Last year a friend of mine named James started a company with his brother and uncle. As they developed their website James lobbied for making the site responsive to mobile devices. Both James’ uncle and brother remained unconvinced. After launching the site sales were pretty much nonexistent due to fact that 76% of the traffic were mobile hits. This sent their bounce rate (the rate at which visitors leave a site seconds after entering) through the roof. Since the website they were using wasn’t mobile friendly at all they lost a lot of business. Just 3 months after launching, the company went under because they couldn’t get enough people to sign up for their product. They lost the time and the money that they put into the website as well as the opportunity to see their business succeed.
Optimizing your website for smartphones and tablets isn’t just a cool marketing tool, it’s a requirement. Having a mobile website is an inevitable reality for every organization that hopes to maintain an online presence. Mobile website popularity is growing and reports are showing that 27% of shoppers give up on a transaction if the site isn’t optimized for tablets and smartphones.
Why do I need to optimize my website for mobile?
Mobile technology is changing our habits: we are increasingly accessing the Internet through our mobile devices and staying on top of Mobile trends is just as important as keeping up with desktop trends.
Search engines value user experience
Search engines love seeing a website that offers the user not only good products, but also a good experience. And since most everyone in North America owns a smartphone or tablet, good user experience has extended to include mobile activity. In 2013 it was reported by Marketing Land that 30% of web traffic was from mobile devices.
Social media is mobile
Your website needs to be compatible with mobile if you want to use social media apps like Facebook and Twitter to market your company. Since most people access social media through their smartphones and tablets, the transition between needs to be smooth. Having a mobile friendly website is the key to making that transition painless and quick.
Conversion: every hit counts
Mobile friendly websites are your new best friend when it comes to conversion and lowering bounce rates. If James’ company had designed their website to be responsive to smaller screens and bandwidth restrictions they would have had much higher conversions but instead they lost 76% of their potential customers because of a lack of a mobile friendly design.
Reach more people
With 4G networks and unlimited data usage becoming more popular in cell phone plans the amount of potential viewers to your website has grown exponentially. Most everyone in North America has access to a smartphone and they use it constantly to surf the web when they wait in doctors offices, take public transportation and even while they are at work.
Having a mobile website is cheaper and much easier than building an app. And for newcomers to your website, they don’t necessarily want to download an app for your site just yet. Everyone can use a mobile website and they are compatible with all types of devices.
So how can I make my website more mobile friendly?
Take out your smartphone and go to your website and answer these 5 question to see what areas your mobile website is strong in and where it can be improved.
How long did it take for your website to load?
Slow load times kill the mobile experience. In general you have 3 seconds to make your site interactive before you risk losing potential customers. In fact, 57% of people report that they abandon a mobile website if they have to wait over 3 seconds. Mobile users are on their smartphones because they want the information now not when they get home to their laptops or desktops.
How easily can you view your content?
Simplicity is key when designing for mobile. Keep away from large chunky blocks of text, instead write copy that is short and to the point. Also make sure any graphics are optimized to be as small as possible while maintaining quality. New devices, like the latest iPads, have high-resolution screens that rival high end monitors so pixilated icons and images will reflect poorly on your brand.
Popups and auto play content is irritating. Let the user decide when they want their video to start. Maybe they are in a meeting and are surfing your site on their phone. It would be embarrassing for them if a video or ad just started playing loudly. Multimedia also takes up a lot of bandwidth on smartphones and tablets so make sure you allow the user the ability to skip media content and they will have a more positive experience.
Is it easy to identify your main message or key point?
In 5 seconds or less a new visitor to your mobile site should be able to identify who you are, what you do, and why they should listen (what can they get from you). Your brand and key selling points are the most important part of your website and it should be one of the first things to be seen. You can help feature these points by having your logo, (who you are), a featured product (what you do), and a blurb about what makes your company unique (why your company matters).
Does your website create a positive experience for the user?
Users need to be able to use your website without stumbling over menus and links that are too small to interact with on a touch screen. It’s very frustrating to have to try more than twice to click a link.
Make sure that touchability is obvious to your users. Your mobile website should be clear about what can be tapped, swiped or clicked. Also make sure that touch targets are placed in the right spots and well sized. Thumb friendly zones are defined as easy, medium and hard to reach. For example, the “go back” or “delete” buttons on your website should be in the small hard to reach zone so users don’t accidentally click on it.
Don’t use unsupported technology on your mobile websites like Flash and Java. These are not universally supported by tablets and smartphone companies and content on your website that uses Flash or Java won’t be shown. Avoid complaints by avoiding technology that is not universally supported.
How many devices can you support?
Mobile sites provide an unmatched level of compatibility with a large array of devices. However, odd caveats still exist. Different browsers and devices all have variations in the way they render content. Take every opportunity to interact with your site with as many different devices as possible. Major companies will even start to compile a collection of different phones, tablets and desktop computers in what is known as a device lab for comprehensive testing.
Where do you start?
Think mobile first. Designing a website with mobile users in mind first will vastly simplify your development process and reduce maintenance costs. By prioritizing your mobile users you will ensure that the experience is only better on larger devices not worse on smaller ones (see progressive enhancement).
Responsive web design that optimizes a user’s mobile experience isn’t a niche industry or even the future; it’s a present necessity. James’ company fell pray to the common pitfall of underestimating mobile users. Don’t let it happen to you.
To learn more about how you can better optimize your website for mobile access, contact us and get started on a free website analysis. We would love to not only help you think mobile first and make sure your website is compatible for mobile, but we can create an action plan unique to your needs that will help you utilize this essential marketing tool.