Building a Mobile Website Should be Your #1 IT Project

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If I had the ability to reach through the screen, grab you by the shoulders, look you in the eye, and tell you that building a mobile version of your website should be your number one IT project this year, I would. While I may be on the bleeding edge of mobile consumption, the adoption of smart phones, tablets, and iPads into the main stream population can’t be denied. As Steve Wozniak said “The tablet is the PC for normal people.”

It’s easy for those of us who work in the tech sector to think that we are “different” or more “advanced” than the average person, but a recent survey of new moms showed that smart phone usage was exceptionally high.

  • Smart phone usage rose 64% for new mothers.
  • 51% of Moms considered themselves addicted to smartphones.
  • The majority of Moms say their smartphone is the last thing they check before going to bed and first thing when waking up.
  • Moms are 40% more likely to use social networks on their smartphones.
  • Over 60% of Moms use their smartphones to research shopping or make purchases.

This isn’t just a case of technology growing and expanding, it’s that the technology we use is shifting from desktop to mobile devices like the iPad tablet. Business Insider recently reported that Windows PC sales declined for the first time in history, and this drop coincided directly with the launch of the iPad.

Windows PC Sales Decline in Favor of iPads

With the increased number of mobile clients, site speed and page speed have become more important than ever.

Why Site Speed is More Important

The above image from Strangeloop shows the effects of a one second increase in load time: it results in a 7% loss in conversion and 16% decrease in customer satisfaction. The study also showed that 50% of the people expect the website to perform just as well on a mobile device but 60% experienced problems, with slow loading times being the number one problem. Even more importantly, 50% will abandon a site that takes longer than 3 seconds to load and won’t return.

While Google likes to tout the growth of its Android phones over the iPhone, this is bit of statistical voodoo. Typically speaking, these reports combine the stats for all android phones and tablets as one combined number, while the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch are considered separate operating systems. If you have the budget and resources to develop specific apps for specific operating systems, you should, but having one mobile version that works across all platforms is the ideal solution. When you design these systems, use one URL and serve content based on user-agent/operating system. A dedicated mobile site or different mobile URL is a can of worms for the users and search engines.

Currently, the iPad is the one device we have the most statistics about how it’s being used.

iPad’s Time Usage

This has implications about how publishers should be developing content so it is optimized for the appropriate device.

  • Use of  desktop computers is down for 35% of iPad owners since they bought the device.
  • Use of laptops is also down by 39% since they bought an iPad.
  • 87% of owners are using the iPad every day of the week.
  • 26% use the iPad for half an hour to an hour per day.
  • 32% use the iPad for 1-2 hours per day.
  • 24% use the iPad for more than 2 hours a day.

Where do they use it?

Its versatility makes it a flexible and ubiquitous device, with

  • 69% of respondents using it in the bedroom,
  • 42% in the kitchen, and
  • 20% of men can’t be parted from it, even in the bathroom.

The last statistic certainly shows that men’s habits for reading in the small room have not changed, just the device!

What do they use the Apple iPad for?

  • Accessing the web – 75%
  • Emailing -63%
  • Entertainment – 53%
  • Playing games – 48%
  • Social networking – 41%
  • Researching products and services – 29%
  • Reading books – 25%
  • Listening to music – 21%
  • Shopping – 19%
  • Reading magazines – 13%
  • For work – 13%
  • Watching TV – 11%

Hopefully this post has convinced you of the need to make your website as mobile friendly as possible. If you are using a custom website or CMS, you’ll have to come up with your own solution, but I’m sure that most popular CMS’s already have built in modules or plugins available. If you are on WordPress, I suggest WPTouch Pro (see WPTouch Pro Review). For $39 and an hour’s work, you will be completely mobile compatible. As technology advances, the number of mobile devices is only going to increase, as is the demand for a mobile friendly experience.  The question is: are you giving it to your customers–or is your competition?

WPTouch Pro is a premium plugin that I recommend using. I believe that serving mobile optimized content is becoming increasingly more important (see How Mobile Friendly is Your Website). To be clear, if you purchase this plugin using my link, I do make an affiliate commission. That said, I purchased this plugin with my own money for the review and was not given a free or comped version.WPTouch Pro is plugin I recommend .

Check out Graywolf’s SEO Blog for more articles by Michael Gray

About the Author:
Michael Gray is SEO specialist and publishes a Search Engine Industry blog at www.Wolf-Howl.com. He has over 10 years experience in website development and internet marketing, helping both small and large companies increase their search engine visibility, traffic, and sales.