Can you recall the last time you were holding your smartphone? Of course, you can! It was likely only a few minutes ago. Actually, if you’re part of the steadily increasing number of web users who do the majority of their website browsing using their hand-held devices, chances are good you’re holding your smartphone right now to view this article.
In that way, you’re probably similar to a large portion of the people who are visiting your clients’ websites.
At Kanopi Studios, how content and functionality will render on mobile often drives our approach to User Experience Design, Development and QA. In other words, we almost always think about mobile first. We want to make sure we have a solid understanding of the user experience and make sure users are able to perform the primary actions that they are most likely to take on the site whether they are on mobile or desktop.
Over the course of our projects, we have learned that someone viewing a website from their mobile device usually has a specific goal in mind — perhaps checking out restaurant reviews, finding directions, locating a phone number, or finding out when a business is open.
While browsing from a desktop or laptop might be more casual, visiting a website from a mobile device is often purposeful.
What is a mobile-optimized website?
For us, a mobile-optimized website is more than a shrunken version of a traditional, desktop-friendly website. Mobile design not only suits a smaller screen, but it brings with it a number of other constraints as well. What is needed for the client impacts the approach we take to optimize the site for mobile.
It depends on the situation. Depending on the website that’s already in place for a client, the best approach might be to create a dedicated mobile site that allows users to switch between the two versions as they see fit.
Otherwise, if the client’s website is new enough and developed with a modern framework, you might use responsive design to detect what device it is being used and the site automatically will adapt to suit the screen size — a website chameleon if you will.
Traits of mobile-optimized websites
There are several ways to optimize a website for the mobile-viewing experience. Here are a few traits we often see in sites that have been implemented with mobile in mind:
- Sites are quick to load.
- Sites have less text.
- There are fewer moving parts.
- There are fewer pop-ups.
- There are fewer text boxes to fill out.
- Menus are simplified drop-downs.
- Contact information is strongly featured.
- Store hours are large and in charge.
- Calls-to-action information are prominent.
- Buttons are large and easily targeted.
Google and mobile websites
How does neglecting to have a mobile-friendly website affect a client’s business? According to Google, not having a mobile optimized website is akin to shutting down the business for one day every week.
So how does one decide if a website design is mobile friendly? There’s an easy way to check using Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test. If the test comes back negative, you’ll know there is some work to do in order to maximize the mobile user experience of the website.
10 benefits of a mobile website
You know what’s going on. How do you convince your clients that they should be investing in a mobile site? You can share the following benefits of a mobile website to get the conversation started.
1. Most people have chosen mobile.
The No. 1 reason to make sure your company’s website looks good and works right on everyone’s mobile devices is simply because so many people have one, including your potential customers. About two-thirds of Americans own a smartphone and 87 percent of millennials have their smartphone at their side day and night.
Many people have already been using smartphones and tablets for years, while seniors and young students are just starting to learn how useful they can be. Either way, you want to make sure your online presence is functional and attractive for the increasing number of people who will be accessing your site through their phones, tablets and laptops.
2. Most of a site’s web traffic comes from a mobile device.
Let’s face it, desktop computers are no longer flying off store shelves like they used to. Mobile devices now account for more than half of all e-commerce traffic.
At this rate, the next generation of consumers might not ever see a traditional desktop website because they won’t have a machine to access it on! This means that their first introduction to your store will likely be with their mobile device, so it’s critical to make a good impression at this stage.
3. Mobile users behave differently.
Mobile users aren’t using their phones to hunker down for long periods of time to write research papers — they are likely using them for a few seconds at a time while they are waiting in line at the grocery store, or outside of the movie theater to check showtimes. They are using their devices frequently, but at shorter intervals.
Mobile users don’t have time to wait for massive graphics to load quickly, or have the attention spans to click through to the fifth page of your website to find the information they are after. Research shows that 40 percent of people are willing to abandon a website that takes more than three seconds to load, so mobile-optimized sites are designed with this type of user behavior in mind.
4. Mobile users are bigger buyers.
The psychology of this next point is still anyone’s guess, but studies show that mobile users buy more than people who primarily use desktop computers. We believe this is because mobile devices give people the power to be informed consumers. They can use their phones to instantly read product reviews and compare brands, which removes second-guessing every purchase.
Mobile consumers also use their phones to research sales, find coupons, and seek out clearance items. Whether they do this via e-newsletters, or just simply walking the aisles of the store, a person with a mobile phone can research their purchase and is more serious about making one. In fact, 93 percent of people who use their mobile device to research a product will eventually make a purchase.
5. Mobile users have lots on the go.
In other words, people with smartphones are multitaskers who make use of multiple screens. They are able to check Facebook, send a tweet, look up how to get somewhere, and check the weather in under a minute.
To keep them on your website long enough to find what they want before switching screens, your site must be mobile-optimized — meaning it must meet the criteria listed above.
Not only will you grab a site visitor’s attention right away, you’ll have also made it easier for them to pick up where they left off on your site before they were interrupted by answering a text message.
6. Mobile landing pages require different strategies.
Although it takes some effort to get it up and running, a mobile-optimized website is a valuable thing because it allows you to target messages to suit people who are on the go. For example, on your mobile site, you should only be including the most important information about your company.
Visitors don’t need wordy mission statements, access to all your previous press releases, or a lengthy background about how your business came to be. With this in mind, mobile landing pages offer you the chance to really streamline your message so your customers can hear you in such a crowded arena.
7. Google favors mobile responsiveness.
Having a good-looking mobile website won’t just please your site visitors; it will impress Google. In April 2015, Google started to use mobile-friendliness as a parameter for providing better search rankings. This means it ranks a website higher if it is optimized for mobile viewing.
Google says it made this change to make it easier for its users to get “relevant, high-quality search results that are optimized for their devices.” This is why SEO companies make mobile website optimization a big part of their SEO strategies.
8. Social media shares are huge on mobile.
One of the great things about mobile devices is how easy it is to share interesting pictures, posts and articles with friends. On a mobile device, you’ll notice social media buttons are everywhere. Otherwise, the word SHARE is featured prominently on the top of the article, then at the bottom for good measure.
If a SHARE button is not there, it’s built into the device’s browser, meaning mobile users and their social media accounts are inherently linked.
After all, they don’t want to look bad for recommending an overbearing, spammy-looking website.
9. Mobile advertising is less obtrusive.
Beyond the sheer convenience our devices provide us, another reason they are popular for website browsing is because — at this point in time — there is less advertising out there on our mobiles. When you click to view the content, the content is still the prominent object on the page you are viewing.
Help make it easier on your mobile site visitors by providing them with an experience that minimizes display ads. The ads skew your overall message, are slow to load, can eat up a person’s monthly data allowance, and often appear so small on a hand-held device they are no longer valuable.
10. Having a good mobile site makes you more memorable.
In other words, a good mobile site makes your brand stand out in a crowded market, making it more likely that a visitor will take the time to place an order and keep coming back. A good example of this is multimedia websites like online magazines and newspapers. The sites that provide the better user experience will always come out on top.
It’s the same for stores selling goods or services. If your online store is the easiest one to navigate, your brand shines brighter than the one that reflects a business that has neglected to provide its mobile users a friendly experience.
Image by: Kanopi Studios