Recent statistics suggest that more than 30% of all web traffic is from mobile devices including smartphones and tablet computers. As website owners, we must now take a good look at our web properties and decide if they are still achieving our business goals for these mobile users. But first, what are we dealing with here?
The Mobile Browser Problem
The days of the “flip-up” Razr phones with their tiny screens and dismal browser support are all but gone. Today, we’re dealing with smartphones including Iphones, Android based phones and others as well as a variety of tablet devices. All of these have much better browser capabilities, but they still suffer from one common problem – screen size. Most websites designed to be viewed on a traditional monitor are built to fill a large screen with a width anywhere from 800 pixels and up. Today’s mobile browsers scale these pages to fit on the smaller mobile display. The problem is, much of the text, graphics and images are shrunk so much they are almost impossible to read. So you zoom in and out – a lot. From a user’s point of view, this gets quite aggravating and can lead to a poor user experience – something to be avoided.
There is also the question of browser support, but this is becoming less of an issue as mobile browsers are increasingly standardizing on their support levels. Still, it can’t be ignored altogether – Iphones, Ipods and Ipads don’t support Flash for example, so that technology goes the way of the dinosaurs. If you have Flash on you site, it’s probably best to replace it.
Still another challenge for mobile devices is the ability to change orientation between portrait and landscape by simply rotating the device. Websites need to look good both ways.
To deal with these unique mobile browser characteristics, we have a few options to choose from:
- Do nothing – let users deal with zooming. Not good…
- Modify the existing website to handle mobile displays as well as desktop platforms. Good, but very complex and expensive.
- Develop a separate mobile site. This seems to be the more popular approach…
What Should You Do?
Take a look at you website on a mobile platform. Is it easy to read and navigate the site? If you have to zoom in and out a lot, it may be worth considering a mobile site. Depending on what information and functions you have on your site, it may not be as expensive as you think. Consult with your web developer to see what’s possible – some 30% of your visitors may be happy you did!