We all know that the Internet is a constantly changing landscape, but it is not always apparent what certain changes mean for Web design and branding strategies. The recent trends in mobile device usage, however, are an exception, as more and more people are accessing the Web through mobile devices these days.
According to a recent report published by Walker Sands, the percentage of Web traffic coming from mobile devices grew a staggering 67% from Quarter 3 2012 to Quarter 3 2013, and it seems to be continuing to grow.
This most current data shows that mobile devices now make up a full 28% of total website traffic.
The implications here are clear: if you want to stay relevant online, you must have an active, refined mobile strategy as a part of your greater web branding scheme. How is this accomplished?
First, it is crucial to understand the mobile Internet audience.
Mobile Internet users have different expectations and needs than more traditional PC users. The most obvious is that their mobile devices have smaller screens than most laptop and desktop computers. A website that is optimized for a full-sized computer monitor will not always look or function very well on a smaller, touchscreen iPhone or Android phone. So, a good mobile site will be easy to read and navigate on these smaller mobile screens.
Another key difference between mobile users and PC users is where and when they browse. Smartphones are designed to be used and are generally used on the go, and this means that smartphone users will have different reasons to visit your website. Rather than reading content and looking at photos or videos, mobile users are most likely to want to call you, share you through social media outlets, find you on a map, or otherwise quickly request your services.
There are three main approaches to adding mobile functionality to your website.
Option 1: Adding a Dedicated Mobile Site
Having a dedicated mobile site with its own unique URL is a common approach to providing a mobile option. This means that mobile users will be redirected to a purpose-built mobile environment with its own layout and call to action strategy. For certain businesses, this is ideal because it offers streamlined app-like functionality such as integrated “call us now” buttons, built-in maps, and direct social media app linking.
But having a mobile site can present certain drawbacks. For one, mobile sites are often laid out differently than the desktop version, which can be confusing to users. Next, mobile sites generally do not contain all of the content and functionality of their desktop counterparts, which can be frustrating to users. Finally, mobile sites are very often not built properly, and they will therefore lack key information, not include calls to action for social media, and fail to maintain consistent branding strategies for your business.
Because of their inherent challenges, mobile sites often have a high bounce rate, meaning most mobile users leave these mobile sites immediately without interacting, contacting, or sharing. This actually increases the likelihood that they will go somewhere with a better mobile experience to find the products or services they need.
Option 2: Having Adaptive Page Sizing Functionality
By utilizing adaptive page sizing, your website will have preset screen size layouts, depending upon the device viewing it. Most adaptive sites have three sizes: a full desktop layout, an intermediate tablet layout, and a smaller mobile device layout. This strategy maintains your site’s overall branding and theme, and users will enjoy the same page structure regardless of the device they are using.
Much like a dedicated mobile site, however, adaptive sites must do away with certain content and navigational components as they get smaller, which means that mobile visitors will not see everything desktop users do. Watch it happen in the image above. Again, this can be frustrating to users if the developers have not been smart about what components and content are retained in the smallest mobile-optimized size.
Option 3: Responsive Page Sizing
Opting for responsive page sizing is the most comprehensive solution for adding mobile functionality. Rather than excluding certain site content as visitors’ screens get smaller, responsive sites simply shrink and reconfigure while maintaining all components and content.
Try it with TexTivia’s website: Click the link and then re-size your browser window. Watch as the site’s content changes size and shifts around depending upon the size and shape of your window. See? Like in the above image, nothing disappears, the elements just shrink and move in response to your screen size. Regardless of what device you use to view a responsive website, your experience will remain largely the same, and you will not miss out on any content or components.
Responsive page sizing is the current trend in Web development because it represents the best solution for building a website to be as effective as possible across all possible browsing platforms. While it does take more work on the coding and development size, it will not affect your site’s page load times or smooth functioning.
Ultimately, it is most important to consider the goals you have for your Web presence and how this applies to mobile users in particular. Recognizing the specific desires of your mobile visitors will enable you to choose the best mobile functionality option for you and will lead to optimum results.
Call us today at 888-866-4233 or contact us to schedule a free consultation on mobile Web design.