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Why Being Mobile-Friendly Is Essential For Any Business Today

 

“It’s only a mobile phone!  What’s the point in making a website for that?  You can’t see much on them anyway?  If they’re interested they’ll look at it on their computer.”

MOBILE_FRIENDLY (1)What are we talking about?  We are talking about how a website looks when someone uses a mobile phone or tablet to view it.  Many, many small businesses have not chosen to make their website mobile-friendly, but does it really matter?  Do small businesses really need to spend time and money to make a more design-responsive website?

Before making any decision that could cost money, a business is wise to look at whether there is a demand for what they are considering doing, but most importantly, whether it will have a positive, beneficial effect on their business and hence on their profits.

When the first cellphones were introduced back in the mid 1990’s, it was hard to imagine that these heavy, clumsy, over sized ‘portable’ phones would dramatically evolve into a tiny device that fits into the hand and would be capable of letting people instantly communicate verbally and visually globally with one another.

What was once science fiction is very much now science fact.  All manner of daily activities are logged, recorded and shared on these devices.  And once people had the capability to access the internet on their phone, regardless of where they were, smartphone development really began to accelerate.  This portability has led to the rise of the mobile device but the decline in traditional desktop computers sales.

If you still need proof of how popular smartphones and mobile devices are, The Guardian newspaper reported in July 2013 that 90% of all phones sold were smartphones, with over 1.8 billion smartphones in existence at that time.  Leading social media site Facebook recognized the importance of being mobile-friendly to its users.  Because people were posting details of their lives as they lived them, it was crucial Facebook was able to offer a smooth and easy user experience, which could fit into the portable devices people carried with them.  Facebook’s designers claim it can be viewed and used smoothly on around 7,000 different portable devices.  The fact that there are so many different mobile devices is mind boggling.

There can be no doubt that if you want your business to prosper, you need to keep up with how people are shopping and where they are going to shop.  Gone are the days when most people took time out of their evening or weekend to sit browsing on their desktop computer.  People can access the web at anytime and anywhere they can get a mobile signal.  It’s no longer about how a site looks; it’s all about speed – how fast they can get the information they are looking for?

People are internet window-shopping whenever they have a spare 5 or 10 minutes waiting for a bus, sitting in their car, on the park bench in their lunch hour or in the coffee shop.  They don’t want to look at a pretty site design.  They want a responsive site that loads quickly (less than 5 seconds), is easy to navigate around on their small device and a site where it is quick and simple to find the information they want.

 

MOBILE_FRIENDLY (2)How Do I Know If My Site Is Mobile-Friendly?

That’s easy…just have a look!  You may have looked at your site on your computer when your designer first finished it, but that may have been a number of years ago now, before mobile technology really came to the fore.  You need to see if you have a responsive web design that will adapt itself seamlessly to the main percentage of mobile gadgets.

Take a look on your own phone, as well as on other mobile devices.  Type in your web address and see what comes up.  Notice:

  • How fast the site took to load up fully
  • How does your site header and logo appear?  Can you see them both in full or are parts of them missing?
  • How does the navigation bar appear?  Can you access all the different tabs or buttons easily?
  • Is your home page showing up with some of the content cut off?  Or is everything laid out in a simple, easy to access template?

If your site isn’t there in full and quickly, then you don’t have a mobile-friendly site, and that can be a big concern for your business.  Over 80% of all local searches done on the internet are now done on mobile devices.  Almost 50% of 18-25 year old website visitors consider their mobile phone as their primary computer, and that number will only go up, not down, as children grow up with more advanced technology.  So if your customer is looking for you, the response of your website to their mobile device will determine whether or not they even browse your site.

There is no need to panic just yet.  There is nothing here that can’t be changed or improved upon.  Here are some really useful tips to consider when looking to make your website more mobile-friendly:

 

1.  It’s Mobile

It might seem an obvious thing, but it is sometimes overlooked.  There is no point creating a mobile site if nobody goes to it.  When someone types in your web address on a mobile device, they don’t use a separate mobile URL.  It’s the same one as your main website.  So make sure your server is set up to recognise mobile devices and to automatically direct them through to the mobile version.

 

2.  Less Is More – Part 1

It’s pointless creating a mobile site if you cram it so full of content that the user has to wade through screen after screen of text to try and pick out what they want.  Because your information is being viewed on a much smaller screen, realistically you can’t add all the in depth information you would have on a site viewed on a computer.

