Delivering the Ultimate Mobile Website Experience

10/27/2010

- Lee Zoumas, Manager, Design/Development

A growing number of people are relying on their mobile devices as their main resource for information. This widespread reliance on mobile devices creates a large need for businesses to create a mobile strategy that best deals with the appropriate delivery of web-based mobile content to their audience. Failure to recognize how mobile devices are interacting with your website can result in reduced conversions and end-user frustration.

The majority of mobile users arrive at a website by clicking on a link from their email. A few days ago, I clicked on a link from an email marketing campaign, which resulted in a less than pleasing user experience. I received an email newsletter which contained several links to articles featured on their main website. When I clicked on an article to read it, I was delivered to the homepage of the company’s mobile website, instead of being delivered to the actual article. I thought this was some kind of error with that link, so I tried a few others, and I was continually driven to the homepage of their mobile site. It seems that the main website had a mobile detection script, also known as a sniffer, which identified what type of device I was making the request from and as a result directed me to the mobile version of their website. The problem is that the detection script was on every page of their main website and it didn’t take into consideration the fact that I wanted to read content that was on their main website, but not available on their mobile site. So, while the company’s intentions were to allow mobile users to view the mobile friendly version of their content, they mistakenly delivered me to a destination that I had not intended.

Typically, mobile websites are a stripped down version of a website that only displays crucial information, such as a company’s location, contact information or main service areas. With that being said, there is not always a one to one relationship with mobile pages to main website pages. There is no catch-all rule that a company can implement into its main website site that displays a mobile version of every single page of the main website.

The solution to this unpleasing user experience should be approached simplistically. Most, if not all sites have some sort of template or shared include files to make the site easier to maintain. The most basic solution, although not ideal is to add a script to the template or an include file that will redirect all mobile traffic to the mobile website’s homepage as described above. A better solution is to just have the homepage of the main website redirect to the homepage of the mobile site. That way, the user will at least be able to see the content they originally requested. The downside to this approach is that they will be viewing most of the content in a format not ideal for their device. The most optimal solution is to add the script to all pages via a template or an include file rather than redirect all requests to the mobile website’s homepage. This way, you will only redirect the pages that have an equivalent mobile version. This can be somewhat meticulous, depending on the number of pages you have, but this solution will ensure the best overall mobile user experience.

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