The stats are impressive, but you don’t have to be a tech analyst to predict that mobile will overtake the desktop web in the coming years. The proliferation of mobile devices is clear when you scan a crowd of commuters and see the majority focused on the small screen in front of them. This can be attributed to smartphones becoming more affordable and the expanded availability of 3G data networks.
It’s important to note that mobile is not limited to phones, as the adoption of tablets, eReaders and other products trended upwards in 2010 and continue to rise in popularity in 2011. The mobile web browser along with the exploding app market offers us access to anything at anytime. From social networks, news and commerce to games, books, videos, and music, it’s all a tap away.
It’s time to thoughtfully review your analytics and see what types of devices are used to view your website. Solicit feedback from your customers to further understand their habits and how they live in the mobile web space. The data that is collected will help craft a user experience that is rewarding for your mobile visitors, and will also determine if you need a mobile website or a mobile app, or both.
With mobile websites there is such a wide spectrum of phones and browsers that you’ll never be able to support them all. The iPhone and Droid garner a lot of publicity, but the Blackberry is still very popular in the business realm. If you focus on the specs of one platform, you might be be excluding part of your audience. In addition, you don’t want to get into a situation where you have to manage multiple platforms. Being platform independent will reach the widest possible audience and work well across all platforms and browsers.
When developing a mobile site, your content strategy should not be a direct copy of your PC version, since the two user experiences are very different. Mobile users are on the move and typically want to experience a simple and intuitive interface. Conversion goals should be immediate and conveyed through bite sized content. Target and Ebay offer two good examples of this approach. Ebay puts the search at the top, a link to view a full list of categories, a short list of key categories and the login. Target also provides the user with a search at the top, a simplified navigation system that is focused on finding products, adding products to lists, MyTarget access, and purchasing.
Mobile users may not always complete the conversion goals you’ve outlined, but they will critique your site and share their opinion publicly through social networks. You want the initial experience to be positive in hopes of converting them at a later point in time.
If mobile based visitors are a small segment of your site visitors today, it won’t stay this way — expect rapid growth. Now is a good time to consider what your mobile strategy will be in order to properly connect with, build and maintain loyal customers.