Your doctor will tell you that it is not wise to ignore persistent aches, pains, rashes, and other physical ailments; you should have them checked out before these minor annoyances become big—and expensive—problems.
The same can be said for your website. What started out as a minor annoyance—the fact that some website visitors access your site using mobile devices—has now become a major problem that will cost you traffic, customers, and sales if you don’t address it.
The fact is, mobile is not a fad, and it’s not going away. Consider the following:
- Worldwide shipments of PCs are declining. Although they are still popular, more people are opting for small, portable devices to do their web browsing.
- More than half of all web traffic now comes from mobile devices.
- Google now considers how mobile-friendly your site is when calculating search result rankings. Although fears of a resulting “mobilegeddon” turned out to be overblown, the fact remains that mobile is an increasingly important segment of your web traffic, one that you ignore at your peril.
Add it all up, and it’s clear that if your site isn’t optimized for mobile, you are in danger of losing visitors and customers.
Mobile-Izing Your Site
How do you make your site mobile-friendly? For now, it’s all about responsive design. (Why “for now”? Because the PC isn’t dead yet—a large chunk of web traffic still comes from PCs, so you have to accommodate them still.) Simply put, responsive design is your site’s ability to detect what type of device is being used to access the site, and serve up pages that are designed to accommodate that device. Pages for mobile devices are typically simpler and cleaner.
- Two site versions (for now): Responsive design means you need to maintain at least two versions of your site, one for mobile and one for stationary devices and laptops. New and updated pages and content that are represented in one site must also be represented in the other.
- Make it simple for mobile – but don’t sacrifice access to content: Obviously, the small screen size of a mobile device prevents you from including all the features of your traditional site. However, many visitors will still want to be able to access all of the content. Make sure they can get to it all on your mobile site, without relying too heavily on “go to the regular site” links. That defeats the purpose of having a mobile-friendly site in the first place.
- Lose the ads: Advertisements are particularly unpopular on mobile devices for two reasons: They take up way too much screen real estate, and they chew up data. Users on limited data plans are much happier if they don’t have their data used up by ads that they don’t want to see anyway.
- Check your site’s “mobility”: Before you launch the mobile version of your site, make sure you test it to ensure it is as mobile-friendly as you think it is. Use Google’s Webmaster Tools to evaluate your site, and get specific advice on improvements.
If you haven’t yet considered optimizing your site for mobile, now is the time. The risks of doing nothing are simply too high—you risk not only ignoring potential customers but also alienating your current ones. Yes, there is a cost involved in what is essentially setting up a second website. But the cost is much lower than that of not reaching your market. Contact your web designer and developer today.