Business development · 14 December 2016

Why a mobile-friendly website is worth its weight in gold

mobile
Web browsing on smartphones and tablets surpassed internet usage on desktops for the first time in 2016

This year has been one of the most unpredictable years since the turn of the century, but amidst the furor there’s been important developments in the usage of your mobile-friendly website, writes GoDaddy’s VP for EMEA, Stefano Maruzzi.

In 2016, from politics to pop culture, we’ve seen the British public triggering Brexit, Honey G become an overnight star on the X-Factor and the completion of a true underdog as Leicester City F.C. won the English Premier League, despite being ranked at 5000-1 outsiders.

Amidst all the big media headlines, mobile technology experienced its own milestone. In October, a landmark moment occurred when web browsing on smartphones and tablets 51 per cent surpassed internet usage on desktops 49 per cent worldwide for the first time.

Given the trending towards increased mobile use, this was perhaps the least surprising moment of the year and simply formalised the global shift in consumer behaviour.

However, talking about this mobile-friendly website milestone is significant for small businesses, particularly those who still believe that the standard one-screen desktop design is enough.

As a small business owner, there are three key reasons why you need to be on top of your mobile game.

Millennials have a need for speed

Studies show that mobile users buy more than people who browse through desktop computers. This is important because there are now 1.8 billion millennials on the planet making them the biggest demographic.

And they are a mobile-first generation, using smartphones to research, compare, buy and review products or services and serve as a core to their daily lives.

In the age of social media and messaging apps, it has never been easier to take a screen shot of a product, venue or even contact details and send to your friends for their opinion. The easier it is to capture and share this information in a perfect fit-to-screen frame, the more likely you are to close that sale.

Speed is another critical factor. Customers are no longer as patient as they were in the days of dial-up internet. Research shows that 40 per cent of visitors will ditch a website that takes three seconds to load.

You can’t afford to have resource-hungry multimedia slowly down page loading times as this could lead to potentially losing a sale. Keep your images sizes and graphics suitable to mobile, and limit your use of videos to allow your visitors to view your full mobile site rapidly.

The user experience is critical

How many websites have you come across that aren’t mobile friendly over the past six months? It may be on the decline, but I’ve certainly come across a few. Think about those websites with reams of tiny hard-to-read text, un-clickable links and difficult-to-follow horizontal scrolling.

Less is usually more when it comes to a mobile interface so feel free to use images and make text snappy and offer your visitor the information they need upfront, don’t make them search for it. If you’re selling a product, then make the checkout process as smooth as possible. Avoid popups that can distract or even annoy customers when trying to make a purchase.

Integrating actions into your site is also encouraged. Customers should be able to click on contact numbers, email address and interact with you on social media without having to search the site like a private detective. If your store or office has a physical location, Google Maps integration is another simple way to enhance the user experience.

To help give you piece of mind, you can use Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test Tool to check the friendliness of your site for mobile and there are also plenty of tips to walk you through the optimisation process.

Keep yourself in Google’s good books

In April 2015, Google made the decision to assess the mobile friendliness of websites and use it to influence mobile search rankings.

Many websites were caught off-guard and those that did not have a mobile-friendly interface in place were penalised in their search results ranking.

The good news is that you don’t have to fret about building an SEO friendly mobile site from scratch. Products such as GoDaddy’s Website Builder automatically creates a mobile friendly version of your website and allows you to make any adjustments from the control panel.

By the end of 2016, there will be over 2 billion smartphone users in circulation and this number will only continue to grow into 2017.

Catch up with last month’s article, Logos to loading times – Giving your website the professional touch

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ABOUT THE EXPERT

At the beginning of his professional career, Stefano Maruzzi made an impact by leveraging his software engineering skills to launch Microsoft University in Italy, while writing fifteen books which have been translated into multiple languages. He then served as MSN Italy country manager at Microsoft, president at Condé Nast Digital International, and Google Italy country director. Maruzzi is currently GoDaddy’s VP EMEA in London, UK, heading the regional team to empower small business owners to build their brand and grow online.

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