Mobile Friendly website – how to make your website mobile friendly
Before explaining what mobile friendly websites are it is important to understand why we are discussing this in the first place. The use of mobile devices is literally exploding. Everywhere you look you will see people on their mobile (smart) phones or their tablets. The majority will be on an ‘App’, checking email or searching the web. If they are searching the web then it is important that if they have the best user experience if they are visiting your website. This means having a website that is ‘mobile friendly’.
Google have just upped the importance of this by announcing that from 21st April 2015 they will be rewarding websites that provide this better user experience by having a ‘mobile friendly’ website. The other way to look at this is they will be penalising those that don’t have a mobile friendly website.
So, what is a mobile friendly site and what do you need to do make sure you are providing the best mobile experience to your mobile visitors?
What do we mean by ‘mobile friendly’ website?
In short a mobile friendly site is a website that changes the way it looks dependent on the device from which it is being looked at. So you are providing a tailored user experience for different ways to look at your site.
You can change the information displayed, the menu structure and how the site operates dependent on the device, so that the experience is unique and tailored to the user.
How do we make our website mobile friendly?
There are essentially two ways to ensure your site is mobile friendly.
Option 1. Create a Responsive website
This is the most common way in which to create a mobile friendly site. Responsive means that the website responds to the device that it is being viewed on. The website uses a structure of fluid and flexible grids and images that move to different positions depending on what size of screen it is being viewed on as per the example below.
Responsive website development has swiftly become mainstream in website development and design. Ask your web developer about Responsive websites. For over a year now BeSeen only produce websites that are mobile friendly and in the vast majority of cases Responsive is the way to go. This should be your focus if you are developing a new website for your business.
Option 2. Create a mobile version of your website
This is very different to Responsive design as it means creating an entirely new version of your website with content specifically created for a mobile experience.
Your website will normally sit on a subdomain and when accessed by a mobile device the user will be directed to this version of your website. At its extreme this method could be that the website behaves more like a mobile ‘App’ than what you may traditionally think of as a website.
This option can be utilised if you want to keep your existing site and to develop a stand alone mobile friendly version of your site without a complete refresh.
Responsive versus Mobile – which is better?
As usual it depends! For most businesses responsive has many advantages – it is one site, so one build process and one site to maintain. The negative is that it is likely to cost slightly more to develop in the first place however this is outweighed over time by the reduced maintenance and management savings of having one site.
If you need to provide a bespoke mobile user experience for ecommerce for example then a mobile site may well be the best option. You have total control over the user experience which is shown to provide a better conversion rate than non mobile optimised sites. If you have a very large site then creating a mobile site with reduced content (more focused on the user) may well be the best option.
The downside of a mobile site is in the maintenance and upkeep as you essentially have two sites to maintain and two sites to manage when updating content.
A summary of the Pros and Cons of a mobile site are summarised below:
What to do next
We have looked at the huge rise in the use of mobile devices. This has created a whole new challenge with providing a good (or great) user experience that is dependent on the device that your website is being viewed through. Google has now come into the game and will be rewarding websites that offer this enhanced user experience from April 21st.
Will these changes have a big impact? if your site has a percentage of traffic from a mobile device and it is not optimised for mobile then, yes.
If your mobile traffic is low then the impact today will be minimal. However that said, with the explosion in mobile usage for search and the fact that this will only grow, then you need to be considering how your digital web presence provides an effective user experience across multiple devices.
Having a mobile friendly site, whether a Responsive site or a mobile site, is essential today – even without the Google update on 21st April. This just accelerates the need to address this if you have not already done so.
My recommendations to you are if you already have a mobile friendly site is to make sure it delivering the right user experience – analytics will help here. If you don’t have a mobile friendly website then I recommend you book an appointment with your marketing agency or web developer as soon as you can. If you don’t know who to talk to then please contact me and I will be happy to discuss the options available to you in more detail.
Device agnostic websites rule!
If you would like to find out more about what’s involved in creating a mobile friendly website, or to talk to us about improving your existing mobile interface, please contact us today!