Why does being mobile-friendly matter?

Written on 15 February, 2016 by Lisa Shannahan
Categories: Web Design & Content | Tags: mobile friendly, web design

Having a mobile-friendly website (if indeed you had a website at all) used to be something that fell in the “nice to have” bucket, but these days it’s firmly established as a “must have”. Far from being a small segment of your customer base that you could ignore with minimal consequence, mobile users are growing exponentially, and buyer behaviour is changing as a result. Consumers are researching, comparing brands, and making buying decisions quickly and while on-the-go. If you don’t have a mobile-friendly site, your brand won’t even factor into their decisions. Worse, there are flow-on effects to aspects like your website’s search ranking which will even impact the performance of your site on desktops.

Why does being mobile-friendly matter?

Whether or not your site is mobile-friendly affects everything from your brand’s credibility to your search engine ranking. If the former seems like a bit of a stretch, take a look at these statistics from Google’s Mobile Playbook:

  • 53% say a frustrating mobile experience can hurt their overall opinion of a brand
  • 57% won’t recommend a business with a poorly-designed mobile site
  • 65% say they are more likely to buy a product from a mobile-friendly site

That’s a good portion of users that will think less of your brand, stop recommending you, or be less likely to purchase from you – simply because your site isn’t mobile-friendly. It delivers a poor user experience, and as the adoption of mobile technology continues to grow, it’s becoming something that users have increasingly less patience for.

Not being mobile-friendly will also deliver a hit to your search engine ranking. Google’s ranking algorithm update in early 2015 was dubbed “mobilegeddon” based on the potentially catastrophic results it had on the ranking of sites that weren’t mobile-friendly. Search engines like Google are focused on delivering the best possible results to their users, and more than ever a key part of that is being able to access it on a mobile.

What makes a site mobile-friendly?

It all comes down to user experience. Your typical mobile user is on-the-go, often with a slow or sporadic connection speed, and frequently with only one hand free to navigate (so they don’t want to be scrolling horizontally or zooming in to see your content). They will often be using a touch screen, and the exact size and resolution of the screen varies greatly depending on the device. Your text and images need to display at a readable size and your site needs to be easy to navigate. Everything is about speed and convenience, and if you don’t deliver, they’ll bounce off your site and head to a competitor.

A mobile-friendly website typically fits the following factors:

responsive design which adjusts its display to fit any screen while remaining readable and easy to navigate

a page load speed of ideally one second or less for content “above the fold” (the initial display area a user sees before having to scroll)

links that are sized appropriately for touchscreens (and spaced far enough apart)

What does this mean for SMB owners?

The biggest risk for SMB owners is not being aware of what a difference having a mobile-friendly site makes in the first place. If you overlook this aspect of your online strategy, you’re likely to be taking hits to your search ranking, traffic, sales and contact rates, and even aspects like your Google AdWords costs (due to the effect on your quality score).

It also adds an extra element of complication to your website maintenance and building process. You need to have at least a basic understanding of responsive design and the ability to test how your site displays across a range of devices before you can be confident that you’re putting your best foot forward with all of your potential customers – not just the ever-smaller percentage accessing your site from a desktop.

Not sure if your website is mobile friendly or need help establishing and maintaining one that is? Why not get in touch with the experts at WebCentral to learn how we can help you successfully do business online? Call 1800 800 099 or request a free, no-obligation consultation today.