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Why you should create a mobile edition of your website

It might be a little work, but there are valid reasons why you should.

With mobile device gaining bigger screens and mobile data speeds increasing, you could be forgiven for thinking that mobile versions of websites are a bit pointless really.

Look back a few years and mobile websites were clunky, had little or no functionality, looked terrible and frankly had little to no information on them whatsoever (anyone remember WAP?).

Times are changing though, and these days mobile sites need not have any less functionality than their full size counter parts.  In fact, many web frameworks come with plugins or tools that cram your regular website content into a mobile sized theme.

In this guide, I’ll be taking you through a few of the things you need to consider when planning a mobile version of your website.

Data size.

Websites use up data.  Full size websites can use quite a lot these days, especially if there are a lot of image files or external scripts running.  Mobile users don’t like this!  Here in the UK most smartphone users will only have a data allowance per month of less than 1GB, and if they go over it then they start incurring charges for every additional Megabyte.

If your full website is a bit of a data hog then users will stop visiting your site while using their mobiles, and as time goes on people are using their phones more and more to view the sites they visit regularly.  Why?  Because it’s convenient and easy.

Create a mobile version of your site and it’s almost guaranteed that it will use less data to load the important stuff (the content) which means that people are more likely to visit your site.

Time is a factor as well; people don’t want to spend anything more than a few seconds waiting for your site to load.  If your full size site is taking 15-20 seconds to appear then most people will get bored and look elsewhere for entertainment.

Screen size / Formatting.

Although resolutions on mobile devices are increasing, many people still find it difficult to read full sized websites on mobile screens.  It’s not surprising really; even the most basic monitor will be over a 1000 pixels wide, whereas most mobile device screens are 480 pixels wide when in portrait mode.

Devices like the iPhone can take care of this by automatically stretching the important part (the text) so that it makes the most of the screen real-estate, but mobile sites go one step further by changing the layout of the site to better suit small screens.

You may have to give up some degree of functionality; you might lose embedded Facebook or Twitter feeds, but at least users are able to view your original content quickly and easily.

It can be dead simple.

Having a mobile version of your site doesn’t need to be taxing at all.  If you use a content management system such as WordPress then there are several plugins available that will create a quick and easy mobile version of your site without you having to do anything.

Tech Made Easy uses the WPtouch plugin which requires no interaction from you once it’s turned on and configured.  It just sits there in the background, silently re-writing your content into a basic theme that loads a lot quicker on mobile devices.  It even re-sizes pictures so that they’re properly displayed, and because it ties in nicely to the WordPress framework, it hardly ever goes wrong.  Plus, if users don’t want to use the cut-down version of your site then they can opt to switch back to the main version using a toggle at the bottom of the page.

There are other options available for other CMS’ as well, and some “professional” versions which have some extra features at a cost.

You don’t even need to worry about the loss of revenue that a mobile site can bring.  Madvertise mobile monetisation specialises in advertising on mobile platforms, with adverts designed to fit smaller screens and compatible with the more popular mobile website frameworks.  Yes, this means that you’ll be dealing with another advertising agency, but it does mean that visitors to your mobile site are earning you money in the same way that visitors to your full site do.

Conclusions.

There are lots of reasons why you should consider implementing a mobile version of you website, and almost no arguments against it.

A single evening researching and setting up your mobile site could stand to bring you extra readers, more page views and increased advertising revenue.  And if your site is about constant updates over the course of the day then you can bet that a large number of visitors will be using mobile devices in the first place.  Make it quicker and easier for them to access your site and they’ll pay you back by visiting more often.

If you choose not to create a mobile version of your site, then the risk is that you will receive less traffic from mobile users.  Initially this might not seem like too much of an issue, but as time goes on people are using their mobile devices more and more for “casual web browsing”.  Without a website designed for mobile users, you do run the risk of alienating an increasing percentage of readers.

Author

Matt

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