The Importance of Mobile-Friendly Websites in 2017


Chances are you've had a web design or internet marketing company tell you your site needs to be mobile-friendly, if it isn't already. There's been a widespread panic for sites to get mobile-friendly ever since Mobilegeddon occurred, and for those of you who haven't made the switch yet, you might be wondering how important it really is for you.

How Important is Mobile Really?

Mobile Internet Use

In October of 2016, mobile traffic officially surpassed desktop traffic on the internet.

Mobile Traffic Surpasses Desktop Traffic

Starting last October, more people accessed the internet from their mobile phone or tablet than from their desktop computer or notebook. Desktop traffic has slowly been decreasing for the past decade and mobile internet use has been continually growing. 

There's no stopping the upward mobile trend. By 2019, mobile is predicted to account for 79% of all web traffic. This could mean that only 20% of the time people spend on your website will be from a desktop computer. And if your site doesn't work on a mobile device? Studies show people will simply stop visiting it in favor of a site that provides a smoother mobile experience.

Google says 61% of users are unlikely to return to a mobile site they had trouble accessing and 40% visit a competitor’s site instead.

-McKinsey & Company

How Does Your Audience Browse?

Despite the overall trend towards mobile, there are still some industries where most website traffic still comes from desktop computers. Analyze your buyer personas to get a better idea of how your audience browses the web. Mobile is especially crucial to local service-based industries, like locksmith services, for example. Someone in need of emergency roadside service is almost certainly going to search for a local business using their mobile device.

For an even more comprehensive picture, review your Google analytics data to see which devices your visitors use. 

Web Traffic Analytics By Device

But while mobile may be more important for some industries than others, user preference and browsing habits aren't the only thing to consider regarding having a mobile-friendly website.

Mobile-Friendliness and SEO

Of all the factors looked at by Google when deciding how to rank your website on search engines, mobile usability is ranked as the third most important of all the factors. Google made an even bigger shift to mobile in November 2016 when it declared that it would crawl the mobile version of websites before the desktop version. Furthermore, Google is going to take its ranking signals from the mobile version of your website, not the desktop version. This could affect your rankings in Google.

If the [Google] bot finds that your site is hostile to mobile users or loads very slowly, you’re definitely going to lose rank.

-John Lincoln, CEO of Ignite Visibility

Responsive Design

If you've created or redesigned your website in the past couple of years, chances are your developer used a responsive design. Responsive design adapts the display of your website to the size of the device screen being used. In some cases, this means an auto-resizing of the content. In other cases, it can mean a drastically different appearance with simplified content or a different, mobile-friendly navigation, for instance.

Some businesses realize that the majority of their traffic comes from mobile and that they can't possibly convey an optimal user experience simply using a responsive version of their website, so they develop a mobile app. Amazon is one example of a company that realized its huge website would be really difficult to use on a mobile device, hence the popularity of their app.

Maintaining an optimized version of both your desktop and your mobile websites may not be the best use of your resources, either. Again, review your web analytics to see how most people use your site when deciding how to allocate mobile development and optimization resources.

Mobile-Friendly Content

A well-executed responsive design will ensure that navigation and images adapt attractively to the mobile experience. On mobile, the text becomes even more important than on desktop, due to the limited space available. When writing content for your mobile site, strive to be concise, purposeful, and readable with headers and callouts to help your reader quickly navigate your site's information. Remember to keep your calls to action especially prominent on mobile with easy-to-read buttons or call outs.

Improve Your Bottom Line

Mobile-friendliness is good for business. A recent case study for shoe-company "Offspring" showed that implementing a responsive web design increased their rankings by 77.59% and increased their mobile conversion rate by 15.19%. By implementing elements like a large onsite search bar and a "sticky" header (one that stays in place throughout scrolling), they made their site easier to use on mobile and tablet thus keeping more visitors on their site longer and ultimately generating more sales.

Next Steps

  1. Not sure if your site is mobile-friendly? Use Google's Mobile-Friendly Test.
  2. If you'd like help looking at your buyer personas, analytics, and website to determine if a mobile redesign is the right way for you to go, feel free to contact us.
  3. If you already know you need a mobile-friendly website and are looking for the right partner, Let's Start a Conversation