Recently Mark and I were invited to Google Australia to hear the search giant’s take on the current state and future direction of online business marketing.
The most interesting statistic presented was the growth of Mobile searches. Currently, Google searches on Mobile devices is growing at around 400% – it is expected that in 2013, Mobile Searches will overtake Desktop searches. Quite a staggering statistic.
So what does this mean for your business?
In highly developed countries like Australia, which has the world’s highest per capita use of mobiles, mobile Internet use is growing considerably. The number of Australians who own smartphones is growing rapidly. Around half (46 per cent) now own a smartphone – up from 36 per cent in 2010. Smartphone ownership is expected to grow to 60 per cent of the Australian mobile population within 12 months.
A recent study by Telstra found 93% of Australian smartphone owners have used mobile search (such as Google), with 71% using it weekly and 36% already using mobile search more than desktop search. More and more, users are finding information on the go. Smartphone-optimised sites will become the next essential business tool – much like websites are now.
In fact, we were recently looking at the current web traffic of an existing client and almost 20% of the visitors to their site were already from a mobile device. It is essential you cater for this increasing number visitors.
Ok – so I need a mobile website. What should I include on my mobile site? What’s my next step?
The purpose of a mobile site is to improve the user experience, in a way that makes it easy for a visitor to perform a desired action, like making an enquiry or purchase. Just like any marketing tool, it is important you consider the purpose and reason a person may visit your site. Who will be visiting your site? Why will they be there? What is the purpose of their visit? You should develop and design your site with this market in mind.
Think about what specific information your market will be looking for when searching on their mobile phone. Do they want to hear about the last 20 years of your company history, or do they want to find your opening hours? Do they want to hear about your latest company news article, or quickly find your location and a map? One in three Generally you can cut down the amount of content considerably.
You should still offer a way to easily view the full site, as there will always be a small proportion of users who do need more than basic information. From a useability perspective you may also ask a mobile user whether they want to view the mobile site, or the full site (and even remember this preference). This will allow the user to be in control of their view.
Here’s our checklist of what to discuss when developing your mobile site.
1. Identify the most important features and tasks that users will want when visiting on their mobile.
Mobile websites are focused, streamlined, and designed for specific tasks. It should purposely not do everything; but what it does, it should do exceptionally well. Most developers focus their product on one feature or group of related features.
The one exception is for large corporations who require a full mobile version of their website (expensive) and companies who want to offer their e-commerce offering onto mobile devices. Even then, you should consider whether an entire mobile port of your current website is preferable to streamlined and thought out content choices.
2. Simple is Key
Following on from the first point, you have to remember – what is the user there for?
Mobile devices entail one constraint after another – limited keyboard, a small screen, no flash – so designing for them is an exercise in building smart, simple software. Remember, text sizes should be optimised for smaller mobile devices. Your page width needs to reflect a more appropriate size for a mobile device. While desktop screens have plenty of horizontal screen space, mobile devices are best when formed on a vertical axis, scrolling up and down.
Again, reducing the complications and content that is displayed on a mobile site will ensure you keep your site simple. Less content means less navigation items – and remember, people’s fingers are much bigger and less precise than a standard mouse – so you need to significantly increase the button size and padding around links to allow easy link navigation.
An MIT Touch Lab study of Human Fingertips to investigate the Mechanics of Tactile Sense found that the average width of the index finger is 1.6 to 2 cm (16 – 20 mm) for most adults. This converts to 45 – 57 pixels, which is wider than what most mobile guidelines (Apple suggest 44×44 pixels) suggest.
You need to prioritise the user interface elements that will be most useful for people when on a mobile device.
3. Build on the advantages mobile devices offer
Building a mobile site isn’t just about cutting back features and content. It is also a chance to optimise your mobile site for a mobile device.
Knowing the end user will be on a mobile device, you can optimise any media content for an appropriate size and bandwidth.
Some devices automatically pickup phone numbers so you can easily call them straight from your mobile. Include the code that helps the phones pick them up. If you have a map, link it through to google maps so that the user can get directions from their location. You can also use the GPS sensor in the phone to automatically set the location of their nearest shop or centre.