You Can’t Ignore Mobile Visitors Any More – What You’ll Need to Go Mobile-Friendly Online
“Ding!” came the sound from my smartphone indicating I had just received a new email.
Taking a look, I saw a simple question from a client that required a less-than-simple response. “Is getting a mobile website for my business a good idea?”
You might be thinking, that IS a simple question to answer. Normally, the response would be a resounding “Yes!” But for this small startup, with limited budget, the answer wasn’t so obvious.
It was then that I realized there are a few scenarios where a mobile website should be delayed. Yes, the web is accessed as much by mobile devices as it is PCs (see Gartner Research Article). And yes, 43% of people who have a bad mobile experience with your website will never return to your website again (see Compuware Research Article).
But mobile websites require money to build. And proper technology and coding in place to do it well. Let’s not forget, you need a website with visitors to see any benefit from mobile. So when should you get a mobile website for your business?
Mobile-Friendly Website vs. Responsive Website
Let’s set the stage. It’s important to know a few things before we can properly answer the big question of “when should you get a mobile website.”
There’s 2 distinct types of mobile websites out there today:
- Mobile-Friendly Website – These are separate websites, built and coded specifically for display on smartphones. You must maintain it separately from your PC friendly website. And usually they require a script of some sort to detect and forward mobile devices from your main website.
- Responsive Website – This is coding your existing website in a way that it will display differently based on the screen size of the device viewing it. Meaning that a smaller screen (such as an iPhone or tablet) would see a website that is displayed differently than a computer with a large screen (like your PC). Thus, it is a single website with multiple ways it can display.
Technically, there’s a 3rd type that lands somewhere in between the above 2 options. This type usually still uses scripts to detect mobile devices (rather than reading screen size) and then displays a different set of code WITHOUT forwarding the viewer to a new website. Essentially using the same web page to display 2 different versions of the website. It seems like a good option, but my guess is there might be some SEO drawbacks (purely an unverified guess, for the record).
Bottom-line is that a Responsive Website is superior in nearly all circumstances. You can see my reasoning for this in a previous article Weighing the Pros and Cons of Responsive Website Design. Ideally, you can get yourself a responsive website.
Unfortunately, it’s not always obvious what type of mobile capable website a vendor is trying to sell you. Simply because a responsive website IS mobile-friendly. And frankly, the word mobile-friendly communicates what you’re getting much clearer than the word “responsive.” So be sure to clarify what you’re getting!
When to Get a Mobile Website?
Ok, getting back to the main point here: “when should you get a mobile website?”
Answer this quick survey to determine if you’re ready for a mobile website:
- Do you have $400 – $1000 in your website budget (budget more for bigger websites)?
- Is your website coded to modern coding standards (new within the past 2 years)?
- Are you receiving at least 250 visitors per month to your website?
- Is your website already being viewed by mobile browsers?
- Do you often post links/articles on social media or via email messages (two mediums commonly browsed with mobile devices)?
If you answered yes to at least 4 of the above, then it’s time to go mobile!
For those of you on old websites with no budget for a full website redesign right now… Go for the Mobile-Friendly Website until you have the budget to create a Responsive Website. It’s perhaps not the ideal solution, but it is practical.
Mobile Website Case Studies
Coming back to that client who emailed me earlier. Why did I suggest they delay for now? Well, there were several steps that hadn’t been done yet. We needed to build more traffic… Not too mention measure that traffic in the first place. They didn’t even have basic web tracking software installed! Finally, their budget expectations were not realistic.
Another client, Simon Says Roses, ended up with a Mobile-Friendly Website rather than a Responsive Website. This is mostly because of their massive website (over 100,000 pages to go through), outdated coding, and their budget. In this case, the Mobile-Friendly Website fit the bill perfectly. And they are now taking online orders via mobile browsers!
Finally, Royal Oak Dental, needed a brand new website built. Their plan was to build for mobile right from the start. It was easy to accommodate a Responsive Website design for them – in fact, it added very little to their overall website cost.
Having a Mobile Capable Website is (Almost) Always Better than NOT Having One
Bottom-line is that it should be a priority for your business to get a mobile capable website. Whether you’re ready now or require a few more elements in place. You should set the goal and start committing a budget towards going mobile. Research suggests you’ll reach more customers and provide them with a more positive experience.
(Speaking of which, I am currently building a responsive version of this website!)
What are your thoughts? Please leave a comment below.