cross-screen marketing solutions

Anne Thomas on…Don’t be Mobile Lazy

This article was originally published in the February 2012 issue of  .Net Magazine 

“Anne Thomas explains the business benefits of taking the trouble to make sure your website is truly mobile-friendly


I recently looked over a Dotmobi study that determined that in 2010, 19.3 per cent of the top 500,000 websites were mobile-friendly.  This seemed an unfeasibly high percentage and didn’t chime at all with my experience – so I replicated the study with a 2011 twist.

I used Alexa to study the top half-million websites, as Dotmobi had, and investigated what percentage had a mobile-friendly version when hitting the web URL.  I came up with a figure of 8.1 per cent – so it’s abundantly clear that Dotmobi and i have a very different idea of what “mobile-friendly” means.

I classified any experience as “mobile-friendly” if I was redirected to a mobile site under a subdomain or served mobile-formatted and design content from the main website.  I excluded any experience where I was simply served the website that was designed for PC consumption.  It’s not mobile-friendly to disregard the needs of the mobile consumer: it’s mobile-lazy.

Unhappy Customers
This is a serious matter – many brands that Wapple has worked with typically see an 85 per cent bounce-rate on their website from mobile devices until they present optimised content for all mobile devices using our technology.  So, for example, if they generate 200,000 unique hits in a month, this is around17,000 unhappy customers (based on an assumption that 10 per cent of traffic is from mobile devices.)

My data does of course forgive all the ill-conceived WAP landing pages and mobile user experiences and credits these brands for at least trying to present something to mobile browsers, including them in my figures.  However, I believe that a true mobile-friendly website should present the same branding but in a way that is designed for small-screen display and browsing.  It should take into account the mobility of the consumer and present only relevant information and content from the website for their “in-situ” needs.  It should also interact with them for their unique device and provide mobile-specific opportunities such as location-based offerings.  Interaction should be simple to understand with few clicks, forms ought ot be low maintenance and contact numbers should display as click-to-call.

I’ve recently published a number of examples of both mobile-friendly and mobile-lazy websites, including some exemplary experiences that were served to my mobile browser from their respective websites’ (.com .net and so on) domains.  I’ve scored each of these examples out of 10.  One of the finest specimens of a mobile-friendly site is Ameba, a Japanese entertainment news and information portal.

“Mobile site interaction should be simple to understand with few clicks”

Even after including poor mobile experiences in the “mobile-friendly” mix, the outcome of of my analysis was very different to Dotmobi’s – so I concluded that Dotmobi’s percentages must have included PD designed websites that render on smartphone browsers, whereas I would classify those ones as being”mobile-lazy”.  This theory was strengthened when I viewed Dotmobi’s own website on my mobile browser ( or – I would have scored this 5/10 using my personal scoring system.

The Real Deal
Mobile web awareness is increasing and a growing number of businesses and brands are looking for a true mobile web experience to serve to their mobile audience.  A lot of them are completely dumping the idea of depending on native apps for mobile consumers.

Additionally recent initiatives such as Google GoMo and mOcean Mobile’s Publisher Annex will work to educate and strengthen marketers’ understanding of the mobile web and how it will benefit their business.  Hopefully we’ll be seeing a big increase in the number of truly mobile-friendly sites over this coming year.”

published in .netmagazine p127 Issue 224