A mobile-optimized website is essential for your business, but which option is right for you?
With mobile devices becoming increasingly integrated into our daily lives, it’s safe to say that a mobile web presence is going to benefit your business. The real question is, which one is right for you? Believe it or not, a fully responsive website is not always the right option.
You don’t need a responsive website to have a mobile presence. In fact, the desktop and mobile websites can be entirely independent, yet still managed through a single CMS. That’s means you won’t have to do any duplicate content entry between your desktop and mobile websites, which is a huge time-saver.
Understand Your Users
Before you can make an educated decision on which mobile solution is right for you, you need to understand how your users are (or will) interact with your interface on a mobile device. The most effective mobile solution is the one most tailored to their needs.
If your analysis shows that your mobile users are mostly looking for contact information, you might consider a single page, smartphone-only solution that focuses on driving leads. If your target audience most commonly utilizes the entire website on a mobile device as opposed to a desktop, then you might consider a fully responsive website implementation.
The truth is, there is no global benchmark to assess your need for a mobile website. It depends entirely on your specific visitors. If your website receives 100 visitors per month, but 80% of them are accessing your website from a smartphone, you need a mobile website! Similarly, if you’re website receives 10,000 visitors per month, but only 5% of them visit from a smartphone, then you might consider forgoing the investment into a fully responsive web solution.
This is a single page website that appears only on smartphone devices. It is generally a low-cost solution and is ideal for presenting users with very limited and focused information on their mobile device.
A multi-page website that appears only on smartphone devices is ideal for presenting users with focused content that simply cannot fit on a single page (landing page + product listing and detail pages + blog articles, etc.)
This solution can be done independently or in addition to the single and multi-page solutions described above. Sometimes just a little extra clean-up work is required to get the site running smoothly on a tablet. This solution does not include any optimization for smartphone devices and the cost will depend on the size and complexity of the website.
A fully responsive site means that the entire website will look and work beautifully on every device, regardless of its screen size. When Apple releases a new tablet size next year, you won’t have to worry about how your website will look on it. This is typically the most expensive solution available, but also the most flexible and scalable. Therefore, it is very important to accurately determine if this is the right solution for your business.
Your website will still be accessible and usable on mobile devices even without one of these solutions, it just won’t be “optimized”. That basically just means users will have to zoom in and scroll around a bit. All of the above solutions can link back to the full-website from the mobile site and vice-versa so that you aren’t completely limiting users from the full-featured version of the site.
Why Not a Mobile App?
There are surprisingly few good reasons to build a native mobile application for iPhone or Android. Most of what can be done through a native application can also be done using modern web techniques. The top reasons to build a native application are if you have:
- The need to access and utilize the devices accelerometer (mostly used for gaming).
- The need to store and access data on the device itself.
- The need to sync data across devices.
- The need to utilize push notifications (SMS alerts).
- A large budget
If you don’t need any of that, there is little sense in driving up the cost and extending the timeline of your project. In general, people spend far more time on apps than on mobile websites, but that landscape is rapidly changing. The right solution will be evident after a close examination of your users. Every website has different users who have different needs and so it makes sense for web companies to offer as many relevant solutions as possible, not just fully responsive.
I encourage you to carefully examine your users and their top-tasks to determine what solution will work best for your business needs. Then, decide what mobile solution might be the best fit for your users and your business.