Your visitor hasn’t come to your site to learn more about you.  They are there because they want something specific – your address, contact number or a product.  So don’t cram each small page with as much text as you can get on, but add less (but more relevant) information to your mobile site in a condensed form.  You want to make your visitor work less, not more, to find what they are looking for.  If there is something that needs further explanation, like a full product description, then don’t be afraid to add in a link back to your full site.

 

MOBILE_FRIENDLY (3)3.  Less Is More – Part 2

It’s not just the content on your site that needs to be trimmed down.  You need to look at simplifying how your visitor navigates around the mobile site.  No-one wants to have to click here, then there, swipe and scroll and click again just to find your telephone number.  Consider why visitors will use your mobile site and then put useful information within easy reach and the minimum of clicks.

The way your navigation looks is also important.  Users want to be able to scan the home screen and immediately see where they need to be to get what they want.  So keep your navigation clear and concise – don’t hide your navigation behind images.  It is too confusing especially when they don’t have the roll over or hover features.  It may look great on your main site, but it will annoy, frustrate and finally put off many visitors through the lack of friendly usability.

 

4.  Less Talk, More Action

The rule to remember is mobile users have less time to talk and want to use that time to get the information they want and go.  They certainly don’t want to have to fill out a 20 field opt-in form just to get a little information.  The more fields a user has to fill out, the more unhappy they become.

When you need information from your mobile visitor, make sure you only add fields that are ABSOLUTELY necessary, and not what type of movies they like or whether they drink a brand of cola.  You will engage your visitor more by giving them what they want quickly than by getting them to give you non-essential information.

 

5.  Don’t Forget – It’s Your Site

Just because your mobile site is going to be viewed on a small screen doesn’t mean you have to leave out the most important thing – Your Brand Identity!  When someone comes to your site, whether it’s the mobile site or your full website, they should be able to identify it immediately as yours.    So use your corporate colors and logo together with your brand style on both sites so your visitor is confident both sites belong to the same company – yours!

 

6.  Bigger Is Better

How many times have you tried to tap the screen on your phone and missed the tiny button you were aiming at?  Fingers come in all shapes and sizes.  You wouldn’t expect a 6 foot 3 inch wrestler to have delicate slender fingers.

You may not be able to give people the option to change the size of button, but you can increase the button size to ensure visitors have a much easier time selecting the button they want.

The other thing you need to make bigger is the font size.  It might seem logical that because you are using a smaller device, the text should be smaller too.  But, in fact, the opposite is true.  Because everything is being scaled down, you need to increase the size of font, otherwise your content will be unreadable.  But this can work to an advantage.  You can highlight features or areas of the screen by the selective use of color and larger, bolder fonts to pick out certain words and help the user understand the page more quickly.

 

MOBILE_FRIENDLY (4)7.  Communicate The Essentials

It is easy to assume that visitors to your mobile site come there for exactly the same reasons as visitors to your mobile site, and so you arrange your site information in the same way.  But is that actually the most likely explanation?

Visitors using a computer at home do not necessarily want the same thing as someone who visits your site on a mobile device.  If someone local to your business is visiting your mobile site, they are most likely away from home using their mobile device because they want to know something more physical about your company.  They could want to know your address or what hours you are open so they can make a personal visit.  Or they may wish to contact you to make a booking or ask a question.  They may even want to know what services you provide.

Whatever you eventually decide are the reasons someone would use your mobile site, make sure those pieces of information about your business are some of the first things that they can see and access.

 

8.  Make Sure It Works!

Once you have made all the adjustments and changes to your mobile site, don’t forget to check everything works.  Just because you can see your click-to-call function pops up, it doesn’t automatically follow that it will connect to your number.  So check every pop-up, link and interactive function to ensure not only that they work, but that they work the way you want them to.  Nothing is so frustrating to your potential customers as something that doesn’t work.

The whole aim of making your website more mobile-friendly is to increase the positive experience of your users.  If people can come to your site and get the information they need quickly and easily, they will return back the next time confident that you have what they want.

Very few mobile browsers return to a site that is slow to load, complicated or makes them spend ages hunting down what they need.  There are plenty of other businesses that do have mobile-friendly sites and they will move on to those sites without a backward glance.

By putting these guidelines into practice, you can make your user’s experience a positive one for them and a profitable one for you.

