January 23, 2013

Mobile data demand could soon outweigh supply – where does that leave your website?

Written By Martin Sandhu

Using smartphones has become a part of everyday life for many, with accessing the internet via a data connection one of their main uses. But the makers of such phones can’t keep up with demand quick enough and as a result it’s taken seven years to get to the 4G stage. Unfortunately in that time smartphone users have grown to consume 35 times more data than standard mobile users, which is forecast to lead to a serious slowdown in connections.

A report by Deloitte reveals that by 2016 data usage will have increased 50-fold and manufacturers simply cannot keep up. They predict that demand will exceed supply and whilst there won’t be a data blackout, it may take three or four attempts to access a website, calls could be cut off and generally browsing will be a lot slower. Just like roads, mobile networks will start to suffer from rush hours, no doubt at similar times too.

Whilst 4G will go some way to ease the issue, the current rate of uptake is not fast enough to stave it off. So, if data connections slow down, where will that leave your mobile site?

Rush hour is often a time when e-commerce sites see the most traffic, after a hard day in the office commuters enjoy some window shopping and many are now making purchases through their phone or tablet too. But if download speeds become slow, users will get frustrated and give up…easily! There are a number of things you can do to help the issue though:

Our recent mobile website for Toad Footwear

  • Keep it simple – whilst an all singing all dancing mobile site which looks the bees knees is great for your brand, a design heavy page full of images, moving items or real-time data will always take longer to load.
  • Resize images – An e-commerce site will be full of images, but hi-res pictures are wasted on mobile screens, and they’re also one of the biggest culprits of slow-loading websites. A large image (both in aspect and file size) uses up bandwidth to resize, by building in smaller images to your mobile site this bandwidth can be used on loading other page information.
  • Ensure mobile caching is being used – caching is a way of storing data so that future attempts to access the same information can be speeded up. Mobile caches are generally much smaller than those on a desktop, making them even quicker.
  • Think about the user journey – How many pages does a visitor have to click through to reach a product description? How many pages of information is their to input to make a purchase? Is the ‘check local stock’ option easy to use? It may transpire that you need a totally different user journey on your mobile site – simply replicating the desktop journey is often not enough. Simple things like allowing PayPal payments instead of inputting credit card details, letting users create an account with their Facebook login etc. will mean there is less information not only for the user to type but to send through the connection too.