Introducing our mobile-first site

A year ago, almost to the day, we had a long workshop with our website hosting and support partner – PCG Solutions. They were keen to support us on our journey to being ‘mobile-first’ and we wanted to flesh out what that meant.

A detailed analysis of the statistics revealed:

  • the site was too slow – a pageload time of over 7 seconds vs less than 1 second for GOV.UK
  • the content was often too long or in documents, which were less accessible on a mobile
  • navigation was hidden – too few people searched or could find on-page navigation

Mobile use had increased 45% in the last year, and almost half of all traffic to the site was coming from a mobile or tablet device.

We also knew that, just two years from a big website refresh project we didn’t have the appetite, or probably a compelling business case, to invest lots of resource in improving the site. So we:

  • Migrated to a new server and updated the stylesheets, so that the site was running as quickly as possible (pageload times are under one second)
  • Designed templates for a mobile – not just a smaller header and clearer navigation, but also getting most users the answer they needed as quickly as possible
  • Borrowed the information architecture work from Nottinghamshire, and their menu, which we knew had undergone extensive user research

Today that website launches in public beta. We’ve already learnt:

  • the site is one of the quickest in the sector – pageload times are around one second
  • on key pages, users get what they want more quickly – we’ve reduced time on page by 50% on our ‘venue’ pages by revealing visually whether the venue is open or closed
  • users find the site clearer and easier to follow, not least thanks to our ‘start pages’ which provide links out to other applications and systems

Next, we have to make sure we’re making most use of the templates, learning from customer feedback and constantly improving our content. That work will never finish. But we’ve got a strong platform from which to build. That’s just as well: as we’ve turned ‘mobile first’, Google has recently announced it now thinks ‘AI first‘.

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