Here’s a mind-boggling record: there are now officially more mobile devices than there are people in the world.
A few months ago the Internet was shaken by what digital marketers dubbed Mobilegeddon. Sounds ominous, right? Google modified its algorithm to favor mobile-friendly sites, and sites that previously had performed well in search completely fell off Google search engine results page (SERP) because their sites weren’t mobile-friendly. Basically, Mobilegeddon was Google’s way of acknowledging that consumers are unequivocally going mobile.
After all, in the past four years, mobile use has grown nearly 400%, and nearly 20% of users between the ages of 18-34 spend all of their online time on a mobile device. In 2012, 67% of people said they are more likely to purchase when visiting the mobile-friendly site, but 61% said they’d bounce right off a site if the mobile experience was a negative one. Being able to provide your potential customers with a positive mobile experience could be the difference between making the sale or not.
The upshot of all this mobile activity is that today’s businesses must not only have a professional, user-friendly website, but also one that looks good and functions well across a large range of mobile devices. In today’s fast-paced mobile society, it’s important to ask the question: What do my visitors see when they access my website using a smartphone or a tablet?
This is our guide to making your website mobile-friendly so that you can keep pace with the increasingly on-the-go world.
How Do I Make a Mobile-Friendly Site?
A mobile-friendly site is a website that is designed to be displayed on hand-held (mobile) devices such as smartphones or tablets. When designing a mobile-friendly website you basically have two choices: responsive or adaptive.
Responsive vs. Adaptive Web Design
Responsive web design is pretty much what it sounds like — a website design that responds to the device and size of the screen it’s being viewed on. Ever take the corner of your Internet browser and drag it in, making the window smaller? If not, try it right now. See how the website changes? That’s an example of a responsive web design. The majority of mobile-friendly sites out there are responsive designs.
Adaptive web design, on the other hand, is literally the creation of different website designs for each type of device. Adaptive websites identify the user’s device and adjust the website to provide the best outcome for the user. For example, let’s take a look at American Airlines. Have a computer and your phone near by? Open the Internet browser on both your phone and your computer. Type in aa.com. Check it out, two totally different web designs.
Adaptive designs are technically more complex, and thus tend to be more expensive than responsive designs. However, adaptive sites are known for their ability to offer the optimal experience for each individual with the optimal design for each device. Big brands like American Airlines leverage them to increase conversion rates by device.
How Do I Get Started?
So at this point in the guide, we think it’s safe to assume you’re on board—a mobile-friendly site is the way to go. Now, let’s discuss how you go about building one.
Designing Your Own Website
Your first option would be to build it yourself. You’ll have to know a bit of coding in order to do so. But if you’re adamant about picking up a new skill, CodeAcademy offers free coding classes online.
Building a Mobile-Friendly Site with a Template
Option two—purchasing a responsive template or using a website design platform—is a cost-effective way to build a mobile-friendly site that doesn’t require coding or a significant amount of your time.
Sites like themeforest or Template Monster offer tens of thousands of mobile-friendly website templates for a variety of content management systems (CMS). For just $300 you can purchase a template and have it installed, ready-to-go. From there, all you have to do is update the site through the CMS with your content.
Alternatively, you could use a website design platform like Wix or Squarespace which are easy to use and require no prior familiarity with a CMS. Pricing for these platforms is based off of a subscription model and ranges between $10-$30 per month.
Hiring a Developer
Your final option is to work with a developer. It’s the most expensive of all the options—setting you back hundreds to thousands of dollars—but it’s also the most personalized. The best place to start when it comes to finding a good freelance web developer is by asking friends for a recommendation.
If you can’t come across a good match via word-of-mouth, then try Guru or Upwork (formerly Elance-oDesk), but like any internet transaction with an unknown vendor, proceed with extreme caution. You might test out a freelancer with a smaller, lower paid job first to see if they can follow instructions and deliver an agreed-upon project before entering into a larger transaction.
Digital connectivity for your website is now more important than ever, and will continue to be so in the future. However, it doesn’t have to be daunting. Don’t look at creating a mobile-friendly site as a challenge—see it as the opportunity it is for your business.