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The importance of having a mobile website
Mobile Internet access is becoming more popular – up 400 per cent since 2010 – and it's expected that more people will access the web from a handheld device than a computer by the end of 2013. With so many potential customers looking at your website on a handheld device, you may be making a huge mistake if you leave your mobile design as simply a responsive version of your regular website.
Dangers of a responsive website
Responsive web design is a great way to make your website look right on different screen sizes and resolutions, but for other devices including mobiles it's often not enough. Problems that arise include content cut off in unusual places, the screen being too small to show text or images properly, and slow load times. This causes frustration for the user who will simply take their business elsewhere.
To be successful, your mobile website needs to be quickly and easily accessible. People may not always have good connections on their phones, so they want to see your site load quickly, not wait while large images slow things down. Although having high quality images on the web can be important – especially for businesses such as hotels – phones are limited in the size of image they can view, so anything bigger than the standard screen is just wasted loading time.
You also need to make sure that text – as well as text in images – automatically loads at a size that's easily readable. While having to zoom in isn't the end of the world, it is a nuisance, and users may have to scroll all over the place to read a full page.
Easy navigation is also a must. Shortcuts and interfacing with the phones is important, like having quick access to the most used buttons – including search to quickly find what they are looking for, your phone number (one click, and it connects them to your business) or how to find you on a map (that interacts with the GPS on their phone).You should also include links that can be easily pressed by a thumb (no matter what size) as users scroll down your site.
If you have tools like forms, galleries, shopping carts and more on your website, they also need to be stylised to look and work to their best level on the phones too.
It doesn’t take much to greatly improve your mobile website, but ignoring to do so can result in missed opportunities for your business.