You’ve surely used your smartphone or tablet to visit some of your favorite websites. But a site that looks and operates like a dream on a desktop can be a nightmare on a smaller screen – hard to read and confusing to navigate.

So if you haven’t already given it some consideration, now is the time to identify how to make your website mobile-friendly.

Each strategy has its pluses and minuses, so to make the decision, you need to figure out what draws visitors to your site when using a mobile device. Perhaps they need to use the members-only directory to get in touch with a peer. Maybe they are trying to make the most of their time at your annual conference. Or it might be as simple as keeping up with the latest news out of the organization.

Once you understand how members want to interact with your organization while on the go, here are your four choices for making it easy for them:

A mobile application: Apps are designed to run on smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices. They let users take advantage of the native features of your website, such as downloading contacts directly into their address book, and saving events to their personal calendar. The downsides? Mobile apps are expensive to have designed, and you’ll have to decide if you want the app to work on just Apple and Android products, or other platforms, too.

A dedicated mobile version of your site: These sites are optimized for a smaller screen, but they offer a limited amount of content. It’s a good option if your members only need to have mobile access to a subset of everything you offer on your full website. But your SEO can take a hit because of the duplicate content.

Responsive design: In this approach, your website is designed so that its layout, images, content and navigation can change automatically according to the device being used. For instance, to a user on a desktop, your website would appear in its traditional three-column layout with a large menu bar. To a user browsing your site from her Android phone, the site might be a single-column layout with a small dropdown menu. One problem with responsive design is that any advertising you feature on your site won’t scale properly.

Do nothing: You can make some minor tweaks to your site to try to make it work on a variety of devices, but it certainly won’t be optimized for small screens. That’s going to make it hard to read and likely cost your organization some traffic and perhaps money. Another drawback? Well, remember that 1 billion number? Mobile is only going to get more important.

Fred Faulkner, a senior consulting partner and digital lead at .orgSource, and Kevin Ordonez, a senior consulting partner and technology lead at .orgSource, will be speaking at the Avectra Users & Developers Conference being held March 3-5 in Orlando, Fla. Their presentation is entitled “Is That a Mobile Template or Responsive Design? Identify Which Mobile Strategy Is Right for You.”

Leave a Comment