A leading indicator of small-business success is how quickly and effectively technological trends are adopted and utilized. In years past, the trend was to have an attractive and useful website, then it was an effective social media voice, now – it’s a mobile website. According to the 2013 Technology Survey by the National Small Business Association (link), while 82% of responders indicated their businesses had a traditional website, only 18% of those surveyed had a mobile web presence. This figure represents a major customer service opportunity for your small business, compared to competitors without mobile websites. As web browsing on mobile devices grows at an exponential rate, if your website isn’t optimized for mobile devices, you’re doing your customers a major disservice. So what’s the right solution to offer your customers or potential clients the best viewing experience from a mobile device?
Mobile Responsive Website vs. Mobile Website
What’s the difference between a mobile responsive site and a mobile website? A mobile website is essentially a copy of your website that’s been optimized for smaller mobile browsers making it easier to navigate. A mobile site has a different domain. Usually a mobile domain like “m.yourcompany.com” is used to differentiate it from your main website. With a mobile site, the web server does the work in delivering the optimized mobile site files. A mobile responsive website is different. Instead of an entirely unique set of web page files, a mobile responsive website utilizes code on your existing web pages to adjust your current site layout based on the screen size and orientation (landscape or portrait) of the mobile device. The web browser does the work in making your layout and content liquid and responsive to the screen size of the mobile device.
Which choice is right for your business? That will probably be decided by your budget. The differences in initial setup costs may or may not be substantial, but the main cost difference between a mobile site and a mobile responsive design lies in the maintenance costs. Since a mobile site is a second set of web site files on your server, any changes, including content changes, will have to be made on your mobile site as well. If your small business does not have dedicated staff for managing web content, this may not be a cost effective solution. Conversely, since a mobile responsive site utilizes code on the backend of your current web site files to adapt your layout to mobile browsers, any changes to the content of your site will automatically be reflected in mobile browsers also.
Another distinct advantage to using a mobile responsive solution: Google prefers it. No complicated URL redirects to a second “mobile” domain keep things simple for search engines and improves your search engine rankings. Better search engine rankings mean more quality customer leads and better traffic.
Utilizing technology is the most efficient way to gain an advantage in today’s small business marketplace. If your website doesn’t offer your customers or potential clients a mobile optimized viewing experience, your competitors might. A mobile responsive website is your best option for offering the best customer service and viewing experience on your website.