Imagine you’re checking out a website on your phone or tablet, whether to find a shop’s hours or a resource your friend recommended. But when you get to the site, the navigation is confusing, the dropdown menu forces you to scroll over and half the time you tap on a link, nothing happens. How long until you leave?
As mobile internet use increases (and now surpasses desktop), a bad mobile site experience easily turns away potential customers, but a positive one can keep you bookmarked for return visits. Fortunately, creating a memorable mobile experience isn’t as complex or flashy as you might think. In many cases, it’s as simple as being highly accessible and usable. But getting there starts with understanding your mobile users.
A typical mobile user will take all of 0.05 seconds to decide whether they like your site or not
Understand Mobile Users, Then Understand Your Mobile Users
Knowing who you’re designing for can help you decide what images, content, design choices and usability focuses your mobile site needs; however, there are a few basic behaviors to know about the average mobile user:
1. Mobile use is still on the rise. People are browsing the internet on mobile devices more than they browse on desktop. Of course, someone might think, “Not in my industry. These are business people looking for us on their work computers.” But if you look at your Google Analytics dashboard, the numbers may surprise you. The next point may be a clue why.
2. More searches are coming from mobile devices. Specifically, 58% of searches and 68% of health-related searches are happening on a mobile device. So users might not be spending most of their time interacting with your site on mobile, but it may often be their first time on your site — and first impressions mean everything.
3. Mobile users form opinions quickly. A typical mobile user will take all of 0.05 seconds to decide whether they like your site or not — and whether they’ll stick around or leave. Whether that seems fair, mobile users have had enough bad experiences trying to find unfindable information on mobile sites that they don’t want to risk wasting their time if they can just jump over to the next search result.
4. Mobile users are quick to abandon slow sites. How slow is “slow”? If it takes more than 3 seconds to load. Too much of the good stuff that might look great on desktop — content, visual design, animation, etc. — can be a bad thing on mobile, and users won’t wait around to load it all, so it’s important to lighten the load and deliver the essentials. Again, I can hear someone say, “You should see our competitor’s websites. In our industry, people don’t expect lightweight, streamlined websites.” But if your prospects use the same internet as everyone else to shop for clothes and watch videos, they know exactly what kind of mobile experience to expect.
Knowing the basics about mobile users, take time to research and test what your users want from a mobile experience. Site analytics tools can give you data on user behavior that reveals insights around this, like what pages they steer toward and where they drop off. Interviews and polls also give you feedback directly from the source. Are they looking for an easy way to schedule an appointment or a demo? Information on your product or a service? A snapshot of what makes you different?
Answering questions like these questions can inform your site’s mobile design. When it comes to actually digging in, here are a few helpful hints.
Maximizing the Mobile Experience Means Paring It Down
Since mobile users bounce quickly if a site doesn’t load, it’s extremely important to pare it down to the essentials. Something as simple as a line of copy that works great on your desktop site might be too long for mobile, forcing a valuable CTA down below the fold or clogging up the design as a whole.
Similarly, a series of big, gorgeous landscape photos may not convert well to a mobile device’s portrait orientation. Whether it’s resizing a hero image or choosing a new one entirely, ensure your photos are going to look great on a small screen — or consider ditching nonessential images altogether if it significantly speeds up your load time and gets quick-bouncing users to stay and scroll.
Expect to switch up your navigation too. Thumbs are big, and trying to surgically tap on a header of tiny buttons and text isn’t fun for users. A hamburger menu (those three stacked lines you often see in the upper corner of a mobile site) can ease the user experience and clearly show the navigation options when the user wants them. A sticky footer navigation is also a good choice, since the footer sits closer to where a user’s thumb rests.
In general, focus on the bare essentials of what your users want from a mobile experience. It may be different or less than what your desktop site shows, but that doesn’t mean you need a whole new design concept and strategy. You can keep your brand consistent across both experiences and cater to mobile and desktop users’ (potentially differing) priorities.
That said, one strategy for a consistent mobile and desktop experience is actually to design the mobile experience first. If something isn’t helpful for mobile users, it may not necessarily be more useful for users on desktop.
Make It Memorable
A memorable mobile experience can happen when you encounter a cool animation effect you’ve never seen before — or a really creative way to organize the site layout around stunning visuals and photography — but some of the most memorable mobile experiences you’ve had might be as simple as, “Wow, that was so easy to get what I needed.” And in many cases, a lot of flash and an overabundance of content can actually make a site extremely forgettable if you can’t find what you’re looking for.
So open up your website on your smartphone, and put yourself in your prospect or customer’s shoes. How will they remember your mobile site the next time they find you on Google while waiting for a meeting to start?
If you’re looking to revamp or enhance your site’s mobile experience, contact us today for help with your strategy and creative solutions.