Whilst scouring for information on my post about, Do you need a website, I ran across the 2012 Local Search Study document at www.localsearchstudy.com. And of the 6 trends it pointed out, the one of the most importance to most of us besides, “YES, you need a website,” is the growth of the tablet and smartphone market. It is already big and getting bigger every day.
So let’s go with the assumption that you DO have a website.
Now, is it friendly to your mobile platform totin’ customers? Let’s hope so. 61% of smartphone owners do local business searches from their phone. If you have the same website that you had carefully crafted in 1998 out there still, it’s probably not going to be the most enjoyable experience for your mobile visitors.
So What ARE Your Mobile Website Options?
1. The Heck With ‘Em – Let ‘Em SCROLL!
Okay, so if you built your site years ago, and haven’t updated it, this is pretty much where you’re at. Or if you hired a web neophyte that thinks because they created a web page in some class, that they’re a developer. And we’re STILL seeing a majority of sites created this way. They’re faster to build and less costly. This is what we would call a “fixed layout.” This type of website is designed to look good at a particular resolution. In the case of mobile viewing it may require pinching/zooming to see it – and of course scrolling.
If you try using one of the do it yourself website builders, this is what you will get. GoDaddy, Wix, Vistaprint and several other companies offer sitebuilder type services. If you try using one of the WYSIWYG (What you see is what you get) web design programs, this is also what you will get.
Don’t be embarrassed. There are a lot of sites out there that are still fixed layout designs out there – some even near and dear to my heart – the plumber’s faucets are always leaky. But it IS time to consider upgrading them soon. Or if you already have WAY too much business, leave it as is. But keep in mind that smartphone users and tablet users are some of the most active purchasers out there – follow that link above for more information. So it might be LESS costly for YOU to build, but is it COSTING you money in lost sales?
2. Two Websites – One for PCs and another for mobile
Jiminy, I just don’t want to redo the website right now. Okay, so add on a mobile piece for your website! This will be a separate thing like m.mydomain.com or mobile.mydomain.com – or a completely separate site on another domain in some cases. There are a number of companies that will let you build a mobile friendly website that lives on THEIR domain for a few bucks a month. That’s just bad for SEVERAL reasons. Anything that takes them off YOUR primary domain (evenif it IS a subdomain) is bad for your SEO IMHO. But we digress… It is an option.
You can have a web company, one specific one DOES come to mind, build a mobile specific website for you with just the basics – product/service, contact info, phone number. It will load fast (ideally) and not overload someone that is viewing it on a small device (possibly while driving – won’t even GO there…) But it’s another site to maintain – or pay someone else to maintain. Another webhosting fee. One more thing that isn’t “streamlined.” If it isn’t one more thing that you will never get around to doing, then it’s an option.
3. Adaptive or Responsive Design – And One Site to Rule Them All
If you’re just doing a new website, or it’s time to revamp your existing website, consider an adaptive or responsive web design. What is that? Simply, it’s a design that will accommodate any platform on which it is displayed. There will be differences between what someone sees on an iPhone versus what they see on a big 23″ monitor, but it will display and provide the best experience at all resolutions. If you scale down your browser window to half the normal size, you should see the adaptive or responsive design start shifting sizes and layouts to display properly (and read-ably) in the new size.
Responsive websites ARE more complex than a fixed size web design – and don’t be surprised if the price will reflect that. It’s actually as if the designer is creating multiple site designs and it can be correspondingly more expensive. Responsive web design sometimes does require giving up extraordinarily complex designs that require pixel precision. With sites however gravitating towards white space design these days though, it may not be an issue.
Not all sizes will likely look “beautiful”, or AS beautiful as the original site design that was created at the target resolution. There will be tradeoffs at various resolutions. It’s the nature of the beast. The goal is to make the website display acceptably on anything. Sometimes graphics will be omitted at lower resolutions or sized down. Sometimes certain content areas will even be removed. Sidebars may be shifted or also removed depending on preference or whim. Or it can be created to display absolutely everything just shifted around to fit a LONG window. Choice is up to you and your developer.
But the beauty of the responsive website? One developer. One webhosting fee. One place to make all your changes. One single website does it all. If you want the best you can get, go responsive.
For more information on the various types of website designs and types – GoDaddy explains them pretty well.