If you're here to read about our findings on the 2014 Australian mobile statistics, be sure to check out our latest analysis of Australian mobile statistics at 2016 Australian Mobile Statistics: How Digital Is Increasingly A Mobile-First Experience.
Not too long ago, making your website responsive was to many businesses, an option and a luxury. The overwhelming majority of your website users were still browsing the Internet on their desktop or laptop machines. The benefits of having a beautiful mobile optimised website don't seem to justify its costs. There is at least a 25% cost increase on top of a standard website quote for the additional design, development and testing time that will be required to make it responsive and displaying elegantly across the plethora of different mobile and tablet web browsers and screen sizes. The risk-averse business conclusion is to stick to what we know, keep the costs down and wait for a few more years.
If you don't know what responsive web design mean, it's still not too late to get in the know. But learn now, you must! Responsive web design is the approach to designing and developing a website so that it is optimised for a wide range of devices, from mobile phones to tablets to desktop computers. An optimised experience allows users to read and navigate the website with a minimum of resizing, panning, and scrolling.
In a few years since Boston web designer and developer Ethan Marcotte coined the term “responsive web design” in his May 2010 article in the web content magazine A List Apart, the responsive web movement has spread quickly, led by stylesheet framework developers such as Twitter Bootstrap and Zurb Foundation, and is now widely adopted by most practitioners in the digital industry. Digital agencies, web services providers and theme developers alike have scrambled quickly to skill up and make the technology available to individuals, businesses and organisations, replacing their previous generation mobile sites (the once-popular separate m. sites) with all-in-one responsive websites.
However, despite the recent growth in popularity of responsive websites, the vast majority of business websites are still poorly optimised for mobile users. Recently, in two contrasting conversations with us about their websites, one client described mobile optimisation as “a good idea but not needed” while the other, puzzled by the very question of whether their website should be made responsive, replied, “of course! Any website has to be responsive now.”
Based on the latest compiled 2014 Australian mobile statistics from StatCounter, between January and March 2014, mobile browser usage (specifically iOS, Android and IE Mobile browsers) accounts for 15% of total Internet browser usage in Australia. This is an increase from 11.85% for the same period in 2013 and an increase from 7.75% for the same period in 2012. At this rate, by 2015 we are on track to have 1 out of every 5 website users in Australia browsing on a mobile device.
If browsing stats are not painting a full enough picture, let’s take a look at the latest trend in PC (desktop) and smartphone (mobile) sales. Worldwide PC shipments (an indicator of the popularity of desktop computers) have been falling since its peak in 2011, and is recently projected to fall another 6% in 2014 by American market research firm IDC. This is in contrast to global smartphone sales which increased by 42.3% from 2012 to 2013.
In more compelling Australian mobile statistics and facts from OurMobilePlanet.com, a research collaboration between Google, Ipsos MediaCT, the Mobile Marketing Association and the Interactive Advertising Bureau, it is revealed that in 2013:
- A whopping 90% of smartphone owners accessed the Internet via their smartphones daily.
- 58% of smartphone owners used Search engines on their smartphones daily.
- 52% of smartphone owners visited the website of a business after performing local search on their smartphones.
What this means is that the shift to mobile is well underway. If you have a website which is not optimised for visitors accessing it on mobiles, they will likely exit your website quickly without attempting to navigate around. These users can either choose to wait till they get to a desktop computer to revisit your website (by then they might have completely forgotten to) or they can simply go to a competitor’s website which is far better optimised for mobile use. You are potentially losing prospective customers and missing out on opportunities to engage current ones.
In the next five years, responsive web design will become synonymous with web design. As more people switch to mobiles and tablets as their main web browsing tools, away from desktop computers, all new websites will be expected to be responsive and mobile-optimised by default, and the challenge for Internet service providers such as digital agencies and contractors, will be to find ways to make responsive web design and development more streamlined and cost-effective for everyone.
- Mobile Internet usage is growing (currently 15% of total Internet usage in Australia) and will continue to grow at a steady pace.
- Worldwide trends show that people are buying fewer desktop computers and buying a lot more smartphones and tablets.
- More than half of all smartphone owners in Australia use their mobiles to search and visit the website of a business after searching.
- If your website is not well-optimised for mobile users, the poorer experience will turn them away to better optimised competitors' websites.
- Having a website which is responsive will provide an equally elegant experience for users across desktop, tablet and mobile devices.
- Allocate a business budget to creating a responsive website before the end of this financial year to prevent possible exodus of mobile visitors in 2015.
- Having a responsive website does not give you more visitors (which are driven by marketing activities), but it will reduce the likelihood of mobile users leaving and will improve their experience and how they feel towards your brand.
- Check your Google Analytics reports for signs of a less engaged mobile audience, such as higher bounce rate and less time spent on site. Ask us about a complete website analytics audit which will reveal more insight into your customers' behaviour on your site.
- A truly responsive website should have a fluid layout and display beautifully at all screen sizes. If you already have one, make sure it doesn't just adapt to the most common screen sizes.
- A good responsive website should load quickly. Some responsive websites which are not built to best practice can take a long time to load on mobile devices, leaving users frustrated anyway. Again, your Google Analytics reports will provide data on your site speed.
P.S. More than a user experience problem, having a website which is not responsive or optimised for mobile screens will also affect your website’s ranking in Google’s organic search results. In 2011, Google introduced the Panda Update to its ranking algorithm which significantly changed the way it rated a website’s quality. In a planned upcoming article, we will discuss these changes in detail, and what impact these have on all businesses who rely on their search rankings to drive traffic and sales. So stay tuned.
Are you keeping up-to-date with the latest mobile statistics? We've recently published our 2016 mobile statistics report! Don't miss 2016 Australian Mobile Statistics: How Digital Is Increasingly A Mobile-First Experience.
By Yuan Wang
Yuan Wang is co-founder and Creative Director of Melbourne digital agency Yump. He is also a co-organiser of the Be Responsive technology meetup in Melbourne, a monthly grassroots conference for digital practitioners of all backgrounds, including UX designers, web developers, search marketers, project managers and digital recruiters, to discuss the principles and future of responsive web.