April 4th, 2013

30% of your customers browse your site on mobile devices. How's their experience?

30% of the web traffic in North America is mobile traffic. Mobile web browsing is set to overtake desktop browsing in the next few years. Some estimates even have this happening in North America in 2014. This means that most visitors to your website will be browsing, shopping and interacting from a mobile device.

Your website visitors are on mobile devices
Your website visitors are on mobile devices

It also means a shift in the priorities for your site. For most mid-size businesses, a mobile site is an afterthought. It tends to be a ‘nice to have’ item if there is room for that project with the current workload, staff and budget. As the trends in browsing change, organizations need to change their focus to mobile as the primary source of traffic and the primary experience for users.

It’s hard enough to keep up with the technologies involved in a standard desktop browser website, how can organizations now make the jump to mobile and remain current as the mobile and desktop browsing technologies are constantly in flux?

No one site can showcase all of the latest web technologies all of the time because of the evolving technology environment. That means that important decisions need to be made about which technologies will be the most relevant for your audience. That requires taking stock of the current and coming trends and making informed assumptions on which technologies will have long term and wide reaching uptake by your users.

Here are some things to consider when developing your mobile web strategy:

  1. Will the content on your mobile differ in any way from the desktop site? It may look differently, but is there any interaction or transaction that you may want to have in one but not the other?
  2. Be sure to consider the implications of content management when creating a mobile site. You don’t want to develop a completely different and stand alone site unless you are ready to double your content management workload. In most cases, it makes sense to use a single content source for both sites for easier management.
  3. As mobile technologies evolve, so does the mobile browsing experience. In many cases, the site that was built for a browser works very well for tablets. Just be sure to test the usability on those devices.
  4. What do your analytics tell you about the difference in behavior of people on mobile vs. the desktop? People using phones are more apt to be looking for a phone number or a location. How can you make that ‘on the go’ information easier for them to find?
  5. Don’t assume that the mobile users only want a subset of the content on your site. Mobile users are most likely the same users that visit your site via a desktop browser. If they are used to browsing in a certain way, you don’t want to hinder their experience by locking them into a mobile only site that they now don’t know how to navigate or that only contains a subset of your content. Always provide the option to browse complete site from mobile devices.

The shift to mobile prioritization should not require an exponential increase in resources or budgets for an organization. It’s more a redirection of current priorities to begin focusing on mobile as the primary user experience for your audience. The desktop website is not going away; it’s just going the way of pen, paper and desktop telephone.