Advanced E-Business Research
International Trends & Issues
Table Of Contents
- About the author(s)/editor(s)
- About the book
- This eBook can be cited
- Mobile Readiness of Corporate Websites: A Cross-Country Analysis of Implementation Status and Performance Impacts (Stephan Böhm / Christoph Powilat)
- User Experiences, Preferences, and Interaction Design of Intermodal Mobility Applications (Ulrike Stopka / Katrin Fischer / René Pessier)
- Application of the Technology Acceptance Model: An Investigation of Hotel Booking via Mobile Application from the Thai Market Perspective (Sid Suntrayuth / Yamilah Samae)
- Using the Technology Acceptance Model and Cultural Values to Explain the Adoption of the GrabTaxi Application in Thailand (Peerayuth Charoensukmongkol / Chayanee Suwanprapaisri)
- The Perceived Usefulness of Personalized Product Information on B2C E-Commerce Websites and the Moderating Effect of National Culture (Werner Quint / Bastian Eine)
- Multichannel Retailing in the Regional Food Industry – An Explorative Approach (Sarah Spitzer / Tamara Ebner)
- Evaluation of the Impact of E-Services on Customer Willingness to Pay for a Higher Bandwidth in the German Broadband Market (Peter Winzer / Erik Massarczyk / Tom Edward Kiel)
- Contribution of Investment on Information Communication Technology to Industry Performance (Vesarach Aumeboonsuke)
- E-Business and CSR: An Unbridgeable Tension? (Anabel Ternès / Joachim App)
- Digital Sales Excellence: Systematic Implementation of New Technologies in Sales Force Management (Lars Binckebanck)
Abstract: Internet usage is going to progressively shift from desktop to mobile devices in the coming years. For this reason, mobile optimization of corporate websites is increasingly important for companies to provide a positive user experience and maintain efficient communication for customers and other stakeholders. The need for mobile optimization of corporate websites has become even more urgent due to the fact that Google has announced in 2015 that it will use mobile friendliness as a ranking signal. As a result, websites not optimized for access via mobile devices might drop in rankings or disappear from mobile search result pages. Accordingly, companies have to enhance their websites and must ensure that they are providing useful information that is easily accessible via mobile devices. Previous studies mostly focus on either evaluating the status quo of mobile readiness or evaluating the user’s perspective of mobile information searches. Little research has been conducted on how companies in various countries and in different industries meet the challenges of mobile optimization and how this implementation status has an impact on corporate website performance. This study aims to close this gap by analyzing the status quo of mobile readiness and website performance related indices using a sample of large corporations from six countries.
Keywords: Corporate Websites, Mobile Friendliness, Mobile Usability, Mobile Searchability, Mobile Visibility, Country Analysis
Due to the constant improvement in performance and increase in proliferation of smartphones and the continued development of mobile phone networks, mobile Internet usage has risen sharply in recent years. According to GSMA, the worldwide penetration of mobile Internet had already reached 40 percent of the world population by the end of 2015 and is expected to increase to about 60 percent by 2020. During the same period, the number of smartphones is expected to grow from 3.3 billion to 5.8 billion devices worldwide. With regard to developed countries (developing countries), this corresponds to an increase in smartphone penetration from 65 to 76 percent (40 to 63 percent) (GSMA 2016). The increasing proliferation of mobile devices also has an effect on web use: for several years now, the increase in the use of mobile devices to browse the web has led to a decrease ← 7 | 8 → in web traffic via traditional desktop computers. While in 2012 only 10.9% of global web traffic was generated through mobile devices, this had already reached 37.2% in 2015 (StatCounter 2016). This shift in use continues to progress. In some countries – especially in emerging countries, which are traditionally characterized by a rather low degree of dissemination of desktop computers – website traffic via mobile devices already outweighs that via desktop computers (e. g., Indonesia, Thailand; StatCounter 2016). But even in developed countries where desktop computers and fixed-line Internet access are actually widely available, some applications on the web are already dominated by mobile devices. One of the most important applications are search queries via search engines. In countries such as the United States and Japan, the search engine Google already receives more search queries using mobile devices than from stationary desktop devices (Google 2015a).
