As we lurch ever further into the second decade of the new millennium, our personal lives become more and more dependent on mobile technology – namely our smartphones and tablets.
As consumers change, so do the businesses that service them. There has been a consistent uptick in corporate mobile websites over the past few years, however it is far from being a comprehensive switch. A Google study from 2012 showed that while about two-thirds of companies surveyed had a mobile site, one-third of those did not allow for transactions.
Small businesses and industry observers alike are understanding the importance of a mobile site that allows for functional interaction as well as a pleasant navigation.
NetWaiter, a firm that provides online ordering capabilities to restaurants, has built itself within the framework of the mobile landscape. Tim Sunderland, a marketer for the company, spoke to the mobile revolution in the restaurant industry.
“This has been a quickly growing segment of the restaurant market for several years now and mobile phones are the quickest growing subset of this market,” said Sunderland. “Customers can access a restaurant’s menu online via their desktop, laptop or mobile phone, place an order and even pay for it using this technology. The orders are delivered to the restaurant through any of several different methods and are ready for pick-up or delivery.”
Understanding the importance of a mobile presence is only the genesis, however, for most brands. Making a decision about a mobile-specific site or responsive web is another crucial decision.
nuphoriq, a partner with Inc.com and a site specializing in branding for catering and event planning companies, weighed in on responsive web.
“Businesses need to have a mobile presence and responsive design is here to stay,” said Michael Larson, a web designer and developer for nuphoriq. “There are advantages to both the responsive and mobile specific approaches, so businesses must choose a method based on the requirements of the site and the needs of its users.”
Jenny DeGraff, a web and graphic designer at Search Mojo also addressed the decision-making process tied to mobile and responsive web.
“There is no hard and fast rule to whether a separate mobile site or a responsive design site is better for your business,” said Jenny, who went on to talk about user-experience, SEO and cost as determining factors.
“If you’re building a website from scratch, responsive design can usually be integrated into the development without significantly increasing the overall cost. However, retrofitting a large website can be time consuming and cost-prohibitive. Either way, once completed your site will respond to any device size used.”
John Barnes, a marketing blogger for TheCMOSite.com and author of 30 published books noted that, “the key to a B2B mobile site is that it has to do something better than the customer can do it by any other way. It has to enable them to do a minor annoying task in lunch line that would otherwise have eaten up precious concentration at the desk.
“And the one thing nobody needs done better is to be shouted at to buy something, so if all you have is ‘Buy our stuff’, you’ve got more thinking to do before going to mobile. For B2B, if it’s not interactive, on the client’s feet, and urgent, you’re not done thinking.”