OKC company releases mobile website design
by April Wilkerson
Dolan Media Newswires
OKLAHOMA CITY, OK -- As people increasingly use smart phones instead of a traditional computer to access the Internet, businesses that don’t change their websites accordingly could be ignoring their customers’ needs.
The Oklahoma City-based company Back40 Design Group recently released its mobile website design – pared-down but informational, readable websites that are suited for the mobile device user.
“‘Web surfing’ was a big term back in the day when people would go online to surf for information and look around. But that’s not how people use websites when they’re using their mobile device,” said Stacy Brasher, director of operations for Back40. “When they’re using a smart phone, they’re looking for action items or specific information. They’ve come to your website because they want to call you or find your address or get a map. That is what makes the mobile website necessary. For those individuals, if they’re going to spend less than five minutes on your website, they need it to load quickly, display what they’re looking for and find the information faster than looking through a full, perhaps 50-page website.”
The technology already exists so that a server can identify whether a person is accessing a web page through a mobile device or a traditional computer, said Ryan Hickman, senior programmer for Back40. If it’s a smart phone, the server will load the mobile technology webpage instead of the regular website, he said.
Back40 is helping clients create alternate websites that fit the smart-phone criteria.
Chief Executive Officer Dave Miller said the content of such a website is an exercise in determining the heart of a business or organization.
“It’s an excellent challenge having to pare down the content – it makes you think about the most important messages about your business or organization that we can present first with very little fluff,” Miller said.
Websites for mobile devices need to relay information so the user doesn’t have to zoom or click to lots of different pages, Brasher said. The writing should be concise and buttons big enough for the finger or thumb to find them. Logos should be consistent with a company’s brand, yet simplified and high-contrast because they will be smaller. A logo that looks good with several elements and effects on a regular website would do well to be simplified for a mobile device. Numerous photos also aren’t a good idea for a mobile web page, nor does Flash usually show up on a mobile device. All that needs to be accomplished while retaining a site’s pizzazz and purpose, Brasher said.
“There are a lot of intricate pieces that go into the concept of simplifying something,” she said. “It sounds like the opposite of what you would think, but it’s true: You have to think of all the small details that will create lag time or slow down loads. Those are the things that will frustrate mobile users. You have to eliminate everything you can to make it as user-friendly as possible.”
On some of its clients’ mobile Web pages, Back40 puts two buttons at the bottom – one for the phone number and the other for a map – which are the two types of information a mobile user most needs from a site, Miller said. If mobile users still want to access the full website for more information, they also have that option with a link on the mobile site.
Mobile websites are a growing part of Back40’s business – the staff has been adding mobile sites for existing customers and selling packages to new clients – but their clients are increasingly seeing the benefit as well, Brasher said. People don’t take their laptops with them when they go grocery shopping or for a night on the town, but they do take their smart phones, she said.
“It’s a way for business owners to have 24-7 access to people that they didn’t have with a computer,” she said.
Brasher said Back40 has seen evidence on its own website of increased smartphone access. In 2009, about 145 people used a mobile device to log on to the Back40 website, she said. This year, the company is seeing nearly that many smart-phone visitors in 60 days.
“We’ve always talked about having an elevator speech for your company – you get into an elevator and you’ve only got a few minutes to tell somebody what you do,” Brasher said. “That’s the same concept with a mobile website. You need to pare it down to how short can I tell you exactly what I do, why it benefits you and how you can contact me.”
© Dolan Media Newswires 2010.