Observe people in any public area these days and there’s a good chance you’ll see someone browsing the web on a smartphone such as iPhone or Android. In fact, one fifth of people access the mobile web each day, according to a 2009 Pew Research Center report, and that number is on the rise. In 2010 nearly 73 million people accessed the web via a mobile browser – an increase of 31% from 2009, according to ComScore.
In order to provide this rapidly growing base of mobile web users with an optimal experience, more and more website owners are pursuing mobile web development to ensure that their website is optimized for smartphone display. If the growing number of mobile web users alone isn’t reason enough to convince website owners to embrace the mobile web, there are also a number of advantages worth considering.
Improved User Experience
Mobile websites are specifically designed for handheld devices – nobody wants to browse a desktop website on their smartphone! Research on mobile website usability shows that mobile-optimized websites significantly improve user experience and satisfaction, which makes a positive impression when it counts.
Faster Download Speed
Mobile websites are specifically designed for mobile standards and optimal download speed, which means less waiting and more browsing.
Engagement and Context
A mobile website allows you to immediately engage users with mobile-specific features such as click-to-call, mapping functions. Furthermore, if you’re a local business mobile is particularly significant as more and more visitors will find your site through location-aware technology that connects users to your website when they are in immediate geographic proximity.
Improved Search/SEO performance
A mobile website provides improved rankings on mobile-friendly search engines such as Google and Yahoo, and also allows placement in a growing number of mobile and local directories.
Actions speak louder than words – a mobile website immediately helps you stand out and presents a positive, contemporary brand identity for your organisation. A mobile-optimised website makes a positive statement before you’ve said anything.
Portability and Connectivity
A mobile website can be accessed anywhere, any time. This level of constant connectivity provides an unprecedented opportunity to connect with target audiences in new ways, wherever they may be.
A mobile website puts you in a position to stand out among competitors – if your website doesn’t look good on a smartphone users will move on to one that does. A mobile website ensures that you – not your competitors – capture visitor attention while you have it. Click here to see how your site looks to mobile users.
Integration with Offline Media
Mobile devices are unique in their ability to immediately bridge the gap between online and offline media through the use of QR codes. QR codes can be displayed in print and then, when scanned with a smartphone, translated into electronic messaging such as a website URL, an email address or SMS message. QR codes have been used regularly in Japanese and European advertising for years, and are now getting increasing usage in the US. This means that your advertisements, brochures, posters – even billboards – can contain QR codes that will direct users to mobile landing pages that contain much more information and interactivity than can be afforded on the printed page. This integration between print and web via mobile adds a new dimension of communication to any advertising or outreach effort. Learn more about QR Codes here.
More Flexible and Cost-Effective Than App Development
A mobile website is generally a much less restrictive means to build a mobile presence compared to app development. For one thing, app development requires the production of different apps for different platforms (e.g. iPhone vs. Android vs. Blackberry), and submission to an app store, making apps much more fragmented and expensive to produce with a longer timeline before they reach target visitors. Most importantly, an app requires users to download the app before it can be accessed. On the other hand, a mobile website is universal to all contemporary smartphone browsers, making a mobile website more flexible and cost efficient, with fewer barriers between you and your target users. Of course, there are some applications that are better-suited to an app format (interactive games being a primary example), and often it makes sense to have both an app and a mobile website. But for a well-rounded mobile presence a mobile-optimised website is generally a practical and effective first step.
New Advertising Opportunities
Mobile advertising is growing at a rapid pace and presents many new opportunities for reaching target audiences with unprecedented precision. If your organisation advertises on Google AdWords or other PPC networks there’s a good chance your ads may also be appearing in mobile listings (depending on your account settings). However, with mobile advertising you’ll want to ensure that your ads lead to mobile-optimised landing pages, rather than your regular desktop site, for optimal results and maximum ROI.
The mobile web is no longer a concept – it’s a mainstream reality that will impact any organization that aims to communicate with target audiences online. Most leading industry analysts project that within a few short years, mobile phones will overtake PCs as the most common Web access device worldwide. The responsibility now falls on website owners to take advantage of the unique opportunities mobile offers for connecting with the growing number of visitors who will inevitably access their website on mobile devices.