There are a number of different approaches to mobile websites but it is worth looking at a few facts and statistics to back up the need to make the switch.
- If you don’t think that your business needs a mobile optimised website you will be very much mistaken. Here are a few numbers that should convince you:
- Global mobile traffic now accounts for 15% of all Internet traffic
- No one screen size has more than 20% of the market share
- 61% of people have a better opinion of brands when they offer a good mobile experience
- 60% of mobile shoppers use their smartphones while in a store, and another 50% while on their way to a store
- Tablet users spend 50% more than PC users
- Mobile-based searches make up one quarter of all searches
So what do we have to consider with our mobile web site. Well the best rule is to keep it simple.
Your mobile website doesn’t need to be as impressive as your normal business website. If you try to over complicate your mobile site with graphics and videos it will make the mobile site slow and your customers will not thank you for using their data allowance.
Mobile sites should be as basic as possible and should have a simplified design. The end user will be viewing a mobile site for specific information and not just because they are curious.
Regardless, the mobile site can still look nice and they can be well designed. One of the key tools in this design is the use of CSS3 which allows mobile website designers create interesting sites with graphics and functionality.
Before starting on a mobile design there are two main approaches to consider.
The first approach is to build a unique mobile website and the second is design existing website to adjust itself for various mobile devices – this is called “responsive design”
A mobile website is effectively a second site, usually a subdomain that has been purposefully developed as a stand alone site – so it would be something like www.mobile.mycompany.com
- Having a separate mobile site has some advantages:
- They are specifically designed to work well on small mobile screens
- They require minimum amounts of bandwidth
- They are designed to load faster
- The SEO of these sites has been adjusted for mobile searches
There are though some disadvantages in having a separate mobile site:
- Businesses will have to manage two separate websites
- You will have to start any SEO from scratch
- Having two sites could lead to duplicate content which Google penalises.
A responsive designed website on the other hand enables an existing website to be resized and adjusted automatically to mobile devices. This is achieved through the use of HTML and CSS3
Responsive web design is a great option, and growing more popular by the day as the variety of devices that access the web grows.
The benefits of a responsive website are:
- One single website can be adapted for different devices
- The business only needs a single web address that can be accessed on all devices
There are though still some things to consider when opting for a responsive design:
Sites implementing responsive mobile web design can be slower to load.
Website ads often break when being adjusted with responsive web design
Content needs to be carefully worked out or it will make a responsive site on a mobile device appear cluttered.
There really is no right or wrong answer when it comes to choosing which route to take to optimise your site for mobile use. Responsive design is easier to maintain, since you are dealing with one single website. However, creating sites customized specifically for mobile devices means you’ll have the chance to experiment with mobile-specific features like GPS and cameras.
Some experts recommend that businesses with a smaller number of mobile visitors should go with responsive web design, while those with a large number of mobile users should create a mobile-specific site.
For any business that takes its website seriously being able to test it for mobile optimisation is also important.
Here are some tools that are available to do this:
- MobiReady is a testing tool that evaluates the how well optimized your site is for mobile devices, taking into account mobile best practices and industry standards. You’ll get a score from 1-5 and a full site analysis.
- The Responsinator is a free tool for testing your mobile responsive design across popular mobile devices.
- GoMoMeer is a tool from Google shows how your site looks on a smartphone and offers a free report with personalized recommendations on how to be better optimized for mobile
- Screenfly lets you view your website on variety of devices. Just pop in your URL.
- Mobile Phone Emulator is a popular mobile phone emulator, this tool allows you to test your site across a large number of mobile devices.
- iPad Peek: As its name implies, this tool lets you see how your site appears on the iPad or iPhone.
We have been working recently with the team at 1Up Studios to develop some new smartphone compatible sites and the results are excellent.