Don’t forget your mobile customers!

It may not come as a surprise that the digital world is evolving and is becoming more prominent in our lives. How often do you find yourself multitasking between your laptop and your phone? And how regularly do you ‘Google it’ on the go? Our online behaviour is no longer solely confined to our computer.

We are using mobile devices more and more to perform tasks such as searching for that swanky new restaurant opening up, booking an appointment at the dentist, or purchasing flight tickets. And how annoyed would you be if you could not find what you are looking for, or could not perform the task, because the experience on your mobile device is appalling or, worst case scenario, won’t allow you to finish what you started? So, don’t forget about your mobile customers. Is your company ready?

BI Intelligence

The growth of the mobile customer

A recent study conducted by Google shows that mobile devices are becoming more prominent in overall online traffic; Australia has one of the highest penetration rates of smartphone (65%) and tablets (25%) in the world. An even bigger growth is still expected! However, many of the major companies have not been quick enough to optimise their web presence for mobile users.

Have you missed the boat? Not necessarily, but you should start optimising now. Whenever a mobile user encounters a bad experience, a conversion or sale may be lost. And not just at that moment; a bad experience will prevent most users from coming back to your site altogether, on any device at any point in time, and may even discourage users to make purchases from your company offline.

Mobile optimisation: which route to take?

So how should you go about optimising your presence to your mobile market? There are several options at your disposal, each with its own pros and cons.

Mobile apps

Apps are great for certain kinds of business transactions, especially within e-commerce. A well-working app provides users with a seamless and smooth purchasing flow without long loading times. However most people use their mobile devices for casual browsing and information searches as well, of which an app would be less suited. Moreover, the adoption process of an app may be a long one; users need to be aware of your brand and the app first, and would need to be convinced the app would be of use to them, as it will need to be downloaded on their device. And last, but not least, creating a well-designed app takes time not to mention costs money.

Dedicated mobile sites

You may consider launching a dedicated mobile site alongside your desktop-oriented website. A mobile site should consist of only the most relevant content available, meaning only the most important pages should be included on the site, and only the most relevant content on a page should show up. Mobile sites offer users a great experience when it comes to load times and optimised design, and are relatively quick, easy and cheap to build, but users might feel the need for more information not available to them due to the condensed nature of a mobile site. You should also be aware that mobile sites have their own URLs, different from their desktop-oriented big brother. Something to keep in mind from a search perspective as this may involve more (mobile) strategy planning and campaign execution workload.

Responsive design

Responsive design is a technology that shrinks pages and rearranges layout and content to fit screens on mobile devices and computers alike. The same web code is delivered to all devices, but adjustments to the stylesheet (CSS) code ensure only certain layouts and contents are shown on a particular advice, hence optimising the user experience front-end. In addition, as only one page exists, and is only one URL, search marketing efforts are less time-consuming.

While using the responsive design method makes formatting to mobile easier, loading times tend to be high as all the content – even though not shown through the CSS restrictions – are loaded on to the devices, making some pages, particularly the ones high in graphic elements, slow to load on smartphones. One way to overcome this problem is to add server-side support to your responsive website. The difference being that the server hosting your website, only sends out the content packages relevant to the device the user is on. As there is less information to load on the device, the loading times will speed up, but this does require you to include device detection into your pages. One major drawback of building a fully responsive website, with our without server-side support is that implementing one involves extensive investment, planning and resources, making a quick adoption to the mobile optimisation trend highly unlikely.

Content is like water
Image: Stéphanie Walter

Josh Clark, (@globalmoxie) and A List Apart explains how, when content is designed, we should create as if it is water, so it can fit in any device/shape (poured into multiple containers).

If you haven’t already, you should start creating a mobile strategy as soon as possible so as not lose out. Each of the strategies for mobile optimisation to consider has its own pros and cons but don’t be afraid to use them all. Plan both for the short-term, for example building mobile dedicated pages and/or a website, and the long-term, like implementing responsive design and/or building apps for high mobile traffic transactions.

Have you implemented a mobile strategy? If so please share your experiences with us.

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