social media how toIs your website meeting the needs of on-the-go mobile users?

When you’re developing your first mobile site, you may be at a loss. That’s understandable—a mobile website is an entirely different animal from a traditional website.

Given that, it’s important to keep some best practices in mind as you develop your mobile presence.

What follows are 9 best practices you can use to ensure your mobile site is as good as it can be.

About Mobile Users

But before we dive into the 9 best practices, it’s important to keep one thing in mind—the person viewing your site is mobile.

That may seem like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised by how many people forget that simple truth.

When someone is mobile, they’re expecting an entirely different experience from the one they’ll get on your standard website.

For example, a mobile visitor is typically looking for a few key pieces of information: directions to your office, a click-to-call phone number or a map of your store locations. What they’re not looking for are lengthy staff bios, information about your corporate philosophy or PDFs of your latest press releases.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at the 9 best practices for mobile website design that can help you create a site that puts your best foot forward.

#1: Simplify. Then Simplify Again. And Again

The first step in creating a mobile site is determining what content you’ll include. Given the restricted amount of screen space, it’s important to figure out what key pieces of information your visitors will probably be looking for.

A store locator? Probably. A “Contact Us” form with 13 different fields to fill out? Not so much.

It’s also important to keep the steps involved in going from entry point to purchase as simple as possible. Fandango does a great job of this by eliminating much of their non-essential content to quickly bring their consumers what they want: movie times.


Fandango does more than just provide a simple mobile web design—they provide a mobile ticket, too, thus completing the sales cycle.

Better still, Fandango completes the sales cycle by providing a QR code that acts as a mobile ticket for the purchaser. Just bring the phone to the theater and have them scan the code there—it acts as the purchaser’s ticket.

#2: Plan Your Site Layout

Mobile web pages will load slower than traditional web pages, so it’s important to keep the number of pages to a minimum. In addition, users won’t have the patience to click several pages deep on your site. Given that, it’s important to keep the site layout as streamlined as possible.

One technique I encourage people to use is to think like Steve Jobs. As you know, Jobs is famous for creating user experiences that are streamlined and intuitive. Put on your Steve Jobs hat to remind you to keep things as streamlined as possible. By doing so, your visitors will have a better experience when they’re on your site.

Domino’s must have been wearing their Steve Jobs hat when they developed their mobile site (and their brilliantly designed app). Instead of creating a cluttered site with confusing options, they simplified their site and limited it to the items people would most likely be searching for.


Domino's used the Steve Jobs approach to website development—it's an uncluttered site that provides limited navigation. Surprisingly, this minimalist approach improves the customer experience.

#3: Match the Branding Elements From Your Standard Site to Your Mobile Site

Even though your mobile site will be much more streamlined than your standard site, you’ll still want to incorporate the same branding elements on both sides of the equation.

This is important for two reasons. A mobile site is a brand touchpoint and, like any other property, should reflect and promote your brand essence. Also, for users who are already familiar with your company, a similar design will make them feel like they’re visiting an old friend, which is an important consideration for your most loyal customers.

mobile sites

Keep the color palette and the brand imagery consistent between your mobile site and your standard site.

The 60 Second Marketer site uses the same bright color palette and iconography in both the standard and mobile websites. The result is that a user who is familiar with the standard site will have a similar experience on the mobile site, too.

#4: Utilize White Space

When designing any website, it’s a natural tendency to cram in as much information as possible. But fight that urge. Not only does white space give a cleaner, more sophisticated appearance, it also ensures that users can easily click the button they’re aiming for.


This mobile site for MSNBC does a good job of keeping enough padding around all of the text to ensure that the user is able to accurately select the content he or she is looking for.

#5: Avoid Flash or Java

The obvious reason for avoiding Flash is that Apple products do not support Flash and have declared that they have no intention to do so in the future. Because iPhones make up about 30% of the smartphone market, a significant portion of your audience may not be able to access your content if you use Flash. Similarly, many phones do not support Java, and even if they do, using Java can be a huge drag on load time.

#6: Reduce the Amount of Text Entry Necessary

Do you suffer from fat-finger syndrome, which makes it difficult to use a smartphone keyboard? Most of us have trouble typing on tiny keyboards. When possible, use dropdown menus, checklists and pre-populated fields as a means of data entry. This helps minimize the challenges people face when typing text into a smartphone.

Take a cue from FedEx’s mobile site. Even though a lot of information has to be entered into the site to accomplish the user’s goal, the use of checklists and dropdown menus cuts down on the amount of text a user must enter.


FedEx pre-populates text fields to make data entry easier for their visitors.

#7: Do Not Use Pop-Up Windows

Navigating between multiple tabs and browser windows is more difficult on mobile and can cause slow load times. If you need to open a new browser window, make sure you alert your user so that they know how to navigate back to the original page.

