First off, why would you even worry about Smartphone users? And weren't there plug-ins and stuff for all that? To answer the first question, there really is no reason to to worry about whether smartphone users browse your site or not. All you'll lose is about 73% of traffic from users between the ages of 18 and 44 who use their smartphones to browse. If your desired target audience does not fall into that age group, then, nope - you got nothing to worry about. If, on the other hand, you are like most other marketers or webmasters, you should be very, very worried.
As for the second question - plug-ins just don't cut it any more. Not if you want your site to appear the way you created it. Plug-ins render a mobile version of your site while you'd normally want it to appear the same across all devices and platforms because you optimized everything (presumably) on it for the most perfect browsing experience (and, therefore, possible sales).
Fortunately, the Web grows as a whole, and when there is a need, there is a way. There are ridiculously simple ways to make your website accessible to smartphone users in 2013. All you have to do is know about them - and the fact that you do actually need them.
1. Get a 'smart' hosting service provider
To begin with, you can find a host that will provide you a convert to mobile (read, smartphone) option as part of the hosting features. Godaddy is currently advertising such a feature, and it looks good. You have to design the site - which is no big deal since everything is DYI - but that takes time. Also, it will still be a 'mobile version' of your site, somewhat like what the plug-ins do. You cannot use this feature on sub-domains - which means, if you have a blog with your main site (as in yoursite.com/blog), the blog will not be accessible by smartphones. Still, in spite of its limitations, this could be the beginning of a great idea that others will soon take up and improve upon.
2. Get yourself a Responsive Theme
This is by far the easiest. If you are on Wordpress, find a theme that is Responsive - and that means, your blog / site will display similarly across all platforms, including smartphones. The HTML in a responsive theme remains constant, and the CSS3 responds to the queries for site display by offering the most compatible rules for the device (and screen size) the query originated from. In plain English, that means your theme will have separate CSS rules for a smartphone and a computer. A single URL (as opposed to the usual redirection to the mobile site with its own URL) is generated no matter the device being used, and that makes it easy for Google to index your site. No wonder this is Google's preferred method of making a site mobile friendly.
3. Get your own apps
If you've browsed Facebook on your mobile phone, you have probably also installed an app to make the browsing simpler. The pages load faster, and your overall experience is enhanced. Apps make downloading a site on mobile devices a less complicated job, and everything, from ads to content is displayed effortlessly. You can design apps for your site too. If you have a huge audience base, it makes sense to create and app and let all your subscribers know where to download it from, as well as advertise on social networks and anywhere else you can think of. Otherwise, your loyal visitors might eventually get tired of your site because it refused to keep up with the changing times.
How do you create an app? On your own, if you know how - or with a few clicks from sites like Conduit.Com.
4. The 30 second solution
If you are in a hurry, head over to bMobilized.Com, type in your site URL, click the 'Mobilize' button and you are done. Okay, this takes a little more than 30 seconds, and the customization can require more than just one click, but you have to admit, this is one of the simplest methods available anywhere. This method works on redirection, as we mentioned earlier in passing. It takes only $9 per month to keep the site running with the bMobilized support team behind you. If you think you can manage on your own, you pay just $5 (still per month, of course). The best part is that you get a full featured 7 day trial. So go ahead and try it!
5. The elaborate solution
For an elaborate business solution that claims to deliver a mobile experience as seamless as that which an app can provide, head over to Mobify.Com and check out the features and pricing. $495 is the starting price per month, and it goes to a negotiable price per requirement in the Enterprise Class. Don't back off yet if such a big budget solution is not for you: Mobify has a free alternative for smaller sites where you can access all the core features (in a limited way) for no charge whatever. This is suitable for sites that have no more than 10,000 page views on mobile devices per month. All features are activated by the inclusion of a small tag in the existing site header. Simple, huh?
Don't just create a smartphone friendly site and be done with it - promote it with paid advertisements. Your ads will flash across as many devices as you choose, and since this is a relatively new concept, now would be the time to cash in on it.
7. Facebook it
That 73% user base we talked about right at the beginning? Well, in the same age group of 18-44, about 70% access Facebook from their mobile devices. These stats are from a survey conducted by Facebook, and we are talking about a test group of 75,000 owners of smartphones. The percentage may go down a little if we refer to worldwide studies, but the actual number of users shoots way up. What does that mean for you? It means you've got to get your site 'out there'. In addition to paid promotions, get active on social networks and let people know about your site. On social media, you'll find a ready and waiting audience with smartphones in hand, and what sense does it make to waste such an opportunity?
Apart from all this, you could create a strategy of promotion that would include super short videos (5 seconds sound good enough?) to consistently promote your mobile site. This is a very popular concept - has been, for a while now, and the more creative you are, the more popular you are likely to become in a very short while. Don't forget also to check the Net regularly for newer innovations in reaching out to the new generation of audience - everything is moving so fast these days that you sure can't afford to get left behind.
Jason Smith is an online manager for Foley, Incorporated - Rent A Generator. He likes blogging about online strategies that are related to SEO, Content, PPC & Lead generation.