Let’s paint the picture first. You’re a business person with a website that was built, say just over a year ago. For all intents and purposes it’s a pretty good website and you put a great deal of effort and expense into making sure it represented your business well. The only hitch, it was built at a time before the mobile web exploded beyond the stratosphere taking the world by storm.
Now you’re hearing talk about the phenomenal upsurge in mobile internet usage and are starting to get the niggling feeling that maybe you should do something to make your site more “mobile friendly”. Well your business instinct is guiding you well because if you look at the cold hard facts, you’ll see this is not just up-talk but a massive movement the figures can’t repress.
For example recent ABS statistics reveal that at 31 Dec 2012, 17.4 million Australians are using the internet on their mobile devices. This shows an increase of 7% from 16.2 million at June 2012. That’s a 7% increase in 6 months and rising.
Consumers, whether B2B or B2C are using their mobile devices to research, access information and also purchase while on the go. The rise in mobile internet usage brings with it changes in consumer behaviour and changes in consumer expectations. To meet those changes your website needs to deliver an experience that is going to be satisfying for your audience.
So what is the difference between a website that is mobile friendly and one that is not?
The Standard Website, built only for desktop viewing, is difficult for the user on a mobile device. Users have to scroll sideways to view the entire site, the text is too small to read and the buttons are too small and close together resulting in misdirected clicks and an overall frustrating user experience.
Getting back to your situation though, having invested in a website not that long ago, you really don’t want to commit to the process of rethinking a brand new site, nor do you want to outlay the same expense. You want to know straight up … Can my existing site be converted to a mobile website or not? Well here’s the weigh-up:
Generally speaking a purpose built website for multi-screen viewing is by far the best option available. Your website would work the way you want it to on desktop, tablet and smart phone seamlessly, without compromise. It entails building a brand new website based on a design structure that lends itself perfectly for transition from one device to another. From an effort and cost point of view, this approach would be less than building a site from scratch as your existing content and other elements could be incorporated into the new mobile friendly site.
Another option is to retrofit your current site to become “mobile friendly”. Yes it is possible and can be a successful win-win from an end result and budget point of view. The aim of the exercise is to make the mobile version a simpler version of the full desktop site. The desktop site remains unchanged, but the following changes would come into effect only when the site is viewed on a mobile device such as an iPhone or iPad:
• hiding some of the not-so-important information from the mobile users view so as to keep them focussed on the important stuff
• changing the navigation on mobile screens so that they are easy to interact with
• increasing font size and reducing page width so that text is readable
• taking advantage of mobile features such as “click-to-call” and “click-to-map”
Retrofitting a website for mobile devices does involve compromises however. As a business owner you need to be aware that certain things about the way your current site is built will pose some challenges to achieving the ideal outcome for mobile site. These things would need to assessed by reviewing your site.
No matter which way you choose to move forward, the call to action is upon businesses. We need to answer the growing needs of our audience base who are using multiple devices before making a purchase, starting by researching on mobile then waiting until they are on another screen to complete the transaction. Or if they are on the go, they will use their phones to search for locations, get directions and use phones with their original function, and give your business a call.
Australian Bureau of Statistics
8153.0 – Internet Activity, Australia, December 2012