How to make your website mobile friendly

  • 0
  • 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.

  • Patrick Altoft
  • Stuart Smith

    The Alex King plugin is really linked by Neville is really useful for WordPress users. It uses a lot of the ideas in Patricks article. It is worth hacking and tweaking though if you tend to use your installation of WordPress as a CMS. My site is run with it and I think the results are very good.

  • Edward McLeod-Jones

    Joe Hewitt (creator of the excellent ‘Firebug’ Firefox extension) made a great library for making iPhone friendly sites called IUI:

    The focus is on giving the native iPhone look and feel to mobile pages. Obviously you’d only want to target it at iPhone users who visit your site, so you’d need to check the User Agent of the browser before you served them the optimised page. Given the proportion of mobile internet users who are on iPhones it’s probably worth it though (particularly with the launch of the 3G one, well, if 02 managed to order enough that is!)

  • dave

    have you checked out seems to make life a bit easier for us.

  • Heather

    Is there a company who will take your website adn make it more mobile friendly for you?

    • dave

      we use to do mobile site builds.

  • Justin Baker

    If you have an RSS Blog Feed, then you could try Mippin Mobilizer too; its free, provides branding customisation tools, and with a big audience already browsing a diverse mix of mobilized content, there’s opportunities to generate advertising revenue around your blog.

    Here’s the link if you want to try the demo:

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  • Alan

    Use Easymobilizer, and when your current URL (website) is accessed from any mobile device, we display your site contents in a mobile friendly format. A feature that should be on every website anyway. Easymobilizer script Features:

    * Simple copy & paste a line of code into index file – and its ready!
    * Mobile version built ‘on the fly’ – so always current content!
    * No expensive development costs designing & upkeeping a mobile version.
    * No marketing costs rebranding a new .mobi domain for your business.
    * A QR code is provided for marketing your mobile version.
    * Option to have a ‘Click to talk to us’ feature displayed – the user is probably using their mobile phone anyway.
    * Enjoy the free trial period for testing

  • Matt W

    From the looks of things, great post! The only thing I would say is not to ever use browser detection when finding mobile devices. Use WURFL and its PHP API there is an example on one of my blog posts

  • magi

    has anyone had recent experience / tips on this?

  • Bob

    Sounds great. Here at Wumpy we also make existing sites mobile friendly and have seen a huge rise in this over the last 6 months alone!

    Please see:

    Our mobile friendly sites work on all smartphones. I am very interested in some of the other coments though. The future is defiantly all about mobility!!

  • ambreen11

    Helpful post! Generally mobile websites have a simpler, narrower layout and use drop
    down menus and other space-saving options that make navigation easier on a small screen. This saves mobile viewers from having to pinch and zoom to be able to read the content on the normal site,

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