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A must-do: Optimize for mobile

A must-do: Optimize for mobile

I’ve written a lot about the need for nonprofits to have responsive websites that work across all devices—androids, tablets, iPads, etc. In 2008, bold predictions were made that mobile usage would overtake desktop internet access by 2014. And as 2015 has ended, we are well past that tipping point with mobile digital media in the U.S. is now significantly higher at 51% compared to desktop at 42%. The new year is here and optimizing your nonprofit website for mobile is a must!

The difference between mobile and responsive

There are two major methods for creating mobile websites: responsive design and mobile templates. Responsive design only requires one website that is coded to adapt to all screen sizes, regardless of the device that your website is being accessed from. A mobile template, on the other hand, is a separate unit that will require you to have a second, mobile-only website or sub-domain. Mobile templates are built for each specific site, not per screen size. While there are pros and cons to each method, responsive design is typically the most popular and widely used method for designing a mobile website.

Here are just a few reasons to concentrate on optimizing for mobile through responsive website design for 2016:

1. Mobile usage has exploded

Despite the impressive and telling statistics showing up all over, however, many organizations still have not yet made the switch to responsive. These stats from Smart Insights don’t lie:

  • Over 20% of Google searches are performed on a mobile device.
  • In the United States, 25% of Internet users only access the Internet on a mobile device.
  • 61% of people have a better opinion of brands when they offer a good mobile experience.
  • 25.85% of all emails are opened on mobile phones, and 10.16% are opened on tablets.

2. User experience is critical

If a user lands on your mobile website and is frustrated or cannot find what they are looking for, there’s a 61% chance they will leave immediately and go to another website. On top of that, if they have a positive experience with your mobile website, a user is 67% more likely to buy a product or use a service—or in the case of a nonprofit, donate to your cause.

3. Preferred for SEO

Google has admitted that they prefer responsive web design over mobile templates—their reason being that having one single URL makes it easier for Google bots to crawl your site, as well as reduce the chance of on-page SEO errors, require less engineering time to maintain multiple pages for the same content, and reduce the possibility of the common mistakes that affect mobile sites. For these reasons, if your site has a responsive design, it will typically perform better and will be easier to maintain than a separate, mobile-template site.

4. Speed is key

Google recommends that the content above the fold on a mobile device loads in under 1 second and the entire page loads in under 2 seconds. This is typically not possible when loading a desktop website on a mobile device. When a user has to wait too long for a page to load, there’s an extremely high chance they will leave your site. Google experienced this firsthand when compelling repercussions of website performance lapses impacting sales. The search engine giant once experienced a 20 percent slump in traffic resulting from half a second delay in page load times.

One of the big benefits of responsive design is that the design is based on screen size, not the device. This means that regardless of the size screen someone is viewing your website, it should display properly. As new devices are continually coming to the market and being used for web browsing, your responsive site will be prepared.

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