What does your website look like on a mobile phone?

FROM TC: If your site isn't already mobile-friendly, you may be interested in using this free tool from Google to see how your current desktop site looks on a smartphone.


Commentary: 5 reasons why your nonprofit needs a mobile website

Heather Mansfield, Nonprofit Tech 2.0 blog, 3/14/12

With smartphones now outselling PCs, and tablet sales surpassing even the most conservative of estimates, the majority of your nonprofit's supporters will likely be browsing your website on mobile devices by 2013 - and unfortunately most nonprofits are not prepared for this dramatic shift. For the most part, nonprofits have been slow to launch mobile websites. In 2009 and 2010, nonprofits were busy launching and improving their social media campaigns. The Mobile Web was on their to-do list, but it was relegated to 2011 and 2012. There were some early adopters, but for the most part nonprofits felt overwhelmed by the prospect of launching a mobile website. Thankfully, it's not that difficult or expensive, but first it's important to understand why your nonprofit needs a mobile website.

1. To Improve Your Group Text Messaging Campaigns. Text messages are limited to 160 characters, and after a short while, text-only messages become boring to subscribers. You need to be able to send group text messages that link to Web pages where readers can "Learn More" or "Take Action," but it makes no sense to link to a Web page that was designed to be read on a desktop [computer].

2. To Make Your Smartphone Apps More Functional. In 2009 and 2010, many nonprofits rushed to launch smartphone apps. For a smartphone app to be fully functional, it needs to link to Web pages that were designed to be viewed through mobile browsers. There's little value in linking to your "Donate Now" desktop page through a smartphone app if a potential donor has to scroll right, left, up, and down and zoom in and zoom out just to fill out the required fields.

3. To Empower QR Code Campaigns. The increased use of QR codes in the nonprofit sector led to a lot of "Aha!" moments about the need for a mobile website. If nonprofits are going ask supporters to use their smartphones to scan a QR code that links to a Web page, then of course the QR code needs to link to a mobile website.

4. To Improve Location-Based Community Campaigns. If your nonprofit is going to utilize location-based communities like Foursquare, then there will be times when you'll want a mobile website that you can mention and promote in check-ins and list on places, venue, or spot pages.

5. To Optimize Search Engine Optimization. On the Mobile Web, it's 1999 all over again. Mobile browsers are hungry for new mobile content. It's a clean slate in terms of keyword and page title optimization. Get in now while the getting is still good!


Commentary: Should you build a separate mobile site or use "responsive design"?

Luke Wroblewski on his blog, 2/29/12

As more organizations realize they need to invest heavily in multi-device Web designs, the inevitable question of "how" comes up. Here's how I've tried to simplify this decision:

  1. Responsive Web design is a combination of fluid grids and images with media queries to change layout based on the size of a device viewport. It uses feature detection to determine available device capabilities and adapt accordingly. But optimizing images, video, third party widgets and more using client-only solutions can be challenging. Responsive Web design is for you IF:
    • If you want layout adjustments across devices.
    • You can live without complete optimization for specific devices.
    • You don't have access to server-side solutions.
    • You really don't trust device detection. 
  2. A device experience is defined by how a device is most commonly used and the technical capabilities or limitations it possesses. Device experiences require a unique set of front-end designs and development for each class of device you want to support. In other words, you send every client only what it needs and nothing more. Device Experiences are for you IF:
    • You want maximum optimization for each type of device.
    • You want ability to serve different user experience & features to each class of device.
    • You're comfortable with device detection.
  3. RESS (Responsive Web Design with Server Side Components) can deliver the best of both worlds without the challenges that can hamper each. That is one code-base, deployment, and URL that only delivers what each client needs. This optimization only requires device detection at a component level. RESS is for you IF:
    • If you want layout adjustments across devices.
    • You want optimization at component level to tune user experience.
    • You trust server-side device detection with sensible defaults. 

Commentary: Mobile website traffic and arts organisations: some figures

Mark James, Made Media's blog, 3/8/12

If you check your website's analytics regularly I'm sure you'll have recognised a trend towards an increasing number of people browsing and buying tickets on mobile phones and tablets. Not surprisingly, more and more of the work we're doing has a mobile component to it. We recently looked at the mobile traffic stats from some of our clients' Google Analytics profiles (all significant arts venues and organisations) and thought we'd share some top-level findings with you.

* Mobile traffic splits 50:50 between mobile phones (of any sort) and iPads. Each represents ~5% of total website traffic, or 10% of total traffic on a website with responsive design.
* iPad users are the best types of mobile user, looking at more things and spending around 30% more per person.
* iPad users still don't spend as much as desktop or laptop users.
* A mobile phone user is worth roughly 50% of a desktop user in average revenue per visit.
* A tablet user is worth roughly 80% of a desktop user in average revenue per visit.
* When people buy tickets on mobile devices, they buy the same number and value of tickets, they just do so between 20%-50% less often.

Websites that account for mobile visitors get more mobile visitors. It's as simple as that.

Mobile v standard. We're seeing higher mobile usage on sites that have accounted for mobile (20%) against those that provide the standard site to mobile users (10%).

Page views. Visitors to a website with responsive design view the same number of pages on mobile as users on desktops/laptops. For websites with mobile-specific websites or no mobile support, the figure is about 30% lower than desktop/laptop users.

Ticket buying. We've observed that mobile users spend the same amount per transaction (and purchase the same quantity of tickets) compared to normal users, but only half as many of them buy tickets.

The iPad effect. Users on iPads spend even more than non-mobile users per average transaction. A smaller percentage of them use the website to purchase tickets, but it's close.

Responsive design v mobile-specific websites. We're interested in seeing whether one style of mobile site offers a better average value per visit than the other. However, we can't do a proper comparison due to the limitations of certain ticketing systems (are mobile ticketing pathways and transaction tracking too much to ask for?). From the information we do have, we suspect there may be a slight preference towards a website with a responsive design, with an additional improvement where there is a mobile purchase path.

Also, here's a little bonus for Google Analytics users: a custom report for comparing mobile vs standard traffic. [Be sure you are logged into your Google Analytics account first.]

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