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Dec 21, 2011

Why You Need A Mobile Website

Let's face it... mobile technology is here to stay. We are in an age where someone's cell phone is just as, if not more powerful, than the computer they have at home. What are you doing with this little piece of common knowledge?

As the number of people who use a mobile device to surf websites keeps growing, we here at Mainstreet™ see opportunity, especially for small businesses. While larger companies are struggling to adjust with the times, small businesses have the ability to quickly adapt and embrace these opportunities, and one of them is designing a mobile website.

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Remember about 5 years ago when we were telling you that people just don't use the yellow pages like they used to? I think I'm getting some déjá vu...

The fact is that people are using their smartphones and tablets to browse websites more than their desktop computers. If your customers aren't doing so already... they will be soon!  So how can you as a business owner use this information to grow your customer base? The answer is simple really, just "give the people what they want." Have you checked out your website on a smartphone and/or tablet? Your potential customers will search from their smartphone or tablet and if your site is hard to read or navigate, chances are that person is going to back out of your site and cruise to one that is designed for mobile use.

It's okay if you don't want to just take my word for it; I don't blame you. As a small businesses owner, you can't afford to be "sold" on every new concept that's thrown in your lap. On that note...check out the infographic below (posted on Hubspot's blog) for some cold-hard numbers you can sink your teeth into:

You've probably heard the terms "Mobile Websites," "Mobile-Friendly," and "Responsive Websites," but do you know which one is best for your company?

We've beaten this point to death throughout our site: Small businesses are not cookie-cutter companies. However, there are those rare moments when an answer "painted with a broad brush" is actually 100% accurate and this is one of them. Every company, and I mean EVERY company, should have a responsive website! Before we get into why I know this is the case, let's take a look at three different approaches of mobile website design.

1 Site For Desktops & 1 Site For Mobile

Building two separate websites to compensate for mobile and desktop users is a huge pain, both to market and to maintain. It would be like if you opened a separate company for every service that you sell! Sounds ridiculous, right? Yeah, I agree.

This approach to mobile websites has been around for years and has worked very well for a lot of companies, but "times...they are a changin'," and that's where you as a small business have a chance to really shine.

Device-Independent or "Responsive" Websites

I'll admit the name "Responsive Websites" is not the most creative, but it does a great job in saying exactly what this design method does: It allows your website to "respond" differently based on how people are viewing it. Responsive website design has really made a lot of buzz in the online community as the popularity of different-sized mobile devices (think tablet screen sizes and different size smartphone screens) have increased in popularity over the last few years. It's a way of designing a website that's not just for mobile devices and not just for desktops, but for both. By choosing to use a responsive web design to cater to your mobile users, you're not only using what industry icons call "future-proof website design," but also using Google's recommended method. And when Google speaks, small businesses that want to grow profits listen.

Are you a "closet geek" that wants to learn a little more of the technical aspects of responsive websites? Check out this great article by Ethan Marcotte that was published on www.alistapart.com back in 2010. 

The Latest & Greatest: Mobile-First Websites

Responsive websites are the father of mobile-first websites and are VERY similar with one subtle difference. While both of these types of websites will "respond" to a device based on the screen size, mobile-first designs are built with a little more forward thinking. Responsive websites are designed primarily with a desktop in mind. If someone happens to be visiting a responsive site on a mobile device like a smartphone or a tablet, the site will downsize itself accordingly. Now if you're a forward thinker and looked at the infographic above, you may be asking yourself "If I know that more and more people are using a mobile device to browse the net, why would I cater to the dying majority of desktop users?" If you asked yourself that question, see me at the next trade show and I'll buy you a milkshake, or give you a hug (if you have that lactose thingy).

If you're a small business owner, you know that in order to stay competitive, you must be looking forward all the time. Mobile-first is still pretty young and so there are some things that have kept me personally from using it when building websites for our clients, but it's something you need to know about as this tornado of mobile technology continues to pound businesses regardless of their industry. If you're interested in reading some of the pros and cons, there's a nice article written by Joshua Johnson on April 5th of this year called "Mobile First Design: Why It's Great and Why It Sucks" that does a pretty good job explaining it without being too boring and without getting too technical.


Get yourself a responsive website as soon as you can. Your customers are expecting it, and you deserve it!

Responsive website designs just make sense. Furthermore, if you're like me and believe in watching trends to make educated guesses, it just makes sense to get a mobile-first responsive website for your business. Let's face it, there are cheaper options out there like having a cheese ball mobile version of your website developed for a couple hundred bucks, but why pay for a cheap solution that you're going to have to replace in the not-so-distant future? Why not bite the bullet now and prepare for the future when mobile users will make up the majority of people who are viewing your website? We all know that day is fast approaching.

What are you waiting for? Let our team of developers and designers build you a custom mobile responsive website or convert your current desktop site.

The window of opportunity is closing in. The longer you wait, the more time your competition has to catch up with the curve. Show your customers and potential customers alike that your company is here to stay and jump into the "now" with a responsive website design from Mainstreet™ Web Services.

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