How responsive is your website to the needs and preferences of mobile customers?
August 8, 2017
By Linda Daichendt
It’s hard to imagine in today’s world a business of any size that doesn’t have a website ready and waiting to be its face to potential customers. Studies show that since the first website was published in 1991 the Internet has hosted more than one billion websites. Surprisingly however, a 2016 study by B2B research firm Clutch indicated that 46 percent of small businesses do not yet have a website!
Lack of a company website can be harmful to any business, but particularly to small businesses with limited resources. When human and financial resources to increase customers are limited, it is critical to have a 24-hour, 365 days a year marketing tool doing some of the work for you. While some in the Clutch study indicated they are using social media as a replacement for a website because social media is free, you should consider the following:
- First impressions count: is it more valuable for potential customers to see a standard social media template with a custom picture or two, or for them to see a customized website designed to showcase the best things about your business in such a way to immediately catch their attention?
- An effective and comprehensive website should serve as an anchor for your firm’s marketing efforts. Design of business cards, ads, social media layouts, collateral materials and all other marketing tactics should be based on the design of your website and should refer customers back to the site where they can learn a great deal more about your firm and its products or services.
- Seventy percent of consumers find companies – especially local companies – by Google search. In the US, 94 percent of people with smartphones search for local information on their phones. Interestingly, even when at home or work where a desktop or laptop is usually present, 77 percent will still conduct searches on their mobile device.
- Google gives preference in its search rankings to websites (particularly mobile-friendly websites) as opposed to social media. If you want your firm to be among the first results someone sees when they conduct a search, and you want that search result to lead them to your company, a website is critical and a mobile-friendly website is absolutely imperative.
- You can find many free and low-cost means for building a company website. Check resources such as WordPress.com, Wix.com, Weebly.com, Web.com and more.
I hope at this point you’re convinced that a website is needed to grow your business. Our next step is to help you understand the importance of having a mobile-friendly website, preferably one developed using a responsive design approach. Responsive design enables desktop web pages to be viewed in response to the size of the screen you are viewing. In other words, it lets your full-sized, desktop-designed website to scale in size and design format so that it looks good, and is user-friendly, from whatever device it is being accessed (see the graphic example below).
Mobile-friendly websites are extremely important for a variety of reasons:
- In 2015 Google implemented a change to their search engine algorithm that factors in whether or not a website is mobile-friendly. Sites that are moving up in the search rankings are mobile-friendly; sites that aren’t are pushed to the bottom, which means your site could end up being 10 pages in on a search that provides a lot of results. (Take Google’s test to see if your website is mobile-friendly at https://search.google.com/search-console/mobile-friendly. Author’s note: SBAM’s website passed the Google mobile-friendly test. Check out sbam.org on your mobile device).
- Mobile-initiated searches on Google overtook desktop searches in 2015 and the percentage has been increasing. It’s important that your site ranks well in the mobile-search rankings if you want it to be seen by potential customers.
- Use of mobile devices is on the rise; almost 60 percent of website traffic is from a mobile device. If consumers access your website from a smartphone or tablet and have a poor experience, they’re likely to have a lower opinion of your firm/brand and are more likely to visit a competitor’s site.
- Over 55 percent of social media interaction happens on mobile devices. Therefore, sharing content links from your website on social media means that content is just as likely to be viewed from a mobile device as a computer, so you want it to be easily read and interacted with on mobile.
What does it really mean to have a mobile-friendly website? Generally, there are three basic criteria that are considered when making that determination:
- Can you read the text on the site without requiring zoom to make it larger?
- Do you have to scroll up and down or left and right to be able to see all the content. If so, your site is not mobile-friendly.
- When you tap a button or link to get to another page on the site, do you have enough space to do so without hitting another page’s button or link accidentally?
In closing, the best thing a small business can do to increase its ability to gain new customers without a heavy financial outlay is to use one of today’s easily accessed, low-cost resources to build a mobile-friendly website to be the major source of information about your firm 24/7.
Linda Daichendt is the CEO/Executive Director of the Mobile Technology Association of Michigan (MTAM), a Co-founder of Mobile Monday Michigan, and Executive Producer of the ‘Michigan Mobile Musings’ podcast. She is also a member of the Board of Directors of the Michigan STEM Partnership.