Selina Bieber is the senior regional director for Mena, Turkey, and South Africa at GoDaddy
With more than182 million internet users and 70 per cent internet penetration, internet usage in the Middle East and North Africa (Mena) region is on the rise. This increase in internet usage can be attributed to the growing interest amongst the population to utilise mobile devices for their web browsing needs. Supporting this fact, data has shown more than 56 per cent of online shoppers prefer mobile devices to desktops and laptops while browsing online, and this percentage is expected to increase in coming years.
A study by GSMA found that 54 per cent of the Mena population uses smartphones and it is expected to increase to 74 per cent by 2025. The study also shows that the Mena region’s mobile internet users will reach 344 million by 2025. Considering these statistics, ensuring a business website is mobile compatible is imperative in today’s digital world, and plays an essential role in the ongoing digitisation of small businesses.
Statista’s data shows how worldwide website traffic from mobile devices escalated from 35 per cent in 2015 to 52.2 per cent in 2018. Considering this jump took place within just three years, businesses have the opportunity to reach and retain new customers everyday via mobile-friendly websites. This is especially true during the current global pandemic which has forced both business owners and customers alike to opt for online marketplaces.
Rapid growth in mobile penetration
Prior to 2020, the Mena region was already experiencing a rapid growth in smartphone penetration. As cited by mideastmedia.org, 98 per cent of the UAE’s internet users use mobile phones, while in KSA, 94 per cent of Internet users are using mobile phones. According to Statista, 60 per cent of internet users in the Mena use the internet on their smartphones. The statistics emphasise that smartphones are preferred by the vast majority of the regional population.
Another factor highlighting the importance of mobile website compatibility is that in March 2018, Google started indexing web pages that follow best practices for offering mobile optimised websites, allowing them to be more visible on search engines through Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) integration. This indicates that even the most popular or best-quality websites may not be recommended on the first pages of Google search results if they are not mobile-friendly.
Focus on great user experiences
User experience is a primary point to consider when a business owner builds their mobile compatible website. If an internet user visits a website via their mobile phone but does not have a good experience in terms of load times, navigation, and the readability, they are less likely to revisit that website.
The three main factors that differentiate mobile-friendly websites from desktops websites are the considerably smaller viewing spaces, text concentration is minimised, and in almost all cases, information is straightforward and specific.
A Google study shows 53 per cent of mobile users abandon websites that take over three seconds to load. Other things to consider in offering visitors a good user experience while viewing a mobile website are making sure the content is appropriate for the size of the screen, font sizes, menus and click-through buttons all need to be optimised for small screens. Responsive design, which creates dynamic changes to the appearance of a website depending on screen size and the orientation of the screen is a popular method for ensuring that a great experience is provided for users on all devices.
This is why it is important to choose a website builder that offers responsive design, which allows a website to work and be viewed effectively and efficiently on both desktop and mobile devices. GoDaddy Website Builder (for English language) and Arabic Website Builder are designed to help people, even with little or no technical knowledge, build websites that work well on both desktop and mobile devices, at the same time.
As mobile device usage continues to increase and with a large majority of people accessing the internet through a smartphone or mobile device, building a mobile-friendly website can help small business owners and entrepreneurs stay competitive in the expanding sphere of digitisation. Being where customers are, helps to enable small businesses to provide their customers with the best possible user experience and potentially impacting business growth.