Distributed Workforce

Your Mobile Website Stinks

Phone in the dark

This is part two in a series on Reinventing the Web to Win the Mobile Moment. Here's part one, a Drunk History Of Mobile Strategy.

For 20 years we have optimized the web as a big billboard broadcasting everything about a company. Marketing owns the public site, and cares more about acquisition than utility. Product teams own the private sites and are faced with an ever-escalating array of digital touchpoints. Is it any wonder firms, aided by their digital agency and web content management software, have built one-size-fits-all reponsive websites and punted on the responsiblity to make them great?

"Why can't they all just use our app," I hear you say. Alas, few customers and even fewer prospects will use your app. But they will visit your website on their phones, particularly when they search or link their way to it. Sadly, when they arrive, their experience — even on your new responsive site — is awful. Why?

Here are some typical issues:

  • Your one-size-fits-all responsive retrofit isn't mobile-first . . . While responsive web design solves a litany of problems — including making your site visible on Google Search — it doesn't magically deliver desktop conversion results. REI told us, "When we went to responsive web design, we celebrated for a minute. Then we asked, ‘Is our responsive website enough?'"
  • . . . but your web traffic is going majority-mobile. Web traffic is shifting to phones, growing to 52% globally in 2019. Some web traffic — particularly in media and commerce — is already majority-mobile. At the University of Notre Dame, 80% of the traffic to gameday.nd.edu is from phones. Walmart reported over 70% of Black Friday web traffic in 2016 was from phones, and Wyndham Worldwide reported that 75% of web visits on weekends are from smartphones.
  • You have no option — you must make your mobile web work great on phones. Customers won't use your app, and your shrunken desktop website isn't working on phones. But your customers are mobile. You have no choice but to serve them in their mobile moments of need, including via the mobile web. It's time to overthrow the old ways and reinvent the web for mobile phones.

Up next: We asked 59 mobile web experts if there's a better way. Their advice? Throw away 20 years of desktop web legacy, and reinvent the role your mobile web plays in customer engagement. It's time to start over and build progressive, app-like mobile web experiences.

Wanna see how awful some desktop web design habits look on a phone, even when it's responsive? Check it out below.

Ted Schadler is VP and principal analyst at Forrester Research, where he services application development and delivery professionals. Read more Forrester blogs here.