re visible on this platform will likely see a boost to their business.

What makes a successful mobile website?

  • A mobile optimised website answers the needs of those users who are on the move and therefore have little time and more immediate needs.
  • The site needs to render correctly for whatever size of screen the user is viewing on. Also, navigation on mobile handsets is far easier up and down than left to right, so a single column site is essential.
  • The most important information must be the easiest to find. Often when people are out and about, they are looking up your site to find out where you are or to contact you directly. Therefore make sure there are direct & clear links to a map, directions, and a ‘click to call’ button to make all of this as easy as possible. Where possible, make use of the handset GPS to ensure directions are tailored to the individual.
  • Decide which are the five or six most important pages on your website, and include large, clear buttons allowing users to navigate directly to those pages.
  • Keep text brief, and in short paragraphs – don't go beyond 100 words on any page.
  • Images should obviously be light, and relatively small, so as to not slow the load of any page.
  • Rather than including a search function, pre-select common searches and replace them with a button allowing users to just click to find that information.
  • A mobile site’s look and feel should not stray too far from the main site. Your company logo should be on the top of the site and similar colours, fonts and branding used to identify that they’re on the right site, just a mobile version.
  • Give your users the option to switch to the normal version of your site. Some smartphones can properly handle normal websites, so users should be given a choice.