One Size Does NOT Fit All - Letter to the Editor of Wall Street Journal

Today I decided to post something that I would not usually put on this blog. It’s a letter I wrote to the Editor of the Wall Street Journal in response to this article Google provides a Boost to Mobile-Friendly Websites It describes a major change Google made in their mobile search algorithm on April 21, and describes this change as good for the consumer. Since many of you have websites, you do have to be concerned with keeping up with Google, which I frankly find nearly impossible to do. I object to their ‘one size fits all’ approach to mobile search. Here is my case. What do you think?

To the Editor,

I am writing to present another point of view on the recent changes in the Google’s algorithm affecting mobile search. All the articles I’ve read so far, from the Wall Street Journal to the Economist are portraying these changes as good for the consumer, and since it is ‘good for the consumer’, that businesses will simply have to get with the program and keep up with the changes. I agree that giving a premium experience on mobile devices is critically important, however I strongly object to this ‘one size fits all’ approach.

google homepage displayed on devices

According to your article (and our SEO team), Google made this change to boost conversions on mobile search, and defined parameters, among which is a requirement for  a ‘viewport’ (a framed area on a display screen for viewing information) reasoning that this will improve the customer experience on mobile devices and consequently, increase revenues from paid mobile search. A site configured with a viewport becomes more vertical in nature, as the content is pushed down the page, resulting in lots of downward scrolling by the user. As most sites are either informational or retail sites selling defined products or SKUs, the parameters outlined may be reasonable and effective.

However for a site like ours, this is not the case. We are in the business of selling online custom picture frames and fine art printing services to direct to the consumer (artists, photographers and DIY framers). It’s a highly customized process, requiring a large amount of detailed information at each step. Early last year, we completely redesigned our site, based on the iPad. We understand the importance of mobile, and concluded that if we designed for that device, that we would meet our goal of offering a premium experience for all of our customers across devices, and it does. Our site opens beautifully filling the entire screen. Due to the nature of our product and service we provide, forcing the site into a Viewport or vertical format may help us rank higher in organic mobile search, but we feel it will degrade the experience we are offering our customer, which will undoubtedly affect conversion rates, which are strong.

Algorithms will change and keeping up with these changes is costly for small businesses like ours. So the question becomes; do we continue in a direction that we know fits our particular customers’ needs or do we water down the experience to keep up with the changes? Unfortunately I believe we will be forced into the latter.

AubreyK | 5/5/2015 9:45:44 AM | 2 comments
American Frame
We were pleasantly surprised!
5/21/2015 1:33:17 PM

Nice job, Laura!
5/21/2015 1:17:05 PM

About this blog

Laura Jajko

Join in and let’s bond over our love of art and framing. Here, I’ll be sharing design inspiration and decisions, twitter chat summaries, and happenings with the company, among other things. With more than 40 years of practical experience, I bring a unique perspective in a straight-forward style that I hope will spark lots of interesting and relevant dialog in our online community.

For more tutorials and articles, take a look at our other blogs -  Ask Mike or At Your Service

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