Did you know that 4 out of 5 consumers now use smartphones to shop? Let’s face it, nowadays just simply having a website is no longer enough for your business to truly connect with consumers online. People are accessing the internet from desktops, laptops, tablets, and mobile phones. Your customers are using mobile devices to search for businesses in their area and to shop online.
Having a mobile website can make a big difference in how many customers find and interact with your business. The use of mobile phones to browse the internet isn’t new, but it continues to rise, making a mobile website more and more important for businesses who want to stay on top of the market.
Why being Mobile Friendly Is Important for Your Business
Studies show, the average consumer is spending more time browsing and utilizing the web on a mobile device vs. on a desktop or laptop. Tablets and phones can be conveniently carried around and accessed instantly. How often have you seen someone looking at their phone while waiting for a bus, sitting in a restaurant, or taking a break from work? All of those moments are opportunities for your business if you have a mobile friendly website.
Some Statistics to Think About
In a recent study, ad network InMobi found that in the United States people are spending more time accessing the internet through their mobile devices than through their PCs. This means that if your business’s website is designed only for PCs, you’re missing out on over half of the market. Furthermore, about one in three online searches are now conducted through mobile devices. People use their phones when they are out and about and looking for a local service. If your website comes up in their search results and is easy to access, you might gain an immediate new customer.
A recent study by iAcquire found that 70% of mobile online searches result with an action taken within less than an hour of the search. This means that mobile searches are a more effective way of reaching customers than desktop searches, and can quickly result in new customer interactions and sales.
Connect with Customers Where They Already Are
Nowadays it’s pretty much second nature for just about everyone to use their phone to access the internet. No matter where your customer is, simply by having a website that is easy to access on mobile a device, you are making it easier for customers browse your website and find what they need and take the next action.
Whether it’s your business phone number, information about your products or services or it’s directions to your business. They can browse your website with ease and quickly find what they are looking for – and that’s the bottom line. Mobile websites make it easier for consumers to get the information they want.
Mobile Websites Create a Better User Experience
In a brick & mortar business, whether it’s a restaurant or retail store, the better and more comfortable the experience is for a customer, the more likely he or she is to stay for longer and ultimately buy something. The same is true for websites. If a website is difficult to navigate or slow to load, an internet user is highly likely to close it and look elsewhere. Standard websites can work on mobile devices, but they are usually ungainly. They are meant to be viewed on a large PC screen and become distorted and slow when viewed through a smaller mobile device.
Mobile sites, on the other hand, are designed specifically to be used easily on a cell phone or tablet. That means that users won’t have to spend time scrolling, pinching or zooming to find the information they want. They are also smaller in file size as well and will typically load faster on mobile devices. This is good because a fast load time will decrease the chances that a person will get impatient and click the back button and go to your competitor. Mobile websites make for a more pleasant viewing experience and faster navigation, which can ultimately result in better business.
So What Type of Mobile Site Is Right For You?
To further complicate things, there are multiple types of mobile websites. The best option for you will depend on the size of your business and the kinds of services you offer. Here’s a quick guide that breaks down the differences between the different types, and some pros and cons to think about.
Dedicated Mobile Website
A dedicated mobile design, simply put, is a secondary website that is specifically geared toward and designed for mobile devices. So instead of using one website that is only compatible for larger monitors on desktop and laptop computers, you can opt for second (mobile) site to accommodate the consumer on the go. To see an example, check out mobile.nytimes.com. When a user accesses nytimes.com site from a mobile device, the site detects that they are using a mobile device and redirects them to the mobile version of the website.
This is a good option if your business does not need a ton of pages and you simply want to direct people to a physical business location and provide easy to access contact information. It’s also a great way to get started if you don’t want to upgrade to a new responsive website.
Dedicated mobile designs are faster and operate better with mobile devices than responsive web designs, which focus on a variety of devices instead of just mobile devices. This is due to the fact that the workload is not through the phone, but rather with the server that the device is connected. Another advantage of dedicated mobile sites is that you can add custom “mobile only” features like a “click to call” button or “click for directions” which gives your customers the ability to quickly interact with your business and set your business apart from your competitors
Images and content are typically much easier to view on mobile devices than with desktop standard websites. The downside, of course, is that you won’t some of the features or be able to really engage with customers through your mobile site as you would with a responsive design.
The main drawback with a dedicated mobile site is that you must build and maintain two separate sites: one for traditional desktops & laptops and one for mobile devices. This can take extra time and resources.
Responsive web design works differently than dedicated mobile sites. Rather than having a separate desktop and mobile site, with responsive web design, you can have one site that automatically adapts and resizes itself to fit any device. Responsive sites use a fluid, proportions-based grid to adjust to the screen size of the device a user is viewing it on. For an example, see www.ancestry.com
So why go responsive? First of all Google prefers responsive design over other options. With the big “G” dominating over 67% of the search market, it may pay to keep that in mind when making your decision. According to Google responsive websites are more efficient for the Google bot to crawl, index and organize all the content online. With responsive websites, you simply have one URL and the same HTML across all devices. (As opposed to having a desktop version, and a mobile version) When you have 2 versions of a website it forces Google to crawl and index multiple versions of the same website. But it’s also been said by Google that it’s best to opt for the solution that provides a better experience for the user. So take that with a grain of salt.
Secondly, it’s is where the industry going. Right now, responsive design is still in the infancy stages in many ways but that’s not stopping some of the largest companies in the world from making the transition to a responsive design. Companies like:
It’s estimated that more than 5 billion people will be using a mobile device by the year 2017.
“It’s not a matter of if you will need a responsive design, it’s just a matter of when”
The main drawback is if you want to make your website responsive, you are going to need a new website designed and developed. Yes, technically it is “possible” to keep your existing design while making your site responsive, we don’t recommend it for a multitude of reasons. But the biggest reason is that your old website wasn’t originally designed to be responsive, which can cause a lot of headaches when trying to make it responsive vs. biting the bullet, upgrading to a responsive website and staying ahead of your competition. So if you are in love with your current website, it may be a better idea to go with a dedicated mobile website for now and upgrade to a responsive design later on.
Reviewing Your Site
Once you have built your mobile site, you will want to ensure that it looks exactly the way you want it to. Using tools like Google Chrome’s Emulator or Adobe’s Edge Inspect will emulate your mobile site on a number of different devices so you can make sure it’s functioning properly.
How to choose the best options for your business?
This question is kind of like those psychology ink blot tests, is that the answer is different for each person. Neither option is wrong. Which is why you should consider your business goals and choose the option that meets your needs the most.
Are you going to be updating you content frequently? Then responsive design may be the option that suites your needs best. Would you like a more customized mobile experience? Then a dedicated mobile site could be the right solution for you.
So when you are ready to make a decision keep these three things in mind – Your business goals, your budget, and what option will work best for your customer.