Guest post by Christian Arno
We live in a mobile age. A glance around any public place reveals just how addicted we are to our mobile devices.
According to the Accenture 2012 Consumer Technology Report, we are ‘reaching a state of “hypermobility”, rapidly adopting mobile technologies’ with the aim of being ‘connected anywhere, anytime’.
It’s a global trend, too. Consumers in Asia, Europe and South America all spend a higher proportion of their annual income on consumer electronics than the average American.
In short, if you don’t have a mobile-optimized site, you’re missing out. Want to change that? Here’s how:
Keep it Simple
When designing for mobile interfaces, make usability your watchword. Screen space is limited and those cool features you’d love to add will take up valuable bandwidth. Your first priority has to be stable performance.
As far as the interface goes, ditch anything that’s not essential for the site to function. The rest is just clutter and will slow down loading times.
Also bear in mind that most mobile devices are navigated using fingertips. Use finger-sized buttons and easy-to-navigate menus. Keep the need for typing to a minimum. Stick with standard gestures and make sure there’s enough empty screen space so that your users don’t open a link every time they try to zoom in.
If one thing holds true for mobile devices, it’s that they are all different. With so much variety in screen size and resolution, it can be a challenge designing a site that plays nice on every device. The good news is that there are a variety of simulators that can help you preview your site or app.
Focus on Your Brand
With the smaller screen and no-frills interface, you need to work harder to make an impression. Planning to fully embrace the mobile experience with an app? Picture it squashed in among several others, all scaled down to tiny proportions. Can you recognize your brand? More importantly, can your users?
The same goes for your website logo. It helps if it’s not only unique and eye-catching, but also tells users what your business is about. A logo that is a work of art at normal web-size can become a meaningless scribble when scaled down for mobile. Speaking of scaling, design your logo in a vector format so that it will work at any size. Be smart with colors too. For instance, avoid red, unless your product is for blocking something (e.g. ads or spam).
Usability might rule for mobile-optimized devices, but once you’ve got mobile users through your virtual door, give them a reason to stay. An uncluttered interface can – and should – still lead to rich content.
Never assume that mobile devices are just for ‘fun’. For anyone who’s not desk-bound, they can be an essential business tool. Take mobile users seriously. If they want information, make sure they can find it. If they need to get in touch or share content, make that easy.
The typical mobile device user is multi-tasking and has limited attention to give your site. The last thing they want is to have to jump through hoops.
Using a mobile device for business as well as personal use is the norm in countries such as Brazil, India and South Africa. Not only are emerging economies enthusiastic adopters of mobile technologies, they have more mobile-only users.
According to statistics from mobithinking.com, the number of mobile users in China could be larger than the entire population of the US. In a global comparison, Asia leads the way in mobile web page-views. For the highest percentage of active mobile broadband subscriptions by population, look to Europe.
It’s clear that few of the most active mobile markets have English as a first language. Speaking to them in their own languages will make your content far more accessible.
Remember, quality translation provides a good user experience. Even better, with voice-activated browsing becoming available in multiple languages, your non-English speakers will be able to reach your site by voice too.
Keep in mind that sometimes a language will affect the entire browsing experience. For instance, German has longer words that might need a wider button or menu, and languages such as Arabic, Urdu and Farsi are read right-to-left.
Localization is an essential part of making your site friendly to users in other parts of the world. Not only does it take into account these language-based differences, it also covers cultural differences. After all, it’s often the little things that make your users feel at ease.
Going mobile gives you access to a whole world of potential customers. Deliver them the best experience you can and make your business truly global.
About The Author:
Christian Arno is the founder of Lingo24, a top translation service in US. Launched in 2001, Lingo24 now has over 180 employees spanning three continents and clients in over sixty countries. In the past twelve months, they have translated over forty million words for businesses in every industry sector, including the likes of MTV, World Bank and American Express. Follow Lingo24 on Twitter: @Lingo24.