Ok! Tis the season to make startingling predictions about where the web will head this year and what rates your attention in the world of ecommerce.
I'll say I've seen some great predictions by others this year, including some of my friends who say the "newbie" market and the Asian markets will explode this year.
However, I want to talk about something that most of the "geek" set take for granted, but none of us fully fully understands the impact of just yet: mobile surfing.
No, I'm not talking about hauling your laptop around to find the nearest free hotspot, I'm talking about the tens-of-millions (if not hundreds-of-millions) of cell phones, iPods and other mobile devices built to surf the Web while on the go.
With so much surfing power now in the hands (literally) of millions of people, anyone with an online business can no longer ignore the importance of this growing audience.
So what caused this great epiphany about the rights of the mobile surfing masses? Simple!
I got an iPod Touch for my birthday (the iPhone without the phone part) this past month and realized I could surf the Web through any available wireless network, order music, and watch YouTube videos without my computer.
Sure, everyone in my family carries a cell phone, but the power of this mobile Internet access did not come home to me fully until I was sitting in my easy chair laughing at online "Gumby" videos downloaded directly to my iPod.
In my opinion, there's an expanding world of mobile users out there that most online business owners (myself included) neglect.
However, the great news is that you can start catering to the mobile market now more easily than ever.
The following tips should help anyone who sells online (or wants to sell online) make their sites more "mobile-friendly":
– If your website depends on surfers seeing your layout at a certain browser size, consider creating a mobile-friendly version of your site and put a link at the top that says "Mobile Users Click Here".
– Keep your html code simple and avoid using numerous graphics or depending on a fixed width to display text properly.
– Use a single table to display text and graphics so the mobile device's browser can "squish" your site horizontally to make it fit on the small screen.
– Keep navigation on your mobile-friendly site down to two or three links at the top to minimizeize choices and cut down on load times.
– Since mobile devices load web pages in chunks, put your most important information toward the top of the page so you do not force surfers to scroll too much.
– Test your site at at least one mobile device to see how it looks.
– Test your site on the Opera Browser (one of the most popular mobile browsers). Download it free from http://www.Opera.com/download/ , pull up your site in the browser, hit SHIFT + F11, and preview how your site looks to a mobile user.
By the way, anyone who understands web design realizes that I just described how to build a site for the Web back in 1996!
If you wan to hit the emerging mobile surfing market, the first step is to realize they exist.
The second step is simply to make a few allowances in your design to allow them access to your site's information.
The final step is to keep your eye on this emerging user-base and look for opportunities to serve them.
Copyright (c) 2008 Jim Edwards