Should I have a Mobile Website?

As mentioned in a previous post, an increasing number of people now access the internet via a handheld device and that is mostly a mobile phone.

The terms ‘mobile users’ also take in iPad and other tablet users of course, but more of that another time. Let’s just start with phones for now.

The first consideration you need to make is what your existing site looks like on a mobile device. If we are using an iPhone for example we can probably see the whole home page on the small screen. However, the chances are it will be unreadable and you will have to zoom in to see the text.

Once in to the site other problems will likely crop up such as use of drop down menus and other mouse over functions not to mention picture size and any flash components you may have on the page.

The screen shots below taken from Google’s new site comparing a mobile version with a standard version of the site makes the readability point very well.

Standard view v mobile view

Standard view v mobile optimised view

The question, of course, is “does this matter?”: are sufficient quantities of customers, or potential customers, trying to access the site on a mobile device for this to have an impact on your business?

Well perhaps not quite now, but if your competitors are more responsive than you are, then perhaps that prospect looking for your goods, or services , on the train might just decide to go with the competition, or may contact the competition when, in another context, they might not have.

The case for any business to consumer operation is reasonably clear, especially if there is a location element in the search term to find your site. If someone is in a strange town and is looking for a restaurant and a local based search throws up your establishment – then you need to make sure the site is readable on a mobile, or you will lose that diner. A similar example might be a specialist shop – or even any shop.

The business to business case is less clear at the start of 2012. If you are selling spongethrockets to engineering firms nationwide, or a have management consultancy business you will not be making spontaneous sales, but considered ones, perhaps as part of a tender competition. So it may not seem to matter that your web presence does not have a mobile element to it.

In this case it is not the sale that the mobile site will make, but the initial contact opportunity. This may well be lost if someone wants to view the site on a mobile, but cannot do so. If you think this does not matter, think about chance meetings, networking events, or someone viewing an ad for your goods, or services in a magazine in an airport.

The issue is “the moment”. The idea is present in the prospect’s head right now, can they respond to the idea now, or do they have to remember this for later? If the answer is ‘remember for later’, then it has to compete with all the other things that have to be remembered for later and is likely then to be lost to other demands of the day.

Nothing exemplifies this more than the telephone link that mobile devices can present. The user clicks and they are calling you up: no need to remember any numbers, or web addresses and no need to dial. The moment is seized by the prospect, the opportunity ball is now on your side of the court and you can now develop the relationship through to a sale.

The answer to the question ‘Should I have a Mobile Website?’ is therefore almost certainly yes. The next question is ‘when?’ and the answer to this is if not in 2012 then certainly in 2013 and as with everything the first movers almost always have the bulk of the advantage.

Why not ask TTMGi about mobile website development?