After a flagship year of growth for mobile commerce, Keynote Systems calls out mobile website best/worst practices from 2011.
As the mobile industry continues to grow and makes an increasing impact in commerce, businesses are learning to make considerations for their mobile user experience. Over the past year Keynote Systems has continued to analyze mobile performance through its Performance Indices. Here we've laid out the “naughty or nice” list of mobile website trends seen in 2011.
Sugar and Spice and everything NICE
+ Keeping a light mobile site – It was clear that keeping a mobile site on the light site was the way to get top speed and performance on Keynote’s Mobile Performance Index. Most of the top performers this year, stayed that way by keeping their mobile home pages trim. When deciding whether content is needed the rule is: when in doubt, leave it out.
+ A little “Spritely” magic goes a long way – Best Buy, Foot Locker, Toys R’ us and Wal-Mart, leveraged a little magic to boost their mobile website optimization in 2011. Using a ‘Sprite’ in mobile site development helps condense the amount of server requests made for images by packaging elements of mobile Web pages together and giving the mobile user a faster experience.
+ Give the people what they want – While redirecting mobile users to mobile splash pages promoting an App did not bode the best interest of the mobile Web user experience, some retailers like Walgreens at least gave consumers the option to click through the splash page and continue to an optimized mobile site. Some people like Apps, some people want Web—the best sites give options.
+ Success rate boosts performance – When retailers pay attention to success rate, good things happen. Dell was one retailer that was able to shoot into the top 10 of the Keynote Mobile Performance Index by improving its success rate. Success rate is the percentage of the time a page loads on a smartphone completely and successfully.
Nothing but coal – The Naughty List
- Heavy lifting – Content heavy websites had dramatic impacts on performance from the reigning top mobile sites. Several sites that saw performance impacts when adding content to their pages this year like Buy.com, Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s.
- Splash page replacements – The start of the holiday shopping season saw an interesting trend. An increasing number of mobile sites were looking to capture the attention of mobile users by replacing their mobile site home pages with splash pages. Retailers like Dell, Nordstrom and Walgreens redirected users to an advertisement to download a mobile App to access mobile content. The mobile equivalent of an interstitial, and who likes them, Splash pages were a Fail for the mobile user experience.
- Website outages – Mobile load testing is critical to the success of website’s performance and to revenue in busy shopping seasons. In addition, other site issues can hurt performance like Brookstone’s maintenance outage earlier this year. “When conducting maintenance, retailers should always provide a ‘Site under maintenance’ message to inform end users when to expect service to resume,” says Herman Ng, mobile performance evangelist at Keynote Systems.
- Deficient Data Centers – Mobile site performance isn’t always in the hands of the retailers. There are many outside factors that can affect the performance of a mobile site, like ToolFetch’s recent data center woes.
- Ignoring the masses – Dell and Foot Locker are among the retailers whose sites didn’t perform well on slower devices and networks speeds. Let’s face it, not every smartphone is a 4G rocket, and a retail mobile site needs to serve millions of users with devices and carriers that are a bit slower. When measuring the user experience on a BlackBerry Curve on T-Mobile some sites had relatively much slower page load times when compared with the same site on other devices and carriers. The sites with better overall performance were able deliver all users a great experience across a broad cross-section of devices and network connections.