The talk around mobile websites has been going on for years. It used to be that the number of hits from mobile was low. However, times have changed – dramatically. This morning I noticed one of my sites is reporting over 35% of its visitors are coming from mobile and tablet devices. Users make very quick decisions on the web and will jump to the next site if yours is ugly, complex or renders too tiny to read on their screen. If your goal is to keep users on your website (and why would you spend the money/time to develop a website if you didn’t want to keep users on your site?) you should make sure your website is mobile friendly.
I’ve provided a screen shot below of my Google Analytics report for www.midwestigrescue.com, the site reporting over 35% of its users come from mobile and tablet devices. This website has been mobile friendly for over a year. It uses a mobile theme from Elegant Themes, although I’ve since switched to creating my own mobile friendly websites using media queries which target screen size instead of device.
Below is a screen shot of mobile device info from Google Analytics on midwestigrescue.com. Over 30% of mobile/tablet users are on iPad so on a tablet device. If your site displays well on a desktop, it usually displays well enough on the regular sized iPad because the screen size is comparable. (Although graphics can look blurry on retina displays and you might consider using SVGs – which is a topic for another post.)
I’m sure some of the Galaxy devices are tablets too, but a decent percentage of the users are on a mobile phone. Since I want to keep those users from going elsewhere I’m glad the Midwest Rescue site is mobile friendly.
If you are looking to rebuild your site, it’s very important to make sure it’s mobile friendly. As a client, it’s important to be educated and make sure the web developer you choose knows how to create mobile friendly websites and includes a mobile friendly/responsive design in their proposal. A “responsive” website resizes images and reflows content depending on the size of the browser. As you change the browser window size, you’ll see the images shrink and the content reflow. See this client website as an example: www.thefrr.org. The Midwest site does not do this, but with the many device sizes on the market these days it does not make sense to target a site to any particular size. Midwest was made mobile friendly quickly, but it is not something I would recommend to anyone starting with a new site design today.
A responsive website should not dramatically increase the cost of the site. Responsive websites are built from the ground up basing all measurements on percentages and max/min-widths. Media Queries are used to change the look of specific elements at a particular size. An example would be to change a horizontal menu to a drop down structure. Creating a responsive site adds to the cost of the website but the additional cost is usually minimal compared to the total cost of the site, and it’s definitely worth it. Otherwise, you’ll probably be looking to redo the whole site design in the near future so the ever growing base of mobile users can easily use your website.
Responsive web design that grows and shrinks depending on the browser size is the way to go…and as soon as I have time the Unbox website will be responsive. Until then, you can browse through the following responsive client websites: