Adapting Your Mobile Publishing Strategy To Fit Your Audience
There are a lot of things that have changed in the last decade of the World Wide Web, but none are more profound than the shift from desktop and laptop computers to mobile devices. Whether you’re using a smartwatch, a smartphone or a smart tablet (do they sell dumb devices anymore?) the way you access information online has changed significantly with the rise of pervasive connectivity and smaller, faster, and, yes, smarter devices.
It was quite a few years ago the trends showed that desktop computers — those big, clunky boxes with screens attached by a leash — were on the road to obsolescence, supplanted by more mobile devices with a screen that flipped open, leaving a keyboard for typing and data input. Another couple of years and the keyboard started to seem rather pointless; with accurate touch screens, voice input and so many people focused on consumption of the Web rather than production of new Web content, who needs to type?
The next wave of mobile technology
The third wave of technological change is very much upon us too and your traffic logs are showing what’s happening: people are visiting your site with smaller and smaller screens.
The question is: How have you changed your publishing strategy to keep up?
At a minimum, you should be frequently visiting your own Web site from various mobile devices to ensure that it looks good, everything lays out properly and all the interactive elements are functional. If you can’t fill out the contact form or travel through your shopping cart without resorting to a desktop or laptop, you’ve got a problem. If your site doesn’t even change its layout to meet the needs of mobile users, well, you’ve got a much bigger problem.
EXAMPLE ABOVE: You can do this quickly in Chrome by right clicking and select “Inspect Element”. From there, click on the device type viewer to browse your site in a number of different device types.
The buzzword with mobile friendly sites is “responsive design” and it’s a goal you should seek, a Web site that looks good on every size device, even those screen dimensions you’ve never encountered before. An easy way to test: Pop over to your local Best Buy and visit your site on all their different mobile devices, phones, and tablets. They’re all slightly different resolutions now, so it’s a great way to identify problems before your visitors bail on you.
There’s more to mobile-friendly than you think…
There’s more to being mobile friendly than making sure your layout works on a smaller screen. You also need to think about what you’re publishing, not just how it lays out. I still encounter lots of Web sites where they seem to just have turned a blind eye to the fact that I’m hitting them not just from a mobile device but while mobile.
Imagine a local pizzeria. Sure the Web site might be mobile friendly, but if I’m on my phone checking their site my intentions are different than if I’m sitting at my desk. Without having to scroll or tap, tell me your hours and offer a one-tap way to get directions, along with a one-tap way to access a menu. From a desktop, perhaps catering should be visible, but I’m not going to be looking for catering options while driving down the Interstate.
The only way to know is to be truly monitoring user intent and actual user behavior. There is some really great analysis of how you can do this here. Ultimately, do you know when visitors are having a good experience vs. a bad one?
Here’s a nice case study on a site that was massively impacted by misunderstanding good UX vs. bad.
I recently purchased a new car, for the first time in almost ten years, and it’s fascinating to see how the experience has changed for the Internet age. An email autoresponder from the manufacturer has been sending me weekly tips and suggestions on how to get the most out of all the fancy tech features of the vehicle, while the company has also encouraged me to download their owners club app and sign up. Ten years ago the only thing that came out of my car purchase was a bill.
No all of this stuff comes to your mobile device. People actually expect a different level of interaction. Understanding things like navigation bounces, engagement time, and more can have a strong impact on your ability to make changes that your audience likes.
Are you thinking about mobile?
On your own site, how are you rethinking what you publish and how you publish it to meet the needs of the modern, mobile audience? On my AskDaveTaylor site almost 50% of all content we publish is aimed at mobile users, whether it’s about iPhones, Android, Kindles or other devices that people now have in their purse, backpack or briefcase. Desktop? Haven’t covered it much at all in years.
Now, as we move into the latter part of the summer, it’s a great time ask your own team how you have evolved to meet the needs of your ever-changing audience and come up with a plan. Because if you don’t, your site is going to end up increasingly irrelevant.