What is a mobile friendly website?

Posted on Tuesday, June 10 2014 by Russ Huntington

"Responsive design" and "mobile friendly" are popular phrases in the web design industry these days. But what does it mean? And as a hospitality business owner, why should you care?

It's all about how your customers or potential customers access your website. In the old days, web designers and developers would build a website that customers would access on a desktop PC. This meant that broad assumptions could be made about how the website layout was designed, and what type of files the customer could download. For restaurants, this typically meant that websites were built using "Flash", menus were downloadable as PDF files, and the entire size was optimised to the typical screen resolution of 1024 x 768 pixels.

Fast forward to the 21st century, and the way in which people access the internet has changed. Research from Ipsos Mori towards the end of 2013 suggested that 59% of all adults in the UK own a smartphone capable of browsing the internet, and 1 in 4 households own a tablet PC. On the opposite scale of things, desktop computers and laptops have ever increasing screen resolutions and wide variance of internet connectivity speeds. All of this together means that your customers could be accessing your website on anything from an early smartphone with low-resolution screen and slow data connectivity, to the latest Apple iMac with a huge monitor and fibre internet connection.

In simpler terms, your website needs to be responsive so that you can serve information accessibly to whatever your potential customer’s needs are. After all, if your customer accesses your website because they want to come to you, the last thing you want to do is deny them that information. There are a few simple things you can do when initially building the website to ensure you website is mobile friendly:

  1. Don’t use PDF files for menus. In some cases, we’ve seen restaurants link to PDF files that were so large it would consume half of the data allowance of some smartphone users. And to compound that, some smartphones are unable to view PDF files anyway.
  2. Don’t use Flash. Almost all smartphones and a majority of table PCs cannot read Flash files – if your website is built with a Flash, you’re cutting yourself off to a significant portion of potential customers.
  3. Use a responsive layout – not fixed. This means that users on small screens can scroll around your website easily and find the information they want quickly. Users that have larger screens will be able to view the website with a larger layout and view the images in a resolution that suits their screens. Everyone wins!

Over the Spring Bank Holiday weekend this year, 66% of all pages served by White Menu systems were to mobile devices. It’s clear that when people are out and about, they want to find restaurants, bars and cafés that are close by. If your website is not capable of serving information to these potential customers, you could very easily be losing out on business. Contact us to find out how we can help.