With over 1 billion smartphones in use today, it's no wonder everyone seems to be saying you need a mobile website. Depending on who you want to listen to, it may seem as though if you don't have a mobile website you are doomed to fail. To me the whole thing reminds me of the when the first iPhone was released in 2007. "Oh the iPhone is coming out! Do you have an app? You don't have an app! You better get one or you'll go out of business!"
'Needing' a mobile friendly site actually depends on a couple of really important things. Before you go throwing a bunch of money at it make sure the following applies to your current website.
Does Your Site Appeal To The Average Joe
When I'm moving about the world I usually pull up a Google search for directions to a restaurant if I am unfamiliar with the location. While I'm there I may click on the site and look at the menu. Occasionally I will go to a local artist's website and see if they're playing in town that night. Or if I'm waiting for my wife while she tries on clothes, I may read some of my RSS feeds to kill time or play a quick game of Cut The Rope.
I don't use my mobile device to check the current mortgage interest rates or to buy a cutting board from Target.
The point is, does a mobile friendly website properly serve the needs of your visitors, or is it just another box to check on your marketing list. If you're selling a specialty product to small group of people my guess is a mobile friendly website really won't do you much good.
Can You Deliver A Good Experience on Mobile
Mobile devices are small. Even some of the larger ones like the Samsung Galaxy S3 are still small compared to a desktop. When looking over your site do you feel the experience will be impaired if you make the changes to make it mobile friendly? Will it still serve your basic needs to attract visitors, readers, fans, or customers? If the answers are yes and no, you may want to rethink your mobile strategy before moving forward.
If you think your site applies to the first and second criteria, the final thing you need to do is look at your traffic statistics. How many of your visitors are looking at your site on a mobile device and over time has that figure increased or decreased. My litmus test for moving to mobile is when 25% or more of site visitors are using mobile browsers.
Here is an example of my website statistics. From September 20th to October 20th, 69 visits were used from a desktop. The other 4 were used by a mobile device. The previous 30 days 48 visits were from a desktop and none from mobile.
Additionally 87% of my traffic is from Windows while Android and IOS take up a paltry 2.74% each. So for me, a mobile friendly site is not a priority. But as the site is still in a state of being fleshed out, I can look at the rate at which my mobile visitors are increasing to determine that it would be a good idea to move in that direction...eventually.
The big concern for me at this point, is the blog, and making sure that people can subscribe and get the articles how they choose. I do this by email subscriptions and RSS Feeds. That I can all do without the need to hastily put together a mobile friendly site.
Make no mistake. Mobile is not a passing fad. Statistics show that by 2015 more searches will be done on mobile devices than on desktops. And as we move ever forward we will get more computing power in our pockets.
I personally dream of a day when my phone is powerful enough to run all the tools I need to create great experiences for the web, and drop it into a dock for use at home on a large screen with a mouse and keyboard.
So does your website follow the three criteria above for a switch to a mobile friendly experience? Did I miss any? Let's have a discussion about it in the comments below.