Are you catering for the needs of your mobile customers?

Written by: Annette Taylor

June 27, 2012

Are you losing potential from your website because some visitors are turned away by a user experience that does not suit the mobile web? This is a question that nearly every website owner should be asking themselves since a study conducted by Google and Ipsos found that as many as 79% of top advertisers do not have mobile optimised landing pages.  By not being one of those people your site will be in the top 21% amongst mobile users and the rewards are huge as we will discuss.

Why is there a problem?

You have just finished the design of your new website.  Everything is as you wanted it to be.  You made very clear to the designers that the site has to work in all of Firefox, Chrome and Internet Explorer and that is exactly what they have delivered.  The problem is that in the last two years the number of people browsing the web on their mobile devices has quadrupled and whilst the manufacturers of those devices are trying very hard to make websites usable on those devices it does not give the optimum user experience.

What does that mean?  Perhaps this is best explained with an example: Abingdon school for boys have a website that was very clearly aimed at desktop browsers and has a clean layout with simple navigation as can be seen in the picture.  However when we look at the same website on an iPhone, as shown, it can be seen that the website has not adapted in any way to the device rendering it.  Whilst it is possible to pinch and zoom to areas of the site that you are interested in you can see that it is impossible to comfortably read all the content without a large amount of re-zooming and sliding the screen around.  This is a bit like trying to read a book through a keyhole – it becomes tiresome very quickly.

Not yet convinced?  Maybe some statistics will be more  convincing.  Did you know, 40% of mobile users will turn to a competitor’s site after having a bad experience with a website?  95% of mobile phone users turn to their device to research a product or service before a sale. 85% of Smartphone users look for local information on their phone and then 81% of those go ahead and visit the place they looked up.
Source: Think with Google

The statistics are overwhelming, and it does not stop there.  The time it takes for your page to load may seem insignificant when you look at your website on a desktop computer   but when opened on a mobile device these times will be longer because of slow data connections or redirects used to take the user to a site that will open more cleanly on their device.  74% of mobile users will not wait longer than 5 seconds for a site to load; 60% will not even wait 3 seconds! It is critical that if you even want your visitors to view just your landing page that you get the loading time as low as possible.
Source: Equation Research

How does your site compare?

You are probably wondering at this point, “But I paid a lot of money for my website and it’s not that old, surely these issues don’t affect it.”  Maybe you’re right, but as you can see from above, being wrong would be disastrous.  That’s why we would urge you to run your website through the free tool provided by Google.  This will give you a full analysis of the landing page and will give you a much better idea of whether you are affected or not.  Nearly every website has something it can improve on.

What can be done?

Most major websites would call themselves mobile friendly.  This includes all the major supermarkets, Argos, Amazon, most newspapers.  What all of these are currently doing is detecting that the visitor is on a phone or a tablet and then sending the user to a completely different website designed to work on that device.  Yes, this solves the problem to some extent but also has its drawbacks.  The most obvious one is that every change to the website has to be done twice … three times … four times – how many versions are there and are you sure they all contain exactly the same content?  Another issue is reduced user experience because the mobile version of the site doesn’t have all the same functionality as the full site. Does that sound like a way of satisfying the needs of a large proportion of your visitors?

Hutchhouse specialise in an alternative approach to website designs that are not passive like those described above but instead are active and responsive to the browser they are being viewed in.  When someone visits a website that we created using these technologies, the site recognises the space it has available and reacts by changing the layout but keeping all the content the same.  This does not mean sending those users to another page that just looks similar, our responsive designs are so clever that they can literally change themselves instantly to look their best where ever they are shown.  Best of all, if you are looking at this blog on your desktop computer you can see what we mean instantly by resizing your browser window.  Notice how less important columns relocate themselves when space gets tight and the navigation automatically moves to the second line below our logo if there is not enough space for it.  If you have a mobile device go ahead and visit our website from it and see how it compares to the desktop version.  Of course when I say version I don’t mean an alternative page that we have specially set up but instead it is the same page using intelligent rules for the device.

Summary

  • Not having a website that adapts to the smaller screens of mobile devices is the same as shutting your doors at lunch time and going home; you will lose custom.
  • Having a separate page that is shown to mobile and tablet customers is not the optimum solution.
  • Having a responsive website that is able to change itself to the needs of your visitors is the only way to ensure that every user has the same optimum experience and is provided with all the functionality your website offers.

If you have found that your website isn’t performing similarly to ours and you are rightfully worried that this may be turning potential customers away with the changing habits of web users then Hutchhouse would be happy to discuss any ideas you may have.  We are a friendly team and we have the know how and expertise to get your website up to scratch.

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