Mobile friendly websites are paramount for today’s direct marketers.

Remember that old Yellow Pages phrase, “let your fingers do the walking”? It’s never been more relevant than today, but instead of thumbing through big, bulky books people are swiping, scrolling and tapping to get the goods, services and information they need.

Mobile users are growing 2x faster than desktop users and 86 million people shop on their smartphones. When one of these mobile shoppers pulls up your website, is it the same site you designed for computer-based browsing? Is it mobile-friendly? Direct marketers need to ensure their mobile sites are as engaging as their computer counterparts.

Separate sites can be created for various devices. This is the most common approach to mobile-friendliness. However, single sites can also be configured to respond to any device. This can be accomplished through responsive web design. Responsive web design uses fluid layouts to make pages look great at any size and creates an easier user experience.

How about a quick, self-diagnosis of your website?

First, let’s LOOK at the obvious.
Screen size. Mobile phones, tablets and pads typically have a smaller screen size than desktops. This means when your website is rendered on the screen of one of these devices, it’s tiny. The copy is miniscule and your visitor will have to finger zoom just to read it. They’ll move on before completing the much-needed finger acrobatics.

Solution: Think small.
Copy should be minimal and in much larger type. Get your point across with actionable, concise words and phrases. Make sure images are rendered at a size that can be seen more easily. See Google’s Using Legible Fonts for a great starting point for best practices.

Next. Navigation.
With desktops, you have the luxury of displaying all the many pages a customer can navigate to with links to everything imaginable. Too much navigation on a smaller device creates links that are too close together and difficult to tap.

Solution: Keep it simple.
Simple navigation is achieved through scrolling and tapping. Links should be minimal and not be too close together. Streamline the steps and reduce the number of user interactions, but make sure there are several calls-to-action without needing to scroll to find a contact point.

Is it search engine friendly?
Google is now giving search preference to websites optimized for mobile devices. A responsive website’s resources should be crawl-able when viewed on mobile devices. This means critical files should be accessible to search engines to ensure that they show up in mobile searches. According to Google, mobile pages that provide a poor searcher experience can be demoted in rankings or displayed with a warning in mobile search results.

Solution: Make a commitment to mobile functionality.
Create a checklist for your web team or use the list created by Google. Check your site on multiple devices and evaluate user experience.

The above short diagnostic highlights just some of the many characteristics of a mobile friendly, responsive website. So what’s next? Whether you currently have a web developer that understands mobile or looking for an expert to guide you, this is certain – these smaller devices are having a big impact on the world of marketing. Respond correctly.