The Dos, Don'ts, and Whys of Going Mobile
While there may be some debate about whether or not the world is already in the "Post-PC" era, it's undeniable that consumers nowadays are whipping out their smartphones to check their emails, log on to their social media accounts, and make purchases. It's important for businesses to catch up with their customers even when they’re out and about, which is why more and more mobile sites and apps are entering the space.
Mobile Movement 2011: The Year That Was
Earlier this year, Google, in partnership Ipsos OTX MediaCT conducted a study to determine how consumers use their smartphones, and the role that mobile phones play in making decisions about products and services. Their findings indicate that out of 5,013 US online adults, 89% of them said that they use their smartphone throughout the day. In addition, 79% of users turn to their smartphones for shopping related activities, indicating that mobile phones are already deeply embedded in the daily lives of consumers.
Moreover, according to a research study by Indiana University and Murdoch University, "using branded mobile phone apps increases a consumer's general interest in product categories and improves the attitude they may have toward the sponsoring brand." This suggests going mobile with your brand, and providing an app for users can actually increase the likelihood that they'll remember—and like—your company.
What Draws Users to Mobile Sites and Apps?
Convenience and portability are the obvious and main reasons why users are more than happy to go mobile. Beyond this though, the above-mentioned researchers also found a deeper and more personal connection between individuals and their smartphones. According to the study, "The very personal nature of mobile phones, including the new smartphones, which are practically extensions of their owners, means that advertisers need to adopt new rules of conversation with mobile phone users."
Going Mobile: What to Do
Converting a full-website to a mobile-friendly version can't be done by simply shrinking it to fit a phone or tablet display. A mobile site often involves completely revamping your website to ensure that users can easily navigate it. According to Sypre Studios, a great way to do this is to allow users to toggle certain options and hide rarely used elements and lengthy forms that will just serve as inconveniences for people.
If you're building a branded app, be sure to make it both informative and functional. Don't create an app that does nothing but advertise your products or services; provide useful tips and industry information that enable users to learn something from your brand.
You can also throw in exclusive deals and "mobile only" discounts as added perks for your customers. After all, 48% of users find and utilize discounts and offers using their smartphones.
Going Mobile: What NOT to Do
Now that you already have an idea of what mobile consumers want, here a few things that you should steer clear from:
Don't limit users – While it's true that your mobile site should be streamlined to display only the important and most-used features, you shouldn't eliminate other functions of your site just because they aren't used as often. Add a "more options" button that will enable users to access extended website or app functionalities.
Don't ignore negative reviews – Whether you're dealing with unpleasant reviews about your app or negative comments about your mobile site, it's best to address these head on, and update your site or app as soon as possible. Negative reviews can spread like wildfire, and with smartphones letting users share their thoughts with just a few touches of a button, it's all too easy to lose customers because of a buggy app or site.
Don't kill the "View full site" button – Just because most mobile users prefer big buttons and pages that they can swipe, doesn't mean that you should remove the "full site" option in your mobile version. Some customers may feel more "at home" with the full version of your website, and it's always nice to have the option to switch to it when necessary.
Image credit: Johan Larsson on Flickr