Do you need a mobile site for your business? Over half of US consumers own a smartphone, and mobile users are increasingly looking to their mobile devices to find information they need when they’re on the go. With a mobile site, you can serve your mobile website visitors in the same way you serve your desktop visitors.
When determining whether to invest in a mobile site, consider: How does your site look when viewed from a mobile browser? Do mobile users have to contend with small navigation buttons, time-consuming web forms or slow-to-load photos? It’s not your fault. Most business websites are designed for desktop users, not mobile devices. But unless your site is at least mobile-compatible, you’re likely to miss out on a significant number of potential customers.
What is a Mobile Site?
A mobile site is a scaled-down version of your desktop site that appears only to users accessing your URL from a mobile device. Mobile sites are designed to provide mobile users with the best possible user experience. That usually means larger icons, simplified navigation, fewer forms and streamlined design. Mobile sites also make it easier for mobile users to find the kind of info they need quickly, like store hours and locations, restaurant menus, movie times or contact numbers.
Taking Your Site Mobile
Because a mobile site is completely separate from your existing website, it must be built from the ground up. But building a mobile site from scratch isn’t the only way to take your site mobile. In fact, one of the fastest and most budget-conscious ways to serve mobile users is simply to update your existing website. Some older web technologies, like Flash, are starting to fall by the wayside, due in part to the fact that many mobile devices don’t support them. By eliminating Flash and fixing layout issues that cause your site to look “wrong” on smartphones, you can make your site work for mobile users even if they have to work a little harder to find what they’re looking for.
One of the newest and most exciting approaches to mobile compatibility is a technique called “responsive design.” Responsive design is a method for building full websites that allows them to change the way the look and behave according to the size of the screen on which they’re viewed. If you’re building a new site for your business, responsive design may be the right way to go. Otherwise, your developer will need to rebuild your site from scratch.
Choosing the Right Approach
Obviously, cost will be an important factor in your decision to take your site mobile. If you can afford it, a new build (or rebuild) using responsive design can yield fantastic results and provide mobile users with an excellent user experience. If your budget is tight, however, opting to tweak your existing site to accommodate mobile browsers is a great first step.
A stand-alone mobile site will cost more than updating your existing website, but less than a complete rebuild using responsive design. And for certain types of businesses, a mobile site is must. If you own a restaurant, for example, you should consider a mobile site a necessary investment, as up to 30 percent of all mobile searches are done for restaurants. Other businesses that should strongly consider stand-alone mobile sites are retail stores, ecommerce sites and service providers.
However you choose to do it, optimizing your site for mobile browsers means more, higher-quality web traffic, which translates to more leads, more sales and a great return on your investment.