Nearly 8 in 10 (78%) online New Zealanders use their mobile to access the internet. That’s up from 65% in 2015, and they’re using their mobiles for an ever-increasing list of reasons – things like accessing their emails and social channels, researching brands or prices while shopping in-store, booking movie tickets, researching suppliers, using recipes or checking medical issues. One third of online Kiwis use three or more devices to access the internet every week.
That goes for business too. Some in the The Selective team say they use their mobile devices almost as much as their desktop. We use it to manage bank accounts, bookkeeping, project management software and social platforms for clients. Our PR experts Jonathan Tudor and Lisa Joe have both said they’ve even used their mobiles to send off press releases on the fly.
That trend is likely to continue as mobile devices and the internet become more affordable.
When your consumers are engaging with your brands on their mobile, it presents more opportunities – and a few more challenges. It means having a responsive or mobile optimised site isn’t just a must-have to be ranked well with Google, it’s also very, very important when it comes to winning hearts and minds of the new mobile consumer. Here’s why:
Using desktop versions on mobile is hard work. Are you asking your consumer to undertake the clumsy task of navigating a desktop version of your site on their tiny screen? Most likely, they won’t bother, opting to engage with a competitor who offers a mobile version.
Your site visitors need information presented differently. Determine why your consumer is likely to access your site on mobile vs a desktop and you’ll see the tasks can be quite different. That means you may choose to present information differently – or strip some out all together. This study suggests mobile users are more likely to research on a mobile, but move to a desktop to make the purchase.
Our website developer Michael Van Dinther recommends avoiding the kind of complex layout usually seen on a desktop. He explains: “Replacing your content slider on desktop with a two or one column layout on mobile device will provide a much better user experience.”
Thinking seriously about what information your mobile users are likely to want – and how it should be displayed – will mean you can design an experience that will make it far easier to complete their tasks and ultimately buy from you.
Mobile users expect faster load times. The likelihood that mobile users will click on to your site, then click straight off is at its lowest – 23% – if your mobile site can load in under three seconds. If it takes ten seconds, that increases to 123%. Put simply, 53% of mobile site visitors will leave a page if it takes longer than three seconds to load. The opportunity here is obvious – just building a mobile-optimised site that loads faster will increase your engagement and probably your conversion rate, too. And you’ll be way ahead of the game – mobile sites still take an average of 15 seconds to load.
Options for improving your mobile experience
Start by looking at your current traffic, client base, and business needs. Examine your Google Analytics for mobile traffic to find out how many customers are using your site on mobile versus desktop. As a general rule, if at least 30% of your traffic is from mobile users, it’s worth investing more in your mobile experience. Take a look at bounce rates as well – these tell you how many customers click away from your site straight away. If your bounce rates for mobile are higher than those for your desktop site, it’s another indicator your mobile experience could be better.
For many businesses a few tweaks here and there to their responsive site might create a better balance between the needs of desktop and mobile users.
But, if you want to let your mobile users complete functions that are very complex or not available on your desktop, or simplify and condense a very large site – you have two options:
Optimising the user experience
So, what makes an excellent mobile user experience? If you are working with a developer and designer, they will be able to advise you on best practises and design options to suit your business. But it’s still important to understand the basics for yourself, so you can request changes or new elements as required.
Basic mobile optimisation guidelines:
Typing on a mobile phone – let alone typing into a tiny box on a form - is difficult for many people. Minimise the amount of typing needed by using drop-down menus, tick boxes, and auto-populated options. Look at your purchase process and eliminate requests for unnecessary information – the more your customers have to enter, the more likely they are to click away in frustration.
Use a clear font. Not only does this allow your customers to find the information they need, it’s also a key metric for Google site rankings.
Clear buttons with plenty of space between them make it easier for customers to use your site on mobile. Small, closely packed buttons make it harder for customers to select the right option, leading to frustration – and fewer purchases.
Photos are a great way to add personality and life to your website, but they’re not ideal for some sites on mobile. Because mobile users are often seeking a specific piece of information, photos and images can act as a distraction and make your site harder to navigate. They can also slow things down – fewer photos and images generally means a faster load-time.
Pop-ups can annoy customers on desktop, and they’re even more irritating on mobile. If you need to open a new browser window, let the customer know before you do so.
Making the most of mobile
Mobile technology isn’t going anywhere. In fact, as consumers become increasingly comfortable with making purchases, doing banking, and searching for information on mobile, its use is likely to rise.
For business owners, this presents a huge opportunity – and major risks. If you optimise your website for mobile effectively, you could get out in front of your competitors and increase your customer base. If you continue to rely on an outdated mobile site or keep focusing on your desktop site, you could end up losing customers – and once they’re gone, it’s very hard to get them back.
If you want to find out more about mobile-optimisation, talk to The Selective team now.