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Why Mobile is Damn Important

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December 11, 2014
| Articles

Unless you’ve been existing in a vacuum for the last decade, you can’t have failed to notice that the world of mobile has exploded in recent years.

 

Smartphones have become increasingly sophisticated and we now also have tablets, phablets and hybrid touchscreen laptops which we can simply detach from a keyboard and make a tablet. It’s pretty fair to say that as a race, we’ve been especially enamored with mobile now since it first made its rather clunky appearance in the ‘90s.

 

These days, mobile devices are powerful computers in their own right and it’s thought that in the next few years, the average western consumer will own 5 internet ready devices. While in developing countries smartphones have not yet taken off, mobiles in general are becoming more commonly used and in parts of Africa have changed the way that payments are made.

 

We now spend more time accessing the net on our phones than on PC and what’s more, we expect the experience to be fast and simple. The modern internet user has no time for pages that don’t display correctly, or that take an age to load, nor do we have any patience for sites that are difficult to navigate. In recent years, this has led to an explosion in the use of Responsive Web Design (RWD) but even this can give poor user experience if not done well.

 

Load Times Affect Conversions

 

On mobile, a one second delay in load time can decrease customer satisfaction levels by as much as 16% and can result in a 7% drop in conversions. Just think about that for a moment and it’s clear that in order to be competitive on the web, it’s vital to have a good mobile website.

 

According to the 2014 Mobile Behavior Report from ExactTarget, consumers who own both a smartphone and tablet report that owning a tablet doesn’t affect the amount of time spent using their smartphone, so tablet usage doesn’t replace the mobile experience but augments it. The study also found that 85% of those surveyed said that their smartphone is central to their everyday lives and this rose to 90% in those aged 18-24 years.

 

Easy Access Critical to Consumers

 

So smartphones, especially, are very important to us – the same study also found that we spend on average around 3.3 hours per day on our devices.

 

“Easy access to content across devices and platforms is increasingly critical to consumers: More than nine out of ten consumers say that access to content however they want it is somewhat or very important; 59% say it’s very important. Similarly, 83% say a seamless experience across all devices is somewhat or very important.”

 

The study found that 54% of people said that there wasn’t enough content on mobile sites and that mobile optimized sites are currently insufficient. And as you can see in the graphic below, we spend a lot of time searching and browsing the internet on both our phones and tablets.

 

Search on smartphone and table statistics

 

What This Means to You

 

If you have any form of online business then it can’t have escaped your notice that the internet offers a world of opportunity when it comes to growth. It is of course a competitive arena and one in which if your site is poorly constructed, it’s likely to fail or at least favor the competition with the better site. A good site is a sum of its parts though and these include:

 

  • Optimized for mobile (content, performance, UX)
  • Content of a high standard
  • Multimedia aspects
  • Logical site structure
  • Calls to action (on mobile these should be above the fold)

 

Great navigation should make up part of a good user experience too. Some companies decide to go with having a separate site made for mobile, although not as many these days, but there are various reasons why you shouldn’t do this.

 

  1. Google has 2 URLs to crawl and these are indexed separately, so it’s not good for SEO. Google recommends RWD as the best option for mobile sites.
  2. Finances – it costs a lot to have both a desktop and mobile site.
  3. Navigation – often, the way a mobile site is set up means that if a user goes from the desktop to the mobile site, they will land on the home page, rather than the content page that they wanted.
  4. Actions – mobile sites are often difficult to read and require a lot of pinching and scrolling in order to access the content. Navigation elements are also invariably too small and this results in clicking on links that the user didn’t intend to.

Recommended Actions

 

If you have a RWD site that’s performing badly, you should ask your web developer to tweak it by carrying out image optimization, JavaScript and HTML minifying and installing a content delivery network. The latter holds cached versions of your static content on various servers so that when they are requested by the user, the server closest geographically can send it.

 

If you don’t have a RWD site, then consider having one done and ensure that you have a good designer to do it for you. State that you want it to be optimized and expect it to be speedy. RWD has matured now and there are plenty of tricks that can be utilized by an experienced designer to make sure that it displays well, has great UX and doesn’t take forever to load.

 

If you’re in business and you don’t optimize for mobile, then you’re doing your business, its customers and even your staff a disservice. In order to compete on the web it’s necessary to follow the rules, and that means giving your visitors a great experience so that they return, you’re indexed well in the SERPs and you deliver great customer service. Get all of this right for mobile and you’re onto a winner.

By Kerry Butters
Categories: Articles
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