Don’t have a mobile friendly website? Now’s the time to change that as your conversions and enquiries are likely to be suffering.
This post will explain why I strongly believe that all websites should be mobile-friendly. By this, I mean the website adapts to fit the size of the device it is being viewed on – whether that’s desktop, tablet or mobile. Find out more about responsive websites in Daniel’s blog post from way back in 2013.
Here is an example of a responsive website (you can take a look at the live site here: www.crateslocal.co.uk):
Mobile Usability Report
Last month (October 2014), Google launched a new feature in Google Webmaster Tools that tracks mobile usability issues. The tool will notify you of any usability errors that your website may have on mobile devices such as:
- Viewport not configured – meaning your site hasn’t triggered a signal to Google that it adapts to fit mobile devices
- Font size too small – meaning users will find text hard to read
- Content not sized to viewport – meaning pinching and zooming is required, which provides a bad user experience
- Touch elements, such as links and buttons, are too close together – meaning users again need to pinch and zoom to tap them
Here is an example of what you could see if your website has mobile usability issues (you can check here if you have a Webmasters account):
The fact that Google introduced this feature tells me that mobile friendly sites are something they are taking seriously. After all, their aim is to provide their users with the best possible results so they keep coming back and ultimately increase Google’s profit.
A member of the Google Webmasters Trends Analyst Team was even quoted as saying they “strongly recommend you take a look at these issues” – no direct mentions were made to this being a ranking factor but my next point pretty much supports that they are indeed a ranking factor…
A few days ago, Google announced that they had started to roll out ‘mobile-friendly labels’ in their search results. These labels will help users on mobile devices find what they are looking for without the frustration of encountering a non-friendly mobile website – read the announcement here.
The labels look like this:
Google states that a website is eligible for the mobile-friendly label if it meets the following criteria:
- Avoids software that doesn’t work well on mobile devices e.g. Flash
- Has text that is big enough to read without pinching and zooming
- Sizes content to the device screen so users don’t have to pinch and zoom
- Has links and buttons that are big enough to be tapped so again, users don’t have to pinch and zoom
Sound familiar? Thought so. These are the types of errors that the Mobile Usability report warns you about.
Google also posted this at the end of their mobile-friendly labels post:
“We see these labels as a first step in helping mobile users to have a better mobile web experience. We are also experimenting with using the mobile-friendly criteria as a ranking signal.”
So there you have it. Google is actually telling us that they are likely to be taking mobile friendliness into account when ranking websites.
Website user experience and conversions
So, Google has stated that they are notifying users which websites are mobile-friendly, but what effect do mobile-friendly vs. non mobile-friendly websites actually have on users? They don’t find it that tricky to pinch and zoom their way around a website do they? Well yes, yes they do! And I have some data to show you from a client’s Google Analytics to prove this.
My client (who will remain anonymous) doesn’t have a responsive or mobile website. Their site doesn’t change to fit the size of the screen being viewed on and therefore requires pinching and zooming to read content and tap links/buttons.
This time last year, desktop visits accounted for 44.68% of traffic, followed by mobile at 33.33% and then tablet at 17.99%. Conversion rate for completed sales was highest on desktop at 0.94%, followed by tablet at 0.93% and then mobile at 0.33%.
Comparing those stats to the same period this year, mobile visits have now overtaken desktop, accounting for 43.81% of traffic. Desktop accounts for 38.32% and then tablet at 17.87%. Now the interesting part is comparing the conversion rates for completed sales; mobile conversion rate is 1.22%, desktop is 2.17% and tablet is 2.49%. So even though mobile is bringing the most amount of traffic, it also has the worst conversion rate of all three.
There are likely to be other reasons why the conversion rate is so low on mobile. People may not trust it enough to complete a purchase so swap to desktop due to the unreliability of 3G/4G connection on mobiles, slow load speed and so on. It’s also easier to insert sensitive data on desktops such as credit card/billing information. However, if a site is hard to navigate in the first place, customers are even less likely to make it to checkout.
There is a strong case for having a responsive, mobile-friendly website. Don’t just take my word for it though; here are lots of examples of websites that have seen large increases in their conversion rates from making the switch: 14 brands that increased conversion rates via responsive design.
If you have any questions or comments, please leave them below.
If you want to talk to us about making your website mobile-friendly, please call us on 01403 261491 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.