Mobile First: Optimize for the Small Screen
Larger phone screens and the increasing popularity of “phablets” has fueled media consumption. As more and more people imbibe on screen-intensive activities like mobile Web browsing, shopping and entertainment, mobile data traffic is expected to grow tenfold in the next four years.
With the expanding device capabilities and the increased data capacity of the networks that support them, user expectations are rapidly changing. There is a growing movement toward more visual and audio experiences that combine sight, sound, motion and interactivity. You can see it in the rise in social networks like Instagram, Pinterest and Snapchat. Recent data from Piper Jaffray shows younger users are increasingly leaving Facebook and Twitter for these more visually oriented social networks.
Creating for the Small Screen
Even just a few years ago, we couldn’t count on desktops to have the speakers needed to deliver audio or the bandwidth to provide a smooth video experience. Today, we have an amazing audiovisual environment for creating and developing content.
Unfortunately, many website experiences don’t take advantage of the media-rich device capabilities. Here are eight best practices marketers should use when creating content for the small screen:
1. Make it responsive. Is your website mobile-friendly? If you’re not sure, check it right now at Google’s mobile-friendly test. It’s that important. Google now uses mobile friendliness as a ranking factor on mobile searches. Before, people might visit a site that’s not mobile-optimized, give up and move on. Today, they won’t even see it in their search results. And with more than half of searches now coming from mobile devices, you won’t even be in the game if your site doesn’t pass mobile muster.
2. Develop with the visitor in mind. Smaller screens make a well-organized site even more important. It’s often useful to create user stories to inform site design and development.
Think about the different types of visitors to your site and the kinds of experiences they’re looking for. How can you make it easier for them to get to the information they seek? How can you help them find the information that’s most important to your company? What kinds of offers and experiences will delight them?
3. Design for fat fingers. The Web is filled with links that are difficult to click, buried contact pages, awkward menus and obscured calls to action. We know that frustration leads to bounce. From navigation and layout to button design and font sizes, make sure your site is easy to read and your calls to action are easy to click on. This is particularly important for mobile landing pages. Make it easy for them to understand the offer
4. Streamline load times. Creating more visual experiences means, well, more visuals. However the number and sizes of those images can dramatically impact load times. According to Compuware, 70 percent of tablet users expect a website to load in two seconds or less. Balance the number and sizes of Web images for optimum load times.
5. Offer browsers video options. Not all video formats work with all browsers. At TREKK, our best practices include delivering video in three options for browsers to choose from. Typically those include MP4, WebM and Ogg. Best practices also indicate delivering a file size that walks the line between bandwidth and quality.
6. Maximize offer response. Web forms will have a higher abandonment rate if they’re not optimized for mobile. Whether it’s a shopping cart check-out, an e-book offer or a blog sign-up, design your forms for maximum response. Larger text, bigger buttons and shorter forms tend to yield higher conversion rates. Think about the kinds of information you really need to collect. Is what you are asking for commensurate with your offer? Do you need to require registration or can you give e-commerce site visitors the option to checkout as a guest?
7. Accommodate content preferences. As people rely more on their mobile devices, they are using them in many different environments and for different things. It might be a quick search to find a local restaurant or do in-depth product research while on their daily commute.
Make sure you offer diverse content, from easily skimmable, snackable content like infographics and short-form video to longer-form content like blogs, case studies and product guides. Delight your audiences with media-rich content like interactive games, virtual tours and sharable content.
8. Use analytics to improve the experience. How much do you really know about the people visiting your site and the technology they’re using? With all the resources available, there’s no excuse not to know. Google Analytics and Webmaster Tools are free to use and can help you gain a better understanding of mobile visitors to your site, the content they’re consuming and where they’re dropping off. Use the data to look for potential issues and fix them.
These are all things you should be doing today. But what will you do tomorrow? As new capabilities are integrated into the devices we love and bandwidth grows, you’ll need a plan for how to create the immersive experiences your visitors have come to expect. It’s time to rethink how we develop mobile content and create the kind of interactive, sensory experiences that evoke emotion, leading to short-term purchases and long-term loyalty.