Have you used the internet on your mobile phone this week? Apparently 60% of all mobile phones sold are smart phones, capable of accessing the internet, and mobile internet traffic grew by 4,000% between September 2009 and January 2011 (albeit from a small base).
Just in case you hadn't noticed, the mobile internet is here to stay. Walk down any street in any town and you'll see people accessing the internet – as they shop, as they wait for a bus ... even as they talk to their friends.
Why you need a mobile website
You can create a mobile version of your website, designed to be easy to use on a smaller screen. But should you bother? Just in case the statistics haven't convinced you, the answer is a resounding 'yes'. Here's why:
- Lots of business websites just don't work on mobiles. Smart phones are different to computers. They have small screens and rely on the touch of a finger rather than the click of a mouse, so it's impossible to move the mouse over menus to reveal their contents. If it's tricky to use your website on a mobile phone, people will go elsewhere.
- Creating a mobile-friendly website doesn't have to be hard. It depends how your website was built in the first place, but building a mobile website doesn't usually mean starting from scratch. You can usually restructure your existing content and add the functionality you need quite easily. Or if you are redesigning your site completely, ask your web designer about responsive web design, where the website adapts to whatever size of screen it's being viewed on.
- Mobile web users want different things. People use the internet on their phones differently. Often – but not always –they're out and about. They may have little time, and be very focused on finding a specific piece of information. You need to design your mobile site to cater for those needs.
- It's more important than having an app. Many businesses have focused their efforts on creating their own mobile application that people can run on their phones. These can be useful, but they take more effort, because you have to create a different version of your app for each type of phone. It's better to start with a mobile website, then consider an app.
- We're only at the start of the mobile internet. At the moment, the mobile internet basically means people accessing websites on their phones. But we'll start to see all kinds of new devices in the coming months and years, enabling people to use the internet when and where they want. Do you want to miss out on those visitors to your website?
Some experts are predicting that, in a couple of years' time, more people will be accessing the internet on their phones than on computers. If that's true, can you afford to not be seen by those people?