Did you know that there are now more Apple iPhones sold per second than there are babies born in the world?
Once you factor in Samsung and HTC smartphone uptake which is reportedly taking a huge bite of Apple’s share – you wonder what kind of crazy stats are out there. One could infer that people are now more interested in tapping their phones than tapping for babies (?) but one thing is definitely clear – smartphones and tablet optimisation is a crucial factor for 2013 – here’s a low down on what mobile website options are out there.
76% of Australians have a smartphone, and 38% own tablets. Smartphone adoption is predicted to increase to 84% smartphone adoption by mid-2013 ( Australian Interactive Media Industry (AIMA) survey in Septmeber 2012)
People use smartphones and tablets for different reasons and don’t view one as a replacement for the other – so the tablet and the mobile phone are going to become complementary devices, right alongside the desktop/laptop.
It’s more important than ever to make your business presence optimised for the mobile consumer with mobile websites or offerings. How many times have you gotten frustrated at trying to complete some vital task such as filling in a form, or finding a mobile number because of tricky navigation, tiny text, or insanely slow loading times?
Consumers are fed up with non mobile friendly websites – is one of them yours?
Often mobile visitors simply give up when your site is not friendly to their device – and they probably won’t come back. According to a 2012 US survey,
- The majority of consumers have said that if they can’t find what they’re looking for on your site, they’ll sooner seek out a competitor’s mobile-friendly site instead of switching to a PC to revisit yours – ouch.
- A bad mobile experience can seriously damage your brand. Nearly half of consumers say they feel frustrated and annoyed when they come across a non-mobile-friendly site and say tat it makes them feel that the company doesn’t care about their business.
- More than half said that a poor mobile experience makes them less likely to engage with a company in the future.
Social media + mobile consumer + Non-mobile website = No ROI
To get a piece of the mobile consumption, you can choose between different options – a mobile friendly website, a mobile optimised site, or a mobile app. What you choose ultimately depends on your end goals and of course, budget and resource available.
1. A mobile friendly website
This is the least costly option and a good idea to start with if you’re unsure of the ROI of investing in a mobile optimised site. A mobile friendly site is basically the same as the web version of the site, but scaled down to be ‘responsive’ to the screen size of mobile devices. Text will be the right size and images will be shrunk to fit the screen size.
Some key elements of having a mobile friendly website are:
- Having text based phone numbers, physical addresses, and email addresses that can trigger calls, directions or email messages from the device
- No Flash elements – these don’t render in Apple devices. Flash elements are commonly found in slideshows, image rotators, calculators and interactive elements.
- Small image sizes to allow for fast loading over mobile connections
- Provides a ‘good-enough’ site on a mobile device – having a mobile optimised site that shrinks elements appropriately for the user will at least prevent them from the typical frustrations of having to scroll and shrink elements manually on their screen – so at least you’re doing something!
- Renders HTML5
Cons of a mobile optimised website:
- Slow loading times as the mobile device (with its much slower data connections than desktops) download the same information. Some devices may not be able to even render the page if the page request is too large (I’m looking at you, Blackberry)
- Consumers have different goals when on mobile and when on the web – having a base mobile friendly site instead of a fully optimised site doesn’t address different pathways
2. A mobile optimised website
Mobile websites are similar to any other website in that it uses HTML (the code that your Internet browser on your computer reads) to link pages together. Similar to a normal website it’s accesed via the Internet (Wifi, 3G or 4G networks). Unlike a normal website it is specifically designed for the smaller screens of mobile devices and designed for the mobile consumer’s goals.
What makes a website optimised for the mobile net?
- Automatic identification of a mobile visitor, and redirecting the visitor’s mobile browser to the mobile version of the website
- Makes web pages readable on the smalls screen by enlarging and shrinking elements appropriately, ensuring no horizontal scrolling
- Simple navigation that is ‘thumb friendly’ with large touchpoints especially calls to action and contact information to trigger a phone call or e-mail message
- Highlighting the most important elements for the mobile viewer, such as contact details, prices, base product information, calls to action, and reducing extraneous and data-heavy elements such as graphics and heavy plugins
- Avoids making users type unless absolutely necessary
Pros of a mobile optimised website:
- Because it is built specifically for mobile devices you have complete control over what is shown and how it is shown
- All changes and update are instantaneous
- One mobile site can work for all platforms if built properly
- Mobile sites help you rank better in search engine rankings
- No download needed
- Renders HTML5
- Requires specific building
- Reducing load times for mobile sites involves reducing or removing some branding, imagery and data-intensive elements
3. A mobile app
Apps are actual applications (programs) that are downloaded in a complete package and installed on your mobile device, rather than being rendered within a browser. Smartphone users visit device specific portals such as Apple’s App Store, Android Market, or Blackberry App World to find and download apps for their operating system. The content of the mobile app can be loaded in a combination of ways: it can be pulled from the Internet over a Wifi, 3G or 4G connection, or the content may be already be pre-downloaded within the app (in this case no Internet connection is required).
Pros of a mobile app:
- Easy for users to access with just a icon on their home screen and provides a reminder of your brand
- Loads faster than a site because information can be pre downloaded
- Able to work offline
- No need to log in each time
Cons of a mobile app:
- Expensive to build
- Requires significant insight and planning to get it right for the customer
- Requires approval from the app store – you’ll have to play by their rules
- App stores such as Apple’s take a high percentage of the sale price of an app
- Requires bespoke coding for each platform – i.e. one for Apple iOS, one for Android, one for Blackberry
Mobile apps are a good choice for shopping sites, interactive sites, or sites that have more data that is often consumed.
Ultimately, what you choose to invest in depends on the strategic need for mobile and how consumers interact with your business on a mobile device. Are there any opportunities for your business to create a real difference to the bottom line through a strong mobile presence? Put yourself in your consumer’s shoes…