Nonprofit Partner Blog

Is it mobile-friendly or mobile-optimized?

Young business man using a smartphone in an office setting

There is a huge difference between “mobile-friendly” and “mobile-optimized” sites.  An easy-to-complete donation form experience allows users to give again–and hopefully become loyal, repeat donors, while a frustrating experience could lead them to never try again. Ever.


They’re the same right? Hardly.

mobile friendly

Do not adjust your smartphone.

The images above are a side-by-side comparison of two mobile donation pages captured as screen grabs off my iPhone 4.

The images are the same size-no parlor tricks here. (The one on the left is somewhat longer due to the easier-to-see buttons.)

So-which one is mobile-friendly?

It’s easy right? It’s the one on the left. Cue game show buzzer-you’re wrong. It’s the one on the right. Or at least some purveyors of mobile solutions to nonprofits would tell you that the one on the right is “mobile-friendly”.

If you were a donor wanting to make a donation “in the moment” which page would you prefer? This is a vital question as your nonprofit gets ready (hopefully you’re ready now-if not, what are you waiting for?) to face the 80 million strong millennial generation. In the 2012 Millennial Impact Report millennials themselves said that although over 80% of them had used text-to-give they would prefer to give via a mobile-optimized website when they are in the moment.

And here’s the rub. There is a huge difference between “mobile-friendly” and “mobile-optimized” and both terms are constantly being mis-used by a great many service providers and nonprofit experts serving the nonprofit space.

The two images point out the wide disparity between truly optimized for mobile on the left and barely navigable on the right.

Let’s rephrase the differences in 2 ways. 1) let’s call mobile-friendly “they might” and let’s call mobile-optimized “they can” and 2) let’s call mobile-friendly “first action pinch and swipe” and let’s call mobile optimized “filling out the form”.

In the first rephrase there is ample 3rd party reporting on how annoyed mobile visitors are with pages that don’t render well. A report last year from the agency Open Fundraising suggests that you’re losing up to 50% of your donations if giving on a donors phone is too hard. Even with the poor quality screen grab from my phone ask yourself which of those pages above will be easier and faster to complete “in the moment”? A donor might complete the form on the right if they are willing to pinch and swipe. For the donation page on the left, they can choose their amount and move on to complete their donation on a page that requires no pinching and swiping, over and over again, page by page.

The second rephrase is the one your nonprofit can use to test which solution your nonprofit should deploy. That is to say if the solution you’re evaluating requires the first action by the donor to be pinching and swiping to see what’s on the page then label it “first action pinch and swipe”. If the other solution’s first action is like the page on the left above then call it “filing out the form”. With the form on the left aren’t you closer receiving a donation? By starting to fill out the form the donor is actually engaged in making a donation and not wasting their time trying to figure out the starting point of making their donation.

When looking at mobile-friendly versus mobile-optimized please put yourself in the shoes of your donor. You give them the mobile option of making a gift and you inspire them to do so. They see the image on the left or on the right. The one on the right requires pinching and swiping and this results in time wasted by the donor. As the clock ticks and it takes longer for them to find satisfaction, your cause is getting closer to losing them.

Simple things like this can make a huge difference between a completed donation and a frustrated donor. A completed donation means they are in line to give again and hopefully become a loyal, repeat donor.

Frustration could mean they never try again. Ever.


Dale Knoop, CEO RAZ Mobile

About the Author: Dale Knoop is part of a great team working to make RAZ Mobile a great platform for any cause engaged in fundraising. Any cause can create a content-rich mobile presence, share it through text messages, social media, QR codes, advertising and more and best of all-quickly and securely process donations from motivated supporters.
Dale holds multiple patents and applications for patent in the mobile space including advertising, content optimization, geo-targeting and negative QOS. 

If you found this post useful, you may want to read Three Reasons for Going Mobile Now that You May Have Missed.