3 Ways to Make Your Website Accessible to a Mobile Audience
With the incredible growth of mobile devices that can browse the Web, more and more businesses are asking what they should be doing to ensure their site is viewable by a mobile audience. Unfortunately, it’s not as simple as just “going mobile” and then you can check that off your to-do list. You have to consider the different options out there and then choose the option (or options) that make the most sense for your budget and potential ROI.
Listed below are the three primary ways you can attack your Web content to ensure mobile viewers can at least interact with it in a meaningful way.
A mobile friendly site is simply a website that has been optimized for mobile viewing. This usually entails removing Flash-based applications, ensuring the site is responsive, and checking for abnormalities on multiple mobile platforms and operating systems. This is usually the least expensive option because you don’t typically have to reinvent your website’s “wheel” to make the necessary changes.
Some companies opt to create a secondary site that is specifically designed for mobile users. In the vast majority of cases, websites that have a mobile version will detect the type of device you are using and then point you to the mobile site if you are on a smartphone or tablet. If you want to see this in action, just look at the difference between the main HuffingtonPost.com website versus the mobile equivalent at HuffingtonPost.com/MobileWeb. As you can see, this requires a website design template to be created that is specific to mobile viewers. In the recent presidential race, there was a great compare and contrast between a website that is mobile friendly/responsive (Obama) and a dedicated mobile site (Romney) and read all about the pros and cons in Smashing Magazine’s article on Separate Mobile Website vs. Responsive Website. However, Mitt Romney’s website just recently switched to being responsive en lieue of a dedicated mobile site.
As a third option, you can opt for a mobile app. This involves choosing a platform (or platforms) such as iOS, Android, Blackberry, etc., upon which to create a custom application that meets your audience’s needs. Apps are capable of delivering more powerful functionality than websites (such as games, location services, and push notifications) but they can also be more costly, especially if you want to develop an app for more than one platform.
Of course, if it makes sense for your business, you can choose more than one of the three options listed above. Sites like Zillow.com and Trulia.com have both a mobile version of their sites as well as apps for multiple mobile devices. As you decide which route to go, it is critically important to consider which option will add the most value to your audience. Sometimes, the best thing you can do is ask.
If you would like input into which mobile solution is best for your business, just contact us. We have extensive experience in developing all three of the options above for our clients.