By Sean Armstrong –
How well does your website work on tablet computers and smartphones? Is your website mobile-friendly? If not, or if you’re not sure, it’s now more important than ever before to make sure your site displays well on all varieties of mobile devices.
Why? Because more and more consumers – including your prospective clients – are using mobile devices to browse the web, research, and connect with local businesses and service providers.
The statistics are overwhelming:
- According to the results of a 2013 study, 50% of consumers use their mobile devices to start any search process;
- According to ReachLocal, 3 out of 5 consumers search for local businesses on their smartphones;
- According to a Google Mobile Movement Study, 88% of consumers who search for a local business on a mobile device call or go to that business within 24 hours;
- 50% of local searches do not occur on search engines, but on directories and apps;
- 93.3% of small business websites are not mobile compatible and will not render successfully on mobile devices or smartphones;
- 48% of mobile visitors who visit a site that is not mobile-friendly feel the company doesn’t care about their business;
- The number of people using mobile devices is only expected to grow over the next few years;
- And, perhaps my favorite statistic, 4.8 billion people now own mobile phones, whereas only 4.2 billion own a toothbrush!
Given these stats and the many others like them, it should be pretty obvious that you can no longer afford to have a website that doesn’t display or work correctly on desktops, laptops, tablet computers, AND smartphones.
But, how can you make your website “mobile-friendly?” Fortunately, you have a few options:
- Make your website “responsive” (recommended) – A “responsive” website is one which is specifically designed and coded to display its content optimally on any device being used to view the site. In other words, a responsive site’s design automatically adjusts its layout depending on the size of the screen it’s being viewed on. Creating a truly responsive website is the only way to make sure your site is consistent on all devices.
- Build a separate website specifically for mobile users – If you already have a website but it’s not mobile-friendly, you can pay someone to build one or more alternate websites that get displayed when someone views your site on a mobile device. The problem with this method is that your site may look quite different depending on the device being used to view your site. It also can be quite expensive and there are no guarantees the mobile versions of your site will work on all devices. Lastly, having different websites for different devices can make updating your site and ranking on the first-page of search results more difficult. However, this option is still better than having a site that’s not mobile-friendly!
- If your site was created with WordPress, use a mobile plugin – Similar to building one or more separate mobile websites, some WordPress plugins (add-on programs that enhance the functionality of WordPress-based websites) can generate new sites on the fly for anyone viewing your site on a mobile device. While a faster and cheaper option than having someone build separate mobile websites, again, your site may not look consistent across all devices.
- Create a mobile application – While you can turn your website into a mobile application that people can download and access from tablets and smartphones, this is a much more advanced technique and usually much more expensive and time consuming that the three options listed above.
With these four paths to creating a mobile-friendly website in mind, if you’re building a new website from scratch you really shouldn’t settle for anything less than a properly-coded, responsive website.
If you want to make an existing website that is not already responsive mobile-friendly, then having someone create one or more separate mobile websites or using a WordPress plugin to do the same thing are your best bets, as neither requires redesigning your current site.
Given this, the following are five mobile plugins (in no specific order) that can turn any WordPress-based website into a mobile-friendly site in a matter of minutes. (Plugins like these are just one of the many reasons I recommend using WordPress for your psychotherapy practice’s website):
JetPack is a free WordPress plugin with 24 different modules, one of which is called “Responsive Design.” Now, while this plugin will not truly make your site responsive, it will streamline your site for viewing on different mobile devices and is likely the simplest way to make your WordPress-based website mobile-friendly.
The WPtouch plugin is one of the most popular mobile plugins for WordPress. It automatically enables a simple and elegant mobile-friendly design for people viewing your WordPress-based website on a mobile device.
While WPtouch is free, easy to use, and allows visitors to easily switch between the mobile version of your website and your website’s regular design, it only comes with one design that is unlikely to match the look and feel of your current site.
3. WP Mobile Detector
WP Mobile Detector is a WordPress plugin that can help you easily adapt your website for mobile devices with just a few clicks of your mouse. WP Mobile Detector supports more than 5,000 web-enabled tablets, smartphones, and other devices and can automatically detect whether a visitor is using a standard mobile phone or a smartphone and load a compatible design for each.
This plugin comes with some impressive features, including:
- Seven mobile designs to choose from
- Automatic formatting of your site’s content and automatic resizing of your site’s images to display well on different devices
- Analytics to help you track your results
4. OBox Mobile
Obox Themes’ OBox Mobile plugin can help you transform your WordPress-based website’s layout into one that’s fully compatible with iOS, Android, and Windows devices. The plugin is easy to install and comes with a visual customizer that allows you to change colors and font faces without any coding. The plugin also includes:
- Automatic image resizing
- A feature slider
- Social media icons
- Multi-language support
While not free (as of this writing, OBox Mobile costs $79), its ease of use more than makes up for its cost when you consider the amount of time it can save you if you want to quickly and easily create a mobile-friendly version of your WordPress-based website.
5. Mobile by iThemes
iThemes develops some of the best WordPress software available. In fact, I swear by their BackupBuddy plugin and use it for all of my website hosting clients who have WordPress-based sites.
With iThemes’ Mobile plugin you can easily create a new mobile design for your WordPress site and the plugin includes some helpful features, such as:
- The ability to easily customize your mobile site’s fonts, headlines, navigation, and footer
- 4 customizable, ready-made themes, and the ability to create your own
- The option of customizing the layout of your mobile website for different devices
Again, iThemes’ Mobile plugin isn’t free. But its $45 price tag is well worth it if you want to quickly and easily create a mobile-friendly version of your WordPress-based website.
Please keep in mind that the WordPress plugins referenced above render separate websites for viewers of your site who are using mobile devices. They will not make your website truly “responsive.” Again, separate mobile sites and the plugins that create them are a great way to make an existing website mobile-friendly, as you don’t have to redesign your site. However, if you’re setting up a new website, it’s much better to make your website fully responsive from the outset… for consistency’s sake, for the sake of your site’s search engine rankings, and for the sake of your site’s visitors and prospective clients.
If a website designer doesn’t know what you mean when you tell him or her you want your site to be responsive, look elsewhere.
As we discussed in 14 Crucial Questions to Ask a Website Designer … Before You Hire One, the best time to establish your mobile marketing strategy is before you start building your website. The experience you provide your website’s mobile visitors will dictate how successfully you can connect with prospective clients, now and in the future.
If your site isn’t mobile friendly, you’re missing a huge opportunity to connect with current and prospective clients. Don’t let anyone convince you otherwise!
For even more help in making sure your website is as effective as possible, read 14 Crucial Questions to Ask a Website Designer … Before You Hire One.
What are your thoughts about making your site mobile-friendly? Are you using any of the plugins mentioned above? Please share your experiences and let us know your questions using the comment form below. We look forward to hearing from you!
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