Mobile usage is growing – not only to surf the Internet, but also to check email, comment on social media sites and to shop. Almost everywhere you look lately there are people using their mobile devices for tasks that used to be done on desktops.
If you have an online business, you should have a mobile-friendly website with a responsive design.
If your website isn’t easy to access from a mobile device you’re losing business.
Sure someone with a smartphone will be able to see your website, but with difficulty. The pages will look tiny with even smaller text so they'll have to pinch and scroll to read any of it. Then trying to click on buttons or text links with be an exercise in frustration because of the tiny size.
Most users will just leave and probably not come back.
Did you know over a BILLION people use smartphones to find products and services on the Internet? Maybe it's time for you to update your website.
Some things you need to know about mobile-friendly websites
There are two types - a separate, mobile-only site and an all-in-one responsive site.
First is the mobile-only website which is separate from your regular website. Special coding is added to detect the type of device your visitor is using and send them to the appropriate version.
Often the mobile-only website is similar, but not identical, to your regular website.
The other type of mobile site is based on responsive design. It uses programming code to adjust the website to fit whatever size device the viewer is using. It doesn’t make the site smaller, but rather rearranges sections to fit the device – somewhat like rearranging a child’s building blocks.
The site you’re using now is responsive. If you’re viewing it on a desktop or laptop, try reducing the size of your browser window by grabbing the edges and dragging them inward. You’ll be able to see the site respond in real-time.
How do the two website types stack up?
Both properly-designed separate and responsive mobile websites look great on all devices. Tie score.
Responsive sites require less maintenance than a separate, mobile-only site. Score one for responsive.
When updating, the separate, mobile-only site requires you to update both versions of your website. And it needs to be carefully done, as Google penalizes duplicate content.
In contrast, with a responsive design you don’t have to build and host a separate mobile-only site or update two different sites or worry whether it will work correctly on the various mobile devices. So whether you update your site yourself or pay someone to do it, a responsive site requires less maintenance and is more cost effective. Score two for responsive.
Responsive sites are preferred by Google. The duplicate content issue is one reason Google prefers a responsive site over a separate, mobile-only site. It is also more efficient for their spiders to crawl, and for Google to index, one site rather than multiple versions of the same site.
Another reason they prefer a responsive site is because a "single URL for a piece of content makes it easier for your users to interact with, share, and link to your content."
Additionally load time is reduced when users don’t need to be redirected to the separate mobile-only site. Score three for responsive.
When users share a link with their friends there are differences between the two types of mobile sites.
Let’s say you have a separate type site and one of your mobile visitors shared a page on Facebook. If one of their friends decided to check your link on their desktop computer they would see an odd looking page because it was optimized for a mobile device. This visitor may decide the link wasn’t worth their time and leave quickly. This is called a "bounce" and will hurt your search engine ranking.
In contrast, when a visitor to your responsive site shared a page using their smartphone that page would look normal to both users – whether using a mobile device or a desktop computer.
Don’t think that might happen? Over half of social media sharing happens on a mobile device. Score four for responsive.
Seems pretty lopsided, doesn't it? There is one situation where a separate, mobile-only website could have an advantage.
For example, if you have a huge website with many pages and the design isn't too outdated, it might be better to opt for the separate mobile style.
Instead of re-coding all those pages into a new responsive design, you could set up a separate website with your basic information and a link to the main website. That way if a mobile user only needs that basic information, she would see it on the mobile site. But she would have the option to click over to the main site for anything else.
In this case, choosing to go with separate sites could save you time and money. However you would probably need to update your entire site eventually.
Are you ready to update to a responsive website?
With more people using mobile devices to go online, you need to cater to them or lose them to your competition.
Do you remember when we thought a website was nice, but not necessary, for business? Now most businesses wouldn’t survive without a website.
Mobile-friendly websites are the new necessity.