The Internet, much like the rest of the world, is an ever changing entity. If your website isn’t ever evolving then it is not keeping up with the times. Professional and personal websites have had to change to keep pace with technology. All text, low image websites were necessary in the early days of the web due to low bandwidth and slow connection speeds. Now, with greater bandwidth and fast connection speeds web surfers expect to see text, images, and videos to accompany any post.
Now mobile devices are forcing change across the Internet as well. If your personal or business website does not have a mobile version optimized for viewing on mobile devices, you could be losing a large segment of web surfers. If you don’t think it is necessary to have a mobile version, consider these five important reasons to develop a mobile version of your site:
1. More Smartphones than Ever Before
It was not that long ago that RIM and Palm devices dominated the market as top of the line, business oriented mobile devices. Apple changed the game in 2007 with the first iPhone designed for business and pleasure. Since then owning a smartphone has become ubiquitous in America. Everywhere you go people are no longer passing time talking on their cell phone, but rather are surfing the web on their smartphone.
In fact, as PC Mag pointed out in March 2012, 50.4% of Americans now own a smartphone. This is the first time that smartphones have outsold feature phones. Roughly 48.5% of smartphone users have an Android device, with some 38.5% choosing Apple’s iPhone.
2. Mobile Users Want Fast, Simple Experience
The selling point early on for most smartphones, and tablets upon their release, was the fact that users could surf the web and view full websites on their device. However, when using mobile connections these full websites were slow to render and required the use of pinch-to-zoom features to navigate different pages within the site.
A mobile version of your site makes it easier for smartphone and tablet users to experience faster load and render times, and remove the need to zoom in and out to navigate through sections.
3. Web Surfers Increasingly Going Mobile
As more and more consumers adopt smartphones and tablets, more and more web surfers are accessing the web via those devices. Online advertising network Chitika gathered data in early 2012 that showed an increasing number of users accessing the web on mobile devices. While traditional PCs still accounted for fewer than 80% of web access, mobile devices are on the rise.
On the whole, 20% of web surfers are accessing the web on mobile devices. Delving deeper you’ll see 14.6% of users access the web via a smartphone while 5.6% are doing so via a tablet.
4. Tourists Driving Mobile Device Surge
Travelers have played a major role in the trend of web surfers using mobile devices. Online travel websites are still relatively new in their own right, but now that people are accustomed to using these sites they are starting to do so via mobile devices. Travelers are planning vacations, accommodations, and entertainment using a tablet or smartphone.
More importantly, people are increasingly leaving their laptop at home in favor of smaller, sleeker tablets and smartphones when traveling. A survey from Trip Advisor found that mobile devices are increasingly important to travelers. In addition to 38% of respondents using their mobile devices to plan their trip, 60% used travel apps downloaded on their device while on vacation. Other uses for mobile devices from respondents included surfing the web, sharing photos, navigating, gaming, and researching entertainment options.
5. Mobile Sites Eliminate the Need for Multiple Apps
Aside from accommodating the boom in mobile device usage, developing a mobile website makes sense for individuals and businesses because it streamlines the process of getting your product to consumers. While many businesses opt to develop a specialized app for mobile devices, doing so requires making up to four different apps.
As of December of last year, Android devices claimed 47% of the smartphone market compared to 30% for Apple’s iPhone. Windows Phone OS is carving out a niche, at 5% last year, with RIM clinging for life at 16%. Creating a specialized app isn’t as easy as submitting it for use on Android, iOS, WP8, and Blackberry. Each operating system has different programming language, meaning those apps need different programming to work on each set of devices.
A well-designed mobile site makes it possible for those on Android, iOS, WP8, or RIM to visit your site and get the same easy-to-use experience without the need to maintain four different apps on your end.