Mobile websites: Are they worth it?

The beauty of being part of a digital agency is that I am kept up to speed with the latest trends in the digital world. Like Chelsea football club, there’s a new model every six months. I can’t help but think that in the time I’ve written this article, a new smart phone will be released.

In fact, I read an article on my way to work this week that BlackBerry have finally caught up in the smartphone market with their new arrival – The Z10. Sounds more like a car than a phone, but the way things are going, phones will be driving us around in the near future anyway. Will BlackBerry become as dominant in the smartphone sector as it used to be and join the giants that are Apple and Samsung? Only time will tell.

We can’t deny it - smartphones have become part of our everyday lives. Gone are the days where playing Snake was the best thing since the invention of the 90’s mobile (brick) phone. Chances are, if you want to play Snake on a smartphone, you’ll jump on the web and either download an app (which I just did!) or visit a website that lets you play it live with the ability to compare your achievements with other online players. Either way, access to the web is literally given to us in the palm of our hands.

The statistics speak for themselves. There are actually more mobile phones in the UK than there are people, with 52% of mobile users owning a smartphone. The number of people searching the web on their smartphone is doubling every two months. eBay sells something via a mobile phone every two seconds. In 2011, there was a prediction that by 2014, mobile internet would take over desktop internet usage globally. In 2011, smartphone sales overtook PC sales in the UK – two years earlier than predicted.

With the overwhelming speed at which the smartphone market is growing, it’s only natural for website owners to start thinking about mobile-friendly experiences. One of the challenges we are faced with is communicating this importance to clients, ensuring that budget is made available to properly address mobile. Increasingly however, the question is no longer “why?”, but “how?”.

Desktop internet usage is only going to be the norm for a little while longer, so the progression into mobile should be natural. In 2010, Google became a ‘mobile-first’ company, where they actually began developing their websites and tools on mobiles before they did on desktop.

Many are interested in developing their sites for mobile and tablet but see it as an afterthought to the desktop. There are several factors that affect the decision to go mobile. Audience is a big consideration. Whether your audience surfs the net more on a desktop than a mobile is hard to tell without a pre-existing website to run statistics on, but chances are, most would use both.

Responsive web design is a clever solution that takes a desktop site and alters it to work successfully on smaller screens, yet still maintaining a company’s look and feel. We work with many small businesses where there are budget restraints, so they feel that they need to make a choice between the two platforms. At the moment, desktop is still in the lead, but having a mobile-friendly site will soon become too important to ignore. It is a nuisance having to zoom in and out and move your finger around your mobile screen in order to view a website that is specifically designed for desktop. User interest is one of the most important factors when viewing a website. Lose interest, lose customers. Maintain user interest by making your website available on more than one platform and give your company more reach.

Smartphones are developing larger screens with higher resolution, yet still small enough to fit in a pocket. Tablets are easier to carry than laptops and the London underground tube has rolled out Wi-Fi across its network.

The stats say enough really. Mobile internet usage is growing fast and the smartphone industry is fuelling it as companies bid to out-do each other with the next best thing. With the launch of 4G, cellular internet connections are getting faster and with the busy lives we lead, jumping on the web seems to be more convenient while we are on the move. More and more users are visiting websites through their smartphone or tablet.

Our clients often ask us how we can help them stay ahead of the game with their competitors. Of course, a nicely designed and functional desktop website will give them a short-term solution, but we do encourage developing a mobile-friendly website because the investment will be worth it and they will benefit from it. Perhaps it won’t give them immediate results, but with the way things are moving, it’s only a matter of time before our client's competitors get left behind.

Hallway is a growth-driven agency for ambitious businesses - we offer peak-performing, Ever-Evolving websites and online marketing that deliver stellar results.

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