No one can deny that mobile phone usage is skyrocketing. An astounding 90% of US travelers say they use their mobile phones when vacationing domestically or abroad. This is according to TripAdvisor’s TripBarometer, released last month. The study also revealed that 91% of travelers globally say they use their smartphones on vacation, and most frequently use phones to navigate their way around destinations.
Knowing this data, what is alarming to me is how many tourism & hospitality websites (and hotels, wineries, destinations, attractions and restaurants, I’m talking about you) are still not mobile-friendly. Most websites built for desktop do not replicate well on mobile. If you want people to come and visit your location, a mobile-friendly website should be top of your list.
But how can you convert your existing site to be mobile-friendly? What is the most cost-effective way to do this? I asked Angela Best, mobile marketing expert and Founder at Mobinomad to explain:
How is a mobile site different from a regular site?
“The main difference is that a website that is mobile-friendly will enable the user to touch or click to call, or find you on Google maps. Consumers expect to be able to do this and find your business in relation to their location immediately. People don’t want to have to write down addresses, emails or phone numbers. No matter what mobile device the traveler is using, your site (font, images, content etc) should be presented well and easy to navigate. If you don’t enable them to contact you easily on their mobile devices consumers will move on to another site, and you will potentially lose business.”
Can a website be converted to mobile? Or do you need to create a whole new site for mobile devices?
“There are actually a number of options, however two are most common. Your first option is to rebuild your site as a mobile responsive site. This means it is fluid and will adapt to the size of your browser. This option can be reasonably inexpensive and is actually a great option for small businesses.
The second option is to build a mobile specific site. This is essentially aredirect whereby a piece of code is put in the back of the website. When it is accessed on a mobile device the website recognizes it and redirects to your mobile specific site. For small and medium sized business this is a really good interim option that can buy you time while you look at how you can upgrade your website to mobile responsive.
The good thing about this is that you can tailor the mobile site to make it more appropriate for what people need to know on the go (this could include address, phone, reservations, map, etc. It offers a far better user experience, in most cases. Keep in mind the redirect must appear to be seamless and reflect the look and feel of your desktop website.”
Many businesses ask me if they should create a mobile app instead of a mobile site. Do they need both? What is better?
“A mobile website is much better for small businesses than a mobile app. A mobile website is adaptive to any mobile device, however, with a mobile app, you need to build one app for android, one for iPhone, one for the iPad, and any other kind of device. Apps need to be approved by the app store, marketed in order to get downloads, updated on a regular basis – all of which costs money. For most small or medium sized businesses is just too expensive and quite often unnecessary. I always recommend starting with optimizing your mobile site experience. There are situations where apps are great, but they are not right for every business.”
What are the main considerations about mobile businesses should be aware of?
“It’s important to know exactly how your target audience is using your mobile site. You can find this out by looking at your Google Analytics and checking the main entry points of your site on mobile. I also think it is important to hone in on the purpose of your site. Is the purpose to drive ecommerce, or are you providing information?”
What are the best practices for mobile sites?
“I always say keep it simple and minimize clutter. Make sure links are a reasonable size so that large fingers can tap on them and space around so will click on the right place. Your call to action should be intuitive and touch-friendly.”
What are some common mistakes that businesses make?
“The biggest mistakes I’ve seen is businesses wanting to put their entire desktop into a mobile site. That is way too much info. Other issues that come up are lack of high quality images and also lack of linking or feeding into social platforms, which are both really important.”