Over the last 3–4 years, our conversation with prospective clients has changed from one in which we ask: "Is having a mobile website a priority for your business?" to one in which we ask: "What mobile solution do you prefer for your new site?" We created our first fully responsive mobile solution approximately 2 years ago for RIT's Innovative Learning Institute, and today every web solution we pitch has the option of a fully responsive mobile solution. That is a quick evolution of technological positioning, even by web standards.
In 2014, mobile data traffic grew by 69% and was 30 times the global internet traffic in 2000 as a result of half a billion mobile devices and connections being added (according to the Cisco Visual Networking Index). Not only have we seen a staggering trend towards complete mobile traffic saturation in recent years, but Cisco also foresees this trend continuing into the immediate future.
In short, having a strong mobile presence to accompany your desktop website is no longer optional. For clients, it’s all about choosing the right mobile solution and how they can most effectively leverage that solution to meet specific business goals.
The need for mobile-friendly sites in today's web industry has become so prevalent, that as of April 21st, 2015 Google will "significantly alter" their mobile search result algorithms to reward those sites that have taken the time to become "mobile-friendly". This means that sites without a mobile presence will drop considerably in Google's mobile search rankings and exposure from organic searches will suffer as a result. When 40%+ of visits to sites are initiated by an organic search like Google, organizations simply cannot afford to neglect their site's mobile status and must consider how that affects their rankings.
Once businesses commit to the idea that mobile web presences are no longer optional, the question remains: Which mobile solution is right for their online goals? The most common mobile options are a single page mobile site, a multi-page mobile site, a fully responsive mobile site, and a native mobile application. When you consider the needs of your users and take into account budget parameters for development, there is no one-size-fits-all for every company. There is, however, a way to make a decision without guessing.
We provide Google Analytics standard with every site we build. It's dizzying how powerful this tool has become and considering it's a free service, every person responsible for the growth of a website should be utilizing it. Google Analytics can even be used to determine which mobile solution is right for your site. Take a moment to explore your dashboard, and on the left-hand side select "Mobile" to begin gathering your insights. Things you should be paying attention to include the percentage of users accessing your site through a mobile device, percent of those mobile users finding your site through organic search, and what pages/information is most frequently accessed via a mobile device.
Once you've started to understand these metrics, your choice will become clearer. For example, if 80% of mobile users are finding your site through organic search, a native app which cannot be indexed by Google is probably not the right choice for you. If 90% of your mobile traffic takes place on your contact and portfolio pages, then perhaps a completely responsive solution is not necessary. Instead, a simple multi-page website that only displays the content of these two pages will be just as successful and twice as cost effective. You can read more about which mobile solution might be right for you here.
As we mentioned earlier, there is no single correct solution for every business, but if we had to make a suggestion, it would be a fully-responsive website. Responsive mobile sites utilize several "breaking-points" that restructure the size and hierarchy of content and navigation on a page based on the screen width of the device the user is utilizing. Because the structure is being dictated primarily by screen width, not operating system or browser or any other means, your mobile site instantly becomes compatible across all tablets and smartphones. Additionally, responsive websites utilize the same code as a browser site, so they are easily crawled by search engines. This means your organic ranking won't suffer as it would with a native mobile application.
As the world get's more mobile, so must your web presence. While this article is intended to serve as a quick-and-dirty overview of why mobile has become so important, the sentiment is a serious one. Having a mobile website is no longer optional. If you feel it's time to optimize your website for mobile devices, let us know and we would be happy to help.