Don’t look now, or rather, look now, because mobile internet traffic is speeding past companies who have not embraced the single most important technology to developing business today. Only a few short years ago, the cumbersome desktop computer was king. It was only practical for office or home use. Taking it with you was dreadfully difficult and impractical. Internet café’s popped up, and libraries could be used by those travelling or away from their computer to find directions, restaurants, shop, or find local businesses, such as car repair, urgent care centres, or a hotel. Along came the laptop computer. But now, the smart phone and iPad, and its tablet brethren, are flying off the shelves and into practical everyday use for the business person and citizen.
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A majority of websites and companies have not prepared for the onslaught of business being done through mobile browsers and are missing out on billions of dollars in sales. Since buying services and products are not relegated only to local and regional businesses, it behooves companies to have a mobile version of their website to take advantage of the selling and informational opportunities presently before them. Sadly, most are not.
It is important to understand that the normal websites that don’t accommodate mobile browsers provide a poor visitor experience, and may actually turn off potential customers from your products and services. Therefore, having a site that is mobile-friendly may mean beating out a competitor, growing your business, increasing revenues, and attracting and retaining customers.
New technology is helping make this a simple and modestly priced venture for small and large companies. “Responsive web design” is one of the hot new terms in the industry today, and we will discuss how it will assist the business owner or company in making certain they acquire as much market share as possible.
A company has three choices when considering whether to develop their website for the mobile browsing. But first, let us look at important statistics of smart phones and tablets to help give you some perspective on why developing your website for the mobile market is a wise investment.
Smart Phone and Tablet Statistics and Information
Today, 91 million Americans own a smart phone, and there are over 1 billion active ones globally in use. By 2014, there will be 90 million tablets in the hands of businesses and consumers. They should not be ignored.
Searching the internet for products, services, and events is the #2 use of the smart phone, while texting is first. Yes, there are significantly more texts going out than phone calls. What may be surprising is that the smart phone has become like a hand-held portable computer.
The buying demographic everyone wants is between 25 and 40, and this is where the majority of smart phone owners are. Moreover, these people have grown up using computer technology like many grew up using pencils and hand-held calculators.
In the recent past, smart phones were slow in uploading websites, information, games, or search, but now speeds are amazing, so this is no longer a deterrent. Because of the slowness, many companies opted out of what they thought would be an expensive design to wait for faster speeds. They are here. This means, if you have been sitting on the sidelines because of this, you no longer have an excuse to remain disengaged.
The fastest growing segment of mobile app and website development is with local businesses. 70% of business search is for local products and services. If you have ever used a smart phone to search for this time of entity, even today, it is likely that you were able to find a website that was neither user friendly nor intuitive. It obviously was not designed for mobile use. How did you feel? Probably like you wasted time. Again, with tremendously fast speeds, and the phone guts to handle the data, this no longer has to be an issue.
Tablets manufacturers have learned quite a bit from their older cousins, the smart phone, and have come to market more prepared for what the consumer wants when locating businesses. Again, it cannot be stressed enough that having your website optimized for these gadgets will help position you to take advantage of the financial and relational opportunities that exist and are coming.
3 Options for Mobile Web Design
Responsive web design uses new technology that allows the web developers to build a mobile site that is pictorially compelling, and easy to read and navigate without losing the essence that a standard site offers. In fact, this technology is being employed on standard internet websites, too. The coding allows for instant sizing of the page in conjunction with the type of web-based tool that is being used to view it, ie, the desktop, smart phone, or tablet.
Your company has three choices when deciding whether nor not to utilize this new technology and, therefore, be more competitive online.
- Do Nothing – There are many reasons why companies will not choose to embrace responsive web design, and they include, budget or cost, technical savvy, fear of the unknown, or simple disinterest. In an economy where competition for customer dollars has never been fiercer, none of these are acceptable. The trend is towards the mobile market, as we demonstrated. Let go your horse-and-buggy mentality because the Model A is rolling off the assembly line.
- Develop a Separate Theme – Responsive mobile web design allows you to develop a totally separate mobile theme that properly sizes the site and allows the user to engage with the site in a much more user friendly mode. In this version the available content is chosen strictly for the mobile version and in some instances the whole site is pared down to fewer pages than the normal site and streamlined for the mobile user.
- New Website Optimized for Mobile Use – The third and final choice you have as a company is to either start new with a website, or redesign your website from the outset utilizing the science behind responsive web design, which ultimately is about the user experience. The data on how people engage websites is prodigious, and so this is incorporated into this new way of preparing your site for both the mobile and desktop user for maximum effect and engagement. So no matter what size browser the person is using the coding will be responsive and allow them to see the entire site content (graphics, pictures, etc) in their chosen screen size. It will adapt to the user – this is the way of the future.
In our ever-changing world we see obsolete technology and products all the time. What will never change is how important it is for businesses to understand how their customers and prospects engage them on the internet, whether it is from a desktop, laptop, smart phone or tablet. Having a website that intuitively makes adjustments to the site visitor so they can have the best user experience possible is now available through responsive website design. This technology will naturally evolve with the user, making it one of the most important innovations yet in website design and development. The question is, will you ignore the business opportunities this technology brings and dismiss mobile web development, or will you embrace it and reap the benefits?
There are a lot of sites that really need to review their websites for mobile use. I use my phone to check out the news pretty often, and even in this day and age, some sites are absolutely unviewable on a mobile device.