Towards the end of 2013, mobile Web browsing market share ticked over the 20% mark. This is a highly significant development, as it essentially means that nowadays over 1 in 5 visits to a typical website come from a mobile device like a tablet or smartphone.
If you’ve ever used one of these devices (and the chances are you have), you have probably come across websites that don’t work well on a smaller screen. If you want people to engage with your website, it’s obviously very important that you don’t put them off at the first hurdle by presenting an unpleasant looking website the first time they visit. This is especially significant if you are running a business, as the last thing you want to do is alienate more than 1 in 5 of your potential customers.
What’s the solution?
Thankfully, making a mobile website no longer means learning complicated coding to make a separate version of your site for mobile users.
All of the website creation methods we recommend here at Make a Website take into account the need for mobile-friendly sites. In this article, we discuss making a mobile site using three popular platforms:
So, without further ado, let’s discuss each platform in turn, and look at exactly what you need to do to make your website as attractive and functional on a mobile device as it does on a traditional computer.
Going Mobile with WordPress
We make no secret of how much we love WordPress here at Make a Website. Check out this article to learn why it’s one of our favourite platforms.
WordPress, like all the platforms discussed here, uses templates (or themes) to determine the appearance of your website.
Some themes do not work very well on mobile devices. You will find that some simple themes look microscopic and hard to read on a smartphone, requiring lots of irritating scrolling and zooming in.
If you are starting from scratch with WordPress, we recommend you head straight over to our detailed tutorial on how to create a WordPress website. The link will open in a new tab or window so you can easily return here.
There are two ways to make your WordPress website mobile friendly:
1. Use a responsive theme that automatically adapts to the display being used to show the website.
2. Use a “theme switcher” plugin, such as Mobile Smart.
Let’s look at the two options in turn:
Many premium WordPress themes are now fully responsive, and work perfectly with mobile devices “straight off the shelf.” Another phrase to look out for when shopping for themes is “retina ready,” which means the theme is capable of supporting the kind of high-resolution images that you need to make your site look beautiful on one of the more modern smartphones or tablets.
Here are a couple of themes that we particularly like that are both responsive AND retina ready. We have provided links to them over at ThemeForest so you can take a good look.
Avada: A beautiful theme, and one suited to all kinds of purposes.
Enfold: A theme oozing style and functionality.
Of course these are not the only themes that are perfect for mobile – all you need to do is look out for “responsive” and “retina ready” when you browse through the themes available. Most theme authors appreciate the need for this functionality, so it’s not hard to find.
Using a Theme Switcher:
An alternative to a responsive WordPress theme is using a “Theme Switcher” plugin.
These plugins essentially allow you to install multiple WordPress themes and have your site dynamically choose the correct one if your site is viewed on a mobile device.
You’re probably thinking that this solution is a poor second best to having a properly responsive site, and we’d be inclined to agree. However, if you have a well-established WordPress site where switching to a responsive theme would be a gargantuan task, it does offer a way to make your site more mobile friendly without a major redesign.
You will find a choice of theme switching WordPress plugins here.
Going Mobile with Weebly
If you’re new to Weebly, you will find a comprehensive tutorial for it here. The link will open in a new tab or window so you can easily return here.
The great thing about Weebly is that mobile functionality is built-in. As you design your site, the platform automatically creates a mobile friendly site. You can view it at any time during the build process, and tweak it if you want to further control how it looks on a mobile device.
Furthermore, you can even look at simulations of how your site will appear on Apple and Android devices and select a separate mobile theme if it better meets your requirements.
Going Mobile with Wix
Wix works just like Weebly when it comes to mobile devices. At any point you can switch to a mobile view of your site during the design process.
If you’re new to Wix, you will find a comprehensive tutorial for it here. The link will open in a new tab or window so you can easily return here.
Wix automatically generates a mobile version of your site, but as with Weebly you can tweak it if need be.
For most purposes, you will probably find that the automatically generated site created by Wix looks good on a mobile device, but if not, it’s easy to change the menus around and make other changes. If, for example, you wish to make your mobile site more simple or more relevant to a mobile browsing experience, you can reduce the functionality.
A Final Word
As we discussed at the beginning of this article, many people now browse the Web on mobile devices, and with iPads and similar gadgets selling in their millions, one can only expect the proportion to increase.
As such, you are doing yourself (or your company) a disservice if people arriving at your site see a garbled mess when they use a smartphone or tablet.
Hopefully, you’ve seen from the information above how easy it is to make things better for your mobile readers. With over 20% of people now browsing from mobile devices, checking how your site looks on a number of modern gadgets should be considered an absolute must when you launch or update a site.