Is making your ministry’s website compatible with smartphones and other mobile devices a waste of valuable time, energy and other limited resources?
A couple weeks ago, I was working on an AWANA flier to be passed out at our church’s county fair booth. Not trusting my fallible memory, I popped over to the church’s website with my iPhone to make sure I had the church phone number and street address correct for the flier. My web journey, however, quickly came to an end. The church website’s navigation was powered by Flash technology, and Flash is not viewable on iPhones. As a result, I was only able to access the Home page of the website and could not get to an internal page to locate the desired information.
My church’s website has become essentially useless to me; because, for fast information searches around my home or on the go, I’m not going to waste time pulling out my laptop. I just use my smartphone.
Are my habits and experiences deviations from the norm? Or are they reflecting a rapidly increasing trend which every ministry must acknowledge and craft their web presence to welcome?
Let’s go back to my primary question:
Am I wasting time making my ministry’s website mobile friendly?
To help answer that question, let’s take a quick look at the evolution of mobile usage in the United States. Just 5 years ago, only 9 million Americans (4% of the mobile market) owned a smartphone.1 As of May 2012, almost 110 million Americans owned smartphones.2 By the end of 2012, over 50% of the mobile market in the U.S. (presently totaling 234 million mobile device owners, age 13 & older) are predicted to own smartphones.
These are staggering figures, but just how capable are these smartphones?
The most popular smartphones are highly intelligent and equipped with increasingly powerful platforms and web browsers. Over half of active smartphones are powered by Google Android while almost a third are powered by Apple (iPhone) and just over a tenth are powered by RIM (Blackberry).2
What are mobile device users doing with their phones?
A recent poll conducted by comScore, examining mobile usage (smartphone + non smartphone) for a 3 month period ending in May 2012, revealed the following data:2
- 74.8% sent text messages to another phone
- 51.1% used downloaded apps
- 49.8% used a phone’s web browser
- 36.7% accessed social networking sites or blogs
- 33.5% played games
- 27.0% listened to music on mobile phone
The smartphone of 2012 has become the phone book, the newspaper, the weather forecaster, the dictionary, the encyclopedia, the Google information portal, the always-on desktop, and so much more. Inevitably, mobile device users are accessing your ministry’s website, and they are doing so at an increasing rate.
Let’s look at some Google Analytics figures for a few organizations
|Type of Website||Total US traffic June 2012||Non Mobile US traffic June 2012||Mobile US traffic June 2012||Mobile is _% of total US traffic|
|Internationally known nonprofit||5,200,000||4,500,000||700,000||13.5%|
|Nationally known abortion recovery||2000||1500||500||25%|
|Christian boarding school||1,385||1,125||260||18.8%|
|Large pregnancy resource center||2,110||1,260||850||40.35%|
|Nationally known foundation||17,800||15,500||2,300||12.9%|
|Crisis site targeting teens/young adults||38,550||15,750||22,800||59.1%|
These figures representing mobile traffic reveal the significance of ensuring a ministry website is designed in such a way that the site can be easily viewed and navigated on a mobile device. Let me add one more column to the right of our Google Analytics data chart to demonstrate the growing shift toward mobile. This last column on the right gives us the percent of total website traffic for each of our example sites that mobile visitors represented just one year earlier, during June 2011.
|Type of Website||Total US traffic June 2012||Non Mobile US traffic June 2012||Mobile US traffic June 2012||Mobile is _% of total US traffic in June 2012||Mobile was _% of total US traffic in June 2011|
|Internationally recognizable nonprofit||5,200,000||4,500,000||700,000||13.5%||7.2%|
|Nationally known abortion recovery||2000||1500||500||25%||21.3%|
|Christian boarding school||1385||1,125||260||18.8%||6.9%|
|Large pregnancy resource center||2,110||1,260||850||40.35%||41.5%|
|Nationally known foundation||17,800||15,500||2,300||12.9%||6.7%|
|Crisis site targeting teens/young adults||38,550||15,750||22,800||59.1%||38.2%|
As you can see, with the exception of the pregnancy resource center maintaining an approximate 40:60 mobile/non mobile ratio from June 2011 to June 2012, the other example sites all saw significant increases in their mobile traffic. The crisis site targeting teens & young adults illustrates how younger people are searching for information & help directly on the device which is private and most convenient for them: their smartphones.
We’ve taken a glimpse at what other ministry websites are experiencing in terms of mobile traffic shift. But what about your ministry’s website? Do you know how many of your website’s visitors are accessing your site through mobile devices? Have you visited & browsed through your site with a smartphone and tablet PC/iPad to verify that your site is fully functional and still easy to use? Did you know that different types of smartphones/tablets will display your website differently?
Is your website mobile friendly or is it a poor user experience that is not helping your organization’s web presence in our increasingly mobile generation? Over the next year, as smartphone usage continues to expand, will your website accurately reflect your organization’s mission and connect in meaningful ways with a rapidly growing mobile audience?
We’d love to hear how your ministry is reaching out to mobile users online. Feel free to leave a comment below to share with us and the eGiving readers what you are doing with your ministry website to make it mobile friendly. In a future article we’ll dig even deeper into mobile website best practices.