Why it hurts your business if your tech website isn't mobile friendly

There’s not much excuse these days to have a site that’s not optimised for mobile. And yet, we still regularly see technology websites that are not. So, at the risk of repeating things that have been said on the internet a hundred times before.... Let’s take a quick look at the business reasons to ensure that your site works nicely on mobile devices.

Dilbert comic strip

What is mobile-friendly, anyway?

Before I start, though, what do we mean by mobile-friendly? Well, mobile-friendly just means that your site is easy to use on mobile devices. We talk about "proving a good user experience" on mobile. What that translates to is that it loads fast & is easy to navigate. It means that everything scales down to a smaller screen nicely, and works as expected. And it often means that we replace elements that don't work well on mobile devices with ones that do.

And by mobile devices of course I mean anything with a screen that doesn't usually plug in to the wall.

So why is this important?

Firstly, let's establish the basics. Your website is a very important part of your marketing. Buyer research online is at its highest ever levels. People are looking online for solutions to problems they face. These are problems your product or service could solve for them. And one of the key places they find you online is your website.

Plus, once they've found your website, people make big assumptions about your business, based on what they see. People are easily put off. It doesn’t take much to have them reaching for the back button. So, getting your website right is important.

Secondly, the way we access the web has changed. More people are now browsing on mobile devices than on desktops, across the board. And even in areas like B2B, where we used to assume people are sitting at desktops, mobile browsing still makes up a big chunk of traffic.  According to "The changing face of B2B marketing" study, 42% of people researching a business buy will do so on a mobile device.

So - there's a large mobile-device-wielding potential audience out there. An audience who you risk alienating, if your site doesn't impress on an iPhone or amaze on Android.

Dilbert comic strip

And if that's not enough, Google is throwing its weight behind the argument for good user experience on mobile devices. In 2015 Google announced a change to its algorithm. That change gave priority within mobile search results to mobile friendly sites. So, if your site played nicely on mobile, it did better in the mobile search results.

Last year, the search giant went a step further. It announced that it was experimenting with using mobile-first algorithms for all search. So now, your site's mobile-friendliness (or lack thereof) may affect all your search rankings.

As Google put it on the webmaster central blog:

"...our algorithms will eventually primarily use the mobile version of a site’s content to rank pages from that site."

So far, they're just testing the water with such a major change, but the intent is clear. Mobile performance will be the yardstick by which your site is measured.

Summary - go mobile friendly because:

  • It ensures a better experience of your website for anyone on a mobile device
  • More people browse the web on mobiles than do on desktops
  • Buyer research online is at it's highest ever levels
  • 42% of those researching a business purchase will use a mobile device
  • It already hurts your rankings in mobile searches if you're not mobile-friendly
  • It will eventually hurt your rankings for all searches if you're not mobile-friendly

But despite all this, a surprising number of websites are not optimised for mobile.

Then what do I need to do?

Firstly, check whether your site is mobile friendly using Google's handy checking tool.  If your site passes the test, it's still worth taking a gander at it on any mobile devices you can lay your hands on, though. Google doesn't check everything, and remember, this is about the human experience of browsing the site. Check how fast it loads, and how easy it is to navigate. Are there elements that just get in the way on a mobile device?  As an alternative to Google try Website Planet's responsive checking tool.

If you decide that improvements can be made, there are several ways to provide a better user experience to mobile users. One of the easiest is to make the site “mobile responsive”. This can even be retro-fitted into older sites, so a full rebuild isn’t required. It’s a matter of breaking down how the site appears at different screen sizes, and re-flowing the content accordingly. Plus, as we said at the start, removing any elements that don’t work well on mobile, or replacing them with ones that do.  And lastly, you’ll want to look at the speed of the site on mobile devices, and optimise things a little more there. It’s easy to get complacent about site speed in this age of broadband, but for the mobile audience, connection speeds aren’t so assured.

And if you do need a little help with ensuring your website plays nicely on mobile devices, just give us a shout.

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