The New iPhones Are Here: What it Means for your Mobile Sites

If you’ve got a website, you’ve probably heard about mobile optimization. It’s basically the way that smartphones or other mobile devices can see your website. Full sites often have a lot of features that don’t translate to mobile – from menus, to content created with Flash or Java, to something as simple as the text on your site. How you optimize your site for mobile will affect how people on mobile devices see it – and it could make or break someone sticking around to make a purchase or consume your content.

A look at the new iPhone 5C which comes in 5 shiny plastic colors. (Credit: Josh Lowensohn/CNET)

Mobile optimization is going to be especially important with the release of two new iPhones. By now you’ve no doubt heard about the new iPhones – the iPhone 5S which comes in gold, black, and space gray, and the iPhone 5C – a new model, made with plastic instead of glass, at only $99 with a plan. What does that mean for us? Well, for one thing, the lower price point will make it more accessible to more people. The more people with smartphones, the more chances there are for someone to visit your site from a mobile device! So, what’s the best way for you to optimize your site?

There are two ways to do it. One that’s been around for a while is to create a mobile-friendly version of your site. There are services that let you create a mobile website from scratch, or let you adapt content from a previously existing site to content for a mobile site. This is a pretty simple solution to a somewhat complex process. This will create the “m dot” version of yourwebsite.com – m.yourwebsite.com. You’ve probably seen it when surfing the web on your phone. It redirects the user to the m dot – taking seconds to load an entirely new site. Seconds may not seem like much, but think about your experience waiting for pages to load on your phone. Seconds turn to hours…. Not only that, but Google now has to index yourwebsite.com AND m.yourwebsite.com – crawling over two sites with the same content takes longer and the algorithm doesn’t like it! This option makes it easy for mobile-viewers to get the content they need, but it takes longer to load, and creates a whole new website for you to manage. Seems like extra work, doesn’t it?

The second (and better) way is called responsive design. Basically, it involves making choices that will keep the HTML the same for your desktop site and for mobile visitors – you won’t have an m dot, but you will have the same yourwebsite.com URL. The CSS dictates changes based on mobile viewers. Essentially, your site will be set up with the caveat that if it senses someone on a mobile device, the content will load in a different way (so that it will show up nicely on a 3 inch screen as opposed to a 15 inch screen, say).

This is the option that Google recommends for webmasters. That means… you should do it!! Google likes it when your site plays nice with their algorithms and preferences – and following their recommendations will help your site get indexed in a more desirable manner. Closer to the front page = more chances for visitors. It saves time for you, your visitors and Google’s crawlers. It will crawl your site once instead of once and twice again for m dot. That means they can spend less time crawling the same page twice, and more time indexing your new content and keeping it fresh in their search engines.

If you are working with a web developer, they can help you create a site with responsive design. If you’re managing it yourself, you can find out more from Google and take steps to make your site more mobile-friendly. With the advent of new iPhones and other Androids and smartphones that just keep getting smarter – keeping your website mobile-friendly will ultimately help you retain and gain customers on mobile devices!

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