‘Going mobile has become a business imperative’ – Google
According to new statistics released by IMRG and eDigitalResearch, consumers are increasingly using their smartphones to browse for products and services and to shop online; and it doesn’t look like this will be changing any time soon. So how can you ensure that you are using your website to make the most of the expanding market?
20,000,000 Potential Customers
Over 60% of the UK population currently owns a smartphone, and this figure has been rising steadily over the last few years, with 57% more consumers using smartphones than in 2010.
So far, more than 50% of smartphone owners use their phones to browse for products and services online – which means that around a third of the UK population could be trying to shop on your website using their mobile phones.
Could your Website be Letting you Down?
While half of smartphone owners use their phones to browse online only 34% are going on to make a purchase using their phones. So what’s stopping them? More often than not, visiting a regular website on your mobile phone is an ordeal involving lots of zooming, scrolling and frustration.
The problem is that the Internet was originally designed to work on desktop computers, and as smartphones and tablets are relative newcomers, most websites simply weren’t designed with them in mind. So consumers might browse on your site but many give up before making a purchase.
The good news is that this is changing. The number of people making purchases using their smartphones has almost doubled in the last few years and it will continue to increase as retailers optimise their websites for smartphone users.
Going Mobile with Responsive Web Design
So how do you go about making sure mobile users find it easy to spend money on your site? The solution used to be to direct mobile users to a specific mobile site, designed for a small screen but with limited content to speed up page loading time.
Thinking has moved on, however, as developers have realised ‘it’s a myth that mobile users don’t want access to all of the information and functionality available to desktop users’. As people continue to buy devices with different screen sizes they are beginning to use them interchangeably, and ultimately need to be able to access the same content anywhere, on any device.
This is where responsive web design comes into play. Developers build a website which can respond to the size of the screen they are being viewed on. Responsive websites are devised using a ‘mobile first’ strategy, so they provide optimal user experience even on the smallest screens and are then enhanced for larger screens. A responsive website only needs to be designed once to be viewed on screens of any size (even those that haven’t been created yet) meaning it is the only way to create a ‘future-proof’ website.
This great article discusses the advantages of responsive web design over specific mobile websites in the context of last year’s US presidential election (Hint: Obama’s campaign website was responsive. The rest is history…)
When are Apps Applicable?
Apps are another way of making your content available to mobile users, but don’t make the mistake of thinking they are the only way. Consider how you want to interact with users online and what you want them to be able to do. This infographic shows that when using their smartphones to shop 73% of users prefer to use a responsive website compared to just 27% who opt to use an app. More often than not when a client contacts us about an app, what they actually need is a fully responsive website.
The Post PC Era
We are entering what has been called the ‘Post PC Era’ with ownership of smartphones continuing to rise and tablet sales set to overtake desktops this year according to a report by researcher IDC. It has never been more important to make content easily accessible to consumers regardless of the device they are using, and responsive website design is the most effective way to achieve this.