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PAGEANT - "Education is the future"

Progress Towards Mobile Friendly

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Responsive Web Pages

In 2015 it was clear that smartphones and other mobile devices would soon be the main way of accessing the internet. The Pageant website was born in 2003, and had been designed with only desktop computers in mind. There were serious usability issues when viewed on small screen devices. So we started a programme of converting our main pages to a 'responsive' format, so that they could be viewed equally well on large or small screens. This work was largely completed in 2018, but we still have a large number of 'archive' pages. These are accessed so infrequently that we didn't feel it was worth the effort of conversion. The table below summarises the process of getting our website mobile friendly.

Pageant website becoming mobile friendly
year total pages responsive pages responsive views mobile hits
2015 371 15   11.4%
2016 375 108   23.4%
2017 372 196 88% 29.8%
2018 378 210 83% 29.5%
2019 397 230 83% 28.1%

Total pages and responsive pages show the status of responsive conversion at the end of these years. Responsive views is the proportion of views of Pageant web pages which were of responsive pages over the entire year. We did not measure this for 2015 or 2016. Mobile hits is the proportion of hits (number of files fetched from our server) by mobile and other small screen devices. So though the website is now largely smartphone friendly, our main users are still on large screen devices.

Google Searches

The information shown above was all collected using webmaster tools available through our web hosting service. The data refers to all website access: direct input of URL, links from other websites and bookmarks, as well as links from search engines. Maybe smartphone users are mainly new to our website, in which case access via a search engine would be most important. There is an additional webmaster tool available called the Google Search Console which can provide much of this information.

Google searches for Pageant pages
device impressions clicks CTR
mobile 22034 32.5% 726; 54.8% 3.3%
desktop 43158 63.7% 489 36.9% 1.1%
tablet 2516 3.7% 111 8.4% 4.4%
totals 67708   1326   2.0%

The above data is for a 12 month period to the end of February 2020. Impressions is the number of times that a Pageant web page link appears in a users search results. Clicks is the number of times that a user clicks on one of these to access a Pageant page. CTR or click-through rate, is the ratio of 'clicks' to 'impressions'. Note that we only have a small percentage of users on tablets. Most tablets have a screen width capable of displaying the full width of the Pageant web page of 620 pixels, so could be lumped together with desktops.

So mobile users constitute about a third of users making a Google search whose listing includes a Pageant page. This is not too different from the proportion of users accessing our website from mobiles by all methods. The big surprise is the higher click-through rate for mobile users. If anyone has a good explanation for this, please let me know.

Next Steps

Another piece of information emerging from the Google Search Console is that Google views the Pageant website as a 'mobile' site. So the crawler which gathers page data does so from a mobile user's viewpoint. All of our 230 archive pages will be judged by this crawler to contain errors. This will undoubtedly adversely affect Pageant's ranking for Google search results.

The question is - what to do about it? The options are:

None of these options seems attractive, so a compromise might be to look at archive pages in small batches, and make a decision either to delete or convert. Probably this is what will happen. So the conversion process has not finished after all!

More Information

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