Mobile Sites what you need to know!

Mobile sites are becoming more and more important. Google is placing a lot of emphasis on the type of experience site owners provide users of all devices. That includes all types of mobile devices.

A Computerworld article quotes mobile browsing as having tripled in the last 2 years and a 26% increase since last November.

So, whether you want to think about it or not, you need to start getting a plan and actioning it!

Ideally you need a “responsive” site that resizes to any browser people are looking at your site on – see below where we answer some of the important questions about mobile sites.

There is an excellent summary article that says

”A Google study reports that a full half of people surveyed said that even if they like a business, they are less likely to use it if its website is not mobile-friendly. Conversely, if the site is mobile-friendly, 74 percent say they are likely to return. More than 75 percent of all consumers research purchases online, so even if your business is the brick-and-mortar variety, it might be good to go mobile.

It also clearly covers aspects like the difference between apps and websites, responsive site design and more. I have added and summarised some other points below

The full article is at

http://www.sitepronews.com/2012/10/16/going-mobile-get-your-website-mobile-friendly/

It is quite readable and most people should learn something from it.

To answer some of your questions

Why go mobile?

If a user goes to your site on a phone, they need to be able to read the information easily or they will go elsewhere.

Small screens need mobile versions of sites. Otherwise the writing is too small and users must zoom and scroll to see your information. That is frustrating to users and they may not bother.

Google is rewarding sites that give users a great experience on any device – that means mobile too.

What is the difference between a mobile site and an app?

An app (application) is something a user must load onto their phone to be able to use it. Like a game, a banking management programme, a music programme etc. There are millions of them out there in use ranging in price from free to a few dollars mostly. Your phone browser and music programme are examples of pre-installed “apps”

An app is not required to allow users to access your site – they can do that via the browser on their phone or mobile device.

There is no real reason that most small businesses will need an app to give users acesss to your information. Let users get it direct from your website – make sure it is all there though!

So don’t even consider an “app” until your site is mobilised. And then only if there is a compelling reason.

What devices do users view your mobile website on?

Normally users will see your normal site on a device like an iPad but will see your mobile site on a device like a phone – it depends on the screen resolution of the device.

Try your own website on a smartphone (and an IPad or tablet if you have one and see the difference)

If you don’t have a smartphone, there are a couple of phone emulators at

http://www.mobilewebsites4u.com/tester/index.htm
or
http://www.mobilephoneemulator.com/

What does your site look like? Can you read it easily. Would you bother with it as it stands on a mobile?

So what are your mobile options?

Only 3 really.

1) Do nothing sorry, sooner or later you need to face this and in the meantime you are losing business.

2) A separate mobile site

An extra site designed specifically for small screens. Normally this is just a copy of your main site and the one that shows if a user is detected as working on a small screen.

When a user is detected as working on a small screen, this site displays instead of your main site

3) A fully “responsive” site

This is when the code of your site is written so that it automatically resizes and adjusts to whatever screen size the user is working on.

Having a fully responsive site is the preferred option as it means only one site that needs to be updated at any time.

Some examples of responsive sites are

http://inthepresent.com/
http://www.jonathanhalls.com/
http://demo.innonlinesolution.com/responseweb/
http://paulrobertlloyd.com/portfolio/
http://thisismadebyhand.com/

Open them in your browser and then resize your browser screen and see what happens. Or view them on a mobile phone. No scrolling!

What to do about mobilising your site

If you are building or considering a new website at the moment, make sure you factor in a mobile responsive site. Otherwise you may be left behind until you redo your site again next time – maybe in 5 years time by which time you will be well behind.

If you are redeveloping your site, make sure your developer is using “responsive” technology and coding. That means that your new site will work on any size of screen and there is only one site to update.

So what are your practical options if you are not redeveloping soon or have recently upgraded?

1) Start with your current developer and ask them what they can offer in terms of mobilising your main site.

They may have an easy way to “turn a mobile version on”

They may be able to adapt your current site to work on mobile as well.

They may need to build you a whole new mobile version of your site to work on mobile – obviously this could be the costliest option.

They are unlikely to be able to easily implement “responsive” technology without virtually redeveloping your site.

2) Consider a product like Duda Mobile until you build a fully responsive main site. This is a Google owned product that essentially takes a snapshot of your existing site and mobilises it. It isn’t perfect but it is pretty good and a cheap, shorter term option.

Unfortunately there may be some issues with iframes used by different booking engines and availability calendars that might not work on mobiles (this usually depends on the provider of the booking system, many don’t have a mobile solution).

But you can still have a mobile site with good contact forms, maps, click to call buttons and easily readable information relatively cheaply.

You can build this yourself or we can do this for you. Standard straight forward sites (without booking engine issues) cost around $400-$600 (plus gst). It depends on how much editing is required on images, text etc. Each site is different. But tell us your domain name and we will give you a good estimate and indication of what is possible.

You can try Duda Mobile yourself for free at

http://www.greatnewzealand.co.nz/visitsite.php?id=14149

Just put your domain name in and Duda will convert it and let you see the “draft” conversion. Quick and easy to do.

Our recommendation

If you are redeveloping your site, do not get it done by anyone who cannot build you a fully responsive site – this should be the standard for all developers from now on.

Having a developer build it as “Responsive” should not cost much more than having a standard site built – all good developers should soon be doing this as standard practice. Those that don’t may well just be looking to make an “extra buck”.

If you are not redeveloping soon, ask your developer what can be done for you or consider a product like Duda as a stop-gap until your next redevelopment.

But do something!

If you have a “responsive” mobile site please let us know – we will post it on our Google Plus page if you would like.