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Google shares what travel websites it finds to be most usable on mobile devices, and why
05 April 2019
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Google's Mobile-Friendly Test Tool is great for scoring an existing web page on "mobile friendliness," identifying deficiencies and prescribing corrective actions. But wouldn't designing a mobile page that Google likes be easier and faster if you had a Google Best Website for Mobile template to follow, and a list of all the attributes that Google wants mobile pages to have?

Google's new Masterful Mobile Web product goes a long way in satisfying those needs.

What Google has done is:

  • Studied 1000 websites of major brands in the retail, travel and finance sectors and rated them on 61 attributes believed to contribute to a good mobile experience for the user, across 5 basic dimensions:
    • Findability
    • Mobile design
    • Product pages
    • Registration and Conversion
    • Speed
  • Weighted the scores: speed 30%, the other 4 factors combined 70%
  • Organized the results by 27 world countries and regions

Here's how Google has presented the data at :

Naturally, I was interested in seeing the Travel data, and selected it from the Sector dropdown, above.

Then, first up is a 30,000-foot overview of things travel companies have done very well, OK, and not so well:

Next, we're invited to filter the results to come by:

  • Usability area (Findability, Mobile design, Product pages, Registration and conversion, or all of these), and
  • Country/region (27 choices)

I picked all usability areas. And since, for whatever reason, no countries in the Americas are included in Google's list, I picked United Kingdom, and got these results:

Those green bars (the first 7 of 67, which can be expanded out by clicking View more), show the percentage of UK travel sites studied that Google's testers considered to satisfy the criteria set for that attribute.

To see the criteria for any attribute, just click Learn more over on the right. Here's what I got for "Show activity":

That screen shows us:

  1. The basic usability dimension of which Show activity is a part: Mobile design
  2. The criterion for success on Show activity: "When users are waiting, demonstrate activity to reassure them that the site hasn't crashed"
  3. Who's done it well: Etstur - and why Google testers think their execution is good, along with a screencap and link to the page

Any of the other 66 ratings can be opened up the same way.

Below that - for those too impatient to expand green bars - Google has placed a carousel of "examples of great mobile site usability" by sector brands, like this:

This is the only tool of its kind - scoring actual websites 70% on non-speed usability factors, with filtering by industry and country/region - that I know of. Let's hope Google keeps going with this testing, adds more countries and makes the industry verticals narrower.

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David Boggs MS    - David
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