Does your website need a mobile device version?

Accessing the internet using mobile phones and tablet computers are becoming more popular these past few years. The convenience of browsing websites and doing some computer related work in a device that is probably as small as your notebook or even smaller, in most cases, has more benefits than disadvantage. Certain professions such as executive-level managers, real estate brokers, performing artists and politicians, are usually on the move and requires access to whatever information they need regardless if they are stuck in the middle of traffic or having a cup in a posh coffee shop. A website designed for computer users might be difficult for them to use.

I personally believe that as years pass by, mobile device manufacturers are approaching the level of sophistication of desktop and laptop computers. Websites that are too wide or too narrow for the viewing screen can be zoomed-in or out and some mobile devices can be rotated such that you can use bigger width to view wider websites. Thus, I am predicting that time will come that there will be no need to have different website versions for desktop computers and mobile devices. However, depending on your niche or your kind of website, it could be worthwhile to design a layout that will work best in mobile devices.

For some but not all websites, a mobile version is essential

When I say essential, it does not mean that your website will fail if you didn't have a mobile version. It only means that you will be loosing a significant amount of visitor: either a huge percent of visitors or small percent of visitors that are actually willing to pay or do business. Some of the websites that should have mobile versions are:

Company websites

That executive on the other line to whom you are talking about a certain business proposal is actually stuck in a traffic jam. After the talk, he asked you to send to him in SMS the address/URL of your company website so he can know more about your company. You send it to him, thinking he's in front of his computer doing some paperwork. He accessed it using his mobile phone and he saw zoomed-in letters with no clear navigation menu.

If this is a young and/or techie manager you're dealing with, he will probably just zoom-out the website to see it clearly. However, if it's the 85-year old company president who still refuse to pass the reign to one of his children, he will probably think that all you got is an ugly website and that you don't really mean any business and thus, he will just move to the next prospect.

E-commerce websites

Same case as the company websites but much urgent. In company website, the potential client or business partner is just trying to know more about your company. In e-commerce, the actual transaction is taking place online. You will need a mobile version of your e-commerce site or else your customers might get tired scrolling up down left right looking for that check-out button.

Educational websites

These are websites about math, sciences, history, or anything that your typical student will visit to do her homework or research projects.

Most mobile devices, tablet computers in particular, are also being marketed as e-book readers where students and teachers can store digital format of their textbooks. From time to time, these students will check the web for additional information and for reference checking. It would be much helpful to these students and educators to design your website with their convenience in mind.

Government Websites

Several people from various business leaders to high school students need to access the websites of government agencies to find out about the latest news, procedures in doing this or that transaction, and contact information to call, send a mail or to visit the agency in person. Making them accessible through mobile devices will definitely come in handy.

Travel Websites

This include travel blogs, ticketing agencies and websites owned by hotels, airliners and shipping lines. People browsing these kind of websites are frequent travellers and more likely, they will be accessing these websites using tablet computers or mobile phones.

Websites that may not need a mobile version (at least, not yet)

While mobile devices have made access to the internet very convenient, it still cannot replace the good old desktop computers. I still could not imagine mobile devices replacing activities like programming, typing your term paper, or image editing using Photoshop or any photo editing software. Thus the following may not need a mobile version:

Progamming tutorials (including web development)

Codegrad will definitely fall under this category. While I'm planning to make mobile versions for my other websites, I don't think I will be making one for Codegrad. I just could not imagine anyone looking for quick solutions in modifying their Apache server or changing the way their WordPress theme works will be surfing the web using a mobile phone or tablet computer. I haven't heard of anyone programming using mobile devices. Programmers and web developers use them only in testing how their website or app will look like in different mobile devices.

Image editing tutorials

So anyone crazy enough to use their fingers or stylus in cropping or distorting images with Photoshop, GIMP or similar programs?

Conclusion

It would be advantageous to most but not all websites to have a mobile version. Typical internet users such as buyers and those looking for information will find mobile versions of the websites useful. However, for programmers, web developers, desktop publishers and other professions that require extensive use of desktop computers, websites catering to the needs of these professionals usually do not need a separate mobile version.

Posted under category: Mobile Internet

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