Going mobile? Let’s take a step back investigate a few of your options. It’s a common thought that every website should be compatible with mobile devices. A valid statement, seeing how over 85% of internet users in the United States own a mobile device. However the term “mobile site” can be rather ambiguous. Let’s dig deeper.
Do you simply want your website to display properly in a mobile device? If so, then what you want is a Mobile-Friendly Site. Meaning your users can actually go to your site on their phone and have the site load properly with images and structure intact. Believe it or not – making a site mobile-friendly does take more work. The images must be downsized so that they show up, and elements need to be styled differently to conform to mobile browser standards. A good example of a “Mobile-Friendly” site is MailChimp.com
Notice how the sites aren’t different? The site is optimized to display correctly in mobile browsers – not to display different. Not what you had in mind? Maybe your actually looking for a Mobile Theme for your site. Keep reading…
Ever been on a site and notice it looks completely different when looking at it from your phone? It probably doesn’t require any annoying zooming in and out and has a more simplistic look. What you saw was a mobile theme. Yahoo.com is a perfect example of a mobile theme, and the difference is obvious:
Yahoo did a wonderful job at creating a mobile site with a specific purpose: Make the site easier to use on a mobile device.
- No zooming in or out. Everything is easy to read
- News rotates and uses the native swipe feature on mobile devices (swipe with your finger)
- Simplified navigation
- Uncluttered, focused content
Why? Users browse the web on their phone to find information quick. Hence the giant search bar on Yahoo’s mobile theme. Users don’t want to click each news article to see what it’s about – so instead, Yahoo uses the swipe feature with their news - making the site clean and simple to use. Zooming in and out to read articles on a phone is nerve racking. The text is all tiny and scrunched together. With mobile themes, zooming is no longer necessary. Visitors can begin reading and gathering their content as soon as they hit the page.
The cost between these two options is obviously different. Making a site mobile-friendly is relatively cheap. A few tweaks to the CSS and images and you’re ready to go. A mobile theme requires additional graphic design and sometimes different content/features. I hope this brief post gives you some firepower when considering mobile options. Part two of this post will discuss the difference between a Mobile Site and a Mobile App. Check back soon!