Mobile Website Design


Something of a diversion into mobile website design today! Any parent will know there's nothing like one of your “children” having a problem to divert you from your declared strategy, so I did some investigation into mobile site design for my son's business.

Work in progress at the time of writing!

Reasons To Consider Mobile Website Design

Of course it's not just micro-businesses like Russ and Laura's cave house that need to think about how their websites look on a mobile device.

Out of interest I checked out a few local one-man-band businesses such as plumbers and electricians.

There are many unloved and half-finished websites “out there” and even now (October 2014) some small businesses with no website of their own.

It may even be that companies with no web site at all would be well-advised to go “mobile first”, as suggested by one of the articles below.

In case any-one is in any doubt about the importance of having a mobile-friendly website, here are some interesting articles I found in recent news.


The smart phone market has grown tremendously in the past two years as reflected by the sale of over 1000 million iPhones, 70 million iPads, not to mention smart phones from Nokia, Samsung and HTC. The huge volume means that your website cannot remain PC centric any more. A mobile friendly version of your website has become a necessity, rather than a facility. According to Nielsen, 77% of the world populations are mobile users. An unfriendly mobile web design drives users away, besides giving a poor impression about the company itself.

Studies have revealed that about 25% of mobile owners make their purchasing decisions with the help of mobile phones.

A well thought out website design strategy can avoid having two different sites to maintain, one for mobile and another for PC. This can be sorted out by RWD or Responsive Web Design, an approach to designing websites for optimal viewing experience across devices. Credits: Mobile Web Design – A fresh look at Website Design – WhaTech

People Depend More On Mobile Devices

The increasing number of mobile devices being bought have, unsurprisingly, led to an increased amount of use. Just a few of the reasons are:

  • Wi-fi “hot-spot availability has increased
  • The fast pace of life means people want to keep “Busy” all the time: on public transport, as passengers in cars, in queues, between courses in restaurants!
  • So-called “baby-boomers” have had a greater take-up rate of mobile technology than expected
  • More online shopping availability from small sized companies as well as the giants such as Amazon and eBay
  • Business meetings away from the office
  • An increasing number of work from home businesses may also contribute

This has led to interesting conclusions such as this assertion that if you don't have a mobile-friendly website your business will be left in the dust:

….statistics showing that over 10% of Internet traffic comes from mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablets, and 40% of online shoppers use their mobile device to check out new products.

The fact that more people are using the Internet to research products for possible purchases illustrates how having a Web presence has become an essential part of doing business in today’s world. According to the Pew Research Internet Project, 47% of the people researching local businesses (other than restaurants, bars, and clubs) use online resources. Credits: If Your Website Isn't Optimized for Mobile Devices, You'll Be Left in the Dust – AllBusiness (blog)

Approach To Mobile Website Design

So having determined that a mobile-friendly site is essential for any modern online business, there are two possible approaches.

  • Ensure that your “desk-top” website “responds” to the device it is being viewed upon and will look good on a mobile device (responsive web design)
  • Have a completely different website to be viewed by mobile devices

Responsive Web Designs – or Not?

WordPress users, like many of my readers, are (on the face of it) well-catered for because they are able to choose (and most certainly should choose) a theme that is “Responsive” so that their site will adapt to being viewed on mobile devices.

There are some good SEO reasons (detailed in the article below) why this is preferable to having a separate website.

Responsive web design is basically reformatting or in simple words converting a website into such a format that it can be accessed from the different devices like – smartphone, tablets, desktop, laptop etc. With a great mass of the population relying much on the devices other than the desktops or laptops to search the internet, it is now sort of a mandate for the web designers to opt for the mode of responsive web designing to regulate the incoming traffic towards the websites. Credits: Why Responsive Web Design is Good for SEO? – Business 2 Community

But there's another side to the coin, and there are also good reasons (see the article below) for having a completely separate website to be viewed on mobile devices.

