Pulling the trigger on creating a mobile version of your website can be a big decision, but can lead to an improved user experience for a significant portion of your visitors. Work done by Google Mobile Ads revealed more evidence to the already imposing amount in favor of improving the mobile experience for users. Approximately two-thirds of users responded in a survey to a question about browsing mobile sites multiple times and said that they were more likely to buy the relevant product or service if the site was mobile-friendly. Even more important to future implications is that 74% said a good experience makes them more likely to use the site in the future.
The Big Decision: Responsive vs. Customized
One of the biggest misconceptions is that a ‘responsive’ design is the same as a mobile version of a website. Essentially a responsive website allows your desktop website to modify the page layout so that it looks more presentable on a smaller screen.
A custom-built mobile version of a website on the other hand can be integrated into the desktop design or more commonly is a completely separate version of the site tailored specifically for mobile devices.
The Case for a Custom Mobile Version of a Website
Overall it is usually easier to make a website responsive rather than making a custom version. However, as with many things in business, easier is not necessarily better. There are two main issues with most responsive websites, the first of which is that the exact same content is being served. For the vast majority of sites out there this means that there is a scaling-down of images and content, but they are still sending the full amount of data, which results in slow load time. From the earlier survey it was found that 61% of users will click away to another site within 5 seconds if they don’t find what they are looking for on a mobile website. This is a majority of your website that you could lose altogether without a properly optimized website.
Not only does a mobile version of your website have to have a good design, but there are various user interaction differences between desktop and mobile browsing that present additional challenges. If you get into the mindset of a mobile viewer to your website, you’ll notice that a mobile user typically is looking for specific information; they don’t want to have to click around navigation menus and links to find it. For many sites creating a separate version of the website will allow you to target these viewers specifically and see huge improvements in retention and conversion as a result.
Photo credit: Evan Courtney
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