There’s absolutely no doubt that mobile devices such as smartphones and tablet PC’s are becoming one of the primary ways how consumers will use the Internet to access the information that they need, as well as how they communicate with others, and conduct online transactions.
Latest Data On Mobile User Habits
• There are now over 57% percent of mobile users who go online to use the mobile web on a daily basis
• Smartphone and tablet users will spend as much time browsing the Web as they do conversing with others on their phones
• It’s expected that over 52% percent of those who travel will just leave their trusty laptops at home and instead use a mobile device. Global mobile users are expected to reach 1.5 billion users shortly
So how will this dramatic increase in mobile usage and mobile traffic impact your Web business? For marketers and retailers, it’s now becoming an increasingly important issue to consider, as there is an overwhelming volume of mobile traffic that’s now visiting their sites.
There is now anywhere from 9% to 21% percent, depending on the industry segment, of website traffic which comes directly from mobile devices. Professional based services in particular and their audiences are increasingly deciding on using their mobile devices to navigate the Web.
This means that most online marketers need to be thinking about developing or converting to a mobile friendly optimized site. They need to do so to ensure a smooth uninterrupted experience for their ever growing mobile savvy visitors and prospects.
Laying Down The Mobile Site Groundwork
Before you decide to make the actual decision to update your online site so it will accommodate these mobile users, there’s a number of factors which you should be considering which includes:
• Your Budget – Obviously your budget can be a huge factor when it comes to making any decisions of this type. You’ll be required to look at your marketing budget and take into account the cost of the design as well as the implementation and the ongoing maintenance which is required for keeping it mobile friendly.
• Brand Identity – If you don’t know or haven’t done so lately, you may need to identify your online marketing brand to be able to understand your identity. If you want to project a message to users that you’re innovative and tech savvy, you’ll then need to develop a mobile site which offers the exact custom tailored user experience.
• Ability To Evolve – Portable mobile devices are changing extremely rapidly. There are now a large variety of mobile devices as well as new shapes and sizes which are soon to be introduced. So make sure that your designer and budget allows for these technological changes, as well as dealing with the potential compatibility issues which will most inevitably arise with the introduction of these new mobile devices, version upgrades and operating systems.
• Raised Expectations – You’ll need to realize that your mobile site won’t look the same on every single mobile device. There are just too many sizes and versions out there. So plan to set your expectations accordingly as well as deciding how to “mobilize” your current site based on your visitor stats and how they are accessing your site.
Identifying The Various Mobile Device User Types
To be able to make your site suitable for all your users and prospects, you’ll need to evaluate your sites current stats to determine who and how the users are accessing your site. Determine what these visitors are looking for or what they’re looking to achieve.
The Types Of Mobile Based Users:
• The Casual Web Surfer – These are the users who are window shopping, they come to your site without any purpose other than to just kill time by randomly surfing the Web and end up on your site. The ultimate goal of your mobile site should be to make it as interesting and stimulating as possible, so these users will possibly come back and even become a repeat visitor.
• Those Repeat Visitors – These are the mobile users who has visited your Website or your mobile site in the past, and are now returning to get some specific information that you’re providing, or for information or industry news developments. Your goal for these users should be to find out what they’re accessing, and making sure that those targets are just 3 or 4 clicks away.
• The Urgent Visitor – These are the users who arrive and want immediate information, such as specific instruction or contact information. For these users, you’ll need to identify which of the areas of your site are accessed the most frequently, and making sure that this info is less than one click away from you’re home page.
Selecting A Mobile Design
When you’ve decided to take the plunge and decide on developing a mobile based site, you will need to select a suitable design which fits and is compatible with the main theme of your web based site.
There are a few different mobile designs which you can choose from:
• A “Splash” or “Landing “Page – If you haven’t committed yourself to launching a full fledged mobile site, this may be an excellent option for you to choose. A splash or mobile landing page can be a custom designed page that’s optimized for targeting mobile devices.