 

 

Smartphone Use For Online Shopping

Consumers will be using their smartphones more for finding store locations as well as tablets to shop and browse this holiday, according to a report from Deloitte.

Deloitte’s 2013 Annual Holiday Survey found that optimism and increased confidence about the economy will result in higher spending this holiday season, with a 12 percent increase in overall intended spending. Consumers who will use smartphones for holiday shopping expect to spend $480 on gifts and $1,494 total, and omnichannel consumers plan to spend $558 on gifts and $1,643 total on mobile, in-store and online.

“Our data showed that smartphone penetration is now over 60 percent,” said Alison Paul, vice chairman and U.S. retail & distribution leader at Deloitte, New York. “Of those smartphone users nearly seven out of ten said that they were going to use their phone during their holiday shopping.

“Mostly, it’s not for buying things through their phone,” she said. “But they use it for finding a store location or checking on prices and getting more product information.

“With our past research, this shows that the mobile phone shopper, the person that’s walking through the aisle with a smartphone is actually 14 percent more likely to purchase. We believe that this is a good thing for retailers, and they should not resist. This is a good sign that a shopper is engaged and ready to make a purchase.”

The Deloitte survey polled a national sample of 5,018 consumers between Sept. 13-23, 2013.

Omnichannel shoppers

The amount that omnichannel shoppers intend to spend this holiday season is 76 percent higher than those who only shop in bricks-and-mortar stores. This points to a huge opportunity for retailers to address cross-screen, cross-channel audiences.

This year’s survey also marks the first time that the Internet ranks No. 1 for the venue that consumers expect to shop.

Forty-seven percent of respondents expect to shop online, 44 percent in discount/value department stores and 28 percent in traditional departments stores.

Among those shopping online, 38 percent said they plan to spend the majority online.

Out of the respondents that own smartphones, 68 percent will use them for holiday shopping. When asked what they will use smartphones for, 56 percent responded to get store locations, 54 percent to check/compare prices, 47 percent to get product information, 45 percent to shop/browse online, 44 percent to read reviews, 40 percent to check product availability in-store and 36 percent to get/use coupons, discounts and sale information.

Additionally, 32 percent said they would use it to scan bar codes for product information, 31 percent to make a purchase online, 29 percent to access social networks and 24 percent to get text messages or exclusive deals from retailers.

Out of the respondents that own tablets, 63 percent plan to use it for holiday shopping.

When asked what they will use smartphones for, 69 percent said to shop/browse online, 58 percent to check/compare prices, 58 percent to get product information, 57 percent to read reviews and 52 percent to make a purchase online.

Additionally, 47 percent would use their tablet to check product availability in-store, 44 percent to get store locations, 30 percent to access social networks and 30 percent to get/use coupons, discounts and sale information.

Forty-five percent of respondents said they plan to use social media as a part of their holiday shopping process. Some of the reasons cited were to research gift ideas, find discounts, read reviews and browse products.

In-store experience

The Deloitte survey also found that 22 percent of the respondents would be more likely to purchase in-store from retailer that offered self-service/mobile checkout. Of those 22 percent, 17 percent would use the retailer’s mobile app to checkout and 13 percent would use mobile payments, while 60 percent would use price checkers and self-checkout payment lanes.

Fourteen percent would be more likely to purchase from a retailer that offered Wi-Fi for comparison shopping.

Another interesting find in the survey was that 73 percent said they will be influenced by coupons and promotional offers. Additionally, 71 percent are looking for free shipping, 47 percent for free returns, 44 percent for price matching, 36 percent for extended holiday hours and 35 percent for the ability to order online and pick up in-store.

“There’s no overstating what a giant influction point this is for bricks-and-mortar retailers,” Ms. Paul said. “They are really challenged to appeal to consumers in new and different ways than just being the place where someone transacts because you can do that anywhere now.

“What you see the most successful retailers doing is offering unique products that you can only get through them, particularly if it’s a short-lived product that’s only available during the holidays,” she said. “I think they are really beefing up the in-store experience, by making it more visually appealing and engaging.

“The third is to take sales employees and turn them into brand advocates. They are knowledgeable, they are connected to the Internet and they’re knowledgeable about the stock enterprise-wide not just in the store. These are three ways that retailers can leverage the asset that is the store and not let it become just one more location that is not very interesting to the consumer.”