I Already Have A Website That Looks Great On My iPad. Why Do I Need A Mobile Site?

If you aren’t an expert on web design, it can sometimes be difficult to understand that not all devices that can access the World Wide Web display (or render) websites the same way. Unlike audio productions that sound the same on a radio station or iTunes or movies that look exactly the same on your television and laptop, modern websites are a collection of many parts that can include image files, multimedia and plugins, all designed to be presented as a whole in a very specific way.

So many ways to stay connected!

Since the vast majority of personal computers use the Windows operating system and one of four major web browsers (Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome and Safari), it is not difficult to design a website that will properly render for the vast majority of desktop users. But when it comes to mobile devices – which include mobile smartphones, tablets and portable media players like the iPod Touch – your website may not display properly for your customers, potential customers and other website visitors.

A decade ago, this would not have been a major concern for many businesses and organizations – Apple’s iPod was just introduced, smartphones were mostly limited to devices primarily designed to send and receive email and consumers were accustomed to surfing the web with a desktop or laptop computer. What a difference a decade can make!

Mobile Strategy: Quick Access to Vital Information

Today, it is vital that your customers and potential customers can access vital information about your company or organization while on the go. If a potential customer is trying to find your physical address with their smartphone and your website doesn’t render properly, this potential customer could very quickly seek out one of your competitors. The same holds true for a customer trying to locate your phone number, or a potential customer attempting to locate an item in your online catalog.

Mobile devices have become so popular that the use of a mobile device doesn’t necessarily signify that the user is “mobile” – some people spend the vast majority of their time using their mobile device to surf the web – even at home – while others who may have limited options for home broadband use their mobile device as a complete substitute for a PC at home.

What Are The Differences Between A Desktop And A Mobile Website?

There are fundamental differences between the ways that desktop and mobile websites are designed, and not all of them are strictly due to screen size. Other considerations include the bandwidth restrictions often placed on mobile broadband usage and the limitations of the internal hardware inherent to many mobile devices.

Desktop websites are often designed to fit the dimensions of a desktop monitor or laptop screen. Web designers are aware of the general screen dimensions of the majority of these machines and will design your site accordingly. Also, modern desktop websites are designed for current web browsers and modern machines that usually have a comfortable amount of memory and a moderately-powerful processor. This allows for fully-featured, colorful and powerful sites that are not limited in any unreasonable way and can include multimedia technologies like Javascript and Flash. Finally, most desktop websites are designed for the point-and-click interface of a computer mouse.

In contrast, mobile websites are often defined by their limitations.

Mobile devices often have limited memory, less-powerful processors and small screens. Also, mobile broadband can often be limited and dysfunctional, especially in rural areas with limited infrastructure and highly-congested urban areas with overloaded infrastructure. Finally, many mobile devices do not have the capability to optimally display Javascript and Flash – in fact, some of the most popular mobile devices in the U.S., Apple’s iPhone and iPad, do not render Flash at all. When all of these limitations are taken into consideration, most mobile websites are designed to be streamlined; graphics are pared down, resources are limited and interfaces are designed for touch, rather than point and click.

There are fundamental differences between websites optimized for desktop browsers and mobile browsers. Does your company or organization need a website optimized for mobile devices?