The use of mobile devices to access the internet has boomed in the past few years, becoming more and more the primary way of accessing information on the web, surpassing desktops and laptops. Businesses are making every effort to adjust to this change in trend, some even going as far as developing for mobile first and then adapting to other devices.
Being ‘mobile-friendly’ however, goes way beyond clicking a button on your web designing template to make your desktop site viewable on mobile devices. Being ‘mobile friendly’ means designing a strategy for mobile use. We have some tips for developing your mobile strategy.
Today’s mobile user takes time to research and make decisions and want all the same data available on a desktop, on their smartphones
1. Think of user behavior: Today’s mobile user isn’t necessarily mobile. According to a recent study by Ofcom, 66% of internet use on a mobile phone took place both at home and outside the home. Think about how many times you have checked your e-mail, the weather, made reservations to a restaurant, checked the score of a game or bought something from your smartphone while lounging on your couch. Mobile use is not ‘on-the-go use’. Mobile users are not checking for something while in a rush. Today’s mobile user takes time to research and make decisions and want all the same data available on a desktop, on their smartphones.
2. Optimize for mobile: When developing for mobile you need to change your mindset completely. You need to consider the user is going from mouse and keyboard to touch. They cannot hover over a button when using a mobile device for example. Screens are smaller and so developing for mobile is based on single tasks. One task per screen, less information in each screen. Deliver content cleanly and quickly.
3. Contact your audience: On desktop, you may use pop-ups and live chats to communicate with your audience. On mobile, you can use push communications, which have proven to be much more effective.
When developing for mobile you need to change your mindset completely. You need to consider the user is going from mouse and keyboard to touch
4. Mobile site or app: It doesn’t have to be a matter of choosing one or the other. It is a matter of knowing how to harness the benefits of each to better serve your goals. Having a mobile site allows your business to be found by customers. It is your entry door. An app is a way to have these customers come back time and time again. When developing a mobile site, think as though your customers may only see you on mobile (which is likely true). Consider putting an app icon on your mobile site encouraging customers to download the app. When developing an app, decide between a native app, which is built specifically for each operating system, therefore providing the most device-optimized experience, or an HTML5-based app, which provides native capabilities, but with fewer versions to maintain.
5. Consider the devices: Not all smartphones are created equal and to support every device and every operating system out there is nearly impossible. But consider this: when developing for iOS, over 86% of iPhone users have one of two latest iOS versions, so developing for iOS is very homogeneous. As long as you support the two latest versions, you are servicing close to 90% of users. For Android however, the scenario changes dramatically. A mere 0.7% of Android users are running the latest version, followed by about a 30% using the previous version, 36% using the one before and some Android users are still using versions that are 5 years old, so you need to use backwards compatibility when developing for Android and support the few versions used by the majority of users, which may very well mean supporting 6 versions, to get to the same amount of users you can get by supporting two iOS versions.
6. Define your market: European users use mobile devices as complementary platforms, whereas the Arab market has about a 60% mobile usage and China uses mobile as its primary device, so developing for mobile first is key. Depending of where your users are, you need to adjust your mobile strategy.