With 4G networks and the affordability of powerful smartphones, mobile devices are ruling the roost when it comes to internet usage, and the data shows this meteoric rise is set to continue. Unfortunately, many businesses’ websites were designed for desktops, making the mobile user experience unsatisfactory at best and appalling at worst. Even if the majority of your website’s traffic still comes from desktop users, it’s becoming increasingly vital to offer a mobile responsive site to your customers. So when should you invest to future-proof your website? Here we take a look at the change in web usage and why you should consider mobile optimization sooner rather than later.
How big is the mobile web?
In October 2016 we reached a tipping point. That was when over 50% of web pages were accessed by mobile devices, overtaking desktop for the first time. And that figure has only continued to grow. According to a 2017 report by comScore, people are accessing the internet from mobile devices at unprecedented rates.
In countries such as India and Indonesia, mobile has long-been the choice of most web users, but we’re starting to see a shift in the UK too. Here, 61% of the total minutes people spend online are on a mobile device, and in the US that rises to 71%. Even if your audience was primarily desktop based in the past, trends show your audience of the future is more likely to access your site from a mobile device. By failing to offer a mobile-responsive site, you’re essentially turning people away at the door.
Is a mobile site relevant for B2B businesses?
We’re used to hearing a particular reluctance from B2B businesses when it comes to embracing mobile-first web design. That’s because there’s a belief that their customers are largely accessing their website from a desktop or laptop in the workplace, and often, according to analytics, that’s exactly what’s happening. According to a study by Gartner, which analysed the number of corporate-issued devices in UK, US and Australian businesses, only 23% of employees are given smartphones at work, compared to 75% being given a laptop or desktop computer. But although there is a low adoption of corporate-issued mobile devices, more than half of employees are relying on their personal smartphone for work.
This is a bit of a ‘chicken and egg’ situation: you might not have many mobile site visitors now, but if you don’t build a mobile-first site, it’s less likely mobile users will come. Rather than targeting the majority of visits, B2B businesses should be thinking about the less frequent, but equally important, user journeys they are potentially missing out on by not offering a mobile-responsive site. It can take just one failed mobile user journey to your site to have an impact on your business.
For example, if you have a physical office, will your customers be able to easily access address details from their smartphone on their way to visit you? When your customers are out at meetings or networking events, will they be able to efficiently visit your site, find information, and share it with others? If your competitors have a mobile-first website and you don’t, then you’re potentially missing out on business already.
Big changes with Google’s mobile-first indexing
In November 2016 Google announced that it would begin testing mobile-first indexing. Currently, your rankings for desktop and mobile are separate: so, if your website isn’t mobile-friendly, you might rank well on desktop search but very poorly on mobile. When mobile-first indexing kicks in, your desktop rankings will be based on your mobile site — which is bad news if your mobile site is smaller, or has less content, than its desktop equivalent.
Although there’s not a firm launch date yet, it’s expected this will replace the existing search engine index in 2017. Google said: “Although our search index will continue to be a single index of websites and apps, our algorithms will eventually primarily use the mobile version of a site’s content to rank pages from that site, to understand structure data, and to show snippets from those pages in our results.” That means if your site is not optimised for mobile users when the change happens, you risk potentially slipping down the desktop search rankings too. This means there’s never been a better time to think about updating your site for mobile users.
Making major website changes this year?
If you’re thinking of making major changes to your website soon, then adding mobile optimisation is a must. Whether it’s a site refresh or a complete overhaul, make sure you’re budgeting for mobile responsiveness as one of the deliverables. We recommend a mobile-first approach, so your new site will function for now and for the future. In terms of design and development, this means creating a user experience that works firstly on a small smartphone screen, and then scaling this up to suit tablets and large desktops.
By using this approach your business’s mobile site – where the majority of traffic comes from – won’t be a second-rate afterthought. Instead your users will have a great mobile experience, with an expanded and complementary desktop offering.
If you’re thinking of optimising your site for mobile and want to talk about how we could help, please get in touch.