Will Web Hosting Companies Need to Change to Meet the Rising Mobile Market?

Businessman talking on cell phone

The term “smartphone” is somewhat of a misnomer these days, since the millions of people who are using these so-called phones every day are actually using them to do much more than just talk to one another. In fact, a 2013 Experian Marketing survey indicated that an average adult user spends about an hour on his or her smartphone each day (iPhone users actually spend an hour and 15 minutes each day), but only 26 percent of that time is actually talking. The other 74 percent is divided between texting, social networking, browsing the web, emailing, and playing games.

Phones are also not the only way that we browse the web on the go. The rise of tablet usage in the United States has also pushed companies toward creating even more mobile-friendly options so sites can be ready at customers’ fingertips whenever they want to access information about the company online. As companies adapt and demand more and more mobile options, web hosting companies must also adapt to meet businesses needs.

Mobile Trends in the U.S.

The Pew Internet Research Project’s Mobile Technology Fact Sheet highlights the prevalence of mobile devices in our lives. As of January 2014, 9 out of 10 Americans have a cell phone, and about 65 percent of those people have smartphones. Another 42 percent of people in the U.S. own a tablet computer. In fact, people love their mobile devices so much that almost half of cell phone owners admit to sleeping with the phone next to the bed so they won’t miss anything important overnight.

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Men own smartphones at a slightly higher rate than women, and not surprisingly, the bulk of smartphone owners are between the ages of 18-49, although about half of adults ages 50 to 64 now have a smartphone as well.

The Rise of Mobile Web Browsing

A 2013 survey showed that about two-thirds of mobile users use the device to go online—since 90 percent of Americans own cell phones, that means about 57 percent of all Americans are going online using a mobile device, a number that has doubled just since 2009. The same study revealed that about one-third of those accessing the internet on their cell phones actually uses their mobile device as their primary method of going online.

Groups most likely to be found online using a mobile device include young adults, African-Americans and Latinos, college-educated adults, people with household incomes above $75,000, and urban and suburban dwellers. These are key demographics for many businesses to capture, which is why it’s so critical that companies adopt mobile-friendly formats for their website.

Survey Says: Get a Mobile Website

Numerous surveys have shown that companies would benefit from a mobile website. In response to that need, many web hosting companies are now offering options to help get businesses online with a format that is easy to browse on small portable devices, such as smartphones and laptops. If you pay attention to market trends, you know that having a mobile website is critical to business success.

In addition, users today want more than just a “skeleton” version of a full desktop website; they want to be able to browse, find information, shop, and do all the other things they do online from their desktop, right from the palm of their hand.

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Differences Between Mobile and Desktop Websites

Mobile and desktop websites have different browsing and usage habits, and require a different approach based on consumer behaviors. Some of the common differences to keep in mind when you’re building a mobile website include:

  • Touch versus click – mobile users navigate by touchscreen, so buttons and clicks should be simple and large, allowing users to see and click them easily.
  • On-demand usage – users have their mobile device available at their fingertips at almost any time of the day, and want to be able to access information instantly through their device. That means web hosting companies need to offer a quality online experience with fast load times and simple design.
  • App usage – many consumers also prefer to use mobile apps instead of browsing a company’s website, so it’s important to find a web hosting company that can help with app support if this is something you want to do.
  • Social sharing – mobile users spend significant time on social networks sharing information, and want a seamless experience when uploading, viewing, and downloading videos and pictures.
  • Information – studies have shown that about half of consumers use their mobile devices for pre-purchase research, and many of them do it while they are in the store. If they can’t get the information they need quickly, companies could easily lose a sale, which is why it’s critical that web hosting companies offer fast speeds and seamless service. 
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There is also a third type of web design that is becoming increasingly popular, called a “responsive design.” A responsive site will automatically adapt to whatever screen it is on—desktop, tablet, or mobile phone—so a user can access the whole site in the most device-friendly way. It’s sort of a hybrid between a mobile site and a desktop site, giving you the best of both worlds.

How Hosting Companies Are Adjusting to Meet the Demand for Mobile

Mobile users demand information right now, and web hosting companies also see the importance of responding to the growing demands and unique needs of mobile users. Many of these companies are now offering mobile website building tools, mobile-friendly hosting plans, and other options that can help your company get online.

While some of these web hosting companies are still offering just the basics (some web hosts, for example, will automatically adjust to mobile devices, but offer very little in the way of allowing companies to customize their users’ mobile experience), others are going all-in on mobile offerings. The most successful web hosting companies offer mobile design interfaces that are included as part of an overall web hosting package, have intuitive and easy-to-use tools, and provide fast response times to keep customers connected, even when they’re browsing on a mobile device.

Mobile users are not going away any time soon, so as more and more customers demand access to these sites, web hosting companies will have no choice but to adapt to help companies develop mobile websites that will reach these customers.

Top image ©GL Stock Images

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