Potential customers searching for travel and hotel information online are now using mobiles and tablets more than their pc at home. It’s estimated that 56% of Americans now own a smart phone and use it for searching the internet. This is the first time that this kind of enquiry has eclipsed home computers. Not only that, it’s a huge increase. While searches actually fell on pc’s, they went up on mobiles by 68%. That sounds impressive but on tablets they went up by a whopping 180%.
Market analysts predict that this trend is set to continue and they estimate that by 2017, hotel and travel sales via mobile phones will be around $55.47 billion.
First of all, you obviously want to be a part of that. To quickly get the attention of people searching for Hotels and travel you need to make sure that you are fully optimized for mobile enquiries. If you think that you can’t spend the time and money getting to that stage, here’s some more incentive. The Somerset Inn, in Troy, Michigan got their website optimized for mobiles and in six months, views on their website went up by 32%.
How do I Optimize my Website for Mobile Devices?
To affect how your website looks on mobile devices, you will need to address three main issues.
The size of the screen
How fast your pages load
The user interface
The main point to keep in mind when you’re working on the layout (and the content) of a page that you’re optimizing, is screen size. Try to limit your layout to one column. It must scroll up and down as that is much easier for viewers. Left to right is ‘clunky’ and awkward. Make it easy for your potential customers.
But Mobile Screens Differ in Size…
You need to make a choice here. You can go for a ‘one size fits all layout – or create multiple layouts to fit several different screen sizes. The second option is obviously more time consuming. The easiest option is to build your website on WordPress (dot org, so that you can use your own domain name) and use a Responsive theme.
Pay Attention to Load Times and Bandwidth
On a home pc, it’s easier to get higher speeds on the internet. Mobile networks aren’t so fast. Reception is an issue too. Also, if your visitors are on a contract that limits their data and bandwidth, they will be browsing more cautiously. Try to help them with this by making landing pages light on data. Always compress pictures and photos to the smallest size that you possibly can without affecting their quality. This will speed up the loading times of your pages. If you have videos on your site, give the viewer an option to click to see them – rather than making them see it on a landing page which will slow everything down.
Keep in mind that any potential customers using a mobile device won’t be browsing using a normal sized keyboard. Their device might have a touchscreen with a mini keyboard. Be careful how you place and present buttons to click on and links. Try not to have too many of either on one page. To help your home pc users, do have a link to your desktop full sized website.
Don’t Rebuild Your Entire Website Until you’ve Read This
Before you rush off to start creating a whole new website for mobile devices, you might like to know that there is a much more cost effective option. Get yourself some pbSmart Codes software. This will let you use themes in different colors. You will also be able to customize the header and upload images and logos. Don’t forget that according to most internet entrepreneurs “the money is in the list” so make sure that you have a way of collecting email addresses.
Fast or Slow Info?
Both. Try and view your website as if you are a customer. If someone wants to get a discount or further information on something, they usually want it fast and will use a QR code. Don’t comprosise on content though as travellers on long journey or in a queue will often read article.
Google have the Following Advice on Optimizing your Site for Mobile Devices.
This will only work on for IOS 3.0 or Android 2.2
1. Sign into your website
2. Click on the ‘More Actions button’ (it’s in the top right)
3. From the drop down menu, click on Manage Site
4. Click General (left side of the window)
5. Navigate to the Mobile section. Find “Automatically adjust site to mobile phone” option. Put a check in the box.
Check it Out
To see how your site will look now
1. Click on the More Actions button
2. Choose Preview Page As Viewer
3. Choose the Mobile option (it’s at the top of the page in a yellow bar)
If your site is on WordPress, you can add some great plug-ins for optimizing mobile devices. These can make your site recognize visitors on mobile devices and then helpfully give them your site on a mobile template of your choice.
Last of all, take a look at mobileawesomeness.com to see the best websites optimized for mobile devices. They will give you some idea of what you’re aiming for.