Smartphones and tablets are on the rise, mobile traffic is slowly coming to dominate the Internet at large and it’s becoming more necessary than ever to have a mobile website. Honestly, if you don’t have one by now, you’re probably tired of hearing how much you need one. I’m adding my voice to the pile, and maybe that will be the tipping point.
So the first question is; with large-screen phones and tablets becoming ever more common, why make a mobile website? These devices, with their zoom and their screen real estate, are perfectly capable of rendering and viewing a desktop site.
The reason is more one of convenience than of technical necessity. For one thing, it’s easier to read a page formatted for mobile on a mobile device than it is to zoom in, scroll side to side, pan around and navigate on a mobile device.
For a second point, some elements in a typical desktop site might not render properly in mobile. Some scripts, some dynamic content, some embedded content; it’s all going to vary in how well it renders, from device to device and platform to platform.
You also have to consider mobile data connections. Even the fastest 8G or whatever label the phone companies are using is slower than typical Wi-Fi or broadband. Your site, which loads on a desktop machine in under a second, might take a minute or more to load on a slow cell data connection.
There’s also the fact that not everyone has the newest and brightest devices. You don’t want to alienate your users based on how old their devices are, do you?
Facebook is the current king of social traffic and social referrals. The site has an incredible number of users, and those users are willing and able to click links you post and follow them back to your site. In fact, over half of your referrals from Facebook come from mobile.
Put that another way. Look at your current Facebook audience and the number of users that click your links to your desktop website. Creating a mobile website to cater to your mobile users could as much as double that number. One simple change; twice the traffic.
Consider what a user is looking for when they want to view your site via mobile. Are they looking for product prices or blog resources? Both may be the case, depending on your business and what you’re trying to promote.
In the case of local businesses, you have an added incentive. You have a physical location with an address they’re trying to find. You have a phone number they may want to call to ask a question. You have store hours they want to know, so they don’t waste a trip. These are immediate informational needs, and if the user has to suffer through loading a desktop website and navigating through tiny links, they’re just as likely to assume the worst and look for a better alternative.
In terms of information supply, your mobile website is perfect. Blog posts displayed in a way a mobile user can read? Static pages with easily visible information? Product pages with a way to convert from mobile? It’s all an easy source of traffic and conversions.
In terms of that immediate access to local information, you can create what’s known as a task app. If users want contact information, or to perform certain specific tasks on your site, like renewing a subscription or confirming a reservation, you can consider creating a mobile app to take advantage of that desire.
The ideal way to do this is to have a set of features, some common, some uncommon, and divide them into two groups; basic and premium. Your basic group is the things the user can do easily from your website, like locate your contact information or confirming a reservation. The premium group would be more complex tasks, possibly tasks that require interaction from your side, like making a new reservation.
Create a simple smartphone app that covers all of the basic features and offer it for free. Create a second app that covers those features, as well as the premium features, and monetize it. Not only does this give your users the convenience of a task-oriented app, it gives you an additional possible revenue stream.
Of course, when I’m trying to convince you to create a mobile-accessible site in the first place, convincing you to make an app might be off the table. Even so, it’s a good idea, if your mobile users have those tasks they want to perform.
Of course, there’s another simple reason to create a mobile site; Google wants you to. A mobile site is a search ranking factor, and it’s increasingly growing to be a major one.
Google knows that mobile is the wave of the future, and is taking steps to urge people in the right direction. They won’t actively punish you if you don’t have a mobile site, but they will promote you if you have one. Additionally, having a mobile site will give you a bit of benefit from mobile searchers. Which would you rather see when searching on a mobile device; a site that works on your phone or a site that doesn’t? Google promotes the site that does.
The best part of all of this is that it’s not actually difficult at all to set up a quality mobile site. You have a few options, in fact.
The key here is to learn what responsive design is and how it works. Essentially, it’s a dynamic readjustment of your site depending on the screen size of the device viewing it. Devices with smaller screens will load less content, or will load that content in a different layout. It’s akin to websites from ten years ago using tables with percentage widths to make sure text always fit inside the bounds of your screen. The only difference is that a responsive design takes it one step further, with CSS and HTML5 allowing you to reposition or dynamically hide content that wouldn’t load on a phone anyway.
Yes, creating a whole new website from the ground up is a lot of work. You have two options, if you can’t do it in-house.
The first option is a converter. There are numerous services out there that will create and host a responsive mobile version of your site, for a price. If all you need is the most basic of mobile sites, it might be worth the investment.
The second option is to hire a website redesign. This is a significant investment, sure, but it’s worth it for the modern take on your site. You don’t even need to drastically change the layout, design or functionality of your site; you just build it with different architecture for a more mobile world.
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