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How to Make Your Content Mobile Friendly

When I think about the work I do these days very little of it actually needs to be done on a “real” computer.

Writing a post like this, creating a PowerPoint deck or maybe editing a video are things that are still best done by me using lots of computing power and a large screen or two.

Just about everything else – managing email, reading blog posts, participating in social media and consuming content in various forms – can be done, sometimes much more conveniently, using a mobile or tablet device.

As these devices become more prevalent and powerful people will adopt them for all but a handful of business and personal tasks.

Content consumption is already headed towards the 50% mark in terms of mobile vs. laptop as the reader of choice. On my site mobile devices account for right at 15% of all traffic today. That’s up over 150% over last year at this time and represents a 16% increase from just last month.

The point is you must package your content in ways that the growing legions of tablet and mobile consumers can enjoy or run the risk of turning this important readership away.

iphone content

Responsive design on iPhone

ipad content

Responsive design redispays theme for the iPad

There are a number of methods to consider in the mobile content display category.

Mobile Plugins

If you are a WordPress user you can add a plugin like WPTouch that makes your content much more consumable on mobile devices, but comes at the cost of very little in terms of design flexibility. In other words, it’s not the best looking option.

Mobile Only Content

You can also find mobile designers here or use a tool like Duda Mobile to recreate your site as a mobile version. This offers design flexibility and even allows you to highlight the most useful content that someone on the go might desire. The downside is this becomes another asset you have to update and maintain.

Mobile App

At one point the holy grail of mobile content was the custom app. Think about it, someone is going to download your app and then have total access to every bit of your content in a variety of interactive and engaging formats. What’s not to love about that? The problem is nobody (or at least not many) wants your app, no matter how much they might like your content. You can however, build your own cross-platform app pretty easily these days with services like Tiggzi.

Responsive Design

The option that is growing in popularity and that embraces the idea that all content should be viewed from one site design is something called responsive design.

Responsive design is design that responds to the viewing environment and adapts layout, orientation and size based on the screen. Design elements, images and text adapt via CSS rather than plugins or add-ons.

This site employs responsive design via a custom child theme on the Genesis framework and I believe the mobile experience and subsequent rise in mobile views, time on site via mobile and decreased mobile bounce rate attest to the value of the enhanced user experience. In my view, this is the approach that most websites should employ today.

Mobile Video

As a bit of a side note I want to add a thought or two about mobile video. With the expansion of 4G LTE video consumption on mobile devices has skyrocketed. A subset of responsive design is responsive video design. Use tools like FitVid or custom CSS to make sure your videos resize to tablet and mobile screens.

Use this mobile emulator from dotMobi to see how your content looks today on a variety of mobile devices and start moving towards making your content mobile friendly now.

3 Mobile Behaviors You Must Embrace Right Now

When marketing people start talking about mobile these days, and they’re doing it a lot, they usually default to tactics – mobile ads, SMS, throw in some near field communications and we’re on the mobile track.

Text Message Marketing

photo credit: Drriss via photo pin cc

I’ve been doing this a long time and with every emerging evolution there seems to be an equally reactive rush to embrace the accompanying tactics and it’s what leads people to do things that don’t make sense.

Ten years ago everyone was hiring web designers to create web sites that had nothing to do with the rest of the organization’s marketing or branding – but they had to have a web site.

Then social media came along and everyone rushed to figure out Twitter and how to run a contest on Facebook.

The mobile rush is currently starting to heat up and, once again, I think most people are asking the wrong thing.

Instead of how do wet get into mobile, where can we get our own cool app or how much should we spend on mobile ads, the question is and should be this.

What behaviors are our current customers exhibiting right now when it comes to mobile and how can we tap those behaviors using some combination of existing and emerging tools.

I truly believe that’s the formula for considering any new tactic or tool. When you factor what you’re doing now that works and ask how you can use the tools to do more of that, you’ll rarely get caught up in the rush towards new for new sake.

Below are three mobile behaviors you can no longer ignore as they’ve become universal and cross industries and demographics in undeniable ways.

