How to Build a User-Friendly Mobile Experience
Remember the days of trying to fill out a miniaturized web form on your tiny mobile screen? Pinching and zooming and squinting your way through an article you wanted to read? Remember how incredibly miserable that was?
But, on most sites, you don't have to anymore, do you? That's because mobile is king.
Companies learned a while back that making the mobile experience more convenient, and more user-friendly, was a boon to sales. It also put the kibosh on bounce rates.
Because the vast majority of users are now accessing the web through their mobile devices.
95% of American adults now own a smartphone.
That's not a guess. That information comes straight from the venerable Pew Research Center.
As of 2016 (the most recent year for which firm numbers are currently available), there were about 242 million adults in the US. So, do the math: 242 million x 0.95 = almost 230 million mobile users. And, according to Statista, almost 53% of all web traffic originates from mobile users. Let that sink in for a minute.
Just a few years ago, the whole concept of a mobile-native Internet would have seemed outlandish, but then again, so was wi-fi.
Once we were all freed from the need to stay plugged in, and mobile providers reached the infrastructural tipping point that allowed broadband communications, a mobile-majority web was an inevitability.
Mobile-friendly won't cut it anymore. Your site needs to be designed mobile-first.
To capture the attention and business of visitors who are hitting your site on their mobile devices, you need to create a unique experience for them. It’s certainly not enough to simply shrink your site as if your mobile visitors were miniature desktop users.
Likewise, it's also not ideal to simply render your existing site as a slimmed-down, "mobile friendly" version.
"Think of mobile-friendly design as the bare minimum required in this day and age," argued Forbes tech contributor Gabriel Shaoolian. "Now think of mobile-first as a step beyond that bare minimum of usability — a site that is thoroughly mobile from its inception. Anything that is mobile-first is necessarily mobile-friendly, since it was designed specifically with the consideration of mobile devices as the default."
Strategies like responsive design and adaptive displays need to be employed from the very start.
How are layouts affecting your customers' abilities to search for and purchase your products? And are you even considering yet how virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) will inevitably revolutionize your web customers' preferences — and, by extension, your site's design — over the next decade?
OK, ok. Enough preaching. Let's talk about tactics. What can you do right now to improve your mobile customers' digital lives? Here are 2 areas to address first.
Still using pop-ups on your site? Stop it. Immediately.
You're sitting in your office on another boring, weekly roundup call.
Someone's droning on and on about some pet project that has absolutely nothing to do with you or your marketing director role. But, you're stuck listening to it.
So, you do what most people would: you put the call on speaker, pull up your phone's browser, hop over to your local news organization's mobile site and start catching up on the events of the day, until someone says something interesting, or until it's your turn to make your report.
Suddenly, to your embarrassment and consternation, your phone starts buzzing and dinging like a slot machine on jackpot, your screen goes momentarily dark and a new screen pops up:
CONGRATULATIONS SAMSUNG WINNER OF THE DAY!!!
YOU HAVE BEN [sic] RANDOMLY CHOSEN FOR (1) FREE SPIN TO WIN!
CLICK OK TO CLAIM
Your boss, on the other end of the call, asks what that noise is. You can't figure out how to shut it down without shutting off your phone. If you do, you'll lose the call and everyone will know it was you when you have to dial back in and the system announces your name.
This is the same frustration mobile users feel when a pop up message advertising your latest sale or asking them to sign up for your newsletter suddenly fills their screen.
Do yourself and your customers a favor: ditch the pop-ups. And ditch any third-party vendors who aren't vetting ad submissions for good measure, so you don’t end up with any malware like the example above.
Design first for a touchscreen interface.
Ever need to click something on a mobile site, but it's rendered so tiny, or positioned so close to another clickable link, that it's next to impossible for your fingers to hit straight on?
Where and how you place links, buttons and other interactive content is critical when it comes to touch screen navigation. Buttons that are too big, too small, or in the path of a finger that's trying to get the page to scroll can lead to frustrating accidental clicks.
When you're designing mobile-first, you should consider the physical interface above all else.
Space those links out. Opt for larger buttons. Don't scrunch down extant, large pages — just rebuild them for single-screen display. Take tiny keyboards out of the equation.
It may take a little longer to develop and re-deploy a mobile-first experience, but your customers will thank you with lower bounce rates and, most likely, higher conversion rates too.
Need some inspiration?
Get in touch with us to find out more about our newly mobile-dominant digital marketing world.