Mobile Internet is on the rise all over the world. Many commentators have predicted that mobile search will overtake desktop by 2015 and in some countries, including China and India, this is already the case. If you’re not tapping into this market on the move you’re missing out. And the “expectation gap” for mobile performance is also growing quickly, with mobile users expecting faster load times and sites optimized for handheld devices. At Openvalley, to tap into this huge market opportunity we have chosen an approach based on responsive design, because it is easier to maintain one site vs many, and its advantages for SEO.
A survey by mobile and web performance management firm Keynote Systems Inc. found that 64 percent of smartphone users in the U.S. wanted a site to load within four seconds, with 16 percent of respondents saying they would not return or wait for a site to load if it takes too long. After loading times, non-optimized sites were the second biggest gripe. The incidence of mobile search is also high in other developing markets, including the other emerging economic powerhouses of the BRIC nations (Brazil, Russia, India, China) and theCIVETS grouping (Colombia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Egypt, Turkey, and South Africa). Some of the reasons for this may include the relatively cheap costs of mobile phones compared to laptops and desktop computers and the lack of effective broadband connections in many areas.
As rapid device adoption continues, not only are more consumers entering the mobile commerce market, but those who may have first entered a year or two ago are integrating more advanced behaviors into their mobile repertoire. Continued technology and marketing investment are creating a mobile shopping environment that is increasingly easy to use and highly functional, enabling the consumer to learn and adopt these new behaviors more quickly.
A recent Google survey of mobile users found that 72 percent of mobile users say it’s important to them that websites are mobile-friendly, yet 96 percent have visited a site that doesn’t work well on their device.
Almost three-quarters of respondents said they are more likely to revisit a mobile-friendly site. Users are five times more likely to abandon the task they are trying to complete if the site isn’t optimized for mobile use, with 79 percent saying they will go back to search and try to find another site to meet their needs.
There are some relatively simple steps to help ensure mobile users get what they want. There are three approaches to mobile site design: 1) build a brand-new mobile site, 2) use an existing desktop website (which smartphone users can read using pinch+zoom), or 3) build a new website that looks good on both desktop and mobile screens.
Responsive design is a way of accomplishing the third option, ant that’s the approach chosen by the Openvalley agency. Webpages can be equipped with style sheets that look one way on the big screen, and can reshape themselves to fit the small screen. The most sophisticated designs can adjust a lot of properties on the page, including fonts, icons, and menus.
The important thing to remember about responsive design is that it looks different to users on different devices, but uses the same page URLs and coding to deliver content to all users.
The reasons why Google prefer responsive design over specific mobile sites are:
(1)that it is easier to maintain one site vs many. So having a design that adapts to the device automatically can save time and makes sure you have the same content for everyone
(2) Responsive design doesn’t have canonical URL issues and you don’t have to worry about ranking issues, he said.
(3) You don’t have to worry about redirects and he said that “many sites are terrible at managing redirects.”
Here are some of the recommendations we follow when bulding a website with responsive design:
The small screen size of mobile browsers demands a different approach to desktop website design. Clear, simple designs work best, preferably in a single column, as most users don’t want to be scrolling sideways across a page as well as up and down. Pages should not be cluttered or crammed with too much information. The use of white space can help achieve a clean, unfussy look and make your mobile-optimized site clearer and more navigable.
Before adapting your content we need to consider what visitors actually want from your site. Most people do not casually surf the web on mobile devices the way they do on desktop. Instead, they tend to visit sites with a particular aim in mind. This may be to check the prices of your products, to find directions to your store, or to find a specific piece of information depending on the nature of your business and site.
When thinking of mobile usage, however, think primarily of functionality.
Make Navigation Easier on the smartphone
Users do not want to be clicking through numerous pages and it’s usually best to put the most important information and functions on the opening page where possible.
When other pages do have to be accessed you should make the process of navigation as simple as possible. Don’t forget that the small screen size of mobile browsers is not ideally suited for clicking on small items. Many mobile devices use a finger as the primary input device and this can be considerably less accurate than a mouse cursor when it comes to clicking the correct button or link. Clearly marked, reasonably large buttons are generally far better than tiny hotspots, clickable images, or embedded text links.
Using dropdown menus, checklists, and pre-populated fields as a means of data entry can all help minimize the amount of typing a visitor has to do on a small handheld keyboard and streamline the visit.
Reduced Load Times
There are a number of things to bear in mind. Flash might be great for regular websites, but too much animation can have a major effect on load times. Not to mention the fact that Apple products do not support Flash at all. It’s often better to simply do away with animations and automatically-starting video and audio effects altogether.
Large, high-resolution images can also affect load times. We will have to consider whether all your images are necessary. Ensure any images you do use are sized and optimized for the mobile format.
Make Your Brand Recognizable
Your mobile-optimized site is likely to be considerably different to your regular site, but a customer who visits both should still feel they stem from the same source. Logos, tone of content, and other branding elements should carry over from one site to the other. This will help to make a strong impression on new visitors and add a sense of familiarity to repeat customers – the single most important asset a business can have.
So what, exactly, are consumers looking for in a website accessed from a mobile device?
• Site speed – loading time of 5 seconds or less
• Big, mobile-friendly buttons
• Limited scrolling and pinching
• Quick access to business contact information
• “Click to call” access to phone the business
• Links to the company’s social media profiles
Usability and design features matter. Mobile users indicated they are most looking for (in order of priority):
• Information in just one or two clicks
• A search bar that is easy to find and use
• A site that fits the small screen
• Clean and efficient design
• An option to visit the non-mobile site
• The ability to save information for later
• Big, finger-friendly buttons
• Non-scrolling forms with a limited number of fields
• A “click to call” button
• One-direction scrolling, either horizontal or vertical, but not both.
Thanks to the ease of maintaining one experience that serves all platforms and the significant cost benefit of responsive design, Openvalley is able to provide your company mobile friendly websites to reach your customers both locally and internationally. Contact Openvalley now.