What is a mobile website? Why is it so important for my business?
A Responsive website is a website that ‘responds’ to different screen resolutions, devices and device orientations. Today’s technology is so vast that there are so many different screen sizes to accommodate for, inclusive of tablets, phones, laptops, PCs and even TVs. Some of these also need to allow for both landscape and portrait orientation.
Statistics show a very strong increase in mobile traffic, and much higher conversion rates from those that are using their mobile devices.
Due to the number of ways your customers can view your site, you need to ensure it is in an optimal state for them to find your content, or convert to a sale.
Considerations to Make
When browsing the internet from a mobile phone, some sites are nigh upon impossible to use as the navigation is too small, or buttons are hard to click. This can increase the bounce rate on your site and lead to a loss of business.
It is always advised to create a separate mobile site, or use some clever CSS to make your site respond instantly to the screen size – the CSS route is usually the easiest to manage and maintain.
There are many areas to consider when making your site mobile friendly, you will likely need to cut out content that simply does not work well on small screens, cut down that large hierarchical menu to something much smaller, and although you may hate it, consider removing all the text that is not important – it will not affect your SEO as search engines will look at your site in the context of a default screen size.
Responsive vs Mobile Friendly!
Mobile Friendly sites are separate sites, optimised to the mobile market, and can greatly improve your conversion rate, whereas responsive sites generally use the same content but adjust the layout based on the screen size, this will cover more screen resolutions but can be less flexible with mobile-unique content.
There are times where you may prefer to use a separate site rather than be responsive. If you have a lot of content which is needed, you may need to reconsider the design more than simply adjusting it with CSS.
You should also remember that some users like to view the original website still, so allow a way for them to do so – this is possible to do while being responsive, but there are benefits to being seperate such as the ability to display specific content that may help convert better from a mobile.
Either way, a mobile friendly site is a Must Have today.
Why should my website AND emails be mobile friendly?
Around 50% of all emails are opened on a mobile device, that’s the way of the world today, and you should adapt to it. That figure represents half of your potential visitors, and half of your potential sales. Your email needs to be readable everywhere to encourage that 50% to click through (a 10% increase in clickthroughs due to the responsive design), and when they do, they need to be able to use your site!
Who does it well and who doesn’t?
First off, lets look at some sites which are not mobile optimised and why.
Disney – This site is something that a parent may wish to load up on an Ipad for their children to play games or browse the content, yet the menu is so hard to see, and they use Flash content which is not supported on most mobile devices.
Sony – Their website should be showing off their products, yet it looks very hard to use the menu and the text is too small to read without zooming in. They also have an online store which is just as hard to use, and could be losing potential sales.
Now for some people who do it right.
Thorntons – Their site is very simple and geared well towards producing sales, an easy to use search box encourages customers to have a look, as well as a way to browse their products easily. They also have the option to still view the full site if the user wishes to do so.
Samsung – Their menu is very clear and simple at the top, and covers everything you may need from your phone. Their home page includes products details that are easy to click through to as well as still containing adverts. This is what we would expect Sony to have also done.
What Tools Can Help?
There are many ways to test how well your website or emails work on different screen sizes, testing websites can be as easy as just re-sizing your browser, or loading the site on your phone, but there are some tools out there to save you the effort. Responsinator offers a wide range of views of your site for a quick look to see where you may have problems, however this will only work with Responsive designs and not websites which are specific to Mobiles as those tend to be redirected when a mobile device is in use and not based on screen size, in these cases software will be needed or simply using your phone/tablet to look at the site.
In terms of testing emails, Litmus offer a great responsive email testing suite which we use ourselves frequently. It lets you see a live preview of the emails in a desktop and mobile version.
If you are using WordPress then the Cherry Framework is a good HTML/CSS Framework to use.
Sometimes using a pre-built framework can be a better option that building from scratch, as they have already solved a lot of the issues you will come across; however if you want to make your existing site responsive and keep the general feel and layout of it, it may well be easier to handle the issues yourself rather than trying to rebuild your site.