Millions of users access the internet every single day (and multiple times throughout the day), many of which do so from a smartphone or tablet, which is traffic you could be missing out on if you don’t have an effective mobile-friendly web presence.
Recent studies have shown that over 80% of internet users own a smartphone with an ever-increasing trend of mobile browsing over desktop computers, while Google says that 61% of users are unlikely to return to a mobile site they had trouble accessing and 40% visit a competitor’s site instead.
— Think with Google (@ThinkwithGoogle) August 29, 2017
What these statistics show is that having a well-designed and mobile-friendly website is becoming increasingly important, which is why your website needs to evolve with the trends of internet usage in order to stay competitive. To do so, you must cater your website to the increasing demographic of mobile users by optimizing the mobile experience and performance of your website.
Increasing trend of mobile users
With the growing capabilities and availability of mobile devices, more and more users are browsing the internet on their phones and mobile devices. In 2010, just 5% of worldwide internet users accessed the internet on a mobile device, a number that has risen to over 50% in 2017, which shows a drastic increase with no signs of stopping that could help you bring in new site visitors as well as loyal customers if your website is mobile-friendly.
Given that 50% of worldwide internet users primarily browse the web on smartphones and tablets, the amount of customers you bring in per day could potentially double if you tap into the mobile market. Recent trends also point towards the fact that mobile users will continue to build their lead over desktop users, which means that if you don’t transition to a mobile-friendly website now, there’s no telling how much sales or traffic you could miss out on going forward.
Your website must be responsive
In 2017, there should be absolutely no reason why your website is not responsive, as this type of functionality is essential if you want to keep your company’s reputation intact with mobile users. Whether you’re considering updating your website or having it undergo a complete redesign, even most pre-made themes and “out of the box” solutions are fully responsive and can be implemented without having to go over budget.
Neglecting to implement a website’s responsive design strategy can potentially be damaging for several reasons, the most problematic of which is that without this functionality, mobile users could be presented with a myriad of usability issues including things like extremely large font that makes the website difficult to navigate. To browse pages or purchase products, these customers would need to perform an excessive amount of scrolling or other lead-conversion blockers, which not many customers will put up with when there are competitor websites they could turn to instead.
You need to provide these potential customers with a design that works effortlessly and as expected. By making your website responsive through the use of responsive themes or similar solutions, your website will automatically scale to the screen resolution of the device it’s being accessed on, which provides your mobile customers with a fantastic user experience.
Beyond just going responsive, you could take your design a step further by integrating AMP pages into the design for a lightning fast mobile experience. AMP (accelerated mobile pages) pages are one of the latest technological advancements in website design that help to facilitate an even leaner mobile user experience, which could reward you with more customers and a higher search engine engine rankings among mobile customers. Although AMP pages were first launched towards the beginning of 2016, they have seen exponential growth since then, having accounted for nearly 7% of all web traffic just one year later, so you can be confident that they are a wise investment moving forward.
If you’ve never heard of AMP pages, AMP stands for accelerated mobile pages, which facilitates a much more basic web page that offers very quick loading and simple page navigation for mobile customers. There are numerous factors that go into why AMP pages are so fast, but the main takeaway of this technology is that many of the elements that can make a website slow to load are heavily streamlined across a variety of areas with AMP.
When a user accesses a page that’s been equipped with AMP, images won’t load until the user scrolls them into view, which helps substantially with page speed. Although it’s not absolutely necessary to integrate AMP pages into your website design, it can give you a leg up on the competition.
What about mobile (“m-dot”) websites?
If you’ve never created a mobile, or “m-dot”, website before, these websites are unique due to the presence of a full desktop version and a condensed mobile version, which are treated as entirely different websites. Mobile specific websites have become a thing of the past except for very specific website needs, due largely to the fact that most modern websites are responsive and reorganize content for an optimal user experience when displayed on a mobile browser without needing to create a separate version. When you have a desktop version and mobile version of your website, you’re splitting your Google SEO ranking potential between them, which will only hurt your business and stunt the potential for online growth in the long run.
While the “m-dot” website was one of the first mobile solutions in the web design industry, modern solutions like responsive functionality have far surpassed this outdated technology. If you were to build an “m-dot” website, you would need to create a minimum of two website addresses, which means that the website would have to redirect from your standard desktop version to the mobile version when being accessed on a mobile device, lengthening initial load times for these customers, an issue that’s avoided altogether with modern solutions.
In today’s world, smartphone and tablet users have displayed a need to be provided with instant gratification when browsing a website online, which means that load times have to be quick and websites need to be easy-to-navigate. When a customer enters a website that’s unwieldy and poorly designed, they may instantly exit and choose to visit another site instead, which could cause you to lose a lot of customers if the problem persists for too long. Responsive websites allow you to satisfy mobile users without needing to make use of an “m-dot” site.
Optimizing for mobile speed and user experience
— Think with Google (@ThinkwithGoogle) August 21, 2017
One of the leading indicators in the Google ranking algorithm is website performance and a fluid user experience, which is why it’s very important that the website you operate is designed to run seamlessly across all devices. This same Google ranking algorithm indexes the mobile experience first, which in the web industry is a clear sign that Google is telling us that mobile is more important than ever.
Once you’ve decided to make your website mobile-friendly, it’s important to understand that not all mobile internet connections are created equal, so you will need to optimize the size and speed of your website for faster load times on all devices and mobile networks, a move that should keep potential customers from becoming frustrated and will pay dividends for you in the future.
At the end of the day, Google wants to rank websites that are useful to visitors, which is why you need to focus on the mobile user experience to improve search engine ranking potential, visitor retention, and lead conversion. Each of these three metrics are absolutely essential to the ongoing success of any website and will help you appear higher in search engine rankings, leading to an increase in traffic to your site.
The key to keeping visitor retention rates high is by crafting a website that meets the needs of your target audience, many of which will be using a mobile device to access your website. Given the fact that smartphones and tablets accounted for 45% of all online traffic in 2014, you can’t afford not to optimize your website for mobile speed and user experience.
Use analytics to measure mobile traffic
Need a compelling reason to optimize your website for mobile devices? Take a look at your website traffic analytics so that you can properly assess your mobile traffic to determine the need for a mobile optimization or complete redesign. If the mobile numbers you see are drastically under-performing in comparison to the desktop numbers, you might want to consider a complete redesign of your website so that it’s built for mobile from the onset. Mobile optimization is something that every website owner should consider, as newer technologies and optimization techniques are developed every year, and you want to be ahead of the curve in this regard.
When you’re perusing this data, look for visitor funnel fall off to determine where mobile user experience issues may occur and fix what may be causing visitors to leave your website for competitors. One of the metrics that you’ll notice on your analytics page is “average session duration” or “bounce rate”, under which a low (or high for the latter) number might indicate that mobile users are leaving your site too quickly because they find it to have poor loading times or a design that’s difficult to navigate. Once you’ve studied your analytics page and have highlighted which areas you could improve on, you’ll be able to make informed and intelligent changes to your design that should improve these numbers and bolster your online presence.
A mobile-first responsive web design and fluid mobile user experience should always be at the top of your mind when designing and optimizing a website for new business, visitor retention, and visitor conversion.
Do you need help optimizing or designing a mobile-first responsive website strategy? If you do, contact us today to get started on the web design process, as we’d be happy to discuss your goals and find which solution is right for your business — no matter the budget!