Could you be barring millions of shoppers from your website?

Most retailers wouldn’t open a store in a location so inaccessible that it could be reached only by people with top-of-the-range 4×4 vehicles.

But this is effectively what some retailers are doing to potential customers online.

The reason?

A lot of websites are a lot slower on certain mobile devices. What works on one smartphone could be all but unusable on another.

And we’re not just talking about 10-year old smartphones.

Even up-to-date devices – particularly lower-end Android devices – aren’t really able to cope with many of today’s ecommerce websites.

It’s a recurring theme in real user monitoring (RUM), which consistently reveals slower load times on Android smartphones compared with their iOS counterparts. And that invariably means fewer conversions and less revenue.


‘But we don’t get much traffic from Android smartphones…’

It’s a common objection. A lot of retailers report higher traffic on iOS devices. But it doesn’t really stand up to scrutiny:

  • When people say they don’t get much Android traffic, what they normally mean is that they don’t record much traffic. But according to Doubleclick, 53% of mobile site visits are abandoned if pages take longer than 3 seconds to load. This could mean you’re just not seeing a lot of would-be visitors to your site. It could also mean you’re paying for visits you’re not actually getting if people are clicking through from PPC ads and giving up before the page loads.
  • Once bitten, twice shy… It could be that you’re getting less repeat traffic on Android because the site was too slow for many visitors the first time around.
  • Even if you’re focused on iOS users because your target demographic is more likely to own an iPhone than a lower-end Android device, you could still be missing out on potential customers. Why do that if you don’t have to?

Why are some websites so slow on mobile?

One answer is that sites are simply not designed for the long tail of users with lower-end smartphones. And with tens of thousands of different types of Android device in circulation, it’s hardly surprising that developers don’t test on all of them.

There are also reasons why Android phones tend to be slower at certain tasks than iPhones, and a heavy reliance on large amounts of JavaScript, for example, can be crippling for performance on some devices.

The trend towards responsive design has a part to play too. In responsive websites, the layout reflows to accommodate the viewport without the need for a separate m dot site or device detection. This can be great for presenting a consistent look and feel across devices. But the downside is that the same content is often delivered to every user, regardless of device type. For example, it can be really bad for performance if large images have to be scaled down to fit a small viewport.

So what’s the answer?

The good news is that delivering a website that works for all your visitors shouldn’t be that hard.

  • The first step is to get insight into your website’s performance and your visitors. Use real user monitoring to understand which visitors are seeing the slowest load times and how your site’s load times correlate with KPIs such as conversion. This will help you set the right targets for site speed.
  • Analyse your site to find out where the performance bottlenecks are (or ask our experts to do it for you!). What’s slowing it down most? And is this having a disproportionate impact on certain user groups?
  • Minimise reliance on JavaScript – don’t use scripts to deliver responsive images, for example, when using HTML/CSS is faster.
  • Consider delivering different content to different device types – server-side device detection has fallen out of favour lately but it’s worth revisiting if it’s going to mean a better experience for more people. At the very least, make sure you’re delivering the right-sized images for the viewport, rather than scaling images down for phone screens.

In short, there’s no reason why millions of smartphone users need to be second class ecommerce citizens. And a better, faster experience for all customers on mobile is better for your brand and your bottom line.

Try Real User Monitoring free and find out how your website performs for visitors on different devices.

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