It’s perhaps not unreasonable to assume that, having a built a new website, it will automatically work perfectly well on just about any device. Yet as reasonable an assumption as that may be, the truth is sadly much different.
Laptops, desktops, mobile smartphones, tablets, and even Internet browsers themselves each have slightly different technology behind them, meaning that a site which looks absolutely flawless on your laptop’s Firefox browser may reveal a few ugly glitches when loaded up on your Samsung Galaxy or on your iPad.
And if you think that’s frustrating for you after you’ve spent hours diligently putting your site together, imagine how your visitors will feel if they can’t get to the products, services or information they need on their favourite web-browsing device.
The move to mobile
With more people than ever eschewing their computers in favour of more portable devices, experts are already predicting that smartphones will become the predominant way most of us access the web in the next few years, meaning there’s never been a greater need than now to make sure your website is fully mobile optimized.
The big question then, is how?
Whether you’re making your own website using one of the web’s leading site builders, or setting up with a Content Management System (CMS) like Drupal, Joomla or even WordPress, when choosing a pre-designed theme to go with that site, there’s one key word to look out for:
You may find terms like responsive design and mobile responsive being bandied about far more than mobile optimised, though panic not, they essentially mean the same thing: A website which responds to the tool used to view it and provides an optimum browsing experience across all devices.
A responsive designed website should adapt seamlessly to the browser, making reading a page, navigating your way around the site and carrying out certain functions as easy to do on a iPhone as it is on your office desktop computer.
Pre-designed website themes
When choosing a theme for your site then, go for one based on responsive web design to ensure your site looks good right across the web.
Again, in a world where so many people are taking to the web on their mobile phones, it may be tempting to assume that all themes are responsive, though this may not be the case if, for example, you pick up an older theme released before the days of responsive web design, or even if its a new theme put out by a designer who isn’t particularly on the ball.
Your safest bet then, is to assume nothing, look for words like responsive design or mobile optimised in a theme’s description, and steer away from those which don’t.
Outsourcing your website
Maybe you’re not building your own website at all, but paying a professional developer to do all the hard work for you. If that’s the case, it’s still better not to assume that said developer will automatically put together a mobile optimized website, and to actually ask them about this before they lay down even a single line of code.
Whether you’ve invested a lot of time in DIY website design, or a lot of money in outsourcing your job to a pro designer, the last thing you want is for that new website to stumble and fall when your visitors try to get at it on their smartphones. For businesses especially, a mobile design could well be the deciding factor in whether a visitor becomes a customer of your business or somebody elses.