Millions of us surf the web using mobiles and smartphones. There’s a huge potential audience and it’s getting bigger by the day. So do you need a mobile version of your website?
Do you need a responsive website?
Most people do it because their site doesn’t display or work properly on small screens. So the first thing is to have a look.
Mobiles don’t have anywhere near the same processing power as computers. So if your site’s stuffed with Flash-generated content, images and multimedia it almost certainly won’t display properly. But if it’s simple, standards compliant and lightweight it should be fine.
If you think your site displays and functions perfectly well on a mobile, check with a few other people to make sure they feel the same. If it seems OK on your phone, make sure it also does the job on a variety of other phones and screen sizes. And different networks… not everyone has high speed access and things might fall apart at slow connection speeds.
If there’s any doubt – or you’re borderline – it’s probably worth creating something specific for mobile users. Especially if your competitors have already got their mobile act together. Here’s some tips:
if you’re confident fiddling with .css strip the site down yourself for a sleeker, cleaner mobile version
if not there’s plenty of free mobile website creation tools online, some of which claim you can get the job done in a few clicks
if you’re lucky your content management system will let you divert mobile users to your mobile site automatically
if you don’t have a CMS or it doesn’t let you auto-divert mobile users, there’s loads of advice online about how to do it
you don’t necessarily need to do your whole site. Some people just create mobile versions of the pages people visit most
Update for 2015 – The balance has tipped and in 2015 more people access the internet via small screen devices than desktop machines. It’s vital to have a fully-responsive site and these days there’s no need to build a separate one. Most good CMS, including WordPress, create sites that’re automatically responsive.