There are 5.9 billion mobile subscribers – that’s 87 percent of the world’s population. About 1.2 billion of those users are mobile web users, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re accessing the web in ways that will ultimately benefit a retailer, vendor, or other third-party seller.
With the rising popularity of the mobile gadgets today, many organizations are increasingly interested in “mobile browsing” and optimizing their websites for people to view, use, and share content on mobile devices.
The impact of optimizing websites for mobile browsing on a company’s bottom line is a bit overestimated. The reality is that mobile browsing hasn’t yet reached high enough usage to justify allocating a big portion of a marketing budget. Investing heavily in mobile browsing before it has become a powerful medium is ineffective, as websites need to be rebuilt at least every two years to keep up with the fast rate of change in technology.
Businesses are prioritizing their mobile website optimization efforts to keep up with trends, yet aren’t aware of the full landscape. Mobile devices and tablets such as the Android, iPad, iPhone, and trends surrounding each have pressured organizations to focus their energy in HTML5 and CSS3 development, which is misguided. Change is good only when it is well supported.
Research shows that users access the web predominately via legacy browsers such as Internet Explorer on desktop or laptop computers. Numbers show that only about 1.47 percent of web browsing is done through mobile devices, according to the well-renowned W3schools. That said, sacrificing the online experience to ensure that a website is mobile-platform-compatible can be very counterproductive in the long run.
Although mobile web usage has dramatically grown over a short period, there are a number of drawbacks that businesses should be aware of, including:
Availability of an Internet connection is still an obstacle for many mobile users. An overwhelming amount of users are unable to connect or receive a strong signal in many locations worldwide. Additionally, the mobile Internet Protocol (IP) is not typically as strong as a regular IP. As a result, websites tend to load too slowly. And, because of bandwidth limitations, mobile browser applications tend to run slower.
Browsing the Internet on a mobile device is not easy for many users – it can be difficult and time consuming. Problems interacting with sites and completing tasks, such as filling out forms and clicking on buttons, are also not as simple on mobile devices. These types of issues have caused many users to avoid using the Internet on their mobile phones.
Many users don’t like browsing the Internet on a mobile device because of the smaller screen size. It’s easier to view and process information on a larger screen. Also, constantly having to zoom in or scroll down to view content is inconvenient for users. When folks have the option to wait and view content on a full size monitor, most users do.
Incompatibility is a challenge with mobile browsing because of the large variety of mobile devices available, along with the broad range of complex scripts that are used. Due to this dilemma, often websites and plug-ins don’t load seamlessly on every device.
Concerns about security and privacy deter many users from using a mobile phone for important tasks. Business users have become accustomed to firewalls and virus protection programs on their desktops and laptops to safeguard their information; these protections are not as readily available on mobile devices. Mobile security and risk can deter users from browsing on their devices.
With all of these impediments, businesses must take into account that mobile browsing may continue to have a limited reach. If marketing and design plans are driven by mobile browsing, they often fall short in user experience and expectations. To maximize the return on investment, organizations should instead focus on using the full potential of the web in the way that users are most responsive to.