Practical Reasons to Prioritize Mobile Friendliness for Your Brick-and-Mortar Business

phonetravelRecently, I traveled internationally. Both because I care about my clients' ability to reach me AND because I rely on my phone heavily for everything, I ponied up some extra cash to pay for an international data plan. I could use my phone for everything abroad that I could use it for at home, and I intended to navigate, make reservations, choose the places I wanted to visit, and adjust my travel plans using only my smart phone.

I didn't bring a computer. I didn't use the hotel business center. I did absolutely everything from my smart phone.

In my situation, the ability to effectively access their sites made the difference between my visiting a given restaurant or business, or not. It was that simple. If I couldn't manage it from my phone, it wasn't happening. 

There were several deal-breakers for me in using a given business' site. If I couldn't read it easily, if I couldn't contact the business easily, and if I couldn't navigate to their location easily, I was highly unlikely to visit. 

Deal-Breaker #1: Wrong Size

wrongsizeLooking for a restaurant that might offer me some vegetarian options was how I spent a fair amount of my searching-by-phone time. One problem I encountered regularly was that the site had been designed for a computer screen, not a mobile device. Either the text was far wider than the screen -- requiring me to either switch my phone to landscape mode or to scroll back and forth to read the end of every line -- or the text was squeezed somehow into tiny vertical columns, making it extremely difficult to read anything at all.

This happens when web sites aren't made responsive. We use the word "responsive" to refer to web sites that, literallly, respond to the device on which they're being viewed, adjusting the viewable space appropriately and on the fly. Web sites that don't do that leave the work to your clumsy fingers and thumbs to zoom, slide, poke, and, in my case, finally just give up and find a new restaurant.

Want to geek out on how to do this yourself? Check out this article on the code you need.

Deal-Breaker #2: Unclickable Phone Number

This may sound picky, but it is JUST frustrating enough to make me look for another option when, standing on a crowded street corner trying to make a reservation, I poked at the phone number on a tour company's contact page and found that nothing happened.

What I expected to find was that, if I tapped on a phone number, a small window would pop-up on my phone and ask me if I wanted to call that number. If that had happened, I would have tapped on the "Call" option in that window, connecting the call and allowing me to schedule the tour. 

Instead, nothing happened at all. No one had coded that phone number to be "clickable," connecting the web site to the phone I was using to browse it. My only option at that point would have been to pull out paper and a pen, write the number down (balancing my phone on what? the ground?), and then manually tap in the number. 

Let's face it. Most of us are too lazy. If there are other tour companies -- ones which make it easy for me to reach them using the technology through which I found their web site -- then those are getting priority as I stand on a street corner in a strange city. 

Want to know how to do it? Here are some EASY instructions for making a phone number clickable.

nomapDeal-Breaker #3: No Map

This may be less of an issue if most of your customers are local, but if your business is a destination for people outside your neighborhood, you have to include a map. Ideally, it's a map that your users can click on, open larger in their phones, and connect to their own GPS. Otherwise, you have a situation like mine: standing in an unfamiliar location, interested in your business, but having no idea whether you are a five minute walk or a forty-minute cab ride away.

I looked at this address and, once again, had to decide whether it was worth finding paper and pen, writing it down, and then carefully re-typing it into my mapping program. 

Nah. I skipped it. 

Adding a map is a relatively straightforward task. WordPress has a Google Maps plugin, so does Joomla, and you can use a generic Google Maps embedder almost everywhere else.

 


I admit that my phone has made me lazy. I want it to be my tool for everything when I travel, but the reality is that I am not alone.  As you build a site for your brick-and-mortar business, remember that your goal is to bring in customers. Setting up impediments to that is counter-productive! Picture your customers on a street corner, looking at your web site through their phones. How hard do you want them to work?

 Need a hand making your site more mobile-friendly? If you want to learn more about how we work with clients to build sites that reflect their unique offerings, check in with us via emailFacebook or Twitter.

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