Wondering whether your brand needs a mobile web site? Unless you are in one of the few industries catering to the (almost mythical, rarer than unicorns) smartphone-free customer demographic, the answer is a resounding yes, and we’re talking to you.
80% of humans (that’s right: humans—not Americans) own a mobile phone. There are 91.4 million smartphones in the U.S. alone; that’s nearly 1/3 of all Americans with fully integrated Internet-ready phones. And mobile web sites aren’t just for smartphones anymore. 11% of U.S. adults already own a tablet computer and 77% of that group says they use their tablet every day. According to Google, mobile searches have quadrupled since 2010 and, among certain demographics, the mobile space has surpassed the desktop space in importance.
Are my statistics making you nervous? Good—they should be. Your audience knows where you are. The question is, when they come seeking you out on mobile, will they like what they see? If the answer is ‘no’ or ‘maybe’, your mobile strategy needs serious help.
Here are a few tips:
Step 1: Make a commitment. If mobile site development is not in your current budget, prioritize it immediately. If you’re having trouble justifying the business case, consider the issue from both a revenue and a risk management perspective. A user-unfriendly mobile site holds the opportunity cost of alienating an important user base while letting a poorly-functioning mobile site run amok. The lengthier the term of your mobile site sub-optimization, the more damage there is to be done to your brand image.
Step 2: Audit your desktop-ready site. Consider the flow, function, aesthetic and technology used on your current desktop site and begin thinking about how the user experience would necessarily differ on mobile. Consider what visual elements, functional features, user actions and other parts of the experience would translate well (or poorly) to a mobile version of the site. Recognize up front that technical limitations presented by cross-platform and/or cross-browser compatibility may cause you to have to forgo certain functions in a mobile iteration of your site.
Step 3: Choose an experienced mobile web site producer. A great provider will demonstrate knowledge, technical skills, and good judgment in site conversion planning and will have a portfolio of high-functioning mobile site designs to show. Do not hire your desktop web site design firm by default simply because they tell you they have experience in the mobile space. Check the company’s mobile portfolio out and comparison shop. Only choose a provider truly qualified to do the job.