These developments raise the question of how companies must react in order to adapt their websites to the shift in use to mobile devices. The construct of usability is generally considered to be an important sign of quality and a critical success factor for digital information services such as websites (Moritz and Meinel 2010). The term usability refers to the operation or use by users and indicates “[...] the effectiveness, efficiency and satisfaction with which specified users achieve specified goals in particular environments.” (ISO 2013). The usability of a company’s website is particularly vital to develop and maintain (digital) customer relationships (Lobo et al. 2011; Sambhanthan and Good 2015) and is also an important factor for business success: according to studies, the usability of websites in the field of e-commerce has a significant impact on the number of users and on sales (Venkatesh et al. 2003). Taking into account the increasing amount of traffic to websites via mobile devices it can be assumed that mobile usability is gaining in importance as well. Due to the characteristics and limitations of mobile access to websites (e. g. small screen size, restricted data entry capabilities and inferior computing and storage; Harrison et al. 2013), it is necessary for businesses to offer relevant information in a way that is specifically suitable for access via mobile devices, thus ensuring high performance and mobile usability.
The need for mobile optimization of company websites also arises from the fact that Google introduced mobile friendliness of websites as a ranking factor in 2015 (Google 2015b). Websites that are not optimized for access via mobile devices can suffer a drop in their ranking due to the new search algorithm or are no longer displayed in (mobile) search results on smartphones. As a result, the company becomes less visible in mobile search results. Due to the importance and the impact for companies, Google’s decision was referred to in the press as ← 8 | 9 → “Mobilegeddon” (The Economist 2015). For companies, this leads to the urgent challenge of adapting their websites to changing user behavior and ensuring that relevant information is presented in a user-friendly manner via mobile devices. Without mobile-optimized websites, companies become significantly less visible in mobile search results and confront users with, e. g., complicated navigation and long download times (Adipat et al. 2011). This inconvenience may cause users to move to other sites with higher usability in their mobile search for information (Cappel and Huang 2007; Lobo et al. 2011). Consequently, a lack of mobile optimization of digital information services may also directly affect the company’s economic success.
In the light of the above, the structure of this paper is as follows: research background and objectives are presented in the second section of this article after this introduction. The main focus is aspects of the mobile usability of websites as well as a consideration of country-specific features with respect to the use of the mobile Internet in the countries selected for the study. Subsequently, the methodology used to investigate the mobile readiness of corporate websites is described in the third section of the study. The results of this analysis are presented in the fourth section, followed by a description of important conclusions as well as the need for further research.
Research Background and Objectives
In this study, the implementation status and the effect of mobile optimization of corporate websites are examined based on a sample of companies from different countries. Initially, we discuss in more detail what is actually meant by such a mobile optimization in the sense of “mobile readiness”. In this context, the terms “mobile usability” and “mobile friendliness” are often used. While “mobile readiness” and “mobile friendliness” are clearly related to the previously mentioned rating of websites in Google’s search engine algorithm and are thus characterized by a corresponding implementation status, the concept of “mobile usability” has been discussed in more depth in scientific literature for some time. In light of the above, first important basic principles of the relevant concepts of mobile usability and mobile readiness / friendliness are discussed below. This is followed by a brief characterization of the countries included in this analysis with regard to the use of the mobile Internet before finally research questions relevant for this study are identified and specified. ← 9 | 10 →
Mobile Usability and Mobile Friendliness
The concept of usability is, as mentioned previously, closely related to the aspects of effectiveness, efficiency and user satisfaction in a specific application context. In the context of this paper, “mobile usability” refers to a mobile usage context characterized by the use of mobile devices as well as wireless and ubiquitous network access. The object of reference can be not only user interfaces of mobile websites, but also mobile applications (apps). According to Zhang and Adipat (2005), there are special challenges with respect to mobile usability for mobile applications in terms of “… mobile context, multimodality, connectivity, small screen size, different display resolutions, limited processing capability and power, and restrictive data entry methods.”
