5 Ways to Make Your Website Mobile (And 1 Reason You Might Not Want To.)

by Kat French |

 

Kat French
Kat French

As of August 2008, mobile handset penetration in Italy was at 140%.

You read that right: there are now more mobile devices than people in Italy.   

According to Engadget, some studies are predicting 100% mobile phone penetration in the United States within 4 years; at present, it’s estimated at around 84%.  Some research indicates that as of 2008, as much as 3-10% of all web traffic comes from mobile devices. 

So clearly, if your site is not accessible or easy to read via mobile devices, you’re missing a pretty large potential audience. 

So, because I’m a helpful sort of gal, I thought I’d post 5 fast, simple ways to make your website mobile-friendly.

1.  Mofuse.   Assuming your site is a blog, or at least has an RSS feed of some sort, you can create a mobile version of it lickety-split with Mofuse.  Create an account, plug in your feed URL, settle on a subdomain (like http://socialmediaexplorer.mofuse.com) and then pick a way to integrate the mobile version with your regular site.  You can either create an SMS widget, automatically detect and redirect mobile users to the mobile site, or add a “mobile version” badge to your site. 

Mofuse allows you to do some styling and customization of your site, as well as add a custom domain.  It also offers analytics, so you can keep tabs on your mobile visitors separately.  You can also add a mobile-only homepage, as well as other mobile-only pages and links, including a Click 2 Call link.  Click 2 Call allows folks to call a telephone number directly from your site (I could see this being pretty handy for a site that was primarily a lead-generation tool.)   Publishers can opt-in to 50/50 revenue sharing advertising by agreeing to include ads from either AdMob or Google AdSense.

2.  Mippin is another option, if Mofuse sounds a little more complicated than you’re interested in right now.  Mippin is extremely similar to Mofuse, allowing you to quickly set up a mobile version of any RSS-driven site, customize the look of it a bit, and also has the nice added feature of automatically generating some searchable tags for your site based on its content (you can also add tags manually).  Advertising (which publishers share revenues on) is optional on Mippin, and offered through AdMob’s ad network.  Mippin also has some analytics reporting available, called “Reports.”

3.  Got no RSS?  No problem.  Site.mobi has a free tool that will allow you to build a mobile site from scratch, customize the pages, and drop in whatever content you so desire, using one of several basic templates. 

4.  Let’s say you’re seriously over creating new accounts with free services.  You just want a way to make your site visible to mobile users.  You can use Google’s mobile version tool to strip the images and styling and create a mobile/WAP version of your site in seconds.   Take the following string, and place your URL in it where indicated:   http://www.google.com/gwt/n?u=http%3A%2F%2F{YOUR URL}&hl=en&mrestrict=xhtml.  

For example, you could go to http://www.google.com/gwt/n?u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.socialmediaexplorer.com&hl=en&mrestrict=xhtml  Pretty nifty, eh?  (Hat tip to Jerry Ong for this method)

Or you could just go here, and plug in your URL:  http://www.google.com/gwt/n

Now, I know what you’re thinking. That’s a heck of a long URL to remember.  Which is why there are at least two steps to this process.  One option (the easy/free one) would be to use your favorite URL shortener (TinyUrl, urltea, is.gd, bit.ly, etc.), plug in the lengthy URL string above, and you’re good to go.   A slightly more complicated version would be to redirect a mobile-specific domain to that URL.  For example, if your hosting company lets you set up subdomains, you could set up http://m.yoururlhere.com to redirect to the URL string from Google Mobile Sites. 

The downside to this method is that your site will be framed at top and bottom with a Google header and footer.  And Google could discontinue this service at any time.  But it’s simple, free, and fast.

5.  Let’s say you’re a bit of a control freak.  You don’t want your mobile site sitting on someone else’s service or domain or hosting or whatever.  This method requires some light PHP coding skill, and the ability to set up subdomains and redirects, but it’s still fairly simple.  Rather than copying the whole thing here, I will just encourage you to check out the original article, courtesy Mike Davidson.   

An alternate “I don’t do no stinking PHP!” version for WordPress users would be to either select a WordPress theme that has a mobile stylesheet, or if you’ve got a designer whose done a custom theme for you, ask for a mobile stylesheet and the javascript code to detect mobile devices and apply that stylesheet.  If you’re going this route, check out Alex King’s WordPress Mobile Edition plug-in which auto-detects mobile devices, as well as the MobilePress plug-in, as it will also alert Google and Yahoo mobile bots to your site. 

Okay, now that I’ve shown you a number of fast, easy ways to create a mobile version of your website or blog, it’s time for the caveat:  You may not want to use any of these. 

Remember way back in the day, when the web itself was brand-spanking new, and internet access boasted penetration numbers similar to what mobile web access has today?  Back in the days before the dot.com bubble burst, lots of businesses approached the web with the same attitude that I’m seeing frequently today in relation to the mobile channel. 

“Potential customers are there, I want to be there.  Content?  Well, I’ve got this great print brochure/catalog.  Can’t you just put that up there?”

Content strategy is markedly different on the mobile web.  If your mobile strategy consists entirely of “strip out all the images and styling from my regular web site,” then you haven’t thought it through sufficiently yet.  Is the content on your regular website even of interest to mobile surfers?

If you’d like to do a serious deep-dive into mobile marketing strategy, check out MobiThinking’s Top 10 Mobile Marketing Mistakes article. 

You may decide that it’s more important to get a presence up and running on the mobile web now, and then tweak strategy and content in more detail later.  If so, any of the five methods listed above should help.  But don’t let that lull you into thinking you’ve got your bases covered when it comes to mobile.  It means you’ve taken the first step.


About the Author

Kat French

Kat French is the Client Services and Content Manager at SME Digital. An exceptional writer, Kat combines creativity with an agile, get-it-done attitude across a broad range of experience in content strategy, copywriting, community management and social media marketing. She has worked with national brands like Maker's Mark, Daytona Beach Tourism, CafePress and more.