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Make Mine to Go

You might have heard already, but we are experiencing a mobile revolution. The message from market research companies is loud and clear – mobile web access is growing exponentially. What’s more, Search Engine Watch reports a Google survey of mobile users found that they are five times more likely to abandon the task they are trying to complete if a site isn’t optimized for mobile use, with 79% saying they will go back to search and try to find another site to meet their needs. While this is likely far more true for an ecommerce site or news site than a website for a professional service do you want to risk losing a potential client because your website isn’t optimized for mobile viewing? But, you may say, won’t I have to hire a web developer to make a mobile version of my site, pay more money and spend more time? Well, yes, you can go that way but for those who want immediate gratification at a do-it-yourself level then I have a site that might interest you.

The DIY Option

While there are likely many options for creating a quick mobile site, one I recently tried and liked is a project called Go|Mo, a Google initiative powered by DudaMobile. The homepage starts with a pitch to make your site mobile friendly, using statistics like the ones above to drive the point home. The next step is to test your website, using the GoMoMeter. Just type in your website’s URL and you can see what your site looks like on a smartphone (note: sites ending in .ca will probably need to put in the entire URL string i.e. http://www.slaw.ca). Do you like what you see? No? Then take a short quiz about your site’s performance – how fast does it load, are any elements missing, do you have to pinch and pull to read it, is navigation “thumb friendly”, are your phone number and location visible? The site then gives you a numeric score and quick report. If you download the full report it provides more detail, and suggestions for improvement. If you aren’t happy with how your site looks on a mobile device the next step is to get started.

Go|Mo suggests contacting your current web developer for help, or finding one via the IAB Vendor Directory. However, you can give it a go yourself by clicking on “Build Your Free Site Now”. There is no such thing as “free” you say? You are right. Building your free mobile site with this tool will let you build a mobile version of your site that is free for one year. Then if you want to continue it is $9US per month/$86.40US per year. Look at it this way – you get a year to figure out another option if you don’t want to pay. Now the fun begins.

How to Go|Mo

To build your own mobile site put in your website’s URL. The tool is very clever. For instance, my site is built in WordPress so it asked me if the site should be treated as a blog or a website. I chose website templates and moved on. It showed me a mockup of my site content in a mobile version. Next I was given some layout options. View each layout to see what your site looks like on a smartphone pictured on the right. Click on “customize” on the layout to make small tweeks. Below that you can choose a color palette, with options to customize the colors. The color palette automatically defaults to a color scheme that compliments your website’s current color palette. Click “next” at the top to edit your header and logo, the navigation menu, remove content, add a click-to-call button, and a mobile map under the “Basic” options. Click on “Full” to reveal options for adding all sorts of content including social buttons like Facebook and Twitter, click to email, a contact form and many more. At the top of the page click on the “preview” button to view your mobile site on Android, iPhone, Windows Phone or Blackberry platforms. Once you’ve made your mobile site useful and attractive click on “save site” at the top.

If you like the way your new DIY mobile site looks and want to keep it simply create an account with DudaMobile. You will then be asked to set up a redirect from your current site so when someone on a mobile device visits the site it automatically reverts to the mobile version. Optionally you can setup an m.companyname.com URL. Depending on what you use for your host you will need to either add a bit of code to your site, or supply a CNAME from your website host. Go|Mo offers a handy WordPress plugin, so they likely offer similar easy options for other popular blog platforms.

Now your new mobile site is up and running! Login at any time and go to “Settings” at the top of the page to make changes, add pages, select a new template and many other options. Users can click on “Settings – Site Settings” to add a Google analytics account and make granular changes such as removing a page from navigation or turning off sync with the original site for specific pages. You can literally create a mobile version of your website in less than an hour and with no technical skills at all.

On the Road

Instead of just planning to get a mobile website take a little time to go mobile now. You know what they say about good intentions.

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