Show of hands — who is reading this on a mobile phone right now? There is a very good chance that you are. If you are reading this several months after it is published, there is an even better chance that you are reading it on your phone. The adoption of the mobile Web is growing 8 times faster than the original adoption of the Web. Try to find stats on the growth of mobile device usage, and you will see a wealth of quotes just like this: “In the last 12 months, mobile browser usage has nearly doubled, and in the past 24 months has more than tripled.” It has gotten to the point that any statistics on mobile phone usage becomes obsolete faster than the mobile phone you just bought.
It jumps out that ignoring mobile is a mistake just because there is a growing population of mobile users. Deciding whether to invest in a mobile-specific site for your business, though, is more complicated than that. Here you must ask the question, “Is it worth it, and is it right for my market?” Etna Interactive knows that leads are the end goal and has done the research to show you how a responsive mobile site will get you those leads.
Improving the User Experience
When doing anything for a website, keeping the end user in mind is always the key. A site optimized for mobile devices and browsers is essential in striving for good usability. The example below is a side-by-side comparison of the exact same page viewed on an iPhone 5S. On the left is the desktop version that has been scaled down to fit the screen, and on the right is the mobile-optimized page design.
The version on the right is obviously much easier for the user to interact with. The text is larger, it’s less cluttered, and navigation is large and easy to see. Users won’t have to zoom or scroll horizontally to get everything they need. What you can’t see from this picture is that the user actually has to wait less time for it to load, too. The desktop version is essentially 3 times larger than the mobile version in terms of kilobytes to download. As fast as mobile phones and wireless networks have become, they still aren’t as fast at pulling up the same information as a desktop computer with a broadband Internet connection. Users are just as demanding, though, and it is estimated that 57% of them will leave the site if it takes longer than 3 seconds to load. Click here for a little extra info on what mobile phone users want from websites.
Search Engines & Responsive Design
It isn’t just users who despise slow load times for mobile sites. Search engines also take into account how fast a site loads. No one knows to what extent, but it has been confirmed that Google factors page speed into mobile as well as desktop search result rankings. Google’s Page Speed tool actually gives grades on loading times of mobile sites now. This reality is the case no matter what implementation of a mobile site you use.
A couple of years ago, m-dot sites (e.g. m.yourdomain.com) were all the rage. These were small sites that would replace a main site when viewed on a mobile device. They are still a usable option, but major search engines (most notably Google) now prefer responsive websites. The reasoning is pretty simple; the information you get on the phone is exactly the same as on the desktop. This means there is no duplicate content and no confusing experience for the users when they switch to another form of media and the content has suddenly changed. Maintaining a website also becomes simpler, as changes have to be done in only one spot. Overall, having an m-dot isn’t going to harm you; it’s just an outdated strategy that will continue to age poorly.
A better user experience and potentially higher rankings are great benefits to consider. What business owners with websites really want, though, is to know whether their investment will gather more leads. Everyone knows that mobile phone users love to use their phones for local searches. However, does that actually lead to users contacting practices? Etna did a study earlier this year on several of our sites to track how many leads were brought in from mobile phones. The results from that study were pretty simple: On average, 30% of leads acquired through the website were acquired via the responsive mobile site. The biggest portion of those leads was from phone calls. Calling a practice becomes incredibly simple for a user when the website presents them with a simple one-click option to “Call Us.” While it’s possible that some of those users may have zoomed and scrolled their way around the desktop version of the site, it’s obvious what devices those users prefer to use. This makes the decision to invest in a responsive mobile site a little less complicated — is it a mistake to ignore the technological preferences of roughly 1/3 of possible new leads?