If you look around your waiting room, chances are anyone sitting there is focused on a smartphone or mobile device of some kind. Mobile usage is so widespread that mobile search has begun to eclipse PC web search (even when users are at home where there is likely a computer available). Nevertheless, a surprising percentage of ophthalmology and optometry websites are lagging behind in mobile readiness.
We have been tracking mobile usage for our client websites for years and our evidence shows it is only growing. We have a number of sites that are now seeing a majority of traffic coming from mobile users. Just think if these practice websites weren’t mobile friendly — they could be losing 50 percent of their web-based patients and revenue! A costly mistake to say the least.
Why Mobile is a MUST
If mobile is not yet a priority for your practice, take these points into consideration:
- Without a mobile site, you can say goodbye to mobile users (patients) who do not have a good user experience and find what they are looking for quickly and easily.
- Google has made two major updates favoring websites that are mobile friendly. Mobile friendly sites will have increased search visibility and higher ranking on mobile search and non-mobile friendly sites will be penalized. This trend will likely continue.
- Your website is a form of customer service and if it is not accommodating to visitors, they will get a bad impression. You will also give your mobile friendly competition an advantage. Those users who get frustrated by your site will keep looking and go to the next site that is more user friendly.
- You will miss out on conversions (website visitors that become patients) if actions such as making a call, booking an appointment or getting directions aren’t easy to find and use. These users are already on your website, help them to convert into paying customers.
How to “Go Mobile” — The Basics
What does it mean for a website to be “Mobile-Friendly” or “Mobile-Optimized”?
Having a mobile website means your site is designed in such a way that the user experience and look of the site are optimal for mobile device viewing. A mobile site makes it easy for users to view the site and complete common tasks (in our case — booking an appointment, getting directions, ordering contact lenses etc.). Navigation is simple and easy, page speed is fast and the most relevant information is visible and accessible.
If you already have a website, there are a couple of options on how to optimize your website for mobile, the most common and recommended of which are adaptive and responsive design.
- An adaptive design website is based on formatting a number of distinct layouts for different screen size options that load depending on (or “adapt” to) the screen size of the viewing device. This requires the designer to create a number of different designs but can be a good option for those who already have a website and want to reformat for mobile friendliness.
- Responsive design is one design created based on techniques that use fluid grids and flexible images that respond to the device accessing it. This is the type of design currently recommended (even by Google), especially for new sites that are getting a mobile-friendly start.
To determine which option is best for your needs, it is best to consult with a reputable web designer.
When you do consult with a web designer you want to have a little background so you can ensure your needs are met. Here are a few important mobile factors to implement in your mobile web design and optimization:
Prioritize Your Information
Mobile site visitors are usually more action-oriented than desktop users. They are usually looking for information such as a phone number, address, hours, a map or directions or to book an appointment. This information and the features that enable the user to take action should be prominent on the homepage of your site. When designing your site, make sure you have mobile users and their needs in mind.
Optimize Page Speed
Mobile users have little patience for slow loading images or pages. Your images should be formatted for the smaller screen and slower networks that usually accompany mobile search. You will also want to eliminate pop-ups, reduce redirects and use browser caching (a good web developer will understand this terminology) to ensure the site is quick and efficient.
Optimize for Local
Mobile search is highly localized and since the small screen displays fewer results, you want to make sure you rank at the top of the page. Local results on mobile also show a “click-to-call” link and a directions link so you need to optimize for these instant conversion opportunities.
For more information, you can check if your website is mobile-friendly with Google’s mobile friendly testing tool and refer to their mobile guidelines resource. You can also download this free e-book on Making the Most of Mobile to learn more about mobile optimization.
Don’t forget, your website is often the first impression you make on potential patients and if you aren’t providing a great experience that is up with the times, it will have a negative impact on the user’s trust, patience and willingness to book an appointment. Mobile is popular because it is convenient so you want your online presence to offer the conveniences your patients are looking for.