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A lack of functionality and slow loading times are among the main usability issues with mobile sites, according to a new study.

Sites that aren’t optimised for mobile screens are also a lead cause of frustration, yet many businesses (yes, including Econsultancy) are still dragging their feet on launching a mobile site or moving to responsive design.

However more often than not mobile sites offer exactly the same features and functionality as desktop versions, it’s just scaled down for the smaller screen size.

Therefore it could be that consumers simply aren’t aware that the mobile web offers the same browsing experience as desktop, or that poorly designed mobile sites are giving people the impression that they offer limited functionality.

The Eptica survey of 1,000 UK consumers also found that just over half (52%) of consumers are dissatisfied with the mobile web experience in general.

For more information on this topic see our blog posts on 11 ways to improve the navigation on your mobile site and 16 gorgeous examples of mobile design inspiration.

The case for going mobile

Offering a poor user experience on mobile is a major problem for ecommerce sites at a time when traffic from mobile devices continues to grow.

Statistics included in the new Econsultancy/IBM Reducing Customer Struggle Report found that around three-quarters (72%) of responding companies said that mobile accounts for more than 10% of traffic, up from 52% in 2012.

The proportion of respondents who said that more than 20% of their traffic can be attributed to mobile has more than doubled in the last 12 months, from less than a fifth (17%) in 2012 to 41% this year.

How much of your total traffic is via mobile devices?

The report also examines how customers are interacting with businesses through mobile devices. A majority of companies (60%) stated that customers research products using mobile before later purchasing online, while 48% said that their customers actually make purchases through mobile devices.

How are you customers interacting with you via mobile devices?

Conversion rates on mobile always lag someway behind desktop sites, so it’s not surprising that product research is the main consumer activity.

This is likely caused by the fact that mobile checkouts are often difficult to use. We recently looked at the UX on the mobile sites of the UK’s top online retailers, and while they generally offered a decent browsing experience the checkout proved to be a common problem with overly long forms, compulsory registration, and poor usability.

David Moth

Published 20 September, 2013 by David Moth @ Econsultancy

David Moth is Editor and Head of Social at Econsultancy. You can follow him on Twitter or connect via Google+ and LinkedIn

1684 more posts from this author

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Depesh Mandalia, Head of Digital Marketing at Lost My Name

I feel many companies don't consider mobile as a separate sales channel - instead its a 'cut down' version of the desktop experience. By that I mean to understand why someone is using a mobile and not a desktop. Just as you would compare online with your store as to how usage between both differs and complements.

In some cases, the first search occurs on mobile before leading to a desktop sale (think holidays). Conversely some consumers will interact with both devices (retail) and transact with the easiest channel, which in many cases will be desktop. Others will be mobile only (think student coach tickets). Others still will veer toward mobile for personal and sensitive purchases. Context is as important as the sector and product you sell.

This is where field studies (i.e. ethnogrophy) will help to better understand usage within social bounds if you're serious about nailing mobile. It's certainly not easy and may well follow nailing the 'easier' mobile issues. It's how innovations such as Tesco's underground quick-shopping app was developed in South Korea; meeting a social and contextual need for busy commuters via mobile.

about 3 years ago

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Deri Jones, CEO at SciVisum.co.uk

Depesh

You're right - the user's context is fundamental.

It's striking that the survey shows 34% saying mobile sites are slow - I wonder if part of the blind-spot marketeres have here, is the context of their own usage.

What I mean I that marketers are in front of their PC screens alot of the day, and so tend to experience their own site through that context: it takes effort and patience to switch to mobile, if your pc is close to hand.

How to persuade marketers to start viewing their own sites daily on mobile devices?

about 3 years ago

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Yigal Carmy

I'm not sure why but mobile is still considered as the web's little brother.
You don't just need to adjust sizes for smaller screens. You need to think differently. Mobile usage is different then web - users are less patient, they are on the go, they do something simultaneously etc.
This is why I think responsive solutions suck - they only change the layout, and it's not that simple.
For a good mobile solution, try m.lamaloli.com, a site we built for a European retailer. It's a SPA (single page web application) designed specifically for best mobile UX.
As you've mentioned, it is fast and has all needed functionality. The context is always clear. Navigation is intuitive. And it works great in low connections.

about 3 years ago

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Alon Even

David,
Thanks for your great post.

First, regrading the responsive design, in contrary to popular belief, the popularity and proliferation of responsive web design is not a replacement for the native app and it is not going anywhere. Just looking at the fact that half of their users come from their native app where the conversion rate is 30% higher is enough of a reason to stay native.

Second, I agree that the a poor user experience on mobile is a major problem for eCommerce site or app. For this reason, companies have to measure, understand and improve their user experience on the mobile site or within their apps. Using traditional analytics is not enough, and it's highly recommended to use visual mobile analytics tools , such as Appsee (www.apppsee.com). Such tools provide user recordings and heatmap analytics and enable to see and understand exactly how users interact with your app/site and improve the user experience. By improving the user experience, companies will increase conversions, engagement and monetization.

Thx,
Alon

about 3 years ago

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Alon Even

David, please ignore my previous comments.

Again, great post.

First, regrading the responsive design, in contrary to popular belief, the popularity and proliferation of responsive web design is not a replacement for the native app and it is not going anywhere. Just looking at the fact that half of their users come from their native app where the conversion rate is 30% higher is enough of a reason to stay native.

Second, I agree that the a poor user experience on mobile is a major problem for eCommerce site or app. For this reason, companies have to measure, understand and improve their user experience on the mobile site or within their apps. Using traditional analytics is not enough, and it's highly recommended to use visual mobile analytics tools , such as Appsee (www.appsee.com). Such tools provide user recordings and heatmap analytics and enable to see and understand exactly how users interact with your app/site and improve the user experience. By improving the user experience, companies will increase conversions, engagement and monetization.

Thx,
Alon

about 3 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

Depesh Mandalia, Head of Digital Marketing at Lost My Name

@ Yigal

I disagree with this statement "This is why I think responsive solutions suck - they only change the layout, and it's not that simple. "

Responsive design does not mean just changing the layout. You can also add/remove elements from the desktop version and make it more tailored for mobile, whilst not complicating your SEO efforts with separate pages.

Take a look at www.qualitysolicitors.com on mobile. We're far from where we want to be however we're making a conscious effort to understand and adapt to mobile users, to test, analyse, learn and adapt. Eventually we'll aim to segment users on mobile by browse/search intent to deliver a more tailored experience, all possible through responsive and data intelligence...

about 3 years ago

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