The growth in mobile devices such as tablets and smartphones over the last 12 months is phenomenal, do you have you a mobile plan for your business website?
According to Ofcom the following devices were the most popular for internet access in 2014.
These figures demonstrate that a mobile strategy is definitely something you should be considering for your business.
The first thing you need to do is examine your current website visitor statistics, if you have Google Analytics then this is very easy.
The key data you need to examine is:
If these are above 15% then you need to seriously consider mobile website options for your business as this shows that a significant and growing segment of potential customers are using mobile to look at your site.
Compare these figures to your desktop visitors to get an idea of how people are using your website. For example if your mobile page visits and visit duration are significantly lower or your bounce rates significantly higher, this may indicate that the smartphone visitor experience on your website is not a good one.
When considering mobile you also need to look at what industry you are in and who your customers are. Restaurants, hotels, retailers, leisure etc are all obvious businesses that can benefit from mobile optimised websites as they are likely to be viewed by people out and about.
Do not assume that people only use their mobile device for internet browsing on the move though, many people use a tablet or smartphone because they always have it to hand. It’s definitely worth taking some time to research your core customers to see if and how they use mobile devices to source and buy your products.
If you have decided that your business does need to go mobile then what are your options? Most websites can be viewed on tablets and smartphones without any extra considerations but can be tricky to use.
This is especially so with standard websites on smartphones where users have to zoom in and out all the time to read the text and navigation the website. See the difference with these screen from Dominos Pizza as an example.
When creating a mobile optimised experience there are two options:
The first option is to design a mobile version of your existing website. A mobile website automatically detects users on phones (and sometimes tablets) and automatically redirects them to a version of the website specifically designed for ease of use on their device. These are typically based around a single column design with big buttons that are easy to press.
Mobile websites often show different content to the main website but this is bad practise in most cases, you should not second guess your visitors intentions and remove content you dont think they’ll be looking for. If for any reason content cannot be included then always include the option of viewing the desktop website.
This option can be the easiest route into mobile, especially if you already have an existing website. The downside to this approach is that the line between desktop and mobile is becoming increasingly blurred, for example is an iPad mini closer to a phone or a desktop? Also, if you are not using a content management system that can manage multiple versions of the same website, you can end up maintaining two websites with this approach.
The second option and one that we’d usually recommend on a new website build is responsive website design. Responsive websites are built to automatically size to the screen they are being viewed on so that your website looks great on any device. This future proofs your website as it doesn’t matter what size or shape screen someone has, the website automatically adjusts to fit.
This approach does require more planning and design work than a standard website as decisions have to be made on how the website will look at any given size. It is however worth doing the extra work as it means your website visitors will have a positive experience of your website whatever device they use. A responsive website also means you will only have content for one website to manage.
The only possible drawback is people who access your site on more than one device may not like the difference in appearance. This can be solved by allowing them to view the website at a specific size e.g. a view desktop version, though as mobile optimised websites become more common we expect that people will become used to this.
The best thing to do is to ask your website designer for their advice and costs for both options to see if your existing site can be feasibly adapted or if you will need a new solution.