THE websites of small businesses in Glasgow are less readable on mobile phones and other portable devices than those of counterparts in Edinburgh and elsewhere in the UK, according to a wide-ranging new survey.
In a study of 2000 websites in the UK and United States by Reading-based web services and directories group Hibu, only 20% of the 100 that were business sites tested in Glasgow had a version that was tailored to mobile phones.
This compared to 25% in Edinburgh and a 26% overall average. However, even UK leaders Liverpool and Birmingham (34% each) were well behind top US cities Dallas (56%) and Houston (58%).
Glasgow business sites scored poorly at having versions for smartphones. Meanwhile, for iPads, the city scored lowest in the whole country, with only 8% of sites tailored compared to the UK average of 12%. In each of these categories, Edinburgh again scored very close to the UK average.
For each category, the research involved testing the top 10 sites by web search in each city in sectors including construction, hotels, restaurants, florists and hairdressers.
The figures will not entirely surprise those who have looked closely at technology uptake in Scotland. According to 2013 figures from communications watchdog Ofcom, Glasgow's fixed broadband take-up among consumers is only 50%, against a Scottish average of 68%, a UK average of 78% and 88% in Edinburgh.
And while most other cities saw growth year on year, the proportion of Glaswegians with fixed broadband was the same in 2013 as it was in 2012.
Vivienne MacLaren, head of digital strategy at Glasgow-based web consultancy Alienation Digital, said: "I am quite surprised by the findings. The make-up of Edinburgh is a bit different. You've got a more affluent population, so you might not be comparing like with like. But having worked in both cities, I have never noticed any difference at all between the businesses that operate there."
She added that businesses were nevertheless often behind the curve with regards to the needs of consumers.
She said: "I think there's a whole disconnect between how companies regard their sites and what it does for their business. There are a lot of things you can track and businesses often don't spend enough time working out how their website can add value for them."
Polly Purvis, head of technology business association Scotland IS, said that responsive design - meaning the need to be usable on a range of devices - was the buzzphrase among all the leading web companies and they were all encouraging their clients to prioritise it. "But there will be a lot of small businesses who will be saying, 'It's not impacting our business at this stage, so we won't do anything about it immediately."
She would not comment on the differences between Glasgow and Edinburgh, but acknowledged that in some areas, such as e-commerce, Scotland lagged behind the south of England.
She added: "We are also conscious that our website is not brilliant on mobile either and we are currently having a new one designed."