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Danish municipalities embrace responsive design faster than top-100 companies

A study of Denmark's 98 municipality websites and the 98 largest corporate websites* shows that municipalities are doing a better job than private companies in terms of offering responsive websites that fit the growing user needs for mobile browsing. A surprisingly large number of Denmark's biggest brands do not provide a mobile user experience that's up-to-date. In this article you’ll find some trends on responsive websites and an explanation on why municipalities embrace responsive design faster than the companies.

  • By: Morten Eskildsen
  • Published: 08-05-2015

The study, which was carried out by Zupa in Q1 2015, examined how municipalities and top-100 private companies in Denmark approach the challenge of offering responsive websites to an increasingly mobile audience.

Overall, five trends were observed:

Trend # 1: More than 50 percent of Denmark's municipalities now offer responsive websites.
At first this may not seem all that impressive - unless you compare it to the 98 largest private companies. Of these, only 1 out of 3 have adopted responsive design solutions. This is quite surprising, as the responsive design wave has been around for some years now.

Trend # 2: Sadly, mobile solutions are still lagging seriously behind.
Whether you look at municipalities or private companies, only 4 out of 10 websites are optimized for mobile browsing. As most people have gotten used to using their mobile phones for banking, email, news consumption, and lots of other things, they also expect corporate and public websites to be mobile-friendly.

Trend # 3: Private companies are much more likely to offer separate mobile websites.
Every fourth private company has a separate mobile website (rather than a single responsive solution). Among municipalities, this is a rare solution and only seen in 1 out of 20 websites. Although a separate mobile website can be a decent alternative to a scaled-down version of the desktop website, it usually does not allow a seamless cross-platform experience, as the content differs from mobile to desktop.

Trend # 4: Responsive design is more widespread in municipalities with larger populations.
Smaller municipalities are much less likely to offer mobile-friendly websites. In particular, the smallest island municipalities are lagging seriously behind. This may not seem that surprising, given that larger municipalities usually have more internal resources and more citizens to serve.

Trend # 5: Mobile is getting more critical, almost by the day.
One reason for this is that Google has already been punishing desktop-only websites with lower-ranked mobile search results listings for a while - also known as "mobilegeddon". Another reason is that the increasingly negative brand effect associated with a disappointing mobile user experience is growing bigger, as nearly everyone has become accustomed to using mobiles for web browsing.

The majority of municipality websites are now responsive
Almost 6 out of 10 municipalities (56,1 %) have now implemented responsive design. This is a positive trend as it allows citizens to find important information and engage with the public sector through their mobile phones and other devices. For private companies however, the number is considerably lower. In fact only 35,7 % of them offer responsive websites.

So even though many websites do provide a mobile-friendly cross-platform experience, there is nevertheless still a large potential for improving the mobile user experience.

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Although the municipalities are ahead of the private companies in the responsive design game, this does not mean things cannot be improved. In fact, as much as 39 % of municipality websites do not offer a mobile-friendly experience.

Like the municipalities, many private companies provide a poor mobile experience. Actually, the percentage of private companies that do not offer mobile-friendly sites is exactly the same as for the municipalities, i.e. 39 %. In other words, more than 1/3 of Denmark's municipalities and largest companies are not mobile-friendly.

Different mobile strategies
While the majority of municipalities have chosen responsive design as their mobile strategy, many private companies have opted for another strategy: A separate mobile site with downsized content. This means that not all of the content can be found on the mobile website, and that content may differ from what can be found on the desktop website.

Pie Chart

The chart reveals a clear difference in the mobile strategies of municipalities and private companies. In one out of four cases, mobile visitors on the largest corporate websites are met with a separate mobile site. In contrast, only 1 out of 20 municipality websites take this approach.

Why is the difference so pronounced? One explanation is, that it’s simply easier for a private company to downsize its online content than it is for a municipality, which is typically bound by service obligations not found in private companies.

Consequently, going for a downsized separate mobile website is a more obvious choice to take for a private company, especially as it’s a lot easier to implement than a full-blown responsive solution. For the same reason, many large companies were first-movers in adopting separate mobile websites.

In contrast, most municipalities were initially more reluctant to launch mobile websites. However, they have later embraced responsive design at a much faster pace than private companies because it solves the challenge of offering full information across all platforms.

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Morten Eskildsen

Morten Eskildsen
Morten has been working with digital solutions for the past 15 years with a focus on user experience, digital strategy, and data driven marketing.

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