Apple sold 156 million iPads, iPhones and iPods in 2011 alone, more than their range of Mac computers has shifted in nearly thirty years. While that sounds like a lot, even the dominant player’s figures pale when compared to the 487 million-plus smartphones sold when all the manufacturers are considered. By contrast, only around 351 million desktop, laptop, and netbook computers were bought last year.

This means that more and more people will require access to websites for mobile devices. Of course, some desktop websites work perfectly adequately on a phone or tablet, but only by specifically targeting these devices will a website be able to truly take advantage of the mobile revolution.

Why is having a mobile version of a site important? For a start, those 156 million Apple products can’t show Adobe Flash content, so many mobile customers simply won’t see it, no matter how great it looks on a PC. More importantly, consumers using smartphones to access mobile sites do so very differently from standard ones, with their goals being based more around action than surfing. Research by Google claims that nine out of ten searches resulted in some sort of action, and that 77% of users who searched for a local business visited or contacted that business as a result.

The general trend is for quick information discovery, so websites for mobile devices should always seek to provide the most relevant information in a straightforward way. For example, the Burger King mobile site detects a user’s location, and then displays a map of the nearest branch within seconds. It’s all BK needs to offer on a mobile platform, but they keep a link to the main, feature-rich site always available, just in case you really do want to look up the nutritional content of a Whopper.

So, the message is fairly straightforward: if you have a business website, you need a mobile website; if you have a mobile website, it needs to be clear and concise, be action focussed, and provide only what customers on the move require. And it might be helpful if your links and buttons are the right size to be pressed with a thumb, too!