Insights

One size doesn't fit all - why your website should go mobile (part 1 of 2)

4 July 2014

It seems laughable, but if you were in the workplace in the ‘90s, you’ll recall discussions about whether we need to ‘get a website’.

Today, our love affair with mobile devices (phones and tablets) raises the question: should our site be mobile-friendly? The answer is – categorically – yes.

Mobile devices are the norm

Globally, there are 1.5 billion mobile phone users1; and in Australia, smartphone adoption is well over 65 per cent2.

Google CEO Eric Schmidt recently noted that tablets and phones are consistently outselling personal computers – “mobile has won” - and we must recognise this when creating websites.

The reality is that most people use multiple devices – and as you can’t predict which one they’ll use to visit your site, you have to ensure it caters for all possibilities (and their varying screen sizes).

Does it really matter?

Think about the time and money spent on creating your website. Now have a look at what it looks like on a mobile phone: is the text tiny and difficult to read? Is the navigation clumsy and difficult to use with a tap of your finger? Hardly the optimal online experience you’d hoped for.

Step 1: Assess what your site looks like

To assess how well (or poorly) your site performs on various device screens, enter your web address into a few different devices or visit one of the many free online assessment sites, such as:

This will enable you to assess how your website works on various devices and identify specific areas for improvement.

Step 2: Decide which approach to adopt

You have three options when building a website that provides a seamless experience for the site visitors, regardless of how they’re viewing your website.

  1. Responsive design. Your site will look identical on all devices as the content resizes automatically to cater for the screen being used. This requires intensive planning at the outset to ensure navigation is user-friendly on a variety of screen sizes, but it means ongoing updates are simple. If you have an existing site, however, this can be a costly option because it will mean starting again.

  2. Dynamic serving. The internet server detects the type of device being used and presents the visitor with a custom-created page. You can create customised pages for mobile phones, tablets, even internet TVs. If you don’t have a sophisticated Content Management System (CMS) to maintain your website, however, you could see yourself having to make the one edit on each customised page – increasing your ongoing site maintenance workload.

  3. Separate mobile site. The first two options keep all visitors on the one web URL (great for improving your Google ranking), whereas the final option is to create a mobile-specific site using a sub-domain name (eg. m.BusinessName.com.au). It means redirecting your web traffic to a specific site for mobile visitors so you can customise the experience for mobile visitors (easy to navigate with the tap of a finger, no large graphics to slow down the site download). However, this approach does mean you’ll have an extra site to maintain so invest in a good CMS that will make website maintenance straight-forward.

Speak to your web designer about which approach will best suit your needs.

The growth in web traffic from mobile devices shouldn’t be ignored. Tailoring the web experience for mobile visitors will ensure you don’t lose frustrated website visitors who are trying to navigate a traditional website that doesn’t cater for their needs.

For practical tips on creating your mobile friendly website, read ‘Five rules for building a mobile site’.


1 KPCB ‘Internet Trends’, 2013.

2 ‘Our Mobile Planet,’ Google report, 2013.

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