Is Your Website Losing You Customers And Money?October 22, 2014
It’s 2014 and some BIG companies still don’t get it…
Many companies have well established websites, but are still neglecting their mobile audiences.
The question is, what are the risks involved in not catering for mobile visitors?
And just how important is it to have a website that works on mobile devices, a responsive site template suitable for smaller screens, or a separate template that is triggered when a mobile device is detected?
First up, let’s look at retail, a sector that has been disrupted ever since ecommerce became widespread – and whether you sell online only, or have real-world stores too, reaching mobile customers is a must.
This DemandForce infographic (http://www.getelastic.com/why-you-need-a-mobile-friendly-site-infographic/) shows in clear terms that 67% of people are more likely to buy from a mobile-friendly site, and half of all people will use your website less if it is not mobile compatible, even if you are a company they like.
Across the board, roughly half of people: feel frustrated by non-mobile sites; feel like you don’t want their business; and are less likely to engage with your company.
Put these figures together, and there are potentially extremely adverse ramifications for any retail organisation that does not make mobile a priority.
Good Mobile Responsive Websites
A good example of an effective mobile site template is the recently relaunched National Lottery website, which strikes a good balance between looking like the desktop site, but with a slightly different user interface for mobile visitors.
This includes a taller, single-column layout better suited to vertical scrolling on a narrow screen, and the now-familiar ‘three bars’ icon to expand the main navigation menu, allowing quick access to all of the most important pages of the site.
Scroll down to the page footer, meanwhile, and there’s plenty of plain text links to key parts of the site, as well as social media icons.
Big Companies With Bad Mobile Websites
Interestingly, some of the worst performers in terms of mobile-friendly sites are often those you would expect to be leading the trend, including big media brands.
Visit the Daily Mirror homepage from a Windows Phone, for instance, and the navigation menu will not collapse, getting in the way of the first few paragraphs of each article.
The Independent’s i100 website is even worse, as it loads fine at first glance, but then will not scroll at all – although in its defence, it is clearly marked as still being in ‘beta’ mode.
In either case, it seems likely that the fault is not that no effort has been made to cater for mobile visitors, but that the template is aimed solely at, for example, iPhone users.
Together, iOS and Android add up to around 90% of the total market, according to figures from NetMarketShare; neglect the remaining platforms and you’re shutting out one in ten potential customers.
No Mobile Website
Amazingly, some websites seem to have no mobile responsive sites at all, even when their core business is web marketing.
One such site is Moz, an inbound marketing specialist well respected throughout the industry – at least until you try to read their blog on a smartphone. ( I love reading Moz, they have so many amazing articles on the site)
When you do, you’ll find the text so small as to be almost illegible, and if you zoom in to make it big enough, you’ll be left needing to scroll horizontally as well as vertically to make your way through the article.
It seems like an oversight from such a top company each time you try – and fail – to read what should be an interesting and informative article, and it can leave a sour taste in the mouth for visitors.
More importantly for Moz, it could quite feasibly be costing them tens of thousands of dollars in lost business each month from would-be mobile customers who are not being catered for.
I contacted the founder of Moz ( a few months back), Rand Fishkin, who said mobile is “on the list, but dev right now is focused on our tools”.
He added that getting the priorities right was a “tough call” – but it still seems likely that Moz are alienating their readership and potentially losing customers, for the sake of putting in place a simple mobile template.
Come on Moz sort it out…
Tips for Best Practice
There’s a lot to take into account when making your website mobile-friendly, but here’s a couple of key points to keep in mind:
- There’s no such thing as ‘above the fold’ anymore, as screen sizes and even orientations differ from device to device. Keep key content up top and make your page flow throughout.
- Plan to fail – that is, you may not be able to program your page for every mobile device out there, so include a link to load the desktop version of the site as a failsafe.
- Trimming down your template may mean removing some of your ads or other revenue-generating page elements; be prepared to do this for the sake of keeping the customer.
- Remember mobile devices are usually touchscreen, so things like hover effects become meaningless. Plan for an entirely different user experience if necessary.
- Keep it simple. Things like Flash(which you shouldn’t have in 2014) and Java may not work on all devices, so don’t be afraid to have a relatively minimal mobile site template.
Finally, what does the future hold?
Certainly it seems as though the mobile web is only going to grow in importance, with Microsoft working hard to create a consistent user interface for smartphones, tablets and laptops alike.
Google are now reportedly experimenting with an icon to let you know whether or not a website is mobile-friendly, and of course anything Google do typically spurs people towards best practice much more quickly than broader internet trends.
Will we see mobile-readiness become a core ranking factor for websites throughout the search results? Or for queries conducted via a mobile device? I have no doubt it will.
And increasingly, the ranking factors Google are using offer no ‘quick fixes’, focusing instead on genuinely good-quality website content, natural link-building patterns and so on.
With that in mind, those who are early adopters of good-quality, universally compatible mobile responsive websites may ultimately find they have a long-term edge over the competition in the years to come.
What websites frustrate you? Where do you see mobile going?