Sixty-one percent of smartphone owners are using their phones to conduct local searches. Forty percent of them are doing it at least once a week, and nearly half are using local business-related apps. With numbers like that, no one should be ignoring the mobile explosion happening. But is the only reason for the mobile boom the appearance of smarter phones and tablets? Or are there other lessons in why a customer may log onto your mobile Web site more often than your desktop site?
As always, I believe there may be some hidden lessons at play here for SMBs. Below are four reasons a user may prefer to access your Web site via their iPhone instead of their iMac, and what you can learn from it.
1. A stronger user-center design
I have a confession to make. I don’t read my local paper, The Troy Record, via my laptop anymore; I read it on my Samsung Galaxy Nexus. Why? Well, look.
This is how the desktop site appears:
This is the mobile site:
The mobile version of Troy Record’s Web site is easier to skim, to digest, and to find exactly what I’m looking for than its desktop alternative. The full site may have more bells, whistles and flashy things, but it’s harder to use and navigate. The condensed site is designed around specific user habits and interests, which makes it easier for me to complete my task. The mobile version is more aligned with my needs, so that’s the version I use.
How about your own Web site? Is the focus centered around your users and their needs OR is it centered around showing off a funny video or your fancy Flash navigation? If you’re not sure how user-focused your site design is, you may want to use free user testing capabilities that will let you look over a customer’s shoulder and find out. Because if extra features are actually getting in the way and making it harder for a user to navigate your site – why do you have them in the first place?
2. Fewer distractions
Let’s be honest – it’s a fight for real estate when it comes to your mobile Web site. You can’t fit everything on that first screen so you’re left with what’s most important. You give users one way in and one way to accomplish tasks. Believe it or not – most users actually prefer this. It makes it easier to complete the task we landed on your site for because there are fewer distractions vying for our attention. When you show me everything, I start to think I need everything and then I hobble around your site unsure of where to go. On your mobile site, you get to the heart of the matter and I get to heart of my visit. This helps both of us having a higher ROI.
Go back to your desktop site and give it a once over. Are you clearly setting up a distinct for your user to follow or are you letting them choose their own adventure? If it’s the latter and you notice that your conversion rate isn’t as high as the norm, this may be something you want to take a look at.
3. Faster loading times
Hallelujah! Native apps have finally given users the speed times they want. We don’t want to sit around waiting for your fancy site to load features we don’t even care about. We want to go to your site and have it instantly appear. We want to click a button and have it bring up a new screen. We want to scroll fast, to move around and to have full mobility on your Web site. And this is exactly what having native apps on our mobile devices allows us.
How quickly does your Web site load? Is it lagging and hindering a user’s experience? If you haven’t tested it, Google will help you analyze your site, let you know how it stacks up, and then offer some recommendations for improvement. Users don’t want to wait. They want what they want now.
4. Quicker access to social goods
Most mobile Web sites are set up with socialness in mind. They give me the company’s Twitter account, the ability to Like them on Facebook, and they even give me links to maps and direction. For a user trying to do business with you, this is really valuable information. I know it’s the information I’m most looking for when I look up a local business.
However, on the company’s traditional site? You practically need a map and a flashlight to navigate your way to their Contact Us page which may or may not even include this information. For a customer trying to find you or who may be using your social presence as an indicator of trust, not having this information readily accessible hinders their experience and may prevent them from doing business with you.
No one can deny that mobile is exploding and it’s changing the way that customers relate to your business and interact with your site. But are there lessons in the new mobile sites being built? There are if you’re looking for them.
Lisa, these are excellent points. On most sites I build, mobile is the first place I test. It does force me to think about the user experience in ways the desktop doesn’t. The most important thing I took from your post is the world is shifting to mobile right under our feet. Pay attention!
Especially agree with points 2 and 3. A simpler, faster-loading site beats the unwieldy full version every time.