Around the world, mobile usage is on the rise. Global mobile and tablet browsing exceeded desktop for the first time in 2016 and it looks to be the start of a new trend. Mobile use remains on an uphill trajectory while desktop has seen declines since 2009.
When it comes to rising mobile usage, universities and research centers are no exception. Researchers rely on mobile for common needs, like checking email, getting directions, and reading the news; and now some are extending their mobile browsing to their scholarship. Researchers can use mobile and tablet devices to access research tools and even look for relevant articles. The only trouble is, when it comes to searching for relevant articles on mobile, not all scholarly journals have mobile-friendly websites.
If your journal website isn’t mobile-friendly yet, now’s the time to make the transition to a responsive design. You may be missing out on an opportunity to be discovered by scholars and to give readers the best user experience possible. Here are 3 reasons your journal website should be mobile friendly:
As mobile usage grows among the general public, it’s also increasing within academia. “How Readers Discover Content in Scholarly Publications,” a 2015 report from Simon Inger Consulting, now Renew Publishing Consultants, found growth in the use of mobile devices and a decline in desktop usage. This was particularly apparent in the medical sector. Researchers in the report still primarily said they use desktop computers and laptops to find articles, however, in low-income countries, reported mobile usage nearly doubled.
Student behavior at universities also suggests a likely increase in mobile usage to access scholarly literature. A Utah State University libraries survey of over 3,000 undergraduate and graduate students found that 54% of undergraduates and 50% of graduate students used mobile devices for academic purposes. When asked if they would access resources via mobile if libraries made them available in mobile formats, 70.2% said they would likely access resources on a smartphone and 46.9% said they would likely access resources on an iPad.
Making your journal website mobile-friendly also has discoverability benefits. Of all the factors that Google considers when ranking your website to determine where to show it in search results, mobile-friendliness is 3rd most important. In November of 2016, Google also started giving mobile-friendly websites indexing preferences by crawling mobile-friendly versions of websites before desktop. Bing also ranks mobile-friendly websites higher.
According to the “How Readers Discover Content in Scholarly Publications“ report, academic discovery channels, including libraries and indexes, are working to keep pace with the rise of mobile devices for journal discovery. Publishers are also increasingly becoming mobile friendly. Given that individual journal websites are becoming mobile friendly faster than institutional channels, the report notes that readers may be compelled to search for journals via regular web browsers to find relevant articles faster. Having a mobile-friendly website will help boost awareness of your journal among scholars conducting searchers on the web.
Another reason to make your journal website mobile-friendly is to literally make it more “mobile” for researchers in different areas. Academics who are out in the field or working in developing countries who don’t have immediate access to desktop or laptop computers all the time may rely on mobile devices more for their research. Particularly for scholars working in developing countries, the “How Readers Discover Content in Scholarly Publications“ report notes, “it seems that desktop computers are legacy devices mostly used in the developed world, and that more mobile forms of computing are favored in poorer countries.”
You may be reading all of this and thinking, I am actually not sure if my website is mobile friendly. If not, it’s easy to tell. You can use Google’s free mobile-friendly tester to specifically find out if search engines recognize your website as mobile-friendly - a must for discoverability in searches. If you find that your website is not yet mobile friendly, bring it up at your next editorial meeting and begin working with your editors to determine an action plan. Making your website mobile-friendly doesn’t have to entail a lot of work or cost. There are services that you can use to easily and affordably create a responsive site like Scholastica Open Access Publishing. Explore your options and see if using a web designer or an out-of-the-box publishing solution is the best fit for your journal.