For years, mobile phones (on a software and hardware level) were simply inadequate for displaying websites as they were meant to be seen. However, many phones back then displayed websites without images or in a conventional view in order to make it optimised for the software and hardware of the phones at the time.
As time has gone on, however, especially with the invent of the Apple iPhone back in 2007, all smartphones now can show the entire website as it is seen on a desktop PC (albeit shrunk down) because smartphones are more powerful than standard mobile phones or featurephones and the software allows the full website to be rendered within the mobile browser application.
So why is it “more important” to also focus attention on making your websites or blogs mobile-friendly?
Well. First, if you use WordPress, it’s incredibly easy. Simply install the WordPress Mobile Edition plugin (you can find and install it directly via the WordPress Administration Panel). It instantly gives your blog a mobile-friendly user interface if a mobile phone or user agent is detected.
However, you may wonder why it is even important at all. Well, foremost, let’s look at usage statistics:
With StatCounter, smartphone usage for surfing the web is at 9.39%. That’s a high number. That equates to 1 in 10 connections to a website may well be from a phone. And because smartphones are becoming used more and more for what our computers would usually be used for, many people simply use their smartphone instead of their computer to do basic computing tasks such as searching for something or for the answer to something, browsing the web, reading the news, etc.
Why should I build a mobile user interface? Smartphones are capable of viewing the full website as it is.
That is true, yes. But many websites now have specialist user interfaces specifically made for smartphones such as iPhones, Android Phones, BlackBerry smartphones, etc. For example, the WordPress Mobile Edition plugin transforms your WordPress blogs into a readable, clean format for small-screen devices.
It also equates to a better user experience. Your users don’t want to be scrolling a lot to read the content on your website.
You could also consider making your forums mobile-friendly as well. While there would probably be plugins or add ons for the various popular forum systems out there, such as vBulletin, phpBB, etc., you could also install add your forum to mobile apps such as TapaTalk (Board Express on Windows Phone) which allows your users to access your forum via a mobile-friendly app. And it works for many popular forum systems, including vBulletin, Invision Power Board, MyBB, SMF, phpBB, etc.
However, there are disadvantages to using TapaTalk or Board Express. For a start, I don’t even think you can make any money if all your mobile users end up using TapaTalk or Board Express because your forum is available on it. If this is the case, I wouldn’t be surprised if forum owners have decided not to go this route because there is no way to make money when users are using your forum through a third party solution, in which you cannot make any money.
Inherent advantages to creating a mobile-friendly user interface
The inherent advantages are quite obvious. It makes it easier for your users to navigate your website or blog without having to pan and scroll a lot. It makes it more focused on the content on your website or blog.
Some other slightly-irrelevant advantages is that it could save you bandwidth. Even though it may to matter to you much, if 9% of your visitors are from mobile devices, you could save yourself a portion of bandwidth if the mobile user interface transfers less data to the visitor when they visit your website.
Inherent disadvantages to creating a mobile-friendly user interface
Well, if you have a mobile user interface, it would be very difficult to include advertisements unless you are able to fit in mobile-sized advertisements that coherently fit into your mobile user interface. If it does, great, you may make money via your mobile user interface, but often is the case that with a mobile user interface, such as with the WordPress Mobile Edition, while your users would be getting a better user experience, they would also not have the distraction of advertisements you may have installed on the desktop user interface through WordPress plugins such as Awesome Ads.
So unless you can find a suitable way to add mobile-friendly advertisements to the mobile user interface part of that WordPress plugin, you would be without advertisements which is something to take into consideration. If a lot of your traffic (say, 9%) comes from mobile phones. That is the potential for up to 9% of loss revenue that may be potentially there if you had mobile ads on the mobile user interface. You may want to take this into consideration.
Some examples of mobile user interfaces that work perfectly on smartphones include:
If you noticed on the Engadget blog, they have mobile ads. It is definitely possible to implement mobile ads, Neowin’s blog (second image above) also has mobile advertisements at the top, too. There are many mobile ad firms you can use as well, in order to generate revenue through visitors on mobile devices.
So, there are many resources online to help you make your website mobile-friendly. This article is to help introduce you to as to why making your website mobile-friendly is indeed a good idea, because based on ever updating mobile data, it is becoming very important – even for businesses such as e-commerce stores, as more people may wish to shop on their phones.
Of course, many e-commerce stores may opt to create an actual app for smartphones which provides rich user experiences with a mobile-centric app user interface, but others decide e-commerce stores decide to create mobile-friendly versions of their e-commerce store.