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By Spider Online
Why you need a mobile website right now
You've got a well designed, popular corporate website which is full of useful information about your company and the products & services that you offer.
Chances are users may even be able to buy those products and services directly from your website.
You keep your website regularly updated and you periodically review and amend the design of your site to make sure that it stays relevant and doesn't fall behind current web trends.
Why then are your traffic figures falling and your sales figures doing the same?
The reason could be a simple one. A large proportion of your users are now browsing your website on smartphones such as Apple's iPhone and a variety of Android based phones like the Samsung Galaxy S2 - and they may not like what they're seeing.
Smartphone users expect the websites they look at on their mobiles to be optimised for viewing on these smaller screens and for the core functionality of the website that they're viewing to be readily accessible.
A report from January 2012 found that there were currently 1.08 billion smartphones being used in the world - and that figure is growing daily.
The problem is that some websites (which have been designed for viewing on desktop PCs and laptops) simply don't display themselves well on smaller screen devices such as smartphones.
So what should you be doing about this?
There are a variety of different approaches to finding a solution to this problem and it really comes down to choosing a solution which feels right for you and addresses both your website and user's needs and requirements the best.
At Spider Online we can recommend two different approaches.
A Mobile Website
The first, and simplest, solution is to create a standalone mobile version of your website.
This site will be dynamically presented to the user when the site detects that they are accessing it from a mobile device.
The mobile site will take it's design cues from it's parent desktop site and it will usually contain a cut down version of the content available on the desktop site.
A great deal of thought should be given to the content available on the mobile site. Is it necessary to provide all of the content which is available on the desktop version or would your users benefit from having content which is tailored to the fact that they may be using your website whilst out and about or on the move?
The mobile version of your site should also load quickly when the user is relying on a slow connection so consideration should be given when including large images, videos and so on.
If users can also buy your products and services using your mobile site then the process should be as simple as possible with navigation options presented in a very obvious way so as to make the users journey a painless one.
Lastly users should be able to revert to the desktop version of the site (and vice versa) if they wish to do so.
A Responsive Website
A second option available to you when considering investing in a smartphone optimised website is to create a responsive website.
A responsive website is one which changes it's design, layout, content and even functionality based on the resolution of the device it is being viewed on.
This means that if one person is looking at your website on their smartphone and another person is looking at it on their laptop then they will both essentially be viewing the same website but what is presented to them on their screen may look quite different.
This technique also allows us to present a different look for your website to tablet users if required – another group of users which is growing at an astounding rate.
Responsive design uses relatively new coding techniques to accomplish its results – some of which aren't compatible with all browsers (I'm looking at you older versions of Internet Explorer) - but in general it works very well and allows you to achieve some great results.
It's worth pointing out that a responsively designed website may not provide much of a speed saving compared to a100% dedicated mobile website. This is because a responsive website will still be downloading large images, videos and so on behind the scenes even though they may not actually be presented to the user.
Smartphone usage shows no signs of slowing down and it's up to you to make sure that your website is presented to your users at it's best no matter which device it's being viewed upon.
Spider Online has the expertise to help your company come to grips with mobile website design and can create the perfect bespoke mobile solution for your specific needs.
Contact us to find out more on 0141 353 0574.
By Billy Moat
Digital Creative at Spider Online