1) Content is getting consumed on mobile devices on the go.

I have a Nexus7, iPhone, iPad, Kindle Fire. I use apps like Reeder and FlipBoard on most of those devices to consume content. And, while I’m not your average online folk, my wife does the same and so do my kids.

Our content must be made to be consumed by people using really small screens riding in a car, at the library and at the conference. Right now, there are very few business that can pull off a generally useful app, but every business should invest in making all of their content pitch perfect for the various ways it’s being consumed.

This means using plugins such as WPTouch Pro, choosing themes and designers that use Responsive Web Design and exploring mobile landing pages and content pages designed to provide very specific content to mobile surfers with tools such as Tekora or GoMobi

2) Mobile is a key element in the buying process

And, here’s the most important aspect of that behavior – mobile shoppers are proving more valuable then traditional shoppers, including demonstrating less price sensitivity according the July Mobile Retail Insights report from Mobile Ad Network Greystripe.

Okay this statement relies on murky research, but think about it – mobile shoppers, people that do research on the fly looking for somewhere to shop, eat, drink, visit, or even hire a service, are more likely to jump on the things they find first, conveniently and seamlessly.

While people are using their mobile devices during the buying or shopping process many are choosing to make actual purchases either offline (see next behavior) or using a laptop, but tablets are going to change this dramatically.

The key is to understand that mobile is a link in the buying chain and proper integration is where conversion comes from.

3) People expect mobile engagement

Once you understand this behavior you’ll stop bad mouthing text message marketing. That’s not to say that there aren’t people doing it poorly or using it to spam, but it is to say there are terribly powerful and valid reasons to use SMS and now is the time to analyze how you can use service such as EXTexting or Trumpia for customer service, flash sales and specials and appointment opening.

I’ve also seen people use SMS short codes to allow people to subscribe to their email newsletter and more and more businesses are offering receipts by way of email and text.

I allow people to download slides from my speaking events, something they would often ask me to do anyway, by sending a short code text to a specific number. This particular process allows them to get what they want when they want it without much work and certainly takes me out of the process as well.

Enabling mobile engagement through tools such a click to call, click to chat or click for driving directions is another way to help people get what they want in the highly impatient, highly motivated world of mobile commerce.

I think the key to understanding any new technology or tactic is pretty simple. First figure out how you can use it to make something your customer is already doing easier and better. If you can do that it doesn’t matter how you see others using it or not.

Is Your Blog iPad Worthy?

ipadLots of folks these days are consuming things like blog content on their still shiny new iPads. App developers like Flipboard and big time publishers like Slate and Wired are taking advantage of the wide HD screen to create stunning visual displays and interaction.

This new look media is starting to make plain old blogs look a little flat by comparison. Want to see how your blog looks on the iPad (buy one for $600 or . . . ) visit iPad Peek and plug in your blog’s URL to see what it looks like to an iPad viewer.

Now, to be fair the 1024 wide iPad screen in horizon view frames most modern WordPress themes just fine, but it’s all that other flashy looking stuff and vertical finger scroll that’s missing.

Fortunately, there are some ready made solutions that you can tap now without shelling our design bucks (OK, I know for some bloggers $50 bucks is a serious deal, but these are all very reasonable.)

The resources below will give some to work with and cost between $29 and $49. In most cases the promoters are suggesting their themes as not only a good iPad version but a great web option as well and have to agree.

PadPressed – PadPressed is actually a theme built into a plugin so it can sense when an iPad shows up and deliver your theme and some iPad only functionality to your blog

WPTouch 2.0 Pro – To be fair the iPad update to this plugin is coming in a month or so in v2.1, but I’ve used the mobile version of this plugin for months. This is a very useful tool and I expect the iPad version to work equally as well.

Mobility WP – Good stuff from the folks at Themeforest looks pretty simple and has some flexibility in scheme

Pingable – Multiple style options and built in lightbox option makes it a nice choice from creative professionals showcasing work.