“Mobile Now Drives 28 Percent Of All Web Traffic” – as of third quarter of 2013.
It can be a huge undertaking (of time and money) to build an online presence that includes a standard website, a mobile website for viewing it with a mobile device (smartphone, tablet, portable gaming system), and a mobile app. Not to mention the thousands of dollars cost of design, as well as the maintenance of three portals but in most cases, it’s just overkill for most businesses.
If you are a small to medium size business owner, what do you need to reach your target audience in today’s technological information-driven culture? Let’s first define all the key players in the mobile realm:
A mobile website is similar to any other website in that it consists of browser-based HTML pages that are linked together and accessed over the Internet and display text content, data, images and video. The obvious characteristic that distinguishes mobile sites over standard websites is their layout, graphic design and formatting of the page is obviously designed to be displayed on smaller displays and touch-screen interfaces. They can also access mobile-specific features such as click-to-call (to dial a phone number) or location-based mapping.
Responsive Website Design
Responsive designs provide an optimal viewing experience—easy reading and navigation with a minimum of resizing, panning, and scrolling—across a wide range of devices (from mobile phones to desktop computer monitors) through fluid grid concepts that depend on percentages rather than absolute measurements (pixels or points). With a responsive website, you can see the transformation onscreen just by resizing your browser window and see how the site responds to the smaller viewing space.
- Adaptive web design is basically the same as responsive design and shares many of the same ideals and goals. The main difference however is that the changes are made on the server side rather than the client side.
Having a responsive site, over a separate mobile site, is that you have only one site to develop, maintain and host, and it looks and works great on either platform (desktop/laptop or mobile).
Apps are actual applications that are downloaded and installed on your mobile device, rather than being rendered within a browser. An app is useful for developing an application for a very specific purpose that cannot be effectively accomplished via a web browser. Users visit device-specific portals such as Apple’s App Store, Android Market, or Blackberry App World in order to find and download apps for a given operating system.
A mobile app should have the following elements:
- Regular Usage/Personalization
- Complex Calculations or Reporting
- Native Functionality or Processing Required
- No or little internet connection needed.
Examples of apps are games (Angry Birds, Flappy Bird, Candy Crush), time and weight management tools, and social media apps (Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter and more).
Caution with mobile apps: Users don’t want to download an app that is just an extension of your website’s message in another format. An app, even free ones, need to have purpose, valued functionality, interactivity and personalization that the user needs or wants, or otherwise is a waste of space on their mobile device. Or worse, it will be downloaded rarely if at all.
What are the advantages of a Mobile or Responsive Website over an App?
Besides the lower cost to develop and maintain, there are distinct benefits your business will derive from a mobile website:
1. Mobile websites are compatible across all browsers. A mobile website is instantly accessible to users via a browser across a range of devices (iPhone, Android, BlackBerry, etc). This will also save you money as you don’t have to code one version for the Apple store, and code another one for Android store (which can increase the developing cost by more than 75%).
2. Mobile websites are more accessible. Users don’t have to download a site to view it first, which can be a huge barrier between engagement and conversion. Also, mobile sites can be found via search engine results, where apps are only searched and found through the app stores.
3. Mobile sites are easy to update. A website can be updated at any time an instantly changes are viewed by users. An app requires a new version be released to the stores, a message of an available update be pushed to the user, and then wait for the user to manually update it.
4. Your mobile website has greater reach because it can be shared. Users can share your link easily on social media, or you can direct users to a mobile website from a blog or website, or even in print. An app simply cannot be shared in this fashion.
If still not sure if you need an app, ask what the primary goal of your mobile presence: Is it to inform with content or to provide functionality? (Click to view the chart to right for a Q&A to determine if you need an app or responsive site).
Call Startup Production if you have questions about your mobile presence, and how you can effectively advertise your message across all devices, platforms and demographics in the most timely and cost-effective way possible.