There’s a lot of talk around mobile sites.

“Everyone is on mobile now!”

“Design for mobile first!”

“You’re missing out on customers!”

A lot of these are true, but what does that actually mean to you – a business owner? Who cares if your site doesn’t load great on mobile, right? At least you have a site!

There’s a lot of confusion about what exactly a “mobile site” means, so let’s talk about what it is, and why you should care.

What is a mobile site?

Great question. A mobile site is a site you view from a mobile device like a phone or a tablet. A site that is prepared for mobile will render differently than on a desktop or laptop computer. Web designers look at mobile devices by the size of the screen. If you hold up your phone next to your desktop, you’ll notice there’s two major differences right away: size, and orientation. Web designers have to plan sites that will look beautiful on both types of screens, and everything in between.

Here’s an example. Notice how the album cover is on the left of the words on the desktop, but on top of the words on mobile and tablet.

mobile site example

This site was designed to render differently on each device.

Sometimes it helps to see a bad example.

Ah Space Jam. I love this site – mostly that it still exists. But if you’ll notice, the site just gets smaller depending on which screen you’re viewing the site. On mobile, you’d have to (gasp!) swipe left and right to view the whole thing. I hate saying this about Space Jam…and I love Space Jam.

No thank you.

What’s the difference between a mobile site and an app?

Ooh, I’m glad you asked! An app is an actual application you download from something like the App Store or the Play Store. It takes up space on a users phone, and generally can be used offline. A website doesn’t have to be downloaded – it’s visited from a browser like Chrome or Safari, and you must be connected to the internet to view it.

Shy away from people who tell you an app is a must. It’s simply not true. You don’t need an app because everyone has an app. An app makes sense for a lot of businesses, and yours may be one of them. If you’re an online store, you may want an app, but a mobile site may be just as effective without the expense of hiring an app developer. If you’re an actor with a resume-type site, you likely have no need for an app that’s all about you.

Ok, so let’s get to the good stuff, shall we?

Why is a mobile site good for business?

Another great question! Look at you go!

#1 – Your customers are using mobile devices

Less than 20% of internet users in the US view the internet on desktop only.

According to SmartInsights, the majority of users peruse the internet on a variety of devices – desktop and mobile. The exact percentages will vary according to your website and target market (google analytics is great for determining how visitors are viewing your specific site!).

A quick mathematical test will show that more than 80% of users will use the internet from a mobile device. Those numbers alone should get you moving!

#2 – Google favors mobile sites

Ah, the algorithms at google. They’re constantly being tweaked and improved and changing… A few years ago, they changed their algorithm to benefit mobile sites. Why does this matter, you ask? Because organic search is critical to growing businesses like yours. And google matters to organic search. Because google IS organic search. Ok. Glad we covered that.

#3 – It’s all about the user experience

I hate Samsung. Like, really truly hate them. My family bought a Samsung device and called to apologize for betraying me in the process. It’s like favoring an ex – no loyal friend or family member should ever favor an ex. Samsung is my ex.

A few years ago I had a Samsung product that failed miserably. It was still under warranty, so I contacted their customer service and do you know what they did?


No offer to fix it (though it was very obviously a defect in manufacturing). Not even an apology for the trouble. The whole experience was a nightmare.

I thought I’d give them another try a few years back, and the product I purchased broke within a few months.

My hatred was justified.

Any business knows how important the user experience is – that’s why customer service is such a big deal. And small businesses especially understand how paying attention to the details can make or break a new client.

Mobile web is just one of those details. Don’t overlook it. Don’t be Samsung.

#4 – Mobile device users buy stuff!

According to a study by Nielsen and Google, 93% of users who hop on their smartphone to research a product will buy something.


#5 – Mobile users spend a lot of time online

According to the same study, users spend over 15 hours per week on their device. That’s quality attention you should not neglect.

#6 – It’s easy to share a mobile site

Social media – the modern “word-of-mouth” – is huge. And mobile sites make it easy to share. Think about your own habits… Have you ever had a conversation with someone that included the words “I’ll send you a link!” Mobile sites make taking action easy. (Especially if they’re set up with sharing in mind!)

#7 – Mobile sites are memorable

We’ve been looking at houses lately, because real estate is interesting and we have major changes coming up in the next few months. One home searching website in particular is terrific on mobile. And guess which site we keep coming back to? And when we look on a laptop, guess which site we visit without thinking twice? You guessed it.

A beautiful mobile site tells your users you care about their experience. You pay attention. You care.

It’s just another way of sharing a little bit of love to the people who care about your business.

Curious about how your site looks on mobile? Check out google’s resource here.