The mobile device world (smart phones, tablets, etc) is changing how visitors actually experience your website. On average, mobile traffic on church websites has doubled year-over-year for the past three years. Further digging into our research showed us one of the biggest impacts from mobile website traffic has been with new visitors.
Due to this eye-opening statistic, we’ve found building a mobile strategy for new visitors to be a top concern.
We found new visitors contribute a higher percentage of website browsers from mobile devices AND they have a higher bounce rate (i.e. visits in which the person left your site from the entrance page without interacting with the page).
New visitors go to the website to find key information on service times and seek to connect to the community. Yet, these new users have a hard time browsing media rich websites on their mobile phones and end up leaving. Many churches who seek new visitors may need to reconsider their web strategy.
The rapid increase of mobile traffic has caught many churches offguard. These churches invested significant resources to launch and manage a website but they didn’t build it with mobile devices in mind.
Several churches even invested in an app to deal with growing mobile traffic. While apps can serve a good purpose, we’ve found the behavior of many new church visitors is not to take the time to download an entire app before building some trust with a church. Apps tend to be most used by church members who are fairly engaged in the community.
So, how do you help new visitors using mobile devises find what they need?
The best solution we’ve found is for churches to have a responsive website design. We’ve recently worked with several churches to rebuild their existing website and make it responsive. Responsive design automatically detects what size screen the viewer is using and resizes the content to have the best user experience for that particular device. Some device examples could be a large desktop computer, mobile device and everywhere in-between (laptops, tablets, horizontal and vertical view on mobile phone).
A responsive website basically future proofs a website and makes it highly accessible regardless of the device used for browsing. For some, there is great value because rebuilding an existing website with responsive in mind is significantly less expensive than creating a new website.
Recently, we began working with a client that realized they were losing a lot of new visitors. Life Center Church has started a responsive design and rebuild project on their current website after their mobile traffic had increased by 460% within two years. Mobile traffic has risen over the years to currently account for 46% of all Lifecenter’s website traffic. However, while mobile traffic increased so did their bounce rates. Mobile bounce rates were 50% higher than desktop visitors. The majority of these mobile visitors came and left without interacting with any content on their site.
Andy Wittwer, Life Center Communications Director expressed his concerns about the ramifications of their website being unfriendly to mobile viewers:
"Currently, we have a limited version of our site available in mobile, and the full site on a small screen is a complete wreck. These versions reflect that we don't care how the site looks on mobile, which says we're not in touch with our culture, which hurts our relevancy and credibility to people seeking Jesus.
What we want to communicate is that if you're seeking Jesus (whether you're in our community or in our congregation), we want to help. So we need to remove every barrier we possibly can to make it easy for people to connect to God and to each other. We elected to pursue a responsive retrofit so our community and our congregation could navigate just as easily on mobile as they do in the full site."
What Life Center is experiencing isn’t uncommon. Several churches are following suit to do a responsive refresh. If you haven’t already built a mobile strategy, the time is now. The stats are compelling. Nearly 60% of Americans now go online using a mobile phone! (source) The numbers are only going to grow. Gartner expects access to tablets to grow 53.4% over last year, with worldwide shipments reaching 184 million units. (source) The variety of devices and screens make responsive design a must for every ministry.
Contact us today to learn how responsive design can help your church.