Does your business need a mobile friendly website?

Back in 2016, internet access from mobile devices overtook access from desktop computers. Since then, mobile access has continued to grow. While the percentage of customers accessing your website from a mobile device will depend on the nature of your business, it’s safe to say the number is usually too big to ignore.

Today, having a website that’s only designed for desktop users is a bit like having a shop on the main street with the only entrance around the back. For most customers. it’s just too hard and they’ll go to the next shop on the street.

What is a mobile-friendly website?

In short, it’s a site that’s designed for smaller screens and people on the go. In the early days, businesses created and maintained a separate site designed for mobile phone users. The added expense and time required to set up and maintain a second site led to the responsive websites most businesses have today.

A responsive website can recognise whether someone is accessing your site from a mobile phone, tablet or desktop and automatically adjust to provide the best experience. For a mobile device this can involve reducing image sizes, displaying blocks of content beneath each other rather than side-by-side, and hiding navigation menus until you touch to see them.

Why you should have a mobile-friendly website

Pretty much everyone has a mobile phone and today they use them for all sorts of things, from quick information searches to buying major items online. This has happened primarily because mobile devices are fast and easy to use, whenever and wherever you want to use them. If people can’t easily interact with your business through a mobile device, you may not be providing the immediate service they now expect.

Google says you should

Google recognised the trend to mobile way back in 2015, as they observed a continuing rise in searches from mobile devices. They shared this information with website developers and raised the importance of making websites more ‘mobile friendly’. To provide a better experience for their own customers, Google changed the way their results display on mobile devices. They’ve always recognised that their success as a business relies on providing users with a better search experience than any competitor.

It will improve your Google ranking

Before long, Google was assessing how mobile-friendly websites are and listing mobile-friendly sites higher in the search results for mobile searchers. With the advent of responsive websites, Google began prioritising these in the search results for users of all devices. The up-shot is, if you don’t have a responsive website, you may struggle to get anywhere near the first page of Google search results, let alone somewhere near the top. To see if Google thinks your website is mobile friendly, try their ‘Mobile-friendly test’ page and enter the urls (web address) of pages you want to check.

It can boost your brand’s reputation

Having a mobile-friendly website can boost the credibility of your business; or rather, not having one can negatively affect your customer’s user experience in an instant. These days, people are used to finding mobile-friendly websites and expect to be able to access your website from any device.

People remember the experience your website provided, and it’s often the first encounter they have with your business. We all know that first impressions count and how difficult it can be to restore your reputation once it has been damaged. Reputation is everything and potential customers are unlikely to give your business a second chance, preferring instead to simply move on to a competitor website with the tap of a finger.

Creating mobile-friendly website content

Once you have a website that looks good on any device, it’s time to think about your content. Try to analyse your content through the eyes of a customer who’s using a mobile device, potentially on the go. Identify what your customers would be looking for, what might they be trying to achieve and make that available in the shortest possible time.

Writing for mobile readers

Once you’ve planned your content structure, it’s time to write or re-write the words. Break your content up into chunks with short headings to capture attention, main point introductions to reassure them they’re in the right place, and concise, scannable writing for the detail. Using smaller words, direct language and short sentences will help to keep things concise. Breaking the content into small paragraphs and using things like bulleted lists will make it more scannable.

To get you started, here are some examples of common phrases with a single word that can be used to replace them. You can add to this and create a reminder list of your own.

  • At this point in time – now
  • In order to – to
  • Until such time as – until
  • With the exception of – except

Thinking beyond the words

Images and lots of white space also help to break content up, giving the readers’ eyes a rest while adding visual appeal to hold their attention. If you have videos on your site, make sure they’re in a format that works well on mobile phones.

Given your potential customer is already using their phone to view your website, make sure they can call you with a single touch and try to avoid contact forms that require them to enter a lot of detail.

Check it on a mobile device

The final tip is to preview your content on a mobile device before publishing. Many content management systems now let you do this. If your paragraphs suddenly look too long or your headings are wrapping over more than one line, be sure to go back and adjust them.

As Mark Twain once wrote “If I had more time I would have written you a shorter letter”. It does take time to optimise your written content for mobile users, but the benefits are definitely worthwhile.

Would a mobile app be better for your business?

Mobile apps are like mini computer programs. They’re built with a specific purpose in mind and designed to work brilliantly on smartphones.

A customer downloads your app onto their phone, so they need to have had some prior engagement with your business, either through word of mouth, an advertisement or through your website. The fact that your app is on their phone, however, helps you retain a connection with each customer.

The benefits of a mobile app:

  • They’re great for making specific information easy to access or a process easy to complete.
  • The app can remember a customer’s preferences and provide a more streamlined personalised experience.
  • Your customers may be able to use your app, even when they’re not connected to the internet.
  • Apps respond quickly to user input, as the app stores data on the customer’s phone.
  • Different functions can be easily enacted with a range of gestures, such as tap, pinch, hold and swipe.
  • Smartphone features, such as GPS location or camera functions, can be used in an app.
  • With appropriate customer consent, an app can provide you with helpful information, such as their interests, location, app use and more.

But a mobile app isn’t the answer for every business or every customer. Here are some of the benefits a mobile website has over an app.

The benefits of a mobile website:

  • Creating, publishing and updating content is often much easier on a website.
  • Anyone can find your website; they don’t have to already know about your business.
  • A website works on other devices, not just a smartphone.
  • Websites aren’t restricted by the design requirements of app marketplaces, such as Google’s Play Store and Apple’s App Store.

Getting the essentials right

Whether you decide to have a website, a mobile app or both, it’s important to prioritise making it easy for customers to:

  • Quickly find or do what they want.
  • Contact your business, with a tap to call.
  • Check when you’re open, today and in the future.
  • Get directions to your business, from their current location or one they choose.
  • If possible, buy what they want online and track delivery.
  • Share your content with others through social media buttons.
  • Sign up for newsletters, marketing material, alerts or loyalty schemes.

Focus on your business goals

As with most business initiatives, it’s important to base your mobile strategy on your business goals to ensure the best possible return on the investment of time and money.

This will typically include:

  • Clarifying the business objectives a mobile website or app will support.
  • Deciding what you want people to do when they visit your website or use your app.
  • Finding out what people in your target market need to successfully do what you want them to do.
  • Listing the pros and cons of a mobile website and a mobile app.
  • Identifying the costs and benefits each option would bring to your business.

Check out your competitors today

If you do nothing else about going mobile today, grab your smartphone and catch a bus, sit in a park with lunch, or pretend you’re waiting for the dentist. Imagine you’re a potential customer for your type of business. Check out the mobile services provided by the leaders in your field or simply Google like a customer and see what comes up. You might learn more in a few minutes than you ever imagined.

AMI Business Insurance

Whether you’re starting a new venture or growing your business, AMI offers tailored insurance options to help keep your business flourishing. For more information about our insurance options click here.