I read a lot of marketing blogs, and recently, I’ve noticed a huge increase in something we’ve been talking about for awhile: Mobile Websites. All the stats point to people accessing websites on mobile more often than on desktops by 2013, and so the race is on to get your site redone. The research I’ve either done or read shows that around 25% of websites are optimized for mobile.
The question that I hear most often is, “Do I need a completely different website, or can I just put in new code that changes my page so it looks better on a mobile?” Is a mobile website simply a carbon copy of your traditional website, that simply loads faster by stripping out the glitz and glamor? Does it need to cut out certain features, and limit your website to a few pages? If that’s your goal, then chances are, you can create a mobile page for short dollars. If your goal is to simply change the look of your site so that it can load on a mobile phone without having to wait forever, and to avoid the pinch/drag/zoom nightmare that is trying to fit 17 inch displays onto a 4 inch screen, then sure, just reformat your CSS and you’re well on your way.
In my opinion, I would assume that the reason a customer goes to a mobile website versus going to a desktop version is not simply because the only device handy is said mobile. I think a mobile user is looking for something a little different. A mobile user’s goal is to get off of your website as quickly as possible, and still accomplish the reason for visiting in the first place. They aren’t typically there to browse.
For example, let’s look at a pizza place. If I’m sitting at my desktop, there’s a good chance I want to look at a menu, figure out what I want, and then pick up the phone and call. Ordering online is neat, but I don’t want to have to fill out 12 different pages of forms, especially if I’m planning on paying cash. However, if I’m on my mobile, and I’m looking at the menu, then there’s a good chance I’d find it convenient if I could simply check off some boxes, and be told it’ll be ready in 15 minutes. I’m already on the phone, since most data packages don’t allow for web surfing and phone use at the same time. Also, I don’t like having to figure out the perfect angle that I can hold the phone, talk into it, and read the screen, all while listening to you read back the order, etc. My arm only bends in so many different places, and unless you have eyes like a gecko, you’re not reading the webpage, holding the phone to your ear and mouth, and carrying on a conversation where details matter.
If your website’s main purpose is to sell products online, you need to make sure that it is easy to sell on your mobile device. Many times, the store software that works great on a desktop platform does not translate well to mobile. Avoiding extra steps is critical for mobile users. Setting up stores that can tap into other existing data, such as tying into the Facebook API, enables you to capture a lot of the user information, without forcing the customer to fill out a long login form.
A mobile website should be high on your list of things to get working for marketing purposes. Before deciding how you want to create your page, spend some quality time figuring out what type of mobile site would benefit your customer the best.