Mobile-Friendly Doesn’t Cut It

By Chris Davis

You’ve probably heard that a website needs to be mobile-friendly. A few years ago, that was true.

But now, because many more websites are mobile-friendly—including some or all of your competitors—a website now needs to be mobile-competitive.

Since there is only one method that can accomplish this, be sure the web company hired to build your new website uses this method.

By The Numbers
In 2012, Google surveyed 1,088 adult smartphone users. Here are just a few of the findings from that study:

  • 52% said that a bad mobile experience made them less likely to engage with a company.
  • 48% said that if a site didn’t work well on a smartphone, they felt the company didn’t care about their business.
  • 67% said that when visiting a mobile-friendly site, they were more likely to buy that site’s product or service.
  • 79% said that if they didn’t like what they found on one mobile site, they would continue to search and find another site.

Look at your website analytics program and see how many visitors each month are accessing the website on a mobile device (programs like Google Analytics will provide this information).

From personal experience, it is estimated that 20 to 40 percent of people who visit small-business websites do so on mobile devices. This means that if a camp’s website is not mobile-friendly and is not providing an excellent experience on all mobile devices, approximately 20 to 40 percent of the people who visit the website are receiving a bad first impression of the camp and are less likely to do business with you.

Weighing The Options
While there are a number of alternatives to make a website mobile-friendly, there’s only one that makes it mobile-competitive. Let’s review the options:

1. Adjust the zoom.
A simple adjustment can be made to the code of a website that improves slightly the way it looks on mobile devices. A web developer can adjust the zoom of a site so that when it’s called up on a mobile device, the entire website automatically “shrinks” to the width of the device. But the problem is just that—the website has been substantially shrunk. This means users will not be able to read any of the text, or click on any of the links without having to first enlarge each area of the web page they are seeking. This causes a lot of frustration for users, and they’ll probably leave the site after a few seconds.

2. Build a mobile app or separate mobile site. 
Some companies choose to build a completely separate mobile website and/or various different apps. But apps don’t work the same on all mobile devices, so this option likely requires hiring a mobile app company to build an iPhone app, an Android app, an iPad app, and maybe all of the above. Apps and mobile websites do give users an excellent experience, but this route is costly ($20,000 to $80,000) and typically takes 6 to 8 months to complete, not to mention that, when changes are made to the website, they now have to be made in two or three or four different places since they’re all different apps and sites.

3. Select a cheap mobile solution.
Some companies currently are choosing a mass website “mobilizer” that can make a website mobile-friendly for extremely cheap (or even free). But this is one of those situations where you get what you pay for. Using a cheapo or free “mobilizer” solution provides a stock, standard mobile web page with some nondescript buttons and a few photos here or there—nothing that carries over the design of the camp’s website, nothing that represents the true feel of the camp or what’s different and unique about it. This is the fastest and cheapest way to make a website mobile-friendly, but it also looks the fastest and cheapest and leaves a bad impression with visitors and potential customers. That’s why this option is not recommended.

4. Opt for responsive web design.
In the last few years, cutting-edge technology, called responsive web design, has been developed, which modifies an existing website so it automatically detects which device (iPhone, Android, iPad, desktop computer, notebook computer, etc.) and exactly what screen size is requesting a website. Then, in real time, it rearranges the elements and the layout of the website so they are presented in the most ideal way on that device, thereby providing an ideal experience for every user on every device, every time.

And with responsive web design, separate apps for devices are not needed, so whenever changes are made to the website, these changes will be reflected perfectly on all devices. This is the recommended avenue to pursue in making a website simple for guests to navigate.

Chris Davis is the owner of DVS Camp Websites. Download his free report “5 Ways Your Website Is Costing You New Campers” at www.northstarpubs.com/577 or email him at chriscb@dvscampwebsites.com.