In April 2014 Ofcom reported that, in the UK, 62% of adults now use a smartphone to go online (up from 54% in 2012) while 30% (up from 16% in 2012) use a tablet. This phenomenal growth has meant many businesses have had to quickly adapt to the rapid change in the way their users view their website. Traditionally many websites were built specifically for large screens and mouse pointers, this means lots of scrolling and zooming for those with smaller screens and frustration for those with big fingers! If you are looking to build a new website or re-design an existing one, it has now become a crucial decision as to whether it should be built with mobile users in mind.
Do I need my website to be mobile optimised?
The simple answer to this question is most likely “yes”, but don’t take my word for it, consider the following points:
Consider your users
If you have access to user statistics for your website, perhaps a package like Google Analytics, you should be able to see what portion of your visitors are viewing your website on a mobile device. Google Analytics will even show you what devices your visitors are using but other packages may provide less detail. If you don’t have access to such information it is well worth speaking to your developer to see if such statistics are being collected. If not, this should be configured as soon as possible, we believe it is vital to be able to analyse the success of a website and this is the very first stage of that.
Depending on your industry (some are obviously much more advanced than others in terms of technology) you will likely see a significant proportion of your users are indeed viewing your website on a smartphone or tablet. This tends to be the result across all industries with some now showing the majority of visitors using mobile devices. If you dig further into the data you will most likely see a trend where the proportion of mobile users is rapidly increasing, again this tends to be the result across most industries.
So, ensuring your website is optimised for a significant minority or possibly the majority of your users makes perfect sense.
Naturally, designing and building a website to support the huge plethora of devices available today takes considerably more effort than simply supporting the handful of desktop browsers in circulation. Therefore you are going to have to pay more for a mobile optimised site. As with any business decision you simply need to evaluate if this is worth the investment. Mobile support sometimes gets the axe when budget restraints come into play, however this may be a mistake if your business relies on a strong online presence.
Responsive is great!
For some time now our industry has been using a technique called “responsive web design” to build websites that scale and adapt to the size of the screen the visitor is using. There are some key advantages to this technique that were difficult to achieve before this technique came to fruition:
- You only have one website to manage and promote. Previously many companies opted for two separate websites, one made for mobile users and one for desktop users. This meant having to maintain content on multiple websites and the mobile versions of a site were often limited in terms of functionality which frustrated users. It also meant that search engines saw two distinct websites and treated them as such, meaning it would take considerably more effort to ensure both were highly visible in search results. This no longer needs to be the case.
- We don’t have to worry about the constantly evolving smartphone and tablet markets. A good responsive website isn’t designed to work well on specific devices, it’s designed to work well on any device, even those yet to be designed and released. It’s future-proof!
Even if providing a better experience for your users isn’t enough to tempt you, it’s worth remembering that Google monitors how long users spend on your website and uses that (among many other factors) to determine how good your website is. If your users on mobile devices hit your site and instantly see that it will be a hassle to find what they are looking for or read your content they may instantly leave the site and look for an alternative just a tap away. Not only have you lost a potential customer but the all-knowing Google will potentially slide you down their rankings if this happens regularly enough.
Not only are Google measuring how long users spend on your website, they have also begun to evaluate how well a website works on mobile devices. They have even recently started going to the extreme of sending notifications to administrators informing them when their website is not well optimised for mobile usage.
Google are using this information to determine how a website should rank in their search results, particularly favouring well optimised websites when a user is searching on a mobile device. So, a well built responsive site is likely to naturally rank better in Google than one that isn’t. Google are even highlighting websites that are optimised for mobile devices in search rankings so you may see more users opting to visit your website once it is mobile optimised.
How can we help?
If you are in need of a new responsive website or a revamp for your existing website feel free to get in touch and have a no-obligation chat with one of the Ballyhoo team. We’ll be happy to help answer your questions and can be contacted by telephone on 0121 295 5352, email to firstname.lastname@example.org or via the form on our contact page.