Which Mobile Site Experience Is Best For Small Businesses?

25 percent of Americans use their mobile phones as their single source of Internet access.

Despite the growing number of mobile users, a recent report by BaseKit revealed a whopping 91 percent of small business websites are not optimized for mobile browsing. Small business owners may not be feeling an immediate sting from this, but the potential losses will only grow as more and more consumers demand effortless and easy-to-use experiences, no matter what devices they’re using and what channels they’re shopping in. To top it off, nearly half of consumers say they won’t return to a mobile site if it doesn't load properly on their device. That gives your mobile-savvy competitors the chance to scoop up your potential customers. Whether you like it or not, they'll continue to do so until you've optimized your website, emails and consumer-facing content to adapt to their behaviors. In order to keep up, it's first important to understand that not all mobile sites are created equal. Here are a few options to consider when going mobile.

Start with a mobile-friendly site.

A mobile-friendly website is one designed primarily for a desktop that will also render properly on mobile devices. To do this and improve the user experience, mobile-friendly websites often:

  • Use smaller files and images to cut down the site’s mobile load time.
  • Have text-based contact information that can be clicked on to trigger direct action on a mobile device (e.g. you can click a phone number to call or an address for driving directions).

Mobile Friendly Site image This approach is by far the simplest way for small businesses to offer a better experience for mobile users. However, these sites have sometimes been known to load slower than truly mobile-optimized websites, they sometimes are difficult to interact with because of the design and content can be difficult to see on the small screen.

Take the next step with mobile optimization.

A mobile-optimized website creates a more advanced and native mobile user experience. Essentially, it doesn't require the user to take those extra steps like pinching the screen to zoom in, scrolling up and down to find the right information or squinting their eyes to try to see shrunken copy and images. Mobile Optimization image When a user visits your site from their smartphone, the mobile version is rendered instead of the desktop version. To accommodate for smaller screens, this type of site is formatted to include the following features and functionality:

  • Simplified navigation
  • Larger buttons for easier selection
  • A single column layout
  • Fewer images
  • Less text
  • Obvious calls-to-action

Each of these features helps people navigate through your mobile site with ease. And that translates to showing them the information, messages, content and offers they truly need — which will lead to more site traffic, engagement on popular product pages, calls to your business, leads and eventually, sales. Rather than simply shrinking and fitting your content from the desktop, a mobile-optimized website is a secondary site designed specifically for people who visit from their mobile devices. This format is ideal for small businesses for a few reasons. First, you can get this type of mobile site up and running relatively quickly. Second, you don’t have to worry about breaking the bank to get the site working. And lastly, you can give your “always on, always connected” shoppers the type of intuitive, personalized customer experience they expect.

Get serious with a responsive design site.

A responsive site is a single site created to respond to the functionality and features of the device type and operating system. If someone is viewing your website from their iPhone 6, your site content will be formatted for that device’s operating system and functionality. And the same goes if a shopper is browsing through your site from their Samsung Galaxy tablet. Mashable Responsive Design image Responsive design is what many in the digital industry consider to be the “créme de la crème” of mobile website experiences. And for that reason, it can sometimes have a higher price tag to match. But like many other things in life that are costly, there’s trade-offs that would make it worthwhile. For one, it can save you from headaches in the long-run as consumers’ preferred devices are constantly changing. Responsive design is also recommended for businesses that are more than just a web “shell” for their business and actually offer shoppers the chance to buy items online directly. If you’re starting from scratch or contemplating a complete website overhaul, this is where your money will be best spent.

Ready, set, go mobile.

Ultimately, the right mobile site for your business will depend not only on your specific type of business and industry, but also on each of your customer segments’ needs and behaviors — wherever they may be. If you put the customer experience at the center of your decision, it’ll be much easier to decide which mobile site is best for your business.

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