If you have been involved with ecommerce for a while, you may have heard the phrases “mobile app” and “responsive site” come up at least once, so why not go with one of those over a mobile site? In the case of a mobile app, it has to be made available for both iPhone and Android to reach as many customers as possible and unless you know what you are doing, this can be a very frustrating and intimidating task to undertake on your own. There is also the issue of mobile operating systems updating frequently because if your app is no longer compatible with the newest version of a device’s operating system, users will not be able to download the app at all until it is updated to meet their standards. Additionally, if your website does not have a large client base to begin with then your mobile app is almost guaranteed to go unnoticed. The mobile apps for Wal-Mart and the Apple Store are so widespread because their companies were so well-known long before the apps’ creation. A large, pre-existing audience is the key to a successful mobile app.
Responsive sites and mobile sites both take advantage of existing content, making them slightly more cost-effective options, but they have one glaring difference. A responsive site is simply a website that will display on a mobile device. This doesn’t sound bad, except these websites tend to drive users away far more quickly than a mobile site would because smartphones typically cannot handle the same amount of data and processing that a desktop or laptop computer can. If a user cannot load a website in 3 seconds at the most, chances are they will leave and find another site due to data charges, lack of time or just flat-out impatience. Additionally, they are irritating to navigate, requiring users to constantly zoom in and zoom out to navigate or click a link, which only adds to the frustration. You wouldn’t spend 10 minutes trying to load a pizza place’s website on your phone just because you want to order a pizza, for example. You would simply look up another pizza place, see if their site works, and place an order with them if it does. You just want your pizza.
What makes mobile sites so different is that they are optimized for use on smart devices. They take into account that people are on a usually tiny touch-screen device by making big- legible buttons for users to tap, text in larger letters for readability and proper spacing so that mobile users can click links more easily. Some mobile sites have buttons with special functions such as “Click to Call,” which triggers the smartphone to dial the business’s phone number without the mobile user having to write it down somewhere, get out of the site and then call the number. Taking advantage of popular phones’ features can make your mobile site stand out from the crowd in an instant, as well as make your site much more memorable to the customer. Snapchat, for example, allows users to record video, take pictures, or draw on their screen and then share it instantly with friends.
Take, for example, the application called Evernote. Evernote is the epitome of interconnectedness and functionality in that it joins together a website, a desktop application for Windows and Mac, and a mobile app to make stored files and images readily accessible regardless of platform and new files ready in moments. Available in both free and paid forms, the extra cost dictates how much space you have access to. That said, the amount of space you get for free is quite generous. The point is that the experience is almost completely seamless regardless of platform and is specifically designed for each platform’s needs.
What a successful mobile site boils down to is convenience, ease of use and functionality. Each mobilization option has its uses, but why not take advantage of the usability of an app and the breadth of content of an ordinary website? A mobile site is the best of both worlds and, best of all, there are plenty of services available both free and paid to help you get your site caught up with the times. As more and more people begin embracing smartphones and tablets, websites without some kind of mobile component risk losing out on a substantial number of new customers.