We were asked by several clients this month about creating mobile versions of websites and wanted to share some information. Below are common misconceptions as well as pros and cons of having mobile sites.

What Is a Mobile Website?

A mobile website is a text-focused version of your website. It removes the fancy design elements such as  slide shows, flash, and widgets. By focusing primarily on the text, it may be easier for people to read your website content on smart phones and other mobile devices.

Is a Mobile Website Required?

A common misconception is that a mobile website is required to take advantage of mobile traffic. This is not true. Your website will still appear in search results and will still be viewable on mobile devices. The way your site appears on mobile devices will be the same as on a regular computer. It is purely optional to create an alternative text-focused version for display on mobile devices.

Factors to Consider

Pros of Mobile Websites

There are several advantages to having a mobile version of your website.

  • Faster Load Time
    The site will load faster on mobile devices since it’s primarily text.
  • Easier to Read
    The text on your web pages will be easier to scroll through and read. The text can adjust to the width of the mobile device screen and minimize the need for visitors to zoom in or scroll left/right.
  • Simpler Navigation
    There will be fewer options for visitors, which may make your site easier to navigate on a small screen.

Cons of Mobile Websites

There are also many disadvantages to having a mobile site.

  • Fewer Features
    By stripping out the fancy elements of your site, it becomes naturally less appealing and will contain fewer features. Your fancy  slide shows, videos, and widgets may not be available in the mobile version. Registration forms and other important elements may also be lost.
  • Different Layout
    If you have returning customers, the layout on the mobile site may be different from what they are used to seeing on their computer. This can be frustrating to repeat visitors.
  • Limited Content
    For blogging content, mobile websites focus on the latest blogs. It may be difficult for visitors to find older or related blog posts.
  • Types of Devices
    Many mobile devices such as tablets, iPhones, and Android phones have larger screens capable of viewing regular versions of websites. However, their browsers may still default to the mobile versions. Larger screened mobile devices are more prevalent nowadays so it can be assumed that most people who browse on a mobile device are capable of viewing full versions of websites.

Should You Create Mobile Versions of Websites?

When deciding whether to have mobile versions of websites, it ultimately comes down to preference. Consider the pros and cons and whether your business would benefit more or lose more from having a mobile website. This may vary based on the type of business you are operating, whether your site offers content versus products and services, and the features provided on your website.  If you decide to create a mobile website, be sure to offer an option to switch to a non-mobile version. For websites with regularly added content (such as product and blog sites), be sure to automate the display of new information on both the regular and mobile version of your website. This will make it much easier to manage.