Business Tools

Making Your Website Mobile-Friendly for Less Than $100

SEMA News—October 2012

By Joe Dysart

Going Mobile on the Cheap

Making Your Website Mobile-Friendly for $100 or Less

  There are scores of mobile template providers and conversion services that can now make your website mobile-ready for $100 or less.
Businesses looking to quickly establish a mobile-friendly presence on the web can take heart: There are scores of mobile template providers and conversion services that can now make your website mobile-ready for $100 or less. The nine out of 10 small businesses that still do not have optimized mobile sites because of technical or financial restraints now have the means to build their own professional-looking, brand-identical mobile sites at rock-bottom rates, said Ben Seslija, CEO of bMobilized.

Once a passing consideration, going mobile is now considered imperative for businesses looking to stay abreast of the unbridled popularity of tablets, smartphones and other handheld computerized devices—all of which demand websites designed for small screens. Indeed, according to eMarketer, there will be 54.8 million tablet users in the United States by the close of 2012 and 89.5 million by 2014. All told, 234 million Americans 13 and older were using mobile devices in April 2012, and 107 million of those people were using smartphones, according to Comscore.

Instead of building a mobile-friendly website from the ground up, many businesses simply opt for mobile website templates, which can be easily customized by adding text and images to pre-configured layouts. Among the easiest to use of this ilk are templates offered by AllwebCo Design. AllwebCo makes templates that can be quickly customized with a simple text editor, such as MS Notepad, with no web authoring software required. The company’s basic mobile website templates start at about $21; more sophisticated versions run $125 or more.

Similar template providers include Template Monster and Artisteer. Plus, businesses that are using the Wordpress platform can find scores of mobile-friendly Wordpress templates for as little as $8 at template clearinghouse sites such as Themeforest and Code-canyon.

Meanwhile, there are also a number of “gee-whiz” conversion services on the web that will convert any traditional website on the fly for anyone willing to type in their website address and press “Enter.” Essentially, these self-service online providers attempt to grab the essential data, colors and design elements of your website and then re-display them in a mobile-friendly form—usually in a matter of seconds. Subsequently, you’re presented with a number of online tools that you can use to tweak the resulting design to your taste and preference. Most of the services also offer free analytics with their packages, so you can track customer activity on your new mobile website. And many offer tools that allow you to effortlessly add mobile-specific features, such as click-to-call and mobile-friendly videos.

Seslija’s bMobilized service, for example, offers to do an initial on-the-fly conversion of your website in under 30 seconds. Subsequently, you’re able to use online tools to edit, create or replace menus, tweak your logo, customize headers and footers, drop in advertising and perform similar tweaks to ensure that your mobile site is just right. Trial use is free, and there’s a monthly $9 charge for customers who want to continue the service with tech support.

One of the coolest features of bMobilized is that it automatically updates the mobile version of your website any time you update your traditional website. Similar services are offered by Google’s GOMO, which is free for the first year and then $108 yearly, and Duda Mobile, which costs $9 monthly for the ad-free version.

Besides deciding on a template or an online service provider, one of the key considerations in going mobile is determining if you’ll leave your traditional web presence provider behind. While many mobile presence providers would have you abandon your traditional website design altogether, other web marketing analysts say that businesses may want to stick with a traditional website for people cruising the web on 24-in. or larger screens and then offer a scaled-down, mobile alternative for tiny-screen fans.

Once you’ve made that call, you’ll want to consider these top 10 best practices of mobile web design, as recommended by Google GOMO:

Read the rest of the October 2012 SEMA News article, "Going Mobile on the Cheap."