91% of UK Mobile users will pay using mobile in 2015. Google’s April Mobile Update driven by demand not malice

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Yes, we’ve been banging on about the Google Mobile Update for some weeks now. Basically, if your website’s format doesn’t adapt well to mobile devices its going to start sinking in Google’s search results. This is going to be a bit of a headache for small businesses and start-ups that rely on Google as their main marketing and main sales channel. Believe it or not though, Google is on your side.

Every now and again we need a little kick to get us out of our complacency. Things change quickly on the web and new research conducted by Oxygen8 shows that more than 31 million (92%) UK mobile users will make payments with their mobile device in the coming year. And if that isn’t enough to drag you kicking and screaming out of your comfort zone then think about this: 31.7 million people in the United Kingdom have accessed an average of six web-based businesses using just their smartphone alone.

In the United States the figures are even more compelling: 10% of Americans use only a smartphone to access the Internet.  Naturally, some industries are more greatly affected that others. For instance, 62% of smartphone owners have used their phone in the past year to look up information about a health condition whilst only 44% have used their phone to look up real estate listings or other information about a place to live.

The traditional picture we have of a user sitting at a desk-top or laptop to visit your website is already changing. I’d advise all my customers to start thinking about mastering the ‘multi-channel journey’.

The latest research undertaken by the UK’s Automotive Industry revealed that shopping on smartphones and tablets drove up purchases of new commercial vehicles by 22% last year.

In 2014 online spending exceeded £100bn for the first time as more and more consumers shopped on smartphones and tablets. The internet now makes up almost a quarter of all retail sales, according to the consultants CapGemini.

It’s a case of tough love from Google; they’re going us the push we need.

Businesses big and small need to start capitalising on the move toward mobile and the best place to start with is with how your website looks and how it operates. It’s as simple or as complex as you like, but if a user has trouble using your site on a mobile then there’s not even a chance they’re going to proceed with a purchase or click on that contact page.

If your site isn’t mobile friendly, here are 5 main things you should be looking at initially:

  1. Have plenty of white space around your buttons and make those buttons large. Same with anchor-text. Users need to be able to click on your links with some degree of precision without resorting to the usual pinch and zoom method. Pinching and zooming is out.
  2. Use the Viewport meta-tag to control default screen-settings.
  3. Keep those file-sizes down. Doesn’t matter what the payload is, keep it small. So all those huge 1280×1024 plus background images? Use CSS Media Queries and javascript to detect when a user is using a mobile or tablet and serve them smaller ones in their place.  Even better, consider getting rid them altogether.
  4. Compress all your your style-sheets, your javascript and your images as much possible. There are 100 ways of doing this, some better than others.
  5. Consider having a ‘sticky’ navigation menu slide down the page as the user scrolls. Mobile users have to scroll significantly more than their desk-top counterparts.

It’s pretty simple: if your user is having trouble viewing your website on a mobile, is forever pinching and zooming or just waiting an eternity for the page to load, let a professional have a look at it. They’ll be able to adapt your current website so that its complies with all of Google’s Mobile-Friendly Standards – even if it means designing a new one.

In an age increasingly defined by multiple devices and a demand for multiple experiences, one size no longer fits all.

About the author

The author has covered all aspects of web development and internet marketing. Work conducted on behalf of Art Empire Industries, GBEye, Sheffield City Council. The author’s mission is to provide an ethical web service to small & medium sized businesses throughout the North East of Scotland and ensure a fair and reasonable trade-off between the money they invest and any subsequent business growth. Based in Moray.

Email: alan.sarjeant@gmail.com

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