It's not coming, it's here. Smartphones are everywhere. If you have a website it's critical for you to have some type of mobile-friendly version in place for your mobile visitors.
Depending upon your industry, a mobile version can be as simple as one page of contact information up to a complete mobile website with products, images, and ecommerce.
For example, our blog uses a text-only mobile theme to allow visitors to easily read and search our posts. However our corporate website (see image on right) uses a one-page contact mobile screen to allow visitors to quickly access information to contact us by telephone or email. It also provides them with a choice to flip over to our "desktop" version. We chose this direction as we felt that our portfolio would be best viewed on a desktop or iPad system.
To make a choice of which direction is best for your website, it's important to understand your target demographic and why they are visiting your website. Most mobile websites are text-based and informational to allow mobile users to quickly access contact information, etc. Because of the limitations of mobile browsers, full-blown copies of websites are still somewhat restrictive, unless of course you have a custom mobile "app" built for your website. (ex. Facebook's mobile app)
Below are 6 reasons why your web site needs to become mobile friendly. Now.
1. Smartphone use is increasing fast -- among ALL age groups
Smartphone sales saw an 85% increase in North America from 2010 to 2011. Sixty-two percent of users in the 25-34 age demographic own smartphones. Wired says "We are increasingly looking at a wireless world divided between high-end, pocket-sized, connected computers with advanced messaging capabilities and entry-level mobile phones — with almost nothing in between."
2. Social media use on mobile phones is skyrocketing.
Social media use on mobiles is growing exponentially, increasing by 37% in the past year, according to an October 2011 comScore report. “Social media is one of the most popular and fastest growing mobile activities, reaching nearly one third of all U.S. mobile users,” said Mark Donovan, comScore senior vice president for mobile. “This behavior is even more prevalent among smartphone owners with three in five accessing social media each month, highlighting the importance of apps and the enhanced functionality of smartphones to social media usage on mobile devices.”
Minimal screen sizes on mobile phones make browsing a website formatted for desktop screen sizes difficult. Users must scroll and zoom around the screen excessively to get the information they need. Scrollbars can scare users away in an instant. We can create a mobile-friendly version of your web site to address this issue.
4. Website images are a bandwidth hog
Large images on a website formatted for desktop are too large to view without zooming out, and require a lot of bandwidth to transport. Smartphone providers don't offer unlimited bandwidth accounts, so an excess of large images can cost a site visitor more just to visit a website. A mobile optimized website will minimize the number and size of images to reduce bandwidth usage.
5. Mobile users want information FAST
A mobile-friendly website serves up text information quickly to satisfy the instant gratification needs of the typical mobile user. A Forrester Research study found today’s patience threshold for the “wired Web” is just two seconds for page load time, down from four seconds only three years ago. Looking ahead, expectations will only continue to rise. Within twelve to sixteen months, the next generation in mobile connectivity, 4G networks, will make smartphones smarter, networks faster — and end-users even more eager for immediate interactive gratification. Obviously, mobile users are willing to trade functionality for the convenience of mobile connectivity, but they won't sacrifice speed or availability.
6. Nearly half of smartphone users consider smartphone a necessity
Young Americans have made the switch; fully 59% of adults ages 18-29 regard a cell phone as a necessity while just 46% say the same about a landline phone. Forty-seven percent of Americans recently surveyed by Pew Research consider a smartphone a necessity. It is clear that we are heading toward more smartphone adoption in the coming years. Better to be ahead of the curve and optimize your website for mobile now.