Making your .org mobile-friendlyDavin Green | December 2014
When a potential donor, funder or volunteer visits your website from their mobile device, what do they see? As website visits from mobile devices continue to grow year after year, you must understand and optimize that user experience as best you can. Read Davin Green's primer into three major ways to ensure the mobile version of your website is as user-friendly as a visit from a desktop computer.
It’s no longer a matter of opinion that your organization must have a website that presents well across mobile devices. Depending on your donor demographic, 40% to 50% of the visitors to your website are getting there from a smartphone or tablet, and that’s only going to increase. In 2014, US adults spent about 25% more of their time on a mobile device than in 2013.
As mobile visits continue to tick upward on your website, now is the time to learn and explore avenues that provide positive experiences to these users so that they will stick around to learn more or take action based on the information you provide. The people have spoken, and the overwhelming consensus is, “Give me mobile, or I’m going somewhere else.”
But what does this mean, exactly? Mobile is an all-encompassing buzzword, but let’s break it down into the three approaches to meeting this demand:
- Responsive (or adaptive) design
- Mobile redirection
- Dynamic versioning
A responsive design is the best approach in most cases. As the screen size changes, the website adapts to present itself in the most user-friendly way possible.
If your organization already has a website, you can expect it to require a redesign to make it responsive. For those currently using WordPress, you can find thousands of responsive themes that are easy to customize. Most other CMSs will have responsive themes you can find with a quick Google search.
Mobile redirection, which was common in the early days of mobile, is the use of back-end code to detect when the browser is open on a mobile device and then redirects the visitor to a completely separate website.
This is usually easy to identify as you’ll see the website address change from www.domain.com to m.domain.com or something similar.
This is the easiest route to giving your mobile visitors a usable experience, but like most shortcuts, it has it’s drawbacks. You’re often left with two sites to manage instead of one, and in many cases, the design of the mobile site is probably going to appear dated. This is also a solution that usually only works on smaller screens, which excludes larger phones and tablets.
Dynamic versioning is a mix of the previous two approaches. The website will detect the size of the screen that a visitor is using and decide to change what is shown to the user. It may eliminate whole sections or create new sections.
Most CMS frameworks (WordPress, Drupal, Joomla) have this capability with the right add-on.
However, this option can quickly become a nightmare to manage, and it still relies on an adaptable theme for the changing layouts. Dynamic versioning is used more intentionally in the design of complicated sites and less as a quick solution to make a site mobile.
The best thing you can do for your organization is research what method will work best based on the capabilities of on-staff resources, your budget for bringing in a consultant or an agency to help, and the priority that your website has in your marketing and awareness efforts.
Davin Green is the Director of New Projects at Azul Arc. You can talk to him about your nonprofit’s website or mobile app via Twitter (@davingreen) or by emailing [email protected]. For more information about Davin and Azul Arc, please visit www.azularc.com.