As more people use phones and tablets to browse the internet, interest in having mobile-friendly sites has exploded. With good reason too! According to our friends at Mashable, one half of all local searches are performed on mobile devices and by 2014, mobile internet usage will be greater than desktop usage.
Unfortunately, there's been a dramatic increase in ugly, useless mobile sites too.
Here's how you don't do mobile
Before we dig into our preferred strategies for mobile websites (which just so happens to be our next blog post topic), let's look at some mobile approaches and why we do not recommend these.
m.website.com or mobi.website.com
If you regularly use a mobile device to browse the internet, you've probably found yourself on sites like "m.cnn.com". It's not that you tried to go to m.cnn.com, you were just redirected there when you tried to go to cnn.com from your phone.
Here's why we have beef with this practice:
- It bizarrely and unnecessarily fragments the site into two sub-sites. Using other techniques, it's possible to dish out mobile styles and content without changing the URL. It violates the “device independent” nature of the Web to the extent that it has been publicly lambasted by Tim Berners-Lee (the inventor of the World Wide Web).
- It increases visitor confusion when it comes to interacting with the content, such as posting comments or sharing. "If I post comments on the mobile version, will they show up on the regular version as well?" "If I email a link for this article to a friend, and he's on his laptop, will he still see the mobile site?" "Does this article even exist on the desktop version?" These are things that a visitor should never have to wonder about.
Dumb down the site for mobile visitors
Mobile sites don't have to be stripped down versions of a homepage. Gone are the days when just having a logo and giant navigation buttons are considered optimal for a smartphone.
That kind of design loses the motivating power of a good website. Branded language and compelling visuals are made for a reason and go a long way to promote engagement. Visitors accessing a website from a mobile device still want an appealing, engaging experience.
Finally, “streamlined” mobile websites make assumptions about what mobile users are looking for on the site. Sometimes these guesses are correct, but they aren't always. People commonly assume that mobile users are on the go and most likely looking for directions and contact information, but even this isn't a safe assumption considering 60% of mobile traffic happens when users are at home.
How do you do mobile the Rise way?
We're so glad you asked! When Rise implements our preferred mobile strategy, the result far exceeds a typical mobile site, stripped-down and devoid of content and features. Why? We believe users are hungry for it and the technology supports it. We’ll dig in deeper in our next blog post, How to do mobile the Rise way. Until then, discuss: what mobile sites do you like or dislike, and why?