If you’ve been here on earth for the last few years then chances are you’ve browsed the web on a mobile device. Have you ever been to a site that works fine on a desktop and yet is awful to use on a smartphone? Probably. Just like when the dotcom boom happened and everyone had to get their company a website, the new internet trend has just begun and that’s the mobile friendly web. In fact, reports suggest that by 2014 mobile internet usage will surpass that of desktop use. I’ll elaborate on some of the reasons why a mobile website is actually a really good idea.
If The Shoe Fits, It Doesn’t Mean You Should Wear It
As I eluded to earlier, some websites are just plain old hard to use on a smartphone. You spend more time pinching, tilting and zooming than actually using the website. Should it really be this hard to find a phone number? Nope. It shouldn’t. While websites might look great on a desktop, the fact is, we don’t have big flat screen monitors attached to our phone. Instead we’re given a screen the size of our palm, so in order for a website to look good and work well on a device that size, it has to be tailored to a screen that size. It’s like trying to put a size 12 shoe on a five year old – it’ll fit, but will it really work?
On a desktop, things are meant to be clicked and hovered with a little pointer, not pressed and pushed with a big thumb
It’s not just about the size of the screen either. On a desktop, things are meant to be clicked and hovered with a little pointer, not pressed and pushed with a big thumb. If you’ve used the web for any length of time on your smartphone, you’ve probably had that moment where you just can’t click the link you’re trying to click and end up visiting some other page, so you go back and try again. And again. And… Ah never mind. It’s that frustration that could loose you customers. All because either your thumb was too fat or, more than likely, it just wasn’t made to be prodded with a thumb. Navigation alone is a perfectly good reason to get a mobile site, after all, if you can’t navigate a site then you pretty much can’t use the site at all.
The Convenient Web
Here’s an interesting statistic for those of you who operate eCommerce sites; each year Amazon’s mobile audience grows by 87%. That’s pretty staggering. The reason for this is because it’s easy to buy things on a mobile. If you’re out and about and you remember there’s something you needed to buy, it’s no problem with a smartphone, just load up Amazon and buy it right there and then. Not bad when you consider the alternative is waiting until you get home and booting up your desktop computer, and it’s more than likely you’ve forgotten by then. The mobile web is super convenient, from just tapping on phone number to call it, to just visiting a link for the directions to somewhere and your mobile navigation system automatically pointing you on your way. None of this is possible on a desktop.
So, have I convinced you to at least consider a mobile website yet? Great! But let me stop you there…
Bye Bye Mobile Site, Hello Media Queries
Up until a couple of years ago, we pretty much could only have a “Mobile Site”, that meant you’d need your standard desktop site and a mobile site. However, the web has changed and it’s changed in a wonderful way. We can now take advantage of a very clever piece of technology called Media Queries. I won’t bother you with the details but in a nut shell, you don’t need two separate sites any more. Using Media Queries, we can now build Responsive Websites which, as the name suggests, responds to how it’s being viewed. You can see it in action here on the AsOne website, simply grab the edge of your browser and resize the window to make it narrower (you can’t do this in older versions of Internet Explorer, but you should be using a better browser anyway!). Pretty cool right? This was a major break through on the web, it allowed huge sites to have a mobile site as well as a desktop site without having to transfer a lot of content over to the mobile version.
Everything in one place means you only need to create content once. It also means that whatever content is on your desktop site, is there on your mobile site too because they are simply the same site. It’s also cheaper to manage, create and maintain one site over two, naturally, which is great news for you website owners. What’s even better is that because a responsive site isn’t just tailored to a smartphone, it’ll be more future proof. New devices are being released every month and with that comes new screen sizes, which means that your site has to work in those too. Don’t forget TV’s, Consoles, Tablets, etc., these all come with different specifications, but with a responsive site that’s easily catered for.
If you’ve not thought about this before, I hope I’ve given you an insight into the future of the web and where most websites will eventually be heading. That’s great news by the way, it means you should have no problems if you’ve got fat thumbs. If you’re a website owner, I strongly suggest having a look at your website analytics to see what your mobile audience is like and if they could do with a mobile site; if so, give it to them. After all, no one likes to loose customers.