At Mindscape, I've really been jumping head first into mobile web development for the last year. I find it interesting to create something that works across the board on several different devices. We're at a point where we're starting to offer this to clients, and surely the question of "Why do I need a mobile site?" is going to come up a lot more frequently. So I thought I'd address some of the key benefits to creating a mobile-friendly website in this article. Keep in mind that developing a mobile site doesn't necessarily mean creating a separate site for mobile devices. It has more to do with creating a site elastic enough to display nicely on whatever device your end user is viewing it on.
The Advantages of Having a Mobile-Friendly Site
Having a site that is accessible on the go
Having a site that is optimized for mobile usage essentially means that your site, product, service and company is available to your customers when they are on the go. This could be someone traveling to a meeting with you, sitting in an airport while researching your company, or sitting in a restaurant sharing information about your company with another person.
Creating sites that tie directly into other aspects of your on and offline marketing
Having a mobile-friendly site means it's easy to tie your site into other aspects of your mobile marketing and in a bigger sense, to your overall marketing campaign.
For example, scanning a QR code with your camera or receiving a link via text message would most likely bring customers to a page on your site specifically created for that particular campaign. These are called landing pages and are designed to bring people to specific content on your site, rather than dropping them off at the homepage and leaving them to fend for themselves. In the mobile world, customers will be initiating this on their phone, so it makes sense to take them to a site that is optimized for their phone rather than to a traditional website that is not optimized for a mobile device.
Improved user experience
Research on mobile usability shows that a well-constructed and fully optimized mobile site significantly improves the user experience and allows people to find the information they are looking for more quickly and easily. It doesn't allow the screen real estate that a typical website offers - and the bells, whistles and other distractions that often occupy this real estate. A well thought-out mobile site basically says to your customers, "I understand that you're on the go and I want to help answer your question or provide information to you as quickly and easily as possible."
A mobile site takes advantage of the mobile nature of your customers
A mobile website allows you to fully take advantage of the things that make phones today unique. Click-to-call functions make it easy for a customer to call you directly from your site or from a local business search. After all, they're already holding their phone. Mapping and GPS features built into our phones make it easy for customers to find us on the go.
Mobile websites can be accessed anywhere and anytime. This constant connectivity provides the opportunity to connect with your audience wherever they may be and whenever they may be there.
Mobile sites bridge the gap between online and offline media
The integration of QR codes allows printed materials to be linked with digital media. This means your printed materials can take on a whole new life when combined with calls to action that direct users to mobile-specific landing pages that contain a wealth of additional information: product reviews and comparisons, special offers and discounts, etc.
Mark Swanson is the creative director for Mindscape at Hanon McKendry. He also specializes in mobile development.