For small business owners it can sometimes feel like your online marketing demands never end. There’s your website, a myriad of social networking pages, and now you’re feeling the pressure to add a mobile version of your site to the mix as well. If you’re an established business, sometimes embracing these new technologies can seem unnecessary and you may have an ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ mentality. But, a mobile presence is something every brand needs and it can lead to exciting developments for your business.
As you’re considering whether a mobile site is right for you, keep in mind these five ways it can add value to your business.
1. Connects You with More Consumers
The “mobile ship” hasn’t just sailed – it sailed fully loaded with people still clamoring to get on board. Although mobile users don’t outnumber static users yet, it’s only a matter of time before they do, since mobile gadgets are often much more convenient to use than desktop computers. In fact, a Pew Internet study found that 55% of all U.S. adults use their cell phones to go online and 31% of those use their phones more than their desktop computers to access the net.* Furthermore, Technology Review says mobile devices are a trillion dollar business and are now outselling PCs.** These statistics and many more like them show that people still have a strong desire for smartphones and tablets and are increasingly turn to them when they want to get online.
What does this mean for your business? Well, if you only have a static site, it’s not too late to jump on board the mobile ship. Most websites that start offering a mobile option see an increase in revenue and conversions almost immediately. This is because a mobile site makes content that was previously difficult to find or read accessible and user-friendly to the ever-growing mobile audience. If you look closely at the Google Analytics for your static site, you may find hints of dissatisfaction from your own mobile visitors in the form of low engagement or minimal time on page. Just imagine what would happen if you gave these consumers a site that worked well with their device.
2. Keeps You on Par with Competition
In our private lives we tell ourselves we don’t need to keep up with the Joneses, shouldn’t follow our friends off a bridge, etc., but when it comes to business, you have to pay attention to what the competition is doing and try to keep up. Right now, there’s a pretty good chance at least some of your competition is already providing a mobile version of their site and therefore stands a better chance of attracting more consumers. Users become frustrated with poor online experiences and tend to think less of a brand if does not have a modern, easy to use mobile site. Obviously this is bad for business, so it’s imperative you stay on par with your competition or, even better, get ahead of the game and be the first in your industry to get the attention of mobile customers.
That said, don’t just try to simply match you rivals – make your site superior. Look around the net to get a sense of what the competition is doing and come up with ways you can make your site more attractive, faster, and easier to use. An experienced web designer can help tremendously in this area, and opting for a responsive web design makes things even simpler since it gives you a mobile site that automatically customizes to the device and screen size of every individual visitor.
3. The Costs are Reasonable
With responsive web design (RWD), even businesses with the smallest marketing budgets can afford a mobile site, since RWD makes it possible for you to have one site optimized for both mobile and static users. Essentially, for a single price you get a site that does double-duty and doesn’t require any additional maintenance.
Of course, having separate mobile and static sites is an option too, and, indeed, some mobile apps offer device-specific functionalities that you can’t get with a responsive site. However, for most small businesses, parting with a single advertising dollar is difficult and the long-term costs of managing two different sites is likely more than you want to take on. Furthermore, because responsive sites are adaptable to different gadgets, they are inherently future-friendly, which means you won’t have to revamp your entire site in a year or two.
That’s not to say you should think of RWD as the “budget” option as even big name companies like Microsoft, Disney, Time, Starbucks, and many more are using this flexible type of web design.
4. It’s Socially Responsible
Many businesses are providing high-quality mobile sites not only for the sake of profits but also because they want to make their site accessible to everyone – no matter the person’s economic status or physical impairments.
Internet access has become a necessity in today’s society, yet not everyone has equal opportunity to get online. For example, job applications, weather alerts, government forms, social networking, and more are all done online, yet many people do not have the money to pay for internet service. For others, their cell phone is their sole gateway to the internet, which means if website owners do not offer a quality mobile version of their pages then these folks are still out of the loop, so to speak, and akin to second class citizens.
Delivering sites that “are accessible to more people and more types of internet devices” is the goal of the Web Standards Project, and switching to a responsive site is a simple way to help them fulfill their mission and be a good citizen. Not only does a responsive site meet today’s mobile requirement, it doesn’t strip down the content for small-screen readers and instead provides the same information given to all yet in a more digestible layout.
5. Sets You on a Strong Path for the Future
The evolution of the web has been bumpy at times and especially so for web designers who’ve had to create sites in the midst of browser wars and battles between table-based layouts and flash. However, the transition to mobile gives web designers and businesses an opportunity to start fresh and include a bit of uniformity in the process. Responsive web design is particularly future-friendly because it’s not connected to any brand or platform, it’s intuitive, and the content is highly adaptable. Switching to something that works for everyone would give designers and businesses the chance to concentrate on improving and adding to their web properties instead of reworking the whole thing every year or two to keep up with changing preferences.
Although not everyone is using RWD for their mobile sites, it’s becoming increasingly popular as people recognize its benefits (even Google recommends it). And as more embrace this technology, it could quite possible become mainstream and be the primary way webpages are built. By getting on board now, you’re setting yourself on a bright course that undoubtedly has some exciting innovations ahead.
Even if you don’t opt for RWD, it’s vital you set up some type of mobile website and stop thinking of mobility as an add-on or an “option.” Like it or not, the internet now operates in a largely mobile world, and if you aren’t in that world then, for many consumers, you don’t exist. Obviously, switching to RWD or adding a mobile site costs more than doing nothing, but if you work with a professional design company, like Spark Logix Studios, who respects your budget and listens to your needs, then you can step into the mobile arena at a modest price, with the potential for business growth.