#8: Use Mobile Redirects

Once your site is designed and ready to go, make sure to put redirects in place that will sniff out when a visitor is using a mobile device and direct him or her to the mobile-optimized version of the site. For a more detailed description on how to do this, check out 5 Simple Steps to Getting Started With Mobile Marketing.

Once your redirects are in place, any mobile user who types in your web address or clicks on a link in a search engine will be sent to the mobile-optimized version of your site.

#9: Allow People to Visit the Full Site

You’ve worked hard on your mobile site. You want people to see it and you want people to love it. But the fact of the matter is, even if you’ve done a good job paring down your content, there will likely be someone who wants information you’ve chosen not to display.

As such, make sure you include links on multiple pages that allow the user to return to the full version of the site. You can see this feature on most mobile websites including USA Today, the Geek Squad, the Home Depot and Target.

geek squad

Here the Geek Squad allows users to return to the main site at any point with a link at the bottom of the page.

Because mobile sites are a new landscape for most marketers, designing and building them can be a bit of a challenge. However, mobile sites also bring an awesome opportunity to showcase your brand and your creativity. As long as you keep the user’s needs top-of-mind, stay true to your brand and follow a few simple rules, you will have the hang of it in no time.

What are your thoughts? Have you created a mobile website for your business? What works and what doesn’t? Leave your comments in the box below.

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  • Bill Lord

    Great tips! One particular tip that I liked was, “Reducing the amount of text entry fields.” I think that is often overlooked but makes a huge difference. Having planned out the options for the user into checkable boxes rather than text fields is just good UI design.

  • Fantastic information, are there any tutorials for creating a mobile site?

  • Hi, Steven —

    Glad you liked the article.

    And, yes, there’s an article on Social Media Examiner that I wrote a few months ago that includes how to create a mobile website. You can access that article here:

    Thanks again for your kind comments.

    See you,
    Jamie Turner

  • Hi, Bill —

    I agree — reducing the amount of text in entry fields is an often overlooked UI element. Thanks!

    — Jamie

  • Thanks for the tips- I have fat finger syndrome…will be purging unnecessary information- I especially like how we are able to view, read and respond on our mobile device. Great example too- thank you.

  • Hi, Suzanne —

    I think we all have fat finger syndrome! LOL.

    I’ve been told that the iPhone actually figures out what you were intending to write after analyzing your word choices for a while. I’m not sure if that’s true, but it would make sense.

    Thanks for your comment and thanks for stopping by!

    — Jamie

  • Creativecurrency

    Who should I use for producing a great free or reasonably priced mobile site? I have yet to findone to my satisfaction 🙁

  • This is one of the most sensible and accurate articles I’ve seen in a while regarding “mobile’ websites, with the emphasis on “mobile.” – I’m sharing this with my entire staff, website and graphic designers, too! 


    Great one

  • Taking a step back, companies need to be reminded to create a mobile version of the site. I feel like it’s easy to forget (I’m guilty of this myself) that a lot of people today are accessing your site through a mobile device, and there needs to be a separate version tailored to this. These were all great tips, especially utilizing white space for a clean, simplified look. Thanks for the reminder that when building a new website, there needs to be a completely different site map for mobile.


  • Great article and advice. I am sharing!

  • Hi, CreativeCurrency —

    I just finished the manuscript for a book called “Go Mobile” which I’ve written with Jeanne Hopkins who is the Director of Marketing at HubSpot. (Due out in 2012.)

    One of the chapters addresses your question about “plug-and-play” mobile website development tools.

    We included several suggestions in the book, some of which include Mobify, Wirenode, Mippin, Mobilizer, Onbile, MoFuse and HubSpot. If you are a HubSpot user, their platform creates a mobile website for you automatically.

    Of course, you can also ask your web design firm and/or ad agency to create one for you. But if you’re looking for a simple, plug-and-play system, the ones mentioned above should do the trick.

    Jamie Turner

  • Awwww, Ali. Thank you so much for the compliment. I appreciate it!

    — Jamie

  • Great input, Cartwheel! Thanks.

    — Jamie

  • Guest

    Some great tips here, but creating a separate mobile site lacking most of the content on the “real” site violates a fundamental principle of the web, as expressed in the W3C’s Mobile Best Practices (

    “One Web means making, as far as is reasonable, the same information and services available to users irrespective of the device they are using.”

    You can’t assume because someone is using a mobile device (say, an iPad) they don’t want to access something they just viewed on their Macbook Air earlier that day. By all means, optimize the representation of that content for different devices.

    Not only will separate sites frustrate users, it’s also multiplies your own work maintaining the sites. That’s why the best minds on the web advocate responsive web design ( — a single site whose design responds to the device the user is accessing it with.

