Your Mobile Website: Preparing To Make The Jump

By Mike Feineman     |     June 20, 2013

There is little doubt that mobile web browsing is on the rise. Despite this trend, many companies are not adequately responding to mobile users, even as they continue to make up a larger and larger portion of web traffic. Why move to mobile? What does this increase in mobile browsing mean for my business? If you are dealing directly with customers, quite a lot. Consider the following (from Kentico’s Digital Experience Research):

  • 85% of smartphone owners use their mobile devices to compare companies, products and pricing before making a purchase.
  • 78% of smartphone owners, 75% of tablet owners and 69% of laptop owners say it also comes down to the look and feel of a company’s mobile website.
  • 76% of smartphone users and 78% of tablet users return often to websites that look good and work well on their mobile devices.

The cost of not focusing on mobile is also pretty stark (also from Kentico):

  • 44% of smartphone users who visit a non-optomized site NEVER go back.

While Google is not currently punishing non-mobile sites with a lower search ranking, all signs suggest that this will happen eventuality – it’s a question of when, not if. How do I become mobile? How does one go about creating their mobile experience? The most important thing is to focus on what your users want to accomplish when they visit your website, and optimizing for that. You can get some good insight by answering a couple basic questions:

  • Content: Looking at your website analytics, determine where mobile users are going now. Are these web pages and patterns different from desktop users? By looking at this data, can you infer what pages and content mobile users are most interested in?
  • Usability: Placing yourself in the mindset of your customer, ask yourself basic usability and information architecture questions. Why did I come to this site? Can I quickly find the information I’m looking for? Since I’m on a mobile device, is it easy to navigate with my fingers or am constantly “pinching-and-zooming” or clicking the wrong button.

Now that you understand why people are visiting your website on mobile, and what the current usability is like, it’s time to decide how you are going to provide the best experience. You have three main choices:

  1. Build a dedicated mobile site (in addition to your desktop site)
  2. Re-do your site using responsive design (which simultaneously creates both desktop and mobile versions)
  3. Create a native mobile app (rather than a website)

Choosing between these options can be tricky. However, their are scenarios where one is clearly better than the others. For example:

  • If you have limited funds, or can’t stomach a full website redesign, a dedicated mobile site is your best choice. However, you now have two sites you must update and maintain. Also, if you’re not providing all your content on your mobile site, this approach can result in a “hide and cry” situation; where a user can’t find information they were looking for on the mobile site, even though they know it’s on the desktop site.
  • If you want to be on the cutting edge, or are starting a site from scratch, building a responsive site wins. A responsive site can adjust to multiple devices (e.g. mobile, tablet, desktop) and will look great on any size screen. The biggest drawback is that responsive sites must be carefully designed and developed with consideration to where content will move on smaller screens, which this can be more time-consuming and costly. The biggest benefit is that you will only have one website and database to manage and users will have similar experience, regardless of the device.
  • If your content is difficult to consume on mobile, you want to use any mobile device sensors, or you want to provide a more unique or customized user experience, you’ll likely want to go with a native mobile app. The down-side to this option is that your web presence may still be lacking, since an app is not a replacement for a website. In addition, although the numbers are not definitive yet, it does appear that users are beginning to move away from mobile apps and prefer using mobile websites instead.

Ready to take your web presence mobile and move into the 21st century? Come talk to us!

About Mike Feineman

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