In conjunction with usability experts cxpartners, Google has reviewed almost 500 most visited sites in Retail, Finance and Travel verticals across Europe, Middle East and Africa to find out who are the mobile masters, and who still need to improve.
That we now live in a mobile world will not be news to most marketers. As smartphones have become ubiquitous, so consumers have become accustomed to being able to get things done on the go. With a powerful portal to the web in their pockets, they expect to be able to book a flight, open a bank account or buy a new set of headphones as easily as searching for a nearby restaurant or sending a message to a friend.
But in many cases, expectations are still some way ahead of reality. Mobile sites can be slow, with confusing navigation and unwieldy checkout processes that involve filling in multiple fields and completing multiple steps before purchase. When sites have these kind of shortcomings, consumers are inclined to abandon them. If you’re lucky, they may return to your site when they’re back on a desktop or laptop computer, but in the worst case scenario, they leave and never come back.
This is why the speed and usability of mobile sites are so important - and not just for developers. The pace of innovation in interaction design means that user expectations are constantly evolving, so marketers need to have absolute confidence in the quality of the mobile experience being promoted by their campaigns. Speed and user friendliness should be obsessions, but because of this rate of change, it can sometimes be hard to know exactly what good looks like right now.
Following a 2016 study, Google analysed the usability and speed of some of the most visited websites in Retail, Travel and Financial Services across Europe, Middle East and Africa to identify the “mobile masters” in each country and vertical.
The results revealed Coolblue to be the mobile master in Retail, Bank Norwegian to be the top brand in Finance, and Booking.com as the most user-friend Travel site - all three brands come from the Nordics and Benelux markets.
In this article, we’re going to take a closer look at the results of Nordic and Benelux brands in our study.
The top brands in Retail in the Netherlands are: Coolblue, Apple and de Bijenkorf, and in Belgium: Coolblue, eBay, Vanden Borre, Zalando and Amazon.
Mobile Site Benchmark 2018 - NL and BE Retail Top Brands
Mobile Site Benchmark 2018 - Nordics Retail Top Brands
In the Nordics (Sweden, Norway and Denmark) the top Retail brands are Bokus and NetOnNet from Sweden and Coop.dk from Denmark.
Brands score higher when there has been a company-wide policy to improve mobile experience:
"Mobile visits have grown steadily during the past year to reach more than 50% of total traffic. Hence, improving the mobile site has been a focus of our UX and web development teams. Speed improved by 30%. The checkout process has been improved and we avoid asking unnecessary and time-consuming information. On the other hand, we look at the way pages are built and the work on the infrastructure is still ongoing."
- Yannick Bouillon - CMO, Vanden Borre
One of the first insights from the study is that compared to previous years, Retail sites have improved their search functions. Cognisant of the fact that small screens can lead to spelling errors on mobile, many site such as Asos.com and Morhipo.com now anticipate misspellings and automatically correct. However, few sites show the original query, leaving open the possibility of miscorrection when choosing between words with similar spelling, such as ‘shirts’ and ‘shorts’.
"Simply put, the better mobile experience for our visitors and customers, the more traffic to our websites and stores."
- Markus Andersson - CIO NetOnNet AB
The study also showed more and more Retail sites are adopting third-party payment systems such as PayPal, Google Pay or Apple Pay. These integrations offer the potential to significantly streamline checkout for users who are already signed up to a payment system, but there are also potential pitfalls. If integrated carelessly, they can result in customers having to input address details on both the site and the payment provider, lengthening checkout and increasing the likelihood of frustration. On a final technical note, our research also revealed that while many Retail sites use secured checkout (via https://), there are still some who have yet to secure their entire site.
Booking.com is a number one brand in Travel in both Belgium and the Netherlands, as well as in many other markets. In the Netherlands it is followed by NS International, HotelSpecials and KLM, and in Belgium by TUI fly and TravelBird.
In the Nordics Swebus and SAS made it to the top-three alongside Booking.com:
Mobile Site Benchmark 2018 - NL and BE Travel Top Brands
Mobile Site Benchmark 2018 - Nordics Travel Top Brands
"Our customers expect an awesome mobile experience from us so mobile is where our attention lies."
- Vanja Mlaco - Lead CRO Transavia (Air France KLM Group)
Travel bookings tend to be relatively high value, so providing clear information to reassure users during checkout is crucial. In this respect, Booking.com excels, with the full price displayed prominently throughout the purchase process. Progress through the checkout flow is clearly indicated by a status bar, and users can click back and forth between pages without losing and having to re-enter details.
Similarly to developments in Retail, Travel sites such as Tuifly.be have invested heavily in improving their mobile search functionality, offering helpful autofill and powerful filtering options to render results manageable on small screens. Tuifly.be use a strong search design pattern with autofill for locations and a calendar which defaults to return dates once an outbound date has been selected. And kras.nl excells in mobile design with clear headings, well laid out content, good sized touch targets and clearly labelled icons.
The top brands in Finance in the Netherlands are: Alex, SNS Bank and Nationale-Nederlanden, and in Belgium: bpost banque, Deutschebank, KBC and BNP Paribas Fortis.
Mobile Site Benchmark 2018 - NL and BE Finance Top Brands
Mobile Site Benchmark 2018 - Nordics Finance Top Brands
In the Nordics Bank Norwegian is at the top (it is also the best finance mobile site in the whole study) followed by Storebrand and SBAB.
Finance sites tend to be quite fast, as they don’t have to deal with the large quantity of products and associated data that Retail and Travel websites have to accommodate. However, while banks have fewer products for users to choose between, the details informing those choices can be quite complex.
"Being mobile is being accessible. Inherently the web is an accessible place, but we tend to impose it with many constraints. In my view, our mobile journey is a journey toward becoming increasingly agnostic about devices and screen sizes, making our products and services accessible everywhere at any time."
- Claus Stadel- Senior UX designer, Jyske Bank A/S
While less content means that finance sites generally score well on speed, a few common usability issues emerged in our study. Some banks remove the search function from their mobile site, despite this arguably being the use case where it is needed most. Likewise, autofill is often implemented poorly, introducing unnecessary difficulty and frustration.
Signing up for financial services can involve inputting a lot of information, and uSwitch.com from the UK does an excellent job of explaining why each piece of information is required, and showing clear error indicators when the user responds incorrectly. Moreover, the uSwitch site retains user inputs, enabling visitors to navigate back to the previous step without losing pre-filled data. And German commerzbank.de present key product information in a clear and scannable way with prominent calls to action. Compelling high quality images are also used well.
On average, the three verticals scored between 66-76% in the Netherlands, 64-66% in Belgium and 63-66% in the Nordics in our usability survey, meaning that there’s still plenty to do to optimise the mobile user experience. If you want to find out how your own site compares, you can consult the heuristic framework used in the study and use the Lighthouse tool to automatically audit the performance and quality of your site. To find out more, please read the full text of the study and consult our archive of best practice advice.