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Mobile Design: Don’t Sign the Contract Until You Read This

Mobile Design: Don’t Sign the Contract Until You Read This
Your association’s most recent member survey has resulted in a mandate: your website has to become mobile friendly. Now, don’t make that face; going mobile is the best thing an organization can do for its members these days.

Here are some things to consider when looking to go mobile:

Are you using a Content Management System (CMS)? If you are, and it’s something like Drupal, WordPress or DNN, say, then you are looking at potentially just creating a new theme that is mobile-friendly. All your content is there, you’re just having us create a new front end. Doing it that way could save some cost, both on our end and yours.

If your site isn’t in a CMS or something proprietary, you might run into issues. There are systems out there that combine a CMS with the association management system, and with some of those, you might be locked into a design that is not mobile-friendly. Bottom line: the technology your site is currently using is extremely important in determining whether a re-design for mobile is possible.

Your content: Is it clean? This has to do with the time it will take to make your site mobile friendly, and ultimately, the cost. And what clean means is if your site uses lots of tables and lots of “in-line code,” meaning forced font sizes and styles, all of that is going to need to be “cleaned” for mobile devices. What was fancy and appealing when your website was initially designed for displaying on a desktop is just plain messy for mobile use. And if there’s a lot this messily formatted content, you’re talking some additional time and expense in getting the content prepped for mobile.

Navigation: How complex/deep is your site now, and how complex/ deep does it need to be for mobile? With menus on mobile devices, you’ve typically got a scrolling list view of pages. If your site is four levels deep, it can make navigating a real problem on a mobile device. The more levels, the tougher it is for users to navigate. And with every extra click a user has to make to get somewhere on your site, the likelier it will be that they will give up. “Flattening” the navigation (less layers) and consolidating pages will help make navigation easier and more efficient on a mobile device.

Landing pages: With mobile, it’s all about consolidated content, creating landing pages that serve as launching pads to common content (pages that get the most traffic), so you’re not forcing your users to hunt for it. 

The days of flashy websites are, for better or worse, coming to an end as more and more people use mobile devices for everything they do online. A simplified look and optimized content presentation is key. With mobile devices, you only have so much screen real estate and often, limited bandwidth; anything that is not needed by your users should be eliminated.

In our next post, we’ll clear up the mysteries of single sign-on.

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