In 2014, mobile Internet access surpassed desktop usage, and in 2015 the landscape continues to evolve to reflect the increasing emphasis on mobile. Not satisfied with just cell phones and tablets, consumers are now trying out a variety of wearable devices such as smart watches, glasses and clothing that perform both singular and multiple functions. And smart phones and tablets currently are expected to do a whole lot more than just make calls and connect you to the Internet; customers expect to use mobile devices as a personal assistant, to send them reminders, provide directions, keep an appointment schedule, pay for purchases and perform a whole variety of other functions. It may not slice, dice or chop, but today’s mobile devices can do just about everything else.
Is Your Website Mobile-Friendly?
As a result of the mobile invasion, we’ve seen a lot of emphasis on the need for mobile-friendly websites, which will display correctly on a variety of devices including smartphones, iPhones, iPads and tablets. Sites that are not mobile-friendly either will not load at all or will be functionally unusable on some devices. If a consumer cannot access your website on his or her mobile device, he or she will simply move on to the next site that is mobile-friendly. Most distressing of all, they may never return to your site, even when it pops up in their next local search.
Business owners who aren’t sure whether their website is mobile friendly can visit Google’s test site, enter their site’s URL and get a quick evaluation. Some basic features of a mobile friendly website are:
- Phone numbers and physical or email addresses can be selected to provide directions, place a call or send an email message from the mobile device;
- Contain small file sizes for images and graphics to facilitate faster loading;
- Do not contain Flash media files, which are not supported by Apple and some other mobile devices.
Simply being mobile-friendly, however, is so 2014. In 2015, your website should be optimized for mobile.
Optimized versus Mobile-Friendly Websites
Optimization takes mobile-friendly a step further, and makes a website not only accessible on a variety of mobile devices, but provides a more convenient and pleasing user experience. A mobile optimized website takes into consideration the size of the screen on the device used to access it and reformats content, increases the size of navigation buttons and optimizes the size of images and graphics for better viewing. Some key elements of a mobile optimized website are:
- Thumb-friendly navigation buttons with large touch-points;
- Optimized graphics and content for priority display of critical information;
- Click-through functionality that makes selections easier without the need to type;
- Option to view desktop version of the site.
Responsive Website Design
Initially, as mobile devices became more and more popular, web designers began to create sites tailored specifically for cell phones and tablets. As mobile devices continue to proliferate, however, keeping up with the many different screen sizes and ratios became somewhat cumbersome. As a result, many businesses are now opting for a new type of responsive website design that is adaptable to any mobile device. Instead of formatting itself for a specific browser or type of device, a responsive website orients itself to the screen size of the device.
Combining a mobile application with a mobile friendly or optimized website is another option for companies that have functions that can be accomplished without visiting the main website. Whether it’s making reservations, placing a recurring order, managing a customer rewards account or checking the status of a delivery, a mobile app lets customers handle simple transactions quickly and easily without the need to even log on to the Internet.
So for 2015, the emphasis is increasingly on mobile. While it’s still important to maintain a dynamic desktop website, since much of the information, blogs and other content is indexed by Google and helps to achieve and maintain good search ranking, mobile websites are critical for driving sales and broadening your customer base.