It is hard to believe how many people are still ignoring the increase in mobile internet usage. It is certainly not news to anyone that the majority of people are running around using their phones and tablets to access the web. But what do the latest statistics have to say:
Mobile web traffic increased to 38% last year, while desktop web traffic decreased by 16%
This information is thanks to an epic study by GlobalWebIndex of over 360 pages which can be found here.
So the evidence is irrefutable. But does that mean that businesses online are taking notice of this, or even understand what it means? In many cases I think not.
Exploring the problem of lack of mobile websites a little further, it is useful to see what kind of impact this can have:
67% of users claim they are more likely to buy from a mobile ready website
which is a statistic from Google that should scare most business owners with no mobile strategy in place.
So in this post I am going to show you:
- Another important reason you must have a mobile ready website in 2015
- How to test if your website is mobile ready right now
- What your options are to get yourself a mobile ready website
- What I think the best choice is for most business owners
Let’s get started…
Google Is Taking It A Step Further – Mobile Friendly Labels
That your customers are expecting a mobile optimized experience when they visiting your website is a big incentive to get it right. However recently, Google have taken the issue a step further by experimenting with mobile friendly labels in search results.
These labels will be assigned to websites that are considered mobile friendly, and Google have a set of criteria which your site must meet:
- Minimal use of software that does not typically work on mobile (like Adobe Flash)
- Text that can be read without needing to zoom
- Responsively designed websites
- Sufficient spacing between links on mobile pages (easier to tap on links)
Google are also ranking sites depending on how good the mobile experience is too, according to the Search Engine Land article I mentioned earlier:
We see these labels as a first step in helping mobile users to have a better mobile web experience. We are also experimenting with using the mobile-friendly criteria as a ranking signal.
Now it is time to get a little more practical and see how you can get mobile friendly with your website.
Mobile Websites for the Regular Business Owner
The simplest thing you can do as a business owner, entrepreneur or startup is to implement a responsive web design. You have probably heard this term before, but just in case, here is the definition from Wikipedia:
Responsive web design (RWD) is an approach to web design aimed at crafting sites to provide an optimal viewing experience
In plain English, Responsive Web Design makes your website change to fit the device and size it is being viewed on. So users do not have to zoom/pinch in order to read or interact with your site.
What happens in practical terms is that some elements move, others are removed or simply resized. Actually anything is up for grabs, so fonts can change and which images are loaded too. It is a flexible system designed to adapt to a the huge range of devices we now have available to us.
Below is a picture to show you what a my website looked like on a PC, Tablet and Smartphone after a Responsive Design change.
How To Check If Your Website Is Responsive
If you believe that your website is already mobile responsive, then you can go grab a coffee. However, I would also test it to make sure.
There are a few simple ways you can do this:
- Simply open your website on various devices (ones you own, or borrow a friends, or go to the Apple Store or local phone store)
- Test your site online for mobile responsiveness (simply enter your website URL and watch the results)
Although there are so many devices you can never actually know if your website appears perfectly everywhere, it is worth knowing how it looks on the main ones like – iPhone, iPad, Samsung Galaxy, Samsung Note, Laptops and PCs.
Note: To truly test your website you should also test it on a variety of browsers like Chrome, Safari, Firefox and Internet Explorer (as well as different versions), but I know you probably don’t have the time and patience for that!
How Do You Get A Responsive Website?
There is no one size fits all solution to getting a mobile website, but moving to responsive design is one of the best options available. Especially when you are on a tight budget.
Below will give you a few ideas that you can use depending on your particular scenario so that you can see what is possible.
1. You Have A WordPress Based Website
This is the most familiar scenario for me, as I work with WordPress based websites all the time. Quite simply all you have to do in this case is find a suitable WordPress Theme that is Mobile Responsive and then adapt anything that does not fit or work in the new layout.
Note: Mobile Responsive is a term all WordPress Theme designers highlight in their designs and even show you in the demos.
Here are some places you can find some great free themes to start with:
40+ Free Mobile Responsive WordPress Themes (Hongkiat)
40+ Free Responsive WordPress Themes (Design Crazed)
40+ Beautiful Responsive WordPress Themes (ColorLib)
2. You Have Another Content Management System (like Joomla, Drupal etc)
Honestly, I have zero experience with these systems, but a quick search on Google tells me that Joomla and Drupal do have responsive design based templates. In fact, after a quick search, here are a few places to find them:
10+ Responsive Joomla Templates (Hongkiat)
25 Free Responsive Joomla Templates (Design Crazed)
50+ Responsive Drupal Themes (Free Design Web)
3. You Have A Hand-Built Website (Not Based on WordPress)
You will definitely need an experienced designer in this case, but it does not have to be a difficult job. I have personally adapted non-responsive websites in the past and sometimes you can be lucky and things are easy to change. It all depends on the complexity of the website and the layout that was implemented.
If you want to get started understanding what is needed on the technical side, you can do a bit of reading with the following posts (beware, some of it gets technical):
Other Mobile Options
If you have a bigger budget there are a few other options you can consider when planning your assault on the mobile world.
If you budget allows for it, Mobile Apps can be a great way of reaching your audience on mobile devices.
Apps have a lots of advantages over responsive design such as:
- designed to work specifically on a device (like an iPhone, iPad etc)
- run faster and smoother than a browser
- hold the attention of the user
There are however downsides which should also not be ignored:
- each device type needs a separate app (Apple/iOS, Adroid, BlackBerry)
- development costs are typically higher and versions need to be maintained
- you need to convince the user to download the app
If you have a bigger brand or are offering specific functionality that is well suited to an Mobile App, I would certainly consider it. However if you are only copying your website to an app, then it is not worth the investment in my opinion.
Separate Mobile Website
This is not a method I am personally very fond of, but it is an option for some businesses. In fact, before responsive design became popular, it was the main way of dealing with mobile.
This requires a completely separate website, so takes a significant investment as you have to design it completely. However it has the advantage of serving the mobile users a version tailored to their needs. Many websites still use this and you will often see a mobile.website.com or m.website.com, where they have given a specific subdomain of their site over to the mobile version.
If you are considering this as an option, beware of the downsides:
- you will need to maintain two copies of everything that appears on both sites
- potentially not all mobile devices will display the site optimally (unlike most responsive sites)
- there are potential SEO issues as you have duplicate content
Understandably entering the mobile world for many website owners is a daunting step that whey would rather not take. However, the growing needs and desires of your customers or clients means that you can no longer afford to ignore this tidal wave of a trend!
If you had to pinch and zoom and scroll around until your fingers hurt just to find what you wanted on a website, would you really buy from there? I think you would hit the back button too. So take a serious look at your website and ask yourself:
- is my website really mobile ready?
- does it serve my customers needs on the go?
- are my most important products and services easy to find, even on a mobile?
Would you enjoy using your own website on a mobile phone? If not, then now is the time to take some action!