More and more people are starting to access the internet from their mobile phone, and analyst Morgan Stanley estimates that if smartphone sales continue at their current pace, then the number of users accessing the internet on a phone will exceed desktop internet users by 2015.
While most smartphones can access the internet the experience they get is less than perfect, as most websites just aren't designed for mobile phones. By creating a mobile-friendly site, you won't just get access to more users: you'll also have a huge leap on your competitors.
Before you create a mobile website it's worth looking at why most websites are hard to access and use on a mobile. Sites designed for desktop users are huge.
Website size matters
Take the TechRadar site as an example, our front page has lots and lots of columns of information, which can be difficult to see and navigate, even on the best iPhone Apple can make. It's also 2.96Mb in size, which, on a fast 20Mbps broadband connection takes less than a second, but on a mobile, in an area with a poor connection it can take minutes to download.
Ideally, you'll want your mobile website to be quick to access, be simple to navigate and be organised in more mobile-friendly chunks.
Mobile site build strategies
There are several different strategies you can adopt for building a mobile website; start afresh and build a completely new website, or adapt your current site. For most businesses the latter option is best, it allows you to dip your toe in the water, and if it works then you can then move to a site that has a mobile strategy at its core.
The quickest way to construct a mobile site is to look at one of the many online mobile portal tools. These services allow you to create mobile sites in just a few minutes or a few hours or little cost.
The sites you build are either created from a selection of pre-defined mobile templates, or they allow you to create new mobile templates using drag and drop features.
With most of the mobile portal building sites, you create a basic mobile site either by specifying the functions you want or, in some cases, you drag and drop the features you want on to a dummy mobile screen.
The range of functions available can be limited - although most portal builders are adding new functions all the time, - but most allow you to create multiple pages and sections, add feedback forms, create links to social networks like Twitter and Facebook, and have some sort of analytics to tell you where your customers came from.
Here's just a small selection of the current tools for creating a mobile website.
Wappledescribes itself as "the most advanced mobile web build, development and publishing technology" and it's not an idle boast. With Wapple you can create very sophisticated mobile websites and have them up and running very quickly.
There are two ways to develop with Wapple, you can either use the simple drag-and-drop controls which will get you a workable and well-designed site in less than 30 minutes. Or you can drill-down and tweak every element of a page and produce something very sophisticated.
Features include click-to-call, SEO functions, polls, questionnaires, a mobile shop, built-in forms, analytics, social media, video and Google maps integration.
mobiSiteGalore has a huge selection of available features that you can draw on to create some very sophisticated mobile websites.
Features include widgets to do site search, add Google News and Sitemap, as well as creating click-to-call features, ecommerce features include the ability to accept Google checkout, PayPal or Bango payments, and design features include photo galleries through to adding audio and video clips.
mobiSiteGalore has a free limited trial service that allows you to setup a website with three pages and limited features and hosting, through to a professional pack with unlimited pages and features for just $225 a year.
If your website is built using the WordPress content management service (CMS) then MobilePresswill get your business up and running very quickly.
MobilePress is a free WordPress plugin that will enable you to browse your WordPresswebsite on mobile handsets, with the ability to use customised themes.
Built into MobilePress is the ability to track your mobile sites analytics and serve ads from some of the biggest mobile ad networks such as Admob, Quattro Wireless, Buzzcity and InMobi. You can also serve you own managed ads.