Making Your Travel Website Mobile-Friendly

Male tourist searches on his mobile phone. Is your travel website mobile friendly?
Two women tourists taking photos on their mobile phones

In case you hadn’t heard, mobile is huge.

And unsurprisingly, people are using their mobile devices to make travel plans.

According to Google, the percentage of smartphone users who are comfortable researching, planning and booking their entire trip using only a mobile device is 48% in the US, 59% in Japan, and 87% in India.

So, if your website doesn’t cater to these mobile users, then you are missing out on sales. Period.

What does it mean to have a mobile-friendly website?

Have you ever visited a website on your phone that was just a miniaturized desktop website? The kind where you have to zoom in, pinch, swipe and scroll just to see what’s on the page?

That is the opposite of mobile-friendly.

Mobile-friendly websites understand that people engage with their mobile devices differently than their laptops or desktops. The smaller screens display less information at a time. And they’re navigated with swipes and finger taps rather than mouse clicks.

In order to accommodate mobile users, mobile-friendly sites must not only shrink down, but they must behave differently.

The difference between mobile responsive and mobile-friendly

The majority of websites these days are built to be mobile responsive by default. That means they automatically rearrange themselves to fit the user’s screen. For example, an image that is to the right of your text on a desktop screen might shift below the text on a mobile screen. The image will also resize itself to fit the allotted space.

Most of the time this is an adequate solution. It allows you to design your website once and rely on automation to properly display on the user’s screen. However, as you can see in the example below, mobile responsive does not always equate to mobile-friendly.

How to make your website mobile-friendly

If you’re building or redesigning your website, make sure to speak with your web developer about how your site will actually function on a mobile device (not just how it will look). Things you’ll want to consider include:

  1. Navigation - making sure it’s super easy for mobile users to tap their way through your site using only their thumbs.
  2. Forms - creating forms that are easy to fill out with as little typing as possible.
  3. Speed - mobile sites need to be lightning-fast, even on spotty cellular networks.

What about mobile apps? Do I need one?

Mobile sites are accessed and displayed using the device’s web browser. Mobile apps, on the other hand, are separate pieces of software that have to be downloaded.

Because apps take up precious memory they are quickly deleted if they aren’t useful. If you have specific, personalized functionality to offer your users (for example, easy check-in/check-out, loyalty credit accrual, or room service requests) then it might be worthwhile to develop an app. Otherwise, a mobile-friendly website should suffice.

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