Why mobile is important for websites

Author: Mathew
Published:

How many people do you know that do not own a smartphone? Chances are, the number is very low, if not zero.

Mobile technology plays an ever growing part in today's world, from smartphones to smartwatches, and their functionality continues to grow. As smartphones became the device of choice to access the web among other things, it's important that this audience is catered for. If you're still asking yourself do you need a mobile website, the answer is yes.

Google Likes Mobile Sites

It's true. If your site isn't mobile friendly, Google may penalise your site.

Why does this matter? Over 80% of searches in the UK start on Google so it's important to try and meet the criteria of the search giant. Gov UK (the website for the UK Government) is a popular website in the UK and reports that as of October 2016, over 35% of it's visitors access the site on their mobile.

Now you may think that 35% isn't a large amount of visitors, but put that into perspective. Let's say for arguments sake that you run an ecommerce site with an average visitor level of 150 visitors per month (approximately 3 per day). If you value each sale at just £10.00 (that's £1,500 based on 150 users), that means that mobile visitors make up 50 of those visitors per month, or £500. For a small business, that's a large chunk.

Realistically, you will never convert 100% of your visitors, but still losing that 35% means you're losing one third of your potential audience.

Google's aim is to provide the best user experience possible, so if a user searches on a mobile device, then it can potentially favour a mobile friendly website. Since 2014, they've even highlighted the sites which are mobile friendly in their search results with a 'mobile friendly' label.

The bottom line is - ensure your website is mobile friendly and don't miss out.

Mobile Users are Different

We mean this in terms of their goals. Think about how you use websites yourself. Generally a desktop user will browse websites and read several pages, whereas a mobile user will want information quick and easily.

If you're looking for information as quickly as possible you'll want it to be easy to navigate and complete your task. While you may be trying to achieve the same goal in some instances, such as looking up a phone number, mobile devices are smaller and websites need to be optimised to suit this.

Reduce your Bounce Rate

If you're not aware of what a bounce rate is, Google defines it as the percentage of single-page sessions (i.e. sessions in which the person left your site from the entrance page without interacting with the page).

It's an important statistic which can really show you how users see your site. A high bounce rate could mean one of several things, such as:

  • Incorrect implementation of your tracking code, such as Google Analytics
  • Your site is unsuitable for the user (e.g. not tailored to their device)
  • User behaviour (e.g. visits, bookmarks your site and leaves)
  • Genuine (e.g. wrong site)

Ensuring your website is mobile friendly could help reduce this by making sure it's suited to their device.

How do I make my Website Mobile Friendly?

There are a few options to making your website mobile friendly, including having a responsive design, where the design 'responds' to the device it's being viewed on, and a dedicated mobile site, which is when a site has a separate mobile site dedicated for mobile users.

Both methods are popular (there are a few others too), and easy to implement. However, responsive web design is the easiest to maintain, whereas a dedicated site allows you to manage everything specifically for a smaller device. Facebook uses a dedicated site for example, whereas Currys uses a responsive design.

The path for your website depends on your web development team, the sites functionality and it's audience.

Conclusion - Where next?

Think about your mobile visitors, and also think about how you would feel about visiting your site on a mobile device if it wasn't suitable. Consider how you would navigate it to ensure you pin down a suitable route.

Also regularly check your Google Analytics (or other analytical software) to keep an eye on your bounce rate, the devices being used and routes users are taking to ensure you deliver a good user experience (it's good for SEO too!)

Lastly, if you're not sure if your website is mobile friendly, you can run a quick test for free using Google's own mobile-friendly tester.