Online browsing habits have changed greatly over the last decade. No longer are users relying on their PCs for opening your emails, searching for your services, or purchasing your products. The majority of hours spent, search queries made, and emails opened are now from mobile devices. The smartphone trend has changed and will continue to change the Web. A slew of new smartphones are expected in 2018 including new iPhones (likely a total of three new handsets), new Google Pixels, and the LG G7. Innovation in mobile has slowed but not stopped with manufacturers now releasing handsets with always listening voice assistants, multiple cameras to detect depth, facial recognition, and processors faster than most office PCs.
Thankfully your website can look beautiful on these mobile devices. You may not even need to completely rebuild your website to accomplish this. There are multiple solutions to mobile optimize your website including separate mobile URLs, adaptive design, and responsive design. Regardless of which method you choose to optimize your site the statistics show that your website must be mobile optimized to continue to generate traffic and convert visitors. An outstanding website is mobile optimized.
In 2016 the CEO of Intel, Brian Krzanich, stated that the upgrade cycle for PCs was slowing from an average of four years to an average of five to six years. He stated that “Right now, it’s easier to move your phone to a new phone than your PC to a new PC”. This comparison is telling. Buyers are using their phones to replace some of what their PCs do and PC sales are suffering. At the close of 2016 smartphone buyers were upgrading their devices at an average of 30 months. That is 77% faster than the average PC upgrade cycle. Buyers are placing more importance on their mobile devices than their laptops and desktops.
Consumers are spending anywhere from $200 to $1,000 for these mobile phones and upgrading them more often than they have ever upgraded their PCs. With an average selling price of $567 and average upgrade cycle of 30 months, the average smartphone user could be spending as much as $2,494.80 on smartphone sales throughout the entire life of their PC. Buyers are willing to spend more for a good mobile experience than a desktop experience. This willingness to spend on mobile carries to mobile sales conversions as well. About half of all digital sales revenue in the United States is now made from e-commerce on mobile devices.
According to Flurry Analytics, US consumers are now spending an average of five hours a day on their mobile devices. That is a 53% increase over the past four years. About 8% of that time is spent using a mobile web browser while 33% is spent using social media apps. That means that the average American is spending about two hours every day using apps on their phones where your website could engage them. Your website can get in front of these mobile users through mobile compatibility, search engine optimization, and social media advertising.
According to Google, in 10 countries (including the United States of America) more searches took place in 2015 from mobile devices than on PCs. Potentially, the majority of people searching for an organization like yours are doing so from a mobile device.
Search engines and social networks are reacting to this trend. In 2015 Google began down-ranking search results for websites not optimized for mobile. In 2017 Facebook began giving preference to web pages that load quickly (like mobile optimized pages).
Consequently, if your website is not mobile optimized you are receiving less visitors from search engines and social networks than you should be in addition to converting less of these visitors into subscribers and buyers.
Leveraging the Mobile Trend
By making your website mobile compatible you will increase your impressions, visitors, and conversions. Google, Facebook, and others will prefer your mobile optimizes website in searches and social shares. Consequently your mobile website will generate more visitors. These mobile visitors may be more likely to purchase from your site. If your website is mobile optimized as part of a well rounded online-marketing strategy this is what you can expect.
Even if you are doing everything else well mobile optimization can make or break your online strategy.
Test Your Website
You don’t need to buy into the mobile trend to profit from it. With the right tools and/or web-developer you can leverage the mobile trend without being part of it yourself.
So, how do you know if your site is mobile optimized without being technical or if you don’t have a smartphone handy?
Go to search.google.com/test/mobile-friendly and type in your website’s address (URL). Google will tell you if it is or isn’t optimized for mobile, tell you why, and show you a mobile preview. You can also interactively browse your website in a mobile emulator, like the free mobile testing tool from mobiletest.me. If the results were less than desirable it is time to optimize your website for mobile.
Optimize for Mobile
There are three methods to optimize your website for mobile visitors:
- Separate mobile URLs
- Adaptive design
- Responsive design
Separate Mobile URLs
The separate URLs method was one of the earliest attempts at mobile optimization. It is useful for quickly optimizing a website for mobile without modifying the existing site. However, it has no benefits over adaptive or responsive design, for most websites requires more work, is inflexible, and can hurt your website’s search engine rankings due to extensive URL redirects and page duplication. Consequently we do not recommend this proven but aging method.
By using separate URLs for the mobile and desktop versions of your website you can use different designs, structures, and even content for users on different devices. Best practice is to use the default URL (like www.myfantasticalwebsite.com) for desktop and a mobile subdomain for mobile (like m.myfantasticalwebsite.com). The mobile version of your website will have its own design appropriate for mobile devices. Ideally, your web-developer will add conditional redirects to your pages so that if someone were to visit www.myfantasticalwebsite.com/blog from their smartphone they would automatically be taken to m.myfantasticalwebsite.com/blog (and vice versa). This ensures that users are always taken to the site best optimized for them.
Adaptive design is a better solution for optimizing your website. Adaptive design uses the same URLs and content but dynamically checks to see what screen size the viewer is using and adapts the layout accordingly. Your web-developer can set up as few as two designs (desktop and mobile) and as many as four or five slightly different designs to best fit everything from a 4″ smartphone screen to a 27″ desktop monitor. You can use your website’s analytics data to see what devices users are accessing your site from and prioritize design development accordingly.
Adaptive design is another method for optimizing your website without modifying your desktop design. Yet it is more flexible and more search engine friendly than separate mobile URLs. Individual designs can be modified separately giving you extensive control over the experience visitors have on differing devices. This method is the preferred method of some web-developers.
The most popular method of mobile optimization is responsive design. A responsive website changes layout depending on screen or window size and can do so dynamically. rystedtcreative.com website uses a responsive design. This method is popular due to its holistic approach. All users on all devices get the same look and feel but it responds to their device and window sizes. Responsive design achieves mobile compatibility for all device sizes while still maintaining design uniformity. This method requires a complete website design overhaul but only requires one design for all devices.
Adaptive or Responsive?
The merits of adaptive vs responsive design have been debated at length across the Web. The decision of which method to use really depends on your current site and your goals.
Do you want to keep your current design for desktop but add a mobile friendly design? Adaptive may be best for you.
Do you feel that your whole site could use an overhaul? Responsive design may be best for you.
When implemented well both adaptive and responsive designs satisfy your needs, search engines’ preferences, social networks’ priorities, and your visitors’ usage.
Your potential website visitors and digital customers are not waiting to buy or use their mobile devices. You shouldn’t wait to reach them where they are.
If your website is not yet mobile optimized your site is not usable for the majority of users on the Web. Making this transition is one of the most important online investments you will make.
If you have the time and knowledge to make the transition, begin today. If you do not, contact your web-developer or Rystedt Creative and get the website your potential visitors and customers are waiting for.