Tim Priebe

50% of Americans surfing the web with smart phones

Mobile devicesMobile websites are the hot new thing, are they really necessary for the average small business?

Absolutely! Now that many Americans have smartphones, mobile websites more important than ever before. Let’s look at a few statistics on smartphones and the mobile web in general.

The research company Nielsen estimates that by the end of 2011, about 50% of Americans will have a smartphone. That’s up from about 20% in the end of 2009.

The analyst firm Gartner recently reported that in 2011, new handsets will be able to access the mobile web. And that doesn’t even include smartphones!

Desktop websites on mobile phones

Usability expert Jakob Nielsen performed a study to see how mobile websites performed versus desktop websites being viewed on a phone. While each website had a different goal, they were measurable goals, so Nielsen could see specifically if the goal of the website was accomplished or not.

The success rate of the mobile websites on touchscreen smartphones was 75%, much higher than the 53% that desktop websites scored.

The conclusion that Nielsen drew from the study was that it’s not enough for your website to just “work” on a phone. Your content, website navigation, and even website code needs to be optimized to perform well on mobile devices.

What people look for on websites

The most popular type of information being looked for on websites is an address, more information on a business in the area, and a phone number. These are being looked for by people on the go, and mobile websites can give these visitors exactly what they want.

So whether you go out and hire a web design company to build your website or try to do it yourself, you’ll need to keep one very important thing in mind: Your visitors have different goals when visiting your mobile site than they do when visiting your desktop site.

With the content on a mobile site, less is more. You’ll want less pages, less text and fewer images. You still need to have all those things, but just not as much as you have on your desktop site.

And some things will just operate differently. On your mobile website, a “Call us” button can actually dial your store. And a “Find us” can launch the visitor’s map program on their phone and even show them how close they are to your location.

Once it’s launched, your desktop website should automatically send mobile users over to your mobile website. And it should give them an option to switch back to the desktop site if they’d like, and vice versa.

So chances are half of your potential customers are using a smartphone. Make your website easier for them to use by getting a mobile website, and they’ll be that much more likely to buy from you.

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