The answer seems obvious – the number of Internet Searches from Mobile devices has increased by 55% in the past year. Mobile searches now account for over 10% of all internet searches in the US. Since you will be getting additional traffic, you need a site that 'works well' on mobile devices.
Where it gets confusing is when you start hearing different terms thrown around. Mobile Friendly? Mobile Optimized? Responsive Design? Are these different things? How do they differ and how does this pertain to your Internet Presence project?
Mobile Friendly Website*
Mobile friendly refers to a site that displays accurately between your desktop/laptop computer and a mobile device such as a handheld phone (iPhone, Android, Blackberry) or tablets (iPad, Galaxy, etc.). While it will appear smaller on a phone and may not work perfectly on a touchscreen tablet, a mobile friendly website will be perfectly functional. Many developers view mobile friendly as a “best practice” for all website developments.
Ensuring your website is mobile friendly is critical. As we discussed above, the percentage of mobile users is quickly rising. What are critical features of a mobile friendly website?
- Text-based phone numbers, physical addresses, or email addresses that can trigger a call, directions, or email message from your mobile device
- Slideshows or image rotators that function without Flash support (Adobe Flash is not supported by Apple and some other mobile devices)
- Small image sizes to allow for fast loading over mobile connections—don’t count on even a 3G connection
Mobile Optimized Website*
A mobile optimized site is a far more advanced website. Mobile optimized means that the site will reformat itself for a list of handheld or tablet devices. Larger navigation buttons, reformatted content, and differently optimized images appear when the user is on an iPhone or other device.
Why reformat? Reformatting allows the website to easily engage a large mobile audience when key buying decisions come up. More and more consumers are turning to their mobile devices right in the store. Having a website developed that allows the user to easily navigate and engage from the small screen of their handheld means reaching a decision faster.
What are some good formatting elements that go into a mobile optimized site?
- Simplified navigation that is “thumb” friendly with large touchpoints, especially critical is contact information
- Reduced graphics that don’t interrupt the quest for critical information such as product listings or commoditized content
- Avoid making users type unless absolutely necessary
- Give users the option to view the desktop version of your site
Responsive Design Website*
As website design continues to evolve, a fantastic form of development has come into play. Responsive design is a method of developing a site that is completely flexible regardless of device. Rather than detecting a specific browser type or device type, the website automatically orientates itself based on the screen size of the device. A combination of reformatting and re-optimizing the site as a whole give a practical flexibility beyond imagination.
Responsive design, while more costly to develop, is the wisest development investment if you’re dealing with a consumer or audience-base that is active on mobile devices or need to make purchases on the go. Impulse purchases are obvious, but this is equally critical for commodity content such as blogs or news outlets.
*Definitions are arrived from multiple sources.
Mobile browsing—from tablets to smartphones—is growing at an unprecedented rate. The consumer’s passion for immediate gratification of their informational needs requires effectively delivering your product (physical or intellectual) via the mobile web.
What about small business or a non-profit organization? Is mobile friendly good enough? Should an organization discuss a mobile optimized version? Will investing in a responsive design site bring a measurable return?
Excellent questions with answers only you can provide. Every situation will be different, but give serious thought of what percentage of your site visitors are on mobile devices? Google Analytics will tell you. What does your current site look like? Pull out your smart phone and find out.
You do have options. Web designers, like us, can enhance your sites chances of displaying properly on mobile devices by incorporating some advanced design methods and technology.
With Mobile phones and Tablet devices growing in market share, now more than
ever it is critical that your Website works well with those devices. Our designs automatically size for your devices screen resolution. Another design system we use Responsive Web Design. This design methodology “automatically"
adjusts content layout to the users device screen size. We believe in using the latest technologies and web design tools in our service to our Clients.