How Important Is a Mobile-Optimized Site for Your Business?

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Mobile-optimized websites are no longer a luxury, but a necessity. If you want to stay relevant and attractive to your visitors, you need to provide them with easier access through their various devices.

If you have a website, the good news is that your business is accessible from any device. The problem is that your site may look very bad if it’s not mobile-optimized, which will create poor user experience and lead to low CRO. While over 50% of people surfing the Internet use their mobile devices to do so, only 21% of all website are mobile-friendly.

The trend to mobile is unstoppable, and Google is constantly pushing the creation of mobile websites. It won’t be surprising if this friendly graphic turns into a ranking factor in the near future.

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It is obvious that the growing trend is to think of mobile first and desktop second. This is a hard thing to accept, but all programmers can already see the trend and thus are beginning to apply the change to their work.

“Google programmers are doing work on mobile application first because they are better apps and that’s what top programmers what to develop” –Eric Schmidt. Google Chairman

We really need to shift now to start thinking about building mobile first. This is an even bigger shift than the PC revolution” – Kevin Lynch CTO Adobe

The future of the web is mobile design. There is new device every day, and more and more we find ourselves reaching out to our mobile devices to use the internet.

The Importance of a Mobile-Optimized Website

Wherever you go, you undoubtedly see people on all kinds of mobile devices surfing the web. Over half of Americans who have cell phones use their phone to surf the web, so there are clear benefits that highlight the importance of these features. One of the greatest benefits is that mobile-optimized websites provide a better user experience and increase usability, which should be the ultimate end goal aside from increasing a company’s ROI.

It has been deemed a best practice to have a mobile-optimized website, and Google itself recommends the practice of using responsive web design. New websites that are in development should design with mobile in mind, and existing websites should seriously consider optimizing for mobile use. Here’s an inside look at each type of mobile website optimization:

Mobile Design

There are two types of mobile design. The first type consists of an original website and a sub domain dedicated for the mobile version: www.example.com and m.example.com. Can you guess which one is the mobile version? In this form of mobile design, “m.” prefaces the original URL and visitors are redirected to the mobile version when they access the website from a tablet or smartphone. The mobile website is a sub domain, which makes it completely different website than the main one. The mobile version of the website is created specifically to be used on mobile devices, and it usually offers a link with the option to use the regular site instead. This is the old way of doing mobile design and is not the best option available today. Some downfalls include the risk of duplicate content, multiple URLs, and updates have to be done both on the regular and mobile version.

s2The second form of mobile design is a website that has multiple CSS files (or only one with multiple options for screen size). In this situation, the server determines which type of device is being used, and then it can pull up the specific CSS for a computer, a smartphone, or a tablet. This is the best way to do mobile design. It requires a little more work but it is well worth it.

The difference between the two is that in the first one, there are two completely different websites with different CSS, template, and layout, and in the second, it is the same website but just with three different templates to respond to three types of devices. Both styles of mobile design exist specifically for the purpose of simplifying and enhancing website access on mobile devices.

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Some advantages:

– The most aesthetically pleasing
– More user friendly
– Only one URL
– Easy to maintain

Responsive Template Design

Responsive template design is the most common approach, although it is not necessarily the best. It is popular because it is often the easiest. It allows a website to be accessible on all devices, regardless of screen size, without CCS changes or additions. Responsive design uses a single template, and the CSS can “sense” the size of the screen so that it can adjust the elements of the page to fit in a cascading manor. It takes the modules with the highest priority and places them first, with the rest of the modules following in order of priority. By default, the modules on the top left are the most important while those on the bottom right are the least important. That way, when a user is scrolling down on a responsive design website, they will see the most important features of the website first. In this sense, responsive design is a “one size fits all” solution, but that doesn’t mean that it is the best solution. Here are the pros and cons:

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Pros

– High user experience and navigation from mobile to desktop.
– Consistent content and easier to update the website.
– Easier with stats – no need to split traffic between two versions of your website.
– Only one URL.

Cons

– New to SEO and might need some fine tuning before we see the optimal result on responsive templates.
– Responsive design could make a website load slower as it adjusts to the appropriate screen size.
– Responsive websites are more complex to code.
– Responsive design is one size fits all, which is usually reflected in the final look of your website.

Successful Brands that Optimized

There are many brands that have successfully employed one of the above options.

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Sun Maid, Gateway Bank, and Caribou Coffee have all implemented interactive, interesting, and appealing designs for mobile use. Each of them is different in the features offered. For example, the Sun Maid and Caribou Coffee websites look similar with the menu options, but Caribou Coffee’s website has a convenient slider that switches between pictures on the home page, revealing their latest specials and offers.

Overall, a website that has been optimized for mobile use is the best option for increasing brand awareness. Mobile-optimized websites are designed to deliver faster downloading and browsing speeds, plus they are more cost effective than developing an app. In addition, companies that optimize their websites for mobile use have a competitive advantage when compared to their competitors who do not optimize.

 

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    About Ben Oren

    Ben Oren specializes in handling SEO efforts and boosting online conversion for large corporations in highly competitive niches, mostly in the US and Europe. Ben Oren is the Head Marketing Consultant at Dynamic Search™ - a US based, reputable web marketing agency handling small and medium clients worldwide. He is currently the Director of Web Marketing at WhiteWeb technologies. Contact Ben at ben@webds.com

    18 Comments

    1. Nila

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      “Mobile-optimized websites are no longer a luxury, but a necessity”. That is it in a nutshell. What business owners must understand is that mobile optimization is not based on the shallow purpose of just remaining “trendy”, but it is catering to what the modern consumer is looking for and optimizing their experience. Well written Ben.

    4. Gary Howell

      I built my small business website myself using Dream Weaver HTML. I know that today most of the default wordpress themes come optimized for mobile. My site is currently number one in search for my keywords. So, how can I completely replace my current HTML site with a mobile optimized wordpress site without losing my ranking?

    5. Charles Bronson

      Ben, I appreciate the article above. However, the idea that the CSS-type website can satisfy Mobile users give me pause. When I am on a mobile website, as a consumer, I am looking for very narrow bits of information: phone, hours, and directions. The geometry of a desktop website delivers entirely different information.

      Stand alone HTML5 websites enable the business to place a limited amount of business info in a thumb-friendly presentation that is useful to the Mobile user. The Mobile user is only requiring certain info and they need it quickly.

      Charlie

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