The Mobile Web - Deliver on Mobile Website Performance or Your Customers and Potential Customers WILL Ditch You


It may be hard to believe, but in the United States, 22 percent of mobile Web users actually spend over six hours a day using the mobile Web. As hard as that is to believe, in China, the number of such users is actually 53 percent, and in Brazil it is 35 percent. To us, these are astounding numbers, but they are also numbers that clearly suggest the mobile Web is already a significant disruptive force on a global scale. Whether those users are spending their time shopping and engaged in commercial activity or in social engagement -- and most likely both -- it is clear that the mobile Web is driving a new age of usage and connectivity for a highly diverse collection of consumers.

These numbers come to us from a newly published Netbiscuits research survey and report titled "The People's Web Report.” It is a proprietary study that explores user behavior and demand for the mobile Web. The report is significant in its findings for the simple reason of its survey panel size. A total of 5,000 people around the world -- 500 participants from each of the ten countries surveyed -- responded. The research was conducted from March through May 2013 and specifically targeted those consumers actively using the mobile Web. Respondents were asked about consumer behavior across usage of the three main platforms prevalent today: smartphones, feature phones and tablets.

The mobile Web refers to accessing the Web from the handheld devices noted above, and it also means connecting to mobile websites over a mobile/wireless network. The essence of the mobile Web is…mobility. It does not refer to accessing full websites from laptops, Ultrabooks or desktops.

Netbiscuits itself, of course, has a vested interest in the mobile Web; the company has long been involved in delivering optimized adaptive mobile Web experiences. The Netbiscuits Cloud Platform targets reducing the cost, time and risk involved in developing mobile Web applications that deliver customized, differentiated and superior mobile user experiences across all connected devices.

The company authors the regular, quarterly Netbiscuits Web Trends Reports, which we've often referenced. Unlike that report however, the new report steps outside of the company's own statistics, as noted above. In addition, the new report includes contributions from social anthropologist Sally Applin, a Ph.D. candidate, and the Mobile Marketing Association. The report delivers richly detailed data and offers one of the most comprehensive analyses of the present and future of mobile Web experiences that we have seen.

The report also provides a rich set of infographics. Below, we've provided the most relevant in a slide show.

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The Mobile Web

Via Netbiscuits
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The Mobile Web

Via Netbiscuits
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The Mobile Web

Via Netbiscuits
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The Mobile Web

Via Netbiscuits
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The Mobile Web

Via Netbiscuits
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The Mobile Web

Via Netbiscuits

Going through the above slides, we can pull out the following top level observations:

  • Over 25 percent of global respondents spend more than six hours per day on the mobile Web (We find it amazing that anyone can spend that many hours online in one sense, but in another sense, consider how much time we spend on the Web overall as part of our daily work and consumer life; it becomes much less amazing with that context in hand.)
  • 61 percent of consumers globally say faster download of content would increase their satisfaction with the mobile Web experience. Certainly there is no surprise there, and yet the preponderance of businesses that look to make use of the mobile Web do not take this critical data seriously.
  • 76 percent of respondents said that they would not engage in a website that is not optimized for mobile.

The last bullet point above is intimately related to the first bullet point. The one crystal clear conclusion to draw here is that there is major opportunity to be found in ensuring that your mobile Web operation is highly optimized and fine-tuned. Doing so provides clear strategic and competitive advantages and differentiators. It is also clear that mobile Web experiences need to be tied to the type of sites being optimized and the kinds of services being provided.

Sally Applin notes the following critical points: “Understanding the relationships between people and their ideas, people and machines, and machines and machines, and how these relationships are established and maintained, will be what is needed for the success of the mobile Web. The result of the People’s Web initiative is to give those using the mobile Web a voice in shaping what the future needs to be for each one of them. By listening to and understanding people’s different needs and requirements, brands will be able to reach more people, more effectively. In other words, these views are critical in defining how brands engage with their customers online, and how to deliver better experiences on the mobile Web in the future.”

Amen to that. In a sense, the report simply provides the hard evidence for what we already know. Those businesses that choose to ignore what -- from a certain perspective -- is obvious will simply fail.

Key Mobile Web Performance Findings

In addition to the key bullet points outlined above, the report uncovers a diverse though intimately related set of issues.

Speed is King: There are consistencies in global attitudes toward mobile Web experiences. In particular, connection speed is the most important factor for 80 percent of global markets; the minor exceptions are Australia and the UK.

  • As noted earlier, 61 percent of all respondents say a faster download of content will increase their satisfaction with the mobile Web.
  • 33 percent demand the same functionality of their mobile websites as they do of full PC websites.

The overwhelming pressure for a better quality of experience demonstrates how the explosion of connected devices is leading to better informed and increasingly expectant consumers across both developed and emerging markets.

Brands Must Improve Web Experience or Lose Customers: The report makes clear that many users globally require more from their interactions on the mobile Web, with their expectations of online brands becoming increasingly high.

  • More than 76 percent of respondents say they will absolutely not bother trying to use a website that is not optimized for mobile.
  • 32 percent would not return to a badly performing website at all, preferring to either to give up or try a competitor’s website instead.

As a result, organizations of all sizes will be compelled to deliver better mobile Web experiences that work across all devices quickly and securely.

The Post-PC World and Global Appetite for Mobile: It is clear that an extraordinary global appetite for the mobile Web exists, with almost half of all respondents spending between one and six hours accessing it each day.

  • Over 25 percent of those surveyed spend more than six hours on the mobile Web each day.
  • 7 percent engage with the mobile Web for 12 hours or more!

China leads the way in terms of the most mobile Web use, as already noted. France spends the least amount of time accessing mobile content online. It is a very interesting distinction; does it suggest that France has a more mature online population? Yes it does. China, on the other hand, is both enormously sophisticated within a very tight range of its general population, but is entirely unsophisticated and third world amongst the far larger general population. As these emerging users come online they do so from a mobile perspective and in turn become inherently mobile users.

App Overload: This is a very interesting finding. Although there remains a great deal of publicity around the popularity of mobile apps, for mobile Web users that popularity is lacking.

  • Only 27 percent of respondents would usually download an app when prompted to do so online.
  • This is true despite 75 percent of respondents being exposed to such download prompts.
  • When browsing or searching for information on the mobile Web, 79 percent of respondents claim they prefer to have the option of using a mobile website.
  • A tiny 18 percent note that they are happy only using native apps.

Some of this "app overload" is likely due to the fact that many emerging country users are not making use of the most advanced and state-of-the-art mobile devices, but make do with the cheaper devices that are available; these tend to execute apps less efficiently, but retain performance advantages when directly connected via the mobile Web.

Daniel Weisbeck, Netbiscuits' CMO, notes that, “The phenomenal uptake of mobile Web usage, alongside rumored customer dissatisfaction with their quality of experience has been the main motivation to undertake this research. The resemblances in attitudes between these ten very different markets are remarkable, and we see a clear basis for brands to take proactive action to improve their mobile Web offering. With speed being the number one factor worldwide in determining customer satisfaction, and independent research suggesting every lost second costs a 7 percent decrease in conversions, we hope that brands will take steps to ensure their consumers receive the best possible experience they can offer.”

The full report is available for free download directly from the Netbiscuits website and is a highly recommended read.

Edited by Rich Steeves

TechZone360 Senior Editor

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