Odds are, when someone looks at your website, they’re doing so from an iPhone or other mobile device. A 2010 Pew Research Center report showed that 6 out of every 10 Americans use the mobile Web, and that number is likely even higher today. Yet despite this fact, many businesses and blogs still design their sites only for traditional desktops or laptops. Is this true of you? How does your website look on mobile devices? Do you even know?
Why Build a Mobile Website
Designing a mobile-compatible website means recognizing how many potential readers are on their phones. When you build a site to suit them, here are some of the benefits you get in return:
- Improved User Experience: Mobile sites are made to look and perform better on mobile devices than on traditional desktops or laptops, which makes for an improved user experience.
- Longer Visits: The most common reaction visitors have to sites that don’t load properly? They leave. By designing your site to be mobile-friendly, you encourage visitors to stick around, clicking through more pages of content.
- Faster Page Loads: Because they are designed specifically for the dimensions and standards of mobile browsers, mobile sites load faster for users.
- Improved SEO: A mobile website does better on mobile-friendly search engines, bringing in new traffic and visitors who are searching on their phones.
- Professional Image/Better Branding: With a slick, high-quality mobile website, you communicate a sense of professionalism to your audience. What’s more, you enjoy one more opportunity to increase brand awareness.
- Competitive Advantage: With a mobile website, you have an extra way to differentiate yourself from the competition. When mobile clients scroll through your site and your competitors’, yours will be the one from which they pull information.
Mobile Website vs. Mobile App
You know you need a way to connect with mobile users, but does that mean a mobile website, or could it mean an app? The truth is, both options are excellent ways to reach your readers.
- Option 1: Create a Separate Mobile Site: Desktops and laptops are not the same as smartphones. They are not the same size. They do not offer the same browsing experience. They are not used in the same ways (desktop/laptop users are at a computer; mobile users may be anywhere). So why would you assume a made-for-desktop website is adequate for mobile visitors? Build a separate, mobile version of your site to reach these readers.
- Option 2: Create a Separate Mobile App: Another option is to create a custom mobile app. While building an app is typically more expensive than creating a mobile website, research shows it works—mobile apps traditionally have higher success rates than websites. If you choose to go this route to make your online content mobile-friendly, make your app is feature-rich and legitimately valuable to your audience.
Tips and Ideas for a Mobile Website
OK. You understand a mobile-friendly website makes sense, so now what? Before you build your mobile site, what should you keep in mind? What’s good to know? Here are some important tips:
- Redirect Automatically: Ideally, your mobile website automatically comes up for users on mobile devices. Your designer/webmaster can control this functionality for you.
- Think Simple: The homepage of your traditional website may have header navigation, a sidebar, multiple columns, and so on. The homepage of your mobile website needs to be simpler. Rather than attempting to duplicate your entire website, focus instead on the most relevant information.
- Link to Traditional Site: For readers who want more details, provide a link to the desktop version of your site. This way, more information is still available for anyone who wants it.
- Think Touch: Thanks to smartphones, touch is the new way to surf a site. With that in mind, design your site with dropdown menus and pre-populated fields when possible.