August 16, 2012
The iPhone, iPad, Samsung Galaxy Tablet and Kindle Fire entered the market a few years ago and triggered off a craze in all parts of the world. Urban consumers gave up their older phones for these ‘smart’ phones. Each new version incorporates the latest technology and brings new features. Studies have forecasted that 70% of Internet users will spend more time on their mobile phones than their desktops and laptops. By 2014, they will access the Internet using some sort of mobile device because this allows them to stay connected wherever they may be.
Internet browsing is a totally different experience on a mobile device. If the same website designed for a desktop or laptop is used for mobiles, it doesn’t mean that the user experience will be the same. Here are the top 4 reasons that make a Mobile Website necessary for companies and businesses:
Reason #1 – Screen Size
Smart phones have a much smaller screen size than computers, to allow for portability. The typical resolution of 1280×1024 on a computer is brought down to 480×320 on a mobile device. This often means difficulty in navigating websites that are not compatible with mobile devices. Since traditional desktop websites have a width of 960 pixels, the text in its original format is not legible; zooming in and out, if at all permissible for a particular website, as well as scrolling up and down and back and forth sideways can be frustrating. Simply scaling down the web page content does not always work, because the user’s fingers remain the same size. How often have you pressed the wrong link and had to struggle to navigate back to the original page? A good mobile website will be thumb-friendly, which means the buttons and links will be big enough for the human fingers to navigate properly. A website specifically designed for mobile devices will offer a better customer experience, thereby resulting in increased conversion of sales leads and more revenue.
Reason #2 – Speed
Mobile devices cannot keep up with the processing and Internet data transfer speeds and response times of most computers. Companies tend to overlook this significant fact when they decide to maintain a single website common to both groups of users. A separate website design is required to cater to these lower technical specifications of Smart phones, with pictures and video content optimized for these devices. Any webpage that takes more than 10 to 15 seconds to load will lose 95% of its viewers to a faster competitor website. High browsing speeds make customers happy, which will increase the chance of them returning to your website.
Reason #3 – Money
Back in 2009, a staggering total of $1.6 billion dollars was spent on purchasing products over the Internet through mobile devices. Now that more than 93% of adults in the United States own at least one cell phone enabled with Internet access, the online spends from mobile devices have likely shot up much higher. Just imagine the sales that a company can generate by tapping into this large market segment. The main objective of a business is to make money; this is done by having a broader customer base. A mobile-enabled website is required to engage, convert and retain a large number of potential customers in by providing them the information that they need with an ease of
navigation. Hence, getting a mobile website is the way to success for any company. The cost of designing a separate website is negligible compared to the profits it can rake in. Yes, every new website needs to be hosted individually, so a separate hosting fee will apply for the traditional website targeted at computer users and the new-age website targeted at users of mobile devices. But this still is a very small overhead cost. What’s more, no special knowledge is required to do so; web design companies can be hired to get the new website up and running in the click of a finger.
Reason #4 – Location
For websites that offer some product or service, mobile users who access its pages are ready to make the purchase or booking immediately in most cases. They may be checking to confirm the exact address. In all probability, they are somewhere close to the physical store or even inside it already! Local searches are gaining popularity, and customers are coming to expect this from companies.
Smart phones and tablets are equipped with built-in GPS systems that allow the mobile device to track the user’s exact location. This is used by search engines to pick up companies that match the search criteria and are also within the vicinity of the user at the time of the search. This information is picked up from the company profile registered on a site like Google Places.
To exploit this functionality, contact details and other location-specific information is of utmost importance for a company’s mobile website. The physical address and telephone number need to be displayed on each and every page, in a prominent location. While heavy images are not encouraged on mobile websites to support faster speeds, maps are highly recommended because they can bring customers directly to your premises.
Providing a feature to check the available stock at a particular branch of a company is a way of telling the customer that this company means business and is concerned about the customer’s convenience as well. The potential customer also needs to know your working hours. He or she doesn’t want to come all the way to your store to and it closed. Timing information is also very much needed on a mobile website.
Despite all these wonderful reasons why a mobile website is the need of the hour, a very small number of businesses and companies have actually invested time and money into designing one. It is ironic that industry sectors that could benefit the most from this shift of sales approach have the smallest percentage of mobile-enabled websites. Sadly, they are still relying on their websites made for computers, with the assumption that it suffices if they can be accessed on a mobile device. As we have just seen, nothing could be further from the truth. These are only a few of the reasons to have a mobile website. With the way technology is moving you can’t afford not to have a website that is specifically designed for mobile devices.
So what do mobile users look for in a website that is different from desktop users?
The percentage of web searches made from mobile devices is increasing exponentially. Mobile users access the Internet on the go. They type in search queries and expect real-time results based on their current location. They use words like “nearest” in their search string instead of typing in their actual geographical location. The device is expected to pick up that information. These users expect a comfortable site navigation with a user-friendly interface. If one website does not offer the expected speed and convenience of visibility, there are other sites to move onto, which can cause a potential loss of customers and cost business. This can impact the way all businesses function, so you need to keep up with the changing trends and get a mobile website. Quality of service has no meaning if the exposure is not right.
The charm of fancy websites with a lot of Flash animation and creative designs are lost on the small screens of hand-held gadgets; efficiency is given priority over bells and whistles. Some Smart phones may not even support Flash, while those that do will be slowed considerably. Time is valuable to people on the go, and they’re already onto the next website that is compatible with their device and that quickly gives them the information they are looking for.
Customer reviews are also important to mobile users. They like to know what other people think of a product or service and their experience with a particular company. Having a mobile website integrated with social networking media serves as a great marketing tool and increases exposure to target customers.
The current generation of customers has developed a culture of living for now. Everything is preferred fast, and any business that cannot keep pace is left behind. It is imperative you change your business strategy and become mobile-ready before your competitors, or at least catch up with them.
If you are hesitant to adapt to the latest technologies, your business might just have to shut down. Instead, get a mobile website today, which will be highly beneficial to increasing your sales revenue. And, it doesn’t have to end there – with so many possibilities, you need to think out of the box. For example, once you get a mobile-enabled website, how will your users know about it? Advertise in all media, but also put a site redirect in place, which will bring visitors from the desktop version of your site to the new mobile-friendly version. Of course, they need the option of going back if they wish.
So what are you waiting for? Get onto the mobile bandwagon today.
Nicholas has been in the web design industry for over 7 years. He currently runs his own web company call Darley Web Design.