Unless you've been living under a rock, you hear about mobile across industries and all over the consumer media.
Based on retail sales data from this last holiday season there is a good chance you've got a shiny new mobile device of your own. It's crucial to examine how your user base and potential customers are getting introduced, becoming customers and engaging with your brand.
Users are coming in on an increasing variety of screen sizes and device types, and they expect to be able to engage with your brand and content no matter what.
The Truth About Mobile
- 44% of the US population has a smartphone (As of May 2012)
- 66% of smartphone users access the internet on their smart phones at once a day (source)
- 57% of smartphone users search the web on their phone each day (source)
- 86% of smartphone users are using their smartphone while doing other things
- A website (or web app), its content and functionality will drive the specific mobile needs for your brand and users. There is no cookie cutter approach
- Users engage brands via different devices, based on what they need, where they are and what devices they have at hand
- Consumers don't always care about the device they are using so you need to be ready for them today and how they expect to interact in the near future
- Users will start interacting with your brand on mobile and then move to other devices
Mobile User and Multiple Screens
Google happens to have massive amounts of data on what we internet citizens do, across all forms of internet connected digital devices. Recently Google released an incredible study on the new Multi-Screen world. Even if you don't see your specific industry, look for logical adjacent industries, and more importantly, parallels in consumer behavior that would extend into your users world.
How mobile do I need to be?
When considering a new project it's crucial to examine user data, customer feedback and specifics of the digital experience to make a determination which of the following is appropriate.
There is no single matrix or magic series of questions that make this a black and white decision.
Most of our clients will employ 2-3 of the following mobile executions based on the specifics of their customer base, products, services and desired brand perception.
Mobile Web Friendly - it can work on mobile, but the experience is far from ideal. Mobile friendly often requires user to pinch/zoom in and out a lot and will frustrate the less technically savvy user. In reality friendly is a misnomer, an end user wouldn't call it friendly, they would call it "workable".
Mobile Web Optimized - Getting better. The experience has been designed and optimized for the mobile user. Content and functionality have been architected and the experience enhanced for a touch centric mobile device.
A user in this case doesn't even think about how it works, it just works and functions without them having to exert any extra effort. An example would be a web form. When the user is on a zip code/phone number field, the device keyboard automatically switches to a 10-digit keypad.
Responsive Web - This is our core focus for all new web projects in 2013. Instead of focusing on the "traditional" web and mobile web as separate sites or experiences, responsive design allows content and functionality to be delivered to the web, tablet and mobile all simultaneously. The size of the screen/window a user has on their browser (no matter what kind of device) causes the front-end of the website to adapt fluidly for that user. Responsive web design puts the user, across all devices, at the very heart of the the digital experience.
Native Mobile - An app downloaded from the iOS Apple App Store or Android Google Play Store. Native apps have the potential to create more fluid engaging and rich engagement with a user. Having a native app puts your brand always on the device and the app stores are powerful marketing/exposure vehicles.
Native apps typically require more effort to build and maintain — but they offer greater levels of feature set, speed and experience. A recent example is Facebook. Up until late 2012 their iPhone app was a pseudo app — it was truly a highly mobile optimized website. Facebook went back to ground level and rebuilt the app as a completely native experience. The app is faster and is driving increased usage across Facebook's massive user base.
Key areas of user engagement and interaction to examine for your mobile strategy
When creating your mobile strategy you need to look across the entire organization. Every time you touch and interact with a user there is the opportunity to engage with mobile. (It's likely that your users are wanting for you to do it if you haven't already.)
Where to examine for mobile needs and opportunities:
- Mobile Catalogue
- Games / Content Delivery
- Mobile specific campaigns (targeting mobile web and app users)
- Mobile/App driven product or brand experiences
- Can I convert an existing product into an app?
- Can I enhance a product offering with mobile web or a native mobile app?
- Can I differentiate my product from my competitors by using or integrating with mobile?
- What devices and screen sizes are driving the highest conversions?
- Which devices are primarily product/brand research?
- Can I created a more personal and engaging brand shopping experience on mobile?
- Can I supplement POP and the retail experience with mobile?
- Customer Service
- Customer Portals - if you have a support portal is it mobile friendly? Mobile optimized?
- Product support materials - do you really need to ship the 50 page booklet?
Our team is working on an exciting set of new mobile projects launching in the coming months:
- A responsive web application for medical identity management
- A responsive consumer driven energy comparison tool
- A series of responsive CMS driven websites
- Updated iOS (iPhone & iPad) applications for a national media outlet