Do users use mobile websites?

Thursday, November 24, 2011
Do users use mobile websites?

Perhaps the first question the average business owner asks when presented with the idea of creating a mobile website is, “Who uses mobile?” Five years ago, the answer was only those folks who enjoyed waiting forever for a page to load on an unreliable wireless network. Today, the answer is millions of people around the world, and that number is exploding. Mobile browsing can’t even be described as the Internet access method of the future because it is already here. Sales of smartphones and tablet computers are in the millions and users are finally being able to count on wireless networks that don’t drop your connection every few seconds. If you don’t have a mobile website for your business, you are really missing out.

As a society, we’ve evolved past the point where we expect a business to have a regular website and we’re quickly getting to the point where we expect a business to have a mobile website, as well. Sure, it can be counter-intuitive to remove things like pictures, Flash animation and long text descriptions from your business website, but you are doing a huge favor to those browsing with compact mobile devices. As more and more young people browse with iPhones and iPads, patience is wearing thin; have a mobile website or you might as well not even bother having a site at all.

As websites like Google Analytics deliver an increasingly clearer picture of how people use the Internet, business owners are faced with a stark reality. In the olden days, you know, seven years ago, it was said that the average website had about 3 seconds to capture the attention of a browser before they moved on to another site. Today’s analytics show that sites have even less time as people use mobile devices on the go. If a potential customer attempts to load your business website on a tiny 3-inch screen and they are given long wait times, Flash animation they can’t see and big, bulky graphics, they aren’t going to stick around and attempt to find your address, phone number or opening hours. They’re going to click away and go to your competition. A mobile website says that you respect your more technologically advanced customers and you are ready to deliver an exemplary customer service experience.

There are some businesses who believe that since they cater to a particular demographic, say, the elderly, they don’t need a mobile website. While this may have been true five years ago, more older folks are grabbing modern technology and making good use of it. Take a look at a meeting of executives at the average Fortune 500 company. Plenty of grey hair and plenty of mobile devices, as well; everyone has a Blackberry or an iPad by their side. Mobile web browsing isn’t something done by the under-25 set anymore. It’s done by everyone, and you must provide that experience or risk missing out.