“I’m only on a desktop from 8am – 4pm. I’m on mobile from 7am – midnight.”

Does that businesswoman’s statement describe you too? How much time per day do you spend on your smartphone or tablet?

The world is going mobile. For people in developing countries, it may be the only form of internet access they have. In most of the developed world, it’s their means of staying connected and finding out information 24-7 (or at least 17-7; you have to sleep sometime).

What kind of experience are all these mobile users having when they come to your site? Can they find what they’re looking for quickly and easily? Or is it a “shrink, shrink, scroll over, scroll down, scroll over, shrink” experience?

Having a smooth mobile experience is especially important for the following sites:

Local stores and information that people might be searching for on the go

  • Restaurants
  • Movie theaters
  • Big retailers like Walmart and Target

This is likely the top category of mobile searches. You’re out and about and you have a craving for Italian food. Where’s the best place in your area? You look for it on mobile. If one Italian place has a site where it’s easy to see the menu and how to get there, and on the other place’s site you’re pushing and scrolling for three minutes just to figure out where the place is located – which restaurant stands a better chance?

If you don’t get them, you lose them.

News sites

Any type of site where people skim headlines and articles as they’re commuting, waiting for their partners to finish shopping, waiting to pick up their kids at school or an after-school activity… A site that requires in-depth reading and analysis will much more likely be viewed on a desktop. But if you have a light-reading, browseable site, there’s a good chance people may be trying to visit it on mobile.

Sites where you want visitors to be impressed and complete a transaction later

Mobile searchers tend towards informational and navigational queries and activities, shares Rand Fishkin. They’re looking to find out information – where, what, when and how. They’re not usually looking to make a purchase or commitment right now. BUT – if you want them to come back later on a desktop and make that transaction, you better impress them when they first find you on mobile. Give them a positive, memorable experience; give them the right information clearly and easily. They’ll be back.

Any site that relies on Google to send them traffic

In April of 2015, Google made an update to favor sites that are mobile-friendly. The changes took a while to see, but several months ago, non-mobile friendly sites were suffering drops in their Google ranking.

How do you know how critical mobile design is for your site?

Take a look at your Analytics. If you have a decent number of visitors coming from mobile devices but a) the bounce rate is significantly higher than on desktops OR b) they’re mainly new visitors and not returning visitors, that can be a warning sign that mobile visitors would like to frequent your site, but they’re getting turned off by the design. It’s not 100%, because they could be coming back later via desktop, but it is an indicator of how well you’re taking advantage of your mobile potential.

Choose the right type of mobile design for you:

Responsive design

The trend in mobile design is to create responsive sites. Whenever a visitor comes to your site, the site detects the size of his device and shows him all the information on your site in a way that is pleasing to the eye and easy to navigate.

Adaptive design

Another strategy in design is to figure out what a mobile visitor is likely to be looking for, and make that the most easily accessible (and sometimes only) information on your mobile site. For a restaurant, the mobile visitor will likely be looking for the menu and contact details/reservation form. She’s much less likely to be interested in your “About Us” page. So adaptive design might take away the About Us page from the mobile site, and make the menu and reservation form VERY easy to see when you view the site.

You can get an idea of which method might work the best for you by checking your Analytics to see what pages are most viewed by mobile visitors. Is there an obvious trend in the most viewed pages? Or are mobile visitors all over the place on your site?

Whichever method you choose, make sure your pages are light, load fast, and don’t have annoying pop-ups or overlays that are hard to close on a mobile device. If a visitor spends a minute trying to X out of your pop-up, they might just hit the back button. Bye-bye.

Mobile is ballooning. Even if you don’t feel the need for a mobile responsive site yet, don’t close your eyes to mobile. Keep your finger on the pulse of your traffic – so you don’t miss the mobile opportunity. And if mobile is where it’s at for your industry, jump on the bandwagon before it leaves you in the dust.