How to make your website mobile friendly

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  • July 4, 2008

Making sure your website is mobile phone friendly should be a priority for any business that wants to be found on the mobile web.

There are several different methods involved but the first step is to register your .mobi domain. Some people like to actually use the .mobi domain as a seperate website but I prefer to just redirect it to the main domain.

Users are likely to navigate to the main domain anyway so it makes sense to let them use the site as normal.

A lot of sites already use techniques such as CSS and accessible design – if you are one of these people then it’s quite likely your site will already be mobile phone friendly. Mobile browsers range from viewing pages as plain text to behaving very much like normal browsers and it is essential that any features that might not work on certain browsers are made to degrade gracefully.

My preferred method is for developers to ensure that mobile users are sent to a “light” version of the site (if your page sizes are quite small already then this might not be important). The light version might have less content of just have smaller pages optimised for smaller screens.

For example if you detect that the user is visiting on an iPhone you might like to ensure that the page outputs at 320×480 pixels.

Mobile data is getting cheaper

If you choose to switch users to “light” pages then make sure your users have a way of moving to the real version of the site somehow. The scripts listed below offer methods to detect a mobile browser user agent string (server side) and display content accordingly.

Once you have created a mobile friendly website you can use the W3C Validator to check that all is well with the design.

One of the main points to note when designing for mobile devices is that lengthy navigation should be placed (if it has to be used at all) at the bottom of the page. Nothing is more annoying for users than when they have to scroll before they can see the content on your page.

Mobile web design isn’t fully evolved yet and there are lots of opinions about best practice. This, along with the speed handsets are evolving, makes it essential to keep up with the latest trends.

Patrick Altoft

About Patrick Altoft

Patrick is the Director of Strategy at Branded3 and has spent the last 11 years working on the SEO strategies of some of the UK's largest brands. Patrick’s SEO knowledge and experience is highly regarded by many, and he’s regularly invited to speak at the world’s biggest search conferences and events.

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