How to get a mobile website that converts |

Why isn’t my mobile website converting?

By Faye Foot / May 14, 2015

There’s been a lot of hype over the last couple of months about the latest mobile-friendly algorithms for mobile search. Whilst it’s great to see that traffic from mobile devices has been on the increase over the last year, on the whole conversions haven’t enjoyed this positive increase.

I’ve read a lot of blog posts recently on the new algorithm and it’s great to hear that Google will reward mobile friendly websites, but there is little information on why mobile conversions aren’t increasing.

We now need to understand why users aren’t converting via mobile devices and what businesses can do to tackle the fundamental issues users are facing when on a mobile device.

The first question we need to ask ourselves is why are conversions lower on mobile devices? Although the mobile devices are often the go-to choice of technology, people aren’t purchasing on them. Google’s smart shopper survey revealed that 87% of respondents used a computer to make a purchase whilst only 6% used a smartphone.

So what are people doing on their mobile devices?

It’s clear to see just how much of an impact mobile devices are having on our lives, but do we know what actions and activities our customers are performing? It could be argued that smartphones are more of a research or browsing platform rather than a buying platform.

Going back to the findings from the Google survey, 83% of respondents used a desktop to conduct research compared to 21% who used a smartphone.

But whilst it’s great that we’ve identified what people do, we need to find out WHY people are discouraged from purchasing on a mobile device. It could be down to a multitude of reasons; here are some of them:

  • Websites aren’t mobile responsive
  • Website aren’t storing user and payment details
  • Page speed is slower on a mobile device
  • People like to research on a mobile device and purchase on a desktop
  • Depends on the need state- e.g. booking a table at a restaurant is easier and quicker to do than purchasing a camera
  • Low value items are more likely to be made on a mobile device
  • People feel like they are missing out on information, products etc. when purchasing on a mobile device.

Why first impressions count

How many times have you bounced off a website because you can’t read the text on your phone? Or if the page takes forever to load? Frustrating huh? You’re not alone; when it comes to mobile every second counts. Loading time can affect your bottom line for a number of reasons, so ensuring that your website loads fast, doesn’t crash or send a 404 error is now more important than ever.

Google’s survey revealed that 26% of respondents claimed that they sometimes experienced problems and 8% said they often experienced issues.

Most users, including myself, don’t have the time nor the patience to wait for a site to respond, we just expect it to work and when it doesn’t it can leave a lasting impression.

Whilst it’s important to find out how many people experienced problems, it’s what users do after they’ve experienced problems that can help us.

Findings from the Google survey concluded that:

  • 50% use the same site on another device
  • 15% use the same site despite the problem
  • 24% use another site that works better on a smart phone
  • 25% try the same site via smartphone again or at a later time

Whilst it’s great that 50% of the respondents went back and visited the same site on another device, the question is, how long will people put up with these issues and start expecting more?

A large proportion, 24% in fact, bounced straight to another site, most likely to a competitor. And guess what? If your competitor’s site is mobile friendly, they are more likely going to purchase through them.

What makes a site mobile friendly?

So the most important question is, “what makes a site mobile friendly?” And “what things can I do to make the user journey quick and easy for its visitors?”

Having a mobile friendly website has become a necessity rather than a nice-to-have option. Design and development teams are now having to rethink and refine the process to incorporate the variety of screen sizes whilst taking into account the needs of the user. Understanding the basics of having a mobile friendly website is paramount to the future success of your site.

I have put together a list of the top features I think are a must have for every website, as seen below.

Checklist of essential requirements for mobile websites:

  1. Present your navigation horizontally, in the burger format
  2. Ensure the content fits the screen
  3. Not too much scrolling, tapping or pinching required
  4. Site that loads quickly
  5. Have the most important content above the fold
  6. Search facility within the site
  7. Content that is easy to read without needing to zoom in
  8. Keep your copy simple and concise
  9. Don’t overcrowd the page
  10. Click-to-call functionality
  11. Maps of your locations/stores
  12. Links that aren’t close together
  13. Large call-to-actions that are easily clickable
  14. Input fields that have large touch areas
  15. Ability to store user and payment details to speed up the purchase

Mobile websites: saints and sinners

To make this a little more interesting and relatable, I have chosen 5 features from the list above that I think are the most important, and found saints and sinners for each category. You will notice I didn’t need to navigate further than a brand’s homepage before noticing problems!


1) Have the most important content above the fold

Have the most important content above the fold


Alton Towers mobile website focuses on a promotion rather than important areas such as ticket purchase.


Pizza Express have provided links to the core areas their customers will want to go to.


 2) Links that aren’t close together

Links that aren't close together


The links within Pets at Home’s drop down navigation are far too close together making it almost impossible for users to select one link.


Oasis have created enough space between each call to action button.


3) Ensure the content fits the screen

Ensure the content fits the screen


Staples haven’t set the mobile view port so the page doesn’t fit on a mobile device.


Waterstones have set the view port so that the page fits within a mobiles frame.


4) Content that is easy to read without needing to zoom in

Content that is easy to read without needing to zoom in


The text on Fudge Kitchen’s homepage is far too small to read on a mobile device.


The font on Starbucks’s homepage is easy to read on a mobile device without the need for zooming in.


5) Don’t overcrowd the page

Mobile - Mobile - Don't overcrowd the page


Animal have too much information on the homepage making it harder for customers to find what they need.


AO’s ‘shop by’ options make it easy for customers to find what they need.

So what’s next?

Where do we go from here? Firstly, don’t give up. The biggest mistake to make is to become complacent and accept that things won’t change. But we all know that approach won’t work.

It’s important to ask yourself what your customer’s intentions are when visiting your site, what information would they want to see, how could you make their time on the site more enjoyable and simple. Then once you’ve answered these types of questions you can identify the best ways to optimise the site so we can make it easier for them to convert on their mobiles.

Just remember that the easier you make a customer’s journey the more likely they are to convert!

Do you have any other mobile friendly features that I should add to my list? If so, please leave me a comment below with your recommendation.  I look forward to hearing from you.

Faye Foot

Faye has worked in the digital marketing industry since 2014. She recently joined White in 2015 as a Digital Specialist. Faye has an interest in consumer behaviour and UX.

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