  • I am one of the last holdouts who doesn’t have a mobile phone. I did try to design a page on my site that is mobile friendly…how did I do?

  • DenisHurley

    Many would say that the iPad is not “mobile” in this sense, and I would agree. Jamie’s points are spot-on: your mobile visitor is expecting different things from your website than your desktop visitor. And as long as you give your mobile visitor the option to visit your standard site, you’re all set. A lot of W3C’s Mobile Best Practices are antiquated or apply to feature phone development, which is important for many parts of the world… but not in places where mobile traffic is dominated by iPhone and Android users.

  • DenisHurley

    Jamie, another option is Mobile Meteor (disclaimer: it’s my business 😉

    We offer an affordable option that includes initial development and access to a content management system so users can update the site themselves and check analytics.

    Having worked in the mobile space for years, usually for small businesses and organizations of small businesses, I’ve come to all the same conclusions as you. I hope we’re both right! I’ve also come to learn that many businesses that are similar to each other can benefit from a solution built with them in mind. I’d love it if you kept your eye on

  • Victoria, when I entered “” in the default Android 2.2 browser, your full site came up. Pretty much unreadable without zooming and then it’s like trying to read a book when you can see only one corner of a page at a time. I found the link to the mobile page, but possibly only because I had cheated first by visiting your site from my computer. Following Jamie’s advice above, I’d say less detailed info, more white space. Ask the question, “If I were visiting this site from a smartphone, what would I want to see first, second and third?” And put that site up, with graphics consistent with the original (and with your brand image.) Hope this helps!!  The resort sounds great, by the way. Are the prices per person or per couple? 🙂

  • Admin

    Hi Jamie,
    Just done a mobile site! (would appreciate your feedback please?) – Free UK Mobile directory.  Many thanks for looking!

  • Thanks for the update, Denis!

  • Hi, Victoria —

    I checked your mobile site and it’s rendering. Bravo. You might increase the size of the type and simplify it a little bit, but other than that, it’s working!

    Since you’re the last person on the planet without a cell phone (kidding), in the future, you can test your mobile site on my friend Cindy Krum’s Mobile Handset Emulator here:

    Good luck!

    — Jamie

  • It looks good! Very basic, but good.

    You’re a step ahead of most people, so congratulations!

    P.S. I was born in London. My hometown!


  • Bart, I’m afraid I’m going to have to agree with Denis on this one. Your mobile site should be short and sweet, as I’ve outlined above. The WC3’s Mobile Best Practices seem as though they’re a little out of date, in my opinion. (Sorry.)

    That said, I’m glad you shared your point-of-view with us. Even if we disagree, it provides an opportunity for others to explore our opposing viewpoints and make decisions for themselves.



  • Natalie Glatt

    great article really helpful thanks!

  • mobicanvas

    If you want an easy way to build your mobile site today, try Mobicanvas is an easy to use, free, mobile site builder

  • Hi Jamie,
    Great Post, thanks for info.Just wondering, in your experience, would you build mobile websites in jquery? Is this compatible with majority of phones?Thanks,Ruby

  • Super post! Just like your blog professionalism! Keep up the good work.

  • Great tips Jamie, so far I’ve only experienced making my sites mobile friendly with different WordPress plugins, but I want to get more into it since more and more browsing is done via mobile devices.

    Being a guy with big fingers, I think whitespace is key, and also the ability to switch to the full website can come in handy sometimes too if something isn’t available in the mobile version.

  • Hi, Mark —

    Great to hear from you.

    I use a web design program called Freeway Pro which builds sites in HTML. It’s a great program for my purposes. But the jquery question gets pretty deep into programming languages, so it’s probably best answered by someone with more experience on that front.

    Anybody want to weigh in on this one? Comments and suggestions are welcome.


  • Providing a “switch to regular site” is a key idea, Jamie. Thanks for your thoughts/comments on that front.

  • Michelle

    Great tips, Jamie! It’s important to note that designing for the web is not the same as designing for mobile.  I use this mobile content management system to manage my mobile sites, and they guarantee compatibility across iPhone, Android, BlackBerry etc – built in HTML5.

  • DenisHurley

    jquery is very powerful, and it can come in very handy for website development. However, if you have the skills, you can keep your web page might lighter (which shortens download time) if you code everything yourself from scratch.

  • Thanks Jamie. They are both terrific posts. I’m not quite ready to create a mobile site but I’ve taken your information on board and I’m sure it will prove very useful in the future.

  • CreativeCurrency

    Thanks Jamie, your insight and relevant knowledge of the mobile industry is greatly appreciated!

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  • Digitalplusmm

    Great article. Can’t find anything to disagree with. I too offer mobile web “conversion” services.

