Tips for Developing Effective Mobile Websites

By Brian Swanson, Flashpoint Marketing
The emergence of digital marketing has significantly changed the accounting marketing profession. It used to be that if your firm had a website that provided basic information about your practice and a list of services, then you were set. However, this formula is no longer valid. No longer do professionals need to be sitting in front of their desktop to access the web.
There are now BlackBerries, iPhones, and iPads and numerous other smartphones, tablets, and mobile devices that allow users to access information while "on the go." So the challenge for marketers has become not only how to produce interesting and engaging content, but also how to present it so visitors using various mobile technologies can access the site. To help guide fellow accounting marketers, we've provided the following tips for getting started in the world of mobile marketing.
Effective navigation design. Designing a mobile website is not like designing a standard website. There are considerations that need to be made to ensure critical information is easily accessible. We tell our clients that they want to have straightforward and compact menus with large readable text. Also, be sure the user doesn't have to scroll down endlessly to find important information on your site. Finally, make contact information easy to find from the home page and other parts of the site. Remember, the easier it is to navigate and find information, the more enjoyable the experience will be for the mobile user.
Offer quality mobile content. While at first glance this may seem obvious, it's important to understand what quality mobile content is. The first thing to remember when developing/reviewing your mobile website is that not all the content from the standard version should be included. Mobile users are on the go; therefore, it's essential to offer access to the most important content only. This can mean a brief summary of the services offered and industries served to more specialized content.
For example, one of our clients offers several seminars and events each month. To ensure that mobile visitors are able to get information about the events and register, our client has dedicated a significant portion of the company's mobile site to this feature. This approach has been very successful, and the company gets a large number of registrations from mobile devices. The important point is to carefully consider the needs of your mobile users and offer content that speaks to those needs.

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Avoid images/videos. When designing a standard website, it's quite common to use images or videos to reinforce or enhance key points in the copy. However, in the world of mobile websites, this is very much discouraged. Mobile is about quick load times and easy access to information. Requiring the user to download videos or images may increase the amount of time it takes to load the website. Moreover, depending on the video format, some devices may not have the capability to play a video. Keep it simple for the user and avoid these items.
Offer a full site link. It's essential when developing a mobile site to give visitors access the fully functional, non-mobile version of your website. As web technologies and mobile browser capabilities improve, mobile users are able to accurately view standard websites from their devices. For this reason, it's essential to offer the option to access the main website if visitors choose to do so. 
In perspective
There's an old acronym in sales, KISS, which means Keep It Simple Silly. Make it easy for the prospect to want to purchase your product or service. Don't overcomplicate things, causing prospects to rethink their inclination to purchase. The same idea applies to mobile websites. Don't make it overly complex for the user to access the information he or she wants. The fewer roadblocks there are to the important information, the more effective the mobile website.
About the author:
Brian Swanson is a partner at Flashpoint Marketing, a marketing consulting firm that focuses on providing traditional and digital lead generation services exclusively to the accounting profession. He leads the development of the firm’s digital services practice which included traditional and mobile website development, inbound marketing programs, and search engine optimization efforts.

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