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Do I Need A Mobile Version Of My Site?


Hmmmm……let me think about that one………ummmm…..

yes, you need a mobile site

image courtesy of Flickr user vernieman

OK, Why Do I Need A Mobile Site?

Well, there’s this data which shows that mobile searches will surpass searches done by laptop or desktop computers in 3 years:

mobile vs desktop search volume

Click image for full report

Some data shows that people already spend more time on their mobile device than their desktop computer. Currently mobile searches account for 30% of all searches. If you use analytics (and you should) you can tell just how many people visit your site from a mobile device.

mobile vs desktop visitors

In this example 21% of users are viewing the site on a mobile device

If your site isn’t optimised for mobile then that’s a lot of potentially terrible experiences you’re giving to your users. How would you like it if 1 out of 4 times you flew with Qantas they had an engine failure?

Does Everyone Need A Mobile Site?

Probably not at this point. I can’t see too many B2B businesses desperately needing a mobile site just yet, but their day is coming. It’s time that they started planning to have a mobile optimised site in the next year to stay ahead of the competition.

YP (Yellow Pages) just released some interesting data for Q1 2012 showing what people search for when using a smartphone:

mobile search categories

Click image for the full report

Obviously if you own a restaurant and you don’t have a mobile-friendly site then you could be missing out.

I see a lot of restaurants use Flash for the menu portion of their site. If I’m doing some quick research on my iPhone then I won’t be able to view the menu and will just have to check out the next restaurant on the list.

Or perhaps your address is on a contact page, but I can’t find the contact button because it’s too small on my screen. I’m a very impatient fellow and will click “back” if I can’t find what I need within a few seconds.

What Are My Options For Getting A Mobile-Friendly Site?

From Google:

Recommendations for smartphone-optimized sites

The full details of our recommendation can be found in our new help site, which we now summarize.

When building a website that targets smartphones, Google supports three different configurations:

  1. Sites that use responsive web design, i.e. sites that serve all devices on the same set of URLs, with each URL serving the same HTML to all devices and using just CSS to change how the page is rendered on the device. This is Google’s recommended configuration.
  2. Sites that dynamically serve all devices on the same set of URLs, but each URL serves different HTML (and CSS) depending on whether the user agent is a desktop or a mobile device.
  3. Sites that have a separate mobile and desktop sites.

I believe that #2 give you the most control and allow you to tailor your pages to the users’ needs & intent, but #1 is so much easier & quicker to implement and honestly using responsive design will do the job for the majority of sites.

If you’re starting a new site or in the process of a redesign you should be thinking about mobile first. Use responsive design to build the mobile experience and then blow it out for the tablet & desktop versions. It’s much easier starting out small first than it is trying to fit your enormous desktop site into a tiny screen.

What do you think? Are you already on the responsive train? Are you using a separate mobile app?

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