  • Hi Creativecurrency

    I really recommend Paul at Smart Web Apps, find him on Twitter @smartwebapps. He’s done one for me and I would highly recommend him. A great efficient service and very reasonably priced 🙂

  • P.S. Here’s his website if you want to take a look at some of the fantastic mobile friendly sites he’s created for businesses:

  • Thanks, CreativeCurrency!

  • Best tip I can offer is a bit obvious: Imagine if you logged on as a user, what would you want to see, how should it look and what’s important to read!

  • Thanks for the article.. i’m the owner of a french hotel and i think i’ll have soon to get my mobile site cause i see many people are searching on mobile devices..

  • ash19810

    These are great tips, thanks! One of things that we’ve also discovered is that beyond the issues with layout and design, people who want a mobile presence simply don’t have the time, money or technical know-how to gain it.  That’s the biggest problem we’ve decided to tackle with out platform. 

    ash – appguppy  

  • Mld Associates

    The site I found to do the best sites for mobile is at     . They are fast, usually 48 hours, and very cost efficient.  Marvin

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  • Good advice which highlights that you can’t just apply a “mobile” template to your existing site and then claim that you’re mobile ready.

    How do content management systems handle the issue of using different content for mobile devices? WordPress, for instance, has a number of mobile themes which address the visual interface. It also has a number of plugins which do things like browser auto-detection, but do any of these plugins allow the site owner to specify different copy for mobile devices? If they don’t, they have limited usefulness if you’re using WordPress for a business website.

    Real mobile design is expensive because there is much more to do than just addressing layouts for the small screen.

  • Marvin

    Actually, by putting a re-direct code in the head tag , the site re-directs to the mobile optimized site.
    At Mobile Optimize Now they do all of that for you.

  • Is that site ready for production? There are a whole bunch of scripting errors at the bottom of the page.

  • From what I can see, the techos at only work with static websites, right? I’m not aware of Drupal, WordPress, Joomla, etc, having a facility to have two different sets of content for ever desktop and mobile devices.

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  • Isn’t copied text penalised by Google and shouldn’t be links for credits appear in a prominent position?

    Your article has been copied and plagiarised at: … so you will generate less clicks from Search Engines, both because you will rank lower and also you have someone who copied your article competing for the same exact keywords. Right?

    I see you have given them permission to do so as you are listed in a small credits at the bottom. Wouldn’t it be better if it showed at the top of the article in a bolder font?

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  • Thanks for the article more of our customers are adopting these techniques with their mobile sites. If you would like to check out our site it is ,

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  • Hi Jamie, thank you for interesting post! 
    The comments were also very informative here!  
    Guys if you are not yet familiar with Sticky Mobile I want to share it here! It helps especially marketers and website owners  to drive smart phone users to open your URL, review your website and bookmark it. Nice way  to keep people engaged with your brand and it is free to use:)

  • Racheli_batish

    I recommand trying – they create a mirroring of your website for all smartphones, and you don’t need to do anything. They even provide with a live demo on their website

  • Thanks, Jamie, for the excellent tips on this important step to make sure mobile users can see what we want them to see. I heard a bash of this idea the other day from an iPad user who hated when his edition of the website went to mobile. He wanted to see more. I think your suggestion of the link to the Full Site is the way for him to go, yes? 

  • Very interesting tips indeed..Jamie.  I echo point 7 on your list regarding pop-ups…there’s still a lot of mobile users around without a sophisticated Smartphone.  For that reason, providing pop-ups… won’t be an ideal way of communicating offers to customers in general. 

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  • Adnan


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  • Great for at least taking steps forward with mobile as so many people and businesses don’t realise the impact this is having on their business and just how much mobile will be taking over pc’s pretty soon. Plugins have been ok, but as many have already said, we also need to cut down on the content rather than get it all squeezed into the mobile version – mobile searchers are definately a different animal as Jamie said as they want crucial important business info and they want it instantly while on the move

    Little things like not wanting to search for a phone number and then enter it in their dialer – a simple ‘Tap to Call’ link near the top of your mobile site does wonders and that’s just for a start

    All the best

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  • Sanchit D

    Simply Make your Website Responsive with Twitter Bootstrap Framework.

  • Great tips Jamie for the mobile optimization.

  • thebest media

    Really Great tips! One explicit
    tip that I agreeable was, “Decreasing the number of text entry fields.”
    i feel that’s usually unnoticed however makes a large distinction. Having
    mapped out the choices for the user into checkable boxes instead of text fields
    is simply sensible UI style.”

  • Awesome Post.I got a solutions & clear my doubt that how to optimize a mobile website. Now can you explain that how can I do mobile SEO.Guide me