A mobile friendly website is essential to any business today. eMarketer estimates that 79.1% of internet users access the web from a mobile device, and it will reach 90.1% in 2017. Mobile web penetration is the highest in the Middle East & African with up to 94.0% in 2014.
Building a mobile website is not as daunting as people think. Today, there are many resources out there that can help transform your website into a mobile friendly one. In order to help you determine the best approach to go about implementing your mobile site, I have put together the following outline, along with the best practice guidelines to help you succeed.
How to Choose the Right Platform
There are several different ways to build a mobile friendly sites. Below I will talk about the three major types. Each of them has its pros and cons. Different businesses will benefit from them depending on their needs and wants.
Mobile App – This is a smartphone application that needs to be downloaded by the users first in order for them to get access to your website / content. Once installed by the user, the app will stay on his phone and it allows him to have a faster and easier access to your content. Although mobile apps can be a great tool for your mobile strategy, we do not recommend this method as a stand-alone strategy. This is because people have only limited space on their phone and they are not likely to download your app. Also new visitors will likely access your site through search engine and a regular web browser instead of your app. lastly, the most important reason is that apps are not crawled or indexed by search engines.
A Separate Mobile Site
Many websites opted for a separate mobile site. It is usually hosted on a subdomain (m.domain.com) or a subfolder (domain.com/mobile). It could also be on the same domain as the regular website using dynamic serving. This simply means server will deliver different content/html to users based on their user agent (desktop vs mobile).
If you choose to have a different URL for your site, you can also restructure your site so that it will provide a better user experience on mobile. However, people often keep their mobile site structure parallel with their desktop website. This allows for a smoother redirect based on user agent.
Responsive design is actually the most popular among three. Responsive design allows everything, including images, html, and content, to remain the same for both mobile site and desktop site. What makes it possible is the CSS. The CSS customizes the image size, font type and size…etc to fit the device the website is been accessed from.
Follow the flowchart below to help you choose the right approach for your mobile site.
Choosing the right approach is only the first step of creating a mobile friendly site. From technical aspects such as cross-platform issues, intermittent connectivity and SEO to image sizes, font sizes and user experience, there are many factors that you need to consider and decide when creating and implementing your mobile site.