Websites built for viewing on a computer monitor or laptop screen are often difficult to view on a mobile device such as smartphones or tablet computers. Especially on a smartphone, users will generally have to zoom in to make the text visible. Then, depending on how your site is configured, they may have to scroll left and right as well as up and down, making reading a laborious task.
Meanwhile some sites, such as those based on Flash, are completely unusable on some popular brands of smartphone and tablet.
Shopping on the move
The mobile market is becoming increasingly important in the retail sector. Smartphone and tablet users are using their mobile devices more and more to buy physical products online. If your website includes a shopping function, you could be missing out on potential sales by not making your website mobile-friendly – especially if you bring in customers though mobile marketing.
And it’s not just the online shopping market you need to think about. Many smartphone users now choose to look for product information, reviews and prices on their phone while in a shop, rather than asking a sales assistant for help.
The dedicated mobile site option
If you want people to have a great experience browsing your website from their mobile device, it’s probably best to invest in a mobile-specific website.
You will also find that it improves your search engine optimisation. Google has a separate index for mobile-specific content, and as an added bonus, having a mobile version of your website online may also boost the ranking of your standard website on search engines.
Tailoring your current site for mobile users
If you don’t have the budget to create a dedicated mobile website, there are a number of things you can do to ensure your main site is mobile friendly.
An important change to make is to add alternative cascading style sheets (CSS) labelled ‘media=”handheld”’ to your website. Then, if a user accesses your site from their mobile, the mobile-specific stylesheets should override your standard stylesheets, making your site appear more accessible.
Once you’ve set up your mobile friendly CSS, there are other mobile web development techniques you can apply to improve the way your site appears on a handheld device. Your web developers should be able to help.