Mobile usability thus describes certain application-relevant characteristics of information systems in a mobile usage context. In the 1980s, mostly functional requirements were considered during the development of software applications. Since then, however, technological advances have led to usability – in the sense of user-centric adaptation and design of the graphical user interface – becoming the focus of attention. In the course of these developments, a line of research has developed that has since been dealing with the dimensions, characteristics and effects of the usability of (web) interfaces. With the increasing importance and proliferation of mobile devices and applications, more and more research on mobile usability was carried out. In 2011, Coursaris and Kim (2011) were already able to identify more than 100 studies that deal with the usability of mobile interfaces and applications. In the context of mobile websites, the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) published first principles to improve mobile usability of web content in 2006 (W3C 2006). Meanwhile, numerous catalogues are available, in particular in the form of textbooks (e.g., Nielsen and Budiu 2013), industry reports (e.g., Seward 2011) and online publications (e.g., mobiForge 2013), proposing a wide range of criteria for “mobile-friendly” website design (“Mobile Usability Guidelines”). In scientific literature to this day, however, mainly research work on the dimensions and influencing factors of mobile usability can be found as well as a few approaches on the identification, aggregation, and validation of application-oriented (mobile usability) guidelines (e. g., Shitkova et al. 2015). Despite the previously stated significance of mobile websites, a structured and empirical evaluation of the mobile usability of company-related information content is only rarely the subject of such studies. Only McCorkindale and Morgoch (2013) have yet examined the “mobile readiness” of corporate websites from the perspective of public relations. Fewer than one-quarter of the Fortune 500 companies investigated by McCorkindale and Morgoch (2013) had a mobile-ready website. ← 10 | 11 →
While mobile usability as discussed above refers more to specific usage-related features of information systems such as websites, there are similar terms that deal more with the status or classification of a whole system. These terms include the aforementioned terms “mobile readiness” or “mobile friendliness”, which are also often mentioned in connection with the status and level of mobile optimization of websites. These concepts are closely linked to validation tools, such as the W3C mobileOK Checker (W3C 2016), dotMobi’s mobiReady tool (mobiReady 2016) or Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test (Google 2016b). All of these testing tools or validators evaluate websites with regard to specific performance criteria related to the context of mobile use as well as industry best practices and standards on mobile usability. As a result, a benchmarking score or another form of evaluation is calculated, intended to visualize the extent to which the tested website already satisfies the requirements for use in a mobile usage context and thus provides users with high mobile usability or equivalent user experience. However, it must be noted that such automated website tests differ greatly from classic usability tests, as, for example, the subjective user satisfaction or content and design aspects cannot or can only indirectly be considered. Nevertheless, initial important findings for the optimization of mobile websites can be gained. Tests such as Google’s Page Speed Insights (Google 2016c) refer even more strictly to functional and technical features and measure, for example, the loading time of websites on different devices. Such tools can also provide important information on mobile optimization of websites since the loading time of a website in a mobile context is of major importance.
As an interim conclusion, we can state that there are various evaluation tools with which initial findings can be gained about the extent to which a website is adapted for use in a mobile context. Particularly of interest here are the results of the relevant tools that Google provides. As previously mentioned, this is due to the fact that Google has introduced mobile friendliness of a website as a ranking factor for mobile search. It appears obvious that one can assume that the websites which are classified as not mobile-friendly in the relevant Google tests or which have problems in this respect will accordingly have poorer ranking results in Google’s search engine. As a consequence, in turn, it can be presumed that websites with such poor test results will also suffer a drop in visibility in mobile search results.
Country-specific Mobile Internet and Web Usage
Basically it can be assumed that for companies, the pressure to offer mobile-optimized corporate websites is rising with the increasing generalized use of mobile Internet. An important prerequisite for the use of mobile Internet and ← 11 | 12 → web are the availability of smartphones and mobile broadband networks. The prevalence of such devices and the availability of appropriate infrastructure vary from country to country. This may, for example, be due to economic, regulatory or technical factors that have led to varying levels of development. In addition, other factors, such as cultural aspects, may influence the use of the mobile Internet and connected services and applications (Böhm 2015).
Against this background, a cross-national examination of the status of website mobile optimization is expedient to find out to what extent companies are actually adapting their web-based information services to the country-specific conditions in the field of mobile Internet. In order to compare countries, countries were selected based on the following three criteria: (1) the economic power in terms of gross national product, (2) the possibility to systematically select a sample of companies and the availability of suitable company rankings and (3) the availability of suitable indices to evaluate the visibility of corporate websites in appropriate SEO (Search Engine Optimization) tools. As a basis for the selection of companies ultimately the Fortune Global 2000 (Forbes 2016) list was used, containing a list of the world’s 2000 largest companies measured by revenues, profits, assets and market value.
- ISBN (PDF)
- ISBN (ePUB)
- ISBN (MOBI)
- ISBN (Hardcover)
- Publication date
- 2017 (August)
- User Behavior Emerging Technologies Market Structures Electronic Commerce Cultural Studies Media Management
- Frankfurt am Main, Bern, Bruxelles, New York, Oxford, Warszawa, Wien, 2017. 197 pp., 44 b/w ill.