So you’ll be taking your existing sites theme and then converting it to a smaller similar site which provides information such as your contact info, directions or a map to your location, or a link to your full website.
The Splash/Landing page option is obviously less costly to design as well as to maintain, however, the result may be a disjointed Web experience for your visitors, as splash pages are viewed as more of a stop gap solution to collect minimum information such as an email address.
• Mobile Sites Which Are Scaled Back Text Versions – The mobile version of your site is basically stripped down to provide just limited content such as a home page, a search box, office or product listing, contact info as well as directions or a map. You would remove most of the images to make the mobile site load a lot faster.
As most mobile devices are wireless and thus finicky, a quick loading site should help in bringing back repeat as well as urgent visitors who need the information that they are looking for. This site design is a lot more tailored than just using the splash or landing page option.
The users however, are not getting the complete mobile experience. This type of text dominated mobile site will not reflect or project your “brand,” which usually displays technology leadership.
• A Mobile Web Design Which Is Optimized – Creating a complete mobile design involves building a mini functional website, which would essentially be a smaller scaled back version of your current Web enabled site which is fully optimized, but only for a smaller screen to fit mobile devices. The pages will also display templates as well as targeted content.
Using a mobile optimized site design, you’ll be able to demonstrate that you’re completely embracing technology as well as showing innovation. The site would have to be custom designed to offer a completely tailored mobile experience. These sites are also geared towards the higher end mobile devices such as the iPhone, iPads or the newer BlackBerrys. This type of mobile site would obviously be costlier to implement as well as maintain.
• Creating A Mobile App – Developing a mobile app provides for a highly targeted mobile users experience which they can download from an online app store. A mobile app is usually able to function both online as well as offline, while adding to the emerging “apps market and culture” among savvy mobile users. However, it can be a rather costly extension of your budget, and they are usually device specific. Unlike developing a mobile site, your visitors would have to download the app on their device in order for them to use it.
So Having A Plan Is The Key
When you’re deciding on taking your site mobile, you will also need input as well as the involvement all of the different groups which will have a say in the project, as well as conducting detailed research regarding your mobile users. So being as prepared as possible is the key to ensuring that your new mobile site launches successfully.
• Planning With Your IT Department – Find out which devices that your company currently supports, and what additional devices the IT department needs to additionally support. This will assist you in understanding where you stand as well as how they view what your mobile site will look like.
• Know Your User Audience – Make sure that you research your current sites stats as well as know and analyze your user traffic habits. You will then be able to determine the potential mobile device usage patterns on your site. You should then be able to tailor your mobile site to meet your most active mobile users needs.
• Research As Well As Understand The End Users Experience – Make sure that you browse your site using a variety of mobile smartphone devices with various screen sizes and operating systems, including tablet PC’s. Take in the experience which your users will have when they visit your mobile site. You should also be able to use emulator software which you can view as well as test your site as it would appear on an iPhone or an iPad.
• Navigation And Balance – Examine your onscreen content which your visitors will visit and determine how many clicks it will take to get to that information. Make sure that you balance the content and the ease to navigate, so you will be providing a content rich, easy navigation mobile site.
• The Need To Think Small – For mobile sites, you’ll need to keep in mind to always think small and easy. So always remember the smaller screen resolutions of the mobile devices when you’re planning the layout and content. If at all possible, for lengthy articles, try breaking them up into multiple smaller pages as well as compressing videos and resizing images.
Getting Ready For The Mobile Web Wave
It’s only a matter of time before your visitors will begin accessing your site using a variety of portable mobile devices, rather than the conventional desktop computer or a laptop.
So it’s essential that you begin the forward-thinking process as soon as possible, as most likely your direct competitors are already a step ahead of you. Begin making your sites mobile-friendly as well as readable on a variety of the most common popular mobile device platforms.
Online marketers as well as retailers will need to consider how they can accommodate for the ever increasing mobile device consumer by creating a site catered specific to them. They are the fastest growing segment on the Internet and they are growing at an exponential rate and not going anywhere anytime soon.