In the last 10 years, browsing the internet on a mobile phone has gone from niche to mainstream. Today, over half of UK adults have a smartphone, and many people only browse the web from their phone. This means that any company that wants to reach all its potential customers needs to have an effective mobile strategy.
There are four main ways to transfer web content to mobile platforms: build an app, create a mobile site, use responsive design or simply load your standard site on mobile browsers. Each is appropriate in different circumstances, as we’ll discuss below.
Want to make a call or send a text? Use an app
A mobile app is a piece of software that runs on a smartphone. As a result, it has access to information that mobile web pages don’t, including dialling and texting. If you want users to be able to access these features, an app is the best bet. As an example, a taxi company app could have a one-press dial button, and send the dispatcher the caller’s exact location.
Want users to browse and shop? Use a mobile or responsive site
Apps need a data connection to sync, but users expect that they’ll always be available. As a result, mobile pages (for complex existing sites) or responsive pages (for simple or new sites) often provide a more effective way to let customers browse the latest products and deals, as well as shop online. An additional advantage is that you only need to maintain one stock and price list, as all information is drawn from the same source.
Want to check-in or use location? Use an app
Knowing the phone’s exact location can be immensely useful to help you target advertising and services. And to get this data, you’ll typically need an app.
Building a new website? Make it responsive
Responsive design creates web pages that can be displayed on any size screen, from a tiny smart phone to a 50-inch TV while remaining easy to navigate. Responsive design eliminates the need for mobile apps or sites, making it easier to keep the site up-to-date without excluding customers using any platform.
Handling a lot of data? Consider a mobile site or app
For websites that handle a lot of data or downloads, such as stock market sites, technical sites and news portals, a mobile-specific site or an app are both good choices. A mobile site can present information clearly and more accessibly than a website, without altering the parent site. An app can be a good way to let users pick and choose what information they receive, ideal for rolling news and updates.
Don’t want to confuse a large user base? Stick with your own site
If you’ve got a large existing user base, then your mobile strategy might be to keep things simple and the same. However, many existing websites – including giants like Facebook and the BBC – simply don’t display well on a tiny screen. Integrating responsive design strategies in future web development can shift your site to being more mobile friendly without upsetting existing users.