The importance of mobile-optimised websites
Around half of the UK's population now owns a smartphone. With this figure on the rise, it is more important than ever that your website is optimised for mobile devices.
Why have a mobile website?
Mobile websites improve the browsing experience for your customers, meaning they can access your web content easier and faster. Since your web content generally exists to sell you products or services, it follows that a well optimised website will increase sales and boost customer engagement.
With mobile-optimised websites currently being a minority, ensuring your website is mobile-optimised will also send a message to your customers that you are a forward-thinking organisation - a positive association for prospective customers.
How do mobile websites differ?
Scaled to smaller screens
Mobile sites are designed specifically to work on smaller screens. This removes the need to zoom and drag the screen to find the content you are looking for. If you have used an iPhone to surf the web, I'm guessing you have run into the frustrations of having to zoom in and out constantly.
Because mobile sites are scaled to fit mobile screens, you can see the content with a simple vertical scroll. Importantly, this makes viewing a site a one handed process.
Easy to use navigation
Mobile sites typically use simplified navigation with large buttons that are designed for touch screens.
Mobile sites use smaller image sizes so that pages load as fast as possible on slower mobile networks.
Desktop screens afford designers extra space which is often used for contextual content, advertising and secondary website navigation. In the mobile space some of this content can become irrelevant and can be hidden, thus ensuring your mobile customers are focussed on the content you want them to see.
Some interesting statistics
- Mobile accounts for 12.59% of UK web traffic (Tecmark June 2011)
- In the same period iPhones alone accounted for 7.3% of all web traffic (Tecmark June 2011)
- 45% of people surveyed in 2011 by the Office of National Statistics said they made use of the net while out and about, compared with 31% in 2010 (ONS Aug 2011)
- This number increased to a massive 68% for 16-34 year olds (ONS Aug 2011)
What is the process for creating a mobile site?
Creating a mobile version of your site doesn’t have to be difficult or expensive. In some cases your existing website can simply be optimised to work on mobile devices by adding a "mobile stylesheet" which tells the device to render the page differently for smaller screens.
Depending on the layout of your site it may be necessary to redesign the site, but even in these situations, you will usually be able to retain your existing content management system.
The important thing is to identify the key actions you want your customers to take when accessing your mobile site and to decide if your current site can be adapted to fit the bill.