Responsive design is great, but marketers need to take it a step further. Users interact with websites differently, depending on the accessing device. Tablets are routinely showing higher conversion rates vs. websites in some shopping categories. Mobile first is a designing mindset. It is not that mobile is more important, but because mobile has the most restrictions, it makes sense to start with mobile and add to it for the full web site design. Credits: Why Mobile First Should Be The Mantra For Web Design – MediaPost Communications

Your Mobile Website Design

At the end of the day it will be down to personal decision (and probably budget) which approach you take, but you should certainly check how your site looks on a mobile device – especially if you have an e-commerce site.

Which approach to mobile website design have you taken, and why? I'd be interested in your comments.

Please share

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  • Jan Kearney says:

    Interesting thoughts about mobile design. Personally I tend to sick with responsive – I’m not a mobile user and as yet the majority of my visitors are still desktop.
    For clients I choose responsive – after looking at analytics we then decide whether to pop on a mobile site too. With WP it’s easily done with a plugin (my fav at the mo is Dudamobile as their free version works well with upgrade options too – and so far plays nice with everything I have tried it on)

    BTW Joy, with your fiddling have you upset something somewhere – I’m seeing a huge 403 forbidden error right down your sidebar 🙁

    • Joy Healey says:

      Thanks for your thoughts Jan. That’s a very good plan to look at analytics to decide when to add mobile, and I’ll investigate that plugin too.

      Oops on the 403 error. Thanks for pointing that out and even more for pointing me in the right direction when I was heading off up a blind alley 🙂

      Right, now what was I actually meant to be doing today, instead of breaking my blog?


  • I agree that having a mobile site is crucial. We’ve got to make it as easy as possible for our visitors. There are times I’m away from the office and need to use my phone to get on the Internet – I can’t imagine I’m the only one with this situation.
    And I prefer “responsive” as well. Way easier for ME as the site builder.

    • Joy Healey says:

      Hi Sherri,

      Welcome to my blog 🙂

      Yes, so many people seem to have smart phones these days – the trend can’t be ignored. If that’s what customers want we have to give them it.

      I’m still “on the fence” about whether responsive or tailored is best….

      In the case of my son’s site, I think the tailored has been the best.

      Thanks for dropping by and I hope to see you again.


  • Hi Joy,

    I also use a responsive website. Plus, I don’t get many visitors using a mobile device.

    Great post, though, with a lot of timely information.
    Stay casual,
    Edward Thorpe

    • Joy Healey says:

      Hi Edward,

      Yes…. I guess it depends on the nature of the website, because this one is responsive too.

      I just went and looked at my analytics and while this site gets most of its visitors from a desktop PC, I have one ((health) site that’s getting 44% of visitors from mobile, 17% from tablet and the rest from desktop. So I guess I’d better have a go at changing that one too!

      Enjoy the rest of your week, Joy

  • one thing that I agree is that we need to have a separate PC based website and a separate mobile based website. Making a site responsive is good, but let’s not try to kill two birds with one stone. The mobile website should be limited to providing features to users which are necessary…in my case allow them to book my room online. For anything else they can watch the site normally on computer or view on their phone as a responsive website. But I strongly believe that there should be a separate mobile site and a separate responsive website.

    • Joy Healey says:

      Hi Harish,

      I appreciate that input – because you’re in a similar business to my son, and the functions he needs on the mobile site are limited. His entry on booking.com gives him a superb site for SEO and full features, but he needs something more portable on his mobile site – and especially for returning customers.

      All down to determining what is best for the purposes of the site owner – which is to satisfy the needs of site visitor.

      I appreciate your input from a similar view-point.

      Have a great week, Joy

  • Liz McGee says:

    Hi Joy,

    Google analytics is a great tool to help you know how many of your visitors are using mobile devices.

    I have a blog where most of my traffic is on a mobile device however the WP theme isn’t great for mobile devices. I’ve experimented with a few mobile WP plugins but haven’t been that impressed. Finding themes that are mobile device ready might be the best option.

    Thanks Joy and have a great rest of the week.


