Up until a few years ago, if you surfed the ‘Net you used a desktop or laptop computer. Now people are more likely to use a mobile device – smartphones, tablets and phablets – to go online. Nearly every US adult (95%) has a cell phone and according to the Pew Research Center, the percentage of Americans owning smartphones increased from 35% in 2011 to 77% in 2016. In addition, 51% of US adults’ own tablets.
Consumers are primarily using mobile devices for mobile applications (Apps) and mobile websites. The time they are spending there has increased significantly since 2013. To keep up with this trend, businesses must have a mobile presence. The question is, should you have a mobile application, a mobile website or both.
Mobile Website or Mobile Application
A mobile website is a website designed to work well on the smaller touch-screen displays of mobile devices. It can be accessed using any mobile device browser.
A mobile application is a type of application software designed to run on a mobile device. Device owners go to online outlets such as the Apple App Store or the Android Market to download and install the app that works with their mobile device operating system.
Since most businesses already have a website, it makes practical sense to make your site mobile-friendly and use it as a key component in your mobile strategy. There are several reasons to opt for a mobile website including:
- Cost – Because of new web design techniques, you can create a mobile website that will run beautifully on all devices. It costs more to develop a native app that will run on different operating systems (e.g., IOS, Android etc.), requiring you to develop multiple apps.
- Broader Audience – More people can access your mobile website quickly across a variety of devices. Mobile apps on the other hand must be downloaded and have to be compatible with a specific operating system.
- Flexibility – You can change and upgrade content quicker on a mobile website. Those changes appear immediately. With mobile apps, you must push the updates to users, which they must download for the updates to appear on their devices.
- SEO – Your mobile website pages can be optimized for search, making it easier for your target audiences to find you. You will need to promote your mobile apps, directing users to the appropriate store for their device.
- Shelf Life – Because your website resides on a server and not on the users phone it cannot be deleted.
A Superior User Experience
For a superior user experience, a mobile website must be intuitive, easy to read, easy to navigate and load quickly.
Responsive and adaptive design techniques have become the standard method for creating mobile friendly websites that can adjust dynamically to any sized device screen. Unfortunately, most small businesses (60%) are not mobile friendly. Mobile visitors to these sites may find the content more difficult to access, read, and interact with, creating a not so pleasant user experience.
Websites not optimized for mobile also have lower SEO rankings making it harder to find them on search engines. That is because in 2015 Google changed its search algorithm to give mobile-friendly sites higher SEO rankings. If you have a website and never updated it, Google has developed a tool you can use to determine if your site is mobile friendly. Just enter your URL and if your site is mobile optimized it will notify you.
Making your website mobile friendly improves the user experience and increases your search engine rankings.
Mobile optimization will make content easier to engage however, the content must be engaging. Because of the way that mobile devices are used and the inherent limitations of their smaller screen there needs to be a different approach for developing content for mobile websites.
Mobile devices, especially smartphones, are used on the go. Because they are on the go users want to do quick searches for specific information. Speed and ease of use are key requirements of mobile website content. Forty percent (40%) of consumers will abandon a website that takes longer than 3 seconds to load.
To make your mobile website more engaging:
- Start articles with short, bold attention-grabbing headlines that convey the article’s benefits.
- Use short-form content in bite-sized pieces, including links to the full-length piece.
- Keep text to a minimum and use clean simple fonts
- Use as few words as possible to get your point across.
- A picture is worth a thousand words – use bold dynamic visuals, attention-grabbing photos and videos.
Mobile websites must compete with social media apps that capture attention with dynamic, easy to engage content that users come back for. To mobilize your website for success, focus on creating a great user experience, deliver valuable content and make it easy for people to find you.
What are your thoughts on the role of websites in the mobile age? Are they still relevant, what other ways can they be improved? We look forward to reading your feedback and perspectives, via comments below, or lets connect on LinkedIn for further discussion.
gL Marketing Consultants specializes in video production, WordPress websites and digital marketing strategy development and implementation.