OPINION-Technology- Mobile Media Will Replace Traditional Websites: How do you adapt?
Mobile websites are replacing traditional websites. The Internet is moving to a mobile delivery platform, centred around handheld Smartphones and tablets. Eventually the traditional website will no longer exist in the form that it does today. If sites can't scale to mobile device,s they will lose their audience over time.
What do you need to consider when redesigning your site to work on mobile devices?
I completely understand if you disagree with these statements. Change can be difficult to wrap your head around. Change is often disruptive and controversial. In this blog entry I will try to explain why the above statement is so important to consider. The impacts of the mobilization of the Internet mean change is on the horizon. What does all this mean to the fundamentals of Internet design and website development. Read on...
1: Streamlining Content for Mobile: Dealing with website bloating
Website bloating is a term I invented, so I thought I better call it out and explain what I mean. A bloated website is a site that has been around for a while and content has been added to the site on a regular basis. Old content has not been expired and the purpose of the content has been forgotten along the way. These issues are very common when a site has evolved rapidly. Bloating involved convoluted navigation, excessive page weight, out of date pages, and page designs that may also be out of date. A regular audit needs to be made of website content to avoid this situation. Every month content should be expired, updated, or re-deployed for bloating to be kept to a minimum.
Websites have become bloated experiences with endless pages of content, long pages that require lots of scrolling, complicated multi-layered navigation, and plugins overload. The net result is a slow, clunky, overloading Internet experience. If you visit any website with deep content, you can find yourself going to Google just to find a page inside one of these sites. Rather than being able to find the page from within the site itself. This is the trademark of a bloated website. You find yourself surfing in circles, wondering how and where you can find the information you need.
Making a site work on Smartphones forces any website content manager to assess the extent to which their site has become bloated. This is analogous to downsizing from a house to a condo. You have to sit down and see what is essential, what is clutter, that is just not going to work in the condo, and finally decide on what to keep. Like any move, it will also require some new elements to be added, and a lot to be taken away. This streamlining process can be dauntin, and it is one of the most important initial steps I typically perform when moving a site to mobile media delivery.
How to combat this website bloating and prepare a site for mobile delivery is beyond the scope of this article. I will discuss this issue in more detail in future articles.
2: Fundamental Changes in Navigation Design
Mobile media requires very different navigation strategies. This issue begins with screen size issues. Your site navigation must be accessible on every page but also not take over the entire screen. Screen real estate is at a premium. Navigation can be big, especially if the site has many sections and sub-levels. For a site to work well on mobile devices five navigation changes must take place:
- Reduce the number of sections to 5 maximum
- Reduce the site depth to two-three levels maximum
- Convert graphic navigation to text navigation
- Allow non essential navigation to be toggled between hidden and displayed
- Redesign navigation specifically for mobile devices
We will discuss more navigation design options and approaches in future articles.
3: Radical Changes in Site Design
One of the first things I do when I begin consulting with a customer to make their site mobile accessible is to start trim the content. This involves a careful editing process that spans the following areas:
- Reducing the site sections to 4 or 5 (maximum)
- Limiting page depth to 3-2 levels
- Removing heavy pages with Flash and image galleries
- Trimming the length of long pages with lots of text
- Scale large graphics to smaller sizes
- Reassessing and adapting the interactive media
I think of mobile device website editing as a process of decluttering and keeping the essential content. In future, I think that page segments will be tagged for display on mobile devices so that a single page can present abbreviated content for mobile devices, and full content for non-mobile devices. In the interim, website developer will have to deploy an edited set of pages just for mobile devices. More on this issue to come in future articles...
- Video can be embedded on pages
- Animations can be added
- Special effects can be created
- Ajax can be used to create dynamic content
- Audio and sound can be embedded
5: Mobile Media is About Communication and Interaction, Use it!
Mobile devices are excellent for customer communications. Mobile devices are perceived by users as phones with entertainment and data functionality. This means that mobile users are in communication mode when using these devices. For this reason, it is essential to add some kind of interactive communication strategy on your mobile media website. You are more likely to generate website interaction on a mobile device than on a non-mobile device. This means capitalizing on interactive email forms, chat functionality, live chat with customer services representatives, and SMS alerts etc.
Mobile media is a communication-centric media. So put on your thinking cap and come up with some interactive applications for your mobile website. Your audience will love you for it.