Mobile website performance is important for several key reasons. It all starts with user experience. Google has made it quite clear that they put user experience first when ranking content in the search engine. For example, from Google’s own Webmaster Guidelines, “Google’s goal is to provide users with the most relevant results and a great user experience.” (Emphasis added.)
Given Google’s attention to user experience, it’s clear that to rank in search, content has to provide that great user experience. Taking user experience into consideration leads us to ask how people are consuming and sharing content. The answer to that question is increasingly: people are on mobile devices. To meet these mobile demands you must develop a mobile strategy. Ensuring good mobile website performance requires making some choices for your website.
There are two basic choices to optimize your website for mobile use.
- build a dedicated mobile website.
- or, build a responsive website that works seamlessly across multiple devices.
Do I choose the dedicated mobile or a responsive website for my mobile strategy?
Both dedicated mobile websites and fully responsive websites have advantages and disadvantages for mobile website performance. Let’s start with the advantages to building a dedicated mobile website. Going with the dedicated mobile website option provides more opportunity for full customization, and has the potential to also provide a better mobile experience. If done correctly, you’ll be presenting your visitors with a mobile-first experience that is fundamentally different from their experience on a larger screen.
Some of the disadvantages to a dedicated mobile site can include increased cost and the potential for providing a customer experience that is inconsistent when moving between devices. In The New Multi-Screen World study, Google found that 67 percent of online shopping took place across multiple devices sequentially. These numbers are from 2012, and it’s likely that they have increased since.
Responsive website design is intended to maintain a high level of user experience across multiple devices. As noted above, many people use multiple devices. Visitors often move from smartphone to tablet to laptop to desktop while browsing a website. Responsive design provides the kind of consistent experience people expect while moving between devices. Responsive design does take a bit more development effort up front to ensure mobile website performance is consistent.
However, it often requires less money than building an entire mobile dedicated website and can save money down the road when updating the site as well. A word of caution when implementing responsive design in your website. Be sure to test your new site across various platforms like Android and iPhone devices and across multiple mobile browsers as well. Not only on smartphones, but your website performance on tablets like the iPad is increasingly important as well. Performing this kind of testing ensures the best possible experience for the most possible visitors.
Why is mobile website performance so important for my website?
In addition to providing a better user experience across devices, we’re seeing a strong increase in smartphone adoption. For example, according to Google’s The Mobile Playbook (themobileplaybook.com), “Over the past two years, smartphone adoption is the US has grown from 36% to 61%.” This kind of adoption in the mobile space is staggering, and presents the kind of challenge companies must overcome in order to remain relevant in their mobile strategy.
There is also an increasingly social audience to consider. Not only are consumers on the go and using mobile devices around the house as well, but they are also more social. Often, being social means being on a mobile device. To meet this type of user demand, businesses must ensure that their websites are not just optimized for mobile, but are also optimized for social on mobile.
Being optimized for social on mobile means that your website should provide a lot of opportunity to visitors who wish to share your content with their network. Having evident social sharing icons makes the process of sharing your content from a mobile device easy for your visitors. Ease of use and a good visitor experience go hand-in-hand. Be careful not to overuse social sharing icons however. If your website has too many social buttons or icons your visitors may find them distracting, which in turn drives down their experience.
Be Aware of Your Audience When Optimizing for Mobile Website Performance
Your audience will play a key role in understanding how best to improve mobile website performance. For example, it’s possible that if your website caters to an older demographic they will not be as interested in sharing the content they visit with others. This may not always be the case however, so be sure to get to know your audience and understand their preferences.
Pay attention to which social networks your audience prefers to use when they are on their mobile devices. Google Analytics provides a lot of insight into your audience and their demographic, so use Analytics to help understand your audience and cater to their preferences. Make sure you’re active on the social networks on which your audience is active, and build key relationships with them to help gain insights into their mobile preferences.
Here are some tips for effective mobile website performance.
- provide a website that either uses a dedicated mobile approach or responsive design.
- test your website across multiple mobile platforms including smartphones and tablets like the Apple iPad or the Google Nexus 7.
- get to know your audience and learn their mobile preferences and build mobile website performance accordingly.
- and, make sure your mobile website is easy to navigate and responds quickly to user demands, i.e. the site loads quickly.
Paying attention to your audience and choosing an appropriate content delivery method (mobile dedicated or responsive) will all help you form a winning mobile strategy. Discuss your web content and mobile strategy with We Do Web Content. Call 888-521-3880 or fill out our contact form.