We just can’t put them down! We feel lost without them and will drive miles if we leave them behind. We take them everywhere and do much more than make phone calls with them. Yes, our phones and tablets are as mobile as we are and they seem to get smarter with each passing year.
Over the last few years smart phone usage has increased dramatically. And why not? 4G (generation) technology and improved phone functionality have made web browsing from our phones much easier and faster.
Whether you know it or not, potential customers are using their phones to search for local businesses like yours. How can you enhance their mobile web browsing experience and turn them into your customers? The simple answer is, think like your customers. Think about them out and about, running errands, stopping for a bite to eat, waiting to pick up a child from football practice, or stuck in traffic. Are they picking up their phone to search for you? And if they do, what do they find?
If they land on your full, desktop website where they must scroll up and down, pinch to zoom in and out, and navigate through way too much information, they may leave your site and go to a competitor who has made their site easy to use on a mobile phone. You have one chance to make a first impression. A mobile optimized site will help you make a good one. It will tell the user you care about their mobile web experience and have taken the time to make it the best it can be for them. They will appreciate you!
It’s not important if you use your smart phone to search the web – it’s only important if your customers or potential customers are. You want to make it as easy as possible for them to find you, call you, and do business with you.
Most everyone knows what an app is. They download them to their smartphones or tablets. But, what makes an app different than a mobile website. First off, an app is 'native' to the device, it has specific capabilities and look that fits with that device. It runs on the device independently of opening a web browser. A mobile website is a site that you would navigate to in the web browser. So, the app is the web browser in fact, and the web site is just that, another website. However, a mobile site is designed to be 'mobile friendly' to the user versus when you pull up an antiquated site that is difficult to read or simply doesn't look right. A mobile website can come in a couple different 'flavors'.
Recently, many web developers have adopted a 'mobile first' responsive design. This is essentially an all in one website that adapts and resizes the content to fit the variousl screen sizes from desktop to smartphone. This happens dynamically or 'on the fly'. To see this in action you can view a website in a desktop browser and resize the browser's width and see the content change as you reduce its size. Its very effective and enables a single site's content to be maintained.
The example shown here demonstrates how the same content being 'shrunk' intelligently to display on the phonve versus the tablet. The same is true that the desktop version would display more content initially than the tablet.
Another option is to create a seperate mobile only version of your site that looks and behaves like an app would that you download for your smartphone or tablet. If done well, there is very little difference in appearance and navigation to a traditional Android or iPhone app. So, why not just build an app? The cost of developing and deploying and app can be prohibitive. However, if the devloper creates your mobile only website with an actual app in mind, much of the work can be used when you actually create the app. In other words, some of the efforts can be resused.
For a mainly mobile site, it's important to keep the content concise as possible, featuring your most important information. Mobile phone users won’t read all the information from your desktop site while searching from their phones anyway. For example, if you have a towing and auto repair service, do you really need much more than basic info like hours, services, address and phone. In other cases you may need to provide a full depth of content. In those cases a responsive design would be best. Examples would be a blog or an public event directory.
A website designed for a mobile device will provide the user with “fat-finger-friendly” links and tap-to-call buttons, eliminating the need to manually dial the phone number of the businesses they wish to call. It also will load faster and use less of their monthly bandwidth limits.
Users will soon become accustomed to mobile-optimized websites and they will know immediately when they land on a non-mobile site, making it even more important for business owners to provide them with the best experience possible. If they don’t, users will find someone who does.
It seems web history is repeating itself. In the early days of the web, it was acceptable to have an amateur-looking website. Now, people simply expect a website to function properly and look professional. If it doesn’t, they will find one that does.
In comes mobile! A year or two ago, it was cool to simply have your desktop website show up on a smart phone. Now, user expectations are higher. It's time to improve your mobile site's usability and load time.
Things are only going to get worse – or better, depending on your perspective. Mobile sites will become the norm as business owners get on board with this new technology. No longer will users accept the full, desktop website on their smart phone, just as they no longer accept the out-of-date, amateur site on their desktop computer.
Mobile devices are quickly becoming the most common way people browse and access the internet. From checking on news to buying products from eCommerce sites. Why not get a jump on your competition and hopefully not be playing catch-up. Get your the welcome mat on your customer’s smart phone, you might be surprised how many stop by to say hello!