By now most of us know that the experience of browsing a website on mobile is very different from the experience of browsing a website on desktop. Screen orientations are different, we’re using thumbs instead of a mouse or trackpad, and certain tasks are a lot more difficult or cumbersome. That’s why designing a website experience to meet the needs of mobile users is so important.
We have been urging our clients and friends to get their mobile websites designed as quickly as possible since this is such a critical competitive business issue right now. And then one day, someone asked us, “What is the difference between a mobile website and a desktop website?” We had been going full steam ahead so quickly on the issue (like the rest of the Internet marketing experts) that we had kind of forgotten to clarify the distinction between the classic desktop website and a mobile-optimized website. Let’s clear up the confusion!
What a Mobile Website Isn’t
Perhaps the most frequent misconception we hear about mobile websites is that they are just smaller versions of their regular or “desktop” websites. (The desktop website being the one you are used to using on your laptop or home desktop computer where you use a mouse to navigate around a larger page with a large video monitor.) Now, get out your mobile device and try to surf via your smartphone to any number of websites – maybe even your own. If what you see is a teeny-tiny, illegible version of your regular website… if you have to use your fingers to expand what you see on the screen, you are merely viewing a desktop website over your smartphone. This is not a mobile website.
What is a Mobile Website?
In contrast to the itsy-bitsy, teeny-weeny text and cumbersome graphics and navigation experience that you have with a desktop website on your smartphone, a mobile website is specifically designed and scaled to function beautifully on tiny smartphone screens. Because smartphone users are interested in critical decision making information right now when they are using their phones to find out about your store or business, a mobile website does away with the bells and whistles and gets down to brass tacks immediately—using fonts and graphics that are larger and easier to navigate and read in a smaller format. Some features that set mobile website designs apart from desktop websites include:
- Quick, up-front menu navigation buttons with easy-to-read print
- Click-to-call feature for your telephone number (so customers can just touch the number with their thumb to dial without having to press in all the numbers).
- GPS/directions features that enable users to quickly and easily find your shop, also without having to type anything in.
- One-touch contact information so that customers can just click to add your contact information right into their contacts.
- All other menus, graphics, coupons, etc. are streamlined for fast, easy loading over cellular networks.
Why a Mobile Website is Important for Businesses Now:
The patience threshold of mobile device users is shrinking daily, but it was never more than a few seconds to begin with. The vast majority of smartphone and mobile device users will abandon a non-mobile optimized website in favor of a mobile-optimized website in milliseconds. This is true even if they are already a customer and like your products! That means that if your website is not a mobile website… how many potential customers and sales are you losing to the competition? More people are surfing the web for product and service information from their mobile devices than from their desktop computers than ever before. Businesses cannot ignore the mobile revolution any longer.
Responsive Web Design: Having Your Cake and Eating it too
Of course, desktop computers, laptops and, therefore, the need for good desktop web design isn’t going away anytime soon—and in spite of all the hype, they will probably never go away completely. Nevertheless, mobile is becoming the surfing medium of choice for the masses and your business website needs to be ready. Here at Affordable Web Design, we practice what is known as “responsive web design.” This means that we build websites that literally respond to the device they are being used on. If a customer surfs into your site from a desktop computer, they will see the big, full-featured website that so many are used to. If they surf in from their smartphone, they will see a mobile-optimized website that is easy to use quickly on their small screen, loads quickly over cellular networks and gives them the critical information they need to purchase what you’re selling right now!
We stand ready to help you get your mobile website up and running today.