What is a mobile-optimized website?

According to Pew Internet Research, the use of mobile internet has increased by a third since 2007. With the growing number of mobile users, many website owners are wondering what that means for their online presence. For some businesses, it might be a good time to think about creating a mobile-optimized website.

Most ordinary websites look tiny on a mobile device. The device’s web browser renders the whole thing, then shrinks it to display in a couple hundred pixels where it’s designed to span 1000 pixels. In the process, your device has downloaded a whole page’s worth of images, which can be slow to load, even though you can only view them at a fraction of their intended size. In order to read text or find the link they want to click on the user needs to zoom in on a particular area of the page and do more scrolling.

A mobile version of your website eliminates these issues. A mobile website is a simplified version of your website that is optimized to display on smart phones and mobile devices. Content is succinct and laid out to fit the space provided on a small screen. Since speed and bandwidth are concerns, images are resized to load quickly for the user, who’s not likely to sit around and wait for a large download.

Mobile site content should be planned strategically and cut to the chase about your product or service—why is the user visiting? What are they trying to find? The bounce rate (number of users who view one page then leave the site) is traditionally high for mobile users, usually because they’re looking for something quick, like directions or a phone number. Keep this in mind when planning mobile content; less is usually more—and it should be easy to find.

When you have a mobile-optimized version of your website, you can set up your web pages to automatically detect that a user is visiting from a mobile device, then direct them to the mobile site without an extra click. It’s a good idea to offer a link back to the full website on each mobile page, just in case they are looking for more detailed information on the full site.

Here’s a comparison between a traditional website and a mobile-optimized site:
Vision design's regular website viewed on an iphone, compared with the mobile-optimized home page

Before you take the leap and invest in creating a mobile version of your site, be sure to evaluate your website and your visitors first.

About Bill Katula