Is your website mobile-friendly? Even if you answered, “of course it is,” we hate to break it to you but you’re probably wrong.
Try this experiment. Open a browser window and pull up your homepage. Then grab the corner of the window and start shrinking. As it narrows, what happens? If the information reorganizes so it’s clear and easy to read in the smaller shape, then congratulations, you have a site that’s optimized for mobile! Now call us when you’re ready for a redesign.
The rest of you, don’t worry we can help. Below we’ve clarified exactly what mobile-friendly means, why it’s a big deal and how you can make it happen.
Mobile-Friendly Means More Than Just Mobile Ready
To truly understand what mobile-friendly is, we need to explain what mobile-friendly is not. In the dark ages (about four years ago) the only way to have a truly “mobile” site meant developing a second, completely separate version of your website (an m. subdomain).
Developing this second site was time-consuming, expensive and required double the work. Every time you made a change on one, you had to make it on the other. What a headache. Not to mention the fact that these smaller sites left users with a watered down, less-engaging version of your more robust website—a poor reflection of your brand.
Enter the “Responsive Revolution.” Today, thanks to coding and developing techniques allowed by HTML5 and CSS3, mobile optimized sites can be created right out of the gate without duplicating or diluting the work. Using these “Responsive Design” techniques to build your site structure allows a single URL to render and function beautifully across multiple devices. We dove deep into the techy side of modern web development in a previous article titled “Web Technologies You Need Now,” which you should read if you want to really understand how and why responsive design works.
In addition to a backend structure that responds to the device used, there are basic design elements that can make or break your mobile user experience. Font size, button size, and overall ease of navigation will improve customer engagement. Streamlining both your design and your functionality will make your web strategy truly mobile-friendly.
Turn Users Into Customers With Mobile
Today, there are 1.2 billion people using mobile devices to access the Internet via tablets and smartphones. Think this is exclusive to consumer sites? Think again. Recent stats published by Forrester Research and Internet Retailer indicates that 62% of B2B e-commerce executives said their customers research and buy using mobile devices.
Google has been keeping a close eye on mobile traffic for years. An article published on 2012 on Google’s Mobile Ad blog stated that 74% of people surveyed said they were more likely to return to a site if it was mobile-friendly, and 67% of mobile users indicated they were more likely to buy from a mobile-friendly site.
Over the past three years, consumer engagement with mobile devices has grown 488%. Consumer expectations are high—they prefer websites that are simple, fast and easy to navigate no matter which device they’re using.
The same Google blog post cited above indicates the negative impact a poor mobile experience can have on your customers. Apparently, “50% of people said that even if they like a business, they will use them less often if the website isn't mobile-friendly.”
Many online statisticians are predicting mobile web traffic to overtake desktop in 2014. Depending on where you look, you might find stats that indicate the coup has already occurred. According research published by comScore in June of 2013, for example, mobile devices accounted for 55% of time spent with online retail sites, while 45% came from desktops and laptops. It’s time for your mobile strategy to reflect this multi-device reality.
The Time To Change Is Now
Putting off mobile optimization in the past may have been risky, but it wasn’t devastating to your online marketing efforts—until now. This year, not only can an outdated web experience jeopardize brand equity with your customers, it can also prevent new customers from finding you.
In mid-2013 Google altered its search algorithm to benefit mobile optimized websites. In fact, the official Google developer site strongly recommends companies choose a responsive design for the following reasons:
- A single URL is more user-friendly, allows sharing and helps Google’s algorithm index your content
- They prefer sites that require no redirection for users as it can create errors and degrades your user experience
- It streamlines resources for both you and Google. With a responsive design Google’s bots can crawl the page only once rather than the multiple times required with a non-responsive design.
Still not convinced? Put yourself in your customer’s shoes. Have you tried to read a website on your smartphone that wasn’t mobile-friendly? Zooming in and out to find what you need, scrolling around the page aimlessly... the user experience is terribly frustrating.
Don’t Let Your Competition Win
While you might think your site is “working just fine” you could be losing customers to competitors who offer a more mobile-friendly experience. Google also reinforced the value of a mobile experience, stating “ 61% of users said that if they didn’t find what they were looking for right away on a mobile site, they’d quickly move on to another site.”
If you’re the type to wait around for your competition to make a change then by all means, don’t do anything. For those of you who realize you're wasting time with a site that’s not mobile-friendly, who are ready to jump ahead of the competition to take the leading spot and give your customers the user experience they’re asking for, we’ll be happy to help. You can find out more about our expert web services right here.