Mobile & Responsive Website Design Should Be on Your Radar

smartphone_tabletWhile engaging, brand specific content that positions your company as an authority with those who matter most — your customers — should always be at the core of your inbound marketing plan, there’s no law against shaping its delivery to fit the times. Allow us to explain.

Food for Thought

10 or 15 years ago, it was all we could do to convince small business owners that they needed a reliable, informative website to keep up with their competitors. Thankfully, those days are behind us. Technology keeps changing, though, and it’s our job as business owners to adapt.

In September of 2013, a Pew Internet study found that nearly 60 percent of U.S. adults used tablets or e-readers to access the Internet. Meanwhile, desktop computer usage has trended downward since the mid-2000s, and laptop use has largely remained flat.

 Know Your Customers

What does this mean? More than ever, American consumers and business owners are using powerful smartphones and tablets with small, touch-enabled screens to consume information and make purchasing decisions in the cloud.

However, you can’t just rush out and announce that you have a “mobile-ready” website. First, look at your site’s analytics to determine how much of your traffic comes from mobile sources. Since every business is different, it’s entirely possible that your customers don’t need or want to access your site via mobile. If you do attract large number of mobile users, though, you need to respect them. “Traditional” websites show up with tiny print and clunky navigation structures on most mobile devices, frustrating on-the-go prospects who want their questions answered in a timely fashion.

Messaging is key here: Since mobile sites tend to use less text and more graphic displays, you need to ensure that you display “core” content that gets to the heart of your brand, products and services. This will probably necessitate a repackaging or reimagining of the existing content on your traditional website.

Mobile Website Design

Business owners who want to reach mobile users have two website design options: “full” mobile design and responsive design.

Mobile website design usually costs less than responsive design. Since they use clear, simple designs, mobile websites are easy to edit on your end. They also use less code, so they’re “lighter” and quicker to load.

One big drawback of mobile website design is compatibility: If you want to keep development costs low, your site may end up being compatible with iOS, Android or Windows instead of all three. Also, best practices for mobile SEO are a bit different, and this could temporarily hit your search visibility. Finally, the eventual phaseout of the operating system for which it’s built could render your mobile website obsolete.

Responsive Website Design

Responsive website design costs a little more, but it may stand the test of time better than mobile design. Responsive websites are built to adapt to new operating systems and devices, including ones that haven’t even been built or conceived yet. This can reduce the frequency of major site updates or redesigns.

Unfortunately, responsive websites are difficult or impossible to customize and may be time-consuming to maintain. With added startup costs, they can also leave less room in your development budget for necessary expansions or upgrades.

Ultimately, your decision to set up a mobile or responsive website will depend on the unique needs of your business and the buyer personas that you most frequently encounter. Mobile Internet use is growing fast, but you shouldn’t feel like you’ll miss your only opportunity to leverage its potential if you don’t act now. Use your website’s analytics to determine how your prospects are finding you, then craft a mobile content and design plan that’s worthy of your brand. We’ll be here to help.