Elance Blog

I’m Not At My Computer: The Importance of Tablet and Mobile Friendly Websites

We all know that more often than not, you only get one chance to make an impression on a client or customer, and with more and more people browsing on mobile devices, your website needs to be mobile friendly. Freelance web designer and writer Scott Stanton talks about how you can save a poorly thought-out site from making or breaking your business.

Let’s face it, with Internet easier to find than a Starbucks and smartphones continually improving with new features, hardly anyone wants to be tied down in an office all day. That’s why it’s important that you adapt to the growing shift towards the mobile office and make sure your internet presence is mobile friendly, because you never know where your potential client may be. I’ve landed a large client via email from the golf course, conducted a teleconference from bed, developed a website on an airplane and have browsed jobs from such locations as a brew pub, someone’s driveway who had an unlocked Wi-Fi network, and my grandmother’s living room. Professional? Probably not. But the people on the other end had no idea, and so you never know where your potential clients or customers can be when they actually discover you.

A Great Example of Mobile Design

Before we dive any deeper, let’s take a look at a good mobile friendly website, Hambo Development. The site doesn’t have any extremely large images to slow down the load time, there’s just enough color and icons to give the site a fun personality, and it loads on mobile devices without any trouble. Perhaps the most genius aspect of this site though, is that all the information you need is on one page. If a client is relying on their data package to load a site, they may grow impatient browsing through numerous pages where the only thing changing is a little bit of text. But scrolling isn’t perceived as a hassle in the mobile world, especially on a touchscreen device.

Hambo has the three most important things all on one quickly loading page: who they are, why they’re awesome, and how to get in touch with them.

Having a website that is mobile friendly is quite similar to making an elevator pitch. If you’re not familiar with what an elevator pitch is, imagine you’re a lowly intern who is toiling away in the mailroom of a large corporation. You just so happen to step on the same elevator as the CEO and you now have less than a minute to pitch yourself and earn a promotion from the mailroom to a plush office. Having a mobile friendly website is like having your pitch ready for your impromptu interview with the CEO.

It Better Work The First Time

If you’re lucky enough to catch a potentially large customer on the phone, chances are they’re going to ask you to email them and end the phone call. This is pretty standard practice. But what happens after you send that email?

I was recently in London riding the Underground around 5 o’clock in the afternoon. The rail car was packed full of men in suits, 90% of whom were on their phone or tablet. I couldn’t help but think that the majority of them were going through all those kinds of emails and tying up all their loose ends at the end of their day. Now, if they get to your email, tap the link, and your site is dominantly Flash and doesn’t work on their mobile phone, chances are they’re closing out of it and moving on to the next email. They may intend to view it next time they’re at their computer, but how many other things were they also going to do when they got to their computer? Worse yet, when’s the next time they’ll actually be at their computer? Point being, that first opportunity might be the only chance you have at getting that potential client to visit your site, so it better work the first time.

I recently got an email from a friend asking me to check out his site and provide him with some feedback. And wouldn’t you know it—I was away from my computer when I received the email on my iPhone. I opened the email, clicked his link, my browser launched and this is what I saw:



Content on this page should not have to require a newer version of Adobe Flash Player but any kind of Flash player at all! I wrote him back suggesting he not forget about his mobile viewers, even if that meant creating a separate site that was nothing more than an image of his business card and a link saying, “Launch Flash site.” Sure, the Flash site won’t load. But at least the viewer that hits that page gets some info and realizes they’re not seeing the full site because it’s Flash; however, they’ll certainly recognize that the person they’re dealing with has all of their bases are covered.

The Conclusion

Some important things to keep in mind while designing or developing your website to ensure that it stays mobile friendly are platform, layout, navigation and load time. All these things can affect converting a viewer or potential client into money in the bank. If your site is all Flash, it’s not going to load on a lot of mobile and tablet platforms, mainly Apple’s iPhones and iPad. Developing your site to look good specifically on a modern, widescreen monitor may result in annoying horizontal scrolling on a mobile device. Though most mobile devices and tablets can be viewed in either hamburger or hot dog style (horizontally or vertically), the mobile user tends to favor the one-hand, hot dog style of browsing. Think of your mobile viewer hanging onto a handrail in a subway car with one hand while surfing your site on their phone with their other hand.

The last two aspects to keep in mind are navigation and load time. Dropdown menus could make navigating your site a nuisance on any touch screen device or anything that lacks the ability to hover over links. And if your site is loaded with so much great content that it takes forever to load all of its greatness, chances are the busy client or customer won’t have the patience to wait—after all, they’re already on the move.

About the Author
Scott Stanton has spent the past decade working nights as a freelance web designer, only to write about the latest design trends at his day job as a freelance writer. Hang on Scott's every word @TheScottStanton.