This post is for: business owners who don’t use smart phones to view websites, and anyone who’s unfamiliar with “responsive web design”
It wasn’t until I got my own smart phone that I finally understood why every small business really needs a mobile-friendly website. It’s because they’re called phones, but they’re really pocket computers, and millions of people are using them every day to browse the web.
And once you use a phone to try to look at a website that was designed only for desktops, you see the problem immediately.
Sites designed just for big screens look tiny on a phone! Illegibly tiny. Unusably tiny. So to see their contents or to use their menus on a phone, you have to do the “pinch to zoom” trick with your fingers on your screen to enlarge a very specific area of the website. Then more gestures to pan around while you try to read it. Then more gestures to zoom back out again to figure out where you are … and so on. It doesn’t take long for that to get pretty old, and because everyone is in a hurry and wants the quickest path possible to the information they’re seeking, if you make it hard for them to see it, many phone users will just leave your site altogether!
A mobile-friendly site, on the other hand, shows legible text and touchable menus really nicely on a small screen, making the whole experience of visiting your website much more enjoyable for phone users. Sure, you have to scroll down more to read all the content, but that’s much, much easier than pinching and zooming and panning constantly to read shrunken desktop layouts.
The good news is that you don’t have to create and maintain two different versions of your website to make your phone visitors happy. There’s a web design technique called “responsive design” that results in a single website with a smart, fluid layout that detects the size of the screen it’s being viewed on, and automatically rearranges the contents – without shrinking anything down to illegible proportions – to fit that screen. You can find out more about responsive design here, or by doing a quick search on Google.
And if you ever doubt the value of having a responsive website, don’t just take my word for it – try it yourself! Just visit a non-mobile-friendly website on a phone, and see how long it takes you to get tired of all the zooming and panning. If you’re like most people, it’ll be less than a minute or two!