Did you know?
Mobile devices are replacing PCs for web browsing, searching, and online purchasing
53% of mobile searches lead to purchases
What is a mobile website?
A mobile website is a website that is specifically designed to be browsed by a mobile phone (also known as a smartphone). A traditional website is one that is designed to be browsed by a laptop or desktop computer.
Can’t my existing website work on both smartphones and traditional laptops?
The short answer: no.
Mobile vs. Traditional
PCs and mobile devices are going in opposite directions.
While PCs are getting bigger, mobile devices are getting smaller. PCs are increasingly being used as televisions, gaming systems, and stereo systems. Mobile devices, however, function as a phone, camera, hand-held games, GPS, and an internet browser. This device is designed to fit inside your pocket.
Because PCs are getting bigger and mobile phones are getting smaller, traditional websites simply will not function properly on a mobile device.
While mobile websites and traditional websites are similar in concept, they are very different in design and will often look nothing like one another. People who browse the web on their mobile device look for an experience that looks and feels mobile. Therefore, mobile websites are based on the unique navigation styles of mobile handsets, not standard, PC-based web navigation styles that we have all become accustomed to in the past decade.
|Mobile Websites||Traditional Websites|
|Limited Screen Space: 4.5 - 5.0" Screens||Ample Screen Space: 12 - 27" Screens|
|300 Pixels Wide||800+ Pixels Wide|
|Concise Text||Quality Text for Search Engine Optimization|
|Small Images||Large, visually appealing and action-oriented images|
|Main Menu Kept to 7 or Fewer Links||Main menu can include a large number of links with dropdowns and hover effects|
|Simple Navigation||Detailed, Structured Navigation|
Your traditional website will not properly display on a mobile device and what does display will only frustrate mobile web users.
It is very difficult for mobile devices to browse traditional sites. Typically, text is too small to read without reformatting the page, and the logo on the page fills the entire screen. Important functions like client logins and “Buy Now” buttons are frustratingly hard to access. And the navigation of a traditional site—drop down menus that span the entire page—is not usable on a mobile device.
Moreover, traditional websites take much longer to load on mobile devices—a problem for smartphone users who are on-the-go. In fact, the majority of people who use their mobile device to browse the web have high expectations for their web experience. According to a 2011 study by Compuware: (1)
- 71% of smartphone users expect web pages to load quickly
- 74% of smartphone users expect web pages to load in 3 seconds or less
This frustrating experience often drives potential clients to one’s competitors. According to the study:
- Approximately 33% of smartphone users will go to a competitor's site if a web page does not work properly
Accessing traditional websites via mobile device is not only frustrating; it is often impossible. Mobile devices do not support flash, a major component of many traditional websites. Different technologies, different rules.
Mobile websites are replacing traditional websites
Not only are traditional websites and mobile websites designed very differently, one is on the way out, and the other is on its way in.
An April 2011 study by PewInternet, a project of the highly prestigious Pew Research Center, found that approximately 50% of cell phone users own a smartphone and 87% of smartphone owners access the internet or email on their mobile device (2).
This means that approximately 400-450 million people access the web via their mobile devices on a typical day.
When it comes to accessing the internet, mobile devices are replacing PCs because they are much more ubiquitous, more compact, and quicker.
According to the Pew Research Center:
25% of smartphone owners say that “they mostly go online using their phone, rather than with a computer”
In short, because browsing the web on a mobile device is much more convenient than doing so on a PC, many predict that mobile websites will replace traditional websites in the next few years.
Mobile website users are action-oriented
Research suggests that people who browse the web on their mobile phones are on-the-go. Pressed for time, they get online for a specific purpose – To find a local movie theater, pay bills, check their balances, compare prices, find hours of operation for a local business, read the news, or look up the answer to a specific question.
And a large majority of mobile web users use search engines to help them accomplish these specific actions and to make purchases. According to a 2011 study conducted by Ipsos OTX, an independent market research firm: (3)
This means that approximately 346 million people are using the search engines on their phones. More than half of their searches result in a purchase. While these purchases occur through a variety of different ways, most occur within 24 hours. According to the study:
88% take action within the same day.
GHI Internet Services (GHIIS) designs web sites, executes customized Internet marketing campaigns, delivers website maintenance services, and develops SaaS software solutions that improve companies' online brand while increasing their revenue.
(1) What Users Want From Mobile, Compuware Corporation, published July 2011, http://www.compuware.com/d/release/592528/new-study-reveals-the-mobile-web-disappoints-global-consumers, accessed on 24 May 2012
(2) Smartphone Adoption and Usage, Aaron Smith, PewInternet, a project of the Pew Research Center, published July 2011, http://pewinternet.org/Reports/2011/Smartphones.aspx, accessed on 24 May 2012
(3) The Mobile Movement Study, Google/Ipsos OTX MediaCT , published April 2011, http://www.google.com/think/insights/studies?cn=marketing_objective&cv=understand-consumer-behavior&sn=the-mobile-movement, accessed on 24 May 2012