The Pew Research group reports that more than half of the U.S. population is mobile tech enabled — 58 percent have a smartphone and 42 percent have a tablet. More and more people get their news, do research and purchase products on their mobile devices. Smart companies are gearing up to support this mobile revolution, and smarter companies have been catering to smartphone users for years. Get your business and web presence mobile-ready. Without doing so, you’re recommending more and more customers to shop with your competitors ever day… unless you’re into losing money and that kind of thing?
What is the Impact of Mobile Access?
Tech Crunch reveals that 21.8 percent of the Black Friday sales last year were through a mobile device. Tablets accounted for 14.4 percent of the sales and smartphones 7.2 percent. KPCB predicts by the end of 2014, 25 percent of the Internet traffic globally will be through mobile devices. And smartphones will be used more and more for actual transactions, not just browsing then switching to a tablet or desktop for the transaction.
The Google Mobile Path to Purchase showed 48 percent of research on mobile starts with a search engine users started a search on a mobile device. Nearly 55 percent of those mobile searchers made a purchase within one hour. Do you want that purchase to be with you? Or with your competitors? The mobile user wants access to concise information through which they can make a quick decision. Your business needs to cater to these mobile searchers to stay connected.
Forbes writer Joshua Steimle goes as far as to say that if your website is not mobile-ready in 2014, you may not be around for long. Making your website and content available to mobile users is key to competing with companies that have made the change. The three primary ways to manage this are through responsive design techniques on your website, by creating a separate mobile site, and creating a mobile app designed for specific devices. The path you ultimately take to be mobile-ready really depends on the type of content you’re serving up.
Websites and Responsive Design
Responsive design is a way to make your web presence look good and function well on any device, whether that’s a desktop computer, tablet or smartphone. Websites with responsive design will detect any of those devices you are using and format the page accordingly. Your website will display correctly without the user having to zoom in on portions of the page. They will have buttons that they can actually press without zooming in or pressing two buttons at once. Viewing your site is one thing, but making it easy for the mobile user to select items, fill in fields and check out is critical.
If you have a fairly new website, or it’s simple and for information only, implementing responsive design shouldn’t break the bank. If you haven’t touched your site in years, you may want to do a total rewrite to get the benefit of the best of responsive design techniques. You might invest several thousands of dollars on a rewrite with a responsive design, but your investment could place you ahead of slower moving competitors. Just remember that good web developers today think about responsive design first, not just an afterthought when you’re already knee deep in a website redesign that then adds big dollar signs not in the agreed upon budget.
Some of the areas addressed by responsive design include:
- pages adjust to the size of the device’s screen
- images resize automatically so they stay within their sections
- page headers and footers remain small to allow for more content to display
- custom menu systems are created to allow the mobile user to navigate through your site easily
- search boxes are easy to find and use
- product images are used as a focal point instead of text
- product options are easy to select on a mobile device
- cart and checkout buttons are easy to find and use
Responding to Mobile Users with an App
Some websites are just not conducive to responsive design. These include older and very complicated websites. In those cases, a special mobile app may be the solution. The social media platform LinkedIn chose to create a web app for each mobile OS so that those mobile users could have a unique experience, notes Forbes. Both iOS and Android users have an app to access LinkedIn that uses the native functionality in those devices. This ensures LinkedIn doesn’t miss any of its market due to lack of mobile compatibility.