Since the launch of the Internet, people could do lots of activities, such as buying things, sending emails, or finding necessary info, without even leaving their homes. The development of smartphones, tablets, and other devices cranked it up a notch and opened the door to the exciting mobile world.
In 2020, more than 55% of site traffic is mobile-based. This means that an ever-increasing number of users prefer to surf the Internet on the go. If you have a site and want to spur its traffic, you should make sure that it is mobile-friendly. When it comes to creating a site suitable for those who use their devices on the move, you want to know what exactly you need. There are different terms you might have heard of, which can be confusing. If you wish to find out more about mobile design to make the right choice, then just keep reading this article.
Why Is It Good to Create a Site Friendly for Mobile Users?
According to statistics by Google, over 90% of US mobile users use their devices to search for info on the web. This also includes looking for various land-based and online businesses. However, a business will not be recommended for the users if its site is not optimized for all the devices.
Considering that new, advanced gadgets are released regularly, more and more users will stick to them for doing lots of different actions online. So, you should make your site friendly for the on-the-go use as soon as possible. Also, if you wish your customers to share their best impressions about their mobile experience on your site, you should make it really good.
What Is the Difference Between Mobile Friendly and Mobile Responsive?
Sites that can be called friendly for mobile users are those suitable for use on different devices. In essence, a mobile-friendly site is the same as optimized, which means that it can run on a desktop, smartphone, and other devices. Such designs ensure easy navigation regardless of screen size.
A responsive website changes depending on the device’s size. For example, if a desktop layout comes with several columns, you will see the same columns but in a small size on your mobile gadget – provided the website design is friendly for mobile devices. With a responsive design, you will see a single-column layout so that the content could be better displayed on the smaller screen. You will be able to scroll down to the “All rights reserved” section to read all the content on the site without any problems. In simple words, every responsive site is friendly for mobile devices, but not every user-friendly site comes with a responsive design.
If you wish to find out whether your site is suitable for the use on different devices, you just need to change the size of your browser and see how the layout will adjust.
What Is The Difference Between Mobile Sites and Mobile-Friendly Web-Platforms?
Another thing that you should understand is how mobile-friendly and mobile sites differ from each other. Many people believe that these are the same things but there is a core difference between them.
When we are talking about a mobile site, we mean a separate site that has been specially built for mobile devices. For instance, you can have one site for desktop users and another one for mobile users. In this case, they will come with different domain names, and you will manage both sites separately.
As for those resources that are friendly for mobile devices, here we mean a single site that can perfectly work for both desktop and mobile applications. This means that it does not matter which device you use, which operating system it runs on, and which screen it has, your site will be displayed in a proper way and will be easy to navigate.
What Is a Mobile-Friendly Website?
As you already know, all sites that display well on any device can be called mobile-friendly. But it is essential for your site not only to look nice but also to deliver full functionality regardless of a device.
The following are the must-have features of a site with the design-friendly for mobile users:
- Contact options as text with a link for a mobile user to click on it and reach the customer support team. For instance, if it is a phone number, your users should click on it to make a call, and if it is an email, your customers should be able to press on this option for sending you a message quickly;
- An option to open and browse images without Adobe Flash;
- Small-size images that can load quickly via any mobile connection.
It is possible to use various marketing and advertising tools to attract mobile users, such as location-based advertising. It allows showing ads with the name of your company and important brief details right on the user’s phone depending on his/her location. While you can actually use it to promote a land-based business, people will likely want to find out more information about your business on your site.
So, if you have a lovely restaurant, people may want to learn helpful info on reserved and available places, your menu, and special offers. In this case, they would like to find all the relevant information in a single place, and your site is the best option. If you do not have it optimized for their phones, you will lose customers. Even if your site has only a single page, you should make sure that it is tailored for the needs of users with phones and other devices.
What Type of Design Is Mobile-Friendly?
If you tell a developer that you want to make a site suitable for mobile users, he or she will need to hear which type you prefer. There are two basic types appropriate for mobile use, including the following:
- responsive (adapts like water)
- adaptive (comes with a fixed layout)
The first one allows the content of a website to change its size like water to be accurately displayed on a device. Such designs are made based on percentages. For instance, a column will always be 70% of the screen size.
This term was first introduced by Ethan Marcotte, a site designer and developer, in his book where he described this type of design. The author defined it as a design that adapts to changes in width by changing the initial position of elements to perfectly fit the space available on the screen. When opened on a mobile device, the right size will be chosen automatically. Generally, it is a good option to ensure a great mobile experience for all users.
When it comes to adaptive design, it has a static layout based on breakpoints. It recognizes the screen size and loads a suitable layout. As for performance, adaptive sites load quicker because they need to load data linked specifically to certain device size. All in all, you will need to create such a design for all common screen widths from 320 to 1600. The principles of adaptive design were first described in a book written by Aaron Gustafson in 2011.
As for which design you should choose, there is no ideal recommendation to apply for all sites. Your choice should be based on the following factors:
- how much time and money you have for the mobile site development;
- what its functionality will be.
An adaptive design will be the right choice for sites with extensive functionality, but it also requires more time and money to be implemented. The thing is that a specialist will have to work on the development of different widths because an adaptive design has fixed layout sizes and there are as many as 6 common widths to cover.
Do Small Businesses Need to Develop a Site for Mobile Users?
If it is a large company that has enough money to invest in the development of a site suitable for mobile users, it should do this without any doubts. But what about small businesses or charitable organizations with limited budgets? Should they spend their time, effort, and money on making sites tailored for users of tablets and other devices?
Everything really depends on the particular situation. You should conduct an analysis to find out the right answer. For instance, you want to know how many of your site visitors use their mobile devices. To get this info, you can turn to Google Analytics.
You should estimate the possible results obtained through launching a version for mobile users. This is how you will be able to know your project’s return on investment at least approximately. Also, do keep in mind that it is possible to make sites suitable for mobile users in different ways, so it is up to you what to choose. Generally, it is an effective solution for bringing more customers to your site.
When it comes to the question of whether you should make your site mobile-friendly if you have such an opportunity, you definitely should. Not only will this allow attracting new customers but also will work towards retaining existing ones. As long as you are a webmaster who has all the rights to make any changes to the site, you should use this chance to increase traffic by attracting mobile users.
You will need to make a few core decisions to satisfy your users’ demand, such as:
- Do you need to develop a different version of a site or improve the existing one?
- What type of design do you need to choose?
It may be challenging to reply to all those questions without fully understanding all the specifics of the development process, its costs and timeframe.
Though you can find a few more tips on how to pick the right mobile site on the Internet, the best way to go is to consult specialists. It is smart to provide them with all the relevant info on your expectations and opportunities, and therefore, you should think everything over beforehand. You will be asked all the needed questions if some clarification is required. Along with great experts, you will be able to come up with the best possible solution.