    • Joy Healey says:

      Hi Liz,

      Ah – another blog with mostly mobile traffic. Interesting. This one isn’t, but another blog is. Shows the importance of keeping a check up on this.

      I’ve never tried plugins to make my blogs mobile friendly. Didn’t know it was an option to be honest. I went straight for a theme. However, it sounds as if you’ve save me the trouble and done the research already!

      Thanks for your comment Liz and you enjoy your week too.


  • Sandy Tan says:

    Interestingly, I use my phone most of the time. Really, not sure if the issues lie with my phone or the sites, I do hv challenges leaving comments on some sites.

    Personally for my own blog, I am having a theme that is responsive. So it looks good on mobile too (as far as when I access from my phone) and I assume it’s ok on other devices ;p

    Great post . Highlighted the importance of having a mobile friendly site.

    Oh yes, must say your son has good biz acumen. Must be like mummy! 😀

    • Joy Healey says:

      Hi Sandy,

      Funnily enough I hardly ever use my phone for Internet access – I suppose because the PC is on permanently and I’ve got a super-big screen 🙂 And yes, this site has a responsive theme and I doubt I’ll change it, but Russ’s site has a different purpose and I think what I’ve done for him is right for him, but not for me and for other sites similar to our blogs.

      It’s a turn up for the books really, I have two sons and up to now Matt (the younger) has always been the entrepreneur while Russ was really good technically, but didn’t show much business interest. He’s certainly shown what he can do this last six months!

      Thanks for your comment. Enjoy the rest of your week, Joy

  • Joan White says:

    Interesting post Joy. You make me look! (at my website on my phone) LoL

    So far I am in my infancy as far as internet marketing is concerned but very early on I was introduced to apps that you can use to make websites mobile friendly. I almost bought it but I decided to wait till I learn more. I almost bought the program because i can see the value in what you’re saying about the world moving to smartphones. I’m old like Ed but I work in a call center with a lot of young kids. I prefer my computer but some of these kids don’t even own one. All they use is their phones. New generation.

    • Joy Healey says:

      Hi Joan

      For a WordPress blog such as ours there are free responsive themes readily available that will do the trick. But I believed that for Russ, and sites with similar needs, a completely different mobile site was what was needed.

      I hardly use my phone and Kindle for the Internet, far prefer my computer with keyboard and nice big screen, but I know what you mean about the new generation.

      Not so much of the “old”, please, I’m sure I’m of the same generation LOL. We’re counting backwards now.

      Thanks for dropping by. Joy

  • Una Doyle says:

    Thanks Joy, good post and discussion.

    We’ve gone for a mobile responsive theme, though I’m just about to change to another theme (also responsive). With our site being quite new I don’t think our analytics are robust enough yet to make any decisions.

    I do know I personally use my phone and tablet probably as much as my desktop though! 🙂

    • Joy Healey says:

      Hi Una

      I’ve found this an interesting post to have researched and read people’s comments. It wasn’t something I knew anything about until I saw Russ’s problems and realized how this site could help him.

      The purpose of his mobile site is very different from our blog readers viewing our blogs, and interesting that you are one of the people using phone and tablet frequently – being part of the trends mentioned in the original post.

      Thanks for your thoughts. Joy

  • Adrienne says:

    Hey Joy,

    Well aren’t you the good mother helping your son out. I’m sure he’s very thrilled that you’ve taken the time to do this for them.

    I think probably for something like this then setting up a site just for mobile would be better since most people are in the car trying to find this location and all the information they’ll need.

    I think that all sites should be set up to access via their mobile devices easier. I don’t have a responsive theme but I do have it set up for mobile and I’ve been told that it looks great on tablets as well so I’m okay with that. As long as they can access the content easily that’s all I care about.

    In Russ’s case though, your suggestion is much better.


    • Joy Healey says:

      Hi Adrienne

      LOL, well both my sons have done a lot to help me in the past, so I was pleased to help, and he tells me it’s “just what they need”.

