An independent study by Equation Research found that today's consumers are disappointed with the performance of the mobile web. Despite the proliferation of smartphones with their full-featured web browsers, the majority of mobile web surfers have encountered issues with accessing websites via their handsets over the past year. The number one issue reported involves websites that are too slow to load, frustrating users to the point that over half said they would never return to the site in question.
Mobile Web Disappoints
The research study was commissioned by Gomez, Inc., a company that helps organizations optimize the performance of their web and mobile applications. Obviously, that means you have to take these findings with a grain of salt as the company clearly has a vested interest in making the mobile web sound worse off than actually is.
That being said, in reading through the findings, you'll probably find yourself agreeing with much of what's being said. For example, the study found that the majority of mobile phone users said they expected sites to load as quickly, nearly as quickly, or even faster on their mobile phones as compared to their PC. While intellectually, most of us know that's not going to be the case - broadband connections at home or work are generally much faster than accessing the web via a mobile handset - there's still a feeling of wanting the phone to perform the way we've become accustomed to...that is to say, FAST. Waiting for a non-mobilized site to load up in the phone's browser reminds us too much of the painful days of dial-up connections. It feels like we've regressed to an earlier time...like there's something wrong with the site.
When encountering these slow loading sites, half of consumers reported that they were only willing to wait 6-10 seconds or less for the site to load. Longer than that, and they'll give up, move on, and probably won't ever return. Sixty-one percent said it's unlikely that they would ever visit that site again from their mobile device while another forty percent said they would seek out a competitor's site that provided a similar service.
While slow speeds were the number one complaint, with 73% reporting having issues in the past year, other complaints pointed to a lack of well-designed and stable mobile-ready sites. 51% percent complained of sites that crashed, froze, or received an error and another 48% reported the formatting of the site made it difficult to read. Clearly, there is overlap in these numbers as the survey respondents reported multiple complaints. Overall, though, 60% of mobile users reported having one or more issues accessing a site from their mobile phones.
No Mobile Web Presence is Bad for Business
For businesses who maintain a web presence, the survey's findings highlight the potential consequences of ignoring the mobile web. There are more people surfing mobile sites than ever before - 56.9 million as of July, according to Nielsen. Companies who haven't given consideration to their mobile websites aren't just losing customers for that initial attempted transaction that goes bad - they're possibly losing those customers for good seeing as how many of those frustrated users claim they won't ever return to the site in question.
Although the survey sample size was relatively small (just 1001 total respondents) and the company behind this wants to sell web optimization services, the findings seem to be believable. Anyone who's spent a good amount of time on the mobile web can assure you that it truly is in its infancy. So many sites are slow, aren't optimized for viewing from mobile handsets, and it is frustrating when you encounter them. Hopefully, businesses will begin to realize that if they want to compete with the next generation of web surfers, a "web presence" alone isn't enough. Today, you need a "mobile web presence" too.