Part three of the three part series, “Why Do I Need a Mobile Website”.
Design for mobile devices is often referred to as “mobile first” design. The term took on reviewed vigor when Google and Bing demanded preference toward mobile pages for their search engine users. According to Google, most people perform searches from a mobile device. More people “Ask Google” or talk directly to their cell phone when searching. Cell phones are used as assistants and with Bluetooth technology, enable the listening of music in vehicles, listening to a book being read or talking while driving.
If your company wishes to be ADA compliant, mobile’s text to voice apps are a desirable option. In fact, accessibility for mobile is expected to grow as more people with physical disabilities learn the advantages of mobile devices and demand inclusion.
When we approach mobile design, the very same requirements that went into your desktop designs still apply, only now behavioral research into how people use their cell phones and mobile devices is included. For example, you will need to continue to address user fears regarding security and privacy of information. Consider how your specific web site or application is used on mobile devices by people who are unsure of their privacy. Cell phones are used public places. If your homepage auto launches video advertisements with the sound on, this is a mobile usability issue. If your website provides an online banking service, what is the experience like for people commuting to work on crowded trains who are trying to check their bank balance or move funds?
Another mobile design consideration is social user behavior. If your website encourages sharing information, there are differences in the sharing behavior between women and men for all computer devices. It’s important to know what those differences are and then revisit them for mobile devices. For example, tablets are used more for email, social networking and watching videos. Android dominates with 75% of the global market. (Google has a new cell phone out too. It’s rumored to be able to talk to your toaster.) A gigantic 88% of millennials (ages 18-34) rely on mobile devices.
An overlooked group of cell phone users are anyone over the age of 40, people who wear reading glasses, lower wage earners who hold on to older models of any computer device and may not own a smart phone, but do use an older flip top model, and retired persons who are not as mobile but have money to shop online. There are so many use cases for mobile, and opportunities to reach out in areas your competitors ignore.
What if your website falls within the healthcare industry? Design for this vertical is already challenging and adding mobile design to the mix creates additional options for not only mobile apps, but for anyone needing information in a medical emergency. The same considerations apply, such as the mental and emotional state of the person accessing the site and the added ways in which we hold a device in an unsteady hand or through tears. Your empathetic usability person is already thinking about these things.
A popular user behavior most often not taken into consideration is multiple device switching. You probably device switch and never considered that your website visitors are too. This is a habit with countless use cases, from emailing a document to yourself so you can read it later on a desktop or Kindle, to adding items to a cart and continuing the sale later on a different device. Mobile connections during travel fade in and out, forcing a save for later experience that may continue on a laptop in a hotel room. In some situations, where the mobile experience is too difficult, such as filling out a long form, users give up and continue on a larger device. This is an abandonment behavior you want to avoid and why design for mobile is directly related to mobile conversions.
Web design for mobile has its own guidelines for color contrasts because of the various lighting environments they are used in. Spacing rules, called “tap targets” or the “fat finger rule”, are added to aid in our ability to tap a page element such as a radio button or text link. Page speed is monumental and the number one cause of mobile device abandonment. Fads like sliders, parallax, some animation, and light gray text do not work on mobile devices. The placement and size of images for a tiny screen require additional code and must be tested on all types of mobile devices.
Web pages that force users to increase the font size to read content are not mobile friendly. Mobile designs should not require switching to landscape view. Navigation is an area that creates serious problems for all websites switching to mobile design because first, the menu has no room to be displayed. To see where to go, we click on an icon known as the “hamburger menu” and hope there are not multiple levels to remember. Cognitive behavior for mobile design is important to understand and plan for.
Google recently released an image that quickly spread by search engine marketers hoping to find something to bolster their business case. It focused on page load time and claimed that a mobile page bounce rate of 123% occurs if the mobile page loads in 1 – 10 seconds and if it takes 3 seconds to load, bounce rates are about 32%.
It has been the case with ALL web designs that the longer it takes to load, the longer it takes to understand if the page has what we most desire. People are emotional beings. And impatient.
Your website has a future. It will take more skills to keep it humming along. It will take a serious financial investment. Find the right team for your website who knows the mobile market and mobile user behavior as well as all the nooks and crannies of knowledge in between.