      His place is NOT easy to find, in fact even Google maps is struggling. I hope it will help them and it’s been an interesting and useful learning curve for me too.

      Enjoy the rest of your week, Joy

  • Mi Muba says:

    Hi Joy

    Website design flexibility has become the rule of thumb now after huge increase of internet users through handy gadgets.

    Once it was common to make a design equally displayable at all sizes of screen if the niche is related to any hot favorite topic especially of younger generation as teens are more crazy to use Iphones and Ipads.

    But now handy gadgets are equally used by all age-grouped internet user so regardless of the niche a blog design must be display friendly for all sizes of screen.

    Thanks a lot for this comprehensive post on the topic that reflects your deep insight about the subject.

    • Joy Healey says:

      Hi Mi Muba

      Yes, everything changes so fast, and we have to keep up with it!

      I learned a lot from doing the post – and from the comments people left me.

      Enjoy your weekend, and thanks for visiting my blog.


  • Tim Bonner says:

    Hi Joy

    I use a responsive theme on my sites usually too but I think for your son’s site it would make sense to have a separate mobile one too. There are very specific requirements for the mobile site which may not be achieved by using a responsive theme.

    With my responsive design, I have added some CSS to remove certain things from view on a mobile/tablet. That makes the viewing experience much better.

    I used to use to use a plugin to make the mobile site but for consistency on my “blogging” blog, I wanted to have the responsive design instead.

    I was sorry to hear about your set back in with your Hair Analysis project. It would seem like a bad move to me by the supplier!

    • Joy Healey says:

      Hi Tim,

      Thanks, I’m glad you agree with my reasoning.

      Interesting to hear that you’ve removed elements for mobile/tablet, that’s another option for website owners to consider. CSS is outside my comfort zone LOL.

      Yeah, the Hair Analysis set-back was very annoying and my sales have plummeted, which is a pain because I had put a LOT of work into it. Just reinforces the importance of having your own product and not relying on someone else.

      I could work on promoting the UK sales (and may do a little now I have the mobile site), possibly a Facebook ad and some tweets (note to self!). But having to be on site to collect the hair sample means it’s probably time to let it die naturally.

      Thanks for another interesting mobile option, and have a great weekend. Joy

  • Hey Joy,

    Thank you for writing this article about mobile web design.

    If i may ask, are you the one that design this – http://systemicsltd.co.uk/sites/casacueva/

    That’s awesome sister.

    I will check it out when am using my phone to browse.

    Even though the first option is to have a fully functional website but more people are using mobile devices to access the web.

    Now the need that our sites should have a mobile/responsive website.

    Personally, my blog is run on genesis framework and its mobile responsive because i have checked via mobile.

    I have an ecommerce site and its also mobile friendly because before we started the project, one of my priority is to build a fully responsive and SEO friendly website.

    I love reading this and i will share it on twitter.

    Have a nice day ahead.

    • Joy Healey says:

      Hi Oloyede,

      Yes, I designed the CasaCueva site – although my son sent me the pictures. As it’s one of the first I’ve done, I was very pleased with it – and so is Russ. He’s choosing a domain name to redirect it.

      Yes, for this blog I use a responsive theme, but I think Russ’s application needed something more mobile specific to help people stay connected to him after they left.

      Thanks for sharing, and enjoy your weekend.


  • Nisha Pandey says:

    Hi Joy,

    Wonderful topic indeed.

    As the technology updating. People are using smartphones/tablets more than the laptop/desktop. So, we should keep our website mobile friendly as well as responsive for better performance.

    Thanks for sharing this wonderful topic with us. Have a lovely weekend!

  • Suprabhat says:

    Hey Joy,

    Thanks for sharing
    Mobile website design is a must required thing in modern days as most of the readers are mostly remain online from Smartphones or Tablets due to which one have to optimize his/her blog according to it.
    even a new Google update is going to come i guess those blogs will be penalize which are not optimized for Mobiles.

    Thanks for sharing

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