You can no longer ignore your customer’s online user experience. If a customer was to walk into your brick and mortar store, you would gladly help them find what they are looking for – and the same should apply online.
Many small-business owners believe that because their business is searchable on a mobile device they already have a mobile website. But without a website that is specifically optimised they will lose sales.
Not having a mobile-optimised website has even been likened to “closing your store for one day each week.”
Your website design should guide the user through the site to ensure that they have the best possible experience. If they encounter error logs, the text is too small to read or the checkout doesn’t run smoothly, they will simply abandon their cart and buy from another vendor.
So it goes without saying, having a mobile-optimised site is crucial in our mobile-centric society – 85% of Australians now own a smartphone, after all.
Small businesses often rely on localised searches to drive traffic to their sites. Google’s algorithm change last year meant search results were presented in an often significantly different order when users browsed from their phones instead of PCs.
This change reduced the digital footprint of many small businesses and some even disappeared from search results altogether.
Technology constantly evolves and with it consumer behaviour.
Mobile devices give their users the freedom to browse the internet from almost anywhere. Consumers are now using their phones to research and compare products while they’re shopping in physical stores and often make purchases online on the way to work.
Content may look great on a desktop PC but be unreadable on a mobile device.
Customers don’t want to be pinching the screen constantly to make the text fit the screen without making it so small that they’re left squinting. Users can find complex navigation overwhelming and hard to use.
Calls to action (CTAs) are usually blocked/abandoned when links are too difficult to click on or contact pages are hidden away in the depths of the site (involving too many clicks to reach).
Avoid this by making all important information easily accessible and one of the first things people see – no more than one or two clicks away.
It is also best to avoid plugins that have to installed/updated to show your site’s content.
More often than not plugins – the most common being Adobe Flash, Microsoft Silverlight, Java and Apple Quicktime – cause problems because many mobile devices and browsers no longer support them.
They are therefore a major cause of crashing devices and security incidents. Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test checks for plugins and subsequently (if it finds them) your site will be classified as not ‘mobile-friendly’, your ranking will suffer and your bounce rate will increase.
Mobile users have different needs to desktop PC users. They want quick, easy and digestible content and they want to be able to perform other tasks during their visit to your site and come back to it later.
Many consumers admit that purchases made on their mobiles are more likely to be impulse buys and that they spend more money than they would on a desktop.
In the digital age, it seems we are growing increasingly impatient. Research from Strangeloop Networks, for instance, shows that 57% of mobile users will abandon your site if it takes more than three seconds to load.
And research from Amazon revealed that every 100 millisecond increase in load time cuts sales by 1%.
Users want information immediately and they want it tailored to your location, your activities and in real time. So it is increasingly important for businesses to optimise their mobile experience to meet these needs and make the path to an enquiry or a purchase as easy as possible.
So what can you do?
Target your customers – Think about what you are trying to achieve through website optimisation. What is the customer’s goal, what information are they looking for?
Often customers will look for your contact information or location so this should either be at the top of the page or prominent in the menu options.
Make it fast – Users expect fast results. Websites need to load without delay to be effective on mobile devices. They also need to be easy to navigate.
For best results design the site so that the user can get to their destination in 1-2 clicks, without zooming, typing or going to too much trouble.
Make it functional – A good mobile website is much more than a resized and reformatted traditional website.
Make sure you consider the functionality of your site – click-to-call buttons are always helpful, alongside buttons that link to your social media pages or Google Maps in one swift action.
Track your results – There are plenty of free analytics tools to help you see how well your website is working. These can tell you how many hits you have generated from mobile devices and give you an insight into the behaviour of your audience.
If you see a trend of smartphone users leaving your site soon after arriving, there’s a high chance that your site might not be working effectively.