Whether they are checking Facebook or watching YouTube at the bus stop, people use phones to surf the web, so much so that as of March of 2015, the number of mobile-only Internet use exceeded that of desktop use. Also in 2015, Google announced that more people were searching on a mobile device than a desktop. Smartphones make it much easier for us to access the web at any time. In the United States alone, there are nearly 200 million smartphone users. This means that there are nearly 200 million people with the Internet in their pocket whenever it is needed. Does mobile website design still sound like an option like an option? Read on.
Google And Its Impact
In November 2014, Google began labeling sites that were optimized for mobile as “mobile-friendly” in mobile searches. In February 2015, Google announced that it would change mobile search ranking in favor of mobile-friendly sites beginning in May of that year. This change was so significant it was dubbed “Mobilegeddon.” In March of this year, Google announced that it will update mobile search ranking to increase the effect of its mobile-friendly page ranking signal on sites that have a mobile website design. So you may find it surprising that over 90% of small business sites are still not mobile-friendly (http://tinyurl.com/mobileaabaco, http://tinyurl.com/marketinglandhibu).*
When a small business owner is asked why their site is not mobile-friendly, the most common reasons are cost or that it is irrelevant for their business. I can imagine a time and industry where not having a mobile-friendly site could be understood; if it was 2010 and I was selling cold-roll steel, I am not sure I would be too worried. Yet, if you are selling anything today that requires someone to find something as simple as your phone number, mobile website design is now very relevant.
Cost too is less and less of an issue. Again, if it was 2010 and responsive web design (mobile website friendly design) was still a niche thing, you may have needed to code multiple sites or multiple instructions to deal with all the different platforms. Then you had to maintain multiple versions of the site. This was time consuming and increased the chance of outdated or incorrect material. But today, responsive design is mainstream, and it improves efficiency when coding. Also, there are companies like Squarespace and WIX that make crafting simple responsive sites easy and inexpensive.
Summary: Mobile Website Design
So let’s look at this again. The number-one search engine has made it clear that when a person is searching on mobile, mobile-friendly sites will be served up first. The relevance of a mobile-friendly site on something as simple as customer service is now important. Finally, the cost of going mobile has dropped, and website maintenance efficiency has improved. With so many of your competitors apparently still not mobile-friendly, why pass up this chance at a simple competitive advantage?
R. Osbourne Whitesell is the president of MKJ Creative. MKJ is a full-service print and digital graphic design agency. MKJ provides loyal service, bold creative, with rapid and accurate turn around. For more information, please visit www.mkjcreative.com.
Update: Since this article was written, Google has increased the mobile-friendly search signal (https://tinyurl.com/google-mobile-again).