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Mobile Websites - Are you benefiting?

by  David Dwyer on  06/09/2013

The changing face of the mobile internet & why it matters to you

So – you’re out and about in an unfamiliar town and you’re looking for somewhere to eat. You whip out your smartphone and head straight to Google. A nice place catches your eye, you click on their website – and wait.  And wait some more.  And then, if you’re like me, you give up and go somewhere else.
Not being able to book a table at the place I want to eat in is frustrating enough. But what frustrates me even more is seeing how many companies are throwing away business just like this by not adapting their online presence to a world increasingly dominated by smartphones and tablets. 
Many business owners Tweet their latest offers on their iPhones, or use tablets to check stock levels, but their haven’t yet optimized their own websites for customers on the move.
The differences between a ‘desktop’ website and a ‘mobile specific’ one are subtle, but they can mean the difference between drawing a customer in, or sending her to your competitor. 
Basically, 'websites designed for mobile' make an assumption about what a visitor’s intention might be – because of the type of device they are using – and tailor the information they give – and how they give it – to that fact. 
Mobile websites assume, because you’re searching for something on a phone, you’re likely to be on the go.  You’ll most likely want fairly basic information, like addresses, times, contact details or menus. You’ll also be using your finger rather than a trackpad or mouse.
Mobile websites make sure all this information comes up quickly. By having fewer images, a mobile website loads faster. All the necessary elements – including big, chunky buttons – fit onto a smartphone or tablet screen.
The best thing about having a mobile-specific web site is that your customer doesn’t have to do a thing. The server will automatically load the most appropriate version either based on your mobile browser or perhaps screen size.
A good illustration of a mobile website in action is for Brennan’s nightclub in Perth.  The ‘desktop’ site is pretty much as you’d expect, with navigation bars along the top, lots of images to show off the venue at its best and client testimonials (www.brennansperth.co.uk). The site goes into lots of detail about the venue’s facilities, and provides everything you need to know when you’re planning a visit from home.
The mobile site (m.brennansperth.co.uk) assumes you’re already on the go and sticks to the basics to help you get there: location, brief details of their function offerings and several ways to get in touch.  
Brennan’s is making the most of recent research that shows that 94% of smartphone users have looked up local information on their devices, and 84% have taken action as a result of what they’ve found. Brennan’s is doing their best to make sure that customers who search for them can find them, contact them, or get the information they want, no matter what type of device they use.
Over 30% of the traffic on the 200-plus websites I’ve created is now from smartphones and tablets.  Those in the know estimate that by 2014, the majority of traffic to websites will be from the same devices. In the first part of this year, more people bought goods on a tablet than on a desktop for the first time ever. This is good news for many businesses, but not for those whose sites were built with Flash; their sites won’t be visible to users running iOS devices, otherwise known as iPhones or iPads. They’ll need to build ‘mobile-specific’ sites – and fast.
At the moment, people use their smartphones more for browsing and travelling than for shopping. In fact, 57% of users look for local information at least once a week, so if you’re in catering, entertainment, retail or tourism, having a mobile-specific version of your website is pretty much essential. 
My question for business owners who don’t is this: can you really afford to turn away over half your potential business next year when we can create a site for as little as £275 + VAT?  All Inspire’s websites are mobile friendly and will help you make the most of the smartphone and tablet revolution.
David Dwyer is Managing Director of Inspire Web Development. He has years of experience in a range of web and IT roles plus seven years in sales and marketing in a blue-chip FMCG company. David’s academic and professional qualifications include a BA (Hons) in Business Economics (Personnel) from the University of Paisley, an MSc in Information Technology (Systems) from Heriot-Watt University and PRINCE2 Practitioner-level certification. He is also an active member of the British Computer Society.
Digital Marketing, Digital Trends, Inspire Web Development, Mobile Commerce, Mobile Websites, Technology Innovation, The Evolving Web, UI, User eXperience, User Interface, UX Design, Web Design, Website Content, Website Support
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