Do you need a Mobile friendly Website?
Do you know if your Website is mobile friendly? Have you heard conflicting opinions? Are you feeling the pressure to do something? If so, do you really need to change your Website? With the stampede towards Mobile friendly websites, many Website owners could, needlessly, be investing in a new Website when their existing site was perfectly fine. To help you make an informed decision, the following points should, we hope, take away some of the mystery behind this “important” issue.
Mobile friendly depends on who you ask
Without a doubt, the stampede towards “so called” Mobile friendly websites has been engineered by the Web Design industry, or more specifically, by the “techies” within the industry. When they talk about Mobile friendly, what they really mean is, auto responsive (more below). If your website is not auto responsive, then to them, your site is not Mobile friendly.
Like many other industries, the “techies” want you to have all the latest “bells & whistles”, As we well know, “bells & whistles” are only additional features. Features are not, necessarily, benefits. From a business perspective, encouraging (scare-mongering) website owners to upgrade sooner, rather than later, is good for the Web design industry. It is an opportunity to generate more revenue. The hype is similar to the arrival of the new millennium, when many businesses were worried about the never realised, Millennium Bug .
So, is your website Mobile friendly?
However, here is the thing; if your website appears more-or-less the same in Mobile devices as it does on the Desktop version of your website and loads quickly, then to all-intents-and-purposes, your Website is mobile friendly. Don’t let anyone tell you differently. The fact that your website was designed to a fixed width of, perhaps, 1024pixels, does not make it unfriendly to mobile devices. Most modern Smartphones, for example, have an average screen resolution of 1280 pixels, allowing them to easily display websites, designed more for Desktops. If people can easily navigate your website and quickly find what they are looking for via a Mobile device, then your Website must be mobile friendly. Arguably, many people prefer to view websites as they appear on a desktop and are well used to zooming into pages to see more. Auto Responsive Websites require much more page scrolling to find what you are looking for.
So, what are the perceived benefits of “Mobile friendly” Websites?
#1 Auto responsive
The Website will re-align and reformat itself, depending on the device being used. This means there is no need for a mobile version of your Website. On the surface, it sounds great. However, since most fixed width websites (the majority at the moment) display perfectly well on mobile devices, there is no need to develop a mobile version anyway.
#2 Improved visitor experience
Since more and more people are now accessing websites via their Smartphone, it makes sense to develop Websites by placing more importance on Smartphones, rather than Desktops. If your Website Stats show that most of your visitors are viewing your website via Smartphones, then there is a good business case for developing your new Website, based on how it looks on these devices, rather than on Desktops. This is for no other reason than, these type of visitors, most likely, would prefer the scrolling approach to Websites (auto responsive), rather than the zoom approach (fixed width).
However, if most of your visitors are accessing your Website via a Desktop, then there is little benefit to be gained from an auto responsive design. Auto responsive websites will tend to enlarge any graphics and fill the browser window, typically, with your Banner picture and navigation menu. This means, visitors have to scroll down the page (below the fold) before they can read any content. This can be annoying to many people. Also, since auto responsive designs have stricter design requirements, there is less scope on how you may wish to display your content blocks. Auto responsive Websites are very easy to indentify!
#3 Mobile friendly websites are faster.
Mobile friendly websites are developed using the same code as Desktop Websites. Therefore, if a “so called” mobile friendly web page has been designed with lots of content and graphics, then it will always load slower than a traditionally developed web page with less content i.e. it is the amount of content that dictates page load speed and not some special code. However, since many people may be visiting your Website on slower mobile devices (compared to a newish Desktop spec), it would make sense to, perhaps, simplify your page design, include less graphics and hide certain content areas to help improve page load times on slower mobile devices.
#4 Future proofing
This is a tricky one. If your website is old and tired, needs a complete rethink to meet your new business objectives and a budget has been allocated to the project, then we would recommend going down the auto responsive route (what many people think as mobile friendly). Although for the majority of small businesses there are no tangible benefits for doing so, as discussed above, there does appear to be an unstoppable move towards auto responsive websites. There does not really appear to be any solid business reasons for not doing so. If, as seems likely, the majority of websites on the Internet move to an auto responsive based structure in the future, you may be left with a website with what many visitors may term , a little dated looking. This is unfortunate, since, a good website should be about good content and easy navigation, combined with a professional looking website design.
If your existing website displays more-or-less in the same way over all devices and you are happy with it, then we would recommend remaining with your existing website as long it keeps meeting your business objectives. For example, our own website is a fixed width design, still meets all our business objectives and attracts many favourable responses from people visiting it. As the saying goes; if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it! However, that does not mean we won’t be tweaking it here and there to cater for the mobile community. Our video tutorials are one example and are currently being recoded to accommodate those devices that can’t display Flash based media.
If you have reached the stage for a complete overhaul of your website, then to ensure it is mobile friendly, it would be prudent to;
- Move towards an auto responsive design structure, even though most of your traffic may be Desktop based.
- Since auto responsive designs will enlarge your graphics, ensure that all images are of large enough resolution, to ensure they do not pixilate as they are increased in size. In fact, purchase or have professionally taken pictures for all images on your website.
- Rethink your content and make it shorter and punchier. Try and get your key sales messages over as quickly as possible. The World’s attention span is, significantly, lower than in years gone by.
- Make sure all your key contact details are easily viewable on all web pages.
- Decide what content can be hidden on smaller devices i.e. much of the content in your page footers.
- Make sure your page load times are satisfactory. if using a CMS, such as, WordPress, use a caching Plugin to improve performance.
- Since websites are all about making your visitors do something after they visit, ensure all your call to actions are prominently displayed on all pages i.e. Social Share Buttons, Newsletter sign-up, contact details, quote requests etc
- Finally, and most importantly, being mobile friendly is only one part of developing a successful website. Content is always king and your priorities should always be to generate good content that meets the informational requirements of your visitors. You can have the most mobile friendly website in the world with a great design, but if the content is so poor that visitors immediately bounce off your site, then what is the point.