The internet unlocks a world of infinite possibilities, but businesses still have to work towards realizing these possibilities. Instances of companies with sound business strategy and strong web presence not having sufficient ROI is quite common. More often, the reason is failure to keep abreast with the changing trends in IT scenario.
Why optimize for the Mobile
Mobile computing, which until a few years ago was an appendage to desktops and laptops, has made a great surge in recent times. Today more users access internet using mobile devices when compared to desktops and laptops. As many as 1.2 billion people across the world access the web using mobile devices, and about 80% of all internet users use smartphones. As of May 2014, mobile media consumption accounted for 51% of all digital media consumption.
The writing on the wall is clear for businesses – make their digital touch points responsive to the mobile, and fast.
Businesses, even as they are aware of the growth of smartphones, may not feel the need to optimize for the mobile. After all, people can access the normal website over their mobile phones just as well. But there is a marked difference in the behavior of the same people when they browse through their desktops and through their smartphones, and such browsing behaviors have a significant impact on whether a user would patronize a website or forsake it. A case in point: mobile users generally consume a high amount of visual media, especially short videos and images. Harnessing the power of these media types to engage users requires an optimized website.
About 90% of web users alternate between devices in pursuit of an online goal; so the odds of any online user accessing the website through a mobile device at some point of time in the buying process remains high even in situations where conversations happen through desktops. If the site is not responsive for the mobile device, it would put off the user, who would soon go elsewhere – and the odds are they would carry on from such “elsewhere” when they return to the desktop or laptop.
Many a times, the customer’s buying journey with a business starts when they casually browse their smartphones while waiting for a bus, or while travelling in a train with nothing to do, and so on. During such occasions, when a user stumbles upon the site using a mobile device, and the site is not responsive, the user is unlikely to be impressed, and would invariably go elsewhere.
The landing page is the conversion workhorse, and there is no workaround to the landing page for attracting e-commerce traffic to the website. What works to retain users in a desktop landing page is not the same as what works to retain mobile users. While some principles remain constant, small mobile screens cannot handle the same style of presentation one normally deploys on a full desktop screen.
If the website cannot handle a responsive landing page, there is a high likelihood of missing out on a sale.
Mobile users spend comparatively more than their desktop counterparts. Adobe Digital Marketing conducted a study, analyzing over 16.2 billion online transactions, and found that tablet users spend over 50% per online purchase compared to smartphone visitors, and 20% more when compared to traditional laptop and desktop visitors. Smartphone users are, however, conditioned to make small, infrequent purchases, whereas transactions out of tablets have the highest average value compared to any other device. However, these sales will not happen if the mobile UX is poor.
Google, the big daddy of Internet, favors mobile responsive websites in its SERP rankings. The last major algorithm update of April 2015 enacted harsh penalties for websites failing to meet Google’s standards for mobile friendliness. Following the update, 32.1% of mobile friendly pages have gained in rankings and 25.4% fell in rankings, but 46.5% of non-mobile friendly pages lost rankings and only 19.5% gained in rankings. A responsive mobile site is indispensable to improve organic traffic, and in today’s highly competitive world, there is little hope of increasing ROI without organic traffic.
There is no escape from a responsive site for scoring in the social space either. Social activities account for about 91% of mobile internet access, and businesses involved in social media marketing would find the lion’s share of traffic from such sources coming in through mobile devices.
“Online businesses that do not offer a responsive mobile website is likely to face elimination.”
How to optimize for Mobile
For all the advantages that responsive mobile sites offer, only 56% of small business websites are responsive.
Many business owners are convinced about the need to get a responsive mobile site, but many of them are clueless as to how to go about it. Several others who actually implement responsive design do a shoddy job. Unless done right, you cannot reap the benefits from a responsive site.
Following considerations might help you in building a successful responsive website and ensuring that it is up and running:
1. Implement a responsive website design
A responsive site goes far beyond an ordinary mobile website. An ordinary stand-alone mobile is usually built on a sub-domain, resolving to a new URL such as m.domainname.com, and featuring a streamlined design with limited content compared to the desktop optimized main website. A device “sniff” determines the visitor’s device-type and redirects users to the appropriate website. In contrast, in responsive design, the website domain remains the same, while the structure, design, material, and content keep changing depending on the device type and need of the user. For example, the layout changes depending on the user shifting from portrait to landscape orientation. Smartphone screens will feature content in a single column and a larger tablet screen features the same content in two columns, and so on.
2. Pay Heed to the Conventions
While innovation offers a world of benefits, innovation in responsive space without heeding to the basic conventions would most likely misfire. For example, the basic convention for an ideal responsive mobile landing page may include:
• Minimalist design
• Lightning fast page-load
• Bright button Call to Action
• A headline with at least five words
Mobile sites offer the opportunity to trim down the design and focus on the content most appropriate for the device, which would most likely attract user interest.
3. Consider developing for the Mobile first
Developing a responsive website requires to pay considerable attention to the details only for one time, but comes with the advantage that the developer needs to maintain, manage, and optimize only a single website. The same website loads in all devices, assuming various forms.
Success depends on delivering an optimized experience regardless of the device type. While there is no hard and fast rule as to how to build and deliver an optimized experience, a good approach is to create the site considering the need of the mobile user first, and working upwards to expand the scope of the website to desktop screens. This runs contrary to the traditional approach of designing a desktop optimized website, and then stripping off functionality or elements for the mobile site.
When making a purchase, people often undertake some quick research on their mobile devices first, and then return to dig deeper on their desktops or any other device, if the product catches their eyes. A mobile first approach helps to optimize the user experience in the first round.
4. Optimize marketing efforts
Success of a responsive website is determined by trial and error method. Analyzing how customers engage with the website over different devices and making the necessary adjustments is an integral part of the development process. Such adjustments and fine-tunings are actually a continuous process since user preferences remain fluid and keep on changing. Websites optimized for desktop screens can contain everything, with the differences being only the layout and design. The limited screen real estate of mobile device makes prioritization inevitable, and success depends on giving users more of what they prefer or want in the limited screen space available.
A responsive mobile website yields rich dividends, but only if done right.