There’s been a lot of buzz lately about the epic rise of smartphones and tablets. Many industry watchers are now making bold predictions that mobile Internet use will soon surpass traditional desktop-based web surfing.
As a website owner, you might be wondering if you need a mobile optimized website?
Yes, you do.
Simply put, a mobile optimized website is specifically designed for ease of use on small touchscreen devices like smartphones and tablets. If you’ve ever attempted to navigate a complex, graphic-heavy desktop website using the browser on your mobile device, it’s pretty easy to grasp why mobile-specific sites are important.
Sure, you can reach the web address you searched for on your cell phone, but once there, could you actually find the information you were seeking?
A mobile optimized website is clean, loads quickly and is easy to navigate using a small touchscreen. It has the same general appearance as it’s desktop counterpart, but the content has been streamlined down to a bare-bones, function trumps fashion site.
According the Pew Research Internet Project, as of January 2014, 90 percent of American adults have a cell phone, with 58 percent owning smartphones. This ins’t just an American trend; smartphone use has exploded throughout the world, with massive increases in ownership throughout Africa, South America and Asia.
When smartphones were first launched, surfing the Internet on the tiny touchscreens was nearly impossible. The mobile browsers were clunky and prone to crashing, while the painfully slow data speeds gave users were on par with our old 54K dialup modems from the 90s.
In response to the growing demand for data on the go, web designers began building websites that worked on the small screen – this new breed of mobile optimized sites has helping boost the popularity of accessing the Internet using cell phones. This, along with significant drops in the cost of hardware and services, has helped fuel the enormous growth of mobile data.
Among Americans who own a data-enabled phone, over 50 percent use it access their email, 61 percent surf the web and 34 percent use a smartphone as their primary tool for accessing the Internet. This is partly due to convenience, but it’s also a simple case of affordability; cell phones and tablets are cheap and easy to buy in comparison to desktop computers.
Adults aged 18-29 are the biggest consumers of mobile websites; 85 percent go online with their cell phones, while over half use it as their preferred Internet device.
Consumers who access content using mobile devices tend to want instant gratification – a mobile optimized website engages users immediately, reducing the dreaded ‘bounce rate’ that sends consumers off to visit a competitors web-friendly site.
Both standalone and responsive mobile websites load quickly, are easy to navigate and highly legible on a small screen. Mobile sites usually include a clear call to action, such as a live link to a phone number, email or a ‘buy now’ button to engage visitors and promote high conversion rates.
Simply put, if you want to ensure your website is accessible to 100 percent of web users 100 percent of the time, your site must be mobile-friendly.